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.—“C’est dans cette Ville de Diu que se font les Pierres de Cobra si renommées: elles sont composées de racines qu’on brûle, et dont on amasse les cendres pour les mettre avec une sorte de terre qu’ils 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 l’y laisser jusqu’à ce qu’elle tombe d’elle 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.

c. 1676.—“There is the Serpent’s 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 Idoloter’s Priests, and that the Stone is rather a composition of certain Drugs. … If the Person bit be not much wounded, the place must be incis’d; and the Stone being appli’d 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 rubb’d against another Stone, yields a slime, which being drank in water,” &c. &c.—Ibid.

1690.—“The 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. …”—Ovington, 260–261.

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. 395–7.

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. … When 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

  By PanEris using Melati.

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