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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,
In his charmed person, the deadly dint of steel.

"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;
There, only, steel can harm him; for that I tremble now." 2

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.
2 Lettsom's Nibel. Lied, p. 158.


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."


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.

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year when there is to be a pestilence, or when cholera is to prevail, she goes into this frenzy, and cuts her tongue with a knife, letting some drops of her blood fall into a hogshead of water. This [homœopathicallytreated] water the people drink as a specific against contagion." Its sacred blood is counted a shield of life. "With the rest of the blood, she writes charms, which the people paste [as words of life] upon their doorposts, or wear upon their persons, as preventives of evil."1

Receiving new blood as a means of receiving new life, seems to have been sought interchangeably, in olden time, in various diseases, by blood lavations, by blood drinking, and by blood transfusion. It is recorded that, in 1483, King Louis XI., of France, struggled for life by drinking the blood of young children, as a means of his revivifying. "Every day he grew worse," it is said; "and the medicines profited him nothing, though of a strange character; for he vehemently hoped to recover by the human blood which he took and swallowed from certain children." Again there is a disputed claim, that, in 1492, a Jewish physician endeavored to save the life of Pope Innocent VIII. by giving him in transfusion the blood of three

1 Fielde's Pagoda Shadows, p. 88.

2 Croniques de France, 1516, feuillet cc ij, cited from Soane, in Notes and Queries, supra.




young men successively. The Pope was not recovered, but the three young men lost their lives in the experiment.' Yet blood transfusion as a means of new life to the dying was not always a failure, even in former centuries; for the record stands, that "at Frankfort, on the Oder, the surgeons Balthazar, Kaufman, and Purmann, healed a leper, in 1683, by passing the blood of a lamb into his veins."


Even to-day, in South Africa, “when the Zulu king is sick, his immediate personal attendants, or valets, are obliged to allow themselves to be wounded; that a portion of their blood may be introduced into the king's circulation, and a portion of his into theirs."3 In this plan, the idea seems to be, that health may have power over disease, and that death may be swallowed up in life, by equalizing the blood of the one who is in danger, and of the many who are in strength and safety. Moreover, among the Kafirs those who are still in health are sometimes "washed in blood to protect them against wounds"; as if an outer covering of life could be put on, for the protec


1 Roussel's Trans. of Blood, p. 6. A different version of this story is given in Bruy's Histoire des Papes, IV., 278; but the other version is supported by two independent sources, in Infessura Diarium, and Burchardi Diarium. See Notes and Queries, 5th Series, III., 496, and IV., 38; also Hare's Walks in Rome, p. 590.

2 Dict. Méd. et Chirurg. Prat., Art. "Transfusion."

3 Shooter's Kafirs of Natal, p. 117.

Ibid., p. 216.

tion of their life within. Transfused human blood is also said to be a common prescription of the medicinemen of Tasmania, for the cure of disease.1

And so it would appear, that, whatever may be its basis in physiological science, the opinion has prevailed, widely and always, that there is a vivifying power in transferred blood; and that blood not only represents but carries life.


It was a primeval idea, of universal sway, that the taking in of another's blood was the acquiring of another's life, with all that was best in that other's nature. It was not merely that the taking away of blood was the taking away of life; but that the taking in of blood was the taking in of life, and of all that that life represented. Here, again, the heart, as the fountain of blood, and so as the centre and source of life, was pre-eminently the agency of transfer in the acquiring of a new nature.

Herodotus tells us of this idea in the far East, twentyfour centuries ago. When a Scythian, he said, killed his first man in open warfare, he drank in his blood as a means of absorbing his fairly acquired life; and the heads of as many as he slew, the Scythian carried

1 Bonwick's Daily Life and Origin of Tasmanians, p. 89; cited in Spencer's Des. Soc., III., 43.

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