Terrestrial and Aerial animals were far more familiar to the Ancients

than were the inhabitants of the vast Ocean, and not knowing much about

them, their habits and ways, took "omne ignotum pro magnifico."

We have seen the union of Man and Beast, and Man and Bird; and Man and

Fish was just as common, and perhaps more ancient than either of the

former--for Berosus, the Chaldean historian, gives us an account of

Oannes, or Hea, who corresponded to the Greek Cronos, who is identified

with the fish-headed god so often represented on the sculptures from

Nimroud, and of whom, clay figures have been found at Nimroud and

Khorsabad, as well as numerous representations on seals and gems.

Of this mysterious union of Man and Fish, Berosus says:--"In the

beginning there were in Babylon a great number of men of various races,

who had colonised Chaldea. They lived without laws, after the manner of

animals. But in the first year there appeared coming out of the

Erythrian Sea (Persian Gulf) on the coast where it borders Babylonia,

an animal endowed with reason, named Oannes. He had all the body of a

fish, but below the head of the fish another head, which was that of a

man; also the feet of a man, which came out of its fish's tail. He had a

human voice, and its image is preserved to this day. This animal passed

the day time among men, taking no nourishment. It taught them the use of

letters, of sciences, and of arts of every kind; the rules for the

foundation of towns, and the building of temples, the principles of

laws, and geometry, the sowing of seeds, and the harvest; in one word,

it gave to men all that conduced to the enjoyment of life. Since that

time nothing excellent has been invented. At the time of sunset, this

monster Oannes threw itself into the sea, and passed the night beneath

the waves, for it was amphibious. He wrote a book upon the beginning of

all things, and of Civilisation, which he left to mankind."

Helladice quotes the same story, and calls the composite being Oes;

while another writer, Hyginus, calls him Euahanes. M. Lenormant thinks

that it is evident that this latter name is more correct than Oannes,

for it points to one of the Akkadian names of Hea--"Hea-Khan," Hea, the

fish--and must be identified with the fish-God in the illustration.

Alexander Polyhistor, who mainly copied from Berosus, says that Oannes

wrote concerning the generation of Mankind, of their different ways of

life, and of their civil polity; and the following is the purport of

what he wrote:--

"There was a time in which there existed nothing but darkness, and an

abyss of waters, wherein resided most hideous beings, which were

produced on a twofold principle. There appeared men, some of whom were

furnished with two wings, others with four, and two faces. They had one

body, but two heads; the one that of a man, the other of a woman; they

were likewise in their several organs both male and female. Other human

beings were to be seen with the legs and horns of a goat; some had

horse's feet, while others united the hind-quarters of a horse with the

body of a man, resembling in shape the hippocentaurs. Bulls likewise

were bred then with the heads of men, and dogs with fourfold bodies,

terminated in their extremities with the tails of fishes; horses also

with the heads of dogs; men, too, and other animals, with the heads and

bodies of horses, and the tails of fishes. In short, there were

creatures in which were combined the limbs of every species of animals.

In addition to these, fishes, reptiles, serpents, with other monstrous

animals, which assumed each other's shape and countenance. Of all which

were preserved delineations in the temple of Belus, at Babylon."

But, undoubtedly, the earliest representation of the real

Merman--half-man, half-fish--comes to us from the uncovered palace of

Khorsabad. On a portion of its sculptured walls is a representation of

Sargon, the father of Sennacherib, sailing on his expedition to Cyprus,

B.C. 720--on which occasion he had wooden images of the gods made and

thrown overboard in order to accompany him on his voyage. Among these is

Hea, or Oannes, which I venture to assert is the first representation of

a Merman.

In Hindoo Mythology, one of the incarnations, or avatars of Vishnu,

represents him as issuing from the mouth of a fish. The God Dagon (Dag

in Hebrew, signifying fish) was probably Oannes or Hea--and Atergatis

was depicted as a Mermaid, half-woman, half-fish. The Greeks worshipped

her as Astarte, and later on as Venus Aphrodite she was perfect woman,

still, however, born of the Sea-foam, and attended by Tritons or Mermen.

These Tritons and Nereids, male and female, were firmly believed in by

both Greek and Roman--who both depicted them alike--the Triton,

sometimes having a trident, sometimes without, but both Triton, and

Nereid, perfect man and woman, of high types of manly and feminine

beauty, to the waist--below which was the body of a fish of the

Classical dolphin type. So ingrained have these forms become in

humanity, that it would seem almost impossible to realise a Merman, or

Mermaid, other than as usually depicted.

Pliny, of course, tells about them:--"A deputation of persons from

Olisipo (Lisbon) that had been sent for the purpose, brought word to

the Emperor Tiberius that a Triton had been both seen and heard in a

certain cavern, blowing a Conch shell, and of the form they are usually

represented. Nor yet is the figure generally attributed to the nereids

at all a fiction, only in them the portion of the body that resembles

the human figure, is still rough all over with scales. For one of these

creatures was seen upon the same shores, and, as it died, its plaintive

murmurs were heard, even by the inhabitants, at a distance.

"The legatus of Gaul, too, wrote word to the late Emperor Augustus, that

a considerable number of nereids had been found dead upon the sea-shore.

I have, too, some distinguished informants of equestrian rank, who state

that they themselves once saw, in the Ocean of Gades, a sea-man, which

bore in every part of his body, a perfect resemblance to a human being,

and that during the night he would climb up into ships; upon which the

side of the vessel, where he seated himself, would instantly sink

downward, and, if he remained there any considerable time, even go under


AElian tells us, that it is reported that the great sea which surrounds

the Island of Taprobana (Ceylon) contains an immense multitude of

fishes and whales, and some of them have the heads of lions, panthers,

rams, and other animals; and (which is more wonderful still) some of the

Cetaceans have the form of Satyrs.

Gesner obligingly depicts this Pan, Sea Satyr, Ichthyo centaurus, or Sea

Demon, as he is indifferently called, and wants to pass it off as a

veritable Merman, probably on account of its human-like trunk. He also

quotes AElian as to the authenticity of this monster,--and he gives a

picture of another Man-fish, which he says was seen at Rome, on the

third of November, 1523. Its size was that of a boy about five years of

age. (See next page.)

Mermen and Mermaids do not seem to affect any particular district, they

were met with all over the world--and records of their having been seen,

come to us from all parts. That was well, and occurred in the ages of

faith, but now the materialism of the present age would shatter, if it

could, our cherished belief in these Marine eccentricities, and would

fain have us to credit that all those that have been seen, were some of

the Phocidae, such as a "Dugong," or else they would attempt to persuade

us that a beautiful mermaid, with her comb and looking-glass, was

neither more nor less than a repulsive-looking "Manatee."

Sir J. Emerson Tennent quotes in his "Natural History of Ceylon" from

the description of one of the Dutch Colonial Chaplains, named Valentyn,

who wrote an account of the Natural History of Amboyna. He says that in

1663, a lieutenant in the Dutch army was with some soldiers on the

sea-beach at Amboyna, when they all saw mermen swimming near the beach.

He described them as having long and flowing hair, of a colour between

grey and green. And he saw them again, after an interval of six weeks,

when he was in company with some fifty others. He also says that these

Marine Curiosities, both male and female, have been taken at Amboyna:

and he cites a special one, of which he gives a portrait, that was

captured by a district visitor of the Church, and presented by him to

the Governor.

This last animal enjoyed European fame, as in 1716, whilst Peter the

Great was the guest of the British Ambassador at Amsterdam, the latter

wrote to Valentyn, asking that the marvel should be sent over for the

Czar's inspection--but it came not. Valentyn also tells how, in the year

1404, a mermaid, tempest-tossed, was driven through a breach in a dyke

at Edam, in Holland, and was afterwards taken alive in the lake of

Parmen, whence she was carried to Haarlem. The good Dutch vrows took

kindly care of her, and, with their usual thriftiness, taught her a

useful occupation, that of spinning; nay, they Christianised her--and

she died a Roman Catholic, several years after her capture.

The authentic records, if trust can be placed in them, are various and

many--but are hardly worth recapitulating because of their sameness, and

the smile of incredulity which their recital provokes.

Let us therefore turn to the monarch of the deep, the Whale--and of this

creature we get curious glimpses from the Northern Naturalists; but,

before investigating this authentic denizen of ocean, we will examine

some whose title to existence is not quite so clearly made out. Olaus

Magnus gives us an introduction to some of "The horrible Monsters of the

Coast of Norway. There are monstrous fish on the Coasts or Sea of

Norway, of unusual Names, though they are reputed a kind of Whales;

and, if men look long on them they will fright and amaze them. Their

forms are horrible, their heads square, all set with prickles, and they

have sharp and long Horns round about, like a tree rooted up by the

roots: they are ten or twelve Cubits long, very black, and with huge

eyes, the Compass whereof (i.e., of the fish) is above eight or ten

Cubits: the apple of the eye is of one Cubit, and is red and fiery

coloured, which in the dark night appears to Fisher-men afar off under

Waters, as a burning Fire, having hairs like Goose-Feathers, thick and

long, like a beard hanging down; the rest of the body, for the greatness

of the head, which is square, is very small, not being above fourteen or

fifteen cubits long; one of these Sea Monsters will drown easily many

great ships, provided with many strong Marriners."

He also speaks of a Cetacean, called a Physeter:--"The Whirlpool, or

Prister, is of the kind of Whales, two hundred Cubits long, and is very

cruel. For, to the danger of Sea men, he will sometimes raise himself

beyond the Sail yards, and cast such floods of Waters above his head,

which he had sucked in, that with a cloud of them, he will often sink

the strongest ships, or expose the Marriners to extream danger. This

Beast hath also a long and large round mouth like a Lamprey, whereby he

sucks in his meat or water, and by his weight cast upon the Fore or

Hinder-Deck, he sinks, and drowns a ship.

"Sometimes, not content to do hurt by water onely, as I said, he will

cruelly over throw the ship like any small Vessel, striking it with his

back, or tail. He hath a thick black Skin, all his body over; long fins,

like to broad feet, and a forked tail 15 or 20 foot broad, wherewith he

forcibly binds any parts of the ship, he twists it about. A Trumpet of

War is the fit remedy against him, by reason of the sharp noise, which

he cannot endure: and by casting out huge great Vessels, that hinders

this Monster's passage, or for him to play withall; or with Strong Canon

and Guns, with the sound thereof he is more frighted, than with a Stone,

or Iron Bullett; because this Ball loseth its force, being hindered by

his Fat, or by the Water, or wounds but a little, his most vast body,

that hath a Rampart of mighty Fat to defend it. Also, I must add, that

on the Coasts of Norway, most frequently both Old and New Monsters are

seen, chiefly by reason of the inscrutable depth of the Waters.

Moreover, in the deep Sea, there are many kinds of fishes that are

seldome or never seen by Man."

We have the saying, "Throw a tub to the Whale," and we not only find

that it is the proper treatment to conciliate Physeters, but Gesner

shows us the real thing applied to Whales, trumpet and all complete, and

he also shows us the close affinity between the Whale and the Physeter,

in the accompanying illustration, which depicts a whale uprearing, and

coming down again on an unfortunate vessel.

There is another Whale, described by Gesner, which he calls the "Trol"

whale, or in German, "Teuefelwal," or Devil Whale. This whale lies asleep

on the water, and is of such a deceptive appearance that seamen mistake

it for an island, and cast anchor into it, a proceeding which this

peculiar class of whale does not appear to take much heed of. But, when

it comes to lighting a fire upon it, and cooking thereon, it naturally

wakes up the whale. It is of this "Teuefelwal" that Milton writes

("Paradise Lost," Bk. i., l. 200):--

"Or that sea-beast

Leviathan, which God of all His works

Created hugest that swim the ocean-stream.

Him, haply slumbering on the Norway foam,

The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff,

Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell,

With fixed anchor in his scaly rind,

Moors by his side under the lee, while night

Invests the sea, and wished morn delays."

And the same story is told in the First Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor,

or, as Mr. Lane, whose translation (ed. 1883) I use, calls him,

Es-Sindibad of the Sea:--"We continued our voyage until we arrived at an

island like one of the gardens of Paradise, and at that island, the

master of the ship brought her to anchor with us. He cast the anchor,

and put forth the landing plank, and all who were in the ship landed

upon that island. They had prepared for themselves fire-pots, and they

lighted the fires in them, and their occupations were various: some

cooked, others washed, and others amused themselves. I was among those

who were amusing themselves upon the shores of the island, and the

passengers were assembled to eat and drink, and play and sport. But

while we were thus engaged, lo, the master of the ship, standing upon

its side, called out with his loudest voice, 'O ye passengers, whom may

God preserve! come up quickly into the ship, hasten to embark, and leave

your merchandise, and flee with your lives, and save yourselves from

destruction; for this apparent island upon which ye are, is not, in

reality, an island, but it is a great fish that hath become stationary

in the midst of the sea, and the sand hath accumulated upon it, so that

it hath become like an island, and trees have grown upon it, since times

of old; and, when ye lighted upon it the fire, it felt the heat, and put

itself in motion, and now it will descend with you into the sea, and ye

will all be drowned; then seek for yourselves escape before destruction,

and leave the merchandise!' The passengers, therefore, hearing the words

of the master of the ship, hastened to go up into the vessel, leaving

the merchandise, and their other goods, and their copper cooking-pots,

and their fire-pots; and some reached the ship, and others reached it

not. The island had moved, and descended to the bottom of the sea, with

all that were upon it, and the roaring sea, agitated with waves, closed

over it."

Olaus Magnus, too, tells of sleeping whales being mistaken for

islands:--"The Whale hath upon its Skin a superficies, like the gravel

that is by the sea side; so that oft times when he raiseth his back

above the waters, Sailors take it to be nothing else but an Island, and

sayl unto it, and go down upon it, and they strike in piles upon it, and

fasten them to their ships: they kindle fires to boyl their meat; until

at length the Whale feeling the fire, dives down to the bottome; and

such as are upon his back, unless they can save themselves by ropes

thrown forth of the ship, are drown'd. This Whale, as I have said before

of the Whirlpool and Pristes, sometimes so belcheth out the waves that

he hath taken in, that, with a Cloud of Waters, oft times, he will drown

the ship; and when a Tempest ariseth at Sea, he will rise above water,

that he will sink the ships, during these Commotions and Tempests.

Sometimes he brings up Sand on his back, upon which, when a Tempest

comes, the Marriners are glad that they have found Land, cast Anchor,

and are secure on a false ground; and when as they kindle their fires,

the Whale, so soon as he perceives it, he sinks down suddenly into the

depth, and draws both men and ships after him, unless the Anchors


But apropos of the whale casting forth such quantities of water, it

is, as a matter of fact, untrue. The whale has a tremendously strong

exhalation, and when it breathes under water, its breath sends up two

columns of spray, but, if its head is above water, it cannot spout.

One thing in favour of whales, is "The Wonderful affection of the whales

towards their young. Whales, that have no Gills, breathe by Pipes, which

is found but in few creatures. They carry their young ones, when they

are weak and feeble; and if they be small, they take them in at their

mouths. This they do also when a Tempest is coming; and after the

Tempest, they Vomit them up. When for want of water their young are

hindered, that they cannot follow their Dams, the Dams take water in

their mouths, and cast it to them like a river, that she may so free

them from the Land they are fast upon. Also she accompanies them long,

when they are grown up; but they quickly grow up, and increase ten


According to Olaus Magnus, there be many kinds of whales:--"Some are

hairy, and of four Acres in bigness; the Acre is 240 foot long and 120

broad; some are smooth skinned, and those are smaller, and are taken in

the West and Northern Sea; some have their Jaws long and full of teeth;

namely, 12 or 14 foot long, and the Teeth are 6, 8, or 12 foot long. But

their two Dog teeth, or Tushes, are longer than the rest, underneath,

like a Horn, like the teeth of Bores, or Elephants. This kind of whale

hath a fit mouth to eat, and his eyes are so large, that fifteen men may

sit in the room of each of them, and sometimes twenty, or more, as the

beast is in quantity.

"His horns are 6 or 7 foot long, and he hath 250 upon each eye, as hard

as horn, that he can stir stiff or gentle, either before or behind.

These grow together, to defend his eyes in tempestuous weather, or when

any other Beast that is his enemy sets upon him; nor is it a wonder,

that he hath so many Horns, though they be very troublesome to him;

when, as between his eyes, the space of his forehead is 15 or 20 foot."

The Spermaceti whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is the subject of a

curious story, according to Olaus Magnus. He declares Ambergris is the

sperm of the male Whale, which is not received by the female. "It is

scattered wide on the sea, in divers figures, of a blew colour, but more

tending to white; and these are glew'd together; and this is carefully

collected by Marriners, as I observed, when, in my Navigation I saw it

scattered here and there: This they sell to Physitians, to purge it; and

when it is purged, they call it Amber-greese, and they use it against

the Dropsie and Palsie, as a principal and most pretious unguent. It is

white; and if it be found, that is of the colour of Gyp, it is the

better. It is sophisticated with the powder of Lignum, Aloes, Styrax,

Musk, and some other things. But this is discovered because that which

is sophistocated will easily become soft as Wax, but pure Amber-greese

will never melt so. It hath a corroborating force, and is good against

swoundings and the Epilepsie."

As a matter of fact, it is believed to be a morbid secretion in the

intestinal canal of the whale, originating in its bile. It is found in

its bowels, and also floating on the sea, grey-coloured, in lumps

weighing from half an ounce to one hundred pounds. Its price is about L3

per oz. It is much used in perfumery, but not in medicine, at least in

Europe: but in Asia and Africa, it is, in some parts, so used, and also

in cookery.

Olaus Magnus, too, tells us of the benefits the whale confers on the

inhabitants of the cold and dreary North. How they salt the flesh for

future eating, and the usefulness of the fat for lighting and warming

through the long Arctic winter, while the small bones are used as fuel.

Of the skin of this useful mammal, they make Belts, Bags, and Ropes,

whilst a whole skin will clothe forty men. But these are not all its


"Having spoken that the bodies of Whales are very large, for their head,

teeth, eyes, mouth and skin; the bones require a place to be described;

and it is thus. Because the vehemency of Cold in the farther parts of

the North, and horrid Tempests there, will hardly suffer Trees to grow

up tall, whereof necessary houses may be builded: therefore provident

Nature hath provided for the Inhabitants, that they may build their

houses of the most vast Ribs of Sea Creatures, and other things

belonging thereunto. For these monsters of the Sea, being driven to

land, either by some others that are their Enemies, or drawn forth by

the frequent fishing for them by men, that the Inhabitants there may

make their prey of them, or whether they die and consume; it is certain,

that they leave such vast bones behind them, that whole Mansion Houses

may be made of them, for Walls, Gates, Windows, Coverings, Seats, and

for Tables also. For these Ribs are 20, 30, or more feet in length.

Moreover the Back-bones, and Whirl-bones, and the Forked-bones of the

vast head, are of no small bigness: and all these by the industry of

Artists, are so fitted with Saws and Files, that the Carpenter in Wood,

joyn'd together with Iron, can make nothing more compleat.

"When, therefore, the flesh of this most huge Beast is eat and

dissolved, onely his bones remain like a great Keel; and when these are

purged by Rain, and the Ayr, they raise them up like a house, by the

force of men that are called unto it. Then by the industry of the Master

Builder, Windows being placed on the top of the house, or sides of the

Whale, it is divided into many convenient Habitations; and gates are

made of the same Beasts Skin, that is taken off long before, for that

and some other use, and is hardened by the sharpness of the winds. Also

a part within this Keel raised up like a house, they make several Hog

Sties and places for other creatures, as the fashion is in other houses

of Wood; leaving always under the top of this structure, a place for

Cocks, that serve instead of Clocks, that men may be raised to their

labour in the night, which is there continual in the Winter-time. They

that sleep between these Ribs, see no other Dreams, than as if they were

always toiling in the Sea-waves, or were in danger of Tempests, to

suffer shipwreck."

Besides men, Whales had their foes, in the deep, and there was,

according to Du Bartas, one very formidable and cunning enemy, in the

shape of a bird:--

"Meanwhile the Langa, skimming, (as it were,)

The Ocean's surface, seeketh everywhere,

The hugy Whale; where slipping in (by Art),

In his vast mouth, shee feeds upon his Hart."

But it is cheering to find, on the authority of the same author, that he

also has a helpful friend:--

"As a great Carrak, cumbred and opprest

With her-self's burthen, wends not East and West,

Star-boord, and Lar-boord, with so quick Careers

As a small Fregat, or swift Pinnass steers;

And as a large and mighty limbed Steed,

Either of Friseland, or of German breed,

Can never manage half so readily,

As Spanish Jennet, or light Barbarie;

So the huge Whale hath not so nimble motion

As smaller fishes that frequent the Ocean;

But, sometimes, rudely 'gainst a Rock he brushes,

Or in some roaring straight he blindly rushes,

And scarce could live a Twelve month to an end,

But for the little Musculus (his friend),

A little Fish, that, swimming still before,

Directs him safe from Rock, from shelf and shoar."

But we have only spoken of a very few varieties of Whales; some yet

remain, which may be styled "fancy" Whales. At all events, they are lost

to our times. Herodotus tells us that in the Borysthenes (Dneiper)

were "large whales without any spinal bones, which they call Antacaei,

fit for salting." Then, Gesner gives us varieties of Whales, of which we

know nothing. There is the bearded and maned creature with a face

somewhat resembling that of a human being, found only in the remotest

North, and there is the hairy whale, Cetum Capillatum vel Crinitum, or

Germanice, Haarwal, but no particulars of this curious creature are


He presents us with the image of a Cetacean, which he calls an Indian

Serpent--but he evidently is so doubtful of the creature's authenticity

that he tells us that Hieronimus Cardanus sent it formerly to him. He

cannot quite make it out, with its monkey's head, and paws, but points

out that it must be an aquatic animal, because of its tail.

In his Addenda et Emendanda, he gives, on the authority of Olaus

Magnus, a picture of an unnamed Whale--he says it was of great size, and

had terrible teeth.

He also gives us two or three curious pictures of now extinct Cetaceans,

something like terrestrial animals or men. And the first is a Leonine

Monster, and for its authority he quotes Rondeletius.

This creature had none of its parts fitted to act as a marine animal of

prey, but he says that Gisbertus (Horstius) Germanus, a physician at

Rome, certifies that it was taken on the high seas, not long before the

death of Pope Paul III., which took place A.D. 1549. It was of the size

and shape of a Lion, it had four feet, not mutilated, or imperfect as

those of the Seal, and not joined together as is the case with the

beaver or duck, but perfect, and divided into toes with nails: a long

thin tail ending in hair; ears hardly visible, and its body covered with

scales--but he adds that Gisbertus found fault with the artist, who had

made the feet longer than they ought to have been--and the ears too

large for an aquatic animal.

Gesner also gives us (and so does Aldrovandus) pictures of the Monk

and Bishop fishes. The Monk-fish, he says, was caught off Norway, in a

troubled sea: and he quotes Boeothius as describing a similar monster

found in the Firth of Forth. The Bishop-fish was only seen off the

coast of Poland, A.D. 1531.

The existence of these marine monsters had, at all events, very wide

credence, even if they never existed, for Sluper, whom I have before

quoted, gives, in his curious little book, two pictures of these two

fishes (more awful than Gesner did). Of the Sea Monk he says:

"La Mer poissons en abondance apporte,

Par dons divins que devons estimer.

Mais fort estrange est le Moyne de Mer,

Qui est ainsi que ce pourtrait le porte."

And of the Sea Bishop:

"La terre n'a Evesques seulement,

Qui s[=o]t [p=] bulle en gr[=a]d h[=o]neur et titre,

L'evesque croist en mer sembablement,

Ne parl[=a]t point, c[=o]bien qu'il porte Mitre."

And Du Bartas writes of them, as if all in air, or on the earth, had its

double in the sea--and he specially mentions these piscine


"Seas have (as well as skies) Sun, Moon, and Stars;

(As well as ayre) Swallows, and Rooks, and Stares;

(As well as earth) Vines, Roses, Nettles, Millions,[38]

Pinks, Gilliflowers, Mushrooms, and many millions

Of other Plants (more rare and strange than these)

As very fishes living in the Seas.

And also Rams, Calfs, Horses, Hares, and Hogs,

Wolves, Lions, Urchins, Elephants and Dogs,

Yea, Men and Mayds; and (which I more admire[39])

The mytred Bishop, and the cowled Fryer;

Whereof, examples, (but a few years since)

Were shew'n the Norways, and Polonian Prince."

Was the strange fish that Stow speaks of in his Annales one of these

two?--"A.D. 1187. Neere unto Orforde in Suffolke, certaine Fishers of

the sea tooke in their Nettes, a Fish having the shape of a man in all

pointes, which Fish was kept by Bartlemew de Glanville, Custos of the

castle of Orforde, in the same Castle, by the space of sixe monethes,

and more, for a wonder: He spake not a word. All manner of meates he

gladly did eate, but more greedilie raw fishe, after he had crusshed out

all the moisture. Oftentimes he was brought to the Church where he

showed no tokens of adoration. At length, when he was not well looked

to, he stale away to the Sea and never after appeared." If this was not

the real Simon Pure, yet I think it may put in a claim as a first-class

British production, and, as far as I know, unique--all other denizens of

the deep having some trace of their watery habitat, either in wearing

scales, or a tail.

Following Du Bartas' idea, let us take some marine animals which have a

somewhat similar counterpart on shore.

Gesner gives us the picture, Olaus Magnus gives us the veracious

history, of the Sea-cow:--"The Sea Cow is a huge Monster, strong, angry,

and injurious; she brings forth a young one like to herself; yet not

above two, but one often, which she loves very much, and leads it about

carefully with her, whithersoever she swims to Sea, or goes on Land.

Lastly this Creature is known to have lived 130 years, by cutting off

her tail."

Olaus Magnus calls the Seal, the Sea-calf; and with trifling exceptions,

gives a fair account of its habits, only there are some points which

differ from the modern Seal, at all events:--"The Sea-Calf, which also

in Latine is called Helcus, hath its name from the likeness of a

Land-Calf, and it hath a hard fleshy body; and therefore it is hard to

be killed, but by breaking the Temples of the head. It hath a voice like

a Bull, four feet, but not his ears; because the manner and mansion of

its life is in the Waters. Had it such ears, they would take in much

Water, and hinder the swimming of it.... They will low in their sleep,

thence they are called Calves. They will learn, and with their voyce and

countenance salute the company, with a confused murmuring; called by

their names, they will answer, and no Creature sleeps more profoundly.

The Fins that serve them for to swim in the Sea, serve for legs on Land,

and they go hobling up and down as lame people do. Their Skins, though

taken from their bodies, have always a sense of the Seas, and when the

Sea goes forth, they will stand up like Bristles. The right Fin hath a

soporiferous quality to make one sleep, if it be put under one's head.

They that fear Thunder, think those Tabernacles best to live in, that

are made of Sea-Calves Skins, because onely this Creature in the Sea, as

an Eagle in the Ayr is safe and secure from the Stroke of Thunder.... If

the Sea be boisterous and rise, so doth the Sea Calfe's hair: if the Sea

be calm, the hair is smooth; and thus you may know the state of the Sea

in a dead Skin. The Bothnick Marriners conjecture by their own

Cloaths, that are made of these Skins, whether the Sea shall be calm,

and their voyage prosperous, or they shall be in danger of Shipwreck....

These Creatures are so bold, that when they hear it thunder, and they

see it clash and lighten, they are glad, and ascend upon the plain

Mountains, as Frogs rejoyce against Rain."

A very fine piece of casuistry is shown, in "the perplexity of those

that eat the flesh of Sea-Calves in Lent," and it seems to be

finally settled that, according to "the men of a more clear judgment,

rejecting many Reasons, brought on both sides, do say, and prove, that

when the Sea-Calf brings forth on the shore, if the Beast driven by the

Hunter, run into the Woods, men must forbear to eat of it in Lent, when

flesh is forbidden; but if he run to the Waters, one may fairly eat


Gesner, in giving this delineation of a Sea-Horse, openly says that it

is the Classical horse, as used by Neptunus; but Olaus Magnus declares

that "The Sea Horse, between Britany and Norway, is oft seen to have

a head like a horse, and to neigh; but his feet and hoof are cloven

like to a Cow's; and he feeds both on Land, and in the Sea. He is

seldome taken, though he grow to be as big as an Ox. He hath a forked

Tail like a Fish.

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