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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/399

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Reviews. 383

this book are of Mr. Chambers's own grouping, and centre on his special purpose. The birth and conduct of organised folly and its ritual — how much of humbler human history is contained in that ! Many of the links between these junket- ings and the professional Fool of fact and drama are well known already; these chapters array and add to the body of information on the subject. The five and forty pages on the " Boy Bishop " are a favourable example of Mr. Chambers's method, which here marshalls the proofs geographically. The last chapter on " Masks and Misrule " returns to the mummings, revels, and triumphs that lie on the borders of the literary drama.

" The " mumming " or " disguising " then, as it took shape in the beginning of the sixteenth century, was a form of court revel, in which, behind the accretions of literature and pageantry, can be clearly discerned a nucleus of folk-custom in the entry of the band of worshippers, with their sacrifical exuviae^ to bring the house good luck " (i. 400).

Mr. Chambers believes that many unsuspected elements in sport go back at last to the conception of sacrifice, which is " mock or symbolical " in the use of swords for the dance (i. 202), and in the whipping of boys on Innocents' Day (i. 260). The chapter on "Village Festivals" discusses fully the views held on this matter by Dr. Frazer, Mr. Jevons, and others. Mr. Chambers goes some length in suggesting (i. 149) that

"The original object of the man who wrestled for a ram, or climbed a greasy pole for a leg of mutton, or shot for a popinjay, was to win a sacrificial victim or a capital portion thereof, which, buried in his field, might bring him abundant crops."

One may venture the criticism that such games might arise without any occult origin, for pure amusement ; but the analogies quoted for Ihe theory are certainly strong. One other link between custom and letters is found in the Robin Hood pastimes. A very plausible suggestion is thrown out that the perplexing Marian, who, it is well known, only enters late into Robin Hood balladry, is simply the representative