dren are apt to be terrified by the strange and quite irregular behavior of a feather as it glides along the floor or lifts itself into the air.
In these cases we may suppose that we have to do with a germ of superstitious fear which seems commonly to have its starting point in the appearance of something exceptional and uncanny that is unintelligible, and so smacking of the supernatural. The fear of feathers as uncanny objects plays, I am told, a considerable part in the superstitions of folklore. Such apparently selfcaused movement, so suggestive of life, might easily give rise to a vague sense of a mysterious presence or power possessing the object, and so lead to a crude form of a belief in supernatural agents.
In other cases of unexpected and mysterious movement the fear is slightly different. A little boy, when a year and eleven months, was frightened when visiting a lady's house by a toy elephant which shook its head. The same child, writes his mother, "at one year and seven months was very much scared by a toy cow which mooed realistically when its head was moved. This cow was subsequently given to him at about two years and three months. He was then still afraid of it, but became reconciled soon after, first allowing others to make it moo if he was at a safe distance, and at last making it moo himself."
There may possibly have been a germ of the fear of animals here; but I suspect that it was mainly a fear of the signs of life (movement and sound) appearing when they are not expected and have an uncanny aspect. The close simulation of a living thing by what is known to be not alive is disturbing to the child as to the adult. He will make his toys alive by his own fancy, but resent their taking on the full semblance of reality. In this sense he is a born idealist and not a realist. More careful observations on this curious group of child-fears are to be desired.
- See The Pedagogical Seminary, i, No. 2, p. 220.