Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/277

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Reviews. 239

ballads. Short as it is, the essay is nearly adequate for its purpose. The ballad, as a rule, is "impersonal"; if "it were possible to conceive a tale as telling itself, without the instru- mentality of a conscious speaker, the ballad would be such a tale " — in verse. The argument would be more adequate if ballads were compared with popular tales {Mdrchen) in prose, and if the cante-fable, or popular medley of alternate prose and verse, were dwelt on and illustrated by examples. A short introduction, however, is hardly the place for a treatise on the inter-relations of European ballads and Mdrchen. The subject awaits its critic, and it is to be wished that Mr. Kittredge would make it his own. Again, the noted formulae of the ballad deserve attention, and ihe conventions which popular has bequeathed to hterary poetry, as to some degree the Homeric epics attest. The ballads, Mr. Kittredge insists, belong to " the folk," the class undifferentiated by degrees of rank, wealth, and education. Their popular character is attested by their wide diffusion over all Europe. Wherever the tale existed, the folk could turn it into song, and did so. The ballad has now no authoritative text. Whatever men or women first composed, other men and women have modified, by additions, excisions, and new combinations, in the course of centuries of oral trans- mission. "The initial art of creative authorship is completely overshadowed by the secondary art of collective composition." But the initial art may have been that of one rhymer, or of many, each contributing a verse — a practice of which it might have been desirable to give more examples; for example, from the outermost isles of the Hebrides even to-day. It is unlikely that, in the reign of Mary Stuart, such a ballad as "The Queen's Marie" was thus composed, while the very unhistorical English ballads on Darnley, Riccio, and Bothwell may have been actually written and printed by and for some English street-singer. But many generations have collaborated in such versions of " The Queen's Marie" as we possess, with their numerous variations on the theme. In this sense authorship is "communal," and in many romantic ballads the don?iee is part of the popular stock of Marchen. Some ballads are obviously popularised out of literary romances, but the romances usually owe their donnees to the