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Mythical Creatures -

Amazons
The race of Amazons or fighting women, is not yet extinct, ...

Pygmies
The antitheses of men--Dwarfs, and Giants--must not be over...

Giants
This last sentence seems almost a compendium of The History...

Early Men
On the antiquity of man it is impossible to speculate, beca...

Wild Men
Sometimes a specimen of humanity has got astray in infancy,...

Hairy Men
If, as we may conjecture from the above, the ancient Briton...

The Ouran Outan
Transition from hirsute humanity to the apes, is easy, and ...

Satyrs
He also mentions and delineates a curious Ape which closely...

The Sphynx
"The SPHYNGA or Sphinx, is of the kind of Apes, but his bre...

Apes
Sluper, who could soar to the height of delineating a Cyclo...

Animal Lore
We are indebted to Pliny for much strange animal lore--whic...

The Manticora
Of curious animals, other than Apes, depicted as having som...

The Lamia
The Lamiae are mythological--and were monsters of Africa, w...

The Centaur
This extraordinary combination of man and animal is very an...

The Gorgon
In the title-page of one edition of "The Historie of Foure-...

The Unicorn
What a curious belief was that of the Unicorn! Yet what myt...

The Rhinoceros
The true Unicorn is, of course, the Rhinoceros, and this pi...

The Gulo
Olaus Magnus thus describes the Gulo or Gulon:--"Amongst...

The Bear
As Pliny not only uses all Aristotle's matter anent Bears, ...

The Fox
By Englishmen, the Fox has been raised to the height of at ...

The Wolf
The Wolf, as a beast of prey, is invested with a terror pec...

Were-wolves
But of all extraordinary stories connected with the Wolf, i...

The Antelope
When not taken from living specimens, or skins, the arti...

The Horse
Aldrovandus gives us a curious specimen of a horse, which t...

The Mimick Dog
"The Mimicke or Getulian Dogge," is, I take it, meant fo...

The Cat
Aldrovandus gives us a picture of a curly-legged Cat, but, ...

The Lion
Of the great Cat, the Lion, the ancients give many wonderfu...

The Leontophonus The Pegasus The Crocotta
The Lion has a dreadful enemy, according to Pliny, who says...

The Leucrocotta The Eale Cattle Feeding Backwards
"There are oxen, too, like that of India, some with one hor...

Animal Medicine
We have already seen some of the wonderfully curative prope...

The Su
Topsell mentions a fearful beast called the Su. "There is a...

The Lamb-tree
As a change from this awful animal, let us examine the Plan...

The Chimaera
Aldrovandus gives us the accompanying illustration of a ...

The Harpy And Siren
The conjunction of the human form with birds is very eas...

The Barnacle Goose
Of all extraordinary beliefs, that in the Barnacle Goose, w...

Remarkable Egg
No wonder that a credulous age, which could see nothing ...

Moon Woman
One would have imagined that this Egg would be sufficien...

The Griffin
There always has been a tradition of birds being existent, ...

The Phoenix
Pliny says of the Phoenix:--"AEthiopia and India, more espe...

The Swallow
"And is the swallow gone? Who beheld it? Wh...

The Martlet And Footless Birds
Of the Martin, or, as in Heraldry it is written, Martlet, G...

Snow Birds
But we must leave warm climes, and birds of Paradise, and s...

The Swan
The ancient fable so dear, even to modern poets, that Swans...

The Alle Alle
"There is also in this Lake (the White Lake) a kind of b...

The Hoopoe And Lapwing
Whether the following bird is meant for the Hoopoe, or the ...

The Ostrich
Modern observation, and especially Ostrich farming, has ...

The Halcyon
Of this bird, the Kingfisher, Aristotle thus discourses:--"...

The Pelican
The fable of the Pelican "in her piety, vulning herself,...

The Trochilus
This bird, as described by Aristotle, and others, is of a p...

Woolly Hens
Sir John Maundeville saw in "the kingdome named Mancy, whic...

Two-headed Wild Geese
Near the land of the Cynocephali or dog-headed men, there w...

Four-footed Duck
Gesner describes a four-footed duck, which he says is li...

Fish
Terrestrial and Aerial animals were far more familiar to th...

The Sea-mouse
"The Sea-Mouse makes a hole in the Earth, and lays her Eggs...

The Sea-hare
"The Sea-Hare is found to be of divers kinds in the Ocean, ...

The Sea-pig
Again we are indebted to Gesner for the drawing of thi...

The Walrus
Of the Walrus, Rosmarus, or Morse, Gesner draws, and Ola...

The Ziphius
This Voracious Animal, whose size may be imagined by compar...

The Saw Fish
"The Saw fish is also a beast of the Sea; the body is huge ...

The Orca
is probably the Thresher whale. Pliny thus describes it:--"...

The Dolphin
Pliny says:--"The Dolphin is an animal not only friendly to...

The Narwhal
generally called the Monoceros or Sea Unicorn, is thus show...

The Swamfisck
The accompanying illustration, though heading the chapte...

The Sahab
"There is also another Sea-Monster, called Sahab, which hat...

The Circhos
"There is also another Monster like to that, called Circhos...

The Remora
Of this fish Pliny writes:--"There is a very small fish tha...

The Dog-fish And Ray
Olaus Magnus writes of "The cruelty of some Fish, and th...

The Sea Dragon
Of the Ray tribe of fishes, the Sea Dragon is the most ...

The Sting Ray
Pliny mentions the Sting Ray, and ascribes to it marvellous...

Senses Of Fishes
He also tells us about the senses of fishes, and first of t...

Zoophytes
Writing on the lower phases of Marine Animal life, he says:...

Sponges
"We find three kinds of sponges mentioned; the first are th...

The Kraken
This enormous monster, peculiar to the Northern Seas, is sc...

Crayfish And Crabs
Pliny tells us that in the Indian Ocean are Crayfish four c...

The Sea-serpent
Of the antiquity of the belief in the Sea-Serpent there can...

Serpents
Of Serpents Topsell has written a "Historie," which, if not...

The Crocodile
The largest of the Saurians which we have left us, is the C...

The Basilisk And Cockatrice
Aldrovandus portrays the Basilisk with eight legs. Topse...

The Salamander
Many writers have essayed this fabled creature, but almost ...

The Toad
Toads were always considered venomous and spiteful, and the...

The Leech
The Leech has, from a very early age, been used as a means ...

The Scorpion
Of the Scorpion, Pliny says:--"This animal is a dangerous s...

The Ant
No one would credit the industrious Ant, whose ways we are ...

The Bee
The Busy Bee, too, according to Olaus Magnus, developed, in...

The Hornet
So also, up North, they seem to have had a special breed...



The Walrus








Of the Walrus, Rosmarus, or Morse, Gesner draws, and Olaus Magnus
writes, thus:--"The Norway Coast, toward the more Northern parts,
hath a great Fish, as big as Elephants, which are called Morsi, or
Rosmari, may be they are (called) so from their sharp biting; for, if
they see any man on the Sea-shore, and can catch him, they come suddenly
upon him, and rend him with their Teeth, that they will kill him in a
trice. Therefore these Fish called Rosmari, or Morsi, have heads
fashioned like to an Oxes, and a hairy Skin, and hair growing as thick
as straw or corn-reeds, that lye loose very largely. They will raise
themselves with their Teeth, as by Ladders to the very tops of Rocks,
that they may feed on the Dewie Grasse, or Fresh Water, and role
themselves in it, unless in the mean time they fall very fast asleep,
and rest upon the Rocks; for then Fishermen make all the haste they can,
and begin at the Tail, and part the Skin from the Fat; and unto this
that is parted, they put most strong Cords, and fasten them on the
rugged rocks or Trees, that are near; then they throw stones at his
head, out of a Sling, to raise him, and they compel him to descend,
spoiled of the greatest part of his Skin, which is fastned to the Ropes:
he being thereby debilitated, fearful, and half dead, he is made a rich
prey, especially for his Teeth, that are very pretious amongst the
Scythians, the Muscovites, Russians, and Tartars, (as Ivory
amongst the Indians,) by reason of its hardness, whiteness, and
ponderousnesse. For which Cause, by excellent industry of Artificers
they are made fit for handles for Javelins: And this is also testified
by Mechovita, an historian of Poland, in his double Sarmatia, and
Paulus Jovius after him, relates it by the Relation of one
Demetrius, that was sent from the great Duke of Muscovy to Pope
Clement the 7th."

Although Olaus Magnus is very circumstantial in his detail as to the
intense somnolence, and brutal flaying alive of the "thereby
debilitated" Walrus, I can find no confirmation of either, in any other
account--on the contrary, in "A Briefe Note of the Morse and the use
thereof," published in Hakluyt, it is described as very wakeful and
vigilant, and certainly not an animal likely to have salt put on its
tail after Magnus's manner:--

"In the voyage of Jacques Carthier, wherein he discovered the Gulfe of
S. Laurance, and the said Isle of Ramea in the yeere 1534, he met with
these beastes, as he witnesseth in these words: About the said island
are very great beasts as great as oxen, which have two great teeth in
their mouthes like unto elephant's teeth, and live in the Sea. Wee sawe
one of them sleeping upon the banks of the water, and, thinking to take
it, we went to it with our boates, but so soon as he heard us, he cast
himselfe into the sea. Touching these beasts which Jacques Carthier
saith to be as big as oxen, and to have teeth in their mouthes like
elephants teeth; true it is that they are called in Latine Boves
marini or Vaccae marinae, and in the Russian tongue morsses, the hides
whereof I have seene as big as any ox hide, and being dressed, I have
yet a piece of one thicker than any two oxe, or bul's hides in England.

"The leather dressers take them to be excellent good to make light
targets against the arrowes of the savages; and I hold them farre better
than the light leather targets which the Moores use in Barbarie against
arrowes and lances, whereof I have seene divers in her Majesties stately
armourie in the Toure of London. The teeth of the sayd fishes, whereof I
have seene a dry flat full at once, are a foote and sometimes more in
length; and have been sold in England to the combe and knife makers at 8
groats and 3 shillings the pound weight, whereas the best ivory is solde
for halfe the money; the graine of the bone is somewhat more yellow than
the ivorie. One Mr. Alexander Woodson of Bristoll, my old friend, an
excellent mathematician and skilful phisitian, shewed me one of these
beasts teeth which were brought from the Isle of Ramea in the first
prize, which was half a yard long, or very little lesse: and assured mee
that he had made tryall of it in ministering medicine to his patients,
and had found it as sovereigne against poyson as any unicorne's horne."





Next: The Ziphius

Previous: The Sea-pig



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