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remains of the original egg), which mouth and admit her helpless young shows that they had “never yet been down her throat on sudden surprises." born,” but that “in a very short time and yet Mr. Buckland adds that the young vipers, as drawn, would in his have been born."
I can easily believe Mr. Buckland “Humble opinion those who state when he says that he has lost the they have seen vipers run down the friendship of a gentleman, who mother's throat are perfectly honest in would not speak to him, because he their belief, but yet not accurate as to asserted that vipers do not swallow facts. The story is generally to this
effect :-They have seen the viper basktheir young; for he (Mr. B.) did
ing in the sun with the young ones so (very probably in the most offen- around her ; on being alarmed the old sive manner, and) in palpable igno- viper opens her mouth, and the young rance of the point in dispute; an ones scuttle away.” ignorance which apparently no fact or argument will remove from his One would think that that would mind, or get him to acknowledge. settle the question, for he does not He admits that in England, Wales, say how these people could be misand Scotland, one-half of the people taken in what they saw with their believe that "a viper does habitu- own eyes, and not those of others; ally swallow its young, while the but he continues :other half are totally incredulous.” He does not account for either phe- with the foot, or opened with a knife,
“The viper is then killed, pressed nomenon,
although he says that and the young are found inside the "for something like thirty years I stomach, all alive oh !” have been endeavouring to settle this point.” For this reason the subject Such people, most likely, used the should be taken out of his hands, as word stomach here, not distinguisha person incompetent of treating it. ing between the stomach proper and He gives no reason for half of the the chamber described in the enpopulation being “totally incredu- graving, in which the young take
on this subject, but leaves us refuge. Mr. Buckland does not say to say that they are wilfully so, or that he ever dissected such a viper, because they have never had it fairly and found the young wrapped up explained to them. That the other in a very fine skin or membrane, half are
“swallowers” is because, tender as silver paper." Had he according to Mr. Buckland's long known more of the subject, or rigmarole, they are under the influ- been willing to be informed of it by ence of myths, superstitions, etc. others, he would have referred to a very high compliment to pass up-White of Selborne, who personally on half of the inhabitants of that cut open a viper containing, not unIsland called Great Britain.
born vipers, coiled up in an egg or As regards the direct evidence to covering, about the size of a blackthe swallowing, he says:
bird's egg, but fifteen exceedingly
belligerent reptiles, the shortest of "I can recollect but one man only– them being fully seven inches long a game-keeper—who could affirm that -à phenomenon that can be obhe had positively seen it,”
served any summer in England.
But he examined another viper whereas White of Selborne wrote:
* White's definition of the phenome
non is apparently more correct than the “Several intelligent folks assure me shorter one, swallowing,” in common that they have seen the viper open her use.
pregnant with eggs, near the point | States, as to various kinds of snakes of hatching or birth, and says : swallowing their young; several
scientific gentlemen present testify"In the engraving will be found a drawing by Mr. Bergeau, the artist, giving of their own knowledge to the ing a representation of a viper that has fact, particularly Prof. Sydney J. been supposed to have swallowed its Smith, of the Sheffield Scientific young
School, Yale College, who “added to
the testimony of the paper his perHe here finds young that had not sonal evidence that he had seen, been born, and gives that as a tri- with his own eyes, young snakes umphant reason that vipers do not entering and issuing from the mouth swallow their young! He might have of an older one.” He was also in dissected various vipers, showing possession of an appendix to the eggs ranging from the condition in work, bearing the title of Mr. which the foetus could not be dis- Frank Buckland and White of Selcovered with the naked eye, to the borne, that answered by anticipatime of birth, and said that these tion all that he has advanced in his dissections prove the same thing! article under review. All the evi
A scientific, or even common dence contained in these counted sense, naturalist will not necessarily for nothing in Mr. Buckland's estistoop so low as to demand ocular mation. He says that for someproof of snakes swallowing their thing like thirty years ” he has young. He ascertains that vipers been labouring to ascertain whether pass their young with a covering on or not vipers swallow their young; them—the original egg attenuated so that we have his own evidence to the last degree-which breaks as to satisfy us that during all that it leaves the mother, or immediately time he has been merely trifling after it touches the ground; and with the subject. are killed with young inside of In his edition of White's Natural them, sometimes upwards of seven History of Selborne Mr. Buckland, inches long, and divested of a cov as we have seen, says that “a corering; and he concludes at once respondence on this subject takes that the young were swallowed. place in Land and Water almost And his opinion is confirmed by every year.” This was illustrated the fact of oviparous snakes being by J. A. D., on the 16th of Decemkilled with young, inside of them ber, 1876, when he said that he saw that were hatched in the soil, which a viper swallow her young; and on proves beyond doubt that they must the same day by Wm. G. Gard, have been swallowed. Ocular testi- who said :mony confirms the opinion in both instances that the young were swal
“I can be under no delusion whatlowed.
ever about the case. I saw the mother As I have already said, about half and young ones; I saw the young ones of Contributions to Natural History leased from her stomach by its being
enter her mouth; and I saw them reappeared in Land and Water, and ripped open by my father, and I saw the other half were in Mr. Buck-them killed.”. land's possession for several months before publication. Among these On the 30th Francis Edwards last was a paper read by Prof. G. testified to the phenomenon having Brown Goode, before the American been seen by Isaac Mitchell, a farm Science Convention, in 1873, in labourer; and on the 6th of Januwhich was found the positive evi- ary, 1877, Mr. Gard, in reply to dence of nearly a hundred people, some meaningless cavilling of "Lawfrom various parts of the United 'yer C.” about the fact being “im
probable," and asking how the little against him by default in the event of vipers breathe, and how the diges- his not making good, or not explaining, țion of the old one acts (Mr. Buck- the challenge he has had before the land's heresy), said :
world for years back.
“ His surroundings in England make
it a difficult matter to bring him to jus“ I again assert that I saw the young tice' on this question, in the ordinary ones swallowed; and it matters not after this whether the releasing of them way. Appropriate parts of the accomfrom the inside of the mother was skil- panying article were offered to two
journals there, but were declined -- for fully or otherwise performed; nor can reasons which I and others may imagine, any amount of special pleading on the but cannot state.” part of Lawyer C.' in any way affect that fact."
I have not noticed that even one Facts like these can be ascer- paper there took Mr. Buckland to tained any summer in England, in task for “altering, mixing, and opposition to Mr. Buckland's asser- mutilating" the text of White, and tion that they are "grandmothers' inserting all kinds of frivolous stories,” and “tales of Old Mother matter in the work, such as the song Hubbard.” At the end of Mr. to the tune of Lord Lovel, phrases Gard's remarks Mr. Buckland said like “grandmothers' stories” and that " the discussion must now
“ tales of Old Mother Hubbard," close." It should certainly close and remarks in keeping with what with the affirmative, that vipers do he lately wrote to the Times, when, swallow their young, on evidence in speaking of the destruction of direct as well as circumstantial, and oyster spat, he said : “as a fact is proved in a court of justice ; difficulties, suppositions, or
“I think then what an awful slaughter theories not being allowed to form of oyster-mothers and babies has been part of the testimony."
carried on during the last two or three weeks in London alone. Why, it is
worse than the Turkish atrocities!” In the form of a prefatory note to the preceding article, entitled Mr. Frank Buckland and White of
This tone, indeed, runs through Selborne, printed and extensively most of his writings, where it may circulated in Great Britain, as an remain, but it is sadly out of place appendix to the book, was the fol- in White's Natural History of Sellowing >
borne. “It is to be hoped that this subject
The only journal which really will be well ventilated in England, called Mr. Buckland to account in where there are so many publications any way, that I know of, is the Exthat take more or less notice of natural aminer, long afterwards, that is, on history. Mr. Buckland being in the the 2d February, 1878, when, in reway should prove no bar to that being viewing Professor Bell's Edition of done ; for it is a question with many, White, it wrote rather gingerly as What is his real standing as a naturalist?
follows:“ In his treatment of the matter in dispute, he has ignored every circum
“Of a later edition [than that of Benstance, argument, and fact bearing on
nett], by another hand, [that is, Mr. the affirmative side of it, and has had Buckland], we need say nothing; it has recourse to the ignorance of others, and already succumbed under its own prea song, instead of hard facts and solid sumptuous inefficiency.” reasons, in support of it. Since he has committed himself so fully to the ques
I have nothing to say of Mr. tion at issue, judgment must be given Buckland personally, but I claim
the privilege of speaking of him in The same may be asserted, ir, a his public capacity, since he is “a much greater degree, of the relation bar in the way”-the cause of un- in which Mr. Buckland stands to necessary trouble-in having the natural history generally (for it is question of the viper swallowing almost the reverse of Waterton's), her young admitted as a fact in whatever might be said of him as a natural history. And he and his taxidermist and anatomist (the friends can have no reason of com- labours of his own hands), or in any plaint against me for doing so, inas- particular department of natural much as he has treated the subject history that he may have practically capriciously, and not with that studied to advantage. Witness, for candour and courtesy which the example, his amazing remarks, given sacred deposit of truth” called for. at page 189, about a stream of
My opinion, then, of him is that viperlings, alive and active, forced he is a wonderfully overrated man, out of a viper by the pressure of the but in high esteem in England foot,” being “in the egg and not among conventional people who, yet born, but squeezed out of the even although of high education mouth"; and that vipers do not and intelligence, are not qualified to swallow their young because cats do judge him in questions of natural not do it! Could a “naturalist," history, or who have never heard with the overwhelming amount of his merits discussed, or who will evidence before him, ever have not take the trouble to look into given expression to two such opinthem, and will almost resent it being ions? done by others. In reality he is, The son of, and “the successor for the most part, but a kind of in natural science " to, the Dean of broker in natural history facts and Westminster, the well-known Bridgeanecdotes—almost every one send- water writer, lately a surgeon in the ing him all kinds of articles and Life Guards, the natural history odds and ends connected with the editor of Land and Water, and the subject, of which he becomes the leading commissioner of the fisherdepositary and registrar, to be re-ies-preceded by his page and secreferred to as occasion calls for. In tary-Mr. Buckland presents an imthis capacity he would be a useful posing aspect to all kinds of “poor and interesting member of socie- people,” who would rather not ty, if he accurately arranged and Offend him, or the society in which thoroughly digested his informa-1 he figures so prominently, and far tion, and dealt it out correctly, less call in question his authority or giving his authorities, after their almost his infallibility in natural information had been well tested history. So divided and subdivided and confirmed, for everything with is the press, with its various spheres which he favoured the public, so so clearly defined, that journals that it could always be depended whose province is not natural hison. And then his labours would be tory will not interfere with him in too multifarious to secure accuracy disputed points, but will rather say, on all occasions. In denying that “We leave that to Mr. Buckland.” Charles Waterton was a scientific Even papers on natural history seem naturalist I said that
to have a delicacy in meddling with
him, on account of his editorial and “ A person may make all observations official standing, and his peculiar yet be devoid of the capacity or mental relation to a large part of the comtraining to weave them into a theory munity interested in the popular or system, that will immediately, or at aspects of the subject; while natuany time, meet with acceptance”(p. 49). 'ralists of admitted scientific reputa
tion, in their respective branches, j in a state of nature] swallow their young, not regarding him as a reliable till the opposite can be proved of any authority on the many questions on particular species of them" (p. 29). which he is so ready to give so On paying a visit this year (1878), absolute a decision, evidently will about the 7th of April, to Weenot enter the sphere of which he is hawken, near Hoboken, in New the luminary. Having thus sub- Jersey, opposite New York, where stantially a clear course before him, snakes have been killed by the railhe acts as if he considered himself road trains passing over them while society's darling, that can do pretty lying along or on the rails, for the much what he pleases in regard to heat of the sun concentrated in the natural history, and defy any moral iron (p. 29), I noticed, here and magistrate-British and especially there, dead garter snakes of all sizes, American--to commit him or bind lying sometimes three together, too him over. He rather went over the fresh-looking to have been killed last mark, however, in marring the year; and I made inquiries of a man sacred text of White; after which in the immediate vicinity, who has there is hardly anything for him to mowed the marsh there for many be guilty of but contempt of majesty years. He said that they made their and sacrilege.
first appearance in the early part of The phrase " presumptuous in-March-so early and mild was the efficiency” applied by the Examiner season-and in great force about the to his edition of White is a bitter ist of April, when the children and expression, and all the more bitter more grown-up people turned out because the editor had apparently and killed many of them, some in to decline using it in a formal im- the open air and others on turning peachment of the writer by name. over the stones to get at them. This That purpose would have been man, intelligent and doubtless in served had I succeeded in getting this matter reliable, after having part of the preceding article at page had many opportunities for noticing 191, from “In White's" to the end snakes, assured me, on being asked of it, with my name attached, in- generally, “what he knew about serted in a London journal which I snakes,” that he had seen a black always considered one of independ- and a garter snake (both oviparous) ence, and the special medium for swallow their young. He was mipointing out the unpardonable nute in his description in the latter liberties taken with White.
instance. He said that he saw the “Presumptuous inefficiency” is snake at a very short distance, then absolute truth when applied to Mr. distinctly heard a peculiar noise, and Buckland's treatment of the viper saw her open widely her mouth, and question, where he has been caught, the young snakes, coming quickly as it were, in a trap from which from every direction, and in a conthere is no living extrication; so fused-looking scramble, enter it; that no one need look to him, even making a scene very interesting to after his thirty years' labour, to have witness. He then put his foot on that very interesting point in natural her, immediately below the head, history decided; and about which just as the last one went down her there need be no controversy, inter- throat, and seized her by the tail, national or otherwise. Besides vipers and ripped her open with his knife, swallowing their young, I repeat without touching the stomach prowhat I have said in the work: per, and let out a number of young
ones, which were several weeks old, “ I lay it down as an axiom that we so far as he could judge. He said must hold that all snakes (when living that the peculiar noise served the