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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Another, also known to have cured a cobra's bite, having been brought from Ceylon by
gir James E. Teunent, was examined by Mr. Faraday, and was deemed by him to be "a
piece of charred bone, which has been filled with blood, perhaps several times, and then
carefully charred again." See Buckland's Cariosities of Natural Hiatory, and Teuneut's
Ceylon, vol. i.

SNAKE-WEED, another name of Bistort (q.v.)'.

SNAKE- WOOD, another name of Letter-wood (q.v.).

SNAPDRAGON, Antirrhinum, a genus of plants of the natural order Scroplmlariacfa!,
consisting of annual and perennial herbaceous plants, chiefly natives of the temperate
parts of the northern hemisphere. They have the calyx 5-parUd; the corolla swollen at
the base, but without a spur, and personate (Lat. persona, a mask), i. e., its mouth closed
by the pressure of the lower against the upper lip; and the fruit is a 2-celled oblique cap-
sule, opening by three pores at the apex. The English name refers to a peculiarity of
the corolla, the lower lip of which, if forcibly parted from the upper, so as to open the
mouth, shuts with an elastic spring or snap. Some of the species have very pretty flow-
ers. A. niajus has long been a favorite in our gardens, in which there are many fine
varieties of it.

SNAPHATJNCE, an old musket of the 17lh and first half of the 18th c., called also
Asnaphan. See LOCK.

SNAPPING TURTLE, a name applied in the United States to different species of
tortoises. The best known is the cliclydra ferpeniina, of the northern, and most of the
southern Mates, inhabiting small streams and marshes. It is said to sometimes attain a
length of 4 feet, and to weigh 50 Ibs. Its more common size is from 8 to 15 Ibs. It has
an immovable plastron, a large head, and is very fierce, snapping at its enemies, and
its food. Another kind of snapping-turtle, known in the southern states, extending from
Florida to western Texas, and up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers is the mftcrofanyt
Temminckii, generally known as the alligator-turtle. It is said to sometimes attain a
weight of 100 Ibs. Both of these species belong to the family clietydridoe, and arc dis-
tinguished from all other turtles of the United States by the long and imperfectly retract-
ile neck and tail, and the cruciform plastron or lower shell. -Both these turtles are used
as food, and by some are highly prized for making soup; but they are inferior to the sea-
turtle. The name of snapping-turtle is sometimes applied to soft-shelled turtles of the
family triomichidw, because they also snap at their food and other objects.


SNEEK. a prosperous trading and manufacturing t. in the Netherlands, province
of Friesland. 13 m. ss.w. of Lceuwarden. It is built in the form of an irregular tri-
angle, has three canals, and good water-way to the sea. Rich meadow-lands, in some
places tending to be marshy, surround the town, and in the neighborhood is a considera-
ble lake called the Sneekermeer. Pop. (Jan. 1, 1875) 9.6546,972 Reformed, and 14oO
Roman Catholics, the remainder chiefly Baptists, except 150 Jews. Sneek is (he largest
butter and cheese market in the province; the quantity sold reaching 5,000,000 Ibs. of
butter, and 2,250,000 Ibs. of cheese annually. The principal buildings are the Reformed
church, town house. Baptist church, and Jewish synagogue.

SNEEZE-WOOD, Pterorylon utilt, a tree of the natural order sapinrfafta, a native of
South Africa, common in the eastern districts of Cape Colony. The timber rivals
mahogany in beauty, takes a tine polish, is very solid, strong, and durable. It receives
its English name, and its Dutch name, niexhont. from the sternutatory properties of its
gawdust, by which workmen are often much annoyed.

f>A1 Snake.


S-N~ELL, EBENEZER STRONG, u, D, 1801-76; b. Mass., graduated at Amlicrst col-
lege, where lie lias been continuously an instructor for over f>0 years, and since 1834
prof, of mathematics and natural philosophy. He edited several text-books.

SNKLL, AV 1 1. r.EBUonn, 1591-1626; b. Lcyden, son of Rudolph Suell, was professor
of mathematics at the university at Lcycieu, succeeding his father, and the discoverer,
according to Huygcns and Yossms, of the law of the refraction of light attributed to
Descartes. He was a friend of Kepler. He published (1617), Erat>^'h< //<.'* Jlninrim xire de
Ttrrw Ambitus vera QunntitaU-, describing his method of calculating the size of the
earth, and Cydumetricus (1621).

SNELL EXHIBITIONS. These exhibitions were founded in the year 167? by John
Snell of Utl'etou, in the county of Warwick, for the purpose of educating Scottish siu-
dents at the university of Oxford Snell was born in the parish of Colmonell, in Ayrshire,
iu 1029, and entered the university of Glasgow in 1644. He afterward removed to Eng-
land, where after holding several offices of a legal nature, he was appointed seal-bearer
to the court of chancery. He died at Holy well, near Oxfoid. in 1679, leaving his estate
of Uffeton, near Leamington, to trustees (the vice-chancellor of the university of Oxford,
the provost of Queen's college, Ihe master of Bailiol college, and the president of St.
John's college), for the fouudatioi. of the scholarships which bear bis name (at present
14 in number). The exhibitions have been the subject of much litigation in the court
of chancery, and are DOW administered under a scheme settled in lfc : 61. The exhibi-
tioners are nominated by the college of Glasgow, ami received about 110 annually each
during five years. Candidates for these scholarships must have been in horn in* Scot-
land, or must be sons of fathers born in Scotland, and must have iti-ided for two
years at least in Glasgow college, or for one year in that college, and two at hast in
some other college in Scotland. None arc suimitted to examination who Lave com-
pleted their 21st year, or have been members of the university of Oxford of more
than two years' standing fiom the day of their matriculation inclusive. Two exhibi-
tioners are nominated annually after public competition. The list of Snell exhibitioners
includes not a few well-known names, such as J. G. Lockhart, sir W. Hamilton, the
present archbishop of Canterbury (Tail), etc.

SNTA'TYN, a t. of Galicia, in Austrian Poland, is situated on the Pruth. and was
formerly a frontier stronghold. It has tanneries, and a considerable trade in cattle and
horses. Pop. '09, 10,598, among whom are many members of the Armenian church.

SNIDER RIFLE, a form of brerch-loai'er which was adopted in 1866 by the
British government, by altering the old EnfiVld mn/.zle-lor.ders in accordance with the
Snider system. The main features of the Snider rifle are: that the breech-block i evolves
about an axis of its own. which is parallel to the axis of the bore and to its right, and that
the firing pin reaches the base of the call ridge at its center by passing obliquely from
the nose of the hammer through the breech-block.

SNIPE. 'c<>li>pa.r. a genus of birds of the family scolopaddte (q.v.), having a very
long straight bill, with nasal grooves extending almost to the lip, which expands a little,
the upper mandible slightly exceeding the lower in length, the whole bill soft and very
Fi-nsitive, smooth and shining in the living bird, but soon after death becoming pitted
like the end of a thimble by drying. The head is compressed ; the eyes large, and placed
far back in the head, an evident adaptation to the mode of life, enabling the bird to
gunrd against ('.anger, while its bill is plunged in the mud. The feet have three toes
before, divided to the base or very nearly so, not edged by membrane, the hind-toe short.
The tail is short. The genus naturally divides itself* into two sections, sometimes
regarded as distinct genera, the first consisting of the woodcocks (q.v.), to which the
generic name ycoloptif is appropriated; the second containing the species popularly
known as- snipes, which receive the generic name (;allinago, and are distinguished by
their lighter form, by their longer legs, and by having a little of the lower part of the
tibia bare. The COMMON SNIPE (S. (/nUiitfirjo, or gallinayo media) is about 11 in. in entire
length, the bill almost 3 inches. The sexes are alike in plumage, but the female is
rather larger than the male. The general color of the upper parts is blackish brown,
finely mixed witli pale brown and with a rich buff color; three pale btown streaks along
the head; the neck and breast pale rust color mottled with black; the belly white. The
tail consists of 14 feathers. The snipe, when flushed, changes its course several times in
a zigzag manner in the air, rnd then darts off very swiftly, sn that young sportsmen find
it a very difficult bird to shoot. The snipe makes a very inartificial nest of a little dry
herbage, in a depression of the ground, or sometimes in a tuft of grass or rushes. The
eggs are four in number, pale yellowish or greenish white, the larger end spotted with
brown. This species of snipe is plentiful in all the moory and marshy parts of Britain,
and generally throughout Europe, also in some parts of A<ia, and it is found in the n.
of Africa. It breeds in Britain, even in the s. of England, although many of the snipes
which spend the winter in Britain migrate northward in spring. The snipe is capable of
being tamed, and becomes very familiar, but is difficult to keep from the prodigious
quantity <>f worms and other such food which it requites. A tame snipe has been known
to eat nearly twice its own weight of worms in 12 hours. The snipe is in high esteem
for the table, and is included among game in Britain. The habits of all the other spe-


cies of snipe correspond very nearly with those of the common snipe. The GREAT
SNIPE, or SOLITARY SNIPE (8. or G. major), is comparatively a rare bird in Britain, but
abounds in the extensive marshes of continental Europe, 1 and is found also in Asia. Its
entire length is about 12 in., the bill not quite so long in proportion as that of the com-
mon snipe. There are 16 feathers in the tail. The JACK SNIPE, or JUDOOCK (8. or G.
gallinula), the smallest of the British species, is like the common snipe in plumage. It
is common in Britain, but mostly as a winter visitant, and is found also during summer
or winter, in most parts of Europe and of the n. of Asia. North America has a number
of species. The COMMON AMERICAN SNIPE (S. or G. wilsoni) is about equal in size to the
common snipe of Europe, and much resembles it also in plumage. The tail has 16
feathers. This species is abundant in summer in the northern parts of the United States
and in Canada, in the more southern states in winter. It is in much request for the
table, and is often caught in snares. Snipes are found also in other parts of the world.
The name snipe is extended in popular usage to include the genus macrorhamphus, in
which the outer toes are connected at tlie base by a membrane. In other characters, as
well as in plumage and habits, the similarity to the true snipes is very great. The RED-
BREASTED SNIPE, or BROWN SNIPE (M. grixeuii), of North America has been occasionally
seen in Britain and in Scandinavia. In size it is nearly equal to the common snipe.


SNI'ZORT, LOCH, a large and picturesque inlet of the sea, in the n.w. of Skye (q.v.),
between Trotternish point and Yaternish point. At its head, the loch is only a few fur-
longs broad; but it gradually expands, and at its entrance the breadth is over 7 miles.
It is 13 m. long.

SNOHOMISH, a co. in n.w. Washington territorry, having Admiralty inlet on the w. ;
drained by the Snoqualine and Steilaquamish rivers; 1500 sq.m. ; pop. '80, 1387 1074 of
American birth, 365 colored. The Cascade range forms its e. boundary, and on its
slopes and by the streams are extensive tracts of wood land and groves of fir and spruce.
Lumber is the chief source of revenue. Near the inlet are cranberry marshes, and the
soil of the plains is adapted to the production of grain, and to stock-raising. Co. seat,

SNORRI STTIBLESSON, a learned historian, and a distinguished Icelandic politician,
was b. in 1178 at Hvamma, in Iceland, where his family, who traced their descent to
the ancient kings of Norway and Sweden, had been settled since the early colonization
of the island. Snorri Sturlesson was placed at an early age under the care of Jon
Loptson, the grandson of Saemund Sigfusson, the learned, compiler of the old
Edda, by whom he was instructed in the history, mythology, and poetry of the n., as
well as in classical literature. By his marriage, at the age of 26, with a rich heiress,
and the speedy death of his father, Snorri Sturlesson early attained a position of wealth,
and influence, and by the free choice of the people, was elected supreme judge, or chief
magistrate of the island. In this post, he was distinguished for his profound knowledge
of the laws and civil institutions of his native country; but his ambition, avarice, and
love of intrigue, embroiled him personally in sanguinary feuds, and contributed to hasten
the destruction of Icelandic independence. His love of intrigue led him to take part in
the intestine troubles of Norway, and thus drew upon him the suspicion and ill-will of
the Norwegian king, Hakon, who sent secret instructions to Iceland for his arrest; or,
if need be, his assassination. The king's intentions were carried out to their fullest
extent; and his numerous enemies joining together in a plot against him. Snorri Stur-
lesson was attacked in his own house, and murdered in the year 1241. Snorri Sturlesson
was a poet of no mean order, and composed numerous drapas, or laudatory poems, on
the kings and jarls at whose courts he sojourned. His great work is the Ileimskringla,
or Mythic Ring of the World, in which he records the history of the kings of Norway
from the earliest times to the death of Magnus Erlingsson, in 1177; and which he
compiled from ancient genealogical tables and other documents. It was translated into
Danish about 1559 by Peder Clauson, and published lirst by Olaf Worm (Cop. 1633).
Tliis translation has been republished in more recent times by Gruntvig (3 vols., Cop.
1818-22) and others. German, Swedish, and Latin versions have also been executed.
^ Snorri Sturlesson is believed to have had a share in collecting and arranging the songs
'of the elder or poetic Edda (q.v.), and to have contributed very materially toward the
compilation of the Skalda and other parts of the younger or prose Edda.

SNOW is tlie frozen moisture which falls from the atmosphere when the temperature
is 32 or lower. It is composed of crystals, usually in the form of six-pointed stars, of
which about 1000 different kinds have" been already observed, and many of them figured,
by Scoresby, Glaisher. and others. These numerous forms have been reduced to the
following five principal varieties 1. Thin plates, the most numerous class, containing
several hundred forms of the rarest and most exquisite beauty. 2. A spherical nucleus
or plane figure studded with needle-shaped crystals. 3. Six or more rarely three-sided
prismatic crystals. 4. Pyramids of six sides. 5. Prismr.tic crystals, having at the ends
and middle thin plates perpendicular to their length. The forms of the crystals in the
same fall of snow are generally similar to each other. The crystals of hoar-frost being
formed on leaves and other bodies disturbing the temperature, are often irregular and


opaque; and it has been observed that each tree or shrub has its own peculiar crystals.
Snow-flakes vary from an in. to T | w of an in. in diameter, the largest occurring when
the temperature is near 32, and the smaUest at very low temperatures. As air has a
smaller capacity for retaining its vapor as the temperature sinks, it follows that the
aqueous precipitation, suow or rain, is much less in polar than in temperate regions.
The wiiite color of snow is the result of the combination of the different prismatic rays
issuing from the minute snow-crystals. Pounded glass and foam are analogous cases of
the prismatic colors blending together and forming the white light out of which they
had been originally formed. It may be added that the. air contained in the crystals
intensities the whiteness of the snow. Bee RED SNOW. The limit of the fall of snow
coincides nearly wilh 30 u. lat., which includes nearly the whole of Europe; on
traversing the Atlantic, it rises to 45, but on neariug America descends to near
Charleston; rises on the w. of America to 47, and again falls to 40 in the Pacific. It
corresponds nearly with the winter isothermal of 53 Fall. Snow is unknown at
Gibraltar; at Paris, it falls 12 days on an average annually, and at St. Petersburg 170
days. It is from 10 to 12 times lighter than an equal bulk of water. From its loose
texture, and its containing about 10 t ; mes its bulk of air, it is a very bad conductor of
heat, and thus forms an admirable covering for the earth from the effects of radiation
it not uufrequently happening, in times of great cold, that the soil is 40 warmer than,
the surface of the overlying snow. The flooding of rivers from the melting of the snow
on mountains in summer, carries fertility into regions which would otherwise remain
barren wastes. See GLACIER.


SNOWBERRY, Symphoricarpos, or Symphoria racemosa, a bushy deciduous shrub of
the natural order caprifoliac-ece, a native of the northern parts of North America, and
now very common in British shrubberies. It has simple leaves and small flowers;
berries about the size of black currants, remaining on the bush after the leaves, quite
white, but uneatable. The name SNOWBERRY is also given to GauiUieria sarpyllifolia,
a native of the bogs of North America.

SNOW-BIRD, Junco, or Fringilla hyemalis, a North American bird of the finch family
(fringiUulai), common from Louisiana to the fur countries, in all the eastern parts of
North America. The wings are rather short, the tail slightly notched. The whole
length is rather more than 6 in. ; the upper parts are lead-color, the lower parts white,
the two outer tail-feathers white, the next white margined with black. This bird
migrates northward early in spring, and southward late in autumn. It is often to be
seen in small flocks, visiting barn-yards, and hopping about with the domestic poultry.
In cold weather, it retires to holes in haystacks. Its song is sweet. From its frequent
familiar approach to human habitations, the snow-bird is regarded with favor through-
out great part of North America, as the redbreast is in Britain. In the s., however, it
is often brought to market, its flesh being very pleasant. In the western parts of North
America, another, but very similar species, the OREGON SNOW-FINCH (F. Orcgona),
takes the place of this.

SNOW-BUKTING, or SNOW-FLECK, Plecfrophanes niralis, a bird of the bunting family
(emberizu/a'), of a genus distinguished from the true buntings by the long and nearly
straight claw of the hind-toe, in this resembling the larks. There is also an approach
to larks in habits; there is a similar ease and celerity in running along the ground, and
the song is very different from that of any of the true buntings. The snow-bunting
abounds in summer in all parts of the arctic regions, and in winter in more southern
countries of Europe, Asia, and America. Linuaus says it is the only living creature
that has been seen 2,000 ft. above the limits of perpetual snow on the mountains of Lap-
land. Great flocks are seen in Britain, particularly in severe winters, generally fre-
quenting uplands in mild weather, but descending to the low grounds and seashore in
hard frosts. Comparatively few visit the s. of England. A few remain during summer
on the highest mountains of Scotland. The nest is placed on the ground, or in a crev-
ice of a rock. The snow-bunting is generally very fat, and is highly esteemed for the
table. The Greenlanders kill great numbers, and dry them for winter use.

SNOWDON. a mountain-range in Caernarvonshire, n. Wales, stretches in a n.e.n.
direction from a point 5 m. n. of Cricceith, near the head of Cardigan bay, to near Con-
way; but is broken up by valleys and river-courses into four mountain croups, whose
chief peaks are Carnedd-Llewelyn, 3,460 ft. ; Moel-Siabod, 2,878 ft. ; and ^lod-y- Wyddfa
(" the conspicuous peak"), the highest mountain in s. Britain, 3,571 ft. above sea-level.
Seen from the top, Moel-y-Wyddfa, the "King of Snowdonia," appears to send out
three ridges, which gradually divide and subdivide, giving birth to numerous valleys
and corric-s. The ascent of the highest peak of Snowdon is effected by tourists from
Llanberis (on the n.), Beddgelert (on the s.), Llyn-Cwellyn (on the w.), and Capel Curig
(on the e.); the first is shortest and easiest; the last is longest, most difficult, but at the
same time by far the grandest. The district of " Snowdouia" was made a royal forest
by Edward I of England, but was disafforested in 1649.

SNOW-DROP, Galanthus, a genus of plants of .the natural order amnryllidcce, of the
same tribe with amaryllis, snowflake, criuum, etc. The three outer segments of the



perianth spread, so as to make a bell-shaped flower; Ihe three inner are shorter, etect,
and notched at the summit. The flowers arise from a spa the. The root is bulbous, and
produces two leaves and one single-flowered leafless stem (tcape). The common snow
drop (G. niralia). a plant too well known to need description, is a native chiefly of the s.
of Europe, growing in woods and pastures. It is found apparently wild in some places
both ia England and Scotland, but is probably rather naturalized than native, having
long been much cultivated in gardens. Another species of snow-drop (0. plicatun), with
much broader leaves, is found in the s. of Russia and in Asiatic Turkey.

SNOW-DROP TREE, or SILVER-BELL TREE, a popular name for a genus of styrax,
Halesia, telraptercB and H. diptera, named after Stephen Hales, author of Vegetable Statiep.
They are shrubs or small trees, with large and veiny pointed deciduous leaves, and
showy while flowers, drooping on slender pedicels in short racemes or clusters from
axillary buds of the preceding year. Calyx inversely conical, 4-toothcd; petals 4,
united at the base, or middle, into an open bell-shaped corolla; stamens, 8 to 16: fila-
ments united into a ring at the base; ovules 4 in each cell; fruit large and dry, 2 to 4
winged; seeds single, cylindrical. They are beautiful shrubs for cultivation. A third
species grows in Florida, II. parviflora.

SNOW-FLAKE, a popular name for the Leucqjitm vernum, L. testivvm, and L.
avturr.ntile, species of European herbs of the amaryllis family which have been intro-
duced into gardens in the United States. They are among the hardy bulbous plants.
See AiiARYLLiDE-dE, ante, and SNOWDROP, ante.

SNOW-LINE. The snow-line marks that height above the sea-level below which all
the snow that falls annually melts during summer; higher than this lies the region of
perpetual snow. No general rule for the height of this line can be given, owing to the
different causes which may determine it. These are the situation of the slope in
respect of the sun's rays, and hence, other things being equal, it is higher on the s. than
on the n. side of mountains; the situation with respect to the rain-bringing winds; the
steepness of the slope; and the dryness or humidity of the region. The following are
the observed heights of the snow-line in English feet in different parts of the globe:

N. Lat.






5,249 !


3.510 ]



* 7.034


8.885 i








19,560 '







S. Lat.







Portillo Chili .



Cordilleras Chili





i lat. to 1 20 it sinks only a very little ; from 20 to 70 it continues to fall equably ;
'rom 70 to 78 it sinks with great rapidity. To this general statement there are
important exceptions. It is about4.000 ft, higher on then, than it is on the s. side

but from

some important exceptions. It is about4,000 ft, high

of the Himalaya, owing to the greater depth of snow that falls on the s. side; to the greater
dryness of the climate of Tibet, which increases the evaporation and the heating power
of the sun's rays; and to the naked rocks and soil of the n. absorbing more heat than

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 139 of 203)