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[356] It is probable that Uncle Remus's vocabulary would be found, on investigation, to be narrowly limited. If so, he is a striking evidence of the varied effects that can be produced with but few words provided these words have been thoroughly assimilated. He leaves the impression not of weakness but of strength, not of contractedness but of freedom. What he says has not only been thought through but seen through and felt through.

It is only after repeated readings that one realizes how completely the character of Uncle Remus is revealed, or rather how completely he is made to reveal himself. There are not many subjects within his range, or beyond it, on which he has not somewhere registered an interesting opinion. If animals are his specialty, he is none the less willing to comment on negroes before and after the war, his favourite dishes, revivals, courtship, Christmas, witches, and religion. These are some of the elemental things about which his thoughts play and through which we come at last to know him and to revere him. Nowhere in American literature has an author succeeded better in harmonizing a typical character with an individual character than has been done in the character of Uncle Remus. What James Fenimore Cooper did for the Indian, Harris has in fact done for the negro. Just as Chingachgook is the last of the Mohicans, so Uncle Remus is the last of the old-time negroes. In literature he is also the first.

But Uncle Remus is interesting not merely in himself but also for the folk-tales of which he is the mouthpiece. These tales mark indeed the beginning of the scientific study of negro folk-lore in America. The author had, however, no ethnological purpose in publishing the Uncle Remus stories, and was greatly surprised to learn afterwards that variants of some of his tales had been found among the Indians of North and South America, and in the native literature of India and Siam. Variants of the Tar-Baby story, for example, have been found among the Natchez, Creek, and Yuchi Indians;1 among the West Indian islanders;2 in Brazil;3 in Cape Colony4; among the

1 Journal of American Folk-Lore, July-Sept., 1913, p. 194.

2 Andrew Lang's At the sign of the Ship (Longman's Magazine, Feb., 1889).

3 Romero's Contos do Brazil.

4 South African Folk-Lore Journal, vol. I.

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