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SECRET (Lat. secretum, hidden, concea...

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Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 572 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SECRET (Lat. secretum, hidden, concealed), that which is concealed from general knowledge. In special senses the word is applied to (a) a prayer in the Roman and other liturgies, said during mass by the priest in so low a voice that it does not reach the congregation, and (b) a covering or skull-cap made of steel fitting close to the head. In law, the question of secrecy is an important one. Generally, English law does not require a solicitor or barrister to disclose secrets entrusted to them by a client, and the same probably holds good in the case of medical men. In the case of ministers of religion, it has never been definitely settled how far they can be compelled to disclose in evidence what has been confided in the secrecy of the confessional. But according to the 113th Canon, a priest of the Church of England would commit an ecclesiastical offence in revealing a secret disclosed to him in confession "except it be such as by the laws of this realm his own life may be called into question for concealing the same." As to what are called " trade secrets," it had been decided (Merry-weather v. Moore, 1892, 2 Ch. 518) that it is a breach of contract to reveal trade secrets acquired during service. Official Secrets.—By the Official Secrets Act 1889 it was made a misdemeanour for an official to communicate any information or documents concerning the military or naval affairs of Her Majesty, to any person to whom it ought not to be communicated. If the information be communicated to a foreign state it is a felony. In Germany the betrayal of military secrets is punishable under an imperial law of 1893. Secret Service.—In practically every civilized country, there is always a department of the government charged with the duty of espionage, either diplomatic or domestic. Its officials work in secret, and certain sums of money are placed at the disposal of the head of the department, and expended as he may think fit, without having to render any specific account of them. Various departments of governments have also their own departmental secret service, for the better guarding against frauds, such as in the United States, the Treasury Department and the Post Office. The various European codes generally have dealt with breach of secrecy, e.g. s. 300 of the German Penal Code imposes a fine up to 1500 marks and imprisonment up to three months on doctors, attorneys and other professional persons who reveal a secret entrusted to them in their professional capacity. For this offence also the French code, art. 378, imposes imprisonment of from one to six months and a fine of from too to Soo francs. See Brouardel, Le Secret medical (Paris, 1893) ; Hallays, Le Secret professionnel (Paris, 1890). SECR$TAN, CHARLES (1815-1895), Swiss philosopher, was born on the 19th of January 1815, at Lausanne, where he died on the 21st of January 1895. Educated in his native town and later under Schelling at Munich, he became professor of philosophy at Lausanne (1838 to 1846), and at Neuchatel (185o to 1866). In r866 he returned to his old position at Lausanne. In 1837 he founded, and for a time edited, the Revue suisse. His principal works were La Philosophie de la liberte (1848); La Raison et le Christianisme (1863); La Civilisation et les croyances (1857); Man Utopie (1892). The object of his writing was to build up a rational, philosophical religion, to reconcile the ultimate bases of Christianity with the principles of metaphysical philosophy. For a detailed examination of his philosophy, see Pillon, La Philosophic de CharlesSecretan. SECRETARY-BIRD, a very singular African bird, first accurately made known, from an example living in the menagerie of the prince of Orange, in 1769 by A. Vosmaer 1 in a treatise published simultaneously in Dutch and French, and afterwards included in his collected works issued, under the title of Regnum Animale, in 1804. He was told that at the Cape of Good Hope this bird was known as the " Sagittarius " or Archer, from its striding gait being thought to resemble that of a bowman advancing to shoot, but that this name had been corrupted into that of " Secretarius." In August 177o G. Edwards §aw an example Secretary-Bird. (apparently alive, and the survivor of a pair which had been brought to England) in the possession of a Mr Raymond near Ilford in Essex; and, being unacquainted with Vosmaer's wprlt, he figured and described it as "of a new genus" in the Philosophical Transactions for the following year (lxi. pp. 55, 56, p1,ii.). In 1776 P. Sonnerat (Voy. Nouv. Guinee, p. 87, pl. 5o) again described and figured; but not at all correctly, the species, saying (but no doubt wrongly) that he found it in 1771 in the Philippine Islands. A better representation was given by D'Aubenton in Le Vaillant (Sec. Voy. Afrique, ii. p. 273) truly states that Kolben in 1719 (Caput Bonae Spei hodiernsum, p. 182, French version, ii. p. 198) had mentioned this bird under its local name of " Snake-eater ' (Slangenvreeter, Dutch translation, i. p. 214) ; but that author, who was a bad naturalist, thought it was a Pelican and also confounded it with the Spoonbill, which is figured to illustrate his account of it. the Plan„ hes enluminies (721); in 178o Buffon (Oiseaux, vii. p. 330) published some additional information derived from Querhoent, saying also that it was to be seen in some English menageries; and the following year J. Latham (Synopsis, i. p. 20, pl. 2) described and figured it from three examples which he had seen alive in England. None of these authors, however, gave the bird a scientific name, and the first conferred upon it seems to have been that of Falco serpentarius, inscribed on a plate bearing date 1779, by John Frederick Miller (Ill. Nat. History, xxviii.), which plate appears also in Shaw's Cimelia Physica (No. 28) and is a misleading caricature. In 1786 Scopoli called it Otis secretarius—thus referring it to the Bustards,' and Cuvier in 1798 designated the genus to which it belonged, and of which it still remains the sole representative, Serpentarius. Succeeding systematists have, however, encumbered it with many other names, among which the generic terms Gypogeranus and Ophiotheres, and the specific epithets reptilivorus and cristatus, require mention here .2 The Secretary-bird is of remarkable appearance, standing nearly 4 ft. in height, the great length of its legs giving it a resemblance to a Crane or a Heron; but unlike those birds its tibiae are feathered all the way down. From the back of the head and the nape hangs, loosely and in pairs, a series of black elongated feathers, capable of erection and dilation in periods of excitement' The skin round the eyes is bare and of an orange colour. The head, neck and upper parts of the body and wing-coverts are bluish grey; but the carpal feathers, including the primaries, are black, as also are the feathers of the vent and tibiae—the last being in some examples tipped with white. The tail-quills are grey for the greater part of their length, then barred with black and tipped with white; but the two middle feathers are more than twice as long as those next to them, and drooping downwards present a very unique appearance. Its chief prey consists of insects and reptiles, and as a foe to snakes it is held in high esteem; although it is undoubtedly also destructive to young game. It seems to possess a strange partiality for the destruction of snakes, and successfully attacks the most venomous species, striking them with its knobbed wings and kicking forwards at them with its feet, until they are rendered incapable of offence, when it swallows them. The nest is a huge structure, placed in a bush or tree, and in it two white eggs, spotted with rust-colour, are laid. The young remain in the nest for a long while, and even when four months old are unable to stand upright. They are very frequently brought up tame. The Secretary-bird is found, but not very abundantly and only in some localities, over the greater part of Africa, especially in the south, extending northwards on the west to the Gambia and in the interior to Khartum. The systematic position of the genus Serpentarius has long been a matter of discussion, and is still one of much interest, though of late classifiers have been pretty well agreed 4n placing it in the order Accipitres. Most of them, however, have shown great want of perception by putting it in the family Falconidae. No anatomist can doubt its forming a peculiar family, Serpentariidae, differing more from the Falconidae than do the Vulturidae; and the fact of A. Milne-Edwards having recognized in the Miocene of the Allier the fossil bone of a species of this genus, S. robustus (Otis. foss. France, ii. pp. 465-468, pl. 186, figs. 1-6), proves that it is an ancient form, one possibly carrying on a direct and not much modified descent from a generalized form, whence may have sprung not only the Falconidae but perhaps the progenitors of the Ardeidae and Ciconiidae, as well as the puzzling Cariamidae (Seriema, q.v.). (A. N.)
End of Article: SECRET (Lat. secretum, hidden, concealed)
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