18 DECEMBER 1880, Page 23

Primitive Folk-Moots ; or, Open-air Assemblies in Britain. By George

Laurence Gomme. (Sampson Low and Co.)--Mr. Gomme in- vestigates, with a vast amount of laborious research and curious learn- ing, the traces in this country, as they are found in institutions that lasted down to historical times, or in traditions, or in names of places—a very interesting branch, this last, of the evidence—of the assemblies which still exist in some of the mountain cantons of Switzerland, as- semblies which included all the heads of households. Before dealing with the evidence as found in this country the writer devotes a chapter to " Examples from Other Lands," in which he discusses similar phenomena actually existing now among savage tribes or recorded of the nations of antiquity. Under this last heading the Greeks might surely have been included, as well as the Hebrews and the ancient inhabitants of India. We take it that the popular as- sembly of Sparta was exactly a folk-mote. These assemblies, it must be remembered, whether of Sparta or elsewhere, were never, in the widest sense, democratic. The widest base of any government was an assembly of the heads of homes. Mr. Gomme's is a meritorious book, which deserves recognition and encouragement.