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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/20

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12
Annual Address by the President.

borrowing was a self-imposed act undertaken in obedience to their own ideas and conceptions of the necessities of the case, or whether it was the result of a forced acceptance in order to conciliate the conquered indigenes, need not be discussed at this stage; but there is not wanting evidence that the latter of the two contingencies may be accepted as the true interpretation of the events.

I think we are now in touch with a theory which has been formulated by folk-lore students, and which is known as the "borrowing theory". This has long been rejected by those who cannot accept as evidence the somewhat plausible statements which have from time to time been put forward, that the likeness so noticeable in the folk-lore of widely separated countries is due to a conscious borrowing from a common centre. And in its place has been set up the theory that the savage elements in folk-lore are but the originals from which the developed elements have been derived. To meet this view, it is necessary to assume that primitive Aryan conceptions have grown up in several independent places, and did not come from a common home. The difficulties in the way of accepting this explanation are many, and so the existence of a primitive Aryan race has been called into question. As Professor Rhys, not long since, wrote to me, because there are too many Aryans now to suit the researches of specialists, the conclusion they would draw is that there were originally none at all. But if the preservation of rude and savage custom side by side with higher Aryan thought is proved, by the evidence which has just been noted, to have been brought about by the preservation of the race with whom such custom originated, and by the adoption of it by the race who appear in history as conquerors, we may accept this borrowing theory as sufficient to account for many apparent anomalies in folk-lore. We shall have to push back the date when a people can with any plausibility be said to borrow its folk-lore to the period when that people first settled in its present home as conquerors. We shall