All men possess in their bodies a poison which acts upon serpents; and the human saliva, it is said, makes them take to flight, as though they had been touched with boiling water. The same substance, it is said, destroys them the moment it enters their throat.1
Natural History. Book vii. Sect. 15.
Note 1. Madame dAbrantes relates that when Bonaparte was in Cairo he sent for a serpent-detecter (Psylli) to remove two serpents that had been seen in his house. He having enticed one of them from his hiding-place, caught it in one hand, just below the jaw-bone, in such a manner as to oblige the mouth to open, when spitting into it, the effect was like magic: the reptile appeared struck with instant death.Memoirs, vol. i. chap. lix. [back]