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A star is small and very far,

A babe's a simple thing ; The very Son of God himself

Shall be my Lord and King !"

Then smiled the King Balthazzar,

"A good youth !" Melchior cried ; And young and old, without a word,

Along the hills they ride.

Till lo ! among the western skies

There grows a shining thing" The star! Behold the star,” they shout ;

“Behold Balthazzar's King !''

The chanting voice stopped. Stella jumped up and ran to look out of the window.

After a moment, Vera said, with some hesitation

“ It is very pretty, dear ; but you know my opinion : I think only really religious people should write about religious subjects.

" Then we shall have to decide who are religious people,” observed the Mage.

Oh, now it is all coming over again !” cried Stella. Do

you

want to know my opinion, Vera! I think we have talked enough about the Mages for one afternoon ; and I think if we talk till doomsday we shall never persuade any one of us that the other is right. And I think if we want to know what the Mages were really like, we had best go round, now the snow is over, to the little church at the corner and see them in the crêche. Last year at Bonlogne I saw such a funny little crêche in the Church of the Fishermen at Saint Pierre ; the Three Kings were dressed in

And lo! within the western skies

The star begins to flit ; The three kings spur their horses on

And follow after it.

And when they reach the king's palace They cry,

“Behold the place !" But, like a shining bird, the star

Flits on in heaven upace.

Oh they rode on and on they rode,

Till they reached a lonely wold, Where shepherds keep their flocks by night,

And the night was chill and cold.

pilot-cloth and glazed tarpaulin. They ter than all our conversation. And I think were little dolls, two feet high ; and I that to look at any sort of representation suppose it was all very ridiculous. But of a thing is better than all the discussion somehow they brought home to me the in the world : voilà mon opinion, et je la reality and poetry of the story much bet- partage !Contemporary Review.

THE VENOMOUS SNAKES OF INDIA,

BY SIR JOSEPH FAYRER.

as

In a previous article an account was 000, or seven-ninths of a total population given of the carnivora and other wild of 256,000,000 ; both are the same beasts which are destructive to life in those referred to in the former paper. British India ; of the mortality caused by The thirteen groups of native states forinthem in those provinces which have fur- ing Feudatory India, with the French and nished statistical records of the death- Portuguese possessions, having a popularates, of the rewards paid by Government tion of 57,000,000, are excluded from the for the destruction of the noxious crea- above calculations. tures, and of the numbers destroyed, with In describing the venomous snakes of a brief notice of the measures in force for India I shall dwell at any length on those abating the evil.

only which are most destructive to life, It was shown that the average loss of e.g. the Naja or Cobra, the Ophiopbagus or life caused by wild animals and venomous Hamadryad, the Bungarus or Krait, the snakes combined has for eight years been Daboia or Russell's viper, and the Echis at the rate of 22,620 human beings and carinata or Kuppur. The crotaline snakes, 53,277 head of cattle annually, and that it thongh all poisonous, are comparatively has continued at about the same rate, with innocuous, as far as buman life is conslight fluctuations, up to the present date, cerned. Some notice will also be taken potwithstanding such measures as may have of the hydrophidæ or sea snakes which, been resorted to for its prevention. It was though exceedingly poisonous, are not also shown that of these deaths those of very destructive to human life. 2,740 human beings and 51,180 head of I regret that I am unable to assign to cattle and other domestic animals were due each species its individual share in the to wild animals alone, while the much death rate, as no reliable returns of this larger number of 19,880 deaths of human particular form of detail are available. beings, and the smaller of 2,100 of cattle The deaths, whatever their numbers may were ascribed to venomous snakes of dif- be, are recorded under the general head ferent kinds. The smallest numbers killed of poisonous snakes.” by wild beasts and snakes combined, re- India is richly supplied with both vencorded in the eight years cited, were in omous and innocuous snakes ; with the 1881, when 21,427 human beings and latter we are not here concerned. 43,669 cattle were killed ; the largest fig- The order Ophidia has two principal

were in 1886, when 24,841 men, subdivisions, the colubriform and the viand in 1887, when 63,737 cattle were periform. The first is divided into the killed.

venomous and innocuous. The second or In this paper I propose to describe the viperiform are all venomous. Both the reptiles which cause these deaths, to give colubrine and viperiform are numerously some account of the circumstances under represented in India ; the colubriform by which they exert their lethal power, to no- five genera of elapide and four of hydrotice the measures in operation for prevent- phidse, the viperiform by two genera of ing the evil, and to make a brief reference viperidæ and four of crotalidæ, making a to the nature and physiological action of total of fifteen poisonous genera, compristhe virus which is so fatal.

ing a large number of species and varieties. The provinces referred to represent, But large as the number is, it is small roughly, about five-eighths of the penin. compared with the innocent genera and sala, and the population about 199,000,- species contained in about seventeen famiNEW SERIES, VOL. LI., No. 1,

6

ures

[graphic]

venomous

lies of innocent colubriform snakes inhab- by the mother exposing berself in a warm, iting the same country.

sunny place. The female of all snakes is Snakes are pretty generally distributed said to be larger than the male. There over the globe wlierever climate and other may be differences in color and slight vaphysical conditions are favorable to their riations in form, but no other prominent existence, but tropical countries are most external characters distinguish the sexes. richly supplied, and in the hottest regions Snakes hibernate in cold climates ; rethe most venomous are found. In our turning warmth rouses them into activity. own islands, the common adder is the only I have seen a python in the north-west of venomous snake, and its power is feeble India, quite torpid in the early morning in compared with that of the snakes of India, the cold weather, roused to activity by the West Indies, Tropical America, Africa, the heat of the sun's rays.

Snakes are and Australia, where the largest and most carnivorous, and generally eat living creadeadly forms are found in great variety. tures, but some will swallow eggs—the The most widely distributed

cobra sometimes robs the hen-roost-insuakes are the viperiform ; America and sects, mollusks, and even, it is said, vegeAfrica abound in them, the crotalidæ being table matter ; they prefer living prey, and most numerous in the former, the true vi. some are cannibals-the ophiophagus and pers in the latter, while in Asia the poi- callophis, especially, live on snakes. In sonous colubrine snakes are most numer- captivity they will, it is said, drink milk ; ous and are represented by the Najas, needless to add that the bucolic tradition Bungarus, Callophis, and the hydrophidæ. of robbing the cow is a myth. The true vipers, on the oʻher hand, are Snakes differ in their habits and modes represented by Daboia and Echis, while of life, and are grouped accordingly. Tree the crotalidæ or pit vipers are represented and grass snakes live in the trees, bushes, by Trimeresurus, Hypnale, Halys ; Aus- and grass, and are often colored like the tralia has its peculiar forms of both colu- vegetation they frequent. When slender briform and viperiform genera.

and active they are called whip snakes ; The general characters of Ophidia are innocent and poisonous forms are found well known, and therefore need only a few among them. Ground snakes are found in remarks on the distinctive characters of all three sub-orders ; they generally live the venomous, as contrasted with the in- above ground, and the great proportion of nucent forms, with a brief notice of the snakes, whether innocent or venomous, apparatus by which the virus is secreted, belong to this group. and of the fangs by which it is inoculated. Burrowing snakes live much under

Snakes are oviparous or ovoviviparous ; ground, have a rigid, cylindrical body, the colubrine snakes for the most part be- short tail, narrow mouth, small teeth, and long to the first class, the cobra, for ex- are all innocent. ainple, lays eggs ; there are exceptions, There are fresh and salt-water snakes. however, such as hydrophidæ and homolop- The salt-water snakes are peculiarly sidæ, which bring forth their young alive. adapted for an aquatic life, and are all venTho viperine-e.g. the daboia, the adder, omous ; the fresh-water snakes have not the rattle-spake--are viviparous. There the same characters as the hydrophidæ, or are exceptions, as some Trimeresuri are salt-water snakes, and are innocent-a oviparous, it is said, but there is no great curious fact ! The hydrophidæ are viviphysiological distinction after all, the ques- parous. tion being whether the eggs are hatched It

may be well here to say a few words before or after leaving the oviduct. The on the structure of the jaws, teeth, and progeny is numerous ; the cobra lays poison apparatus of the venomous snakes. twenty to thirty white, leathery eggs, The cranium is made up of a number of which are batched in some warm place by bones modified in accordance with the the natural heat. The viper is equally general structure and habits of the creature. prolific. Some oviparous snakes are said It is only necessary to refer to these as far to incubate ; the cobra probably watches as concerns the mode in which the

is its eggs; the python is said to have been seized and swallowed, and the poisonous observed to coil itself round its eggs until wound inflicted. Deglutition is effected hatched. Young vipers emerge from the in a peculiar way : the prey being seized, oviduct alive, the process being expedited the mouth gapes laterally and vertically ; each side of the jaws, having independent by the action of the prespheno-pterygoid motion, is called separately into action, muscle. The muscular arrangement for and the object grasped is slowly but sure- opening and closing the mouth and at the ly drawn in ; the sharp and recurved teeth same time compressing the poison gland, hold it firmly as each side of the jaw al- thereby injecting the venom through the ternately advances or relaxes its grasp ; tubular fang, is beautifully adapted to the the prey is thus gradually but inevitably purpose to be fulfilled. engulfed, the mouth and passages distend- It must suffice to mention the principal ing to an extraordinary degree. This is muscles. The temporals, masseters, and effected by the method in which the man. pterygoids are mainly concerned in closing dibles, maxillæ, and tympanic bones are the jaws and in compressing the poison articulated ; the latter are long and slen- gland; the prespheno-pterygoid erect the der, loosely articulated with the mastoid fang. There are other muscles which bones of the skull. At their distal ex- move the jaws, or help to steady the erect tremities they articulate in a similar man- fang when in the act of biting, but these ner with the mandibles ; these, again, are need not be described. The poison glands united in front by an

prey

elastic ligament. are situated between the orbit and the This allows of great stretching in all di- tyinpanic bore. They are oval bodies, rections, enabling the snake to swallow composed of lobes and lobules, which, an object much larger than itself in di- having secreted the virus from the blood, ameter.

which is abundantly supplied to the gland, The mandibles are closely set with sharp force it through a duct which leads to and recurved teeth ; the upper jaws, composed opens by a papilla into a capsule of nuof the maxillary pterygoid and palatine cous membrane, whence it finds its way bones, have also teeth. These with the into a triangular opening at the base of premaxillary bones make up the maxillary the fang, with which the papillary end of arch.

the duct is brought into close apposition, The maxillary bones are characteristic and thence it finds its way along a canal in the venomous snakes, being much short- (to be described presently) into the wound. er and provided with fewer teeth than in The poison glands are of various forms the innocent snakes. In the latter they and sizes. In some snakes, as callophis, are elongated slips of bonc set with small they are much elongated ; in the cobra recurved teeth. * In the poisonous colu- they are of the size and something of the brine snakes they are less elongated and shape of an almond. They are enclosed have a fixed, large, tubular poison fang, and fixed in situ by a fibrous capsule several loose reserve fangs, and one, two, which is connected with a tendon, and are or more fixed smaller teeth which are not covered by the muscular fibres which comtubular and not directly connected with press them when the mouth is closed. the poison apparatus. In the viperidæ the The virus is a transparent, slightly viscid maxillary bone is a short triangular mova- fluid, faintly acid in reaction, having ble wedge furnished with one long tubular something of the appearance of glycerine, poison fang lying hidden in the mucous of a faint yellow or straw color-in the sheath. The movements of the poison ophiophagus of a yellow color-when fang as seen in the viperidæ are due to the dried, it forms a semi-crystalline substance, rotation of the maxillary bone on its artic. like gum Arabic. It is secreted in conulation with the skull, not to the mobility siderable quantities; and if a fresh, vigorof the fang itself, the active poison fang ous snake be made to bite a leaf stretched in all spakes being firmıly fixed in the max- across a teaspoon-or, as the natives of illary bone. This mobility of the maxil- India do it, with a mussel-shell-several lary bone is very great in vipers, e.g. da- drops may be obtained. It is exhausted boia, crotalus and pelias, while it is very when the snake has bitten frequently, but slight in the poisonous colubrines.

is rapidly reformed ; in the interval the The mechanism by which the fangs of reptile is comparatively harmless, but soon a viper are reclined or erected is inost cu- becomes dangerous again. It has been rious and beautiful.

When erected,

the shown that a vigorous cobra can kill sevmaxillary bone, into which the fang is in- eral creatures before its bite becoines im-1 serted, is pushed forward by the external potent, but the immunity is of short du- ! pterygoid bone, which is drawn forward ration, the virus being rapidly resecreted. '

Own

Removal of the fangs has the effect of permanganate of potassium has great rendering the snake temporarily harmless ; power to destroy cobra venom. but, as the reserve fangs (unless, indeed, The activity of snake virus differs not they have all been removed) replace those only in character and intensity in different which have been taken away, the snake genera and species, but in the same indisoon becomes dangerous again, as has been vidual under varying conditions of temproved by more than one fatal accident to perature, climate, health, and state of the snake-charmers and others.

vigor or exhaustion. It is a most virulent Some animals, especially the pig and poison, and may neither be sucked from the mongoose, are supposed to have im- a bite nor swallowed with impunity. It munity from snake bite : fat sometimes acts most rapidly on warm-blooded, but is protects the former, and the latter is so also deadly to cold blooded, creatures, wiry and active that he frequently escapes and to the lowest forms of invertebrate with only a scratch ; but, if either of them life. Strange to say, a snake cannot be fairly bitten in a vascular part, he suc- poisor itself, or one of its own species, combs like any other animal,

scarcely its

congeners, and only The chemistry of snake-poison has been slightly any other genus of venomous made the subject of inquiry by Fontana, snake ; but it kills innocent snakes quickPrince L. Bonaparte, Armstrong, Gautier, ly. and others, and recently by Drs. Weir Snake-poison kills by extinguishing in Mitchell, and Reichert of the United

some way
the source of nerve energy.

It States, the results of whose investigations is also a blood poison and irritant, and were published in 1886. Gautier thought causes great local disturbance as well as he had discovered a ptomaine in the ven- blood change. If it enter by a large vein, om of cobra, but they have been quite life may be destroyed in a few seconds. unable to verify this stateinent. They The chief effect is on the respiratory apmaintain that there are three distinct bod- paratus, and death occurs by asphyxia ; ies in the venom : one is apparently harm- but general paralysis is also a result. less, while of the other two, which are These are the primary symptoms; the proteids, one belongs to the globulins, secondary symptoms are such as result the other to the peplones. The globulins, from blood-poisoning; they manifest again, are of different kinds, and the in- themselves in various ways, and have to vestigators are of opinion that explanation be treated on ordinary medical principles. of the difference of the physiological ef- The phenomena of poisoning vary acfects produced by different species of cording to the nature of the snake and the snakes may be afforded by the proportion individual peculiarities of the creature inof globulins to peptones, and of the va- jured, the chief difference being observed rious kinds of globulin to one another. in viperine as contrasted with colubrine For instance, the poison of Naja does not poison. The latter is a nerve poison of destroy the coagulability of the bloud ; it great deadliness, but as a blood poison its contains only 1.75 per cent. of globulins, results are less marked. Viperine poison, peptone being the material which repre- on the other hand, is a more potent blood sents the poisoning capacity ; the viperine poison. Dr. Wall has made investigations poisons produce complete fluidity, and the on this subject and his conclusions verify venom of crotalus contains 24.6 per cent. those recorded in the Thanatophidia. of globulins. Other experiments with the Cobra poison produces general paralysis, globulin and peptone parts of the venom but shows a preference for certain nerve have given like results.

centres ; respiration is quickly extin. Heat has very little effect on the toxicity guished after paralysis shows itself, and of cobra poison, unless its application be death is attended with convulsions. Davery prolonged ; but in other species boia (i.e. viperine) poison causes early heating the venom beyond a certain point, convulsions, paralysis is general, and resvarying for different venoms, lessens its piration is much more quickened than by poisonous power.

cobra poison, but lasts longer. Daboia From other experiments of Drs. Weir poison causes more local mischief, deMitchell, Reichert, and others it appears stroys to a far greater extent the coagulathat ferric chloride, bromine, iodine, and bility of the blood, causes hæmorrhages, other reagents destroy crotaline venom ; but less salivation, while in cobra poison

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