Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/25

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
17
Annual Address by the President.

they conquered. But, so far as I am concerned, I have never suggested that the Aryans have been wholesale borrowers of all the nasty and unpleasant customs and beliefs which are now found to survive amongst the nations who speak an Aryan language. On the contrary, I have raised the previous question—were not the ancient Aryan-speaking people settled down in the midst of, and over-lording, a non-Aryan aboriginal people? and is not the fear of dead kindred, as a cult with force enough at its back to be kept alive for centuries, more likely to have been derived from such aborigines than to have been derived from the sweepings of the Aryan mind? I confess the problem as put to me by Mr. Jevons and Mr. Lang seems singularly unfair to the Greeks, and I am on the side of the Greeks.

Once more I must confess to feelings of jealousy that folk-lore is not allowed to stand on its own footing. Mr. Jevons, in his brilliant study of Italian animism, stops just short of his true argument. On philological grounds only he starts off with the fallacious assumption that the ancient Italians were Aryans; he finds that the ancient Italians were in the animistic stage of culture, and he concludes that therefore the pro-ethnic Aryans were in that stage. This is an unholy alliance between philology and folk-lore, and, in the name of this Society, I forbid the banns. Finding the Italians to be in the animistic stage of culture, finding this to be opposed to the myth-making stage of Aryan culture, the conclusion would be that the Italians were in bulk non-Aryan, and surely I have only to suggest the Etruscan evidence to gain support for such a proposition even on philological grounds.

Well, then, it is clear that this principle of continuity needs much more study at our hands. At present we are a house divided against itself, but wc are only at the beginning of our labours in this direction, and I foresee the time when a little more study of the principles of folk-lore, a little more attention to the minuter details which such a study necessitates, will once more bring us altogether in one