Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/147

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


Reviews. 1 2 5

possibility that it was the adhesion of individual nobles, rather than the concerted action of the witan, which really determined the succession to the crown. In this connection he makes a point by observing that in the phrase '■'■ geceosan to cyninge" which is usually taken as a formula of election, the word " elect " is by no means the only possible translation of ^^ geceosan " which also means " select," " approve," " acquire." In fact the only serious argument against Mr. Chadwick's view lies in the passage from ^Elfric which he quotes, in which the right of the people to choose their king is distinctly stated. But here Mr. Chadwick suspects the influence of ^Ifric's ecclesiastical sympathies and possible foreign ideas, and many students will probably be disposed to agree with him in this.

Mr. Chadwick makes no use of the evidence of folklore. It is not improbable that examination of the boundaries of local custom might have greatly assisted him in determining the limits of the ancient areas which he discusses. So, too, might the considera- tion of local weights and measures still in popular use in country places. Such measurements as the " digging rood " of eight yards, which cannot be made to correspond with any recognised land- measurement, may yet be found to throw light on the puzzling questions of ancient land-measure. And if it be the fact, as it is said, that there are no local weights and measures in Hampshire, and that the imperial gallon and imperial or " Winchester " bushel are the " use " of local rustic life there, we seem to be taken, by that one survival alone, straight back to the pre-Conquest days of West-Saxon supremacy, which form so important a part of Mr. Chadwick's subject. Information on these points has, however, been so scantily recorded that we can hardly criticize him very severely for not making use of it. Some tables of weights and measures are to be found in that wonderful local encyclopaedia the late Miss G. F. Jackson's Shropshire Word-Book, and Professor Rhys and Miss C. S. Burne have made some little enquiry into custom-boundaries, with results that are interesting, so far as they go. But on the whole, the subject of local custom has been too much neglected by English folklorists. Even the volumes of County Folklore scarcely touch upon it. While surveying man- kind "from China to Peru," the folklorist is apt to overlook the