REPORT ON FOLK-TALE RESEARCH,
A FASCINATING volume for all students of folk-lore is the Official Report of the Second International Congress. This is not the place to discuss the uses of a Congress; and, indeed, when one of the results is the production of a volume of nearly 500 pages, raising so many questions of interest, opening so many avenues of scientific speculation, heaping together so many new facts, and containing so many hints towards the solution of the problems that already confront us, we hardly pause to ask what are the uses of a Congress. Students of folk-tales will turn, of course, to the Folk-tale Section. But the importance of the Report to them does not stop there. M. Ploix's article on Le Mythe de l'Odyssée seems to have lost its way in the Mythological Section. Mr. Hindes Groome's paper on The Influence of the Gipsies in the Institution and Custom Section, and Mr. Hugh Nevill's Sinhalese Folk-lore in the General Theory and Classification Section, also overlap our own. We can now see how fierce the battle between the Anthropologists and the Disseminationists waxed; and, sitting down quietly with the book in hand, we can measure the strength of the attack made by Mr. Newell, M. Cosquin, and Mr. Jacobs on the anthropological position. Their papers and that of Mr. Nutt have brought into fresh prominence the extreme complexity, as well as the importance,, of the issues. The editors indeed claim, and not without justice, that "in the burning question of folk-tale diffusion issue has rarely been joined by the opposing schools with greater definiteness". On this question there is a strong temptation to agnosticism. And indeed, to judge by some of the discussions at the Congress, as well as by the expressions of scientific opinion outside, the problem of the place of origin of any folk-tale is by many students regarded as insoluble. It may be so, of course; but until some serious attempt has been made to trace a number of these stories back to their cradles, an avowal of disbelief in the possibility of the feat is premature. The resources of modern inquiry have not yet been exhausted; nay, they have hardly been tapped. M. Cosquin's learning, reinforced by Mr. Jacobs' acuteness, has done little more than scratch the surface.
The truth is that before we can make much progress in the work we must have improved instruments. With two of these Mr. Jacobs in his paper proposes to furnish us—a folk-tale map and a list of incidents. To speak to the eye is always an aid to the understanding. This is Mr. Jacobs' aim in the outline map of Europe which accompanies his paper. Upon his map he has marked the names of a number of collections, with the dates of their publication, over the localities where the collections were made. To be effective, however, a map of this kind must be on a larger scale than the one before us, and the political divisions—rather, if possible, the linguistic divisions—should be marked. Having analysed the principal types of a folk-tale, we could indicate on such a map its distribution. A map containing the names of collections will hardly be useful save as a key-map for reference. But the idea of a map is a good one, and should not be lost sight of.
The list of incidents is valuable too. It is the first attempt to compile what has long been wanted. If it be imperfect, that is unavoidable; and the imperfection cannot balance our indebtedness to the author. The chief defects are, so far as I have tested it, of three kinds. First, incidents are defined too specifically. For example, the incident, found in drolls, of the fool who tried to get into some article of his clothing by jumping, should be indicated as Jumping into clothes, rather than by the mention of an article only found in some variants as the object of the hero's perspiring efforts. Second, the alphabetical order should be subordinated to some sort of logical order. Thus, I find Candle-lighting election under C, and Kingship test under K. These are both variant forms of one incident, which relates the supernatural designation of the hero to the office of king or pope; and the first may, in fact, be included in the second. What is wanted is a general heading, such as King, Designation [or Nomination—not Election] of, to be followed by sub-divisions into By animals, By bell-ringing. By candle-lighting, and so forth. The third kind of defect arises, I think, usually from too great a desire for compression. Compression is undoubtedly one of the chief matters to be aimed at, but not at the sacrifice of perspicuity. Who could tell that the Thrown in water incident was that of the hapless queen thrown into the water, or otherwise put away, during the king's absence, to make room for her uglier step-sister? Zigzag transformation hardly expresses the incident better yclept by Mr. Nutt Transformation fight. These blemishes, however, are all susceptible of amendment; and a committee of the Society, taking this list as a foundation, could easily compile a standard list adaptable to all our wants.
These practical efforts are so important that they will perhaps draw away the student's attention from the paper by which they are preceded. Such a result is much to be deprecated. Taken together with M. Cosquin's paper, written chiefly in reply to Mr. Andrew Lang, it constitutes a powerful statement of the Disseminationist position. Mr. Jacobs insists on the artistic whole which a folk-tale forms, while M. Cosquin examines some analogous stories under the microscope, and finds minute and unexpected coincidences. Both arguments converge upon the necessity that the narrative, say, of Perseus or Cinderella, had a specific origin in a definite locality, if not in the brain of some one conscious artist, and thence spread through the world.
Mr. Newell introduces a further limitation. He is of opinion that märchen with all their magic, all their cruelty, all their absurdities, originated among civilised nations, or at least were diffused from them to uncivilised, and not vice versâ. The example he has made the text of his paper is an English variant of a well-known type of Swan-maiden stories; and it is specially valuable as the only English variant known. It is printed for the first time in the Congress Report, "obtained from a member of a highly intelligent family in Massachusetts, in which it has been traditional." Mr. Newell, its discoverer, traces it back to the Hindu mythology, where, he says, it "seems clear and simple ; in other parts of the world it appears as a narrative subject to obscurity, and not in close connection with national ideas." Naturally, however, he finds a difficulty with the variant made known to us by Dr. Turner in his book on Samoa. This variant is not only unusually complete, but is "highly characteristic in form and scenery", and, moreover, is in ballad form, consisting of no fewer than twenty-six stanzas. Yet Mr. Newell concludes "that this ballad must have been inspired by a tale recently imported from Europe". Must it? Samoa was discovered by the Dutch in 1722. It was next visited by the French in 1768, and again in 1787. A quarrel with the natives by the expedition under La Perouse in the latter year caused the island to be shunned as the abode of treacherous savages for nearly fifty years, though it was once visited in the interval by a British warship. In 1830 an attempt was made by the London Missionary Society to get a footing on the island. This, we may be tolerably certain, was the earliest time at which any real social intercourse with Europeans took place. After a struggle, the missionaries were successful, and gradually succeeded in Christianizing the people. Now, the Samoan ballad replaces the paternal ogre by a god; and it bespeaks a condition of thought when gods are believed to hold constant communion with men, and are, indeed, hardly distinguishable from them. In view of this fact, and of the other details of manners and scenery, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the ballad has descended from the times of heathen savagery. If this be true—and Dr. Turner indicates no doubt about it—a very heavy onus probandi lies upon Mr. Newell, having regard to the history of the island—an onus to be outweighed by no theories of what must have been.
I may digress a moment here to mention that Dr. Turner's book affords other problems of the same sort. There is, for instance, a proverb in daily use referring to a fable familiar to us as "The Hare and the Tortoise". The fable in Samoa relates a quarrel between a fowl and a turtle for a spring of fresh water. They agreed to decide it by seeing which of them was first at the spring the next morning. The turtle, of course, got up early, and reached the spring from the sea before the fowl, in her over-confidence, had done roosting. Note here the complete assimilation by the native mind of this apologue, as shown not merely by its adaptation to the island scenery and fauna, but also by the proverb continually in the mouths of the people. Can we venture to assume that it, too, "must have been" a recent importation from Europe?
Mr. MacRitchie's paper on The Historical Aspect of Folk-lore calls attention to a very difficult branch of the inquiry into the meaning of the folk-tale. Some of the instances he gives of the preservation of historical memory are curious, though the family tradition would have been a more convincing case had he felt at liberty to mention names and other particulars. Even more striking instances, however, might have been mentioned, such as that one referred to by Mr. Boyd Dawkins in his Early Man in Britain, which discloses the record of a local fact handed down by tradition for something like two thousand years. A barrow called Bryn-yr-Ellyllon (Fairy Hill), near Mold, was said to be haunted: a ghost clad in golden armour had been seen to enter it. The ghost was explained when the barrow was opened, in the year 1832, by the discovery of a skeleton wearing a corselet of gold of beautiful Etruscan workmanship. It is very desirable that some student unwarped by any prepossession, theological or historical, should endeavour, by a collection of instances and their comparison on scientific principles, to establish how far reminiscences of fact can be preserved in folk-lore, and what amount of distortion, or transformation, they may, in given circumstances, be expected to undergo. I hardly know any problem that can be attacked with a greater likelihood of practical results.
Mr. Nutt's paper on Problems of Heroic Legend deals with this subject in its application to the cycles of the Celtic and Teutonic heroes. In this limited field his keen criticism is successful in showing that the recollection extends to little, if anything, more than the mere names of a few of the personages. The old mythic material of the race is the real stuff of the legends to which these names attach themselves. With the mythic material are mingled recollections, more or less vague, of the last important struggle in which the nation was engaged before the legend assumed final shape. The struggle may or may not have been that in which the heroes whose names are made use of took part. Summing up this part of his paper, the author says: "Had we heroic legend alone, we should know worse than nothing of history, we could only guess at false history. History may seem to give the form and framework of heroic legend, the vital plastic organic element is furnished by something quite different. Myth, like a hermit crab, may creep into the shell of history, none the less does it retain its own nature." He then goes on to point out that "it is an open question whether among the races which shaped the great heroic cycles it was not precisely the impossible elements which won credence, whether a hero could be considered such unless he was more than a man, whether the vitality of an heroic legend is not directly proportionate to the more or less of myth which it contains." Taking two of the many mythical, or impossible, incidents found alike in Celtic and Teutonic heroic legend, Mr. Nutt examines the Miraculous Birth and the Combat between Father and Son, ascertaining the dates of their appearance in literature, the character of the texts in which they are found, and the special forms assumed by the incidents themselves ; and he not only fails to find any evidence of borrowing, but he urges with much force a psychological difficulty in the way of the borrowing theory as applied to these hero-tales. "It seems certain", he argues, "that the Irishmen who told of Cuchulainn, the Germans who sang of Siegfried, the Persians who celebrated Rustem, not only believed in the existence and deeds of these heroes (as firmly in the mythical — the impossible — elements as in the purely human ones), but also looked upon them as the crowning glory and as the standing exemplar of the race. The traditions connected with them formed a heritage of an especially sacred character, a heritage which it was the pride of the clan chief, the duty of the clan wiseman and singer to foster. Is it likely that these traditions should to any great extent be a simple adaptation or echo of stories told by strangers to the clan-sentiment, this, too, at a time when strangers were almost invariably enemies ?" Putting the borrowing hypothesis, therefore, aside, he explains the similarity between certain incidents of the various Aryan races by reference to their divine legends. Himself inclined to regard such legends as mainly expressive of natural phenomena, he does not pronounce definitely against them as in some way symbolizing past events which impressed the imagination and modified the condition of the race, nor would he prejudge the questions whether they are representatives of one common original or independent developments of common mythic germs, nor even whether they are ultimately Aryan at all, and not rather borrowed from older races. These questions he leaves for future research, urging especially careful observation of the processes at work among savage peoples who are still in the mythopœic stage.
The same problem of the historical value of myth is dealt with by M. Ploix in his paper on the myth of the Odyssey. He submits the plot, the personages, the incidents, and the localities of the poem to a careful examination, and shows without difficulty that one and all of these are of such stuff as popular tales are made of The most ingenious portion of his argument is that in which he deals with the subject of the Odyssey, the search for and conquest of Penelope, as identical with the subject of the ordinary folk-tale in which the hero sets out to obtain the bride, who is only to be won after long wandering and the performance of superhuman tasks. Whether or not M. Ploix's dawn-theory be accepted to explain the myth, his analysis lays bare the same result in the case of the Greek myth as that of Mr. Nutt in the Celtic and Teutonic myths : regarded in any sense as history, the value of the narrative is a minus quantity.
I have left myself no space to speak of Mr. Hindes Groome's paper and that of Mr. Hugh Nevill. Folk-tales occupy but a small portion of either. Mr. Nevill, however, succeeds in awakening our curiosity concerning the Sahassa-vatthu, which he describes as "one of the oldest historical folk-lore books in the world". As to his own collection, he gives enough taste of its variety to make us wish he would put it into shape for publication. His official position in Ceylon has yielded him ample opportunities for scientific inquiry in a field hitherto unwrought. Will he not afford us a larger measure of the results?
Mr. Jacobs' contribution to the discussion of the problems of dissemination does not end with his paper in the Congress Transactions. In Indian Fairy Tales he has added a third to the beautiful series of fairy-books for children—a third in every way worthy of its Celtic and English predecessors. The stories are as well selected and adapted, and the illustrations as full of charm as ever—an endless delight. But our business is with the notes. In them the author expresses his opinion that it has been proved that the incidents of drolls have been all derived from India, but that as regards the incidents of the "serious" tales further inquiry is needed. At the same time he asserts the Indian origin of some of these, and favours the presumption generally, "so far as the incidents are marvellous and of true fairy-tale character because of the vitality of animism or metempsychosis in India throughout all historic time". He is convinced that "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". And he holds that "so far as Europe has a common source of fairy-tales, it owes this to India". This last statement he qualifies to some extent by limiting the "common stock" of European tales to 30-50 per cent, of the whole, and reckoning them primarily as including all the beast-tales and most of the drolls; but though he thinks the evidence still lacking about the more serious fairy-tales, it is increasing with every fresh collection of folk-tales in India.
This is an advance on the position he took up at the Congress: he is now more definitely committed to the theory of Indian, though not necessarily of Buddhist, origins. Let us examine one or two of the instances on which Mr. Jacobs relics. The story of the Demon of the Matted Hair yields to none in the collection for interest to the student. It has been translated from a Játaka by Mr. W. H. D. Rouse specially for this volume (where it appears for the first time in English), and is put down by Mr. Jacobs as the original of Uncle Remus' famous story of the Tar-baby. The incident having been found among the Hottentots, Mr. Jacobs considers "there can be little doubt that the Játaka" was carried to Africa "possibly by Buddhist missionaries, spread among the negroes", and was by them carried to the New World. Well, a very plausible theory! And yet, though "there can be little doubt" about it, that little doubt will persist in making its appearance. The Buddhist missionaries we may deal with when Mr. Jacobs produces his evidence of Buddhistic influence to be found among the negroes; for the present we may ignore them. There remains nothing more than the conjecture of transmission from India, disguised by the bold words "there can be little doubt". Now, what is certain is that the Hottentots are, in race, if not in culture and space, about as far removed from true Negroes as Esquimaux from Aztecs; that the Játaka is not the simplest, but a highly-developed, highly-civilised form of the story, while the Hottentot form is the simplest, the most uncivilised; that hitherto the story has nowhere else been found on the African continent; and that it has been found outside of India only where the African race has been for a long period in constant contact with nations of European origin. These facts do not warrant any definite conclusion as yet. They point, however, decidedly against the Indian origin of the incident. The African origin is a probable conjecture, and that is all: the channel of transmission between Africa and India is still to seek.
Again. In the story of the Princess Labam, Mr. Jacobs lays stress on "the sequence of incidents: Direction Tabu—Aninials—Bride-wager—Tasks." Now, the best evidence of transmission occurs, not where the sequence is closely interwoven, but where an apparently unconnected incident is found persistently as a member of the sequence. Thus it is the presence of the Direction Taboo that gives force to the argument in this instance. But, does the Direction Taboo occur in the sequence elsewhere than in India? I do not find it in the stories referred to by Mr. Jacobs; and, if I did, I do not see how it would prove that Europe must have borrowed from India, either at the time of the Crusades or at any other period. In his note to The Son of Seven Queens, Mr. Jacobs suggests that the idea of a son of seven mothers could only arise in a polygamous country. Heimdall, in the Norse Mythology, was the son of nine mothers: is this a crumb from the Indian loaf? Nor is the stepmother proper so wholly unknown to Indian tales, or to Indian life, that there is any probability in the suggestion that the "Envious Stepmother" of this and other stories was originally a co-wife (cf. Swynnerton, I. N. E., 275, 330). Mr. Jacobs has certainly made a point in urging that in the Punchkin group not the external soul but its numerous wrappers must be evidence of transmission. But he really does not attempt to prove that the wrappers were borrowed from a Hindu lender. This at present is pure assumption.
To discuss the matter further is impossible. I will merely say that I traverse the entire argument starting from the "appropriate atmosphere" created by the Hindu dogma of metempsychosis. It fails to take adequate account of the opinions and practices of the European peasantry, both where those opinions and practices have, and where, as in large tracts of the continent, they have not, been frowned upon by the higher orders. In view of the classical, Norse, and Celtic mythologies it is undeniable (and Mr. Jacobs candidly admits) that the folk of Europe were possessed of a stock-in-trade of stories once. All that we know of their repertory vouches it of the same character as that of the modern story-teller. Its displacement must be shown by reasoning from premises more indisputable, and with fewer broken links. I ought to add a caution to students against the text of the tales in this otherwise admirable volume. Mr. Jacobs has not always indicated the adaptations he has deemed necessary for the English nursery; but he has happily and properly exhibited his sources.
M. Sébillot has published an analytical table of the incidents, personages, and machinery of his many and valuable collections of tales from Upper Brittany. This is a labour covering a larger ground than Mr. Jacobs' list; for it is intended primarily to serve the purpose of an index to the stories. It will in effect do much more: it will enable us to add to the number of incidents enumerated by him, and thus assist materially in the preparation of a standard list. Meanwhile, its utility will be appreciated by the readers of M. Sébillot's volumes—in other words, by all students of folk-tales.
In M. Andree's study of the Deluge myth we are introduced to a different region. The author collects eighty-eight variants of the story of the Flood, and discusses their distribution, transmission, and origin. His conclusions are that Flood sagas, though widely scattered, are not universal, the exceptions being those of China, Japan, Arabia, Northern and Central Asia, the whole of Africa, and the whole of Europe save Greece; that the traditions of the other parts of Europe are founded on the Bible; that many of the traditions found elsewhere have been modified by Christian influence; and that there is no common foundation for the traditions where they are found, but that they are due to local catastrophes, in the causes of which he considers earthquake-waves have played a considerable part. Some of these conclusions are startling. If local catastrophes have given rise to Flood sagas, it is strange that a country so devastated by floods as China should yield no variant: it is enough of itself to make us doubt the theory. M. Andree does not discuss Dr. Brinton's suggestion (or is it Prescott's, whom the Doctor quotes?) that these myths are the result of an effort of the .savage imagination to break up the illimitable past into distinct cycles or periods of time. And is he not rather hasty in assuming that, because he has not found any traditions of a deluge in certain regions, therefore there are none to be found? Is it certain, too, that he is right in rejecting, for example, the Celtic and Norse myths as founded on Christian teaching?
The first volume of the Miti, Leggende e Superstizioni del Medio Evo deals chiefly with the myths discussed in their literary shape. But the attention of students ought to be called to the work, not merely because its plan comprises much of scientific interest, but also because the subjects are treated in an attractive manner; the notes indicate many works which may be consulted with advantage, and the appendices include a number of mediaeval texts. The subjects treated in this first volume are The Earthly Paradise, The periodical respite allowed to the Damned, and The Belief in Fatalism.
M. Robert Auning's little work consists of a collection of Lettish folk-tales and superstitions concerning the Puhkis, or dragon, myth current among the people of Livland. The texts are given in Lettish, and most of them are translated into German. The collection is followed by some eminently sane and cautious observations on the myth, which is identified with the North German Pûks and the English Puck. The Puhkis is by no means confined to dragon, or serpent, form. It appears at various times also as a lump of charcoal, a log of wood, a bundle, a cat, a mouse, a bird, a toad, a whirlwind, a ball of light, a besom with a fiery head, a thong of leather, the tail of a pig. It appears in the familiar capacity of "drudging goblin" who must not be gifted with clothes. And the reason for this prohibition, obscure in the German and English variants, seems to be that it was the custom to dismiss farm-servants with new clothes. Did this custom ever obtain in England? The Puhkis is to be bought; and its life is bound up with that of its owner, so that if the former be destroyed the latter also comes to an end. It must be fed, and indeed must be presented with the first-fruits of its owner's produce. It is further identified with the dragon in tales of the Perseus group, of which several variants are given. The book is a contribution to our knowledge the more precious because we Western students have all-too-little information about the teeming superstitions still at large in the Russian empire.
Of original collections by far the most remarkable published during the past year is the Rev. Charles Swynnerton's Indian Nights' Entertainment. The stories it comprises were obtained in the Punjab, many of them at Ghâzi, on the Indus, thirty miles above Attock; and the illustrations with which it has been enriched are by native artists, and may be taken to exhibit the scenes of the tales as they present themselves to the native mind. This is a great help to understanding the details. The narratives consist as well of apologues, beast-tales, and drolls, as of ordinary märchen. A marked characteristic of the volume is the large number of stories turning on the cunning, or the folly, or the fidelity of woman. One such is a curious variant of the snake who wanted to kill the countryman who had saved his life. Here the catastrophe is wholly different from that of the fable with which we are acquainted. The story of the man who bought advice turns on the inability of women to keep secrets. Here, again, the plot is not that usually found in Europe, and the story has the appearance of being a modern combination of two originally distinct. A story of special interest is that of Ali the Merchant and the Brahmin. This is the magician's apprentice, who after leaving his master has a Transformation-fight with him. The apprentice at last becomes a mosquito, and hides in the nostrils of a corpse suspended from a tree. The magician stops up the nostrils with clay, and binds them round to prevent his opponent's escape. He then has to get someone to cut down the corpse and bring it away secretly. At this point the Baital Pachisi (Twenty-five Tales of a Demon)—or at least its plot, for happily the tale-teller has some sense of proportion—is interwoven as an episode in the Transformation-fight. The end of the fight, like that in the story of The Second Calender, and unlike most other variants, is disastrous to the apprentice as well as to his master. Another curious tale, The Friendly Rat, is a variant of Sennacherib's Disaster. It is, I think, the first time that famous incident has appeared in modern folk-lore. If still current in the East, as its appearance here indicates, we may expect to meet with other versions : shall we be told that they must be of Buddhist origin, as witness the Beast-helpers ? The story of The Queen and the Goldsmith strikes me as of literary — not traditional — provenance. It were much to be wished that Mr. Swynnerton had given the name and other particulars of everyone from whom he obtained the tales, thus following the examples of the best recent collectors. I must add that not the least valuable part of his work is the index, in which he has inserted a useful series of explanatory notes.
Another book of Indian tales is Mr. Campbell's Santal Folk-tales. Its importance lies in the fact that its contents have been gathered among some of the aborigines of whose traditional stories little has hitherto been known. It consists of drolls and märchen, several of which will repay careful study. One of them, The Magic Fiddle, has been made use of by Mr. Jacobs in his Indian Fairy Tales. This story belongs to a type of which three examples are found in Mr. Campbell's volume. The Singing Bone is its nearest analogue in European folk-lore. In these Santal stories, however, the conclusion is not the bringing to justice of the murderers, but the reappearance of the heroine and her marriage to a prince. The murdered girl, in short, is Cinderella. It is evident that the European and Santal stories are two different developments of the same theme, though we cannot as yet say whether they are originally independent of one another. One of the Santal variants seems to have a close connection with the Outcast Child group. This we might expect ; but a curious incident, which we should not have expected, occurs, namely, that when the heroine's mother and brothers, grown poor, come to her, selling firewood, she recognises them and entertains them. In doing so she makes a similar distinction between her youngest brother and the others to that made by Joseph in favour of Benjamin. The collection also contains two variants of a story turning upon an incident identical with one of the incidents of the Egyptian tale of The Two Brothers. The hero in bathing loses one of his hairs, which floats down the stream and is found by a princess. She determines to marry the man from whose head it has fallen ; and the remainder of the narrative records her efforts. Another curious tale relates the injuries a woman attempts to inflict on a tiger under pretence of doing him good — injuries which always redound to the tiger's benefit — and his gratitude for these favours. Indeed, this little volume is replete with interest to the student.
A story unquestionably derived from Buddhist sources is to be found in Dr. von Wlislocki's Märchen, since it is no other than the legend of Siddartha's youth. Probably it has passed into European tradition from some literary medium. The learned author refers in a note to an essay he has written on the subject of Barlaam and Josaphat among the Armenians and Gipsies in a German periodical which I have not had the advantage of seeing. The Discovery of Iron, another of Dr. von Wlislocki's collection, is a tale containing a version of the external soul incident, without the wrappers. A Cinderella variant is given, which is declared to be connected with the ancient Armenian mythology. In form the story is more artistic and poetical than is usual ; and the king's name, Ambanor, is stated, on the authority of the philologist Hanusch, to be a form of the name of the Spring-goddess Amanora. Several other stories are highly curious ; and if the contents of the volume be genuine, unadorned tradition, the Armenians of Hungary, however they came into their present seats, are a people whose folk-lore is of a remarkable character.
The authoress of Afro-American Folk-lore has produced a thin volume whose importance greatly exceeds its bulk, because here for the first time we are presented with tales, some of which, at any rate, profess to be derived, with but one intermediary, from Africa. We are told in general terms in the preface that they are all "verbatim reports from numerous sable story-tellers of the Sea Islands" of Carolina, "some of whose ancestors, two generations back, brought parts of the legends from African forests." And Prince Baskin, one of these narrators, is represented as saying that he was told them by his "ol' gran'daddy", who was kidnapped as a boy from his native land where he had heard them. The personages brought on the stage are the beasts with which we have been familiarised by Uncle Remus ; and for the most part the tales correspond with those admirable pieces of negro tradition. For some of them — The Tar-baby, for instance — the authoress claims priority of publication. A version of Rhampsinitus' Treasury is given. Though not absolutely new as a negro tradition, since it occurs in Jones' Negro Myths of the Georgia Coast, it is not one of Uncle Remus' tales. The story of De Tiger an' de Nyung Lady is said, and perhaps not without reason, to be "unique". It points, however, not as Miss Christensen suggests, to a matriarchal state of society as that in which it took shape, but to a transitional state between mother-right and father-right. I think the story of Ali Baba has never before been found among the Negroes. Here the Rabbit, of course, plays the part of the astute Ali Baba, the Wolf is Cassim, and the Whale the Robbers. The Whale lays her eggs in a house on the river-bank. The Rabbit watches her, and overhears her say "Olawia ! Olawia !" to open the door, and "Olatic-tic-tic!" to close it. I ventured at the Congress to argue that, while the words "Open Sesame !" point to a German origin for the tale of Ali Baba, the incident on which it is founded is derived from an archaic superstition known in many parts of the world, and that the superstition has given rise to analogous tales whose origin it would be difficult to trace to a single centre. In view of the argument from the word Sesame, it is important to track Olawia and Olatic-tic-tic to their home. The authoress regrets her inability to translate these and other words, presumably African, and asks for information. Is there any philologist, skilled in Nigritian tongues, who can throw light upon them ? The Robbers' attempted revenge does not appear in this version, as I believe it does not in any case, except where the story has probably come from the shores of the Levant.
Mr. Andrews has utilised his residence at Mentone, and his knowledge of the dialect of the Riviera, in the service of folk-lore, and has produced a capital collection of tales. For the most part they are variants not widely different from the common European types. The story of The Invisible Hen, and that of The Royal Sword, I do not recollect elsewhere. In Fleaskin we have the story of the hide usually assigned to a more offensive animal, told with dry humour, and without the Bluebeard termination. Mr. Andrews has given the names of many of the persons from whom the tales were obtained : why not all ?
M. Pineau's work, in the same series as Mr. Andrews', is only partly dedicated to folk-tales. They are, he tells us, direct from the illiterate peasantry of Poitou, without any change ; and he specifies the name, age, occupation, and residence of the teller of each tale. M. Pineau is an admirable collector, who has here given proof, not for the first time, of his gift. Among his tales I have only room here to notice a variant of The Wild Hunt, wherein the hero, hearing the racket, shoots into the air with a ball blessed for the purpose. A big beast, whose like had never been seen, falls, and is taken to the Jardin des Plantes !
Few of M. Thuriet's tales seem to be traditional. He has drawn from all sorts of sources, and unfortunately has expended no criticism upon the results of his industry. One of the traditional tales is a variant of The Singing Bone, in which the child is killed by his brother and sister for his flute. The flute speaks of itself, without being blown, and afterwards, placed on its owner's lips, restores him to life.
Father Leeb's first volume of Sagas of Lower Austria is also a collection partly traditional and partly from literary sources. It is much to be regretted that the custom of appending particulars of the reciter of the stories has hardly yet penetrated into German lands. Many of the items, too, are rather superstitions than tales; but they are none the less interesting for that. Notes are frequently added, and, so far as they call attention to variants, they are useful; but they are also sometimes explanatory. The latter portions would have been better omitted, as the author betrays no acquaintance with recent researches which have entirely changed the methods of interpretation. In one respect, however, he sets an example that ought to be followed in every such work: he gives a list of works cited. What labour this saves to the student! Many of the tales are noteworthy. One of them concerns the magician's half-instructed apprentice, who first appears in Lucian; he raises, but cannot lay, the devil. Another attributes the red Easter eggs to hens which picked up the sacred blood of Christ from under the Cross. Is this found elsewhere? Another accounts for evil spirits being no longer visible, by declaring that Pius IX banished them for fifty years to the Schneeberg and Oetscher, In the present decade, however, the period comes to an end, and then—!
Herr Mündel has published a new and enlarged edition of Stöber's Alsatian sagas. Like the preceding work, it is only in part from tradition. It has a somewhat literary air, though this is not to be wondered at when we consider that it was originally published more than forty years ago, and the friends whom the author thanks in his preface for their assistance are all professional men. Many extracts from continental chronicles are embodied, which will be useful to English students. The first volume, the only one hitherto issued, deals with Upper Elsass, and contains many interesting tales. A remarkable variant is given of The Outcast Child, Pope Innocent type. The Pope is identified with Leo IX, and the repentant father with Hugo IV, Count of Lower Elsass and nephew of the Emperor Conrad. These identifications, not warranted by history, cannot, it is needless to say, be traditional, though the story is given as such. Similar difficulties arise as to the traditional character of several other stories. The author has ingeniously explained a tradition concerning Frederick Barbarossa, to whom the building of the church at Kaysersberg is ascribed. It is said that he was about to pledge his Empress's crown for the money required when two angels were sent from heaven with a purse to redeem it. On the doorway of the church is a sculptured group of the coronation of the Virgin, from which, as described, there can be little doubt that the legend has arisen. Examples like this of the birth of tradition are worth noting.
In The Vision of MacConglinne we have two versions of an ancient Irish folk-tale, from MSS. of the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries respectively. Professor Wollner contributes, by way of introduction, an exhaustive analysis of both versions, a discussion on the authorship, and an account of a few parallels. The theme is the cure of Cathal, King of Munster, of a demon of gluttony which possessed him, and includes, amid much girding at the Church and the monks, a Rabelaisian vision of a land of plenty. The recital of the vision, and the sight and odour of food which the patient is not allowed to touch, tempt the demon from his stomach up into his mouth and thence out to reach the good things it desired, when the cauldron is upset over it and it is thus caught. There can be little doubt that we have here preserved one of the stories told by the wandering gleemen or storytellers. The attitude towards the Church (and especially towards the monks, who are abused in no measured terms), the glorification of the story-telling profession, and the rewards demanded for the repetition of the tale, all point to the same conclusion. As often happens, the later manuscript embodies an earlier form of the story, free from the meretricious, and often incompatible, embellishments of the fourteenth-century version. Prof Wollner cites a tradition of the Kanderthal in the Bernese Oberland, the scene of which is laid in the neighbouring Simmenthal. It speaks of a race of giants who had giant cattle. Their cows were milked into a lake instead of a pail. To skim the cream, people sailed on the lake in an oak-trunk, and the butter was stored in hollow oak-trunks. In this tradition we appear to have reminiscences of the dug-out and similar rude vessels. The story belongs to the same order of thought as the Irish vision ; but traits like these throw back the connection, if there be one between the stories, to a very remote date. The Swiss plot, however, is so different that the one of them can hardly be derived from the other, and the root-idea of a land of boundless plenty is almost the only link between them.
Signor Luciani's little book bears a very wide title ; but it consists simply of a collection of some two thousand and odd proverbs, phrases, and sayings. One of the appendices contains proverbs illustrated by the anecdotes and other stories from which they are derived, or to which they refer. It were to be wished that the author, or some one with his enthusiasm and experience, would bestow his attention upon the tales and songs of his province.
E. Sidney Hartland.