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When he sings his aim is to forget himself and everything that reminds him of his everyday life; and so it is that he has come to create an imaginary world of his own and to people it with characters quite as wonderful, in their way, as the elfish creations of Spenser.
Mrs. Campbell and I realize that we are, of course, only at the beginning of our labours and that the contents of this book are but a first instalment. Indeed, when we consider into what a very small portion of the field we have as yet carried our investigations the magnitude of the task before us seems overwhelming. But this may not in reality be so, for it may not, after all, be necessary to pursue our researches throughout the whole of the area with the same care that we have already given, say, to the Laurel Country. For folk-singing in the mountains is so live an art and so general a practice that in all probability by the time we have collected a certain number of songs—-not necessarily a very great number—we shall find that we have exhausted the field. Whether or not this comforting supposition proves to be correct, we shall, neither of us, rest content until all of this material has been collected, either by ourselves or by others, published, and made generally available.
We have in the following pages printed the songs exactly as we took them down from the lips of the singers, without any editing or "adornments" whatsoever, and we have done so because we are convinced that this is the only way in which work of this kind should be presented, at any rate in the first instance. Later on, we may harmonize and publish a certain number of the songs and so make a wider and more popular appeal.
But this can be done at leisure. The pressing need of the moment is to complete our collection while there is yet the opportunity—and who can say how long the present ideal conditions will remain unaltered? Already the forests are attracting the attention of the commercial world; lumber companies are being formed to cut down and carry off the timber, and it is not difficult to foresee the inevitable effect which this will have upon the simple, Arcadian life of the mountains. And then, too, there are the schools, which, whatever may be said in their favour, will always be the sworn enemies of the folk-song collector.
I cannot allow myself to conclude these remarks without expressing my gratitude to the many friends who have assisted me in my investigations. There are those in particular, who were kind enough to entertain me in their mountain homes:—Dr. and Mrs. Packard of White Rock; Miss Edith Fish of Allanstand; Mrs. Hamilton and Miss Bacon of Alle-