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Such a race has its codes, its creeds, its epics, its drama, which the less fortunate races lack. Meanwhile, till quite recently, even in the higher races, the folk, the people, the untaught, have gone on living on the old stock, using the old treasure, secretly revering the dispossessed ghosts and fairies, amusing the leisure of the winter even- ings with the old stories handed down from grandmother to mother, to child, through all the generations.
These very stories exist, though the folk know it not, in another form, refined by the genius of poets. In time, and occa- sionally, they will filter back among the people. But, on the whole, till now, the folk have prolonged the ancient life, as it was in customs and belief long before Homer sang, long before the Hebrew legislation was codified and promulgated. This is a broad general view of the theory of Folk-lore, a rule to the working of which there are doubtless many exceptions.
For example, philosophers have tried to show that in religion all begins, as usual, with the folk, all starts from the ghosts which they saw, or thought they saw, while early theological genius and mature speculation select from these ghosts till, by the survival of the fittest, the fittest ghost becomes a god.
I shall not throw the apple of theological discord among the Congress, and shall merely confess that this theory does not, as far as I have gone, seem to me to be justified by facts. Among the very rudest peoples whom I have tried to study, the God is already in existence, as well as the ghosts, already makes for righteousness, and promises future punishment and reward.
How the idea came there, among these very back- ward, but far from really primitive people, I cannot 8 Folk-lore Congress. Certainly, among the most remote, secluded, and undeveloped ancestors of the folk I seem to find, as a rule, both ghosts and God, but whether one idea is prior to the other, and if so which, I have discovered no positive evidence.
I have tried to state the theory of Folk-lore as I under- stand it. I consider that man, as far as we can discern him in the dark backward and abysm of Time, was always man, always rational and inquisitive, always in search of a reason in the universe, always endeavouring to realise the worlds in which he moved about. But I presume man to have been nearly as credulous as he was inquisitive, and, above all, ready to explain everything by false analogies, and to regard all movement and energy as analogous to that life of which he was conscious within himself Thus to him the whole world seemed peopled with animated and personal agencies, which gradually were discriminated into ghosts, fairies, lares, nymphs, river and hill spirits, special gods of sky, sun, earth, wind, departmental deities presiding over various energies, and so forth.
About him- self, as about the world, he was ignorant and credulous. False analogy, the doctrine of sympathies, the belief in spirits that had and in spirits that had not been men, these things, with perhaps an inkling of hypnotism, pro- duced the faith in magic.
Magic once believed in the world became a topsy-turvy place, in which metamor- phoses and necromancy and actual conversation with the beasts became probable in man's fiction and possible in man's life. A painful life it seems to us, or to some of us, in which any old woman or medicine man might blast the crops, cause tempest, inflict ill luck and disease, could turn you into a rabbit or a rook, could cause bogies to haunt your cave, or molest your path, a life in which any stone or stick might possess extra-natural powers, and be the home of a beneficent or malignant spirit.
A terrible existence that of our ancestors, and yet, without it where The Presidents Address. Those fathers of ours, if they led this life, and if they took it seriously, were martyrs to our poetical enjoyment. Had the pagan noi been nurtured in that creed forlorn, we could not have sight of Proteus rising from the sea, nor hear Triton blow his wreathed horn. The stars, but for the ignorant confusions of our fathers, might be masses of incandescent gas, or whatever they are, but they could not have been named with the names of Ariadne and Cassiopeia, nor could Orion have watched the Bear, nor should we known the rainy Hyades, and the sweet influences of the Pleiads.
Ignorance, false analogy, fear, were the origin of that poetry in which we have the happier part of our being. Say the sun is incandescent gas, and you help us little with your sane knowledge, for we neither made it nor can we mend it. But believe in your insane ignorance that the sun is a living man, and Apollo speeds down from it like the bronze pouring from the furnace, in all the glory of his godhood. Great are the gains of ignorance and of untutored conjecture.
We should look on the rainbow and be ignorant of Iris, the Messenger, and of the Bow of the Covenant, set in the heavens. Thus, as in a hundred other ways, the mental condition of our most distant ancestors has turned to our profit. The method of Folk-lore, as has been seen, rests on an hypothesis, namely, that all peoples have passed through a mental condition so fanciful, so darkened, so incongruous, so inconsistent with the scientific habit that to the scientific it seems insane.
I am often asked, supposing your views are correct, how did mankind come to be so 10 Folk-lore Congress. Was mankind ever insane? How did he come to believe in ghosts? I can only repose on facts. People were not all mad two hundred years ago, but they believed as firmly in witchcraft as a Solomon islander does to-day, and the English witch's spells were even as those of the Solomon islander.
The belief rested on false analogies, the theory of sympathies, and the credence in disembodied spirits. The facts are absolutely undeniable, and the frame of mind to which witchcraft seemed credible and omens were things to be averted everywhere survives.
You will never make mankind scientific, and even men of science, like Ixion, have embraced agreeable shadows and disembodied mediums. We have conceived these follies because " it is our nature to", as the hymn says. Further explanation belongs to the psychologist, not to the Folk-lorist.
If ignorance, conjecture, and credulity be insanity in the persons of our ancestors, deliraviiniis oimics. The unity, the harmony of the human beliefs, and even the close resemblances of popular myths and stories among all peoples, are among the most curious discoveries of folk-lore.
Now, as to custom and belief, we may expect to find them nearly identical in essentials every- where, because they spring from similar needs, occasions, and a past of similar mental conditions. But, as to the resemblances of myths and stories, from the Cape to Baffin's Bay, from Peru to the Soudan, we shall doubtless have the matter discussed at later meetings. I myself am inclined to attribute the resemblances, partly to iden- tity of ideas and beliefs, partly to transmission, either modern, or in the course of pre-historic war and commerce.
All this, however, is likely to be discussed. Folk-lorists who think that we neglect ethnology, that we take mankind to be, essentially, too much of the same pattern every- where, will also have their say. I do not myself believe that some one centre of ideas and myths, India or Central Asia, can be discovered, do not believe that some one gifted people carried everywhere the seeds of all knowledge, of all institutions, and even the plots of all stories.
The germs have been everywhere, I fancy, and everywhere alike, the speciality of Race contributes the final form.
All peoples, for example, have a myth or memory of a Deluge, only the Jewish race gives it the final monotheistic form in which we know it best. Many peoples, as the Chinese, have the tale of the Returned Husband and the Faithful Wife, only the Greek race gave it the final shape, in the Odyssey.
Many peoples, from the Turks to the Iroquois, have the story of the Dead Wife Restored, only Greece shaped the given matter into the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. Many races have carved images, only Greece freed Art, and brought her to perfection. In perfecting, not in inventing, lies the special gift of special races, or so it seems to myself Let me say a final word for the attraction and charm of our study.
Call it Anthropology, call it Folk-lore, the science of Man in his institutions and beliefs is full of lessons and of enjoyment. We see the path go by caves and rude shelters, by desolate regions and inhospi- table, by kraal and village and city. Verily, we may say, " He led us by a path which we knew not.
Ends have been won, which were never fore- seen, but not by the means which we would have chosen. But we must follow, and, as the Stoic says, if we turn cowards, and refuse to follow, we must follow still. Leland said he was struck very favourably with the extremely cathohc and Hberal tone of the address. It was in consequence of not taking cognizance of that fact that the Oriental Congress, of which he was a member, came to grief The great object of folk-lore was to come to the truth and to get at the inner life of history.
Folk-lore was to history what colour was to design. They had to bring out of the past not merely the history of battles, but the story of the inner life that illuminated and coloured history. They must, however, during the course of these congresses, mutually consider each other's failings and weakness. He proposed a vote of thanks to the President for his admirable address. Charles Ploix, of Paris, seconded the motion, which was carried by acclamation.
Andrew Lang acknowledged the compliment in appropriate terms. The study of folk-tales and folk-songs, with which we have in this section more particularly to do, is, perhaps, the most generally popular of all the departments of folk-lore.
The cause of this popularity is not far to seek. It arises less from the scientific interest of the problems to be solved, or of the results of the investigation, than from the beauty, the wildness, the weird enchantment of many of the tales themselves, and from the tender recollections awakened by them in almost every mind of the hours and feelings of childhood, of faces, of voices, and of scenes long since passed away.
Of course we have arrived at that pitch of scientific train- ing that we despise all this sentiment, and we should probably be unwilling to admit how far we have been at one time or another influenced by it. The effect of such an advantage in obtaining re- cruits ought to be a large body of students, and much consequent' progress in the solution of the questions wherewith we have to deal. But, although some progress has been made, it would be difficult to show that it exceeds the progress made in several other branches of folk-lore, — if, indeed, it will compare with it at all.
Do we ask why?
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The answer will, I think, be found in the fact that hitherto most of the energy devoted to this fascinating subject has been spent in accumulating material rather than in examining and digesting it. Not a word is to be said against the accumulation of material. We have, indeed, a wealth of stories from almost all parts of the world.
The books which contain them would already of themselves fill a library, and that not a small one. But there is much yet to be done, much most urgently required, in the way of collection before what we, with self-satisfied emphasis, call civilisation stamps out some races of mankind altogether — as,'for 1 6 Folk-tale Section.
Yet, as the number of stories increases, ever will the difficulty of dealing with them grow. This is a difficulty we in England, as you know, have proposed partly to overcome by careful analysis and tabulation. But we may reasonably demand whether the time has not yet arrived when we may take stock of our museum of tales, and pro- ceed to determine, provisionally, at all events, the questions that arise upon them.
It is not enough to sort and classify: Something, and not a little, has been done in this direction since Grimm first showed the remains of ancient heathendom in the stories of his own land.
These applications have not been allowed to pass unchallenged. Literary men have contended that the true origin of folk-tales was to be found in India, that they were Buddhist parables, and that The Chairman' s Address. I'his, at least, as I understand it, is the old orthodox opinion of scholars who dispute the anthropological hypothesis.
We shall all regret to think that we are not as we hoped to have among us to-day, in the person of M. Cosquin, the most illustrious of these scholars. This will be the more interesting since many of us have been accustomed to think that the pressure of controversy of late years has broken up the Buddhist faith.
Heretics have been found who mingle its purity with the streams of Egyptian, and even of Jewish, tradition. For as the area of research widens, we doubt more and more that folk-tales found in the remotest corners of the earth have all sprung from one centre within a measurable historical period.
It has, therefore, been practically abandoned by most of its defenders in this country.8 Golden Retriever puppies meet their mom (again) on their 1st birthday
But the anthropological hypothesis is not left in possession of the field. That hypothesis attributes the origin of folk-tales, as of every other species of tradition, to the constitution of the human mind. A similar environment acting upon the mind will every- where produce similar results. And it is the variations of the environment, both physical and social, as well the moral and material products of civilisation as the natural features of the earth, its fauna and flora, which give rise to the variety of stories all presenting perpetual coincidences, and all evolved from a few leading ideas common to the race.
There is no story but has been evolved in one form or other wherever in the whole world the environment has been favourable.
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For the moment I am only concerned to contrast it as far as possible with the counter-theory I am going to state. This counter-theory accepts the results of the controversies over the theories of the Aryan philologists and the Buddhist scholars.
It c 1 8 Folk-tale Section. But it denies that the mere fact that a given story is found domesticated among any people is of itself evidence of the beliefs or practices of that people, present or past. Stories, we are told, especially some stories, must have been invented once, and once only. It would be too great a draught on our credulity to ask us to believe that a complicated plot, or a long series of incidents, or even a single incident of a very remarkable character, was invented in a dozen different places, however similar may be the working of men's minds.
But it may have been handed on from man to man, from tribe to tribe, until it had made the circuit of the world.
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And we are bidden to note that contiguous countries have a larger number of stories in common than distant ones. It is accordingly to the problem of dissemination, rather than to that of meaning, that our attention is called by the advocates of what I may, perhaps, venture to dub the dissemination theory.
Having first tracked a story to its birthplace, it will be easy afterwards to say what it means and how it came to be told.
Now, if this contention be well founded, it is enough to take us aback. For all the labours of interpretation have so far been in vain, and the cosmos we had hoped was beginning to be evolved out of the mass of traditions which have been collected is reduced once more to chaos. Nay, we can hardly tell whether the destruc- tive criticism on the theories of Professor Max Miiller, or that older romancer Euemeros, was right after all: We may, perhaps, tranquilly go on sorting and pigeon-holing; but as to making the traditions we have collected instruments to guide our researches into the development of civilisation — it would seem out of the question.
My apology must be that this address was written in fact before I saw the programme of the session, and my engagements, unfortunately, did not permit of my recasting it afterwards. The firsts observation to be made upon the dissemination theory is obviously that, even supposing the contention that a story is only invented once be true, to track any story to its place of origin must be a matter of extreme difficulty, because in a very large number of cases, if not in the vast majority, the diffusion must have taken place in times so remote, or in circumstances of such barbarism, that no trustworthy record of the transmission was possible.
Of course, I do not forget that, on the one hand, modern criticism has resources which have been the means of achieving splendid and unexpected results in dealing with internal evidence, and, on the other hand, external evidence of transmission is some- times available, as in the case of many of the stories of The Seven Wise Masters, whose genealogy we can trace from book to book and from land to land.
But stories transmitted from book to book are no longer tradi- tional, and therefore they are out of our range. Such descent, however, like oral trans- mission, is only possible where a story finds in the culture of the " folk" an environment favourable to its preservation and propaga- tion. The well-known Maori story of The Children of Heaven and Earth could never become a folk-tale among our English peasantry. There is nothing in their state of civilisation which responds to the ideas it contains; and, consequently, there is no soil in which it could take root.
If, then, a wandering story, thus finding an appropriate soil and climate, settle down and flourish, it follows that the ideas it expresses correspond to those current among the " folk" of its new home. Does it speak of magic?
The thought must be already familiar, or it will find no acceptance by a fresh audience. If, though the thought be familiar, the details of the processes are strange, these will be changed into such as are c 2 20 Folk-tale Section. Docs it assume the possibility of a change of form from human to brute, or to vegetable or mineral, and back again, while retaining consciousness and individual identity? Such a possibility must first of all have its place in the conventions of story-telling accepted by the newfolk into whose midstit is launched.
And so I might go through every savage idea formulated by an- thropologists. But the principal ideas would remain steadfast, because they would be already a part of the mental organisation of the recipients. Where such ideas had been forgotten, or where they were abso- lutely unknown, it would be impossible to transplant the story.
A fortiori, where details and all are adopted, the stage of culture of the transmitting folk and that of the receiving folk must be identical. If this reasoning be true, it deprives of much of its force an objection to the results arrived at by applying the anthropological method of enquiry to any given tale, on the ground that we do not know that the tale in question is indigenous in the country in which it is found, and therefore cannot assume that the ideas or customs it presents ever were current there.
Tales may thus in general be safely used as evidence of archaic thought and custom once, if not still, rife among the folk who relate them. Take, for example, the stories mentioned by Dr. Boas as current among contiguous tribes of North America.
The Dog-rib Indians of the Great Slave Lake relate that the primitive ancestress of their race was a woman who was mated with a dog and bore six pups. She was deserted by her tribe, and went out daily to procure food for her family.
On returning she found tracks of children about Tlie Chairman's Address. At length she hid herself, and discovered that her puppies threw off their skins as soon as they thought themselves alone, and played together in human shape. She surprised them and took away the skins, so that the children could no more return to canine form.
Now, let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that this story originated not in a remote age among the common ancestors of the various tribes who relate it to-day, but at some period since the dispersion and differentiation of the American race.
Let us sup- pose that it was invented in some one place, by some one tribe, and carried from one to another within comparatively recent times. Let us, in fact, concede the whole hypothesis of the Dissemina- tionists. The story still remains a witness of the state of civilisation of the tribes among which it is now found. The Deluge legends, the stories of the women taken up to heaven, the Magic Flight, and the other tales in Dr.
Boas' list, in this respect stand upon the same footing. There is an African tale in which the presumption of borrow- ing is at first sight strong. It tells us of a fisherman who caught a large fish. The fish gave him millet and some of its own flesh, and spoke to him, directing him to cause his wife to eat the flesh alone, while he ate the millet.
Compliance with these directions was followed by the birth of two sons, who were called Rombao and Antonyo, with their two dogs, two spears, and two guns. The boys became hunters, and did not hesitate to kill whoever opposed them and take possession of his land and other property.
There was a whale which owned a certain water, and the chief of the country gave his daughter to buy water from the whale. But Rombao slew the whale, thus saving the maiden, and cut 22 Folk-tale Section. The credit of the exploit was claimed by the captain of a band of soldiers sent by the chief to ascertain why the whale had not sent the usual wind as a token that the girl had been eaten.
The chief accordingly gives the captain his daughter in marriage. When, however, the marriage feast is ready, and the people assembled, the lady is unwilling. Rombao, who has made it his business to be present, interferes at the critical moment with the inquiry why she was to wed the captain, and is told it is because he has killed the whale. He marries the maiden, while the captain and his men, who aided and abetted his falsehood, are put to death.
It was told, presumably at Blantyre, on Lake Nyassa, to the Rev. The tale, however, differs considerably from any Portuguese version with which I am acquainted. Most of its details are purely native.
The husband and wife eating apart, the hunting and filibustering proceedings of the twins, the scarcity of water, the salting of the monster's tongue, the wedding customs, are among the indications of its complete assimilation by the native mind. The only details distinctly traceable to Portuguese influence are the names Rombao and Antonyo, the guns, and perhaps the millet — none of them essential to the story.
Upon the whole, then, this tale, which comes from a place where the Portuguese are dominant, bears traces of foreign influence only in a few inessential details. Daff Maodonald, Africana, ii, Let us take another mdrchen even more widely spread.
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