SLOTH to SNAKE-STONE
SLOTH, s. In the usual way of transferring names which belong to other regions, this name is sometimes
applied in S. India to the Lemur (Loris gracilis, Jerdon).
SNAKE-STONE, s. This is a term applied to a substance, the application of which to the part where a
snake-bite has taken effect, is supposed to draw out the poison and render it innocuous. Such applications
are made in various parts of the Old and New Worlds. The substances which have this reputation are
usually of a porous kind, and when they have been chemically examined have proved to be made of
charred bone, or the like. There is an article in the 13th vol. of the Asiatic Researches by Dr. J. Davy,
entitled An Analysis of the Snake-Stone, in which the results of the examination of three different kinds,
all obtained from Sir Alex. Johnstone, Chief Justice of Ceylon, is given. (1) The first kind was of round
or oval form, black or brown in the middle, white towards the circumference, polished and somewhat
lustrous, and pretty enough to be sometimes worn as a neck ornament; easily cut with a knife, but not
scratched by the nail. When breathed on it emitted an earthy smell, and when applied to the tongue,
or other moist surface, it adhered firmly. This kind proved to be of bone partially calcined. (2) We give
below a quotation regarding the second kind. (3) The third was apparently a bezoar, (q.v.), rather than
a snake-stone. There is another article in the As. Res. xvi. 382 seqq. by Captain J. D. Herbert, on
Zehr Mohereh, or Snake-Stone. Two kinds are described which were sold under the name given (Zahr
muhra, where zahr is poison, muhra, a kind of polished shell, a bead, applied to a species of bezoar).
Both of these were mineral, and not of the class we are treating of.
c. 1666.Cest dans cette Ville de Diu que se font les Pierres de Cobra si renommées: elles sont composées
de racines quon brûle, et dont on amasse les cendres pour les mettre avec une sorte de terre quils ont,
et les brûler encore une fois avec cette terre; et après cela on en fait la pâte dont ces Pierres sont formées.
Il faut faire sortir avec une éguille, un peu de sang de la plaie, y appliquer la Pierre, et ly laisser jusquà
ce quelle tombe delle même.Thevenot, v. 97.
1673.Here are also those Elephant Legged St. Thomeans,
which the unbiassed Enquirers will tell you chances to them two ways: By the Venom of a certain Snake,
by which the Jaugies (see JOGEE) or Pilgrims furnish them with a Factitious Stone (which we call
a snake-stone), and is a Counter-poyson of all deadly Bites; if it stick, it attracts the Poyson; and put
into Milk it recovers itself again, leaving its virulency therein, discovered by its Greenness.Fryer, 53.
1676.There is the Serpents stone not to be forgot, about the bigness of a double (doubloon?); and
some are almost oval, thick in the middle and thin about the sides. The Indians report that it is bred
in the head of certain Serpents. But I rather take it to be a story of the Idoloters Priests, and that the
Stone is rather a composition of certain Drugs.
If the Person bit be not much wounded, the place must
be incisd; and the Stone being applid thereto, will not fall off till it has drawn all the poison to it: To cleanse
it you must steep it in Womans-milk, or for want of that, in Cows-milk.
There are two ways to try whether
the Serpent-stone be true or false. The first is, by putting the Stone in your mouth, for there it will give
a leap, and fix to the Palate. The other is by putting it in a glass full of water; for if the Stone be true,
the water will fall a boyling, and rise in little bubbles.
Tavernier, E.T., Pt. ii. 155; [ed. Ball, ii. 152].
Tavernier also speaks of another snake-stone alleged to be found behind the hood of the Cobra: This
Stone being rubbd against another Stone, yields a slime, which being drank in water, &c. &c.Ibid.
thing which he carried
is a Specific against the Poison of Snakes
and therefore obtained the name
of Snake-stone. It is a small artificial Stone.
The Composition of it is Ashes of burnt Roots, mixt with
a kind of Earth, which is found at Diu.
1712.Pedra de Cobra: ita dictus lapis,
vocabulo a Lusitanis imposito, adversus viperarum morsus praestat auxilium, externè applicatus. In serpente,
quod vulgò credunt, non invenitur, sed arte secretâ fabricatur à Brahmanis. Pro dextro et felici usu, oportet
adesse geminos, ut cum primus veneno saturatus vulnusculo decidit, alter surrogari illico in locum possit.
Quo ipso feror, ut istis lapidibus nihil efficaciæ inesse credam, nisi quam actuali frigiditate suâ, vel absorbendo
praestant.Kaempfer, Amoen. Exot. 3957.
1772.Being returned to Roode-Zand, the much celebrated
Snake-stone (Slangesteen) was shown to me, which few of the farmers here could afford to purchase,
it being sold at a high price, and held in great esteem. It is imported from the Indies, especially from
Malabar, and cost several, frequently 10 or 12, rix dollars. It is round, and convex on one side, of a
black colour, with a pale ash-grey speck in the middle, and tubulated with very minute pores.
it is applied to any part that has been bitten by a serpent, it sticks fast to the wound, and extracts the
poison; as soon as it is saturated, it falls off of itself.
Thunberg, Travels, E.T. i. 155 (A Journey into