Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/115

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Reviews. 105

Romans and even of the Hebrews, and of the barbarous and other nations of antiquity so far as they are known to us. Returning to Europe, he wrote his book on the ALviirs des Sativages Ameri- quai/is, in wliich he insists on these resemblances and shows the light thrown by the customs of modern savages on those described or referred to by ancient authors. Of course, his work was imperfect. It was hampered by his ecclesiastical training, and by the want of detailed ethnographical knowledge of other parts of the world. These were his misfortune and that of his time, not his fault. He was a pioneer. His great merit was to have seen these resemblances, to have been put upon enquiry and to have evolved a methodical comparison. But the times were unfavour- able. I'he great literary quarrel as to the superiority of the ancients or the moderns preoccupied the minds of the learned. No decisive arguments for the one or the other could be drawn from Lafitau's armoury. The doctrine of the Social Contract and Rousseau's contention as to the original nobility of the savage derived no countenance from it. Lafitau's work was neglected and forgotten. De Brosses, indeed, made some use of it in his book on Fetishism. He employed the same method in a fine critical spirit, though in a more limited sphere. The Academic des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres refused to print it, when presented to it in the shape of a ?na?ioire, because of the boldness of the author's ideas. He published it himself, but it remained without effect on his contemporaries. Other men — Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire, Goguet, Boulanger — had glimpses more or less rudi- mentary of the ethnographic method, and applied it partially and often to support preconceived opinions and objects quite different from those of science. The Revolution came, and scientific enquiry was suspended. Dupuis and Dulaure, who wrote in the midst of the commotion, were faddists who did not understand true scientific method, and their writings had little influence. Not until towards the middle of the nineteenth century did the science of Man begin to be really studied in France ; and then it was not due to the impulse of the great forerunners prior to the Revolution. They preached in the wilderness ; but the story of their labours, though they failed, was well worth writing.

E. Sidney Hartland.