Page:Indian fairy tales (1892).djvu/274

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234
Notes and References

about 250 have been already found among Indian folk-tales, and the number is increased by each new collection that is made or printed. The moral of this is, that India belongs to a group of peoples who have a common store of stories; India belongs to Europe for purposes of comparative folk-tales.

Can we go further and say that India is the source of all the incidents that are held in common by European children? I think we may answer "Yes" as regards droll incidents, the travels of many of which we can trace, and we have the curious result that European children owe their earliest laughter to Hindu wags. As regards the serious incidents further inquiry is needed. Thus, we find the incident of an "external soul" (Life Index, Captain Temple very appropriately named it) in Asbjornsen's Norse Tales and in Miss Frere's Old Deccan Days (see Notes on Punchkin). Yet the latter is a very suspicious source, since Miss Frere derived her tales from a Christian ayah whose family had been in Portuguese Goa for a hundred years. May they not have got the story of the giant with his soul outside his body from some European sailor touching at Goa? This is to a certain extent negatived by the fact of the frequent occurrence of the incident in Indian folk-tales (Captain Temple gave a large number of instances in Wideawake Stories, pp. 404-5). On the other hand, Mr. Frazer in his Golden Bough has shown the wide spread of the idea among all savage or semi-savage tribes. (See Note on No. iv.)

In this particular case we may be doubtful; but in others, again as the incident, of the rat's tail up nose (see Notes on The Charmed Ring)—there can be little doubt of the Indian origin. And generally, so far as the incidents are marvellous and of true fairy-tale character, the presumption is in favour of India, because of the vitality of animism or metempsychosis in India throughout all historic time. No Hindu would doubt the fact of animals speaking or of men transformed into plants and animals. The European may once have had these beliefs, and may still hold them implicitly as "survivals"; but in the "survival" stage they cannot afford material for artistic creation, and the fact that the higher minds of Europe for the last thousand years have discountenanced these beliefs has not been entirely without influence. Of one thing there is practical certainty: the fairy tales that are common to the Indo-European world were invented once for all in a certain locality, and thence spread to all the countries in culture contact with the original source. The mere fact that contiguous countries have more similarities in their story store than distant ones is sufficient to prove this: indeed, the fact that any single country has spread throughout it a definite set of folk-tales as distinctive