them in their march, all contributed to dispirit the army, and to impede their progress. At length, after nine days' painful and interrupted ascent, Annibal gained the top of the mountains, where he rejoiced his soldiers, by showing them the charming and fertile vales of Italy, which were stretched out beneath. Here he allowed a two-days' respite, and then prepared to descend :-a work of more danger even than the former. Prodigious quantities of snow having lately fallen, as many were swallowed up in it, as had before been destroyed by the enemy. Every new advance seemed but to increase the danger, till, at last, he came to the verge of a precipice above three hundred yards perpendicular, which seemed utterly impassable. It was then that despair appeared in every face but Annibal's; for he still remained unshaken. His first object was to endeavour by a circuitous course, to find a more commodious passage. This only increasing his difficulty, he resolved to undertake levelling the rock. To effectuate this, great numbers of large trees were felled ; and a huge pile raised against it, and set on fire. The rock being thus heated, says Livy, was softened by vinegar, and a way opened, through which the whole army might safely pass. After this, no obstacles of any comparative moment occurred; for as he descended, the vallies between the mountains became more fertile; so that the cattle found pasture, and the soldiers had time to repose. Thus at the end of fifteen days, spent in crossing the Alps, the Carthaginian found himself in the plains of Italy, with about half his army remaining; the rest having died of the cold, or were cut off by the natives.



Many of our readers, no doubt, have heard of a stone-eater, as he was called : a man who gained a livelihood by going about as a show, swallowing pebbles, and champing to pieces and swallowing bits of stone. We do not know the fate of this man; though it does not appear that he lived long under this practice. The human stomach can accommodate itself occasionally to improper substances in a wonderful manner, so that every accidental swallowing of an indigestible substance is not necessarily fatal: but this can never be practised long with impunity; and instances of such violent suffering from a single imprudence of the kind have been known, that we cannot be too cautious, in never allowing ourselves even to hold in the mouth a pin, a pebble, or even a plumbstone, much less to swallow them. A still more extraordinary instance than that of the stone-eater, however, is the following; the subject of which suffered much from his imprudence, and at length fell a victim to it.

Andrew Basile, a galley-slave at Brest, came into the naval hospital on the 5th of September, 1774. He complained of a cough, oppression at the stomach, and pains in the bowels, for which Dr. de Courcelles, the hospital physician, prescribed some medicines that seemed to mitigate his complaints. He was still in the hospital in the beginning of October, when he fell under the care of another physician, Dr. Fournier. He was then tormented with pains in his stomach, and frequent vomiting, which rendered him very low; but the physician obtained no information from him, that could lead to a know. ledge of the cause of his disorder : and accordingly prescribed such medicines as he judged to be most suitable to his complaints. On the 10th of October he died.

Dr. Fournier conjectured, that he must have had some peculiar affection of the internal parts, and the next day opened the body. The stomach appeared to be thrust out of its usual situation, and various hard substances were felt in it, though what they were could not be ascertained by the feel. Through an accidental opening made in it, however, Dr. Fournier saw a piece of wood, of a black colour, protrude; and in consequence, he deferred any farther examination of this singular case, till the arrival of a company of physicians, surgeons, pupils, and officers, whom he invited to be present. At three o'clock, they were all assembled, to the number of fifty, and in the presence of these eye-witnesses, an account of the whole was drawn up. The stomach, as well as the esophagus and bowels, was internally of a blackish colour, and the following is an inventory of the articles it contained.

1. A piece of an iron hoop, nineteen inches long, and an inch broad.

2. A piece of broom, six inches long, and half an inch thick.

3. Another piece, of the same thickness, eight inches long. 4. Another such piece, six inches long. 5. Another, four inches long.

6. Another piece, four inches long, split nearly in the middle.

7. A piece of oak, four inches and a half long, and inch and a half broad, and half an inch thick.

8. Another piece, four inches long, an inch broad, and twotbirds of an inch thick.

9. Another piece, four inches long, half an inch wide, and a third of an inch thick.

10. Another piece of the same dimensions.

11. Another piece, two inches long, an inch broad, and half an inch thick.

12. Another piece, four inches and a half long, a third of an inch broad, and a third of an inch thick.

13. Another piece, four inches long, and of a triangular figure.

14. Another piece, four inches long, and a third of an inch in diameter.

15. Another piece, five inches long, half an inch broad, and two lines thick, split lengthwise.

16. Another piece, five inches long, a third of an inch broad, and two lines thick.

17. Another piece, of an irregular figure, three inches long, and a quarter of an inch thick.

18. Another piece, three inches long, half an inch broad, and a quarter of an inch thick.

19. A piece of a hoop, five inches long, an inch broad, and two lines thick.

20. A piece of fir, four inches long, an inch broad, and near half an inch thick.

21. Another piece, four inches long, and a third of an inch in diameter.

22. Another piece, in the shape of a wedge, two inches and a half long, one inch broad, and a third of an inch thick at the base.

23. Another piece, of an irregular figure, three inches long, and half an inch thick.

24. Another piece, two inches and a half long, and a third of an inch thick.

25. A piece of bark from a hoop, three inches and a half long, and an inch broad, belonging to a larger piece, which still stuck in the oesophagus, and from which this had been broken off, and fallen into the stomach.

26. A wooden bung, an inch long, and the same in diameter.

27. A wooden spoon, gnawed at the lower end, five inches long, and an inch and a half broad.

28. The nosle of a tin funnel, three inches and a half long, an inch in diameter at the larger end, and half an inch at the smaller.

29. Another piece of a tin funnel, two inches and a half long, and half an inch thick.

30. The handle of a pewter spoon, four inches and a half long

31. A pewter spoon entire, seven inches long, the bowl bent round.

32. A smaller spoon of the same metal, three inches long. 33. Another, two inches and a half long.

34. A piece of iron, two inches and a half long, half an inch broad, and a third of an inch thick,

35. A pipe-case, with the edges blunted, and a piece of the stem, all together three inches long.

36. A nail, the point broken off, two inches long, including the head.

37. Another nail, very sharp, an inch and a half long.

38. A piece of a pewter spoon, squeezed flat, an inch long, and half an inch broad.

39. Two pieces of a pewter buckle, of irregular figures, each about half an inch long.

40. Five plumb-stones. 41. A little piece of horn.

42. Two pieces of flint glass, the largest an inch and one third long, half an inch broad, and of an irregular shape.

43. Two pieces of leather, the largest three inches long, an inch broad, and of an irregular figure; the other an inch and a third long, and half an inch broad.

44. A knife, with its blade bent, the haft of wood, three inches and a half long, and an inch broad in the widest part.

Thus the whole of this singular store consisted of fifty-two articles, weighing above two pounds.

One of his countrymen, who had been sent to the gallies with him, said, that he had often seen him scratch down mortar and plaster from the wall, and throw it into his soup, saying, that it was a cordial to him and comforted his heart. Sometimes he had a raging appetite, which announced itself by an abundant flow of spittle, and he could then eat as much as four people. When this was the case, and he could not satisfy his hunger, because he had spent his money in tobacco, of which he was very fond, he used to swallow little stones, buttons, pieces of leather, and other such things. His comrades at the oar had seen him swallow two pieces of wood, four or five inches long, two days before he went to the hospital : but it was not known when he had swallowed the great piece of an iron hoop nineteen inches in length. He long complained of pains in his inside; but had never mentioned any thing relative to bis singular diet, except once saying, that he had a thousand devilish things within him, which would be his death. At times, however, he appeared to be disordered in his mind.

DESCRIPTION OF A STONE-EATER. The beginning of May, 1760, was brought to Avignon, a true lithophagus or stone-eater. He not only swallowed Aints of an inch and a half long, a full inch broad, and half an inch thick; but such stones as he could reduce to powder, such as marble, pebbles, &c. he made up into paste, which was to him a most agreeable and wholesome food. I examined this man with all the attention I possibly could. I found bis gullet very large, his teeth exceedingly strong, his saliva very corrosive, and his stomach lower than ordinary, which I imputed to the vast number of flints he had swallowed, being about five and twenty, one day with another. Upon interrogating his keeper, he told me the following particulars. “ This stoneeater," says he, was found three years ago in a northern inhabited island, by some of the crew of a Dutch ship, on Good Friday. Since I have had him, I make him eat raw flesh with his stones; I could never get him to swallow bread. He will drink water, wine, and brandy; which last liquor, gives him infinite pleasure. He sleeps at least twelve hours in a day, sitting on the ground with one knee over the other, and his chin resting on his right knee. He smokes almost all the time he is not asleep, or is not eating. The flints he has swallowed he voids somewhat corroded and diminished in weight, the rest of his excrement resembles mortar.” The keeper also tells me, that some physicians at Paris got him blooded ; that the blood had little or no serum, and in two hours' time became as fragile as coral. If this fact be true, it is manifest that the most diluted part of the stony juice must be converted into chyle. This stone-eater, hitherto is unable to pronounce more than a few words, Oui, non, caillou bon. I showed him a fly through a microscope: he was astonished at the size of the animal, and could not be induced to examine it. He has been taught to make the sign of the cross, and was baptized some months ago, in the church of St. Come at Paris.

The respect he shows to ecclesiastics, and his ready disposition to please them, afforded me the opportunity of satisfying myself as to all these particulars; and I am fully convinced that he is no cheat.


It may, perhaps, be needless now to add any thing in confirmation of Doctor Wallis solution of the sun and moon appearing so much larger at rising and setting, than in a greater altitude; though some have gone on very absurdly, and still

. 28


« ElőzőTovább »