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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/11

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Annual Address by the President.

signalised my term of office by such sound contributions to our science.

If I attempt to sum up in one sentence what, so far as I have been able to interpret it, is the chief lesson to be drawn from the past year's work of our Society, and of folk-lore studies generally, I should unhesitatingly affirm it to be the need for formulating the principles of the science of Folk-lore, Once more there is a move forward, and our Society, in this case as in previous departures in the methods of studying folk-lore, takes the lead.

I want to lay a little stress upon this, because it really is so important for our future progress. I will accordingly very briefly note what strikes me as the principles of folklore which have been discussed during the past year. It may be, of course, that some of our decisions will have to be surrendered as our science develops, nay, that all of them will have to be surrendered. But of one thing I am quite certain: no true progress can be made unless these principles are set forth and discussed, and if they serve simply as the stepping-stones to the discovery of a Grimm's Law in folk-lore, as last year I ventured to call it, I for one shall be very glad to surrender them to that use, and to be proud if I should happen to have provided one of such stepping-stones.

The first principle, then, which appears to me to have been established is that folk-lore must be studied item by item in its own home, before it can properly be applied to other uses demanded by the comparative method of scientific inquiry. This principle has been asserted practically, if not in terms, by three different authorities, and quite independently of each other—by Mr. Abercromby in his paper on "Finnish Origins", read at one of our meetings; by Mr. Karl Krohn in a valuable paper on the "Geographical Distribution of Esthonian Songs", and by myself in my "Ethnology in Folk-lore". Each item of folk-lore has a biography which must be written. It may happen, if we are ignorant of this biography, that we get hold of a parti-