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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/445

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Mr. Newell and Mr. Jacobs.

inclined to look upon the Catskin form as the eldest, and to hold that it originated in the thirteenth or fourteenth century somewhere in Central Europe, whence it has spread over the world. Here I note at once a tacit admission. The earliest recorded version goes back to the early sixteenth century, yet the origin is dated back to the fourteenth or thirteenth century. So that during a period of two or three centuries it must have been current orally. To this I have of course no objection, but how does it fit in with Mr. Newell's theory? According to him, the story is a definite combination of incidents due to a definite thirteenth or fourteenth century minstrel. But there is absolutely no traceable literary connection between this unknown minstrel and the sixteenth century Straparola or Bonaventure. His tale must therefore have gone at once into the popular story-store, and there remained buried until it was dug forth again in the sixteenth century. Yet if this is admitted, who does not see that the attribution to the thirteenth or fourteenth century rests upon no certain foundation, and that we might substitute fifth or fifteenth without either strengthening or invalidating the argument? The point to note is that Mr. Newell is forced to postulate a lengthened period of purely oral transmission, the determination of that period being purely arbitrary, and that he deprives himself of any, to him, secure foothold for working back to the original form of the story; for who can tell what modification it may not have undergone during its two hundred years of oral life?

Mr. Jacobs' conclusions are in general agreement with those of Mr. Newell. He detects a "feudal character underlying the whole conception" (of the Cinderella story), which would fall in with Mr. Newell's dates. Is this "feudal" character due to the fact that the hero is a king's son, and that he has apparently unlimited rights in the way of throwing the handkerchief? But, centuries before feudalism. Psyche was the daughter of a king and queen who lived once upon a time, and we have the testimony of