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SPANIEL....SPANISH BROOM, &c.
that under a mixed government, suited to the genius of the people, she will hold a very respectable rank among the nations of Europe.
SPANIEL, a dog remarkable for its docility. The land-spaniel probably had its name from Spain : and there are two varieties of this kind, namely, the slater, used in hawking to spring the game, and the setter, which crouches down when it scents the birds, till the net be drawn over them; the water-spaniel was another species used in fowling. The spaniel seems to be the most docile of all the dog kind ; and this docility is particularly owing to his natural attachment to man. Many other kinds will not bear correction ; but this patient creature, though very fierce to strangers, seems unal. terable in his affections; and blows and ill usage seem only to increase his regard.... Goldsmith.
SPANISH BROOM, a useful shrub, the seeds of which are sown in the most dry spots, on the steepest declivities of hills, in a stony soil, where hardly any other plant could vegetate. In a few years it grows up to a vigorous shrub. Insinuating its roots between the interstices of the stones, it binds the soil, and retains the small portion of vegetable earth, scattered over those hills, which the autumnal rains would otherwise wash away. There are two uses to which this plant is applied ; its branches yield a thread, of which they make linen ; and, in winter, they serve as food for sheep and goats.
SPICE ISLANDS, or the Moluccas and Banda Isl. ands, in the Indian Ocean ; they produce the finest spicery, particularly nutmegs, mace, cinnamon, and cloves. These islands are owned by the Dutch ; who are said to burn all the spiceries which a fertile season produces beyond what they expect to dispose of in Europe, with such a profit as they think sufficient. In the islands where they have no settlements, they give a premium to those who collect the young blossoms and green leaves of the clove and nutineg trees which naturally grow there, but which this savage policy has 110w, it is said, almost completely extirpated. Even in
the islands where they had settlements, they have very much reduced, it is said, the number of those trees. If the produce of their own islands should be much greater than what suited their market, the natives, they suspect, might find means to convey some part of it to other nations ; and the best way, they imagine, to secure their own monopoly, is to take care at no more shall grow than what they themselves carry to market. By different acts of oppression, they have reduced the population of several of the Moluccas nearly to the number which is sufficient to supply with fresh provisions and other necessaries of life their own insignificant garrisons, and such of their ships as occasionally come there for a cargo of spices.....A. Smith. The spice islands. have changed owners; being at the present time held by the government of Great Britain.
SPIDER, an animal detested wherever seen ; yet the finest spinner perhaps on the globe. The spider is a genus of insects comprehending eight species. The common house spider is generally of a black colour ; has eight legs, each terminating in a crooked claw; has also eight eyes; and, in the fore part of the head, there is a pair of pinchers, with which it kills flies. Nature has furnished this little animal with a glutinous liquor, which it spins to what size it pleases, either by opening or contracting the sphincter muscles. In order to spin its thread, as soon as it begins its operations, it presses out a drop of the liquor, which, as it dries, forms the thread it draws out as it diverges from its first position. When it reaches its intended distance, it draws this thread with its claws to stretch it properly, and fix it to the wall, as it did the other end before it set off. Thus it secures many threads parallel to each other, which serve it as a warp for its web : to form its woof it does the same thing transverse; securing those parts which are most subject to be torn, by doubling them several times. The spider's thread |(according to Dr. Rittenhouse) is not one tenth of the size of the thread of the silkworm, and is rounder and more evenly of a thickness. Herschell and other European astronomers had made use of single filaments of silk for the cross hairs of certain optical instruments.
Dr. Rittenhouse had done the same ; but finding that a single filament of silk would totally obscure, for several seconds of time, a small star, if the star be near the pole; he placed the thread of a spider in some of his instruments; and found it both lasting, and far surpassing any thing else that had been used in point of convenience.
SPINNING, a female employment of great utility and importance ; and which in former times was thought honorable for the daughters even of the great. est monarchs. Alexander the Great said to Sysigam, bis, the mother of Darius king of Persia, Mother, the stuff in which you see me clothed, was not only a gift of my sisters, but wrought by their fingers." Plutarch said, in way of reproach of Fulvia, a woman of exalted rank, that she could neither spin nor stay at home. Of the daughters of Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, emperor of France, in the eighth century, there is this notice in the old historian Eginhard. " He (the emperor) ordered his daughters to be accustomed to dressing of wool, to the spindle and distaff ; to at. tend their work, and to be taught every useful art, that they might not slumber in idleness." The skill of the East-Indian women, in the article of spinning, is well known : the delicate textures with which they furnish us are a proof of it. Some cotton it is said, is spun so exquisitely fine, that the force of the air alone is suffi. cient to break it : in this case it is worked over the steam of boiling water, which, by moistening the cote ton, renders it more ductile and less liable to break, than when it is dry.
SPITZBERGEN, the most northern country of Eu. rope, consisting of an island or islands; situated be. tween Greenland and Nova Zembla, and from 76° to 79° north latitude. The coast is beset with craggy mountains, and in the months of June, July, and August, the sun never sets ; for the rest of the year it is hardly
The inland parts are uninhabited, and the coasts are frequented only for the purpose of catching whales. Here there is such a constancy of cold, that bodies never corrupt, nor suffer any apparent alteration, even though buried for thirty years. Nothing corrupts or
putrifies in this climate : the wood which has been employed in building those houses where the train oil is separated, appears as fresh as on the day it was first cut.... Walker, Goldsmith.
STARS, the heavenly bodies which are supposed to shine with unborrowed light. They are called fixed stars, as they never change their situations with respect to each other, and in contradistinction to the planets and comets, which constantly move round the sun in their respective orbits; and they are distinguishable from the planets, by their twinkling. The ancients thought the stars to be only a few thousand miles distant from the earth. Homer, imagining the seats of the gods 10 be above the fixed stars, represented the falling of Vulcan from thence to the isle of Leinos, to continue during a whole day. A number of stars that appear to lie in the neighborhood of one another, is calle a Constella. tion ; these constellations are eighty in number. Three of the constellations, namely, Pleiades, Orion, and Arcturus, are mentioned in the book of Job. Several of the constellations are mentioned by Hesiod and Homer, the two most ancient writers among the Greeks, who lived from eight to nine hundred years before our Saviour's nativity. Hesiod directed the farmer to regulate the time of sowing and harvest by the rising and setting of the Pleiades ; and Homer informs us, that observations from the Pleiades, Orion, and Arcturus, were used in navigation. The construction and improvement of telescopes added prodigiously to the number of visible stars ; which has been wonderfully increased, for the two last centuries. In the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel made a catalogue of four hundred stars; and near the same time, Ticho Brache, a celebrated Danish astronomer, made a catalogue of seven hundred and seventy. About the middle of that century, [the construction of telescopes having been greatly improved,] Mr. Flamstead of England, gave a catalogue of three thousand stars. Mr. Le Lande, a Frenchman, in the eighteenth century, made a catalogue of fifty thousand stars.
Mr. Herschell's great discovery of augmenting the power of the telescope,
opened at once a new and amazing scene in the heavens ; rendering innumerable stars visible, which had always before been hidden from the sight of mortals. Mr. Herschell, calculating from the fields of stars, which he had surveyed and numbered, supposed that there are millions within the telescopic view ; and these perhaps not the ten hundredth part of the whole that are scattered over the universe. The fixed star nearest of any to us, is Sirius ; whose distance is supposed to be not less than four hundred thousand times greater than that of the sun from us, or thirty-eight millions of millions of miles. Some of the fixed stars are at least six hundred times the distance of Sirius from us; and the light of a star placed at this extrem boundary, supposing it to fly with the velocity of twelve millions of miles a minute, must have taken three thousand years to reach us. Astronomers suppose every one of the innumerable multitude of fixed stars to be a sun attended by planets, each of which is an habitable world like our own. How great and marvellous are the works of God .....British Encyclopedia.
STATURE, the height of an animal. It is a known fact that people in younger life are taller in the morning than at night, owing to the pressure of the upper parts in the day-time while the person is in an upright posture, on the cartilages between the verteber of the neck and back ; which cartilages, by their spring, resume their tone and former dimensions in the horizontal position of the body during sleep; the incumbent weight or pressure, being, for that interval, and during that posture, removed. But it is not so with the aged : the cartilages in them are grown dry, and thin, and springless ; by reason whereof their stature will constantly continue at the lowest pitch. And as the interstices of the verteber are consequently enlarged, the head, by its weight, will moreover naturally fall forward, and a bending in the back ensue. Hence old persons are never so tall as they were in their prime.... Rowe.
STEAM, the vapor arising from boiling or hot liquids. There is no doubt that machines impelled by