Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/30

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1 8 Presidential Address.

objection that they are assumptions. But Greek antiquity is, to a great extent, known ; and where it is reflected in modern Greece we have evidence to show how far oral tradition can be trusted, and what changes may occur by its means. Sometimes we can even go behind an- tiquity : there are customs, there are even words and phrases now current, for which no direct evidence, or only a hint, is forthcoming in ancient literature, but which bear all the marks of genuineness. There are even instances where popular idiom can solve a difficulty which has seemed to the classical student insoluble.^ But, without venturing upon this debatable ground, the acknowledged facts are of so great a value that it is a wonder they have never been gathered and compared. The only work of the kind which has ever appeared is Bernhard Schmidt's Volksleben der Neiigriechen imd das Hellenische AltertJium, of which the first part appeared in 1871, and the second is still unwritten. The principles which Schmidt lays down are good, and the execution, as far as it goes, excellent ; but his book does not ex- haust the material known in his day, and since his day a great quantity of fresh material has been published. The attention of classical scholars ought to be directed to this field of research. Unfortunately there is hardly any one in England who thinks modern Greek to be worthy of serious study. In France and Germany there are many; and in Paris provision is made, both for research and for teaching, by the university. In this country, once identified with the Philhellenic spirit, whose fleet struck the decisive blow for Greek freedom at the battle of Navarino, the commercial spirit has so tainted schools and universities alike, that there is nothing. It is this that so clearly shows the lack of intelligence in our government, who squander millions in elementary

^As /caKuis = Mod. Gr. rov kukov, 'in vain;' Eur. Cyclops, 690, as printed lately by Mr. Pallis in the Classiral Review.