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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/444

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Some Recent Utterances of

from games to folk-lore (or rather folk-literature) at large, and one approximates to Mr. Newell's theory. But a more potent factor with Mr. Newell, as certainly it is the most potent factor with Mr. Jacobs, is what may be termed, in no invidious sense, the "literary-historical idol". In dealing with the history of individualistic, consciously artistic literature we attach, and rightly, extreme importance to questions of date. In the case of two writers dealing with the same theme, dependence of the later upon the earlier writer is the obvious explanation of any similarity. The same principle is applied to folk-literature; the date of appearance of a folk-theme is treated as its date of origin, the earliest recorded version is, half unconsciously, regarded as being in some way the fount of later versions. That I am not overstating the case is, I think, evident from an admission of Mr. Newell's. In speaking of the Cinderella story he says: "The separate incidents are, of course, of indefinite antiquity." But if this be so, why must the combination be regarded as modern? Simply because, as a matter of fact, it is not recorded as a whole until modern times, and the literary student is not willing to go behind his chronological data. For there is obviously no reason in the nature of things why a story first recorded in modern times, and presenting a mixture of modern and archaic elements, should not have acquired its modern features in the course of the ages. The prejudice of the literary student in favour of the simultaneity of origin and record causes him to reject this, the natural explanation, and leads him to look upon the archaic as the extraneous element. So, too, with regard to the "Indian" hypothesis. No one will deny that, whatever reasons it may rest upon now, it was at first due to observation of the prior publication, so to say, of Indian tale collections, and was in fact nothing but a gigantic exemplification of the principle post hoc ergo propter hoc.

Bearing all these facts in mind, let us see how the two scholars approach the Cinderella problem. Mr. Newell is