Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 24, 1913.djvu/44

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


P residential Address.

Such localisation of beliefs suggests an important con- clusion. When, in the course of migrations, ideas are transplanted into foreign soil, they survive only where the local atmosphere is favourable. If this is not the case, they remain exotic, like the orchids removed from a tropical forest to an English garden. Hence we observe the curious phenomenon that folk-tales, long forgott<^n in their native land, return through a foreign medium, and are admitted to full popular franchise, because they are founded upon princi])les embodied in the social or economic life of the race, and, when re-adapted, bring with them a breath from a half-forgotten past. The tale of Rampsinitus and the King's Treasury, told from the version of Herodotus a few years ago to some fellahin in the upper Nile valley, has now become a part of the local folklore. The Thousand Nights and a Night, which have their nucleus in Iranian or Hindu tradition, after passing through the Musalman alembic in Egypt, with large accessions from Arab sources, have come back, by translation, into the vernacular dialects from the Persian, and in an Indian bazaar now delight a Hindu audience. Miss Frere's charming collection, Old Deccan Days, translated into Marathi, and Lai Behari Day's Folk-Talcs of Bengal in a Bengali version, are now freely circulated as chap-books in the districts where they were originally collected.

The beliefs which are most persi.stent are those connected Avith the primal needs of humanity, man's daily bread, the rites at ploughing, seed-time, and harvest, the fertility cults associated with sacred tree, well, or stone monument. The achievement of the new school, of which Miss Harrison is the leading worker, has been to use the philosophy of M. Bergson and the sociology of M. Durkheim as a link between these beliefs and the doctrine that religion is the outgrowth of the social environment. The group deity, we are now taught, is the projection or externalisation of the ■collective emotion of the thiasos or group of worshippers.