Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/349

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Reviews. 3 1 9

that Professor Dieterich's inaugural address to the Vereinigung emphasises the importance of the English school of folklore, and points out to German classical scholars that they cannot afford to neglect its methods and results. Comparative mythology of the philological sort has long been dead in England : in Germany it still finds adherents. Professor Dieterich speaks with no uncertain sound on the subject, and we may hope that a society founded under such auspices will be the means of doing much good work. Of the remaining twelve papers, two discuss the aims and sphere of Volkskunde, and one, dealing with fifteenth-century Flurnamen, is rather archaeology than folklore. Of the collections, the most interesting is one from Upper Hesse, made about the middle of the last century. A second is composed of Vierzeiler — four-line verses in use among the peasants at dances, &c. Professor Dieterich and Herr Kohler discuss Himmehbriefe in classical times — letters, for use in magic, believed to have fallen, or been sent, from heaven. There are also accounts of the village feast at Vogelsberg and Whitsuntide customs at Hugen. A long paper is devoted to the custom of " riding the stang " and the allied one of untiling the roof. The author seriously discusses whether the former custom is apiece of rustic fun, consciously devised to increase the diversions of the Carnival. A better ex- ample of the necessity of going further afield for comparative material could hardly have been given ; it is to be found in Liebrecht's Zur Volkskunde, p. 384. Had the author known of the English parallels, he could hardly have regarded the custom as other than traditional, and of early origin. In another example of these popular courts of justice, the Cour-du-Coucou, near Theux, in Belgium (Reinsberg-Diiringsfeld, Calendrier beige, ii., 115 ; cf. Haron, Contributions au Folklore de la Belgique, ix., 2)3)^ we have traces of customs apparently intended as rain charms. It seems not improbable that this popular justice was originally dis- pensed at annual assemblies, at which magic was also worked. Herr Wunsch discusses in a short paper why a mother pretends to blow the pain away when a child has hurt itself, and he comes to the conclusion that we must look to the popular beliefs con- necting the breath with the life and the soul. A less remote prin- ciple is probably at work. Children are highly suggestible ; the practice is thus on a par with wart-charming and similar so-called superstitious rites.