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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/187

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Reviews. 163

his fellow-countrymen, he may became a candidate for Parlia- ment.

Of all this Miss Kingsley's Travels is the exact reverse. She went to Western Africa not to hunt the gorilla, but to stalk " the wild West African idea," to study in its native haunts, untamed, the Negro conception of life and death, of this world and the next, determined thoroughly to understand the Ethiopian mind. Her object was psychological, scientific. " A beetle and fetish-hunter " she calls herself, for certain departments of zoology were included in her purview. On these she insists but little in her narrative, though she made a number of discoveries of creatures hitherto unknown. Her chief interest obviously is, like ours in these pages, with the human beings whom she found about the Ogowe and the Rembwe. Her adventures are told in the most amusing way, and for the mere fun of the telling are well worth perusal. They excite perpetual astonishment at the difficulties she success- fully encountered, the dangers of every kind she dared, the cool- ness and the good humour by means of which her safety was secured again and again. She was not content with studying the ideas of the Negroes and Bantus where they had come into contact with white men, and been contaminated by Aryan conceptions. She ventured, escorted only by half-clad savages, among the cannibal Fans, there to prosecute her inquiries ; and a verj' high premium any prudent Life Insurance Office would have demanded for a policy covering the risk of her safe return from that journey. Happily, not only for her own sake, but for that of science, she has returned and recorded the results of her observations, there and elsewhere, in chapters which have a high value as that of a first-hand observer.

These chapters, though somewhat discursive, are full of acute suggestion as well as accurate description. Miss Kings- ley's repeated cautions to the anthropological student as to the reception and interpretation of evidence, the patience, the ingenuity, the tenacity of purpose, the open-mindedness required, and her warnings, none too emphatic, that no master-key will open all locks, are of a kind that ingenious theorists too often forget ; though her own explanations often leave something to be desired. We will take just one illustra- tion ; and we select it because we are quite sure that she will not reject any hint of things that require to be cleared up by further

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