Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/329

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Hampshire Folklore. 293

addition to this the river valleys are not the least char- acteristic features, and from every point of view the water- ways are of real import. To conclude, as if all this did not give sufficient diversity, there is the Isle of Wight, " the Island " to-day, as it was when Maria and Julia Bertram took exception to Fanny Price so distinguishing it.

With all this natural variety to influence the custom and character of the inhabitants, Hampshire possesses historical records as varied as any shire in the kingdom. In a county said to have only one level straight mile within its limits, with deep valleys, wide-stretched forests, marshland, moor, and meadow, each succeeding flood of invasion swept up, drove its predecessor before it, and was in turn submerged by the next. But its traces were left. You may find them to this day in the people themselves, the unmistakeable types and mixture of types, in the place-names, and above all in the legends, customs, sayings, and beliefs of the Hampshire folk.

It may be that there are few beliefs and customs peculiar to the county. The strange thing would be were it other- wise in face of Hampshire's position in our island's story. But, undoubtedly, there should be a rich harvest for the comparative folklorist. Yet the very conditions that promise this richness make against a successful harvesting. Hampshire folk are notoriously uncommunicative. Nor is this to be wondered at. Go and dwell among the majestic solitudes of the Downs, and see if flippant speech comes trippingly to the tongue. Along the beaten tracks, in the neighbourhood of the great highways that have traversed the county from prehistoric times, the old customs, the superstitions, and tales of yore have been thrust aside, spurned under hurrying feet, and buried past reclaim beneath the mass of superfluous ignorances modern civili- zation turns out under the label " Education." But get away from the dusty high-road, the railway, and the bustle of to-day, and within a mile or two you may hap upon