Magic and Medicine

By Cuming Walters

Coleridge once said that in the treatment of nervous cases “he is the best physician who is the most ingenious inspirer of hope.” The great “faith cures” are worked by such physicians, and the dealers in magic at all times and in all parts achieved their successes by inspiring hope in their patients. The more credulous the invalid the more easy the cure, no matter what remedy is applied. Is it surprising, then, to find that among the more childlike races, or that among the infant civilizations, magic often supersedes medicine, or is combined with it? Ceremonies which impress the mind and act upon the imagination considerably aid the physician in his treatment of susceptible persons. Paracelsus himself combined astrology with alchemy and medicine, and his host of followers often went further than their master, and relied more upon magic than upon specific remedies. It was the crowd of charlatans, astrologers, wonder-workers, and their sort who substituted magic for medicine, and who had so great an influence in England three centuries ago, that Ben Jonson scourged with the lash of his satire in “The Alchemist,” the impostor described as

“A rare physician,
An excellent Paracelsian, and has done
Strange cures with mineral physic. He deals all
With spirits, he; he will not hear a word
Of Galen, or his tedious recipes.”

There has generally been sufficient superstition in all races to make amulets the popular means of averting calamity and preserving from sickness. The Greeks, the Romans, the Jews, the Turks, and the Arabs, to say nothing of less civilized races, have thoroughly believed that disease can be charmed away by the simple expedient of wearing a token, or carrying a talisman. The magical formula of Abracadabra, written in the form of a triangle, sufficed to cure agues and fevers; the Abraxas stones warded off epidemics; the coins of St. Helena served as talismans, and cured epilepsy. So strong was the belief in these magical protectors in the fourth century that the clergy were forbidden, under heavy penalties to make or to sell the charms, and in the eighth century the Christian Church forbade amulets to be longer worn. In this connection it may be mentioned that the custom of placing the wedding-ring upon the fourth finger of the left hand owes its origin to the ancients who resorted to magic for the cure of their ailments. The Greeks and the Romans believed that the finger in question contained a vein communicating directly with the heart, and that nothing could come in contact with it without giving instant warning to the seat of life. For this reason they were accustomed to stir up mixtures and potions with this “medicated finger,” as it was called, and when the ring became the symbol of marriage that finger was chosen of all others for the wearing of it. Thus do we unknowingly keep alive the superstitions of other times.

The Hindoos, whose books on the healing art date back to 1500 B.C., regarded sickness as the result of the operation of malevolent deities who were either to be propitiated by prayers, offerings, charms, and sacrifices, or to be overcome with the aid of friendly gods. The early Greeks when suffering from disease were cured, not by means of medicine, but by religious observances, and particularly by the “temple-sleep,” in which they dreamt dreams which the priests interpreted, and in which were found the suggestions for remedy. It was Hippocrates, in 460 B.C., who first proclaimed that disease was not of supernatural origin, and that it could not be combated or cured by magic. But for many centuries later in Europe the Black Art had greater sway than rational treatment. In Sweden it is even now common for the lower classes to ascribe sickness to the visitation of spirits (Nisse), who must be mollified by pouring liquor into a goblet and mixing with it the filings of a bride-ring, or filings of silver, or of any metal that has been inherited. The mixture is taken to the place where the man is supposed to have caught his illness, and is poured over the left shoulder, not a syllable being uttered the while. After the performance of this ceremony the invalid may hope to recover.

Consecrated grave-mould is supposed by many primitive races to have particular properties as a medicine. The Shetlander who has a “stitch in his side,” cures himself by applying to the affected part, some dry mould brought from a grave, and heated, care being taken to remove the mould and to return it before the setting of the sun. In the neighbouring isles of Orkney, magic is also resorted to as a remedy for disease. Perhaps the least harmful of the rites is the washing of a cat in the water which had previously served for an invalid’s ablutions, the confident belief being that the disease would by this means be transferred to the animal. This custom of “substitution” is found in many races, and is one of the most interesting subjects introduced to the student of folk-lore.

In Tibet, for example, when all ordinary remedies have failed, the Lamas make a dummy to represent the sick person, and they adorn the image with trinkets. By ceremonies and prayers the sickness of the patient is laid upon the dummy, after which it is taken out and burned, the Lamas appropriating the ornaments as a reward. Sir Walter Scott tells of a similar case which occurred in Scotland. Lady Katharine Fowlis made a model in clay of a person whom she wished to afflict, and shot at the image in the hope that the wound would be transferred to the real person. We have only to turn to Scott’s “Demonology and Witchcraft” to find hundreds of instances of the unshaken belief of the Highlanders in mystic potions, pills, drugs, and drops; and not even wholesale burnings of the dealers in white magic could induce the people to forsake their superstitions. Bessie Dunlop told the Court, before which she was arraigned, of the magic elixirs given to her by Thome Reid, who had been killed in battle centuries before, but had appeared to her as an apparition, and begged her to fly with him to Elf-land. By means of his medicines she cured the most stubborn diseases, obtained the reputation of a wise woman, and grew so rich that the eye of the law was drawn upon her, and, after her confession was made, she was ordered to be burnt. As Scott said, in one of his chapters, the Scottish law did not acquit those who accomplished even praiseworthy actions, and “the proprietor of a patent medicine who should in those days have attested his having wrought such miracles as we see sometimes advertised might have forfeited his life.”

The idea of sacrificing something, or someone, to appease the anger of the powers who bring affliction upon mankind, is extremely common, and by no means confined to savage nations or to very ancient times. At the time of the Black Plague in the fourteenth century the fanaticism of the French led them to sacrifice 12,000 Jews by torture and burning, these Israelites being deemed the cause of the affliction. In the “Ingoldsby Legends” may be read a ghastly account of a similar sacrifice in Spain, in order to secure the good-will of the over-ruling powers on behalf of the Queen. Even in comparatively modern times the practice of sacrificing in order to cure or avert disease has not been unknown, and this in civilized lands, too. The sacrifices in these cases have, of course, been of animals only, but the germ of the old and worse ritual is found in the custom. In 1767, the people of Mull, in consequence of a disease among the cattle, agreed to perform an incantation. They carried to the top of Carnmoor a wheel and nine spindles of oakwood. Every fire in the houses was extinguished; and the wheel was then turned from east to west over the nine spindles long enough to produce fire by friction. They then sacrificed a heifer, which they cut in pieces and burnt while yet alive. Finally they lighted their own hearths from the pile, while an old man repeated the words of incantation. This custom is prevalent in Ireland, in various parts of Scotland, and even in England and Wales it has been practised with variations and some modification. In Cornwall, in 1800, a calf was burnt alive to arrest the murrain. Mr. Laurence Gomme has traced the custom back to the sacrifice of animals for human sickness, for in 1678 four men were actually prosecuted for “sacrificing a bull in a heathenish manner for the recovery of the health of Custane Mackenzie.” In Ireland a cure for small-pox consisted in sacrificing a sheep to a wooden image, wrapping the skin about the sick person, and then eating the sheep.

In Scotland strange and weird customs linger, and Sir H. G. Reid in his entertaining volume, “’Tween Gloamin’ and the Mirk,” has related how he himself, during infancy, underwent a mysterious cure for the “falling sickness.” He was carried secretly away to a lonely hut on the distant moor, and the party were admitted to a long, low-roofed apartment, dimly lighted from two small windows. In one corner sat an old woman, wrinkled and silent, busily knitting; a huge peat-fire blazed on the open hearth, shooting heavy sparks up through the hole in the roof, and filling the apartment with smoke. No word was spoken, and the scene must have been as eerie as the lover of mystery or the believer in witchcraft could have desired. “I was placed on a three-legged stool in the middle of the floor” (the writer continues); “the old woman rose, and with the aid of immense tongs, took deliberately from the fire seven large smooth round stones, they were planted one by one in an irregular circle about me; with her dull dark eyes closed, and open white palms outstretched, the enchantress muttered some mystic words; it was over—the tremulous patient was taken up as ‘cured!’” In Scotland the belief in witches who have power both to cure and to cause maladies is so deeply founded that it would be rash to deny its continued existence. These creatures are credited with opening graves for the purpose of taking out joints of the fingers and toes of dead bodies, with some of the winding-sheet, in order to prepare powders. In Kirkwall a small portion of the human skull was taken from the graveyard and grated to a powder in order to be used in a mixture for the cure of fits; while in Caithness the patient was made to drink from a suicide’s skull, and the beverage so taken was regarded as a sovereign specific for epilepsy. In 1643 one John Drugh was indicted for this despoiling of corpses for some such purpose. The Australian aborigines had a belief not altogether dissimilar to this. They rubbed weak persons with the fat of a corpse, and thought that the strength, courage, and valour of the dead man was communicated to the body subjected to the treatment. Analogies may be found among savage tribes all over the world, and the culmination is found in the devouring of enemies, not out of revenge, but because the widespread primitive idea prevails that by eating the flesh and by drinking the blood of the slain, a man absorbs the nature or the life of the deceased into his own body. In other words, cannibalism has a medical origin which the most depraved superstition suggested and fortified.

The Lhoosai, a savage hill-tribe in India, teach their young warriors to eat a piece of the liver of the first man they kill in order to strengthen their hearts, and here we see the development of the magic power of the medicines which is not only efficacious for the body, but for the spirit.

When Coleridge was a little boy at the Blue Coat School, he relates in his Table Talk, there was a “charm for one’s foot when asleep,” which he believed had been in the school since its foundation in the time of King Edward VI. Its potency lay in the words—

“Crosses three we make to ease us,
Two for the thieves, and one for Christ Jesus.”

The same charm served for cramp in the leg, and Coleridge quaintly adds: “Really, upon getting out of bed, where the cramp most frequently occurred, pressing the sole of the foot on the cold floor, and then repeating this charm, I can safely affirm that I do not remember an instance in which the cramp did not go away in a few seconds.” Charms like this, by which a simple method of cure is invested with marvel, are common enough among primitive races, and not infrequently provide the key to the solution of the mystery of the magician’s triumph. The cunning leaders, priests, or medicine-men of ignorant nations maintain their ascendency by ascribing to miracle the simplest feats they perform.

The superstitious red man is completely at the mercy of the medicine-man who claims to possess supernatural powers, and who assumes the ability to work marvellous cures by magic. Each North American Indian carries with him a medicine bag obtained under very curious circumstances. When he is approaching manhood he sets forth in search of the patent drug which is to shield him from all danger, and act as an all-powerful talisman. He lies down alone in the woods upon a litter of twigs, eats and drinks nothing for several days, and at last falls asleep from sheer exhaustion. Then he dreams—or should do so—and whatever bird, or beast, or reptile, forms the subject of his dream, he must seek as his medicine. He goes forth upon the quest directly his strength has returned, and when he has discovered the animal of his vision, he turns its skin into a pouch, and wears it ever afterwards round his neck. In peace or war he will never part with this talisman; it is the treasure of his life, a sacred possession, a charm against all maladies, and a protection from foes. It is scarcely necessary to add, after this, that the medicine-man of the tribe is held in highest honour, and regarded as a worker of veritable miracles. All things are possible to him. By his prayers, his rites, and his incantations he causes the sun to shine, the rain to descend, the rivers to deepen, the plants to thrive. A traveller tells us that a drought had withered the maize fields, and the medicine-man was sent for to compel the rain to fall. On the first day one Wah-ku, or the Shield, came to the front, but failed; so did Om-pah, or the Elk. On succeeding days another was tried, but without success; but at last recourse was made to Wak-a-dah-ha-Ku, or the White Buffalo Hair, who possessed a shield coloured with red lightnings, and carried an arrow in his hand. Much was expected of him, and the people were not disappointed. “Taking his station by the medicine-lodge,” we are told, “he harangued the people, protesting that for the good of his tribe he was willing to sacrifice himself, and that if he did not bring the much desired rain he was content to live for the rest of his life with the old women and the dogs. He asserted that the first medicine-man had failed because his shield warded off the rain clouds; the second, who wore a head-dress made of a raven’s skin, because the raven was a bird that soared above the storm, and cared not whether the rain came or stayed; and the third who wore a beaver skin, because the beaver was always wet and required no rain. But as for him, the red lightnings on his shield would attract the rain-clouds, and his arrow would pierce them, and pour the water over the thirsty fields. It chanced that as he ended his oration, a steamer fired a salute from a twelve pounder gun. To the Indians the roar of the cannon was like the voice of thunder, and their joy knew no bounds. The successful medicine-man was loaded with valuable gifts; mothers hastened to offer their daughters to him in marriage; and the elder medicine-men hastened from the lodge to enrol him in their order.... Just before sunset his quick eyes discovered a black cloud which, unobserved by the noisy multitude, swiftly came up from the horizon. At once he assumed his station on the roof of the lodge, strung his bow, and made ready his arrow; arrested the attention of his fellows by his loud and exultant speech; and as the cloud impended over the village, shot his arrow into the sky. Lo, the rain descended in torrents, wetting the rain-maker to the skin, but establishing in everybody’s mind a firm and deep conviction of his power.”

The influence of the medicine-man in time of sickness is illustrated in the narrative of Mr. Kane, who wrote “The Wanderings of an Artist.” He heard a great noise in one of the villages, and found that a handsome Indian girl was extremely ill. The medicine-man sat in the middle of the room, crossed-legged and naked; a wooden dish filled with water was before him, and he had guaranteed to rid the girl of her disease which afflicted her side. He commenced by singing and gesticulating in a violent manner, the others who surrounded him beating drums with sticks. This lasted half-an-hour. Then the medicine-man determined on a radical cure of the patient, for he darted suddenly upon the girl, dug his teeth into her side (for she was undressed), and shook her for several minutes. This increased her agony, but the medicine-man declared he had “got it,” and held his hands to his mouth. After this he plunged his hands into a bowl of water, leaving the spectators to believe that he had torn out the disease with his teeth, and was now destroying it by drowning. Eventually he withdrew his hand from the bowl, and it was found that he held a piece of cartilage between the finger and thumb. This was cut in two, and half cast into the fire, half into the water. So ended the operation, and Mr. Kane records that though the doctor was perfectly satisfied, the patient seemed, if anything, to be worse for the treatment.

The belief in magic was ingrained in the Egyptians, who, notwithstanding that the art of medicine was far advanced with them, preferred to trust in the workers of miracles and enchantments. In his recent collection of Egyptian Tales, Mr. Flinders-Petrie is able to supply a striking instance of this credulity. A man named Dedi was said to have such powers over life and death that he could restore the head that had been smitten from the body. He was brought before the King, who desired to put this marvellous power to the test, and the story thus proceeds:—“His Majesty said, ‘Let one bring me a prisoner who is in prison that his punishment may be fulfilled.’ And Dedi said, ‘Let it not be a man, O King, my lord; behold we do not even thus to our cattle.’ And a duck was brought unto him, and its head was cut off. And the duck was laid on the west side of the hall, and its head on the east side of the hall. And Dedi spake his magic speech. And the duck fluttered along the ground, and its head came likewise; and when it had come part to part the duck stood and quacked. And they brought likewise a goose before him, and he did even so unto it. His Majesty caused an ox to be brought, and its head cast on the ground. And Dedi spake his magic speech. And the ox stood upright behind him, and followed him with his halter trailing on the ground.” This story prepares us in every way for the information that the Egyptians, despite their great knowledge of the curative powers of herbs and drugs, preferred to rely upon enchanters, soothsayers, and magicians in their time of illness and peril.

Professor Douglas, in his “Society in China,” devotes a very interesting and entertaining chapter to medicine as regarded and practised by the Celestials. From this we learn that while there are plenty of doctors in the land, they are one and all the merest empirics, who prey on the folly, the ignorance, and the dread of the uneducated people. The failure to cure any disease brings no odium upon the quack, though when the late Emperor “ascended on a dragon to be a guest on high,” or, in other words, died of small-pox, his physicians who could not save him from that distinction were deprived of honours and rewards. The Chinese are centuries behind other nations in medicine, and they have not yet learnt that the blood circulates in the body, or that a limb may be removed with beneficial effects in case of some diseases or accidents. They believe that arteries and veins are one and the same, and that the pulses communicate with the various organs of the body. The object of the physician is to “strengthen the breath, stimulate the gate of life, restore harmony.” “The heart is the husband, and the hinges are the wife,” and they must be brought into agreement, or evil arises. Good results may be obtained, it is believed, by such tonics as dog-flesh, dried red-spotted lizard-skins, tortoise-shell, fresh tops of stag-horns, bones and teeth of dragons (when obtainable), shavings of rhinoceros-horns, and such like. For dyspepsia the doctor has no nostrum, but he thrusts a needle into the patient’s liver and expects him to be immediately cured. When cholera or any other pestilence sweeps over the land, the Chinese feel the helplessness of their physicians, so they resort to charms, and to the offering of gifts to the gods by way of staying the plague. Hydrophobia is common among the half-starved curs which infest the streets, and the cure for it—quite unknown to Pasteur—is the curd of the black pea dried and pulverised, mixed with hemp oil, and formed into a large ball; this is to be rolled over the wound, then broken open, and kept on rolling until it has lost its hair-like appearance. To complete the cure the patient must abstain from eating “anything in a state of decomposition.” He might just as well be told not to poison himself. If, by the way, the prescription does not work, but hydrophobia continues, the patient is strongly commended to try the effect of “the skull, teeth, and toes of a tiger ground up, and given in wine in doses of one-fifth of an ounce.” While the tiger is being caught, however, a fatal result may occur, but of course the Chinese doctor is not to be blamed for that. He has done his best, and the fault is obviously the tiger’s. The Chinese believe in astrology, the philosopher’s stone, and the elixir of life. A plant known as ginseng is said to greatly prolong and sweeten existence, and sometimes as much as a thousand taels of silver are given for a pound’s weight of the precious root. It will be seen, therefore, from such facts as these that a Galen in China would have a vast revolution to undertake, and that a thousand Galens at least would be required to overcome the prejudices and uproot the superstitions of the race. The great value which the Chinese attach to the bones, horns, tusks, and eyes of animals may be judged from various tonics and remedies which are in great request among all classes. A dose of tigers’ bones inspires courage; an elephant’s eye burnt to powder and mixed with human milk is a sovereign remedy for inflammation of the eye; pulverised elephants’ bones cure indigestion; a preparation of elephants’ ivory is the recognised cure for diabetes; and the same animal’s teeth may be used for epilepsy. But if the patient cannot eat rice his case is abandoned as hopeless, and not even the physician who deals most extensively in magic pills, ointments, and decoctions will attempt to save the obstinate person’s life.

The medicine-men of the Eskimos were called angekoks, and enjoyed the unlimited confidence of the people. They were said to have equal power over heaven and earth, this world and the next. This made them useful as friends and dangerous as enemies. The Eskimo, therefore, set out upon no enterprise without consulting the angekoks, who granted blessings, exorcised demons, and gave charms against disease. These medicine-men have a profound belief in themselves, and though they resort to jugglery and ventriloquism to deceive their visitors, they appear to have no idea that they are perpetrating an imposture. Their particular powers, they think, are derived from more than human sources. Dr. Nansen, in his “Eskimo Life,” points out that it has always been to the interests of the medicine-men and the priests to sustain and mature superstitions or religious ideas. “They must therefore themselves appear to believe in them; they may even discover new precepts of divinity to their own advantage, and thereby increase both their power and their revenues.” The Greenlanders believe that the angekoks work with the help of ministering spirits, called tôrnat, who are often none other than the souls of dead persons, especially of grandfathers; but not infrequently the tôrnat are supposed to be the souls of departed animals, or of fairies. The angekok is assumed to have several of these councillors always at hand. They render help in the time of danger, and may even act as avengers or destroyers. In the latter case they show themselves as ghosts, and so frighten to death the persons against whom vengeance is directed. Therefore, as Dr. Nansen reports, the angekoks are the wisest and also the craftiest of all Eskimos. They assert that they have the power of conversing with spirits, of travelling in the under-world, of conjuring up powerful spirits, and of obtaining revelations. “They influence and work upon their countrymen principally through their mystic exorcisms and seances, which occur as a rule in the winter, when they are living in houses. The lamps are extinguished, and skins hung before the windows. The angekok himself sits upon the floor. By dint of making a horrible noise so that the whole house shakes, changing his voice, bellowing and shrieking, ventriloquising, groaning, moaning, and whining, beating on drums, bursting forth into diabolical shrieks of laughter and all sorts of other tricks, he persuades his companions that he is visited by the various spirits he personates, and that it is they who make the disturbance.” They cure diseases by reciting charms, and “give men a new soul.” He demands large fees, not for himself, he explains, but for the spirits whose agent he is. Apparently these spirits have similar ideas to the London consulting physician.

Mr. Theodore Bent, in his “Ruined Cities of Mashonaland,” gives a specimen of the credulity excited by the medicine-men. The explorer desired to interview a chief, Mtoko by name, but permission was refused. The reason, he afterwards ascertained, was that the chief’s father had died shortly after another white man’s visit, and the common belief was that he had been bewitched. The chief thought that the “white lady” who ruled over the nation to which Mr. Bent belonged had sent him purposely to cast a glamour over him. It may be remembered that the ill-fated Lobengula refused to have his portrait taken because he believed that by means of the image of himself he could be magically infected with a dread disease. This idea of substitution, which has already been referred to, is akin to that of the belief in witchcraft during the middle ages—namely, that the witches could, by sticking pins into the wax image of a person, bring upon that person agonising maladies. The dreadful results of such beliefs among savage tribes is told by the two hospital nurses who a year or so ago produced a lively book, “Adventures in Mashonaland.” One morning a native entered their camp, bringing a tale of horror. A chief called Maronka, whose kraal was about forty miles away, had boiled his family alive. He had been convinced by the native doctors that after death the souls of the chiefs passed into the bodies of lions. His medicine-men had “smelt out” his own family as witches, and boiling alive was the requisite punishment. Mr. Rider Haggard has told many such stories as this in his books on South Africa. The Zulu doctors were in the habit, not only of “smelling out” witches and evil spirits, but of sprinkling the soldiers with medicine, in order to “put a great heart into them,” and ensure their victory in battle.

Customs like these gave Charles Dickens his opportunity of writing two of his most scathing satires “The Noble Savage” and “The Medicine Man of Civilisation.” He refused to subscribe to the popular and amiable sentiment that the African barbarian was an interesting survival, or that the Ojibbeway Indian was picturesque. After a severe indictment of them, Dickens instanced their customs in medicine as a proof of their irremediable depravity. “When the noble savage finds himself a little unwell,” he wrote, “and mentions the circumstance to his friends, it is immediately perceived that he is under the influence of witchcraft. A learned personage, called an Imyanger, or Witch Doctor, is sent for to Nooker the Umtargartie, or smell out the witch. The male inhabitants of the kraal being seated on the ground, the learned doctor, got up like a grizzly bear, appears and administers a dance of the most terrific nature, during the exhibition of which remedy he incessantly gnashes his teeth, and howls,—‘I am the original physician to Nooker the Umtargartie. Yow, yow, yow! No connection with any other establishment. Till, till, till! All other Umtargarties are feigned Umtargarties, Boroo, Boroo! but I perceive here a genuine and real Umtargartie, Hoosh, Hoosh, Hoosh! in whose blood, I, the original Imyanger and Nookerer, will wash these bear’s claws of mine!’ All this time the learned physician is looking out among the attentive faces for some unfortunate man who owes him a cow, or who has given him any small offence, or against whom, without offence, he has conceived a spite. Him he never fails to Nooker as the Umtargartie, and he is instantly killed.” This is no burlesque, and I have given the record in Dickens’s inimitable language because it most vividly sets before us the custom of the medicine-men of barbarous races. But the medicine-men of Longfellow’s description, the men who came to appease and console Hiawatha, who

 “Walked in silent, grave procession,
Bearing each a pouch of healing,
Skin of beaver, lynx, or otter,
Filled with magic roots and simples,
Filled with very potent medicines,”

—these may be accepted as the milder type of magicians who, among a primitive people, claimed not only to be able to heal the living, but to restore the dead.

Mr. Austine Waddell, in his exhaustive work on the Buddhism of Tibet, tells us that a very popular form of Buddha is as “the supreme physician” or Buddhist Æsculapius, the idea of whom is derived from an ancient legend of the “medicine-king” who dispensed spiritual medicine. The images of this Buddha are worshipped as fetishes, and they cure by sympathetic magic. The supplicant, after bowing and praying, rubs his finger over the eye, knee, or particular part of the image corresponding to the affected part on his own body, and then applies the finger carrying this hallowed touch to the afflicted spot. Mr. Waddell says that this constant friction is rather detrimental to the features of the god; whether it is beneficial to the man’s body is of course largely a matter of faith and circumstances. As might be expected, talismans to ward off evils from malignant planets and demons, whence come all diseases, are in great request. The eating of the paper on which a charm has been written is considered by the Tibetan to be the easiest and most certain method of curing a malady, and the spells which the Lamas use in this way are called “za-yig,” or edible letters. A still more mystical way of applying these remedies, according to Mr. Waddell, is by the washings of the reflection of the writing in a mirror, a habit common in other quarters of the globe. In Gambia, for instance, this treatment is relied upon by the natives. A doctor is called in, he examines the patient, and then sits down at the bedside and writes in Arabic characters on a slate some sentences from the Koran. The slate is then washed, and the dirty infusion is drunk by the patient. In Tibet, Chinese ink is smeared on wood, and every twenty-nine days the inscription reflected in a mirror. The face of the mirror during the reflection is washed with beer, and the drainings are collected in a cup for the patient’s use. This is a special cure for the evil eye. The medicine-men of Tibet can also supply charms against bullets and weapons, charms for the clawing of animals, charms to ward off cholera, and even charms to prevent domestic broils. This is surely evidence of high civilisation.

It would be hopeless to endeavour to exhaust this subject. Only a few selected instances can be given to illustrate how large a part magic has played, and still plays, in the healing art. Medicine is by no means freed of its superstitions yet, and the success of quack advertisements of the day abundantly proves that the civilised public is still prone to believe that universal remedies are obtainable, and that miracles can be wrought.

Modern medical science, as one of its great exponents has pointed out, plays a waiting game when miracles are spoken of, and when magic is claimed to supersede specific remedies. “When it is asked to believe in the violent and erratic violation of laws of matter and force, science stands on an impregnable rock, fenced round by bulwarks of logical fact, and flanked by the bastions of knowledge of nature and her constitution.” And as exact knowledge spreads, Prospero will have no alternative but to break his staff, and bury it fathoms deep.