Indeed, what is there that does not appear marvellous when it comes to our knowledge for the first time?4 How many things, too, are looked upon as quite impossible until they have been actually effected?
The human features and countenance, although composed of but some ten parts or little more, are so fashioned that among so many thousands of men there are no two in existence who cannot be distinguished from one another.5
All men possess in their bodies a poison which acts upon serpents; and the human saliva, it is said, makes them take to flight, as though they had been touched with boiling water. The same substance, it is said, destroys them the moment it enters their throat.6
Natural History. Book vii. Sect. 15.
Note 1. This term of forty days is mentioned by Aristotle in his Natural History, as also by some modern physiologists. [back]
Note 6. Madame dAbrantes relates that when Bonaparte was in Cairo he sent for a serpent-detecter (Psylli) to remove two serpents that had been seen in his house. He having enticed one of them from his hiding-place, caught it in one hand, just below the jaw-bone, in such a manner as to oblige the mouth to open, when spitting into it, the effect was like magic: the reptile appeared struck with instant death.Memoirs, vol. i. chap. lix. [back]