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however, with certain precautions, either necessary, or pretended to be so. They repeatedly breathe strongly into the face of the serpent, and occasionally blow spittle, or some medicated composition upon them. It is needless to describe the mountebank tricks which they perform. That which I am least able to account for is the power of detecting the presence of serpents in a house, and of enticing or "charming" them out of it. The thing is far too common to be made a matter of skepticism. The following account, by Mr. Lane, is a fair statement of this matter: The charmer professes to discover, without ocular perception (but perhaps he does so by a peculiar smell), whether there be any serpents in the house, and if there be, to attract them to him, as the fowler, by the fascination of his voice, allures the bird into his net. As the serpent seeks the darkest place in which to hide himself, the charmer has, in most cases, to exercise his skill in an obscure chamber, where he might easily take a serpent from his bosom, bring it to the people without the door, and affirm that he had found it in the apartment, for no one would venture to enter with him, after having been assured of the presence of one of these reptiles within. But he is often required to perform in the full light of day, surrounded by spectators; and incredulous
persons have searched him beforehand, and even stripped him naked, yet his success has been complete. He assumes an air of mystery, strikes the walls with a short palm stick, whistles, makes a clucking noise with his tongue, and spits upon the ground, and generally says, I adjure you by God, if ye be above or if ye be below, that ye come forth; I adjure you by the most great name, if ye be obedient, come forth, and if ye be disobedient, die ! die! die! pent is generally dislodged by his stick from a fissure in the wall or from the ceiling of the room. I have heard it asserted that a serpent-charmer, before he enters a house in which he is to try his skill, always employs a servant of that house to introduce one or more serpents; but I have known instances in which this could not be the case, and am inclined to believe that the deryishes above-mentioned are
generally acquainted with some physical means of discovering the presence of serpents without seeing them, and of attracting them from their lurking places.
What these "physical means” may be is yet a secret, as also the “means" by which persons can handle live scorpions, and can put them into their bosom without fear or injury. I have seen this done again and again, even by small boys. This has always excited my curiosity and astonishment, for scorpions are the most malignant and irascible of all insects. The Hindoos, and after them the Egyptians, are the most famous snake-charmers, scorpion-eaters, etc., etc., although gipsies, Arabs, and others are occasionally found, who gain a vagabond livelihood by strolling round the country and confounding the ignorant with these feats. In Psalm lviii. 4, 5, 6, there is evidently an allusion to certain kinds of serpents which can not be charmed: Their poison is like the poison of a serpent; they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear, which will not hearken to the voice of the charmer, charming never so wisely. Jeremiah refers to the same fact: Behold I shall send serpents, cockatrices among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the Lord. Such an assertion would scarcely be made in the name of the Lord if the fact was not well established. So Solomon says, Surely a serpent will bite without enchantment. Such serpents there still are, which the charmer can not subdue; and instances are related in which they have fallen victims to their daring attempts to conquer these deaf and obstinate cockatrices.
There is also current an opinion that the adder will actually stop up his ear with his tail, to fortify himself against the influence of music and other charms.
Exorcism of demons and evil spirits is still practiced, and with many superstitious rites and magic charms. But this is so common in all the ancient churches that it needs no illustration. We meet with it frequently in the history of the apostles, and it would seem that the eclat of working real miracles induced many to imitate them by exorcism and other magic operations. Thus, at Ephesus, certain of the vagabond Jew exorcists took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth.3 Exorcists are still very common, and their exploits are silly enough.
The deryishes and Moslem sheikhs make some bold attempts at supernatural operations, and with singular success. Take the following. Early on the morning of May 9th, 1837, the people of Beirût were seen hurrying along the road toward Sidon, evidently intent upon some great affair. I soon ascertained that two celebrated pilgrims were returning from Mecca, and that the dervishes were to perform extraordinary feats on the occasion. The whole city, male and female, rushed along the road to meet them, accompanied with banners, drums, cymbals, and other musical instru
i Jer. viii. 17.
2 Ec. x. 11.
3 Acts xix. 13.