Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/97

This page has been validated.
89
Report on Folk-tale Research.

position in Ceylon has yielded him ample opportunities for scientific inquiry in a field hitherto unwrought. Will he not afford us a larger measure of the results?

Mr. Jacobs' contribution to the discussion of the problems of dissemination does not end with his paper in the Congress Transactions. In Indian Fairy Tales he has added a third to the beautiful series of fairy-books for children—a third in every way worthy of its Celtic and English predecessors. The stories are as well selected and adapted, and the illustrations as full of charm as ever—an endless delight. But our business is with the notes. In them the author expresses his opinion that it has been proved that the incidents of drolls have been all derived from India, but that as regards the incidents of the "serious" tales further inquiry is needed. At the same time he asserts the Indian origin of some of these, and favours the presumption generally, "so far as the incidents are marvellous and of true fairy-tale character because of the vitality of animism or metempsychosis in India throughout all historic time". He is convinced that "the fairy-tales that are common to the Indo-European world were invented once for all in a certain locality, and thence spread to all the countries in culture-contact with the original source". And he holds that "so far as Europe has a common source of fairy-tales, it owes this to India". This last statement he qualifies to some extent by limiting the "common stock" of European tales to 30-50 per cent, of the whole, and reckoning them primarily as including all the beast-tales and most of the drolls; but though he thinks the evidence still lacking about the more serious fairy-tales, it is increasing with every fresh collection of folk-tales in India.

This is an advance on the position he took up at the Congress: he is now more definitely committed to the theory of Indian, though not necessarily of Buddhist, origins. Let us examine one or two of the instances on which Mr. Jacobs relics. The story of the Demon of the