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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

Page 904

Pliny the Elder. (A.D. c. 23–A.D. 79) (continued)
    To laugh, if but for an instant only, has never been granted to man before the fortieth day from his birth, and then it is looked upon as a miracle of precocity. 1
          Natural History. Book vii. Sect. 2.
    Man is the only one that knows nothing, that can learn nothing without being taught. He can neither speak nor walk nor eat, and in short he can do nothing at the prompting of nature only, but weep. 2
          Natural History. Book vii. Sect. 4.
    With man, most of his misfortunes are occasioned by man. 3
          Natural History. Book vii. Sect. 5.
    Indeed, what is there that does not appear marvellous when it comes to our knowledge for the first time? 4 How many things, too, are looked upon as quite impossible until they have been actually effected?
          Natural History. Book vii. Sect. 6.
    The human features and countenance, although composed of but some ten parts or little more, are so fashioned that among so many thousands of men there are no two in existence who cannot be distinguished from one another. 5
          Natural History. Book vii. Sect. 8.
    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. 6
          Natural History. Book vii. Sect. 15.
Note 1.
This term of forty days is mentioned by Aristotle in his Natural History, as also by some modern physiologists. [back]
Note 2.
See Tennyson, Quotation 103. [back]
Note 3.
See Burns, Quotation 6. [back]
Note 4.
Omne ignotum pro magnifico (Everything that is unknown is taken to be grand).—Tacitus: Agricola, 30. [back]
Note 5.
See Sir Thomas Browne, Quotation 7. [back]
Note 6.
Madame d’Abrantes 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]