Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/40

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Presidential Address.

past? The most we can say is, I think, that survivals occur in the customs of savagery and predominate in those of Europe.

I need not further labour the point of the essential solidarity of folklore, whether of its component elements,—belief, custom, and story,—or of its two great phases, savage and civilized. But I think you will feel with me that it is an important point, because the way we regard the subject must affect our method of studying it. If we regard folklore not as a miscellaneous collection of items to be put together like a jig-saw puzzle, but as a whole to be examined and analysed, we shall approach it differently. We shall try to distinguish the normal and essential features of a rite or custom from variations and accretions, we shall note which of the constituent elements of folklore enter into it, and which are wanting. We shall take environment into consideration, and, if survival be present, we shall try, (as I have urged before), to discover what it is a survival from? Some time or other that survival must have fitted into its environment. What was that environment? What period, what state of society does the survival survive from? We must, (I repeat once more), discriminate between survivals from mediaeval times and survivals from totemic times, survivals of barbarism and survivals of outworn cultures.

I know that not every one is willing to admit that the latter form of survival exists, but I cannot for my own part see how it can be denied that cases of it do occur, as well as the converse, but more familiar, case of archaic survivals embedded in modern practice. How else, but as a survival from ancient or imported culture, can we account for the common use of the pentacle as a protective charm in Wales, for finding an old Indian squaw reckoning with archaic Celtic numerals used in Cumberland for counting sheep, and for hearing Jamaican negroes singing fragments of an old Enijlish ballad embedded in an