But one of them ran away from the person with whom he was left, and has lived in this part of the forest for four years. He lives, even as you saw him, without clothes. In summer he lives well, and drinks our buttermilk daily. In winter he lies in the caves, and lives on roots and nuts. He has learnt no form of speech, neither has he a name." The forest warden determined not to leave him to endure another winter on the mountain; so he bade the shepherds to catch and bind the boy, and fastened a rope to him, and took him back to Trikalas, where he clothed him, and has done what he can to civilise him. He always keeps him with himself, or under the care of someone who can talk, because he seems unable to learn to speak any word, though he imitates the voices of many wild creatures. Nor does he learn to understand the names of things. But animal sounds he mimics well, and he has learnt to ride. As his real name is not known, his guardian has called him Sciron."
The reference in the name to the legend of Theseus is very characteristic of modern Greek sentiment, which preserves unbroken the traditions which cling to the mountains and glens of old Hellas. But apart from its old-world setting, the story affords additional and corroborative evidence of the habits of the very curious and rare animal which, for want of a better name, we may call Relapsed Man. The Relapsed Man --that is, the man who has run wild after civilisation --is a wholly different creature from Wild or Feral Man, who has never been tamed; and in his degeneration seems by a sudden fall to reach a point far lower, physically and mentally, than the Fuegians or the Digger Indians. As for the animals, there are very few of the more intelligent kinds, which, whether in work, play, or general well-being, could not 'give points' to Relapsed Man. Wherefore the writer introduces him by way of contrast, the more as Mr Rudyard Kipling's wolf boy 'Mowzli' [sic] is so charming a boy that if he is allowed to be taken as a type of all 'wild boys,' we shall soon have someone trying the experiment of producing them by leaving them in the woods as Mr Weller, senior, did Sam in the London streets. Unfortunately--or fortunately, as the reader chooses--Relapsed Man can seldom be studied with the care he deserves, because he is a scarce and accidental product of unpleasant conditions. War, famine, pestilence, and wolves are the most favourable means for producing him, and an overbearing civilisation has made these conditions scarce. But there exists a body of authoritative evidence on the subject with which we may compare the case we have quoted, more particularly with reference to the statement that he was a wild boy, not a wild man; that he went often on all-fours, and in that posture ran fast; that he ate nuts and roots; that he sucked up the buttermilk--*****, the Greek word, is used of the manner in which a horse drinks water, and it will be found that it is a peculiarity of the Relapsed Man that he does not drink or lap, but sucks up milk or water in this eager, swallowing way--that he went naked; and that he had not, and has not, learnt to talk, but can mimic animal sounds.
Relapsed Man is found in three forms--one, the most marked and least human, is that which ensues when he has, as a child, been carried off and kept--often for several years--by a wild animal. This is the acute form of relapse, and exhibits all the symptoms of the Pindus boy, with several others, among them a wholly carnivorous appetite, the voice of a wild beast, extreme ferocity, and a temper quite impossible to humanise. The second and milder form occurs when a young child has run wild or been deserted, and manages to keep itself alive without human aid, to which form the case of the Greek boy belongs. The wild boy of Hanover, found in the last century, was a similar instance. He ran on all-fours, ate nothing but roots and nuts, and was without speech. The third form, now very rare in Europe, but not uncommon in the Ardennes, and other districts where the wolf still lives, is clearly the result of the mental malady of lycanthropy, sufferers from which are yearly brought to be touched by the Holy Stole of St. Hubert, who, if less potent than his votaries imagine to drive the latent poison of hydrophobia from the tainted blood, can still minister to a mind diseased, and with mystic and consoling rites cures sufferers who exhibit beyond a doubt all the worst traits by which Relapsed Man is marked in the completist form of retrogression. What these characteristics are, may be judged from the curious and complete instances of the capture of children living in wolves' dens in the Province of Oude, collected by Colonel Sleeman, the able officer who took a leading part in the suppression of the Thugs of India. In the first case, which occurred near the Goomtee River, in a district where wolves abound, and are never killed by the natives from fear of the ill-luck which their death will bring upon the village, a native trooper saw a large she-wolf leave her den, followed by three whelps and a little boy. The boy seemed on the best possible terms with the old dam and the three whelps, and the mother-wolf seemed to guard all four with equal care. They all went down to the river and drank, after which they were chased by the trooper; but they escaped over rough ground into the den, the boy running on all-fours quite as fast as the young wolves. The man then got assistance and dug the whole party out; the wolves and boy bolted together, and the boy was caught, fastened to a rope, and led to the village. He could not speak, but growled and snarled like a young wolf, and tried to bolt into every hole or shelter that was passed. After four days he was sent to an English officer, Captain Nicholetts. Though kindly treated, he never learnt to speak, ran away from grown-up people, flew at children and tried to bite them, and ran to eat his food on all-fours. But he was friendly with a pariah-dog, and would let it share his food. He would suck up a whole pitcher of buttermilk without drawing breath apparently. He never laughed or smiled, and destroyed all clothes given him. Two and a half years after his capture he died, and just before his death spoke once or twice, saying his head ached, and pronouncing the word for water. Another child caught in a wolf's den in the same neighbourhood was even more savage. He would only eat raw flesh, on which he put his hands as a dog puts its fore-feet. He drank in the manner mentioned before, and habitually ran on all-fours, from which his knees and knuckles were quite hard. Though reclaimed by his mother, he was quite untameable, and at last lived in the village streets like a pariah-dog, going every night into the jungle. A third boy, caught near Hasanpur, could walk upright, but preferred to go on all-fours, and ran so fast in that position that no one could catch him. He could not talk, but was induced to wear clothes. But he still remained so inhuman, that few people would keep him for any time; and for three nights in succession wolves were seen to come up and awake him. In each case the boy played with the wolves who capered round him and licked him.
We will not attempt to frame a theory from the cases we have quoted. No doubt it will be open to those who hold with the late Professor Garratt, that man was the first of the animals to stand upright, and that he has not yet learned to do this properly, or he would not be subject to spontaneous internal injuries such as rupture from which quadrupeds are generally exempt, to see in these accounts instances of a return to a primitive state. Others will fairly argue that the degradation of Relapsed Man so far transcends all known instances of man in his lowest natural state, as merely to be an example of corruptio optimi fessima. But, in any case, we may infer from the instances which we have quoted, that Relapsed Man walks and runs well and by preference on all-fours--cannot speak lives on raw food, fears his own species, drinks by suction, and, what is perhaps best of all, never lives to maturity; for all the captures recorded have been those of boys, not of men.
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