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poetical compositions have frequently been capable of drawing the attention of mankind when cool reasoning and plain discourse have utterly failed of their object.

Poetical talent is perhaps no less admirable in pointing out the excellence of writers, the strength and boldness of their metaphors, the loftiness and majesty of their ideas and images, the harmony and magnificence of their expressions, and in making a just distinction between the natural, the graceful and the sublime than in the original display of these several essentials. No one, it has been observed, can judge of the concealed niceties and secret delicacies which constitute the greatest excellences of poetry except a poet. Persons who but imperfectly understand these rules of criticism, and who do not possess a true taste for purity of diction and harmony of numbers, are prone to mistake the extravagances of an irregular and wild fancy, the undigested crudities of a Shelley, or the eccentric fancies of a Wordsworth or a Coleridge, or beauties and ornaments, not remembering that if an author is incapable of maintaining, he does not deserve the name of a poet.

Great care, therefore, ought to be taken to acquire a true judgment of the beauties of poetry, which by its allurements and charms, sights insensibly into the very soul; and when once it has obtained possession of the fancy it quickly persuades the heart.

This means an eminent display of poetical talent; and for this purpose an ordinary and familiar style is too low and mean; the mind is elevated by the grandeur and beauty of the object which charms it; and the most noble thoughts and expressions are explored, the boldest figures collected, and the most lively images and comparisons multiplied, which may add dignity to the

subject we wish to eulogize. From these sentiments arise the enthusiasm of poets, the fruitfulness of invention, the nobleness of sentiments and ideas, sallies of imagination, the magnificence and boldness of terms and the love of what is grand, sublime, and beautiful.

We must by no means suppose that, by being freed from the strict formality of prose treatises, we may revel in all the luxuries of poetical talent. We must remember that method and order are essentially requisite; and that although ease and gracefulness may constitute the principal charms of poetry, a too loose and rambling style is highly objectionable.




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Ancient Tales and Folklore of Japan. By R. G. Smith.
London: A. and C. Black. 1908.

The Mikado's Empire. By W. E.
London Harper and Brothers.

Griffis. New York and


3. Things Japanese. By B. H. Chamberlain.
J. Murray. 1898.






Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan. By Lafcadio Hearn.
Two Volumes. Boston and New York: Houghton,
Mifflin and Company. 1901.

"Out of the East" : Reveries and Studies in New Japan.
By Lafcadio Hearn. Boston and New York: Houghton,
Mifflin and Company. 1900.

The Japs at Home. By Douglas Sladen. Fifth Edition
London Ward, Lock and Company, Limited.


7. Queer Things about Japan. By Douglas Sladen. Third Edition. London: Anthony Treherne and Company, Limited. 1904.

8. Japan (The Story of the Nations Series). By David Murray Third Edition. London: T. Fisher Unwin. 1896.

N former times, the Japanese were looked upon as children and Japan as a kind of doll's house where they had wooden images dressed in the gorgeous Oriental costumes of medieval times and curious sets of furniture and utensils in miniature. But times are now changed; and the Spirit of God has now moved upon the face of the waters. That little Asiatic nation, which inhabits the Land of the Chrysanthemum and the Rising Sun, has achieved the undying glory of having fought the greatest fight of modern times in the finest possible way and have thereby become a factor in the world's politics. But another kind of interest centres round Japan; and that is based upon her victories of

peace. Her quaint manners, her curious customs, her showy fairs and pretty flower-festivals, and, above all, her exquisite arts have elicited the admiration of the whole world. But no less interesting are the folk-beliefs and the weird superstitions of the Japanese, their fantastic legends and fascinating folktales. Quite a literature has been written on these last-mentioned subjects, in other words, what may be broadly termed their folklore; and it is my intention in these pages to make a rapid survey of whatever has been written thereupon.

Broadly speaking, the folk-beliefs of the Japanese may be classified under seven heads: namely, (1) Ghostlore and Spirit-lore; (2) Animal-lore and Tree-cult; (3) Nature-myths and Dream-lore; (4) Household Customs and Superstitions; (5) Domestic Manners and Customs; (6) Divination and Charms; and 17) Folk-tales and Legends. I shall deal with each of the aforesaid classes under a separate section seriatim.


Ghosts and Spooks among the Japanese.-The Japs are essentially a superstitious people and firm believers in the existence of ghosts and spooks. They believe that ghosts can assume astral forms which they call shito dama. These astral spirits are of two shapes, one being in the form of a roundish oblong tadpole, the other being eyed and more square-fronted. Mr. R. G. Smith, who sojourned for nine years in Japan and, in the course of his stay there, came in contact with all sorts and conditions of men, namely, the fisher, the farmer, the priest, the doctor, the children and a host of others, has collected from them a number of stories about mountains, trees, flowers and places in history and some legends. These he has recently published under

the title of "Ancient Tales and Folklore of Japan." About the shito dama, he says:-" In many stories in MS. volumes I have told of shito dama or astral spirits. So much evidence have I got from personal acquaintances as to their existence, and even frequent occurrence, that I almost believe in them myself. Some say that there are two shapes-the roundish oblong tadpole shape, and the more square-fronted eyed shape Priests declare the shapes and sexes to be all alike, indistinguishable from each other and square-fronted, as in No, 2. My hunter, Oto of Itami, who, with his son, saw the old barber's wife's shito dama after she had died, declared that the shape was like an egg with a tail. At Tsuboune, near Naba, two or three dozen people, who had seen the shito dama of a deaf man and that of a fishergirl there, declared both to be square fronted. Again at Toshi Shima the old men declare that there was a carpenter whose shito dama appeared five or six times. some 15 years ago, and that it was red, instead of having the ordinary phosphorescent smoky-white appearance. Shito dama, I take it, is the astral form that a spirit can assume if it wishes to wander the earth after death."* In the story of " A Haunted Temple in Inaba Province," mention is made of the ghost and shito dama of a priest who had met with a violent death and could not rest. The astral spirit moved first one way and then another in a hovering and jerky manner, and from it a voice as of distant buzzing proceeded. As the shito dama rose higher and higher, the ghost of the priest moved after it and ultimately became merged therein. In another legend, it is stated that the

*Ancient Tales and Folklore of Japan. By R. G. Smith, F.R.G.S. London : A. and C. Black. 1908. p. 36 (footnote.)

† Op. cit., p. 41.

Op. cit., pp. 48-49.

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