The Ancient Library

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the coin he throws into the well lies upper­most, and seeks desperately a solution of his hopes or fears. The formal arts of divining the future are not in the first instance rational or arbitrary creations ; they have their origin in the sub-rite and in the omen. This " seeking after a sign," and the recognition of a revelation of future calamity in some strange happening, may be traced to the nervous anxiety engendered by some momentous occasion or to the im­portance attributed to the occurrence of the abnormal. In strict logical analysis we may say that in the one case the anxiety creates the portent, and in the other the portent creates the anxiety ; in practice the two motives are often indistinguishably blended.

The lower the stage of culture, the narrower is the field of experience, and the more circum­scribed is the trivial round. Proportionately more startling to the savage is the occurrence of the abnormal. The fear of the stranger or the magical significance attributed to strange things are evidence of the force with which the unusual impresses itself on his imagination. Much, of course, of the most primitive omen observation is really in a sense inductive. Those who are acquainted with the West Country, where woodcraft has not yet perished,

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