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Curious Experiments With A Viper

Many natural philosophers, in their eagerness to display the powers of

science, have overlooked one of the first duties of life, humanity;

and, with this view, have tortured and killed many harmless animals,

to exemplify the amazing effects of the air-pump. We, however, will

not stain the pages of this little work by recommending any such

species of cruelty, which in many instances can merely gratify

curiosity; but as
ur readers might like to read the effect on

animals, we extract from the learned Boyle an account of his

experiment with a viper.

He took a newly-caught viper, and, shutting it up in a small receiver,

extracted the air. At first, upon the air being drawn away, the viper

began to swell; a short time after it gasped and opened its jaws; it

then resumed its former lankness, and began to move up and down within

the receiver, as if to seek for air. After a while, it foamed a

little, leaving the foam sticking to the inside of the glass; soon

after, the body and neck became prodigiously swelled, and a blister

appeared on its back. Within an hour and a half from the time the

receiver was exhausted, the distended viper moved, being yet alive,

though its jaws remained quite stretched; its black tongue reached

beyond the mouth, which had also become black in the inside: in this

situation it continued for three hours; but on the air being

re-admitted, the viper's mouth was presently closed, and soon after

opened again; and these motions continued some time, as if there were

still some remains of life.

It is thus with animals of every kind; even minute microscopical

insects cannot live without air.