at Texas. In each themes were pursued through whatever forms and disciplines could illuminate them. DOBIE BECAME EDITOR of the Texas Folklore Society in 1922 and remained in that position until 1942. He edited fifteen numbered publications and four books in the Society’s Range Life Series. During his twenty years as editor he, more than any other man, shaped the policies of the Society. His interest in folklore is humanistic. Upon his retirement from the editorship in 1942 he said, “I care next to nothing for the science of folklore, which some scholars reverence and which seems to consist of the tedious process of finding out, through comparisons and analogies, that nothing new exists under the sun.” He did, however, publish a number of analytical articles. Perhaps I have published more than he did, but throughout the series there is what one reviewer called “a middle course between the cold bare bones of scientific investigation sometimes identified as folklore, and the outcroppings of sentiment offered by the amateur .members of folklore organizations.” Undoubtedly the Texas Folklore Society is the leading state society in America, and has made its influence felt nationally. In 1962, MacEdward Leach, retiring president of the American Folklore Society, took the members to task for writing only for each other and suggested that they could profitably emulate the Texans. But the qualities that drew praise from the humanists drew condemnation from a few of the “scientists,” who found Dobie deficient in “scholarship.” He himself once remarked that he did not know why -he took an M.A. degree. “I was just drifting,” he said. “I certainly was not inclined to be what academicians call ‘scholarly’.” In this context “academicians” does not include every member of the academic community, only those, a majority no doubt, whose scholarship he found dull or insignificant, particularly those who, he thought, murdered to dissect. As early as 1925 he expressed a creed from which he never deviated when he suggested that the Texas Folklore Society adopt for “a constitutional bedrock” a statement of William Butler Yeats: The various collectors of Irish folklore have, from our point of view, one great merit, and from the point of view of others, one great fault. They have made their work literature rather than science, and told us of the Irish peasantry rather than of the primitive religion of mankind, or whatever else the folklorists are on the mad after. To be considered scientists they should have tabulated their tales in forms like grocers’ billsitem the fairy king, item the queen. Instead of this they have caught the very voice of the people, the very pulse of life. Dobie thought that “Of all forms of human expression, folklore is the most sensitive to environment. It reflects the tempera 14 The Texas Observer ment, the ideals in heroes and clowns, the occupations and the ways of life of the folk who weave their lore and transmit it. It is, indeed, the autobiography, unsigned and unconscious, of a people.” There are many approaches to the study of folklore, but they all boil down essentially to two. One is to consider the lore in relation to its local cultural context. The other is to extract the item under consideration from its social setting and treat it in one of several waysas a metaphysical entity, as a psychological phenomenon, or as a variant of an item common to several times and places. The latter method was the one employed by L. W. Payne in an article which Dobie published in 1930, with this editorial comment : “He seems to be saying that the collections should lead to monographic disquisitions on the historical and ethnographic evolution of each particular song with particular attention to its borrowing from other songs. Doctor Payne’s point of view certainly has its rights. . . . But, personally, I had rather hear Doctor Payne sing his famous song about ‘the bust-up down in Bell [County]’ than read his disquisition.” He wanted the Society “not only to gather and record the folklore of the region, but to make the people of the region comprehend and enjoy it.” The presentation of folklore, then, is an art and not a science. These statements were made with special reference to folklore, but they apply equally to all of Dobie’s writing. And in all the books he has written, as distinguished from those he edited, folklore is only a part. They contain among other things history, biography, natural history, descriptions of nature, and vivid sketches of character, addressed to all intelligent readers, not merely to scholars. Dobie has never written a novel. Nevertheless Carl Van Doren felt that he should be mentioned in his book The American Novel. “Dobie hunted not the treasure,” he says, “but the treasurehunters, traveling anywhere to hear their fanatic proofs that legendary hoards must exist, their agile explanations why they had not come to light. Stories about buried treasure are always magical. The magic ‘of, Dobie’s stories gains more than it loses from the shrewd, humorous, reasonable telling.” There is no lack of scholarship back of this art. In a buried treasure story a reader would not find motif and tale-type numbers -or a discussion of the story in relation to similar stories from other times and places. He would find it related to its own cultural setting. Back of this were hours in libraries and archives, interviews with oral informants, and a look at the terrain. And the sources would be there for anybody who wanted to look them up. WHEN THE REGENTS of the university, all appointees of W. Lee O’Daniel and Coke Stevenson, attempted to purge the department of economics for departing from the “true” economics and initiated a series of events that led to the firing of President Rainey on November 1, 1944, the immediate resignation of three regents and the subsequent resignation of three more, and the retirement of Coke Stevenson from politics, Dobie was in England, and for this reason played a less conspicuous role in the fight for academic freedom than he would have had he been in Texas. Like Thomas Jefferson, one of his heroes, he had declared war on every form of tyranny over the human mind. Censorship of the student newspaper, the Daily Texan, had been a recurrent issue. If left free, student journalists are likely to publish something offensive to somebody in the power structure, and when they do, presidents and regents show concern. On every occasion Dobie spoke out in behalf of the students. He seldom wrote out-and-out political articles, but in writing about rattlesnakes he could by indirection link them in an unflattering way with the governor. He could take to task a member of the legislature who proposed to introduce a bill closing the university to students from other states, on the grounds that they occupy housing needed for Texans and “in the more important place, they bring new ideas.” “Yet,” said Dobie, “there are few people who need ideas more than Texans do.” As he was about to leave for England in 1943, he said, “When I get ready to explain homemade fascism in America, I can take my examples from the State Capitol of Texas. A politician like John Lee Smith [the lieutenant governor] is what I mean by a homemade fascist.” Coke Stevenson had said that Dobie was a trouble maker and that he should be summarily dismissed. By the spring of 1947 Stevenson was no longer governor, and there had been changes in the board of regents. Factual records do not specify motives, and I do not know whether or not the regents were out to get Dobie. The rule under which his connection with the university was terminated is often called the Dobie Rule, but chronology does not indicate that it was passed specifically to dismiss him without overt violation of the tenure rule. The “Dobie Rule,” the gist of which is that, “except in very unusual circumstances, such as military service or prolonged illness, a leave of absence . . . will not be extended beyond two academic years,” passed the first reading at a meeting of the board on November 16, 1946, and its final reading on January 10, 1947. Dobie, who had been on leave for two years, in April, 1947, applied for an extension of his leave through the fall semester of 19474948, giving as his reasons that he was committed to complete a booklength manuscript and that he was suffering from cedar fever which he could relieve only by a temporary residence away from Austin. The professors of English recommended that the leave be granted for reasons of health, and Dean H. T. Parlin concurred in the recommendation. On September 18 Professor L. L. Click wrote President Painter that the professors of English saw no reason to change their recommendation of April 28. On the same day, apparently after a conference with Presi
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