Folk-Lore/Volume 23/The Scientific Aspects of Folklore


The Scientific Aspects of Folklore.

Thirty-three years, the average length of a generation, have passed since this Society was founded. We have thus attained the period of fullest maturity, and we should have prepared ourselves for the serious work of life. If by this time we have not put away childish things, and have not adopted scientific methods of investigation, our labour has been in vain, and we cannot justify our claims to take a place in the ranks of those older branches of learning whose position in the world of knowledge is assured. The special subject on which I venture to address you this evening is the relations of folklore to those sciences with which it is most closely associated.

But before discussing questions such as these, my first duty is to express our feelings of sorrow at the loss of those fellow-workers who have recently passed away. Four of these were members of the service to which I have the honour to belong; three of them were personal friends. Sir A. Lyall will be remembered for that exceptionally profound appreciation of the religious problems of the East which is displayed in his essays on the philosophy of Hinduism and the popular religion of Berar; Sir D. Ibbetson for his investigations into the folklore and beliefs of the Panjab peasantry; Sir H. H. Risley for the foundation of the Ethnographical Survey of India, his classical work on the Tribes of Bengal, and his valuable report on the Census of India completed in 1901 under his superintendence; and W. Irvine, the historian of the later Moghul Empire, for his admirable edition of the Storia do Mogor by Niccolao Manucci, in which he made an important contribution to our knowledge of Indian beliefs and usage. Mr. W. G. Aston, a valued contributor to our Proceedings, was the author of standard works on the Shintoism of Japan; Dr. J. Beddoe devoted a long life to investigating the ethnology of Great Britain and Ireland; and Professor A. H. Keane did much to popularise the study of anthropology.

It is with much pleasure that we congratulate Sir E. B. Tylor, the leader of the English school of folklore, Sir Laurence Gomme, Sir A. J. Evans, and Sir B. C. A. Windle on the honour which has been conferred upon them; and we address a message of hearty goodwill to our German colleagues on the celebration of the centenary of the first publications of those classical works on the folklore, tradition, custom, and ritual of the Teutonic people which entitle the brothers Grimm to rank as the founders of this branch of research in Europe.

Since the foundation of our Society we have steadily advanced our frontiers. It is perhaps fortunate that in the earlier stages of its career we hesitated to restrict its studies by a precise definition of aims and methods. It was certainly a happy inspiration when in 1846 Mr. Thoms invented the term Folklore to designate "that department of the study of antiquities and archaeology which embraces everything relating to ancient observances and customs, to the notions, beliefs, traditions, superstitions, and prejudices of the common people." But in the stage which we have now reached this definition is inadequate, and in popular estimation gives an imperfect idea of the work on which we are engaged. In the first place, it limited our enquiries to the people of these islands; secondly, it connotes the stage of collecting isolated facts which it was incumbent upon us to undertake at the outset of our career, not the arrangement and co-ordination of recorded material to which our efforts are now specially directed. Our annual collection of papers announces itself as "a Review of Myth, Tradition, Institution, and Custom," a programme which sufficiently describes the present scheme of our work. In our early days we had some misgivings whether our objects and methods were really scientific. These doubts have long ago been dispelled. While much of our attention is concentrated on the problems of Comparative Religion, in that sense of the term which implies a survey of the beliefs of backward races throughout the world in relation to those surviving among the less cultured classes in our own and other civilised communities, our work has come to be regarded by general consent as truly scientific, and commends itself to the ever-increasing attention of all thinking men. Our first duty obviously was to collect the popular beliefs, cults, institutions, and customs which survive in this country. To secure this, one of the primary objects of our incorporation, we are engaged, besides other special work, on the compilation of a series of volumes of County Folklore, in which the material scattered through a wide and often fugitive literature will find permanent record. For eight English counties this work is now complete; in others, including parts of Scotland and Ireland, it is in active progress. As a further step in this direction, we are about to issue, for the guidance of collectors, a comprehensive Handbook, which we owe to the learning and literary skill of Miss C. S. Burne, assisted by experts in various branches of the subject. A still more ambitious scheme, now in progress under the charge of Mr. H. B. Wheatley, is a new edition of the classical work on British folklore, the Observations on Popular Antiquities by John Brand. We may expect that our new edition of this work will fully represent the great advance of knowledge since Brand's book was last edited, in an adequate way, by Sir H. Ellis in 1813. When this important work is complete we trust that we shall have, to a large extent, discharged our obligations in connection with British folklore, and shall have laid the foundations of further systematic research.

We are sometimes warned that the time for collection has passed away, and that the pseudo-culture of the present generation has destroyed the few remains of genuine folk-belief in these islands. Much undoubtedly has been lost, and is now past recovery. But I venture to think that much more of the ancient tradition than is generally believed will reward the patient enquirer. The remarkable fact about the lore of the folk is its extreme vitality. It may not be openly expressed, because an ignorant minority brands it as vulgar or unscientific. But this amorphous group of beliefs, deep rooted in the hearts of our people, never entirely disappears, and fragments of it crop up in the most unexpected places.

Only last year, in a Worcestershire village, a woman foolish enough to marry a man much her senior was branded a witch, and was obliged to insert an advertisement in the local newspapers threatening legal proceedings against her traducers. I heard lately of another woman in Gloucestershire who has acquired a like uncanny reputation because she is in the habit of keeping two pigs,—one white, the other black. A young singer who recently made her debut on the stage informs the public through the halfpenny press that she owes her success to her manager's gift of a lucky shilling just before her first performance. Mr. Lovett, out of his great store of specimens, has on more than one occasion demonstrated at our meetings that countless varieties of charms and mascots are used by all classes of society; and we lately heard of a Jew applying to a London coroner for a piece of the rope used by a suicide for a charm because, as Mr. Hartland recently taught us,[1] the feeling with which self-murder is regarded suggests a manifestation of the shock given to the collective mentality of the group by the tragical death of one of its members. In a suit recently decided in the Wandsworth County Court the Judge refused to cancel the lease of a house reputed to be haunted, on the ground that, the existence of ghosts not being recognised by the law, no pranks alleged to have been played by them could be held to justify the breach of a specific contract. "We suspect," sagely remarks a writer in The Times,[2] that the result of a few such cases so determined would be to diminish the number of ghost stories now afloat and accepted."

We have thus to deal with a class of beliefs which seriously affect the lives of considerable sections of our people. In this fact lies one justification for our studies. A second is to be found in the value of such beliefs from the historical standpoint. It is needless to reopen the vexed question,—How far can the evidence of folklore be used by the historian? But we must bear in mind that the most backward races, the Veddas, for instance, have no mythology, no tribal tradition, no stories of the origin of man, no accounts of their own beginnings. Even people in a somewhat higher stage of culture display a strangely monotonous uniformity in their explanations of phenomena and of the origin and destiny of the human race. This mental inertia, lack of curiosity and imagination, are at once the result and the cause of stagnation in culture.

Myth, then, is the record, often the only record, of man's groping in the darkness, of his successive attempts to solve the riddles of the universe and of his own mind. It is something more than the excuse of a stupid man for his lack of understanding. In other words, myths embody the results of his accumulated experiences, and a race destitute of myth is necessarily unprogressive. In all primitive groups custom is practically the only guide to conduct, and folklore, which is essentially the record of custom, is sometimes evidence of the highest value as a test of the rate of custom evolution.

It is inevitable that during the growth to maturity of a progressive science it should be compelled to revise its methods, to correct more than one misapprehension, and to discard many tentative explanations of the problems which it attempts to solve. We have no reason to feel discouraged if we find that our theories fail to withstand criticism. Some of us, perhaps, are inclined to look deeper into the millstone than the nature of the millstone allows. But theory-making is the best sign of vigorous life in any science, and, even if a theory prove to be mistaken, it serves at least to call attention to a problem, and the evidence collected in support of it remains at the service of some more successful theorist in the future. Speculation marks the healthy stage when we are passing from the "unanimity of the ignorant" to the "disagreement of the enquiring."

One of the chief misapprehensions against which we are bound to protest is the attempt to confuse the spheres of Comparative Religion and Comparative Theology. The former aims at comparing the beliefs of savage or barbaric tribes with those current in the lower strata of civilised nations; the latter uses these facts for purposes of speculation, to refute or support the theological or dogmatic schemes of some other religion. In the course of a discussion which followed the recent Universal Races Congress anthropologists were invited, as a class, to express some definite opinion on the nature of soul and body and their inter-relations. To this appeal Dr. Haddon[3] gave the obvious reply that this is the business of the psychologist, theologian, or moral philosopher, not of the anthropologist; and that most anthropologists are content with the humbler task of ascertaining what the peoples think about such things, leaving it to somebody else to draw his own inferences from the facts.

A second misapprehension arises from the vague use of the term "primitive" as applied to the lowest stage of culture with which we are acquainted. It is necessary to state clearly that no phase of human culture of which we possess adequate knowledge is "primitive" in the true sense of the term. The Arunta of Australia, with their elaborate social organisation, are as little primitive as palæolithic man with his artistic carvings and paintings. In both cases evolution has progressed through unnumbered ages. When, then, we speak of "primitive" culture we simply mean that, in comparison with modern civilisation, it is in some directions imperfectly developed.

During its course our ship has been forced to discard much of its cargo. Few students of folk-tales, for instance, now believe that they are modern, or at least historical in origin; that the distinctively savage incidents embedded in them do not constitute the very core of the narrative, but are later accretions; that our European tales are derived from a single centre, whether India or any other. The cult of the sainted dead is no longer held to account for all, or most, savage deities. We are coming to see that no single explanation applies to the varied forms of the totemic complex, and that the totem sacrifice, except within certain restricted areas, is no longer the only key to the evolution of ritual. Few of us are now prepared to deny that backward races possess a comparatively high mental and ethical standard, and present knowledge, instead of emphasizing the kinship of the savage with the higher animal, diminishes the gap between him and civilised man, the real distinction being that the one expends his intellectual energy in directions which the other regards as unimportant.

The replacement of the meteorological by the anthropological method of interpreting myth is, again, a notable mark of progress. The result has been to discredit the study of nature mythology, and in particular of solar mythology. But this neglect of conceptions which must have deeply impressed early man, as they now impress savage and barbaric races, is unjustifiable. Though we may reasonably refuse to connect all or most of our folk-tales with the dawn or the dairy, solar myths supply the only interpretation of the Vedic and other systems, products of an advanced, not of a primitive, society, and of more than one folk-tale cycle, like that of Cúchulainn, who is regarded by some writers as the Celtic sun-hero.[4] When once the mythologists agree to set their house in order, as the modern school is endeavouring to do to-day, a reaction is sure to set in.

Meanwhile our attention is at present concentrated on the study of ritual. The best justification of this change of method lies in the fact that, except in the esoteric cults which form an important element in savagery, it is easier to ascertain what men do in relation to their gods, than what they think about them. But the status of ritual is infinitely varied. Sometimes, as among the Todas, its rank growth smothers the tribal beliefs and legends. Sometimes it survives because it is taken under the patronage of some higher religion, as in the case of the Lenten Carnival at Viza, which is purely a cult of Dionysus.[5] Or, again, ritual practically disappears, as among the Torres Straits tribes, owing to culture contact. Among the peasantry of Europe and elsewhere its vitality is due to its close connection with social observances, like the spring and harvest celebrations. On the other hand, myth is exceedingly flexible and readily adapts itself to changes in the consciousness of primitive groups, while even in the more advanced culture the mythopæic faculty is active, and, by the personification of powers, qualities, or attributes, may create a new ritual or even a new group of deities.

When, therefore, we insist upon the vitality of ritual we must not forget that its efficacy varies with the intent accompanying it; that in some cases it has become merely automatical, and is practised when its original significance has been forgotten, and, though in form it may persist unchanged, the intent may vary among unrelated groups. It is as dangerous to discuss rites torn up by the roots from the environment to which they belong, as to compare a series of myths similar in outward form but reflecting different primary conceptions.

The rites connected with the dead are especially persistent, because they are adapted to meet some of the most urgent necessities, the placating of the friendly, the scaring of the malignant, ghost. Our attention has recently been called to a remarkable series of rites performed at the funeral of a gypsy named Isaac Heron, who died at Sutton-on-Trent about a year ago.[6] We observe with a shock of surprise that a distinctly savage ritual was performed in our midst. It includes the belief in the infective taboo of the corpse; the destruction of the movable property of the dead man by fire or by immersion in water; the light kept burning near the corpse; the taboo of all food in contact with it, and the refusal to cook in its neighbourhood; the funeral feast preceded by a fast and eaten at a distance from the scene of death. One remarkable custom, that connected with the dressing of the body, needs further examination before it can be described or discussed.

The future progress of the science of folklore depends, as I have already said, upon our relations with, and the help which we can receive from, those sciences with which it is most intimately associated,—psychology, sociology, and ethnography or ethno-geography.

The recent developments in experimental psychology and the improved appliances now available for field-work have done much to extend our knowledge of savage mentality. They help us, for instance, to understand the aptitudes which in different races initiate varied artistic attainments, the differences of sense acuity, powers of memory, association, faculties mental and physical,—all considerations of importance in the study of the growth and transmission of folk-beliefs.

As an example of the service which experimental psychology can confer on folklore I may refer to a paper by Dr. C. S. Myers on the uniformity of belief among savage races and the peasantry of Europe.[7] Hitherto we have been in the habit of assuming that we are entitled to compare the beliefs and customs of the European peasant with those current among savage tribes. But this, though accepted as an axiom, remained unverified, and some critics have not failed to take advantage of this flaw in our armour. Dr. Myers now provides an answer which, with certain reservations, may be accepted. As the result of experiments among the people of Torres Straits he concludes that the mental characters of the majority of the peasant class throughout Europe are essentially the same as those of savage communities, and that the differences which do exist are the result of environment and individual variability.

At the same time, we must remember, firstly, that the observations upon which these conclusions are based are limited in extent; secondly, that we must hesitate to assume more than a general uniformity in savage life as a whole, or more particularly in the case of the peasantry of Europe.

The casual observer of any type of savage culture is naturally led to emphasize points of agreement in adjacent groups or individuals, and to neglect the differences by which they are distinguished. But the trained field-worker, as he pursues his investigations, is forced to recognise that beneath a specious level of uniformity there are important individual distinctions, which become apparent only as the result of long-continued study.

Long ago Darwin taught us that "savages, even within the limits of the same tribe, are not nearly as uniform in character as has often been asserted."[8] M. Lévy-Bruhl has recently urged that primitive thought is of a wholly different order from that of civilised man. For instance, death is to the savage not "the unique and catastrophic event it seems to us, but merely a condition of passing from one existence to another, forming but one of a number of transitions which stand out as the chief memories of his life."[9] Hence Mr. Marett judiciously warns us that this "homogeneity of primitive culture, however, must not be made the excuse for a treatment at the hands of psychology and sociology that dispenses with the study of details and trusts to an a priori method. By all means let universal characterization be attempted, . . . but they must at least model themselves on the composite photograph rather than the impressionist sketch."[10]

When we consider psychology on the theoretical side, the case is somewhat different. On many of the questions which interest us the oracle gives an uncertain response. Thus, on the question whether magic did or did not precede religion, Dr. Frazer appeals to the high authority of Hegel in support of his conclusions. On the other hand, most English psychologists reject the associationist explanation as scientifically inadequate from the standpoint of the individual consciousness, and prefer to regard both magic and religion as equally means of approach to the Divine, one not being necessarily antecedent to the other, and their use being a matter of temperament rather than of time. To use Mr. Hartland's happy phrase, both originate in "the primitive theoplasm or god-stuff." In the growth of the tribal consciousness religion gains respectability because it is taken under the patronage of the priesthood, and becomes the recognised mode of securing those objects which are vital to the welfare of the community. But it gradually shades off, by many intermediate stages, into magic, the lower and anti-social form, which thus falls into disrepute and is appropriated by the witch.

The services of psychology to folklore are already so considerable, that we may hope for even more important results when the field-worker and the arm-chair philosopher join forces. We owe to the psychologist that interpretation of material collected in India and elsewhere which has led to the theory of Pre-animism, and seems likely to rob Animism of half its kingdom. Even if, as some among us may venture to think, the original definition of Animism is wide enough to include the conception of that feeling of awe and mystery in face of the powers and potencies which lie at the back of both religion and magic, at the same time the new definition provides us with a useful method of reclassifying some phases of primitive belief.

We may reasonably expect from psychology much new light on the abnormal working of the mind of primitive man, as it is exhibited in phenomena like those of hallucination, shamanism, or lycanthropy, which require more scientific examination in the field than they have hitherto received. They deserve special attention because, as Mr. Jevons[11] remarks, possession and ecstasy are the first manifestations of personal as opposed to tribal religion. The difficulty of investigation lies in the fact that spirits are shy creatures, and if, as I have been assured in India, they object to manifest themselves before a cow, a Brahman, and more particularly before an Englishman, the appearance of a psychologist on the prowl may be more than their nerves can stand. But if a physicist and a psychologist could attend a fire-walking seance and make a i&w simple experiments, we should soon learn the secret of manifestations which are still not capable of full explanation. Field-work of this kind will doubtless by and by lead us to a true ethno-psychology, and thus advance our views on the origin and transmission of folk usages and beliefs.

When we come to our relations with sociology, we find a general agreement that the principles of the social process are the controlling factors in the growth of belief and custom; and that, whether we investigate primitive culture by the light of history or by analogies drawn from contemporary savagery, we can attain clearer knowledge only by analysing each fact in the complex by its relation to evidence drawn from the social group under examination, or from types adjacent to it. It is now settled doctrine that folk-beliefs are influenced by the social, and this in its turn by the physical, environment; and that it is in beliefs of this kind that the communal life finds its clearest expression. This, of course, applies only to what have been called "spontaneous" beliefs, those which grow with the evolution of the group, or are devised to meet difficulties and secure benefits as the need arises, as opposed to the "historical," which owe their origin to the predominating, sometimes the magical, influence of some lawgiver or teacher, and therefore stand outside the field of our studies.

But the older sociologist was satisfied to devote his attention to the reform of those abuses which are generated in all advanced communities. The new sociology includes in its survey "the phenomena of the creeds and ethical systems of humanity, of the great systems of religion and philosophy."[12] If this be more than a pious aspiration, our work and that of the sociologist run on parallel lines, and, if he can help us in reducing to order the mass of unsifted material which awaits co-ordination and arrangement before it can be used by the student, he will perform valuable service.

It is, however, on ethnography or ethno-geography that the future progress of our studies mainly depends. I can deal with its relations to folklore only in connection with our national beliefs, and that in a very summary way.

The question whether we are able to identify race elements in European folklore has long engaged our attention. Before it is possible to arrive at any conclusion on this difficult subject we must be certain that the problems of race stratification have been clearly solved. This is admittedly not the case. We know enough, however, to assure us that our present terminology must be changed.

The history of the ancient world, as now presented to us, is a record of the constant ebb and flow of tides of migration, leading to the intermingling and confusion of physical types as well as beliefs and institutions. In these islands, as was the case in France, there seems to have been no cultural gap between the palæolithic races and their successors. The so-called Aryan question has assumed a new form since the ancestors of the Aryan-speaking Celts are found in the Alpine race who are supposed by some to have come from the East, or, as Professor Ridgeway believes, were the result of environment acting on members of the other European peoples, the Nordic or Teutonic, and the Mediterranean. The term Aryan now survives as little more than a linguistic expression to define a group of tribes with a common language and some common mythological conceptions. The latest authorities even refuse to admit the existence of a personal high god, or sky father, among these tribes before their dispersal. "It is likely enough," says Dr. Rice Holmes,[13] the latest and best authority, "that the greater gods whom the Celts worshipped and who, variously imagined and with various names, were the common heritage of the Aryan-speaking peoples, were in part descended from deities who were not Aryan, and were adored in Britain in a somewhat different spirit before the first Celt landed on the Kentish shore." But this is a question which remains, and probably will remain, doubtful.

The result of these considerations is to emphasize the difficulty of tracing a connection between the beliefs current among our peasantry and those of the races who occupied these islands before the dawn of history. We must hesitate to accept any efforts to project our conceptions of the psychology of backward races in our time into a far distant past, for the reconstruction of which we possess no adequate materials. This evidence is practically confined to the mobilier of interments, and, though the cult of the dead is of supreme interest, the absence of all evidence of primitive social organisation and of birth and marriage rites prevents us from reaching a full interpretation of those forces which swayed the mind of the primitive savage.

In these islands we possess no materials for a survey of the beliefs of palæolithic man, and little advance for our purpose is to be gained by a comparison of his material culture with that of people like the Tasmanians, who lived in a quite different environment, except an inference, based upon our general experience of savage life, that no tribe is destitute of the elements of religion. In southern France the implements and ornaments found with the dead in the Mentone caves, the rock carvings and paintings, the coloured pebbles and bull-roarers, suggest, on the analogy of similar objects found in Australia, that they may have subserved some religious purpose. Further inferences, in the present stage of our knowledge, are hazardous in the extreme. It has even been doubted whether the dead were, in this period, deliberately interred; but the most recent excavations show that some of the corpses found in the caves were ceremonially buried.[14]

Even in the case of neolithic man our information is very scanty. To quote Dr. Rice Holmes again[15]:—"Even the fancy that an ethereal soul survived bodily death may not have been universal; and as the Tonga islanders and the Virginians are said to have believed that only the souls of chiefs would live again, so it is conceivable that the slaves by whose sweat were built the barrows in which their lords were to be interred were regarded as doomed to annihilation. And when we are told that some quaint superstition which the folklorist discovers in Devonshire or the Highlands is non-Aryan, and must therefore be traceable to the people who were here before the first Celtic invader arrived, we may ask how it is possible to disprove that it had been inherited from the Celt from remote ancestors or had been borrowed by him from non-Aryan tribes while he was still a wanderer. We must be content, if we can but catch something of the spirit of the neolithic religion, to remain in blank ignorance of its details. We must keep in mind that in unnumbered centuries it cannot have remained the same, and that in diverse regions its manifestations must have been various." That their beliefs were probably of the animistic type, that, like all savages and barbaric peoples, they were slaves to custom, fettered by taboos, and compelled, when they were driven by necessity to violate them, to expiate their offence by complex rites, that a change from the nomadic and pastoral to agricultural life may have produced a new view of the divine world and a new type of cultus,—this is all that we can at present safely predicate.

If the beliefs of the prehistoric age must remain vague and uncertain, when we reach the historical period our indebtedness to Celtic tradition is supported by ample evidence. In what has been called the "Celtic fringe," (where, by the way, the bulk of the population is of Iberian, not Celtic origin), the spirit of imagination and romance has produced a wealth of tradition and folk-tale, a vivid realisation of a life beyond the grave, a more intimate association of man with the spirit world, than exists among the English people. How far this is due to race or religious and political influences we are unable to say. But, in any case, the work done under the auspices of this Society in the Celtic and Arthurian field by the late Mr. Nutt and by workers still among us, like Sir J. Rhys, Miss Hull, and Miss Weston, is a branch of our studies which we can regard with satisfaction.

This leads us to the controversy which for some years enlivened our Proceedings,—that between the Traditionalists and the Casualists, the advocates of the vertical as opposed to the lateral transmission of tales and beliefs. Recently the question has assumed another form, which is lucidly described by Dr. Rivers in his address at the last meeting of the British Association.[16] He tells us how he, a believer in the evolutionary theory of the British school, was, by his studies in Melanesia, converted to the German doctrine of the monogenetic origin of culture, and how he finds that even the conception of mana was introduced by a higher race into those islands. As regards folk-tales, most of us are now prepared to admit that incidents, particularly those of an abnormal or savage type, are survivals from a primitive stage. But when we find a definite seriation of incidents, and, more particularly when an apparently alien incident occupies in all the variants a fixed place in the sequence, we agree that the tale, as a whole, was imported from some single original centre, wherever that may be. If the new theory of transmission ultimately prevails, it may help us to substitute for the doctrine of the race transmission a different conception, that of local evolution controlled by the clash and contact of peoples, if we recognise that such clash and contact is the true seed-bed of folklore. The meeting of two groups, each with its own stock of beliefs and tradition, necessitates, if one is to understand the other, the creation of myth and legend. Thus, the clash of Christianity on paganism in western Europe has proved one of the most fertile sources from which our existing folklore has originated.

I have dwelt this evening specially upon folklore in its scientific aspect. It remains for us to endeavour to establish anthropology on its psychical side as the central unifying science which will systematize those with which it is most intimately associated. We start on our early middle age with bright hopes for the future. We have done much to improve our methods. We are learning to generalize with more caution, to practise what a great writer on sociology called "animated moderation," to admit that the laws of evidence control our Proceedings no less than those of the Courts of Justice. Folklore, in short, is gradually coming into its kingdom, and it is no longer compelled, like the priest-king of the Arician grove, to fight periodically for its life. We trust that in the new quarters which we have obtained through the generosity of the Provost and Committee of University College we may enter on a new career of prosperity. We have now secured excellent accommodation for our library, accessions to which will be gratefully received. Our association with a great educational centre will, we trust, bring the study of the folk beliefs and usages of mankind more prominently before the rising generation of intellectual men, and will convince them of its utility in the promotion of other branches of learning. The same object is now being attained by the establishment of Anthropological Societies at Oxford and Cambridge under the charge of Mr. Marett and Professor Haddon. We are prepared to admit on very favourable terms members of these societies as associates in the Folk-Lore Society, an offer which will, we trust, be widely accepted. When much of the literature of our day is forgotten, the philosophical historian of the thirtieth or fortieth century will seek in the novels of George Eliot or Thomas Hardy, the poems of William Barnes, the sketches of Richard Jefferies, and last, but not least, in our publications, for a living picture of rural thought and life in our times. We may reasonably hope that some of the enthusiasm with which the wild life of the countryside is now being studied will in time be directed to the not less interesting traditional lore of our peasant classes. The study of folk-music, folk-dances, folk-games, when they come to form a part of our system of popular education, will do much to restore that gaiety of life which Merry England once enjoyed, and will prove a remedy for that pessimism, with its accompanying taste for sensational amusements, which is one of the evils of the present time.

To us who have drunk from the fountain, folklore appeals more on the artistic and imaginative side. It has opened to us a new world of romance and beauty. Like the voice of the nightingale, it

"oft-times hath
Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn."

We may say of it,—to use the words which one of the friends whose untimely loss I have commemorated prefixed to his last and greatest book,—"In good sooth, my masters, this is no door. Yet it is a little window, that looketh upon a great world."

  1. Folk-Lore, vol. xxi., pp. 168 et seq.
  2. Oct. 25, 1911.
  3. The Times, Aug. 8, 1911.
  4. See, for instance. Miss Hull, The Cuchullin Saga (1898), p. lxxvi.; J. Hastings, Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, vol. iv., p. 353. This view is disputed by J. A. MacCulloch, The Religion of the Ancient Celts, pp. 133 et seq.
  5. The Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. xxvi., pp. 191-205; W. Ridgeway, The Origin of Tragedy, pp. 16 et seq.
  6. The Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society (N.S.), vol. v., pp. 37-53; and paper by Mr. T. W. Thompson, read before the Folk-Lore Society on Jan. 17th, 1912.
  7. Papers on Inter-Racial Problems, pp. 73-85.
  8. The Descent of Man (18S9), p. 174; W. J. Sollas, in Ancient Hunters etc. pp. 175 et seq., makes the same remarks about palæolithic man and the present Australian.
  9. W. H. R. Rivers, The Hibbert Journal, Jan. 1912, pp. 393 et seq.
  10. Encyclopædia Brittanica (11th ed.), vol. xxiii., p. 63.
  11. The Evolution of the Idea of God, p. 110.
  12. B. Kidd, Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed. ), vol. 25, p. 326.
  13. Ancient Britain and the Invasions of Julius Cæsar (1907), p. 272.
  14. W. J. Sollas, Ancient Hunters etc., pp. 146 et seq. For the Aurignacian age, ibid., p. 266, and, for the Cro Magnon, ibid., p. 372.
  15. Op. cit., p. 117.
  16. Presidential Address, Section H (Anthropology), British Association, Portsmouth (1911).