The Folk-Lore Journal/Volume 3/The Science of Folk-lore (Gomme)

The Folk-Lore Journal, Volume 3
The Science of Folk-lore (Gomme)



SINCE my letter in the Folk-Lore Journal (vol. ii. p. 285) was published, and the interesting correspondence which followed thereon, two important books have made their appearance which considerably aid my views. These are Mr. Lang's Custom and Myth and Captain R. C. Temple's Wide-Awake Stories. It will be remembered that I urged three matters for the consideration of Folk-lorists:—(1.) The definition of folk-lore with reference to its scope and object. (2.) The settlement of a terminology for the titles of folk-tales. (3.) The settlement of a terminology for folk-tale incidents and the compilation of a standard index of incidents.

I should like it to be settled once for all that folk-lore is a science; at all events that it should be so considered by the Society both with reference to its objects and its mode of working. When Professor Max Müller first began to advocate the claims of language to a position among the sciences the first thing he had to do was to clear away some of the errors which had clung round the subject up to the time of his taking it in hand. The Folk-Lore Society has now been at work some seven years; its publications give a fair index to the range of subjects it includes; and yet outside the Society the old errors are still being repeated. These errors arise principally from the general identification of folk-lore with folk-tales. In all sorts of ways we find this identification cropping up. Thus Mr. Denton's Introduction to the Serbian Folk-Lore commences with the ominous words, "It is only within the last few years that the importance of folk-lore, the popular legends^ tales, drolls, and extravagances which have been handed down from generation to generation among the labourers, peasants, and youth of a nation has been frankly recognised." Again Mr. Theal's volume on Kaffir Folk-Lore commences in the same strain:—"Of late years a great deal of interest has been taken in the folk-lore of uncivilised tribes by those who have made it their business to study mankind," the folk-lore here intended being limited to the tales and popular traditions. And many other books could be mentioned.

Now, of course, if this error of limitation in the proper meaning of folk-lore went no further than the titles of books compiled by collectors of popular tales and traditions, it would be a matter of very small moment indeed. We perhaps have no right to expect the collector, the toiler who goes out into the by-paths and outlands of civilisation and into the homes and villages of savage people, to be exact in the docketing and assortment of his collections. We ought to be only too grateful to him for his materials, without which the scientific student would be powerless, to say one word in dispraise of his productions. But, unfortunately, there is too little discrimination between the functions of the collector of folk-lore and the functions of the student of folk-lore. People take up from the one ideas and notions which were never in his province to distribute, and they engraft these ideas and notions on to the work which is performed by the other. It is in this way that the faults of collectors of stories and traditions in identifying their books with the generic term folk-lore have become the faults of the student.

This state of things finds its last stage in Sir George Cox's Introduction to the Science of Comparative Mythology and Folk-Lore, in which it is not too much to say folk-lore is scarcely represented at all. Sir George Cox, in his Preface, says:—"My purpose in this volume is to give a general view of the vast mass of popular traditions belonging to the Aryan nations of Asia and Europe and of other tribes so far as the conditions of the subject may render necessary." With such a purpose in view there was no necessity to set down his book as in any way an introduction to the study of folk-lore. But the evil does not end here. A few lines further down in his Preface Sir George Cox writes:— "Folk-lore, in short, is perpetually running into mythology; and there are few myths which do not exhibit in some of their features points of likeness to the tales usually classified under the head of folk-lore." Nothing could be more erroneous than this. Folk-lore can never be said to be running into mythology; though, on the contrary, mythology may be said to be perpetually running into folk-lore. It is only when mythology, displaced as a form of religion, becomes perpetuated as popular beliefs that it can be classed as folk-lore and placed side by side in that long category of manners and customs, superstitions and beliefs, old sayings and proverbs, legends and traditions, hero-tales and god-tales, which constitute the lore of the people. Unfortunately Sir George Cox is upheld to some extent by Professor Sayce. In the Introduction to the Science of Language we read:—"Myth, folk-lore, fable, allegory—all these are related terms, but terms to be carefully kept apart. A myth is the misinterpreted answer given by the young mind of man to the questions the world about him seemed to put The term folk-lore is of vaguer meaning. It embraces all those popular stories of which the fairy-tales of our nursery are a good illustration, but from which the religious element of mythology is absent .... Though the figures of mythology may move in the folk-lore of a people they have changed their form and fashion; the divinity that once clothed them is departed; they are become vulgar flesh and blood. It is true that it is often difficult to draw the line between folk-lore and mythology, to define exactly where the one ends and the other begins, and there are many instances in which the two terms overlap one another; but this is the case in all departments of research, and the broad outlines of the two types of popular legend stand clearly distinct. It is a mere misuse of the term to include myths, as is sometimes done, under the general head ' folk-lore.' The precise relation of mythology and folk-lore is still a disputed question. There is much folk-lore which can be traced back with certainty to faded myths."[1] Nothing could be clearer than this passage in its definition and conception of mythology, and it recognises too the absence of mythological motif in folk-lore. This is of course a distinct advance in the matter of definition; it is really the commencing chapter in the best studies of our science. But when it leaves the domain of simple definition and touches upon the broader ground of relationship—of the relationship, that is, of mythology to folk-lore—we feel that there is the old error cropping up, and that, too, in such a form as to allow of it being laid hold of by the comparative mythologists and worked into their preconceived theories.[2] Folk-lore can never properly be confused with mythology, because it consists of elements which belong not only to the region of myths and fancies but to the region of actual facts, customs and events; and it never contains a complete system of mythology but only fragmentary survivals of it.

The errors in the definition and conception of folk-lore which we have pointed out have for the most part permeated very deeply among those who take up the study. Mr. Lang has on more than one occasion taken pains to bring back the aims and objects of the students of folk-lore to their legitimate basis and function. In the second volume of the Folk-Lore Record he has given a sort of summary of his views; but by far the best contribution to this subject is the chapter on "The Methods of Folk-Lore" in his recently published Custom and Myth, where, although he does not distinctly tell us what his definition of folk-lore really is, and he hesitates to call it a science, he explains and amplifies many of his previous studies.

But admirable as these explanations of Mr. Lang's really are, it does not appear to me that they go quite far enough. If it is true that "folk-lore is the study of survivals," and "that possibly there is no stage of human experience, however early and incomplete, from which something in our institutions does not still survive," it must follow that the study of folk-lore becomes, not the mere amusement of the antiquary, not the craze of an observer of all that is curious and extraordinary, but a science. And then again, if folk-lore is a science, and the science of survivals withal, there is something to be said about its place in the list of sciences, about its relation to other sciences; and, above all, about the chapter it should contribute to the great book of human knowledge. For this to be properly understood we must first give a rapid survey of what is now actually included under the title of folk-lore; and then, if possible, ascertain the scientific reason why folk-lore may properly be said to deal with all these subjects.

In the Folk-Lore Journal (vol. ii. p. 312) Mr. Nutt has given a very good summary of the subjects included under the general term folk-lore, but, in classifying these subjects, he does not utilise the terms usually recognised and adopted, and his classification does not by itself indicate the methods of studying folk-lore. Mr. Hartland's classification (ii. 343) is, I venture to think, the better. But still I do not think we should go beyond the radical groups into which the subjects included in folk-lore naturally divide themselves. Simplicity is much needed. Folk-practice and folk-wont are, after all, arbitrary divisions, and few students will, I think, limit their studies by this classification. Many, however, do, and will limit their studies to the natural grouping of the subjects, and I can see no reason why they should not as long as they recognise these parts as belonging to a larger whole. I would therefore venture to suggest the following division into four radical groups, each of which is subdivided into minor groups, as in the accompanying table:—

1. Traditional Narratives:

(a) Folk Tales;
(b) Hero Tales;
(c) Ballads and Songs;
(d) Place Legends.

2. Traditional Customs:

(a) Local Customs;
{b) Festival Customs;
(c) Ceremonial Customs;
(d) Games.

3. Superstitions and Beliefs:

(a) Witchcraft;
(b) Astrology;
(c) Superstitious Practices and Fancies.

4. Folk-Speech:

(a) Popular Sayings;
(b) Popular Nomenclature;
(c) Proverbs;
(d) Jingle Rhymes, Riddles, &c.

This, then, is the broad outline of what is now included under the generic title of folk-lore. It is, however, necessary to consider somewhat in detail the constituent elements of our study under each of the four radical groups into which they seem to divide themselves.

1. Traditional Narratives. These perhaps form the most important item of folk-lore. They are either fairy tales, nursery tales, hero-legends, legends about particular places or objects, ballads, and songs. The so-called fairy tales and nursery stories make up a class which has become generally known as folk-tales, or märchen. The other items may be termed hero-tales and folk-songs, these being the terms most generally adopted by writers on the subject. All three classes—folk-tales, hero-tales, and folk-songs—deal with the marvellous adventures of various personages—human beings, giants, witches, marvellous animals, and the like. The folk-tale, the most archaic in form, treats of its dramatis personæ under what may be termed an impersonal system, that is to say, the various characters are known under some such general title as "a certain" king, queen, princess, or the like, or under some such indefinite name as Cinderella, Snow White, Swan-maidens, &c. In course of time when the folk-tale has become more and more a part of the local life of the people, and less of its old tribal life, these impersonal or general names for the dramatis personæ become in some instances displaced by the special names of ordinary individuals. In some Spanish stories this is so. In Irish stories and more particularly in Scottish stories we meet with specific names applied to the heroes of the tales. It is to be noted, however, that this naming stops short with the hero or heroine, the other characters generally retaining their impersonal character, and that even the names so used are significant of their popular and indefinite signification. Jack and Tom in Irish and English stories do not convey much more personality than "a certain king," "a miller," and so on. Though, therefore, there is this modification of the definition of the folk-tale as impersonal, the definition holds good as a general characteristic of the folk-tale; because the personality attached to an every-day name does not carry with it any historical associations, and does not therefore tend to influence to any sensible degree the form of the folk-tale. This qualification of impersonal is all the better established when we come to consider the next class—hero-tales. These are such as Guy of Warwick, Bevis of Hamtun, and the stories of the Welsh Mabinogion. Of the same original form as the folk-tale, they have become associated with the names of some historical or semi-historical personage; and hence, history having entered into the domain of folk-lore has affected it and altered it. Some of the adventures in the hero-tales are identical with the adventures in the folk-tales, but they do not possess the same surroundings and are not preceded and followed by the same events. Again, some of the formulae obtainable from the folk-tales reappear in the narrative of the hero-tales; but they are surrounded by and worked into other events and characters which prevent them being classed under the more simple class of folk-tales.

2. Traditional Customs. The second radical group into which folk-lore may be conveniently divided is that relating to customs. These are local customs, festival customs, ceremonial customs and games.

Local customs are frequently very extraordinary, and have sometimes been preserved only at one or two places. But they are none the less valuable to the folk-lorist on this account; for it may be that some particular local circumstance has affected the practice of the custom and kept it alive, while, in other places, it has died out. Local custom is apt to shade off into local law, and as soon as we find this to be the case folk-lore loses its claim. But it is instructive to find examples of a local custom which in some places owes its observance to the popular will, and, in other places, to the local law. We here get hold of a transitional form of folk-lore which helps us to grasp the true value of much that folk-lore has to teach us; because we may assume that the custom is older than the law, and that hence folk-lore has contributed to the laws of the land. If we find a custom performed in only one place, it may be, of course, assumed that it is something special and peculiar to the locality; but it is the duty of the folk-lorist to search for parallels, and not to give up the search until something definite is known about the origin of the custom. Many local customs can by this means be brought into the domain of history, and, therefore, taken out of the category of folk-lore. Local customs, therefore, may be defined as— (a) originating in the popular will in some places, and, in other places, having become part of the local, i.e. manorial, law; (b) variations of well-ascertained folk-custom; (c) special to a particular place, and having an ascertained or ascertainable historical origin. The latter is of course not folk-lore.

Festival customs represent an exceedingly important branch of folk-lore. Just as in the case of local customs it has been ascertained that so long as a local custom is isolated in its peculiarity it cannot be admitted into the domain of folk-lore,—and that a purely folk-lore custom, locally observed, may, in course of time, become a part of local or manorial law,—so it is to be noted in the case of festival custom that so long as it is specialised under a particular festival of the Church it cannot be admitted into the domain of folklore, and that a custom observed at certain seasons of the year has gradually become incorporated into a recognised festival-custom of the Church. Thus the Church stands, with reference to festival customs, in the same relationship as the law stands with reference to local customs. To a folk-lorist, Church and law are the perpetual means of transforming folk-lore into religious observance or into legal action. Having enshrined folk-lore thus in their own surroundings it becomes difficult to recognise it, and much of it cannot, of course, be recognised; but when the stage of transition is still perceivable it is very often through the agency of the Church and the law that folklore has been preserved.

But the Church has done much more for festival customs than the law has done for local custom. In the early days of Christianity there was a fierce struggle with the still living and still healthy paganism of the hordes who conquered the Roman Empire. And the stern and necessary operation of getting rid of barbaric belief in order to make way for the humanising work of Christianity was not done without compromise. The Church taught that certain times were specially kept apart for religious observances; and the people, always loth to leave off the practices of their ancestors—always fearful of offending their old gods who had hitherto done so much for them or against them— answered this teaching by adding to the Christian ceremonies certain ceremonies of their own, which had once been performed at various times during the pagan year.[3] Thus we find at all the great festivals of the Church, Christmas, Easter, Whitsuntide, and so on, there are customs performed—sometimes by the Church, sometimes with the sanction of the Church, sometimes merely at the same time as the Church—which are purely and incontestably traditional in their origin and significance. Putting wholly on one side the question as to the connection between Church custom and folk-lore—and it is a question which well deserves working out—it is the duty of the folk-lorist to gather up that enormous mass of popular custom which has gradually clustered around Church festivals. Mr. Dyer has done a great deal towards this in his book on British Popular Customs. It will be found that at certain seasons of the year—take for instance Christmas—a number of popular customs have long been practised as essential features of the joyous festival. In some places the self-extinction of the yule-log at Christmas is portentous of evil,[4] and this same idea is represented in the Church in connection with the candles instead of the yule-log. But folk-lore proper takes no note of the connection with Church custom. The yule-log ceremonies and its many significant lessons exist quite independently of Christmas; and when we come to consider that identical customs are performed at various places at different seasons of the year it will be self-evident that, although the folk-lorist has to use the Christian festivals as a means of finding out items of folk-lore, he has to eliminate them from their accidental or extraneous association with the custom they have doubtless helped to preserve.

Ceremonial customs appertain to the great events of life—birth, marriage, and death; to the social institutions which surround us—the house and home, agriculture, &c.

3. Superstitions and Beliefs. The third radical group of folk-lore consists of that vast body of superstition which at all times and in all places has been made the subject of observation. The headings into which this group fall are witchcraft, astrology, and that past body of superstitious practices and fancies which are connected with the subjects of fairies, amulets, plants, animals, medicine, weather, dreams, &c. &c.

On the first two sections of superstitions, namely, witchcraft and astrology, a note is required. Each of these represent what I may almost term a cult.[5] The first, however, is a popular cult, the second is an academical cult. By a popular cult I mean a cult generated and fostered by popular belief and fancy, and owing its continuance to traditional influences. There is no great school of witchcraft. Yet the universal belief in it proclaims that it has inherent tendencies at a certain stage of human culture, or has obtained in the popular mind a common under-current of support, which would, if some superior power like Christianity or philosophy had allowed, have forced it to become the predominant belief of the people. Cases of witchcraft have occurred at almost all periods of our history, and in the Middle Ages it threatened to become a power in the land. Care must be taken, however, not to include under this head old superstitions which are carelessly spoken of as appertaining to "witchcraft." Witchcraft has become almost as generic a term as superstition or as folk-lore; but its proper place is where its name indicates, and students must be careful to keep intact this important subject, and neither confuse it with matters that do not properly belong to it nor hide other matters under its capacious wings to their deterioration. Witchcraft has to do with the personal "witch," male or female, who professed, or who, in the cases of witch legal trials, is alleged to profess, the possession of certain occult powers for good or evil upon man or animal. It is this personality which constitutes the very essence of witchcraft—there can be no witchcraft in the proper sense of the term unless there be a personal witch to perform or profess the craft. It is the belief in the occult powers of the personal witch that has made witchcraft such a power in the world at all times. The witch may perform a custom or ceremony, may prognosticate certain events, may go through some fantastic ritual or recite some dread incantation; and the custom or ceremony, the ritual and the incantation, may belong to the general body of folk-lore, though put into use by the witch. Under witchcraft it is not the particular custom or superstition which we have to consider—these are considered in their proper places under the several divisions of our subject—but it is the priest-like office of the witch, the influence exercised by this office, the uses to which it is put, the results which flow from it, that are the proper subjects of consideration under the heading of witchcraft.

Astrology is what I have termed an academical cult. It is a cult that has had certain schools of thought specially attached to its study and to its promulgation.

4. Folk- Speech. Mr. Nutt (ante, vol. ii. p. 312) hesitates to accept language as a branch of folk-lore, and I think rightly; but if he includes his own class No. 6, and then adds only that portion of word-lore which contains some traditional knowledge on the subjects already included among the subjects of folk-lore, there need be, I think, no hesitation in accepting his useful title for the fourth radical group. When in popular nomenclature we come across a place called "witchery hole," "fairies' knoll," "toot hill," "moot hill," or any of the many significant names that meet us almost everywhere, it is only these names that enable us to recognize the last remnants of old beliefs and old customs. Mr. Grant Allen's researches into the relics of totem clans in England from a study of clan names is a most important example of this subject.

Having now run through the chief subjects which are generally included under the title folk-lore, we must first ask ourselves why these subjects are thus grouped together and given a generic name; and next, whether this grouping has a scientific or merely accidental cause.

The right to group three such apparently distinct things as traditions, customs and superstitions under one general title—a title, that is, which carries with it the significance of being one complete study—rests mainly upon the fact that traditions, customs and superstitions result from the selfsame cause. If a folk-tale is valuable because it has descended upon the lips of the people, from one generation to another from the earliest times, so for a similar reason is a custom or superstition valuable: for both have descended by the acts or beliefs of the people from one generation to another. There is thus the underlying factor of a common origin which enables us to speak of all three as one study. But there is something further and of much more importance than the common attribute of being traditional, which connects folk-tales, customs and superstitions under one common band, and which declares that folk-lore cannot properly be limited to any one of these three groups, and that attempted scientific conclusions cannot be drawn from one without any reference to the others. And this is the fact that each of these three classes dovetail into each other; or, in other words, that a feature represented, say in a folk-tale, is represented also in certain customs or certain superstitions.

Mr. Lang has explained some well-known stories by showing how the incidents in them relate to some custom of barbaric ages; and his contention is strongly supported by the most important evidence which Captain Temple in his volume of Wide-Awake Stories brings forward as to the incidents of folk-tales being the really important factor, and their actual setting being merely the accidental form in which every narrator chooses to vary his stock of well-known and often-repeated facts. Captain Temple's observations are so important that I would again urge that a standard index of folk-tale incidents should be undertaken by the Society.

We can now come to our final question, namely, whether all the subjects grouped together under the title of folk-lore are of any scientific use. The answer to this is, I venture to think, to be found in the fact that from folk-lore can be ascertained, without the help of any other science or study, certain definite facts in man's history which cannot be ascertained from any other source. Taking English national life, for instance, we know very little of prehistoric times or early Anglo-Saxon times without the aid of folk-lore; and I may perhaps venture to instance my own book on Folk-Lore Relics of Early Village Life to illustrate what definite results folk-lore can produce when applied to unlock some of the problems lost to pure history. Again, Mr. Black has produced from folk-lore some most important results in the early history of man upon the subject of folk-medicine, and this again was unattainable from any other study. We are only just beginning to study folk-lore scientifically, and hence have not obtained many important results from it. In claiming for folk-lore the position and functions of a science we pass at once from a study of fragmentary scraps of curious facts and fictions to a definite and distinct study, which has problems of its own to work out and conclusions of its own to demonstrate. This is, of course, the difference between a mere literary or antiquarian curiosity and a historical science. So long as folk-lore has been considered as a mere collection of curious items of popular customs and traditions there have been no attempts to draw from it any conclusions to illustrate the life of man. Some of its items have occasionally been used by the anthropologist, by the philologist, the comparative mythologist, and the historian. Mr. E. B. Tylor has in many instances proved how folk-lore lends its aid to working out some of the problems in the early history of man. Both Professor Max Müller and Professor Sayce have invaded the territories of folk-lore and captured some important treasures therefrom for the elucidation of some of the problems of comparative mythology and philology. Dr. Hearn, in his researches into the Aryan Household, appeals again and again to folk-lore for facts that he cannot obtain from history, from philosophy, or from any material source. Even geology, under the able guidance of Mr. Boyd Dawkins, claims the assistance of folk-lore in working out the history of Early Man in Britain; and lastly Mr. Elton, in tracing out the origins of English history, has stepped occasionally into the domains of folk-lore and worked out interesting and valuable problems by its aid. These are some out of many examples of the accidental uses to which folk-lore has been put. History, mythology and anthropology have used fragmentary portions of it for the elucidation of their own problems; and the result, as in the case of mythology, which we have already shown, is far from satisfactory. Folk-lore, considered as an accidental appendage to other sciences, can never be anything more than a kind of haphazard study: every conclusion drawn from its facts will be biassed by the science to which for the nonce it is attached; every deduction will lead in different directions; and, instead of getting a group of facts capable of contributing new phases of knowledge, we get isolated facts capable only of contributing some kind of arguments to theories advanced by the pioneers of other sciences. Here then is the raison d'être for pointing out the old errors as to what folk-lore is and what it does; and for attempting to bring about a more complete knowledge of its work and its teaching. Just for a moment look at the other view of folk-lore—as an historical science. Before being asked to contribute quotas of information to other sciences we first ask what it is itself, what it is capable of doing, what problems it is likely to formulate and solve. When all this has been ascertained, then, and not till then, students can claim its aid towards working out the problems of other sciences.

Folk-lore may, therefore, be defined as "the science which treats of the survivals of archaic beliefs and customs in modern ages."

This science, like all others, requires a proper method of research, which enters into the very essence of its life. It must always be borne in mind that a cardinal principle of the science is that it begins with the folk-lore of modern civilized countries. Each item has to be classified and docketed according to its particular value, and this is the first stage of the work. Taking, for instance, English folk-lore as our commencing stage, I have found that it can be classified into (a) archaic continuations of early life; (b) imperfect or degraded archaisms. The next stage is to ascertain its relationship to European folk-lore, ancient and modern. This will produce (a) exact parallels to the English items; (b) items which complete the imperfect archaisms; and (c) differences and variants which show ethnic influences. The third stage is to ascertain its relationship to Hindu folk-lore as the key to the Indo-European stage of civilisation. And the final stage, and the most important, is to ascertain its relationship to savage custom. The parallels between the folk-lore of Europe and savage custom establish two very important facts—first, the primitive origin of European folk-lore; and, secondly, the identity between the early stages of modern civilisation and the present stage of modern barbarism; thus proving the state of arrested progress which modern savage life presents, and leading up to one of the most important problems of anthropology, namely, the value of the evidence of savage society for the early history of man.

To show the result of this method of research in a more ready form I append a formula, though, I may add, that I have prepared tables from this formula, filling up each heading there given with examples of folk-lore taken from each of the subjects I have enumerated as composing the subject-matter of folk-lore. The completion of this table will prove the correctness of my definitions and classifications, and I shall gladly print it in the Folk-Lore Journal if it will be acceptable. The formula is as follows:—

(A.) Methods of Research.

1. Classification of English folk-lore (or civilised western).
2. Relationship to European folk-lore.
3. Relationship to Hindu folk-lore.
4. Relationship to Savage folk-lore.

(B.) Results.

1. Classification of English folk-lore,
i. Main Results :
(a) Archaic continuations of early life,
ii. Minor Results :
(a) Imperfect or degraded archaisms.
2. Relationship to European folk-lore,
iii. Main Results :
(a) Exact parallels.
(b) Completion of fragmentary forms (as in ii. a.)
iv. Minor Results :
(c) Differences showing ethnic or local influences.
3. Relationship to Hindu folk-lore.
v. Main Results :
(a) Parallels in form, } leading up to Indo-European folk-lore,
(b) Parallels in môtif }
vi. Minor Results :
(c) Differences — being items not found to have survived in European folk-lore.
4. Relationship to savage custom,
vii. Main Results :
(a) Parallels showing primitive origin of folk-lore.

(b) Items for which there are no parallels in civilized folk-lore, and which thus remain the special heritage of savage life.

There are, of course, many points in connection with the subject which I have not attempted to touch upon at present. Whnt I have done will not, I hope, be considered dogmatic; because I am willing to give way upon any point where I may be shown to have gone wrong. One most important subject I should like to have dealt with, namely, the influence of literature upon folk-lore. In one sense folk-lore can lay claim to possessing the grandest book of the world, the Iliad and Odyssey, the Vedas, much of the Bible. But the folk-lore enshrined in these grand literary sources is dead—not alive as true folk-lore is and must be. We must be careful, therefore, in dealing with the dead folk-lore of classical Greece not to use it in the same way as we do the living folk-lore of savage peoples. It has become fossilised. But on these questions, and many others, I forbear now to touch, because they deserve distinct treatment. I can only hope that, before the year is out, it may be possible to issue a properly authorised Introduction to the Science of Folk-Lore. I must thank Mr. Nutt and Mr. Clodd for kindly reading over these notes.

  1. Sayce, Introduction to the Science of Language, vol. ii. pp. 276-276.
  2. Sir George Cox uses it curiously, Introduction to Mythology and Folk-Lore, p. 7.
  3. I would refer to Keary's Primitive Belief. Hampson's Medii Ævi Kalend. Antiquary, 1881, vol. iii. pp. 193-195.
  4. Hampson's Medii Ævi Kalend. vol. i. p. 116. Cf. Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 256.
  5. Mr. Keary uses this term for witchcraft. See Origin of Primitive Belief.