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0365 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 365 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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others a poison the most deadly that existeth in the world. For there is no antidote to it known except one ; and that is that if any one hath imbibed that poison he shall take of stercus huinamum and dilute it with water, and of this potion shall he drink, and so shall he be absolutely quit of the poison. [And the men of this country being nearly all rovers, when they go to battle they carry every man a cane in the hand about a fathom in length, and put into one end of it an iron bodkin poisoned with this poison, and when they blow into the cane, the bodkin flieth and striketh whom they list, and those who aré thus stricken incontinently die] .2

But, as for the trees that produce flour, 'tis after this fashion. These are thick, but not of any great height ; they are cut into with an axe round about the foot of the stem, so that a certain liquor flows from them resembling size. Now this is put into bags made of leaves, and put for fifteen days in the sun ; and after that space of time a flour is found to

the Sagwire or Aren (Borassus Gomuti). Herodotus uses the same expressions, wine and honey, in speaking of the produce of the date-palm. Honey in this way probably indicates the molasses or uncrystalised sugar. Thus we find Pegolotti (p. 64) distinguish between " Mele d' ape, Mele di Cannamele, and Mele di Carrubi", " bees' honey, cane honey, and carob honey".

1 The poisons of the Archipelago are famous, and have given rise to the fables of the upas. Dalton, in his account of the Kayans of Borneo, speaks of a man dying in four minutes from a poisoned arrow-wound in the hand. The arrow-poison used in Cambodia is said sometimes to kill an elephant in a few minutes. (Moor's Notices of the Indian Arch.; J. R. G. S., xxx, p. 196).

The antidote to this poison mentioned in the text is the same that is used in Abyssinia for snake-bites. At least, so the Abyssinian Abba Gregory told Ludolf : "nam excrementis humans in aqua desumptis curari dicebat," and Ludolf adds : Quod remedium Panthera forte homilies docuit, quœ si carnem a venatoribus aconito perfricatam voraverit, merda humana sibi medetur." (Hist. Jthiop., lib. i, c_ 13, § 8, 9.)

2 From PAL. This is a remarkable passage from the Palatine MS., and is, I suppose, the earliest mention of the sumpit or blow-pipe of the aborigines of the Archipelago. The length stated is a braccio, which I have rendered fathom, as nearest the truth, a meaning which the word seems to have in sea phraseology.