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mentioned in Scripture under its pro- my vessel within six English miles of the per name.
aforesaid Molde, being at a place called It does not appear, that the writers Jule-Næss, as I was reading in a book, I of Greece and Rome were acquainted heard a kind of murmuring voice from a
mongst the men at the oars, who were eight with any animal which can be con- in number, and observed that the man at the sidered as synonimous with the Great helm kept off from the land. Upon this I Sea Serpent. An amphibious animal inquired what was the matter, and was in. of great size, which lived chiefly in formed that there was a Sea Snake before fresh water, is mentioned by several us. I then ordered the man at the helm to of these authors. Of this kind was keep to the land again, and to come up with that described by Livy in his first this creature, of which I had heard so many book of the Punic war, which struck stories. Though the fellows were under such terror into the army of Regulus, obey my orders. In the mean time, this
some apprehension, they were obliged to on the banks of the river Bagrada. Sea-Snake passed by us, and we were obThe same animal is mentioned both liged to tack the vessel about to get nearer by Pliny and Valerius Maximus.* It to it. As the snake swam faster than we was 120 feet in length, killed several could row, I took my gun, that was ready men, and was found to be almost in charged, and fired at it; on this he imme
We row. vulnerable. A singular story is also diately plunged under the water. told by Diodorus Siculus, lib. 3d, of ed to the place where it sunk down, which an Egyptian serpent, sixty feet long, and lay upon our oars, thinking it would
in the calm might easily be observed, which was brought alive to Alexan
come up again to the surface ; however it dria, as a present to Ptolemy the Il. did not When the Snake plunged down, This creature was observed to leave the the water appeared thick and red; perhaps water every day to prey upon the cattle some of the shot might wound it, the disof the neighbouring farmers. Many tance being very little. The head of this unsuccessful attacks were made upon Snake, which it held more than two feet it, during which several men lost their above the surface of the water, resembled lives, but at last it was surprised in a
that of a horse. It was of a grayish colour, narrow defile by means of a net made large. It had black eyes, and a long white
and the mouth was quite black and very of strong ropes, and carried alive to
mane that hung down from the neck to the Ptolemy's court.
surface of the water. Besides the head and In modern times the Sea Serpent neck, we saw seven or eight folds or coils of appears to occur chiefly in the north- this Snake, which were very thick, and as
It is described at con- far as we could guess, there was about a siderable length, though with some
fathom distance between each fold. I recircumstances of exaggeration, by Eric lated this affair in a certain company where Pontoppidan, to whose work we have who desired that I would communicate to already had occasion so frequently to him an authentic detail of all that happen. refer. He observes, that in all his ed; and for this reason, two of my sailors, inquiries concerning it, he has hardly who were present at the same time and spoken to one intelligent person of the place when I saw this monster, namely Manor of Nordland, who did not give Nicholas Pederson Kopper, and Nicholas the strongest assurances of its exist- Nicholson Anglewigen, shall appear in ence; and many of the northern trad- court to declare on oath the truth of every ers think it is as ridiculous to be ques. the favour of an attested copy of the said
particular herein set forth; and I desire tioned regarding the Great Serpent, descriptions. I remain, sir, your obliged as if they were asked, whether there
servant, (Signed) L. DE FERRY. be such fish as Cod or Eel. Along Bergen, 21st February 1751. the Norwegian coast it is known by the names of Soe Ormen and Aaale
Its exact dimensions do not seem to Tust. The following letter from the be accurately known. According to Hon. Captain Lawrence de Ferry to
some accounts it attains the enormous Reutz of Bergen, serves to illustrate length of 100 fathoms, or 600 English the history of this animal.
feet, but such a measurement, in all “ The latter end of August, in the year probability, much exceeds the truth. 1746, as I was on a voyage, in my return It is frequently mentioned by the from Trundheim, in a very calm and hot northern poets, particularly Peter Dass, day, having a mind to put in to Molde, it whose poetical description of it, comhappened that when we were arrived with mencing with
* Hist. Nat. lib. vüi. cap. xiv. Val. Max. “Om Soe-ormen veed jeg ey nogen Beskeed," ļib. i. cap. ult.
is well known.
In the curious description of Nor- Bang. As soon as it reached the shore of way, by Jonas Ramus, there is the fol- this river, it proceeded, on the dry land, to lowing passage:
the Spæriler Sea; it appeared like a mighty “ Anno 1687, a large Sea-Snake was
mast, and whatever stood in its way was seen by many people in Dramsfiorden; and,
thrown down—even the very trees and huts; at one time, by eleven persons together. It and frightful roaring; and almost all the
the people were terrified with its hissing was in very calm weather; and so soon as the sun appeared, and the wind blew a lit
fish, in the aforesaid sea, were devoured or tle, it shot away just like a coiled cable that
drove away by it. The inhabitants of Odale is suddenly thrown out by the sailors; and
were so terrified at this monster, that none they observed that it was some time in
would venture to go to the sea to follow stretching out its many folds. Olaus Mag- would any body walk along the shore.
their customary fishing and wood-trade, nor Dus, in his Hist. Sept. lib. xxi. c. 24, speaks the end of the autumn, before the waters of a Norwegian Snake 80 feet long, but not thicker than a child's arm. • Est in littori.
were frozen, this monster was seen at a disbus Norwegicis vermis glauci coloris, longi- every body; its head was as big as an hogs
tance, and, by its enormous size, surprised tudine xl cubitorum, et amplius vix spis- head, and the thickness of its body, as far situdinem infantis brachü habens."
as the same appeared above water, was like With regard to this last mentioned a tun; the length of the whole body was animal, we are entirely of Pontoppi- vast ; it reached, as far as the spectators dan's opinion, that there mus: have could judge, the length of three Norway been some mistake in the measure dannen-trees, and rather exceeded.” ment, as the thickness of a child's arm An amphibious serpent, equally teris quite disproportioned to such a rific, is described by Olaus Nagnus in length. The existence of the animal his xxvii. chapter : itself we can scarcely doubt, as Olaus “ Those that visit the coasts of Norway affirms, “ Hunc vermem sæpius vidi, tell us of a very strange phenomenon, nameab ejus tactu, nautarum informatione, ly, that there is in these seas a snake 200 abstinens.” There is, in all probabi- feet long, and 20 feet round, which lives in lity, some typographical error,
the hollows of the rocks, and under the It appears, from several passages in cliffs, about Bergen, and goes out in the the works of the Scandinavian writers, and swine ; or else it goes to the sea, and
moonlight nights to devour calves, sheep, that there is a current belief in the catches star-fish, crabs, &c. It has a mane existence of a great serpent of an am- two feet long; it is covered with scales, and phibious nature, which, like that men- has fiery eyes ; it disturbs ships, and raises tioned by the ancient historians, does itself up like a mast, and sometimes snaps not confine its depredations to the wa- some of the men from the deck.” ter. Whether this animal should be We consider it extremely improbaconsidered as synonimous with the ble, that so great a change in the hagreat Sea Serpent, which, according bits of any animal should take place, to some accounts recently received as that presumed, by the alleged fact from America, is also reported to have of the Great Snake dwelling in the been observed on shore, or otherwise, deep only, after having attained a conit is not at present easy to determine. siderable degree of maturity. Such According to Pontoppidan, it is said, changes never take place without corby the people who inhabit the Nor- responding alterations in the most ima wegian coast, that the latter species is portant organs and functions of the not generated in the sea, but on the animal itself, and alterations of that land; and that when they become so nature have never been observed to large that they cannot easily move occur in any of the snake tribe, or upon the ground, they go into the sea among cetaceous animals. It is scarceand attain their full growth. In fie ly more probable, that it should be vour of this tradition, we may quote even an occasional inhabitant of the the following passage from the Mun- land, although it is very likely that it dus Mirabilis of Happelius :
possesses the power of living for a long “ Nicolaus Gramius, minister at Londen period of time in moist or marshy in Norway, gives, 16th Jan. anno 1656, of ground, or even among rocks, if accithe report of Gulbrandi Hougsrud and dentally deserted by the waters. Such Olaus Anderson, that they had seen, in the accounts must have originated in the last autumnal inundation, a large water ser
circumstance of some great snake have pent, or worm, in the Spæriler Sea, and it ing been carried on shore by unusually is believed that it had been seen before in high tides, or forced, by the inundation Migs, and had been hitherto bid in the river of a river, into the wet grounds in its vicinity.* We shall return to the Sea- of one of these skins. This report exSerpent, more properly so called. cited the curiosity of Pontoppidan,
The animal described by Paul E- who was anxious to know the truth, gede, as seen by him during his se- and accordingly wrote for proper incond voyage to Greenland, must have formation ; but he could learn nobeen of this kind.
thing of it. He was, however, in· July 6th, a most hideous sea-monster formed, that in 1720, a Sea-Snake had was seen, which reared itself so high above lain for some time in a creek near that the water, that its head overtopped our place ; that it came there at high wamainsail. It had a long pointed nose, out of which it spouted like a whale. Instead
ter, through a narrow channel about of fins, it had great broad flaps like wings ;
seven or eight feet broad, but went its body seemed to be grown over with shell away, after lying there a whole week, work, and its skin very rugged and uneven;
and left behind it a skin, which the it was shaped like a serpent behind, and informer, whose name was Korlack . when it dived into the water again, it plung- Korlacksen, declared he saw and haned itself backwards, and raised its tail above dled. It lay with one end under wathe water a whole ship-length from its ter in the creck, and how long it was body."
could not be determined. The creek, 'i'he above account is the only one
within the channel, was several fawith which we are acquainted, in thoms deep, and the skin lay stretched which the Sea-Snake is said to spout out a great way ; but one end having water like the whale. It is indeed been floated on shore by the tide, singular, that that character has not lay there for a long time, and was seen been inore frequently remarked ; and this omission induces us to suppose it soft and slimy consistence, as the body
This skin was of a
by every one. not improbable, that two kinds of ani- of the animal itself is also said to be, mals exist, bearing a general resem
Thus & blance to each other, to both of which according to some accounts. the name of Sea-Snake has been
party of Norwegian sailors once caught
applied. The Orkney animal, afterwards of their vessel,
where it lay till they were
a young one, and laid it upon the deck mentioned, appears, from the testi- obliged to throw it overboard, owing to mony of different witnesses, to have the insupportable fætor which emabeen provided with air-holes anil a
nated from a soft and viscid slime, to lengthened neck, and, consequently, which its body was partly dissolved. * with lungs; from which it follows,
All the accounts which we have read that it must frequently have had 0 casion to spout out water after the agree in this, that the slightest gust of manner of the more common cetaceous animal, and immediately causes it to
wind is particularly hateful to this animals. The Great Serpent, recent- sink to the bottom of the sea. This ly seen off the American coast, was sometimes visible, about the same place, for an entire day, but was not observ
" We have the same account from Pere ed to exert any such faculty. If that Labat, of a small Sea-Serpent about four character, as mentioned in the Green
feet long, and as thick as a man's arm. His land relation, was not the result of après l'avoir assommé pour voir quelle
· Nous l'attachames au mât some deception, it may be concluded, figure il auroit le lendemain. Nous conthat the animal described by Egede numes con bien nôtre bonheur avoit été differed considerably from those usual- grand, de n'avoir point touché a ce poisson, ly observed in the North Sea, which qui sans doute nous auroit tous empoison. have never been described as poss ssed Car nous trouvames le matin qu'il of such a power, although various ac
s'étoit entierement dissous en une eau vercounts agree in stating, that when datre et puante, qui avoit coulé sur le they approach, they c. use a great agi- pont, sans qu'il restat presque autre chose, tation in the water, and sometimes que la peau et la reste, quoi qu'il nous eut
paru le soir fort ferme et fort bon. Nous make it run like the current at a mill. conclumes, ou que ce poisson étoit empoi. It has been said to shed its skin an- sonné par accident, ou que de sa nature ce nually, like the Land-Snake; and at n'étoit qu'un composé de venin. Je crois Kopperwiig, in Norway, it was affirm- que c'étoit quelque vipere marin. J'en ay ed, that a cover for a table was made parlé à plusieurs pescheurs et autres gens
de mer, sans avoir jamais pu étre bien * Petrus Undalinus makes mention of eclairci de ce que je voulois sçavoir touchant huge water snakes being occasionally ob- ce poisson.' Nouveaux Voyages aux Isles served in some of the Norwegian Lakes.- Françoises de l'Amerique, tom. 5, cap. xiv. Cap. vii. p. 36.
p. 335." Pontopp. vol. 2, p. 201.
probably arises from the inconvenience arrow from a bow. When perceived resulting from the waves at the sur- by the fishermen, they generally row face, and the strong power which a away in the direction of the sun, which swell would exert upon a body of such favouis their escape, as the creature great length and comparative slender- cannot perceive tuem when its head is ness. According to Pontoppidan, a turned towards that luminary. great Sea-Snake was seen at Amunds “ It is said, that they sometimes fling Vaagen, in Nordfiord, a few years be- themselves in a wiae circle round a boat, so fore he wrote. It came in between that the men are surrounded on all sides. the rocks, probably at high water, and This snake, 1 observed before, generally apdied there, and its carcase tainted the pears on the water in folds or coils; and neighbouring air for a long time. A
the tishermen, from a known custon, in that similar animal was seen in the island those places where the body is not seen, but
case, never row towards the openings, or of Karmen, where it perished; and is concealed under the water ; if they did, several more are recorded as having the snake would raise itself up, and overset occurred in other places. The Sea- the boat. On the contrary, they row full Snake, it is said, possesses a very quick against the highest part that is visible, which scent, and has been observed to fly makes the snake immediately dive; and from the smell of castor. On this ac
thus they are released from their fears. This count, the Norwegian fishermen, dur- is their method when they cannot avoid
them ; but when they see one of these creaing the warm summer months, when
tures at a distance, they row away with all it is most likely to shew itself, are
their might (by which they sometimes injure frequently provided with this sub
their health) towards the shore, or into a stance when they go to sea; and when creek where it cannot follow them.”* they apprehend the near approach of
When they are overtaken, without one of these monsters, they sprinkle a being provided with any castor, their little on all sides overboard. The only resource is to throw a scuttle or same device is said by Debes to be re
any light thing at it, which frequently sorted to by the boatmen around the has the effect of making it dive and Feroe Isles, as a protection against the take another course. Trold-Whale, a mischievous species, We come now to the more modern which likewise dreals the shavings of instances of the occurrence of this sinjuniper-wood. Many curious anec- gular animal. The following letter dotes, concerning the power of castor, from the Rev. Mr Maclean of Small may be found in the writings of Tho- Isles to the Secretary of the Wernerian mas Bartholinus.
Natural History Society, will be deemThe Bishop of Bergen mentions, ed sufficient to dispel the doubts of that he has been informed by the those who feel less inclined than ournorthern traders, that the sea-snake selves, to place some degree of confisometimes throws itself across a boat dence in the accounts of the earlier in such a manner as to sink it by its writers. weight. One person, in particular,
" Eigg Island, 24th April 1809. informed him, that he has been near
“SIR,-Your letter of the 1st instant I enough to some of these animals to received, and would have written in answer feel their smooth skin ; and he added, thereto sooner, had I not thought it desirthat sometimes they will raise up their able to examine others relative to the ani. frightful heads, and snap a man out of mal of which you wish me to give a parti. a boat, without hurting the rest ;
cular account. " but this,” says the bishop, “ I will
“ According to my best recollection, I not affirin for a truth, because it is not
saw it in June 1808, not on the coast of
Eigg, but on that of Coll. Rowing along certain that they are a fish of prey." that coast, I observed, at about the distance Perhaps this animal may be alluded
of halt a mile, an object to windward, which to by the prophet Amos: “And though gradually excited astonishment. At first they hide themselves in the top of view, it appeared like a small rock. KnowCarmel, I will search and take them ing there was no rock in that situation, I out thence; and though they be hid fixed my eyes on it close. Then I saw it from my sight in the bottom of the
elevated considerably above the level of the sea, thence will I command the ser
sea, and, after a slow movement, distinctly pent, and he shall bite them.”—Chap.
perceived one of its eyes. Alarmed at the ix. v. 3. Its motion is said to be ex
unusual appearance and magnitude of the
animal, I steered so as to be at no great ceedingly rapid, and is compared by one Norwegian poet to the flight of an Nat. Hist. of Norway, vol. ü, p. 203.
distance from the shore. When nearly in a of the tail. These bristles, while line betwixt it and the shore, the monster, moist, were luminous in the dark ; directing its head (which still continued and it was provided with fins or swimabove water) towards us, plunged violently ming paws, which measured four feet under water. Certain that he was in chace and a half in length, and in shape reof us, we plied hard to get ashore. Just as we leaped out on a rock, taking a station as
sembled the wing of a goose without high as we conveniently could, we saw it feathers.* This monster was seen and coming rapidly under water towards the examined by many individuals, who stern of our boat. When within a few yards all agree in regard to its great size and of the boat, finding the water shallow, it general appearance. It remained enraised its monstrous head above water, and, tire for some time, but separated beby a winding course, got, with apparent fore any correct drawing or detailed difficulty, clear of the creek where our boat description could be obtained." lay, and where the monster seemed in danger of being imbayed. It continued to
We shall conclude this investigation move off, with its head above water, and by presenting our readers with an acwith the wind, for about half a mile, before count of the latest, and one of the most we lost sight of it. Its head was rather satisfactory instances of the appearance broad, of a form somewhat oval. Its neck of the Great Sea Serpent, off the Amesomewhat smaller. Its shoulders, if I can rican coast. This we are fortunately so term them, considerably broader, and enabled to do, by means of a very ju. thence it tapered towards the tail
, which last dicious report published by a commitit kept pretty low in the water, so that a view of it could not be taken so distinctly as
tee appointed by the Linnæan Society I wished. It had no fin that I could per
of New England, to collect all the eviceive, and seemed to me to move progres. dence which could be obtained on the sively by undulation up and down. Its subject. length I believed to be from 70 to 80 feet. In the month of August 1817, it was When nearest to me, it did not raise its generally reported, that a very singuhead wholly above water, so that the neck lar animal, of prodigious size, had been being under water
, I could perceive no shin- frequently seen in the hasbour of Glouprogressive motion under water I took to be cester, Cape Ann, about thirty miles rapid, from the shortness of the time it took from Boston. In general appearance to coine up to the boat. When the head it resembled a serpent, and was said to was above water, its motion was not ncar so move with astonishing rapidity. It quick; and when the head was most elevat- was visible only in calm and bright ed, it appeared evidently to take a view of weather, and floated on the surface of distant objects.
the water like a number of buoys or “ About the time I saw it, it was seen casks following each other in a line. about the island of Canna. The crews of Such was the general description given thirteen fishing-boats, I am told, were so much terrified at its appearance, that they of this animal, betwixt which, and the in a body fied from it to the nearest creek accounts by the Norwegians, our readfor safety. On the passage from Rum to
ers will not fail to observe a striking Canna, the crew of one boat saw it coming coincidence. towards them with the wind, and its head In the report to which we have rehigh above water. One of the crew pro- ferred, the affidavits of a great many nounced its head as large as a little boat, people of unblemished character are and each of its eyes as large as a plate. The collected concerning it, which leaves men were much terrified, but the monster offered them no molestation. From those no room to apprehend any thing like who saw it, I could get no interesting parti- deceit. These statements, as might culars additional to those above mentioned.
In this character it agrees with the I remain, Sir, &c.
Great Sea Snake seen by Egede the mis. (Signed) DONALD MACLEAN."
+ The accounts of this singular creature A few months after the appearance are contained in the affidavits made before of this animal off the Island of Coll, the Justices of the Peace for the county, by the dead body of a monstrous Sea-Snake men of character and respectability. For was found driven on shore on Stronsa, several interesting particulars concerning its one of the Orkney Isles. It measured anatomical structure, we refer the reader fifty-five feet in length, and about ten
to Dr Barclay's paper on the subject, pub
lished in the first volume of the Wernerian feet in circumference, and was fur- Society's Memoirs. Sir Everard Home nished with a kind of mane or ridge seemed to consider the Orkney animal as a of bristles, which extended from the Squalus maximus, but this opinion is geneshoulder to within two feet and a half rally regarded as erroneous.