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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/177

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Reviews. 1 53

matters in this respect much improved when, in a IcindHer mood, he classes him in a tone of eulogy with Sir George Cox.

The book is in no sense an Apologia ; the Professor disclaims the role of Athanasius contra Mundum ; he yields not a jot to his many critics ; he has nothing to withdraw. On the contrary, he stands surprised at his own moderation in the matter of conjectural etymology ; and his reply in advance to any critic not of his own way of thinking is clear enough : "So long," he writes, "as lingu- istic mythology had the support of all really competent scholars, I mean those who could read Sanskrit and the Veda, I felt per- fectly satisfied" (vol. i., p. 18).

It is then mainly from the philological point of view that his assault on the Ethnological School is directed. No one, he urges, who does not know the Mohawk or Maori grammar is entitled to adduce evidence from the beliefs of these peoples, and persons who talk about the Cannibal Islands had better go to school there first. This at once limits the number of those who are, in his opinion, entitled to be considered authorities. For him, Mr. H. Hale, Bishop Callaway, Dr. Hahn, Dr. Codrington, and Mr. Gill about exhaust the list. But he does not stop to explain how this elementary linguistic test excludes some of our best students of savage life, like, for instance, Col. Dalton and Mr. Risley in Bengal, Mr. Man in the Andaman Islands, Messrs. Fison and Howitt in Australia, the staff of the American Bureau of Ethnology, and many others. It almost looks as if the line was specially drawn to include Mr. Gill, who supports the solar theory, and Dr. Codrington, who could find no totems in Melanesia.

What readers of the book will be most curious to discover is how the writer deals with the objections which have been raised to his own methods. Why, for instance, do most of the Aryan myths deal with the sun ? To this his answer is — " The fool may say in his heart, Why did the ancient Aryas talk of nothing but the sun ? The wise man will say, What else could they have thought or spoken about, and what else was there to remember and to tell their children and grandchildren, if not the power of the sun, the labours of the sun, the bounteous gifts, the pity and love of whoever it was that was behind the sun, at work in the air and in the sky, in the earth, nay, in the warmth of man's own heart?" (vol. i., p. 173). And is not much or most of our conversa- tion devoted to the state of the weather ?