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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/452

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Some Recent Utterances of

indeed, outstripped the State, and for a time there was fierce antagonism, but with the acceptance of Christianity by the Empire the two dominating forces that shape the fate of mankind were again, after a divorce of centuries, animated by a common theory of Hfe. Then, however, the forces of the older world were reinforced, all at once and incalculably, by the barbarian invasions. Church and State had to compromise all along the line, to what extent as regards Christianity we can trace in saints' lives and local festivals, whilst decrees of councils, episcopal charges, penitentials, witness the bitterness of the struggle against paganism. As regards the Empire, the compromise resulted in feudalism, a state of society resembling in many and not unimportant respects that which had formerly obtained both among the barbarian conquerors of the Empire and among the ancestors of the Greeks and Romans: a state of society singularly favourable to the growth of heroic romance. As regards Christianity, there came into existence a common stock of legendary romance, the scope and framework of which were as rigidly determined by psychological considerations as had been those of the mythological romance of antiquity, and the diverse forms of which acted and reacted upon each as freely as had the diverse forms of pre-Christian mythology.

The compromise was, upon the whole, more permanently satisfying to the Church, which indeed contrived to embody under its sway an ideal singularly beautiful and achieved, than to the State; although the Reformation may be regarded as a step onwards in the strife of Christian and pre-Christian theories of life, so that Puritanism, the most logical exponent of the Reformation, became of necessity the deadly foe of folk-lore. But at the present day it is the modern State, with its centralised, uniformitarian system of education, that threatens with imminent destruction that older interpretation of the universe which more than any other partially fulfils the test of catholicity, for it has, so far as