limit can be put to a story's flight, vivu' per ora virum" Mr. Jacobs says, "I still fail to gather whether Mr. Lang would allow that the Samoan variety" (of the Jason myth) "must have been borrowed from abroad." I am sorry to have been so indistinct. I say (Custom and Myth, p. 97), "Our position is that, in the shiftings and migrations of peoples, the Jason tale has somehow been swept, like a piece of driftwood, on to the coasts of Samoa." This is a strong expression for a Casualist, for one who denies the possibility of transmission. On p. 101 I give all three conceivable alternatives—spread from a single human centre—coincidence—and transmission. On p. 7 I say, "There seems no reason why it should have been invented separately." And my "position" is that stated on p. 97.
Here, then, and elsewhere, I left a place for the possibilities of the "Casual" Theory, for possible independent evolution. Mr. Jacobs now says that I have "never unreservedly pinned my faith to the Casual Theory". Apparently I have not, as I have distinctly said that no limit can be set to the chances of diffusion. I have "hedged", it is asserted, and I "claim to win on this point whether obverse or reverse turns up". If this means that I believe in the possibility of independent development, in certain cases, I do. I hold that both causes, transmission and separate evolution, may have been at work. Of transmission I feel certain; we sometimes (as M. Bédier proves by an interesting example) catch transmission in the act. Of independent evolution I am less assured, but I am very strongly of opinion that it occurs. The difficulty is to prove a negative, to prove that this or the other analogous story has not been borrowed. We can never be certain of this, as we can be certain of the positive fact that transmission occurs. Mr. Jacobs observes
- By the Jason tale I meant, not a form of the Greek myth, but a similar story of a hero helped by the daughter of a hostile father. I am not prejudging the question whether the Samoans acquired the Greek myth, or whether Greek poets and Samoans worked up an earlier folk-tale independently.