Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

the centre of the lens, and coincides with surpass the longest snakes existing in the its axis, suffers no refraction, but conti- most southern parts of Europe. nues onward in the same straight line be; The largest of these terrific reptiles, and the ray c takes the direction c f. If known in our quarter of the globe, are the these rays had passed through the glass quartre-raies, (coluber elaphis,) and the in the opposite direction, namely, from serpent of Esculapius, (coluber Esculapi.) def, and converging towards the point c, The first, which is supposed to be the boa then the interposition of the lens would of Pliny, is sometimes found to attain the have caused them to move in the parallel length of eight or ten feet; the other, lines ab c, after passing through it. which the ancients represented in the

We are now prepared to explain how statues of Esculapius, is not so long, but a concave glass is serviceable in assist- thicker than the preceding : they are both ing the vision of short-sighted persons. found in Italy, Hungary, Illyria, and other Suppose the rays of light a b c to proceed parts of Europe adjacent to the East. from some distant object, (which the eye But what are these to the serpents which of a short-sighted person placed at e'is are produced in the inter-tropical latiunable, without the aid of spectacles, to tudes? We speak not of those whose bite distinguish ;) then in passing through is fatal, whose teeth instil a deadly poison the concave lens to the eye, they into the smallest puncture which they inbecome so refracted as to appear to fict, but of those whose gigantic powers emanate from an image of the (dis- render them formidable to the largest tant) object formed at c; thus a short- quadrupeds, and whose name is a bye-word sighted person is enabled, by the use of of terror. such glasses, to see distant objects as if Fancy cannot paint a more formidable, they were close at hand. It is now easy a more terrific object, than a monstrous to understand how those persons who serpent : nothing can she conceive whose cannot read without bringing the paper attack man or other animals can less succlose to their nose, or walk the streets in cessfully combat. Imagine yourself, for a safety, to observe the approach of car- moment, enveloped, as if by magic, in the riages, may receive essential service from folds of such a monster. His sinewy the use of concave spectacles, repre- form, thirty feet length, is twined around senting the most distant objects as very you; his weight bears you to the earth ; near; the image being formed within a the combined energy of thousands of musfew inches' distance. These images are cles acting on so many levers, and every much smaller than the objects themselves, lever, every point on the strain upon youas this shaped glass reduces instead of crushes in your chest, stifles your feeble magnifies its apparent dimensions; but cries, breaks your vainly struggling limbs, this by no means prevents distinct vision; and reduces you to a bruised and mangled and a small object near, may appear corpse; and all this takes place so rapidly

, greater than a large object at a distance. so suddenly, thạt hope of succour is as Persons whose sight is short have occa- vain as are your despairing struggles : sion, then, for concave glasses, which re- should your companions hear your moans, present objects as nearer; and those your death is sealed ere they can bring aswhose sight is long, need convex glasses, sistance; if, indeed, panic has not deprived which represent to them objects as at a

them of their reason. To avoid or to esgreater distance.

cape the attack of such a being, requires no ordinary presence of mind : nor, indeed, armed with any weapons, not excepting fire-arms, would it be safe to venture unsupported against an enemy of such tre

mendous powers. The latins, as it is said, gave the term These huge snakes act the tiger's part, boa to serpents of extraordinary magnitude, they take their prey by stratagem; for what because they fancied that they drained the animal would go near them, were it aware of

dders of the cattle in their pastures ; and their presence ? Hot steaming morasses, although this supposition is erroneous, the the swampy margins of rivers, the borders name is still retained by modern naturalists, of lakes, the tangled underwood, that skirts because it is convenient and long esta- the dark marshy forest; (places where a blished. It was, however, first applied by rank and luxuriant vegetation affords them Linnæus to the huge monsters peculiar to adequate concealment,) are their favourite the hotter climates of the globe, which far abodes. There they lurk, half floating on

THE BOA.

the water, half stretched upon the land, or which the animal was accustomed to retire, partly twined around some rugged trunk, and to place near this haunt a net, comto the bark of which their colours assimi- posed of cordage, duly proportioned to the late. Patient to wait, undaunted to attack, creature's strength. Into this snare he fell; rapid as an arrow or a flash of lightning to frightened by the men who presented themdart upon their victim, what can escape ? selves suddenly in a body, advancing on They throw their bodies in folds and knots him with their weapons, and making around that of their prey so instantane- noise with loud clashing instruments. After ously, that the eye cannot follow the action; useless efforts to break his bonds, he was and so great is their strength, that the taken to Alexandria. solid bones of the ox snap beneath their The accounts to which we have alluded, efforts. Thus fares it with the deer, or though, perhaps, exaggerated in their dethe antelope, that comes to drink; crushed tails, serve to show the acquaintance of to an undistinguishable mass, it becomes the ancients with these giants of the snake the food of its hideous enemy, who, tribe; and sufficiently demonstrate the slowly untwining his tortuous length, pro- terror which their powers had universally ceeds to lick it with his quivering tongue, inspired. Nor are the accounts which and besmear it with glutinous saliva, which modern travellers give, at all calculated to distils abundantly from his ravenous jaws, remove the impression. capable of expanding to a most extraor- Linnæusapplied the term boa, as we have dinary degree : this done, he proceeds to said, to those mighty, but not venomous suck in the yet warm flesh; and as he snakes which are met with in the hotter gorges the mass, sinks gradually into a climates of the globe. The term boa is state of lethargic stupor.

now, however, restricted to a group pecuMany of our readers are acquainted with liar to the inter-tropical regions of Amethe fact, recorded in history, which relates rica : while to those of Africa, India, and to one of these huge serpents, against the Indian islands, the term python is whose enormous force Regulus was obliged given; because they exhibit characteristics to employ the most effective military en- of their own, clearly separating between gines then known. This serpent occupied them and their American relatives, with à certain situation on the banks of the whom they agree in size, habits, powers, river Begrada, between Utica and Car- and ferocity. thage, and had destroyed many soldiers, These preliminary observations we shall who had gone to the spot for the purpose follow up in our next number, by a short of procuring water. Darts hurled at him account of the celebrated boa constrictor. made no impression on his scales. The machines for throwing huge stones were obliged to be brought up, and at length a stone of prodigious size struck him on the The substances used for making bread, back, and laid him prostrate on the earth. it need scarcely be stated, have been Regulus took the skin to Rome; and it is oats, barley, rye, and wheat; although, said to have measured one hundred and in early times, the latter was prized as a twenty feet; it remains, however, uncer- luxury, in comparison with its present tain what this measure exactly meant. Iconsumption. The changes in the sub

Diodorus Siculus relates, that in Egypt, stances of bread it may be important to under one of the Ptolemies, an enormous notice, inasmuch as they throw consider. serpent, thirty cubits long, was taken alive, able light upon the comforts of every though not without the greatest difficulty. class of the people at the periods of such The monster was in the habit of couching changes. very much at his ease, on the margin of The earliest bread was a kind of

porthe water, where, folded in a circle, quite ridge or pudding, of flour or meal mixed motionless, with the head just raised, (so with water, and boiled; and when the that he could discern the approach of any method of kneading it into dough became animal which might come to quench its common, the bread was nothing more thirst,) he ited in expectation of his than a kind of tough unleavened cake. victim. Stimulated by the hope of gain, The baking of these cakes, instead of some hunters resolved to seize him alive, being left to any particular set of men, as and carry him to Alexandria. Two pe- a distinct profession, was one of the prinrished in the first attack : still the courage cipal concerns of the matrons; in those of the men was unabated, and they planned simple times, the most dignified ladies to block up the entrance of the cave to did not disdain to employ their fair hands

BREAD.

in kneading the dough;and the modern title countries. Harrison, writing in the reign of lady originated in her being the læf-dien, of Elizabeth, says that his wife ground or server of bread. In this first stage of her malt at home upon her quern, (or the art of baking, the use of ovens was mill.)-Domestic Life in England. unknown; and the cake, when properly kncaded, was toasted either upon a warm hearth, or upon a gridiron. Such was DIFFERENCE OF NATIONAL CUSTOMS. the bread of the Anglo-Saxons; and a With the Chinese, the left takes preliteral proof of their baking it before the cedence of the right, as the place of fire is preserved in the accredited anec honour; and white instead of black is dote narrated in nearly every History of the appropriate badge of mourning. England, wherein Alfred is said to have From the peculiar construction of their let the neatherd's loaves burn on the compass, perhaps, which they call che hearth, or on a stone. Indeed, the bake- nan chay, “a chariot pointing towards stone is among the earliest domestic the south," they do not number the car. contrivances: it was first of stone, whence dinal points in our order, but always its name.

It was next made of sowo mention the south before the north. metal; but, nevertheless, was still called a bakestone, though the use of stones for

HOLINESS. baking was still retained.

In Wales, bread is or was lately baked upon an

BELIEVERS, as they were in the primitive iron plate, called a girdle; wherefore it times holy in their lives, so they professed was named girdle-bread.

this still to be the foundation of their holiA few notices of the use of corn in ness-Christ hath died, Christ is risen, England will show the reader how supe- Christ is in heaven; therefore we must live rior is the security from dearth in the so and so : and this was their great profespresent to former ages. A writer of the sion. It dasheth all the carnal gospellers time of Edward ur states, that when the in the world. It would shame men out of new corn began to be sold, no beggar their sins, or out of their profession of would " eat bread that in it beanes were," Christ. If Paul were alive, he would show but “of coket, or else clene wheate.”

the deepest abhorrence of him that will say The latter then lowered extraordinarily he believeth in Christ, who died and rose in price; as in 1317, after an abundant again, and yet lived in sin, Rom. vi. 1, 2, harvest, wheat fell from eighty shillings* 2 Cor. v. 14, 15.-Goodwin. to six shillings and eightpence per quar

The especial procuring cause of hoter. Immediately after the harvest, the liness is the mediation of Christ. We are people bought their store of corn at a

not in this matter concerned in any thing, cheap rate of the farmers ; for there were

let men call it what they please, virtue, hono corn-dealers in those days ; but the liness, or godliness, that hath not a speconsumers becoming improvident, the cial relation unto the Lord Christ and supply fell short before the arrival of the his mediation. Evangelical holiness is purfollowing, harvest, and prices advanced chased for us by Him, according to the

is out of all proportion. Thus, in a docu- tenour of the everlasting covenant; proment dated Colchester, 1296, we find mised unto us on his account, actually imalmost every family provided with a small petrated* for us by his intercession, and store of barley and oats, usually about a communicated to us by his Spirit. And quarter or two of each; but wheat and hereby we do not only cast off the moral rye are seldom mentioned.

The corn

virtues of the heathens from having the was usually ground at home in a hand- least concernment herein, but all the prinmill or quern ; although wind and water- ciples and duties of persons professing mills were not uncommon. The

christianity, who are not actually and really was the ancient mill. In Wickliff's implanted into Christ.

For He it is who translation of the Bible, in Matt. xxiv. of God is made unto us sanctification, we read, “ Two wymmen schulen (shall)

1 Cor. i. 30, John xv. 5, Luke xxii. 32.by gryndynge in one querne;" and in the

Owen.

• Obtained by intreaty. present version of the Bible the word

querne” is changed to “mill.” Such a quern is common to this day in Eastern JOHN DAVIS, 56, Paternoster Row, London. • Equal to more than forty pounds a quarter at

Price £d. each, or in Monthly Parts, containing Five the present day; which enormous price shows how

Numbers in a Cover, 3d. great the scarcity must have been.

W. TYLER, Printer, Bolt-court. Fleet-street

quern

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small]

THE BOA CONSTRICTOR.

The supreme

daring, ferocious, and blood-thirsty, that Tuis gigantic snake, to which the epithets, the ancient Mexicans regarded the boa king, emperor, divine, as indicating its with religious veneration. fancied superiority over all other reptiles, divinity of that remarkable nation was rehave been given, is a native of the marshes, presented with a snake in the right hand, and luxuriant margins of the rivers and or coiled around him and his altars. To fresh-water lakes of inter-tropical America : this image they offered bloody and inhuman there it reigns, a destroyer of life, the sacrifices. terror of man and beast. The swiftness of

“Ou a blue throne, with four huge silver snakes, the deer is no protection, the monkey is As if the keepers of the sanctuary, not safe among the branches, nor the larger

Circled with stretching neck, and fangs display'd,

Mexitli sate: another graven snake fish in the water. To climb, to swim, Belted with scales of gold his monster bulk." to dart along the ground, are among the endowments of this powerful reptile ; “ This great power, this indomitable and he avails himself of each of them in force, its gigantic length, the lustre of its turn, It was from the display of such scales, the beauty of its colours, have in varied powers, combined with a nature spired,” says M. de Lacépède, speaking

3 A

SOUTHEY

VOL. JII

ments.

of the boa,“ a sort of admiration, mingled Within those dreadful coils? The multitude with affright in most people, but little re

Fell prone, and worshipped.”-SOUTHEY. moved from a savage condition ; and as all Snake worship was not, however, that produces terror and admiration, all that limited to the Mexicans; it appears to appears endowed with a great superiority have been practised in various parts of over other beings, hardly fails to create, in the earth, from a very early period ; and to ininds little enlightened, the idea of a have been attended with bloody sacrifices. supernatural agent, it was not without Like the rest of its race, the boa glutted religious fear, that the ancient inhabitants with food, becomes torpid and inanimate, of Mexico regarded the divine serpent.' and is then easily killed. The native inWhether they thought that an enormous habitants account its flesh as excellent mass, executing movements so rapid, could food; and use its tough, scaly skin as an not be stirred but by a divine inspiration, ornamental vestment. or that they only regarded this serpent as In cold and temperate climes the snakes a minister of the omnipotence of Heaven, become torped, and hybernate during it became the object of their worship. the winter; but, in the torrid regions, They gave it the title of emperor, in order there is no reason for supposing this law to designate the pre-eminence of its endown to be in operation. It would appear,

The object of their adoration, it however, that during the rainy seasons, became that of their particular attention; the boa and other snakes are less alert none of its movements, thus to speak, and less mischievous than at other peescaped them; none of its actions could riods. When the rainy season is over, be to them a matter of indifference. As the boa casts its skin, (epidermis,) regains its protracted piercing hiss caught their a new robe, is invested with the richest ear, they listened with religious trembling; colours, appears endowed with renewed for they deemed that these sounds, these strength and vigour, and is all energy signs of the various passions or feelings of a and courage : it is then doubly dangerous being, which they regarded as marvellous to venture near his retreat. and divine, must be connected with their The eggs which the female deposits destiny. It has happened, by chance, among the herbage are said to be remarkthat

hese hissings have been much ably small in proportion to the volume of stronger, and more frequent, on the ap, the animal ; their greatest diameter being proach of violent tempests, pestilential not more than two or three inches. diseases, cruel wars, or other public cala- The great vitality of the serpent tribe mities. Indeed, it is frequently the case, is not the least extraordinary part of their that great physical calamities are often history; and the boa enjoys this organic preceded by a violent heat, an extreme property in a high degree. The head, dryness, a particular state of the atıno- separated from the body, will not only sphere, a high electrical condition of the live for a considerable time, but snap, air, by which the snakes would be ex

with innate ferocity, at any object precited, and led to utter hissings more sented, and violently retain hold of whatstrong than usual; and thus did the ever it has seized : this we have ourselves Mexicans regard those of the divine ser- witnessed in the case of the viper of our pent, as forewarnings of the greatest own country, the only poisonous reptile evils; and heard them not without the we possess. Happy for us is it, that the utmost consternation.”

woods and meadows of our land neither A fearful picture of the blind and im- teem with gigantic boas, nor with the pious adoration paid to the ferocious smaller, yet more terrible race of snakes, boa, is finely drawn by Southey, in his whose bite is certain death. Three, or poem of “ Madoc:"

at most four, species of snake inhabit " Forth from the dark recesses of the cave, England. 1. The viper, (of which there The serpent came !--the Hoamen at the sight are suspected by some to be two species, Shouted ! and they who held the priest, appall’d, On came the mighty snake,

but this is very doubtful,) whose bite is And twined in many a wreath round Neolin, fatal to small animals, and sometimes Darting aright, aleft, his sinuous neck; With searching eye, and lifted jaw, and tongue

even to man; though the constitution of Quivering, and hiss, as of a heavy shower

man and the dog usually struggle through: Upon the summer woods. The Britons stood 2. the blind, or slow worm, a sluggish, Astounded at the powerful reptile's bulk, And that strange sight. His girth was as of man, barmless, little snake, very abundant in But easily could he have overtopp'd

some places : and, 3. the common, or Goliath's helmed head, or that huge king Of Basan, hugest of the Anakim.

ringed snake; very active, an inveterate What, then, was human strength, if once involved enemy to mice, young birds, &c. It

[graphic]

Relax'd their hold.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »