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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/439

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431
Diffusion of Tales.

custom, a similar point de repère, may stimulate to a similar, or partially similar, picture in the crystal ball of imagination.

As to priority in the theory of savage invention of märchen, it is perhaps enough to say that, in my early Fortnightly article, I pointed out the possibility of Jüngsten Recht suggesting the preference for the youngest child, in märchen, a thing to which I now attach no value. I also showed how the birth of the Wünder-Kind, in some tales, corresponds to certain savage magical methods of actually making a supernatural being, and I gave other instances. Very likely, or certainly, all this had been said many times before: without the work of Mr. Tylor and Mr. McLennan the whole hypothesis would never have occurred to me. Yet I cannot grant that my friend, Mr. Farrer, was before me in this little matter, for chronology does not admit of that conclusion. Were it correct, I should have been singularly ungrateful to Mr. Farrer, whose desertion of fields in which he is such a skilled workman I always regret. Nay, I believe his book is out of print, and this is a hardship for folk-lorists. But my critics cannot be basing the charge of Casualism on my ancient article. Probably they never heard of it; Mr. Jacobs certainly has not, otherwise he could not think that I plough with Mr. Farrer's heifer.

I am charged with diverting attention from the real nature of folk-tales, which are "literature", are "art". The Odyssey is art, but one does not divert attention from that pretty obvious truth by pointing out that it is a congeries of folk-tales. In editing Perrault, in a place where literary criticism was appropriate, I did speak my mind about the charm of folk-tales, quoting the apt and elegant praises of Nodier and of Saint-Victor, and adding my own humble but hearty applause. The tales need no such eulogium; we can do no more than repeat, as men, our expressions of pleasure, uttered when we were children. Now, no doubt, we can praise more subtly, but not more sincerely. But