Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/32

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

exist people who have not heard of the Folk-lore Society. Verily, the ways of ignorance are manifold, but they show at least that our work is not ended.

I am not at all sure that the real grip of it can be said to have really begun. But it is in the beginning, at all events, and we shall want all our energies and all our resources to keep it properly in our own hands. We in England have no idea of organisation. We are content to do things as they come along, and when they come along, and where they come along. So that if at an Oriental Congress, or at a Royal Literary Society, or at some other gathering, whose objects had hitherto been distinctly not the objects of folk-lore, the subject of folk-lore crops up, forthwith it is moved, seconded, and resolved unanimously and with cheers, that a committee shall be appointed to investigate folk-lore! This is pure waste of energy, and waste of opportunity, and waste of power. All that is folk-lore should come to us—we are the rightful owners of it; and if individuals occasionally go to the "wrong shop", societies properly organised and careful of their own work and position should direct them to the right one. But I suppose it is hopeless in England to get people to be systematic in their labours and in the proper placing of their labours. And I fear that our own organisation as a a society is not so perfect that we can too quickly call out against our neighbours. The Annual Report this year contains suggestions which show that gradually we are waking up to our position; but I do hope, now that our prospects are so bright, that we shall not only not lag behind, but shall be in the absolute forefront of all endeavours to bring about by co-operation what cannot be done without it.

For, after all, the great question for us as a society is. Can we yet declare a policy; a policy, I mean, which will guide our future work and shape our future organisation? Last year, at the close of my address, I touched only very slightly upon this subject, because I was not sure of my