Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/261

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Reviews. 247

therefore impossible to pronounce final judgment upon it. A hand, as Aristotle says, cut off from the body, is a hand in name only. Indeed, were we not expressly warned that this is merely a first instalment, we should be obliged to pronounce the title decidedly misleading. Worship as such is scarcely dealt with, and that though the author in his Introduction — evidently meant as an introduction to the complete work — very sensibly insists that religion is primarily for man a practical concern, so that worship is the essential part of it, and Dr. Tylor's definition of religion as simply a belief in spiritual beings will not do. The main concern of these four chapters is to show that in his general dealings with supernatural powers, including the souls of the dead, man is moved by fear rather than by love. The method of proof followed is that still in vogue amongst English anthropologists, though perhaps they may be said to be gradually becoming aware of its drawbacks. Considerations furnished by psychology — that is, the ordinary psychology which considers the individual mind "in itself" and more or less in abstraction from the social forces that condition it — provide the hypothesis; then the books of travellers are ransacked for confirmatory particulars, little attention being paid, at all events little prominence being given, to such evidence as tells the other way. Granting the rules of the game, Mr. Karsten plays it well enough. At most one might complain that a good deal of his material is of the old-fashioned, uncritical brand \ for instance, in regard to the Australians, he quotes Oldfield, Curr, Eyre, Angas, but ignores Spencer and Gillen. Now, unfortunately, it is especially in regard to the class of cases mostly cited, namely, those in which more or less sweeping moral judgments on the motives of savages are passed by Europeans, that the scientific point of view is absolutely essential. Thus when the Rev. W. Ellis, in all other respects an excellent observer, makes the Tahitian approach his gods " to secure their sanction and aid in the commission of the grossest crimes," one cannot conclude that therefore the Tahitian gods are in the eyes of their worshippers bad and unlovable; for to them — and the morality of natives from the scientific and historical standpoint must be treated as relative — it was the part of good and kind gods to send them, say, a fat white missionary to eat. Or, again,