THIS little volume is sent forth with many misgivings. It claims neither literary excellence nor an entrancing theme, but professes fidelity to truth, and a desire to call attention to certain quaint and interesting phases of the inner life of a much misunderstood race.
In the compilation of these folk-lore tales, the one aim has been to make them accessible to English readers, and at the same time to retain as much as possible of their native grace and quaintness.
To accomplish this aim, the stories have been told in the dialect used by the people in their intercourse with the English, and an attempt has been made to embody the tales in a native setting with local atmosphere and colour. In addition it has seemed necessary to make a rather copious use of footnotes and explanations.
Much care has been exercised not to modify the spirit and real content of the stories. The plots and the clever little inventions are wholly native. It has seemed advisable to select only a few of the more readable stories, in the hope that they may win the sympathy of the general reader, rather than to attempt an extended collection that would discourage all but special students of folk-lore.
The stories themselves possess much intrinsic merit; if they fail to enlist the reader, the fault must be ascribed to the compilers.
The sole credit for discovering and collecting the stories is due to Miss Cronise; the arrangements of the stories here presented, and their setting, have been largely the work of Mr. Ward.
The authors are under many obligations to Mr. Alfred Sumner, a native African now in this country at college, whose intimate acquaintance with the life and customs of his people proved most helpful; also to Rev. D. F. Wilberforce, a native missionary, who has long been interested in the oral literature of his country, and in consequence has been able to give us suggestions of unusual value. To Miss Minnie Eaton of Moyamba Mission, and to other friends, who spared no pains to place desired information within our reach, and especially to the Mission boys and girls in Africa whose sympathetic interest made this collection a possibility, the gratitude of the authors is due.
FLORENCE M. CRONISE.
HENRY W. WARD.