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now and then burst out into a hearty laugh, which we conld not help joining in, without knowing very well why we did so. The court outside was full of Chinamen, who were evidently enjoying with great zest Mr. A-chang's songs and recitations. Inside, sitting perched upon a chair, sat a young Priest, with his eyes fixed upon the bottles on the table. An empty beer-bottle had been given to him at the commencement of dinner, and his whole soul seemed bent upon getting another. He neither moved, smiled, nor spoke, but looked on in a dreamy manner, and never took his eyes off the bottles. Our attention was drawn to the boy by this singular proceeding, and we desired one of the servants to find another bottle and give it to him; which having been done, the little fellow disappeared for the night.

As we were all rather tired with the day's exertions, we felt an inclination to retire early to rest. We had some difficulty in inducing our Mandarin friend to leave us, as he was evidently prepared to “make a night of it;" but as Englishmen have degenerated very much, and cannot imitate now the noisy drunken squires of the olden time, we gave him sundry hints, which he took at last, and left as to our own meditations.

THE NATURALIST.

BRITISH OPHIDIA.

“ The well-taught philosophic mind

To all compassion gives;
Casts round the world an equal eye,

And feels for all that lives." TIE true naturalist, he who studies because he loves all that God has made and pronounced to be very good, has often sad eause for indignation in witnessing the persecution to which many interesting and inoffensive creatures are subjected. Even without taking into consideration those predatory animals which may, with some show of justice, suffer the condign punishment due to robbers and pirates, it cannot be denied that the lower tribes of our British fauna are only saved from extermination by their extraordinary fecundity, and owe nothing to the forbearance of those in whose woods and fields they find their habitation. “Down, vermin !" cries the rustic, and stamps with his clouted shoon on the tiny brood of the harvest-mouse or water-shrew. The appearance of a squirrel among the branches overhead is a signal for immediate chase; and fortunate indeed is the harmless frog or snake which can elude his eye, and escape the deadly blow of his staff. Nor is it mere thoughtlessness which causes this wanton cruelty. Precisely as ignorance and vulgar prejudice were wont, in old time, to suspect many a poor deformed creature of dealing with evil spirits, and injuring the property or persons of her more fortunate neighbours; so, despite the influence of the village training-school, some absurd legendary charge is preferred against all those animals which are considered ugly by rustic connoisseurs. According to their traditionary natural history, the toad spits venom; the cuckoo turns into a hawk, and plunders the poultry-yard ; the hedgehog robs the cows of their milk; and the eft, blind-worm, and snake possess poison-fangs, and must be destroyed whenever and wherever found. We hope to have another opportunity of pleading the cause of these muchbelied and persecuted creatures: at present our business is with the general characteristics of the serpent-tribes.

The Ophidia are distinguished by the unusual length of the vertebral column, combining, by its muscular apparatus, an amazing degree of flexibility with very great strength. The back is covered with small angular scales, termed squamæ, whilst larger scuta, or overlapping plates, defend the lower portion of the body. There is no trace of external limbs, and it is only in the boa and python of tropical countries that a few slender bones appear in the skeleton as the representatives of the pelvis and lower limbs of the mammalia.

In order clearly to understand the way in which this absence of the usual organs of locomotion is compensated, we must refer to the skeleton of the snake. It consists

simply of a skull, and a backbone composed of several hundred distinct joints or vertebræ. All the vertebræ, with the exception of those of the tail, are furnished with a cup-shaped cavity on each side ; and in these sockets the rounded extremities of a pair of slender ribs are so fixed as to admit of considerable freedom of motion. Curving almost circularly, as indicated by the rounded outline of the body, the ribs terminate in a cartilage attached to one of the scuta, or broad external scales. A little consideration will show that such pairs of moveable ribs, each armed with its scutum, will, in fact, form a series of limbs, admirably adapted for rapid movement, and closely analogous to the numerous legs of the centipede. As each pair is advanced in turn, the posterior edge of its scale becomes slightly raised, and, thus projecting, gives sufficient purchase or hold upon the inequalities of the ground, to allow of the remainder of the body being brought up, by a series of undulatory movements. Thus the easy, gliding motion of the serpent tribe, to which the ancients were wont to liken the incessus "'* or gait of the gods, is really nothing

“ more than a succession of very short and rapid steps, performed by the ribs, which act as concealed limbs, while the scales attached to them fulfil all the purposes of feet.

The most convenient popular classification of the Ophidia, and one which is also as strictly scientific as any other, separates them into two distinct sections ;-innoxious serpents, whose bite is a simple wound; and venomous serpents, furnished with glands for secreting a subtle poison to be injected into the puncture caused by their fangs. Another coincident distinction may also be noticed. As far as the researches of naturalists have as yet proceeded, it has been found that the innoxious genera are oviparous, their eggs

• Callimachus, describing the advance of the goddess Pallas, uses the very word ?pta, from which, through the Latin serpn. "I glide,” we obtain our word " serpent." Heliodorus, too, in the Æthiopica, speaks of the stately gliding of a god, as distinguished from the walking of a mortal by alternate action of the feet; and hints that, on this account, the Egyptians, as is known to have been universally the case, carved the statues of their gods without any division of the lower linis.

[graphic]

being often deposited among decaying vegetable substances, in order that the heat generated by the decomposition of the surrounding matter might aid in the purposes of incubation. The venomous section are just as uniformly ovoviviparous, and the young are produced perfect even to the possession of minute poison-fangs. In examining the conformation of these two groups, we shall find one remarkable point of resemblance, -an adaptation required by the absence of organs suited to effect the division and mastication of food. Serpents, it will be remembered, swallow their prey entire. Hence, the bones composing the jaws, and indeed those of the entire skull, instead of being immoveably knit together and firmly dovetailed with interlocking sutures, are loosely connected by elastic ligaments, and thus are capable of sustaining an enormous degree of dilation without injury. To increase this power, the number of elastic joints is multiplied as far as is consistent with strength, by interposing a small bone between the points of those forming the upper jaw. Similarly, the branches of the lower jaw are not, as in most other animals, attached directly to the temporal bone, but opportunity for additional dilation is gained by placing an intermediate tympanic bone between the surfaces usually articulating. It is by means of this singular provision, conjoined with the yielding nature of the gullet and viscera, that the boa, and even our own common ringed snake, are enabled to swallow animals whose bulk greatly exceeds that of their destroyers.

In serpents of the innoxious group, the mouth is armed with two rows of sharp needle-shaped teeth, the inner row rising from the surface of the palate. All of these are curved uniformly backwards, and thus in no degree impede the action of swallowing, but detain the struggling prey beyond the possibility of escape. A marked difference exists in the poisonous tribes. Here the prehensile teeth, as they may be termed, are fewer in number, but a formidable addition appears in the two long and acutely pointed fangs in front of the upper jaw. Both of these are hollow, and communicate each with a separate gland secreting venom, situated below the zygomatic arch. A special muscle is provided to compress these glands at the moment the bite is inflicted, and force a minute portion of their deadly contents into the wound.

In thus briefly and rapidly sketching the more prominent characteristics of the serpent tribe in general, we have made little or no allusion to the British representatives of the huge African python and rattle-snake of North America. Next month we hope to have the opportunity of giving some account of the habits and economy of these little-known and persecuted inhabitants of our island.

St. Mary's, Colchester.

HISTORY OF THE JEWS AT ROME.

(Continued from page 230.) The rule of Paul IV., though an extremely short one, (1555—1559,) yet marks an important epoch in the history of the Jews at Rome. He was a member of the house of Caraffa, well known for its cruel and heartless propensities; and to him the torture-chambers and other inquisitorial institutions at Rome, for the trial of heretics, owe their existence. He was nearly eighty years old when the tiara was placed on his head, but seems to have lost none of his dark and bitter persecuting vigour ; and he had scarcely assumed the Papal chair, when he issued (1555) the wellknown bull, “ Cum nimis absurdum,” in order to regulate the Jewish affairs in his dominions. In this decree he repealed all the privileges and liberties hitherto enjoyed by the Jews; prohibiting their rendering medical advice to Christians, as also their engaging in any trade or handicraft whatsoever, the purchase of land, and every kind of intercourse with Christians. He also raised the amount of their tribute and the taxes they had to pay. All and every honour and distinction was denied to them. And in order effectually to separate them from the Christians, he ordained that the Jews, who had hitherto resided in all parts of Rome, but especially in Trastevere, and along the water up to Hadrian's-Bridge, should now be confined to one par

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