I do not know how to class the venemous animals further then by the vulgar notion of putting toads common snakes black snakes calld by the Peasantry Vipers Newts (often calld eatherns) and a nimble scaly looking newt-like thing about the heaths calld Swifts by the furze kidders and cow keepers all these we posses in troublsome quantitys all of which is reckond poisonous by the common people tho a many daring people has provd that the common snake is not for I have seen men with whom I have workd in the fields take them up and snatch them out of joint as they calld it in a moment so that when they was thrown down they coud not stir but lay and dyd others will take them up in one hand and hold the other agen that double pointed fang which they put out in a threatning manner when pursued and which is erroniously calld their sting and when it touches the hand it appears utterly harmless and turns again as weak as an horse hair yet still they are calld poisonous and dreaded by many people and I myself cannot divest my feelings of their first impressions tho I have been convincd to the contrary we have them about us in great quantitys they even come in the village and breed in the dung-hills in farm yards and harbour in old walls they are fond of lying rolld up like a whipthong in the sun they seem to be always jealous of danger as they never lye far from their hiding places and retreat in a moment at the least noise or sound of approaching feet they lay a great number of eggs white and large the shell is a skinny substance and full of glutiness matter like the white in birds eggs they hang together by hundreds as if143 strung on a string they lay them on the south side of old dunghills were the heat of the sun and the dung together hatches them when they first leave the shells they are no thicker then a worsted needle or bodkin they nimble about after the old snakes and if they are in danger the old ones open their mouths and the young dissapear down their throats in a moment till the danger is over and then they come out and run about as usual I have not seen this myself but I am as certain of it as if I had because I have heard it told so often by those that did when I have been pilling bark in the woods in oaking time I have seen snakes creeping half errect by the sides of the fallen oaks that were pilld putting their darting horse hair like tongue every now and then to the tree and I was a long while ere I coud make out what they were doing but I made it out at last in my mind that they were catching flyes that were attracted there in great quantitys to the moister of the sap just after the bark had been ripd off – this I have observd many times and I think if it were examind they have a sticky moister at the end of those double ended fangs that appears like a bit of wailbone split at the end or a double horse hair which attaches to the flye as soon as touchd like bird lime and I think this is the use for which nature designd their mistaken stings the motion was so quick that the prey which it seizd coud not be percievd when taken but I have not the least doubt that such was its object people talk about the Watersnake but I cannot believe otherwise then that the water and land snake are one tho I have killd snakes by the water in meadows of a different and more deep color then those I have found in the fields the water snake will swallow very large frogs I have often known them to be ripd out of their bellys by those who have skind the snake to wear the skin round their hats which is reckond as a charm against the headach and is often tryd but with what success I am not able to say some say that snakes are as wholsom as eels to eat and when the french prisoners were at Norman cross Barracks it was a very common thing among the people of the villages round to go in the fens a snake catching and carry home large sticks of them strung like eels on osiers which the French men woud readily buy as an144 article of very palatable food I know this to be a fact but I rather doubt the frenchmens good taste in cookery by eating such things – the fens swarm with snakes I have walkd by the brink of a large dyke among the long grass in a morning when they have ran away from every step I took and dropt into the water by scores the Fenmen care nothing about them no more then childern do for the common flye when we see any we kill them and think we get rid of a danger by so doing but the fen people pass them without fear or notice in fact if they dreaded them they coud not stir out of their doors they are so numerous there The black snake or Viper a very small one about a foot long and not often thicker then ones little finger is very scarce here and venemous I believe the fens have none they seem to inhabit high land a place calld Southey wood is a spot were they are oftenest seen with us a woodman got stung by one in worthorp Groves near Burghley some few years ago and his hand and arm swelld very large another man while cutting up furze on a place calld the Lings at Casterton was stung over the leg by one and lay ill a long time and when I was a boy I can remember a next door neighbour named Landon was stung with one of these vipers in crossing a close of long grass he describd the sensation as if a thorn had prickd him just above his shoe top on the ancle and shoud have believd it had been so had not his wife been following him who saw at the moment somthing hustle quickly in the grass when she told him and he turnd back and killd it with his stick on coming up to some gipseys they advisd him to take the dead viper home to boil it and apply the broth to the wound which he did but it got worse and worse and the doctors when they saw it expected it woud have mortified but he got well – I have seen three of these black snakes they are very quick eyd looking things with a fang darting out like the common ones their heads are shorter and much flatter then the large snake and their colors are more deep and bright their backs are black and their bellys bright yellow interspersd with scaly bars of blackish hues – I have heard some people affirm that even these are not venom[ous] and that people who suppose themselves bitten by them mistake sudden145 yumours falling in their limbs for a bite I believe this is the Docters opinion with us – all I can say is that I never was harmd by them […]