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or supposition of Mr. Buckland on and active,” as described.* On the a point like this amounts to nothing. 14th of August, 1875, he was inIt would also be interesting if he formed of an officer of the 77th Regwould tell us what animals are not iment killing a viper with “young covered, or partly covered, with ones alive inside." To that Mr. something, however slight, when Buckland replied :they come into the world. If he finds, as a matter of fact, that vipers its young because they are found inside
“To say that a viper has swallowed are born singły, in the open air, with it, is as logical as to state that because a covering on them, how can he pos- a lot of kittens are found alive in a mothsibly resist the conclusion that those er cat, therefore the cat had swallowed found inside of a mother, as de- them.” scribed, had entered her by the mouth? That there may be no
From this one would conclude,
that snakes do not swallow their question on this point, we find in America that oviparous snakes are There is nothing extraordinary in
it! found with young inside of them which were hatched in the soil; the finding live baby vipers inside the young having been seen to run in mother; but they were not, and and run out by people whose evi- never had been, inside the stomach dence it would be out of the ques- serted that, or imagined that Nature
proper.” As if any one had ever astion to dispute. Mr. Buckland's ideas on this sub
was such a botch as to permit the ject are very hazy and vague. Thus a young to get mixed up with the enwriter in Land and Water, on the the side of the stomach, each wrapt
trails or vital organs!“ They were by 27th of September, 1873, said that a gentleman killed a viper, and“ ob- up in a thin delicate membrane serving it to be of unusual thickness (the remains of the original egg), as
indeed they were before they were about the middle, he put his foot upon the place, thinking that the the membrane, and, as it were,“ run
born; but these were divested of reptile had recently swallowed a mouse. The pressure brought out ning about” inside, as can be found ten young vipers from the mouth of
in a viper any summer in England. the old one. Some of them were ticed in Mr. Buckland's notes on
Another strange thing to be noabout five inches long, and some shorter ; but all were alive and act- single word in opposition to his
White, besides not admitting a ive, as if they had previously seen the light of day, and had again theory as distinguished from the sought shelter in the parent.” Mr. fact of snakes swallowing their Buckland admitted all this, but young, is, that he does not admit of maintained that the
White's own evidence, which was young
had not been born, but were squeezed out of complete, excepting that he did not the mouth :-a rather strange phe- know) how vipers are born. White
tell us (because he said he did not nomenon for the young inside of an
wrote thus of vipers :-egg or covering to be forced out of the mouth, in the direction of which, “Though they are oviparous, yet they according to Mr. Buckland's theory, are viviparousalso, hatching their there is no passage. One would young within their bellies, and then naturally think that the pressure of bringing them forth." the foot would have converted the
In supporting this assertion, it contents of the mother into a jelly, would have been interesting had he or forced them out towards the tail, rather than produced a
“ stream of
* For the particulars of this phenomviperlings” from her mouth,“ alive 'enon see note at page 39.
given us his authority. Like others, In his defence he says: before and since, he evidently concluded that, as some vipers are “ I have made many anatomical prekilled pregnant with eggs and others parations to show that the young vipers with young, the latter must have found inside the mother have never
been born." been, and therefore were, hatched inside. His real knowledge was illustrated when he said that the It would certainly be interesting to
have these examinations minutely reptiles, few as they are, I am not described, but divested of technical acquainted with so well as I could wish with regard to their natural phrases, so as to make them perhistory. There is a degree of du- fectly intelligible to the ordinary biousness and obscurity attending sumed, but everything proved, or
reader, and in which nothing is asthe propagation of this class of ani- logically and elaborately argued, if mals." Then he said :
cannot admit of proof.* He “Several intelligent folks assure me further says :that they have seen the viper open her mouth and admit her helpless young “ I still continue my public offer of a down her throat on sudden surprises ; reward of £1 for a specimen of a viper
which has been seen to swallow its whereas Mr. Buckland writes thus:--young, the young being actually in the “It is still believed by many that a when it is opened by me in the presence
æsophagus, or in the stomach proper, female viper will swallow her young of witnesses." when they are in peril. In nearly all the cases [he does not explain the exceptions] that have come under my ex
The words underlined by him will amination, the event always happened prevent him being ever called upon a long time ago. The witness gener- to pay the pound, for young snakes ally begins his statement thus :- When do not enter that part of the mother, I was a little boy,' Many years ago,' but take refuge in the chamber that “My grandmother told me,' etc., etc. contained the eggs, and that lies by If vipers swallowed their young many the side or in front of the stomach, years ago,' why should they not do so in our time ?”
and extends below it, if my memory
serves me correctly. There might And he adds with a pooh, pooh air, be danger in taking the pound in as if he had noticed a crow flying the event of Mr. Buckland buypast a window :
ing a “pig in a bag,” and lay
subject” aside to suit "A correspondence on this subject his convenience in having it distakes place in Land and Water almost sected in the presence of his witevery year,
nesses, who must be called together; while all the evidence furnished, in- for he could have the countryman cluding my own and that of the arrested for obtaining money on American Science Convention, as false pretences, on the plea that the already explained, and the evidence young had not been swallowed; for, to be drawn from other sources, has had they been swallowed, they been passed by as if it had no value, would have been in the stomach, or even existence. Presuming on and not in the chamber! And he something or other, whatever it may be, he thus carries things with a * It was evidently in reply to this revery high hand, riding rough-shod quest that Mr. Buckland gave, in Land
and Water, a wood.cut illustration of “a over every kind of evidence-quite unlike a man of superior character, young," as alluded to in the following
viper supposed to have swallowed its intellect, and acquirements.
might even get Messrs. Lee and In White's Natural History of Burr, and others of that “way,” to Selborne, published by Bickers & back him and prove his case before Son (1875), we have the original many a "justice,” unless the un- text, and the original notes marked fortunate man stumbled over some G. W., so that the work, as it came
vagabond attorney ” who was “up from the hands of the author, stands to snakes," and stretched them all out clearly from remarks made by on the rack of the cross-question, others. Judged by this standard, and completely floored or dished the Mr. Buckland's edition is an amazprosecution, and immediately began ing production, which it would an action for false imprisonment be difficult to characterize in beand slander. If the applicant for coming language. He disposes of the pound waited to see the result White's notes as follows:-13 (some of the examination before getting of them considerably mangled) are his money, he might be turned out embodied in the text; 24 (not allike a dog for having insulted the ways copied correctly) are used as savants, notwithstanding his most notes, with nothing to distinguish solemn asseverations that he actually them from his own (of which he has saw the viper swallow her brood, in about 30); and 24 are entirely supwhatever part of her they might be pressed. The language of the text found.
is changed to incorporate the notes This offer" of Mr. Buckland, with it; and other liberties have however meaningless it is in its been taken, but to what extent can nature and indelicate in its appeal only be ascertained by collating the to naturalists, has been well circu- two publications, which would be lated for years back, and will be so the more troublesome, owing to the for the future, unless the press letters being arranged differently should say, “Stop that advertise- from those in the original edition. ment,” till he does the following:- The changes that may have been Ist, That he should give his ex- made are not likely to improve the aminations of vipers which he says language, if we judge from Mr. showed that the young had never Buckland's Preface. White's Obbeen born; 2d, that he should tell servations on Nature have been the world how vipers, as a matter omitted, and in their place about a of fact, are born; and, 3d, that if he third of them, without any explanafinds they are born “singly, in the tion given, have been inserted in open air, with a covering on them, brackets in the body of some of the how can he possibly resist the con letters, and in the most clumsy way; clusion that those found inside of a the word Observations being placed mother, as described, had entered outside of the brackets, and someher by the mouth?” This Mr. times omitted. Quotation marks Buckland can easily do, since it have been left out when they should rests with himself; whereas his offer appear; and occasionally Mr. Buckis addressed to every one, and what land's own remarks printed, with is everybody's business is nobody's nothing excepting the sense to disbusiness.*
tinguish them from White's text.
In this way he breaks in upon the Thus far of this article I offered to a London natural history publication, with genius and beauty of the work—a the request that it might be returned if charmingly desultory production, in not accepted ; and it came back, with which we can never imagine what every courtesy on the part of the editor.
even the next paragraph is likely to The remainder of the article was sent to another London journal that should be; frequently the same subjects becertainly have printed it, but took no ing alluded to again and again, exnotice of it, as I shall inention at p. 198. I actly as they were written from time
to time; while the interest attach- passed under that name. Mr. Bucking to the Observations, and most of land says that “White's Selborne has the Observations themselves, as well held its own as a standard book for as the Summary of the Weather, a hundred years, and will probably have been entirely done away with. be as fresh as ever a hundred years Translations of Latin quotations hence;" but it must be as White have been printed as part of the left it, with additions distinguished text, and various Latin documents from the original matter. excluded from the Antiquities. Perhaps Mr. Buckland is the only man White was a man that doubtless in England who would so treat such brooded over the books he read on a book-an inheritance which every his favourite subjects. In regard to one should regard with reverence. that Mr. Buckland says, that He has shown a singular peculiarity of judgment and sense of responsi
“I have discovered that White had bility in so “editing” it.
not only deeply studied Derham and With no references in the text, also Ray, but [that] in many cases he of which they are, or are supposed
illustrates [illustrated] Derham's arguto be, illustrations, he adds 134
ments by his own observations." pages of notes, a very large part of which, however interesting most of As if his work does not suffithem are, bear no relation whatever ciently“ discover” that; for in it to White's matter, but would be we find Ray mentioned at least forty suitable for a collection of illustra- times, and Derham frequently al. tions, odds and ends, or scraps in
luded to. natural history; and it would not be amiss to consign large parts of
Mr. Buckland also says :most of the remaining notes to the
“We live in a beautiful and happy same repository; while there are a
world. .... Rest assured that if we, great many nice points in various branches of natural history that called dumb because we cannot under
like White, love animals (commonly have not been commented on at all, stand their language), we shall never and 45 pages that have no notes of experience the feeling of solitude.”
It is to be sincerely hoped that Mr. Buckland's book That is running natural history will pass at its true value, and never into the ground. The world wants be allowed to corrupt the text of a "philosophy of life" deeper and the amiable White; for it is only more complex than that; natural the Natural History of Selborne al- history, in any of its branches, contered, mixed and mutilated, and at tributing to it according to people's the best only a part, although the opportunities and tastes running, or most part, of what has hitherto being cultivated, in that direction.
III.--MR. FRANK BUCKLAND ON THE VIPER. N the Dublin University Maga- originally appeared in Land and Water."
zine for July, 1875, appeared a “For instance, it is a vexed question notice of Contributions to Natural whether, under any circumstances, the History and Papers on Other Sub- young retreat into the stomach of the jects, in which I find the following:
mother snake. A great authority [?],
Mr. Frank Buckland, affirms that they “The principal articles in this volume do not; while our author is as positive that have reference to natural history, that they do. And he certainly, with
reason, contends that the question is / gard to that work he (or Land and entirely one of evidence; and, therefore, Water for him) says:-should be settled as a fact is proved in a court of justice; difficulties, suppo “ Contributions to Natural History, sitions, or theories not being allowed to etc. The fact that the natural history form part of the testimony. " In sup- papers in this volume made their apport of his own views, Mr. Simson has pearance in the first instance in these collected a large body of evidence that columns is an effectual bar to our offerundoubtedly appears authentic and con- ing any opinion on their merits. ... clusive."
of the first half we have already said
we can offer no opinion.” In all I have read of Mr. Buckland's writings on this subject, I have To this I replied that seen no evidence in support of his assertion that vipers do not swallow
“ All of the natural history papers their young. He merely maintains were sent to this journal, but only about
half of them, as the work plainly shows, the negative, and produces others like himself who do not know of it, and include the most important on the viper
were published in it; and these did not therefore do not believe in the phe- question. They were all intended for nomenon, and says that it is impos- Mr. Buckland, in his usual manner, to sible; but he has never told us how comment on them, and admit or reject he knows that vipers do not swallow the evidence contained in them.” their young, and why it is impossible.
Mr. Buckland has always shirked The question must occur to any the evidence to prove that vipers do one, how did the idea that vipers swallow their young, and has be(as well as other snakes) swallow a bar in the way” to its taktheir young originate? A subject ing its place as a fact in natural hisof that kind never could have be- tory. The question is a very simple come a superstition among country one that is of easy solution if we people. It has been simply a mat- consider it according to evidence, ter of observation. As such, it is direct as well as circumstantial; and not to be settled by a denial, for in it is strange that it should have been that case one's ignorance would be allowed to remain unsettled for a the standard by which it would be century, since White of Selborne measured, or the scales in which it brought it into prominent notice. would be weighed.
Mr. Buckland's last contribution The truth is, Mr. Buckland has to the discussion presents the subcommitted himself so frequently, so ject in an aspect that makes it, I fully, and so publicly on this subject, think, of considerable popular inthat it becomes a difficult matter to terest. “go back on " himself. That I can In Land and Water, of the ad of easily understand, as well as that he September, 1876, he gives a woodshould say nothing about the mat- cut illustration of “ a viper supposed ter; but I cannot so easily recon to have swallowed its young.”. His cile it with the “law of literature" definition is correct enough, for no that he should continue asserting a one but himself and his school" negative, and ignoring every kind of would have supposed such a thing. evidence against his theory, as he The fact is that the young there dedid lately in his edition of White's scribed had never been born, and Natural History of Selborne, after consequently could neither have run being in possession of Contributions into nor out of the mother, especiboth before and after publication, ally as he says that each was wrapsaying nothing of the evidence to be ped up in a very fine skin or memdrawn from other sources. In re-l brane, tender as silver paper,” (the