NOTES AND QUERIES. [9ts.ix.MAY24,i902.
he has acquired a surprising amount of knowledge on a very difficult and confusing subject. 'The Rabbit ' is a sporting article of a kind which even non-sporting men will enjoy. The writer naturally speculates as to the native home of the rabbit, but wisely hesitates to express a confident opinion. That it is not a native of the North is certain. So far as is known at present it seems probable that it arrived in Europe, by way of Spain, from Northern Africa. Before the great enclosures of the eighteenth century rabbit-warrens were very common, from the East Riding of Yorkshire to the Thames, but new processes of agriculture have in most districts sup- planted the warren by crops of barley and turnips. A few still remain, and their denizens are an interesting study for those who care to observe animals in a wild state. The hearing of the rabbit is as acute as that of the cat, but we do not think its eyesight reaches far. On a summer's evening we have watched them from very near at hand with- out their being in the least degree alarmed, but when the very slightest noise was made they at once fled to their holes. We have an excellent piece of work in 'The Death Legend in Folk-lore.' It seems but a short time ago when the very few people who cared at all about the belief of those who continued to accept the misconceptions of nature which they had derived from a remote ancestry thought either that each separate story represented an isolated superstition, or that the whole of them were derived from what were called classic sources. We are in a far different position now. Many highly competent persons are doing their best to elucidate the folk- lore of all countries by scientific methods, and as a consequence, though there is, as was to be expected, much difference of opinion on many points, these crude theories have fallen into the background and the books containing them have been discarded, and are now of no value whatever except for the records of fact which they preserve. The folk-lore which has gathered around death, the grave, and the dis- embodied spirit is vast beyond comprehension : some little of it is touchingly beautiful, but the greater part inspires in the believer abject terror. The writer of the present article has gleaned in many far-separated fields samples which give his readers a by no means exaggerated picture of the kind of dream-world in which our forefathers lived, and by which many in lands called Christian are still haunted. The labour has been well bestowed, for what he has garnered will form a centre around which new facts, as they come in, will arrange them- selves almost automatically. The paper on ' Forests and Forestal Laws ' will well repay study, although it is by no means easy reading. The forest laws, tyrannous as they were in some of their provisions, might not have been unbearable had they been honestly and reasonably administered, but in the Middle Ages even wise and strong kings had little control over their subordinates, except when they were close at hand ; thus an amount of wrong was inflicted for which the laws themselves were only in an indirect way responsible. This forestal tyranny had a long life, and even when decrepit was very hard to kill. ^ We owe to it the harsh game-laws, which remained practically unaltered until our grandfathers' time. There have been fre- quent mistakes as to the right of free-warren, which certain lords of manors have claimed, even in recent days. It is far too thorny a subject for us to discuss, but readers interested in this curious survival
will find here incidental information of no small I value. The paper on 'Assyrian Polities' showil how far deeper as well as wider was the civilization I of ancient Assyria than we had any idea of but a I few years ago. When we compare the state of that! interesting land as it was in the seventh century I before our era with what it has now become, pain- 1 ful thoughts arise, and we feel at times inclined to I question whether what is called progress is in every I case a march upwards. The documents here made I use of have been translated into French by the Rev. I A. J. Delattre, S.J. Their general sense is beyond I dispute, but such translations are extraordinarily I difficult, and as further texts come to light some I slight corrections may be called for.
THE Playgoer for May reproduces some of the I more striking scenes in ' Ben-Hur,' and has much theatrical information.
By the death of Sir George Floyd Duckett, Bart., in his ninety-first year, England loses a distinguishea archaeologist and ' N. & Q.' an old friend. SiR'l George, who was the third baronet, was educated at Harrow and Christ Church, was a knight of various orders, was appointed by the French Government an officer of Public Instruction, and a major in the German Legion. His books included a 'Technological Military Dictionary' and contri- butions to many literary and antiquarian societies. He was specially interested in the Cluniac founda- tions in England, on which he wrote much. Owing to his advanced age he wrote of late but seldom in our columns, though a communication from him appeared in the last volume, 9 th S. viii. 141. A few years ago his name or more often his initials G. D. frequently occurred.
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