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of the human race; and all the more dangerous, as he gives us no warning of his approach, and bites us without our perceiving it. We see nothing, feel nothing, suspect nothing, till the virus has entered the system, and penetrated to the seat of life.
What is peculiarly distressing is, that the animal, in modern times, seems to have received an almost supernatural power of reproduction. It has become prolific beyond all former precedent. The whole land becomes infested.
Black serpents swarm everywhere. They are found in the palace and the hovel, the court and the camp, in the halls of justice, and even in the temples consecrated to religion. No place is impervious to their approach. They spare neither age, sex, nor condition. In some countries, the whole population seems to have been bitten, and exhibit all the madness and rage which never fail to follow the venomous bite. Naturalists do not agree as to the cause of this increased fecundity of this venomous reptile in modern times, or of the greater virulence of its poison ; but all admit the fact, which is otherwise incontrovertibly established. Some think it belongs to the nature of the animal itself; others think the cause is to be found in human nature. These last say, the animal lives on the human race, and obtains from the bite the means of its subsistence.
Human nature, they continue, is subjected to certain periodical developments, and in some of these developments it furnishes the appropriate food for the black serpent, and in others it does not. We chance to live in one of those epochs in the development of humanity peculiarly favorable to the family of black serpents. How this
may be we know not ; but this we do know, that no small part of Europe and America swarms with the hateful brood, and is wasted by its ravages.
This greater fecundity of the species was first noted, in modern times, in Germany and some of the Swiss cantons, about three hundred years ago. Black serpents at that epoch were found to have become incredibly numerous. They soon infested several of the provinces of France, took entire possession of the Dutch Netherlands, and crossed the North Sea over into Great Britain, where they appeared to find themselves, as the Germans say, at home (zu Heim). The consternation they produced can hardly be described. For a time, it was feared none would escape the fatal bite. But Providence interposed. They found their limits in Germany, beyond which they could not extend ; the French attacked them with their accustomed vivacity and courage, and sensibly diminished their numbers ; Italy, Spain, and some other countries, went far towards expelling them altogether from their dominions. There was a short breathing-spell in the seventeenth century, and men began to hope that the race would be wholly exterminated. Vain hope ! The race had found a home in England, where it grew and multiplied at an incredible rate. Having become completely Anglicized, and having in consequence changed, in some measure, its appearance and habits, so as not to be immediately recognized, it recrossed the North Sea, reappeared in Germany, and especially in France, in greater numbers and more venomous than ever. Not contented with the Old World, it found its way to the New World, where it finds itself hardly less at home than in England herself.
From the latest accounts received, it would appear, that, though numerous in Germany, the increase of black serpents is there arrested ; in France, which for seventy years seemed given up entirely to their ravages, the bites are much less frequent than they were. It is even rumored that there is some hope for England herself. Nice observers think they perceive a change in the English climate, producing a corresponding change in the temperament of the English people, unfavorable to this peculiar species of reptiles. Some have whispered, that the English, becoming at length aware of the utter impossibility of living with these reptiles, which, from some strange fancy, they had for a long time cherished, and carried in their bosoms, have even thought of resorting to certain prescriptions against their bite, said to have been left by one St. Patrick, and carefully preserved by some of the old women in a neighbouring island. But this wants confirmation. Nevertheless, it is quite certain that the English are consulting on the ways and means, either of deriving more advantage from the race than they have heretofore done, or of driving it from their dominions. We in this country, however, do not seem to be particularly alarmed at the incredible numbers of black serpents we are sustaining, nor do we seem to apprehend that any injury can come from their bite. Yet they are exceedingly destructive, and their bite with us in almost all cases proves fatal. Very few of us escape. We can scarcely rear up a clever boy to the age of twelve years, without his being bitten in the heel, the breast, and the head. The great mass of the young men and maidens in our cities, if not in the country, show unequivocal signs of having been bitten. The virus has been received, and is work
ing in the system. They themselves now and then suspect all is not quite right with them ; they are ill-at-ease, are troubled with insomnies, cannot remain long in one place, have great aversion to whatever demands serious thought, firm will, and persevering action. They resort to all manner of quacks and nostrums, but obtain no relies, and no clue to the nature of their ailments, or the means of cure.
But, happily, the means are at length discovered, if not of exterminating the whole race, yet of radically, effectually, curing those who may be bitten, and of rendering all henceforth invulnerable to the attacks of the black serpent. Dr. Gypendole, author of the book before us, a celebrated physician, as is evinced by his titles, having given up his entire life to the investigation of the subject, has discovered and compounded a salve which will in all cases, if applied, prove effectual, and not only in cases of recent date, but in those of long standing. He has not only discovered and compounded the salve, “the precious ointment,” but, with a praiseworthy disinterestedness, has disclosed the secret of its composition, and the method of its application, to the world; proving thereby, that, if, to suit the manners of the age, he assumes the style and address of a mountebank, he is no quack. He asks no premium for the discovery, no reward for the disclosure. Enough for him the consciousness of contributing something to lighten the afflictions of suffering humanity, and the blessings which must for ever attend
We assure our readers that Dr. Gypendole's salve is no quack medicine, and that the good Doctor, as extravagant as he may appear to be in its praise, does not by any means exaggerate its virtues. We speak from experience. We ourselves had the misfortune to be bitten by the black serpent more than once, and badly bitten, too ; but the application of this salve, according to the Doctor's prescription, has wrought a total and radical cure, to which fact we are ready to make affidavit before any justice of the peace, and at any moment, if any one chooses to doubt our simple word. But we must let the Doctor speak for himself. Our readers must, then, figure to themselves a venerable old man, well dressed, but not in a fashion too modern, with a high and expanded forehead, a large, well-formed head, slightly bald, locks white as the driven snow, face somewhat wrinkled, but wearing a calm, placid, benevolent smile, winning the heart of every child that sees him, — driving up in a public square, descending from his carriage, and ascend
ing a platform raised a few feet from the ground, and opening his mouth to address the crowd which instantly collects to see and hear him.
“ I. PROPERTIES OF THE SALVE.
“Gentlemen and Ladies, – You are going to see what you are going to see, a wonderful thing which you have never yet seen. And yet, as to beasts, men, inventions, remedies, what have you not seen? You have seen learned dogs playing at chess, as the late Mr. Talleyrand at protocols; military fleas going through all points of their exercise, fit to form the first battery of the mounted artillery of the brave National Guard of Paris, in whose ranks we are all subject to march; you have seen artists in verse, in prose, in legislation, in philosophy, who, though their eyes are armed with double glasses, cannot distinguish clearly the end of their own noses, and who yet flatter themselves that they can see quite well in the clouds; you have seen white calves with two heads, and tricolored knights with four, eight, ten, thirteen consciences; the fourteen thousand truths of the Constitutional Charter; the ashes of the great Napoleon; bitumen of every sort and color, granitic bitumen, vitrifiable bitumen, bituminous bitumen; bear's grease from Siberia, taken from the living animal, to promote the growth of the hair, the eyebrows, and the beard; cabbage-seed from Iceland, producing a vegetable tall as a drum-major. All these you have seen, and yet, Gentlemen and Ladies, I have the honor to tell you again that you are going to see
what you are going to see, a wonderful thing surpassing all you have yet seen. I myself, who have visited ali the capitals of Europe, - Paris, London, Petersburg, Madrid, Lisbon on the Tagus, Rome, Naples, Berlin, Vienna on the Danube ; - all parts of the world, - Europe, Asia, Africa, America, Oceanea, - I myself have nowhere seen what you are going to
“ Look here, Gentlemen and Ladies; in this little box which I hold between my thumb and forefinger is a wonderful thing, which our contemporaries of all countries, not excepting even the illustrious Laplanders and the scientific Mantchouck Tartars, as well as our ancestors of all times, - jaw-bones, fossil, antediluvians, preadamites, - have never suspected. It is so, Gentlemen and Ladies. This box contains wonderful pills, the discovery of which I owe to the immense progress which has been made in chemical science, combined with long years of labor during ten hours a day, not even excepting Sundays. I will not, indeed, say, as say some persons who advertise certain specifics endowed with the marvellous property of curing all diseases, past, present,
future, old and new, that my salve is a universal panacea. No, I am not -- and you need not that I say it — no, I am not a quack, At my age, one's fortune is made, or left to shift for itself. The sole desire of curing one of the innumerable maladies which afflict poor humanity has made me for these ten years travel through town and country, in Europe and America, and procures me the inestimable advantage of appearing this day before this amiable assembly. No, I will not say to you that my salve is a universal specific; for it is the first duty of a man of honor to tell the truth; and, moreover, as says Confucius, true merit is modest. I repeat, then, that my salve cures neither the whooping-cough nor the gout, neither the gastro-enteritis, nor diseases of the tongue, nor even diseases of the skin. But it does more ; it cures the almost universally fatal bite of the black serpent, the most dangerous of all known reptiles, and cures a new bite, an old bite, a bite in the heart, or a bite in the head, and instantaneously, radically, and without pain. And what is better yet, a thousand times betier, it renders those who are so happy as to possess it invulnerable to the attacks of this fearful reptile. Simply take a box of my salve, merely inhale its perfume, and you may travel in all places infested by the black serpent, visit night and day the miserable victims of its contagious bites, with as much assurance as the doctor who visits the pest-house with a cruise of the vinaigre of the four ministers - I beg pardon — of the four thieves, under his nose.
“ But in order the better to appreciate the great value of my specific, this amiable society doubtless demands some detailed account of the black serpent, to the cure of whose bite I have consecrated my life. I hasten to satisfy its very reasonable demand,
“ II. IDEA OF THE BLACK SERPENT --- ITS Habits. “ In the outset, Gentlemen and Ladies, I warn this amiable society not to expect from me a direct definition of the black serpent. I leave the rage for definitions to the Chinese philosophers; for, according to the beautiful maxim of the great Parapharagus, first dragoman to his Highness Abduhl-Medjid, definitions usually satisfy only those who make them. However, I will make this dangerous reptile known to you, but less by telling you what it is than by telling you what it is not. You must know, then, Gentlemen and Ladies, that the black serpent does not belong to the picturesque race of lynxes, although these have many varieties, especially in Central Europe ; nor to the very delicate class of black or white bears, notwithstanding these are vastly more numerous than naturalists imagine; nor to the family of apes, in which the wonderful progress of science has succeeded in detecting one hundred four score and nineteen thousand varieties; nor to the race of fowls, whose species are as numerous as the leaves of the forest, such as cock-turkeys