Part 7 out of 12
blow again; and if there be left upon the stalk a single aigrette, it is
a proof you are not forgotten. Similarly, the dandelion is consulted as
to whether the lover lives east, west, north, or south, and whether he
is coming or not.
'Will he come? I pluck the flower leaves off,
And, at each, cry yes, no, yes;
I blow the down from the dry hawkweed,
Once, twice--hah! I it flies amiss!'--Scott."
Many interesting details about flower-oracles may be read in the pages
of Friend (453) and Folkard (448) and in Mr. Dyer's chapters on
_Plants and the Ceremonial Use_ (435. 145-162), _Children's
Rhymes and Games_ (435. 232-242), etc.
Beasts, birds, and insects are also the child's oracles. Mr. Callaway
tells us that among the Amazulu, when cattle are lost, and the boys see
the bird called _Isi pungumangati_ sitting on a tree, "they ask it
where the cattle are, and go in the direction in which it points with
its head." The insect known as the _mantis_, or "praying insect,"
is used for a similar purpose (417. 339). In the Sollinger forest
(Germany), on St. Matthew's day, February 24, the following practice is
in vogue: A girl takes a girl friend upon her back and carries her to
the nearest sheep-pen, at the door of which both knock. If a lamb is the
first to bleat, the future husbands of both girls will be young; if an
old sheep bleats first, they will both marry old men (391. II. 10).
_The Child as Oracle in the Primitive Community._
In primitive social economy the services of the child, as an
unprejudiced or oracular decider of fates and fortunes, were often in
demand. In the community of Pudu-vayal, in the Carnatic (southeastern
India), "when the season for cultivation arrives, the arable land in the
village is allotted to the several shareholders in the following manner:
The names of each lot and each share-holder are written on pieces of
the leaf of the palm-tree, such as is used for village records, and the
names of each division of land to be allotted are placed in a row. A
child, selected for the purpose, draws by lot a leaf with the name of
the principal share-holder, and places under it a number, thus,--
1--Tannappa. 2--Nina. 3--Narrappa. 4--Malliyan.
It is thus settled by lottery that Tannappa and his under-share-holders
are to cultivate the land of the principal share lotted under No. 1.
Tannappa next proceeds to settle in the same way each
under-shareholder's portion included in his principal share, and so on,
until the sixty-four shareholders receive each his allotment (461. 32)."
At Haddenham, in the county of Buckingham, England, a somewhat similar
practice survived: "The method of deciding the ownership, after the
meadow was plotted out, was by drawing lots. This was done by cutting up
a common dock-weed into the required number of pieces to represent the
lots, a well understood sign being carved on each piece, representing
crows' feet, hog-troughs, and so on. These were placed in a hat and
shaken up. Before this could be done, however, notice must be given by
one of the men, calling out, at the top of his voice, 'Harko,' and using
some sort of rigmarole, calling people to witness that the lots were
drawn fairly and without favour.... The hat being shaken up, and one of
the boys standing by, looking on with the greatest interest, is pitched
upon as a disinterested person to draw the lots, and each owner had to
'sup up' with the lot that fell to him" (461.270).
In the manor of Aston, in the parish of Bampton, Oxfordshire, a like
custom prevailed: "When the grass was fit to cut, the grass stewards and
Sixteens [stewards] summoned the freeholders and tenants to a general
meeting, and the following ceremony took place: Four of the tenants came
forward, each bearing his mark cut on a piece of wood, which, being
thrown into a hat, were shaken up and drawn by a boy. The first drawing
entitled its owner to have his portion of the common meadow in set one,
the second drawn in set two, etc., and thus four of the tenants have
obtained their allotments. Four others then came forward, and the same
process is repeated until all the tenants have received their
allotments" (461. 166).
In Kilkenny, "when the division is made out, lots are prepared. Each man
takes a bit of stick or particular stone, well marked; these are
enveloped in a ball of clay, and a child or stranger is called to place
each ball upon some one of the lots, by which each man's share is
determined" (461. 141).
The Kaffir boy who is to tend the calves in the kraal, while his fellows
sport and romp about, is selected by lot: "As many blades of grass as
there are boys are taken, and a knot is made on the end of one of them.
The biggest boy holds the blades between the fingers and thumb of his
closed hand, and whoever draws the blade with the knot has to act as
herdsman" (543. 221). Nowadays, children are employed to turn
roulette-wheels, sort cards, pick out lottery-tickets, select lucky
numbers, set machinery going for the first time, and perform other like
actions; for, though men are all "children of fortune," there is
something about real children that brings luck and prospers all
enterprises of chance and hazard.
Unconscious action and selection by children have no doubt profoundly
influenced individual men and society at times. De Quincey tells us that
"the celebrated Dr. Doddridge is said to have been guided in a primary
act of choice, influencing his whole after life, by a few chance words
from a child reading aloud to his mother." The story of the conversion
of drunken John Stirling by the naive remark of his four-year-old boy,
as the mother was reading Matthew xxv. 31-33, "Will father be a goat,
then, mother?" finds parallels in other lives and other lands (191.356).
Here may be considered as belonging some of the "guessing-games,"
certain of which, in forms remarkably like those in use to-day, were
known to the ancients, as Mr. Newell has pointed out, from references in
Xenophon and Petronius Arbiter (313. 147-152).
As we of to-day see in the sports and games of children some resemblance
to the realities of life of our ancestors of long ago, and of those
primitive peoples who have lingered behind in the march, of culture, so
have the folk seen in them some echo, some oracular reverberation, of
the deeds of absent elders, some forecast of the things to come.
Among the Shushwap Indians of British Columbia, the following belief is
current regarding twins: "While they are children their mother can see
by their plays whether her husband, when he is out hunting, will be
successful or not. When the twins play about and feign to bite each
other, he will be successful; if they keep quiet, he will return
empty-handed" (404. 92).
In Saxon Transylvania, "when children play games in which dolls and the
like are buried, play church, or sing hymns in the street, it is thought
to foretell the approaching death of some one in the place" (392
Similar superstitions attach to others of the games and sports of
childhood, in which is reproduced the solemn earnest of an earlier
manhood; for, with some peoples, the conviction that what is acted in
pantomime must occur at a later date in all its reality, finds ready
acceptance, and hence children are sometimes even now debarred from
carrying out some of their games, from a vague fear that ill will come
of them in the manner indicated.
THE CHILD AS WEATHER-MAKER.
Rain, rain, go away,
Come again, another day.--_Children's Rhyme._
Perhaps the most naive tale in which, the child figures as a
weather-maker occurs in the life-story of St. Vincent Ferrier (1357-1419
A.D.), who is credited with performing, in twenty years, no fewer than
58,400 miracles. While the saint was not yet a year old, a great dearth
prevailed in Valencia, and one day, while his mother was lamenting over
it, "the infant in swaddling-clothes said to her distinctly, 'Mother,
if you wish for rain, carry me in procession.' The babe was carried in
procession, and the rain fell abundantly" (191.356). Brewer informs us
that in 1716 "Mrs. Hicks and her daughter (a child nine years of age)
were hung at Huntingdon [England], for 'selling their souls to the
devil; and raising a storm by pulling off their stockings and making a
lather of soap'" (191. 344). Saints and witches had power to stop rains
and lay storms as well as to bring them on.
H. F. Feilberg has given us an interesting account of "weather-making,"
a folk-custom still in vogue in several parts of Denmark. It would
appear that this strange custom exists in Djursland, Samse, Sejere,
Nexele, in the region of Kallundborg. Here "the women 'make weather' in
February, the men in March, all in a fixed order, usually according to
the numbers of the tax-register. The pastor and his wife, each in his
and her month, 'make weather' on the first of the month, after them the
other inhabitants of the village. If the married men are not sufficient
to fill out the days of the months, the unmarried ones and the servants
are called upon,--the house-servant perhaps 'making weather' in the
morning, the hired boy in the afternoon, and in like manner the
kitchen-maid and the girl-servant" (392 (1891). 56, 58). In this case we
have a whole family, household, community of "weather-makers," old and
young, and are really taken back to a culture-stage similar to that of
the Caribs and Chibchas of America, with whom the chief was
weather-maker as well as ruler of his people (101. 57).
In Mr. Andrew Lang's _Custom and Myth_ there is an entertaining
chapter on "The Bull Roarer," which the author identifies with the
[Greek: rombos] mentioned by Clemens of Alexandria as one of the toys of
the infant Dionysus. The "bull-roarer," known to the modern English boy,
the ancient Greek, the South African, the American Indian, etc., is in
actual use to-day by children,--Mr. Lang does not seem to be aware of
the fact,--as a "wind-raiser," or "weather-maker." Mr. Gregor, speaking
of northeastern Scotland, says: "During thunder it was not unusual for
boys to take a piece of thin wood a few inches wide and about half a
foot long, bore a hole in one end of it, and tie a few yards of twine
into the hole. The piece of wood was rapidly whirled around the head
under the belief that the thunder would cease, or that the thunder-bolt
would not strike. It went by the name of the 'thunner-spell'" (246. 153).
Among the Kaffirs, according to Mr. Theal:--
"There is a kind of superstition connected with the _nowidu_ [the
South African 'bull-roarer'], that playing with it invites a gale of
wind. Men will, on this account, often prevent boys from using it when
they desire calm weather for any purpose" (543. 223).
Dr. Boas tells us that the Shushwap Indians of British Columbia
attribute supernatural powers to twins, and believe: "They can make good
and bad weather. In order to produce rain they take a small basket
filled with water, which they spill into the air. For making clear
weather, they use a small stick to the end of which a string is tied. A
small flat piece of wood is attached to the end of the string, and this
implement is shaken. Storm is produced by strewing down on the ends of
spruce branches" (404. 92).
The Nootka Indians have a like belief regarding twins: "They have the
power to make good and bad weather. They produce rain by painting their
faces with black colour and then washing them, or by merely shaking
their heads" (404. 40).
Among some of the Kwakiutl Indians, upon the birth of twins "the father
dances for four days after the children have been born, with a large
square rattle. The children, by swinging this rattle, can cure disease
and procure favourable winds and weather" (404. 62).
In Prussia, when it snows, the folk-belief is "the angels are shaking
their little beds," and Grimm's story of "Old Mother Frost" has another
rendering of the same myth: "What are you afraid of, my child! Stop with
me: if you will put all things in order in my house, then all shall go
well with you; only you must take care that you make my bed well, and
shake tremendously, so that the feathers fly; then it snows upon earth.
I am Old Mother Frost."
An Eskimo legend states that thunder and lightning are caused by an
adult person and a child, who went up in the sky long, long ago; they
carry a dried seal-skin, which, when rattled, makes the thunder, and
torches of tar, which, when waved, cause the lightning.
The Mississaga Indians explain a fierce storm of thunder and lightning
by saying that "the young thunder-birds up in the sky are making merry
and having a good time." In like manner, the Dakotas account for the
rumbling of thunder, "because the old thunder-bird begins the peal and
the young ones take it up and continue."
In the poetry of the ancient Aryans of Asia the wind is called "the
heavenly child," some idea of which survives in the old pictures in
books representing the seasons, and in maps, where infants or cherubs
are figured as blowing at the various points of the compass. But to
return to rain-making. Grimm has called attention to several instances
in Modern Europe where the child figures as "rain-maker."
One of the charms in use in the Rhine country of Germany in the eleventh
century, as recorded by Burchard of Worms, was this: "A little girl,
completely undressed and led outside the town, had to dig up henbane
with the little finger of her right hand, and tie it to the little toe
of her right foot; she was then solemnly conducted by the other maidens
to the nearest river, and splashed with water" (462. II. 593).
In Servia the rain-maker is well known, and the procedure is as follows:
"A girl, called the _dodola_, is stript naked, but so wrapt up in
grass, herbs, and flowers, that nothing of her person is to be seen, not
even the face. Escorted by other maidens, _dodola_ passes from
house to house; before each house they form a ring, she standing in the
middle and dancing alone. The goodwife comes out and empties a bucket of
water over the girl, who keeps dancing and whirling all the while; her
companions sing songs, repeating after every line the burden _oy dodo,
oy dodo le_." Following is one of the rain-songs:--
"To God doth our doda call, oy dodo oy dodo le!
That dewy rain may fall, oy dodo oy dodo le!
And drench the diggers all, oy dodo oy dodo le!
The workers great and small, oy dodo oy dodo le!
Even those in house and stall, oy dodo oy dodo le!"
Corresponding to the Servian _dodola_, and thought to be equally
efficacious, is the [Greek: _pyrperuna_] of the Modern Greeks. With
them the custom is: "When it has not rained for a fortnight or three
weeks, the inhabitants of villages and small towns do as follows. The
children choose one of themselves, who is from eight to ten years old,
usually a poor orphan, whom they strip naked and deck from head to foot
with field herbs and flowers: this child is called pyrperuna. The others
lead her round the village, singing a hymn, and every housewife has to
throw a pailful of water over the pyrperuna's head and hand the children
a para (1/4 of a farthing)" (462. I. 594).
In a Wallachian song, sung by children when the grain is troubled by
drought, occurs the following appeal: "Papaluga (Father Luga), climb
into heaven, open its doors, and send down rain from above, that well
the rye may grow!" (462. II. 593). This brings us naturally to the
consideration of the rain-rhymes in English and cognate tongues.
Mr. Henderson, treating of the northern counties of England, tells us
that when the rain threatens to spoil a boy's holiday, he will sing
"'Rain, rain, go away,
Come again another summer's day;
Rain, rain, pour down,
And come no more to our town.'
'Rain, rain, go away,
And come again on washing day,'
or, more quaintly, yet:--
'Rain, rain, go to Spain;
Fair weather, come again,'
and, _sooner_ or _later_, the rain will depart. If there be a
rainbow, the juvenile devotee must look at it all the time. The
Sunderland version runs thus:--
'Rain, rain, pour down
Not a drop in our town,
But a pint and a gill
All a-back of Building Hill.'"
Mr. Henderson remarks that "such rhymes are in use, I believe, in every
nursery in England," and they are certainly well known, in varying forms
in America. A common English charm for driving away the rainbow brings
the child at once into the domain of the primitive medicine-man.
Schoolboys were wont, "on the appearance of a rainbow, to place a couple
of straws or twigs across on the ground, and, as they said, 'cross out
the rainbow.' The West Riding [Yorkshire] receipt for driving away a
rainbow is: 'Make a cross of two sticks and lay four pebbles on it, one
at each end'" (469. 24, 25).
Mr. Gregor, for northeastern Scotland, reports the following as being
sung or shouted at the top of the voice by children, when a rainbow
appears (246. 153, 154):--
Brack an gang hame,
The coo's wi' a calf,
The yow's wi' a lam,
An' the coo 'ill be calvt,
Or ye win hame."
Brack an gang hame;
Yir father an yir mither's aneth the layer-stehm;
Yir coo's calvt, yir mare's foalt,
Yir wife'll be dead
Or ye win hame."
Brack an gang hame,
Yir father and mither's aneth the grave stehn."
Even more touching is the appeal made by the children in Berwickshire,
according to Mr. Henderson (469. 24, 25):--
"Rainbow, rainbow, hand awa' hame,
A' yer bairns are dead but ane,
And it lies sick at yon gray stane,
And will be dead ere you win hame.
Gang owre the Drumaw [a hill] and yont the lea
And down by the side o' yonder sea;
Your bairn lies greeting [crying] like to dee,
And the big tear-drop is in his e'e."
Sometimes the child-priest or weather-maker has to employ an
intermediary. On the island of Rugen and in some other parts of Germany
the formula is (466 a. 132):--
Lat de stinnen schienen,
Lat'n ragen overgahn,
Lat de stunnen wedder kam'n."
["Dear (St.) Catharine,
Let the sun shine,
Let the rain pass off,
Let the sun come again."]
In Eugen the glow-worm is associated with "weather-making." The children
take the little creature up, put it on their hand and thus address it
(466 a. 133):--
"Sunnskurnken fleeg weech,
Bring mi morgen good wader,
Lat 'en ragen overgahn,
Lat de sunnen wedder kam'n,
Bring mi morgen good wader."
If the insect flies away, the good weather will come; if not, there will
The Altmark formula, as given by Danneil (_Worterb_., p. 81) is:--
"Herrgottswormk'n, fleg nao'n Himmel, segg din Vaoder un Mutter, dat't
morgen un aowermorg'n god Wad'r wart." ["Little God's-worm, fly to
heaven, tell your father and mother to make it fine weather to-morrow
and the day after to-morrow."]
Another rain-rhyme from Altmark, sung by children in the streets when it
rains, is harsh in tone, and somewhat derisive as well (p. 153):--
"Rag'n blatt, maok mi nich natt,
Maok den olln Paop'n natt
De'n Bud'l vull Geld hat."
["Rain, don't make me wet,
Make the old priest wet,
Who has a purse full of money."]
Concerning the Kansa Indians, Rev. J. Owen Dorsey informs us that the
members of the Tcihacin or Kanze gens are looked upon as "wind people,"
and when there is a blizzard the other Kansa appeal to them: "O,
Grandfather, I wish good weather! Please cause one of your children to
be decorated!" The method of stopping the blizzard is as follows: "Then
the youngest son of one of the Kanze men, say one over four feet high,
is chosen for the purpose, and painted with red paint. The youth rolls
over and over in the snow and reddens it for some distances all around
him. This is supposed to stop the storm" (433. 410).
With the Kwakiutl Indians of Vancouver Island, as with the Shushwaps and
Nootka, twins are looked upon in the light of wonderful beings, having
power over the weather. Of them it is said "while children they are able
to summon any wind by motions of their hands, and can make fair or bad
weather. They have the power of curing diseases, and use for this
purpose a rattle called K.'oa'qaten, which has the shape of a flat box
about three feet long by two feet wide." Here the "weather-maker" and
the "doctor" are combined in the same person. Among the Tsimshian
Indians, of British Columbia, twins are believed to control the weather,
and these aborigines "pray to wind and rain: 'Calm down, breath of the
twins'" (403. 51).
In the creation-legend of the Indians of Mt. Shasta (California), we are
told that once a terrific storm came up from the sea and shook to its
base the wigwam,--Mt. Shasta itself,--in which lived the "Great Spirit"
and his family. Then "The 'Great Spirit' commanded his daughter, little
more than an infant, to go up and bid the wind be still, cautioning her
at the same time, in his fatherly way, not to put her head out into the
blast, but only to thrust out her little red arm and make a sign before
she delivered her message." But the temptation to look out on the world
was too strong for her, and, as a result, she was caught up by the storm
and blown down the mountain-side into the land of the grizzly-bear
people. From the union of the daughter and the grizzly-bear people
sprang a new race of men. When the "Great Spirit" was told his daughter
still lived, he ran down the mountain for joy, but finding that his
daughter had become a mother, he was so angry that he cursed the
grizzly-people and turned them into the present race of bears of that
species; them and the new race of men he drove out of their
wigwam,--Little Mt. Shasta,--then "shut to the door, and passed away to
his mountains, carrying his daughter; and her or him no eye has since
seen." Hence it is that "no Indian tracing his descent from the spirit
mother and the grizzly, will kill a grizzly-bear; and if by an evil
chance a grizzly kill a man in any place, that spot becomes memorable,
and every one that passes casts a stone there till a great pile is
thrown up" (396. III. 91).
Here the weather-maker touches upon deity and humanity at once.
THE CHILD AS HEALER AND PHYSICIAN.
Fingunt se medicos quivis idiota, sacerdos, Iudaus, monachus, histrio,
rasor, anus. [Any unskilled person, priest, Jew, monk, actor, barber,
old woman, turns himself into a physician.]--_Medical Proverb_.
_The Child as Healer and Physician_.
Though Dr. Max Bartels' (397) recent treatise--the best book that has
yet appeared on the subject of primitive medicine--has no chapter
consecrated to the child as healer and physician, and Mr. Black's
_Folk-Medicine_ (401) contains but a few items under the rubric of
personal cures, it is evident from data in these two works, and in many
other scattered sources, that the child has played a not unimportant
role in the history of folk-medicine. Among certain primitive peoples
the healing art descends by inheritance, and in various parts of the
world unbaptized children, illegitimate children, and children born out
of due time and season, or deformed in some way, have been credited with
special curative powers, or looked upon as "doctors born."
In Spain, to kiss an unbaptized child before any one else has done so,
is a panacea against toothache (258. 100). In north-eastern Scotland, "a
seventh son, without a daughter, if worms were put into his hand before
baptism, had the power of healing the disease (ring-worm) simply by
rubbing the affected part with his hand. The common belief about such a
son was that he was a doctor by nature" (246. 47). In Ireland, the
healing powers are acquired "if his hand has, before it has touched
anything for himself, been touched with his future medium of cure. Thus,
if silver is to be the charm, a sixpence, or a three-penny piece, is put
into his hand, or meal, salt, or his father's hair, 'whatever substance
a seventh son rubs with must be worn by his parents as long as he
lives.'" In some portions of Europe, the seventh son, if born on Easter
Eve, was able to cure tertian or quartan fevers. In Germany, "if a woman
has had seven sons in succession, the seventh can heal all manner of
hurt,"--his touch is also said to cure wens at the throat (462. III.
1152). In France, the _marcou_, or seventh son, has had a great
reputation; his body is said to be marked with a _fleur-de-lis_,
and the cure is effected by his simply breathing upon the diseased part,
or by allowing the patient to touch a mark on his body. Bourke calls
attention to the fact that among the Cherokee Indians of the
southeastern United States is this same belief that the seventh son is
"a natural-born prophet with the gift of healing by touch" (406. 457).
In France similar powers have also been attributed to the fifth son. The
seventh son of a seventh son is still more famous, while to the
twenty-first son, born without the intervention of a daughter,
prodigious cures are ascribed.
Nor is the other sex entirely neglected. In France a "seventh daughter"
was believed to be able to cure chilblains on the heels (462. III.
1152), and in England, as recently as 1876, the seventh daughter of a
seventh daughter claimed great skill as an herb-doctor.
In northeastern Scotland, "a posthumous child was believed to possess
the gift of curing almost any disease by looking on the patient" (246.
37), and in Donegal, Ireland, the peasants "wear a lock of hair from a
posthumous child, to guard against whooping-cough," while in France,
such a child was believed to possess the power of curing wens, and a
child that has never known its father was credited with ability to cure
swellings and to drive away tumours (462. III. 1152).
Twins, in many countries, have been regarded as prodigies, or as endowed
with unusual powers. In Essex, England, "a 'left twin' (_i.e._ a
child who has survived its fellow-twin) is thought to have the power of
curing the thrush by blowing three times into the patient's mouth, if
the patient is of the opposite sex" (469. 307). Among the Kwakiutl
Indians of British Columbia, twins are said to be able to cure disease
by swinging a rattle, and in Liberia (Africa) they are thought to
possess great healing powers, for which reason most of them become
doctors (397. 75).
In Sweden, "a first-born child that has come into the world with teeth
can cure a bad bite." In Scotland, "those who were born with their feet
first possessed great power to heal all kinds of sprains, lumbago, and
rheumatism, either by rubbing the afflicted part, or by trampling on it.
The chief virtue lay in the feet" (246. 45). In Cornwall, England, the
mother of such a child also possessed the power to cure rheumatism by
trampling on the patients. The natives of the island of Mas, off the
western coast of Sumatra, consider children born with their feet first
specially gifted for the treatment of dislocations (397. 75). Among the
superstitions prevalent among the Mexicans of the Rio Grande region in
Texas, Captain Bourke mentions the belief: "To cure rheumatism, stroke
the head of a little girl three times--a golden-haired child preferred"
(407. 139). The Jews of Galicia seek to cure small-pox by rubbing the
pustules with the tresses of a girl, and think that the scrofula will
disappear "if a _Bechor_, or first-born son, touches it with his
thumb and little finger" (392 (1893). 142).
The power of curing scrofula--touching for the "King's Evil"--possessed
by monarchs of other days, was thought to be hereditary, and seems to
have been practised by them at a tender age. In England this "cure" was
in vogue from the time of Edward the Confessor until 1719, when,
according to Brewer, the "office" disappeared from the Prayer-book. The
French custom dated back to Anne of Clovis (A.D. 481). In the year of
his coronation (1654 A.D.), when Louis XV. was but eleven years old, he
is said to have touched over two thousand sufferers (191. 308).
_Blood of Children_.
In the dark ages the blood of little children had a wide-spread
reputation for its medicinal virtue. The idea that diseased and withered
humanity, having failed to discover the fountain of eternal youth, might
find a new well-spring of life in bathing in, or being sprinkled with,
the pure blood of a child or a virgin, had long a firm hold upon the
minds of the people. Hartmann von Aue's story, _Der arme Heinrich_,
and a score of similar tales testify of the folk-faith in the
regeneration born of this horrible baptism--a survival or recrudescence
of the crassest form of the doctrine that the life dwells in the blood.
Strack, in his valuable treatise on "Human Blood, in Superstition and
Ceremonial," devotes a brief section to the belief in the cure of
leprosy by means of human blood (361. 20-24). The Targumic gloss on
Exodus ii. 23--the paraphrase known as the Pseudo-Jonathan--explains
"that the king of Egypt, suffering from leprosy, ordered the first-born
of the children of Israel to be slain that he might bathe in their
blood," and the Midrasch Schemoth Rabba accounts for the lamentation of
the people of Israel at this time, from the fact that the Egyptian
magicians had told the king that there was no cure for this loathsome
disease, unless every evening and every morning one hundred and fifty
Jewish children were slain and the monarch bathed twice daily in their
blood. Pliny tells us that the Egyptians warmed with human blood the
seats in their baths as a remedy against the dreaded leprosy.
According to the early chroniclers, Constantine the Great, on account of
his persecution of the Christians, was afflicted with leprosy, which
would yield neither to the skill of native nor to that of foreign
physicians. Finally, the priests of Jupiter Capitolinus recommended a
bath in the blood of children. The children were gathered together, but
"the lamentations of their mothers so affected the Emperor, that he
declared his intention of suffering the foul disease, rather than be the
cause of so much woe and misery." Afterwards he was directed in a dream
to Pope Sylvester, was converted, baptized into the Church, and restored
to health (361. 22).
Other instances of this fearful custom are mentioned in the stories of
Percival (in the history of the Holy Grail), of Giglan de Galles et
Geoffrey de Mayence, and the wide-spread tale of Amicus and Amelius and
its variants, Louis and Alexander, Engelhard and Engeltrut, Oliver and
Arthur, etc., in all of which one of the friends is afflicted with
leprosy, but is cured through the devotion of the other, who sacrifices
his own children in order to obtain the blood by which alone his friend
can be restored to health. Usually, we are told, God rewards his
fidelity and the children are restored to life.
The physicians of King Richard I. of England are said, in one of the
fictions which grew up about his distinguished personality, to have
utterly failed to give relief to the monarch, who was suffering from,
leprosy. At last a celebrated Jew, after exhausting his skill without
curing the monarch, told him that his one chance of recovery lay in
bathing in the fresh blood of a newborn child, and eating its heart just
as it was taken out of the body. That the king adopted this horrible
remedy we are left to doubt, but of Louis XI of France, several
chroniclers affirm that he went even farther than the others, and, in
order to become rejuvenated, drank large quantities of the blood of
young children. In all these cases the character of the child as fetich
seems to be present, and the virtues ascribed to the blood drawn from
children (not always killed) belong not alone to medicine, but also to
primitive religion (361. 23).
Even the dead body of a child or some one of its members plays a
_role_ in folk-medicine in many parts of the globe. Grimm cites
from a document of 1408 A.D., a passage recording the cure of a leper,
who had been stroked with the hand of a still-born (and, therefore,
sinless) child, which had been rubbed with salve (361. 34). In
Steiermark, so Dr. Strack informs us, "a favourite cure for birth-marks
is to touch them with the hand of a dead person, especially of a child"
(361. 35). Among the charges made by the Chinese against the foreigners,
who are so anxious to enter their dominions, is one of "kidnapping and
buying children in order to make charms and medicines out of their eyes,
hearts, and other portions of their bodies." This belief induced the
riot of June, 1870, an account of which has been given by Baron Hubner,
and similar incidents occurred in 1891 and 1892. Somewhat the same
charges have been made (in 1891, for example) by the natives of
Madagascar against the French and other foreigners (361. 37).
Among many primitive peoples, as is the case with the Zulus, Bechuana,
Japanese (formerly), Nez Perces, Cayuse, Walla-Wallas, Wascos, etc., the
office of "doctor" is hereditary, and is often exercised at a
comparatively early age (397. 275). Dr. Pitre has recently discussed
some interesting cases in this connection in modern Italy (322).
Among certain Indian tribes of the Rocky Mountain region of the
northwestern United States, although he cannot properly practise his art
until he reaches manhood, the "medicine-man" (here, doctor) begins his
candidacy in his eighth or tenth year. Of the "wizards," or "doctors" of
the Patagonians, Falkner says, that they "are selected in youth for
supposed qualifications, especially if epileptic" (406. 456). While
among the Dieyerie of South Australia, the "doctor" is not allowed to
practise before having been circumcised, or to enter upon the duties of
his office before completing his tenth year, those young people become
"doctors," who, as children, "have seen the devil," i.e. have seen in a
troubled dream the demon _Kutchie_, or have had the nightmare. The
belief is, that in this way, the power to heal has been imparted to the
child (397. 75). Among the Yuki Indians of California, "the
'poison-doctor' is the most important member of the profession. The
office is hereditary; a little child is prepared for holding it by being
poisoned and then cured, which, in their opinion, renders him
invulnerable ever afterward" (519. 131). Among the Tunguses, of Siberian
llussia, a child afflicted with cramps or with bleeding at the nose and
mouth, is declared by an old shaman ("medicine-man," or
"medicine-woman") to be called to the profession, and is then termed
_hudildon_. After the child has completed its second year, it is
taken care of by an old shaman, who consecrates it with various
ceremonies; from this time forth it is called _jukejeren_, and is
instructed by the old man in the mysteries of his art (482. III. 105).
With these people also the female shamans have the assistance of boys
and girls to carry their implements and perform other like services
(397. 66). An excellent account of shamanism in Siberia and European
Eussia has been given by Professor Mikhailovskii (504), of Moscow, who
gives among other details a notice of the _kamlanie_, or
spirit-ceremonial of a young shaman belonging to one of the Turkish
tribes of the Altai Mountains (504. 71). Among the Samoyeds and Ostiaks
of Siberia, "the shamans succeed to the post by inheritance from father
to son" (504. 86). On the death of a shaman, "his son, who desires to
have power over the spirits, makes of wood an image of the dead man's
hand, and by means of this symbol succeeds to his father's power. Those
destined to be shamans spend their youth in practices which irritate the
nervous system and excite the imagination."
Among the Buryats of southern Siberia, it is thought that "the dead
ancestors who were shamans choose from their living kinsfolk a boy who
is to inherit their power. This child is marked by signs; he is often
thoughtful, fond of solitude, a seer of prophetic visions, subject,
occasionally, to fits, during which he is unconscious. The Buryats
believe that at such a time the boy's soul is with the spirits, who are
teaching him; if he is to be a white shaman, with the western spirits;
if he is to be a black shaman, among the eastern spirits." Usually, the
youth does not enter upon his duties until he has reached his twentieth
The tribes of the Altai believe that "the ability to shamanize is
inborn; instruction only gives a knowledge of the chants, prayers, and
external rites." There is in early life an innate tendency to sickness
and frenzy, against which, we are told, the elect struggle in vain
(504.90): "Those who have the shamanist sickness endure physical
torments; they have cramps in the arms and legs, until they are sent to
a _kam_ [shaman] to be educated. The tendency is hereditary; a
_kam_ often has children predisposed to attacks of illness. If, in
a family where there is no shaman, a boy or a girl is subject to fits,
the Altaians are persuaded that one of its ancestors was a shaman. A
_kam_ told Potanin that the shamanist passion was hereditary, like
noble birth. If the _kam's_ own son does not feel any inclination,
some one of the nephews is sure to have the vocation. There are cases of
men becoming shamans at their own wish, but these _kams_ are much
less powerful than those born to the profession." Thus the whole
training of the _kam_ from childhood up to exercise of his official
duties is such as "to augment his innate tendencies, and make him an
abnormal man, unlike his fellows." When fully qualified, he functions as
"priest, physician, wizard, diviner."
Of the childhood of Moses Oriental legend has much to say. One story
tells how the daughter of Pharaoh, a leper, was healed as she stretched
out her hand to the infant whom she rescued from the waters of Nile.
Well thus resumes the tale (547.122):--
"The eldest of the seven princesses first discovered the little ark and
carried it to the bank to open it. On her removing the lid, there beamed
a light upon her, which her eyes were not able to endure. She cast a
veil over Moses, but at that instant her own face, which hitherto had
been covered with scars and sores of all the most hideous colours
imaginable, shone like the moon in its brightness and purity, and her
sisters exclaimed in amazement, 'By what means hast thou been so
suddenly freed from leprosy?' 'By the miraculous power of this child,'
replied the eldest. The glance which beamed upon me when I beheld it
unveiled, has chased away the impurity of my body, as the rising sun
scatters the gloom of night.' The six sisters, one after the other, now
lifted the veil from Moses' face, and they, too, became fair as if they
had been formed of the finest silver. The eldest then took the ark upon
her head, and carried it to her mother, Asia, relating to her in how
miraculous a manner both she and her sisters had been healed."
We also learn that when Moses was six years old, being teased by Pharaoh
until he was angry, he kicked the throne over so that the king fell and
injured himself so that he bled at the mouth and nose. The intercession
of Asia and the seven princesses seemed vain, and the king was about to
thrust Moses through with his sword, when "there flew a white cock
toward the king, and cried: 'Pharaoh, if thou spill the blood of this
child, thy daughters shall be more leprous than before.' Pharaoh cast a
glance upon the princesses; and, as if from dread and fright, their
faces were already suffused with a ghastly yellow, he desisted again
from his bloody design" (547. 127).
To other heroes, kings, saints, the power to heal which characterized
their years of discretion is often ascribed to them in childhood,
especially where and when it happens that the same individual is
prophet, priest, and king. In the unnumbered miracles of the Church
children have often figured. Lupellus, in his life of St. Frodibert
(seventh century A.D.), says: "When Frodibert was a mere child he cured
his mother's blindness, as, in the fulness of love and pity, he kissed
her darkened eyes, and signed them with the sign of the cross. Not only
was her sight restored, but it was keener than ever" (191. 45). Of St.
Patrick (373-464 A.D.) it is told: "On the day of his baptism he gave
sight to a man born blind; the blind man took hold of the babe's hand,
and with it made on the ground a sign of the cross." Another account
makes the miracle a triple one: "A blind man, taking hold of St.
Patrick's right hand, guided it into making on the ground a cross, when
instantly three miracles ensued: (1) A spring of water bubbled from the
dry ground; (2) the blind man, bathing his eyes with this water,
received his sight; and (3) the man, who before could neither write nor
read, was instantly inspired with both these gifts" (191. 237).
Brewer relates other instances of the miraculous power of the
child-saint from the lives of St. Genevieve (423-512, A.D.), St. Vitus,
who at the age of twelve caused the arms and legs of the Emperor
Aurelian to wither, but on the Emperor owning the greatness of God, the
"child-magician," as the monarch had termed him, made Aurelian whole
again; St. Sampson (565 A.D.), who cured a fellow schoolboy of a deadly
serpent's bite; Marianne de Quito (1618-1645 A.D.), who cured herself of
a gangrened finger (191. 442).
In his interesting chapters on _Fairy Births and Human Midwives_,
Mr. Hartland informs us that young girls have sometimes been called upon
to go to fairy-land and usher into the world of elves some little sprite
about to be born. Instances of this folk-belief are cited from
Pomerania, Swabia, Silesia. Rewards and presents are given the maiden on
her return, and often her whole family is blest, if she has acted well
Close, indeed, are often the ties between the saint and the physician;
the healer of the soul and the healer of the body are frequently the
same. Other links bind the doctor to the hero and to the god. Of
AEsculapius, the great son of Apollo, exposed in childhood by his
mother, but nurtured by the goat of the shepherd Aresthanas, and guarded
by his dog, when he grew up to manhood, became so skilled in the uses of
herbs and other medicines that he received divine honours after his
death and came to be looked upon as the inventor of medicine as well as
god of the healing art.
_Origin of the Healing Art_
With some primitive peoples even the child is their. AEsculapius, at
once human and divine, hero and god. An Iroquois legend recorded by Mrs.
Smith attributes to a boy the discovery of witch-charms: "A certain boy
while out hunting came across a beautiful snake. Taking a great fancy to
it, he caught it and cared for it, feeding it on birds, etc., and made a
bark bowl in which he kept it. He put fibres, down, and small feathers
into the water with the snake, and soon found that these things had
become living beings. From this fact he naturally conjectured that the
snake was endowed with supernatural powers." So he went on
experimenting, and discovered many of the virtues of the snake water:
rubbing it on his eyes would make him see in the dark and see hidden
things; pointing his finger, after having dipped it in the bowl, at any
one would bewitch that person; by using it in certain other ways he
could become like a snake, travel very fast, even become invisible;
deadly indeed were arrows dipped in this liquid, and pointing a feather
so dipped at any game-animal would cause it to start for the creature
and kill it. In this fashion the boy learned the secret art of
witchcraft. Afterwards, by experimenting, he discovered, among the
various roots and herbs, the proper antidotes and counteracting agents
(534, 69, 70).
In his detailed account of the medicine-society of the Ojibwa, Dr.
Hoffman tells how the mysteries of the "Grand Medicine" were taught to
the Indians by the Sun-spirit, who at the request of the great Manido,
came down to earth and dwelt among men in the form of a little boy,
raising to life again his dead play-mate, the child of the people who
adopted him. After his mission was fulfilled, he "returned to his
kindred spirits, for the Indians would have no need to fear sickness, as
they now possessed the Grand Medicine which would enable them to live.
He also said that his spirit could bring a body to life but once, and he
would now return to the sun, from which they would feel his influence."
So the institution of "medicine" among the Ojibwa is called
_Kwi-wi-sens' we-di'-shi-tshi ge-wi-nip_, "Little-boy-his-work"
THE CHILD AS SHAMAN AND PRIEST.
Nearer the gates of Paradise than we
Our children breathe its air, its angels see;
And when they pray, God hears their simple prayer,
Yea, even sheathes his sword, in judgment bare.
--_R. H. Stoddard._
The youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is nature's priest.--_Wordsworth_.
Instruction in the priestly art in Africa begins sometimes almost at
birth. Bastian informs us (529. 58):--
"Women who have been long barren, or who have lost their children, are
wont to dedicate to the service of the fetich the unborn fruit of the
womb, and to present to the village priest the new-born babe. He
exercises it, at an early age, in those wild dances with deafening
drum-accompaniment, by means of which he is accustomed to gain the
requisite degree of spiritual exaltation; and in later years he
instructs his pupil in the art of understanding, while his frame is
wracked with convulsions, the inspirations of the demon and of giving
fitting responses to questions proposed."
Of the one sex we read (529. 56):--
"Every year the priests assemble the boys who are entering the state of
puberty, and take them into the forest. There they settle and form an
independent commonwealth, under very strict regulations, however; and
every offence against the rules is sternly punished. The wound given in
circumcision commonly heals in one week, yet they remain in the woods
for a period of six months, cut off from all intercourse with the
outside world, and in the meanwhile each receives separate instruction
how to prepare his medicine-bag. Forever after, each one is mystically
united with the fetich who presides over his life. Even their nearest
relatives are not allowed to visit the boys in this retreat; and women
are threatened with the severest punishment if they be only found in the
neighbourhood of a forest containing such a boy-colony. When the priest
declares the season of probation at an end, the boys return home and are
welcomed back with great rejoicings."
Concerning the other, Bosman, as reported by Schultze, says that among
the negroes of Whida, where snake-worship prevails (529. 80)--
"Every year the priestesses, armed with clubs, go about the country,
picking out and carrying away girls of from eight to twelve years of
age, for the service of the god. These children are kindly treated and
instructed in songs and dances _in majorem gloriam_ of his
snakeship. In due time they are consecrated by tattooing on their bodies
certain figures, especially those of serpents. The negroes suppose it is
the snake himself that marks his elect thus. Having received their
training and consecration, which are paid for by the parents according
to their means, the children return home; and when they attain their
majority are espoused to the Serpent."
In Ashanti, according to Ellis, the children of a priest or of a
priestess "are not ordinarily educated for the priestly profession, one
generation being usually passed over [a curious primitive recognition of
the idea in our common saying, "genius skips a generation"], and the
grand-children selected" (438. 121). At the village of Suru several
children (male and female) and youths are handed over to the priests and
priestesses to be instructed in the service of the gods, when the
goddess was thought to be offended, and in the ceremonials when the new
members are tested, youths and children take part, smeared all over with
white (438. 130).
Among the natives of the Andaman Islands, as Mr. Man informs us,
sometimes even "a young boy is looked upon as a coming
_oko-paiad_." The word signifies literally "dreamer," and such
individuals are "credited with the possession of supernatural powers,
such as second sight" (498. 28).
Captain Bourke, in his detailed account of the "medicine-men" of the
Apaches, speaking of the Pueblos Indians, says: "While I was at Tusayan,
in 1881, I heard of a young boy, quite a child, who was looked up to by
the other Indians, and on special occasions made his appearance decked
out in much native finery of beads and gewgaws, but the exact nature of
his duties and supposed responsibilities could not be ascertained." He
seems to have been a young "medicine-man" (406. 456).
Into the "medicine-society" of the Delaware Indians "the boys were
usually initiated at the age of twelve or fourteen years, with very
trying ceremonies, fasting, want of sleep, and other tests of their
physical and mental stamina." Of these same aborigines the missionary
Brainerd states: "Some of their diviners (or priests) are endowed with
the spirit in infancy; others in adult age. It seems not to depend upon
their own will, nor to be acquired by any endeavours of the person who
is the subject of it, although it is supposed to be given to children
sometimes in consequence of some means which the parents use with them
for that purpose" (516. 81).
Among the Chippeway (Ojibwa), also, children are permitted to belong to
the "Midewewin or 'Grand Medicine Society,'" of which Dr. W. J. Hoffman
has given so detailed a description--Sikassige, a Chippeway of Mille
Lacs, having taken his "first degree" at ten years of age (473.172).
Among the Eskimo the _angakok_, or shaman, trains his child from
infancy in the art of sorcery, taking him upon his knee during his
incantations and conjurations. In one of the tales in the collection of
Rink we read (525. 276): "A great _angakok_ at his conjurations
always used to talk of his having been to Akilinek [a fabulous land
beyond the ocean], and his auditors fully believed him. Once he forced
his little son to attend his conjurations, sitting upon his knee. The
boy, who was horribly frightened, said: 'Lo! what is it I see? The stars
are dropping down in the old grave on yonder hill.' The father said:
'When the old grave is shining to thee, it will enlighten thy
understanding.' When the boy had been lying in his lap for a while, he
again burst out: 'What is it I now see? The bones in the old grave are
beginning to join together.' The father only repeating his last words,
the son grew obstinate and wanted to run away, but the father still kept
hold of him. Lastly, the ghost from the grave came out, and being called
upon by the _angakok_, he entered the house to fetch the boy, who
only perceived a strong smell of maggots, and then fainted away. On
recovering his senses, he found himself in the grave quite naked, and
when he arose and looked about, his nature was totally altered--he found
himself able at a sight to survey the whole country to the farthest
north, and nothing was concealed from him. All the dwelling-places of
man appeared to be close together, side by side; and on looking at the
sea, he saw his father's tracks stretching across to Akilinek. When
going down to the house, he observed his clothes flying through the air,
and had only to put forth his hands and feet to make them cover his body
again. But on entering the house he looked exceedingly pale, because of
the great _angakok_ wisdom he had acquired down in the old grave.
After he had become an _angakok_ himself, he once went on a flight
Besides this interesting account of an _angakok_ seance, the same
authority, in the story of the _angakok_ Tugtutsiak, records the
following (525. 324): "Tugtutsiak and his sister were a couple of
orphans, and lived in a great house. It once happened that all the
grown-up people went away berry-gathering, leaving all children at home.
Tugtutsiak, who happened to be the eldest of them, said: 'Let us try to
conjure up spirits'; and some of them proceeded to make up the necessary
preparations, while he himself undressed, and covered the door with his
jacket, and closed the opening at the sleeves with a string. He now
commenced the invocation, while the other children got mortally
frightened, and were about to take flight. But the slabs of the floor
were lifted high in the air, and rushed after them. Tugtutsiak would
have followed them, but felt himself sticking fast to the floor, and
could not get loose until he had made the children come back, and
ordered them to uncover the door, and open the window, on which it again
became light in the room, and he was enabled to get up."
Girls, too, among the Eskimo, could become _angakoks_ or shamans.
Rink tells of one who visited the under-world, where she received
presents, but these, while she was carrying them home, "were wafted out
of her hands, and flew back to their first owners."
Of the Pawnee Indians, Mr. Grinnell informs us that the legend of their
wanderings tells of a boy in whose possession was the sacred
"medicine-bundle" of the tribe, and who was regarded as the
oracle-interpreter (480 (1893). 125).
As Dr. Mackay has remarked, in all the woeful annals of the
witch-persecutions, there is nothing so astounding and revolting as the
burning and putting to death of mere children for practising the arts of
the devil. Against innocents of both sexes counting no more than ten or
twelve years, there appear on the records the simple but significant
words _convicta et combusta_--convicted and burned. Here the
degradation of intellect and morals reaches its lowest level; it was
Satan and not Jesus who bade the children come unto him; their portion
was the kingdom of hell, not that of heaven. In Wurzburg, between 1627
and 1629, no fewer than 157 persons suffered death for witchcraft
(guilty and innocent), and among these were included "the prettiest girl
in the town"; two mere boys; a wandering boy of twelve; a maiden of nine
and her sister, younger in years; two boys of twelve; a girl of fifteen;
a boy of ten and a boy of twelve; three boys of from ten to fifteen
years of age. At Lille, in 1639, a whole school of girls--fifty in
number--barely escaped burning as witches (496 a. II. 266-287).
Everywhere the maddened, deluded people made sacrifice of their dearest
and holiest, tainted, they thought, with the touch of the evil one (496
a. II. 285). It is a sad comment upon civilization that the last
execution for witchcraft in England, which took place in 1716, was that
of "Mrs. Hicks and her daughter, _a child nine years of age_, who
were hung at Huntingdon, for 'selling their souls to the devil; and
raising a storm, by pulling off their stockings and making a lather of
soap'" (191. 344).
In the _London Times_ for Dec. 8, 1845, appeared the following
extract from the _Courier_, of Inverness, Scotland: "Our Wick
contemporary gives the following recent instance of gross ignorance and
credulity: 'Not far from Louisburg there lives a girl who, until a few
days ago, was suspected of being a witch. In order to cure her of the
witchcraft, a neighbour actually put her into a creed half-filled with
wood and shavings, and hung her above a fire, setting the shavings in a
blaze. Fortunately for the child and himself, she was not injured, and
it is said that the gift of sorcery has been taken away from her. At all
events, the intelligent neighbours aver that she is not half so
witch-like in appearance since she was singed" (408. III. 14).
Concerning the sect of the Nagualists or "Magicians" of Mexico and
Central America Dr. Brinton tells us much in his interesting little book
(413). These sorcerers recruited their ranks from both sexes, and "those
who are selected to become the masters of these arts are taught from,
early childhood how to draw and paint these characters and are obliged
to learn by heart the formulas, and the names of the ancient Nagualists,
and whatever else is included in these written documents" (413. 17).
We learn that "in the sacraments of Nagualism, woman was the primate and
hierophant," the admission of the female sex to the most exalted
positions and the most esoteric degrees being a remarkable feature of
this great secret society (413. 33). Indeed, Aztec tradition, like that
of Honduras, speaks of an ancient sorceress, mother of the occult
sciences, and some of the legends of the Nagualists trace much of their
art to a mighty enchantress of old (413. 34).
In 1713, the Tzendals of Chiapas rose in insurrection under the American
Joan of Arc, an Indian girl about twenty years of age, whose Spanish
name was Maria Candelaria. She was evidently a leader of the Nagualists,
and after the failure of the attempt at revolution disappeared in the
forest and was no more heard of (413. 35). Dr. Brinton calls attention
to the fact that Mr. E. G. Squier reports having heard, during his
travels in Central America, of a "_sukia_ woman, as she was called
by the coast Indians, one who lived alone amid the ruins of an old Maya
temple, a sorceress of twenty years, loved and feared, holding death and
life in her hands" (413. 36). There are many other instances of a like
nature showing the important position assigned to girls and young women
in the esoteric rites, secret societies, magic, sorcery, and witch-
craft of primitive peoples.
A curious custom attached itself to the day of St. Nicholas, of Patara
in Lycia (died 343 A.D.), the patron saint of boys, after whom the
American boys' magazine _St. Nicholas_ is aptly named. Brewer, in
his _Dictionary of Phrase and Fable_, has the following paragraph
concerning the "Boy-Bishop," as he is termed: "The custom of choosing a
boy from the cathedral choir, etc., on St. Nicholas day (6th December),
as a mock bishop is very ancient. The boy possessed episcopal honour for
three weeks, and the rest of the choir were his prebends. If he died
during the time of his prelacy, he was buried _in pontificalibus_.
Probably the reference is to Jesus Christ sitting in the Temple among
the doctors while he was a boy. The custom was abolished in the reign of
Henry Eighth" (p. 110). Brand gives many details of the election and
conduct of the "Boy-Bishops," and the custom seems to have been in vogue
in almost every parish and collegiate church (408. I. 415-431). Bishop
Hall thus expresses himself on the subject: "What merry work it was here
in the days of our holy fathers (and I know not whether, in some places
it may not be so still), that upon St. Nicholas, St. Katherine, St.
Clement, and Holy Innocents' Day, children were wont to be arrayed in
chimers, rochets, surplices, to counterfeit bishops and priests, and to
be led with songs and dances from house to house, blessing the people,
who stood grinning in the way to expect that ridiculous benediction.
Yea, that boys in that holy sport were wont to sing masses, and to climb
into the pulpit to preach (no doubt learnedly and edifyingly) to the
simple auditory. And this was so really done, that in the cathedral
church of Salisbury (unless it be lately defaced) there is a perfect
monument of one of these Boy-Bishops (who died in the time of his young
pontificality), accoutred in his episcopal robes, still to be seen. A
fashion that lasted until the later times of King Henry the Eighth, who,
in 1541, by his solemn Proclamation, printed by Thomas Bertlet, the
king's printer, _cum privilegio_, straitly forbad the practice."
When King Edward First was on his way to Scotland, in 1299, we are told,
"he permitted one of these Boy-Bishops to say vespers before him in his
Chapel at Heton, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and made a considerable
present to the said bishop, and certain other boys that came and sang
with him on the occasion, on the 7th of December, the day after St.
Nicholas's Day" (408. I. 422).
The records of the churches contain many particulars of the election,
duties, and regalia of these boy-bishops, whence it would appear that
expense and ceremony were not spared on these occasions.
Another boy-bishop was paid "thirteen shillings and sixpence for singing
before King Edward the Third, in his chamber, on the day of the Holy
Innocents" (408. I. 428).
The Boy-Bishop of Salisbury, whose service set to music is printed in
the _Processionale et usum insignis et preclare Ecclesie Sarum,_
1566, is actually said "to have had the power of disposing of such
prebends there as happened to fall vacant during the days of his
episcopacy" (408. I. 424). With the return of Catholicism under Mary, as
Brand remarks, the Boy-Bishop was revived, for we find an edict of the
Bishop of London, issued Nov. 13, 1554, to all the clergy of his
diocese, to the effect that "they should have a Boy-Bishop in
procession," and Warton notes that "one of the child-bishop's songs, as
it was sung before the Queen's Majesty, in her privy chamber; at her
manor of St. James in the Field's on St. Nicholas's Day, and Innocents'
Day, 1555, by the child-bishop of St. Paul's, with his company, was
printed that year in London, containing a fulsome panegyric on the
queen's devotions, comparing her to Judith, Esther, the Queen of Sheba,
and the Virgin Mary" (408. I. 429-430). The places at which the
ceremonies of the Boy-Bishop have been particularly noted are:
Canterbury, Eton, St. Paul's, London, Colchester, Winchester, Salisbury,
Westminster, Lambeth, York, Beverly, Rotherham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne,
etc. The Boy-Bishop was known also in Spain and in France; in the latter
country he was called Pape-Colas. In Germany, at the Council of
Salzburg, in 1274, on account of the scandals they gave rise to, the
_ludi noxii quos vulgaris eloquentia_ Episcopatus Puerorum
_appellat,_ were placed under the ban (408. I. 426).
It would appear from the mention of "children strangely decked and
apparelled to counterfeit priests, bishops, and women," that on these
occasions "divine service was not only performed by boys, but by little
girls," and "there is an injunction given to the Benedictine Nunnery of
Godstowe in Oxfordshire, by Archbishop Peckham, in the year 1278, that
on Innocents' Day the public prayers should not any more be said in the
church of that monastery _per parvulas, i.e._ little girls" (408.
Though with the Protestantism of Elizabeth the Boy-Bishop and his revels
were put down by the authorities, they continued to survive, in some
places at least, the end of her reign. Puttenham, in his _Art of
Poesie_ (1589), observes: "On St. Nicholas's night, commonly, the
scholars of the country make them a bishop, who, like a foolish boy,
goeth about blessing and preaching with such childish terms as make the
people laugh at his foolish counterfeit speeches" (408. 427). Brand
recognizes in the _iter ad montem_ of the scholars at Eton the
remnants of the ceremonies of the Boy-Bishop and his associates (408.
432); and indeed a passage which he cites from the _Status Schola
Etonensis_ (1560) shows that "in the Papal times the Eton scholars
(to avoid interfering, as it should seem, with the boy-bishop of the
college there on St. Nicholas's Day) elected _their_ boy-bishop on
St. Hugh's Day, in the month of November." In the statutes (1518) of St.
Paul's School, we meet with the following: "All these children shall
every Childermas Day come to Pauli's Church, and hear the Child-bishop
sermon; and after he be at the high mass, and each of them offer a
1_d_. to the Child-bishop, and with them the masters and surveyors
of the school." Brand quotes Strype, the author of the _Ecclesiastical
Memorials_, as observing: "I shall only remark, that there might be
this at least said in favour of this old custom, that it gave a spirit
to the children; and the hopes that they might one time or other attain
to the real mitre made them mind their books."
In his poem, _The Boy and the Angel_, Robert Browning tells how
Theocrite, the boy-craftsman, sweetly praised God amid his weary toil.
On Easter Day he wished he might praise God as Pope, and the angel
Gabriel took the boy's place in the workshop, while the latter became
Pope in Rome. But the new. Pope sickened of the change, and God himself
missed the welcome praise of the happy boy. So back went the Pope to the
workshop and boyhood, and praise rose up to God as of old. Somewhat
different from the poet's story is the tale of the lama of Tibet, a real
boy-pope. The Grand Lama, or Pope, is looked upon as an incarnation of
Buddha and as immortal, never suffering death, but merely transmigration
Among various peoples, the child has occupied all sacerdotal positions
from acolyte to pope--priest he has been, not in barbarism alone, but in
the midst of culture and civilization, where often the jest begun has
ended in sober earnest. In the ecclesiastical, as well as in the
secular, kingdom, the child has often come to his throne when "young in
years, but in sage counsel old."
THE CHILD AS HERO, ADVENTURER, ETC.
O wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother!--_Shakespeare._
Who can foretell for what high cause
This Darling of the Gods was born?--_Marvell._
The haughty eye shall seek in vain
What innocence beholds;
No cunning finds the keys of heaven,
No strength its gate unfolds.
Alone to guilelessness and love
That gate shall open fall;
The mind of pride is nothingness,
The childlike heart is all.--_Whittier._
Carlyle has said: "The History of the World is the Biography of Great
Men." He might have added, that in primitive times much of the History
of the World is the Biography of Great Children. Andrew Lang, in his
edition of _Perrault's Tales,_ speaking of _Le Petit Poucet_
(Hop o' My Thumb), says: "While these main incidents of Hop o' My Thumb
are so widely current, the general idea of a small and tricksy being is
found frequently, from the Hermes of the Homeric Hymn to the Namaqua
Heitsi Eibib, the other _Poucet_, or Tom Thumb, and the Zulu
Uhlakanyana. Extraordinary precocity, even from the day of birth,
distinguishes these beings (as Indra and Hermes) in _myth._ In
_Marchen_, it is rather their smallness and astuteness than their
youth that commands admiration, though they are often very precocious.
The general sense of the humour of 'infant prodigies' is perhaps the
origin of these romances" (p. ex.).
This world-homage to childhood finds apt expression in the verses of
"Laying at the children's feet
Each his kingly crown,
Each, the conquering power to greet,
Laying humbly down.
Sword and sceptre as is meet."
All over the globe we find wonder-tales of childhood, stories of the
great deeds of children, whose venturesomeness has saved whole
communities from destruction, whose heroism has rid the world of giants
and monsters of every sort, whose daring travels and excursions into
lands or skies unknown have resulted in the great increase of human
knowledge and the advancement of culture and civilization. In almost all
departments of life the child-hero has left his mark, and there is much
to tell of his wonderful achievements.
In Finnish story we meet with _Pikku mies_, the dwarf-god, and in
Altaic legend the child _Kan Pudai_, who was fed upon two hundred
hares, who tames wild animals, makes himself a bow and bow-string, and
becomes a mighty hero. In Esthonian folk-lore we have the tale of the
seven-year-old wise girl, the persecution to which she was subjected at
the hands of her stepmother, and the great deeds she accomplished (422.
II. 144, 147, 154). But, outside of the wonderful infancy of
Wainamoinen, the culture-hero of the Finns, whom the _Kalevala_ has
immortalized, we find some striking tributes to the child-spirit. In the
closing canto of this great epic, which, according to Andrew Lang,
tells, in savage fashion, the story of the introduction of Christianity,
we learn how the maiden Marjatta, "as pure as the dew is, as holy as
stars are that live without stain," was feeding her flocks and listening
to the singing of the golden cuckoo, when a berry fell into her bosom,
and she conceived and bore a son, whereupon the people despised and
rejected her. Moreover, no one would baptize the infant: "The god of the
wilderness refused, and Wainamoinen would have had the young child
slain. Then the infant rebuked the ancient demi-god, who fled in anger
to the sea." As Wainamoinen was borne away in his magic barque by the
tide, he lifted up his voice and sang how when men should have need of
him they would look for his return, "bringing back sunlight and
moonshine, and the joy that is vanished from the world." Thus did the
rebuke of the babe close the reign of the demi-gods of old (484.
On the other hand, it is owing to a child, says a sweet Italian legend,
that "the gates of heaven are forever ajar." A little girl-angel, up in
heaven, sat grief-stricken beside the gate, and begged the celestial
warder to set the gates ajar:--
"I can hear my mother weeping;
She is lonely; she cannot see
A glimmer of light in the darkness,
Where the gates shut after me.
Oh! turn the key, sweet angel,
The splendour will shine so far!"
But the angel at the gate dared not, and the childish appeal seemed vain
until the mother of Jesus touched his hand, when, lo! "in the little
child-angel's fingers stood the beautiful gates ajar." And they have
been so ever since, for Mary gave to Christ the keys, which he has kept
safe hidden in his bosom, that every sorrowing mother may catch a
glimpse of the glory afar (379. 28-30).
_I fatti sono maschi, le parole femmine_,--deeds are masculine,
words feminine,--says the Italian proverb. The same thought is found in
several of our own writers. George Herbert said bluntly: "Words are
women, deeds are men"; Dr. Madden: "Words are men's daughters, but God's
sons are things"; Dr. Johnson, in the preface to his great dictionary,
embodies the saying of the Hindus: "Words are the daughters of earth,
things are the sons of heaven."
In compensation for so ungracious a distinction, perhaps, the religion
of Zoroaster, the ancient faith of Persia, teaches that, on the other
side of death, the soul is received by its good deeds in the form of a
beautiful maiden who conducts it through the three heavens to Ahura (the
deity of good), and it is refreshed with celestial food (470. II. 421).
That children should be brought into close relationship with the stars
and other celestial bodies is to be expected from the _milieu_ of
folk-life, and the feeling of kinship with all the phenomena of nature.
In his exhaustive essay on _Moon Lore_, Rev. Mr. Harley tells us
that in the Scandinavian mythology, Mani, the moon, "once took up two
children from the earth, Bill and Hiuki, as they were going from the
well of Byrgir, bearing on their shoulders the bucket Soeg, and the pole
Simul," and placed them in the moon, "where they could be seen from the
earth." The modern Swedish folk-lore represents the spots on the moon as
two children carrying water in a bucket, and it is this version of the
old legend which Miss Humphrey has translated (468. 24-26). Mr. Harley
cites, with approval, Rev. S. Baring-Gould's identification of Hiuki and
Bill, the two moon-children, with the Jack and Jill of the familiar
"Jack and Jill went up the hill,
To fetch a pail of water;
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after."
According to Mr. Duncan, the well-known missionary to certain of the
native tribes of British Columbia, these Indians of the far west have a
version of this legend: "One night a child of the chief class awoke and
cried for water. Its cries were very affecting--'Mother, give me to
drink!' but the mother heeded not. The moon was affected and came down,
entered the house, and approached the child, saying, 'Here is water from
heaven: drink.' The child anxiously laid hold of the pot and drank the
draught, and was enticed to go away with the moon, its benefactor. They
took an underground passage till they got quite clear of the village,
and then ascended to heaven" (468. 35, 36). The story goes on to say
that "the figure we now see in the moon is that very child; and also the
little round basket which it had in its hand when it went to sleep
The Rev. George Turner reports a Polynesian myth from the Samoan
Islands, in which the moon is represented as coming down one evening and
picking up a woman, and her child, who was beating out bark in order to
make some of the native cloth. There was a famine in the land; and "the
moon was just rising, and it reminded her of a great bread-fruit.
Looking up to it, she said, 'Why cannot you come down and let my child
have a bit of you?' The moon was indignant at the idea of being eaten,
came down forthwith, and took her up, child, board, mallet, and all." To
this day the Samoans, looking at the moon, exclaim: "Yonder is Sina and
her child, and her mallet and board." Related myths are found in the
Tonga Islands and the Hervey Archipelago (468. 59).
The Eskimo of Greenland believed that the sun and the moon were
originally human beings, brother and sister. The story is that "they
were playing with others at children's games in the dark, when
_Malina_, being teased in a shameful manner by her brother
_Anninga_, smeared her hands with the soot of the lamp, and rubbed
them over the face and hands of her persecutor, that she might recognize
him by daylight. Hence arise the spots in the moon. _Malina_ rushed
to save herself by flight, but her brother followed at her heels. At
length she flew upwards, and became the sun. _Anninga_, followed
her, and became the moon; but being unable to mount so high he runs
continually round the sun in hopes of some time surprising her" (468.
There are many variants of this legend in North and in Central America.
In her little poem _The Children in the Moon_, Miss Humphrey has
versified an old folk-belief that the "tiny cloudlets flying across the
moon's shield of silver" are a little lad and lass with a pole across
their shoulders, at the end of which is swinging a water-bucket. These
children, it is said, used to wander by moonlight to a well in the
northward on summer nights to get a pail of water, until the moon
snatched them up and "set them forever in the middle of his light," so
"Children, ay, and children's children,
Should behold my babes on high;
And my babes should smile forever,
Calling others to the sky!"
Thus it is that--
"Never is the bucket empty,
Never are the children old,
Ever when the moon is shining
We the children may behold" (224. 23-25).
In Whittier's _Child Life_, this poem is given as "from the
Scandinavian," with the following additional stanzas:--
"Ever young and ever little,
Ever sweet and ever fair!
When thou art a man, my darling,
Still the children will be there.
"Ever young and ever little,
They will smile when thou art old;
When thy locks are thin and silver,
Theirs will still be shining gold.
"They will haunt thee from their heaven,
Softly beckoning down the gloom;
Smiling in eternal sweetness
On thy cradle, on thy tomb" (379. 115-117).
The Andaman Islanders say that the sun is the wife of the moon, and the
stars are their children--boys and girls--who go to sleep during the
day, and are therefore not seen of men (498. 92). The sun is termed
cha'n'a bo'do, "Mother Sun"; the moon, _mai'a 'o-gar_, "Mr. Moon"
(498. 59). In many other mythologies the stars, either as a whole, or in
part, figure as children. In the figurative language of ancient records
the patriarchs are promised descendants as numerous as the stars of
heaven, and in the Tshi language of Western Africa, the stars are termed
_woh-rabbah_, from _woh_, "to breed, multiply, be fruitful,"
and _abbah_, "children." The South Australian natives thought the
stars were groups of children, and even in the classic legends of Greece
and Rome more than one child left earth to shine in heaven as a star.
In the belief of the natives of the Hervey Islands, in the South
Pacific, the double star � and _Scorpii_ is a brother and
sister, twins, who, fleeing from a scolding mother, leapt up into the
sky. The bright stars [Greek: _m_] and [Greek: _l_]
_Scorpii_ are their angry parents who follow in pursuit, but never
succeed in overtaking their runaway children, who, clinging close
together,--for they were very fond of each other,--flee on and on
through the blue sky. The girl, who is the elder, is called
_Inseparable_, and Mr. Gill tells us that a native preacher,
alluding to this favourite story, declared, with a happy turn of speech,
that "Christ and the Christian should be like these twin stars, ever
linked together, come life, come death." He could scarcely have chosen a
more appropriate figure. The older faith that was dying lent the moral
of its story to point the eloquence of the new (458. 40-43).
In the Rig-Veda we have the story of the three brothers, the youngest of
whom, Tritas, is quite a child, but accomplishes wonderful things and
evinces more than human knowledge; also the tale of Vikramadityas, the
wise child (422. II. 136).
In the interesting collection of Bengalese folk-tales by Rev. Lal Behari
Day we find much that touches upon childhood: The story of the "Boy whom
Seven Mothers Suckled," and his wonderful deeds in the country of the
Rakshasis (cannibals)--how he obtained the bird with whose life was
bound up that of the wicked queen, and so brought about her death; the
tale of the "Boy with the Moon on his Forehead"--how he rescued the
beautiful Lady Pushpavati from the power of the Rakshasis over-sea! We
have also the wonder-tales of Buddha.
In a tale of the Panjab, noted by Temple (542. II. xvi.), "a couple of
gods, as children, eat up at a sitting a meal meant for 250,000 people";
and in a Little Russian story "a mother had a baby of extraordinary
habits. When alone, he jumped out of the cradle, no longer a baby, but a
bearded old man, gobbled up the food out of the store, and then lay down
again a screeching babe." He was finally exorcised (258. 119). A huge
appetite is a frequent characteristic of changelings in fairy-stories
The hero of Japanese boys is Kintaro, the "Wild Baby," the "Golden
Darling." Companionless he played with the animals, put his arm around
their necks, and rode upon their backs. Of him we are told: "He was
prince of the forest; the rabbits, wild boars, squirrels and pheasants
and hawks, were his servants and messengers." He is the apotheosis of
the child in Japan, "the land of the holy gods," as its natives proudly
termed it (245.121).
Another boy-hero is Urashima, who visited Elysium in a fishing-boat. A
third phenomenal child of Japanese story is "Peach Darling," who, while
yet a baby, lifted the wash-tub and balanced the kettle on his head
(245. 62). We must remember, however, that the Japanese call their
beautiful country "the land of the holy gods," and the whole nation
makes claim to a divine ancestry. Visits to the other world, the
elfin-land, etc., are found all over the world.
In Germany and Austria we have the stories of (258. 140-160): The girl
who stole the serpent-king's crown; the Pomeranian farmer's boy who,
after quenching his thirst with the brown beer of the fairies, tried to
run off with the can of pure silver in which it was contained (in a
Cornish legend, however, the farmer's boy pockets one of the rich silver
goblets which stood on the tables in the palace of the king of the
piskies, or fairies, and proves the truth of the story he has afterwards
to tell by producing the goblet, "which remained in the boy's family for
generations, though unfortunately it is no longer forthcoming for the
satisfaction of those who may still be sceptical." A like origin has
been suggested for the celebrated "Luck of Edenhall," and the "Horn of
Oldenburg," and other like relics); the Carinthian girl, who, climbing a
mountain during the noon-hour, entered through a door in the rock, and
remained away a whole year, though it seemed but a little while; the
baker's boy who visited the lost Emperor in the mountain--the
Barbarossa-Otto legend; the baker's daughter of Ruffach, who made her
father rich by selling bread to the soldiers in a great subterranean
camp; the girl of Silesia, who is admitted into a cavern, where abides a
buried army; and many more of a similar nature, to be read in Grimm and
the other chroniclers of fairy-land (258. 216. 217).
Among the Danish legends of kindred type we find the tales of: The boy
who ran off with the horn out of which an elf-maiden offered him a
drink, and would not return it until she had promised to bestow upon him
the strength of twelve men, with which, unluckily, went also the
appetite of twelve men (258. 144).
Among the Welsh tales of the child as hero and adventurer are: The visit
of Elidorus (afterwards a priest), when twelve years old, to the
underground country, where he stole a golden ball, which, however, the
pigmies soon recovered; the youths who were drawn into the fairies' ring
and kept dancing for a year and a day until reduced to a mere skeleton;
the little farmer's son, who was away among the fairies for two years,
though he thought he had been absent but a day; corresponding is the
Breton tale of the girl who acts as godmother to a fairy child, and
remains away for ten long years, though for only two days in her own
mind (258. 135, 136, 168, 170).
Very interesting is the Breton legend of the youth who undertook to take
a letter to God,--_Monsieur le Bon Dieu_,--in Paradise. When he
reaches Paradise, he gives the letter to St. Peter, who proceeds to
deliver it. While he is away, the youth, noticing the spectacles on the
table, tries them on, and is astonished at the wonders he sees, and
still more at the information given him by St. Peter on his return, that
he has been gazing through them five hundred years. Another hundred
years he passes in looking at the seat kept for him in Paradise, and
then receives the answer to the letter, which he is to take to the
parish priest. After distributing in alms the hundred crowns he is paid
for his services, he dies and goes to Paradise to occupy the seat he has
seen. As Mr. Hartland remarks, "the variants of this traditional
Pilgrim's Progress are known from Brittany to Transylvania, and from
Iceland to Sicily" (258. 192).
A remarkable child-hero tale is the Basque legend of the orphans, Izar
(seven years old) and Lanoa (nine years old), and their adventures with
Satan and the witches,--how Izar cured the Princess and killed the great
toad which was the cause of her complaint, and how Lanoa defied Satan to
his face, meeting death by his action, but gaining heaven (505. 19-41).
_American Indian Child-Heroes_.
In a legend of the Tlingit Indians concerning the visit of Ky'itlac', a
man who had killed himself, to the upper country ruled by Tahit, whither
go such as die a violent death, we read that--
"When he looked down upon the earth, he saw the tops of the trees
looking like so many pins. But he wished to return to the earth. He
pulled his blanket over his head and flung himself down. He arrived at
the earth unhurt, and found himself at the foot of some trees. Soon he
discovered a small house, the door of which was covered with mats. He
peeped into it, and heard a child crying that had just been born. He
himself was that child, and when he came to be grown up he told the
people of Tahit. They had heard about him before, but only then they
learnt everything about the upper world" (403. 48, 49).
In a legend of the Kwakiutl Indians of Vancouver Island, a chief killed
by a rival goes to the other world, but returns to earth in his
grandson: "It was Ank-oa'lagyilis who was thus born again. The boy, when
a few years old, cried and wanted to have a small boat made, and, when
he had got it, asked for a bow and arrows. His father scolded him for
having so many wishes. Then the boy said, 'I was at one time your
father, and have returned from heaven.' His father did not believe him,
but then the boy said, 'You know that Ank-oa'lagyilis had gone to bury
his property, and nobody knows where it is. I will show it to you.' He
took his father right to the place where it lay hidden, and bade him
distribute it. There were two canoe-loads of blankets. Now the people
knew that Ank'oa'lagyilis had returned. He said, 'I was with _ata_
[the deity], but he sent me back.' They asked him to tell about heaven,
but he refused to do so." The boy afterwards became a chief, and it is
said he refused to take revenge upon his murderer (404. 59).
In the mythology of the Siouan tribes we meet with the "Young Rabbit,"
born of a piece of the clotted blood of the Buffalo killed by Grizzly
Bear, which the Rabbit had stolen. According to legend the Rabbit
"addressed the blood, calling it his son, and ordering it to become a
little child, and when he had ordered it to advance from infancy,
through boyhood to youth, and from youth to manhood, his commands were
obeyed." The "Young Rabbit" kills the Grizzly and delivers his own father
(480 (1892). 293-304).
The legend of the "Blood-clot Boy" is also recorded from the narration
of the Blackfeet Indians by Bev. John MacLean and Mr. Grinnell. The tale
of his origin is as follows: "There lived, a long time ago, an old man
and his wife, who had three daughters and one son-in-law. One day, as
the mother was cooking some meat, she threw a clot of blood into the pot
containing the meat. The pot began to boil, and then there issued from
it a peculiar hissing noise. The old woman looked into the pot, and was
surprised to see that the blood-clot had become transformed into a
little boy. Quickly he grew, and, in a few moments, he sprang from the
pot, a full-grown young man." Kutoyis, as the youth was named, became an
expert hunter, and kept the family in food. He also killed his lazy and
quarrelsome brother-in-law, and brought peace to the family. Of Kutoyis
it is said he "sought to drive out all the evil in the world, and to
unite the people and make them happy" (480(1893).167).
Concerning the Micmac Indians of Nova Scotia, Mr. Band informs us
"Children exposed or lost by their parents are miraculously preserved.
They grow up suddenly to manhood, and are endowed with superhuman
powers; they become the avengers of the guilty and the protectors of the
good. They drive up the moose and the caribou to their camps, and
slaughter them at their leisure. The elements are under their control;
they can raise the wind, conjure up storms or disperse them, make it hot
or cold, wet or dry, as they please. They can multiply the smallest
amount of food indefinitely, evade the subtlety and rage of their
enemies, kill them miraculously, and raise their slaughtered friends to
A characteristic legend of this nature is the story of
Noojekesigunodasit and the "magic dancing-doll."
Noojekesigunodasit,--"the sock wringer and dryer," so-called because,
being the youngest of the seven sons of an Indian couple, he had to
wring and dry the moccasin-rags of his elders,--was so persecuted by the
eldest of his brothers, that he determined to run away, and "requests
his mother to make him a small bow and arrow and thirty pairs of
moccasins." He starts out and "shoots the arrow ahead, and runs after
it. In a short time he is able to outrun the arrow and reach the spot
where it is to fall before it strikes the ground. He then takes it up
and shoots again, and flies on swifter than the arrow. Thus he travels
straight ahead, and by night he has gone a long distance from home." His
brother starts in pursuit, but, after a hundred days, returns home
discouraged. Meanwhile, the boy travels on and meets a very old man, who
tells him that the place from whence he came is a long way off, for "I
was a small boy when I started, and since that day I have never halted,
and you see that now I am very old." The boy says, however, that he will
try to reach the place, and, after receiving from the old man a little
box in return for a pair of moccasins,--for those of the traveller were
quite worn out,--he goes his way. By and by the boy's curiosity leads
him to open the box, and
"As soon as he has removed the cover, he starts with an exclamation of
surprise, for he sees a small image, in the form of a man, dancing away
with all his might, and reeking with perspiration from the
long-continued exertion. As soon as the light is let in upon him, he
stops dancing, looks up suddenly, and exclaims, 'Well, what is it? What
is wanted?' The truth now flashes over the boy. This is a supernatural
agent, a _manitoo_, a god, from the spirit world, which can do
anything that he is requested to do." The boy wished "to be transported
to the place from whence the old man came," and, closing the box,
"suddenly his head swims, the darkness comes over him, and he faints.
When he recovers he finds himself near a large Indian village." By the
aid of his doll--_weedapcheejul_, "little comrade," he calls it--he
works wonders, and obtains one of the daughters of the chief as his
wife, and ultimately slays his father-in-law, who is a great
"medicine-man." This story, Mr. Rand says he "wrote down from the mouth
of a Micmac Indian in his own language"; it will bear comparison with
some European folk-tales (521. 7-13).
Another story of boy wonder-working, with some European trappings,
however, is that of "The Boy who was transformed into a Horse." Of this
wonderful infant it is related that "at the age of eighteen months the
child was able to talk, and immediately made inquiries about his elder
brother [whom his father had 'sold to the devil']." The child then
declares his intention of finding his lost brother, and, aided by an
"angel,"--this tale is strangely hybrid,--discovers him in the form of a
horse, restores him to his natural shape, and brings him safely home;
but changes the wicked father into a horse, upon whose back an evil
spirit leaps and runs off with him (521. 31).
Other tales of boy adventure in Dr. Rand's collection are: "The History
of Kitpooseagunow" [i.e. "taken from the side of his mother," as a calf
of a moose or a caribou is after the mother has fallen] (521. 62-80);
"The Infant Magician"; "The Invisible Boy," who could change himself
into a moose, and also become invisible (521. 101-109); "The Badger and
his Little Brother" (521. 263-269), in which the latter helps the former
decoy the water-fowl to destruction, but, repenting at the wanton
slaughter, gives the alarm, and many birds escape; "The Little Boy who
caught a Whale" (521. 280-281). The story of "The Small Baby and the Big
Bird" contains many naive touches of Indian life. The hero of the tale
is a foundling, discovered in the forest by an old woman, "so small that
she easily hides it in her mitten." Having no milk for the babe, which
she undertakes to care for, the woman "makes a sort of gruel from the
scrapings of the inside of raw-hide, and thus supports and nourishes it,
so that it thrives and does well." By and by he becomes a mighty hunter,
and finally kills the old culloo (giant bird) chief, tames the young
culloo, and discovers his parents (521. 81-93).
In the mythologic tales of the Iroquois, the child appears frequently as
a hero and an adventurer. Mrs. Erminnie A. Smith, in treating of _The
Myths of the Iroquois_ (534), relates the stories of the infant
nursed by bears; the boy whom his grandmother told never to go west, but
who at last started off in that direction, and finally killed the great
frog (into which form the man who had been tormenting them turned
himself); the boy who, after interfering with his uncle's magic wand and
kettle, and thereby depriving the people of corn, set out and managed to
return home with plenty of corn, which he had pilfered from the witches
who guarded it,--all interesting child exploits.
Among the myths of the Cherokees,--a people related in speech to the
Iroquois,--as reported by Mr. James Mooney, we find a story somewhat
similar to the last mentioned,--"Kanati and Selu: the Origin of Corn and
Game" (506. 98-105), the heroes of which are _Inage Utasuhi,_ "He
who grew up Wild," a wonderful child, born of the blood of the game
washed in the river; and the little son of Kanati ("the lucky hunter")
and Selu ("Corn," his wife), his playmate, who captures him. The "Wild
Boy" is endowed with magic powers, and leads his "brother" into all
sorts of mischief. They set out to discover where the father gets all
the game he brings home, and, finding that he lifted a rock on the side
of a mountain, allowing the animal he wished to come forth, they
imitated him some days afterwards, and the result was that the deer
escaped from the cave, and "then followed droves of raccoons, rabbits,
and all the other four-footed animals. Last came great flocks of
turkeys, pigeons, and partridges." From their childish glee and
tricksiness the animals appear to have suffered somewhat, for we are
told (506. 100): "In those days all the deer had their tails hanging
down like other animals, but, as a buck was running past, the 'wild boy'
struck its tail with his arrow, so that it stood straight out behind.
This pleased the boys, and when the next one ran by, the other brother
struck his tail so that it pointed upward. The boys thought this was
good sport, and when the next one ran past, the 'wild boy' struck his
tail so that it stood straight up, and his brother struck the next one
so hard with his arrow that the deer's tail was curled over his back.
The boys thought this was very pretty, and ever since the deer has
carried his tail over his back." When Kanati discovered what had
occurred (506. 100), was furious, but, without saying a word, he went
down into the cave and kicked the covers off four jars in one corner,
when out swarmed bedbugs, fleas, lice, and gnats, and got all over the
boys. "After they had been tortured enough, Kanati sent them home,
telling them that, through their folly," whenever they wanted a deer to
eat they would have to hunt all over the woods for it, and then may be
not find one. "When the boys got home, discovering that Selu was a
witch, they killed her and dragged her body about a large piece of
ground in front of the house, and wherever the blood fell Indian corn
sprang up. Kanati then tried to get the wolves to kill the two boys, but
they trapped them in a huge pound, and burned almost all of them to
death. Their father not returning from his visit to the wolves, the boys
set out in search of him, and, after some days, found him. After killing
a fierce panther in a swamp, and exterminating a tribe of cannibals, who
sought to boil the "wild boy" in a pot, they kept on and soon lost sight
of their father." At "the end of the world, where the sun comes out,"
they waited "until the sky went up again" [in Cherokee cosmogony "the
earth is a flat surface, and the sky is an arch of solid rock suspended
above it. This arch rises and falls continually, so that the space at
the point of juncture is constantly opening and closing, like a pair of
scissors"], and then "they went through and climbed up on the other
side." Here they met Kanati and Selu, but, after staying with them seven
days, had to "go toward the sunset land, where they are still living."
Dr. G. M. Dawson records, from the Shushwap Indians of British Columbia,
the story of an old woman,--husbandless, childless, companionless,--who,
"for the sake of companionship, procured some pitch and shaped from it
the figure of a girl, which became her daughter," whom many adventures
befell (425. 33).
There is a very interesting Tahitian myth telling of the descent of
little Tavai to the invisible world. Tavai was his mother's pet, and one
day, for some slight fault, was beaten by the relatives of his father.
This made Ouri, his mother, so angry, that Oema, her husband, out of
shame, went down to Hawaii, the under-world, whither Tavai, accompanied
by his elder brother, journeyed, and, after many adventures, succeeded
in bringing to their mother the bones of Oema, who had long been dead
when they found him (458. 250).
Legion in number and world-wide in their affiliations are the stories of
the visits of children and youths, boys and girls, to heaven, to the
nether-world, to the country of the fairies, and to other strange and
far-off lands, inhabited by elves, dwarfs, pigmies, giants, "black
spirits and white." Countless are the variants of the familiar tale of
"Jack and the Bean Stalk," "Jack, the Giant-Killer," and many another
favourite of the nursery and the schoolroom. Tylor, Lang, Clouston, and
Hartland have collated and interpreted many of these, and the books of
fairy-tales and kindred lore are now numbered by the hundred, as may be
seen from the list given by Mr. Hartland in the appendix to his work on
fairy-tales. Grimm, Andersen, and the _Arabian Nights_ have become
For children to speak before they are born is a phenomenon of frequent
occurrence in the lives of saints and the myths of savage peoples,
especially when the child about to come into the world is an incarnation
of some deity. Of Gluskap, the Micmac culture-hero, and Malumsis, the
Wolf, his bad brother, we read (488. 15,16):--
"Before they were born, the babes consulted to consider how they had
best enter the world. And Glooskap said: 'I will be born as others are.'
But the evil Malumsis thought himself too great to be brought forth in
such a manner, and declared that he would burst through his mother's
side. And, as they planned it, so it came to pass. Glooskap as first
came quietly to light, while Malumsis kept his word, killing his
mother." Another version of the same story runs: "In the old time, far
before men knew themselves in the light before the sun, Glooskap and his
brother were as yet unborn. They waited for the day to appear. Then they
talked together, and the youngest said: 'Why should I wait? I will go
into the world and begin my life at once;' when the elder said: 'Not so,
for this were a great evil.' But the younger gave no heed to any wisdom;
in his wickedness he broke through his mother's side, he rent the wall;
his beginning of life was his mother's death" (488. 106). Very similar
is the Iroquois myth of the "Good Mind" and the "Bad Mind," and variants
of this American hero-myth may be read in the exhaustive treatise of Dr.
Very interesting is the Maya story of the twins Hun-Ahpu and Xbalanque,
sons of the virgin Xquiq, who, fleeing from her father, escaped to the
upper world, where the birth took place. Of these children we are told
"they grew in strength, and performed various deeds of prowess, which
are related at length in the Popul Vuh [the folk-chronicle of the
Quiches of Guatemala], and were at last invited by the lords of the
underworld to visit them." The chiefs of the underworld intended to slay
the youths, as they had previously slain their father and uncle, but
through their oracular and magic power the two brothers pretended to be
burned, and, when their ashes were thrown into the river, they rose from
its waters and slew the lords of the nether world. At this the
inhabitants of Hades fled in terror and the twins "released the
prisoners and restored to life those who had been slain. The latter rose
to the sky to become the countless stars, while Hunhun-Ahpu and
Vukub-Hun-Ahpu [father and uncle of the twins] ascended to dwell, the
one in the sun, the other in the moon" (411. 124).
Born of a virgin mother were also Quetzalcoatl, the culture-hero of
Mexico, and other similar characters whose lives and deeds may be read
in Dr. Brinton's _American Hero-Myths_.
From the Indians of the Pueblo of Isleta, New Mexico, Dr. A. S. Gatschet
has obtained the story of the "Antelope-Boy," who, as the champion of
the White Pueblo, defeated the Plawk, the champion of the Yellow Pueblo,
in a race around the horizon. The "Antelope-Boy" was a babe who had been
left on the prairie by its uncle, and brought up by a female antelope
who discovered it. After some trouble, the people succeeded in catching
him and restoring him to his mother. Another version of the same tale
has it that "the boy-child, left by his uncle and mother upon the
prairie, was carried to the antelopes by a coyote, after which a
mother-antelope, who had lost her fawn, adopted the tiny stranger as her
own. By an ingenious act of the mother-antelope the boy was surrendered
again to his real human mother; for when the circle of the hunters grew
smaller around the herd, the antelope took the boy to the northeast,
where his mother stood in a white robe. At last these two were the only
ones left within the circle, and when the antelope broke through the
line on the northeast, the boy followed her and fell at the feet of his
own human mother, who sprang forward and clasped him in her arms." The
Yellow Pueblo people were wizards, and so confident were they of success
that they proposed that the losing party, their villages, property,
etc., should be burnt. The White Pueblo people agreed, and, having won
the victory, proceeded to exterminate the conquered. One of the wizards,
however, managed to hide away and escape being burned, and this is why
there are wizards living at this very day (239. 213, 217).
In the beginning, says the Zuni account of the coming of men upon earth,
they dwelt in the lowermost of four subterranean caverns, called the
"Four Wombs of the World," and as they began to increase in numbers they
became very unhappy, and the children of the wise men among them
besought them to deliver them from such a life of misery. Then, it is
said, "The 'Holder of the Paths of Life,' the Sun-Father, created from
his own being two children, who fell to earth for the good of all
beings. The Sun-Father endowed these children with immortal youth, with
power even as his own power, and created for them a bow (the Rainbow)
and an arrow (the Lightning). For them he made also a shield like unto
his own, of magic power, and a knife of flint.... These children cut the
face of the world with their magic knife, and were borne down upon their
shield into the caverns in which all men dwelt. There, as the leaders of
men, they lived with their children, mankind." They afterwards led men
into the second cavern, then into the third, and finally into the
fourth, whence they made their way, guided by the two children, to the
world of earth, which, having been covered with water, was damp and
unstable and filled with huge monsters and beasts of prey. The two
children continued to lead men "Eastward, toward the Home of the
Sun-Father," and by their magic power, acting under the directions of
their creator, the Sun-Father, they caused the surface of the earth to
harden and petrified the fierce animals who sought to destroy the
children of men (which accounts for the fossils of to-day and the
animal-like forms of rocks and boulders) (424. 13). Of this people it
could have been said most appropriately, "a little child shall lead
Mr. Lummis' volume of folk-tales of the Pueblos Indians of New Mexico
contains many stories of the boy as hero and adventurer. The
"Antelope-Boy" who defeats the champion of the witches in a foot-race
(302. 12-21); Nah-chu-ru-chu (the "Bluish Light of the Dawn"), the
parentless hero, "wise in medicine," who married the moon, lost her, but
found her again after great trouble (302. 53-70); the boy who cursed the
lake (302. 108-121); the boy and the eagle, etc. (302. 122-126). But the
great figures in story at the Pueblo of Queres are the "hero-twins,"
Maw-Sahv and Oo-yah-wee, sons of the Sun, wonderful and astonishing
children, of whom it is said that "as soon as they were a minute old,
they were big and strong and began playing" (302. 207). Their mother
died when they were born, but was restored to life by the Crow-Mother,
and returned home with her two children, whose hero-deeds, "at an age
when other boys were toddling about the house," were the cause of
infinite wonder. They killed the Giant-Woman and the Giant-Baby, and
performed unnumbered other acts of heroism while yet in childhood and
youth. To the same cycle seems to belong also the story of "The Magic
From the Pueblo of Sia, Mrs. Stevenson has recorded the story of the
twins Ma'asewe and U'yuuyewe, sons of the Sun-Father by the virgin
Ko'chinako; how they visited their father, and the adventures that
befell them on their long journey; how they killed the wolf of the lake,
the cougar, the bear, the bad eagles, burned the cruel witch, and other
great enemies of the people, organized the cult societies, and then
"made their home in the Sandia Mountain, where they have since
remained." At the entrance to the crater, we are told, "the diminutive
footprints of these boys are yet to be seen by the good of heart" (538.
43-57). Among the American Indians it is difficult, if not impossible,
to distinguish the child-hero from the divinity whom he so often closely
THE CHILD AS FETICH, DEITY, GOD.
Childhood shall be all divine.--_Proctor_.
A baby's feet, like sea-shells pink,
Might tempt, should Heaven see meet,
An angel's lips to kiss.--_Swinburne_.
Their glance might cast out pain and sin,
Their speech make dumb the wise,
By mute glad godhead felt within
A baby's eyes.--_Swinburne_.
_The Child as Fetich._
It is easy to understand how, among barbarous or semi-civilized peoples,
children born deformed or with any strange marking or defect should be
looked upon as objects of fear or reverence, fetiches in fact. Post
informs us regarding certain African tribes (127. I. 285, 286):--
"The Wanika, Wakikuyu, and Wazegua kill deformed children; throttle them
in the woods and bury them. The belief is, that the evil spirit of a
dead person has got into them, and such a child would be a great
criminal. The Somali let misformed children live, but regard them with
superstitious fear. In Angola all children born deformed are considered
'fetich.' In Loango dwarfs and albinos are regarded as the property of
the king, and are looked upon as sacred and inviolable."
Here we see at least some of the reasons which have led up to the eulogy
and laudation, as well as to the dread suspicion, of the dwarf and the
hunchback, appearing in so many folk-tales. We might find also, perhaps,
some dim conception of the occasional simultaneity of genius with
physical defects or deformities, a fact of which a certain modern school
of criminal sociologists has made so much.
Concerning albinos Schultze says (529. 82):--