Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/113

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

Reviews. 103

induced to become responsible for the publication, and enlist the requisite band of experts in the labour?

The quantity of folklore contained is considerable. The famous tales of Herla, of Wild Edric, of Henno With-the-teeth, of Wastin of Wastiniog, and many another would have been lost to us if Map had not recorded them. Ghost-stories, portents, historical traditions, incidental allusions to manners and customs, especially of the English and Welsh, are scattered freely throughout the pages. We breathe the mental and moral atmosphere in which our fathers of that day lived. Map himself, as a man of the world and a courtier, was above the average, not merely of the laity but also of the clergy, in his intellectual grasp. Yet his credulity was very great, though not quite boundless. His prejudices, his hatreds were vigorous, not to say bitter. He takes a spiteful pleasure in hints and statements to the disadvantage of the Cistercians. His anecdotes of the Welsh are frequently inspired by malice. If not a full-blooded Welshman himself, he was probably born on the Herefordshire border. He displays some acquaintance with the Welsh language, and many of his best tales relate to Wales and the border. But if the new transcription be correct, as it probably is, it is curious that he should have explained the kingdom of Deheubarth as North Wales, and in the puzzling passage on the next page Reynos cannot be the correct form of an old Welsh name for either Brecon or Herefordshire. Another interesting result of the new transcription is that the scene of Wild Edric's adventure is definitely removed from the Forest of Dean. The single word, read by Wright as Denis, on which its localization rested, is now read as devia, and the locality is left undetermined: it must be sought for in Shropshire or Herefordshire. Map had probably heard the tale somewhere in the Marches, for which a man so curious had abundant opportunity either in his youth or his official life.

To refer, however, even to a small selection of the numerous and interesting points that arise upon the work would occupy far more space than the most accommodating and sympathetic editor can afford here.

E. Sidney Hartland.