Folk-Lore/Volume 20/Presidential Address

PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS.


I do not invite you, as on the last occasion, on a visit to Fairyland, but ask you to descend with me from the heights of classical literature and of refined society to the depths of popular literature and to that layer of society of which the education has apparently been neglected, and of the inner life of which only a glimpse is allowed to reach the sympathetic eye from time to time. We will descend to the masses, and turn to the unwritten lore of the people.

Classical literature, as the name denotes, is the literature of the class, often demanding for its growth a special atmosphere and a peculiar refinement, obtained by leisure, wealth, or luxury, and by detachment from the immediate cares of the day. It represents a world of its own imagination, appealing to the selected few who, through a process of self-deception and from that remarkable ignorance which still prevails among the so-called classes, fondly assume that all the treasures of poetry, and all that goes towards elevating the mind, are the privileged property of the few. But the bounties of this world have not been set apart for the few, nor has the sole enjoyment of its beauty been granted to the select. On the contrary, the gift of poetical imagination and the power of giving expression to the deepest emotion belong to the whole of mankind.

The people have also poetry, but this is a poetry of their own; the people possess a literature, written or preserved by memory; and it is the study of this poetry and this literature which now claims our attention. The field is vast, and unfortunately the workers are few. It has taken a long time ere the Cinderella of modern literature has come to her own, and even now her sway is not undisputed. How many can or will believe that in the thatched cottages or in the dark hovels on moor or hill, among the labourers on land and the toilers on the sea, there is the longing, the unconscious feeling and hoping, for a life that is better and for a life that is purer, and that among the untutored and unlearned there is a system of philosophy, a dim philosophy of life, which in its way tries to solve the riddle of the world and to place everything in its proper position, which seeks an answer to the great problems of sorrow and death, which animates the world around us with dark or luminous figures, for which everything that lives and moves is a symbol with a definite meaning, which tries to unravel the skein of tangled events by the short cut of fatality, or endeavours to lift the veil of the future by reading the stars or watching the movements of animal, bird, or tree, which recognises hidden, mysterious powers in written letters and signs, in the spells of wizards and incantations of witches, and in amulets and charms, and which believes in the far-reaching power of persons who wield mysterious forces. Whence does it all come? What does it portend?

Natural science teaches that the world is an endless chain in which no link is missing. The same truth obtains in the spiritual world, in the realm of the human soul and its achievements. There is an endless chain with unbroken links. The aim and object of the Folk-Lore Society is to follow it up, and to show how closely these rings are riveted together, and that popular literature is an important ring in the chain. It is a proud boast for us to say that our Society has been the first to discover its significance and to realise the poetry of the submerged. The late Mr. Thoms and a few other enthusiastic students of folk tales and superstitions, customs, and games banded themselves together in the year 1878 for the purpose of collecting and preserving the fast-perishing relics of the lore or knowledge possessed by the people, and the treasures of unwritten traditions, practices, and customs. To their appeal a few more answered readily, and for thirty years our Society has been able to show an unbroken record of work admirably conceived and successfully carried out. It was the first attempt to take Cinderella away from the hearth and from the ash-heap to which she had been relegated by her ignorant and spiteful sisters. This Society has given a powerful impetus to the scientific treatment of those crude philosophies which are embodied in Folklore.

With the deepening of these studies the basis has broadened. The true import of men and events and the fitting place to be assigned to them in the mechanism and fabric of science and history are found only by comparing one with the other. Through such comparison out of the experimental stage of mere collection grows up the historical appreciation and scientific understanding of the facts thus collected. The Folk-Lore Society has also proceeded from the one stage to the other. It is not merely a society for collecting customs and relics which our so-called modern education is fast obliterating by driving away the poetry from school and from home, but it has made the science of Folklore possible by a sustained comparison between the legends and tales, customs, and superstitions prevailing in one country with those prevailing in other countries. The example set by the Folk-Lore Society has been followed abroad, and has given rise to similar societies with kindred objects, working with us in the same spirit and towards the same end. To the outsider it may appear that we are studying the jetsam and flotsam, the wreckage of civilisation, things which some boast to have shaken off and relegated to an obscure corner of indifference or contempt, things ridiculed with an air of superciliousness as objects unfit for the more refined taste of our generation and mere waste. But this very study of the waste is, if anything, the most modern of modern achievements. Nothing is indifferent, nothing is unimportant, and appearances deceive. Let me take one single example which has always fascinated me since I have begun to study it more closely. What apparently is more repugnant to the sight and smell and less promising than the black, grimy, sticky tar flowing away from the distillation of coal. It is "waste," or it was "waste" until its unsuspected and marvellous properties were discovered. Take one drop of that tar, spread it over a wide surface, and it will reveal to us a wealth of colour rivalling all the beauties and hues of the rainbow. Is it too much to say that the coal, which is nothing but a kind of temporary transformation of the forests of old, has retained under its black cover all the beauty of the forests, of their flowers and of their bloom, and now, when it has passed through the fire retort, and has been condensed in the black tar, the colours of ancient times come again to light? This is absolutely typical of Folklore and of our Society.

We are collecting these tales and superstitions, these customs and habits, entombed in the minds of the vast masses, and, considered as black coal, we subject them to the fiery process of scientific investigation, and we are crystallising out of that mass again the primary elements of those poetical flowers and of that ancient knowledge which has permeated the world, and the fragrance of which is keeping the human soul fresh whenever it is wafted upon it. That is what our Folk-Lore Society is anxious to do, and it looks for the ready assistance and the sympathetic support of all those who feel like us, and appreciate our endeavours to recover the fast-fading past, to set it on a historical plane and upon a scientific basis. In each ballad, in each tale, in each song, in each superstition, and in each charm we find now that, however small and insignificant it maybe, it does not stand by itself, it is part of a whole, and as such it contains all the elements of the greater, the higher, and the more perfect. A drop is a sample of the ocean from which it has been taken, and the handful which we have been able to gather and the bunch we have been able to pluck represent the wide field out of the unlimited expanse.

This is not an exaggerated view which we are taking, in the way that enthusiasts are often given to magnify the importance of their work, or the objects of their investigation. It is not a barren hobby, for our labours have already borne wonderful fruit in every direction. The Folk-Lore Society is the concentration of many forces that have been working long before in a scattered manner, independently of one another; it is focussing the rays of light thrown on the dark surface of the deep, and gathering up the labours of collectors and antiquaries who have been at work for at least a century or more. It is at the same time a concentration of intellectual forces bent on the solution of the problems raised by the materials accumulated during that period. For happily there have existed men in many lands, but notably in England, who have shown a remarkable intuition and a sympathetic understanding of the remnants of the past. Starting from antiquarian studies of the dead, they have become students of the living soul. We have had here many valuable ancient collections, e.g., the Percy collection, the Welsh Mabinogion, and the Irish Red Book. It would be almost an unending task were I to enumerate all those who, merely attracted by the beauty of the subject, have collected from time to time tales and legends, ballads and songs, superstitions, charms, riddles, and games, all branches of our studies and chapters in our great book of Folklore. Thus far we had fine collections, detached limbs, without any internal connection, beautiful in themselves, but still closed books. The real study on a scientific basis was started by the brothers Grimm, in their interpretation of the fairy tales which they had collected with so much love and published in their simplicity and with so much accuracy. They tried to show that what was now a fairy tale was nothing else but a late form of some ancient legend, or an ancient saga of the gods or heroes of the Valhalla of the northern nations of Europe; that Christianity had been a kind of superficial veneer, and had never penetrated down to the lowest masses of the people, who had retained with remarkable tenacity the customs and the religious practices of old; that, in fact, the fairies and hobgoblins, the animals and plants, and the heroes and heroines appearing in the fairy tales were ancient gods in disguise; nay, that even many local saints and local customs connected with special days were nothing else but ancient heathen gods and heathen practices. This explanation so struck popular imagination and so much fascinated scholars that, independently of their beauty or of their charm, tales were collected solely or mostly for a scientific purpose. The work was taken up almost simultaneously in many parts of Europe, and also in some parts of Asia and America. Its development reads almost like a romance.

A remarkable result ensued! It was found that the very same tales occurred amongst the most diverse nations scattered throughout Europe and Asia; that a tale told, e.g. in the North of Scotland, found its counterpart in Sicily or Greece, another one in Russia, and a third a parallel in India, while also among the savage races similar tales were discovered. Thus, for instance, Cinderella was found scattered all over the wide world, our good friend Red Riding Hood was eaten up by wild animals in other countries, Puss in Boots was marching across many lands, Jack had planted his beanstalk in many parts, and had killed many giants, and Tom-Tit-Tot and Hobgoblins were either thwarting or assisting many people in their work, Robin Hood was playing tricks with people in many forests, and even the query "Who killed Cock Robin" was chirped in many glens. As for our hero's exploits in this world or the world above or the world below, there was scarcely any country in which he did not perform marvellous deeds. Our proverbs were repeated by Hindoos, and our charms were worn by the people in Kamchatka or Morocco. Many of our customs carried us back first to Rome and Greece, then to the peoples of the East, and then to more primitive races, bringing us closer to the dawn of civilisation, to the very beginnings of human worship, and to the primitive ideas of God and soul, of creation and world, and of death and life. The further students penetrated into the realm of Folklore, i.e. that knowledge which is the property of the "Folk," the greater grew the similarity between one nation and another. To the psychological and philosophical history of the human spirit another chapter was added which formed a bridge between anthropology and psychology, mere man and mere soul, showing unity in spite of difference. It was found to be more a question of degree than of essence. All the races start from one level and slowly climb up the ladder. Some stand or have stood at the lowest rung, others have proceeded a little higher up, but there is continual progress. Rings in one chain!

We have learnt to know that the most advanced types have retained rudimentary elements of their primitive condition, and the science of Folklore shows that we have retained even in our most advanced state of civilisation the rudimentary forms and primitive stages in the later organic development and progress. It is therefore possible to discover among highly refined individuals and nations remnants of a past, of which they are no longer conscious, or which they do not understand. Call it "atavism," call it "inheritance," call it by whatever name you like, it means always the same,—a relic of the past. Call it then "superstition," call it "custom" or "legend," it is always the same, the remnant of the past, with its good and its evil, with its beauty and repulsiveness. Individuals or whole layers of society represent often at the same time a higher and a lower, a more refined and a more primitive stage of development. We are thus made aware of the strange complexity of human life, of the many strands that are woven into one cord, and of the many cords that cross and recross in our composite being, and still above it all there is, as it were, one and the same spiritual power moulding it all together and setting in motion aims and aspirations which tend in the same direction and create harmony out of discordant elements. In spite of all divergence in detail the Folklore of one nation is essentially that of almost every other nation. The same superstitions, the same legends, the same habits and modes of life at a certain stage of development appertain to them all.

The narrower mythological theory had to give way under the effect of this remarkable similarity. A Greek or Asiatic tale could no longer be taken as representing Teutonic gods in disguise. Instead, an explanation was sought for this similarity in the universal unity of the human race. At a certain stage of development every nation, so it was argued, would evolve an absolutely identical practice or custom or legend, and therefore these tales and charms and customs would be of independent origin, springing up everywhere where men had reached exactly the same level of social and mental development. It would, however, be impossible to prove any two individuals, and still less two communities, to have approximated in their mental evolution to one another so closely as to be to all intents and purposes identical, so that their poetry should be absolutely the same. The principle of similarity of evolution, running on parallel lines among many nations, is, however, an extremely valuable asset, and helps in another way to explain the similarity of Folklore. These legends and customs may have been invented only in one place, but they have been disseminated throughout the world. The equality in mental disposition made it easy for other nations to appreciate the new-comers, and to adopt and adapt them, and then so to transform them that they become bone of their bone, flesh of their flesh.

Happily for mankind the spirit knows no boundaries. It recognises no barriers to its flight, and has no specific home of its own. It lives in the heart and mind of man. The spiritual achievements of one nation soon become the spiritual property of another nation. This is the fundamental condition for the progress of the world, and this principle of free trade has been the blessing of the world. I am not discussing here trade questions, because the spirit cannot be bartered. It is taken at its face value everywhere. The peoples are willing to accept it, to value it, and to use it. Because of that similarity, whatever Man may have dreamt, or hoped, whatever poetical imagination he may have conceived and expressed, and whatever song he may have broken into at times of great emotion, will be caught up by the wind that bloweth where it listeth, will ring through the world, and will be carried far away until a responsive chord is touched in another human heart. Just because man is everywhere so fitted that he will respond to these callings of the spirit, just because he is adapted to the same tune of the mind, these tales and legends, these customs and superstitions, have found such a wide dissemination throughout the world, and have everywhere become the household property of the nations, no one asking whence they came or who brought them. Thus we find that they have indeed been wandering from country to country, from nation to nation, carried by throbbing hearts and willing minds.

We are accustomed to take for granted, or at any rate we do not investigate deeply, the kind of intercourse which existed between the nations in olden times. Did they live isolated, every one on his own glebe? What intercourse was there between the townsfolk and those living in the villages? In what way were such communications carried? It would lead me too far to enter here upon the discussion of the various ways of communication between one nation and another. But let me state at once that no period in human history is known in which any nation has been allowed to live isolated for any length of time. There is no such thing as isolation. It must be sufficient for our purpose if I touch, however lightly, upon some of the means by which communication was kept open, at least in the Middle Ages. First, there were pilgrimages to the local shrines, reminding you of Chaucer's famous pilgrimage to Canterbury, and there were also the longer pilgrimages to Rome from every part of Christendom. People mixed and travelled together, met on the road, exchanged their experiences, told their adventures, spiced them with romantic episodes, added some satirical touches, and in such wise lightened their journey, from which they came back carrying with them the history of their travels, memories of adventures, tales and curious superstitions, relics of saints, practices of various places, and sometimes perhaps a not unwelcome merry song, or a stirring ballad, or a jolly jest. I remind you then of the minstrels, lute on back, travelling in the train of some great lord, or on their own account, singing romances and ballads, and sometimes playing up to a country folk dance or at some other popular entertainment or at fairs and on festive occasions. I remind you of the quacks and astrologers appearing at the fairs with their gruesome stories and wonderful cures, with their knowledge of the stars, casting horoscopes, making venesection at certain days, and performing all kinds of marvellous feats of leechcraft; and what about the jesters, and what about the pedlars and jugglers, and what about the outlaws running for sanctuary from country to country, or from place to place, and then the stately merchants on land and sea with their foreign merchandise and wondrous tales? What about the sailor bringing home outlandish animals and birds, monkeys and parrots, and no less wonderful yarns of foreign nations and distant lands? Thus we have so many elements which alone would suffice to furnish sufficient instruction and edification to the people of the time, channels through which tales, legends, and a large amount of popular literature could find their way to the most distant corners. Of course many of the customs and beliefs still prevailing may be of local origin, grown up through local associations of ideas, or, in some cases, remnants of ancient forms of worship, of which they are unrecognised relics. For examples we need not even go far afield or remount the stream of time. Since the Reformation many Catholic customs have lost here their purely religious character, and have become popular customs. Take the ancient "All-hallow Even." How many customs are there not still kept on that evening, lighted tapers and cracking of nuts and other practices, looked upon as superstitions, which in olden times were very important functions. The day was connected with solemn practices for the rest of the souls of the dead, and many of these practices that still survive can easily be traced to more ancient beliefs and to still more ancient practices, which carry us back to the worship of the dead. Or, if we turn to Christmas, leaving other customs aside, there are the Christmas-log or Yule-log, the Christmas carol, the Fool-plough, the Sword dance, the Lord of Misrule, Mumming, and last, but not least, the Christmas box. Each of these customs can easily be traced back to ancient beliefs, to Roman Saturnalia, to ancient cults of Mithra and Adonis, or, on the other hand, to the ancient popular theatre, and to the various forms of entertainment, of a religious or secular character, the latter in time preponderating. Side by side with the Mystery Plays, there were dramatic performances, then came the Mummers, and finally Punch and Judy. Legends of saints have also been the basis of religious customs which were kept on certain days, and so on through the whole gamut of popular traditions. Looked upon as the practices of the folk, they were treated with contempt and ridicule, but through the scientific investigation of their origin we have now obtained a deeper insight into their true meaning. They have been rescued from the position of obscurity and inferiority into which they had been thrust, and placed side by side with the more ancient and more developed types of which the importance cannot be gainsaid. They are found to be the latest representatives of older forms of belief and practice.

The next question which we might ask is. Whence did they originate, and how did they reach the masses? I am not discussing here the problem of remote origin. It lies outside the sphere of our immediate investigations. No one will deny that, irrespective of date or place of origin, the individual and not the mass was the first originator. A poem must be the product of one individual poet, a tale must be told first by one gifted story-teller, and a custom must be instituted or practised for the first time by one single individual, who sets the example. How then did all this lore reach distant lands and penetrate among the masses, and, if so, did it reach the masses only? The way that literature and those customs may have come, by means of travellers, pilgrims, pedlars, minstrels, etc., I have endeavoured to sketch as briefly as possible. But, strictly speaking, these men did not belong to the masses. They represented more or less what may be called the cultured classes of that time. It is quite germane to our investigation to ask, What did the classes read during the Middle Ages, at a time when ignorance was universal, and when the percentage of those who were able to write, read, or to sign their names was so small that, even among the supposed learned friars in convents, it often happened that only a few could write, whilst the rest were content to pray and to beg? What did those classes do? Where did they find satisfaction for that craving, for that spiritual longing for a more or less refined culture? What did they read when no "novels" existed with which as now to beguile their time? The answer is that, instead of reading, they listened to tales, stories, legends, and romances brought from afar. They listened also to the minstrels singing to them of the deeds of old, the exploits of the knights of chivalry, the achievements of the Crusaders, the history of some mythical god or hero. There arose at an early time cycles of romantic legends, notably in England and France, the romances of Arthur and his knights of the Round Table, and of the Quest of the Grail, the story of Sir Bevis of Southampton, Amis and Amile, and remembrances of ancient heroes, such as Alexander the Great, the Siege of Troy, the romances of Charlemagne and his court, and of the great heroes of the Moors and of the Spaniards. Moral stories, tales, and maxims came also from the East, like the famous history of Barlaam and Josaphat, the Hermit and the Prince, with their wondrous apologues, the history of the Cunning of Women, the fox tales, the story of the Seven Wise Masters, and a host of similar stories translated into every European language. These followed in the wake of the Romances, for, when the romantic period had disappeared, knighthood was dead. Then slowly out of that mass of tales and fabliaux "novels" arose, as they were originally called, some of which are known to us through Chaucer, Lydgate, Govver, and others, and the more elaborate works of fiction, the modern "novel."

Following up this evolutionary series we are struck by a remarkable fact, as remarkable as unexpected, and to my mind so full of comfort, so full of satisfaction, that it outweighs every other scientific result. We are led now to recognise that great and invaluable truth that, whatever has been brought to light out of the depth of the human mind, whatever has been set in circulation as the achievement of the spirit, remains the permanent property of mankind. Nothing is lost. What holds good for matter holds equally good for spirit. The coal becomes a diamond, and the diamond coal; it is transformed into heat, and heat into light, and light into electricity, and electricity into force, and so on. But it is never lost. The same happens also in the spiritual world. The same changes take place in the literary evolution, and thus it comes to pass that Folklore, through its close relation to mediaeval literature, should hold the key to these treasures. Few perhaps are aware that all that the greatest modern poets have produced rests directly on popular literature. Shakespeare, Dante, and Goethe have borrowed their materials from mediaeval romances, novels, tales, and religious legends. The Divine Comedy, Faust, as well as many of the comedies of Shakespeare, are in their primitive forms simple popular legends and tales, told by the folk and believed in by the folk. The diamond was there, and the poet came and cut into it many facets and polished it. Is the Odyssey of our old friend Homer aught but another form of a Don Quixote, or perhaps a mediæval knight-errant of olden times who had to solve riddles put by fairies, and had to run many adventures ere he reached his own home? Is the famous epic tale of the Babylonians of the descent of Ishtar to the lower world in quest of Tammiiz aught but an older form of the better-known tale of Eros and Psyche, and also a forerunner, in a way, of Dante? One could go on proving the immortality of spiritual conquests through the whole range of the world's literature, adding proof to proof that that which once existed can never perish.

No less interesting is it, then, to follow downwards the further developments of the discarded literature of the classes. It does not disappear; it only filters down slowly to the masses. It is stripped of the encumbrances of its former existence, and is adapted to more humble and simple surroundings, to more modest homes than those of its former abode, to hamlets instead of grand castles. Yet it finds now a no less ready welcome and a no less hearty reception than of yore. Epical poems and romances are turned into prose and shortened. An episode from a romance becomes a ballad; a popular tune is caught up and fixed to it, and sometimes the old name of the hero is changed into a later one because better known. For instance, Charlemagne will take the place of Pepin, and Sir Bevis or Galahad will become some other knight-errant travelling through the world. In the same manner the ancient grand miniatures and illuminations become in time rude woodcuts. The ancient Romances have thus been turned into Chap-books, which the chapman takes in his sack and carries to the village fair; or they are flattened out still further, and they become broadsides, the original of our illustrated sheets and political cartoons. These quaint, peculiar, popular little books of stories are the last representatives of the romances of old. The substance has been retained, the dross has been rejected, and the phrases and sentiments of another society and another period have been eliminated, but the purely human element in them has remained to exercise a powerful influence upon the mind of the people. The mystical poem of the Rose, or kindred allegorical poems, may have influenced Bunyan in a subtle manner, and produced the Pilgrim's Progress. On the other hand, there were also branches of knowledge which appealed to the darker side of human nature. The king's astrologer becomes afterwards the man who casts nativities, and Zadkiel and Old Moore are the last puny offspring of the mystical old science of astrology, which once held sway over the world and has not yet died out. Scholars brought up in Toledo became in popular imagination wizards, and the Evil Spirit reared in the Dualistic conception of the world cast his shadow over many lands, and claimed his victims among innocent, hysterical women, burnt at the stake as witches.

Folklore alone holds the key also to these tragical mysteries, it alone explains some of the dark workings of the mind, the result of contending forces fighting one against the other. It is a full picture of humanity which Folklore presents to us. There is light and darkness, and there is also the shading off in different hues, which tasks the skill of the investigator, but which repays him amply for the time and energy spent in these investigations. Nature abhors a vacuum, and, as we are shown, the human mind abhors it likewise. The eager desire to learn and to know, to understand the world around us and in us, is one of the prominent features of man. As Aristotle said, man is a ζῶον πολιτικόν, a "political being" interested in everything, accepting suitable instruction from every quarter, but also accepting everything that is offered to him, indiscriminately. He throws it, as it were, into the melting-pot out of which emerges that mass of ballads and superstitions, tales and legends, games and songs, gathered from everywhere, and handed down, directly or indirectly, by the lettered classes. There can be no doubt that much of the popular literature of to-day—in the widest sense of the word—was the literature of the upper classes of the preceding centuries, remodelled by the people in accordance with the innate instincts and dispositions of each nation. The elements surging up from the depth of antiquity meet newer elements coming down from above, and so shape and mould popular taste and popular feeling. They are the food for the hungry soul of the masses, eager to raise itself from the lower level of ignorance to a higher poetical contemplation.

Having arrived thus far, it behoves us to pause for a moment, and ask what benefit there is in this study of Folklore? The answer is not far to seek. Collection in itself is an instruction, and the objects which we collect influence our æsthetical feeling. There is always great pleasure experienced by every collector. But there is a profound difference between science and aimless dilettantism. Science is not an inscription on a tombstone. To collect the remnants of the past in order to enshrine them in some beautifully adorned cases would be to miss entirely the aim and object of true study and scientific investigation. The real aim, on the contrary, must be to make the past a stepping-stone to the future, a mirror which is held up to us in which to see the virtues and the vices, the greatness and the smallness, the attempts and the failures, so as to shun the one and follow the other. The science of Folklore does not fall short of this expectation. It carries v/ith it a warning and a lesson. A new responsibility together with a greater hope is borne upon us through the study of popular literature. The masses are receptive to an unexpected degree. Constant and systematic influence exercised upon the people generation after generation continues unabated. Nothing can stop that filtering down from one sphere of society to the other sphere of society, and if the upper ten should distil poison in their hours of leisure or for the satisfaction of fastidious and unnatural tastes, the masses will follow suit, and with a vengeance. The tinsel will be rubbed off, the gaudy trappings will be stripped, but the poison will remain. But we need not dwell on so gloomy an outlook. Folklore brings us a more hopeful message of confidence and trust in the innate robustness of man. We are born spiritually healthy, and this virility asserts itself over and over again in throwing off the effects of that poison. The process of filtering down is sometimes, nay very often, a purifying process; only that which is best, that which satisfies the imagination and the poetical instincts of the masses, is retained permanently by them, cherished by them, and invested with that incomparable charm so intimately bound up with popular literature. Society is constantly being levelled up. We are marching onwards, because all that is best is retained, is appreciated, and acts to fructify the mind and illumine the soul. Folklore alone teaches us to recognise these gems in often inferior settings and to value the priceless treasures bequeathed to us by the past. Our modern world knows only and cares apparently only for dry-as-dust positive facts, mathematical calculations, and misleading statistics. For fairies and their attendance there is neither sympathy nor kindness. Not very long ago a lady of position went so far as to suggest that fairy-tale books and other stories of imagination should be banished from the nursery and from the school. It would have been a bad day for the young boys and girls of England if such counsels had prevailed. These tales, with their heroes, would have betaken themselves again to the country folk and to the hamlets where they had dwelt for so many years in peace, and where they were highly beloved; but a blow would have been struck at the training of imagination, which is the most glorious gift man possesses. There is no higher training conceivable than that of the imaginative faculties of man. What is ambition but an expression of imagination? How could we understand patriotism, self-sacrifice, duty, or hope, if our imagination were not stirred, if it did not conjure up vistas of far-off lands and nations, paying homage to one law and to one rule? What would politics and religion, the two poles round which the whole of human life turns, be without that power of imagination, which on the one side sees mankind uplifted and glory everlasting bestowed, and on the other the firm establishment of society on the basis of truth and justice? Take imagination away, and we are hurled down from the height of bliss to the depth of despair. Our education would soon come to a standstill. Not even the most practical science can be taught, unless the enthusiasm of the student is first roused and the scholar's imagination fired by some glowing picture of success or discovery. When we rear up the coming generation and establish our commonwealth, it is always imagination that precedes the practical deed. What would the world be without its poetry, without its beauty, Even utilitarianism cannot dispense with the help of imagination, and this gift of imagination is happily one of those in which the masses participate to a far larger extent than the so-called classes. Among the latter the power of imagination is often crippled and shrivelled up through materialistic tendencies and narrow-minded egotism, through pedantry and self-imposed social fetters; but from the masses renewing forces rise from time to time, and bring fresh light and fresh blood into the decaying ranks of the higher circle of society. The few gifts which society often grudgingly grants are a thousandfold repaid by the poetical imagination of the people, by that literature which they have made their own, and which they return to the givers, in a purified, elevated, and more dignified form. Thus by that mutual play of popular and classical literature, the written and the spoken, the literature of the classes and that of the masses, by constant interchange, by borrowing and lending, the most beautiful chapter in the history of man is written.

Its name is Folklore, You are hereby invited to read it.