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scratching her dress, and scratched through it certain, but by no means all, popular tales, it ofdown to the mantle” which it covered. “So fers an apparently reasonable solution of many when he had lifted his head from her knees, he problems. Just as it seems really true that at tore off her head-dress from her head, and im- least many of the stories of fair maidens released mediately perceived that she was his sister. from the captivity in which they were kept by Then they two went forth from that house, but demoniacal beings “can be traced back to mythno one knew whither they went.”
ological traditions about the Spring being reAll commentators will doubtless, agree that leased from the bonds of Winter, the Sun being the stories of Cinderella and Goldenlocks spring rescued from the darkness of the Night, the from the same root. But they will differ widely Dawn being brought back from the far West, when the question arises as to whether that root the Waters being set free from the prison of the was or was not of a mythological nature, and Clouds,”* so it appears not unreasonable to supalso as to what was, in either case, its original pose that the large group of tales of the Cinderform and significance. The majority of the crit- ella class may be referred for their origin to simiics who have lately handled the subject have not lar mythological traditions. In all the numerous the slightest doubt about the whole matter. “It narratives about brave princes and beautiful is the story of the Sun and the Dawn,” says Mr. princesses who, apparently without sufficient reaJ. Thackray Bunce, in the latest work on the son, conceal under a foul disguise their fair nasubject, a pretty little book on “ Fairy Tales: ture, emerge at times from their seclusion and their Origin and Meaning "; "Cinderella, gray obscurity, but capriciously return to their deand dark and dull, is all neglected when she is graded positions, until they are finally revealed away from the Sun, obscured by the envious in their splendor by accident or destiny-in all Clouds, her sisters, and by her step-mother, the these stories about a Rashie-Coat, a Katie Night. So she is Aurora, the Dawn, and the Woodencloak, a Goldenlocks, or any other of fairy Prince is the Morning Sun, ever pursuing Cinderella's brothers and sisters, there appears to her to claim her for his bride." According to be a mythological element capable of being not Professor de Gubernatis, in his “ Zoological My- unreasonably attributed to the feelings with thology" (ii., 281), “Ahalyâ (the evening Aurora) which, at an early myth-making period, prein the ashes is the germ of the story of Cinder- scientific man regarded the effect of the forces, ella, and of the daughter of the King of Dacia, the splendor of the phenomena of nature. But persecuted by her lover, her father himself.” It there is a vast difference between regarding as a seems unfortunate that so many “storiologists” nature-myth in general the germ of the legends have committed themselves to the support of from which have sprung the stories of the Cinthe cause of the Dawn and the Afterglow, the derella cycle, and identifying with precision the "Morning and Evening Auroras," before the particular atmospheric phenomenon which all its claims to consideration of other natural phenom- heroes and heroines are supposed to symbolize. ena or forces were fully considered and disposed And there is an equally wide difference between of in a manner satisfactory to at least the great the reasonableness of seeking for a mythological majority of judges. Too few of the writers on explanation of a legend when traced back to its the meaning of popular tales seem to have re- oldest known form, and the utter absurdity of membered Professor Max Müller's warning that attempting to squeeze a mythical meaning out of “this is a subject which requires the most deli- every incident in a modern nursery-tale, which cate handling and the most careful analysis." has perhaps been either considerably enlarged or Instead of warily feeling their way over an ob- cruelly "clippit and nippit " by successive generscure and unfamiliar field, they race across itations of rustic repeaters, and has most certainly toward their conclusions, bent upon taking every been greatly modified and dressed by its literary obstacle in their stride. The consequence is, that introducers into polite society. No one can fail they now and then meet, or to the eyes of un- to perceive how great a gulf divides the system enthusiastic spectators appear to meet, with mis- of interpretation which Professor Max Müller haps of a somewhat ludicrous nature. Thus, has applied to Vedic myths from that adopted in when we are told that the justly saddened moth- the case of such manifest modernizations as er of Beanstalk Jack, by throwing her apron over“ Little Red Riding Hood " by critics who forget her head and weeping, figures “the night and that (to use his words) “ befcre any comparison the rain,” we are apt to be led by our perception can be instituted between nursery tales of Gerof the ridiculous toward an inclination to laugh many, England, and India, each tale must be at the whole system according to which so many traced back to a legend or myth from whence it stories are resolved into nature myths. But that arose, and in which it had a natural meaning; system, if used discreetly, appears to lead to results not otherwise attainable. In the case of
* Max Müller, “Chips," ii., 237.
otherwise we can not hope to arrive at any satis- allels in tales which are told by wild races unable factory results." ("Chips," ii., 249.)
to boast of a drop of Aryan blood. But the Let us turn now to other systems of interpre- dramatic narratives known to us as the stories tation. One school of critics utterly refuses to of Cinderella, “ Puss in Boots," and the like, in accept any mythological solution of fairy-tale rid- which a regular sequence of acts or scenes is dles, another is at least inclined to reduce the maintained unaltered in various climes and cenmythological element in popular tales to a mini- turies, seem unknown to savage countries, unless mum, a third admits mythology into the field, but they have been introduced from more cultured objects to its assuming what is popularly known lands. A few of the incidents related in the as the “ solar" form, to which a fourth school is stories cited in the present article closely resemdevoted with intense zeal. At least four differ- ble parts of savage tales. We may take as an ent explanations of the Cinderella-Rashie-Coat example the Russian account of the sister who, story may therefore be offered to the considera- when pursued by her brother, sinks into the earth tion of an earnest inquirer into its significance. and so escapes. In a Zulu tale,* a sister whose It may be a nature-myth symbolizing the renewed brother is pursuing her with murderous intent, brightness of the earth after its nocturnal or exclaims, “ Open, earth, that I may enter, for I wintry eclipse. The rough skin or hide which am about to die this day," whereupon "the earth “ Hairy Betty" wears, not to speak of Katie opened and Untombi-yapansi entered.” In vain Woodencloak's still tougher covering, greatly re- did her brother Usilwane seek for her when he sembles the “husk" which hides the brilliance arrived. Her subsequent adventures, also, are of the beast to whom the Beauty of so many akin to those of Cinderella. Originally “ her body tales is married, and is therefore suggestive of an glistened, for she was like brass,” but “she took origin connected with Indian mythology.* The some black earth and smeared her body with it,” “step-mother” opening of the story is too simple and so eclipsed her natural radiance. Eventualto require an explanation, and the appearance in ly, however, she was watched by “the chief,” fine clothes, at church or palace, of a usually ill- who saw her, "dirty and very black,” enter a dressed damsel may be considered not incredible. pool, and emerge from it“ with her body glistenAs to the "slipper” termination, the opinion has ing like brass,” put on garments and ornaments already been expressed that it is merely a con- which arose out of the ground, and behave altovenient recognition makeshift.
gether like the brilliant heroine she really was. The “ unlawful-marriage” opening of the There seems to be good reason for looking upon Rashie-Coat story offers a difficulty, but it is ac- Untombi-yapansi as a Zulu Cinderella. But how counted for to their own satisfaction by critics far a foreign influence has been exercised upon both of the mythological and of the historical the Zulu tale, it would be difficult to decide. school. Mythologists say that all stories about How far, also, the story of Rashie-Coat's prosuch marriages mean nothing more than does posed marriage refers to ancient ideas about the the dialogue in the Veda between Yama and his lawfulness of unions now disallowed, is a questwin-sister Yamí, in which “she (the night) im- tion not easily to be answered. There is no plores her brother (the day) to make her his wife, doubt that the memory of obsolete customs may and he declines her offer because, as he says, be long preserved in folk-lore. We may take as 'they have thought it sin that a brother should an instance the Russian story of the Lubok or marry his sister.'”+ But by many eyes these Birch Bark, in which it would seem unreasonable narratives are regarded as ancient traditions which to look for a mythological kernel. There exist preserve the memory of customs long obsolete in many countries a number of stories showing and all but forgotten. It is because such stories how a man's unfilial conduct toward his father refer to savage times that they are so valuable, was brought to a close by a chance remark made it is said, and therefore it is well to compare them by his infant son. In the forms it assumes there with such tales and traditions as are now current is considerable variety, but the moral is always among existing savages. This opinion is one the same. In a well-known German tale in the that is well worthy of discussion, but at present Grimm collection, an old man is obliged by his little more can be done than to point out that the son and his son's wife to eat apart, out of a woodpopular tales which are best known to us possess en bowl, on account of the slobbering habits due but few counterparts in genuine savage folk-lore. to his great age. His son's little boy is observed Some of their incidents, it is true, find their par- one day to be fashioning a small wooden bowl.
When asked for what it is intended, he says: * For the mythological meaning of “ Beauty and the “It's for father to eat out of when he's as old as Beast," see the “Nineteenth Century," December, 1878.
+ Max Müller, “Lectures on the Science of Lan- * Bishop Callaway's “ Nursery Tales, etc., of the guage," sixth edition, ii., 557.
Zulus," i., 300, note.
grandfather.” Whereupon the father's conscience expression, “a sardonic grin," has been supposed smites him, and the grandfather is allowed a plate by some philologists to contain a reference to it. at the table as before. In an Italian form of the For the ancient Sardones were in the habit, when story, borrowed from one of the French fabliaux, they grew old, of being killed and eaten by their a man follows the custom of the country and friends and relatives. Before their death they packs off his old father to die in what may be used to invite their kith and kin to come and eat called the workhouse, sending him a couple of them on a certain day. And they were expected shirts by the hands of his young son, the old to smile while uttering the words of invitation. man's grandson. The boy brings back one of But their smiles, on such occasions, were apt to them, and explains that it will do for his father be somewhat constrained, and even at times to wear when his turn comes to go to the work- ghastly. Wherefore, that particular kind of conhouse. Whereupon the man's heart is touched, traction of the risible muscles acquired the name and he fetches his aged parent home. The Rus- of the “Sardonic grin.” On so clear a point it sian story is more valuable, because it refers to a is unnecessary to dwell longer. But it will be as custom which undoubtedly once existed in many well to point out that there is sometimes risk in lands—that of killing off old people. Among attributing legends and traditions to an historical nomads, who would find it difficult to carry about rather than a mythical origin. Many customs with them their aged relations, such a custom are mentioned in popular tales which can scarcemight naturally arise. At all events, it is on such ly have prevailed among mankind' at even the a custom that the tale is founded. It runs as most prehistoric period. There are a number of follows: In former days it was customary, when stories, for instance, about girls who are so fond old folks reached a certain age, for their sons, if of their relatives that they eat them up. In the they had any, to take them out into the forest, Russian “ Witch and Sun's Sister," and in the and there to leave them to die. Once upon a Avar“ Brother and Sister," a maiden of this kind time a son thus escorted from home, on what was is described as first devouring the whole of her meant to be his last journey, his aged father. family, and then attempting to eat the hero of Wishing to make that journey as comfortable as the tale, her last surviving brother. Now, a bepossible for the time-stricken traveler, he stretched lief in such hungry damsels, perpetually seeking a large piece of birch-tree bark in his cart, seat- what they may devour, is prevalent at the present ed the intended victim upon it, and drove off to day in Ceylon, the existence of such a poisonthe forest. Along with him went his own young girls," as they are called, being generally acson, a boy of tender years. Having reached the counted for by demoniacal possession. From appointed spot, he thereon deposited the aged such a wild belief tales of the kind just menman, having first, with filial attention, stretched tioned might naturally spring without their being on the possibly damp ground the sheet of bark founded upon any real custom. It is improbable for him to sit upon. Just as he was about to that at any period of the world's history it was drive away home with his boy, that innocent customary for sisters to eat their brothers. Nor child asked him if it would not be better to take is it likely that human fathers were ever in the back the bark. “Why so ? ” he replied. “Be- habit of eating their children, as might be supcause,” said the boy, “it will do for you to sit posed, if we thought it necessary to see in the upon when the time comes for me to leave you tale of how Kronos devoured his offspring an in the forest." Touched by his child's simple allusion to a custom, or even an isolated fact. words, the father hastened to where the grand- What seems to be really demanded from every father was sitting, put him back into the cart, and interpreter of old tradition, every explorer of the drove him quickly home. From that time he dark field of popular fiction, is a wariness that carefully tended the old man till he died. And will not allow itself to be hoodwinked by any his example produced such an effect that all the prejudice in favor of this or that particular theory. other people in that land gave up the practice of Every piece of evidence ought to be carefully exposing their parents to death when they grew tested and fairly weighed, whether it confirms old.*
the examiner's own opinion or not. If this be Now it would be quite beside the mark to done, he will probably find that different classes suggest a mythological explanation of this pa- of legends must be explained in divers manners. thetic tale. It evidently refers to an actual cus- The more he becomes acquainted with popular tom once observed by real men, not to some sup- tales, the less he will be inclined to seek for any posed action attributed to imaginary gods. The single method of solving all their manifold probevidence for the former existence of the custom lems. Not over-often will he be able to satisfy is copious and undeniable. Even the familiar himself that he has arrived at even a fairy-tale's
ultimate reason for existence. The greater plea* Afanasiel, “Skazki," vol. vii., No. 51. sure will he have when he is enabled to trace the growth of a narrative, to watch its increase from Great passed through the Forum of Trajan one its original germ to its final development. By day, he bethought himself of that Emperor's way of a close to the present attempt to pry into many merits, and especially of his admirable the secret meaning of Cinderella's history may conduct in righting the widow's wrongs. And be given a sketch of a traceable growth of this a great sorrow came over him at the thought kind. It occurs in the case of the legend of that so excellent a pagan should be lost eternally. Trajan, an excellent account of which has been Whereupon he prayed earnestly and constantly lately given by M. Gaston Paris.*
for Trajan's salvation, until at last a voice from Tradition asserts that there once existed at on high informed him that his prayer was grantRome a bas-relief representing Trajan on horse- ed, but that in future he was to pray only for back in all his glory, and in front of him a woman Christian souls. A later addition to the legend sadly kneeling. Nothing can be more probable, told how Gregory learned from an angel that, by and, if such was really the case, the suppliant way of punishment for his indiscreet though sucfemale would, no doubt, represent a conquered cessful intervention, he would have to suffer from province, just as Dacia is represented on one of certain maladies for the rest of his life. The Trajan's medals as a woman on her knees. How- question as to whether Gregory was justified ever this may be, out of the tradition sprang a in his procedure greatly exercised the minds of story illustrative of Trajan's justice. On the many mediæval casuists, one of whom solved the point of starting on a campaign, it said, the Em- problem, and escaped from the doctrinal diffiperor was suddenly stopped by a poor widow, culties which it presented, by the following inwho flung herself on her knees before him, and genious explanation : No one, he said, can be besought him to right her wrongs. He expostu- saved unless he be baptized. But baptism is lated, but finally yielded, and did her justice be- precisely what Gregory obtained for Trajan. At fore he resumed his march. This was the first the Pope's prayer the Emperor's soul returned half of the story's growth. The second seems to his body, Gregory baptized it, “ and the soul, to have followed at a later period. According again quitting its earthly case, went straight up to the completed legend, as Pope Gregory the into heaven."
W. R. S. RALSTON (Nineteenth Century).
DINNERS IN LITERATURE.
FTER Achilles in the “Iliad” has granted temptuously, by Seneca—a man of extremely
erence to the dead body of his son, he immedi- Nor is it certain, when we consider how much a ately suggests to the old man the propriety of dinner shares in the constitution of human haptaking some refreshment. Let us, he says, now piness, that this philosopher was altogether wise remember our dinner. For this was a matter in reviling the discipline of Apicius as the disease not forgotten by the fair-haired Niobe, even when of his age, or that la science de la gueule—to all her twelve children lay dead in her house, borrow a phrase of Rabelais and Montaigneslain by Apollo and Artemis. And Homer, if deserves Columella's censure as the worship of such a man there be, goes on to tell us how the the most degraded vice. swift-footed Greek at once rose up, and himself The good effects, moral and social, of a good cut the throat of a white wether, and his com- dinner-not the least among the great and lastpanions flayed it, and got it ready in the proper ing triumphs of a civilized life—have been too fashion, and divided it cunningly, and pierced it often established to need any further evidence. with spits, and roasted it with circumspection, What frantic enmities have been rung out, what and did all those other things so well known to everlasting friendships rung in, by that tocsin of the student of the “Iliad,” as thought worthy of the soul, the dinner-bell! A suitably served remany more mentions than one by the author of past can remove prejudice, and abate pride; it that divine poem.
can reconcile misunderstandings, and discover Not a few writers of eminence, both ancient amiability. Will not a steaming turkey turn and modern, have followed Homer's example in away strife, and meditations of evil vanish before giving abundant details of what was called con- a Christmas plum-pudding? Nay, resentment
ere this has beat a retreat before a humble Welsh *"La Légende de Trajan,” Paris, 1878. rarebit ; and a horrid feud, which not even the family solicitor could disperse, has melted like a a subject unworthy of the novelist and the poet, morning mist in sunrise at the approach of a and so, not rarely, produced inconvenient results. goose at Michaelmas. What might have been Thus, to take an instance in our nursery rhymes, the result of a judicious present by her lover to an idle attempt has been made, in the ancient Sophia Western of a dish of those eggs of roasted ballad, which bears some mystic reference, in its pullets, of which, according to Black George the opening lines, but nowhere else, to a sixpence and Gamekeeper's evidence, she was so fond ? Surely a pocketful of rye, absurdly to explain away the a corresponding sweetness of temper had fol- four-and-twenty blackbirds as black numerals lowed the impartial distribution of those sweet- baked into the glazed white face of an old dial, meats which Dr. Johnson advised the brewer's or as four-and-twenty hours; and to turn the wife to give away of an evening. The advice whole song, by strained interpretations, into a itself shows the importance which the philosopher nature myth. There is, indeed, nọ little difficulty attached even to the minutiæ of what is so hap- in understanding the singing of the baked birds; pily called “good living.” What irony of fate but we are not, because of this subjective defihas deprived us of that philosophical Cookery- ciency in our intelligence, justified in supposing Book which women could not write, but the that the ancient poet intended by his rhyme Doctor could, and in place of it has offered to aught but a simple representation of a royal dinus—“ Irene”!
ner of his place and period. The vastness of There is a phrase attributed to Voltaire—to the dainty dish was doubtless introduced to add whom, having written much, much is attributed to our idea of sublimity in the sovereign, just as --that the fate of nations often depends upon King Cyrus found an argument for Baal being a the digestion of a minister. A slight variation living God in the large quantity of his daily rain a carte de jour, like a variation in the length tions. As well may an allegorical meaning be of Cleopatra's nose, might have altered the cir- assigned to Falstaff's feast in Shallow's house in cumstances of a world. The decisive battles of Gloucestershire, and a figurative interpretation Borodino and Leipsic were lost to Napoleon by to the pigeons, the couple of short-legged hens, a fit of dyspepsia. How certainly, then, does it the joint of mutton, and the other sundry kickbecome a man's bounden duty to meditate on shaws which William Cook provided. few matters so seriously as on his meals! What Full many a three-volumed novel, unwisely is more natural than that eating should reach the neglected, on account of an apparent predomidignity of an art, and such an art as, like mathe- nance of gastronomical detail, by the superficial matics, demands the whole man ? and what won- reader, forms the subject of interest and astonder is it to see so much in literature concerning ishment to the philosopher. To him, pages in eating, from the earliest to the latest times? A which keenness of appetite is more remarkable reflection on the influence of food on the charac- than keenness of wit-pages in which the auter of mankind diminishes our surprise at the thor's puppets make up for saying little by eating boast of the subtile Ulysses, who is represented much-reveal the inner mental characteristics of in the “Odyssey” declaring that no other mor- the company; and he can almost prophesy the tal may compete with him—not, indeed, in the actions of each by observing the particular enstrength of his arm or the acuteness of his intel- trées he prefers. If he notices, for instance, that lect, but in making up a fire and cutting up wood the dishes are improperly prepared, he will at for burning, and jointing meat, and discharging once form a conclusion adverse to the presence generally the duties of a cook and a butler. The of preciseness and exactitude in the host. Nor sacred historian has not thought it beneath him in doing so is he without the authority of the sage to describe the effect of a savory dish in procur- of Bolt Court, who said, “Sir, if a man can not ing the benediction of Isaac; nor, when we re- get his dinner well dressed, he should be susmember the intimate association between the pected of inaccuracy in other things." Where heart and the stomach, will the conduct of the the unskilled reader sees only a tendency in the French novelist appear absurd, who introduces, parties eating to enlarge the circumference of in the most pathetic part of the story, a descant their bodies, the student of human nature will of his heroine upon the several courses of her perceive subtile hints of the various anfractuosidinner.
ities of their minds. He will not be surprised at The idea that eating is a subject of humilia- a fit of melancholy in him who feeds on hare, tion, that it is but a makeshift to repair the im- nor at a sanguine temperament in him who makes perfection of our nature, that it dulls the intelli- his meal of beef. He will be prepared for segence-notions buttressed up by a few stock verity of demeanor in him who partakes of piequotations out of the Latin Grammar, such as crust, according to the authority of Dr. King : " fruges consumere nati,” “animuni quoque “Eat pie-crust, if you'd serious be"; and, folprægravat una"-has gone far to make dinner lowing the same great authority, will introduce