Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/143

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

Psychology and Etkfiology. 133

to you, go away." So that is all we learned that night about the future life.

Perhaps the psychologist will concede that at the present time those beliefs are not accompanied by any strong emo- tion ; but he will contend that these ideas must have had a strong emotional value for those who discovered them. This, of course, is to presuppose that these ideas came into the world quite suddenly, a fact for which we can find no warrant in our own civilization. We develop old customs or invent new ones by carrying existing ideas to their logical conclusion, a process which need not be accompanied by any other emotion but the pleasure of discovery. Vac- cination was a boon to mankind, but it does not follow that Jenner was prompted to discover it by a vision of human suffering, or that he had this vision while carrying out his investigations. A discoverer in tropical medicine may think science a blessing to human beings and sing its praises in verse, but it does not follow that he took to medicine out of philanthropy. Does a ritualistic High Churchman necessarily feel mystic emotions while debating the validity of incense, or the apostolic succession ? Are his conclusions determined by the amount of mystic emotion each idea arouses in him .

If we are ignorant of the true motives and emotions of our contemporaries and fellow-countrymen, when we have not only the results before us but also their own statements of motives, what hope have we of deducing motives and feelings from a custom invented, the Lord knows where^ when, or by whom ?

If we had not the hope, neither have we the wish. We can do without it, and have done without it often. The history of art has been doing so for quite a long time. It is true that, wherever possible, it gives the lives of the artists and the occasion of their work ; at such times it becomes biography and annals ; but where records fail it is forced to become pure Ethnology. Especially is this the case in