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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/399

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Reviews. 363

given, some of them, like the Myddfai legend, already well known ; and these, narrated at full length, occupy a good deal of space that might have been reserved for newer and therefore more valuable material. In addition to the folktales, the volume com- prises a variety of superstitions. Properly to answer, however, to its title, much more than this should have been included. We miss an account of popular customs, of which the remote moun- tainous districts of North Wales might have offered a harvest. A solitary meagre reference to " a custom once general, and still not obsolete in South Wales," pointing to marriage by capture, does not amount even to an attempt to deal with the profoundly interesting subject of marriage customs.

Still, within the limits indicated — limits which ought to have been more accurately expressed in the title — Mr. Owen's book is one of permanent interest. He gives many new tales and new variants of old tales ; he has taken great care to preserve with exactness what he has heard ; and where he has omitted to note, or is not quite sure of, a detail, he has the courage to say so — by no means a common gift, for everybody knows that any " faked- up stuff" is good enough to be called folklore. The collection of Welsh traditions, in particular, has suffered from this opinion, having been exploited by all sorts of bookmakers ; and we wel- come with double pleasure a repertory of genuine traditions.

Fairy tales are naturally in the forefront of the work ; but stories of ghosts and devils, witches and witchcraft superstitions, medical and other charms, omens and divination, death-portents, and the folklore of the lower animals are abundantly illustrated. The author promises other volumes ; and to these we shall look for- ward eagerly. If he will permit us to suggest, we will venture to express the hope that he will in the forthcoming works compress the comments and the parallels from other countries, in order to find room for a greater number of variants. In Wales, where the folklore is so rapidly dying out, the collector is far more urgently wanted than the commentator ; and who knows what light may be obtained from a single variant of custom or story ? Besides, Mr. Owen's supreme qualifications are those of collector, and they are very great.