Bruce, Hasselquist, and Lempriere,  testify to the fact that they have seen in Egypt, Morocco, Arabia, and especially in the Senaar, some natives utterly disregarding the bites of the most poisonous vipers, as well as the stings of scorpions. They handle and play with them, and throw them at will into a state of stupor. “In vain do the Latin and Greek writers,” says Salverte, “assure us that the gift of charming venomous reptiles was hereditary in certain families from time immemorial, that in Africa the same gift was enjoyed by the Psylli; that the Marses in Italy, and the Ophiozenes in Cyprus possessed it.” The skeptics forget that, in Italy, even at the commencement of the sixteenth century, men, claiming to be descended from the family of Saint Paul, braved, like the Marses, the bites of serpents.”

“Doubts upon this subject,” he goes on to say, “were removed forever at the time of the expedition of the French into Egypt, and the following relation is attested by thousands of eye-witnesses. The Psylli, who pretended, as Bruce had related, to possess that faculty . . . went from house to house to destroy serpents of every kind. . . . A wonderful instinct drew them at first toward the place in which the serpents were hidden; furious, howling, and foaming, they seized and tore them asunder with their nails and teeth.”

“Let us place,” says Salverte, inveterate skeptic himself, “to the account of charlatanism, the howling and the fury; still, the instinct which warned the Psylli of the presence of the serpents, has in it some-

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thing more real.” In the Antilles, the negroes discover, by its odor, a serpent which they do not see. “In Egypt, the same tact, formerly possessed, is still enjoyed by men brought up to it from infancy, and born as with an assumed hereditary gift to hunt serpents, and to discover them even at a distance too great for the effluvia to be perceptible to the dull organs of a European. The principal fact above all others, the faculty or rendering dangerous animals powerless, merely by touching them, remains well verified, and we shall, perhaps, never understand better the nature of this secret, celebrated in antiquity, and preserved to our time by the most ignorant of men.”

Music is delightful to every person. Low whistling, a melodious chant, or the sounds of a flute will invariably attract reptiles in countries where they are found. We have witnessed and verified the fact repeatedly. In Upper Egypt, whenever our caravan stopped, a young traveller, who believed he excelled on the flute, amused the company by playing. The camel-drivers and other Arabs invariably checked him, having been several times annoyed by the unexpected appearance of various families of the reptile tribe, which generally shirk an encounter with men. Finally, our caravan met with a party, among whom were professional serpent-charmers, and the virtuoso was then invited, for experiment’s sake, to display his skill. No sooner had he commenced, than a slight rustling was heard, and the musician was horrified at suddenly seeing a large snake appear in dangerous proximity with his legs. The serpent, with uplifted head and eyes fixed on him, slowly, and, as if unconsciously, crawled, softly undulating its body, and following his every movement. Then appeared at a distance another one, then a third, and a fourth, which were speedily followed by others, until we found ourselves quite in a select company. Several of the travellers made for the backs of their camels, while others sought refuge in the cantinier’s tent. But it was a vain alarm. The charmers, three in number, began their chants and incantations, and, attracting the reptiles, were very soon covered with them from head to foot. As soon as the serpents approached the men, they exhibited signs of torpor, and were soon plunged in a deep catalepsy. Their eyes were half closed and glazed, and their heads drooping. There remained but one recalcitrant, a large and glossy black fellow, with a spotted skin. This meloman of the desert went on gracefully nodding and leaping, as if it had danced on its tail all its life, and keeping time to the notes of the flute. This snake would not be enticed by the “charming” of the Arabs, but kept slowly moving in the direction

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