Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/430

This page has been validated.
Cinderella and the

force. We know that it has been in force in many places; we do not suggest that it has been in force wherever the story now encounters us. It may have been in force, in each case, thousands of years ago, we do not pretend to say that it has been. The curious may also notice the Iroquois form of the Eurydice legend, published by Mrs. Erminie Smith in the series of the Smithsonian Bureau of Ethnology. One fancies that this pathetic tale may have grown out of the loves, and regrets, and beliefs of a rude American tribe, quite independently of any transmission from Greece, at any period. I have examined the Turkish, mediæval, and Iroquois versions, in Murray’s Magazine, and here, too, I must remain in a balance of opinion. The story deserves the attention of students.

Thus far I am guilty of the Casual hypothesis, and I think no further, since my Fortnightly article. But I am not prepared to assert dogmatically that all is plain sailing even in the case of Cinderella. I only throw out a few hints of difficulties even here. Let us examine Mr. Jacobs’ remarks. He does not think (1) Cinderella a good test of the continued existence of folk-tales from prehistoric times to the present. Certainly better tests might be chosen. The essence of the tale, he says, “is the rise in social condition of a girl who makes a fortunate marriage. Possibly there are such cases in savage or in prehistoric societies, .... but it would be idle to look for its origin in societies where there was little variation of social position. ..... In its inception, Cinderella, as we now have it, cannot have arisen in a savage society” (F.-L., iv, 3, pp. 270-271). Mr. Jacobs’ argument is, Cinderella, essence (in the matter of the marriage), is not savage, but feudal or mediæval, for savages have not the necessary distinctions of rank. The savage details may have been introduced later, or carried on into the original form, not as things contemporary, when that form was invented, but as conventional episodes of far more remote origin. Still, these details would be, originally, savage. But we shall see