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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is generally massive; very rarely crystallized in rectangular prisms. COMMON SERPEN-
TINE sometimes occurs as a rock. It is unctuous to the touch, and 1 soft enough to be
scratched by calcareous spar. It is not easily broken, but can be cut without much
difficulty. It is generally green, black, or red; the" color sometimes uniform, sometimes
spotted, clouded, or veined. It receives its name from the serpent-like form which the
veins often assume. It is_ cut and turned into ornaments of various kinds. PRECIOUS

OK f7 Serpent.


SERPENTINE or NOBLE SEKPE^rrNE is of a rich dark-green color, hard enough to receive
a good polish, translucent; and sometimes contains imbedded garnets, which form red
spots, and much add to its beauty. It is a rare mineral. It occurs at Baireuth in Ger-
many, in Corsica, at Portsoy in BanfTshire, in the Shetland islands, etc. It is generally
found along with foliated limestone, iu beds under gneiss, mica-slate, etc., or in com-
mon serpentine. The ancient Romans used it for pillars and for many ornamental pur-
port's; and vases, boxes, etc., are still made of it, and much prized. The aucie;:ts
ascribed to it imaginary medicinal virtues.

Serpentine belongs to the metamorphic rocks. It occurs as an irregularly overlying
mass ia the Li/ard district of Cornwall, as a dike at Portsoy, and as nodular aggreg'^
tions in tlie granite of Aberdeenshire. It is generally associated with the granitoid,
igneous, or metamorphic rocks, though it is occasionally found as a member of the
trappean series. Trap dikes, in passing through or coming into contact with lime-
stone, not unfrequently convert it into serpentine, or fill it with lines or masses of ser-

SERPENTS, Ophidia, an order of reptiles, which is in general simply characterized
as having a very elongated body and no external limbs. The links, however, which
unite saurians with serpents are very numerous; the limbs of many sauriaus being
partially wanting, and little more than rudimentary; whilst rudimentary limbs are
found by anatomical examination in many serpents, and the rudimentary hinder limbs
of sonic, as boas, appear externally in the tjorm of hooks or claws. See BOA.

The body and tail are covered with scales, the head often with plates. The vertebrae
and ribs are extremely numerous, a pair of ribs being attached to each vertebra through-
out the whole length of the body. -Some serpents have more than 300 pair of ribs.
The ribs not only serve to give form to the body, and aid in respiration, but are also
organs of locomotion. There is no breast-bone (sternum) for the small end of the ribs to
be attached to, as in other vertebrate animals, but each rib is joined by a slender cartilage
and a set of short muscles to one of the scales of the abdomen. A serpent moves by
means of the ribs and of these scales, which take hold on the surface over which it
passes, and in this way it can glide often very rapidly along the ground, or on t-he
branches of trees; and many species climb trees with great facility, gliding up them as
if on level ground. Most if not all of the species are also capable of elevating a great
portion of the body from the ground; and many of those which live among the branches
of trees hold their place firmly by means even of a few scales near the tail, and freely
Ktend the greater portion of the body in the air. On a perfectly smooth surface, as
that of glass, a serpent is quite helpless, and has no power of locomotion.

The vertebras of serpents are so formed as to admit of great pliancy of the body,
which is capable of being coiled up, with the head in the center of the coil, and some
serpents have the power of throwing themselves to some distance from this coiled posi-
tion. The vertebra? are articulated by perfect ball-and-socket joints, the anterior
extremity of each being rounded into a smooth and polished ball, which fits exactly into
a hemispherical cup in the next; but there are processes in each vertebra which prevent
any motion except from side to side, so that serpents are quite incapable of the vertical
undulations so often represented in prints. The ribs are also attached to the vertebrae
by ball-and-socket joints.

Cuvier divided serpents into three sections, the first of which the common blind-
worm (q.v.) or slow-worm of Britain is an example consisting of those which have the
skull, teeth, and tongue similar to those of saurians, and in which the eye has three lids,
and there are vestiges of bones of anterior limbs; the second, which Cuvier calls true
serpents, having no vestiges of such bones, the eye destitute of lids, and the bones of the
head so formed that the mouth and throat are capable of very great dilation; the third,
which he calls naked serpents, containing only the genus fCfcilia (q.v.), now known, not-
withstanding its form, to belong really to the batrachians or amphibia.

The serpents of Cuvier's first section have been conjoined with some of the nearly
allied saurians, more or less furnished with external limbs, under the name saurophidia,
by Mr. Gray. They are connected with the true serpents by the families amphisbcenidce
and typhh>psida>, which nearly agree with them in the structure of the head and mouth,
but want the third eyelid some of the typhlopsidce, indeed, having the eye itself merely
rudimentary and, like the true serpents, have no vestige of breast-bone or shoulder.
These, with all the creatures included in this section, are, in so far as is known, perfectly
harmless. They live chiefly on insects and other very small animals.

The true serpents live on larger prey, which they swallow entire, some of them as
the boas crushing it by constriction in the coil of their muscular body. The prey of a
serpent is often thicker than the serpent itself, and to admit of its being swallowed, the
throat and body are very dilatable. The bones of the head are adapted to the necessity
of a great expansion of the mouth and dilation of the throat. The bones composing the
upper jaw are loosely joined together by ligaments; and even the arches of the palate
are movable. The two halves of the lower jaw are connected by a ligament, so loose
and elastic that they are capable of separation to a great extent; and the mastoid and
tympanic bones, which connect the lower jaw and the skull, are lengthened out into
pedicels, allowing an extraordinary power of dilation. Swrpents, however, sometinjci


seize prey too big for them to swallow, and die in the attempt, their teeth being so formed
as to render it difficult to reject by the mouth what has once got into the throat.

The teeth of the true serpents are simple, and directed backward. In the non-
venomous kinds there are four rows on the upper part of the mouth, two rows on the
jaws, and two on the palate; each division of the lower jaw is also armed with a single
row. In vipers, rattlesnakes, and other venomous serpents, there are no teeth on the
upper jaw except the poison-fangs; the palatal teeth, however, forming two rows as in
the non-venomous kinds, the arrangement of teeth in the lower jaw being also the same.
Venomous serpents do not, in fact, need the same array of teeth as the non-venomous;
depending rather on the power of their venom for their prey, which they suddenly
wound, and then wait till it is dead. The poison-fangs are long in comparison with the
other teeth; they are two in number, firmly fixed into a movable bone; when not in use
they are laid flat on the roof of the mouth, covered by a kind of sheath formed by the
mucous membrane of the palate; when the animal is irritated, and about to assail its
enemy or its prey, they stand out like two lancets from the upper jaw. They move with
the bone into which they are fixed; and the bone and muscles are so arranged that the
opening of the mouth brings them into the position for use. There is above them, and
toward the back of the head, a large gland for the elaboration of the poison, winch is
forced through them by the action of the muscles, each fang being tubular. The tube
of the fang is formed, not as by a hollowing of it, but as by a bending of it upon itself,
and is situated in front. The opening near the fang's point is a narrow longitudinal
fissure. The poison-fangs are very liable to be destroyed, and the germs of new ones are
generally found behind them, ready to grow and supply their place.

It is sometimes stated as a distinction between venomous and non- venomous serpents
that the former have only two rows of teeth on the upper part of the mouth while the
latter have four. This rule must not, however, be accepted without qualification. In
the marine serpents (hydridtx), there are rows of maxillary teeth behind the poison-fa-ngs;
and some of the venomous land- serpents, as the bougars or rock snakes of the East
Indies, which, however, are not among the most venomous, have some smaller teeth in
the jaw-bones behind the poison-fangs.

. The venom of serpents differs very much in its deadly power in different species.
The bite of some causes the death of a human being in a few minutes, so that no crea-
tures are more formidable; that of others proves fatal after the lapse of hours: while the
bite of others, such as the common viper, is seldom fatal, although causing great pain
and many unpleasant consequences. "I have carefully examined all the evidence ou
record," says Mr. Buckland, "as regards the most efficacious internal remedy that can
be given in such cases, and have come to the conclusion that nothing is so good as
ammonia" (Cuinosities of Natural Histmy). The same writer also recommends brandy
or other stimulating drinks to be taken in large quantities. But it is of the utmost
importance to suck the wound as soon as possible after it has been inflicted, and no
danger is to be apprehended in doing so if there be no scratch or sore about the mouth,
for the poison, so deadly when it mixes with the blood, is quite innocuous when taken
into the stomach.

Manv antidotes to the poison of serpents are in vogue in different countries, most of
them, if not all, utterly unworthy of regard. Dr. Fayrer believes that the bite of the
cobra, elaps, and Russell's viper is almost certain death. Tight ligatures above the bit-
ten part to stop the circulation of the poisoned blood; excision; caiiteri/ing with live
coal, red-hot iron, or gunpowder; application of ammonia, and repeated doses of alco-
hol, are the chief remedies to be tried; but they must be resorted to immediately after the
patient has been bitten.

The peculiarities of the lungs of serpents-are noticed in the article REPTILES. The
heart is placed very far back in the body. The intestines have a great absorbent power,
and the faeces consist only of the most indigestible portions of the prey in an extremely
desiccated state; the members of the animal which lias been swallowed being still often
distinguishable, and hair, scales, and the like remaining unchanged.

The tongue of serpents is forked and is often thrust out of the mouth. It is vulgarly
regarded as the sting, but serpents have no sting, their only weapons being the fangs
already noticed. The only sound which serpents emit is that of hissing.

Serpents are either strictly oviparous or they are ovoviviparous. The non-venomous
serpents are generally oviparous; the venomous, ovoviv.parous. The eggs of those
which lay eggs are generally deposited in a long string, connected by a kind of viscoui
substance, in some heap of decaying vegetable matter, the mother paying no further
heed to them. But some serpents coil themselves around their eggs and hatch them;
and it would eveo seem that the habits of the same species differ as to this in different
climates. The eggs of serpents are not quite devoid of calcareous covering, but have so
little that their integument is soft and pliable.

It has been often alleged that vipers and other serpents when alarmed, swallow their
young, and eject them again after reaching a place of safety. There still remains some
doubt on this curious question, which has been much discussed; and it is not improbable
that the alleged proofs of it from living young ones issuing out of the body of the parent
when crushed, are to be accounted for by the ovoviviparous mode of generation.

It seems probable that serpents do not possess the senses of taste or smell in great



pe;fection. The ear has no exterual opening, and no tympanum, nor is it certain that
their hearing is acute, but they are remarkably sensible of the power of music, of which
serpent-charmers avail themselves, both to bring them from their holes ami to control
them. See SEKi'KXT-cir A K.MING. A European gentleman, residing in one of the moun-
tainous parts of India, found that his flute attracted them in such numbers to his house
that he was under the necessity of ceasing to play it. Their eyes are small, and are pro-
tected from the dangers to which they might otherwise be exposed, by a transparent
integument connected with the skin, and which comes away with the skin when the old
kin is cast off, as is the case at least once a year.

The colors of serpents are very various, and often very beautiful. As a general rule,
but not without exceptions, the venomous species are of darker and more uniform color
than the non-venomous. The aversion and horror with which serpents are so generally
regarded are, of course, due to the dangerous character of so many of them and the
difficulty of observing and avoiding them.

Serpents are used as food by some savage tribes. They are capable of being tamed,
and some of tlie non-venomous species have frequently been so, and have been found
useful in killing mice, rats, and other such vermin.

Serpents abound chiefly in tropical climates, although some are found in northern
countries, as in Scandinavia. 'The British species were, until recently, supposed to be
only three in number the blindworm (one of the saurophidut) and two true serpents, the
common snake and the viper, the last alone (the adder) being venomous. Much interest
has been excited by the discovery in England of the coronella Icevis (see CORO.NELLA), a
harmless snake, common in some parts of the continent of Europe. Much curious
information occurs in Buckland's Curiosities of Natural History.

SEBPTJKOV, a very ancient Russian t., 56 m. s. of Moscow, close to the left hank of
the Oka. It contains a cathedral, and is -defended by a kreml or citadel. There are
upward of 50 factories, of which those engaged in the manufacture of cotton prints,
Bail-cloth, woolen goods, and leather are of importance. Pop. '67, 14,173.

SERFTJLA, a genus of annelida, of the order tubicolw, forming and inhabiting a cal-
careous tube, like that of mollusks, and therefore described in old works on conchology.
Indeed, the shell of a serpula is not always easily distinguished from that of mollusks
of the genus vermetus, although the inhabitants are extremely different; but the shell
of vermetua has a regular spire at the apex, which is not found in that of any serpula.
The serpulas attach their shells to rocks, shells, etc. in the sea. The shell is variously
contorted, and some of the species live in groups, with the shells inter vviued. The wider
end of the shell is open, and from it the animal protrudes its head and gills, which
expand as beautiful fan-like tufts. They are in general exquisitely colored, and serpuke
are among the most interesting and beautiful creatures that can be placed in an aquar-
ium. On the slightest alarm, they disappear completely into the tube, which then is
closed by an operculum curiously framed as an appendage to the gills. Several species
of serpula are common on the British coasts, but the largest are found in tropical seas,
and are among the many lovely objects to be seen in looking down through clear .still
water on coral reefs.

SERRANO Y DOMINGUEZ, FRANCISCO, Duke de la Torre; b. Spain, 1810; served
in the war of independence. He was a member of the junta which overthrew Espartero
in 1843, and after the restoration of Maria Christina, helped Narvaez overthrow Olozaga.
His influence over queen Isabella after her marriage, in 1846, was so great as to cause
serious dissensions between her and the king consort. He overthrew the Sotomayor
ministry, which attempted his downfall, but the Salamanca ministry, though supported
by him, was overthrown by public disapproval. Serrano now became a liberal, was
appointed capt.gen. of Granada, was exiled in 1854 for complicity in an insurrection at
Saragossa, came back during the revolution in that year, and supported the O'Donnell-
Espartero cabinet. In the dissensions between them he took part with O'Donncll, and
as capt.gen. of New Castile acted with O'Donnell in the coup d'etat of 1856. He was
ambassador to Paris in 1857, and capt.gen. of Madrid in 1865. Three years later he was
associated with Prim and Topete at the head of the revolution. Prim taking the ministry
of war, Serrano becoming commander-in-chief of the army and president of the council,
and Topete minister of marine. He was presently elected regent, and remained in that
office till Amadeo accepted the throne. In 1874 he became president of the executive
power in Spain.

SEEKAVALLE. a city of northern Italy, in Ycnetia, on the river Aleschio, 35 m. n.
of Venice. It is situated in a valley, and was formerly fortified. The cathedral, S.
Andrea, is very ancient. Pop. 5,400.

SERTO'RITJS, Q., one of the ablest Roman commanders in the later ages of the repub-
lic, was a native of Nursia, in the country of the Sabines, and began his military career
in Gaul. He fought, 105 B.C., in the disastrous battle on the Rhone in which the Roman
proconsul, Q. Servilius Ca3pio, was defeated by the Cimbri and Teutones, and took part
in the splendid victory at Aqua; Sex tire (mod. Aix), 102 B.C., where Marius annihilated
the same barbarians. On the breaking out of the sanguinary struggle between the party
of the nobles under Sulla (q.v.), and the popular party headed by^Marius (q.v.) (88 B.C.),

gertularia. 3 AH


he espoused the cause of the latter. Morally, he was much superior to the military
adventurers of his time; and the impression we have of him from Plutarch's picturesque
biography is that of a valiant, resolute, honest, and stubborn Roman, such as was com-
moner in" the 3d than in the 5th c. of the republic. None of the Marian generals held
out so long or so successfully as he against the victorious oligarchy. He fought in con-
junction with Ciuna the battle at the Colline gale, which placed Home at the mercy of
the Marians, but he had no hand in the bloody massacres that followed. What we do
hear of him is to his credit. He got his own troops together, and slew 4,000 of the ruf-
tsmly slaves whom Harms was permitting to plunder and ravish at will through the
city. On the return of Sulla from the east (S3 B.C.), Sertorius withdrew into Eutruria,
but finding it impossible to act in concert with the other military leaders of his party,
he went to Spain, where he continued the struggle in an independent fashion. At first
be was not very successful, and found it advisable to embark for Mauritania. After
several adventures, in the course of which he once passed through the strait of Gibral-
tar, and fell in with some sailors who had visited the Atlantic islands, and whose descrip-
tions so wrought upon his imagination, that he "was seized with a strong desire to dwell
in the islands, and to live in quiet, free from tyranny and never-ending wars" (Plu-
turch) he returned to the peninsula, at the invitation of the Lusitanians, got together
an army composed of natives, Libyans, and Romans, and after a time became the virtual
monarch of the whole country. During 80-76 B.C., he was victorious over all his oppon-
ents, nor was it until the arrival (76 B.C.), of young Pompey (" Pompey the great"), that
he found an opponent worthy to cope with him; and even Pompey was scarcely yet
his equal in military skill. Sertorius drove Pompey over the Iberus (Ebro) with heavy
loss; nor was the campaign of the following year (75 B.C.), more favorable, for though
Sertorius's subordinates were twice beaten, Pompey himself had no success, and was
forced to write urgent letters to the senate for re-enforcements. The campaigns of the
next two years were unimportant, except in so far as they show us the gradual opera-
tion of that miserable jealousy and envy of Sertorius that brought about his ruin. Per-
perna, and other Roman officers of the Marian party, who had fled to him in 77 B.C.,
when Sulla became triumphant at home, and who seem to have been a set of base
adventurers, secretly stirred up the Spaniards against him, and when that artifice did
not prove so successful as was hoped, they conspired against his life, and assassinated
him in his own tent, 72 B.C., under circumstances of shameful perfidy. With Sertorius
the Marian or popular cause sunk, until it was revived and attained final success in the
person of Julius Caesar (q.v.). Plutarch has written Sertorius's life, and Corneille has
made it the subject of a tragedy.

SEBTTJLA'BIA, a genus of zoophytes (anthozoa}, plant-like and branched, horny,
tubular, filled with a semifluid organic pulp, the polype cells in two rows on the
branches, the polypes hydra-like. The species are numerous, and some are common on
the British coasts, attached to stones, shells, sea-weeds, etc. The sertulariae are very


SEB'VAL, Felts serval or leopardus sercal, one of the smaller felidce, a native of South
Africa, the boschkatte, or bush-cat, of the Cape Colony. It is about 2 ft. in length,
exclusive of the tail. The serval is a beautiful animal, yellowish with black spots, the
lower parts white with black spots. The fur of the serval is in great request, and is
known to furriers as that of the tiger cat. The serval is one of the mildest and most
docile of tliefelidce.


SEBVETUS, MICHAEL, or, in his native Spanish, MIGUEL SERVEDE, a notable and
unfortunate speculator in theology, was b. at Villanueva, in Aragon, in 1509. At the
age of nineteen he quitted Spain;" and commenced the study of law at Toulouse, which
he soon abandoned to devote himself with ardor to the knotty points of the reformation
doctrines. In 1530 he went to Basel to hear (Ecolampadius, and thepce to Strasburg.
where Bucer and Capito taught. His daring deuial of the doctrine of the Trinity
frightened or angered these divines to such a degree that they denounced him as "a
wicked and cursed Spaniard." Servetus appealed from their judgment to that of the
public in his De Trinitatis Erronbm Lib. Vll. (Haguenau. 1531 ; modern edition, Nurem-
f>erg, 1791), and his Diftfogues (Haguenau, 1532); but the public thought as little of hit
teaching as the theologians; and to avoid the odium which it had occasioned, he changed
his name to Michael de Villanueva, and fled to Paris; where he studied medicine under
Sylvius and Fernel, and took his degree as a physician with honors. Servetus seems
to have possessed a kind of penetrating, if also rash and restless intellect, which enabled
him to hit truth occasionally in his flighty researches, or, at least, to make happv
guesses in the right direction. Thus, for example, he had an idea (sec M. Flourens in
the Journal den Riwins, April. 1854) of the doctrine of the circulation of the blood. He
attacked Galen and the faculty with his customary violence in a treatise on syrups
(Surnpornm UniversaRatie, Paris, 1537; Lyons, 1546). About this time he made the
acquaintance of Calvin, with whom he had 'several conferences or private disputations,
the result of which was a public challenge; but Servetus, after assenting to the arrange-

oni Sertnlart*.


ments, decamped, afraid probably, and not without reason, that bis precipitate imperious
way of thinking did not tit him for discussing with so cool, wary, and merciless :i logi-
cian as tiie Genevese reformer; afraid, too, perhaps, of being unceremoniously handed
over to the authorities for heresy! After living successively for some time at Lyons,
Clmrlieu, and Avignon, and supporting Inmself by writing for the booksellers, he found
an asylum in the palace of Pierre Pauimier, archbishop of Vienne, in 1541, where he
remained for somo years, and wrote his famous (Jhristianianii Rcstitutio, first published
in 1553. The work has been twice reprinted, first by Dr. Meade of London (incom-
plete), and again by Murr, at Nurembe r g, in 1790. Its celebrity is due more to the fact
that it sealed the fate of its author, than to its intrinsic merits, the ideas being obscure,

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 83 of 203)