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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

him something of that which we find in a higher degree in naturalists, and which comes to all who can receive it from contact with Nature face to face. Very dreamy, all that! Very true; but, if we never dream, there are large regions of thought of which we shall understand nothing, for in them only hypothesis and sympathy can possibly be our guides.—Spectator.

 

PLANTATION FOLK-LORE.[1]
By Professor T. F. CRANE.

IN a passage in his recent essay on Hawthorne, which was received with some disfavor by his countrymen, Mr. James enumerated the "items of high civilization which are absent from the texture of American life." To these might be added an item of low civilization, but what, for the purpose of the imaginative writer, is of greater utility than the court or Epsom folk-lore. With the exception of a few legends of the Hudson due to the Dutch, and an occasional Indian legend (generally manufactured by the white man), there are no local legends from one end of the land to the other. In minor matters, such as superstitions, the case is no better; aside from the aversion to Friday, and sitting thirteen at table, we know of no general superstition. There are, however, two classes of native Americans which must be exempted from the application of the above rule the Indians and the Southern negroes. The superstitions of the latter, chiefly religious, have been darkly hinted at from time to time, and have occasionally afforded slight contributions to fiction; a few, the reader will remember, are to be found in Mark Twain's amusing book, "Tom Sawyer."

It was not suspected that the negroes possessed a large fund of one of the most entertaining classes of popular tales animal stories until a number were published in the "Riverside Magazine" (November, 1868; March, 1869), "taken down from the lips of an old negro in the vicinity of Charleston," variants of which appeared in the New York "Independent" (September 2, 1875), and from time to time in other papers. The first attempt at anything like a full or complete collection of these tales is in the book before us, which is not only a most entertaining and novel work but a valuable contribution to comparative folk-lore. The volume is divided into "Legends of the Old Plantation" and "Uncle Remus's Songs and Sayings." In addition to these there are some proverbs and "A Story of the War." The true value of the book, however, is in the thirty-four inimitable "Legends of the Old Plantation," which are related night after night by An old negro to the little

  1. Uncle Remus. His Songs and his Sayings. The Folk-Lore of the Old Plantation. By Joel Chandler Harris. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1881.