Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/456

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
448
Some Recent Utterances of

transcribed it, not because it would not have existed. For the collector is often a professed man of letters, and he is naturally attracted by anything at all akin to what is familiar to him from his reading. And I also admit that Elder, in shaping for the press the story, whatever it was, that he heard at Newport, was in all probability largely influenced by the Hameln legend. But it seems to me extremely unlikely that he simply transferred the story, body and bones, from the pages of Howell or Verstegan to the shores of the Solent. Mr. Jacobs' proof of this seems to me a disproof. He knew and cited Verstegan, says Mr. Jacobs. Just so. Would he have cited Verstegan had the latter been his sole authority? Would he not, had he been a mere forger, have endeavoured to cover his tracks?

No better instance of two diverse methods in storiological investigation could be well chosen than Mr. Jacobs' and Mr. Baring Gould's treatment of the Pied Piper. The latter accumulates a vast mass of interesting legendary parallels, but the whole discussion hangs in the air, and is never brought to the touch of historic or literary criticism; the former establishes to his own satisfaction the dependence of the English upon the German version, and there leaves the matter. Neither method seems to me satisfactory.

Mr. Jacobs finds in England a version of the Blinded Giant story. For him "there can be little doubt that it is ultimately to be traced back to the Odyssey I see no reason to assume this. For it further involves the assumption that the Odyssey version is the origin of the legend, an assumption to which I emphatically demur. The story existed before the author of the Odyssey worked it into his epic; it would have gone on existing had he not done so; in the latter case it probably would not have been so widely spread as it now is, but even this is conjectural, a point upon which dogmatism is impossible.

In both these cases the defect of the purely literary