Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/385

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
367
MYTHS OF EARTHQUAKE.

legends in a less easily interpretable state. It has lain beyond my scope to enter into any systematic discussion of the views of Grimm, Grote, Max Müller, Kuhn, Schirren, Cox, Bréal, Dasent, Kelly, and other mythologists. Even the outlines here sketched out have been purposely left without filling in surrounding detail which might confuse their shape, although this strictness has caused the neglect of many a tempting hint to work out episode after episode, by tracing their relation to the myths of far-off times and lands. It has rather been my object to bring prominently into view the nature-mythology of the lower races, that their clear and fresh mythic conceptions may serve as a basis in studying the nature-myths of the world at large. The evidence and interpretation here brought forward, imperfect as they are, seem to countenance a strong opinion as to the historical development of legends which describe in personal shape the life of nature. The state of mind to which such imaginative fictions belong is found in full vigour in the savage condition of mankind, its growth and inheritance continue into the higher culture of barbarous or half-civilized nations, and at last in the civilized world its effects pass more and more from realized belief into fanciful, affected, and even artificial poetry.