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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of gemmation, like zoophytes. They assume very various forms, which, ns well as the
peculiarities in the structure of the framework, are characteristic of the different genera
and species. Some are nearly globular; some cup-shaped, top-shaped, conical, cylin-
drical, thread-like, etc.; some are simple, and some branched.

The surface of a living sponge is generally covered with minute pores, through which



water is imbibed, carrying with it both the air and the organic particles necessary for
the support of life. The pores are supposed to be permanent in mauy of the sponges,
and the currents which enter through them to be produced by cilia, although these have
as yet been detected only in a few species. But in those of the very lowest organization
the pores seeui to be formed for the occasion, just as the amfeba opens anywhere to admit
food within its substance, In sponffilla flutiatilis, a small fresh-water species found in
Britain, the opening and closing of each pore occupies less than a minute, and fhe pores
do not open simultaneously, but in irregular succession, and apparently never again in
precisely the same spot. No trace of the pore remains for an instant after its closing,
nor is there 'any indication of the point where a new one is to be open. The water
which enters by the pores passes out of some sponges by a single orifice, which serves
for the whole mass ; others have numerous orifices (oscufa) which are permanent, and
are much larger than the pores by which the water is imbibed, the whole mass being
pervaded by canals which lead from the pores to these orifices, from which, under the
microscope, a constant discharge of water may be seen taking place, minute opaque
particles being carried along with its current. These particles are not only fecal mat-
ter, but gemmules and ova.

Reproduction takes place both by gemmation and by true ova. Many of the gem-
mules go on to increase the sponge-mass; but the greater part finally become detached,
and are carried out into the water to settle down in a new locality. Mr. Huxley has
detected true ova and sperm-cells imbedded in the substance of sponges.

The sponges employed for domestic and other purposes derive their value from the
elasticity and compressibility of their fibrous framework, divested of the glairy sub-
stance, and its power of imbibing fluids. The absence of spicules is essential to a use-
ful sponge. The kinds fit for use are found in the seas of warm climates. Some small
gpecies of sponge live at great depths. One has been brought up in the gulf of Macri
from a depth of 185 fathoms. Numerous species of sponge are very abundant on many
parts of the British coasts.

Fossil remains of sponges are found in many rocks, and of horny, fibrous kinds, as
well as of those with calcareous or siliceous framework.

Several species of sponge are in use for economical purposes. Two species are
chiefly brought from the Levant, and a very inferior one from the West Indies and
coast of Florida. The trade in sponge is very considerable; is carried on chiefly by
the Turks and the inhabitants of the Bahama islands. The number of men employed in
the Ottoman sponge-fishery is between 4,000 and 5,000, fopming the crews of about 600
boats. These boats find their chief employment on the coast of Candia, Barbary, and
Syria. The sponge is obtained by diving, the diver taking down with him a flat piece
of stone of a triangular shape, with a hole drilled through one of its corners; to this a
cord from the boat is attached, and the diver makes it serve to guide him to particular
spots. When he reaches the growing sponges, he tears them off the rocks, and places
them under his arms; he then pulls at the rope, which gives the signal to his companions
in the boat to haul him up. The value of sponges collected in Greece and Turkey is
from 90,000 to 100,000 annually. The Greeks of the Morea, instead of diving, obtain
sponges by a pronged instrument; but the sponges thus collected are torn, and sell at
a low price. The best sponges are obtained on detached heads of rock in 8 or 10 fathoms

The sponges of the Bahamas and other West Indian islands are of a larger size and
coarses quality; but large quantities are gathered; and al>out215,000 Ibs., worth 17.000,
are sent annually to Great Britain. The sponges are torn from the rocks by a fork at
the end of a long pole. To get quit of the animal matter they are buried for" some days
in the sand and then soaked and washed.

The domestic uses of sponge are familiar to every one. It is also of great value to
the surgeon, not only for removing blood in operations, but for checking hemorrhage.
Burnt sponge was once a valid remedy for scrofulous diseases and goiter; but iodine
and bromine, from which it derives all its value, are now administered in other forms.

SPONSOR (Lat. one who promises), the name given in theological use to a godfather
or godmother (q.v.). The name is derived from the circumstance, that in baptism or
confirmation, and especially in infant baptism, the sponsor is understood to make cer-
tain promises or engagements in the name and on the part of the person baptized or
confirmed. The idea of sponsorship is entirely rejected not only by Baptists, but gen-
erally also by Presbyterians and Independents.

SPONTANE ITY, the name for the doctrine, referring to the human mind, that mus-
cular action may, and does, arise from purely internal causes, and independent of the
stimulus of sensations. It had long been the tacit assumption in mental philosophy,
that we are never moved to action of any kind, except under the stimulation of some
feeling, some pleasure or pain, or some end in view. To this is now opposed the doc-
trine of the spontaneous commencement of movements under certain circumstances;
which, however, does not exclude, but only supplements, the operation of the feelings in
Stimulating movements, as in the ordinary course of voluntary action. The doctrine
supposes that the nerve-centers, after repose and nourishment, acquire a fulness of vital
energy, which discharges itself in the play of movement, without any other occasion or


motive; the addition of a feeling, or end, enhances and directs the activity, but does not
wholly create it.

Of the various proofs and illustrations of spontaneity, perhaps the most striking is
that furnished by the movements of young animals of the active species. A young dog
or kitten shows a degree of activity out of all proportion to any feeling to be gratified,
or any end to be served; we can interpret it only as internal energy seeking vent, irre-
spective of the pursuit of pleasure or the avoidance of pain in other words, the action
of the will. When the accumulated energy is expended, the animal fails back into a
fetate of repose, and is then roused only by the stimulus of sensation. The state called
"freshness" in a horse, for example, is a state of superabundant and irrespresible
activity. Children go through the same phase: after rest or confinement, they burst
forth incontinently into some form of active excitement, of which a part may be con-
sidered as pure spontaneity, while part may be owing to sensation.

The doctrine is well tilted to express the difference between the active and the sensi-
tive temperaments; for if it were true that actions is in proportion to the stimulation of
the feelings, the most susceptible characters would be the most active. But, in point of
fact, the active temperament is manifested by a profusion of activity for its own sake,
with little circumspection or regard to consequences; and constitutes the restless, bust-
ling, roughshod, energetic, and enterprising disposition of mind, as seen in sportsmen,
soldiers, travelers, etc.

The explanation of the growth of the will (q.v.), or voluntary power, involves the
spontaneous beginning of movements. See Bain on The Senses a ndtlie Intellect, 2dedit.,
p. 76.

SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION is a phenomenon that occasionally manifests itself in
mineral and organic substances. The facts connected with the spontaneous ignition of
iHJiieral substances are well known to chemists, and some of them have been already
described in the article Phyrophorus (q.v.). Ordinary charcoal does not undergo com-
bustion in air under a tempeuuture of 1000, but in some states it is liable spontaneously
to acquire a temperature which may lead to unexpected combustion. Thus, lamp-black
impregnated with oils, which contain a large proportion of hydrogen, gradually becomes
warm, and inflames spontaneously. According to M. Aubert, Chevallier, and other
French observers, recently-made charcoal, in a state of fine division, is liable to be spon-
taneously ignited without the agency of oil ; but we are not aware that this phenomenon has
been observed in this country. There have been many instances of the spontaneous
ignition of coals containing iron pyrites (q.v.) when moistened with water. The pyrites
which most readily give rise to spontaneous combustion are those in which the protosul-
phide is associated with the bisulphide of iron ; and these occur in the Yorkshire coals
from Hull, and in some kinds of South Wales coal. Sulphur has no tendency to spon-
taneous combustion, but Dr. Taylor refers to an instance that came to his own knowl-
edge, in which there was reason to believe that the vapor of bisulphide of carbon in an
india-rubber factory was ignited by solar heat traversing glass. Phosphorus, when in a
dry state, has a great tendency to ignite spontaneously, and it has been observed to melt
and take tire (when touched) in a room in which the temperature was under 70". The
ordinary lucifer-match composition is luminous in the dark, in warm summer nights,
which shows that oxidation, and therefore a process of heating, is going on. Hence,
large quantities of these matches kept in contact may produce a heat sufficient for their
ignition. "I have seen them ignite," says Dr. Taylor, "as a result of exposure to the
sun's rays for the purpose of drying." Principle and Practice of Medical Jurisprudence,
1865, p. 603.

From these cases occurring in the mineral kingdom, we pass to the consideration of
spontaneous combustion in organic substances. Passing over the accidents that may
result from the admixture of strong nitric or sulphuric acid with wool, straw, or certain
essential oils, and whic'.i, if they occur, are immediate and obvious, we have to consider
the cases in which, " without contact with any energetical chemical compounds, certain
substances such as hay, cotton, and woody nber generally, including tow, flax, hemp,
jute, rags, leaves, spent tan, cocoa-nut fiber, straw in manure-heaps, etc. when stacked
in large quantities in a damp state, undergo a process of heating from simple oxidation
(cremacausis) or fermentation, and, after a time, may pass into a state of spontaneous
combustion." Taylor, op. tit., p. 606. There is undoubted evidence that hay and cotton
in a damp state will occasionally take fire without any external source of ignition. Cot-
ton impregnated with oil, when collected in large quantity, is especially liable to ignite
spontaneously; and the accumulation of cotton-waste, used in wiping lamps and the
oiled surfaces of machinery, has more than once given rise to accidents, and led to
unfounded charges of incendiarism. Dr. Taylor relates n case in which a fire took place
in a shop " by reason of a quantity of oil having been spilled on dry sawdust." Accord-
ing to Chevallier, vegetables boiled in oil furnish a residue which is' liable to spontaneous
ignition; and the same chemist observes that all kinds of woolen articles imbued with
oil, and collected in a heap, and hemp, tow, and flax, when similarly treated, may ignite
spontaneously. In the case of Hepburn v. Lordan. which came before vice-chancellor
Wood in Jan., 1865, and was carried by appeal before the lords justices in the following
mouth, an attempt was made to prove that wet jute was liable to undergo spoutaneouji


combustion: and the great fire at London Bridge in 1861 was referred to the spontane-
ous combustion of jute in its ordinary state. With regard to the latter hypothesis, Dr.
Taylor remarks that it is wholly incredible, and from experiments which he made for the
defendants in the above lawsuit, and on other grounds, he holds that there is no evidence
of moist jute undergoing spontaneous combustion; but, he adds, although no cases are
recorded, it is probable that jute, cocoa-nut fiber, and linen 'and cotton rags, imbued
with oil, might undergo this change. Dry wood is supposed by Chevallier and ?ome
other chemists to have the property of igniting spontaneously. Deal which has been
dried by contact or contiguity with flues or pipes conveying hot water or steam at 212,
is supposed to be in a condition for bursting into flame when air gets access to it; and
the destruction of the houses of parliament, and many other great fires, have been
ascribed to this cause; but from the experience of Dr. Taylor (op. cit., p. 615) this view
must be regarded as untenable.

It is still an open question whether such organic nitrogenous matters as damp grain
or seeds of any kind ever undergo spontaneous combustion. In a case recorded in the
Annales d'Hygiene for 1841, MM. Chevallier, Ollivier, and Devergie drew the conclusion
that a barn had caught fire from the spontaneous combustion of damp oats which were
stored in it. No such cases are known to have occurred in this country.

The subject of the article is of extreme importance, not only because it may cause
great destruction of life and property, but because it may lead to unjust charges of incen-
diarism. For further details regarding it the reader is referred to Graham's " Report on
the Cause of the Fire in the Amazon," in the Quarterly Journal of -the Chemical Society,
vol. v. p. 34; to the article " Combustion" in Watts's Dictionary of Chemistry, vol. i. ; and to
the elaborate chapter on this subject in Taylor's Principles and Practice of Medical Juris-

are recorded, generally of a somewhat ancient date, in which it was supposed that the
body was either spontaneously consumed by inward combustion, or acquired such extra-
ordinary combustible properties as to be consumed when brought into contact with fire.
The following is the first of one of the -cases on record. It rests on the authority of Le
Cat, a distinguished surgeon of his time, and is stated to have occurred at Eheinis in 1725.
The remains of a woman named Millet were found burned in her kitchen, about eighteen
inches from the open fireplace. Nothing was left of the body except some parts of the
head, of the legs, and of the vertebrae. Suspicion was excited against the husband, and
a criminal inquiry was instituted; but learned experts reported that the case was one of
spontaneous combustion, and the prisoner was acquitted. The facts are explicable on the
supposition that theclothesof the deceased woman were accidentally ignited; and although
the almost complete destruction of the body appeared to the medical men of that time
to be inconsistent with the ordinary effects of fire, subsequent observations have shown
that this is an error. In reference to this case, Liebig observes that it is easy to see that
the idea of spontaneous combustion arose at a time when men entertained entirely false
views on the subject of combustion, its essence, and its cause. What takes place in
combustion generally has only been known since the time of Lavoisier (about a century
ago), and the conditions which must be combined in order that a body should continue to
burn, have only been known since the time of Davy, or for little more than half a century.
From the time when the case of Millet occurred to the present day, probably somewhat
over 50 supposed cases have been recorded. (In an article published on the subject by
Dr. Frank of Berlin in 1843, 45 cases are-adduced.) From an analysis of all the cases on
record \ip to 1851, Liebig arrives at the conclusion that the great majority agree in the
following points: "1. They tnok place in winter. 2. The victims were brandy-drinkers
in a state of intoxication. 3. They happened where the rooms are heated by fires in open
fireplaces and by pans of glowing charcoal, in England, France, and Italy. In Germany
and Russia, where rooms are heated by means of closed stoves, cases of death ascribed
to spontaneous combustion are exceedingly rare. 4. It is admitted that no one has ever
been present during the combustion. 5. None of the physicians who collected the cases,
or attempted to explain them, has ever observed the process, or ascertained what preceded
the combustion. 6. It is also unknown how much time had elapsed from the commence-
ment of the combustion to the moment when the consumed body was found." Lctlert
ou Chemistry, 3d ed. 1851, p. 282. Out of the 45 cases collected by Frank, there are only
three in regard to which it is assumed that combustion took place when no fire was in
the neighborhood; and Liebig distinctly shows that these three solitary cases are totally
unworthy of belief. With regard to the other cases, the writers who record them do not
deny the presence of fire, but assume that the body was ignited by the fire, and then
burned on like a candle or a bundle of straw, under similar conditions, till nothing but
ashes or charcoal was left. These writers maintain that excess of fat. and the presence
of brandy in the body, induce an abnormal condition of easy combustibility; but Liebig
shows, by numerous illustrations, the utter fallacy of this view; and adds, as further
evidence." " the fact that hundreds of fat, well-fed brandy-drinkers do not burn when by
accident or design they come too near a fire. It may with certainty be predicted that,
so long as the circulation continues, their bodies would not take fire, even if they held *
hand in the fire till it was charred." Spontaneous combustion in a living body is (b

Spo> e.

adds) absolutely impossible. Notwithstanding the wide promulgation of Lid-ig's views,
the belief in the possible occurrence of spontaneous combustion seems not yet to have
disappeared. In 1S47 the body of a man, aged 71, ami who was neither fat nor a drunk-
ard, was found in bed in a state of combustion. Dr. Nasson, who was commissioned to
investigate the case, reported that the burning must have resulted from some inherent
cause in the person probably roused into activity by a hot brick that was placed at his
feet; and Orlila is reported to" have coincided in this opinion. This case is reported in the
<.r'<r:,ff<: .\fi'dicale, Sept. 4. 1847. On Juue 13, 1847, the countess of Goerlit/ was found
dead in her bedroom, with the upper part of her body partly consumed by lire. Tlia
head was a nearly shapeless black mass, with the charred tongue protruding from it.
The physician who was consulted could suggest no other explanation than that the body
of the countess must have taken tire spontaneously, and not even by ignition of her dress
by a candle. On this evidence she was buried; but circumstances having led to the sus-
picion that she had been murdered by her valet Stauff (who had been detected in attempt-
ing to poison the count), her body was exhumed in Aug., 1848, fourteen months after
her death, and was subjected to a special examination by the Hesse medical college, who
reported that she had not died from spontaneous combustion. The case was then
referred to Liebig and Bischolf, and their report was issued in Mar., 1850, when Stauff
was put upon his trial. They found no difficulty in concluding that the body was wil-
fully burned after death, for the purpose of concealing the murder (either by strangula-
tion or a blow on the head) which had been previously perpetrated. The prisoner was
convicted, and subsequently confessed that he had committed Ihe murder by strangula-
tion, as indeed the protruded tongue might have suggested. Since that date there has
not been any case of alleged spontaneous combustion. On this subject the reader is
referred to the various articles on " Spontaneous Combustion" in the medical dictionaries
and encyclopaedias ; to Dupuytren's Lemons Orales; to Liebig's Letters on Chemistry; and
to Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence.


SPONTOON, a weapon bearing resemblance to a halberd, which, prior to 1787, wa
borne instead of a half-pike by oilicers of British infantry. It was a medium for sig-
naling orders to the regiment. The spdntoon planted in the ground commanded a halt;
pointed backward or forward, advance or retreat; and so on.

SPOOL, in spinning, a wooden reel for winding yarn upon. In sewing and lace-mak-
ing machines, the spools are of metal, and their forms vary according to the require-
ments of the machine.

SPOONBILL, Ptatnlea, a genus of birds of the Heron family (Ardeidae), much resem-
bling storks both in their structure and their habits, but distinguished by the remarkable
ir::i of the bill, which is long, flat, broad throughout its whole length, and much dilated
in a spoon-like form at the tip. The species are not numerous, but are widely distrib-
uted. The only European spJcL's is the WHITE SPOONBILL (P. leucorodta), rare in
Britain, although in former times, before the draining of the fens in England, it was a
more frequent summer visitor. It is common in Holland, in marshy districts through-^
out the northern parts of Europe and Asia in summer, and in the salt marshes of the
coast of Italy in winter. It also inhabits Africa, and its range extends over the whole
of that continent. It is gregarious, and the flocks of spoonbills generally make their
nests in woods, in the tops of lofty trees. It is considerably smaller than "the common
heron. Its color is white, slightly tinged with pink; the bill and legs are black. A
curious convolution of the windpipe, in the form of the figure 8, is found on dissection
in the adult spoonbill, but does not exist in the young. The flesh of the spoonbill is
said to be tender and of good flavor. The spoonbill is easily tamed, is quiet and inof-
fensive, feed - readily on any offal. The ROSEATE SPOONBILL (P. ajajd) is an American
species; very abundant within the tropics, and found in the most southern parts of the
United States It is nearly equal in size to the white spoonbill, which it resembles in
its habits. It is a beautiful bird, with plumage of a flue rose-color, of which the tint
is deepest on the wings ; the tail-coverts crimson.


SPORADIC (Gr. scattered) is a term applied to any disease that is naturally epidcn ,>
or contagious, when it attacks oidy a few persons in" a district, and does not spread i i
its ordinary manner. The conditions on which the occurrence of epidemic or contagious
diseases in a sporadic form depend are unknown. Among the diseases which occur in
this form may be especially mentioned catarrh, cholera, dysentery, measles, scarlatina,
and small-pox.

SPORE, in botany, may be called the seed of a cryptrgamous plant, ns it serves the same
purpose of reproduction ;:s the seed of a phanerogamous :>r fiowrrin.: plant, and after
remaining for a time in a state of rest, is develop /d into a new pl-nt on the occurrence
of the necessary conditions. A spore, however, differs very much from the seed of a
phanerogamous plant, as it always consists of a single cell, and therefore does not con-
U. K. XIII. 47


tain any embryo or rudiment of the future plant. In its formation, it correspond*
rather with the grains of pollen in the anther of a flower. Spores are small, often so
minute as to be invisible to the naked eye many of them extremely minute, so that
they may be wafted about uuperceived. This, indeed, might be expected from the very
mall size of many of the cryptogamic plants themselves, as moulds and many other
fungi. But even the spores of the largest ferns, are very small. Spores often remain
capable of germination for many years, and they seem to be capable of enduring much
drought without destruction. They seem to germinate indifferently from any part of
their surface, in which they differ essentially from the seeds of phanerogamous plants.
In the parent plant, they are either scattered singly, or are united in a fruit-like envel-
ope, which is generally known as a sporangium, or spore-case. In some plants they are
united in definite numbers, as of four (atetrasp&re), surrounded by an envelope (pfrin/tvri',

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 170 of 203)