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the afternoon) others distancing the people that they might prot throng about me;, and yet notwitiistanding all this, i suitered a long patience to keep up such long time, for I piayed (without exaggeration) above two hours, without the least interval
When the man had danced about an hour, the people gave him a naked sword, which he applied with the point in the palm of his hands, and made the sword jump from one hand into the other, wisich sword he held in equilibrium, and he kept still dancing. The people knew he wanted a sword, because a little before he got it, he scratched his hands very hard, as if he would tear the flesh from thein.
When he had well pricked his hands, he got hold of the sword by the handle, and pricked also the upper part of his feet, and in about five minutes time his hands and feet bied m great abundance.
abundance.' He continued to use the sword for about a quarter of an hour, sometimes pricking his hands, and sometimes his feet, with little or no intermission: and then he threw it away, and kept on dancing.
When he was quite spent with fatigue, his motion began to grow slower, but the people begged of me to keep up the same time, and as he could not dance accordingly, he only moved his body and kept time; at last after two hours dancing, fell down quite motionless, and I gave over playing; Tue people took him up and carried him into a house, and put him into a large tub of tepid water, and a surgeon bled him; while he was bathing, he was let blood in both his hands and feet, and they took from him a great quantity of blood: after that they tied up the orifices, put him in a bed, and gave him a cordial, which they forced down, because the man kept his teeth very close. About five minutes after, he siveated a great deal, and fell asleep, which he did for five or six hours, when he awakened, was perfectly well, only weak from the great loss of blood he had sustained, and four days after he was entirely recovered, for I saw him walking in the streets, and what is remarkable,, that he hardly remembered any thing of what had happened to him; he never felt any other pains since, nor any one does, except they are bit again by the Tarantula.
This is what I know of the Tarantula, which I hope will satisfy your curiosity, and as you are a great philosopher may philosopbize as you please. I need not make any apology for my bad writing, you must excuse it, considering that it was only to obey your coinmands: if you have any other, you may dispose of
Sir, Your most humble servant,
We were lately presented in one of the public papers with a letter from Doctor Cirillo, Professor of Natural History in the University of Naples, to Doctor Watson, F. R. Š. in which the learned Professor refutes the common opinion, that the bite of the Tarantula is only to be cured by music. I remember to have formerly read, with a good deal of surprise, the histories of several persons, said to be so cured in the works of Baglivi, the celebrated Italian Physician, mentioned by the Professor, one of which, if I mistake not, (for I have not the author by me) is to the following purport. The person affected was seized immediately after the bite with a heaviness and stupor, and in a short time fell down in a state of insensibility. Upon this, some of the people about him
procured the first musical instrument that was at hand, and played several tunes upon it for some time without effect; till at last they luckily hit upon one, which struck the man's fancy, and raised brim upon his legs; when he instantly began dancing to it, and continued to do so till be sunk down quite covered with sweat, and overpowered with fatigue.He repeated the same exercise three or four days successively, with the same violence; by which means he at length got the better of the poison, and was restored to perfect health.
The account which Baglivi gives of the manner in which this very extraordinary remedy operates, is, if I remember right, something like this. He supposes, that the quick motion impressed by the impulse of the musical sounds on the air, and from thence communicated through the ear to the blood and animal spirits, gradually dissolves the coagulation which the poison had produced in them; so that by means of these repeated vibrations the humours recover their original state of fluidity, and now, circulating duly through the fine tubes of the vessels that were before obstructed, enable them to perform again their several functions. Thus the patient regains the use of sense and motion, is rouzed from his lethargy, springs up upon his feet, and continues to exercise them, till the great profusion of sweat, which the exercise occasions, eliminates out of the mass of blood all the remaining virulence of the poison. Now though Baglivi's reasoning, how ingenious soever, is ill-founded, as he was certainly imposed upon with regard to the facts on which it is built; yet it is equally certain, that this doctrine of the cure of disorders being effected by the powers of music, is no novel notion. We find it mentioned by Macrobius, who, in enumerating the several virtues ascribed to music,
reckons this also among the rest : CORPORUM QUOQUE MORBIS MEDETUR. [In Somn. Scip. lib. ii. cap. 3.] And Gellius had before him remarked the great efficacy of it in giving ease, particularly in the SCIATICA ; adding, 'that Democritus speaks of it as a specific in most other diseases. Nay, he mentions a case perfectly similar to that under consideration, namely, the bite of the Viper; which he observes from Theophrastus, finds an effectual remedy in the skilful harmonious touches of the musician : and concludes with remarking, “So intimate is the union between the bodies and the minds of men, and consequently between the disorders and the remedies, by which each is affected.” [TANTA PRORSUS EST AFFINITAS CORPORIBUS HOMINUM MENTIBUSQUE ; ET PROPTEREA QUOQUE VITIS AUT MEDELIS ANIMORUM ET CORPORUM. Gell. Noct. Attic. lib. iv. cap. 3.]
I am, &c. 1743, Aug.
Q. 1753, Sept.
VIII. Dissertation on a Poison of the Ancients called Bull's Blood.
MR. URBAN, I WAS in great hopes of meeting with something, in Dr. Mead's book, about the poisons of the ancients, on the Cicuta given to criminals at Athens,* the Bull's blood, &c. but I am disappointed, and I lament the disappointment, because I labour under some difficulty in regard to the Bull's blood.
Some have fancied that by Taupe dupea, or Bull's blood, some drug might be meant, just as at this day a certain gum is called sanguis draconis, or dragon's blood; but that cannot be the case, since in some of the instances of persons dying by this means, express mention is made of their receiving the blood directly from the victim.
The persons recorded to have killed themselves by drinking Bull's blood, are Æson in Apollodori Lib I. c. 27. Midas, king of Phrygia, Strabo, Lib. I. p. 106. Hannibal, Plutarch. in Fiaminio; and Themistocles, according to various authors.
We are bound to understand those passages literally, for the reason given above; and the question is, whether Bull's
* Plato in Pha done,
blood be in fact a poison, that the drinking of it should bring on immediate death. 1, for my part, apprehend not, and I support my opinion in this manner.
In the first place, it is pretended by Curcellæus, and other authors who think Christians are at this time bound to abstain from eating of blood, that one reason of the prohibition might be, because it is not wholesome. But there is no great force in this argument, since, as far as I can observe, those who eat blood in the moderate way, that Christians do, are as long lived and as healthy as either Greeks or Jews that abstain. However, neither Curcellæus, nor his friends, ever pretend that blood has any thing in it of the nature of poison.
2dly, I have heard it said of the Rapparees in Ireland, that it is an usual custoin with them to bleed the black cattle there in the night time, and to carry off the blood for their
No doubt but they take the blood from bulls, as well as the other cattle, cows and oxen; and yet we do not hear that this blood does them any harm.
To come to facts, I do not find any instance of people's dying this way amongst the Romans, and as to those Greeks and Barbarians abovementioned, son and Midas, they lived in the fabulous ages, and we cannot, I am of opinion, build much upon what is delivered by authors concerning them. Thucydides was aware of the report, that Themistocles had killed himself by poison, λέγουσι δε τίνες και εκούσιον Papucéra åmo da veño áulov, quidam autem aiunt eum sponte etiart hausto veneno se cessisse, and the Scholiast very rightly explains φαρμάκω by αιματι ταυρειω; but the author himself declares, that he died of some distemper, νοσήσας δε τελευτά τον Giov, morbo autem corriptus vita est defunctus, and in this, Thueydides is followed by Corn. Nepos, upon mature judgment; De cujus [Themistoclis] morte multimodis apud plerosque scriptum est. Sed nos eundem potissimum Thucydidem autorem probumus, qui illum ait Magnesie morbo mortuun, neque negat fuisse fumam, venenum sua sponte sumpsisse, &c.' * Gebhardus has detected, in his note on this place, the foundation of the report of his dying by drinking Bull's blood, namely, that it was owing to a nistaken passage in a play of Sophocles's cited by the Scholiast of Aristophanes, where the Scholiast himself remarks, that those authors err who interpret those lines of the death of Themistocles. The case of this great man, methinks, is clear enough, to wit, that he did not die by means of Bull's blood, and Cicero accordingly treats this matter as a ise re table, espoused by the Rhetoricians (see him in Brutus, c. xi. As to Hannibal, the case is yet more improbable; he is said to have carried poison about with him in a ring, in order to be ready whenever he should want it, and that he accordingly made use of it in Bithynia. It is moreover recorded, tiat Prussias, King of Bithynia, invested the house Hannibal was in, by which means, though the Carthaginians had contrived several secret passages of escape, yet it was out of his power: judge then what opportunity he could have of making use of Bull's blood ? In short, the best authors reckon he died by direct poison. See Corn. Nepos in Hannibal, and the Annotations.
Something has been said above in relation to the supposed unwholesomeness of blood; here I would remark, that to make Bull's blood deleterious, and to partake of the nature. of poison, they suppose it must be fresh drawn. Taurinus quidam (sanguis) recens inter venena est. Plin. xxviii. 9. This is very strange, for, in reason, it must be most innocent when fresh drawn, since it is then most Auid, most fiorid, and the least grumous or coagulated; however, the suicides above drank it fresh drawn, and it produced instant death, as the authors believe, for pray observe the words of Val. Maximus, speaking of Themistocles, V. 6. Ext. 3. Themistocles autem, -- instituto sacrificio, exceptum patera, tauri sanguinem hausit, et ante ipsum aram, quasi quædam pietatis clara victima concidit
. Surely it is very difficult to believe, that Bull's blood should occasion such immediate death. It is to me very plain it will not, for Pliny having observed, as above, that it is poison when new drawn, adds but not at Ægira, ibi enim sacerdos terre vaticinatura tauri sanguinem bibit priusquam in specum descendat :' but how ridiculous is it, that it should be a deadly poison, in one place, and not in apother? Certainly, if it might be taken safely at Ægira, it might be every where.
It is pretended, that the noxious quality of Bull's blood is owing to its coagulating so soon and hardening, «Taurorum (sanguis ]celerrime coit atque durescit, ideo pestifer potu maxime.' Plin. xi. 38. But this is very inconsistent with what the author has delivered above, of its being most hurtful when first druwn, neither can I think it will coagulate and harden so soon in au human stomach, as to bring on immediate death, as is implied in these cases, however, sir, I would recommend it to gentlemen, who have a good hand at making experiments, to try the effects of new drawn Bull's blood, which I apprehend may be easily done, by transfusing it into some living animals : this, I imagine, must be the shortest way of penetrating either into the malignant of