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has been wounded, he feels as if stung by a bee; and in a few hours the part seems benumbed. A red circle also surrounds the wound, which soon becomes a very painful tumour. In a short time after this, the wounded person becomes very low-spirited and sad, and he soon begins to breathe with difficulty. Before long, his senses begin to fail, and very soon he loses them completely, and dies, if not relieved in proper time.
F. Then there is some way of relief?
U. O. There have been such various opinions both as to the disease and its cure, that I do not feel able to answer you with certainty. The account I have given you of the disease is that which was generally believed until of late years; but it is now denied by Italian doctors that the wound is followed by any thing worse than a slight inflammation. I cannot help thinking, however, that if this be true, some change in the climate of Italy, or in the food of the tarantula, may have rendered it less venomous than formerly. The testimony of the Persians as to its venomous character in their country is also worth something, particularly as it is confirmed by the statements of various travellers. I can
only myself say, that every person seemed much afraid of the tarantula in that country.
As to the cure, the mode stated to have been formerly practised in Italy was this :it was believed that the person wounded was strongly under the influence of music. Therefore a musician was introduced as soon as the patient became deprived of sense and motion. Several tunes were tried, and when one was hit on, the tones and modulations of which agreed with the patient; he began to make a faint motion; presently after, his hands began to move in cadence, then his arms, then his legs, and then his whole body. At last he rose on his feet, and began to dance, his strength and activity increasing as the exercise continued. After dancing many hours, he was put to bed, and when supposed to be sufficiently recovered from the fatigue, was called out again by the same tune, and again repeated his dancing. This was continued many days, until the patient felt quite worn out, and unable to dance any longer. This was a sign that the disease had left him; for while the effects of the poison continued, he never declined to dance, but would, if any one pleased to play the tune, continue his dancing till he died from the mere loss of strength. · H. Do the Persians cure it in this way?
U. O. No; and I doubt if it was ever thus cured, though it is not impossible that violent exercise may have had a very useful effect in driving out the poison. I doubt about the effects of particular tunes, in the way described; but I do not doubt that dancing may have had good effects. It is well, at any rate, that you should know what has been believed on this subject, because you will frequently find allusions in books to this account of the tarantula and the tarantula-dance.
The inhospitable bugs, which are so fond of biting strangers, have a contrast in the scorpions, which are said to have so much good-nature as not to sting strangers at all. At least this is said of the scorpions of Cashan, which are the worst of all the scorpions of Persia, so that when a man is enraged, it is common for him to say to the man that provokes him, “May you be stung by a scorpion of Cashan!” Scorpions are very common in Persia. They find their way into rooms, and lodge themselves under the beds, and even in boxes. I have often, when
looking for something in a box, been startled to find a scorpion at the bottom. It is usual, in such cases, to seize them with a pair of tongs, and then to crush with the foot the tails, which contain the sting, before they are let loose; and to destroy them, in the same manner, before they can run away after being thrown from the tongs. The sting of the scorpion in Persia is not, however, so very terrible as some travellers declare it to be. It occasions swelling, with much pain in the wounded part; but I never heard of a person who had been killed by the sting of a scorpion. In Persia, as well as in other eastern countries, there are men who are fully believed to be secure from the bites of snakes and the stings of scorpions.
H. How can that be ?
U. O. They say that such bites and stings can do them no harm. It is certain that such persons do attack snakes and scorpions with the greatest courage. It is usual to say that such "charmers," as they are called, only handle tame reptiles, which they have beforehand deprived of their stings or poison-fangs; but I have seen Persian charmers readily take hold of any reptiles that happened to be met with on a journey ; and I have seen them stung and bitten by such reptiles, without more harm than would follow from a common wound.
H. But were these reptiles really poisonous ?
H. But please to tell us, Sir, whether you believe that the snakes and scorpions can't do these men any harm?
U. O. I will tell you what I think. I do not say that I believe these men to have the power they pretend to, and I dare say that there is a great deal of trick and deception in their proceedings. But, on the other hand, I certainly think that there may be men of such a constitution that poisonous reptiles can do them no harm; just as I have known people who considered themselves safe from the plague, and who, in times of calamity, got much money by hiring themselves out to attend on persons sick or dying of the plague, whom everybody else was afraid to approach. We may suppose, also, that these people have a greater knowledge than others of the nature of poisonous reptiles, and are therefore able to do what other people cannot. Perhaps such reptiles are not equally poisonous at all times, and these men know when it is that