Tag Archives: Galton

Flesh

The native Algonquin people of North America have a story about a woman and her baby who were left alone in a winter camp and had just one small fishhook with which to catch food. The mother could easily rig a fishing line, but she had no bait, nothing with which to catch the fish. What was she to do? She took a knife and cut a strip from her own thigh. [The historian Graeme] Davison has done the same thing: he has gone fishing with the worm of his own flesh.

Tom Griffiths reviewing Historian Graeme Davison’s family history,  Lost Relations:Fortunes of My Family in Australia’s Golden Age   (from here) 

 

Mr. Galton, in his ‘Art of Travel’ under the heading ‘Secreting Jewels’, says this.  ‘Before going among a rich but semi- civilised people, travellers sometimes buy a few small jewels,and shut them up into a little silver tube with rounded edges; then, making a gash in their skin, they bury it there, allowing the flesh to heal over it. They feel no inconvenience from its presence, any more than a once-wounded man does from a bullet lodged in his person, or from a plate of silver set beneath the scalp. The best place for burying it is on the left arm, at the spot chosen for vaccination. By this means, should a traveller be robbed of everything, he could still fall back on his jewels. I fear, however, that if his precious dépôt were suspected, any robbers into whose hands he might fall would fairly mince him to pieces in search of further treasures.’ That this barbarous practice was once in vogue, we learn from Josephus, who when describing “the great slaughters and sacriledge that were in Jerusalem,” tells us “that the Jews who deserted from the besieged city were in the habit of swallowing gold coins. The camp followers of the Boman army killed these unfortunate men for the sake of the money they might contain.”

Francis T. Buckland,Curiosities of Natural History, In: Fourth Series, originally published 1888

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