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Die, if dying I may give
Life to one who asks to live,
And more nearly,
Dying thus, resemble thee!'"'
Her father, Gottlieb, consents to her life-surrender,
saying to the Prince :
"As Abraham offered, long ago,
His son unto the Lord, and even
And Elsie adds:
"My life is little,
Only a cup of water,
But pure and limpid.
Take it, O Prince!
Let it refresh you,
Let it restore you.
It is given willingly
It is given freely;
May God bless the gift!'"
The proffered sacrifice is interfered with before its consummation; but its purposed method shows the estimate which was put, from of old, on voluntarily yielded life for life.
There is said to be an Eastern legend somewhat like the story of Amys and Amylion; with a touch of the ancient Egyptian and Mexican legends already cited. "The Arabian chronicler speaks of a king,
who, having lost a faithful servant by his transformation into stone, is told that he can call his friend back to life, if he is willing to behead his two children, and to sprinkle the ossified figure with their blood. He makes up his mind to the sacrifice; but as he approaches the children with his drawn sword, the will is accepted by heaven for the deed, and he suddenly sees the stone restored to animation." This story, in substance, (only with the slaying and the resuscitating of the children, as in the English romance,) appears in Grimm's folk-lore tales, under the title of "Faithful John "; but whether its origin was in the East or in the North, or in both quarters, is not apparent. reappearance East, North, and West, is all the more noteworthy.
In the romances of King Arthur and his knights, there is a story of a maiden daughter of King Pellinore, a sister of Sir Percivale, who befriends the noble Sir Galahad, and then accompanies him and his companions on their way to the castle of Carteloise, and beyond, in their search for the Holy Grail.
"And again they went on to another castle, from which came a band of knights, who told them of the custom of the place, that every maiden who passed by
1 Citation from "Saturday Review," for Feb. 14, 1857, in Notes and Queries, supra. 2 See Grimm's Household Tales, I., 23-30.
must yield a dish full of her blood.
That shall she
not do,' said Galahad, while I live'; and fierce was the struggle that followed; and the sword of Galahad, which was the sword of King David, smote them down on every side, until those who remained alive craved peace, and bade Galahad and his fellows come into the castle for the night; 'and on the morn,' they said, 'we dare say ye will be of one accord with us, when ye know the reason for our custom.' So awhile they rested, and the knights told them that in the castle there lay a lady sick to death, who might never gain back her life, until she should be anointed with the blood of a pure maiden who was a king's daughter. Then said Percivale's sister, 'I will yield it, and so shall I get health to my soul, and there shall be no battle. on the morn.' And even so was it done; but the blood which she gave was so much that she might not live; and as her strength passed away, she said to Percivale, 'I die, brother, for the healing of this lady.' . . . Thus was the lady of the castle healed; and the gentle maiden, [Percivale's sister,]
In the old Scandinavian legends, there are indications of the traditional belief in the power of transferred life through a bath of blood. Siegfried, or Sigurd, a descendant of Odin, slew Fafner, a dragon-shaped guardian of ill-gotten treasure. In the hot blood of 1 Cox and Jones's Popular Romances of the Middle Ages, pp. 85-87.
that dragon he bathed himself, and so took on, as it were, an outer covering of new life, rendering himself sword-proof, save at a single point where a leaf of the linden-tree fell between his shoulders, and shielded the flesh from the life-imparting blood.1 On this incident it is, that the main tragedy in the Nibelungen Lied pivots; where Siegfried's wife, Kriemhild, tells the treacherous Hagan of her husband's one vulnerable point:
"Said she, My husband 's daring, and thereto stout of limb;
Of old, when on the mountain he slew the dragon grim,
In its blood he bathed him, and thence no more can feel,
"As from the dragon's death-wounds gushed out the crimson gore, With the smoking torrent, the warrior washed him o'er.
A leaf then 'twixt his shoulders fell from the linden bough;
Even among the blood-reverencing Brahmans of India there are traces of this idea, that life is to be guarded by the outpoured blood of others. In the famous old work, "Kalila wa-Dimna," there is the story of a king, named Beladh, who had a vision in the night, which so troubled him that he sought counsel of the Brahmans. Their advice was, that he should sacrifice his favorite wife, his best loved son,
1 Cox and Jones's Romances of the Middle Ages, p. 292.
BLOOD CURES IN INDIA AND CHINA. 123
his nephew, and his dearest friend, in conjunction with other valued offerings to the gods. "It will be necessary for you, O King," they said, "when you have put to death the persons we have named to you, to fill a cauldron with their blood, and sit upon it; and when you get up from the cauldron, we, the Brahmans, assembled from the four quarters of the kingdom, will walk around you, and pronounce our incantations over you, and we will spit upon you, and wipe off from you the blood, and will wash you in water and sweet-oil, and then you may return to the palace, trusting in the protection of heaven against the danger which threatens you."1
Here the king's offering to the gods was to be of that which was dearest to him; and the bath of blood was to prove to him a cover of life. King Beladh wisely said that, if that were the price of his safety, he was ready to die. He would not prolong his life at such a cost. But the story shows the primitive estimate of the life-giving power of blood among the Hindoos.
In China, also, blood has its place as a life-giving agency. A Chinese woman, on the Kit-ie River, tells a missionary of her occasional seasons of frenzy, under the control of spirits, and of her ministry of blood, at such seasons, for the cure of disease. "Every
1 Kalila wa-Dimna, p. 315–319.