Francis Lieber.

Library of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) online

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noses on the ground till they bleed. Dogs that are aware of the skunk's powers, how-
ever, kill it by leaping upon it suddenly, and in such a way that they are not exposed"
to danger. There is much uncertainty concerning the species of skunk, as the colors
vary considerably even in. the same species; but there is no doubt of the existence of a
number of species. They are found only in America, .where they are very widely dis-
tributed from Hudson's bay to the strait of Magellan. The COMMON SKUNK (M. Atmri-
cana or mriany) is about the size of a cat, generally black or blackish brown, with white
streaks along the back. It inhabits burrows which it makes in the earth, leeds on mice,
frogs, etc., and also ou insects and fruits; and sometimes enters houses to plunder store-
rooms, where, if it is suddenly alarmed, everything is tainted with an intolerable odor.
\Vhite streaks ou the back, one or more, are very characteristic of this genus.

SKUNK CABBAGE, sometimes called dracontium, and by the Germans, stinkcnde
drackeiiwai-zel. It is the symplocarpus fatidas, a plant belonging to the arum family,
growing in bogs and moist ground in many parts of North America. It blossoms 111
April and May. The spathe, which precedes the leaves, is hooded, shell form, pointed,
rather fleshy, of a variegated purplish brown and yellow color, inclosing a short oval
spadix, which is densely tessellated with fleshy flowers, and enlarges to a spongy mass,
which superficially covers the globular seeds. The leaves are radical, 18 to" 24 in.
long, on short leaf-stalks, smooth, ovate, heart-shaped. All parts of the plant emit a
fetid odor, especially when bruised, which has some resemblance to the fetid secretion
of the skunk. The fruit, is ripe in. September, forming a roughened, globular mass 2
or 3 in. in diameter, containing many round seeds "nearly half an inch in diam-
eter, filled with a solid fleshy embryo. Skunk cabbage, or dracontium, taken internally
produces vertigo, nausea, and frequently vomiting. It has been used in hysteria, chorea,
and spasmodic asthma, but it is probably much less efficient than many other medicines,
and is not often used by the profession. The root is the part used, and should be col-
lected early in the spring.

SKYE (Gaelic skianach, winged), the largest of the Scottish islands after Lewis, and
the most northerly of the group known as the inner Hebrides, forms part of the county
of Inverness, from the mainland of which it is separated by a channel scarcely half a
mile in breadth at its narrowest point, Kyle Rhea. Its extreme length, from s.e. to n.w.,
is 47 m. ; breadth, from 7 to 25 m. : but on account of the extraordinary number of inlets
at all parts of the island, no point is above 4 m. from the sea. Area, 547 sq.m. ; pop.
'71, 17,330. Skye is for the most part mountainous and moory, but it contains some
pleasant tracts of arable and pasture land, and one considerable plain, formerly the bed
of a lake, in the parish of Kilmuir. The principal mountains are the Coolin Hills, which
stretch irregularly chiefly from s.w. to n.e., culminating in the sharp peak of Scoor-nan-
Gillean (3,183 ft.) above Slurachan. The singularly jagged outline of these remarkable
bills arrests the eye nt a great distance, and forms the dominant feature in the view at
almost every point around the island, and far out at sea. The most famous scene in
this region is loch Coiruisg, a small fresh -water lake near the head of the bay of Scavaig,
all but encircled by frowning ridses of rock, shooting up at some points to the height of
3.000 feet. It has been powerfully depicted by sir W. Scott in Tie Lord <>f the I*te*. Glen
Sligachan, extending from the head of the loch of that name about 9m. to Caumsunary,
is by many as the grandest glen in the highlands. The scenery of Cuiraing, near the n.
of the island, has been truly styled " unique." The coast-sconery of Skye is for the most
part highly picturesque, and in many places very grand. Between Rhn-nnm-Brarln and
loch Btaffln. the coast-line presents magnificent basaltic formations, on a scale of magni-
tude considerably exceeding the giants' causeway or Staff a. Over these cliffs descend
many remarkable waterfalls, and their bases are frequently worn into deep caves, some
of which are of historical interest. One near Portree afforded a refuge to prince Charles;
another, on the w. coast, was the temporary prison of lady Grange. The largest arms
of the sea nre loch Bracadale, loch Dunvcgan, and loch Snizort; and the chief harbors
are those of Portree, Uig, Grishernish. Lochbay. Dunvcgan, Pooltiel, and llarport.

The coasts abound in fish, the most important being herring, cod, ling, and saithe.
Good oysters are found in several places. The herring fishery is prosecuted in the
season in all the bays: the cod and ling fishery is chiefly confined to loch Pun vegan and
loch Snizort; and the salmon fishery to Portree and thee. coast. Lobster fishing is also car-
ried on to a considerable extent. There are no rivers of any magnitude; but salmon and
sea-trout are got in some of the principal streams, at Skeabost, Portree, Ose, Hammer,
&c. The fresh-water lakes are nlso small, and few in number. Deer are not numerous,
nor are grouse. An excellent breed of hardy ponies used to be extensively reared, but
the cultivation of sheep now engrosses almost exclusive attention from farmers. The
climate of Skye is exceedingly moist, the days throughout the year during which no rain
falls beincr sjenerallv few in number. A reirister kept at Pcrtree shows the rainfall iii the
years 1860-65 to have been respectively 87.99. 189.04, 111.19, 148.89. and 89.54 inches.
The climate is, however, mild and healthy, and the average standard of longevity <m-
commonly hiirli. Agriculture in Skye is comparatively unprofitable, owing to the mois-
ture of the climnte, and is, in fact, falling into entire neglect on some of the chief sheep-
farms. The soil, however, is in many place excellent, and capable, in dry seasons, of
yielding good cereal crops, while for turnips it is peculiarly suited.

KKQ Skunk.


The inhabitants are for the most part poor. In the districts where the men practice
fishing, nearly the whole of the adult males go to the Caithness fisheries in summer,
while from all parts of the island young men and women go in troops to the s. in .search
of field-labor. Potatoes and fish are the general diet, meat being a rare luxury. The
population is chiefly Celtic, with, however, a considerable mixture of the Norse element.
Gaelic is still universally spoken, but is gradually giving plaec to English. The chief
proprietors are still, as of old, lord Macdonahl, whose seat, Armadale castle in Sleat, is
one of the most beautiful in air its surroundings to be seen on the Scottish coasts, and
Macleod of Macleod, whose ancient castle of Duuvegan, picturesquely seated on a rock,
has been pleasantly commemorated by Dr. Johnson and sir Walter Scott. Around
these residences are the principal plantations to be seen in Skye. The principal port of
Bkye is Portree, a picturesquely situated village of (1871) 731 inhabitants, to which steam-
ers regularly ply from Glasgow. Other villages, also calling-points of the stes.mcrs, are
Kyleakin (Hakon's strait), Broadford, and Dunvegan,. The principal exports are cattle
and sheep, wool, fish, shell-fish, and eggs. AtPorlree there is a flourishing tweed manu-
factory, the only one in the island. The celebrated distillery of CaraboM (or Talisker) is
now given up. The inhabitants are, with the exception of a few families, all Presby-
terians, and, as in the rest of the highlands, chiefly adherents of the free church. Of the
smaller islands near Skye, the chief are Raasay (q.v.), Rouay, Scalpay, Pubbay, Soay, all
of whicii ;:re inhabited.

SKY SOS, or SCYRO, an island of the Grecian archipelago, the largest member of the
northern Sporades, 25m. n.e. of cape Koumi, Euba-a, Its length is 19 in.: area esti-
mated at about GO sq. miles. Skyros, is very mountainous and uncultivated in the s. ;
but the northern p:;rt, though also hilly, has several fertile plains, which produce as fine
wheat as any grown in the archipelago. The only town in the islar.d is Skyro, or St.
George, which is built on a high peak on the eastern coast, the broad summit of which
is occupied by the ruins of a castle, and was the site of "the lofty Scyros" of Homer.
There are several relics of antiquity on the island. Pop. '70, 3,029.

SLAGS, called otherwise fror'ae r.r cinders, are fused compounds of silica in combina-
tion with lime, alumina, cr other bases; and result as secondary products from the
reduction of metallic ores. Wore cr le.-s of the n etal always n mains in a slag: in the
early days of iron-smelting, the proportion of metal thus wasted was so great that seme
old slags have lecii profitably f melted in recent times. 1; gs being silicates, are of the
nature of glass, and externally have a glassy, crystallized, or stone-like character. Beauti-
fully crystallize d fpecimcns are < ctasionally to i e met with at smeltii g wcrks. They
vary very much in color, and :.rc sometimes so prettily veined and marbled, that
attemps have been made to apply them to ornamental purposes. Millions of tons of
slag are annually produced at the iron-smelting works of Great Britain, but almost the
only use to which it has yet been successfully applied is in the making of t -qiiiire blccks
or bricks for building purposes. The slag is run into molds, either ;;s it issues from
the blast-furnace, or alter being rcmelted; and it is found to be a very durable material.
Broken slag is also used as a covering for roads, but its hrittlencss rind sharpness are
objectionable qualities for this purpose. Several patents, beginning so far back as 1,728,
have been taken out for casting slag into articles of a more ornamental kind, but hitherto
they have not be< n commercially successful.

In an arch.Tological point of view, slags rrc irtcrcstirg r.s pcintirg cut the sites of
encient smell ing-works, and as affording a clue to the primitive methods of obtaining
the metals from their ores.

SLAITDZZl is an injury to a person's character ar.d reputation caused by spoken,
words. It is difficult to define what kind of in juries of this nature are actionable, but in
general whatever imputes disgraceful, fraudulent, or dishonest coi.duct, or even tends
to m;tkc a man contemptible in his private relations, r.ud shunned by his friends and
r.eighbors, is a slander. Thus, whatever imputes a <rin.c, or indictable cffcnse, or a
contagious disease. Is a slander. There arc some epithets, however, which are not
actionable unless some special damage is directly caused thereby, as calling a man a
scoundrel, swindler, rogue, gambler, liar, etc. To call a woman a whore is also not
actionable, unless she can show that she has lost offers of marriage, etc., thereby.
Words imputing cross ignorance or misconduct affecting cue's or profession are,
however, actionable, as calling a man a bankrupt grocer, a quack doctor, etc. See also
LIBEL. The remedy for slander is an action at law for damages. Though certain
words when spoken will not amount to slander, yet, if printed or written, they will
sometimes become so, as calling one a rogue, swindler, rascal, etc.

SLANDER (ftntf). Words actionable in themselves, without proof of special dam-
age, must " impute," according to Heard, Libel and Sffindcr, 24, " the commission of R
crime involving moral turpitude, and which is punishable by law." Words spoken of
one in office and tending to cause the loss of that office, or words imputing want of
ability or capacity in business, or words imputing to a man a disease or distemper
which renders him unfit for society, are likewise actionable without proof of special
damage. In the case of words not actionable in themselves, special damage mu?t nc
specified in the declaration. To make words actionable they must be uttered without
legal cause. But some communications are privileged. The slander must be com-


r.iunicated to a third person. Malice is essential, but will be inferred in the absence of
evidence to the contrary. The falsity of the charge will be inferred till the contrary is
shown. A repetition of oral slander, already in circulation, without any expression of
an opinion as to its truth, is actionable.

SLANG, a word originally borrowed from the gypsy tongue, where it is used for the
secret language of that tribe. In its usual signification it denotes a burlesque style of
conversational language, originally found only among the vulgar, but now more or less
in use in this country among persons in a variety of walks in life. It is. somewhat alfied
to, though not identical wiih, cunt (in French urgot), the language used for purposes of
concealment by thieves and vagrants of all descriptions.

Slang is not exclusively of modern date. It \va-s known in the classic ages of Greece
and Rome, and abounds in the writings of Aristophanes, Plautus, Terence, and Martial.
Every modern European language has its slang. In our country, the "rump." the
' barebom.'s parliament," the terms "Roundheads," "Puritans," "Quakers," all be-
longed to the slang of the 17th century. Hudibraa and the dramatic works of last cen-
tury abound in slang. Old English slang was coarser than that now in use. but the
greater portion of its phraseology had a somewhat restricted circulation, not permeating
every species of conversation to the extent that modern slang does. Toward the close
of last century the slang vocabulary received large additions from pugilism, racing, and
" fast life;" and its fashionable vulgarisms came into great favor during the minority of
the prince regent. In the present century the growth of refinement in manners and
ideas has not banished slang, but given it a more familiar and utilitarian character,
while it has been introduced in some measure into circles where it was formerly

Slang consists in part of new words, and in part of words of the legitimate language
invested with new meanings, such as are assigned to the verbs to cut, to do. Many slang
expressions are derived from thieves' cant, and some froai the gypsy tongue. Their
derivations are often indirect, arising out of fanciful allusions and metaphors, which
soon pass out of the public min:l, the word remaining, while its origin is forgotten.
The origin of much of the current slang may ba traced to the universiiies of Oxford and
Cambridge, and the great public schools of England. There is not an institution con
nected with the university which has not its slang equivalent (e.g , "plucked," "little

There is a slang attached to various professions, occupations, and classes of society.
The slang of English fashionable life and fashionable novels comprises a number of
French words and phrases, whose application is often very different from what is cur-
rent in France. The beau monde, a chaperon, a marriage bjinj; o a t ; ie tapit, arc expres-
sions which, in their English sense, are utterly unknown in Paris. To the slang of
military life Hindustani has contributed its quota of words, imported by officers who
have resided long in India. We have also parliamentary slang, religious slang, literary
slang, civic slang, and shopkeepers' slang. Many curious details regarding slang in all
its departments are to be found in Elotten's SJiny Dictionary (Lond., 18(55).

SLATE, on CLAY-SLATE (Fr. esclat, a shiver or splinter), is a highly metamorphosed
argillaceous rock, fine-grained and fissile, and of a dull bliK', gray, green, or black color.
It splits into thin laminae or plates, that are altogether independent of the layers of
deposit; though sometimes coinciding with th'jm, they more frequently cross them nt
different angles. See CLEAVAGE. Some rocks that split into the thin plate-s of the
original stratification are popularly but errone.uisly named slate, as the thin beddecl
sandstones properly called flagstones or tilesto ies, the fissile shales of Cambrian and
Silurian age, and the metaphoric, gneiss, and mica schist, whose planes of division cor-
respond to their stratification. True slate is a' very compact rock, little liable to be
acted upon by atmospheric agencies. It is chiefly obtained from paleozoic strata, but
it is found also among more recent rocks. It is used for various purposes, IHng split
into thin slabs of small size for the roofing of houses, and into larger slabs for fining up
dairies, etc., and even for making billiard-tables, and split and polished by means of
pumice for writing-slates. There are extensive quarries of roofing-slate in Walesniwi in
the western Highlands of Scotland, and in the Ardennes in France, some of which have
been wrought for a long time, and give employment to a great number of workmen. A
hard compact slate is best for roofing; that which is porous imbibes water, the freezing
of which splits it in winter, while it affords also a soil for mosses, which soon injure the

In roofing with slates it is necessary to put on the slates in two thicknesses, so that
the sloping joints may be covered by the overlap of the course above. Besides this, the
third course must also cover the first by an inch or two, to prevent rain from penetrat-
ing. Slates are generally laid upon "boarding, and bedded in lime, and nailed with
malleable-iron nails, japanned, so as to prevent them from rusting. When large strong
slates are used, they may be nailed to strong laths in place of boarding. Welsh slates
are the cheapest and most generally used; but Easdale or Ballachulish slates, from the
w. of Scotland, are stronger and better when the roofs are liable to be injured.

SLATE-PENCILS are either cut or turned sticks of slate, or they are made by press-
ing moistened slate-powder until it is firm enough to be made into pencils.


SLATER, SAMUEL, 1768-1835; b. England; apprenticed in 1782 to Strutt, Arkwrighfs
partner in cotton spinning, and learned the business. Having heard of a United
States law to promote manufactures, and of the bounty offered by the Pennsylvania
legislature for the introduction of the Arkwright patents into this country, he came to
New York in 1789. Going to Providence at the request of Moses Brown of that place,
"who had made some experiments in cotton-spinning machinery, he contracted to build
and run the machinery required, and in 1790 started a mill at Pawtucket with 7 '-2 spindles
and 3 carding-machines. The cotton manufacture of this country dates from tiiai time.
He afterward built, cotton-mills of his own at what is now \Veb.5ter. .Mass.. and erected
woolen mills at the same place, 1813-16. He thus built up the village of bhuersville,
where his descendants still carry on a prosperous business. He was a liberal employer,
and established schools for the children of his workmen. He had to rely solely upon
his memory to reproduce the Arkwright machinery, the English laws forbidding the
exportation of models. For some time he could not recall an important mechanical
detail, which finally occurred to him in a dream.

SLAVE-COAST, a division of the coast of Upper Guinea, Africa, lying between, the
rivers Volta and Lagos. See GUINEA.

SLAVERY. A slave is an individual who is the property, or at the disposal of
another, who has a right to employ or treat him as he pleases. Such is the state of the
slave in the most absolute sense of the term; but slavery has been subjected to innumer-
able limitations and modifications.

Slavery probably arose at an early period of the world's history out of the accident
of capture in war. Savages, in place of massacring their captives, found it more profit-
able to keep them in servitude. All the ancient oriental nations of whom we have any
records, including the Jews, had their slaves. The Hebrews were authorized by their law
to possess slaves, not only of other races, but of their own nation. The latter were gen-
erally insolvent debtors, who had sold themselves through poverty, or thieves who
lacked the means of making restitution; and the law dealt with them far more leniently
than with stranger slaves. They might be redeemed; and if not redeemed, became free
in the space of seven years from the beginning of their servitude; besides which, there
was, every fiftieth year, a general emancipation of native slaves.

Slavery existed in ancient Greece: in the Homeric poems, it is the ordinary destiny
of prisoners of war; and the practice of kidnapping slaves is also recognized Ulysses
himself narrowly escaping a fate of this kind. None of the Greek philosophers con-
sidered the condition of slavery objectionable on the score of morals. Aristotle
defends its justice on the ground of a diversity of race, dividing mankind into the free
and the slaves by nature; while Plato only desires that no Greeks should be made slaves.
One class of the Greek slaves were the descendants of an earlier and conquered race of
inhabitants, who cultivated the land which their masters had appropriated, paid rent for
it, and attended their masters in war. Such were the Helots in Sparta, the Penestne in
Thessaly, the Bithynians at Byzantium, etc., who were more favorably dealt with than
other slaves, their condition somewhat resembling that of the serfs of the middle ages.
They could not be sold out of the country, or separated from their families, and were
even capable of acquiring property. Domestic slaves obtained by purchase were the
unrestricted property of their owners, who could dispose of them at pleasure. In
Athens, Corinth, and the other commercial states, they were very numerous, and mostly
barbarians. They were employed partly in domestic service, but more as bakers, cooks,
tailors, or in other trades, and in mines and manufactories; and, their labor was the
means by which the owner obtained profit for his outlay in their purchase. These slaves
were, for the most part, purchased; but few were born in their master's family, partly
from the general discouragement of the cohabitation of slaves, and partly from The small
number of the female in comparison with the male slaves. An extensive traffic in
slaves was carried on by the Greek colonists in Asia Minor with the interior of Asia; and
another source of supply arose from the practice common among Thracian parents of
selling their children. In Greece in general, and especially at Athens, slaves were
mildly treated, and enjoyed a large share of legal protection. According to Demosthe-
nes, a slave at Athens was better off than a free citizen in many other countries.

The Roman condition of slavery differed in some particulars from that of Greece.
All men were considered by the Roman jurists to be free by natural law; while slavery
was regarded as a state contrary to natural law, but agreeable to the law of nations, when
a captive was preserved, instead of being slain (hence the name servus, quasi, scrrtitu*);
or agreeable to the civil law, when a free man sold himself. In earlier times, there was no
restriction on the master's power of punishing or putting to death his slave; and even at
a later period, when the law on this head was much modified, slaves were used with
considerable rigor. The estimation in which their lives were held is illustrated by the
practice of gladiatorial combats, as also by the conduct of Vedius Pollio, who, in the

Eplitc age of Augustus, flung such slaves as displeased him into his fish-ponds, to feed
is lampreys, and on the matter being brought under the emperor's notice, was visited
with no severer punishment than the destruction of his ponds. Old and useless slaves
were often exposed to starve in an island of the Tiber. Under the empire, the cruelty
of masters was in some degree restrained by law. It was enacted, that a man who put
TJ. K. XIII. 36



to death his own slave without cause suould be dealt with as if the slave had been the
property of another; and that if the cruelty of the master was intolerable, he might be
compelled to sell the slave. A constitution of Claudius declared the killing of a slave
to be murder, and it was also enacted, that in sales of slaves, parents and children,
brothers and sisters, should not be separated. A slave could not contract marriage, and
no legal relation between him and his children was recognized. The children of a
female slave followed the status of their mother. There was various ways in which a slave
might be manumitted, but the power of manumission was restricted by law. The harboring
of a runaway slave was illegal. The number of slaves in Rome, originally small, was

Online LibraryFrancis LieberLibrary of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) → online text (page 129 of 203)