Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/407

This page needs to be proofread.


Reviews. 371

of subsequent research. In general they may be said to represent material, and a mode of using that material, German rather than English, and German of fifteen to twenty years ago rather than of the present day. Nearly every contemporary student of the custom side of folklore is indebted almost equally to Professor Tylor and to Mannhardt. Professor Pearson develops certain aspects of Mannhardt's doctrine, draws from them novel and most suggestive conclusions, and makes a bold fight in favour of views which of late, especially in Germany, have been unduly neglected or erroneously dismissed as untenable. No student of the evolution of custom within the Aryan speech-area can in my opinion neglect these brilliant and stimulating essays, which must be placed, with those of Mr. Gomme, alongside of Tylor, Mann- hardt, and Maclennan, among the indispensable prolegomena to any comprehensive survey of European sociology in its primitive aspects.

Briefly put. Professor Pearson's thesis in the first three essays noticed above is as follows. Mannhardt showed once for all the preponderance of the agricultural element in primitive European culture. Bachofen collected with immense industry the world- wide traces of primitive matriarchalism. Professor Pearson insists upon the matriarchal element in primitive European agri- cultural culture, and detects its survival in the rites and beliefs connected with witchcraft. Hitherto, as by Fustel de Cou- langes, Hearn, Leist, the patriarchal side of Aryan culture has been dwelt uponĀ ; the Aryan kinship scheme has been treated as essen- tially patriarchal. An ingenious and searching analysis of the various Aryan words denoting sex-functions, attributes, and con- ceptions, leads Professor Pearson to an opposite conclusion. ^ Much of the argument can only be adequately criticised by an expert philologist, and I should be glad if some competent mem- ber of the Society would undertake the task, for, if sound, the argument has far-reaching consequences.

Professor Pearson's evidence, as also the conclusions he draws from them, by no means, it may be noted, favours Mr. Stuart Glennie's views concerning the origin of culture generally and of matriarchalism specifically. Professor Pearson connects the latter

' Praise must be accorded to the way in which, whilst giving the facts with scientific rigour aud completeness, the author has contrived to avoid occasion of offence.

2 B 2