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bitten by this snake expired in from thirty-five seconds to several minutes ; dogs, in from seven minutes to several hours; a cat in fifty-seven minutes; a horse in eleven and a half hours. Death was not in any case so rapid as after the Cobra bite, but though slower in its action, the poison seemed just as deadly. The blood remains fluid after death from' the poison of the Daboia, whereas after Cobra poisoning it coagulates firmly on being removed from the heart and great vessels. The Daboia is nocturnal in its habits; in confinement it is sluggish, and does not readily strike unless roused and irritated, when it bites with great force and determination. When disturbed it hisses fiercely, and when it strikes, does so with great vigour.” Dr. Fayrer kept one “ for a whole year, without food or water; it obstinately refused either, and was vigorous and venomous to the last.” ‘

The reader will note the great variability of these four venomous snakes—a phenomenon, as in other animals, often according with a wide geographical distribution. Also, that two of them are closely simulated by, or rather simulate, harmless species found in the same situations. This applies even to the Cobra, for which an innocent snake (Tropidonotus macrophthalmus), with its dilatable neck and similarly arranged scales, is often mistaken.

Our space will not allow us to add more than a few figures, taken from the work of Dr. Fayrer, giving some account of ‘ the loss of life due to Indian Thanatophidia, but chiefly to the four justly-dreaded serpents * whose history has been sketched only in part. ‘ '

In one year alone (1869) the deaths by snake-bite in the Bengal Presidency amounted to 6,219. Many other deaths from the same cause, not officially recorded, must also have occurred.

Of these deaths 959 were ascribed to the Cobra, 160 to the Krait, 348 to “ other snakes,” and 4,7 52 to “ snakes unknown.”

The snake causing death is often not seen. “ Doubtless, as the Cobra is in excess in the recorded cases, so it is in those of “ other snakes ” and “ unknown,” whilst the remainder “ must be assigned to the Hamadryad, the Bungarus caeruleus, Bungarus fasciatus, Daboia Russellii, and probably a few to the Trimeresuri and Hydrophidae.”

It is curious to note that “ there was an excess of 145 females over the males; the adult females appear to have been

* Of these four snakes that which is by far the largest—doubtless because of its relative scarcity—causes by far the smallest number of deaths.

the greatest sufferers, by 2,576 against 2,374; whilst, on the other hand, female children were fewer, being 606 against 663 male children.”

Of 120 deaths recorded during the same year from British Burmah, 45 were due to the Cobra, “ and all the rest, with a few exceptions to the Vipér (Daboia).”

These and other estimates lead us to infer that Dr. Fayrer speaks within the truth when he concludes that, were returns made from all Hindostan, it would be found that more than 20,000 inhabitants of British India die annually from snakebite alone.



ALVERTE, in his remarkable work on the occult sciences, states that the principle by which he has been guided in all his researches is that which distinguishes two very different forms of civilisation: the fixed form, which in times past prerailed universallythroughout the world, and the perfectiblc form, or that which prevails in communities that have become learned in letters, science, and art. The natural tendency of man is to love and seek the marvellous ; and as the love of the wonderful always prefers the most surprising to the most natural accounts, the natural is too frequently neglected. At the same time the most surprising phenomenon does not long continue potent to surprise even when it is real, while surprising unrealities pass away as fast as they come. “ Credulous man,” says this learned author, “ may be deceived once, or more frequently, but his credulity is not a sufficient instrument to govern his whole existence. The wonderful excites only a transient admiration, for man is led by his passions, and chiefly by hope and by fear.”

The psychological argument thus adduced is an argument always to be remembered when we hate before us the subject of natural as opposed to supernatural readings of any class of phenomena, of which we become individually or collectively conversant; and in overlooking this position, men of science, I Venture to think, often err. They, disdaining the fixed principle of human thought and action, in their strain after the perfectible, treat as childish or even as idiotic all notions of phenomena that become marvellous by surprise, and unanswerable by immediate illustration. This has been peculiarly the fact in respect to those manifestations which assume to be mental receptions derived from uncommon, unexplained, and unknown causes.

I propose in this short and simple essay to avoid all prejudice and reproach, acknowledging the ancient and fixed principle of belief as something worthy of deep regard ; as the

conservative restraining element in the politics of the world of reason. I shall aim, nevertheless, to sustain the principle of the perfectible form of thought,as at once the most advantageous and the most endurable.

I begin at once, then, by admitting phenomena. From the first of man until now, as we know him, there have been opened to him an ever-recurring series of phenomena, provable by a ready reference to experience, but which are not rendered so familiar to him by their frequent repetition as to lose their novelty in their repetition.

The phenomena are all of the senses ; necessarily so, because every recognised phenomenon is sensual, in the completed! meaning of that term. The universe enters into the man by the doors for its entrance, and according to the capacity of the man he becomes homogeneous with the universe so long as he lives in it: that is to say, so long as he is in the condition to receive it. '

Of the man we know something; of the universe we know little. There may be in it motions, or material forms in motion, which are not at all times present, which are not perceived equally at any time, and which, on the fixed principle, are as real as common things ; one only singular, in fact, from being uncommon, and in not being accounted for, when recognised, by an immediate and obvious explanation. As the phenomena, however, are all sensual, so they are developed according to the working value of the senses, if I may so express myself. The ear is the most ready organ concerned in the recognition of occult phenomena; it hears sounds the mind does not appreciate the source of. The eye is the next susceptible organ; it sees forms and shapes for which the mind finds no ready explanation. The tactile sense, and even the common sensitive surfaces, come under influence; they appreciate blasts or blows 'or heats or colds, the causes of which are incomprehensible. Less frequently the olfactory sense is invaded, and conveys impressions of odours agreeable or loathsome, of which the mind can form no instant estimate whence they came or wherefore.

All, in a word, that is surprisingly phenomenal is by a surprise through a sense, and it increases in wonder as it includes the work of [the greatest number of senses. That ghost of Hamlet’s father seen only, were but half enough ; heard only, but half enough. Seen and heard, it is the less a ghost, the more a wonder.

I, for one, do not consider it at all a remarkable circumstance that the fixed ideal as to the cause of obscure phenomena should be that of an outward or external reality appealing to the mental organs through the sensual. It is the common experience that whatever is recognisable is; and if this were not the common and universal belief, the world would wander on in vain doubting and fear. Sometimes by accident we meet with persons who are actually possessed with unbelief in what is the common experience of the majority; to those who constitute the majority these persons are insarie.

Every allowance must therefore be made for the fixed belief on the reality of obscure manifestations, and indeed the allowance will be enforced until the major part of mankind is educated to see that there is a method of accounting for the manifestations which destroys the supernatural reality, and assigns the wonderful to the natural. To this latter explanation of the phenomena most men of science have now come: they claim the perfectible principle as the standard under which they reason.

Considered by the method thus noticed, the obscure manifestations we have admitted are not derived from objects in the outside universe at all, but belong entirely to the individual. They are simply due to aberration of function in one or other of the organic parts concerned in the processes of common human observation : they are, in a word, not receipts by the man, but interruptions within him, or reflects from him.

What I have called, after Salverte, the perfectible principle of opinion, is n t deemed by its supporters to be a principle perfected, but one leading towards perfected discovery. It is devoid of dogma, and proclaims only what seems to be the nearest approach towards what is true. In this sense the following is in brief outline the exposition of the nature of the occult phenomena now under consideration—hallucinatory manifestations.

A whole series of mysterious manifestations, and these of the ‘ simplest kind, are connected purely with the physical conditions which modify the natural mode of conveyance of an object or act to the senses : the mirage, the double sun, the monster in the fog, the reflected sound (echo), even the reflected image in the clear stream; these—the mysterious manifestations of the earliest history of man, when the fixed principle of his thought had no rival—are now acknowledged, all but universally, to admit of a physical exposition that strips them of their mystery. Such obscure manifestations as remain, and are not traceable to external influences, are discoverable in the processes for observation possessed by the observer, in his senses, and the parts to which they minister.

For the full action of every part accomplished by and through the senses there are many factors. There is a collective organ for condensing the external fact that is brought to the man, a seeing organ, a hearing organ, touch, taste, and smelling

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