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shade, had begun to grizzle when he was thirty-five years of age. • It was,' he said, 'the wind of adversity constantly blowing in his face that had done it.' He was remarkable for the keenness of his sight and hearing. His character, with which our readers must be already somewhat familiar, we shall sum up in the words of Sully. • He loved all his subjects as a father, and the whole state as the head of a family. There were no conditions, employments, or professions to which his reflections did not extend, and that with such clearness and penetration, that the changes he projected could not be overthrown by the death of their author. His was a mind in which the ideas of what is great, uncommon, and beautiful seemed to rise of themselves; hence it was that he looked upon adversity as a transitory evil, and prosperity as his natural state.' His great fault, says the same authority, was his propensity to all kinds of pleasure. One of the most remarkable peculiarities of his character was his Fatalism, his belief in Destiny-a peculiarity in which he resembles Napoleon. In conversation he had no rival ; and of his bons-mots, his jests, and his profound sayings on all subjects, there is a sufficient number still extant to form a volume. Once, on being solicited to do something which he thought unjust-'I have,' he said, 'but two eyes and two feet; in what respect, then, should I be different from the rest of my subjects, if I wanted strength and justice in my disposition?' To a person asking him to pardon his nephew, who had committed an assassination—'I am sorry,' he replied, that I cannot grant your request; it becomes you well to act the uncle, and it becomes me well to act the king. I excuse your petition ; do you excuse my refusal.' 'If faith,' he said, 'were lost in all the world besides, it should still be found in the mouths of kings. When pressed by public affairs, and forced to absent himself from public worship, he excused his absence by saying : • When I labour for the public good, it seems to me that it is only to forsake God for the sake of God. An eminent physician having changed his religion, and become a Catholic, the king said jestingly to Sully, with whom he often argued on the subject, but without any effect on his calm and strong mind : ‘Don't you see how ill your religion is ; the doctors have given it over ?' To ability of all sorts, military, civil, or literary, he was a zealous patron. In speaking of his enemies, he was candid and generous; and of libels against himself, he was sufficiently magnanimous never to take any notice.
Such was Henri Quatre, a name which one never hears mentioned in France without respect, and whose remembrance is preserved by numerous pictures, dramas, and public monuments; and one can only lament that a man so universally beloved, and whose life promised so many benefits to his country, should have perished ingloriously by the mean blow of an assassin.
ANECDOTES OF SERPENTS. A LMOST all persons regard serpents with a certain amount
of dread, while the majority of mankind actually loath and fear them. Nor is this horror of the serpent confined to the peoples of civilised countries; it exists in
equal strength amongst savages in every part of the world. The North and North-western American Red Indians look upon serpents with the utmost fear, and employ the skins of the rattle-snake as a most powerful medicine' or charm. A rattlesnake's skin is always affixed with a glue made from the skin of the white salmon to the backs of their bows, under the impression that it imparts to the arrow a more deadly power. The Egyptian ‘fellah' seldom fails to kill a serpent whenever he may chance to meet with one; to him it is an object of actual abhorrence, and never, except it be by the professional 'serpent-charmer,' is a serpent touched by the hand. One result of the universal dread of the serpent tribes has been to prompt nearly everybody either to avoid, or to persecute and destroy them; hence, as a consequence, great ignorance, as a rule, prevails concerning the habits alike of the harmless and most deadly of this branch of the reptile family. It is therefore the object of the present Tract to give a popular account of their general structure, habits, and history, in order to assist in dispelling the absurd and unworthy prejudices entertained against nearly every species of the class.
We may broadly define Reptiles to be vertebrated animals, breathing by lungs, having red but cold blood (or, in other words, not
generating sufficient caloric to raise their temperature above that of the atmosphere), destitute of hairs, feathers, and mammary glands, but, instead, having bodies, as a rule, covered with scales. These are divided into three orders : Ophidians, comprehending the snakes ; Saurians, the lizards and crocodiles; Chelonians, the turtles and tortoises.
It is with the Ophidians or snakes that we have now exclusively to deal. Commencing at the head : snakes proper have the bones of the mouth loosely connected to one another, being joined by a tissue so beautifully elastic that it can be stretched like indiarubber, so that they can swallow their prey whole, although generally the prey is larger than the animal itself. Snakes are provided with most formidable teeth. In the boas and pythons, the teeth are slender, but somewhat hooked, and, bending backwards, are peculiarly well fitted for holding any animal they seize. In the greater part of the smaller non-venomous serpents, the teeth are arranged in two rows along the roof of the mouth. All venomous serpents, in addition to their ordinary holding-teeth, are provided with poison teeth or fangs, which present a most remarkable structure.
These poison-fangs are considerably hooked or recurved, and contain a canal, opening at both ends on the front or convex aspect of the fang—the upper opening being close to the gum ; the lower one, a short distance from the point of the tooth. The secretion, or venom, formed by the poison-glands, which are situated at the side of the head, is conveyed by small ducts into the upper openings in the fangs. Into these openings the poison is forced by
a set of muscles, which tighten round Serpent’s Head, shewing poison the gland capsules, and in that way
squeeze or compress the gland. The poison thus forced out of the glands finds its way first through the poison-ducts, next into the fangs, and from thence is injected into any wound made by them. The fangs are firmly united by osseous or bony union to the upper jawbones; but these bones are readily movable, so that the fangs, when not in use, can be laid flat upon the gums, or, at the will of the serpent, be brought into a vertical position. The fangs are as sharp as needles, and in many of the more deadly varieties quite as fine; no serpent has more than two of them in use at a time. The poison fangs are extremely liable to get broken off in the act of striking; hence, there is always a pair immediately behind the others, ready to supply the deficiency; these spare teeth, generally three or four on each side of the mouth, are partly hidden in the gums, the two nearest the fangs in
use being the more developed. Even should no accident occur to damage the fangs, they are shed at stated intervals, and replaced by a new pair. The keepers at the London Zoological Gardens frequently find the shed fangs in cleaning out the cages in which the venomous serpents are confined.
All the non-venomous serpents are entirely destitute of fangs or glands for the secretion of poison, but they have salivary glands, which are very largely developed, so that, in the process of swallowing an animal, they smear it over with a lubricating fluid, which renders deglutition much more easy. A curious instance occurred not very long ago in the Regent's Park Zoological Gardens of London, as illustrating the power serpents have of holding on to their prey with their hook-like teeth. Two serpents in the same cage fixed at the same time upon a small guinea-pig, the one at its head, the other at its tail; the serpent having possession of the head gradually swallowed the little animal, the other serpent all the time resolutely keeping his hold, until he too was sucked in with the guinea-pig, killed, and finally ejected from the throat of his comrade.
The general structure of the serpent family is (like every part of nature's handiwork) admirably fitted to their modes of existence. They are true vertebrated or backboned animals; but the usual distinction of vertebræ of the neck, back, and loins does not hold in their case ; all the bones being similar, and only diminishing in size towards the tail. The total want of feet implies the absence of a breastbone and pelvis; so that a snake, from head to tail, is a mere succession
Skeleton of a Serpent. of rib and backbone.
The vertebræ are strongly built and numerous—those of the trunk sometimes amounting to three hundred, and those of the tail to more than half that number. They play freely upon each other by an admirable arrangement of a cup-and-ball joint; hence the litheness and agility of body peculiar to the order. Each vertebra has its own pair of ribs; and the large scales of the belly, by which locomotion is performed, always correspond to the ribs, which are their levers. The ribs, acted on by the muscles, put in motion the abdominal plates, and these maintain the impulses which are successively communicated to them. The speed of body over which they move : they proceed with difficulty over a polished surface, but escape with celerity on sandy ground, or on a surface covered with dry vegetation. Their speed, however, is never so rapid that a man cannot easily escape from them. The other movements which this peculiar structure of body enables these reptiles to perform are also perfect in their kind. They can roll themselves into a spiral form, with the head slightly elevated in the centre; they can erect themselves almost perpendicularly, resting on the tail; can raise themselves about one-third of their length; suspend themselves from a tree; or stretch in easy undulations along the ground. In water serpents, the tail, which is slightly flattened in a vertical direction, acts as an oar in propelling the body ; in treeserpents, the same organ is capable of coiling itself around branches; in burrowing-snakes, it is short and conical, so as to secure and direct the movements of the trunk, and perhaps to dig into the earth; while in most of the land species, it is so formed as to support the weight of the body when the animal rears itself erect. Several species throw themselves on their prey with vigorous bounds, and seize it generally with the mouth ; others secure it by twisting the tail around it; and the boas also embrace and crush it with the convolutions of their trunk.
To obey these various movements, the external covering is divided into numerous compartments or scales, which form so many jointings parallel to the parts they cover. The whole body is thus lithe and Aexible, the naked space of skin between the scales being capable of extraordinary expansion and contraction. The scales are always symmetrically arranged; those covering the head and belly being larger than those of the other parts. This epidermis or outer covering is cast off or sloughed at fixed periods—the old integument, which is as thin as silver-paper, being replaced by one of greater brilliancy. With reference to the coloured markings of the respective races, they are extremely diversified. Some have the body striped longitudinally; others have it barred transversely; many are irregularly speckled; while as many are zigzagged and marbled. In general, there is a close analogy between the colours of snakes and the places which they inhabit—a circumstance wisely ordered by nature for their better protection from their numerous enemies.
The appendages of serpents, though few, are by no means uncommon. There are some species where the tail terminates in a simple conical scale, more or less pointed or hooked, while in others it is furnished with a rattle, often very large, although it is but a simple production of the epidermis. The male boas have a pair of hooks situated at the extremity of the abdomen, which are for sexual purposes ; and in other species, the frontal scale is turned up in the form of a hook or spur. The horned Cerastes, or Cleopatra's Asp,' has a singular appendage, of extreme flexibility, placed over each eye. Beyond these simple appendages, snakes are entirely naked ; the