Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/264

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250 Reviews.

sound conclusions, for all surgical cases are treated in airy, healthy huts, and charcoal is freely employed, and doubtless, from its antiseptic character, is of valuable service. It does not appear that the " doctrine of signatures " has any influence on the choice of drugs, at least no mention of any- thing of the kind is made by the writer, and I am bound to confess that my knowledge of African botany is not sufficient to enable me to come to any conclusion on this point from the names of the plants forming the Bantu materia medica.

On the other hand, we encounter the familiar idea of the transference of disease ; the belief being that in some classes of ailment the disease can be compelled to leave the person afflicted as a real entity, a kind of personification of the ail- ment. Thus the only treatment for mumps is for the patient to find the burrow of a hare — />., of the jerboa or "jumping hare" {Pedetes Caffe?-), the springhaas of the Boers — and, stoop- ing down to call into the hole " Mumps ! Mumps ! get away from me." He then walks straight home without looking behind him. In the process of time the mumps disappear, as they would, of course, under any circumstances. A similar idea is met with in the treatment of epilepsy.

Thus we find a very similar mixture of real knowledge and of magic in the Bantu system to that which is revealed by the study of Anglo-Saxon medicine, which was given to the world no long time ago by Dr. Payne and reviewed by the present writer in the pages of this journal.

When one reads the way in which new-born babes are treated one ceases to wonder that out of a given group of 490 Basuto children, noted by Dr. Cassilis, 160 died in infancy. " No sooner is the baby born than the points of its fingers are bled for luck. The infant is then held in the smoke of a slow fire of aromatic woods till it sneezes or coughs to show that it is not bewitched. Then commence its ablutions. It is first thoroughly rubbed all over with a solution of cowdung, and then rubbed clean as possible, and rolled in the skin of a goat or sheep recently killed." Instead of being fed by the mother with her own milk, for three days it subsists on sour curdled milk, which is forced down the throat of the infant by