(1879) I again stated some of my notions. I had published them, between 1872 and 1879, in many periodicals, notably The Saturday Review. It is thus hardly correct to say that the “savage parallels were drawn before Mr. Lang by Mr. Farrer”. My friend, Mr. Farrer, was writing, however, in complete independence of me. It was not a case of borrowing, but of independent evolution. Now, in 1872, I was probably more under the influence of Hegel than at present, and I may have, somehow, been inclined to a mystic theory of märchen-forms, everywhere present in the human intellect.
The more I have reflected on these matters, the more has borrowing seemed to me the general and prevalent cause of the likeness in the märchen of the world. In Custom and Myth (pp. 101-2), writing in 1883-84, I give the methods in which diffusion might be effected—by traders, slaves, captives in war, and women: comparing an Oriental and European story, found in Samoa or Peru, to an Indian Ocean shell, said to have been discovered in a Polish cave, among prehistoric remains. Wherever the shell could be handed on, the story might go: yet I am a hard and fast Casualist, according to many British and foreign folk-lorists.
One is not all Transmissionist, however; one still maintains a belief that casual, or independent evolution may account for some cases of resemblance. Thus (Custom and Myth, p. 85), one says, “We think it a reasonable hypothesis that tales on the pattern of ‘Cupid and Psyche’ might have been evolved wherever a curious nuptial taboo required to be sanctioned, or explained, by a myth.” Now to say this is not to say that the legend, exactly as in
- Mr. Jacobs says that the “elderly lioncels of The Saturday Review are sublimely certain that resemblance in folk-tales is due to chance, not to transmission.” As one of those animals, I think it doubtful that I am “sublimely certain”, in The Saturday Review, of what I do not hold (except in the modified form to be explained) in my own books.