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Title: Mythical Monsters
Author: Gould, Charles
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Member of the Royal Society of Tasmania;
Late Geological Surveyor of Tasmania.

With Ninety-Three Illustrations.


W. H. Allen & Co., 13 Waterloo Place. S.W.
Publishers to the India Office.

(All rights reserved.)

Printed By W H Allen and Co., 13 Waterloo Place, Pall Mall S.W.


The Author has to express his great obligations to many gentlemen who have
assisted him in the preparation of this volume, either by affording access
to their libraries, or by furnishing or revising translations from the
Chinese, &c.; and he must especially tender them to J. Haas, Esq., the
Austro-Hungarian Vice-Consul at Shanghai, to Mr. Thomas Kingsmill and the
Rev. W. Holt of Shanghai, to Mr. Falconer of Hong-Kong, and to Dr. N. B.
Dennys of Singapore.

For the sake of uniformity, the author has endeavoured to reduce all the
romanised representations of Chinese sounds to the system adopted by S. W.
Williams, whose invaluable dictionary is the most available one for
students. No alteration, however, has been made when quotations from
eminent sinologues like Legge have been inserted.

Should the present volume prove sufficiently interesting to attract
readers, a second one will be issued at a future date, in continuation of
the subject.

_June, 1884._


The Publishers think it right to state that, owing to the Author's absence
in China, the work has not had the advantage of his supervision in its
passage through the press. It is also proper to mention that the MS. left
the Author's hands eighteen months ago.

    _January, 1886._



  INTRODUCTION                                           1

  LIST OF AUTHORS CITED                                 27


  CHAPTER II.--EXTINCTION OF SPECIES                    42

  CHAPTER III.--ANTIQUITY OF MAN                        78

  CHAPTER IV.--THE DELUGE NOT A MYTH                   101

              THE OLD AND THE NEW WORLD                137

  CHAPTER VI.--THE DRAGON                              159

  CHAPTER VII.--THE CHINESE DRAGON                     212

  CHAPTER VIII.--THE JAPANESE DRAGON                   248

  CHAPTER IX.--THE SEA-SERPENT                         260

  CHAPTER X.--THE UNICORN                              338

  CHAPTER XI.--THE CHINESE PHŒNIX                      366

  APPENDICES                                           375



It would have been a bold step indeed for anyone, some thirty years ago,
to have thought of treating the public to a collection of stories
ordinarily reputed fabulous, and of claiming for them the consideration
due to genuine realities, or to have advocated tales, time-honoured as
fictions, as actual facts; and those of the nursery as being, in many
instances, legends, more or less distorted, descriptive of real beings or

Now-a-days it is a less hazardous proceeding. The great era of advanced
opinion, initiated by Darwin, which has seen, in the course of a few
years, a larger progress in knowledge in all departments of science than
decades of centuries preceding it, has, among other changes, worked a
complete revolution in the estimation of the value of folk-lore; and
speculations on it, which in the days of our boyhood would have been
considered as puerile, are now admitted to be not merely interesting but
necessary to those who endeavour to gather up the skeins of unwritten
history, and to trace the antecedents and early migrations from parent
sources of nations long since alienated from each other by customs,
speech, and space.

I have, therefore, but little hesitation in gravely proposing to submit
that many of the so-called mythical animals, which throughout long ages
and in all nations have been the fertile subjects of fiction and fable,
come legitimately within the scope of plain matter-of-fact Natural
History, and that they may be considered, not as the outcome of exuberant
fancy, but as creatures which really once existed, and of which,
unfortunately, only imperfect and inaccurate descriptions have filtered
down to us, probably very much refracted, through the mists of time.

I propose to follow, for a certain distance only, the path which has been
pursued in the treatment of myths by mythologists, so far only, in fact,
as may be necessary to trace out the homes and origin of those stories
which in their later dress are incredible; deviating from it to dwell upon
the possibility of their having preserved to us, through the medium of
unwritten Natural History, traditions of creatures once co-existing with
man, some of which are so weird and terrible as to appear at first sight
to be impossible. I propose stripping them of those supernatural
characters with which a mysteriously implanted love of the wonderful has
invested them, and to examine them, as at the present day we are
fortunately able to do, by the lights of the modern sciences of Geology,
Evolution, and Philology.

For me the major part of these creatures are not chimeras but objects of
rational study. The dragon, in place of being a creature evolved out of
the imagination of Aryan man by the contemplation of lightning flashing
through the caverns which he tenanted, as is held by some mythologists, is
an animal which once lived and dragged its ponderous coils, and perhaps
flew; which devastated herds, and on occasions swallowed their shepherd;
which, establishing its lair in some cavern overlooking the fertile plain,
spread terror and destruction around, and, protected from assault by dread
or superstitious feeling, may even have been subsidised by the
terror-stricken peasantry, who, failing the power to destroy it, may have
preferred tethering offerings of cattle adjacent to its cavern to having
it come down to seek supplies from amongst their midst.[1]

To me the specific existence of the unicorn seems not incredible, and, in
fact, more probable than that theory which assigns its origin to a lunar

Again, believing as I do in the existence of some great undescribed
inhabitant of the ocean depths, the much-derided sea-serpent, whose home
seems especially to be adjacent to Norway, I recognise this monster as
originating the myths of the midgard serpent which the Norse Elder Eddas
have collected, this being the contrary view to that taken by
mythologists, who invert the derivation, and suppose the stories current
among the Norwegian fishermen to be modified versions of this important
element of Norse mythology.[3]

I must admit that, for my part, I doubt the general derivation of myths
from "the contemplation of the visible workings of external nature."[4] It
seems to me easier to suppose that the palsy of time has enfeebled the
utterance of these oft-told tales until their original appearance is
almost unrecognisable, than that uncultured savages should possess powers
of imagination and poetical invention far beyond those enjoyed by the most
instructed nations of the present day; less hard to believe that these
wonderful stories of gods and demigods, of giants and dwarfs, of dragons
and monsters of all descriptions, are transformations than to believe them
to be inventions.[5]

The author of _Atlantis_,[6] indeed, claims that the gods and goddesses of
the ancient Greeks, the Phœnicians, the Hindoos, and the Scandinavians
were simply the kings, queens, and heroes of Atlantis, and the acts
attributed to them in mythology a confused recollection of real historical
events. Without conceding the _locus_ of the originals, which requires
much greater examination than I am able to make at the present time, I
quite agree with him as to the principle. I believe that the mythological
deities represent a confused chronology of far-distant times, and that the
destruction of the Nemean lion, the Lernean hydra, and the Minotaur are
simply the records of acts of unusual bravery in combating ferocious

On the first landing of Pizarro the Mexicans entertained the opinion that
man and horse were parts of one strange animal,[7] and we have thus a clue
to the explanation of the origin of the belief in centaurs from a distant
view of horsemen, a view possibly followed by the immediate flight of the
observer, which rendered a solution of the extraordinary phenomenon


Ferdinand Mendez Pinto quaintly observes, in one of his earlier chapters,
"I will not speak of the Palace Royal, because I saw it but on the
outside, howbeit the Chinese tell such wonders of it as would amaze a man;
for it is my intent to relate nothing save what we beheld here with our
own eyes, and that was so much as that I am afraid to write it; not that
it would seem strange to those who have seen and read the marvels of the
kingdom of China, but because I doubt that they which would compare those
wondrous things that are in the countries they have not seen, with that
little they have seen in their own, will make some question of it, or, it
may be, give no credit at all to these truths, because they are not
conformable to their understanding and small experience."[8]

Now as some of the creatures whose existence I shall have to contend for
in these volumes are objects of derision to a large proportion of mankind,
and of reasonable doubt to another, I cannot help fortifying myself with
some such outwork of reasoning as the pith of Pinto's remarks affords, and
supplementing it by adding that, while the balance between scepticism and
credulity is undoubtedly always difficult to hold, yet, as Lord Bacon well
remarks, "There is nothing makes a man suspect much more than to know
little; and therefore men should remedy suspicion by procuring to know

Whately extends Bacon's proposition by adding, "This is equally true of
the suspicions that have reference to things as persons"; in other words,
ignorance and suspicion go hand-in-hand, and so travellers' tales, even
when supported by good evidence, are mostly denied credence or accepted
with repugnance, when they offend the experience of those who, remaining
at home, are thus only partially educated. Hence it is, not to go too far
back for examples, that we have seen Bruce, Mungo Park, Du Chaillu, Gordon
Cumming, Schliemann,[9] and Stanley treated with the most ungenerous
criticism and contemptuous disbelief by persons who, however well informed
in many subjects, lacked the extended and appreciative views which can
only be acquired by travel.

Nor is this incredulity limited to travellers' tales about savage life. It
is just as often displayed in reference to the surroundings of uneventful
life, provided they are different from those with which we are familiar.

Saladin rebuked the Knight of the Leopard for falsehood when the latter
assured him that the waters of lakes in his own country became at times
solidified, so that armed and mounted knights could cross them as if on
dry land. And the wise Indian who was taken down to see the large American
cities, with the expectation that, being convinced of the resources and
irresistible power of civilization he would influence his tribe to
submission on his return, to the surprise of the commissioners who had
conveyed him, spoke in directly contrary terms to those expected of him,
privately explaining in reply to their remonstrances, that had he told the
truth to his tribe he would have been indelibly branded for the remainder
of his life as an outrageous and contemptible liar. Chinese students,
despatched for education in American or European capitals, are compelled
on their return to make similar reservations, under pain of incurring a
like penalty; and officials who, from contact with Europeans at the open
ports, get their ideas expanded too quickly, are said to be liable to
isolation in distant regions, where their advanced and fantastic opinions
may do as little harm to right-thinking people as possible.[10]

Even scientific men are sometimes as crassly incredulous as the uncultured
masses. On this point hear Mr. A. R. Wallace.[11] "Many now living
remember the time (for it is little more than twenty years ago) when the
antiquity of man, as now understood, was universally discredited. Not only
theologians, but even geologists taught us that man belonged to the
existing state of things; that the extinct animals of the tertiary period
had finally disappeared, and that the earth's surface had assumed its
present condition before the human race first came into existence. So
prepossessed were scientific men with this idea, which yet rested on
purely negative evidence, and could not be supported by any argument of
scientific value, that numerous facts which had been presented at
intervals for half a century, all tending to prove the existence of man at
very remote epochs, were silently ignored, and, more than this, the
detailed statements of three distinct and careful observers confirming
each other were rejected by a great scientific society as too improbable
for publication, only because they proved (if they were true) the
co-existence of man with extinct animals."[12]

The travels of that faithful historian, Marco Polo, were for a long time
considered as fables, and the graphic descriptions of the Abbé Huc even
still find detractors continuing the _rôle_ of those who maintained that
he had never even visited the countries which he described.

Gordon Cumming was disbelieved when he asserted that he had killed an
antelope, out of a herd, with a rifle-shot at a distance of eight hundred

Madame Merian[13] was accused of deliberate falsehood in reference to her
description of a bird-eating spider nearly two hundred years ago. But
now-a-days Mr. Bates and other reliable observers have confirmed it in
regard to South America, India, and elsewhere.

Audubon was similarly accused by botanists of having invented the yellow
water-lily, which he figured in his _Birds of the South_ under the name of
Nymphæa lutea, and after having lain under the imputation for years, was
confirmed at last by the discovery of the long-lost flower, in Florida, by
Mrs. Mary Trent, in the summer of 1876;[14] and this encourages us to hope
that some day or other a fortunate sportsman may rediscover the Haliætus
Washingtonii, in regard to which Dr. Cover says: "That famous bird of
Washington was a myth; either Audubon was mistaken, or else, as some do
not hesitate to affirm, he lied about it."


(_Facsimile from a drawing by Hokusai, a celebrated Japanese artist who
lived about the beginning of the present century._)]

Victor Hugo was ridiculed for having exceeded the bounds of poetic license
when he produced his marvellous word-painting of the devil-fish, and
described a man as becoming its helpless victim. The thing was derided as
a monstrous impossibility; yet within a few years were discovered, on the
shores of Newfoundland, cuttle-fishes with arms extending to thirty feet
in length, and capable of dragging a good-sized boat beneath the surface;
and their action has been reproduced for centuries past, as the
representation of a well-known fact, in _net sukes_ (ivory carvings) and
illustrations by Japanese artists.[15]

Before the days of Darwinism, what courage was requisite in a man who
propounded any theory a little bit extravagant! Hark how, even less than
twenty years ago, the ghost of the unfortunate Lord Monboddo had bricks of
criticism pelted at it, half earnestly, half contemptuously, by one of our
greatest thinkers, whose thought happened to run in grooves different from
those travelled in by the mind of the unfortunate Scotchman.

"Lord Monboddo[16] had just finished his great work, by which he derives
all mankind from a couple of apes, and all the dialects of the world from
a language originally framed by some Egyptian gods, when the discovery of
Sanskrit came on him like a thunderbolt. It must be said, however, to his
credit, that he at once perceived the immense importance of the discovery.
He could not be expected to sacrifice his primordial monkeys or his
Egyptian idols, &c."

And again: "It may be of interest to give one other extract in order to
show how well, apart from his men with, and his monkeys without, tails,
Lord Monboddo could sift and handle the evidence that was placed before

Max Müller also furnishes us with an amazing example of scepticism on the
part of Dugald Stewart. He says[17]: "However, if the facts about Sanskrit
were true, Dugald Stewart was too wise not to see that the conclusions
drawn from them were inevitable. He therefore denied the reality of such a
language as Sanskrit altogether, and wrote his famous essay to prove that
Sanskrit had been put together, after the model of Greek and Latin, by
those archforgers and liars, the Brahmans, and that the whole of Sanskrit
literature was an imposition."

So Ctesias attacked Herodotus. The very existence of Homer has been
denied, and even the authorship of Shakespeare's plays questioned.[18]

We are all familiar enough now with the black swan, but Ovid[19]
considered it as so utterly impossible that he clinched, as it were, an
affirmation by saying, "If I doubted, O Maximus, of thy approval of these
words, I could believe that there are swans of the colour of Memnon"
[_i.e._ black]; and even so late as the days of Sir Thomas Browne, we find
them classed by him with flying horses, hydras, centaurs, harpies, and
satyrs, as monstrosities, rarities, or else poetical fancies.[20]

Now that we have all seen the great hippopotamus disport himself in his
tank in the gardens of the Zoological Society, we can smile at the grave
arguments of the savant who, while admitting the existence of the animal,
disputed the possibility of his walking about on the bed of a river,
because his great bulk would prevent his rising again.[21] But I daresay
it passed muster in his days as a very sound and shrewd observation, just
as, possibly, but for the inconvenient waggery of Peter Pindar, might have
done the intelligent inquiry, which he records, after the seam in the

Poor Fray Gaspar de Jan Bernardine who, in 1611, undertook the journey by
land from India to Portugal, was unfortunate enough to describe the mode
in which the captain of the caravan communicated intelligence to Bagdad by
carrier pigeon. "He had pigeons whose young and nests were at his house in
that city, and every two days he let fly a pigeon with a letter tied to
its foot containing the news of his journey. This account met with but
little belief in Europe, and was treated there as a matter of

The discredit under which this traveller fell is the more surprising
because the same custom had already been noted by Sir John Mandeville,
who, in speaking of Syria and adjacent countries, says: "In that contree,
and other contrees beyond, thei have custom, whan thei schulle usen warre,
and when men holden sege abouten Cytee or Castelle, and thei withinen dur
not senden messagers with lettres frō Lord to Lord for to ask Sokour, thei
maken here Lettres and bynden hem to the Nekke of a Colver and leten the
Colver flee, and the Colveren ben so taughte, that thei flun with the
Lettres to the very place that men wolde send hem to. For the Colveres
ben norrysscht in the Places Where thei been sent to, and thei senden them
there, for to beren here Lettres, and the Colveres retournen agen, where
as thei ben norrischt, and so thei dou commonly."

While, long before, Pliny had referred to it in his _Natural History_[23]
as follows: "In addition to this, pigeons have acted as messengers in
affairs of importance. During the siege of Mutina, Decimus Brutus, who was
in the town, sent despatches to the camp of the Consuls, fastened to
pigeons' feet. Of what use to Antony, then, were his entrenchments? and
all the vigilance of the besieging army? his nets, too, which he had
spread in the river, while the messenger of the besieged was cleaving the

The pace of railways; steam communication across the Atlantic; the Suez
Canal[24]; were not all these considered in former days to be impossible?
With these examples of failure of judgment before us, it may be fairly
asked whether, in applying our minds to the investigation of the reality
of creatures apparently monstrous, we duly reflect upon the extraordinary,
almost miraculous, events which incessantly occur in the course of the
short existence of all animated nature? Supposing the history of insects
were unknown to us, could the wildest imagination conceive such a
marvellous transformation as that which takes place continually around us
in the passage from the larva through the chrysalis to the butterfly? or
human ingenuity invent one so bizarre as that recorded by Steenstrup in
his theory of the alternation of generation?

We accept as nothing marvellous, only because we see them daily, the
organization and the polity of a community of ants; their collaboration,
their wars, and their slaveries have been so often stated that they cease
to astonish. The same may be said of the marvellous architecture of birds,
their construction of houses to live in, of bowers to play in, and even of
gardens to gratify their sense of beauty.[25]

We admire the ingenious imagination of Swift, and essayists dwell upon his
happy conceits and upon the ability with which, in his celebrated work, he
has ordered all things to harmonise in dimensions with the enlarged and
reduced scales on which he has conceived the men and animals of Brobdignag
and Lilliput. So much even has this quaint idea been appreciated, that his
story has achieved a small immortality, and proved one of the numerous
springs from which new words have been imported into our language. Yet the
peculiar and essential singularities of the story are quite equalled, or
even surpassed, by creatures which are, or have been, found in nature. The
imaginary diminutive cows which Gulliver brought back from Lilliput, and
placed in the meadows at Dulwich, are not one bit more remarkable, in
respect to relative size, than the pigmy elephant (_E. Falconeri_) whose
remains have been found in the cave-deposits of Malta, associated with
those of pigmy hippopotami, and which was only two feet six inches high;
or the still existing _Hippopotamus (Chæropsis) liberiensis_, which M.
Milne Edwardes[26] figures as little more than two feet in height.

The lilliputian forests from which the royal navy was constructed
contained even large trees in comparison with the dwarf oaks of
Mexico,[27] or with the allied, even smaller species, which crawls like
heather about the hill-slopes of China and Japan, and still more so in
comparison with that singular pine, the most diminutive known (_Dacrydium
taxifolium_), fruiting specimens of which, according to Kirk, are
sometimes only two inches high, while the average height is only six to
ten inches; while even among the forests of Brobdignag, a very respectable
position could be held by the mammoth trees of California (_Sequoia
gigantea_), or by the loftier white gums of Australia (_Eucalyptus
amygdalina_), which occasionally reach, according to Von Mueller,[28] the
enormous height of 480 feet. Nor could more adequate tenants (in point of
size) be found to occupy them than the gigantic reptilian forms lately
discovered by Marsh among the deposits of Colorado and Texas.

Surely a profound acquaintance with the different branches of natural
history should render a man credulous rather than incredulous, for there
is hardly conceivable a creature so monstrous that it may not be
paralleled by existing ones in every-day life.[29]

[Illustration: FIG. 2.--PTERODACTYLUS. (_After Figuier._)]

[Illustration: FIG. 3.--RHAMPHORYNCHUS. (_From "Nature."_)]

Are the composite creatures of Chaldæan mythology so very much more
wonderful than the marsupial kangaroo, the duck-billed platypus, and the
flying lizard of Malaysia which are, or the pterodactylus, rhamphorynchus,
and archæopteryx which have been? Does not geological science, day by day,
trace one formation by easy gradation to another, bridge over the gaps
which formerly separated them, carry the proofs of the existence of man
constantly further and further back into remote time, and disclose the
previous existence of intermediate types (satisfying the requirements of
the Darwinian theory) connecting the great divisions of the animal
kingdom, of reptile-like birds and bird-like reptiles? Can we suppose that
we have at all exhausted the great museum of nature? Have we, in fact,
penetrated yet beyond its ante-chambers?

[Illustration: FIG. 4.--ARCHÆOPTERYX.]

Does the written history of man, comprising a few thousand years, embrace
the whole course of his intelligent existence? or have we in the long
mythical eras, extending over hundreds of thousands of years and recorded
in the chronologies of Chaldæa and of China, shadowy mementoes of
pre-historic man, handed down by tradition, and perhaps transported by a
few survivors to existing lands from others which, like the fabled (?)
Atlantis of Plato, may have been submerged, or the scene of some great
catastrophe which destroyed them with all their civilization.

The six or eight thousand years which the various interpreters of the
Biblical record assign for the creation of the world and the duration of
man upon the earth, allow little enough space for the development of his
civilization--a civilization which documental evidence carries almost to
the verge of the limit--for the expansion and divergence of stocks, or the
obliteration of the branches connecting them.

But, fortunately, we are no more compelled to fetter our belief within
such limits as regards man than to suppose that his appearance on the
globe was coeval with or immediately successive to its own creation at
that late date. For while geological science, on the one hand, carries
back the creation of the world and the appearance of life upon its surface
to a period so remote that it is impossible to estimate it, and difficult
even to faintly approximate to it, so, upon the other, the researches of
palæontologists have successively traced back the existence of man to
periods variously estimated at from thirty thousand to one million
years--to periods when he co-existed with animals which have long since
become extinct, and which even excelled in magnitude and ferocity most of
those which in savage countries dispute his empire at the present day. Is
it not reasonable to suppose that his combats with these would form the
most important topic of conversation, of tradition, and of primitive song,
and that graphic accounts of such struggles, and of the terrible nature of
the foes encountered, would be handed down from father to son, with a
fidelity of description and an accuracy of memory unsuspected by us, who,
being acquainted with reading and writing, are led to depend upon their
artificial assistance, and thus in a measure fail to cultivate a faculty
which, in common with those of keenness of vision and hearing, are
essential to the existence of man in a savage or semi-savage

The illiterate backwoodsman or trapper (and hence by inference the savage
or semi-civilized man), whose mind is occupied merely by his
surroundings, and whose range of thought, in place of being diffused over
an illimitable horizon, is confined within very moderate limits, develops
remarkable powers of observation and an accuracy of memory in regard to
localities, and the details of his daily life, surprising to the scholar
who has mentally to travel over so much more ground, and, receiving daily
so many and so far more complex ideas, can naturally grasp each less
firmly, and is apt to lose them entirely in the haze of a period of time
which would still leave those of the uneducated man distinguishable or
even prominent landmarks.[31] Variations in traditions must, of course,
occur in time, and the same histories, radiating in all directions from
centres, vary from the original ones by increments dependent on
proportionately altered phases of temperament and character, induced by
change of climate, associations and conditions of life; so that the early
written history of every country reproduces under its own garb, and with a
claim to originality, attenuated, enriched, or deformed versions of
traditions common in their origin to many or all.[32]

Stories of divine progenitors, demigods, heroes, mighty hunters, slayers
of monsters, giants, dwarfs, gigantic serpents, dragons, frightful beasts
of prey, supernatural beings, and myths of all kinds, appear to have been
carried into all corners of the world with as much fidelity as the sacred
Ark of the Israelites, acquiring a moulding--graceful, weird or
uncouth--according to the genius of the people or their capacity for
superstitious belief; and these would appear to have been materially
affected by the varied nature of their respective countries. For example,
the long-continuing dwellers in the open plains of a semi-tropical region,
relieved to a great extent from the cares of watchfulness, and nurtured in
the grateful rays of a genial but not oppressive sun, must have a more
buoyant disposition and more open temperament than those inhabiting vast
forests, the matted overgrowth of which rarely allows the passage of a
single ray, bathes all in gloom, and leaves on every side undiscovered
depths, filled with shapeless shadows, objects of vigilant dread, from
which some ferocious monster may emerge at any moment. Again, on the one
hand, the nomad roaming in isolation over vast solitudes, having much
leisure for contemplative reflection, and on the other, the hardy dwellers
on storm-beaten coasts, by turns fishermen, mariners, and pirates, must
equally develop traits which affect their religion, polity, and customs,
and stamp their influences on mythology and tradition.

The Greek, the Celt, and the Viking, descended from the same Aryan
ancestors, though all drawing from the same sources their inspirations of
religious belief and tradition, quickly diverged, and respectively settled
into a generous martial race--martial in support of their independence
rather than from any lust of conquest--polite, skilled, and learned; one
brave but irritable, suspicious, haughty, impatient of control; and the
last, the berserker, with a ruling passion for maritime adventure, piracy,
and hand-to-hand heroic struggles, to be terminated in due course by a
hero's death and a welcome to the banqueting halls of Odin in Walhalla.

The beautiful mythology of the Greek nation, comprising a pantheon of gods
and demigods, benign for the most part, and often interesting themselves
directly in the welfare of individual men, was surely due to, or at least
greatly induced by, the plastic influences of a delicious climate, a
semi-insular position in a sea comparatively free from stormy weather, and
an open mountainous country, moderately fertile. Again, the gloomy and
sanguinary religion of the Druids was doubtless moulded by the depressing
influences of the seclusion, twilight haze, and dangers of the dense
forests in which they hid themselves--forests which, as we know from
Cæsar, spread over the greater part of Gaul, Britain, and Spain; while the
Viking, having from the chance or choice of his ancestors, inherited a
rugged seaboard, lashed by tempestuous waves and swept by howling winds, a
seaboard with only a rugged country shrouded with unsubdued forests at its
back, exposed during the major portion of the year to great severity of
climate, and yielding at the best but a niggard and precarious harvest,
became perforce a bold and skilful mariner, and, translating his belief
into a language symbolic of his new surroundings, believed that he saw and
heard Thor in the midst of the howling tempests, revealed majestic and
terrible through rents in the storm-cloud. Pursuing our consideration of
the effects produced by climatic conditions, may we not assume, for
example, that some at least of the Chaldæans, inhabiting a pastoral
country, and being descended from ancestors who had pursued, for hundreds
or thousands of years, a nomadic existence in the vast open steppes in the
highlands of Central Asia, were indebted to those circumstances for the
advance which they are credited with having made in astronomy and kindred
sciences. Is it not possible that their acquaintance with climatology was
as exact or even more so than our own? The habit of solitude would induce
reflection, the subject of which would naturally be the causes influencing
the vicissitudes of weather. The possibilities of rain or sunshine, wind
or storm, would be with them a prominent object of solicitude; and the
necessity, in an unfenced country, of extending their watch over their
flocks and herds throughout the night, would perforce more or less rivet
their attention upon the glorious constellations of the heavens above, and
lead to habits of observation which, systematized and long continued by
the priesthood, might have produced deductions accurate in the result even
if faulty in the process.

The vast treasures of ancient knowledge tombed in the ruins of Babylon and
Assyria, of which the recovery and deciphering is as yet only initiated,
may, to our surprise, reveal that certain secrets of philosophy were known
to the ancients equally with ourselves, but lost through intervening ages
by the destruction of the empire, and the fact of their conservancy having
been entrusted to a privileged and limited order, with which it

We hail as a new discovery the knowledge of the existence of the so-called
spots upon the surface of the sun, and scientists, from long-continued
observations, profess to distinguish a connection between the character of
these and atmospheric phenomena; they even venture to predict floods and
droughts, and that for some years in anticipation; while pestilences or
some great disturbance are supposed to be likely to follow the period when
three or four planets attain their apogee within one year, a supposition
based on the observations extended over numerous years, that similar
events had accompanied the occurrence of even one only of those positions
at previous periods.

May we not speculate on the possibility of similar or parallel knowledge
having been possessed by the old Chaldæan and Egyptian priesthood; and may
not Joseph have been able, by superior ability in its exercise, to have
anticipated the seven years' drought, or Noah, from an acquaintance with
meteorological science, to have made an accurate forecast of the great
disturbances which resulted in the Deluge and the destruction of a large
portion of mankind?[34]

Without further digression in a path which opens the most pleasing
speculations, and could be pursued into endless ramifications, I will
merely, in conclusion, suggest that the same influences which, as I have
shown above, affect so largely the very nature of a people, must similarly
affect its traditions and myths, and that due consideration will have to
be given to such influences, in the case of some at least of the
remarkable animals which I propose to discuss in this and future volumes.


_The Shan Hai King_--According to the commentator Kwoh P'oh (A.D.
276-324), this work was compiled three thousand years before this time, or
at seven dynasties' distance. Yang Sun of the Ming dynasty (commencing
A.D. 1368), states that it was compiled by Kung Chia (and Chung Ku?) from
engravings on nine urns made by the Emperor Yü, B.C. 2255. Chung Ku was an
historiographer, and at the time of the last Emperor of the Hia dynasty
(B.C. 1818), fearing that the Emperor might destroy the books treating of
the ancient and present time, carried them in flight to Yin.

_The 'Rh Ya_--Initiated according to tradition, by Chow Kung; uncle of Wu
Wang, the first Emperor of the Chow dynasty, B.C. 1122. Ascribed also to
Tsze Hea, the disciple of Confucius.

_The Bamboo Books_--Containing the Ancient Annals of China, said to have
been found A.D. 279, on opening the grave of King Seang of Wei [died B.C.
295]. Age prior to last date, undetermined. Authenticity disputed,
favoured by Legge.

_Confucius_--Author of Spring and Autumn Classics, &c., B.C. (551-479).

_Ctesias_--Historian, physician to Artaxerxes, B.C. 401.

_Herodotus_--B.C. 484.

_Aristotle_--B.C. 384.

_Megasthenes_--About B.C. 300. In time of Seleucus Nicator. His work
entitled _Indica_ is only known by extracts in those of Strabo, Arrian,
and Ælian.

_Eratosthenes_--Born B.C. 276. Mathematician, Astronomer, and Geographer.

_Posidonius_--Born about B.C. 140. Besides philosophical treatises, wrote
works on geography, history, and astronomy, fragments of which are
preserved in the works of Cicero, Strabo, and others.

_Nicander_--About B.C. 135. Wrote the _Theriaca_, a poem of 1,000 lines,
in hexameter, on the wounds caused by venomous animals, and the treatment.
Is followed in many of his errors by Pliny. Plutarch says the _Theriaca_
cannot be called a poem, because there is in it nothing of fable or

_Strabo_--Just before the Christian era. Geographer.

_Cicero_--Born B.C. 106.

_Propertius (Sextus Aurelius)_--Born probably about B.C. 56.

_Diodorus Siculus_--Wrote the _Bibliotheca Historica_ (in Greek), after
the death of Julius Cæsar (B.C. 44). Of the 40 books composing it only 15
remain, viz. Books 1 to 5 and 11 to 20.

_Juba_--Died A.D. 17. Son of Juba I., King of Numidia. Wrote on Natural

_Pliny_--Born A.D. 23.

_Lucan_--A.D. 38. The only work of his extant is the _Pharsalia_, a poem
on the civil war between Cæsar and Pompey.

_Ignatius_--Either an early Patriarch, A.D. 50, or Patriarch of
Constantinople, 799.

_Isidorus_--Isidorus of Charaux lived probably in the first century of our
era. He wrote an account of the Parthian empire.

_Arrian_--Born about A.D. 100. His work on the Natural History, &c. of
India is founded on the authority of Eratosthenes and Megasthenes.

_Pausanias_--Author of the Description or Itinerary of Greece. In the 2nd

_Philostratus_--Born about A.D. 182.

_Solinus, Caius Julius_--Did not write in the Augustan age, for his work
entitled _Polyhistor_ is merely a compilation from Pliny's _Natural
History_. According to Salmasius, he lived about two hundred years after

_Ælian_--Probably middle of the 3rd century A.D. _De Naturâ Animalium._ In

_Ammianus Marcellinus_--Lived in 4th century.

_Cardan, Jerome A._--About the end of 4th century A.D.

Printing invented in China, according to Du Halde, A.D. 924.
Block-printing used in A.D. 593.

_Marco Polo_--Reached the Court of Kublai Khan in A.D. 1275.

_Mandeville, Sir John de_--Travelled for thirty-three years in Asia dating
from A.D. 1327. As he resided for three years in Peking, it is probable
that many of his fables are derived from Chinese sources.

Printing invented in Europe by John Koster of Haarlem, A.D. 1438.

_Scaliger, Julius Cæsar_--Born April 23rd, 1484. Wrote _Aristotelis Hist.
Anim. liber decimus cum vers. et comment_. 8vo. Lyon, 1584, &c.

_Gesner_--Born 1516. _Historiæ Animalium_, &c.

_Ambrose Paré_--Born 1517. Surgeon.

_Belon, Pierre_--Born 1518. Zoologist, Geographer, &c.

_Aldrovandus_--Born 1552. Naturalist.

_Tavernier, J. B._--Born 1605.

_Păn Ts'ao Kang Muh_--By Li Shê-chin of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1628).

_Yuen Kien Léi Han_--A.D. 1718.



The reasoning upon the question whether dragons, winged snakes,
sea-serpents, unicorns, and other so-called fabulous monsters have in
reality existed, and at dates coeval with man, diverges in several
independent directions.

We have to consider:--

1.--Whether the characters attributed to these creatures are or are not so
abnormal in comparison with those of known types, as to render a belief in
their existence impossible or the reverse.

2.--Whether it is rational to suppose that creatures so formidable, and
apparently so capable of self-protection, should disappear entirely, while
much more defenceless species continue to survive them.

3.--The myths, traditions, and historical allusions from which their
reality may be inferred require to be classified and annotated, and full
weight given to the evidence which has accumulated of the presence of man
upon the earth during ages long prior to the historic period, and which
may have been ages of slowly progressive civilization, or perhaps cycles
of alternate light and darkness, of knowledge and barbarism.

4.--Lastly, some inquiry may be made into the geographical conditions
obtaining at the time of their possible existence.

It is immaterial which of these investigations is first entered upon, and
it will, in fact, be more convenient to defer a portion of them until we
arrive at the sections of this volume treating specifically of the
different objects to which it is devoted, and to confine our attention for
the present to those subjects which, from their nature, are common and in
a sense prefatory to the whole subject.

I shall therefore commence with a short examination of some of the most
remarkable reptilian forms which are known to have existed, and for that
purpose, and to show their general relations, annex the accompanying
tables, compiled from the anatomy of vertebrated animals by Professor



     ORDER.  |   ----   |    SUB-ORDER.    |GROUPS. |
             |          |                  |        |
  Chelonia.  |Land      |1. Testudinea     |        |
             | tortoises|                  |        |
      "      |River and |2. Emydea         |a Terra-|
             | marsh do.|                  |   penes|
             |          |                  |b Chelo-|
             |          |                  |   dines|
             |Mud       |3. Trionychoidea  |        |
             | tortoises|                  |        |
      "      |Turtles   |4. Euereta        |        |
             |          |                  |        |
  Plesiosaur-|          |5.                |Post    |
   ia.       |          |                  | Trias- |
             |          |                  |  sic   |
      "      |          |6.                |Triassic|
             |          |                  |        |
             |          |                  |        |
             |          |                  |        |
  Lacertilia.|Geckos    |7. Ascalabota     |        |
             |          |                  |        |
      "      |          |8. Rhynchocephala |        |
             |          |                  |        |
      "      |          |9. Homœosauria    |        |
             |          |                  |        |
             |          |                  |        |
      "      |          |10. Protosauria   |        |
             |          |                  |        |
      "      |Monitor   |11. Platynota     |        |
             |          |                  |        |
      "      |          |12. Eunota        |        |
             |          |                  |        |
      "      |          |13. Lacertina     |        |
             |          |                  |        |
      "      |          |14. Chalcidea     |        |
             |          |                  |        |
      "      |          |15. Scincoidea    |        |
      "      |          |16. Dolichosauria |        |
      "      |          |17. Mosasauria    |        |
      "      |          |18. Amphisbænoida |        |
      "      |          |19. Chamæleonida  |        |
  Ophidia.   |Non-vene- |20. Aglyphodontia |        |
             | mous con-|                  |        |
      "      | stricting|21. Opisthoglyphia|        |
      "      |          |22. Proteroglyphia|        |
      "      |Vipers and|23. Solenoglyphia |        |
             | Rattle-  |                  |        |
      "      | snakes   |24. Typhlopidæ    |        |
  Icthyosaur-|          |     . . . .      |        |
   ia.       |          |                  |        |
  Crocodile. |Alligator |26. Alligatoridæ  |        |
             |          |                  |        |
             |          |                  |        |
      "      |Crocodiles|27. Crocodilidæ   |        |
             |          |                  |        |
      "      |Gavials   |28.  Gavialidæ    |        |
      "      |          |                  |        |
             |          |29. Teleosauidæ   |        |
      "      |          |30. Belodontidæ   |        |
  Dicynodont-|          |31. . . .         |        |
   ia.       |          |                  |        |
  Ornitho-   |          |32. Dinosauria    |        |
   scelida   |          |                  |        |
             |          |                  |        |
             |          |                  |        |
             |          |                  |        |
             |          |                  |        |
             |          |33. Compsognatha  |        |
             |          |                  |        |
  Pterosaur- |Flying    |34. Pterodactylidæ|        |
   ia.       | reptile  |                  |        |
             |          |                  |        |
             |          |                  |        |

      GENERA.   |    ORDER.
  Pyxis, Cinyxis|}The
                |} Chelonia
  Emys, Cistudo |} are first
                |} known to
  Chelys,       |} occur in
    Chelodina   |}
  Gymnopus      |} the Lias.
  Cryptopus     |}
  Sphargis,     |}To recent.
    Chelone     |
  Plesiosaurus  |}
  Pliosaurus    |}Trias to
                |} Chalk
  Nothosaurus   |} inclu-
  Simosaurus    |}  sive.
  Pistosaurus   |}
                |recent    }
                |          }
  Sphenodon or  |          }
    Rhyncocepha-|          }
     lus        |Solenhofen}
                | slates to}
                | Trias    }
                |Permian   }
                |          }Permian
                |recent    }to
                |          }recent.
                |   "      }
                |          }
                |   "      }
                |          }
                |   "      }
                |          }
                |Recent }Permian
   Dolichosaurus|Chalk  }to
   Mososaurus   |Chalk  }recent.
  Chirotes      |       }
    Amphisbæna  |
  Python,       |}
    Tortrix     |}
                |}   Older
  Crotalus      |}   Tertiary
                |}   to recent.
   Icthyosaurus |Trias(?) to
                |chalk inclusive.
  Alligator     |}
    Caiman      |}
  Jacare        |}
  Crocodilus    |}
  Mecistops     |}
  Rhynchosuchus |} Trias to
  Gavialis      |} recent.
  Teleosaurus   |}
  Belodon       |}
  Dicynodon     |   }  Trias.
  Oudenodon     |   }
  Thecodonto-   |Trias     }
   saurus       |          }Mesozoic
  Scelidosaurus |Lias      }forma-
  Megalosaurus {| Middle & } tions.
  Iguanodon    {| Upper    }
               {| Mesozoic }
                |slates    }
  Ornithopterus |}
  Pterodactylus |}Lias to Chalk
  Dimorphodon   |}

The most bird-like of reptiles, the Pterosauria, appear to have possessed
true powers of flight; they were provided with wings formed by an
expansion of the integument, and supported by an enormous elongation of
the ulnar finger of the anterior limb. The generic differences are based
upon the comparative lengths of the tail, and upon the dentition. In
_Pterodactylus_ (see Fig. 2, p. 18), the tail is very short, and the jaws
strong, pointed, and toothed to their anterior extremities. In
_Rhamphorynchus_ (see Fig. 8, p. 18), the tail is very long and the teeth
are not continuous to the extremities of the jaws, which are produced into
toothless beaks. The majority of the species are small, and they are
generally considered to have been inoffensive creatures, having much the
habits and insectivorous mode of living of bats. One British species,
however, from the white chalk of Maidstone, measures more than sixteen
feet across the outstretched wings; and other forms recently discovered by
Professor Marsh in the Upper Cretaceous deposits of Kansas, attain the
gigantic proportions of nearly twenty-five feet for the same measurements;
and although these were devoid of teeth (thus approaching the class Aves
still more closely), they could hardly fail, from their magnitude and
powers of flight, to have been formidable, and must, with their weird
aspects, and long outstretched necks and pointed heads, have been at least
sufficiently alarming.

We need go no farther than these in search of creatures which would
realise the popular notion of the winged dragon.

The harmless little flying lizards, belonging to the genus Draco,
abounding in the East Indian archipelago, which have many of their
posterior ribs prolonged into an expansion of the integument, unconnected
with the limbs, and have a limited and parachute-like flight, need only
the element of size, to render them also sufficiently to be dreaded, and
capable of rivalling the Pterodactyls in suggesting the general idea of
the same monster.

It is, however, when we pass to some of the other groups, that we find
ourselves in the presence of forms so vast and terrible, as to more than
realise the most exaggerated impression of reptilian power and ferocity
which the florid imagination of man can conceive.

We have long been acquainted with numerous gigantic terrestrial Saurians,
ranging throughout the whole of the Mesozoic formations, such as
_Iguanodon_ (characteristic of the Wealden), _Megalosaurus_ (Great
Saurian), and _Hylæosaurus_ (Forest Saurian), huge bulky creatures, the
last of which, at least, was protected by dermal armour partially produced
into prodigious spines; as well as with remarkable forms essentially
marine, such as _Icthyosaurus_ (Fish-like Saurian), _Plesiosaurus_, &c.,
adapted to an oceanic existence and propelling themselves by means of
paddles. The latter, it may be remarked, was furnished with a long slender
swan-like neck, which, carried above the surface of the water, would
present the appearance of the anterior portion of a serpent.

To the related land forms the collective term Dinosauria (from δεινός
"terrible") has been applied, in signification of the power which their
structure and magnitude imply that they possessed; and to the others that
of Enaliosauria, as expressive of their adaptation to a maritime
existence. Yet, wonderful to relate, those creatures which have for so
many years commanded our admiration fade into insignificance in comparison
with others which are proved, by the discoveries of the last few years, to
have existed abundantly upon, or near to, the American continent during
the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods, by which they are surpassed, in point
of magnitude, as much as they themselves exceed the mass of the larger

Take, for example, those referred to by Professor Marsh in the course of
an address to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in
1877, in the following terms:--"The reptiles most characteristic of our
American cretaceous strata are the Mososauria, a group with very few
representatives in other parts of the world. In our cretaceous seas they
rule supreme, as their numbers, size, and carnivorous habits enabled them
to easily vanquish all rivals. Some were at least sixty feet in length,
and the smallest ten or twelve. In the inland cretaceous sea from which
the Rocky Mountains were beginning to emerge, these ancient 'sea-serpents'
abounded, and many were entombed in its muddy bottom; on one occasion, as
I rode through a valley washed out of this old ocean-bed, I saw no less
than seven different skeletons of these monsters in sight at once. The
Mososauria were essentially swimming lizards with four well-developed
paddles, and they had little affinity with modern serpents, to which they
have been compared."

Or, again, notice the specimens of the genus Cidastes, which are also
described as veritable sea-serpents of those ancient seas, whose huge
bones and almost incredible number of vertebræ show them to have attained
a length of nearly two hundred feet. The remains of no less than ten of
these monsters were seen by Professor Mudge, while riding through the
Mauvaise Terres of Colorado, strewn upon the plains, their whitened bones
bleached in the suns of centuries, and their gaping jaws armed with
ferocious teeth, telling a wonderful tale of their power when alive.

The same deposits have been equally fertile in the remains of terrestrial
animals of gigantic size. The _Titanosaurus montanus_, believed to have
been herbivorous, is estimated to have reached fifty or sixty feet in
length; while other Dinosaurians of still more gigantic proportions, from
the Jurassic beds of the Rocky Mountains, have been described by Professor
Marsh. Among the discovered remains of _Atlantosaurus immanis_ is a femur
over six feet in length, and it is estimated from a comparison of this
specimen with the same bone in living reptiles that this species, if
similar in proportions to the crocodile, would have been over one hundred
feet in length.

But even yet the limit has not been reached, and we hear of the discovery
of the remains of another form, of such Titanic proportions as to possess
a thigh-bone over twelve feet in length.

CROCODILE (A). (_From the "Scientific American."_)]

From these considerations it is evident that, on account of the dimensions
usually assigned to them, no discredit can be attached to the existence of
the fabulous monsters of which we shall speak hereafter; for these, in the
various myths, rarely or never equal in size creatures which science shows
to have existed in a comparatively recent geological age, while the
quaintest conception could hardly equal the reality of yet another of the
American Dinosaurs, _Stegosaurus_, which appears to have been herbivorous,
and more or less aquatic in habit, adapted for sitting upon its hinder
extremities, and protected by bony plate and numerous spines. It reached
thirty feet in length. Professor Marsh considers that this, when alive,
must have presented the strangest appearance of all the Dinosaurs yet

The affinities of birds and reptiles have been so clearly demonstrated of
late years, as to cause Professor Huxley and many other comparative
anatomists to bridge over the wide gap which was formerly considered to
divide the two classes, and to bracket them together in one class, to
which the name Sauropsidæ has been given.[35]

There are, indeed, not a few remarkable forms, as to the class position of
which, whether they should be assigned to birds or reptiles, opinion was
for a long time, and is in a few instances still, divided. It is, for
example, only of late years that the fossil form Archæopteryx[36] (Fig. 4,
p. 19) from the Solenhofen slates, has been definitely relegated to the
former, but arguments against this disposal of it have been based upon the
beak or jaws being furnished with true teeth, and the feather of the tail
attached to a series of vertebræ, instead of a single flattened one as in
birds. It appears to have been entirely plumed, and to have had a moderate
power of flight.


On the other hand, the Ornithopterus is only provisionally classed with
reptiles, while the connection between the two classes is drawn still
closer by the copious discovery of the birds from the Cretaceous
formations of America, for which we are indebted to Professor Marsh.

The Lepidosiren, also, is placed mid-way between reptiles and fishes.
Professor Owen and other eminent physiologists consider it a fish;
Professor Bischoff and others, an amphibian reptile. It has a two-fold
apparatus for respiration, partly aquatic, consisting of gills, and partly
aerial, of true lungs.

So far, then, as abnormality of type is concerned, we have here instances
quite as remarkable as those presented by most of the strange monsters
with the creation of which mythological fancy has been credited.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.--SKELETON OF MEGATHERIUM. (_After Figuier._)]

Among mammals I shall only refer to the Megatherium, which appears to have
been created to burrow in the earth and to feed upon the roots of trees
and shrubs, for which purpose every organ of its heavy frame was adapted.
This Hercules among animals was as large as an elephant or rhinoceros of
the largest species, and might well, as it has existed until a late date,
have originated the myths, current among the Indians of South America, of
a gigantic tunnelling or burrowing creature, incapable of supporting the
light of day.[37]



In reviewing the past succession of different forms of ancient life upon
the globe, we are reminded of a series of dissolving views, in which each
species evolves itself by an imperceptible gradation from some
pre-existing one, arrives at its maximum of individuality, and then slowly
fades away, while another type, either higher or lower, evolved in turn
from it, emerges from obscurity, and succeeds it on the field of view.

Specific individuality has in all cases a natural term, dependent on
physical causes, but that term is in many cases abruptly anticipated by a
combination of unfavourable conditions.

Alteration of climate, isolation by geological changes, such as the
submergence of continents and islands, and the competition of other
species, are among the causes which have at all times operated towards its
destruction; while, since the evolution of man, his agency, so far as we
can judge by what we know of his later history, has been especially active
in the same direction.

The limited distribution of many species, even when not enforced by
insular conditions, is remarkable, and, of course, highly favourable to
their destruction. A multiplicity of examples are familiar to naturalists,
and possibly not a few may have attracted the attention of the ordinary

For instance, it is probably generally known, that in our own island, the
red grouse (which, by the way, is a species peculiar to Great Britain) is
confined to certain moorlands, the ruffs and reeves to fen districts, and
the nightingale,[38] chough, and other species to a few counties; while
Ireland is devoid of almost all the species of reptiles common to Great
Britain. In the former cases, the need of or predilection for certain
foods probably determines the favourite locality, and there are few
countries which would not furnish similar examples. In the latter, the
explanation depends on biological conditions dating prior to the
separation of Ireland from the main continent. Among birds, it might
fairly be presumed that the power of flight would produce unlimited
territorial expansion, but in many instances the reverse is found to be
the case: a remarkable example being afforded by the island of Tasmania, a
portion of which is called the unsettled waste lands, or Western Country.
This district, which comprises about one-third of the island upon the
western side, and is mainly composed of mountain chains of granites,
quartzite, and mica schists, is entirely devoid of the numerous species of
garrulous and gay-plumaged birds, such as the Mynah mocking-bird, white
cockatoo, wattle bird, and Rosella parrot, though these abundantly enliven
the eastern districts, which are fertilized by rich soils due to the
presence of ranges of basalt, greenstone, and other trappean rocks.

Another equally striking instance is given by my late father, Mr. J.
Gould, in his work on the humming-birds. Of two species, inhabiting
respectively the adjacent mountains of Pichincha and Chimborazo at
certain elevations, each is strictly confined to its own mountain; and, if
my memory serves me correctly, he mentions similar instances of species
peculiar to different peaks of the Andes.

Limitation by insular isolation is intelligible, especially in the case of
mammals and reptiles, and of birds possessing but small power of flight;
and we are, therefore, not surprised to find Mr. Gosse indicating, among
other examples, that even the smallest of the Antilles has each a fauna of
its own, while the humming-birds, some of the parrots, cuckoos, and
pigeons, and many of the smaller birds are peculiar to Jamaica. He states
still further, that in the latter instance many of the animals are not
distributed over the whole island, but confined to a single small

Continental limitation is effected by mountain barriers. Thus, according
to Mr. Wallace, almost all the mammalia, birds, and insects on one side of
the Andes and Rocky Mountains are distinct in species from those on the
other; while a similar difference, but smaller in degree, exists with
reference to regions adjacent to the Alps and Pyrenees.

Climate, broad rivers, seas, oceans, forests, and even large desert
wastes, like the Sahara or the great desert of Gobi, also act more or less
effectively as girdles which confine species within certain limits.

Dependence on each other or on supplies of appropriate food also form
minor yet practical factors in the sum of limitation; and a curious
example of the first is given by Dr. Van Lennep with reference to the
small migratory birds that are unable to perform the flight of three
hundred and fifty miles across the Mediterranean. He states that these are
carried across on the backs of cranes.[39]

    In the autumn many flocks of cranes may be seen coming from the North,
    with the first cold blast from that quarter, flying low, and uttering
    a peculiar cry, as if of alarm, as they circle over the cultivated
    plains. Little birds of every species may be seen flying up to them,
    while the twittering cries of those already comfortably settled upon
    their backs may be distinctly heard. On their return in the spring
    they fly high, apparently considering that their little passengers can
    easily find their way down to the earth.

The question of food-supply is involved in the more extended subject of
geological structure, as controlling the flora and the insect life
dependent on it. As an example we may cite the disappearance of the
capercailzie from Denmark with the decay of the pine forests abundant
during late Tertiary periods.

Collision, direct or indirect, with inimical species often has a fatal
ending. Thus the dodo was exterminated by the swine which the early
visitors introduced to the Mauritius and permitted to run wild there;
while the indigenous insects, mollusca, and perhaps some of the birds of
St. Helena, disappeared as soon as the introduction of goats caused the
destruction of the whole flora of forest trees.

The Tsetse fly extirpates all horses, dogs, and cattle, from certain
districts of South Africa, and a representative species in Paraguay is
equally fatal to new-born cattle and horses.

Mr. Darwin[40] shows that the struggle is more severe between species of
the same genus, when they come into competition with each other, than
between species of distinct genera. Thus one species of swallow has
recently expelled another from part of the United States; and the
missel-thrush has driven the song-thrush from part of Scotland. In
Australia the imported hive-bee is rapidly exterminating the small
stingless native bee, and similar cases might be found in any number.

Mr. Wallace, in quoting Mr. Darwin as to these facts, points the
conclusion that "any slight change, therefore, of physical geography or
of climate, which allows allied species hitherto inhabiting distinct areas
to come into contact, will often lead to the extermination of one of

It is the province of the palæontologist to enumerate the many remarkable
forms which have passed away since man's first appearance upon the globe,
and to trace their fluctuations over both hemispheres as determined by the
advance and retreat of glacial conditions, and by the protean forms
assumed by past and existing continents under oscillations of elevation
and depression. Many interesting points, such as the dates of the
successive separation of Ireland and Great Britain from the main
continent, can be determined with accuracy from the record furnished by
the fossil remains of animals of those times; and many interesting
associations of animals with man at various dates, in our present island
home and in other countries, have been traced by the discovery of their
remains in connection with his, in bone deposits in caverns and elsewhere.

Conversely, most valuable deductions are drawn by the zoologist from the
review which he is enabled to take, through the connected labours of his
colleagues in all departments, of the distinct life regions now mapped out
upon the face of the globe. These, after the application of the necessary
corrections for various disturbing or controlling influences referred to
above, afford proof reaching far back into past periods, of successive
alterations in the disposition of continents and oceans, and of
connections long since obliterated between distant lands.

The palæontologist reasons from the past to the present, the zoologist
from the present to the past; and their mutual labours explain the
evolution of existing forms, and the causes of the disparity or connection
between those at present characterizing the different portions of the
surface of the globe.

The palæontologist, for example, traces the descent of the horse, which,
until its reintroduction by the Spaniards was unknown in the New World,
through a variety of intermediate forms, to the genus Orohippus occurring
in Eocene deposits in Utah and Wyoming. This animal was no larger than a
fox, and possessed four separated toes in front, and three behind.
Domestic cattle he refers to the Bos primigenius, and many existing
Carnivora to Tertiary forms such as the cave-bear, cave-lion, sabre-tiger,
and the like.

The zoologist groups the existing fauna into distinct provinces, and
demands, in explanation of the anomalies which these exhibit, the
reconstruction of large areas, of which only small outlying districts
remain at the present date, in many instances widely separated by oceans,
though once forming parts of the same continent; and so, for the simile
readily suggests itself, the workers in another branch of science,
Philology, argue from words and roots scattered like fossils through the
various dialects of very distant countries, a mutual descent from a common
Aryan language: the language of a race of which no historical record
exists, though in regard to its habits, customs, and distribution much may
be affirmed from the large collection of word specimens stored in
philological museums.

Thus Mr. Sclater, on zoological grounds, claims the late existence of a
continent which he calls Lemuria, extending from Madagascar to Ceylon and
Sumatra; and for similar reasons Mr. Wallace extends the Australia of
Tertiary periods to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and perhaps to
Fiji, and from its marsupial types infers a connection with the northern
continent during the Secondary period.

Again, the connection of Europe with North Africa during a late geological
period is inferred by many zoologists from the number of identical species
of mammalia inhabiting the opposite sides of the Mediterranean, and
palæontologists confirm this by the discovery of the remains of elephants
in cave-deposits in Malta, and of hippopotami in Gibraltar; while
hydrographers furnish the supplemental suggestive evidence that an
elevation of only fifteen hundred feet would be sufficient to establish
two broad connections between the two continents--so as to unite Italy
with Tripoli and Spain with Morocco, and to convert the Mediterranean Sea
into two great lakes, which appears, in fact, to have been its condition
during the Pliocene and Post Pliocene periods.

It was by means of these causeways that the large pachyderms entered
Britain, then united to the continent; and it was over them they retreated
when driven back by glacial conditions, their migration northward being
effectually prevented by the destruction of the connecting arms of land.

Some difference of opinion exists among naturalists as to the extent to
which zoological regions should be subdivided, and as to their respective

But Mr. A. R. Wallace, who has most recently written on the subject, is of
opinion that the original division proposed by Mr. Sclater in 1857 is the
most tenable, and he therefore adopts it in the very exhaustive work upon
the geographical distribution of animals which he has recently issued. Mr.
Sclater's Six Regions are as follows:--

    1.--_The Palæarctic Region_, including Europe, Temperate Asia, and
    North Africa to the Atlas mountains.

    2.--_The Ethiopian Region_, Africa south of the Atlas, Madagascar, and
    the Mascarene islands, with Southern Arabia.

    3.--_The Indian Region_, including India south of the Himalayas, to
    South China, and to Borneo and Java.

    4.--_The Australian Region_, including Celebes and Lombok, Eastward to
    Australia and the Pacific islands.

    5.--_The Nearctic Region_, including Greenland, and North America, to
    Northern Mexico.

    6.--_The Neotropical Region_, including South America, the Antilles,
    and Southern Mexico.

This arrangement is based upon a detailed examination of the chief genera
and families of birds, and also very nearly represents the distribution of
mammals and of reptiles. Its regions are not, as in other subsequently
proposed and more artificial systems, controlled by climate; for they
range, in some instances, from the pole to the tropics. It probably
approaches more nearly than any other yet proposed to that desideratum, a
division of the earth into regions, founded on a collation of the groups
of forms indigenous to or typical of them, and upon a selection of those
peculiar to them; with a disregard of, or only admitting with caution, any
which, though common to and apparently establishing connection between two
or more regions, may have in fact but little value for the purpose of such
comparison; from the fact of its being possible to account for their
extended range by their capability of easy transport from one region to
another by common natural agencies.[41]

Such an arrangement should be consistent with the retrospective
information afforded by palæontology; and, taking an extended view of the
subject, be not merely a catalogue of the present, but also an index of
the past. It should afford an illustration of an existing phase of the
distribution of animal life, considered as the last of a long series of
similar phases which have successively resulted from changes in the
disposition of land and water, and from other controlling agencies,
throughout all time. A reconstruction of the areas respectively occupied
by the sea and the land at different geological periods will be possible,
or at least greatly facilitated, when a complete system of similar
groupings, illustrative of each successive period, has been compiled.

It is obvious that any great cosmical change, affecting to a wide extent
any of the regions, might determine a destruction of specific existence;
and this on a large scale, in comparison with the change which is always
progressing in a smaller degree in the different and isolated divisions.

The brief remarks which I have made on this subject are intended to
suggest, rather than to demonstrate--which could only be done by a lengthy
series of examples--the causes influencing specific existence and its in
many cases extreme frailty of tenure. And I shall now conclude by citing
from the works of Lyell and Wallace a short list of notable species, now
extinct, whose remains have been collected from late Tertiary, and Post
Tertiary deposits--that is to say, at a time subsequent to the appearance
of man. From other authors I have extracted an enumeration of species
which have become locally or entirely extinct within the historic period.

These instances will, I think, be sufficient to show that, as similar
destructive causes must have been in action during pre-historic times, it
is probable that, besides those remarkable animals of which remains have
been discovered, many others which then existed may have perished without
leaving any trace of their existence. There is, consequently, a
possibility that some at least of the so-called _myths_ respecting
extraordinary creatures, hitherto considered fabulous, may merely be
distorted accounts--_traditions_--of species as yet unrecognised by
Science, which have actually existed, and that not remotely, as man's

_Extinct Post Tertiary Mammalia._

THE MAMMOTH.--Among other remarkable forms whose remains have been
discovered in those later deposits, in which geologists are generally
agreed that remains of man or traces of his handicraft have also been
recognised, there is one which stands out prominently both for its
magnitude and extensive range in time and space. Although the animal
itself is now entirely extinct, delineations by the hand of Palæolithic
man have been preserved, and even frozen carcases, with the flesh
uncorrupted and fit for food, have been occasionally discovered.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.--THE MAMMOTH. (_After Jukes._)]

This is the mammoth, the _Elephas primigenius_ of Blumenbach, a gigantic
elephant nearly a third taller than the largest modern species, and twice
its weight. Its body was protected from the severity of the semi-arctic
conditions under which it flourished by a dense covering of reddish wool,
and long black hair, and its head was armed or ornamented with tusks
exceeding twelve feet in length, and curiously curved into three parts of
a circle. Its ivory has long been, and still is, a valuable article of
commerce, more especially in North-eastern Asia, and in Eschscholtz Bay in
North America, near Behring's straits, where entire skeletons are
occasionally discovered, and where even the nature of its food has been
ascertained from the undigested contents of its stomach.

There is a well-known case recorded of a specimen found (1799), frozen and
encased in ice, at the mouth of the Lena. It was sixteen feet long, and
the flesh was so well preserved that the Yakuts used it as food for their
dogs. But similar instances occurred previously, for we find the
illustrious savant and Emperor Kang Hi [A.D. 1662 to 1723] penning the
following note[42] upon what could only have been this species:--

"The cold is extreme, and nearly continuous on the coasts of the northern
sea beyond Tai-Tong-Kiang. It is on this coast that the animal called Fen
Chou is found, the form of which resembles that of a rat, but which equals
an elephant in size. It lives in obscure caverns, and flies from the
light. There is obtained from it an ivory as white as that of the
elephant, but easier to work, and which will not split. Its flesh is very
cold and excellent for refreshing the blood. The ancient work Chin-y-king
speaks of this animal in these terms: 'There is in the depths of the north
a rat which weighs as much as a thousand pounds; its flesh is very good
for those who are heated.' The Tsée-Chou calls it Tai-Chou and speaks of
another species which is not so large. It says that this is as big as a
buffalo, buries itself like a mole, flies the light, and remains nearly
always under ground; it is said that it would die if it saw the light of
the sun or even that of the moon."

[Illustration: FIG. 10.--TOOTH OF THE MAMMOTH. (_After Figuier._)]

It seems probable that discoveries of mammoth tusks formed in part the
basis for the story which Pliny tells in reference to fossil ivory. He
says[43]:--"These animals [elephants] are well aware that the only spoil
that we are anxious to procure of them is the part which forms their
weapon of defence, by Juba called their horns, but by Herodotus, a much
older writer, as well as by general usage, and more appropriately, their
teeth. Hence it is that, when these tusks have fallen off, either from
accident or old age, they bury them in the earth."

Nordenskjöld[44] states that the savages with whom he came in contact
frequently offered to him very fine mammoth tusks, and tools made of
mammoth ivory. He computes that since the conquest of Siberia, useful
tusks from more than twenty thousand animals have been collected.

Mr. Boyd Dawkins,[45] in a very exhaustive memoir on this animal, quotes
an interesting notice of its fossil ivory having been brought for sale to
Khiva. He derives[46] this account from an Arabian traveller,
Abou-el-Cassim, who lived in the middle of the tenth century.

Figuier[47] says: "New Siberia and the Isle of Lachon are for the most
part only an agglomeration of sand, of ice, and of elephants' teeth. At
every tempest the sea casts ashore new quantities of mammoth's tusks, and
the inhabitants of New Siberia carry on a profitable commerce in this
fossil ivory. Every year during the summer innumerable fishermen's barks
direct their course to this isle of bones, and during winter immense
caravans take the same route, all the convoys drawn by dogs, returning
charged with the tusks of the mammoth, weighing each from one hundred and
fifty to two hundred pounds. The fossil ivory thus withdrawn from the
frozen north is imported into China and Europe."

In addition to its elimination by the thawing of the frozen grounds of the
north, remains of the mammoth are procured from bogs, alluvial deposits,
and from the destruction of submarine beds.[48] They are also found in
cave deposits, associated with the remains of other mammals, and with
flint implements. This creature appears to have been an object of the
chase with Palæolithic man.

Mr. Dawkins, reviewing all the discoveries, considers that its range, at
various periods, extended over the whole of Northern Europe, and as far
south as Spain; over Northern Asia, and North America down to the Isthmus
of Darien. Dr. Falconer believes it to have had an elastic constitution,
which enabled it to adapt itself to great change of climate.

Murchison, De Verneuil, and Keyserling believed that this species, as well
as the woolly rhinoceros, belonged to the Tertiary fauna of Northern Asia,
though not appearing until the Quaternary period in Europe.

Mr. Dawkins shows it to have been pre-glacial, glacial, and post-glacial
in Britain and in Europe, and, from its relation to the intermediate
species _Elephas armeniacus_, accepts it as the ancestor of the existing
Indian elephant. Its disappearance was rapid, but not in the opinion of
most geologists cataclysmic, as suggested by Mr. Howorth.

Another widely distributed species was the _Rhinoceros tichorhinus_--the
smooth-skinned rhinoceros--also called the woolly rhinoceros and the
Siberian rhinoceros, which had two horns, and, like the mammoth, was
covered with woolly hair. It attained a great size; a specimen, the
carcase of which was found by Pallas imbedded in frozen soil near Wilui,
in Siberia (1772), was eleven and a half feet in length. Its horns are
considered by some of the native tribes of northern Asia to have been the
talons of gigantic birds; and Ermann and Middendorf suppose that their
discovery may have originated the accounts by Herodotus of the
gold-bearing griffons and the arimaspi.

Its food, ascertained by Von Brandt, and others, from portions remaining
in the hollows of its teeth, consisted of leaves and needles of trees
still existing in Siberia. The range of this species northwards was as
extensive as that of the mammoth, but its remains have not yet been
discovered south of the Alps and Pyrenees.

The investigation,[49] made by M. E. Lartet in 1860, of the contents of
the Grotto of Aurignac, in the department of the Haute Garonne, from which
numerous human skeletons had been previously removed in 1852, shows that
this animal was included among the species used as ordinary articles of
food, or as exceptional items at the funeral feasts of the Palæolithic
troglodytes. In the layers of charcoal and ashes immediately outside the
entrance to the grotto, and surrounding what is supposed to have been the
hearth, the bones of a young _Rhinoceros tichorhinus_ were found, which
had been split open for the extraction of the marrow. Numerous other
species had been dealt with in the same manner; and all these having
received this treatment, and showing marks of the action of fire, had
evidently been carried to the cave for banqueting purposes. The remains of
Herbivora associated with those of this rhinoceros, consisted of bones of
the mammoth, the horse (_Equus caballus_), stag (_Cervus elaphus_), elk
(_Megaceros hibernicus_), roebuck (_C. capreolus_), reindeer (_C.
tarandus_), auroch (_Bison europæus_). Among carnivora were found remains
of _Ursus spelæus_ (cave-bear), _Ursus arctos_? (brown bear), _Meles
taxus_ (badger), _Putorius vulgaris_ (polecat), _Hyæna spelæa_
(cave-hyæna), _Felis spelæa_ (cave-lion), _Felis catus ferus_ (wild cat),
_Canis lupus_ (wolf), _Canis vulpis_ (fox). Within the grotto were also
found remains of _Felis spelæa_ (cave-lion) and _Sus scrofa_ (pig). The
cave-bear, the fox, and indeed most of these, probably also formed
articles of diet, but the hyæna seems to have been a post attendant at the
feast, and to have rooted out and gnawed off the spongy parts of the
thrown-away bones after the departure of the company.

In the Pleistocene deposits at Würzburg, in Franconia, a human
finger-bone occurs with bones of this species, and also of other large
mammalia, such as the mammoth, cave-bear, and the like.

And flint implements, and pointed javelin-heads made of reindeer horn, are
found associated with it in the vicinity of the old hearths established by
Palæolithic man in the cave called the Trou du Sureau, on the river
Malignée in Belgium.

In the cavern of Goyet, also in Belgium, there are five bone layers,
alternating with six beds of alluvial deposits, showing that the cave had
been inhabited by different species at various periods. The lion was
succeeded by the cave-bear, and this by hyænas; then Palæolithic man
became a tenant and has left his bones there, together with flint
implements and remains of numerous species, including those already
enumerated as his contemporaries.

THE SABRE-TOOTHED TIGER OR LION.--This species, _Machairodus[50]
latifrons_ of Owen, was remarkable for having long sabre-shaped canines.
It belongs to an extinct genus, of which four other species are known,
characterised by the possession of serrated teeth. The genus is known to
be represented in the Auvergne beds between the Eocene and Miocene, in the
Miocene of Greece and India, in the Pliocene of South America and Europe,
and in the Pleistocene. Mr. Dawkins believes that this species survived to
post-glacial times. It is one of the numerous animals whose remains have
been found with traces of man and flint implements in cave deposits at
Kent's Hole, near Torquay, and elsewhere.

THE CAVE-BEAR, _Ursus spelæus_, of Rosenmüller.--The appearance of this
species has been preserved to us in the drawing by Palæolithic man found
in the cave of Massat (Arieze).

It occurs in the Cromer Forest Bed, a deposit referred by Mr. Boyd Dawkins
to the early part of the Glacial period, and generally regarded as
transitional between the Pliocene and Quaternary. It is also found in the
caves of Perigaud, which are considered to belong to the reindeer era of
M. Lartet or the opening part of the Recent period, and numerous
discoveries of its remains at dates intermediate to these have been made
in Britain and in Europe. Carl Vogt, indeed, is of opinion that this
species is the progenitor of our living brown bear, _Ursus arctos_, and
Mr. Boyd Dawkins also says that those "who have compared the French,
German, and British specimens, gradually realize the fact that the fossil
remains of the bears form a graduated series, in which all the variations
that at first sight appear specific vanish away."

It has been identified by Mr. Busk among the associated mammalian bones of
the Brixham cave. Its remains are very abundant in the bone deposit of the
Trou de Sureau in Belgium, and in the cavern of Goyet, which it tenanted
alternately with the lion and hyæna, and, like them, appears to have
preyed on man and the larger mammalia.

Mr. Prestwich has obtained it in low-level deposits of river gravels in
the valleys of the north of France and south of England, and it has been
obtained from the Löss, a loamy, usually unstratified deposit, which is
extensively distributed over central Europe, in the valleys of the Rhine,
Rhone, Danube, and other great rivers. This deposit is considered by Mr.
Prestwich to be equivalent to other high-level gravels of the Pleistocene

THE MASTODON.--The generic title Mastodon has been applied to a number of
species allied to the elephants, but distinguished from them by a peculiar
structure of the molar teeth; these are rectangular, and in their upper
surfaces exhibit a number of great conical tuberosities with rounded
points disposed in pairs, to the number of four or five, according to the
species; whereas in the elephants they are broad and uniform, and
regularly marked with furrows of large curvature. The mastodons, in
addition to large tusks in the premaxillæ, like those of the elephant, had
also in most instances, a pair of shorter ones in the mandible.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.--MASTODON'S TOOTH (WORN). (_After Figuier._)]

Cuvier established the name Mastodon,[51] or teat-like toothed animals,
for the gigantic species from America which Buffon had already described
under the name of the animal or elephant of the Ohio.

[Illustration: FIG. 12.--MASTODON'S TOOTH. (_After Figuier._)]

The form first appears in the Upper Miocene of Europe, five species being
known, two of them from Pikermi, near Athens, and one, _M. angustidens_,
from the Miocene beds of Malta. Mastodon remains have also been found in
the beds of the Sivalik hills, and four species of mastodon in all are
known to have ranged over India during those periods.

In Pliocene deposits we have abundant remains of _M. arvernensis_, and _M.
longirostris_ from the Val d'Arno in Italy, and the _M. Borsoni_ from
central France.

The _M. arvernensis_ may be considered as a characteristic Pliocene
species in Italy, France, and Europe generally. In Britain it occurs in
the Norwich Crag and the Red Crag of Suffolk.

Species of mastodon occur in the Pliocene of La Plata, and of the
temperate regions of South America; on the Pampas, and in the Andes of

The _Mastodon mirificus_ of Leidy is the earliest known species in
America; this occurs in Pliocene deposits on the Niobrara and the Loup
fork, west of the Mississippi.

The remains of the _Mastodon americanus_ of Cuvier occur abundantly in the
Post Pliocene deposits throughout the United States, but more especially
in the northern half; they are also found in Canada and Nova Scotia.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.--THE MASTODON.]

Perfect skeletons are occasionally procured from marshes, where the
animals had become mired. In life this species appears to have measured
from twelve to thirteen feet in height and twenty-four to twenty-five
feet in length, including seven feet for the tusks. Undigested food found
with its remains show that it lived partly on spruce and fir-trees. A
distinct species characterised the Quaternary deposits of South America.

THE IRISH ELK.--The species (_Megaceros hibernicus_), commonly but
erroneously called the Irish Elk, was, as professor Owen[52] has pointed
out, a true deer, whose place is between the fallow and reindeer.

Though now extinct, it survived the Palæolithic period, and may possibly
have existed down to historic times. Mr. Gosse adduces some very strong
testimony on this point, and is of opinion that its extinction cannot have
taken place more than a thousand years ago.

It had a flattened and expanded form of antler, with peculiarities unknown
among existing deer, and was, in comparison with these, of gigantic size;
the height to the summit of the antlers being from ten to eleven feet in
the largest individuals, and the span of the antlers, in one case, over
twelve feet.

Although its remains have been found most abundantly in Ireland, it was
widely distributed over Britain and middle Europe. It has been found in
peat swamps, lacustrine marls, bone caverns, fen deposits, and the Cornish
gravels. It has been obtained from the cavern of Goyet in Belgium, and
from the burial-place at Aurignac, in the department of the Haute Garonne.
Its known range in time is from the early part of the Glacial period down
to, possibly, historic periods.

The CAVE-HYÆNA.--_Hyæna spelæa_ of Goldfuss--is, like the cave-bear,
characteristic of Europe during the Palæolithic age. It has been found in
numerous caves in Britain, such as Kent's Hole, the Brixham cave, and one
near Wells in Somersetshire, explored by Dawkins in 1859; in all of these
the remains are associated with those of man, or with his implements. This
species is closely related to the _H. crocuta_ of Zimm, at present
existing in South Africa, and is by some geologists considered identical
with it. It is, however, larger.

It appears to have to some extent replaced the cave-bear in Britain; we
are also, doubtless, greatly indebted to it for some of the extensive
collections of bones in caverns, resulting from the carcases which it had
dragged thither, and imperfectly destroyed.

In a cave at Kirkdale, in the vale of Pickering, the bones of about three
hundred individuals--hyænas--were found mingled with the remains of the
mammoth, bear, rhinoceros, deer, cave-lion, brown bear, horse, hare, and
other species. Mr. Dawkins,[53] in describing it, says: "The pack of
hyænas fell upon reindeer in the winter, and at other times on horses and
bisons, and were able to master the hippopotamus, the lion, the
slender-nosed rhinoceros, or the straight-tusked elephant, and to carry
their bones to their den, where they were found by Dr. Buckland. The
hyænas also inhabiting the 'Dukeries,' dragged back to their dens
fragments of lion."

Notable Quaternary forms (now extinct) on the American continent are the
gigantic sloth-like animals _Megatherium_, which reached eighteen feet in
length, and _Mylodon_, one species of which (_M. robustus_) was eleven
feet in length; Armadillos, such as _Glyptodon_, with a total length of
nine feet; _Chlamydotherium_, as big as a rhinoceros; and _Pachytherium_,
equalling an ox.

In Australia we find marsupial forms as at the present day; but they were
gigantic in comparison with the latter. As for example, the _Diprotodon_,
which equalled in size a hippopotamus, and the _Nototherium_, as large as
a bullock.

I may mention a few other species, the remains of which are associated
with some of those commented on in the last few pages; but which, as they
have undoubtedly continued in existence down to the present period, are
external to the present portion of my argument, and are either treated of
elsewhere, or need only to be referred to in a few words.

[Illustration: FIG. 14.--MYLODON ROBUSTUS. (_After Figuier._)]

It must also be borne in mind that the linking together of species by the
discovery of intermediate graduated forms, is daily proceeding; so that
some even of those spoken of in greater detail may shortly be generally
recognised, as at present they are held by a few, to be identical with
existing forms.

The HIPPOPOTAMUS.--The _Hippopotamus major_, now considered identical with
the larger of the two African species--_H. amphibia_, has been found
associated with _E. antiquus_ and _R. hemitæchus_ of Falc in Durdham Down
and Kirkdale caves, and in those at Kent's Hole and Ravenscliff. It has
also been found in river gravels at Grays, Ilford, and elsewhere, in the
lower part of the river-border deposits of Amiens with flint implements,
and in Quaternary deposits on the continent of Europe.

THE CAVE-LION--_Felis spelæa_--is now considered to be merely a variety of
the African lion (_Felis leo_), although of larger size; it had a very
wide range over Britain and Europe during the Post Pliocene period, as
also did the leopard (_F. pardus_) and probably the lynx (_Lyncus_).

The REINDEER or CARIBOO--_Cervus tarandus_--which still exists, both
domesticated and wild, in northern Europe and America, is adapted for
northern latitudes. It formerly extended over Europe, and in the British
Isles probably survived in the north of Scotland until the twelfth

Its remains have been found in Pleistocene deposits in numerous
localities, but most abundantly in those which M. Lartet has assigned to
the period which he calls the Reindeer age.

Other Pleistocene mammals still existing, but whose range is much
restricted, are the musk ox (_Ovibos moschatus_), familiar to us, from the
accounts of arctic expeditions, as occurring in the circumpolar regions of
North America; the glutton (_Gulo luscus_), the auroch (_Bison europæus_),
the wild horse (_E. fossilis_), the arctic fox (_Canis lagopus_), the
bison (_Bison priscus_), the elk or moose (_Alces malchis_), found in
Norway and North America, the lemming, the lagomys or tail-less hare, &c.

As examples of total extinction in late years, we may mention the dodo,
the solitaire, and species allied to them, in the islands of Mauritius,
Bourbon, and Reunion; the moa in New Zealand; the _Æpiornis_ in
Madagascar; the great auk, _Alca impennis_, in northern seas, and the
_Rhytina Stelleri_, common once in the latitude of Behring's Straits, and
described by Steller in 1742.

[Illustration: FIG. 15.--SKELETON OF RHYTINA STELLERI. (_From "The Voyage
of the 'Vega.'"_)]

The Dodo, a native of the island of Mauritius, was about 50 lbs. in
weight, and covered with loose downy plumage, it was unable to rise from
the ground in consequence of the imperfect development of its wings; it
was minutely described by Sir Thomas Herbert in 1634, and specimens of the
living bird and of its skin were brought to Europe. Its unwieldiness led
to its speedy destruction by the early voyagers.

[Illustration: FIG. 16.--RHYTINA STELLERI. (_From "The Voyage of the

The Solitaire was confined to the island of Mascaregue or Bourbon. It is
fully described by Francis Leguat, who, having fled from France into
Holland in 1689, to escape religious persecution consequent on the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes, engaged under the Marquis de Quesne in
an expedition for the purpose of settlement on that island. This bird also
speedily became extinct.

The Moa (_Dinornis giganteus_, Owen) reached from twelve to fourteen feet
in height, and survived for a long period after the migration of the
Maories to New Zealand. Bones of it have been found along with charred
wood, showing that it had been killed and eaten by the natives; and its
memory is preserved in many of their traditions, which also record the
existence of a much larger bird, a species of eagle or hawk, which used to
prey upon it.[54]

Rapidly approaching total extinction are the several species of _Apteryx_
in the same country--remarkable birds with merely rudimentary wings: as
also the _Notornis_, a large Rail--at first, and for a long time, only
known in the fossil state, but of which a living specimen was secured by
Mr. Walter Mantell in 1849: and the _Kapapo_ (_Strigops habroptilus_) of
G. R. Gray--a strange owl-faced nocturnal ground-parrot.

The _Æpyornis maximus_ was almost as large as the Moa; of this numerous
fossil bones and a few eggs have been discovered, but there are not, I
believe, any traditions extant among the natives of Madagascar of its
having survived to a late period.

The Great Auk (_Alca impennis_) is now believed to be extinct. It formerly
occurred in the British Isles, but more abundantly in high latitudes; and
its remains occur in great numbers on the shores of Iceland, Greenland,
and Denmark, as also of Labrador and Newfoundland.

[Illustration: FIG. 17.--RHYTINA STELLERI. (_After J. Fr. Brandt._)]

Steller's Sea-cow (_Rhytina Stelleri_ of Cuvier) was a mammal allied to
the Manatees and Dugongs; it was discovered by Behring in 1768 on a small
island lying off the Kamtchatkan coast. It measured as much as from
twenty-eight to thirty-five feet in length, and was soon nearly
exterminated by Behring's party and other voyagers who visited the island.
The last one of which there is any record was killed in 1854.[55]

To the above may be added the _Didunculus_, a species of ground-pigeon
peculiar to the Samoa Islands, and the _Nestor productus_, a parrot of
Norfolk Island. An extended list might be prepared, from fossil evidences,
of other species which were at one time associated with those I have

[Illustration: FIG. 18.--RHYTINA STELLERI. (_From "The Voyage of the

In conclusion, I may point out that that excellent naturalist Pliny[56]
records the disappearance, in his days, of certain species formerly known.
He mentions the Incendiary, the Clivia, and the Subis (species of birds),
and states that there were many other birds mentioned in the Etruscan
ritual, which were no longer to be found in his time. He also says that
there had been a bird in Sardinia resembling the crane, and called the
Gromphæna, which was no longer known even by the people of the country.

_Local Extinction._

Of local extinction we may note in our own island the cases of the beaver,
the bear, the wolf, the wild cattle, the elk, the wild boar, the bustard,
and the capercailzie; of these the beaver survived in Wales and Scotland
until the time of Giraldus Cambrensis in 1188, and Pennant notes
indications of its former existence in the names of several streams and
lakes in Wales. It was not uncommon throughout the greater part of Europe
down to the Middle Ages.

The bear, still common in Norway and the Pyrenees, is alluded to, as Mr.
Gosse points out, in the Welsh Triads,[57] which are supposed to have been
compiled in the seventh century. They say that "the Kymri, a Celtic tribe,
first inhabited Britain; before them were no men here, but only bears,
wolves, beavers, and oxen with high prominences." Mr. Gosse adds, "The
Roman poets knew of its existence here. Martial speaks of the robber
Laureolis being exposed on the cross to the fangs of the Caledonian bear;
and Claudian alludes to British bears. The Emperor Claudius, on his return
to Rome after the conquest of this island, exhibited, as trophies, combats
of British bears in the Arena. In the Penitential of Archbishop Egbert,
said to have been compiled about A.D. 750, bears are mentioned as
inhabiting the English forests, and the city of Norwich is said to have
been required to furnish a bear annually to Edward the Confessor, together
with six dogs, no doubt for baiting him."

The wolf, though greatly reduced in numbers during the Heptarchy, when
Edgar laid an annual tribute of three hundred wolf-skins upon the Welsh,
still occurred in formidable numbers in England in 1281, and not
unfrequently until the reign of Henry VII. The last wolf was killed in
Scotland in the year 1743, and in Ireland in 1770.[58]

The wild cattle are now only represented by the small herds in Chartley
Castle, Chillingham, and Cadgow parks; the spare survivors probably of the
species referred to by Herodotus when he speaks of "large ferocious and
fleet white bulls" which abounded in the country south of Thrace, and
continued in Poland, Lithuania, and Muscovy until the fifteenth century,
or perhaps of the Urus described by Cæsar as little inferior to the
elephant in size, and inhabiting the Hercynian forest, and believed to be
identical with the _Bos primigenius_ found in a fossil state in Britain.

The wild boar was once abundant in Scotland and England. The family of
Baird derives its heraldic crest from a grant of David I. of Scotland, in
recognition of his being saved from an infuriated boar which had turned on
him. In England only nobles and gentry were allowed to hunt it, and the
slaughter of one by an unauthorized person within the demesnes of William
the Conqueror was punished by the loss of both eyes.[59]

The bustard, once abundant, is now extinct in Britain, so far as the
indigenous race is concerned. Occasionally a chance visitant from the
continent is seen; but there, also, its numbers have been greatly
diminished. It was common in Buffon's time in the plains of Poitou and
Champagne, though now extremely rare, and is still common in Eastern Asia.

The capercailzie, or cock of the woods, after complete extinction, has
been reintroduced from Norway, and, under protection, is moderately
abundant in parts of Scotland.

In America, the process of extermination marches with the settlement of
the various states. W. J. J. Allen records the absolute disappearance of
the walrus from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and of the moose, the elk, and
the Virginian deer, from many of the states in which they formerly
abounded. This also is true, to some extent, of the bear, the beaver, the
grey wolf, the panther, and the lynx.

The buffalo (_Bos americanus_) is being destroyed at the rate of two
hundred and fifty thousand annually, and it is estimated that the number
slain by hunters for their hides during the last forty years amounts to
four millions. It has disappeared in the eastern part of the continent
from many extensive tracts which it formerly inhabited.

Among the ocean whales, both the right and the sperm have only been
preserved from extinction by the fortunate discovery of petroleum, which
has reduced the value of their oil, and thus lessened considerably the
number of vessels equipped for the whale fishery.

In South Africa, elephants and all other large game are being steadily
exterminated within the several colonies.

In Australia, we find that the seals which thronged the islands of Bass's
Straits in countless thousands, at the period when Bass made his
explorations there, have utterly disappeared. The bulk of them were
destroyed by seal-hunters from Sydney within a few years after his
discovery. The lamentable records of the _Sydney Gazette_ of that period
show this, for they detail the return to port, after a short cruise, of
schooners laden with from twelve to sixteen thousand skins each. The
result of this has been that for many years past the number of seals has
been limited to a few individuals, to be found on one or two isolated
rocks off Clarke's Island, and on Hogan's group.

The great sea-elephant, which, in Peron's time, still migrated for
breeding purposes from antarctic regions to the shores of King's Island,
where it is described by him as lining the long sandy beaches by hundreds,
has been almost unseen there since the date of his visit, and its memory
is only preserved in the names of Sea-Elephant Bay, Elephant Rock, &c.
which are still inscribed on our charts.

The introduction of the Dingo, by the Australian blacks in their southward
migration, is supposed to have caused the extinction of the Thylacinus
(_T. cynocephalus_), or striped Australian wolf, on the main land of
Australia, where it was once abundant; it is now only to be found in the
remote portions of the island of Tasmania. This destruction of one species
by another is paralleled in our own country by the approaching extinction
of the indigenous and now very rare black rat, which has been almost
entirely displaced by the fierce grey rat from Norway.

We learn from incidental passages in the _Bamboo Books_[60] that the
rhinoceros, which is now unknown in China, formerly extended throughout
that country. We read of King Ch'aou, named Hĕa (B.C. 980), that "in his
sixteenth year [of reign] the king attacked Ts'oo, and in crossing the
river Han met with a large rhinoceros." And, again, of King E, named Sëĕ
(B.C. 860), that "in his sixth year, when hunting in the forest of Shay,
he captured a rhinoceros and carried it home." There is also mention
made--though this is less conclusive--that in the time of King Yiu, named
Yeu (B.C. 313), the King of Yueh sent Kung-sze Yu with a present of three
hundred boats, five million arrows, together with rhinoceros' horns and
elephants' teeth.

Elephants are now unknown in China except in a domesticated state, but
they probably disputed its thick forest and jungly plains with the
Miaotsz, Lolos, and other tribes which held the country before its present
occupants. This may be inferred from the incidental references to them in
the _Shan Hai King_, a work reputed to be of great antiquity, of which
more mention will be made hereafter, and from evidence contained in other
ancient Chinese works which has been summarized by Mr. Kingsmill[61] as

"The rhinoceros and elephant certainly lived in Honan B.C. 600. The
_Tso-chuen_, commenting on the C‘hun T‘siu of the second year of the Duke
Siuen (B.C. 605), describes the former as being in sufficient abundance to
supply skins for armour. The want, according to the popular saying, was
not of rhinoceroses to supply skins, but of courage to animate the
wearers. From the same authority (Duke Hi XIII., B.C. 636) we learn that
while T‘soo (Hukwang) produced ivory and rhinoceros' skins in abundance,
Tsin, lying north of the Yellow River, on the most elevated part of the
Loess, was dependent on the other for its supplies of those commodities.
The _Tribute of Yu_ tells the same tale. Yang-chow and King (Kiangpeh and
Hukwang), we are told, sent tribute of ivory and rhinoceros' hide, while
Liang (Shensi) sent the skins of foxes and bears. Going back to mythical
times, we find Mencius (III. ii. 9) telling how Chow Kung expelled from Lu
(Shantung) the elephants and rhinoceroses, the tigers and leopards."

Mr. Kingsmill even suggests that the species referred to were the mammoth
and the Siberian rhinoceros (_R. tichorhinus_).

M. Chabas[62] publishes an Egyptian inscription showing that the elephant
existed in a feral state in the Euphrates Valley in the time of Thothmes
III. (16th century B.C.). The inscription records a great hunting of
elephants in the neighbourhood of Nineveh.

Tigers still abound in Manchuria and Corea, their skins forming a regular
article of commerce in Vladivostock, Newchwang, and Seoul. They are said
to attain larger dimensions in these northern latitudes than their
southern congener, the better-known Bengal tiger. They are generally
extinct in China Proper; but Père David states that he has seen them in
the neighbourhood of Pekin, in Mongolia, and at Moupin, and they are
reported to have been seen near Amoy. Within the last few years[63] a
large specimen was killed by Chinese soldiery within a few miles of the
city of Ningpo; and it is probable that at no distant date they ranged
over the whole country from Hindostan to Eastern Siberia, as they are
incidentally referred to in various Chinese works--the _Urh Yah_ specially
recording the capture of a white tiger in the time of the Emperor Süen of
the Han dynasty, and of a black one, in the fourth year of the reign of
Yung Kia, in a netted surround in Kien Ping Fu in the district of Tsz

The tailed deer or Mi-lu (_Cervus Davidianus_ of Milne Edwardes), which
Chinese literature[64] indicates as having once been of common occurrence
throughout China, is now only to be found in the Imperial hunting grounds
south of Peking, where it is restricted to an enclosure of fifty miles in
circumference. It is believed to exist no longer in a wild state, as no
trace of it has been found in any of the recent explorations of Asia. The
_Ch‘un ts‘iu_ (B.C. 676) states that this species appeared in the winter
of that year, in such numbers that it was chronicled in the records of Lu
(Shantung), and that in the following autumn it was followed by an inroad
of "Yih," which Mr. Kingsmill believes to be the wolf.

There also appears reason to suppose that the ostrich had a much more
extended range than at present; for we find references in the
_Shi-Ki_,[65] or book of history of Szema Tsien, to "large birds with eggs
as big as water-jars" as inhabiting T‘iaou-chi, identified by Mr.
Kingsmill as Sarangia or Drangia; and, in speaking of Parthia, it says,
"On the return of the mission he sent envoys with it that they might see
the extent and power of China. He sent with them, as presents to the
Emperor, eggs of the great bird of the country, and a curiously deformed
man from Samarkand."

The gigantic Chelonians which once abounded in India and the Indian seas
are now entirely extinct; but we have had little difficulty in believing
the accounts of their actual and late existence contained in the works of
Pliny and Ælian since the discovery of the Colossochelys, described by Dr.
Falconer, in the Upper Miocene deposits of the Siwalik Hills in
North-Western India. The shell of _Colossochelys Atlas_ (Falconer and
Cautley) measured twelve feet, and the whole animal nearly twenty.

Pliny,[66] who published his work on Natural History about A.D. 77, states
that the turtles of the Indian Sea are of such vast size that a single
shell is sufficient to roof a habitable cottage, and that among the
islands of the Red Sea the navigation is mostly carried on in boats formed
from this shell.

Ælian,[67] about the middle of the third century of our era, is more
specific in his statement, and says that the Indian river-tortoise is very
large, and in size not less than a boat of fair magnitude; also, in
speaking of the Great Sea, in which is Taprobana (Ceylon), he says: "There
are very large tortoises generated in this sea, the shell of which is
large enough to make an entire roof; for a single one reaches the length
of fifteen cubits, so that not a few people are able to live beneath it,
and certainly secure themselves from the vehement rays of the sun; they
make a broad shade, and so resist rain that they are preferable for this
purpose to tiles, nor does the rain beating against them sound otherwise
than if it were falling on tiles. Nor, indeed, do those who inhabit them
have any necessity for repairing them, as in the case of broken tiles, for
the whole roof is made out of a solid shell so that it has the appearance
of a cavernous or undermined rock, and of a natural roof."

El Edrisi, in his great geographical work,[68] completed A.D. 1154, speaks
of them as existing down to his day, but as his book is admitted to be a
compilation from all preceding geographical works, he may have been simply
quoting, without special acknowledgment, the statements given above. He
says, speaking of the Sea of Herkend (the Indian Ocean west of Ceylon),
"It contains turtles twenty cubits long, containing within them as many as
one thousand eggs." Large tortoises formerly inhabited the Mascarene
islands, but have been destroyed on all of them, with the exception of the
small uninhabited Aldabra islands, north of the Seychelle group; and those
formerly abundant on the Galapagos islands are now represented by only a
few survivors, and the species rapidly approaches extinction.

I shall close this chapter with a reference to a creature which, if it may
not be entitled to be called "the dragon," may at least be considered as
first cousin to it. This is a lacertilian of large size, at least twenty
feet in length, panoplied with the most horrifying armour, which roamed
over the Australian continent during Pleistocene times, and probably until
the introduction of the aborigines.

Its remains have been described by Professor Owen in several
communications to the Royal Society,[69] under the name of _Megalania
prisca_. They were procured by Mr. G. F. Bennett from the drift-beds of
King's Creek, a tributary of the Condamine River in Australia. It was
associated with correspondingly large marsupial mammals, now also extinct.

From the portions transmitted to him Professor Owen determined that it
presented in some respects a magnified resemblance of the miniature
existing lizard, _Moloch horridus_, found in Western Australia,[70] of
which Dr. Gray remarks, "The external appearance of this lizard is the
most ferocious of any that I know." In Megalania the head was rendered
horrible and menacing by horns projecting from its sides, and from the tip
of the nose, which would be "as available against the attacks of
Thylacoleo as the buffalo's horns are against those of the South African
lion." The tail consisted of a series of annular segments armed with horny
spikes, represented by the less perfectly developed ones in the existing
species _Uromastix princeps_ from Zanzibar, or in the above-mentioned
moloch. In regard to these the Professor says, "That the horny sheaths of
the above-described supports or cores arming the end of the tail may have
been applied to deliver blows upon an assailant, seems not improbable, and
this part of the organization of the great extinct Australian dragon may
be regarded, with the cranial horn, as parts of both an offensive and
defensive apparatus."

The gavial of the Ganges is reported to be a fish-eater only, and is
considered harmless to man. The Indian museums, however, have large
specimens, which are said to have been captured after they had destroyed
several human beings; and so we may imagine that this structurally
herbivorous lizard (the Megalania having a horny edentate upper jaw) may
have occasionally varied his diet, and have proved an importunate
neighbour to aboriginal encampments in which toothsome children abounded,
and that it may, in fact, have been one of the sources from which the myth
of the Bunyip, of which I shall speak hereafter, has been derived.



I do not propose to bestow any large amount of space upon the enumeration
of the palæontological evidence of the antiquity of man. The works of the
various eminent authors who have devoted themselves to the special
consideration of this subject exhaust all that can be said upon it with
our present data, and to these I must refer the reader who is desirous of
acquainting himself critically with its details, confining myself to a few
general statements based on these labours.

In the early days of geological science when observers were few, great
groups of strata were arranged under an artificial classification, which,
while it has lost to a certain extent the specific value which it then
assumed to possess, is still retained for purposes of convenient
reference. Masters of the science acquired, so to say, a possessive
interest in certain regions of it, and the names of Sedgwick, Murchison,
Jukes, Phillips, Lyell, and others became, and will remain, inseparably
associated with the history of those great divisions of the materials of
the earth's crust, which, under the names of the Cambrian, Silurian,
Devonian, Carboniferous, and Tertiary formations, have become familiar to

In those days, when observations were limited to a comparatively small
area, the lines separating most of these formations were supposed to be
hard and definite; forms of life which characterized one, were presumed to
have become entirely extinct before the inauguration of those which
succeeded them, and breaks in the stratigraphical succession appeared to
justify the opinion, held by a large and influential section, that great
cataclysms or catastrophes had marked the time when one age or formation
terminated and another commenced to succeed it.

By degrees, and with the increase of observers, both in England and in
every portion of the world, modifications of these views obtained; passage
beds were discovered, connecting by insensible gradations formations which
had hitherto been supposed to present the most abrupt separations;
transitional forms of life connecting them were unearthed; and an opinion
was advanced, and steadily confirmed, which at the present day it is
probable no one would be found to dispute, that not all in one place or
country, but discoverable in some part or other of the world, a perfect
sequence exists, from the very earliest formations of which we have any
cognizance, up to the alluvial and marine deposits in process of formation
at the present day.[71]

Correlatively it was deduced that the same phenomena of nature have been
in action since the earliest period when organic existence can be
affirmed. The gradual degradation of pre-existing continents by normal
destructive agencies, the upheaval and subsidence of large areas, the
effusion from volcanic vents, into the air or sea, of ashes and lavas, the
action of frost and ice, of heat, rain, and sunshine--all these have acted
in the past as they are still acting before our eyes.

In earlier days, arguing from limited data, a progressive creation was
claimed which confined the appearance of the higher form of vertebrate
life to a successive and widely-stepped gradation.

Hugh Miller, and other able thinkers, noted with satisfaction the
appearance, first of fish, then of reptiles, next of birds and mammals,
and finally, as the crowning work of all, both geologically and actually,
quite recently of man.

This wonderful confirmation of the Biblical history of creation appealed
so gratefully to many, that it caused for a time a disposition to cramp
discovery, and even to warp the facts of science, in order to make them
harmonize with the statements of Revelation. The alleged proofs of the
existence of pre-historic man were for a long time jealously disputed, and
it was only by slow degrees that they were admitted, that the tenets of
the Darwinian school gained ground, and that the full meaning was
appreciated of such anomalies as the existence at the present day of
Ganoid fishes both in America and Europe, of true Palæozoic type, or of
Oolitic forms on the Australian continent and in the adjacent seas.

But step by step marvellous palæontological discoveries were made, and the
pillars which mark the advent of each great form of life have had to be
set back, until now no one would, I think, be entirely safe in affirming
that even in the Cambrian, the oldest of all fossiliferous formations,
vestiges of mammals, that is to say, of the highest forms of life, may
not at a future day be found, or that the records contained between the
Cambrian and the present day, may not in fact be but a few pages as
compared with the whole volume of the world's history.[72]

It is with the later of these records that we have to deal, in which
discoveries have been made sufficiently progressive to justify the
expectation that they have by no means reached their limit, and
sufficiently ample in themselves to open the widest fields for philosophic
speculation and deduction.

Before stating these, it may be premised that estimates have been
attempted by various geologists of the collective age of the different
groups of formations.[73] These are based on reasonings which for the most
part it is unnecessary to give in detail, in so much as these can scarcely
yet be considered to have passed the bounds of speculation, and very
different results can be arrived at by theorists according to the relative
importance which they attach to the data employed in the calculation.

Thus Mr. T. Mellard Reade, in a paper communicated to the Royal Society in
1878, concludes that the formation of the sedimentary strata must have
occupied at least six hundred million years: which he divides in round
numbers as follows:--

                                              Millions of Years.
  Laurentian, Cambrian, and Silurian                 200
  Old Red, Carboniferous, Permian, and New Red       200
  Jurassic, Wealden, Cretaceous, Eocene, Miocene,
    Pliocene, and Post Pliocene                      200

He estimates the average thickness of the sedimentary crust of the earth
to be at least one mile, and from a computation of the proportion of
carbonate and sulphate of lime to materials held in suspension in various
river-waters from a variety of formations, infers that one-tenth of this
crust is calcareous.

He estimates the annual flow of water in all the great river-basins, the
proportion of rain-water running off the granitic and trappean rocks, the
percentage of lime in solution which they carry down, and arrives at the
conclusion that the minimum time requisite for the elimination of the
calcareous matter contained in the sedimentary crust of the earth, is at
least six hundred millions of years.

A writer in the _Gentleman's Magazine_[74] (Professor Huxley?), whose
article I am only able to quote at second-hand, makes an estimate which,
though much lower than the above, is still of enormous magnitude, as

                                   Feet.       Years.
  Laurentian                      30,000     30,000,000
  Cambrian                        25,000     25,000,000
  Silurian                         6,000      6,000,000
  Old Red and Devonian            10,000     10,000,000
  Carboniferous                   12,000     12,000,000
  Secondary                       10,000     10,000,000
  Tertiary and Post Tertiary       1,000      1,000,000
  Gaps and unrepresented strata    6,000      6,000,000
                                     Total  100,000,000

Mr. Darwin, arguing upon Sir W. Thompson's estimate of a minimum of
ninety-eight and maximum of two hundred millions of years since the
consolidation of the crust, and on Mr. Croll's estimate of sixty millions,
as the time elapsed since the Cambrian period, considers that the latter
is quite insufficient to permit of the many and great mutations of life
which have certainly occurred since then. He judges from the small amount
of organic change since the commencement of the glacial epoch, and adds
that the previous one hundred and forty million years can hardly be
considered as sufficient for the development of the varied forms of life
which certainly existed towards the close of the Cambrian period.

On the other hand, Mr. Croll considers that it is utterly impossible that
the existing order of things, as regards our globe, can date so far back
as anything like five hundred millions of years, and, starting with
referring the commencement of the Glacial epoch to two hundred and fifty
thousand years ago, allows fifteen millions since the beginning of the
Eocene period, and sixty millions of years in all since the beginning of
the Cambrian period. He bases his arguments on the limit to the age of the
sun's heat as detailed by Sir William Thompson.

Sir Charles Lyell and Professor Haughton respectively estimated the
expiration of time from the commencement of the Cambrian at two hundred
and forty and two hundred millions of years, basing their calculations on
the rate of modification of the species of mollusca, in the one case, and
on the rate of formation of rocks and their maximum thickness, in the

This, moreover, is irrespective of the vast periods during which life must
have existed, which on the development theory necessarily preceded the
Cambrian, and, according to Mr. Darwin, should not be less than in the
proportion of five to two.

In fine, one school of geologists and zoologists demand the maximum
periods quoted above, to account for the amount of sedimentary deposit,
and the specific developments which have occurred; the other considers the
periods claimed as requisite for these actions to be unnecessary, and to
be in excess of the limits which, according to their views, the physical
elements of the case permit.

Mr. Wallace, in reviewing the question, dwells on the probability of the
rate of geological changes having been greater in very remote times than
it is at present, and thus opens a way to the reconciliation of the
opposing views so far as one half the question is concerned.

Having thus adverted to the principles upon which various theorists have
in part based their attacks on the problem of the estimation of the
duration of geological ages, I may now make a few more detailed
observations upon those later periods during which man is, now, generally
admitted to have existed, and refer lightly to the earlier times which
some, but not all, geologists consider to have furnished evidences of his

I omit discussing the doubtful assertions of the extreme antiquity of man,
which come to us from American observers, such as are based on supposed
footprints in rocks of secondary age, figured in a semi-scientific and
exceedingly valuable popular journal. There are other theories which I
omit, both because they need further confirmation by scientific
investigators, and because they deal with periods so remote as to be
totally devoid of significance for the argument of this work.

Nor, up to the present time, are the evidences of the existence of man
during Miocene and Pliocene times admitted as conclusive. Professor
Capellini has discovered, in deposits recognised by Italian geologists as
of Pliocene age, cetacean bones, which are marked with incisions such as
only a sharp instrument could have produced, and which, in his opinion,
must be ascribed to human agency. To this view it is objected that the
incisions might have been made by the teeth of fishes, and further
evidence is waited for.

Not a few discoveries have been made, apparently extending the existence
of man to a much more remote antiquity, that of Miocene times. M. l'Abbé
Bourgeois has collected, from undoubted Miocene strata at Thenay, supposed
flint implements which he conceives to exhibit evidences of having been
fashioned by man, as well as stones showing in some cases traces of the
action of fire, and which he supposes to have been used as pot-boilers. M.
Carlos Ribeiro has made similar discoveries of worked flints and
quartzites in the Pliocene and Miocene of the Tagus; worked flint has been
found in the Miocene of Aurillac (Auvergne) by M. Tardy, and a cut rib of
_Halitherium fossile_, a Miocene species, by M. Delaunay at Pouancé.

Very divided opinions are entertained as to the interpretation of the
supposed implements discovered by M. l'Abbé Bourgeois. M. Quatrefages,
after a period of doubt, has espoused the view of their being of human
origin, and of Miocene age. "Since then," he says, "fresh specimens
discovered have removed my last doubts. A small knife or scraper, among
others, which shows a fine regular finish, can, in my opinion, only have
been shaped by man. Nevertheless, I do not blame those of my colleagues
who deny or still doubt. In such a matter there is no very great urgency,
and, doubtless, the existence of Miocene man will be proved, as that of
Glacial and Pliocene has been, by facts." Mr. Geikie, from whose
work--_Prehistoric Europe_--I have summarized the above statements, says,
in reference to this question: "There is unquestionably much force in what
M. Quatrefages says; nevertheless, most geologists will agree with him
that the question of man's Miocene age still remains to be demonstrated by
unequivocal evidence. At present, all that we can safely say is, that man
was probably living in Europe near the close of the Pliocene period, and
that he was certainly an occupant of our continent during glacial and
interglacial times."

Professor Marsh considers that the evidence, as it stands to-day, although
not conclusive, "seems to place the first appearance of man [in America]
in the Pliocene, and that the best proofs of this are to be found on the
Pacific coast." He adds: "During several visits to that region many facts
were brought to my knowledge which render this more than probable. Man, at
this time, was a savage, and was doubtless forced by the great volcanic
outbreaks to continue his migration. This was at first to the south, since
mountain chains were barriers on the east," and "he doubtless first came
across Behring's Straits."

I have hitherto assumed a certain acquaintance, upon the part of the
general reader, with the terms Eocene, Miocene, and Pliocene, happily
invented by Sir Charles Lyell to designate three of the four great
divisions of the Tertiary age. These, from their universal acceptation and
constant use, have "become familiar in our mouths as household words." But
it will be well, before further elaborating points in the history of these
groups, bearing upon our argument, to take into consideration their
subdivisions, and the equivalent or contemporary deposits composing them
in various countries. This can be most conveniently done by displaying
these, in descending order, in a tabular form, which I accordingly annex
below. This is the more desirable as there are few departments in
geological science which have received more attention than this; or in
which greater returns, in the shape of important and interesting
discoveries relative to man's existence, have been made.

Comparatively recent--comparatively, that is to say, with regard to the
vast æons that preceded them, but extending back over enormous spaces of
time when contrasted with the limited duration of written history,--they
embrace the period during which the mainly existing distribution of land
and ocean has obtained, and the present forms of life have appeared by
evolution from preceding species, or, as some few still maintain, by
separate and special creation.


  |            |          |
  |            |          |           1. Recent        }
  |            |          |                            }
  |            |Man's     |           2. Post Glacial  }
  |            |range     |Man's                       }  Post  }
  |Man's       |according |range,     3. Pleistocene or}Tertiary}
  |range,      |to        |generally     Quaternary    }        }
  |according   |Capellini,|admitted     (including     }        }
  |to l'Abbé   |Marsh,    |              Glacial       }        }
  |Bourgeois,  |and       |              formation)    }        }
  |Quatrefages,|others.   |                                     }
  |and         |                      4. Newer Pliocene}        }
  |others.     |                                       }Pliocene}Tertiary
  |            +--------------------- 5. Older Pliocene}        }or
  |                                                             }Cainozoic
  |                                   6. Upper Miocene }        }
  |                                                    }Miocene }
  +---------------------------------- 7. Lower Miocene }        }
                                      8. Upper Eocene  }        }
                                                       }        }
                                      9. Middle  do.   }Eocene  }
                                     10. Lower   do.   }



     P                _Sand loam and gravel_
  N  l                Marine, land, and fresh-water
  e  i                  shells
  w  o      Many    { Fusus striatus
  e  c     shells   {   "   antiquus
  r  e    abundant, { Tunitella communis
     n     such as  { Cardium edule, still existing
     e                  in adjacent sea.
                      Norwich Crag.

  O  l              { Red
  l  i              {
  d  o       Crag   { White,
  e  c              { or
  r  e              { Coralline


      BRITAIN.     |         FRANCE.         |    OTHER COUNTRIES OF    |
                   |                         |          EUROPE.         |
                   |                         |                          |
   {Ferruginous    |Faluns of Touraine and   |Edgehem beds  }           |
   { sands of      |  Bordeaux.              |Diest sands   }Belgium    |
   { the North     |_Dinotherium._           |Boldeberg beds}           |
   { downs.        |                         |                          |
   {               |_Mastodon._              |Superga beds   Italy      |
  U{_Terebratula   |                         |                          |
  P{  grandis._    |_Lamantine._             |Deposits of               |
  P{               |                         |  Pikermé      Greece     |
  E{               |Marine shells such as    |   with                   |
  R{_Astarte       |  _Cypræa, Oliva_,       |_Mastodon_                |
   { pyrula_ with  |  _Mitra, Conus_,        |_Dinotherium_             |
  M{ other shells  |    indicative of an     |_Hipparion_               |
  I{ common to     |    elevated temperature.|_Antelope_                |
  O{ the Crag.     |Fresh-water deposits of  |_Camelopardalis_          |
  C{               |  Gers near the base of  |                          |
  E{               |  the Pyrenees.          |Beds above the}           |
  N{               |_Dinotherium giganteum._ |  brown coal  }Croatia    |
  E{               |                         |  with Marine }           |
   {               |Mastodon angustidens.    |  shells      }           |
   {               |                         |Fresh-water   }           |
   {               |                         |  Molasse at  }Switzerland|
   {               |                         |  Oeningen    }           |
   {               |                         |_Abundant     }           |
   {               |                         |  flora_      }           |
                   |                         |Marine Molasse}           |
                   |                         |                          |
   {Hempstead beds,|Calcaire de la Beauce,   |Kleyn Spawn    }          |
   { Isle of Wight.|  fresh-water deposits of|  beds and     }Belgium   |
   {               |  Auvergne, Sandstone,   |Limburg beds   }          |
  L{               |  indusial limestone of  |                          |
  O{               |  Cantal.                |                          |
  W{Marine and     |                         |                          |
  E{ fresh water   |Fluvio-marine strata of  |Marine and Fluvialite     |
  R{     _Voluta_  |  Merignac and Bazas?    |  shells                  |
   {    _Cyrena_   |                         |                          |
   {   _Cerithium_ |                         |                          |
   {    _&c. &c._  |_Cerithium, Pyrula, &c._ |Most of the   }           |
  M{               |                         |  Lignites are}Germany    |
  I{               |                         |  Lower       }           |
  O{Lignite        |_Asterias limestone._    |  Miocene     }           |
  C{  deposits of  |                         |Lower (fresh-water)       |
  E{  Bovey Tracey.|                         |  Molasse                 |
  N{               |_Nummulites._            |                          |
  E{Numerous       |                         |                          |
   { plants, such  |Fresh-water strata of    |                          |
   { as _Sequoia   |  Fontainebleau.         |                          |
   { Nysa Annona_, |Grès de Fontainebleau    |                          |
     indicating a  |  (Marine).              |                          |
     sub-tropical  |                         |                          |
     climate.      |                         |                          |

  |     INDIA.     |  AMERICA.
  |                |
  |                |
  |Fresh-water     |Fresh-water
  |                | deposits
  |deposits of     | in Oregon
  |                |
  |Siwalik hills   |
  |                |
  |with            |White river
  |_Mastodon_      | group in
  |                | the Upper
  |_Sivatherium_   | Missouri
  |                | Regions
  |_Colossochelys_ |
  |                |
  |_Rhinoceros_    |_Oreodont_
  |                |
  |_Felis_         |_Brontether-
  |                |  ium._
  |_Machairodus_   |
  |                |Wind river
  |_Equus_         | group
  |                |(Fresh-water
  |_Hippotherium_  |  deposit).
  |                |
  |                |
  |                |Miocene
  |                | deposits
  |                | over a
  |                | large part
  |                | of the
  |                | Atlantic
  |                | Tertiary
  |                | border.
  |                |
  |                |
  |                |In
  |                | California
  |                | Miocene
  |                | marine
  |                | deposits
  |                | reach
  |                | from 4,000
  |                | to 5,000
  |                | feet
  |                | in
  |                | thickness.
  |                |
  |                |
  |                |


The subdivisions of the Eocene have been worked out in great detail in
Britain, France, and America. Those of most other countries have either
not yet been fully studied or their exact equivalence remains

                                 |                                    |
             BRITAIN.            |             FRANCE.                |
                                 |                                    |
                                 |                                    |
                                 |                  _Land and         |
   {               {Palæotherium |                   fresh-water      |
   {A1 Bembridge   {Anoplotherium|Gypseous Series    shells_          |
   {   Series      {Chæropotamus | of Montmatre     _Many quadrupeds  |
  U{               {    &c.      |                   (4/5ths of them  |
  P{                             |                   Perrissodactyls),|
  P{A2 Osborne     {Fresh-water  |}                  Trionyx, Emys_   |
  E{   Series      { & brackish  |}                                   |
  R{               { genera      |}Calcaire Siliceux                  |
   {                             |}                                   |
  E{               {_Do._        |}                                   |
  O{               {_Emys_       |}                                   |
  C{A3 Headon      {_Trionyx_    |                                    |
  E{   Series      {_Alligator_  |                                    |
  N{               {_Crocodilus_ |                                    |
  E{               {_Lepidosteus_|                                    |
   {                             |                                    |
   {A4 Barton      {_Voluta_     |                                   }|
   {   Clay        {_Mitra_      |Grès de Beauchamp  _Nummulites_    }|
                                 |                                   }|
  M{B1 Bagshot and  _Cerithium_  |Calcaire Grossier  _Miliolite      }|
  I{   Bracklesham  _Voluta_     |                    limestone      }|
  D{   Sands and    _Cowries_    |                    of minute      }|
  D{   Clays        _Marine      |                    Foraminifera._ }|
  L{                 Serpents_   |                   _Nummulites_    }|
  E{                _Nummulites_ |                   _Cerithium_,    }|
   {   indicating a warm climate |                    &c. &c.        }|
  E{   with a vegetation         |                                   }|
  O{   reminding the botanist of |                                   }|
  C{   the types of tropical     |                                   }|
  E{   India and Australia       |Soissonnais Sands  _Nummulites_    }|
  N{                             |                   _Nerita_, &c.   }|
  E{B2 Wanting                   |                    &c.            }|
                                 |                                    |
   {C1 London Clay  _Palms_      |Argile de Londres                   |
  L{       and      _Turtles_    |                                    |
  O{   Bognor beds  _Sea Snakes_ |                                    |
  W{                _Crocodiles_ |                                    |
  E{                _Conus_,     |                                    |
  R{                _Voluta_,    |                                    |
   {                _Cyprina_,   |                                    |
   {                _Nautilus_,  |                                    |
  E{    and other shells         |                                    |
  O{    indicating a semi-       |                                    |
  C{     tropical climate        |                                    |
  E{C2 Plastic and Mottled       |Argile plastique   _Fluviatile      |
  N{   Clays and Sands           | and lignite        shells_         |
  E{                             |                   _Large bird      |
   {C3 Thanet Sands _Pholadomya_ |                    Gastornis       |
   {                _Cyprina_,   |                    Parisiensis_    |
   {                &c.          |Sables de Bracheux                  |

   CONTINENT |          |                                  |
   OF EUROPE |  INDIA.  |             N. AMERICA.          |  S. AMERICA.
   AND ASIA  |          |                                  |
             |          |        East of the  West of the  |
             |          |        Rocky Mts.   Rocky Mts.   |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |The Claiborne beds are considered |
             |          |by Lyell as the equivalent of the |
             |          |Middle Eocene of Britain; the     |
             |          |parallelism of the other American |
             |          |deposits has not yet been         |
             |          |completed.                        |
             |          |                   Uinta group    |
             |          |                   _Uintatherium_ |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                   Bridger group  |
             |          |        Vicksburg                 |
             |          |          beds                    |Deposits
             |          |T                   _Orohippus_   |believed
             |          |h  M                _Dinoceras_   |to be of
             |          |e  a d              _Uintatherium_|Tertiary
             |          |   r e              _Tinocoras_   |age, in
             |          |A  i p  Claiborne  _Tillotherium_ |the Pampas,
  Nummulitic |Nummulitic|l  n o    beds                    |contain
   Limestone |formation |a  e s                            |Palæotherium
    of the   | of Cutch,|b    i                            |and
     Alps,   | portions |a    t             Green River    |Anoplotherium,
  Carpathians|  of the  |m    s  _Zeuglodon   group        |and other
   N. Africa | Himalaya,|a        cetoides_                |forms
   Asia Minor|   and    |                                  |presenting a
    Western  | frontiers|p                                 |resemblance to
    Thibet.  | of China.|e                                 |the fauna of
             |          |r                                 |that period in
             |          |i                                 |Europe.
             |          |o                                 |
             |          |d                                 |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                   Wahsatch       |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                   _Coryphodon_   |
             |          |                   _Eohippus_     |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |                                  |
             |          |       Laramic or Lignitic Period.|

We learn, both from the nature of these deposits and from their organic
contents, that climatic oscillations have been passing during the whole
period of their deposition over the surface of the globe, and inducing
corresponding fluctuations in the character of the vegetable and animal
life abounding on it. A complete collation of these varying conditions at
synchronous periods remains to be achieved, but the study of our own
country, and those adjacent to it, shows that alternations of tropical,
boreal, and temperate climate have occurred in it; a remarkable series of
conditions which has only lately been thoroughly and satisfactorily
accounted for.

Thus, during a portion of the Eocene period a tropical climate prevailed,
as is evidenced by deposits containing remains of palms of an equatorial
type, crocodiles, turtles, tropical shells, and other remains attesting
the existence of a high temperature. The converse is proved of the
Pleistocene by the existence of a boreal fauna, and the widespread
evidences of glacial action. The gradations of climate during the Miocene
and Pliocene, and the amelioration subsequent to the glacial period, have
resulted in the gradual development or appearance of specific life as it
exists at present.

Corresponding indications of secular variability of climate are derived
from all quarters: during the Miocene age, Greenland (in N. Lat. 70°)
developed an abundance of trees, such as the yew, the Redwood, a Sequoia
allied to the Californian species, beeches, planes, willows, oaks,
poplars, and walnuts, as well as a Magnolia and a Zamia. In Spitzbergen
(N. Lat. 78° 56') flourished yews, hazels, poplars, alders, beeches, and
limes. At the present day, a dwarf willow and a few herbaceous plants form
the only vegetation, and the ground is covered with almost perpetual ice
and snow.

Many similar fluctuations of climate have been traced right back through
the geological record; but this fact, though interesting in relation to
the general solution of the causes, has little bearing on the present

Sir Charles Lyell conceived that all cosmical changes of climate in the
past might be accounted for by the varying preponderance of land in the
vicinity of the equator or near the poles, supplemented, of course, in a
subordinate degree by alteration of level and the influence of ocean
currents. When, for example, at any geological period the excess of land
was equatorial, the ascent and passage northwards of currents of heated
air would, according to his view, render the poles habitable; while, _per
contrâ_, the excessive massing of land around the pole, and absence of it
from the equator, would cause an arctic climate to spread far over the now
temperate latitudes.

The correctness of these inferences has been objected to by Mr. James
Geikie and Dr. Croll, who doubt whether the northward currents of air
would act as successful carriers of heat to the polar regions, or whether
they would not rather dissipate it into space upon the road. On the other
hand, Mr. Geikie, though admitting that the temperature of a large
_unbroken_ arctic continent would be low, suggests that, as the winds
would be stripped of all moisture on its fringes, the interior would
therefore be without accumulations of snow and ice; and in the more
probable event of its being deeply indented by fjords and bays, warm
sea-currents (the representatives of our present Gulf and Japan streams,
but possessing a higher temperature than either, from the greater extent
of equatorial sea-surface originating them, and exposed to the sun's
influence) would flow northward, and, ramifying, carry with them warm and
heated atmospheres far into its interior, though even these, he thinks,
would be insufficient in their effects under any circumstances to produce
the sub-tropical climates which are known to have existed in high

Mr. John Evans[75] has thrown out the idea that possibly a complete
translation of geographical position with respect to polar axes may have
been produced by a sliding of the whole surface crust of the globe about a
fluid nucleus. This, he considers, would be induced by disturbances of
equilibrium of the whole mass from geological causes. He further points
out that the difference between the polar and equatorial diameters of the
globe, which constitutes an important objection to his theory, is
materially reduced when we take into consideration the enormous depth of
the ocean over a large portion of the equator, and the great tracts of
land elevated considerably above the sea-level in higher latitudes. He
also speculates on the general average of the surface having in bygone
geological epochs approached much more nearly to that of a sphere than it
does at the present time.

Sir John Lubbock favoured the idea of a change in the position of the axis
of rotation, and this view has been supported by Sir H. James[76] and many
later geologists.[77] If I apprehend their arguments correctly, this
change could only have been produced by what may be termed geological
revolutions. These are great outbursts of volcanic matter, elevations,
subsidences, and the like. These having probably been almost continuous
throughout geological time, incessant changes, small or great, would be
demanded in the position of the axis, and the world must be considered as
a globe rolling over in space with every alteration of its centre of
gravity. The possibility of this view must be left for mathematicians and
astronomers to determine.

Sounder arguments sustain the theory propounded by Dr. Croll (though this,
again, is not universally accepted), that all these alterations of climate
can be accounted for by the effects of nutation, and the precession of the
equinoxes. From these changes, combined with the eccentricity of the
ecliptic from the first, it results that at intervals of ten thousand five
hundred years, the northern and southern hemispheres are alternately in
aphelion during the winter, and in perihelion during the summer months,
and _vice versâ_; or, in other words, that if at any given period the
inclination of the earth's axis produces winter in the northern
hemisphere, while the earth is at a maximum distance from that focus of
its orbit in which the sun is situated, then, after an interval of ten
thousand five hundred years, and as a result of the sum of the backward
motion of the equinoxes along the ecliptic, at the rate of 50' annually,
the converse will obtain, and it will be winter in the northern hemisphere
while the earth is at a minimum distance from the sun.

The amount of eccentricity of the ecliptic varies greatly during long
periods, and has been calculated for several million years back. Mr.
Croll[78] has demonstrated a theory explaining all great secular
variations of climate as indirectly the result of this, through the action
of sundry physical agencies, such as the accumulation of snow and ice, and
especially the deflection of ocean currents. From a consideration of the
tables which he has computed of the eccentricity and longitude of the
earth's orbit, he refers the glacial epoch to a period commencing about
two hundred and forty thousand years back, and extending down to about
eighty thousand years ago, and he describes it as "consisting of a long
succession of cold and warm periods; the warm periods of the one
hemisphere corresponding in time with the cold periods of the other, and
_vice versâ_."

Having thus spoken of the processes adopted for estimating the duration of
geological ages, and the results which have been arrived at, with great
probability of accuracy, in regard to some of the more recent, it now
only remains to briefly state the facts from which the existence of man,
during these latter periods, has been demonstrated. The literature of this
subject already extends to volumes, and it is therefore obviously
impossible, in the course of the few pages which the limits of this work
admit, to give anything but the shortest abstract, or to assign the credit
relatively due to the numerous progressive workers in this rich field of
research. I therefore content myself with taking as my text-book Mr. James
Geikie's _Prehistoric Europe_, the latest and most exhaustive work upon
the subject, and summarizing from it the statements essential to my

From it we learn that, long prior to the ages when men were acquainted
with the uses of bronze and iron, there existed nations or tribes,
ignorant of the means by which these metals are utilized, whose weapons
and implements were formed of stone, horn, bone, and wood.

These, again, may be divided into an earlier and a later race, strongly
characterized by the marked differences in the nature of the stone
implements which they respectively manufactured, both in respect to the
material employed and the amount of finish bestowed upon it. To the two
periods in which these people lived the terms Palæolithic and Neolithic
have been respectively applied, and a vast era is supposed to have
intervened between the retiring from Europe of the one and the appearance
there of the other.

Palæolithic man was contemporaneous with the mammoth (_Elephas
primigenius_), the woolly rhinoceros (_Rhinoceros primigenius_), the
_Hippopotamus major_, and a variety of other species, now quite extinct,
as well as with many which, though still existing in other regions, are no
longer found in Europe; whereas the animals contemporaneous with Neolithic
man were essentially the same as those still occupying it.


(The two sides of the same piece of antler are here represented.)]

The stone implements of Palæolithic man had but little variety of form,
were very rudely fashioned, being merely chipped into shape, and never
ground or polished; they were worked nearly entirely out of flint and
chert. Those of Neolithic man were made of many varieties of hard stone,
often beautifully finished, frequently ground to a sharp point or edge,
and polished all over.

Palæolithic men were unacquainted with pottery and the art of weaving, and
apparently had no domesticated animals or system of cultivation; but the
Neolithic lake dwellers of Switzerland had looms, pottery, cereals, and
domesticated animals, such as swine, sheep, horses, dogs, &c.

Implements of horn, bone, and wood were in common use among both races,
but those of the older are frequently distinguished by their being
sculptured with great ability or ornamented with life-like engravings of
the various animals living at the period; whereas there appears to have
been a marked absence of any similar artistic ability on the part of
Neolithic man.

(_After Geikie._)]

Again, it is noticeable that, while the passage from the Neolithic age
into the succeeding bronze age was gradual, and, indeed, that the use of
stone implements and, in some parts, weapons, was contemporaneous with
that of bronze in other places, no evidence exists of a transition from
Palæolithic into Neolithic times. On the contrary, the examination of bone
deposits, such as those of Kent's Cave and Victoria Cave in England, and
numerous others in Belgium and France, attest "beyond doubt that a
considerable period must have supervened after the departure of
Palæolithic man and before the arrival of his Neolithic successor." The
discovery of remains of Palæolithic man and animals in river deposits in
England and on the Continent, often at considerable elevations[80] above
the existing valley bottoms, and in Löss, and the identification of the
Pleistocene or Quaternary period with Preglacial and Glacial times, offer
a means of estimating what that lapse of time must have been.[81]

Skeletons or portions of the skeletons of human beings, of admitted
Palæolithic age, have been found in caverns in the vicinity of Liege in
Belgium, by Schmerling, and probably the same date may be assigned those
from the Neanderthal Cave near Düsseldorf. A complete skeleton, of tall
stature, of probable but not unquestioned Palæolithic age, has also been
discovered in the Cave of Mentone on the Riviera.

These positive remains yield us further inferences than can be drawn from
the mere discovery of implements or fragmentary bones associated with
remains of extinct animals.

The Mentone man, according to M. Rivière, had a rather long but large
head, a high and well-made forehead, and the very large facial angle of
85°. In the Liege man the cranium was high and short, and of good
Caucasian type; "a fair average human skull," according to Huxley.

Other remains, such as the jaw-bone from the cave of the Naulette in
Belgium, and the Neanderthal skeleton, show marks of inferiority; but even
in the latter, which was the lowest in grade, the cranial capacity is
seventy-five cubic inches or "nearly on a level with the mean between the
two human extremes."

We may, therefore, sum up by saying that evidences have been accumulated
of the existence of man, and intelligent man, from a period which even the
most conservative among geologists are unable to place at less than thirty
thousand years; while most of them are convinced both of his existence
from at least later Pliocene times, and of the long duration of ages which
has necessarily elapsed since his appearance--a duration to be numbered,
not by tens, but by hundreds of thousands of years.




If we assume that the antiquity of man is as great, or even approximately
as great, as Sir Charles Lyell and his followers affirm, the question
naturally arises, what has he been doing during those countless ages,
prior to historic times? what evidences has he afforded of the possession
of an intelligence superior to that of the brute creation by which he has
been surrounded? what great monuments of his fancy and skill remain? or
has the sea of time engulphed any that he erected, in abysses so deep that
not even the bleached masts project from the surface, to testify to the
existence of the good craft buried below?

These questions have been only partially asked, and but slightly answered.
They will, however, assume greater proportions as the science of
archæology extends itself, and perhaps receive more definite replies when
fresh fields for investigation are thrown open in those portions of the
old world which Asiatic reserve has hitherto maintained inviolable against
scientific prospectors.

If man has existed for fifty thousand years, as some demand, or for two
hundred thousand, as others imagine, has his intelligence gone on
increasing thoughout the period? and if so, in what ratio? Are the terms
of the series which involve the unknown quantity stated with sufficient
precision to enable us to determine whether his development has been slow,
gradual, and more or less uniform, as in arithmetical, or gaining at a
rapidly increasing rate, as in geometric progression. Or, to pursue the
simile, could it be more accurately expressed by the equation to a curve
which traces an ascending and descending path, and, though controlled in
reality by an absolute law, appears to exhibit an unaccountable and
capricious variety of positive and negative phases, of _points d'arrêt_,
nodes, and cusps.

These questions cannot yet be definitely answered; they may be proposed
and argued on, but for a time the result will doubtless be a variety of
opinions, without the possibility of solution by a competent arbiter.

For example, it is a matter of opinion whether the intelligence of the
present day is or is not of a higher order than that which animated the
_savans_ of ancient Greece. It is probable that most would answer in the
affirmative, so far as the question pertains to the culture of the masses
only, but how will scholars decide, who are competent to compare the works
of our present poets, sculptors, dramatists, logicians, philosophers,
historians, and statesmen, with those of Homer, Pindar, Œschylus,
Euripides, Herodotus, Aristotle, Euclid, Phidias, Plato, Solon, and the
like? Will they, in a word, consider the champions of intellect of the
present day so much more robust than their competitors of three thousand
years ago as to render them easy victors? This would demonstrate a decided
advance in human intelligence during that period; but, if this is the
case, how is it that all the great schools and universities still cling to
the reverential study of the old masters, and have, until quite recently,
almost ignored modern arts, sciences, and languages.

We must remember that the ravages of time have put out of court many of
the witnesses for the one party to the suit, and that natural decay,
calamity, and wanton destruction[82] have obliterated the bulk of the
philosophy of past ages. With the exceptions of the application of steam,
the employment of moveable type in printing,[83] and the utilization of
electricity, there are few arts and inventions which have not descended to
us from remote antiquity, lost, many of them, for a time, some of them for
ages, and then re-discovered and paraded as being, really and truly,
something new under the sun.

Neither must we forget the oratory and poetry, the masterpieces of logical
argument, the unequalled sculptures, and the exquisitely proportioned
architecture of Greece, or the thorough acquaintance with mechanical
principles and engineering skill evinced by the Egyptians, in the
construction of the pyramids, vast temples, canals[84] and hydraulic

Notice, also, the high condition of civilization possessed by the Chinese
four thousand years ago, their enlightened and humane polity, their
engineering works,[86] their provision for the proper administration of
different departments of the State, and their clear and intelligent

[Illustration: FIG. 23.--VASE. HAN DYNASTY, B.C. 206 _to_ A.D. 23. (_From
the Poh Ku T'u._)]

1766 _to_ B.C. 1122. (_From the Poh Ku T'u._)]

In looking back upon these, I think we can hardly distinguish any such
deficiency of intellect, in comparison with ours, on the part of these our
historical predecessors as to indicate so rapid a change of intelligence
as would, if we were able to carry our comparison back for another similar
period, inevitably land us among a lot of savages similar to those who
fringe the civilization of the present period. Intellectually measured,
the civilized men of eight or ten thousand years ago must, I think, have
been but little inferior to ourselves, and we should have to peer very far
back indeed before we reached a status or condition in which the highest
type of humanity was the congener of the cave lion, disputing with him a
miserable existence, shielded only from the elements by an overhanging
rock, or the fortuitous discovery of some convenient cavern.

If this be so, we are forced back again to the consideration of the
questions with which this section opened; where are the evidences of man's
early intellectual superiority? are they limited to those deduced from the
discovery of certain stone implements of the early rude, and later
polished ages? and, if so, can we offer any feasible explanation either of
their non-existence or disappearance?

In the first place, it may be considered as admitted by archæologists that
no exact line can be drawn between the later of the two stone-weapon
epochs, the polished Neolithic stone epoch, and the succeeding age of
bronze. They are agreed that these overlap each other, and that the rude
hunters, who contented themselves with stone implements of war and the
chase, were coeval with people existing in other places, acquainted with
the metallurgical art, and therefore of a high order of intelligence. The
former are, in fact, brought within the limit of historic times.

[Illustration: FIG. 25.--INCENSE BURNER(?). CHEN DYNASTY, B.C. 1122 _to_
B.C. 255. (_From the Poh Ku T'u._)]

[Illustration: FIG. 26.--TRIPOD OF THE SHANG DYNASTY. _Probable date_,
B.C. 1649. (_From the Poh Ku T'u._)]

[Illustration: FIG. 27.--TRIPOD OF FU YIH, SHANG DYNASTY. (_From the Poh
Ku T'u._)]

[Illustration: FIG. 28.--TRIPOD OF KWAI WAN, CHEN DYNASTY, B.C. 1122 _to_
B.C. 255 (_From the Poh Ku T'u._)]

A similar inference might not unfairly be drawn with regard to those
numerous discoveries of proofs of the existence of ruder man, at still
earlier periods. The flint-headed arrow of the North American Indian, and
the stone hatchet of the Australian black-fellow exist to the present day;
and but a century or two back, would have been the sole representatives of
the constructive intelligence of humanity over nearly one half the
inhabited surface of the world. No philosopher, with these alone to reason
on, could have imagined the settled existence, busy industry, and
superior intelligence which animated the other half; and a parallel
suggestive argument may be supported by the discovery of human relics,
implements, and artistic delineations such as those of the hairy mammoth
or the cave-bear. These may possibly be the traces of an outlying savage
who co-existed with a far more highly-organized people elsewhere,[88] just
as at the present day the Esquimaux, who are by some geologists considered
as the descendants of Palæolithic man, co-exist with ourselves. They, like
their reputed ancestors, have great ability in carving on bone, &c.; and
as an example of their capacity not only to conceive in their own minds a
correct notion of the relative bearings of localities, but also to impart
the idea lucidly to others, I annex a wood-cut of a chart drawn by them,
impromptu, at the request of Sir J. Ross, who, inferentially, vouches for
its accuracy.

[Illustration: FIG. 29. (_From Sir John Ross' Second Voyage to the Arctic

There is but a little step between carving the figure of a mammoth or
horse, and using them as symbols. Multiply them, and you have the early
hieroglyphic written language of the Chinese and Egyptians. It is not an
unfair presumption that at no great distance, in time or space, either
some generations later among his own descendants, or so many nations'
distance among his coevals, the initiative faculty of the Palæolithic
savage was usefully applied to the communication of ideas, just as at a
much later date the Kououen symbolic language was developed or made use of
among the early Chinese.[89]

Such is, necessarily, the first stage of any written language, and it may,
as I think, perhaps have occurred, been developed into higher stages,
culminated, and perished at many successive epochs during man's existence,
presuming it to have been so extended as the progress of geology tends to

May not the meandering of the tide of civilization westward during the
last three thousand years, bearing on its crest fortune and empire, and
leaving in its hollow decay and oblivion, possibly be the sequel of many
successive waves which have preceded it in the past, rising, some higher,
some lower, as waves will.



In comparison with the vast epochs of which we treat how near to us are
Nineveh, Babylon, and Carthage! Yet the very sites of the former two have
become uncertain, and of the last we only know by the presence of the few
scattered ruins on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Tyre, the vast
entrepôt of commerce in the days of Solomon, was stated, rightly or
wrongly, by Benjamin of Tudela, to be but barely discernible (in 1173) in
ruins beneath the waves; and the glory of the world, the temple of King
Solomon, was represented at the same date by two copper columns which had
been carried off and preserved in Rome. It is needless to quote the cases
of Persia, Greece, and Rome, and of many once famous cities, which have
dissolved in ruin; except as assisting to point the moral that conquest,
which is always recurring, means to a great extent obliteration, the
victor having no sympathy with the preservation of the time-honoured
relics of the vanquished.

When decay and neglect are once initiated, the hand of man largely assists
the ravages of time. The peasant carts the marbles of an emperor's palace
to his lime-kiln,[90] or an Egyptian monarch strips the casing of a
pyramid[91] to furnish the material for a royal residence.

Nor is it beyond the limits of possibility that the arrogant caprice of
some, perhaps Mongol, invader in the future, may level the imperishable
pyramids themselves for the purpose of constructing some defensive work,
or the gratification of an inordinate vanity.

In later dates how many comfortable modern residences have been erected
from the pillage of mediæval abbey, keep, or castle? and how many fair
cities[92] must have fallen to decay, in Central and Eastern Asia, and how
many numerous populations dwindled to insignificance since the days when
Ghenghis and Timour led forth their conquering hordes, and Nadun could
raise four hundred thousand horsemen[93] to contest the victory with
Kublai Khan.

The unconscious ploughman in Britain has for centuries guided his share
above the remains of Roman villas, and the inhabitants of the later city
of Hissarlik were probably as ignorant that a series of lost and buried
cities lay below them, as they would have been incredulous that within a
thousand years their own existence would have passed from the memory of
man, and their re-discovery been due only to the tentative researches of
an enthusiastic admirer of Homer. Men live by books and bards longer than
by the works of their hands, and impalpable tradition often survives the
material vehicle which was destined to perpetuate it. The name of Priam
was still a household word when the site of his palace had been long

The vaster a city is, the more likely is it to be constructed upon the
site of its own grave, or, in other words, to occupy the broad valley of
some important river beneath whose gravels it is destined to be buried.

Perched on an eminence, and based on solid rock, it may escape entombment,
but more swiftly and more certainly will it be destroyed by the
elements,[94] and by the decomposition of its own material furnish the
shroud for its envelopment.[95] It is not altogether surprising then that
no older discoveries than those already quoted have yet been made, for
these would probably never have resulted if tradition had not both
stimulated and guided the fortunate explorer.

It is, therefore, no unfair inference that the remains of equally
important, but very much more ancient cities and memorials of civilization
may have hitherto entirely escaped our observation, presuming that we can
show some reasonable grounds for belief that, subsequent to their
completion, a catastrophe has occurred of sufficiently universal a
character to have obliterated entirely the annals of the past, and to have
left in the possession of its few survivors but meagre and fragmentary
recollections of all that had preceded them.

Now this is precisely what the history and traditions of all nations
affirm to have occurred. However, as a variance of opinion exists as to
the credence which should be attached to these traditions, I shall, before
expressing my own views upon the subject, briefly epitomize those
entertained by two authors of sufficient eminence to warrant their being
selected as representatives of two widely opposite schools.

These gentlemen, to whom we are indebted for exhaustive papers,[96]
embracing the pith of all the information extant upon the subject, have
tapped the same sources of information, consulted the same authorities,
ranged their information in almost identical order, argued from the same
data, and arrived at diametrically opposite conclusions.

Mr. Cheyne, following the lead of Continental mythologists, deduces that
the Deluge stories were on the whole propagated from several independent
centres, and adopts the theory of Schirrer and Gerland that they are ether
myths, without any historical foundation, which have been transferred from
the sky to the earth.

M. Lenormant, upon the other hand, eliminating from the inquiry the great
inundation of China in the reign of Yao, and some others, as purely local
events, concludes as the result of his researches that the story of the
Deluge "is a universal tradition among all branches of the human race,"
with the one exception of the black. He further argues: "Now a
recollection thus precise and concordant cannot be a myth voluntarily
invented. No religious or cosmogenic myth presents this character of
universality. It must arise from the reminiscences of a real and terrible
event, so powerfully impressing the imagination of the first ancestors of
our race, as never to have been forgotten by their descendants. This
cataclysm must have occurred near the first cradle of mankind and before
the dispersion of families from which the different races of men were to

Lord Arundel of Wardour adopts a similar view in many respects to that of
M. Lenormant, but argues for the existence of a Deluge tradition in Egypt,
and the identity of the Deluge of Yu (in China) with the general
catastrophe of which the tradition is current in other countries.

The subject is in itself so inviting, and has so direct a bearing upon the
argument of this work that I propose to re-examine the same materials and
endeavour to show from them that the possible solutions of the question
have not yet been exhausted.

We have as data:--

    1. _The Biblical account._

    2. _That of Josephus._

    3. _The Babylonian._

    4. _The Hindu._

    5. _The Chinese._

    6. _The traditions of all nations in the northern hemisphere, and of
    certain in the southern._

It is unnecessary to travel in detail over the well-worn ground of the
myths and traditions prevalent among European nations, the presumed
identity of Noah with Saturn, Janus, and the like, or the Grecian stories
of Ogyges and Deucalion. Nor is anyone, I think, disposed to dispute the
identity of the cause originating the Deluge legends in Persia and in
India. How far these may have descended from independent sources it is now
difficult to determine, though it is more than probable that their
vitality is due to the written Semitic records. Nor is it necessary to
discuss any unimportant differences which may exist between the text of
Josephus and that of the Bible, which agree sufficiently closely, but are
mere abstracts (with the omission of many important details) in comparison
with the Chaldæan account. This may be accounted for by their having been
only derived from oral tradition through the hands of Abraham. The
Biblical narrative shows us that Abraham left Chaldæa on a nomadic
enterprise, just as a squatter leaves the settled districts of Australia
or America at the present day, and strikes out with a small following and
scanty herd to search for, discover, and occupy new country; his destiny
leading him, may be for a few hundred, may be for a thousand miles. In
such a train there is no room for heavy baggage, and the stone tablets
containing the detailed history of the Deluge would equally with all the
rest of such heavy literature be left behind.

The tradition, however reverenced and faithfully preserved at first,
would, under such circumstances, soon get mutilated and dwarfed. We may,
therefore, pass at once to the much more detailed accounts presented in
the text of Berosus, and in the more ancient Chaldæan tablets deciphered
by the late Mr. G. Smith from the collation of three separate copies.

The account by Berosus (see Appendix) was taken from the sacred books of
Babylon, and is, therefore, of less value than the last-mentioned as being
second-hand. The leading incidents in his narrative are similar to those
contained in that of Genesis, but it terminates with the vanishing of
Xisuthros (Noah) with his wife, daughter, and the pilot, after they had
descended from the vessel and sacrificed to the gods, and with the return
of his followers to Babylon. They restored it, and disinterred the
writings left (by the pious obedience of Xisuthros) in Shurippak, the city
of the Sun.

The great majority of mythologists appear to agree in assigning a much
earlier date to the Deluge, than that which has hitherto been generally
accepted as the soundest interpretation of the chronological evidence
afforded by the Bible.

I have never had the advantage of finding the arguments on which this
opinion is based, formulated in association, although, as incidentally
referred to by various authors, they appear to be mainly deduced from the
references made, both by sacred and profane writers, to large populations
and important cities existing subsequently to the Deluge, but at so early
a date, as to imply the necessity of a very long interval indeed between
the general annihilation caused by the catastrophe, and the attainment of
so high a pitch of civilization and so numerous a population as their
existence implies.

Philologists at the same time declare that a similar inference may be
drawn from the vast periods requisite for the divergence of different
languages from the parent stock,[97] while the testimony of the monuments
and sculptures of ancient Egypt assures us that race distinction of as
marked a type as occurs at the present day existed at so early a date[98]
as to preclude the possibility of the derivation of present nations from
the descendants of Noah within the limited period usually allowed.

These difficulties vanish, if we consider the Biblical and Chaldean
narratives as records of a local catastrophe, of vast extent perhaps, and
resulting in general but not total destruction, whose sphere may have
embraced the greater portion of Western Asia, and perhaps Europe; but
which, while wrecking the great centres of northern civilization, did not
extend southwards to Africa and Egypt.[99] The Deluge legends indigenous
in Mexico at the date of the Spanish conquest, combining the Biblical
incidents of the despatch of birds from a vessel with the conception of
four consecutive ages terminating in general destruction, and
corresponding with the four ages or Yugas of India, supply in themselves
the testimony of their probable origin from Asia. The cataclysm which
caused what is called the Deluge may or may not have extended to America,
probably not. In a future page I shall enumerate a few of the
resemblances between the inhabitants of the New World and of the Old
indicative of their community of origin.

I refer the reader to M. Lenormant's valuable essay[100] for his critical
notice on the dual composition of the account in Genesis, derived as it
appears to be from two documents, one of which has been called the
Elohistic and the other the Jehovistic account, and for his comparison of
it with the Chaldean narrative exhumed by the late Mr. George Smith from
the Royal Library of Nineveh, the original of which is probably of
anterior date to Moses, and nearly contemporaneous with Abraham.

I transcribe from M. Lenormant the text of the Chaldean narrative, because
there are points in it which have not yet been commented on, and which, as
it appears to me, assist in the solution of the Deluge story:--

    I will reveal to thee, O Izdhubar, the history of my preservation--and
    tell to thee the decision of the gods.

    The town of Shurippak, a town which thou knowest, is situated on the
    Euphrates. It was ancient, and in it [men did not honour] the gods. [I
    alone, I was] their servant, to the great gods--[The gods took counsel
    on the appeal of] Anu--[a deluge was proposed by] Bel--[and approved
    by Nabon, Nergal and] Adar.

    And the god [Êa,] the immutable lord,--repeated this command in a
    dream.--I listened to the decree of fate that he announced, and he
    said to me:--"Man of Shurippak, son of Ubaratutu--thou, build a vessel
    and finish it [quickly].--By a [deluge] I will destroy substance and
    life.--Cause thou to go up into the vessel the substance of all that
    has life.--The vessel thou shalt build--600 cubits shall be the
    measure of its length--and 60 cubits the amount of its breadth and of
    its height.--[Launch it] thus on the ocean and cover it with a
    roof."--I understood, and I said to Êa, my lord:--"[The vessel] that
    thou commandest me to build thus,--[when] I shall do it--young and old
    [shall laugh at me]."--[Êa opened his mouth and] spoke.--He said to
    me, his servant:--"[If they laugh at thee] thou shalt say to them:
    [Shall be punished] he who has insulted me, [for the protection of the
    gods] is over me.-- .... like to caverns .... ---- .... I will
    exercise my judgment on that which is on high and that which is below
    .... ---- .... Close the vessel .... ---- .... At a given moment that
    I shall cause thee to know,--enter into it, and draw the door of the
    ship towards thee.--Within it, thy grains, thy furniture, thy
    provisions,--thy riches, thy men-servants, and thy maid-servants, and
    thy young people--the cattle of the field and the wild beasts of the
    plain that I will assemble--and that I will send thee, shall be kept
    behind thy door."--Khasisatra opened his mouth and spoke;--he said to
    Êa, his lord:--"No one has made [such a] ship.--On the prow I will fix
    .... --I shall see .... and the vessel .... --the vessel thou
    commandest me to build [thus]--which in ....[101]

    On the fifth day [the two sides of the bark] were raised.--In its
    covering fourteen in all were its rafters--fourteen in all did it
    count above.--I placed its roof and I covered it.--I embarked in it on
    the sixth day; I divided its floors on the seventh;--I divided the
    interior compartments on the eighth. I stopped up the chinks through
    which the water entered in;--I visited the chinks and added what was
    wanting.--I poured on the exterior three times 3,600 measures of
    asphalte,--and three times 3,600 measures of asphalte within.--Three
    times 3,600 men, porters, brought on their heads the chests of
    provisions.--I kept 3,600 chests for the nourishment of my
    family,--and the mariners divided amongst themselves twice 3,600
    chests.--For [provisioning] I had oxen slain;--I instituted [rations]
    for each day.--In [anticipation of the need of] drinks, of barrels and
    of wine--[I collected in quantity] like to the waters of a river, [of
    provisions] in quantity like to the dust of the earth.--[To arrange
    them in] the chests I set my hand to.-- .... of the sun .... the
    vessel was completed.-- .... strong and--I had carried above and below
    the furniture of the ship.--[This lading filled the two-thirds.]

    All that I possessed I gathered together; all I possessed of silver I
    gathered together; all that I possessed of gold I gathered--all that I
    possessed of the substance of life of every kind I gathered
    together.--I made all ascend into the vessel; my servants male and
    female,--the cattle of the fields, the wild beasts of the plains, and
    the sons of the people, I made them all ascend.

    Shamash (the sun) made the moment determined, and--he announced it in
    these terms:--"In the evening I will cause it to rain abundantly from
    heaven; enter into the vessel and close the door."--The fixed moment
    had arrived, which he announced in these terms: "In the evening I will
    cause it to rain abundantly from heaven."--When the evening of that
    day arrived, I was afraid,--I entered into the vessel and shut my
    door.--In shutting the vessel, to Buzurshadirabi, the pilot,--I
    confided this dwelling with all that it contained.

    Mu-sheri-ina-namari[102]--rose from the foundations of heaven in a
    black cloud;--Ramman[103] thundered in the midst of the cloud--and
    Nabon and Sharru marched before;--they marched, devastating the
    mountain and the plain;--Nergal[104] the powerful, dragged
    chastisements after him;--Adar[105] advanced, overthrowing before
    him;--the archangels of the abyss brought destruction,--in their
    terrors they agitated the earth.--The inundation of Ramman swelled up
    to the sky,--and [the earth] became without lustre, was changed into a

    They broke .... of the surface of the [earth] like .... ;--[they
    destroyed] the living beings of the surface of the earth.--The
    terrible [Deluge] on men swelled up to [heaven].--The brother no
    longer saw his brother; men no longer knew each other. In heaven--the
    gods became afraid of the waterspout, and--sought a refuge; they
    mounted up to the heaven of Anu.[106]--The gods were stretched out
    motionless, pressing one against another like dogs.--Ishtar wailed
    like a child,--the great goddess pronounced her discourse:--"Here is
    humanity returned into mud, and--this is the misfortune that I have
    announced in the presence of the gods. So I announced the misfortune
    in the presence of the gods,--for the evil I announced the terrible
    [chastisement] of men who are mine.--I am the mother who gave birth to
    men, and--like to the race of fishes, there they are filling the
    sea;--and the gods by reason of that--which the archangels of the
    abyss are doing, weep with me."--The gods on their seats were seated
    in tears,--and they held their lips closed, [revolving] future things.

    Six days and as many nights passed; the wind, the waterspout, and the
    diluvian rain were in all their strength. At the approach of the
    seventh day the diluvian rain grew weaker, the terrible
    waterspout--which had assailed after the fashion of an
    earthquake--grew calm, the sea inclined to dry up, and the wind and
    the waterspout came to an end. I looked at the sea, attentively
    observing--and the whole of humanity had returned to mud; like unto
    sea-weeds the corpses floated. I opened the window, and the light
    smote on my face. I was seized with sadness; I sat down and I
    wept;--and my tears came over my face.

    I looked at the regions bounding the sea; towards the twelve points of
    the horizon; not any continent.--The vessel was borne above the land
    of Nizir,--the mountain of Nizir arrested the vessel, and did not
    permit it to pass over.--A day and a second day the mountain of Nizir
    arrested the vessel, and did not permit it to pass over;--the third
    and fourth day the mountain of Nizir arrested the vessel, and did not
    permit it to pass over;--the fifth and sixth day the mountain of Nizir
    arrested the vessel, and did not permit it to pass over.--At the
    approach of the seventh day, I sent out and loosed a dove. The dove
    went, turned, and--found no place to light on, and it came back. I
    sent out and loosed a swallow; the swallow went, turned, and--found no
    place to light on, and it came back. I sent out and loosed a raven;
    the raven went, and saw the corpses on the waters; it ate, rested,
    turned, and came not back.

    I then sent out (what was in the vessel) towards the four winds, and I
    offered a sacrifice. I raised the pile of my burnt-offering on the
    peak of the mountain; seven by seven I disposed the measured
    vases,[107]--and beneath I spread rushes, cedar, and juniper wood. The
    gods were seized with the desire of it,--the gods were seized with a
    benevolent desire of it;--and the gods assembled like flies above the
    master of the sacrifice. From afar, in approaching, the great goddess
    raised the great zones that Anu has made for their glory (the
    gods').[108] These gods, luminous crystal before me, I will never
    leave them; in that day I prayed that I might never leave them. "Let
    the gods come to my sacrificial pile!--but never may Bel come to my
    sacrificial pile! for he did not master himself, and he has made the
    waterspout for the Deluge, and he has numbered my men for the pit."

    From far, in drawing near, Bel--saw the vessel, and Bel stopped;--he
    was filled with anger against the gods and the celestial
    archangels:--"No one shall come out alive! No man shall be preserved
    from the abyss!"--Adar opened his mouth and said; he said to the
    warrior Bel:--"What other than Ea should have formed this
    resolution?--for Ea possesses knowledge and [he foresees] all."--Ea
    opened his mouth and spake; he said to the warrior Bel:--"O thou,
    herald of the gods, warrior,--as thou didst not master thyself, thou
    hast made the waterspout of the deluge.--Let the sinner carry the
    weight of his sins, the blasphemer the weight of his
    blasphemy.--Please thyself with this good pleasure, and it shall never
    be infringed; faith in it never [shall be violated].--Instead of thy
    making a new deluge, let hyænas appear and reduce the number of men;
    instead of thy making a new deluge, let there be famine, and let the
    earth be [devastated];--instead of thy making a new deluge, let
    Dibbara[109] appear, and let men be [mown down].--I have not revealed
    the decision of the great gods;--it is Khasisatra who interpreted a
    dream and comprehended what the gods had decided."

    Then, when his resolve was arrested, Bel entered into the vessel.--He
    took my hand and made me rise.--He made my wife rise, and made her
    place herself at my side.--He turned around us and stopped short; he
    approached our group.--"Until now Khasisatra has made part of
    perishable humanity;--but lo, now, Khasisatra and his wife are going
    to be carried away to live like the gods,--and Khasisatra will reside
    afar at the mouth of the rivers."--They carried me away and
    established me in a remote place at the mouth of the streams.

This narrative agrees with the Biblical one in ascribing the inundation to
a deluge of rain; but adds further details which connect it with intense
atmospheric disturbance, similar to that which would be produced by a
series of cyclones, or typhoons, of unusual severity and duration.

The intense gloom, the deluge of rain, terrific violence of wind, and the
havoc both on sea and land, which accompany the normal cyclones occurring
annually on the eastern coast of China, and elsewhere, and lasting but a
few hours in any one locality, can hardly be credited, except by those who
have experienced them. They are, however, sufficient to render explicable
the general devastation and loss of life which would result from the
duration of typhoons, or analogous tempests, of abnormal intensity, for
even the limited period of six days and nights allotted in the text above,
and much more so for that of one hundred and fifty days assigned to it in
the Biblical account.

As illustrating this I may refer to a few calamities of recent date,
which, though of trivial importance in comparison with the stupendous
event under our consideration, bring home to us the terribly devastating
power latent in the elements.

In Bengal, a cyclone on October 31, 1876, laid under water three thousand
and ninety-three square miles, and destroyed two hundred and fifteen
thousand lives.

A typhoon which raged in Canton, Hongkong, and Macao on September 22,
1874, besides much other destruction, destroyed several thousand people in
Macao and the adjacent villages, the number of corpses in the town being
so numerous that they had to be gathered in heaps and burnt with
kerosene, the population, without the Chinese who refused to lend
assistance, being insufficient to bury them.

A tornado in Canton, on April 11, 1878, destroyed, in the course of a few
minutes, two thousand houses and ten thousand lives.

In view of these few historical facts, which might be greatly
supplemented, there appears to my mind to be no difficulty in believing
that the continuance, during even only six days and six nights, of
extraordinarily violent circular storms over a given area, would,
especially if accompanied by so-called tidal or earthquake waves, be
sufficient to wreck all sea-going and coasting craft, all river boats,
inundate every country embraced within it to a very great extent, submerge
each metropolis, city, or village, situate either in the deltas of rivers,
or higher up their course, sap, unroof, batter down, and destroy all
dwellings on the highlands, level forests, destroy all domestic animals,
sweep away all cultivated soil, or bury it beneath an enormous thickness
of _débris_, tear away the soil from the declivities of hills and
mountains, destroy all shelter, and hence, by exposure, most of those
wretched human beings who might have escaped drowning on the lower levels.
The few survivors would with difficulty escape starvation, or death from
subsequent exposure to the deadly malaria which would be liberated by the
rooting up of the accumulated _débris_ of centuries. This latter
supposition appears to me to be directly indicated by the passage towards
the end of the extract referring to famine, and to the devastation of the
earth by Dibbara (the god of epidemics).

It is noticeable that in this account there is no suggestion of complete
immersion, Khasisatra simply says there is not any continent (_i.e._ all
the hill ranges within sight would stand out from the inundation like
islands), while he speaks of his vessel being arrested by the mountain of
Nizir, which must consequently have been above the surface of the water.

Neither is there any such close limitation of the number of persons
preserved, as in the Biblical story, for Khasisatra took with him his
men-servants, maid-servants, and his young people, while the version
transmitted by Berosus (see Appendix to this Chapter), states that
Xisuthros embarked his wife, children, and his intimate friends, and that
these latter subsequently founded numerous cities, built temples, and
restored Babylon.

We have thus a fair nucleus for starting a fresh population in the
Euphrates valley, which may have received accessions from the gradual
concentration of scattered survivors, and from the enterprise of maritime
adventurers from the African coast and elsewhere, possibly also nomads
from the north, east, and west may have swelled the numbers, and a
polyglot community have been established, which subsequently, through race
distinctions, jealousies, and incompatibility of language, became again
dismembered, as recorded in the history of the attempted erection of the
Tower of Babel.

Confining our attention for the moment to this one locality, we may
imagine that the young population would not be deterred by any
apprehension of physical danger from reinhabiting such of the old cities
as remained recognizable; since we see that men do not hesitate to
recommence the building of cities overthrown by earthquake shocks almost
before the last tremblings are over; or, as in the case of Herculaneum and
Pompeii, within the range of volcanoes which may have already repeatedly
vomited destroying floods of lava. Yet, in this instance, they would
probably invest the calamity with a supernatural horror, and regard it, as
the text expresses it, as a chastisement from the gods for their impiety.
If this were so, the very memory of such cities would soon be lost, and
with it all the treasures of art and literature which they

The Hindu account is taken from the _S'atapatha-Brâhmana_, a work of
considerable antiquity, being one of a series which Professor Max Müller
believes to have been written eight hundred years before Christ. A literal
translation of the legend, as given in this venerable work, is as

"To Manu in the morning they brought water for washing, just as they bring
it for washing the hands. As he was using the water, a fish came into his
hand. This (fish) said to him, 'Preserve me, and I will save thee.' (Manu
said), 'From what wilt thou preserve me?' (The fish replied), 'A flood
will carry away all these creatures; from that I will preserve thee.'
(Manu said), 'How is thy preservation (to be effected)?' (The fish
replied), 'As long as we are small, there is great danger of our
destruction; fish even devours fish: at first preserve me in a jar. When I
grow too big for that, cut a trench, and preserve me in that. When I
outgrow that, carry me to the sea; then I shall be beyond (the reach of)
danger.' Soon it became a great fish; it increased greatly. (The fish
said), 'In so many years the flood will come; make a ship and worship me.
On the rising of the flood enter the ship, then I will preserve thee.'
Having preserved the fish he brought it to the sea. In the same year
indicated by the fish (Manu) made a ship and worshipped the fish. When the
flood rose he entered the ship; the fish swam near him: he attached the
cable of the ship to his (the fish's) horn. By this means the fish carried
him over the northern mountain (Himalayas). (The fish said), 'I have
preserved thee: fasten the ship to a tree. But lest the water cut thee off
whilst thou art on the mountain, as fast as the water subsides thou wilt
descend with it.' Accordingly he descended (with the water); hence this
became 'Manu's Descent' from the northern mountain. The flood had carried
away all those creatures, Manu alone was left. He being desirous of
offspring performed a sacred rite; there also he offered a
_pâka_-sacrifice. With clarified butter, coagulated milk, whey, and curds,
he made an offering to the waters. In a year a female was produced; and
she arose unctuous from the moisture, with clarified butter under her
feet. Mitra and Varuna came to her; and said to her, 'Who art thou?' (She
said), 'The daughter of Manu.' (They said), 'Say (thou art) our
(daughter).' 'No,' she replied, 'I am verily (the daughter) of him who
begot me.' They desired a share in her; she agreed and did not agree. She
went on and came to Manu. Manu said to her, 'Who art thou?' 'Thy
daughter,' she replied. 'How, revered one, art thou my daughter?' (She
replied), 'The offerings which thou hast cast upon the waters,--clarified
butter, coagulated milk, whey, and curds,--from them thou hast generated
me. I am a blessing. Do thou introduce me into the sacrifice. If thou wilt
introduce me into the sacrifice, thou wilt be (blessed) with abundance of
offspring and cattle. Whatever blessing thou shalt ask through me, will
all be given to thee.' Thus he introduced her in the middle of the
sacrifice; for the middle of the sacrifice is that which comes between the
final and the introductory prayers. He, desirous of offspring, meditating
and toiling, went with her. By her he begot this (offspring), which is
(called) 'The offspring of Manu.'"

The correspondence of this legend with the Biblical and the other accounts
is remarkable. We have the announcement of the Deluge, the construction of
a ship, the preservation therein of a representative man, the settlement
of the vessel on a mountain, the gradual subsidence of the water, and the
subsequent re-peopling of the world by the man thus preserved. The very
scene of the cataclysm is in singular agreement with the other accounts;
for the flood is said to carry Manu "over the northern mountain." This
places the scene of the Deluge in Central Asia, beyond the Himalaya
mountains, and it proves that the legend embodies a genuine tradition
brought by the progenitors of the Hindus from their primæval home, whence
also radiated the Semitic and Sinitic branches of mankind.

       *       *       *       *       *

There has been much discussion as to whether the great inundation which
occurred in China during the reign of Yao is identical with that of
Genesis or not. The close proximity of date lends a strong support to the
assumption, and the supposition that the scene of the Biblical Deluge was
local in its origin, but possibly widespread in its results, further
favours the view.

As the rise of the Nile at Cairo is the only intimation which the
inhabitants of Lower Egypt have of the tropical rains of Central Africa,
so the inundation of the countries adjacent to the head waters of the
great rivers of China may alone have informed the inhabitants of that
country of serious elemental disturbances, only reaching, and in a
modified form, their western frontier; and it may well have been that the
deluge which caused a national annihilation in Western Asia was only a
national calamity in the eastern portion of it.

This view is strengthened if we consider that Chinese history has no
record of any deluge prior to this, which could hardly have been the case
had the Chinese migrated from their parent stock subsequent to an event of
such importance; assuming that it had occurred, as there seems valid
reason to suppose, within the limits of written history. The anachronism
between the two dates assigned by Chinese authors (2297 B.C.) and the
Jewish historian's calculation (2104 B.C.) is only one hundred and
ninety-three years, and this is not so great but that we may anticipate
its being explained at some future date. Strauchius' computation of 2293
B.C. for the date of the Biblical deluge is within four years, and
Ussher's (2349-2348) within fifty-one of the Chinese one. The reason for
supposing the deluge of Yao to be historically true, will be inferred from
the arguments borrowed from Mr. Legge on the subject of the _Shu-king_, in
another portion of this volume. It is detailed in the great Chinese work
on history, the _T‘ung-këen-kang-muh_, by Choo He, of which De Mailla's
_History of China_ professes to be a translation.

This states that the inundation happened in the sixty-first year of the
reign of Yao (2297 B.C.), and that the waters of the Yellow River mingled
with those of the Ho-hi-ho and the Yangtsze, ruining all the agricultural
country, which was converted into one vast sea.

But neither in the Bamboo Books nor in the _Shu-king_ do we find that any
local phenomena of importance occurred, with the exception of the
inundation. In fact, the first work is singularly silent on the subject,
and simply says that in his sixty-first year Yao ordered K‘wan of Ts‘ung
to regulate the Ho, and degraded him in his sixty-ninth for being unable
to effect it, as we learn elsewhere.

The _Shu_ is more explicit. The Emperor, consulting one of his chief
officials on the calamity, says: "O chief of the four mountains,
destructive in their overflow are the waters of the inundation. In their
vast extent they embrace the mountains and overtop the hills, threatening
the heavens with their floods, so that the inferior people groan and

According to De Mailla's translation, K‘wan laboured uselessly for nine
years, the whole country was overrun with briars and brushwood, the people
had almost forgotten the art of cultivating the ground--they were without
the necessary seeds--and wild animals and birds destroyed all their
attempts at agriculture.

In this extremity Yao consulted Shun, his subsequent successor, who
recommended the appointment of Yu, the son of K‘wan, in his father's

Yu was more successful, and describes his labours as follows:--

"The inundating waters seemed to assail the heavens, and in their vast
extent embraced the mountains and over-topped the hills, so that people
were bewildered and overwhelmed. I mounted my four conveyances,[111] and
all along the hills hewed down the woods, at the same time, along with
Yih, showing the multitudes how to get flesh to eat.

"I also opened passages for the streams throughout the nine provinces, and
conducted them to the sea. I deepened, moreover, the channels and canals,
and conducted them to the streams, at the same time, along with Tseih,
sowing _grain_, and showing the multitudes how to procure the food of toil
_in addition_ to flesh meat."

Yu's success is simply chronicled in the Bamboo Books as, "In his
seventy-fifth year Yu, the Superintendent of Works, regulated the Ho."

There was a legend extant in China in the times of Pinto, which he gives
in his book, of the original Chinese having migrated from a region in the
West, and, following the course of the Ho in boats, finally settling in
the country adjacent to Pekin. That some such event took place is not
unlikely. Its acceptance would explain much that is difficult.

The pioneers, pushing through a country infested with hostile aborigines,
who would immediately after their passage close up the road of
communication behind them--pioneers who may have been fugitives from their
kindred through political commotions, or expelled by successful
enemies--would have a further barrier against return, even were they
disposed to attempt it, in the strong opposing current which had borne
them safely to their new homes.

It is probable that such a journey would form an entirely new departure
for their history, and that a few generations later it would resemble a
nebulous chronological zone, on the far side of which could be dimly seen
myths of persons and events representing in reality the history of the not
very remote ancestors from whom they had become separated. The early
arrivals would have been too much occupied with establishing themselves in
their new dominions to be able to give much attention to keeping records
or preserving other than the most utilitarian branches of knowledge which
they had brought with them. The volumes of their ancestors were probably,
like the clay tablets of the royal library of Babylon, not of a portable
nature, at all events to fugitives, whose knowledge would, therefore, be
rather of a practical than of a cultivated nature, and this would soon
become limited for a while to their chiefs and religious instructors, the
exigencies of a colony menaced with danger prohibiting any general
acquisition or extension of learning.

In this way we can account for the community of the fables relating to the
remote antiquity of the Chinese with those of Chaldean and Indian
mythology, and with the highly civilized administration and astrological
knowledge possessed by Yao and Shun as herediton of Fuh Hi, &c.

We can account for their possession of accurate delineations of the
dragon, which would form an important decoration of the standards and
robes of ceremony which were companions of their flight, while their
descriptions of the animal and its qualities would have already entered
into the realms of fanciful exaggeration and myth.

The dragon of Yao and Shun's time, and of Yu's time was, in my opinion, an
aquatic creature, an alligator; but the dragon of their ancestors was a
land lizard, which may even have existed down to the time of the great
cataclysm which we call the Deluge, and the memory of which is best
preserved in the Chinese drawings which have been handed down from remote
antiquity, and have travelled from the great Central Asian centre, which
was once alike its habitat and that of their ancestors. Its history may
perhaps become evolved when the great store of book knowledge contained in
the cuneiform tablets, representing the culture of the other branch of
their great ethnological family, has been more extensively explored.

Geologists of the present day have a great objection to the bringing in of
cataclysms to account for any considerable natural changes, but this one I
conceive to have been of so stupendous a nature as to have been quite
capable of both extinguishing a species and confusing the recollection of
it. The mere fact of the story of the dragon having survived such a period
argues greatly, in my mind, for the reality of its previous existence.

Extending our consideration, we are brought face to face with another very
important fact, namely, that a large proportion of the human race content
themselves with ephemeral structures. Thus, for example, the Chinese
neither have now, nor at any time have had, any great architectural works.
"The finest building in China is a reproduction, on a large scale, of the
tent; and the wooden construction is always imitated where the materials
are stone or marble. The supports, often magnificent logs, brought, at
great expense, specially from the Straits, represent tent-poles; and the
roof has always the peaked ends and the curves that recall the drooping
canvas of the marquee. Architecture evidently died early; it never had
life enough to assimilate the new material which it found when it migrated
into China Proper. The yamen is a slightly glorified cottage; the temple
is an improved yamen. Sculpture is equally neglected in this
(æsthetically) benighted country. The human form is as dignified and
sightly, to Chinese eyes at least, in China as in the West; but it never
seems to have occurred, throughout so many hundreds of years, to any
Chinaman to perpetuate it in marble or bronze, or to beautify a city with
statues of its deities or great men."[112]

What holds good of the Chinese now, probably holds good of their ancestors
and the race from which they parted company in Central Asia five thousand
years ago, when they pierced their way eastwards through the savage
aborigines of Thibet and Mongolia, pushing aside tribes which closed in
again behind them, so as to intercept their return or communication with
their mother country--a country which may have been equally careless of
elaborating stupendous and permanent works of architecture such as other
nations glory in possessing, and which, like the pyramids of Egypt and of
Central America, stand forth for thousands of years as landmarks of the

We must, therefore, not be surprised if we do not immediately discover the
vestiges of the people of ten, fifteen, or twenty thousand years ago. With
an ephemeral architecture (which, as we have seen, is all that a highly
populous and long civilized race actually possess), the sites of vast
cities may have become entirely lost to recollection in a few thousands of
years from natural decay, and how much more so would this be the case if,
as we may reasonably argue, minor cataclysms have intervened, such as
local inundations, earthquakes, deposition of volcanic ashes from even
distant sources, the spread of sandy deserts, destruction of life by
exceptionally deadly pestilence, by miasma, or by the outpour of
sulphurous fumes.

We have shown in another chapter how the process of extinction of species
continues to the present day, and from the nature of this process we may
deduce that the number of species which became extinct during the four or
five thousand years preceding the era of exact history must have been

The less remarkable of these would expire unnoticed; and only those
distinguished by their size, ferocity, and dangerous qualities, or by some
striking peculiarity, would leave their impress on the mythology of their
habitat. Their exact history would be lost as the cities of their epoch
crumbled away, and during the passage through dark ages of the people of
their period and their descendants, and by conquest or catastrophes such
as we have referred to elsewhere; while the slow dispersion which appears
to have obtained among all nations would render the record of their
qualities the more confused as the myth which embalmed it spread in
circling waves farther and farther from its original centre.

Amongst the most fell destroyer both of species and of their history must
have been the widespread, although not universal, inundation known as the
Biblical Deluge; a deluge which we think the evidence given in the
foregoing pages, and gathered from divers nations, justifies us in
believing to have really taken place, and not to be, as mythologists
claim, a mere ether myth. As to its date, allowance being made for
trifling errors, there is no reason for disputing the computation of
Jewish chronology, especially as that is closely confirmed by the entirely
independent testimony of Chinese history.

This interposes a vast barrier between us and the knowledge of the past, a
barrier round which we pass for a short distance at either end when we
study the history of the two great streams of nations which have diverged
from a common centre, the Chinese towards the East, the Accadian Chaldæans
and Semites towards the West; a barrier which we may hope to surmount when
we are able to discover and explore the lost cities of that common centre,
with the treasures of art and literature which they must undoubtedly



Intercourse between various parts of the old world and the new was
probably much more intimate even three or four thousand years ago than we,
or at all events our immediate ancestors, have credited. The Deluge
Tablets referred to in another chapter contain items from which we gather
that sea-going vessels, well equipped and with skilled pilots, were in
vogue in the time of Noah, and there is wanting no better proof of their
seaworthiness than the fact that his particular craft was able to weather
a long-continued tempest which would probably have sunk the greater part
of those which keep the seas at the present time. The older Chinese
classics make constant allusions to maritime adventure, and the discovery
by Schliemann in ancient Troy[113] of vases with Chinese inscriptions
confirms the notion that, at that date at least, commercial exchange was
effected between these two widely-distant countries, either directly or by
transfer through different entrepôts.

A more striking example, and one which carries us back to a still earlier
epoch, will be afforded if the reported discovery of Chinese vestigia in
Egyptian tombs is confirmed by further investigation.

The fleets of King Solomon penetrated at least to India, and detached
squadrons[114] probably coasted from island to island along the Malay
archipelago; while to descend by gradation to modern times, we may quote
the circumnavigation of Africa by Hanno the Carthaginian,[115] the
discovery of America prior to Columbus by the Chinese in the fifth
century, from the Asiatic side, and by the Norsemen under Leif Ericsson in
the year 1001, from the European; and the anticipation of the so-called
discoveries of Van Diemen and Tasman by the voyages of Arab and other
navigators, from whose records El Edrisi,[116] in the twelfth century, was
enabled to indicate the existence of New Guinea, and, I think, of the
northern coast of Australia. For although the identity with Mexico of the
country called Fu-sang, visited prior to A.D. 499 by the Buddhist priest
Hoei-shiu, has been disputed, yet the arguments in favour of it seem to
preponderate. These were adduced primarily by Deguignes, and subsequently
by C. F. Neumann, Leland and others, and are based on the facts stated in
the short narrative in regard to distance, description of the Maguey
plant, or great aloe,[117] the absence of iron, and abundance of copper,
gold, and silver.

While there can be little question that the islands and land of Wák Wák
are respectively some of the Sunda islands, New Guinea, and the adjacent
portion of Australia, it does not appear to have struck any of the
commentators on this question that the name "islands of Wák Wák" may be
assumed to signify simply "Bird of Paradise islands." Wallace, in his
_Malay Archipelago_, emphatically remarks that in the interior of the
forests of New Guinea the most striking sound is the cry "Wok Wok" of the
great Bird of Paradise, and we may therefore reasonably speculate on the
bird having been known as the Wok Wok, and the islands as the Wok Wok
islands, just as we ourselves use the imitative names of Cuckoo, Morepork,
or Hoopoe for birds, or Snake islands, Ape Hill, &c. for places.

This view is to an extent strengthened by Wák Wák being the home of the
lovely maiden captured by Hasan (in the charming story of Hasan of El
Basrah in the _Arabian Nights_), after she had divested herself of her
bird skin, and to which he had to make so weary a pilgrimage from island
to island, and sea to sea, in search of her after her escape from him. It
is evident that among the wonders related by navigators of islands so
remote and unfrequented, not the least would be the superavian loveliness
of the Birds of Paradise, and from the exaggerated narratives of
travellers may have arisen the beautiful fable incorporated in the
_Arabian Nights_, as well as that other recorded by Eesa or Moosa the son
of El Mubarak Es Serafee.[118] "Here, too, is a tree that bears fruit like
women with bodies, eyes, limbs, &c. like those of women; they have
beautiful faces, and are suspended by the hair; they come forth from
integuments like large leathern bags; and when they feel the air and the
sun they cry out 'Wák Wák' until their hair is cut, and when it is cut
they die; and the people of these islands understand their cry, and augur
ill from it." This, after all, is not more absurd than the story of the
origin of the barnacle duck, extant and believed in Europe until within
the last century or so.

El Edrisi, who, in common with the geographers of the period, believed in
a great antarctic continent, after describing Sofala with its mines of
gold, abundance of iron, &c., jumps at once to the mainland of Wák Wák,
which he describes as possessing two towns situated on a great gulf
(Carpentaria?), and a savage population.[119]

The two small towns may very well have been encampments of the aborigines,
or trading stations of Malay merchants.

It may be noted that this identification of Wák Wák is in opposition to
the view entertained by some commentators; for example, Professor de Goeje
of Leyden has recently identified the Silâ islands (which had previously
been considered as being Japan) with Corea, and Wák Wák with Japan; but
this does not agree with El Edrisi's account of the people being black,
unclothed, and living on fish, shell, and tortoises (turtles), without
gold, commerce, ships, or beasts of burden. Elsewhere El Edrisi says the
women are entirely naked, and only wear combs of ivory ornamented with
mother of pearl.

Lane thinks the Arabs applied the name of Wák Wák to all the islands with
which they were acquainted on the east and south-east of Borneo. Es
Serafee, beside the details given in a previous note, also says, "From one
of these islands of Wák Wák there issueth a great torrent like pitch,
which floweth into the sea, and the fish are burnt thereby, and float upon
the water." And Hasan, in the story quoted above, has, in order to reach
the last of the seven islands of Wák Wák, to pass over the third island,
the land of the Jinn, "where by reason of the vehemence of the cries of
the Jánn, and the rising of the flames about, of the sparks and the smoke
from their mouths, and the harsh sounds from their throats, and their
insolence, they will obstruct the way before us," &c. &c. I think that in
each of these latter instances, the volcanic islands of Java, and other of
the Sunda islands are indicated.

The information in our possession is as yet too meagre to permit of our
indulging in any profitable consideration of the sources from which
originated those nations which peopled America during the very early
pre-traditional ages, of which geological evidence is accumulating daily.
In fact, the theories on this point have advanced so little beyond the
limits of speculation that I feel it unnecessary to do more than quote one
of them, as summarized in the ensuing extract. "Professor Flowers, in
remarking upon recent palæontological investigations, which prove that an
immense number of forms of terrestrial animals that were formerly supposed
to be peculiar to the Old World are abundant in the New; and that many,
such as the horse, rhinoceros, and the camel, are more numerous in species
and varieties in the latter, infers that the means of land communication
must have been very different to what it is now, and that it is quite as
likely that Asiatic man may have been derived from America as the reverse,
or both may have had their source in a common centre, in some region of
the earth now covered with sea."[120]

The most commonly accepted theory with regard to the origin of those who
have peopled the American continent, within the limits of tradition, is
that they are of Asiatic descent, and that the migration has been effected
in comparatively recent times by way of Behring Straits, and supplemented
by chance passages from Southern Asia by way of the Polynesian islands, or
from the north of Africa, across the Atlantic. There are, however, some
who elaborate Professor Flowers' suggestion, and contend, in opposition to
the more generally received opinion, that the peopling of the present
countries of the Old World has in fact been effected from the New.

For instance, a proficient Aztec scholar, Senor Altamirano[121] of Mexico,
argues that the Aztecs were a race, originating in the unsubmerged parts
of America, as old as the Asiatics themselves, and that Asia may in fact
have been peopled from Mexico; while Mr. E. J. Elliott, in quoting him,
says: "From the ruins recently found, the most northern of any yet
discovered, the indications of improved architecture, the work of
different ages, can be traced in a continual chain to Mexico, when they
culminate in massive and imposing structures, thus giving some proof by
circumstantial evidence to Altamirano's reasoning."

Again, "Dr. Rudolf Falb[122] discovers that the language spoken by the
Indians in Peru and Bolivia, especially in Quichua and Aymara, exhibits
the most astounding affinities with the Semitic languages, and
particularly with the Arabic--in which tongue Dr. Falb himself has been
skilled from his boyhood. Following up the links of this discovery, he has
first found a connecting link with the Aryan roots, and, secondly, has
arrived face to face with the surprising revelation that the Semitic roots
are universally Aryan. The common stems of all the variants are found in
their purest condition in Quichua and Aymara, from which fact Dr. Falb
derives the conclusion that the high plains of Peru and Bolivia must be
regarded as the point of exit of the present human race."

On the other hand, Mr. E. B. Tylor, in the course of an article upon
Backgammon among the Aztecs,[123] which he argues must have reached them
from Asia, and very likely through Mexico, points out that the myths and
religion of the North American tribes contain many fancies well known to
Asia, which they were hardly likely to have hit upon independently, and
which they had not learned from white men: "Such as the quaint belief that
the world is a monstrous tortoise floating on the waters; and an idea
which the Sioux have in common with the Tartars, that it is sinful to chop
or poke with a sharp instrument the burning log on the fire." He quotes
Alexander von Humboldt as having "argued years ago that the Mexicans did
and believed things which were at once so fanciful and so like the fancies
of the Asiatics that there must have been communication. Would two
nations," he asks, "have taken independently to forming calendars of days
and years by repeating and combining cycles of animals, such as tiger,
dog, ape, hare, &c.? Would they have developed independently similar
astrological fancies about these signs governing the periods they began,
and being influential each over a particular limb or organ of men's
bodies? Would they, again, have evolved separately out of this
consciousness the myths of the world and its inhabitants having, at the
end of several successive periods, been destroyed by elemental

He adds, "It may very well have been the same agency which transported to
Mexico the art of bronze-making, the computation of time by periods of
dogs and apes, the casting of nativity, and the playing of backgammon."

Then, again, we have the theory of those, now indeed few in number, who
hold that the present Indian inhabitants of America were a distinctly
indigenous race. Lord Kaimes, in his _Sketches of the History of Man_,
says, "I venture still further, which is to conjecture that America has
not been peopled from any part of the Old World." Voltaire had preceded
him in this line of argument, relying on ridicule rather than on reason.
"The same persons that readily admit that the beavers of Canada are of
Canadian origin, assert that the men must have come there in boats, and
that Mexico must have been peopled by some of the descendants of

Missionaries of various sects have endeavoured to identify the Red man
with the lost ten tribes. Adair conceived the language of the Southern
Indians to be a corruption of Hebrew, and the Jesuit Lafitan, in his
history of the savages of America, maintained that the Caribee language
was radically Hebrew.

Mr. John Josselyn,[125] in an account of the Mohawks, states that their
language is a dialect of the Tartars, and Dr. Williamson, in his history
of North Carolina, considers it can hardly be questioned that the Indians
of South America are descended from a class of the Hindoos in the southern
part of Asia.

Amongst others, Captain Don Antonio del Rio, who described the ruins of an
ancient city in Guatemala, believed that they were the relics of a
civilization founded by Phœnician colonists who had crossed the Atlantic
ocean; and yet another theory is propounded by Mr. Knox,[126] who
considers the extinct Guanches, formerly inhabiting the Canary and Cape de
Verde islands, to have closely resembled the Egyptians in certain
particulars. He goes on to observe, "Now cross the Atlantic, and in a
nearly parallel zone of the earth, or at least in one not far removed, we
stumble all at once upon the ruined cities of Copan and Central America.
To our astonishment, notwithstanding the breadth of the Atlantic,
vestiges, of a nature not to be doubted, of a thoroughly Egyptian
character reappear--hieroglyphics, monolithic temples, pyramids; who
erected these monuments on the American continent? Perhaps at some remote
period the continents were not so far apart, they might have been united,
thus forming a zone or circle of the earth occupied by a pyramid-building

It is not impossible that all of these theories may be correct, and that
numerous migrations may have been made at various periods by different
nations, the most facile would of course be that from North-Eastern Asia
by way of the Aleutian islands, for, as the author of _Fu-sang_ well
remarks, a sailor in an open boat might cross from Asia to America by that
route in summer time, and hardly ever be out of sight of land; and this in
a part of the sea generally abounding in fish, as is proved by the
fishermen who inhabit many of these islands, on which fresh water is
always to be found. But it is more than likely that the direct route,
from the islands of Japan to the coast of California or Mexico, was also
occasionally followed, voluntarily or involuntarily, by mariners impelled
by enterprise, religious motives, or stress of weather.

Colonel B. Kennon, as an evidence of the possibility of junks performing
long ocean voyages, adduces the instance of a Japanese junk picked up by
an American whaler two thousand three hundred miles south-east of Japan,
and of others which had drifted among the Aleutian islands nearly half-way
over to San Francisco; and in noting the resemblance and probable
co-origin of the Sandwich Islanders with the Japanese, he adverts to the
"ancient and confirmed habit of both Japanese and Chinese of taking women
to sea with them, or of traders keeping their families on board, which
would fully account for the population of those islands," or, to extend
the argument, of points on the American continent. The Jewish element
might easily be introduced through this channel, for the occasional
admixture of Jewish blood both among the Chinese and Japanese is so
strongly marked, as to have induced some authors to contend for the
absolute descent of the latter people at least from Jewish parentage.

It must also be remembered that the waters of both the North and South
Pacific are peculiarly favourable to the navigation of small craft, and
that Captain Bligh, after the mutiny on board the _Bounty_, was able to
safely perform a journey of two thousand miles in an open boat; while all
the islands both in North and South Polynesia must necessarily have been
gradually peopled by the drifting over the ocean of stray canoes.

Again, as the tradition of the existence of a large continent west of the
African coast was extant amongst the Egyptian priests long before the days
of Solon, and, as I shall show hereafter, among the Carthaginians and
Tyrrhenians, it is, I think, more than probable that both Phœnician and
Egyptian mariners, either acting under a Royal Commission, or influenced
by mercantile considerations, would endeavour to discover it, and, as in
the case of Columbus, would have no difficulty in stretching across the
Atlantic before a fair trade wind, though they might be less successful
than him on their return.

The possibility of the existence of a large island or continent, midway
between the Old and New World, within the traditional period, is included
in the important question, which is still _sub judice_ amongst geologists,
whether the general disposition of land and water has or has not been
variable during past ages. Sir Charles Lyell held the first view, and was
of opinion[127] that complete alternations of the positions of continent
and ocean had repeatedly occurred in geological time.

The opposite idea has been suggested at various dates by eminent
authorities, suggested rather than sustained by elaborate arguments, until
recently, when the question has been re-examined by Mr. Wallace and Dr.

The former, in that chapter of island life devoted to the permanence of
continents, dwells forcibly upon Dr. Darwin's inference from the paucity
of oceanic islands affording fragments of either Palæozoic or Secondary
formations "that _perhaps_ during the Palæozoic and Secondary periods
neither continents nor continental islands existed where our oceans now
extend; for, had they existed, Palæozoic and Secondary formations would in
all probability have been accumulated from sediment derived from their
wear and tear; and these would have been at least partially upheaved by
the oscillations of level which must have intervened during these
enormously long periods. If, then, we may infer anything from these facts,
we may infer that, where our oceans now extend, oceans have extended from
the remotest period of which we have any record; and, on the other hand,
that where continents now exist, large tracts of land have existed,
subjected no doubt to great oscillations of level, since the Cambrian

I am not aware whether Dr. Darwin has expressed himself more
authoritatively on this point in later works, or whether the whole
question has been discussed in detail otherwise than by Mr. Wallace in the
chapter referred to, in which he quotes what must, I think, after all,
only be taken in the light of a suggestion as an auxiliary to the powerful
arguments which he himself has enunciated in favour of a similar
conclusion. There is no doubt that the paucity of any but volcanic or
coralline islands throughout the greatest extent of existing oceans has a
certain but not absolute significance, so far as recent geological epochs
are concerned.

There is another line of reasoning, debated by Mr. Wallace, based on the
formation of the Palæozoic and Secondary strata from the waste of broken
continents and islands occupying generally the site of the existing
continents, and separated by insignificant distances of inland sea or
extensions from the adjacent oceans. It is soundly based on their
lithological structure, as generally indicative of a littoral and shallow
water origin, but it seems to me to be only positive so far as it shows
that, throughout geological time, some land has existed somewhere within
the limits of the present upheaval, and simply negative as to what may or
may not have been the condition of what are now the great ocean spaces of
the world. Indeed, it would at first sight seem only reasonable to infer,
that the very depressions which caused the inundations of Europe and Asia,
during the deposition of any important formation, would imply a
corresponding elevation elsewhere, in order that the same relative areas
of land and water might be maintained.

This view has, however, been reduced in its proportions by Dr. Carpenter,
who has levelled the results of the recent researches by the _Challenger_
expedition against the advocates of the intermutations of land and ocean,
and, in pursuing another line of reasoning from Mr. Wallace, has estimated
the solid contents of ocean and land above the sea-level respectively, as
bearing the proportion of thirty-six to one. So that, supposing all the
existing land of the globe to sink down to the sea-level, this subsidence
would be balanced by the elevation of only one thirty-sixth part of the
existing ocean floor from its present depth to the same level.

It must be admitted that the balance of argument was until lately
considerably against the former existence of the country of Atlantis,
whose ghostly outlines, however, we could almost imagine to be sketched
out by faint contours in the chart illustrative of the North Atlantic
portion of the _Challenger_ investigations. But it was not so overwhelming
as to entitle us to ignore the story entirely as a fable. I do not
conceive it impossible that some centrally situated and perhaps volcanic
island may once have existed, sufficiently important to have served as the
basis of simple legends, which, under the enchantment of distance and time
became metamorphosed and enriched.

Mr. A. R. Grote suggests that it is simply a myth founded on the
observation of low-lying clouds in a sun-flushed sky, which gave the
appearance like islands on a golden sea.

Mr. Donelly, on the other hand, in a very exhaustive and able volume,
contends first, that Atlantis actually existed, and secondly, that it was
the origin of our present civilization, that its kings are represented by
the gods of Greek mythology, and that its destruction originated our
Deluge story.

The well-known story is contained in an epic of Plato, of which two
fragments only remain, found in two dialogues (the Timæus and the
Critias). Critias is represented as telling an old-world story, handed
down in his family from his great-grandfather Dropidas, who had heard it
from Solon, who had it from the Egyptian priests of Sais.[129]

Ælian, again, contains an extract from Theophrastus, who wrote in the time
of Alexander the Great, which can hardly imply anything else than an
acquaintance with America. It is in the form of a dialogue between Midas
the Phrygian and Silenus.

The latter informs Midas that Europe, Asia, and Africa were but islands
surrounded on all sides by sea, but that there was a continent situated
beyond these which was of immense dimensions, even without limits, and
that it was so luxuriant as to produce animals of prodigious magnitude.
That there men grew to double the size of themselves, and that they lived
to a far greater age, that they had many cities, and their usages and laws
were different from their own; that in one city there was more than a
million of inhabitants, and that gold and silver were there in vast

Diodorus Siculus gives an account of what could only have been the
mainland of America, or one of the West Indian islands; it is as follows.

"After cursorily mentioning the islands within the Pillars of Hercules,
let us treat of those further ones in the open ocean, for towards Africa
there is a very large island in the great ocean sea, situated many days'
sail from Libya towards the west.

"Its soil is fruitful, a great part rising in mountains, but still with no
scarcity of level expanse, which excels in pleasantness, for navigable
rivers flow through and irrigate it. Gardens abound, stored with various
trees and numerous orchards, intersected by pleasant streams.

"The towns are adorned with sumptuous edifices, and drinking taverns,
beautifully situated in gardens, are everywhere met with; as the
convenient situation of these largely invites to pleasure, they are
frequented during the summer season.

"The mountain region possesses numerous and large forests, and various
kinds of fruitful trees. It everywhere presents deep valleys and springs
suitable for mountain recreations.

"Indeed the whole of this island is watered with springs of sweet water,
which gives rise not merely to the pleasure of its inhabitants, but also
to an accession of their health and strength.

"Hunting furnishes all kinds of game, the abundance of which in their
banquets leaves nothing to be desired.

"Moreover, the sea which washes against this island abounds with fish,
since the ocean, from its nature everywhere, affords a variety of fish.

"Finally, the temperature is very genial, from which it results that the
trees bear fruit throughout the greater part of the year.

"Lastly, it excels so much in felicity as to resemble the habitations of
the gods rather than of men.

"Formerly it was unknown, on account of the remoteness of its situation
from the rest of the world, but accident disclosed its position. The
Phœnicians have been in the habit of making frequent passages, for the
sake of commerce, from the very oldest dates, from whence it resulted that
they were the founders of many of the African colonies, and of not a few
of those European ones situated to the west; and when they had yielded to
the idea which had entered their minds, of enriching themselves greatly,
they passed out beyond the Pillars of Hercules into the sea which is
called the Ocean, and they first founded a city called Gades, on the
European peninsula, and near the straits of the Pillars [of Hercules] in
which, when others had flocked to it, they instituted a sumptuous temple
to Hercules. This temple has been held in the utmost veneration both in
ancient times and during later periods up to the present day; therefore
many Romans of illustrious nobility and reputation pronounce their vows to
that god, and happily discharge their obligations.

"The Phœnicians for this reason continued their exploration beyond the
Pillars, and when they were sailing along the African coast, being carried
off by a tempest to a distant part of the ocean, were driven by the
violence of the storm, after a period of many days, to the island of which
I have spoken, and having first acquainted themselves with its nature and
pleasing characters, introduced it to the notice of others. On that
account, the Tyrrhenians, also obtaining the empire of the sea, determined
on a colony there, but the Carthaginians prevented them, both because they
feared lest many of their citizens, being allured by the advantages of the
island, might migrate there, and because they wished to have a refuge
prepared for themselves against a sudden stroke of fortune, if by chance
the Carthaginian Republic should receive any deadly blow, for they
contemplated that they would be able, while yet powerful at sea, to
transport themselves and their families to the island unknown to the

Among the many proofs which may be cited of community of origin between
the Asiatics and certainly a large proportion of the American population
is the practice of scalping enemies, quoted by Herodotus as prevalent
amongst the Scythians, and universally existing amongst all tribes of
North American Indians; the discovery of jade ornaments amongst Mexican
remains, and the general esteem in which that material is held by the
Chinese; the use of the Quipos among the Peruvians, and the assertion in
the _I-king_, or Book of Change, one of the oldest of the Chinese
Classics, that "The ancients knotted cords to express their meaning, but
in the next age the sages renounced the custom and adopted a system of
written characters;"[131] the discovery of the meander pattern among
Peruvian relics, and the common use of this ornamentation on Chinese vases
and tripods, at dates long preceding the Trojan era, in which it is
commonly supposed to have originated; the similarity of the features of
Chinese, and other Mongols, with those of various Indian tribes; the
resemblance of masks and various other remains to Chinese patterns
discovered recently by Desirée de Charnay in Central America; and the
reserve and stolid demeanour of both races. A good illustration of this is
afforded by the story told of the celebrated statesman Sieh Ngan (A.D.
320-385), in Mayer's _Chinese Reader's Manual_; it could be imagined to
apply to any Indian sachem.

It is related of Sieh Ngan that, at the time when the capital was menaced
by the advancing forces of Fukien, he sat one day over a game of chess
with a friend, when a despatch was handed to him, which he calmly read and
then continued the game. On being asked what the news was, he replied: "It
is merely an announcement that my young people have beaten the enemy." The
intelligence was, in fact, of the decisive rout of the invaders by the
army under his brother Sieh She and his nephew Sieh Hüan. Only when
retired within the seclusion of his private apartments did he give himself
up to an outburst of joy. The very expression "my young people" is the
equivalent of "my young men" which the Indian chief would have employed.

A singular custom prevails among the Petivaces, an Indian tribe of
Brazil.[132] "When they are delivered of a child, and ought to have all
the ceremony and attendance proper to a lying-in woman, the husband
presently lies down in his hammock (as if he had been brought to bed
himself), and all his wives and neighbours come about and serve him. This
is a pleasant fancy indeed, that the woman must take all the pains to
bring the child into the world, and then the man lie down and gruntle upon

Compare with this the account given by Marco Polo of the same custom
prevalent among the Miau-tze, or aborigines of China, as distinguished
from their present occupants. Their reduction to submission is recorded in
the early works on the country.

"Proceeding five days' journey, in a westerly direction from Karazan, you
enter the province of Kardandan belonging to the dominion of the great
Khan, and of which the principal city is named Vochang (probably
Yung-chang in the western part of Yunnan). These people have the following
singular usage. As soon as a woman has been delivered of a child, and
rising from her bed, has washed and swathed the infant, her husband
immediately takes the place she has left, has the child beside him, and
nurses it for forty days. In the meantime the friends and relations of the
family pay to him their visits of congratulation; whilst the woman attends
to the business of the house, carries victuals and drink to the husband in
his bed, and suckles the infant at his side."[133]

We find a reference in _Hudibras_ to this grotesque practice, in which it
is imputed, but erroneously, to the Chinese themselves, and it reappears
on the western side of Europe, among those singular people the Basques,
who have their own especial Deluge tradition, and use a language which,
according to Humboldt, approaches some of the dialects of the North
American Indians more nearly than any other. They profess to trace the
custom up to Aïtor or Noah, whose wife bore a son to him when they were in
exile, and, being afraid to stay by herself for fear of being discovered
and murdered, bade her husband take care of the child, while she went out
to search for food and firing.

The change of name which prevails among the Chinese and Japanese in both
sexes, at different periods of life, is also found upon the other
continent,[134] where males and females when they come to years of
discretion do not retain the names they had when young, and, if they do
any remarkable deed, assume a new name upon it.

Less importance is to be attached to the coincidence of sun worship,
Deluge tradition, and the preservation of ancestral ashes.[135] These,
though probably not, might have been indigenous; but we can hardly
conceive this of serpent worship, which Mr. Fergusson suggests arose among
a people of Turanian origin, from which it spread to every country or land
of the Old World in which a Turanian settled. The coincidence between the
serpent mounds of North America and such an one as is described by M.
Phené in Argyllshire[136] is remarkable; and still more so is that between
the Mexican myth of the fourfold destruction of the world by fire and
water, with those current among the Egyptians and that of the four ages in
the Hindu mythology.

Another coincidence, although perhaps of minor value, will be seen in the
dresses of the soldiers of China and Mexico, as noted in the passages
annexed. "Thus, in our own time, the Chinese soldiers wear a dress
resembling the tiger skin, and the cap, which nearly covers the face, is
formed to represent the head of a tiger";[137] while the Mexican warriors,
according to Spanish historians, "wore enormous wooden helmets in the form
of a tiger's head, the jaws of which were armed with the teeth of this

Mr. C. Wolcott-Brooks, in an address to the California Academy of Science,
has pointed out that, according to Chinese annals, Tai Ko Fo Kee, the
great stranger-king, ruled the kingdom of China, and that he is always
represented in pictures with two small horns like those associated with
the representation of Moses. He and his successors are said to have
introduced into China "picture writing" like that in use in Central
America at the time of the Spanish conquest. Now there has been found at
Copan, in Central America, a figure strikingly like the Chinese symbol of
Fo Kee, with his two horns. "Either," says Mr. Brooks, "one people learned
from the other, or both acquired their forms from a common source."

In reviewing all these cases we cannot fail to perceive that early and
frequent communication must have taken place between the two worlds, and
that the myths of one have probably been carried with them by the migrants
to the other.




The dragon is defined in the _Encyclopædia Britannica_ for 1877 as "the
name given by the ancients to a huge winged lizard or serpent (fabulous)."

[Illustration: FIG. 33.--_Draco_, OR FLYING LIZARD FROM SINGAPORE. (_After
N. B. Dennys._)]

The text also goes on to state that "they (the ancients) regarded it as
the enemy of mankind, and its overthrow is made to figure among the
greatest exploits of the gods and heroes of heathen mythology. A dragon
watched the gardens of the Hesperides, and its destruction formed one of
the seven labours of Hercules. Its existence does not seem to have been
called in question by the older naturalists; figures of the dragon
appearing in the works of Gesner and Aldrovandus, and even specimens of
the monster, evidently formed artificially of portions of different
animals, have been exhibited." A reference is also made to the genus
Draco, comprising eighteen specimens of winged lizards, all small, and
peculiar to India and the islands of the Malay archipelago.

Such is the meagre account of a creature which figures in the history and
mythology of all nations, which in its different forms has been worshipped
as a god, endowed with beneficent and malevolent attributes, combatted as
a monster, or supposed to have possessed supernatural power, exercised
alternately for the benefit or chastisement of mankind.

Its existence is inseparably wedded to the history, from the most remote
antiquity, of a nation which possesses connected and authentic memoirs
stretching uninterruptedly from the present day far into the remote past;
on which the belief in its existence has been so strongly impressed, that
it retains its emblem in its insignia of office, in its ornamentation of
furniture, utensils, and dwellings, and commemorates it annually in the
competition of dragon boats, and the processions of dragon images; which
believes, or affects to believe, in its continued existence in the pools
of the deep, and the clouds of the sky; which propitiates it with
sacrifices and ceremonies, builds temples in its honour, and cultivates
its worship; whose legends and traditions teem with anecdotes of its
interposition in the affairs of man, and whose scientific works, of
antiquity rivalling that of our oldest Western Classics, treat of its
existence as a sober and accepted fact, and differentiate its species with
some exactness. It is, moreover, though not very frequently, occasionally
referred to in the Biblical history of that other ancient, and almost
equally conservative branch of the human race, the Jews, not as a myth, or
doubtfully existent supernatural monster, but as a tangible reality, an
exact terrible creature.

Equally do we find it noticed in those other valuable records of the past
which throw cross lights upon the Bible narrative, and confirm by
collateral facts the value of its historic truth; such as the fragments
of Chaldæan history handed down by the reverent care of later historians,
the careful narrative of Josephus, and the grand resurrection of Chaldæan
and Assyrian lore effected by the marvellously well directed and fortunate
labour of G. H. Smith and those who follow in his train.


Among the earliest classics of Europe, its existence is asserted as a
scientific fact, and accepted by poets as a sound basis for analogies,
comparisons, allegories, and fable; it appears in the mythology of the
Goth, and is continued through the tradition and fable of every country of
Europe; nor does it fail to appear even in the imperfect traditions of the
New World,[139] where its presence may be considered as comparatively
indigenous, and undetermined by the communications dependent on the
so-called discovery of later days.

Turning to other popular accounts, we find equally limited and incredible
versions of it. All consider it sufficiently disposed of by calling it
fabulous,[140] and that a sufficient explanation of any possible belief in
it is afforded by a reference[141] to the harmless genus of existing
flying lizards referred to above.

Some consider it an evolution of the fancy, typifying noxious principles;
thus, Chambers[142] says, "The dragon appears in the mythical history and
legendary poetry of almost every nation as the emblem of the destructive
and anarchical principle; ... as misdirected physical force and untamable
animal passions.... The dragon proceeds openly to work, running on its
feet with expanded wings, and head and tail erect, violently and
ruthlessly outraging decency and propriety, spouting fire and fury both
from mouth and tail, and wasting and devastating the whole land."

The point which strikes me as most interesting in this passage is the
reference to the legendary theory of the mode of the dragon's progress,
which curiously calls to mind the semi-erect attitude of the existing
small Australian frilled lizard (_Chlamydosaurus_). This attitude is also
ascribed to some of the extinct American Dinosaurs, such as the

No one, so far as I am aware, in late days has hitherto ventured to uphold
the claims of this terrible monster to be accepted as a real contemporary
of primitive man,[143] which may even have been co-existent with him to a
comparatively recent date, and but lately passed away into the cohort of
extinct species, leaving behind it only the traditions of its ferocity and
terrors, to stamp their impression on the tongues of all countries.

No one has endeavoured to collate the vast bulk of materials shrouded in
the stories of all lands. If this were perfectly effected, a diagnosis of
the real nature of the dragon might perhaps be made, and the chapter of
its characteristics, alliances, and habits completed like that of any
other well-established species.

The following sketch purposes only to initiate the task here propounded,
the author's access to materials being limited, and only sufficient to
enable him, as he thinks, to establish generally the proposition which it
involves, to grasp as it were some of the broader and salient features of
the investigation, while leaving a rich gleaning of corroborative
information for the hand of any other who may please to continue and
extend his observations.

At the outset it will be necessary to assign a much more extended
signification to the word dragon than that which is contained in the
definition at the head of this chapter. The popular mind of the present
day doubtless associates it always with the idea of a creature possessing
wings; but the _Lung_ of the Chinese, the δράκων of the Greeks, the
_Draco_ of the Romans, the Egyptian dragon, and the _Nâga_ of the Sanscrit
have no such limited signification, and appear to have been sometimes
applied to any serpent, lacertian, or saurian, of extraordinary
dimensions, nor is it always easy to determine from the passages in which
these several terms occur what kind of monster is specially indicated.

Thus the dragon referred to by Propertius in the quotation annexed may
have been a large python. "Lanuvium[144] is, of old, protected by an aged
dragon; here, where the occasion of an amusement so seldom occurring is
not lost, where is the abrupt descent into a dark and hollowed cave; where
is let down--maiden, beware of every such journey--the honorary tribute to
the fasting snake, when he demands his yearly food, and hisses and twists
deep down in the earth. Maidens, let down for such a rite, grow pale, when
their hand is unprotectedly trusted in the snake's mouth. He snatches at
the delicacies if offered by a maid; the very baskets tremble in the
virgin's hands; if they are chaste, they return and fall on the necks of
their parents, and the farmers cry 'We shall have a fruitful year.'"[145]

To the same class may probably be ascribed the dragon referred to by
Aristotle.[146] "The eagle and the dragon are enemies, for the eagle feeds
on serpents"; and again,[147] "the Glanis in shallow water is often
destroyed by the dragon serpent." It might perhaps be supposed that the
crocodile is here referred to, but this is specially spoken of in another
passage, as follows[148]: "But there are others which, though they live
and feed in the water, do not take in water but air, and produce their
young out of the water; many of these animals are furnished with feet, as
the otter and crocodile, and others are without feet, as the

A somewhat inexplicable habit is ascribed to the dragon in Book ix.[149]:
"When the draco has eaten much fruit, it seeks the juice of the bitter
lettuce; it has been seen to do this."

Pliny, probably quoting Aristotle,[150] also states that the dragon
relieves the nausea which affects it in spring with the juices of the
lettuce; and Ælian[151] repeats the story.

It is also probable that some large serpent is intended by Pliny in the
story which he relates,[152] after Democritus, that a man called Thoas was
preserved in Arcadia by a dragon. When a boy, he had become attached to it
and had reared it very tenderly; but his father, being alarmed at the
nature and monstrous size of the reptile, had taken and left it in the
desert. Thoas being here attacked by robbers who lay in ambush, he was
delivered from them by the dragon, which recognized his voice and came to
his assistance. It may be noted in regard to this that there are many
authenticated instances of snakes evidencing considerable affection for
those who have treated them with kindness.[153]

The impression that Pliny's dragon was intended to represent some large
boa or python is strengthened by his statement:[154] "The dragon is a
serpent destitute of venom; its head placed beneath the threshold of a
door, the gods being duly propitiated by prayers, will ensure good fortune
to the house, it is said."

It is remarkable that he attributes to the dragon the same desire and
capacity to attack the elephant as is attributed to the Pa snake in
Western China, and by the old Arabian voyagers to serpents in Borneo.

The _Shan-hai-king_, a Chinese work of extreme antiquity, of which special
mention will be made hereafter, says: "The Pa snake swallows elephants,
after three years it ejects the bones; well-to-do people, eating it, are
cured of consumption."

Diodorus Siculus, in speaking of the region of the Nile in Libya, says
that, according to report, very large serpents are produced there and in
great numbers, and that these attack elephants when they gather around the
watering places, involve them in their folds till they fall exhausted, and
then devour them.

Diodorus, in another passage referring to the crocodiles and hippopotami
of Egypt, speaking of Ethiopia and Libya, mentions a variety of serpents
as well as of other wild beasts, including dragons of unusual size and

While El Edrisi says: "On peut encore citer le serpent de Zaledj dont
parlent Ben Khordadébe, l'auteur du Livre des Merveilles, et divers autres
écrivains qui s'accordent à dire qu'il existe dans les montagnes de l'ile
de Zaledj une espèce de serpent qui attaque l'elephant et le buffle, et
qui ne les abandonnent qu'après les avoir vaincu."[155]

Artemidorus, also, according to Strabo,[156] "mentions serpents of thirty
cubits in length, which can master elephants and bulls. In this he does
not exaggerate; but the Indian and African serpents are of a more fabulous
size, and are said to have grass growing on their backs."

Iphicrates, according to Bryant, "related that in Mauritania there were
dragons of such extent that grass grew upon their backs."

It is doubtful whether large serpents, or real dragons, are referred to by
Pliny in the following interesting passages which I give at length: the
surprise which he expresses at Juba's believing that they had crests,
leads me to suspect that there was possibly some confusion of species
involved; that Juba might have been perfectly accurate so far as the
crests are concerned, and that the beasts in question, in place of being
pythons of magnitude, were rather some gigantic lizard-like creature, of
great length and little bulk, corresponding with the Chinese idea of the
dragon, and, therefore, naturally bearing horny crests, similar to those
with which the monster is usually represented by the latter people.

It must be noticed here, that if we postulate the existence of the dragon,
we are not bound to limit ourselves to a single species, or even two, as
the same causes which effected the gradual destruction of one would be
exceedingly likely to effect that of another; we must not, therefore, be
too critical in comparing descriptions of different authors in different
countries and epochs, since they may refer only to allied, but not
identical, animals.

"Africa produces elephants, but it is India that produces the largest, as
well as the _dragon_, who is perpetually at war with the elephant, and is
itself of so enormous a size, as easily to envelop the elephants with its
folds, and encircle them in its coils. The contest is equally fatal to
both; the elephant, vanquished, falls to the earth, and by its weight
crushes the dragon which is entwined around it.[158]

"The sagacity which every animal exhibits in its own behalf is wonderful,
but in these it is remarkably so. The dragon has much difficulty in
climbing up to so great a height, and therefore, watching the road, which
bears marks of their footsteps, when going to feed, it darts down upon
them from a lofty tree. The elephant knows that it is quite unable to
struggle against the folds of the serpent, and so seeks for trees or rocks
against which to rub itself.

"The dragon is on its guard against this, and tries to prevent it, by
first of all confining the legs of the elephant with the folds of its
tail; while the elephant, on the other hand, tries to disengage itself
with its trunk. The dragon, however, thrusts its head into its nostrils,
and thus, at the same moment, stops the breath, and wounds the most tender
parts. When it is met unexpectedly, the dragon raises itself up, faces its
opponent, and flies more especially at the eyes; this is the reason why
elephants are so often found blind, and worn to a skeleton with hunger and

"There is another story, too, told in relation to these combats. The blood
of the elephant, it is said, is remarkably cold; for which reason, in the
parching heats of summer, it is sought by the dragon with remarkable
avidity. It lies, therefore, coiled up and concealed in the river, in wait
for the elephants when they come to drink; upon which it darts out,
fastens itself around the trunk, and then fixes its teeth behind the ear,
that being the only place which the elephant cannot protect with the
trunk. The dragons, it is said, are of such vast size that they can
swallow the whole of the blood; consequently the elephant, being drained
of its blood, falls to the earth exhausted; while the dragon, intoxicated
with the draught, is crushed beneath it, and so shares its fate.[159]

"Æthiopia produces dragons, not so large as those of India, but still
twenty cubits in length. The only thing that surprises me is, how Juba
came to believe that they have crests. The Æthiopians are known as the
Asachæi, among whom they most abound; and we are told that on those coasts
four or five of them are found twisted and interlaced together like so
many osiers in a hurdle, and thus setting sail, with their heads erect,
they are borne along upon the waves to find better sources of nourishment
in Arabia."[160]

Pliny then goes on to describe, as _separate from dragons, large serpents
in India_, as follows.

"Megasthenes[161] informs us that in India serpents grow to such an
immense size as to swallow stags and bulls; while Metrodorus says that
about the river Rhyndacus, in Pontus, they seize and swallow the birds
that are flying above them, however high and however rapid their flight.

"It is a well-known fact that during the Punic war, at the river Bagrada,
a serpent one hundred and twenty feet in length was taken by the Roman
army under Regulus, being besieged, like a fortress, by means of balistæ
and other engines of war. _Its skin and jaws_ were preserved in a temple
at Rome down to the time of the Numantine war.

"The serpents, which in Italy are known by the name of boa, render these
accounts far from incredible, for they grow to such vast size that a child
was found entire in the stomach of one of them which was killed on the
Vaticanian Hill during the reign of Emperor Claudius."[162]

Aristotle tells us that "in Libya, the serpents, as it has been already
remarked, are very large. For some persons say that as they sailed along
the coast, they saw the bones of many oxen, and that it was evident to
them that they had been devoured by serpents. And, as the ships passed on,
the serpents attacked the triremes, and some of them threw themselves upon
one of the triremes and overturned it."[163]

It is doubtful whether the dragons described by Benjamin of Tudela, who
travelled through Europe and the East and returned to Castille in
1173,[164] as infesting the ruins of the palace of Nebuchodonosor at
Babylon, so as to render them inaccessible, were creatures of the
imagination such as the mediæval mind seems to have loved to dress up, or
venomous serpents. But there is little doubt that the so-called dragons of
later voyages were simply boas, pythons, or other large serpents, such as
those described by John Leo, in his description of a voyage to Africa, as
existing in the caverns of Atlas. He says, "There are many monstrous
dragons which are thick about the middle, but have slender necks and
tails, so that their motion is but slow.[165] They are so venomous, that
whatever they bite or touch, certain death ensues." There is also the
statement of Job Ludolphus that (in Æthiopia) "the dragons are of the
largest size, very voracious, but not venomous."[166]

I fancy that at the present day the numbers, magnitude, and terrifying
nature of serpents but feebly represent the power which they asserted in
the early days of man's existence, or the terror which they then inspired.
This subject has been so ably dealt with by a writer of the last
century[167] that I feel no hesitation in transcribing his remarks at

"It is probable, in early times, when the arts were little known and
mankind were but thinly scattered over the earth, that serpents,
continuing undisturbed possessors of the forest, grew to an amazing
magnitude, and every other tribe of animals fell before them. It then
might have happened that the serpents reigned tyrants of the district for
centuries together. To animals of this kind, grown by time and rapacity to
one hundred or one hundred and fifty feet long, the lion, the tiger, and
even the elephant itself were but feeble opponents. That horrible fetor,
which even the commonest and the most harmless snakes are still found to
diffuse, might in these larger ones become too powerful for any living
being to withstand, and while they preyed without distinction, they might
also have poisoned the atmosphere round them. In this manner, having for
ages lived in the hidden and unpeopled forest, and finding, as their
appetites were more powerful, the quantity of their prey decreasing, it is
possible they might venture boldly from their retreats into the more
cultivated parts of the country, and carry consternation among mankind, as
they had before desolation among the lower ranks of nature.

"We have many histories of antiquity presenting us such a picture, and
exhibiting a whole nation sinking under the ravages of a single serpent.
At that time man had not learned the art of uniting the efforts of many to
effect one great purpose. Opposing multitudes only added new victims to
the general calamity, and increased mutual embarrassment and terror. The
animal, therefore, was to be singly opposed by him who had the greatest
strength, the best armour, and the most undaunted courage. In such an
encounter hundreds must have fallen, till one more lucky than the rest, by
a fortunate blow, or by taking the monster in its torpid interval and
surcharged with spoil, might kill and thus rid his country of the
destroyer. Such was the original occupation of heroes.

"But as we descend into more enlightened antiquity we find these animals
less formidable, as being attacked in a more successful manner.

"We are told that while Regulus led his army along the banks of the river
Bagrada in Africa, an enormous serpent disputed his passage over. We are
assured by Pliny that it was one hundred and twenty feet long, and that it
had destroyed many of the army. At last, however, the battering engines
were brought out against it, and then, assailing it at a distance, it was
destroyed. Its spoils were carried to Rome, and the general was decreed an
ovation for his success.

"There are, perhaps, few facts better ascertained in history than this: an
ovation was a remarkable honour, and was only given for some signal
exploit that did not deserve a triumph. No historian would offer to invent
that part of the story, at least, without being subject to the most
shameful detection.

"The skin was kept for several years after, in the Capitol, and Pliny says
he saw it there.

"This tribe of animals, like that of fishes, seem to have no bounds put to
their growth; their bones are in a great measure cartilaginous, and they
are consequently capable of great extension.

"The older, therefore, a serpent becomes, the larger it grows, and, as
they live to a great age, they arrive at an enormous size. Leguat assures
us that he saw one in Java that was fifty feet long.[168] Carli mentions
their growing to above forty feet, and there is now in the British Museum
one that measures thirty-two feet.

"Mr. Wentworth, who had large concerns in the Berbice in America, assures
us that in that country they grow to an enormous length. He describes an
Indian mistaking one for a log, and proceeding to sit down on it, when it
began to move. A soldier with him shot the snake, but the Indian died of
fright. It measured thirty-six feet. It was sent to the Hague.

"A life of savage hostility in the forest offers the imagination one of
the most tremendous pictures in nature. In those burning countries where
the sun dries up every brook for hundreds of miles round: where what had
the appearance of a great river in the rainy season becomes in summer one
dreary bed of sand; in those countries a lake that is never dry, or a
brook that is perennial, is considered by every animal as the greatest
convenience of nature. When they have discovered this, no dangers can
deter them from attempting to slake their thirst. Thus the neighbourhood
of a rivulet, in the heart of the tropical continents, is generally the
place where all the hostile tribes of nature draw up for the engagement.

"On the banks of this little envied spot, thousands of animals of various
kinds are seen venturing to quench their thirst, or preparing to seize
their prey. The elephants are perceived in a long line, marching from the
darker parts of the forest. The buffaloes are there, depending upon
numbers for security; the gazelles relying solely upon their swiftness;
the lion and tiger waiting a proper opportunity to seize.

"But chiefly the larger serpents are upon guard there, and defend the
accesses of the lake. Not an hour passes without some dreadful combat, but
the serpent, defended by its scales, and naturally capable of sustaining a
multitude of wounds, is of all others the most formidable. It is the most
wakeful also, for the whole tribe sleep with their eyes open, and are
consequently for ever upon the watch; so that, till their rapacity is
satisfied, few other animals will venture to approach their station."

We read of a serpent exhibited in the time of Augustus at Rome, which,
Suetonius tells us, "was fifty cubits in length."[169] But at the present
day there are few authentic accounts of snakes exceeding thirty feet in
length; and there are some people who discredit any which profess to speak
of snakes of greater dimensions than this. There are some, however, among
the annexed stories, which I think demand belief, and apparently we may
conclude that the python and boa exceptionally attain as much as forty
feet in length, or even more.

Wallace[170] merely reports by hearsay that the pythons in the
Phillipines, which destroy young cattle, are said to reach more than forty

Captain Sherard Osborn,[171] in his description of Quedah in the Malay
peninsula, says, also, as a matter of popular belief: "The natives of
Tamelan declared most of them to be of the boa-constrictor species, but
spoke of monsters in the deep forests, which might, if they came out,
clear off the whole village. A pleasant feat, for which Jadie, with a wag
of his sagacious head, assured me that an 'oular Bessar' or big snake was
quite competent.

"It was strange but interesting to find amongst all Malays a strong belief
in the extraordinary size to which the boa-constrictors or pythons would
grow; they all maintained that in the secluded forests of Sumatra or
Borneo, as well as on some of the smaller islands which were not
inhabited, these snakes were occasionally found of forty or fifty feet in

Major McNair says[172]: "One of the keenest sportsmen in Singapore gives
an account of a monster that he encountered. He had wounded a boar in the
jungle, and was following its tracks with his dogs, when, in penetrating
further into the forest, he found the dogs at bay, and, advancing
cautiously, prepared for another shot at the boar; to his surprise,
however, he found that the dogs were baying a huge python, which had
seized the boar, thrown its coils round the unfortunate beast, and was
crushing it to death. A well-directed shot laid the reptile writhing on
the ground, and it proved to be about thirty feet long. But such instances
of extreme length are rare."

Unfortunately the exciting story of a serpent, between forty and fifty
feet in length, which I extract from the _North China Daily News_ of
November 10th, 1880, the scene of which is also laid in the Malay
peninsula, lacks the authenticity of the narrator's name. It is as

"The _Straits Times_ tells the following exciting python story: 'A
sportsman, who a few days ago penetrated into the jungle lying between
Buddoh and Sirangoon, came upon a lone hut in a district called Campong
Batta, upon the roof of which the skin of an enormous boa or python
(whichever may be the correct name) was spread out. The hut was occupied
by a Malay and his wife, from whom our informant gathered the following
extraordinary account. One night, about a week previously, the Malay was
awakened by the cries of his wife for assistance. Being in perfect
darkness, and supposing the alarm to be on account of thieves, he seized
his sharp parang, and groped his way to her sleeping place, where his hand
fell upon a slimy reptile. It was fully a minute before he could
comprehend the entire situation, and when he did, he discovered that the
whole of his wife's arm had been drawn down the monster's throat, whither
the upper part of her body was slowly but surely following. Not daring to
attack the monster at once for fear of causing his wife's death, the
husband, with great presence of mind, seized two bags within reach, and
commenced stuffing them into the corner of the snake's jaws, by means of
which he succeeded in forcing them wider open and releasing his wife's
arm. No sooner had the boa lost his prey than he attacked the husband,
whom he began encircling in his fatal coils; but holding out both arms,
and watching his opportunity, he attacked the monster so vigorously with
his parang that it suddenly unwound itself and vanished through an opening
beneath the attap sides of the hut. His clothes were covered with blood,
as was also the floor of the hut, and his wife's arm was blue with the
squeezing it received between the boa's jaws. At daylight the husband
discovered his patch of plaintain trees nearly ruined, where the boa,
writhing in agony, had broken off the trees at the roots, and in the midst
of the debris lay the monster itself, dead. The Malay assured our
informant that he had received no less than sixty dollars from Chinese,
who came from long distances to purchase pieces of the flesh on account of
its supposed medical properties, and that he had refused six dollars for
the skin, which he preferred to retain as a trophy. It was greatly
decomposed, having been some days exposed in the open air, and useless for
curing. There is no telling what may have been the measurement of this
large reptile, but the skin, probably greatly stretched by unskilful
removal, measured between seven and eight fathoms.'"

Bontius speaks of serpents in the Asiatic Isles. "The great ones," he
says, "sometimes exceed thirty-six feet; and have such capacity of throat
and stomach that they swallow whole boars."

Mr. McLeod, in the _Voyage of the Alceste_, states that during a captivity
of some months at Whidah, on the coast of Africa, he had opportunities of
observing serpents double this length.[173]

Broderip, in his _Leaves from the Note-book of a Naturalist_ (Parker,
1852), speaks of a serpent thirty feet in length, which attacked the crew
of a Malay proa anchored for the night close to the island of Celebes.

Mr. C. Collingwood in _Rambles of a Naturalist_, states that "Mr. Low
assured me that he had seen one [python] killed measuring twenty-six feet,
and I heard on good authority of one of twenty-nine feet having been
killed there. In Borneo they were said to attain forty feet, but for this
I cannot vouch."

That large pythons still exist in South and Western China, although of
very reduced dimensions as compared with those described in ancient works,
is affirmed by many writers, from whom I think it is sufficient to extract
a notice by one of the early missionaries who explored that country.

"Pour ce qui est des serpens qu'on trouve dans Chine l'Atlas raconte que
la Province de Quansi, en produit de si grands et d'une longueur si
extrême, qu'il est presque incroyable; et il nous assure, qu'il s'en est
trouvé, qui étaient plus longs que ne seraient pas dix perches attachées
les unes avec les autres, c'est-à-dire, qu'ils avaient plus de trente
pieds géométriques. Flore Sienois dit, 'Gento est le plus grand de tous
ceux qui sont dans les provinces de Quansi, de Haynan, et de Quantun ...
il dévore les cerfs.... Il s'élève droit sur sa queue, et combat
vigoureusement, en cette posture, contre les hommes et les bêtes

We have unfortunately no clue to the actual length of the serpent Bomma,
described by J. M. da Sorrento in _A Voyage to Congo_ in 1682, contained
in Churchill's collection of voyages published in 1732.[175] "The flesh
they eat is generally that of wild creatures, and especially of a sort of
serpent called Bomma. At a certain feast in Baia, I observed the windows,
instead of tapestry and arras, adorned with the skin of these serpents as
wide as that of a large ox, and long in proportion."

That harmless snakes of from twelve to fourteen feet in length occur
abundantly in Northern Australia is generally known; but it is only of
late years that I have been made acquainted with a firm belief,
entertained by the natives in the interior, of the existence near the
junction of the Darling and Murray, south of the centre of the continent,
of a serpent of great magnitude.

I learn from Mr. G. R. Moffat that on the Lower Murray, between Swan Hill
and the Darling junction--at the time of his acquaintance with the
district (about 1857 to 1867)--the black fellows had numerous stories of
the existence of a large serpent in the Mallee scrub. It was conspicuous
for its size, thirty to forty feet in length, and especially for its great
girth, swiftness, and intensely disgusting odour; this latter, in fact,
constituted the great protection from it, insomuch as it would be
impossible to approach without recognising its presence.

Mr. Moffatt learnt personally from a Mr. Beveridge, son of Mr. Peter
Beveridge, of Swan Hill station, that he had actually seen one, and that
his account quite tallied with those of the blacks. In answer to an
inquiry which I addressed to Australia, I received the note attached

Mr. Henry Liddell, who was resident on the Darling River in 1871-72,
informs me that he has heard from stock-riders and ration-carriers similar
accounts to that of Mr. Moffatt, with reference to the existence of large
serpents of the boa species in an adjacent locality, viz. the tract of
country lying to the east of Darling and Murray junction, in the back
country belonging to Pooncaira station.

They described them as being numerous, in barren and rocky places, among
big boulders; fully forty feet long; as thick as a man's thigh; and as
having the same remarkable odour described by Mr. Moffatt. They spoke of
them as quite common, and not at all phenomenal, between Wentworth and

The Anaconda, in regard to which so much myth and superstition prevails
among the Indians of Brazil, is thus spoken of by Condamine, in his
_Travels in South America_. "The most rare and singular of all is a large
amphibious serpent from twenty-five to thirty feet long and more than a
foot thick, according to report. It is called Jacumama, or 'the mother of
the waters,' by the Americans of Maynas, and commonly inhabits the large
lakes formed by the river-water after flood."[177]

Ulloa, also, in his _Voyage to South America_,[178] says: "In the
countries watered by that vast river (the Maranon) is bred a serpent of a
frightful magnitude, and of a most deleterious nature. Some, in order to
give an idea of its largeness, affirm that it will swallow any beast
whole, and that this has been the miserable end of many a man. But what
seems still a greater wonder is the attractive quality attributed to its
breath,[179] which irresistibly draws any creature to it which happens to
be within the sphere of its attraction. The Indians call it Jacumama,
_i.e._ 'mother of water'; for, as it delights in lakes and marshy places,
it may in some sense be considered as amphibious. I have taken a great
deal of pains to inquire into this particular, and all I can say is that
the reptile's magnitude is really surprising."

John Nieuhoff, in his Voyages to Brazil,[180] speaking of the serpent
Guaku or Liboya, says: "It is questionless the biggest of all serpents,
some being eighteen, twenty-four, nay thirty feet long, and of the
thickness of a man in his middle. The Portuguese call it Kobra Detrado, or
the roebuck serpent, because it will swallow a whole roebuck, or any other
deer it meets with; after they have swallowed such a deer, they fall
asleep, and so are catched. Such a one I saw at Paraiba, which was thirty
feet long, and as big as a barrel. This serpent, being a very devouring
creature, greedy of prey, leaps from amongst the hedges and woods, and
standing upright upon its tail, wrestles both with men and wild beasts;
sometimes it leaps from the trees upon the traveller, whom it fastens
upon, and beats the breath out of his body with its tail."

The largest (water boa) ever met with by a European appears to be that
described by a botanist, Dr. Gardiner, in his _Travels in Brazil_. It had
devoured a horse, and was found dead, entangled in the branches of a tree
overhanging a river, into which it had been carried by a flood; it was
nearly forty feet long.

_Winged Serpents._

The next section relates to winged serpents, a belief in which was
prevalent in early ages, and is strongly supported by several independent

(_From "Serpent Myths of Ancient Egypt," by W. R. Cooper._)]

To my mind, Herodotus speaks without the slightest doubt upon the subject
in the following passages. "Arabia[181] is the last of inhabited lands
towards the south, and it is the only country which produces frankincense,
myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, and ledanum." "The frankincense they procure by
means of the gum styrax, which the Greeks get from the Phœnicians. This
they burn, and thereby obtain the spice; for the trees which bear the
frankincense are guarded by winged serpents, small in size, and of
various colours, whereof vast numbers hang about every tree. They are of
the same kind as the serpents that invade Egypt, and there is nothing but
the smoke of the styrax which will drive them from the trees."

MERSOKAR OR MELSOKAR. (_After W. R. Cooper._)]

Again,[182] "the Arabians say that the whole world would swarm with these
serpents, if they were not kept in check, in the way in which I know that
vipers are." "Now, with respect to the vipers and the winged snakes of
Arabia, if they increased as fast as their nature would allow, impossible
were it for man to maintain himself upon the earth. Accordingly, it is
found that when the male and female come together, at the very moment of
impregnation, the female seizes the male by the neck, and having once
fastened cannot be brought to leave go till she has bit the neck entirely
through, and so the male perishes; but after a while he is avenged upon
the female by means of the young, which, while still unborn, gnaw a
passage through the womb and then through the belly of their mother.
Contrariwise, other snakes, which are harmless, lay eggs and hatch a vast
number of young. Vipers are found in all parts of the world, but the
winged serpents are nowhere seen except in Arabia, where they are all
congregated together; this makes them appear so numerous."

Herodotus had so far interested himself in ascertaining the probability of
their existence as to visit Arabia for the purpose of inquiry; he
says,[183] "I went once to a certain place in Arabia, almost exactly
opposite the city of Buto, to make inquiries concerning the winged
serpents. On my arrival I saw the back-bones and ribs of serpents in such
numbers as it is impossible to describe; of the ribs there were a
multitude of heaps, some great, some small, some middle-sized. The place
where the bones lie is at the entrance of a narrow gorge between steep
mountains, which there open upon a spacious plain communicating with the
great plains of Egypt. The story goes, that with the spring the snakes
come flying from Arabia towards Egypt, but are met in this gorge by the
birds called ibises, who forbid their entrance and destroy them all. The
Arabians assert, and the Egyptians also admit, that it is on account of
the service thus rendered that the Egyptians hold the ibis in so much
reverence." He further[184] describes the winged serpent as being shaped
like the water-snake, and states that its wings are not feathered, but
resemble very closely those of the bat.

EILEITHYA. (_After W. R. Cooper._)]

Aristotle briefly states, as a matter of common report, that there were in
his time winged serpents in Ethiopia.[185] Both two and four winged snakes
are depicted among the Egyptian sculptures, considered by Mr. Cooper to
be emblematic of deities, and to signify that the four corners of the
earth are embraced and sheltered by the supreme Providence.

Josephus[186] unmistakably affirms his belief in the existence of flying
serpents, in his account of the stratagem which Moses adopted in attacking
the Ethiopians, who had invaded Egypt and penetrated as far as Memphis.
From this we may infer that in his time flying serpents were by no means
peculiar to Arabia, but, as might have been expected, equally infested the
desert lands bordering the fertile strip of the Nile.

In Whiston's translation we read that "Moses prevented the enemies, and
took and led his army before those enemies were apprised of his attacking
them; for he did not march by the river, but by land, where he gave a
wonderful demonstration of his sagacity; for when the ground was difficult
to be passed over, because of the multitude of serpents (which it produces
in vast numbers, and indeed is singular in some of those productions,
which other countries do not breed, and yet such as are worse than others
in power and mischief, and an unusual fierceness of sight, some of which
ascend out of the ground unseen, and also fly in the air, and so come upon
men at unawares, and do them a mischief), Moses invented a wonderful
stratagem to preserve the army safe and without hurt; for he made baskets,
like unto arks, of sedge, and filled them with ibes, and carried them
along with them; which animal is the greatest enemy to serpents
imaginable, for they fly from them when they come near them; and as they
fly they are caught and devoured by them, as if it were done by the harts;
but the ibes are tame creatures, and only enemies to the serpentine kind;
but about these ibes I say no more at present, since the Greeks themselves
are not unacquainted with this sort of bird. As soon, therefore, as Moses
was come to the land, which was the breeder of these serpents, he let
loose the ibes, and by their means repelled the serpentine kind, and used
them for his assistants before the army came upon that ground."

These statements of Herodotus and Josephus are both too precise to be
explicable on the theory that they refer to the darting or jumping
serpents which Nieuhoff describes, in his day, as infesting the palm trees
of Arabia and springing from tree to tree; or to the jaculus of
Pliny,[187] which darts from the branches of trees, and flies through the
air as though it were hurled by an engine, and which is described by Ælian
and graphically figured by Lucan[188] in the passage--"Behold! afar,
around the trunk of a barren tree, a fierce serpent--Africa calls it the
jaculus--wreathes itself, and then darts forth, and through the head and
pierced temples of Paulus it takes its flight: nothing does venom there
effect, death seizes him through the wound. It was then understood how
slowly fly the stones which the sling hurls, how sluggishly whizzes the
flight of the Scythian arrow."

Solinus, whose work, _Polyhistor_, is mainly a compilation from Pliny's
Natural History, gives a similar account of the swarms of winged serpents
about the Arabian marshes, and states that their bite was so deadly that
death followed the bite before pain could be felt; he also refers to their
destruction by the ibises, and is probably only quoting other authors
rather than speaking of his own knowledge.

Cicero, again, speaks of the ibis as being a very large bird, with strong
legs, and a horny long beak, which destroys a great number of serpents,
and keeps Egypt free from pestilential diseases, by killing and devouring
the flying serpents, brought from the deserts of Lybia by the south-west
wind, and so preventing the mischief which might attend their biting
while alive, or from any infection when dead.

There are not unfrequent allusions in ancient history to serpents having
become so numerous as to constitute a perfect plague; the dreadful
mortality caused among the Israelites by the fiery serpents spoken of in
Numbers is a case in point, and another[189] is the migration of the Neuri
from their own country into that of the Budini, one generation before the
attack of Darius, in consequence of the incursion of a huge multitude of
serpents. It is stated that some of these were produced in their own
country, but for the most part they came in from the deserts of the north.
The home of the Neuri appears to have been to the north-west of the Pontus
Euxinus, pretty much in the position of Poland, and I believe that at the
present day the only harmful reptile occurring in it is the viper common
to the rest of Europe. Diodorus Siculus[190] mentions a tradition that the
Cerastes had once made an irruption into Egypt in such numbers as to have
depopulated a great portion of the inhabited districts.

These stories are interesting as showing a migratory instinct occurring in
certain serpents, either periodically or occasionally, and are thus to
some extent corroborative of the account of the annual invasion of Egypt
by serpents, referred to in a previous page. They also, I think, confirm
the impression that serpents were more numerous in the days of early
history, and had a larger area of distribution than they have now, and
that possibly some species, such as the Arabian and flying serpents, which
have since become extinct, then existed. Thus the boa is spoken of by
Pliny as occurring commonly in Italy, and growing to such a vast size that
a child was found entire in one of them, which was killed on the Vatican
Hill during the reign of the Emperor Claudius. Yet at the present day
there are no snakes existing there at all corresponding to this

Parallel instances of invasions of animals materially affecting the
prosperity of man are doubtless familiar to my readers, such as the
occasional migration of lemmings, passage of rats, flights of locusts, or
the ravages caused by the Colorado beetle; but many are perhaps quite
unaware what a terrible plague can be established, in the course of a very
few years, by the prolific unchecked multiplication of even so harmless,
innocent, and useful an animal as the common rabbit. The descendants of a
few imported pairs have laid waste extensive districts of Australia and
New Zealand, necessitated an enormous expenditure for their extirpation,
and have at the present day[191] caused such a widespread destruction of
property in the latter country, that large areas of ground have actually
had to be abandoned and entirely surrendered to them.

It is interesting to find in the work of the Arabic geographer El Edrisi a
tradition of an island in the Atlantic, called Laca, off the north-west
coast of Africa, having been formerly inhabited, but abandoned on account
of the excessive multiplication of serpents on it. According to
Scaligerus, the mountains dividing the kingdom of Narsinga from Malabar
produce many wild beasts, among which may be enumerated winged dragons,
who are able to destroy any one approaching their breath.

Megasthenes (_tradente Æliano_) relates that winged serpents are found in
India; where it is stated that they are noxious, fly only by night, and
that contact with their urine destroys portions of animals.

Ammianus Marcellinus (who wrote about the fourth century A.D.) states that
the ibis is one among the countless varieties of the birds of Egypt,
sacred, amiable, and valuable as storing up the eggs of serpents in his
nest for food and so diminishing their number. He also refers to their
encountering flocks of winged snakes, coming laden with poison from the
marshes of Arabia, and overcoming them in the air, and devouring them
before they quit their own region. And Strabo,[192] in his geographical
description of India, speaks of serpents of two cubits in length, with
membraneous wings like bats: "They fly at night, and let fall drops of
urine or sweat, which occasions the skins of persons who are not on their
guard to putrefy." Isaiah speaks of fiery flying serpents, the term
"fiery" being otherwise rendered in the Alexandrine edition of the
Septuagint by θανατοῦντες "deadly," while the term "fiery" is explained by
other authorities as referring to the burning sensation produced by the
bite, and to the bright colour of the serpents.[193] Collateral evidence
of the belief in winged serpents is afforded by incidental allusions to
them in the classics. Thus Virgil alludes to snakes with strident wings in
the line

  Illa autem attolit stridentis anguibus alis.[194]

Lucan[195] refers to the winged serpents of Arabia as forming one of the
ingredients of an incantation broth brewed by a Thessalian witch, Erictho,
with the object of resuscitating a corpse, and procuring replies to the
queries of Sextus, son of Pompey. There are other passages in Ovid and
other poets, in which the words "winged serpents" are made use of, but
which I omit to render here, since from the context it seems doubtful
whether they were not intended as poetic appellations of the monster to
which, by popular consent, the term dragon has been generally restricted.

I feel bound to refer, although of course without attaching any very great
weight of evidence to them, to the numerous stories popular in the East,
in which flying serpents play a conspicuous part, the serpents always
having something magical or supernatural in their nature. Such tales are
found in the entrancing pages of the _Arabian Nights_, or in the very
entertaining folk-lore of China, as given to us by Dr. N. P. Dennys of

The latest notice of the flying serpent that we find is in a work by P.
Belon du Mans, published in 1557, entitled, _Portraits de quelques
animaux, poissons, serpents, herbes et arbres, hommes et femmes d'Arabie,
Égypte, et Asie, observés par P. Belon du Mans_. It contains a drawing of
a biped winged dragon, with the notice "Portrait du serpent ailé" and the

  Dangereuse est du serpent la nature
  Qu'on voit voler près le mont Sinai
  Qui ne serait, de la voir, esbahy,
  Si on a peur, voyant sa pourtraiture?

This is copied by Gesner, who repeats the story of its flying out of
Arabia into Egypt.[197] I attach considerable importance to the short
extract which I shall give in a future page from the celebrated Chinese
work on geography and natural history, the _Shan Hai King_, or Mountain
and Sea Classic. The _Shan Hai King_ claims to be of great antiquity, and,
as Mr. Wylie remarks, though long looked on with distrust, has been
investigated recently by scholars of great ability, who have come to the
conclusion that it is at least as old as the Chow dynasty, and probably
older. Now, as the Chow dynasty commenced in 1122 B.C., it is, if this
latter supposition be correct, of a prior age to the works of Aristotle,
Herodotus, and all the other authors we have been quoting, and therefore
is the earliest work on natural history extant, and the description of the
flying serpent of the Sien mountains (_vide infrà_) the earliest record of
the existence of such creatures.

_Classical Dragon and Mediæval Dragon._

While the flying serpents of which we have just treated, will, if we
assent to the reality of their former existence, assist greatly in the
explanation of the belief in a winged dragon so far as Egypt, Arabia, and
adjacent countries are concerned, it seems hardly probable that they are
sufficient to account for the wide-spread belief in it. This we have
already glanced at; but we now propose to examine it in greater detail,
with reference to countries so distant from their habitat as to render it
unlikely that their description had penetrated there.

The poets of Greece and Rome introduce the dragon into their fables, as an
illustration, when the type of power and ferocity is sought for. Homer, in
his description of the shield of Hercules, speaks of "The scaly horror of
a dragon coiled full in the central field, unspeakable, with eyes oblique,
retorted, that askant shot gleaming fire." So Hesiod[198] (750 to 700
B.C., Grote), describing the same object, says: "On its centre was the
unspeakable terror of a dragon glancing backward with eyes gleaming with
fire. His mouth, too, was filled with teeth running in a white line, dread
and unapproachable; and above his terrible forehead, dread strife was
hovering, as he raises the battle rout. On it likewise were heads of
terrible serpents, unspeakable, twelve in number, who were wont to scare
the race of men on earth, whosoever chanced to wage war against the son of

Here it is noteworthy that Hesiod distinguishes between the dragon and

Ovid[199] locates the dragon slain by Cadmus in Bœotia, near the river
Cephisus. He speaks of it as being hid in a cavern, adorned with crests,
and of a golden colour. He, like the other poets, makes special reference
to the eyes sparkling with fire, and it may be noted that a similar
brilliancy is mentioned by those who have observed pythons in their native
condition. He speaks of the dragon as _blue_,[200] and terribly
destructive owing to the possession of a sting, long constricting folds,
and venomous breath.

The story of Ceres flying to heaven in a chariot drawn by two dragons, and
of her subsequently lending it to Triptolemus, to enable him to travel all
over the earth and distribute corn to its inhabitants, is detailed or
alluded to by numerous poets, as well as the tale of Medea flying from
Jason in a chariot drawn by winged dragons. Ceres[201] is further made to
skim the waves of the ocean, much after the fashion of mythical personages
depicted in the wood-cuts illustrating passages in the _Shan Hai
King_.[202] Ammianus Marcellinus, whose history ends with the death of
Valerius in A.D. 378, refers, as a remarkable instance of credulity, to a
vulgar rumour that the chariot of Triptolemus was still extant, and had
enabled Julian, who had rendered himself formidable both by sea and land,
to pass over the walls of, and enter into the city of Heraclea. Though
rational explanations are afforded by the theory of Bochart and Le Clerc,
that the story is based upon the equivocal meaning of a Phœnician word,
signifying either a winged dragon or a ship fastened with iron nails or
bolts; or by that of Philodorus, as cited by Eusebius, who says that his
ship was called a flying dragon, from its carrying the figure of a dragon
on its prow; yet either simply transposes into another phase the current
belief in a dragon, without prejudicing it.

Diodorus Siculus disposes of the Colchian dragon and the golden-fleeced
ram in a very summary manner, as follows:--

"It is said that Phryxus, the son of Athamas and Nephele, in order to
escape the snares of his stepmother, fled from Greece with his half-sister
Hellen, and that whilst they were being carried, under the advice of the
gods, by the ram with a golden fleece out of Europe into Asia, the girl
accidentally fell off into the sea, which on that account has been called
Hellespont. Phryxus, however, being carried safely into Colchis,
sacrificed the ram by the order of an oracle, and hung up its skin in a
shrine dedicated to Mars.

"After this the king learnt from an oracle that he would meet his death
when strangers, arriving there by ship, should have carried off the golden
fleece. On this account, as well as from innate cruelty, the man was
induced to offer sacrifice with the slaughter of his guests; in order
that, the report of such an atrocity being spread everywhere, no one might
dare to set foot within his dominions. He also surrounded the temple with
a wall, and placed there a strong guard of Taurian soldiery; which gave
rise to a prodigious fiction among the Greeks, for it was reported by them
that bulls, breathing fire from their nostrils, kept watch over the
shrine, and that a dragon guarded the skin, for by ambiguity the name of
the Taurians was twisted into that of bulls, and the slaughter of guests
furnished the fiction of the expiation of fire. In like manner they
translated the name of the prefect Draco, to whom the custody of the
temple had been assigned, into that of the monstrous and horrible creature
of the poets."

Nor do others fail to give a similar explanation of the fable of Phryxus,
for they say that Phryxus was conveyed in a ship which bore on its prow
the image of a ram, and that Hellen, who was leaning over the side under
the misery of sea-sickness, tumbled into the water.

Among other subjects of poetry are the dragon which guarded the golden
apples of the Hesperides, and the two which licked the eyes of Plutus at
the temple of Æsculapius with such happy effect that he began to see.

Philostratus[203] separates dragons into Mountain dragons and Marsh
dragons. The former had a moderate crest, which increased as they grew
older, when a beard of saffron colour was appended to their chins; the
marsh dragons had no crests. He speaks of their attaining a size so
enormous that they easily killed elephants. Ælian describes their length
as being from thirty or forty to a hundred cubits; and Posidonius mentions
one, a hundred and forty feet long, that haunted the neighbourhood of
Damascus; and another, whose lair was at Macra, near Jordan, was an acre
in length, and of such bulk that two men on horseback, with the monster
between them, could not see each other.

Ignatius states that there was in the library of Constantinople the
intestine of a dragon one hundred and twenty feet long, on which were
written the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ in letters of gold. There is no
ambiguity in Lucan's[204] description of the Æthiopian dragon: "You also,
the dragon, shining with golden brightness, who crawl in all (other) lands
as innoxious divinities, scorching Africa render deadly with wings; you
move the air on high, and following whole herds, you burst asunder vast
bulls, embracing them with your folds. Nor is the elephant safe through
his size; everything you devote to death, and no need have you of venom
for a deadly fate." Whereas the dragon referred to by Pliny (_vide ante_,
p. 169), as also combating the elephant, is evidently without wings, and
may either have been a very gigantic serpent, or a lacertian corresponding
to the Chinese idea of the dragon.

Descending to later periods, we learn from Marcellinus[205] that in his
day dragon standards were among the chief insignia of the Roman army; for,
speaking of the triumphal entry of Constantine into Rome after his triumph
over Magnentius, he mentions that numbers of the chief officers who
preceded him were surrounded by dragons embroidered on various points of
tissue, fastened to the golden or jewelled points of spears; the mouths of
the dragons being open so as to catch the wind, which made them hiss as
though they were inflamed with anger, while the coils of their tails were
also contrived to be agitated by the breeze. And again he speaks of
Silvanus[206] tearing the purple silk from the insignia of the dragons
and standards, and so assuming the title of Emperor.

Several nations, as the Persians, Parthians, Scythians, &c., bore dragons
on their standards: whence the standards themselves were called dracones
or dragons.

It is probable that the Romans borrowed this custom from the Parthians,
or, as Casaubon has it, from the Dacae, or Codin, from the Assyrians; but
while the Roman dracones were, as we learn from Ammianus Marcellinus,
figures of dragons painted in red on their flags, among the Persians and
Parthians they were, like the Roman eagles, figures in relievo, so that
the Romans were frequently deceived and took them for real dragons.

The dragon plays an important part in Celtic mythology. Among the Celts,
as with the Romans, it was the national standard.

  While Cymri's dragon, from the Roman's hold
  Spread with calm wing o'er Carduel's domes of gold.[207]

The fables of Merllin, Nennius, and Geoffry describe it as red in colour,
and so differing from the Saxon dragon which was white. The hero Arthur
carried a dragon on his helm, and the tradition of it is moulded into
imperishable form in the _Faerie Queen_. A dragon infested Lludd's
dominion, and made every heath in England resound with shrieks on each
May-day eve. A dragon of vast size and pestiferous breath lay hidden in a
cavern in Wales, and destroyed two districts with its venom, before the
holy St. Samson seized and threw it into the sea.

In Celtic chivalry, the word dragon came to be used for chief, a Pendragon
being a sort of dictator created in times of danger; and as the knights
who slew a chief in battle were said to slay a dragon, this doubtless
helped to keep alive the popular tradition regarding the monster which
had been carried with them westward in their migration from the common
Aryan centre.

The Teutonic tribes who invaded and settled in England bore the effigies
of dragons on their shields and banners, and these were also depicted on
the ensigns of various German tribes.[208] We also find that Thor himself
was a slayer of dragons,[209] and both Siegfried and Beowulf were
similarly engaged in the Niebelungen-lied and the epic bearing the name of
the latter.[210] The Berserkers not only named their boats after the
dragon, but also had the prow ornamented with a dragon figure-head; a
fashion which obtains to the present day among the Chinese, who have an
annual _dragon-boat festival_, in which long snaky boats with a ferocious
dragon prow run races for prizes, and paddle in processions.

So deeply associated was the dragon with the popular legends, that we find
stories of encounters with it passing down into the literature of the
Middle Ages; and, like the heroes of old, the Christian saints won their
principal renown by dragon achievements. Thus among the
dragon-slayers[211] we find that--

1. St. Phillip the Apostle destroyed a huge dragon at Hierapolis in

2. St. Martha killed the terrible dragon called Tarasque at Aix (la

3. St. Florent killed a similar dragon which haunted the Loire.

4. St. Cado, St. Maudet, and St. Paul did similar feats in Brittany.

5. St. Keyne of Cornwall slew a dragon.

6. St. Michael, St. George, St. Margaret, Pope Sylvester, St. Samson,
Archbishop of Dol, Donatus (fourth century), St. Clement of Metz, killed

7. St. Romain of Rouen destroyed the huge dragon called La Gargouille,
which ravaged the Seine.

Moreover, the fossil remains of animals discovered from time to time, and
now relegated to their true position in the zoological series, were
supposed to be the genuine remains of either dragons or giants, according
to the bent of the mind of the individual who stumbled on them: much as in
the present day large fossil bones of extinct animals of all kinds are in
China ascribed to dragons, and form an important item in the Chinese
pharmacopœia. (_Vide_ extract on Dragon bones from the
_Pen-tsaou-kang-mu_, given on pp. 244-246.)

[Illustration: FIG. 38.--SKELETON OF AN IGUANODON.]

The annexed wood-cut of the skeleton of an Iguanodon, found in a coal-mine
at Bernissant, exactly illustrates the semi-erect position which the
dragon of fable is reported to have assumed.

Among the latest surviving beliefs of this nature may be cited the dragon
of Wantley (Wharncliffe, Yorkshire), who was slain by More of More Hall.
He procured a suit of armour studded with spikes, and, proceeding to the
well where the dragon had his lair, kicked him in the mouth, where alone
he was vulnerable. The Lambton worm is another instance.

The explanations of these legends attempted by mythologists, based on the
supposition that the dragons which are their subjects are simply symbolic
of natural phenomena, are ingenious, and perhaps in many instances
sufficient, but do not affect, as I have before remarked, the primitive
and conserved belief in their previous existence as a reality.

Thus, the author of _British Goblins_ suggests that for the prototype of
the red dragon, which haunted caverns and guarded treasures in Wales, we
must look in the lightning caverns of old Aryan fable, and deduces the
fire-darting dragons of modern lore from the shining hammer of Thor, and
the lightning spear of Odin.

The stories of ladies guarded by dragons are explained on the
supposition[212] that the ladies were kept in the secured part of the
feudal castles, round which the walls wound, and that an adventurer had to
scale the walls to gain access to the ladies; when there were two walls,
the authors of romance said that the assaulter overcame two dragons, and
so on. St. Romain, when he delivered the city of Rouen from a dragon which
lived in the river Seine, simply protected the city from an overflow,
just as Apollo (the sun) is symbolically said to have destroyed the
serpent Python, or, in other words, dried up an overflow. And the dragon
of Wantley is supposed by Dr. Percy to have been an overgrown rascally
attorney, who cheated some children of their estates, but was compelled to
disgorge by a gentleman named More, who went against him armed with the
"spikes of the law," whereupon the attorney died of vexation.

Furthermore, our dragoons were so denominated because they were armed with
dragons, that is, with short muskets, which spouted fire like dragons, and
had the head of a dragon wrought upon their muzzle.

This fanciful device occurs also among the Chinese, for a Jesuit, who
accompanied the Emperor of China on a journey into Western Tartary in
1683, says, "This was the reason of his coming into their country with so
great an army, and such vast military preparations; he having commanded
several pieces of cannon to be brought, in order for them to be discharged
from time to time in the valleys; purposely that the noise and fire,
issuing from the mouths of the dragons, with which they were adorned,
might spread terror around."

Though dragons have completely dropped out of all modern works on natural
history, they were still retained and regarded as quite orthodox until a
little before the time of Cuvier; specimens, doubtless fabricated like the
ingeniously constructed mermaid of Mr. Barnum, were exhibited in the
museums; and voyagers occasionally brought back, as authentic stories of
their existence, fables which had percolated through time and nations
until they had found a home in people so remote from their starting point
as to cause a complete obliteration of their passage and origin.

For instance, Pigafetta, in a report of the kingdom of Congo,[213]
"gathered out of the discourses of Mr. E. Lopes, a Portuguese," speaking
of the province of Bemba, which he defines as "on the sea coast from the
river Ambrize, until the river Coanza towards the south," says of
serpents, "There are also certain other creatures which, being as big as
rams, have wings like dragons, with long tails, and long chaps, and divers
rows of teeth, and feed upon raw flesh. Their colour is blue and green,
their skin painted like scales, and they have _two feet but no more_.[214]
The Pagan negroes used to worship them as gods, and at this day you may
see divers of them that are kept for a marvel. And because they are very
rare, the chief lords there curiously preserve them, and suffer the people
to worship them, which tendeth greatly to their profits by reason of the
gifts and oblations which the people offer unto them."

And John Barbot, Agent-General of the Royal Company of Africa, in his
description of the coasts of South Guinea,[215] says: "Some blacks
assuring me that they (_i.e._ snakes) were thirty feet long. They also
told me there are winged serpents or dragons having a forked tail and a
prodigious wide mouth, full of sharp teeth, extremely mischievous to
mankind, and more particularly to small children. If we may credit this
account of the blacks, they are of the same sort of winged serpents which
some authors tell us are to be found in Abyssinia, being very great
enemies to the elephants. Some such serpents have been seen about the
river Senegal, and they are adorned and worshipped as snakes are at Wida
or Fida, that is, in a most religious manner."

Ulysses Aldrovandus,[216] who published a large folio volume on serpents
and dragons, entirely believed in the existence of the latter, and gives
two wood engravings of a specimen which he professes to have received in
the year 1551, of a true dried Æthiopian dragon.

He describes it as having two feet armed with claws, and two ears, with
five prominent and conspicuous tubercles on the back. The whole was
ornamented with green and dusky scales. Above, it bore wings fit for
flight, and had a long and flexible tail, coloured with yellowish scales,
such as shone on the belly and throat. The mouth was provided with sharp
teeth, the inferior part of the head, towards the ears, was even, the
pupil of the eye black, with a tawny surrounding, and the nostrils were
two in number, and open.

He criticises Ammianus Marcellinus for his disbelief in winged dragons,
and states in further justification of his censure that he had heard, from
men worthy of confidence, that in that portion of Pistorian territory
called Cotone, a great dragon was seen whose wings were interwoven with
sinews a cubit in length, and were of considerable width; this beast also
possessed two short feet provided with claws like those of an eagle. The
whole animal was covered with scales. The gaping mouth was furnished with
big teeth, it had ears, and was as big as a hairy bear. Aldrovandus
sustains his argument by quotations from the classics and reference to
more recent authors. He quotes Isidorus as stating that the winged Arabian
serpents were called Sirens, while their venom was so effective that their
bite was attended by death rather than pain; this confirms the account of

He instances Gesner as saying that, in 1543, he understood that a kind of
dragon appeared near Styria, within the confines of Germany, which had
feet like lizards, and wings after the fashion of a bat, with an incurable
bite, and says these statements are confirmed by Froschonerus in his work
on Styria (_idque Froschonerus ex Bibliophila Stirio narrabat_). He
classes dragons (which he considers as essentially winged animals) either
as footless or possessing two or four feet.

He refers to a description by Scaliger[217] of a species of serpent four
feet long, and as thick as a man's arm, with cartilaginous wings pendent
from the sides. He also mentions an account by Brodeus, of a winged dragon
which was brought to Francis, the invincible King of the Gauls, by a
countryman who had killed it with a mattock near Sanctones, and which was
stated to have been seen by many men of approved reputation, who thought
it had migrated from transmarine regions by the assistance of the wind.

Cardan[218] states that whilst he resided in Paris he saw five winged
dragons in the William Museum; these were biped, and possessed of wings so
slender that it was hardly possible that they could fly with them. Cardan
doubted their having been fabricated, since they had been sent in vessels
at different times, and yet all presented the same remarkable form.
Bellonius states that he had seen whole carcases of winged dragons,
carefully prepared, which he considered to be of the same kind as those
which fly out of Arabia into Egypt; they were thick about the belly, had
two feet, and two wings, whole like those of a bat, and a snake's tail.

It would be useless to multiply examples of the stories, no doubt fables,
current in mediæval times, and I shall therefore only add here two of
those which, though little known, are probably fair samples of the whole.
It is amusing to find the story of Sindbad's escape from the Valley of
Diamonds reappearing in Europe during the Middle Ages, with a substitution
of the dragon for the roc. Athanasius Kircher, in the _Mundus
Subterraneus_, gives the story of a Lucerne man who, in wandering over
Mount Pilate, tumbled into a cavern from which there was no exit, and, in
searching round, discovered the lair of two dragons, who proved more
tender than their reputation. Unharmed by them he remained for the six
winter months, without any other sustenance than that which he derived
from licking the moisture off the rock, in which he followed their
example. Noticing the dragons preparing for flying out on the approach of
spring, by stretching and unfolding their wings, he attached himself by
his girdle to the tail of one of them, and so was restored to the upper
world, where, unfortunately, the return to the diet to which he had been
so long unaccustomed killed him. In memory, however, of the event, he left
his goods to the Church, and a monument illustrative of his escape was
erected in the Ecclesiastical College of St. Leodegaris at Lucerne.
Kircher had himself seen this, and it was accepted as an irrefragable
proof of the story.

[Illustration: FIG. 39.--THE DRAGONS OF MOUNT PILATE. (_From the "Mundus
Subterraneus" of Athanasius Kircher._)]

Another story is an account also given by A. Kircher,[219] of the fight
between a dragon and a knight named Gozione, in the island of Rhodes, in
the year 1349 A.D. This monster is described as of the bulk of a horse or
ox, with a long neck and serpent's head--tipped with mule's ears--the
mouth widely gaping and furnished with sharp teeth, eyes sparkling as
though they flashed fire, four feet provided with claws like a bear, and a
tail like a crocodile, the whole body being coated with hard scales. It
had two wings, blue above, but blood-coloured and yellow underneath; it
was swifter than a horse, progressing partly by flight and partly by
running. The knight, being solicited by the chief magistrate, retired into
the country, when he constructed an imitation dragon of paper and tow, and
purchased a charger and two courageous English dogs; he ordered slaves to
snap the jaws and twist the tail about by means of cords, while he urged
his horse and dogs on to the attack. After practising for two months,
these latter could scarcely retain their frenzy at the mere sight of the
image. He then proceeded to Rhodes, and after offering his vows in the
Church of St. Stephen, repaired to the fatal cave, instructing his slaves
to witness the combat from a lofty rock, and hasten to him with remedies,
if after slaying the dragon he should be overcome by the poisonous
exhalations, or to save themselves, in the event of his being slain.
Entering the lair he excited the beast with shouts and cries, and then
awaited it outside. The dragon appearing, allured by the expectation of an
easy prey, rushed on him, both running and flying; the knight shattered
his spear at the first onset on the scaly carcase, and leaping from his
horse continued the contest with sword and shield. The dragon, raising
itself on its hind legs, endeavoured to grasp the knight with his fore
ones, giving the latter an opportunity of striking him in the softer parts
of the neck. At last both fell together, the knight being exhausted by the
fatigue of the conflict, or by mephitic exhalations. The slaves, according
to instruction, rushed forward, dragged off the monster from their master,
and fetched water in their caps to restore him; after which he mounted his
horse and returned in triumph to the city, where he was at first
ungratefully received, but afterwards rewarded with the highest ranks of
the order, and created magistrate of the province.[220]

[Illustration: FIG. 40.--THE DRAGON OF THE DRACHENFELDT. (_Athanasius

Kircher had a very pious belief in dragons. He says: "Since monstrous
animals of this kind for the most part select their lairs and
breeding-places in subterraneous caverns, I have considered it proper to
include them under the head of subterraneous beasts. I am aware that two
kinds of this animal have been distinguished by authors, the one with, the
other without, wings. No one either can or ought to doubt concerning the
latter kind of creature, unless perchance he dares to contradict the Holy
Scripture, for it would be an impious thing to say it when Daniel makes
mention of the divine worship accorded to the dragon Bel by the
Babylonians, and after the mention of the dragon made in other parts of
the sacred writings."

Harris, in his _Collection of Voyages_,[221] gives a singular _resumé_. He
says:--"We have, in an ancient author, a very large and circumstantial
account of the taking of a dragon on the frontiers of Ethiopia, which was
one and twenty feet in length, and was carried to Ptolemy Philadelphus,
who very bountifully rewarded such as ran the hazard of procuring him this
beast.--Diodorus Siculus, lib. iii.... Yet terrible as these were they
fall abundantly short of monsters of the same species in India, with
respect to which St. Ambrose[222] tells us that there were dragons seen in
the neighbourhood of the Ganges nearly seventy cubits in length. It was
one of this size that Alexander and his army saw in a cave, where it was
fed, either out of reverence or from curiosity, by the inhabitants; and
the first lightning of its eyes, together with its terrible hissing, made
a strong impression on the Macedonians, who, with all their courage, could
not help being frighted at so horrid a spectacle.[223] The dragon is
nothing more than a serpent of enormous size; and they formerly
distinguished three sorts of them in the Indies, viz. such as were found
in the mountains, such as were bred in caves or in the flat country, and
such as were found in fens and marshes.

"The first is the largest of all, and are covered with scales as
resplendent as polished gold.[224] These have a kind of beard hanging from
their lower jaw, their eyebrows large, and very exactly arched; their
aspect the most frightful that can be imagined, and their cry loud and
shrill;[225] their crests of a bright yellow, and a protuberance on their
heads of the colour of a burning coal.

"Those of the flat country differ from the former in nothing but in having
their scales of a silver colour,[226] and in their frequenting rivers, to
which the former never come.

"Those that live in marshes and fens are of a dark colour, approaching to
a black, move slowly, have no crest, or any rising upon their heads.[227]
Strabo says that the painting them with wings is the effect of fancy, and
directly contrary to truth, but other naturalists and travellers both
ancient and modern affirm that there are some of these species
winged.[228] Pliny says their bite is not venomous, other authors deny
this. Pliny gives a long catalogue of medical and magical properties,
which he ascribes to the skin, flesh, bones, eyes, and teeth of the
dragon, also a valuable stone in its head. 'They hung before the mouth of
the dragon den a piece of stuff flowered with gold, which attracted the
eyes of the beast, till by the sound of soft music they lulled him to
sleep, and then cut off his head.'"

I do not find Harris's statement in Diodorus Siculus, the author quoted,
but there is the very circumstantial description of a serpent thirty
cubits (say forty-five feet) in length, which was captured alive by
stratagem, the first attempt by force having resulted in the death of
several of the party. This was conveyed to Ptolemy II. at Alexandria,
where it was placed in a den or chamber suitable for exhibition, and
became an object of general admiration. Diodorus says: "When, therefore,
so enormous a serpent was open for all to see, credence could no longer be
refused the Ethiopians, or their statements be received as fables; for
they say that they have seen in their country serpents so vast that they
can not only swallow cattle and other beasts of the same size, but that
they also fight with the elephant, embracing his limbs so tightly in the
fold of their coils that he is unable to move, and, raising their neck up
underneath his trunk, direct their head against the elephant's eyes;
having destroyed his sight by fiery rays like lightning, they dash him to
the ground, and, having done so, tear him to pieces."

In an account of the castle of Fahender, formerly one of the most
considerable castles of _Fars_, it is stated--"Such is the historical
foundation of an opinion generally prevalent, that the subterranean
recesses of this deserted edifice are still replete with riches. The
talisman has not been forgotten; and tradition adds another guardian to
the previous deposit, a dragon or winged serpent; this sits for ever
brooding over the treasure which it cannot enjoy."

I shall examine, on a future occasion, how far those figures correspond to
the Persian ideas of dragons and serpents, the _azhdaha_ (اژدها = dragon)
and _már_ (مار = snake), which, as various poets relate, are constant
guardians of every subterraneous _ganj_ (گنج = treasure).

The _már_ at least may be supposed the same as that serpent which guards
the golden fruit in the garden of the Hesperides.



We now approach the consideration of a country in which the belief in the
existence of the dragon is thoroughly woven into the life of the whole
nation. Yet at the same time it has developed into such a medley of
mythology and superstition as to materially strengthen our conviction of
the reality of the basis upon which the belief has been founded, though it
involves us in a mass of intricate perplexities in connection with the
determination of its actual period of existence.

There is no country so conservative as China, no nation which can boast of
such high antiquity, as a collective people permanently occupying the same
regions, and preserving records of their polity, manners, and surroundings
from the earliest date of their occupation of the territory which still
remains the centre of their civilization; and there is none in which
dragon culture has been more persistently maintained down to the present

Its mythologies, histories, religions, popular stories, and proverbs, all
teem with references to a mysterious being who has a physical nature and
spiritual attributes. Gifted with an accepted form, which he has the
supernatural power of casting off for the assumption of others, he has the
power of influencing the weather, producing droughts or fertilizing rains
at pleasure, of raising tempests and allaying them. Volumes could be
compiled from the scattered legends which everywhere abound relating to
this subject; but as they are, for the most part, like our mediæval
legends, echoes of each other, no useful purpose would be served by doing
so, and I therefore content myself with drawing, somewhat copiously, from
one or two of the chief sources of information.

As, however, Chinese literature is but little known or valued in England,
it is desirable that I should devote some space to the consideration of
the authority which may be fairly claimed for the several works from which
I shall make quotations, bearing on the Chinese testimony of the past
existence, and date of existence, of the dragon and other so-called
mythical animals.

Incidental comments on natural history form a usual part of every Chinese
geographical work, but collective descriptions of animals are rare in the
literature of the present, and almost unique in that of the past. We are,
therefore, forced to rely on the side-lights occasionally afforded by the
older classics, and on one or two works of more than doubtful authenticity
which claim, equally with them, to be of high antiquity. The works to
which I propose to refer more immediately are the _Yih King_, the _Bamboo
Books_, the _Shu King_, the _'Rh Ya_, the _Shan Hai King_, the _Păn Ts'ao
Kang Muh_, and the _Yuen Kien Léi Han_.

As it is well known that all the ancient books, with the exception of
those on medicine, divination, and husbandry, were ordered to be destroyed
in the year B.C. 212 by the Emperor Tsin Shi Hwang Ti, under the
threatened penalty for non-compliance of branding and labour on the walls
for four years, and that a persecution of the _literati_ was commenced by
him in the succeeding year, which resulted in the burying alive in pits of
four hundred and sixty of their number, it may be reasonably objected that
the claims to high antiquity which some of the Chinese classics put
forth, are, to say the least, doubtful, and, in some instances, highly

This question has been well considered by Mr. Legge in his valuable
translation of the Chinese Classics. He points out that the tyrant died
within three years after the burning of the books, and that the Han
dynasty was founded only eleven years after that date, in B.C. 201,
shortly after which attempts were commenced to recover the ancient
literature. He concludes that vigorous efforts to carry out the edict
would not be continued longer than the life of its author--that is, not
for more than three years--and that the materials from which the classics,
as they come down to us, were compiled and edited in the two centuries
preceding the Christian era, were genuine remains, going back to a still
more remote period.


The _Yih King_ is one of those books specially excepted from the general
destruction of the books. References in it to the dragon are not numerous,
and will be found as quotations in the extracts from the large
encyclopædia _Yuen Kien Léi Han_, given hereafter. This work has hitherto
been very imperfectly understood even by the Chinese themselves, but the
recent researches of M. Terrien de la Couperie lead us to suppose that our
translations have been imperfect, from the fact that many symbols have
different significations in the present day to those which they had in
very ancient times, and that a special dictionary of archaic meanings must
be prepared before an accurate translation can be arrived at, a
consummation which may shortly be expected from his labours. I find in my
notes, taken from the manuscript of a lecture given before the Ningpo Book
Club in 1870, by the Rev. J. Butler, of the Presbyterian Mission, that
"the way in which the dragon came to represent the Emperor and the Throne
of China[229] is accounted for in the _Yih King_ as follows:--The chief
dragon has his abode in the sky, and all clouds and vapours, winds and
rains are under his control. He can send rain or withhold it at his
pleasure, and hence all vegetable life is dependent on him. So the
Emperor, from his exalted throne, watches over the interests of his
people, and confers on them those temporal and spiritual blessings without
which they would perish." I abstain from dwelling on this or any other
passages in the _Yih King_, pending the translation promised by M. De la
Couperie, the nature of whose views on it are condensed in the note[230]
attached, being extracts from his papers on the subject.


These are annals from which a great part of Chinese chronology is derived.
Mr. Legge gives the history of their discovery, as related in the history
of the Emperor Woo, the first of the sovereigns of Tsin, as follows:

"In the fifth year of his reign, under title of Hëen-ning[231] [= A.D.
279], some lawless parties, in the department of Keih, dug open the grave
of King Sëang of Wei [died B.C. 295] and found a number of bamboo tablets,
written over, in the small seal character, with more than one hundred
thousand words, which were deposited in the imperial library."

Mr. Legge adds, "The Emperor referred them to the principal scholars in
the service of the Government, to adjust the tables in order, having first
transcribed them in modern characters. Among them were a copy of the _Yih
King_, in two books, agreeing with that generally received, and a book of
annals, in twelve or thirteen chapters, beginning with the reign of
Hwang-te, and coming down to the sixteenth year of the last emperor of the
Chow dynasty, B.C. 298."

"The reader will be conscious of a disposition to reject at once the
account of the discovery of the Bamboo Books. He has read so much of the
recovery of portions of the Shoo from the walls of houses that he must be
tired of this mode of finding lost treasures, and smiles when he is now
called on to believe that an old tomb opened and yielded its literary
stores long after the human remains that had been laid in it had mingled
with the dust. From the death of King Sëang to A.D. 279 were 574 years."

Against this, however, which is not a very weighty objection, if we
consider the length of time that Egyptian papyri have been entombed before
their restoration to the light, Mr. Legge ranges preponderating evidence
in favour of their authenticity, and concludes that "they had, no doubt,
been lying for nearly six centuries in the tomb in which they had been
first deposited when they were then brought anew to light."

The annals consist of two portions, one forming what is undoubtedly the
original text, and consisting of short notices of occurrences, such as,
"In his fiftieth year, in the autumn, in the seventh month, on the day
Kang shin [fifty-seventh of cycle] phœnixes, male and female, arrived,"
&c. &c. It also records earthquakes, obituaries, accessions, and
remarkable natural phenomena. The other portion is interspersed between
these, in the form of rather diffuse, though not very numerous, notes,
which by some are supposed to be a portion of the original text, by
others, to have been added by the commentator Shin Yo [A.D. 502-557].

In the latter, frequent references are made to the appearance of phœnixes
(the _fung wang_), _ki-lins_ (unicorns), and dragons.

In the former we find only incidental references to either of these, such
as, "XIV. The Emperor K‘ung-kea. In his first year (B.C. 1611), when he
came to the throne, he dwelt on the west of the Ho. He displaced the chief
of Ch‘e-wei,[232] and appointed Lew-luy[233] to feed the dragons."

According to the latter, Hwang Ti (B.C. 2697) had a dragon-like
countenance; while the mother of Yaou (B.C. 2356) conceived him by a
dragon. The legend is: "After she was grown up, whenever she looked into
any of the three Ho, there was a dragon following her. One morning the
dragon came with a picture and writing. The substance of the writing
was--the Red one has received the favour of Heaven.... The red dragon made
K‘ing-teo pregnant."

Again, when Yaou had been on the throne seventy years, a dragon-horse
appeared bearing a scheme, which he laid on the table and went away.

The Emperor Shun (B.C. 2255) is said to have had a dragon countenance.

It is also said of Yu (the first emperor of the Hia dynasty) that when the
fortunes of Hia were about to rise, all vegetation was luxuriant, and
green dragons lay in the borders; and that "on his way to the south, when
crossing the Kiang, in the middle of the stream, two yellow dragons took
the boat on their backs. The people were all afraid; but Yu laughed, and
said, 'I received my appointment from Heaven, and labour with all my
strength to nourish men. To be born is the course of nature; to die is by
_Heaven's_ decree. Why be troubled by the dragons?' On this the dragons
went away, dragging their tails."

From these extracts it will be seen that the dragon, although universally
believed in, was already mythical and legendary, so far as the Chinese
were concerned.


is, according to Dr. Legge, simply a collection of historic memorials,
extending over a space of one thousand seven hundred years, but on no
connected method, and with great gaps between them.

It opens with the reign of Yaou (B.C. 2357), and contains interesting
details of the polity of those remote ages.

It contains a record of the great inundation occurring during his reign,
which Mr. Legge does not identify with the Deluge of Genesis, but which
Dr. Gutzlaff and other missionary Sinologues consider to be the same.

It is interesting to find in this work, claiming so high an antiquity,
references to an antiquity which had preceded it--a bygone civilization,
perhaps--as follows, in the book called _Yih and Ts‘ih_.[235] The emperor
(Shun, B.C. 2255 to 2205) says, "I wish to see the emblematic figures of
the ancients--the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountain, the dragon, and
the flowery fowl, which are depicted _on the upper garment_; the temple
cup, the aquatic grass, the flames, the grains of rice, the hatchet, and
the symbol of distinction, which are embroidered _on the lower garment_.
_I wish to see_ all these displayed with the five colours, so as to form
the official robes; it is yours to adjust them clearly." Here the dragon
is chosen as an emblematic figure, in association with eleven others,
which are objects of every-day knowledge, and this, I think, establishes a
presumption that it itself was not at that date considered an object of
doubtful credibility.

Similarly, we find the twelve symbolical animals, representing the twelve
branches of the Horary characters (dating, see Williams' Dictionary, from
B.C. 2637), to be the rat, the ox, tiger, hare, dragon, serpent, horse,
sheep, monkey, cock, dog, boar, where the dragon is the only one about
whose existence a question can be raised. _From this latter we learn that
there was no confusion of meaning then between dragons and serpents_; the
distinction of the two creatures was clearly recognized, just as it was
many centuries afterwards by Mencius (4th century B.C.), who, in writing
of these early periods, says, "In the time of Yaou, the waters, flowing
out of their channels, inundated the Middle Kingdom. Snakes and dragons
occupied it, and the people had no place where they could settle
themselves"; and again, "Yu dug open their obstructed channels, and
conducted them to the sea. He drove away the snakes and dragons,[236] and
forced them into the grassy marshes."


The _'Rh Ya_ or _Urh Ya_,[237] also transliterated _Eul Ya_ and _Œl Ya_, a
dictionary of terms used in the Chinese classics, but more especially of
those in the _Shi King_, or "Book of Odes," a collection of ancient
ballads compiled and arranged by Confucius.

There is a tradition that it was commenced by the Duke of Chow 1100 B.C.,
and completed or enlarged by Tsz Hia, a disciple of Confucius.

Dr. Bretschneider suggests that each heading or phrase in the original
book merely represents the book names and the popular names of the plants
and animals.

The bulk of the work at present extant consists of the commentary by Kwoh
P‘oh (about A.D. 300) and, in some editions, of additional commentaries by
other authors.

The illustrations selected from it for the present volume are reduced from
those in a very fine folio copy, for the loan of which I am indebted to
Mr. Thomas Kingsmill, of Shanghai.

[Illustration: FIG. 41.--THE BANNER CALLED TSING K'I. (_From the 'Rh

These profess to date back so far as the Sung dynasty (A.D. 960 to A.D.
1127), and it is interesting to observe that the representations of tools
of husbandry then in use (Fig. 50, p. 232), and of the methods of hawking
(Fig. 46, p. 225), fishing (Fig. 47, p. 227), and the like, are such as
might be taken without alteration from those of the present day.

The drawings made by Kwoh P‘oh appear to have been lost in the sixth
century A.D.

[Illustration: FIG. 42.--THE K'I WITH BELLS. (_From the 'Rh Ya._)]

Notices of the dragon only appear incidentally in the _'Rh Ya_ as forming
part of the decoration of banners, &c.; but descriptions and figures of
the Chinese unicorn are given, and of other remarkable animals, of which I
shall eventually take notice.

These figures of dragons in the drawings of banners (Figs. 41-44) are
especially interesting; as there is fair reason to suppose that they at
least have been reproduced time after time from pre-existing ones with
tolerable accuracy; and that they give us a good notion of the general
character of the animal they purport to represent.

[Illustration: FIG. 43.--THE CHAO BANNER. (_From the 'Rh Ya._)]

[Illustration: FIG. 44.--THE K'I OR KIAO LUNG STANDARD. (_From the San Li

I have appended a few _fac-similes_ of wood engravings from the _'Rh Ya_
on general subjects, in anticipation of others dealing with specialities,
which will be found in their appropriate positions; they will serve to
correct the notion that the Chinese are entirely devoid of artistic power
and imagination (Figs. 46-49).


Short notices of this remarkable work are given by Mr. Alexander
Wylie[238] and Dr. Bretschneider,[239] and a more exhaustive one by M.

PALACE OF NANKIN, showing the Five-clawed or Imperial Dragon, an emblem
which cannot be borne by any outside of the Imperial service, under the
penalty of death. Commoners have to be satisfied with a four-clawed

[Illustration: FIG. 46.--RETURN FROM THE CHASE. (_From the 'Rh Ya._)]

It is also largely quoted by Williams in his valuable Chinese dictionary.
Otherwise Sinologues appear to have entirely ignored it.

Mr. Wylie remarks that "it has long been looked upon with distrust; but
some scholars of great ability have recently investigated its contents,
and come to the conclusion that it is at least as old as the Chow dynasty,
and probably of a date even anterior to that period."

M. Bazin speaks of it as a fabulous description of the world, and
attributes it to Taouist writers in the fourth century of our era, who
forged the authority of the great Yü and Peh Yi. He thinks it would be
useless to attempt the identification of the localities given in it, and
offers a translation of a portion of the first chapter in support of his

The value of his translation is impaired by his making no distinction
between the text and the commentary, and he appears to have possessed an
inferior and incomplete version.

In an editorial article in the _North China Herald_ of May 9, 1884
(presumably by Mr. Balfour, an excellent Sinologue), it is referred to the
date of Ch'in Shih Huang, who connected the Heptarchy into a single
kingdom, and conquered Cochin China about B.C. 222.

Kwoh Po‘h[241] (A.D. 276-324), who prepared an edition which has descended
to us, ascribes a date to it 3,000 years anterior to his time.

Liu Hsiu,[241] of the Han dynasty (B.C. 206 to A.D. 25), states that the
Emperor Yü, the founder of the Hia dynasty (B.C. 2205), employed Yih and
Peh Yi as geographers and natural historians, who produced the "Book of
Wonders by Land and Sea." While Yang Sun,[241] of the Ming dynasty
(commencing A.D. 1368), states in his after-preface that the Emperor Yü
had nine metal vases cast, on which all wonderful or rare animals were
engraved, the commoner ones being recorded in the annals of Yü; and that
K‘ung Kiah (of the Hia dynasty, B.C. 1879), included this varied
information in the present work.

[Illustration: FIG. 47.--ONE MODE OF CAPTURING FISH. (_From the 'Rh Ya._)]

[Illustration: FIG. 48.--SUMMER. (_From the 'Rh Ya._)]

It is to be hoped that at no distant date some competent Sinologue will be
induced to furnish a full translation of this remarkable work, with an
adequate commentary.

There is no doubt that many would be deterred from doing so by an
impression that a collection of fabulous stories, treating of supernatural
beings and apparently impossible monsters, is unworthy the consideration
of mature intellect, and only fit to be relegated to the domain of Jack
the Giant Killer and other childish stories. After a close examination of
the book, I apprehend that this view of it can hardly be maintained. That
such stories or descriptions are interspersed throughout the work is not
to be disputed; but a large proportion of it consists of apparently
authentic geographical records, including, as is customary with all works
of a similar nature in China, descriptions of the most remarkable objects
of natural history occurring in the different regions. I think it will be
found possible to identify many of these at the present day, some may be
conjectured at, and the residue are not more numerous in proportion than
the similar fables or perverted accounts which figure in the western
classic volumes of Ctesias, Aristotle, Pliny, and even much later writers.
So far as the supernatural portions are concerned, it must be remembered
that, even so late as the days of the childhood of Sir Humphrey Davy,
pixies were still supposed by the lower classes to trace the fairy rings
in Cornwall; that quite lately, and perhaps among certain classes to the
present day, the existence of the banshee in Ireland, of the kelpie in
Scotland, and of persons gifted with the mysterious and awe-inspiring
power of second sight, was religiously believed in. There are few
important houses in England whose ancestral walls have not concealed an
apparition connected with the destinies of the family, appearing only on
fatal or eventful occasions; and in the days of the sapient James I. in
England, and among the Pilgrim Fathers in the American States, the
existence of wizards and witches was universally accepted as an undeniable
fact, proved by hundreds of instances of extorted or voluntary confession,
and supplemented by the concurrent testimony of a still greater number of
witnesses who genuinely believed themselves to have been the spectators or
victims of the supernatural powers of the accused.

[Illustration: FIG. 49.--MANTIS (A VERY CHARACTERISTIC FIGURE). (_From the
'Rh Ya._)]

An historian of these later times might well have described such things as
realities, and we should not be disposed, on account of his having done
so, to question the validity of his description of other objects or
creatures existing at the period, presuming them to be more consistent
with our present notions of possibility.

No one, now-a-days, would discredit the veracity of Marco Polo because he
speaks of enormous serpents in Carajan, possessing two feet, each armed
with a single claw. That there was a solid foundation for his story is
admitted, and commentators are only at variance as to whether the basis
was a large species of python, such as still exists in Southern China, or
a gigantic alligator, of which he might have seen a mutilated specimen.

It must also be borne in mind that the existence of some gigantic saurian,
now extinct, possessing two limbs only, in place of four, is not an
impossibility; as the small lizard, Chirotes, is in that condition, and
also the North American genus _Siren_, belonging to the Newts.

[Illustration: FIG. 50.--TOOLS OF HUSBANDRY. (_From the 'Rh Ya._)]

I notice that Retzoch, in his designs to illustrate Schiller's poem, "The
Fight with the Dragon," makes the monster have only two fore-legs, and
this appears to have been a common mediæval conception of it. Aldrovandus
and Gesner both give figures of biped dragons. There is also a curious
drawing in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ for 1749--which is transferred into
the pages of the _Encyclopædia of Philadelphia_, apparently a piracy of an
English Cyclopædia, of what is styled a sea-dragon, four feet long, which
stands bolt upright on two legs, and, like Barnum's mermaid, was probably
a triumph of art.


Aldrovandus was probably imposed on by some waggish friend, in reference
to the biped dragon without wings, two cubits long, which was said to have
been killed by a countryman near Bonn in 1572 A.D., and which he first
figured and then placed in his museum; and he evidently fully believed in
the Ethiopian winged biped dragon, of which he gives two figures, but
without quoting his authority.

[Illustration: FIG. 52.--DRACO ÆTHIOPICUS. (_Aldrovandus._)]

Gesner gives a similar figure, after Belon, of the winged dragon of Mount
Sinai; but Athanasius Kircher is more liberal, and gives his dragon not
only wings but four legs.

[Illustration: FIG. 53.--THE FOUR-FOOTED WINGED DRAGON. (_Kircher._)]

In poetry we find Ashtaroth described as appearing to Faust in the form of
a serpent with two little feet.

As to the mysterious powers imputed throughout the _Shan Hai King_ to
different creatures, of controlling drought, rain, and fire, or acting,
when partaken of, as remedies for sundry ills and ailments, it may be
asked whether we ourselves are free from analogous superstitious beliefs?
Will a sailor view without uneasiness the destruction of a Mother Carey's
chicken, or a Dutchman, of a stork? Or is the Chinese pharmacopœia of the
present day much more trustworthy as to many of its items?

As to the human-visaged creatures, both snakes and four-footed beasts, may
we not perhaps put them on a par with other fancied resemblances, which
hold to the present day, of (for example) the hippopotamus, to a
river-horse, of the pipe-fish, known as the hippocampus, to a sea-horse;
of the manatee to a merman, and the like?

And, lastly, are the composite creatures, partly bird and partly
reptilian, occasionally referred to, so entirely incredible? Is it not
barely possible that some of those intervening types which we know from
the teaching of Darwin, must have existed; which we know, from the
researches of palæontology have existed; types intermediate to the
_Struthionidæ_, the most reptilian of birds, and the _Chlamydæ_, the most
avian of reptiles--is it not possible that some of these may have
continued their existence down to a late date, and that the tradition of
these existing as the descendants or the analogues of the Archæopteryx,
and the toothed birds of America, may be embalmed in the pages in
question? Is it impossible? Do not the Trigonias, the Terebratulas, the
Marsupials, and, in part, the vegetation of Australia, form the spare
surviving descendants of the forms which characterised the oolitic period
on our own shores? Why, then, may not a few cretaceous and early tertiary
forms have struggled on, through a happy combination of circumstances, to
an aged and late existence in other lands.

After long, repeated, and careful examination of the _Shan Hai King_, I
arrive at a very different conclusion from M. Bazin. I hold it to be an
authentic and precious memorial which has been handed down to us from
remote antiquity, the value of which has been unrecognised owing to the
book being unfortunately a fusion of two and perhaps three distinct works.

[Illustration: FIG. 54.--THE PA SNAKE. (_From the Shan Hai King._)]

The oldest was the _Shan King_, and consists of five volumes, devoted
respectively to the northern, southern, eastern, western, and central
mountain ranges. This is devoid of all reference to persons and habited
places. It is simply an abstract of the results of a topographical survey
which may not impossibly have been, as it claims, the one conducted by Yü.

It contains lists of mountains and rivers, with valuable notes on their
mineral productions, fauna and flora. It also gives lists of the
divinities controlling or belonging to each mountain range, and the
sacrifices suitable to them. There are few extravagances in this portion
of the work.

The remainder is devoted to a history of the regions without and within
the four _hai_ or seas bounding the empire, and those constituting what is
called the Great Desert. Here extravagant stories, myths, accounts of
wonderful people, references to states, cities, and tribes are mingled
with geographical notices which, from their repetition, show that this
portion is itself resolvable into two distinct works of more modern date,
whose origin was probably posterior to the wave of Taouist superstition
which swept over China in the first six centuries of our era. I must add
that the term, "within the four seas" does not imply the arrogant belief,
as is generally supposed, that this Empire extended to the ocean on every
side, the archaic meaning being the very different one of frontier or
boundary region; while the word "desert" has a similar signification.

In that more credible portion of the work which I believe to have been the
original _Shan King_, references to dragons are infrequent. In some
instances the _kiao_ (which I interpret as the gavial) is specifically
referred to; in others the word _lung_ is used; thus, it speaks of dragons
and turtles abounding in the Ti River, flowing from one of the northern
mountains east of the Ho. From the context, however, an aquatic creature,
and probably an alligator, is indicated. From the entire text I gather
that the true terrestrial dragon was not an inmate of China, at all events
after the period of Yü. I further infer that it was a feared and much
respected denizen of the more or less arid highlands, whence the early
Chinese either migrated or were driven, and from which point the dragon
traditions flowed pretty evenly east and west, beat against the Himalayan
chain on the south, and only penetrated India in a later and modified

MOUNTAINS). (_Shan Hai King._)]

There is a short reference to the Ying Lung or winged dragon; it is as

"In the north-east corner of the Great Desert are mountains called
Hiung-li and T'u K'iu. The Ying Lung lives at the south extremity.

    "[Commentary.--The Ying Lung is a dragon with wings.]

"He killed Tsz Yiu and Kwa Fu.

    "[Commentary.--Tsz Yiu was a soldier.]

"He could not ascend to heaven.

    "[Commentary.--The Ying Lung dwells beneath the earth.]

"So there is often drought.

    "[Commentary.--Because no rain was made above.]

"When there is a drought, the form of the Ying dragon is made, and then
there is much rain.

    "[Commentary.--Now the false dragon is for this purpose, to influence
    (the heaven); men are not able to do it.]"

The better printed copies of this work are illustrated with a very
truculent-looking dragon with outspread wings. A stone delineation of a
dragon with wings forms the ornamentation of the bridge at Nincheang Foo.
In the interior of China, it was observed by Mr. Cooper, and is given in
his _Travels of a Pioneer of Commerce_. These are the only cases in China
in which I have come across illustrations of dragons with genuine wings.
As a rule, the dragon appears to be represented as having the power of
translating itself without mechanical agency, sailing among the clouds, or
rising from the sea at pleasure.

From within the Sea and North. (_Shan Hai King._)]

[Illustration: FIG. 57.--THE EMPEROR K'I, OF THE HIA DYNASTY. From without
the Sea and West. (_Shan Hai King._)]

The _Shan Hai King_ contains valuable notices of winged snakes and
gigantic serpents, as, for example, the so-called singing snakes. Speaking
of the Sien mountain (one of the Central Mountains), it says: "Gold and
jade abound. It is barren. The Sien river issues and flows north into the
I river. On it are many singing snakes. They look like snakes, but have
four wings. Their voice is like the beating of stones. When they appear
there will be great drought in the city."

[Illustration: FIG. 58.--YÜ KIANG (A GOD). Without the Sea and North.
(_Shan Hai King._)]

The Pa snake, already spoken of, is described as capable of gorging an
elephant. The Ta Hien mountains were reputed uninhabitable on account of
the presence of gigantic serpents (pythons?), which were said to have been
of the colour of mugwort, to have possessed hairs like pig's bristles
projecting between the lines of their riband-like markings. Rumour had
magnified their length to one hundred fathoms, and they made a noise like
the beating of a drum or the striking of a watchman's wooden clapper. The
Siong Jan mountains were infested by serpents, also gigantic, but of a
different species.

The annexed wood-cuts (Figs. 56, 57) of Ping I (Icy exterminator), and the
Emperor K'i (B.C. 2197), each in cars, driving two dragons, are
interesting in connection with the later fable of Medea and Triptolemus.
The two stories were probably derived from a common source; the Chinese
version, however, being much the older of the two.

[Illustration: FIG. 59.--THE TYPHOON DRAGON. (_From a Chinese Painting._)]

The text as to K'i is:--"K'i of the Hia dynasty danced with Kiutai at the
Tayoh common. He drove two dragons. The clouds overhung in three layers.
In his left hand he grasped a screen; in his right hand he held ear
ornaments; at his girdle dangled jade crescents. It is north of Tayun
mount; one author calls it Tai common." The commentator says Kiutai is the
name of a horse, and "dance" means to dance in a circle. [Probably this is
the earliest reference extant to a circus performance.]

Ping I is supposed to dwell in Tsung Ki pool near the fairy region of
Kwa-Sun, to have a human face, and to drive two dragons.

Cursorily examined, the _Shan Hai King_ is a farrago of falsehood; read
with intelligence, it is a mine of historical wealth.


Descending to late times, we have the great Chinese Materia Medica, in
fifty-two volumes, entitled _Păn Tsao Kang Mu_, made up of extracts from
upwards of eight hundred preceding authors, and including three volumes of
illustrations by Li Shechin, of the Ming dynasty (probably born early in
the sixteenth century A.D.). It was first printed in the Wăn-leih period
(1573 to 1620). I give its article upon the dragon _in extenso_.

"According to the dictionary of Hü Shăn, the character lung in the antique
form of writing represents the shape of the animal. According to the
_Shang Siao Lun_, the dragon is deaf, hence its name of _lung_ (deaf). In
Western books the dragon is called _nake_ (_naga_). Shi-Chăn says that in
the _'Rh Ya Yih_ of Lo-Yuen the dragon is described as the largest of
scaled animals (literally, insects). Wang Fu says that the dragon has nine
(characteristics) resemblances. Its head is like a camel's, its horns like
a deer's, its eyes like a hare's,[243] its ears like a bull's, its neck
like a snake's, its belly like an iguanodon's (?), its scales like a
carp's, its claws like an eagle's, and its paws like a tiger's. Its scales
number eighty-one, being nine by nine, the extreme (odd or) lucky number.
Its voice resembles the beating of a gong. On each side of its mouth are
whiskers, under its chin is a bright pearl, under its throat the scales
are reversed, on the top of its head is the _poh shan_, which others call
the wooden foot-rule. A dragon without a foot-rule cannot ascend the
skies. When its breath escapes it forms clouds, sometimes changing into
rain, at other times into fire. Luh Tien in the _P'i Ya_ remarks, when
dragon-breath meets with damp it becomes bright, when it gets wet it goes
on fire. It is extinguished by ordinary fire.

"The dragon comes from an egg, it being desirable to keep it folded up.
When the male calls out there is a breeze above, when the female calls out
there is a breeze below, in consequence of which there is conception. The
_Shih Tien_ states, when the dragons come together they are changed into
two small serpents. In the _Siao Shwoh_ it is said that the disposition of
the dragon is very fierce, and it is fond of beautiful gems and jade (?).
It is extremely fond of swallow's flesh; it dreads iron, the _mong_ plant,
the centipede, the leaves of the Pride of India, and silk dyed of
different (five) colours. A man, therefore, who eats swallow's flesh
should fear to cross the water. When rain is wanted a swallow should be
offered (used); when floods are to be restrained, then iron; to stir up
the dragon, the _mong_ plant should be employed; to sacrifice to _Küh
Yuen_, the leaves of the Pride of India bound with coloured silk should be
used (see Mayers, p. 107, § 326) and thrown into the river. Physicians who
use dragons' bones ought to know the likes and dislikes of dragons as
given above."

"_Dragons' Bones._[244]--In the _Pieh luh_ it is said that these are found
in the watercourses in Tsin (Southern Shansi) and in the earth-holes which
exist along the banks of the streams running in the caves of the T'ai Shan
(Great Hill), Shantung. For seeking dead dragons' graves there is no fixed
time. Hung King says that now they are largely found in Leung-yih (in
Shansi?) and Pa-chung (in Szchuen). Of all the bones, dragon's spine is
the best; the brains make the white earth _striæ_, which when applied to
the tongue is of great virtue. The small teeth are hard, and of the usual
appearance of teeth. The horns are hard and solid. All the dragons cast
off their bodies without really dying. Han says the dragon-bones from
Yea-cheu, Ts‘ang-cheu and T'ai-yuen (all in Shansi) are the best. The
smaller bones marked with wider lines are the female dragon's; the rougher
bones with narrower lines are those of the male dragon; those which are
marked with variegated colours are esteemed the best. Those that are
either yellow or white are of medium value; the black are inferior. If any
of the bones are impure, or are gathered by women, they should not be

"P'u says dragons' bones of a light white colour possess great virtue.
Kung says the bones found in Tsin (South Shansi) that are hard are not
good; the variegated ones possess virtue. The light, the yellow, the
flesh-coloured, the white, and the black, are efficacious in curing
diseases in the internal organs having their respective colours, just as
the five varieties of the _chi_[245] plant, the five kinds of limestone,
and the five kinds of mineral oil (literally, fat), which remain still for
discussion in this work.

"Su-chung states: 'In the prefecture of Cheu kiün, to the "East of the
River" (Shansi), dragons' bones are still found in large quantities.'

"Li-chao, in the _Kwoh-shi-pu_, says: 'In the spring floods the fish leap
into the Dragon's Gate, and the number of cast-off bones there is very
numerous. These men seek for medicinal purposes. They are of the five
colours. This Dragon's Gate is in Tsin (Shansi), where this work
(_Kwoh-shi-pu_) is published. Are not, then, these so-called dragons'
bones the bones of fish?'

"Again, quoting from Sun Kwang-hien in the _Poh-mung Legends_: 'In the
time of the five dynasties there was a contest between two dragons; when
one was slain, a village hero, Kw'an, got both its horns. In the front of
the horns was an object of a bluish colour, marked with confused lines,
which no one knew anything about, as the dragon was completely dead.'

"Tsung Shih says: 'All statements [concerning dragons' bones] disagree;
they are merely speculations, for when a mountain cavern has disclosed to
view a skeleton head, horns and all, who is to know whether they are
_exuviæ_ or that the dragon has been killed? Those who say they are
_exuviæ_, or that the dragon is dead, then have the form of the animal,
but have never seen it alive. Now, how can one see the thing (as it really
is) when it is dead? Some also say that it is a transformation, but how is
it only in its appearance that it cannot be transformed?'

"Ki, in the present work, says that they are really dead dragons' bones;
for one to say that they are _exuviæ_ is a mere speculation.

"Shi Chăn says: 'The present work considers that these are really dead
dragons' bones, but To Shi thinks they are _exuviæ_. Su and Kan doubt both
these statements. They submit that dragons are divine beings, and resemble
the principle of immortality (never-in-themselves-dying principle); but
there is the statement of the dragon fighting and getting killed; and
further, in the _Tso-chw‘en_, in which it is stated that there was a
certain rearer of dragons who pickled dragons for food [for the imperial

"The _I-ki_ says: 'In the time of the Emperor Hwo, of the Han dynasty,
during a heavy shower a dragon fell in the palace grounds, which the
Emperor ordered to be made into soup and given to his Ministers.'

"The _Poh-wuh-chi_ states that a certain Chang Hwa 'got dragon's flesh to
dry, for it is said that when seasoning was applied the five colours
appeared, &c. These facts prove that the dragon does die, an opinion which
is considered correct by [the writers of] the present work.'"


This is an encyclopædia in four hundred and fifty books or volumes,
completed in 1710. More than eighty pages are devoted to the dragon.
These, with all similar publications in China, consist entirely of
extracts from old works, many of which have perished, and of which
fragments alone remain preserved as above.

I have had the whole of this carefully translated, but think it
unnecessary to trouble the reader, in the present volume, with more than
the first chapter, which I give in the Appendix. There is also a
description of the Kiao, of which I give extracts in the Appendix,
together with others relating to the same creature, and to the T‘o lung,
from the _Păn Tsao Kang Mu_.

[Illustration: FIG. 60--VIGNETTE. (_After Hokŭsai._)]



There is but little additional information as to the dragon to be gained
from Japan, the traditions relating to it in that country having been
obviously derived from China. In functions and qualities it is always
represented as identical with the Chinese dragon. In Japan, however, it is
invariably figured as possessing three claws, whereas in China it has four
or five, according as it is an ordinary or an imperial emblem. The
peasantry are still influenced by a belief in its supernatural powers, or
in those of some large or multiple-headed snake, supposed to be a
transformation of it, and to be the tenant of deep lakes or of springs
issuing from mountains.

I give, as examples of dragon stories, two selected from the narratives of
mythical history,[246] and one extracted from a native journal of the

The first states that "Hi-koho-ho-da-mi no mikoto (a god) went out
hunting, and his eldest brother Hono-sa-su-ri no mikoto went out fishing.
They were very successful, and proposed to one another to change
occupations. They did so.

"Hono-sa-su-ri no mikoto went out to the mountain hunting, but got
nothing, therefore he gave back his bow and arrow; but Hi-ko-hoho-da-mi no
mikoto lost his hook in the sea; he therefore tried to return a new one,
but his brother would not receive it, and wanted the old one; and the
mikoto was greatly grieved, and, wandering on the shore, met with an old
man called Si-wo-tsu-chino-gi, and told him what had happened.

"The latter made a cage called mé-na-shi-kogo, enclosed him in it, and
sank it to the bottom of the sea. The mikoto proceeded to the temple
of the sea-god, who gave him a girl, Toyotama, in marriage. He
remained there three years, and recovered the hook which he had
lost, as well as receiving two pieces of precious jade called 'ebb'
and 'flood.' He then returned. After some years he died. His son,
Hi-ko-na-gi-sa-ta-k‘e-ouga-ya-fu-ki-ayā-dzu no mikoto, succeeded to the

"When his father first proposed to return, his wife told him that she was
_enciente_, and that she would come out to the shore during the rough
weather and heavy sea, saying, 'I hope you will wait until you have
completed a house for my confinement.' After some time Toyotama came there
and begged him never to come to her bed when she was sleeping. He,
however, crept up and peeped at her. He saw a dragon holding a child in
the midst of its coils. It suddenly jumped up and darted into the sea."

[Illustration: FIG. 61.--JAPANESE DRAGON (IN BRONZE).]

The second legend is: "When the So-sa-no-o no mikoto went to the sources
of the river Hi-no-ka-mi at Idzumo, he heard lamentations from a house; he
therefore approached it and inquired the cause. He saw an old man and
woman clasping a young girl. They told him that in that country there was
a very large serpent, which had eight[247] heads and eight tails, and came
annually and swallowed one person. 'We had eight children, and we have
already lost seven, and now have only one left, who will be swallowed;
hence our grief.' The mikoto said, 'If you will give that girl to me, I
will save her.' The old man and woman were rejoiced. The mikoto changed
his form, and assumed that of the young girl. He divided the room into
eight partitions, and in each placed one saki tub and waited its approach.
The serpent arrived, drank the saki, got intoxicated, and fell asleep.

"Then the mikoto drew his sword and cut the serpent into small pieces.
When he was cutting the tail his sword was a little broken; therefore he
split open the tail to find the reason, and found in it a valuable sword,
and offered it to the god O-mi-ka-mi, at Taka-maga-hara.

"He called the sword Ama no mourakoumo no tsurogi,[248] because there was
a cloud up in the heaven where the serpent lies. Finally he married the
girl, and built a house at Suga in Idzumo."

The third story runs as follows:--

_The White Dragon._

"There is a very large pond at the eastern part of Fu-si-mī-shi-ro-yama,
at Yama-shiro (near Kioto); it is called Ukisima. In the fine weather
little waves rise up on account of its size. There are many turtles in it.
In the summertime many boys go to the pond to swim, but never go out into
the middle or far from the shore. No one is aware how deep the centre of
the pond is, and it is said that a white dragon lives in that pond, and
can transform itself into a bird, which the people of the district call
O-gon-cho, _i.e._ golden bird, because, when it becomes a bird, it has a
yellow plumage. The bird flies once in fifty years, and its voice is like
the howling of a wolf. In that year there is famine and pestilence, and
many people die. Just one hundred years ago, when this bird flew and
uttered its cry, there was a famine and drought and disease, and many
people died. Again, at Tempo-go-nen (_i.e._ in the fifth year of Tempo),
fifty years back from the present time, the bird flew as before, and there
was once again disease and famine. Hence the people in that district were
much alarmed, as it is now just fifty years again. They hoped, however,
that the bird would not fly and cry. But at 2 A.M. of the 19th April it is
said that it was seen to do so. The people, therefore, were surprised, and
now are worshipping God in order to avert the famine and disease. The old
farmers say, in the fine weather the white dragon may occasionally be seen
floating on the water, but that if it sees people it sinks down beneath
the surface."[249]

As a pendant to this I now quote a memorial from the _Pekin Gazette_ of
April 3rd, 1884, of which a translation is given in the _North China
Herald_ for May 16th, 1884.

"A Postscript Memorial of P‘an Yü requests that an additional title of
rank, and a tablet written by His Majesty's own hand, may be conferred on
a dragon spirit, who has manifested himself and answered the prayers made
to him.

"In the Ang-shan mountains, a hundred _li_ from the town of Kuei-hai,
there are three wells, of which one is on the mountain top, in a spot
seldom visited. It has long been handed down that a dragon inhabits this
well. If pieces of metal are thrown into the well they float, but light
things, as silk or paper, will sink. If the offerings are accepted, fruits
come floating up in exchange. Anything not perfectly pure and clean is
rejected and sent whirling up again. The spirit dwells in the blackest
depths of the water, in form like a strange fish, with golden scales and
four paws, red eyes and long body. He ordinarily remains deep in the water
without stirring. But in times of great drought, if the local authorities
purify themselves, and sincerely worship him, he rises to the top. He is
then solemnly conveyed to the city, and prayers for rain are offered to
him, which are immediately answered. His temple is in the district city,
on the To‘ang-hai Ling. The provincial and local histories record that
tablets to him have been erected from the times of the Mongol and the Ming
dynasties. During the present dynasty, on several occasions, as, for
instance, in the years 1845 and 1863, he has been carried into the city,
and rain has fallen immediately. Last year a dreadful drought occurred, in
which the ponds and tanks dried up, to the great terror of the people. On
the 15th day of the eighth month, the magistrate conducted the spirit into
the city, and, with the assembled multitude, prayed to him fervently;
thereupon a gentle rain, falling throughout the country, brought plenty in
the place of scarcity, and gladdened the hearts of all. At about the same
time, the people of a district in the vicinity, called Chin-yü, also had
recourse to the spirit, with equally favourable results. These are
well-known events, which have happened quite recently.

"It is the desire of the people of the district that some mark of
distinction should be conferred on the spirit; and the memorialist finds
such a proceeding to be sanctioned both by law and precedent; he therefore
humbly lays the wishes of the people before His Majesty, who, perhaps,
will be pleased to confer a title and an autograph tablet as above
suggested. The Rescript has already been recorded.

"No. 6 of Memorial."

The idea of the transformation of a sea-monster or dragon into a bird is
common both to China and Japan; for instance, in _The Works of Chuang
Tsze_, ch. i. p. 1, by F. H. Balfour, F.R.G.S., we read that--

[Illustration: FIG. 62.--THE HAI RIYO. (_Chi-on-in Monastery, Kioto._)]

"In the Northern Sea there was a fish, whose name was _kw‘ên_. It is not
known how many thousand _li_ this fish was in length. It was afterwards
transformed into a bird called _p‘êng_, the size of whose back is
uncertain by some thousands of _li_. Suddenly it would dart upwards with
rapid flight, its wings overspreading the sky like clouds. When the
waters were agitated [in the sixth moon] the bird moved its abode to the
Southern Sea, the Pool of Heaven. In the book called _Ts‘i Hieh_, which
treats of strange and marvellous things, it is said that when the _p‘êng_
flew south, it first rushed over three thousand _li_ of water, and then
mounted to the height of ninety thousand _li_, riding upon the wind that
blows in the sixth moon. The wild horses, _i.e._ the clouds and dust of
heaven, were driven along by the zephyrs. The colour of the sky was blue;
yet, is that the real colour of the sky, or only the appearance produced
by infinite, illimitable depths? For the bird, as it looked downwards, the
view was just the same as it is to us when we look upwards."

On the screens decorating the Chi-on-in monastery in Kioto, are depicted
several composite creatures, half-dragon, half-bird, which appear to
represent the Japanese rendering of the Chinese Ying Lung or winged
dragon. They have dragons' heads, plumose wings, and birds' claws, and
have been variously designated to me by Japanese as the _Hai Riyo_ (Fig.
62), the _Tobi Tatsu_, and the _Schachi Hoko_.

[Illustration: FIG. 63.--JAPANESE DRAGON (BRONZE).]


The numerous quotations given in the above pages, or in the Appendix, are
merely a selection, and by no means profess to be so extensive as they
should be were this work a monograph on the dragon alone. Having a special
object in view, I have forborne to diverge into those interesting
speculations which relate to its religious significance; these I leave to
those who deal specially with this portion of its history. I therefore
pass over the many traditions and legends regarding it contained in the
pages of the _Memoirs of Hiouen-Thsang_,[250] of _Foĕ Kouĕ Ki_,[251] and
similar narratives, and omit quoting folk-lore from the pages of Dennys,
Eitel, and others who have written on the subject.

[Illustration: FIG. 64.]

For my purpose it would be profitless to collate legends such as that
given in the Apocrypha, in the story of Bel and the Dragon, and
reappearing in the pages of El Edrisi as an Arab legend, with Alexander
the Great as the hero, and the Canaries as the scene, or to dwell on the
Corean and Japanese versions of dragon stories, which are merely borrowed,
and corrupted in borrowing, from the Chinese. Nor shall I do more than
allude to the fact that dragons are represented in the Brahminical caves
at Ellora, and among the sculptures of Ancoar Wat in Cambodia.

[Illustration: FIG. 65.]

The rude diagrams, Figs. 64, 65, 66, are facsimiles from a manuscript of
folio size in the possession of J. Haas, Esq., Imperial Austro-Hungarian
Vice-Consul for Shanghai, which he kindly placed at my disposal. This
unique volume is at present, unfortunately, unintelligible. It comes from
the western confines of China, and is believed to be an example of the
written Lolo language, that is, of the language of the aboriginal tribes
of China. They suffice to show that the same respect for the dragon is
shown among these people as in China; but no opinion can be offered as to
whether this belief and respect is original or imported, until their
literature has been examined.

[Illustration: FIG. 66.]

I regret that I am unable to give in this volume, as I had wished, an
account of the Persian dragon, which, I am informed, is contained in a
rare Persian work.

In conclusion, I must hope that the reader who has had the patience to
wade through the medley of extracts which I have selected, and to analyse
the suggestive reasoning of the introductory chapters, will agree with me
that there is nothing impossible in the ordinary notion of the traditional
dragon; that such being the case, it is more likely to have once had a
real existence than to be a mere offspring of fancy; and that from the
accident of direct transmission of delineations of it on robes and
standards, we have probably a not very incorrect notion of it in the
depicted dragon of the Chinese.

We may infer that it was a long terrestrial lizard, hibernating, and
carnivorous, with the power of constricting with its snake-like body and
tail; possibly furnished with wing-like expansions of its integument,
after the fashion of _Draco volans_, and capable of occasional progress on
its hind legs alone, when excited in attack. It appears to have been
protected by armour and projecting spikes, like those found in _Moloch
horridus_ and _Megalania prisca_, and was possibly more nearly allied to
this last form than to any other which has yet come to our knowledge.
Probably it preferred sandy, open country to forest land, its habitat was
the highlands of Central Asia, and the time of its disappearance about
that of the Biblical Deluge discussed in a previous chapter.

Although terrestrial, it probably, in common with most reptiles, enjoyed
frequent bathing, and when not so engaged, or basking in the sun, secluded
itself under some overhanging bank or cavern.

The idea of its fondness for swallows, and power of attracting them,
mentioned in some traditions, may not impossibly have been derived from
these birds hawking round and through its open jaws in the pursuit of the
flies attracted by the viscid humours of its mouth. We know that at the
present day a bird, the trochilus of the ancients, freely enters the open
mouth of the crocodile, and rids it of the parasites affecting its teeth
and jaws.



  On the dark bottom of the great salt lake
  Imprisoned lay the giant snake,
  With naught his sullen sleep to break.
      _Poets of the North_, "Oelenschlæger." Translated by Longfellow.

That frank writer, Montaigne, says[252]:--

"Yet on the other side it is a sottish presumption to disdaine and
condemne that for false, which unto us seemeth to beare no show of
likelihood or truth: which is an ordinarie fault in those who perswade
themselves to be of more sufficiencie than the vulgar sort.

"But reason hath taught me, that so resolutely to condemne a thing for
false, and impossible, is to assume unto himself the advantage, to have
the bounds and limits of God's will, and of the power of our common mother
Nature tied to his sleeve: and that there is no greater folly in the
world, than to reduce them to the measure of our capacitie, and bounds of
our sufficiencie.

"If we term those things monsters or miracles to which our reason cannot
attain, how many such doe daily present themselves unto our sight? let us
consider through what cloudes, and how blinde-folde we are led to the
knowledge of most things, that passe our hands: verily we shall finde, it
is rather custome, than Science that removeth the strangenesse of them
from us: and that those things, were they newly presented unto us, wee
should doubtless deeme them, as much, or more unlikely, and incredible,
than any other."

Montaigne's remarks seem to me to apply as aptly to the much-vexed
question of the existence or non-existence of the sea-serpent as though
they had been specially written in reference to it.

The sea-serpent, at once the belief and the denied of scientific men; the
accepted and ignored, according to their estimation of the evidence, of
reasoners, not scientific perhaps, but intelligent and educated; the
valued basis for items to the journalist, and the quintain for every
self-sufficient gobemouche to tilt against; appearing mysteriously at long
intervals and in distant places; the sea-serpent has as yet avoided
capture and the honourable distinction of being catalogued and labelled in
our museums.

Yet I do believe this weird creature to be a real solid fact, and not a
fanciful hallucination. This assertion, however, has to be sustained under
many difficulties. The dread of ridicule closes the mouths of many men who
could speak upon the subject, while their dependent position forces them
to submit to the half-bantering, half-warning expostulations of their
employers. When, for example, an unimaginative shipowner breaks jests over
his unfortunate shipmaster's head, and significantly hints his hope (as I
know to have been the case) that on his next voyage he will see no more
sea-serpents, or, in other words, that the great monster belongs to the
same genus as the snakes seen in the boots of a western dram-drinker, we
may be sure that an important barrier is put to any further communication
on the subject from that source, at least;[253] or when, again, some knot
of idle youngsters enliven the monotony of a long voyage by preparing a
deliberate hoax for publication on their arrival, a certain amount of
discredit necessarily attaches to the monster on the ultimate exposure of
the jest.

Men also occasionally deceive themselves, and while honestly believing
that they have seen his oceanic majesty, produce a story which, on
analysis, crumbles into atoms and crowns him with disgrace as an impostor.

The hard logic of science, in the hand of one of our master minds, has
also been arrayed against him, but fortunately weighs rather against
special avatars than against his existence absolutely.

Finally, the narratives of different observers disagree so much in detail
that we have a difficulty in reconciling them, except upon the supposition
that they relate to several distinct creatures, a supposition which I
shall hope to show is not improbable, as well as that the term sea-serpent
is an unwarranted specific differentiation of that of sea-monster, the
various creatures collectively so designated being neither serpents nor,
indeed, always mutually related. In commencing my record, I must bear in
mind Mrs. Glasse's proverbially excellent advice, and admit that it is
simply a history of the various appearances of a creature or creatures too
fugitive to admit of specific examination, and that until, by some
remarkable stroke of fortune, specimens are secured, their zoological
status must remain an unsolved, although closely guessed at, problem.

I have elsewhere stated my conviction that the serpent Midgard is only a
corruption of accounts of the sea-serpent handed down from times when a
supernatural existence was attributed to it; and we have in the Sagas
probably the earliest references to it, unless, perhaps, the serpents
mentioned by Aristotle, which attacked and overset the galleys off the
Libyan coast, may have been of this species.

The coast of Norway, deeply indented by fjords, the channels of which, for
a certain breadth, have a depth equal to that of the sea outside, seldom
less than four hundred fathoms, and corresponding in some degree with the
height of the precipitous cliffs which enclose them, abounding in all
kinds of fish, and in the season with whales, which at one time used to
number thousands in a shoal, appears, until within the last thirty years,
to have been peculiarly the favourite haunt of the serpent. Paddle and
screw are probably answerable for his non-appearance on the surface

The west coast of the Isle of Skye is another locality from which several
reports of it have been received during this century; less frequently it
has been observed upon the eastern American coast-line, upon the sea-board
of China, and in various portions of the broad ocean. It generally follows
the track of whales, and in two instances observers affirm that it has
been seen in combat with them.

I have no doubt but that the literature of Norway contains frequent
references to it of olden date, but the earliest notice of it in that
country which I have been able to procure is one contained in _A Narrative
of the North-East Frosty Seas_, declared by the Duke of Mosconia his
ambassadors to a learned gentlemen of Italy, named Galeatius Butrigarius,
as follows[254]:--

"The lake called Mos, and the Island of Hoffusen in myddest thereof is in
the degree 45.30 and 61. In this lake appeareth a strange monster, which
is a serpent of huge bigness; and as, to all other places of the world,
blazing stars do portend alteration, so doth this to Norway. It was seen
of late in the year of Christ 1522, appearing far above the water, rowling
like a great pillar, and was by conjecture far off esteemed to be of fifty
cubits in length."

Pontoppidan, the Bishop of Bergen, who published his celebrated _Natural
History of Norway_ in 1755, and who had at one time discredited its
existence "till that suspicion was removed by full and sufficient evidence
from creditable and experienced fishermen and sailors in Norway, of which
there are hundreds, who can testify that they have annually seen them,"
states that the North traders, who came to Bergen every year with their
merchandise, thought it a very strange question, when they were seriously
asked whether there were any such creatures, as ridiculous, in fact, as if
the question had been put to them whether there be such fish as eel or

According to Pontoppidan, these creatures continually keep at the bottom
of the sea, excepting in the months of July and August, which is their
spawning time, and then they come to the surface in calm weather, but
plunge into the water again so soon as the wind raises the least wave.

It was supposed by the Norway fishermen to have a great objection to
castor, with which they provided themselves when going out to sea,
shutting it up in a hole in the stern, and throwing a little overboard
when apprehensive of meeting the sea-snake. The Faroe fisherman had the
same idea with reference to the Tvold whale, which was supposed to have a
great aversion to castor and to shavings of juniper wood.

Olaus Magnus, in his _Histor. Septentrion_, chap. xxvii., writing not from
personal observation but from the relations of others, speaks of it as
being two hundred feet in length and twenty feet round, having a mane two
feet long, being covered with scales, having fiery eyes, disturbing ships,
and raising itself up like a mast, and sometimes snapping some of the men
from the deck.

Aldrovandus, quoting Olaus Magnus, says that about Norway there
occasionally appears a serpent reaching to one hundred or two hundred feet
in length, dangerous to ships in calm weather, as it sometimes snatches a
man from the ship. It is said that merchant ships are involved by it and

Olaus Magnus also figures another serpent, which is said to inhabit the
Baltic or Swedish Sea; it is from thirty to forty feet in length, and will
not hurt anyone unless provoked.

[Illustration: FIG. 67.--SEA-SERPENT ATTACKING A VESSEL. (_From Olaus

Arndt. Bernsen, in his account of the fertility of Denmark and Norway,
says that the sea-snake, as well as the Tvold whale, often sinks both men
and boats; and Pontoppidan was informed by the North traders that the
sea-snake has frequently raised itself up and thrown itself across a boat,
and even across a vessel of some hundred tons burthen, and by its weight
sunk it to the bottom; and that they would sometimes raise their frightful
heads and snap a man out of a boat; but this Pontoppidan does not vouch
for, and, indeed, says that if anything, however light, be thrown at and
touch them they generally plunge into the water or take another course.

Hans (afterwards Bishop) Egede, in his _Full and Particular Relation of my
Voyage to Greenland, as a Missionary, in the year 1734_, figures and
describes a sea-monster which showed itself on his passage. He says: "On
the 6th of July 1734, when off the south coast of Greenland, a sea-monster
appeared to us, whose head, when raised, was on a level with our main-top.
Its snout was long and sharp, and it blew water almost like a whale; it
had large broad paws; its body was covered with scales; its skin was rough
and uneven; in other respects it was as a serpent; and when it dived, its
tail, which was raised in the air, appeared to be a whole ship's length
from its body."

In another work, _The New Survey of Old Greenland_, Egede speaks of the
same monster, with the addition that the body was full as thick and as big
in circumference as the ship that he sailed in. The drawing (which I
reproduce, Fig. 68) appears to have been taken by another missionary, Mr.
Bing, who stated that the creature's eyes seemed red, and like burning
fire. The paws mentioned by Egede were probably paddles like those of the
Liassic Saurians.


Pontoppidan considers this to be a different monster from the Norway
sea-serpent, of which he gives a figure furnished him by the Rev. Hans
Strom, made from descriptions of two of his neighbours at Herroe, who had
been eye-witnesses of its appearance.

Lawrance de Ferry, a captain in the Norwegian Navy, and commander in
Bergen in Pontoppidan's time, actually wounded one of the Norwegian
serpents, and made two of his men, who were with him in the boat at the
time, testify upon oath in court to the truth of the statement which he
himself made, as follows:--

"The latter end of August, in the year 1746, as I was on a voyage, in my
return from Trundheim, in a very calm and hot day, having a mind to put in
at Molde, it happened that when we were arrived with my vessel within six
English miles of the aforesaid Molde, being at a place called Jule-Næfs,
as I was reading in a book, I heard a kind of murmuring voice from amongst
the men at the oars, who were eight in number, and observed that the man
at the helm kept off from the land. Upon this I inquired what was the
matter; and was informed that there was a sea-snake before us. I then
ordered the man at the helm to keep to the land again, and to come up with
this creature, of which I had heard so many stories. Though the fellows
were under some apprehensions, they were obliged to obey my orders. In the
meantime this sea-snake passed by us, and we were obliged to tack the
vessel about, in order to get nearer to it. As the snake swam faster than
we could row, I took my gun, that was ready charged, and fired at it; on
this he immediately plunged under the water. We rowed to the place where
it sank down (which in the calm might be easily observed) and lay upon our
oars, thinking it would come up again to the surface; however, it did not.
When the snake plunged down, the water appeared thick and red; perhaps
some of the shot might wound it, the distance being very little. The head
of this snake, which it held more than two feet above the surface of the
water, resembled that of a horse. It was of a greyish colour, and the
mouth was quite black and very large. It had black eyes and a long white
mane,[255] that hung down from the neck to the surface of the water.
Besides the head and neck, we saw seven or eight folds or coils of this
snake, which were very thick, and, as far as we could guess, there was
about a fathom distance between each fold.--Bergen, 1751."

Pontoppidan remarks on the peculiarity of spouting water from the nostrils
exhibited by the creature seen by Hans Egede, and states that he had not
known it spoken of in any other instance.

[Illustration: FIG. 69.--THE NORWEGIAN SEA-SERPENT. (_According to

He also remarks that the Norway sea-snakes differ from the Greenland ones
with regard to the skin, which in the former is as smooth as glass, and
has not the least wrinkle, except about the neck, where there is a kind of
mane, which looks like a parcel of sea-weeds hanging down to the water.
Summarising the accounts which had reached him, he estimates the length at
about one hundred fathoms or six hundred English feet. He states that it
lies on the surface of the water (when it is very calm) in many folds, and
that these are in a line with the head; some small parts of the back are
to be seen above the surface of the water when it moves or bends, which at
a distance appear like so many casks or hogsheads floating in a line,
with a considerable distance between each of them.

"The creature does not, like the eel or land-snake, taper gradually to a
point, but the body, which looks to be as big as two hogsheads, grows
remarkably small at once just where the tail begins. The head in all the
kinds has a high and broad forehead, but in some a pointed snout, though
in others that is flat, like that of a cow or horse, with large nostrils,
and several stiff hairs standing out on each side like whiskers."

"They add that the eyes of this creature are very large, and of a blue
colour, and look like a couple of bright pewter plates. The whole animal
is of a dark brown colour, but it is speckled and variegated with light
streaks or spots that shine like tortoise-shell. It is of a darker hue
about the eyes and mouth than elsewhere, and appears in that part a good
deal like those horses which we call Moors-heads."

He mentions two places, one at Amunds Vaagen in Nordfiord, the other at
the island of Karmen, where carcases of it had been left at high water. He
supposes it to be viviparous.

In an account of the Laplanders of Finmark, by Knud Leems, with the notes
of Gunner, Bishop of Drontheim, (Copenhagen, 1767, 4to., in Danish and
Latin),[256] I find, "The Sea of Finmark also generates the snake or
marine serpent, forty paces long, equalling in the size of the head the
whale, in form the serpent. This monster has a maned neck, resembling a
horse, a back of a grey colour, the belly inclining to white.

"On the canicular days, when the sea is calm, the marine serpent usually
comes up, winding into various spirals, of which some are above, the
others below, the water. The seamen very much dread this monster. Nor
while he is coming up do they easily entrust themselves to the dangers of
the deep."

Mr. J. Ramus records a large sea-snake which was seen in 1687 by many
people in Dramsfiorden. It was in very calm weather, and so soon as the
sun appeared, and the wind blew a little, it shot away just like a coiled
cable that is suddenly thrown out by the sailors; and they observed that
it was some time in stretching out its many folds.

Captain (afterwards Sir Arthur) de Capell Brooke[257] collected all
accounts he could, during his journey to the North Cape, respecting the
sea-serpent, with the following results:--

"As I had determined on arriving at the coast to make every inquiry
respecting the truth of the accounts which had reached England the
preceding year, of the sea-serpent having recently been seen off this part
of Norway, I shall simply give the different reports I received during my
voyage to the North Cape, leaving others to their own conclusions, and
without expressing, at least for the present, my opinion respecting them.

"The fisherman at Pêjerstad said a serpent was seen two years ago in the
Folden-Fjord, the length of which, as far as it was visible, was sixty

At Otersoen, the Postmaster, Captain Schielderup, who had formerly been in
the Norwegian sea service, and seemed a quick intelligent man, stated that
the serpent had actually been off the island for a considerable length of
time during the preceding summer, in the narrow parts of the sound,
between this island and the continent, and the description he gave was as

"It made its appearance for the first time in the month of July 1849 off
Otersoen. Previous to this he had often heard of the existence of these
creatures, but never before believed it. During the whole of that month
the weather was excessively sultry and calm; and the serpent was seen
every day nearly in the same part of the Sound.

"It continued there while the warm weather lasted, lying motionless, and
as if dozing, in the sunbeams.

"The number of persons living on the island, he said, was about thirty;
the whole of whom, from motives of curiosity, went to look at it while it
remained. This was confirmed to me by subsequent inquiries among the
inhabitants, who gave a similar account of it. The first time that he saw
it he was in a boat, at the distance of two hundred yards. The length of
it he supposes to have been about three hundred ells or six hundred feet.
Of this he could not speak accurately; but it was of considerable length,
and longer than it appeared, as it lay in large coils above the water to
the height of many feet. Its colour was greyish. At the distance at which
he was, he could not ascertain whether it were covered with scales; but
when it moved it made a loud crackling noise, which he distinctly heard.
Its head was shaped like that of a serpent; but he could not tell whether
it had teeth or not. He said it emitted a very strong odour; and that the
boatmen were afraid to approach near it, and looked on its coming as a bad
sign, as the fish left the coast in consequence! Such were the particulars
he related to me.

"The merchant at Krogoën confirmed in every particular the account of
Captain Schielderup, and that many of the people of Krogoën had witnessed

"On the island of Lekö I obtained from the son of Peter Greger, the
merchant, a young man who employed himself in the fishery, still further
information respecting the sea-serpent. It was in August of the preceding
year, while fishing with others in the Viig or Veg-Fjord, that he saw it.
At that time they were on shore hauling in their nets, and it appeared
about sixty yards distant from them, at which they were not a little
alarmed, and immediately retreated. What was seen of it above water, he
said, appeared six times the length of their boat, of a grey colour, and
lying in coils a great height above the surface. Their fright prevented
them from attending more accurately to other particulars. In fact, they
all fairly took to their heels when they found the monster so near to

"At Alstahoug I found the Bishop of the Nordlands. The worthy prelate was
a sensible and well-informed man, between fifty and sixty years of age. To
the testimony of others respecting the existence of the sea-serpent, I
shall now add that of the Bishop himself, who was an eye-witness to the
appearance of two in the Bay of Shuresund or Sörsund, on the Drontheim
Fjord, about eight Norway miles from Drontheim. He was but a short
distance from them, and saw them plainly. They were swimming in large
folds, part of which were seen above the water, and the length of what
appeared of the largest he judged to be about one hundred feet. They were
of a darkish grey colour; the heads hardly discernible, from their being
almost under water, and they were visible for only a short time. Before
that period he had treated the account of them as fabulous; but it was now
impossible, he said, to doubt their existence, as such numbers of
respectable people since that time had likewise seen them on several
occasions. He had never met with any person who had seen the kraken, and
was inclined to think it a fable.

"During the time that I remained at Hundholm, a curious circumstance
occurred. One day, when at dinner at Mr. Blackhall's house, and thinking
little of the sea-serpent, concerning which I had heard nothing for some
time, a young man, the master of a small fishing-yacht, which had just
come in from Drontheim, joined our party. In the course of conversation he
mentioned that a few hours before, whilst close to Hundholm, and previous
to his entering the harbour, two sea-snakes passed immediately under his
yacht. When he saw them he was on the deck, and, seizing a handspike, he
struck at them as they came up close to the vessel on the other side, upon
which they disappeared. Their length was very great, and their colour
greyish, but for the very short time they were visible he could not notice
any further particulars.

"He had no doubt of their being snakes, as he called them, and the
circumstance was related entirely of his own accord."

Captain Brooke sums up the reports he received with the following general

"Taking upon the whole a fair view of the different accounts related in
the foregoing pages respecting the sea-serpent, no reasonable person can
doubt the fact of some marine animal of extraordinary dimensions, and in
all probability of the serpent tribe, having been repeatedly seen by
various persons along the Norway and Finmark coasts. These accounts, for
the most part, have been given verbally from the mouths of the fishermen,
a honest and artless class of men, who, having no motive for
misrepresentation, cannot be suspected of a wish to deceive; could this
idea, however, be entertained, the circumstance of their assertions having
been so fully confirmed by others, in more distant parts, would be
sufficient to free them from any imputation of this kind.

"The simple facts are these: In traversing a space of full seven hundred
miles of coast, extending to the most northern point, accounts have been
received from numerous persons respecting the appearance of an animal
called by them a sea-serpent. This of itself would induce some degree of
credit to be given to it; but when these several relations as to the
general appearance of the animal, its dimensions, the state of the weather
when it was seen, and other particulars, are so fully confirmed, one by
the other, at such considerable intervening distances, every reasonable
man will feel satisfied of the truth of the main fact. Many of the
informants, besides, were of superior rank and education; and the opinions
of such men as the Amtmand (Governor) of Finmark, Mr. Steen, the clergyman
of Carlsö, Prosten (Dean) Deinboll of Vadsö, and the Bishop of Nordland
and Finmark, who was even an eye-witness, ought not to be disregarded.

"The Bishop of Nordland has seen two of them about eight miles from
Drontheim, the largest being apparently one hundred feet, and, in 1822,
one as bulky as an ox, and a quarter of a mile in length, appeared off the
island of Sorö, near Finmark, and was seen by many people."

Not having the _Zoologist_ at hand, I now quote a _resumé_ of short
notices extracted from it, contained in the _Illustrated London News_ for
October 28, 1848, as follows:--

"Our attention has been drawn to the _Zoologist_ for the past year,
wherein are several communications tending to authenticate the existence
of the great sea-serpent. Thus, in the number for February 1847, we find
paragraphs quoted from the Norse newspapers stating that in the
neighbourhood of Christiansund and Molde, in the province of Romsdal, in
Norway, several highly respectable and credible witnesses have attested
the seeing of the serpent. In general, they state that it has been seen in
the larger Norwegian fjords, seldom in the open sea. In the large bight of
the sea at Christiansund it has been seen every year, though only in the
warmest season, in the dog days, and then only in perfectly calm weather
and unruffled water.

"Its length is stated at about forty-four feet, and twice as thick as a
common snake, in proportion to the length. The front of the head was
rather pointed, the eyes sharp, and from the back of the head commenced a
mane like that of a horse. The colour of the animal was a blackish brown.
It swam swiftly, with serpentine movements like a leech. One of the
witnesses describes the body to be two feet in diameter, the head as long
as a brandy anker (ten-gallon cask) and about the same thickness, not
pointed, but round. It had no scales, but the body quite smooth. The
witness acknowledged Pontoppidan's representation to be like the serpent
he saw."

"The writer of this article received letters from Mr. Soren Knudtzon,
stating that a sea-serpent had been seen in the neighbourhood of
Christiansund by several people; and from Dr. Hoffmann, a respectable
surgeon in Molde, stating that, lying on a considerable fjord to the south
of Christiansund, Rector Hammer, Mr. Krabt, curate, and several persons,
very clearly saw, while on a journey, a sea-serpent of very considerable

"Four other persons saw a similar animal, July 28th, 1845.

"The next communication, dated Sund's Parsonage, August 31st, 1846,
records the appearance of a supposed sea-serpent, on the 8th, in the
course between the islands of Sartor Leer and Tös. Early on this day, just
as the steamer _Biörgvin_ passed through Rogne Fjord, towing a vessel to
Bergen, Daniel Solomonson, a cotter, saw a sea-monster swimming from Rogne
Fjord in a westerly direction towards his dwelling at Grönnevigskiæset, in
the northern part of the parish of Sund. The head appeared like a Færing
boat (about twenty feet long) keel uppermost; and from behind it raised
itself forward in three, and sometimes four and five undulations, each
apparently about twelve feet long. On the same morning a lad, out fishing
in the Rogne Fjord, saw a serpent, which he describes to have been sixty
feet long."

For further information on the Norwegian sea-serpent, I am indebted to the
excellent chapter, devoted to the question generally, contained in Mr.
Gosse's _Romance of Natural History_, First Series, from which I transfer,
without abbreviation, a statement made by the Rev. W. Deinboll,
Archdeacon of Molde:--

"On the 28th of July 1845, J. C. Lund, bookseller and printer; G. S.
Krogh, merchant; Christian Flang, Lund's apprentice; and John Elgensen,
labourer, were out on Romsdalfjord, fishing. The sea was, after a warm
sunshiny day, quite calm. About seven o'clock in the afternoon, a little
distance from shore, near the ballast place and Molde Hove, they saw a
large marine animal which slowly moved itself forward, as it appeared to
them, with the help of two fins on the fore-part of the body nearest the
head, which they judged from the boiling of the water on both sides of it.
The visible part of the body appeared to be between forty and fifty feet
in length, and moved in undulations like a snake. The body was round and
of a dark colour, and seemed to be several ells[258] in thickness. As they
discerned a waving motion in the water behind the animal, they concluded
that part of the body was concealed under water. That it was one connected
animal they saw plainly from its movement. When the animal was about one
hundred yards from the boat, they noticed tolerably correctly its
fore-part, which ended in a sharp snout; its colossal head raised itself
above the water in the form of a semi-circle; the lower part was not
visible. The colour of the head was dark brown, and the skin smooth. They
did not notice the eyes, or any mane or bristles on the throat. When the
serpent came about a musket-shot near, Lund fired at it, and was certain
the shots hit it in the head. After the shot he dived but came up
immediately; he raised his head like a snake preparing to dart on its
prey. After he had turned and got his body in a straight line, which he
appeared to do with great difficulty, he darted like an arrow against the
boat. They reached the shore, and the animal, perceiving it had come into
shallow water, dived immediately, and disappeared in the deep."

Mr. Gosse further quotes a statement made by an Englishman, writing under
the signature of "Oxoniensis" in the _Times_ of November 4th, 1848, to the
effect that--

"A parish priest, residing on Romsdalfjord, about two days' journey south
of Drontheim, an intelligent person, whose veracity I have no reason to
doubt, gave me a circumstantial account of one which he had himself seen.
It rose within thirty yards of the boat in which he was, and swam parallel
with it for a considerable time. Its head he described as equalling a
small cask in size, and its mouth, which it repeatedly opened and shut,
was furnished with formidable teeth; its neck was smaller, but its body,
of which he supposed that he saw about half on the surface of the water,
was not less in girth than that of a moderate-sized horse. Another
gentleman, in whose house I stayed, had also seen one, and gave a similar
account of it; it also came near his boat upon the fjord, when it was
fired at, upon which it turned and pursued them to the shore, which was
luckily near, when it disappeared. They expressed great surprise at the
general disbelief attached to the existence of these animals amongst
naturalists, and assured me that there was scarcely a sailor accustomed to
those inland lakes who had not seen them at one time or other."

The Rev. Alfred C. Smith, M.A., a naturalist, who visited Norway in 1850,
summarises the result of his investigations in the words: "and I cannot
withhold my belief in the existence of some huge inhabitant of those
northern seas, when, to my mind, the fact of his existence has been so
clearly proved by numerous eye-witnesses, many of whom were too
intelligent to be deceived, and too honest to be doubted."

Passing from these numerous narratives, which are distinguished for a
remarkable agreement in the main characteristic described, I will proceed
to some of those whose scene lies on our own coast.

In 1809, Mr. McLean, the parish minister of Eigg, communicated to Dr.
Neil, the Secretary of the Wernerian Society, the following

"I saw the animal of which you inquire, in June 1808, on the coast of
Coll. Rowing along that coast, I observed, at about the distance of half a
mile, an object to windward, which gradually excited astonishment. At
first view it appeared like a small rock; but knowing that there was no
rock in that situation, I fixed my eyes closely upon it. Then I saw it
elevated considerably above the level of the sea, and, after a slow
movement, distinctly perceived one of its eyes. Alarmed at the unusual
appearance and magnitude of the animal, I steered so as to be at no great
distance from the shore. When nearly in a line between it and the shore,
the monster, directing its head, which still continued above water,
towards us, plunged violently under water. Certain that he was in chase of
us, we plied hard to get ashore. Just as we leapt out on a rock, and had
taken a station as high as we conveniently could, we saw it coming rapidly
under water towards the stern of our boat. When within a few yards of it,
finding the water shallow, it raised its monstrous head above water, and,
by a winding course, got, with apparent difficulty, clear of the creek
where our boat lay, and where the monster seemed in danger of being
embayed. It continued to move off, with its head above water and with the
wind, for about half a mile before we lost sight of it. Its head was
somewhat broad, and of form somewhat oval; its neck somewhat smaller; its
shoulders, if I can so term them, considerably broader, and thence it
tapered towards the tail, which last it kept pretty low in the water, so
that a view of it could not be taken so distinctly as I wished. It had no
fins that I could perceive, and seemed to me to move progressively by
undulation up and down. Its length I believed to be between seventy and
eighty feet. When nearest to me it did not raise its head wholly above
water, so that, the neck being under water, I could perceive no shining
filaments thereon, if it had any. Its progressive motion under water I
took to be very rapid. About the time I saw it, it was seen near the Isle
of Canna. The crews of thirteen fishing-boats, I am told, were so much
terrified at its appearance, that they, in a body, fled from it to the
nearest creek for safety. On the passage from Rum to Canna, the crew of
one boat saw it coming towards them, with the wind, and its head high
above water. One of the crew pronounced the head as large as a little
boat, and its eye as large as a plate. The men were much terrified, but
the monster offered them no molestation."

I next extract, from the pages of the _Inverness Courier_, some very
pertinent remarks upon a description of the sea-monster seen by the Rev.
Messrs. McRae and Twopeny, contained in the _Zoologist_, and I add the
article there referred to. I had the advantage of hearing from a gentleman
related to Mr. McRae that he could substantiate his statement, having
himself about the same time, and in that locality, observed the same
appearance, though at a greater distance off.

The following is the article in the _Inverness Courier_:--

"We are glad to see that the two gentlemen who favoured us last autumn
with an account of what they believed to be a strange animal seen off the
west coast, Inverness-shire, have published in the _Zoologist_, a monthly
journal of natural history, a careful description of the creature which
they saw, and which seems to resemble the engravings of what is called the
Norwegian sea-serpent. We subjoin the magazine article entire. There is
such a dread of ridicule in appearing publicly in company with this
mysterious and disreputable monster, that we must commend the boldness of
the two clergymen in putting their names to the narrative; especially as
we observe that other observers have not been so courageous, and that
they have been obliged to give some of their information anonymously.

"The huge serpent, if serpent it may be called, invariably appears in
still warm weather, and in no other. There are certain Norwegian fjords
and narrow seas which it frequents, and it is scarcely ever seen in the
open sea. In the present case, the limit in which the animal has been seen
on our coast, is Lochduich to the north and the Sound of Mull to the
south, only about a fifth of the space between Cape Wrath and the Mull of
Kintyre; and it is in that part it should be most looked for. We beg to
draw the attention of our readers on the West Coast to the fact, now
established on indubitable evidence, of the supposed animal having been
seen there last year, and to the possibility of its appearing again in
similar weather this year. If it chances to turn up once more, some full
and accurate account of the phenomenon would certainly be most desirable."

The following is the article in the _Zoologist_[260]:--

    Appearance of an animal, believed to be that which is called the
    Norwegian Sea-serpent, on the Western Coast of Scotland, in August
    1872, by the Rev. John McRae, Minister of Glenelg, Inverness-shire,
    and the Rev. David Twopeny, Vicar of Stockbury, Kent.

    On the 20th of August 1872 we started from Glenelg in a small cutter,
    the _Leda_, for an excursion to Lochourn. Our party consisted, besides
    ourselves, of two ladies, F. and K., a gentleman, G. B., and a
    Highland lad. Our course lay down the Sound of Sleat, which on that
    side divides the Isle of Skye from the mainland, the average breadth
    of the channel in that part being two miles.

    It was calm and sunshiny, not a breath of air, and the sea perfectly
    smooth. As we were getting the cutter along with oars we perceived a
    dark mass about two hundred yards astern of us, to the north. While we
    were looking at it with our glasses (we had three on board) another
    similar black lump rose to the left of the first, leaving an interval
    between; then another and another followed, all in regular order. We
    did not doubt its being one living creature: it moved slowly across
    our wake, and disappeared. Presently the first mass, which was
    evidently the head, reappeared, and was followed by the rising of the
    other black lumps, as before. Sometimes three appeared, sometimes
    four, five, or six, and then sank again. When they rose, the head
    appeared first, if it had been down, and the lumps rose after it in
    regular order, beginning always with that next the head, and rising
    gently; but when they sank, they sank altogether rather abruptly,
    sometimes leaving the head visible.

    It gave the impression of a creature crooking up its back to sun
    itself. There was no appearance of undulation; when the lumps sank,
    other lumps did not rise in the intervals between them. The greatest
    number we counted was seven, making eight with head, as shown in
    sketch No. 1 [two engravings are given]. The parts were separated from
    each other by intervals of about their own length, the head being
    rather smaller and flatter than the rest, and the nose being very
    slightly visible above the water; but we did not see the head raised
    above the surface either this or the next day, nor could we see the
    eye. We had no means of measuring the length with any accuracy; but
    taking the distance from the centre of one lump to the centre of the
    next to be six feet, and it could scarcely be less, the whole length
    of the portion visible, including the intervals submerged, would be
    forty-five feet.

    Presently, as we were watching the creature, it began to approach us
    rapidly, causing a great agitation in the sea. Nearly the whole of the
    body, if not all of it, had now disappeared, and the head advanced at
    a great rate in the midst of a shower of fine spray, which was
    evidently raised in some way by the quick movement of the animal--it
    did not appear how--and not by spouting. F. was alarmed and retreated
    to the cabin, crying out that the creature was coming down upon us.
    When within about a hundred yards of us it sank and moved away in the
    direction of Syke, just under the surface of the water, for we could
    trace its course by the waves it raised on the still sea to the
    distance of a mile or more. After this it continued at intervals to
    show itself, careering about at a distance, as long as we were in that
    part of the Sound; the head and a small part only of the body being
    visible on the surface; but we did not again, on that day, see it so
    near nor so well as at first.

    At one time F. and K. and G. B. saw a fin sticking up at a little
    distance back from the head, but neither of us were then observing. On
    our return the next day we were again becalmed on the north side of
    the opening of Lochourn, where it is about three miles wide, the day
    warm and sunshiny as before. As we were dragging slowly along in the
    afternoon the creature again appeared over towards the south side, at
    a greater distance than we saw it the first day. It now showed itself
    in three or four rather long lines, as in the sketch No. 2, and looked
    considerably longer than it did the day before; as nearly as we could
    compute, it looked at least sixty feet in length. Soon it began
    careering about, showing but a small part of itself, as on the day
    before, and appeared to be going up Lochourn. Later in the afternoon,
    when we were still becalmed in the mouth of Lochourn, and by using the
    oars had nearly reached the island of Sandaig, it came rushing past us
    about a hundred and fifty yards to the south, on its return from
    Lochourn. It went with great rapidity, its black head only being
    visible through the clear sea, followed by a long trail of agitated
    water. As it shot along, the noise of its rush through the water could
    be distinctly heard on board. There were no organs of motion to be
    seen, nor was there any shower of spray as on the day before, but
    merely such a commotion in the sea as its quick passage might be
    expected to make. Its progress was equable and smooth, like that of a
    log towed rapidly. For the rest of the day, as we worked our way home
    northwards through the Sound of Sleat, it was occasionally within
    sight of us until nightfall, rushing about at a distance, as before,
    and showing only its head, and a small part of its body on the
    surface. It seemed on each day to keep about us, and as we were always
    then rowing, we were inclined to think it perhaps might be attracted
    by the measured sound of the oars. Its only exit in this direction to
    the north was by the narrow Strait of Kylerhea, dividing Skye from the
    mainland, and only a third of a mile wide, and we left our boat,
    wondering whether this strange creature had gone that way or turned
    back again to the south. We have only to add to this narrative of what
    we saw ourselves, the following instances of its being seen by other
    people, of the correctness of which we have no doubt. The ferrymen on
    each side of Kylerhea saw it pass rapidly through on the evening of
    the 21st, and heard the rush of the water; they were surprised, and
    thought it might be a shoal of porpoises, but could not comprehend
    their going so quickly.

    Finlay McRae, of Bundaloch, in the parish of Kintail, was within the
    mouth of Lochourn on the 21st, with other men in his boat, and saw the
    creature at about the distance of one hundred and fifty yards. Two
    days after we saw it, Alexander Macmillan, boat-builder at Dornie, was
    fishing in a boat in the entrance of Lochduich, half-way between
    Druidag and Castledonan, when he saw the animal, near enough to hear
    the noise, and see the ripple it made in rushing along in the sea. He
    says that what seemed its head was followed by four or more lumps, or
    "half-rounds," as he calls them, and that they sometimes rose and
    sometimes sank altogether. He estimated its length at not less than
    between sixty and eighty feet. He saw it also on two subsequent days
    in Lochduich. On all these occasions his brother, Farquhar, was with
    him in the boat, and they were both much alarmed, and pulled to the
    shore in great haste.

    A lady at Duisdale, in Skye, a place overlooking the part of the Sound
    which is opposite the opening of Lochourn, said that she was looking
    out with a glass when she saw a strange object on the sea, which
    appeared like eight seals in a row. This was just about the time that
    we saw it. We were also informed that about the same time it was seen
    from the island of Eigg, between Eigg and the mainland, about twenty
    miles to the south-west of the opening of Lochourn. We have not
    permission to mention the names in these two last instances.


    _P.S._--The writers of the above account scarcely expect the public to
    believe in the existence of the creature which they saw. Rather than
    that, they look for the disbelief and ridicule to which the subject
    always gives rise, partly on account of the animal having been
    pronounced to be a snake, without any sufficient evidence, but
    principally because of the exaggerations and fables with which the
    whole subject is beset. Nevertheless, they consider themselves bound
    to leave a record of what they saw, in order that naturalists may
    receive it as a piece of evidence, or not, according to what they
    think it is worth. The animal will very likely turn up on those coasts
    again, and it will be always in that "dead season," so convenient to
    editors of newspapers, for it is never seen but in the still warm days
    of summer or early autumn. There is a considerable probability that it
    has visited the same coasts before.

    In the summer of 1871, some large creature was seen for some time
    rushing about in Lochduich, but it did not show itself sufficiently
    for anyone to ascertain what it was. Also, some years back, a
    well-known gentleman of the West Coast, now living, was crossing the
    Sound of Mull, from Mull to the mainland, "on a very calm afternoon,
    when," as he writes, "our attention was attracted to a monster which
    had come to the surface, not more than fifty yards from our boat. It
    rose without causing the slightest disturbance of the sea, or making
    the slightest noise, and floated for some time on the surface, but
    without exhibiting its head or tail, showing only the ridge of the
    back, which was not that of a whale or any other sea animal that I had
    ever seen. The back appeared sharp and ridge-like, and in colour very
    dark, indeed black, or almost so. It rested quietly for a few minutes,
    and then dropped quietly down into the deep, without causing the
    slightest agitation. I should say that about forty feet of it,
    certainly not less, appeared on the surface."

    It should be noticed that the inhabitants of that Western Coast are
    quite familiar with the appearance of whales, seals, and porpoises,
    and when they see them they recognise them at once. Whether the
    creature which pursued Mr. McLean's boat off the island of Coll in
    1808, and of which there is an account in the _Transactions_ of the
    Wernerian Society (vol. i. p. 442), was one of these Norwegian
    animals, it is not easy to say. Survivors who knew Mr. McLean, say
    that he could quite be relied upon for truth.

    The public are not likely to believe in the creature till it is
    caught, and that does not seem likely to happen just yet, for a
    variety of reasons, one reason being that it has, from all the
    accounts given of it, the power of moving very rapidly. On the 20th,
    while we were becalmed in the mouth of Lochourn, a steam-launch slowly
    passed us, and, as we watched it, we reckoned its rate at five or six
    miles an hour. When the animal rushed past us on the next day at about
    the same distance, and when we were again becalmed nearly in the same
    place, we agreed that it went twice as fast as the steamer, and we
    thought that its rate could not be less than ten or twelve miles an
    hour. It might be shot, but would probably sink. There are three
    accounts of its being shot at in Norway; in one instance it sank, and
    in the other two it pursued the boats, which were near the shore, but
    disappeared when it found itself getting into shallow water.

    It should be mentioned that when we saw this creature, and made our
    sketches of it, we had never seen either Pontoppidan's _Natural
    History_ or his print of the Norwegian sea-serpent, which has a most
    striking resemblance to the first of our own sketches. Considering the
    great body of reasonable Norwegian evidence, extending through a
    number of years, which remains after setting aside fables and
    exaggerations, it seems surprising that no naturalist of that country
    has ever applied himself to make out something about the animal. In
    the meantime, as the public will most probably be dubious about
    quickly giving credit to our account, the following explanations are
    open to them, all of which have been proposed to me, viz.:--porpoises,
    lumps of sea-weed, empty herring-barrels, bladders, logs of wood,
    waves of the sea, and inflated pig-skins! but as all these theories
    present to our mind greater difficulties than the existence of the
    animal itself, we feel obliged to decline them.

The editor of the _Zoologist_ adds:--

    I have long since expressed my firm conviction that there exists a
    large marine animal unknown to us naturalists; I maintain this belief
    as firmly as ever.

    I totally reject the evidence of published representations; but I do
    not allow these imaginary figures to interfere with a firm conviction.

Here, again, we have the same general resemblances, observed under the
same conditions of weather, as in the case of the Norwegian serpent. As to
the pursuit, which may either have been urged from motives of curiosity or
of anger, it is curious to find a remarkable account of a similar
incident in _Kotzebue's Vogages_, where it is stated that M. Kriukoff,
while in a boat at Beering's Island, was pursued by an animal like a red
serpent, and immensely long, with a head like that of a sea-lion, but the
eyes disproportionately large. "It was fortunate," observed M. Kriukoff,
"we were so near land, or the monster would have swallowed us; he raised
his head far above the surface, and the sea-lions were so terrified, that
some rushed into the water, and others concealed themselves on the shore!"

The last notice of its appearance in British waters is extracted from
_Nature_, as follows:--

    Believing it to be desirable that every well-authenticated observation
    indicating the existence of large sea-serpents should be permanently
    registered, I send you the following particulars:--

    About three P.M. on Sunday, September 3, 1882, a party of gentlemen
    and ladies were standing at the northern extremity of Llandudno pier,
    looking towards the open sea, when an unusual object was observed in
    the water near to the Little Orme's Head, travelling rapidly westwards
    towards the Great Orme. It appeared to be just outside the mouth of
    the bay, and would therefore be about a mile distant from the
    observers. It was watched for about two minutes, and in that interval
    it traversed about half the width of the bay, and then suddenly
    disappeared. The bay is two miles wide, and therefore the object,
    whatever it was, must have travelled at the rate of thirty miles an
    hour. It is estimated to have been fully as long as a large steamer,
    say two hundred feet; the rapidity of its motion was particularly
    remarked as being greater than that of any ordinary vessel. The colour
    appeared to be black, and the motion either corkscrew-like or
    snake-like, with vertical undulations. Three of the observers have
    since made sketches from memory, quite independently, of the
    impression left on their minds, and on comparing these sketches, which
    slightly varied, they have agreed to sanction the accompanying outline
    as representing as nearly as possible the object which they saw. The
    party consisted of W. Barfoot, J.P., of Leicester, F. J. Marlow,
    solicitor, of Manchester, Mrs. Marlow, and several others. They
    discard the theories of birds or porpoises as not accounting for this
    particular phenomenon.

      F. T. MOTT.

    Birstall Hill, Leicester,
      January 16th, 1883.

It must also be mentioned that Dr. Hibbert[261] states that the
sea-serpent has been seen in the Shetland seas, and instances one seen off
the Isle Stonness, Valley Island, and Dunvossness.

The first that we hear of the appearance of the sea-serpent in American
waters is of one which appeared on the coast of Maine, in Penobscot Bay,
at intervals, during the thirty years preceding 1809. The Rev. Abraham
Cummings, who reports this, saw it himself at a distance of about eighty
yards, and considered it to be seventy feet long; it was seen by the
British in their expedition to Bagaduse, during the first American war,
and supposed to be three hundred feet long. The next record relates to one
appearing in August 1817, which was frequently seen in the harbour of
Gloucester, Cape Aure, about thirty miles from Boston. It is the subject
of a report, published by a committee appointed by the Linnæan Society of
New England. Dr. Hamilton summarises the results as follows:--

"The affidavits of a great many individuals of unblemished character are
collected, which leaves no room to apprehend anything like deceit. They do
not agree in every minute particular, but in regard to its great length
and snake-like form, they are harmonious."

Eleven depositions were taken, in which the length was variously estimated
at from fifty to one hundred feet. It was either seen lying perfectly
still, extended upon the surface of the water, or progressing rapidly at
the rate of a mile in two, or at the most three, minutes; the mode of
progression is generally spoken of as vertical undulation. The tenth
deposition states: "On the 20th of June 1815, my boy informed me of an
unusual appearance on the surface of the sea in the Cove. When I viewed it
through the glass, I was in a moment satisfied that it was some aquatic
animal, with the form, motions, and appearance of which I was not
previously acquainted. It was about a quarter of a mile from the shore,
and was moving with great rapidity to the southward; it appeared about
thirty feet in length. Presently it turned about, and then displayed a
greater length, I suppose at least one hundred feet. It then came towards
me very rapidly, and lay entirely still on the surface of the water. His
appearance then was like a string of buoys. I saw thirty or forty of these
protuberances, or bunches, which were about the size of a barrel. The head
appeared six or eight feet long, and tapered off to the size of a horse's
head. He then appeared about one hundred and twenty feet long; the body
appeared of a uniform size; the colour deep brown. I could not discover
any eye, mane, gills, or breathing holes. I did not see any fins or lips."

One of the Committee of the Linnæan Society was himself an eye-witness,
and Colonel Perkins, of Boston, published in 1848 a communication which
was a copy of a letter he had written in 1820, detailing his personal
experience in confirmation of the Society's Report, as follows:--"In a few
moments after my exclamation, I saw, on the opposite side of the harbour,
at about two miles from where I had first seen, or thought I saw, the
snake, the same object, moving with a rapid motion up the harbour, on the
western shore. As he approached us, it was easy to see that his motion was
not that of the common snake, either on the land or in the water, but
evidently the vertical movement of the caterpillar. As nearly as I could
judge, there was visible at a time about forty feet of his body. It was
not, to be sure, a continuity of body, as the form from head to tail
(except as the apparent bunches appeared as he moved through the water)
was seen only at three or four feet asunder. It was very evident, however,
that his length must be much greater than what appeared, as in his
movement he left a considerable wake in his rear. I had a fine glass, and
was within from one-third to half a mile of him. The head was flat in the
water, and the animal was, as far as I could distinguish, of a chocolate
colour. I was struck with an appearance in front of the head like a single
horn, about nine inches to a foot in length, and of the form of a
marline-spike. There were a great many people collected by this time, many
of whom had before seen the same object, and the same appearance. From the
time I first saw him until he passed by the place where I stood, and soon
after disappeared, was not more than fifteen or twenty minutes.

"Subsequent to the period of which I have been speaking, the snake was
seen by several of the crews of our coasting vessels, and in some
instances within a few yards. Captain Tappan, a person well known to me,
saw him with his head above the water two or three feet, at times moving
with great rapidity, and at others slowly. He also saw what explained the
appearance, which I have described, of a horn on the front of the head.
This was doubtless what was observed by Captain Tappan to be the tongue,
thrown in an upright position from the mouth, and having the appearance
which I have given to it.

"One of the revenue cutters, whilst in the neighbourhood of Cape Ann, had
an excellent view of him at a few yards' distance. He moved slowly; and
upon the approach of the vessel, sank and was seen no more."

Dr. Hamilton[262] states that an animal of similar appearance was again
seen, in August 1819, off Nahant, Boston, and remained in the
neighbourhood for some weeks. Two hundred persons witnessed it, thirteen
folds were counted, and the head, which was serpent-shaped, was elevated
two feet above the surface. Its eye was remarkably brilliant and
glistening. The water was smooth, and the weather calm and serene. When it
disappeared, its motion was undulatory, making curves perpendicular to
the surface of the water, and giving the appearance of a long moving
string of corks. It appeared again off Nahant in July 1833. "It was first
seen on Saturday afternoon, passing between Egg Rock and the Promontory,
winding his way into Lynn Harbour; and again on Sunday morning, heading
for South Shores. It was seen by forty or fifty ladies and gentlemen, who
insist that they could not have been deceived."

The _Zoologist_ for May 1847 contains an account of a sea-serpent seen in
Mahone Bay, about forty miles east of Halifax, by five officers of the
garrison, when on a fishing excursion:--"We were surprised by the sight of
an immense shoal of grampuses, which appeared in an unusual state of
excitement, and which in their gambols approached so close to our little
craft that some of the party amused themselves by firing at them with
rifles. At this time we were jogging at about five miles an hour, and must
have been crossing Margaret's Bay, 'when suddenly,' at a distance of from
a hundred and fifty to two hundred yards on our starboard bow, we saw the
head and neck of some denizen of the deep, precisely like those of a
common snake, in the act of swimming, the head so far elevated and thrown
forward by the curve of the neck, as to enable us to see the water under
and beyond it. The creature rapidly passed, leaving a regular wake, from
the commencement of which to the fore part, which was out of water, we
judged in length to be about eighty feet, and this within rather than
beyond the mark. It is most difficult to give correctly the dimensions of
any object in the water. The head of the creature we set down at about six
feet in length, and that portion of the neck which we saw the same; the
extreme length, as before stated, at between eighty and one hundred feet.
The neck in thickness equalled the bole of a moderate-sized tree. The head
and neck of a dark brown or nearly black colour, streaked with white in
irregular streaks. I do not recollect seeing any part of the body."

Considerable interest was excited in 1848 by the account of a sea-serpent
seen by the captain and officers of Her Majesty's ship _Dædalus_ while on
her passage from the Cape of Good Hope to St. Helena, in lat. 24° 44' S.
and long. 9° 22' E. In this case the usual concomitants of calm weather
and absence of swell are wanting. The official report to the Admiralty is
as follows:--

    H.M.S. _Dædalus_,
    Hamoaze, Oct. 11.

    SIR,--In reply to your letter of this day's date, requiring
    information as to the truth of a statement published in the _Times_
    newspaper, of a sea-serpent of extraordinary dimensions having been
    seen from Her Majesty's ship _Dædalus_, under my command, on her
    passage from the East Indies, I have the honour to acquaint you, for
    the information of my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, that at 5
    o'clock P.M. on the 6th of August last, in latitude 24° 44' S. and
    longitude 9° 22' E., the weather dark and cloudy, wind fresh from the
    N.W., with a long ocean swell from the S.W., the ship on the port
    tack, heading N.E. by N., something very unusual was seen by Mr.
    Sartoris, midshipman, rapidly approaching the ship from before the
    beam. The circumstance was immediately reported by him to the officer
    of the watch, Lieutenant Edgar Drummond, with whom and Mr. William
    Barrett, the master, I was at the time walking the quarter-deck. The
    ship's company were at supper.

    On our attention being called to the object, it was discovered to be
    an enormous serpent, with head and shoulders kept about four feet
    constantly above the surface of the sea; and as nearly as we could
    approximate by comparing it with the length of what our main
    topsail-yard would show in the water, there was at the very least
    sixty feet of the animal _à fleur d'eau_, no portion of which was, in
    our perception, used in propelling it through the water, either by
    vertical or horizontal undulation. It passed rapidly, but so close
    under our lee quarter that had it been a man of my acquaintance I
    should have easily recognized his features with the naked eye; and it
    did not, either in approaching the ship or after it had passed our
    wake, deviate in the slightest degree from its course to the S.W.,
    which it held on at the pace of from twelve to fifteen miles per hour,
    apparently on some determined purpose. The diameter of the serpent was
    about fifteen or sixteen inches behind the head, which was, without
    any doubt, that of a snake; and it was never, during the twenty
    minutes that it continued in sight of our glasses, once below the
    surface of the water; its colour, a dark brown with yellowish white
    about the throat. It had no fins, but something like the mane of a
    horse, or rather a bunch of sea-weed, washed about its back. It was
    seen by the quarter-master, the boatswain's mate, and the man at the
    wheel, in addition to myself and officers above mentioned.

    I am having a drawing of the serpent made from a sketch taken
    immediately after it was seen, which I hope to have ready for
    transmission to my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty by to-morrow's

      I have, &c.,
      PETER M'QUHŒ, _Capt._

    To Admiral Sir W. H. Gage, G.C.B.,

IN 1848.]

This drawing was figured in the _Illustrated London News_ in illustration
of a short but very valuable memoir, and is reproduced upon a smaller
scale here.

A similar, perhaps the same, monster was fallen in with at a slightly
later date, 20° further south, as described in a letter addressed to the
editor of the _Globe_.

    _Mary Ann of Glasgow._
    Glasgow, Oct. 19, 1848.

    SIR,--I have just reached this port, on a voyage from Malta to Lisbon,
    and my attention having been called to a report relative to an animal
    seen by the master and crew of Her Majesty's ship _Dædalus_, I take
    the liberty of communicating the following circumstance:--

    "When clearing out of the port of Lisbon, upon the 30th of September
    last, we spoke the American brig _Daphne_, of Boston, Mark Trelawny
    master; she signalled for us to heave to, which we did, and standing
    close round her counter lay to while the mate boarded us with the
    jolly boat, and handed a packet of letters, to be despatched per first
    steamer for Boston on our arrival in England. The mate told me that
    when in lat. 4° 11' S., long. 10° 15' E., wind dead north, upon the
    20th of September, a most extraordinary animal had been seen. From his
    description, it had the appearance of a huge serpent or snake, with a
    dragon's head.

    "Immediately upon its being seen, one of the deck guns was brought to
    bear upon it, which, having been charged with spike-nails and whatever
    other pieces of iron could be got at the moment, was discharged at the
    animal, then only distant about forty yards from the ship. It
    immediately reared its head in the air, and plunged violently with its
    body, showing evidently that the charge had taken effect. The _Daphne_
    was to leeward at the time, but was put about on the starboard tack,
    and stood towards the brute, which was seen foaming and lashing the
    water at a fearful rate. Upon the brig nearing, however, it
    disappeared, and, though evidently wounded, made rapidly off at the
    rate of fifteen or sixteen knots an hour, as was judged from its
    appearing several times upon the surface. The _Daphne_ pursued for
    some time; but the night coming on, the master was obliged to put
    about and continue his voyage.

    From the description given by the mate, the brute must have been
    nearly a hundred feet long, and his account of it agrees in every
    respect with that lately forwarded to the Admiralty by the master of
    the _Dædalus_.

      JAMES HENDERSON, _Master_.

The account of the creature seen by the officers and crew of the _Dædalus_
excited more than the usual attention given to these stories; for the
professional status of the observers guaranteed at once the veracity of
their statement, and the probability of their judgment being accurate.
Considerable correspondence ensued, including a very masterly attack upon
the identification of the creature by Professor Owen, which will be again
referred to further on. It also elicited another sea-serpent story which
appeared in the _Bombay Bi-monthly Times_ for January 1849.

    I see, in your paper of the 30th of December, a paragraph in which a
    doubt is expressed of the authenticity of the account given by
    Captain M'Quhœ of the great "sea-serpent." When returning to India,
    in the year 1829, I was standing on the poop of the _Royal Saxon_, in
    conversation with Captain Petrie, the commander of that ship. We were
    at a considerable distance south-west of the Cape of Good Hope, in the
    usual track of vessels to this country, going rapidly along (seven or
    eight knots) in fine smooth water. It was in the middle of the day,
    and the other passengers were at luncheon, the man at the wheel, a
    steerage passenger, and ourselves being the only persons on the poop.
    Captain Petrie and myself, at the same instant, were literally fixed
    in astonishment by the appearance, a short distance ahead, of an
    animal of which no more generally correct description could be given
    than that by Captain M'Quhœ. It passed within thirty-five yards of the
    ship without altering its course in the least; but as it came right
    abreast of us, it slowly turned its head towards us. Apparently about
    one-third of the upper part of its body was above water, in nearly its
    whole length; and we could see the water curling up on its breast as
    it moved along, but by what means it moved we could not perceive....
    We saw this apparently similar creature in its whole length, with the
    exception of a small portion of the tail, which was under water; and
    by comparing its length with that of the _Royal Saxon_ (about six
    hundred feet) when exactly alongside in passing, we calculated it to
    be in that, as well as its other dimensions, greater than the animal
    described by Captain M'Quhœ. I am not quite sure of our latitude and
    longitude at the time, nor do I exactly remember the date, but it was
    about the end of July.

      R. DAVIDSON,
      _Superintending Surgeon,
      Nagpore Subsidiary Force_.

      3rd January 1849.

Again, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Steele, of the Coldstream Guards, wrote
to the _Zoologist_: "I have lately received the following account from my
brother, Captain Steele, 9th Lancers, who, on his way out to India in the
_Barham_, saw the sea-serpent. Thinking it might be interesting to you, as
corroborating the account of the _Dædalus_, I have taken the liberty of
sending you the extract from my brother's letter:--'On the 28th of August,
in long. 40° E., lat. 37° 16' S., about half-past two, we had all gone
down below to get ready for dinner, when the first mate called us on deck
to see a most extraordinary sight. About five hundred yards from the ship
there was the head and neck of an enormous snake; we saw about sixteen or
twenty feet out of the water, and he _spouted_ a long way from his head;
down his back he had a crest like a cock's comb,[263] and was going very
slowly through the water, but left a wake of about fifty or sixty feet, as
if dragging a long body after him. The captain put the ship off her course
to run down to him, but as we approached him he went down. His colour was
green, with light spots. _He was seen by everyone on board._' My brother
is no naturalist; and I think this is the first time the monster has ever
been seen to spout."

One of the officers of the ship wrote: "On looking over the side of the
vessel I saw a most wonderful sight, which I shall recollect as long as I
live. His head appeared to be about sixteen feet above the water, and he
kept moving it up and down, sometimes showing his enormous neck, which was
surmounted with a huge crest in the shape of a saw. It was surrounded by
hundreds of birds, and we at first thought it was a dead whale. He left a
track in the water like the wake of a boat, and from what we could see of
his head and part of his body, we were led to think he must be about sixty
feet in length, but he might be more. The captain kept the vessel away to
get nearer to him; and when we were within a hundred yards he slowly sank
into the depths of the sea. While we were at dinner he was seen again."

The _Times_, of Feb. 5, 1858, contains a statement made by Captain
Harrington, of the ship _Castilian_, and certified to by his chief and
second officers, as follows:--

"Ship _Castilian_, Dec. 12, 1857; N.E. end of St. Helena, distant ten
miles. At 6.30 P.M., strong breezes and cloudy, ship sailing about twelve
miles per hour. While myself and officers were standing on the leeside of
the poop, looking towards the island, we were startled by the sight of a
huge marine animal, which reared its head out of the water within twenty
yards of the ship, when it suddenly disappeared for about half a minute,
and then made its appearance in the same manner again, showing us
distinctly its neck and head about ten or twelve feet out of the water.
Its head was shaped like a long nun-buoy, and I suppose the diameter to
have been seven or eight feet in the largest part, with a kind of scroll,
or tuft of loose skin, encircling it about two feet from the top; the
water was discoloured for several hundred feet from its head, so much so
that, on its first appearance, my impression was that the ship was in
broken water, produced, as I supposed, by some volcanic agency since the
last time I had passed the island; but the second appearance completely
dispelled those fears, and assured us that it was a monster of
extraordinary length, which appeared to be moving slowly towards the land.
The ship was going too fast to enable us to reach the masthead in time to
form a correct estimate of its extreme length; but from what we saw from
the deck, we conclude that it must have been over two hundred feet long.
The boatswain and several of the crew who observed it from the topgallant
forecastle, state that it was more than double the length of the ship, in
which case it must have been five hundred feet. Be that as it may, I am
convinced that it belonged to the serpent tribe; it was of a dark colour
about the head, and was covered with several white spots."

A writer in the _New York Sun_ (I have the clipping, but, unfortunately,
not the date), discussing the best authenticated stories, says: "The Lynn
sea-serpent appears to be the most authentic, the writer having seen
several persons who saw it from the beach, and knowing others personally
or by reputation. The first animal of this kind seen about Lynn was in
1638, and was seen by Dr. John Josselyn; and again another was observed,
in 1819, by Mr. Cabot. Amos Lawrance, one of the pillars of old Boston,
said: 'I have never had any doubt of the existence of the sea-serpent
since the morning he was seen off Nahant by old Marshal Prince through his
famous masthead spy-glass. For within the next two hours I conversed with
Samuel Cabot and Daniel P. Parker, I think, and one or more persons
besides, who had spent a part of that morning in witnessing its movements.
In addition, Colonel Harris, the commander at Fort Independence, told me
that the creature had been seen by a number of his soldiers while standing
sentry at early dawn, some time before this show at Nahant; and Colonel
Harris believed it as firmly as though the creature were drawn up before
us in State Street, where we then were.' Such is the history of the Lynn
sea-serpent; and the following is an extract from the report of the
Linnæan Society of Boston, made by Dr. Bigelow and F. C. Gray: 'The
monster was from eighty to ninety feet long; his head usually carried
about two feet above the water; the body of a dark brown colour, with
thirty or forty more protuberances, compared by some to four-gallon kegs,
by others to a string of buoys, and called, by some, bunches on the back.
Motions very rapid--faster than those of a whale; swimming a mile in three
minutes, and sometimes more, leaving a wake behind him; chasing mackerel,
herrings, and other fish, which were seen jumping out of the water fifty
at a time as he approached. He only came to the surface of the sea in calm
and bright weather. A skilful gunner fired at him from our boat, and,
having taken good aim, felt sure he must have hit him on the head. The
creature turned towards him, then dived under the boat, and reappeared a
hundred yards on the other side.' In February of 1846 a letter was printed
in the various newspapers, signed by Captain Lawson, giving a description
of a monstrous snake seen by him from his vessel off Capes Charles and
Henry. The length was stated at one hundred feet, and on the back were
seen sharp projections. The head was small in proportion to the length."

I next append a few short statements which have appeared at various dates
in the public prints.

The _News of the World_, Sept. 28, 1879, states that Captain J. F. Cox,
master of the British ship _Privateer_, which arrived at Delaware
breakwater on Sept. 9, from London, says: "On August 5, one hundred miles
west of Brest (France), weather fine and clear, at 5 P.M., as I was
walking the quarter-deck, I saw something black rise out of the water,
about twenty feet, in shape like an immense snake of three feet diameter.
It was about three hundred yards from the ship, coming towards us. It
turned its head partly from us, and went down with a great splash, after
staying up about five seconds, but rose again three times at intervals of
ten seconds, until it had turned completely from us, and was going from us
at a great speed, and making the water boil all round it. I could see its
eyes and shape perfectly. It was like a great eel or snake, but as black
as coal tar, and appeared to be making great exertions to get away from
the ship. I have seen many kinds of fish, in five different oceans, but
was never favoured with a sight of the great sea-snake before."

The _Singapore Daily News_, April 6, 1878, in its Australian news quotes
from Wellington (New Zealand), Feb. 26 (this month corresponds with August
north of the Line): "The captain of the steamship _Durham_ reports having
seen a monster serpent off Nerowas Island. Thirty feet of the monster was
visible out of the water. The crew and passengers corroborate the report."

30, 1877. (_From the "Australian Sketcher."_)]

The _Australian Sketcher_ for November 24, 1877, states: "Captain W. H.
Nelson, of the American ship _Sacramento_, which arrived in this port from
New York on October 20, reported that he saw the sea-serpent on his
voyage. The _Argus_ paragraph on the subject stated: 'The date on which
the creature was seen was on July 30, the ship then being in lat. 31° 59'
N. and long. 37° W. The man at the wheel was the first to observe the
monster, and he at once called Captain Nelson, telling him what he saw;
but the latter, having the same feeling of incredulity with regard to the
sea-serpent as most other people, did not hurry from below. On coming on
deck, however, he was rewarded with a distant glimpse of the supposed
sea-serpent, which the helmsman, for his part, declared he saw quite
plainly. Some forty feet of the monster was alleged to be observable. It
appeared to be about the size of a flour-barrel in girth, and its colour
was yellowish; the head is described as being flat. The eyes were plainly
visible. Captain Nelson is convinced that what he saw was some
extraordinary marine monster.' We have obtained from John Hart, the man at
the wheel, a pencil sketch of the creature, of which we give an engraving.
The sketch is accompanied with a further description, in which the writer
says: 'This is a correct sketch of the sea-serpent seen by me while on
board the ship _Sacramento_, on her passage from New York to Melbourne, I
being at the wheel at the time. It had the body of a very large snake; its
length appeared to me to be about fifty feet or sixty feet. Its head was
like an alligator's, with a pair of flippers about ten feet from its head.
The colour was of a reddish brown. At the time seen it was lying perfectly
still, with its head raised about three feet above the surface of the sea,
and as it got thirty or forty feet astern, it dropped its head.'"

I confess that I do not attach much weight to this last example, from the
suspicious resemblance which the illustration given in the _Sketcher_
bears to an alligator, suggesting that possibly such a creature may have
been blown by winds or carried by currents to the position where it was
seen. It is true that Mr. Gosse quotes the size of the largest alligator
on record as only seventeen feet and a half, whereas the estimated length
of the supposed sea-serpent in this instance was from forty to sixty. But
against that may be argued the difficulty of estimating lengths or heights
when you have but a short inspection, and no object immediately near with
which to institute a comparison[264]; while I am by no means certain that
Mr. Gosse's maximum is correct. Dr. Dennys, of Singapore, has assured me
that some years back an alligator, approaching thirty feet in length,
haunted for some days the small tidal creek which runs through, and for
some miles above, that town; while I very well remember Mr. Gregory, the
Surveyor-General of Queensland, informing me that in the rivers in the
north of that colony there were alligators equalling in length a
whale-boat, say twenty-eight feet.

BALTIMORE," IN THE GULF OF ADEN, JAN. 28, 1879. (_From the "Graphic" of
April 19, 1879._)]

The _Graphic_ of April 19th, 1879, contains a drawing of "a marine monster
seen from S.S. _City of Baltimore_, in the Gulf of Aden, January 28th."
The descriptive letter-press is as follows:--

"The following is an abstract of the account given by our correspondent,
Major H. W. I. Senior, of the Bengal Staff Corps, to whom we are indebted
for the sketch from which our engraving is taken: 'On the 28th January
1879, at about 10 A.M., I was on the poop deck of the steamship _City of
Baltimore_, in latitude 12° 28' N., longitude 43° 52' E. I observed a long
black object a-beam of the ship's stern on the starboard side, at a
distance of about three-quarters of a mile, darting rapidly out of the
water and splashing in again with a noise distinctly audible, and
advancing nearer and nearer at a rapid pace. In a minute it had advanced
to within half-a-mile, and was distinctly recognisable as the "veritable
sea-serpent." I shouted out "Sea-serpent! sea-serpent! Call the captain!"
Dr. C. Hall, the ship's surgeon, who was reading on deck, jumped up in
time to see the monster, as did also Miss Greenfield, one of the
passengers on board. By this time it was only about five hundred yards
off, and a little in the rear, owing to the vessel then steaming at the
rate of about ten knots an hour in a westerly direction. On approaching
the wake of the ship, the serpent turned its course a little way, and was
soon lost to view in the blaze of sunlight reflected on the waves of the
sea. So rapid were its movements, that when it approached the ship's wake,
I seized a telescope, but could not catch a view, as it darted rapidly out
of the field of the glass before I could see it. I was thus prevented from
ascertaining whether it had scales or not; but the best view of the
monster obtainable, when it was about three cables' length, that is, about
five hundred yards, distant, seemed to show that it was without scales. I
cannot, however, speak with certainty. The head and neck, about two feet
in diameter, rose out of the water to a height of about twenty or thirty
feet, and the monster opened its jaws wide as it rose, and closed them
again as it lowered its head and darted forward for a dive, reappearing
almost immediately some hundred yards ahead. The body was not visible at
all, and must have been some depth under water, as the disturbance on the
surface was too slight to attract notice, although occasionally a splash
was seen at some distance behind the head. The shape of the head was not
unlike pictures of the dragon I have often seen, with a bull-dog
appearance of the forehead and eye-brow. When the monster had drawn its
head sufficiently out of the water, it let itself drop, as it were, like a
huge log of wood, prior to darting forward under the water.'"

Major Senior's statement is countersigned by the two persons whom he
mentions as co-witnesses.

When in Singapore, in 1880, I received the personal testimony of Captain
Anderson, at that time chief officer of the _Pluto_ (property of the
Straits Government) and formerly a commander in the P. and O. Company's

Captain Anderson assured me that he had twice seen large sea-serpents.
Once off Ushant, when he was chief officer of the _Delta_ in 1861. No
account was entered in the log nor any notice sent to the newspapers, for
fear of ridicule. On that occasion the whole ship's company saw it; it was
five (?) miles distant, and showed fifteen feet of its body out of the
water. It resembled a snake with a large fringe round the neck. It
appeared to be travelling, and moved its head to and fro like a snake. It
never spouted, and was observed for a quarter of an hour.

The second occasion was in the Red Sea, when he was in command of the
_Sumatra_, on the outward trip in October or November 1877. Off Mocha he
saw an animal, five miles distant, that lifted the body high out of the
water like a snake. All exclaimed, "There is the sea-serpent!" but no
entry was made in the log, or report made of it. The same creature was,
however, seen shortly after by a man-of-war close to Suez and reported.

In 1881 I once more had the personal testimony of an eye-witness.

Mr. J. H. Hoar, of the pilot station, Shanghai, China, informed me that he
saw a sea-serpent some years previously, when he was stationed at Ningpo,
on the China coast-line, a little south of the embouchure of the
Yangtse-kiang. He was at the time on the look-out for a vessel, from the
top of the bank of Lowchew Island, Chinsang, on the southern side of the
island fronting the six-mile passage. This island lies east of Worth
Point. The hill he was on was about one hundred and fifty feet high, the
snake distant about two hundred and fifty yards, the depth of water seven
fathoms. His attention was directed to it by a group of Chinamen calling
out "Shê," which means "snake." He saw it lying on the surface of the
water, resembling two masts of a junk end to end, but with a slight
interval. Presently it rose slightly, and then appeared all in one,
extended flat upon the surface of the water. He examined it with his
glass, and noticed the eye, which appeared to be as big as a coffee
saucer, and slate-coloured. The head was flat on the top. He estimated the
length at from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and forty feet.

He learned that it was the third occasion of its being seen in that place
within eight years. An account was published in one of the local journals,
by Mr. Sloman, from the statements of the Chinese observers. Mr. Hoar was
prevented from doing the same by the fear of being ridiculed. I may note
that there is a bay, not far from this spot, among the Chusan islands,
which has long been credited with being the abode of a great sea-dragon,
and in passing over which junks take certain superstitious precautions.

I have little doubt of the identity of the sea-serpent with the sea-dragon
of the Chinese. Dr. Dennys[265] says: "Of course our old friend, the
sea-serpent, turns up on the coasts of China, and the description of him
does not greatly differ from that recorded elsewhere. According to a
popular legend, the Chien Tang river was at one time infested by a great
kiau or sea-serpent, and in 1129 A.D., a district graduate is said to have
heroically thrown himself into the flood to encounter and destroy the
monster. It has been already noted that most of the river gods are
supposed to appear in the form of water-snakes, and that the sea-serpents
noticed in Chinese records have always infested the mouths of rivers."

The Rev. Mr. Butler, of the Presbyterian Mission in Ningpo, informed me
that a dragon which threatened boats was supposed by the Chinese to infest
a narrow passage called Quo Mung, outside of Chinaye. Formerly there were
two of them in the neighbourhood, which were very furious, and frequently
upset boats. They had to be appeased by a yearly offering of a girl of
fair appearance and perfect body. At last, one of the _literati_
determined to stop this. He armed himself, and jumped into the water;
blood rose to the surface. He had killed one of the dragons. The other
retired to the narrow place. A temple was erected to the hero at Peach
Blossom ferry.

It may be noted that both the Malays and the Chinese attribute the origin
of ambergris to either a sea-dragon or a sea-serpent. Thus, in the
description of Ambergris Island or Dragon Spittle Island, contained in the
_History of the Ming Dynasty_, Book 325, from which an extract is given
(in translation) by Mr. W. P. Groeneveldt, in his _Notes on the Malay
Archipelago and Malacca_, compiled from Chinese sources,[266] we find it
stated that "this island has the appearance of a single mountain, and is
situated in the Sea of Lambri, at a distance of one day and one night from
Sumatra. It rises abruptly out of the sea, which breaks on it with high

"Every spring numerous dragons come together to play on this island, and
they leave behind their spittle. The natives afterwards go in canoes to
the spot and collect this spittle, which they take with them.

"The dragon-spittle is at first like fat, of a black and yellow colour,
and with a fishy smell; by length of time it contracts into large lumps;
and these are also found in the belly of a large fish, of the size of the
Chinese peck, and also with a fishy smell. When burnt it has a pure and
delicious fragrance.

"It is sold in the market of Sumatra, one tael, official weight, costing
twelve golden coins of that country, and one cati,[267] one hundred and
ninety-two of such pieces, equal to about nine thousand Chinese copper
cash; and so it is not very cheap."

Dr. F. Porter Smith[268] states that there can be no doubt that the
costly, odorous, light yellow, gummy substance, found floating on the sea,
or procured from the belly of some large fish in the Indian Ocean, and
known by the Chinese of the present day as _lung sin_, or dragon's
spittle, is actually ambergris. The dragon is said to cough it up.

"A similar substance, called _kih-tiau-chi_, brought from Canton and
Foochow in former days, is said to be the egg of the dragon or a kind of
sea-serpent named _kih tiau_. The name _kih tiau_ is singularly like the
Greek name for a sea-monster."

One of the most remarkable accounts of sea-monsters, which I believe to be
thoroughly trustworthy, is of an animal seen in the Malacca Straits in

The first notice of it appeared in the _Straits Times Overland Journal_
for September 18th, 1876, in the form of a short editorial.

"Our friend Mr. Henry Lee, of _Land and Water_, who in his late work has
taken so much trouble to enter into and describe the habits and
peculiarities of the sea-serpent,[269] will be glad to hear that the
passengers and officers of the S.S. _Nestor_, which arrived here this
morning, are unanimous in the conclusion, and vouch for the fact, that an
extraordinary sea-monster was seen by them between Malacca and Penang on
their voyage to this port, on Monday, about noon. It was about two hundred
and fifty feet long, about fifty feet broad, square-headed, with black and
yellow stripes, closely resembling a salamander."

This was followed, on the succeeding day, by a letter from the captain.

    SIR,--In reference to your paragraph in your yesterday's issue,
    relating to our having seen a sea-monster answering to the popular
    notion of a sea-serpent, I am prepared to vouch for the correctness of
    the statement already made to you by the doctor and a passenger by my

    Being on the bridge at the time (about 10 A.M.) with the first and
    third officers, we were surprised by the appearance of an
    extraordinary monster going in our course, and at an equal speed with
    the vessel, at a distance from us of about six hundred feet. It had a
    square head and a dragon black and white striped tail, and an immense
    body, which was quite fifty feet broad when the monster raised it. The
    head was about twelve feet broad, and appeared to be occasionally, at
    the extreme, about six feet above the water. When the head was placed
    on a level with the water, the body was extended to its utmost limit
    to all appearance, and then the body rose out of the water about two
    feet, and seemed quite fifty feet broad at those times. The long
    dragon tail with black and white scales afterwards rose in an
    undulating motion, in which at one time the head, at another the body,
    and eventually the tail, formed each in its turn a prominent object
    above the water.

    The animal, or whatever it may be called, appeared careless of our
    proximity, and went our course for about six minutes on our starboard
    side, and then finally worked round to our port side, and remained in
    view, to the delight of all on board, for about half an hour. His
    length was reckoned to be over two hundred feet.

      Commander, S.S. _Nestor_.

      18th September 1876.

Mr. Cameron, proprietor of the journal, subsequently informed me that he
had specially warned Captain Webster of the certain doubt that would be
cast upon his statement, but he still insisted on its publication. It was
confirmed by Mr. H. R. Beaver, a merchant of Singapore, and other persons
who were passengers by the boat.

The same newspaper (_Straits Times Overland Journal_), on November 2,
1876, had the following extract from the _China Mail_:--

"It is more than probable that Captain Webster, of the steamer _Nestor_,
will be 'interviewed' very extensively when he reaches a berth in London
Docks. A genuine sea-serpent is not met with every day, and as the
observations made by the officers of the ship have, we understand, been
set down in some formal way before Consul Medhurst at Shanghai, to be
forwarded to the _Field_, the naturalists will be in a position to pursue
their researches when the captain arrives. Competent authorities are now
of opinion that the part of the monster formerly supposed to have been its
head, must have been a hump; and that its head's being under water would
account for the supreme contempt with which it treated the passage of the
steamer. The undulating motion of the huge animal would explain the
statement that this knob or hump rose occasionally about six feet out of
the water. The alternate yellow and black stripes which covered all that
could be seen of the body, appear to have conveyed the impression that the
tail was like that of a dragon covered with scales, although that
conclusion need not necessarily be looked upon as certain. If the head of
this unknown 'shape' was actually under water, then the length becomes
proportionately greater. It was over two hundred feet long before, it must
now be regarded as measuring, say, two hundred and fifty feet, which, with
forty-five or fifty feet beam, gives a leviathan of something like the
dimensions of an old-fashioned frigate."

A correspondent of the _Celestial Empire_, of Shanghai, wrote thus to the

    SIR,--If it is true that one of those who observed the marine monster
    from the _Nestor_ is still here, it is very desirable that he should
    give some fuller account of what he saw. Only a sciolist will deny
    the possibility of such a beast, and Professor Owen himself has
    remarked that the only absolutely incredible part of the accounts of
    those who have seen it, is the statement of its vertical sinuosity,
    which is impossible to any of the serpent tribe.

    The monster seen by the _Nestor_, however, was probably one of the
    Chelonidæ, "the father of all the turtles," as he is fitly called by
    the natives of Sumatra, who fully believe in his existence, and to
    whom he occasionally appears. Indeed, Baumgarten, in his _Malaysien_,
    published at Amsterdam in 1829, describes the monster, and estimates
    its length and breadth at one hundred and twenty and thirty cubits
    respectively, measurements which agree very nearly with those given by
    Captain Webster. Baumgarten[270] adds that it is a general belief in
    Sumatra (vol. ii. p. 321, Ed. 1820), that whosoever sees him will die
    within the year. "This," he says naively enough, "I have not been able
    to prove."

Mr. David Aitken, of Singapore, wrote to the _Daily Times_ as follows:--

    DEAR SIR,--Like many others, I have been astonished at the dimensions
    given by you of the sea-serpent. They are certainly enormous, and they
    far surpass anything I have ever seen or heard of. The largest snake
    ever I authentically heard about was one which passed between the
    surveying brigs _Krishna_ and _Menx_ when under the command of
    Lieutenant Ward, of the Indian Navy, when surveying off the coast of
    Sumatra, about the years 1858 and 1859. This monster passed by the
    brigs one Sunday morning when they were moored somewhere opposite
    Malacca. Its length was variously estimated at from the length of the
    _Krishna_ to one hundred feet. Sixty feet was the moderate length set
    down for its frame.

    In or near the same place, another monster had been seen by a previous
    surveying party.

Mr. Stephen Cave, M.P. for Shoreham, in 1861, communicated to Mr. Gosse a
short statement, which throws some light upon the food of the monster. It
is in the form of an extract from his journal written during a voyage to
the West Indies, in 1846, as follows:--

"Thursday, December 10, off Madeira, on board R.M.S. _Thomas_, made
acquaintance with a Captain Christmas, of the Danish Navy, a proprietor in
Santa Cruz, and holding some office about the Danish court. He told me he
once saw a sea-serpent between Iceland and the Faroe islands. He was
lying-to in a gale of wind, in a frigate of which he had the command, when
an immense shoal of porpoises rushed by the ship as if pursued; and, lo
and behold, a creature with a neck moving like that of a swan, about the
thickness of a man's waist, with a head like a horse, raised itself slowly
and gracefully from the deep, and, seeing the ship, it immediately
disappeared again, head foremost, like a duck diving. He only saw it for a
few seconds. The part above the water seemed about eighteen feet in
length. He is a singularly intelligent man, and by no means one to allow
his imagination to run away with him."

Witty journalists had a good time over the publication of the story of the
serpent seen by Captain Drevar, with which I shall wind up my list of
apparitions. As will be seen, however, the captain stuck manfully to his
guns, and I, for one, am of the belief that he really saw the incident
which he narrates. I have not met the captain himself, but I did, in
Singapore, meet with many who had heard the whole story from his own lips,
and whose impression was that he was a truthful man.

    _The Barque "Pauline" Sea-serpent._

    To the Editor of the _Calcutta Englishman_.

    SIR,--As I am not sure that my statement respecting the sea-serpent
    reached the _Shipping Gazette_ in London, I enclose a copy that may be
    interesting to your numerous readers. I have been sent plenty of
    extracts from English papers, nearly all of them ridiculing my
    statement. I can laugh and joke on the subject as well as anyone, but
    I can't see why, if people can't fairly refute my statement, they
    should use falsehood to do so. The _Daily Telegraph_ says, "The ribs
    of the ill-fated fish were distinctly heard cracking one after the
    other, with a report like that of a small cannon; its bellowings
    ceased, &c. To use the eloquent words of the principal spectator, it
    'struck us all aghast with terror.'" If the writer knew anything of
    sailors, he would not write such bosh. Fear and terror are not in
    Jack's composition; and such eloquent words he leaves to such
    correspondents as described the ever-doubtful "man-and-dog-fight." I
    am just as certain of seeing what I described, as that I met the
    advertisement that the _Telegraph_ has the largest circulation in the
    world staring me at every street corner in London. It is easy for such
    a paper to make any man, good, great, or interesting, look ridiculous.
    Little wonder is it that my relatives write saying that they would
    have seen a hundred sea-serpents and never reported it; and a lady
    also wrote that she pitied anyone that was related to anyone that had
    seen the sea-serpent. It is quite true that it is a sad thing for any
    man to see more, to feel more, and to know more, than his fellows; but
    I have some of the philosophy that made O'Connell rejoice in being the
    most abused man in the United Kingdom, for he also had the power of
    giving a person a lick with the rough side of his tongue. If I had any
    such power I would not use it, for contempt is the sharpest reproof;
    and this letter is the only notice I have taken of the many absurd
    statements, &c. &c. &c.

      _Master of the Pauline_.

    Barque _Pauline_,
      Chittagong, January 15, 1876.



    Barque _Pauline_, January 8th, 1875, lat. 5° 13' S., long. 35° W.,
    Cape Roque, north-east corner of Brazil distant twenty miles, at 11

    The weather fine and clear, the wind and sea moderate. Observed some
    black spots on the water, and a whitish pillar, about thirty-five feet
    high, above them. At the first glance I took all to be breakers, as
    the sea was splashing up fountain-like about them, and the pillar, a
    pinnacle rock bleached with the sun; but the pillar fell with a
    splash, and a similar one rose. They rose and fell alternately in
    quick succession, and good glasses showed me it was a monster
    sea-serpent coiled twice round a large sperm whale. The head and tail
    parts, each about thirty feet long, were acting as levers, twisting
    itself and victim around with great velocity. They sank out of sight
    about every two minutes, coming to the surface still revolving, and
    the struggles of the whale and two other whales that were near,
    frantic with excitement, made the sea in this vicinity like a boiling
    cauldron; and a loud and confused noise was distinctly heard. This
    strange occurrence lasted some fifteen minutes, and finished with the
    tail portion of the whale being elevated straight in the air, then
    waving backwards and forwards, and laving [lashing?] the water
    furiously in the last death-struggle, when the whole body disappeared
    from our view, going down head-foremost towards the bottom, where, no
    doubt, it was gorged at the serpent's leisure; and that monster of
    monsters may have been many months in a state of coma, digesting the
    huge mouthful. Then two of the largest sperm whales that I have ever
    seen moved slowly thence towards the vessel, their bodies more than
    usually elevated out of the water, and not spouting or making the
    least noise, but seeming quite paralysed with fear; indeed, a cold
    shiver went through my own frame on beholding the last agonising
    struggle of the poor whale that had seemed as helpless in the coils of
    the vicious monster as a small bird in the talons of a hawk. Allowing
    for two coils round the whale, I think the serpent was about one
    hundred and sixty or one hundred and seventy feet long, and seven or
    eight in girth. It was in colour much like a conger eel, and the head,
    from the mouth being always open, appeared the largest part of the
    body.... I think Cape San Roque is a landmark for whales leaving the
    south for the North Atlantic.... I wrote thus far, little thinking I
    would ever see the serpent again; but at 7 A.M., July 13th, in the
    same latitude, and some eighty miles east of San Roque, I was
    astonished to see the same or a similar monster. It was throwing its
    head and about forty feet of its body in a horizontal position out of
    the water as it passed onwards by the stern of our vessel. I began
    musing why we were so much favoured with such a strange visitor, and
    concluded that the band of white paint, two feet wide above the
    copper, might have looked like a fellow-serpent to it, and, no doubt,
    attracted its attention.... While thus thinking, I was startled by the
    cry of "There it is again," and a short distance to leeward, elevated
    some sixty feet in the air, was the great leviathan, grimly looking
    towards the vessel. As I was not sure it was only our free board it
    was viewing, we had all our axes ready, and were fully determined,
    should the brute embrace the _Pauline_, to chop away for its backbone
    with all our might, and the wretch might have found for once in its
    life that it had caught a Tartar. This statement is strictly true, and
    the occurrence was witnessed by my officers, half the crew, and
    myself; and we are ready, at any time, to testify on oath that it is
    so, and that we are not in the least mistaken.... A vessel, about
    three years ago, was dragged over by some sea-monster in the Indian

      Master of the _Pauline_.

    Chittagong, January 15, 1876.

    Captain George Drevar, of the barque _Pauline_, appeared on Wednesday
    morning at the Police-court, Dale-street, before Mr. Raffles,
    stipendiary magistrate, accompanied by some of his officers and part
    of the crew of the barque, when they made the following declaration:--

    "We, the undersigned, captain, officers, and crew of the barque
    _Pauline_, of London, do solemnly and sincerely declare that on July
    8th, 1875, in latitude 5° 13', longitude 35° W., we observed three
    large sperm whales, and one of them was gripped round the body with
    two turns of what appeared to be a large serpent. The head and tail
    appeared to have a length beyond the coils of about thirty feet, and
    its girth eight or nine feet. The serpent whirled its victim round and
    round for about fifteen minutes, and then suddenly dragged the whale
    to the bottom, head first.

      "GEORGE DREVAR, _Master_,
      "OWEN BAKER,

    "Again, on July 13th, a similar serpent was seen about two hundred
    yards off, shooting itself along the surface, head and neck being out
    of the water several feet. This was seen only by the captain and one
    ordinary seaman.

      "GEORGE DREVAR, _Master_.

    "A few moments after, it was seen elevated some sixty feet
    perpendicularly in the air by the chief officer and the following able
    seamen, Horatio Thompson, Owen Baker, William Lewan. And we make this
    solemn declaration, conscientiously believing the same to be true.

      "GEORGE DREVAR, _Master_,
      "WILLIAM LEWAN, _Steward_,
      "HORATIO THOMPSON, _Chief Officer_,
      "JOHN HENDERSON LANDELLO, _2nd Officer_,
      "OWEN BAKER."

Some confirmation of Captain Drevar's story is afforded by one quoted by
the Rev. Henry T. Cheeves, in _The Whale and his Captors_. The author

"From a statement made by a Kinebeck shipmaster in 1818, and sworn to
before a justice of the peace in Kinebeck county, Maine, it would seem
that the notable sea-serpent and whale are sometimes found in conflict. At
six o'clock in the afternoon of June 21st, in the packet _Delia_, plying
between Boston and Hallowell, when Cape Ann bore west-south-west about two
miles, steering north-north-east, Captain Shuback West and fifteen others
on board with him saw an object directly ahead, which he had no doubt was
the sea-serpent, or the creature so often described under that name,
engaged in fight with a large whale....

"The serpent threw up its tail from twenty-five to thirty feet in a
perpendicular direction, striking the whale by it with tremendous blows,
rapidly repeated, which were distinctly heard, and very loud, for two or
three minutes; they then both disappeared, moving in a south-west
direction; but after a few minutes reappeared in-shore of the packet, and
about under the sun, the reflection of which was so strong as to prevent
their seeing so distinctly as at first, when the serpent's fearful blows
with his tail were repeated and clearly heard as before. They again went
down for a short time, and then came up to the surface under the packet's
larboard quarter, the whale appearing first, and the serpent in pursuit,
who was again seen to shoot up his tail as before, which he held out of
water for some time, waving it in the air before striking, and at the same
time his head fifteen or twenty feet, as if taking a view of the surface
of the sea. After being seen in this position a few minutes, the serpent
and whale again disappeared, and neither was seen after by any on board.
It was Captain West's opinion that the whale was trying to escape, as he
spouted but once at a time on coming to the surface, and the last time he
appeared he went down before the serpent came up."

[Illustration: FIG. 75.--SEA-SERPENT ATTACKING WHALE. (_From Sketches by
Capt. Davidson, S.S. "Kiushiu-maru."_)]

A remarkable and independent corroboration of modern date comes from the
Japan seas. It was reported both in local papers and in the _San
Francisco Californian Mail-Bag_ for 1879, from which I extract the notice
and the illustrative cuts (Fig. 75).

"The accompanying engravings are _fac-similes_ of a sketch sent to us by
Captain Davidson, of the steamship _Kiushiu-maru_,[271] and is inserted as
a specimen of the curious drawings which are frequently forwarded to us
for insertion. Captain Davidson's statement, which is countersigned by his
chief officer, Mr. McKechnie, is as follows:--

"'Saturday, April 5th, at 11.15 A.M., Cape Satano distant about nine
miles, the chief officer and myself observed a whale jump clear out of the
sea, about a quarter of a mile away.

"'Shortly after it leaped out again, when I saw there was something
attached to it. Got glasses, and on the next leap distinctly saw something
holding on to the belly of the whale. The latter gave one more spring
clear of the water, and myself and chief officer then observed what
appeared to be a creature of the snake species rear itself about thirty
feet out of the water. It appeared to be about the thickness of a junk's
mast, and after standing about ten seconds in an erect position, it
descended into the water, the upper end going first. With my glasses I
made out the colour of the beast to resemble that of a pilot fish.'"

There is an interesting story[272] of a fight between a water-snake and a
trout, by Mr. A. W. Chase, Assistant United States Coast Survey, which,
_magnis componere parva_, may be accepted as an illustration of how a
creature of serpentine form would have to deal with a whale; only, as on
the surface or in mid-water it would be prevented from grasping any rocks
by which to anchor itself, we may readily conceive it holding on with a
tenacious grip of its extended jaws, and drawing itself up to the enemy
until it could either embrace it in its coils or stun it with violent
blows of the tail.[273]

"The trout, at first sight, was lying in mid-water, heading up stream. It
was, as afterwards appeared, fully nine inches in length.... This new
enemy of the trout was a large water-snake of the common variety, striped
black and yellow. He swam up the pool on the surface until over the trout,
when he made a dive, and by a dexterous movement seized the trout in such
a fashion that the jaws of the snake closed its mouth. The fight then
commenced. The trout had the use of its tail and fins, and could drag the
snake from the surface; when near the bottom, however, the snake made use
of its tail by winding it round every stone or root that it could reach.
After securing this tail-hold, it could drag the trout towards the bank,
but on letting go the trout would have a new advantage. This battle was
continued for full twenty minutes, when the snake managed to get its tail
out of the water and clasped around the root of one of the willows
mentioned as overhanging the pool. The battle was then up, for the snake
gradually put coil after coil around the root, with each one dragging the
fish toward the land. When half its body was coiled it unloosed the first
hold, and stretched the end of its tail out in every direction, and
finding another root, made fast; and now, using both, dragged the trout on
the gravel bank. It now had it under control, and, uncoiling, the snake
dragged the fish fully ten feet up on the bank, and, I suppose would have
gorged him," &c. &c.

Captain Drevar follows Pontoppidan (probably unwittingly) in identifying
the sea-serpent with the leviathan of Scripture, quoting Isaiah xxvii. 1,
"In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall
punish leviathan, the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked
serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea." As I read the
above passage, it is the dragon that is in the sea, and not the leviathan,
which should be identified with the sea-serpent, unless the two, dragon
and leviathan, are in apposition, which does not seem to be the case.

These various narratives which I have collected are, for the most part,
well attested by the signature, or declaration on oath, of well-known and
responsible people. Captain Drevar, in the small pamphlet which he had
printed for private circulation, says: "Does any thinking person imagine I
could keep command over men with a deliberate lie in our mouths?" and a
similar question may be asked, with, I think, the possibility of only one
reply, in the case of the narratives of Captain M'Quhœ and other officers
and commanders in various navies and merchant vessels, and of the numerous
other reputable witnesses who have affirmed, either as a simple statement
or on oath, that they have seen sundry remarkable sea-monsters. I used the
expression, "I think," because, of course, there is the possibility of

"Authority, in matters of opinion, divides itself (say) into three
principal classes: there is the authority of witnesses; they testify to
matters of fact. The judgment upon these is commonly, though not always,
easy; but this testimony is always the substitution of the faculties of
others for our own, which, taken largely, constitutes the essence of

"This is the kind which we justly admit with the smallest jealousy. Yet
not always; one man admits, another refuses, the authority of a
sea-captain and a sailor or two on the existence of a sea-serpent."[274]

I, for my part, belong to the former of these two categories. I believe in
the statements that I have recorded, and in the following reasoning
address only those who do likewise.

That mistakes have occasionally occurred is undoubted. Mr. Gosse records
two instances in which long patches of sea-weed so far excited the
imagination of captains of vessels as to cause them to lower boats and
proceed to the attack.

The credibility of ghost stories generally is much affected when supposed
apparitions are investigated and traced to some simple cause; and the
hypersceptical may argue on parallel grounds that the transformation, in
some few instances, of a supposed sea-serpent into sea-weed, or the
admission of the plausible suggestion that it has been simulated by a
seal, a string of porpoises, or some other very ordinary animals, largely
affects the whole question.

And this would undoubtedly be the case if the conditions of the several
examples were at all similar. But the hesitation or temporary
misapprehension of captains or crews, in a thousand instances, as to the
nature of a string of weed, supine on the surface, and lashed into
fantastic motion by the surge of the ocean waves, has absolutely no
bearing on the positive stories of a creature which is seen in calm fjords
and bays to roll itself coil after coil, uplift its head high above the
water, exhibit capacious jaws armed with teeth, conspicuous eyes, and paws
or paddles, which pursues and menaces boats, presents a tangible object to
a marksman, and when struck disappears with a mighty splash.

The probability of a gigantic seal, or of a string of porpoises, being
mistaken for a sea-serpent by post-captains and their officers in the Navy
is small, but becomes almost, if not quite, impossible when the observers
are fishermen on coasts like those of Norway, who have been in the habit
of seeing seals and porpoises almost every day of their lives. We may,
therefore, freely grant that occasional mistakes have arisen, just as we
have admitted that undoubtedly many hoaxes have been indulged in.

A rational and commonplace explanation is quite possible in some cases,
as, for example, in that of a creature of abnormal appearance seen by the
crew of Her Majesty's yacht, the _Osborne_, in the Mediterranean, which
was suggested, with great probability, to have been, if I remember
correctly, some species of shark; while the supposed sea-serpent, washed
up on the Isle of Stronsa, in 1808, proved, on scientific examination, to
be a shark of the genus Selache, probably belonging to the species known
as "the barking shark."

The great oceanic bone shark, known to few except whalers, which has been
stated to reach as much as sixty feet in length, may also occasionally
have originated a misconception; and there must be still remaining in the
depths of the ocean undescribed species of fish, of bizarre form, and
probably gigantic size, the occasional appearance of which would puzzle an

For example, in November 1879, an illustration was given in the _Graphic_
of "another marine monster," professing to be a sketch in the Gulf of Suez
from H.M.S. _Philomel_, accompanied by the following descriptive

"This strange monster," says Mr. W. J. Andrews, Assistant Paymaster,
H.M.S. _Philomel_, "was seen by the officers and ship's company of this
ship at about 5.30 P.M. on October 14, when in the gulf of Suez, Cape
Zafarana bearing at the time N.W. seventeen miles, lat. 28° 56' N., long.
32° 54' E.

"When first observed it was rather more than a mile distant on the port
bow, its snout projecting from the surface of the water, and strongly
marked ripples showing the position of the body. It then opened its jaws,
as shown in the sketch, and shut them again several times, forcing the
water from between them as it did so in all directions in large jets. From
time to time a portion of the back and dorsal fin appeared at some
distance from the head. After remaining some little time in the
above-described position, it disappeared, and on coming to the surface
again it repeated the action of elevating the head and opening the jaws
several times, turning slowly from side to side as it did so.

[Illustration: FIG. 76.--ANOTHER MARINE MONSTER. A Sketch in the Gulf of
Suez, from H.M.S. "Philomel," Oct. 14, 1879. (_From the "Graphic," Nov.

"On the approach of the ship the monster swam swiftly away, leaving a
broad track like the wake of a ship, and disappeared beneath the waves.

"The colour of that portion of the body that was seen was black, as was
also the upper jaw. The lower jaw was grey round the mouth, but of a
bright salmon colour underneath, like the belly of some kinds of lizard,
becoming redder as it approached the throat. The inside of the mouth
appeared to be grey with white stripes, parallel to the edges of the jaw,
very distinctly marked. These might have been rows of teeth or of some
substance resembling whalebone. The height the snout was elevated above
the surface of the water was at least fifteen feet, and the spread of the
jaws quite twenty-five feet."

Strangely enough, a proximate counterpart of this fish, but of mimic size,
was made known to science in 1882. My attention was called by Mr. Streich,
of the German Consulate in Shanghai, to a description of this in the
_Daheim_, an illustrated family paper, published in Leipzig, with an
illustrative figure, from which I inferred that the monster seen by the
crew of the _Philomel_ was only a gigantic and adult specimen of a species
belonging to the same order, perhaps to the same genus, as the
Eurypharynx, adapted to live in the depths of the ocean, and only
appearing upon the surface rarely and as the result of some abnormal
conditions. I give _fac-similes_ of both engravings, in order that my
readers may draw their own comparison. The letter-press of the Daheim is
as follows:--

"_A New Fish._[275]

"The deep-sea explorations of last year, which extended over eight
thousand metres in depth, brought to light some very extraordinary
animals, of which, up to the present date, we have no idea. The most
curious one was found by the French steamer _Le Travailleur_, on which
there was a staff of naturalists, and of the number was M. Milne Edwards.
They were entirely devoted to deep-sea dredging.

"Between Morocco and the Canary Islands, at two thousand three hundred
metres depth, the dredge caught a most wonderful animal, which at the
first glance nobody thought to be a fish. This fish, of which we give
here a picture, dwells on the bottom of the sea where the water is +5°
Celsius,[276] in a kind of red slime composed of the shells of small
Globigerinæ. On account of its curious mouth it has been called
_Eurypharynx Pelicanoides_, _i.e._ the Pelican-like Broad-jaws. This
creature is distinguished from all its class by the peculiar construction
of its mouth, its under jaw being of a structure different from that of
any other fish, possessing only two small teeth and a big pouch of most
expansible skin, similar to the sac which a pelican has on its under jaw.
In this sac it (the Broad-jaw) collects its food, and as its stomach is of
very small dimensions, we may, from analogy with other fishes, conclude
that it digests partly in this sac.

[Illustration: FIG. 77.--EURYPHARYNX PELICANOIDES. (_From the Daheim._)]

"The swimming apparatus of this fish is not much developed, and reduced to
a number of spines erect from the back and the belly.

"The pectoral fins, which are immediately behind the eye, are also very
small, so that we may conclude from this that this fish does not move
much, and is not a good swimmer.

"It only inhabits the bottom of the sea. Its body decreases gradually
backwards till it finishes in a string-like tail. The organs for breathing
are not much developed. Six slits (gill apertures?) allow the water to

"The colour of the fish (the size of which we do not find in our
authority) is velvet black."

Before proceeding further I must point out that we may dismiss from our
minds the possibility of the so-called sea-serpent being merely a large
example of those marine serpents of which several species and numerous
individuals are known to exist on the coast of many tropical countries,
for these are rarely more than from four to six feet in length, although
Dampier[277] mentions one which he saw on the northern coast of Australia,
which was long (but the length is not specified) and as big as a man's
leg. He gives a curious instance of these biters being bit, which he
observed not far from Scoutens Island, off New Guinea:--

"On the 23rd we saw two snakes, and the next morning another passing by
us, which was furiously assaulted by two fishes that had kept in company
five or six days. They were shaped like mackerel, and were about that
bigness and length, and of a yellow-greenish colour. The snake swam away
from them very fast, keeping his head above water. The fish snapped at his
tail; but when he turned himself that fish would withdraw and another
would snap; so that by turns they kept him employed. Yet he still defended
himself, and swam away at a great pace, till they were out of sight."

Leguat[278] speaks of a marine serpent, over sixty pounds in weight, which
he and his comrades in misfortune captured and tasted, when marooned by
order of the Governor of the Mauritius on some small island off the
harbour, about six miles from the shore. He says:--

"It was a frightful sea-serpent, which we in our great simplicity took for
a large lamprey or eel. This animal seemed to us very extraordinary, for
it had fins, and we knew not that there were any such creatures as
sea-serpents. Moreover, we had been so accustomed to discover creatures
that were new to us, both at land and at sea, that we did not think this
to be any other than an odd sort of eel that we never had seen before, yet
which we could not but think more resembled a snake than an eel. In a
word, the monster had a serpent or crocodile's head, and a mouth full of
hooked, long and sharp teeth.... When our purveyors came we related to
them what had happened to us, and showed them the eel's head, but they
only said they had never seen the like."

In spite of Leguat's impression, I think it was only some species of
conger eel.

Marine serpents are abundant on the Malay coast, and particularly so in
the Indian Ocean. Niebuhr says:--

"In the Indian Ocean, at a certain distance from land, a great many
water-serpents, from twelve to fifteen inches in length, are to be seen
rising above the surface of the water. When these serpents are seen they
are an indication that the coast is exactly two degrees distant. We saw
some of these serpents, for the first time, on the evening of the 9th of
September; on the 11th we landed in the harbour of Bombay."[279]

These sea-snakes are reputed to be mostly, if not entirely, venomous.
Their motion in the water is by undulation in a horizontal, not in a
vertical, direction; they breathe with lungs; their home is on the
surface, and they would perish if confined for any considerable period
beneath it.

[Illustration: FIG. 78.--SCOLIOPHIS ATLANTICUS. Killed on the Sea-shore
near Boston, in 1817, and at that time supposed to be the young of the

It is an open question whether conger eels may not exist, in the ocean
depths, of far greater dimensions than those of the largest individuals
with which we are acquainted. Major Wolf, who was stationed at Singapore
while I was there in 1880, gave me information which seems to corroborate
this idea. He stated that when dining some years before with a retired
captain of the 39th Regiment, then resident at Wicklow, the latter
informed him that, having upon one occasion gone to the coast with his
servant in attendance on him, the latter asked permission to cease
continuing on with the captain in order that he might bathe. Having
received permission, he proceeded to do so, and swam out beyond the edge
of the shallow water into the deep. A coastguardsman, who was watching him
from the cliff above, was horrified to see something like a huge fish
pursuing the man after he had turned round towards the shore. He was
afraid to call out lest the man should be perplexed. The man, however,
heard some splash or noise behind him, and looked round and saw a large
head, like a bull-dog's head, projecting out of the water as if to seize
him. He made a frantic rush shoreways, and striking the shallow ground,
clambered out as quickly as possible, but broke one of his toes from the
violence with which he struck the ground. This story was confirmed by a
Mr. Burbidge, a farmer, who stated that on one occasion when he himself
was bathing within a mile or so of the same spot, the water commenced
swirling around him, and that, being alarmed, he swam rapidly in, and was
pursued by something perfectly corresponding with that described by the
other narrator, and which he supposed to be a large conger eel. In each
case the length was estimated at twenty feet. Mr. Gosse gives the greatest
length recorded at ten feet.

Were we only acquainted with a small and certain proportion of the
sea-serpent stories, we might readily imagine that they had been
originated by a sight of some monstrous conger, but there are details
exhibited by them, taken as a whole, which forbid that idea. We must
therefore search elsewhere for the affinities of the sea-serpent.

And first as to those authorities who believe and who disbelieve in its

Professor Owen, in 1848, attacked the _Dædalus_ story in a very masterly
manner, and extended his arguments so as to embrace the general
non-probability of other stories which had previously affirmed it. He was,
in fact, its main scientific opponent.

Sir Charles Lyell, upon the other hand, was, I believe, persuaded of its
existence from the numerous accounts which he accumulated on the occasion
of his second visit to America, especially evidence procured for him by
Mr. J. W. Dawson, of Pictou, as to one seen, in 1844, at Arisaig, near the
north-east end of Nova Scotia, and as to another, in August 1845, at
Merigomish, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Agassiz also gave in his adhesion to it. "I have asked myself, in
connection with this subject, whether there is not such an animal as the
sea-serpent. There are many who will doubt the existence of such a
creature until it can be brought under the dissecting knife; but it has
been seen by so many on whom we may rely, that it is wrong to doubt any
longer. The truth is, however, that if a naturalist had to sketch the
outlines of an icthyosaurus or plesiosaurus from the remains we have of
them, he would make a drawing very similar to the sea-serpent as it has
been described. There is reason to think that the parts are soft and
perishable, but I still consider it probable that it will be the good
fortune of some person on the coast of Norway or North America to find a
living representative of this type of reptile, which is thought to have
died out."

Mr. Z. Newman was the first scientific man to absolutely affirm his belief
in its existence, and to indicate its probable zoological affinities; and
he was ably followed by Mr. Gosse, who, in the charming work[280] already
frequently quoted, exhaustively discusses the whole question.

Mr. Gosse, however, to my mind, forgoes a great portion of the advantage
of his argument by a too limited acceptance of authorities, and leaves
untouched, as have all who preceded him, the question of the breathing
apparatus of the creature, and also omits insisting, as he might well have
done, on the remarkable coincidence of the seasons and climatic conditions
at and under which the creature ordinarily exhibits itself, which may be
quoted first as an argument in favour of the reality of the different
stories, and, secondly, as affording indications of the nature and habits
of the creature to which they relate.

Both Mr. Newman and Mr. Gosse, moreover, laboured under the disadvantage
of being unacquainted with some of the later stories, such as that of the
_Nestor_ sea-serpent seen in the Straits of Malacca, which appears to
amply substantiate the general conclusion at which they had already,
happily, as I conceive, arrived.

In nearly all the cases quoted, and in all of those where the creature has
appeared in the deep fjords of Norway or in the bays of other coasts, the
date of its appearance has been some time during the months of July and
August, and the weather calm and hot. These last summer conditions, in
high latitudes, do not obtain for long together, so that the auspices
favourable to the appearance of the creature would probably not exist for
more than a few weeks in each season, and during the remainder of the year
it would rest secluded in the depths of the fjords, presuming those to be
its permanent habitation, or in some oceanic home, if, as would seem more
likely to be the case, its appearance in the bays and fjords was simply
due to a temporary visit, made possibly in connection with its
reproduction; for, were its habitation in the fjords constant, we should
expect it to make its appearance annually, instead of at irregular and
distant intervals.

We must also infer that it is a non-air-breathing creature.

Professor Owen, in his very able discussion of the _Dædalus_ story, bases
his main argument against the serpentine character of the creature seen in
this and other instances on there being either no undulation at all of the
body, or a vertical one, which is not a characteristic of serpents, and on
the fact of no remains having ever been discovered washed up on the Norway
coasts. He says:--

"Now, a serpent, being an air-breathing animal, with long vesicular and
receptacular lungs, dives with an effort, and commonly floats when dead,
and so would the sea-serpent, until decomposition or accident had opened
the tough integument and let out the imprisoned gases.... During life the
exigencies of the respiration of the great sea-serpent would always compel
him frequently to the surface; and, when dead and swollen, it would

  Prone on the flood, extended long and large,
    Lie floating many a rood.

Such a spectacle, demonstrative of the species if it existed, has not
hitherto met the gaze of any of the countless voyagers who have traversed
the seas in so many directions."

But, assuming it to be neither a serpent nor an air-breathing creature,
the very cogent arguments which he applied so powerfully fall to the
ground, and I may at once state that a review of the whole of the reported
cases of its appearance entirely favours the first assumption, while a
little reflection will show the necessity of the latter. No air-breathing
creature, or rather a creature furnished with lungs, could possibly exist,
even for a season only, in the inland bays of populous countries like
Norway and Scotland without continually exposing itself to observation;
but this is not the case. Whereas there is no difficulty in conceiving
that a creature adapted to live in the depths of the ocean could breathe
readily enough at the surface, even for considerable periods; for we know
that fish of many kinds, and notably carp, can retain life for days, and
even weeks, when removed from the water, provided they happen to be in a
moist situation.

Again, a power of constriction, a characteristic of boas and pythons, and
therefore implying an alliance with them, is not necessarily indicated, as
might be supposed, even by the action affirmed in Captain Drevar's story;
for a creature of serpentine form, attacking another, might coil itself
round for the mere purpose of maintaining a hold while it tore its victim
open with its powerful jaws and teeth. This action is simply that of an
eel which, on being hooked, grasps weeds at the bottom to resist capture.

Nor are we bound to accept in any way the captain's suggestion that the
monster gorged its victim after the fashion of a land-serpent. It may as
readily have torn it open and fed on it as an eel might; and it is,
indeed, not unreasonable to suppose that so powerful a monster would find
its prey among large creatures, such as seals, porpoises, and the smaller

That the sea-serpent was formerly more frequently seen on the Norwegian
coasts than now I consider probable, as also that its visits were
connected with its breeding season, and discontinued in consequence of the
greater number and larger size of vessels, and especially of the
introduction of steam. As a parallel instance, I may mention that, in the
early days of the settlement of Australia, sperm whales resorted to the
harbours along its coasts for calving purposes, and were sufficiently
numerous to cause the maintenance of what were called "bay whaling
stations" at Hobart Town, Spring Bay, and many other harbours of Tasmania
and South Australia. At the present time, the sperm whale rarely
approaches within ten miles of the coast, and the small whaling fleet
finds scanty occupation in the ocean extending south from the great
Australian bight to the south cape of Tasmania. Mr. Gosse eliminates from
his concluding analysis of sea-serpent stories all those recorded by
Norwegian and American observers, and argues only upon a selected number
resting on British evidence.

By this contraction he loses as a basis of argument a number of accounts
which I consider as credible as those he quotes, and from which positive
deductions might be drawn, more weighty than those of similar, but merely
inferential, character which he employs.

The account of the monster seen by Hans Egede, for example, where the
creature exhibited itself more completely than it did in any of the
instances selected by Mr. Gosse, specifically indicated the possession of
paws, flippers, fins or paddles, while this can only be surmised at, in
the latter cases to which I refer, from the progressive steady motion of
the creature, with the head and neck elevated above the surface, and
apparently unaffected by any undulatory motion of the body. This at once
removes it from the serpent class, without any necessity for the
additional confirmation which the enlarged proportions of the body in
comparison with those of the neck, as given in Egede's amended version,
afford us.

The creature seen in the Straits of Malacca, and one quoted by Mr. Newman,
in the _Zoologist_, exhibit characters which confirm Egede's story. In the
latter instance, "Captain the Hon. George Hope states that, when in H.M.S.
_Fly_, in the Gulf of California, the sea being perfectly calm and
transparent, he saw at the moment a large marine animal, with the head and
general figure of an alligator, except that the neck was much longer, and
that instead of legs the creature had four large flappers, somewhat like
those of turtles, the anterior pair being larger than those of the
posterior. The creature was distinctly visible, and all its movements
could be observed with ease. It appeared to be pursuing its prey at the
bottom of the sea. Its movements were somewhat serpentine, and an
appearance of annulations or ring-like divisions of the body were
distinctly perceptible." Mr. Gosse, commenting on this story, says: "Now,
unless this officer was egregiously deceived, he saw an animal which could
have been no other than an Enaliosaur, a marine reptile of large size, of
sauroid figure, with turtle-like paddles."

In the former case the creature was far more gigantic and robust, in
contradistinction to the slender and serpentine form more usually
observed, and we must consequently infer that there is not merely one but
several distinct species of marine monster, unknown and rarely exhibiting
themselves, belonging to different genera, and perhaps orders, but all
popularly included under the title of "sea-serpent."

The attempt to classify these presents difficulties. Mr. Gosse, however,
has very ably reviewed the somewhat scanty materials at his command, and,
agreeing with the suggestion made originally by Mr. Newman, has elaborated
the argument that one of the old Enaliosaurs exists to the present day.
This form, Palæontology tells us, commenced in the Carboniferous, attained
its maximum specific development in the Jurassic, and continued to the
close of the Cretaceous periods. This rational suggestion is supported by
the collateral argument that some few Ganoid fishes and species of
Terebratula, have continuously existed to the present time; that certain
Placoid fishes, of which we have no trace, and which consequently must
have been very scarce during Tertiary periods, reappear abundantly as
recent species; that the Iguanodon is represented by the Iguana of the
American tropics, and that the Trionychidæ, or river tortoises, which
commenced during the Wealden, and disappeared from thence until the
present period, are now abundantly represented in the rivers of the Old
and the New World.

The points of resemblance between the northern and most often seen form of
the sea-serpent and certain genera of the Enaliosaurs, such as
Plesiosaurus, are a long swan-like neck, a flattened lizard-like head and
progress by means of paddles. A difficulty in this connection arises,
however, in respect to the breathing apparatus. Palæontologists favour the
idea that the Plesiosaurus and its allies were air-breathing creatures
with long necks, adapted to habitual projection above the surface. Such a
construction and habit is, as I have before said, to my mind, impossible
in the case of an animal of so scarce an appearance as the sea-serpent;
and I am incapable of estimating how far the theory is inflexible in
regard to the old forms that I have mentioned. May there not be some
large marine form combining some of the characters of the salamander and
the saurians; may not the pigmy newt of Europe, the large salamander
tenanting the depths of Lake Biwa in Japan, and the famous fossil form,
the _Homo Diluvii Testis_ of Sheuzberg, have a marine cousin linking them
with the gigantic forms which battled in the Oolitic seas? May not the
tuft of loose skin or scroll encircling its head have some connection with
a branchial apparatus analagous to that of the Amphibia; and was not the
large fringe round the neck, like a beard, noticed on the one seen by
Captain Anderson when in the Delta in 1861, of a similar nature?

In conclusion, I must strongly express my own conviction, which I hope,
after the perusal of the evidence contained in the foregoing pages, will
be shared by my readers, that, let the relations of the sea-serpent be
what they may; let it be serpent, saurian, or fish, or some form
intermediate to them; and even granting that those relations may never be
determined, or only at some very distant date; yet, nevertheless, the
creature must now be removed from the regions of myth, and credited with
having a real existence, and that its name includes not one only, but
probably several very distinct gigantic species, allied more or less
closely, and constructed to dwell in the depths of the ocean, and which
only occasionally exhibit themselves to a fortune-favoured wonder-gazing


It is with great pleasure that I add the following testimony of a belief
in the existence of the sea-serpent, from a country which has not hitherto
been supposed to have any traditions relating to it. My inquiries in
Burmah, as to a belief among its inhabitants in sundry so-called mythical
beings, led me unexpectedly on the track of the following information, for
which I am indebted to the scholarship and courtesy of F. Ripley, Esq.,
Government Translator in the Secretariat Department, Rangoon.

EXTRACT from the _Kavilakhana dépané_, pp. 132-133.

    [Author--Mingyi Thiri Mahazeyathu, the Myaunghla Myoza, Nanig-ngan-gya
    Wundauk, or Sub-Minister for Foreign Affairs to His Majesty the late
    King of Burmah.]

"The creature Nyan is called in the Mágadha language _Tanti-gáha_, in the
Bengáli _Gara_; in the Sakkata, _Gráha_ or _Avagráh_; and in the Burmese,

"Hence are to be found the following passages, viz.:--

    "'_Tanti-gáha_--The creature Nyan, of the immense length of one or two
    hundred fathoms,' in the _Shri Sariputtara Apadan_.

    "'_Graho_ or _Avagraho_--a predatory monster, in shape like an
    earthworm,' in the _Amarakosha Abhidhan_;


    "'_Dvagar samudda maha nady sanga mela táká yazantu vigera itichate_,'
    in the commentary of the _Amarakosha Abhidhan_.

"From these works, which contain definitions of two words designative of
the creature Nyan, it will be gathered that there does exist a predatory
monster in the form of an earthworm, which inhabits estuaries and the
mouths of great rivers.

"Regarding the predatory instincts of this creature, it should be
understood that it attacks even such animals as elephants. Hence the
_Dhammathats_, in dealing with the decision of cases of hire of
live-stock, wishing to point out that no fault lies through losses owing
to natural accidents, make the following remarks:--

    "'There shall be no fault held if oxen die by reason of a snake
    gliding under them.'

    "'There shall be no fault held, if buffaloes die by reason of a dove
    resting on their horns.'

    "'There shall be no fault held if oxen and buffaloes die of their
    having eaten a grasshopper.'

    "'There shall be no fault held if elephants die by reason of their
    having been encoiled in the folds of a Nyan.'

    "'There shall be no fault held if horses die by reason of their having
    been sucked by bilas.'

    "The Poetical Version of the _Pokinnaka Dhammathat_, which is a
    compilation of several Dhammathats, in the same strain, says:--

    [Here follows a verse, the same in effect as the above.]

"From such passages it will be seen that there is a frightful monster of
extraordinary strength, which is capable of capturing even such animals as

"In the form of oath of fealty administered by successive kings to their
feudatories and vassals, the following imprecation is to be found:--

    "'May I die through being seized by alligators and Nyans.'"

    [Here follows an explanatory note respecting the four species of
    danger to be found in the ocean.]

"In the reign of King Alaung-mindara-gyé, the founder of the city of
Ratana Singha--when he went on an expedition against Ayudhara or Yodhaya
(Siam) and was crossing the Martaban river, he lost some two or three
elephants, which were destroyed as soon as they had entered the water. The
King ascertained from the lower country inhabitants that they had been
captured and bitten by the creature Nyan. Two or three elephants were
similarly lost in Ava, when it was also ascertained that they had been
captured by the Nyan. There goes a saying that the Nyan is some one to two
hundred fathoms long. The form of oath of fealty contains an imprecation
in which the Nyan is to fulfil a part. And there are writings which make
mention of its existence."



A belief in the unicorn, like that in the dragon, appears to have obtained
among both Eastern and Western authors, at a very early period. In this
case, however, it has survived the revulsion from a fatuous confidence in
the fables and concocted specimens of the Middle Ages, and even now the
existence or non-existence of this remarkable animal remains a debateable

Until within a late period occasional correspondents of the South African
journals continued to assert its existence, basing their communications on
the reports of hunters from the interior, while but a few hundred years
since travellers spoke of actually seeing it or of passing through
countries in which its existence was absolutely affirmed to them. Horns,
generally those of the narwhal, but occasionally of one species of
rhinoceros, were brought home and deposited in museums as those of the
veritable unicorn, or sold, under the same pretext, for large sums, on
account of their reputed valuable medicinal properties.[281] The animal is
variously described as resembling a horse or some kind of deer; this
description may possibly refer to some animal of a type intermediate to
them, now almost, if not quite, extinct. In some instances it is supposed
that a species of rhinoceros is indicated.

There has been much discussion as to the identity of the animal referred
to in many passages of the Bible, the Hebrew name of which, _Reem_, has
been translated "unicorn." Mr. W. Smith considers that a species of
rhinoceros could not have been indicated, as it is spoken of in one
passage as a sacrificial animal, whereas the ceremonial ritual of the Jews
forbade the use of any animal not possessing the double qualifications of
chewing the cud and being cloven-footed. The qualities attributed to it
are great strength, an indomitable disposition, fierce nature, and an
active and playful disposition when young. He considers that the passage,
Deut. xxxiii. 17, should be rendered "his horns are like the horns of a
unicorn," and not, as it is given, "horns of unicorns"; and is of opinion
that some species of wild ox is intended.

Among profane Western authors we first find the unicorn referred to by
Ctesias, who describes it as having one horn, a cubit long. Herodotus also
mentions it in the passage,[282] "For the eastern side of Libya, where the
wanderers dwell, is low and sandy, as far as the river Triton; but
westward of that, the land of the husbandmen is very hilly and abounds
with forests and wild beasts, for this is the tract in which the huge
serpents are found, and the lions, the elephants, the bears, the aspicks,
and the horned asses"; and again, "Among the wanderers are none of these,
but quite other animals, as antelopes, &c. &c., and asses, not of the
horned sort, but of a kind which does not need to drink."

Aristotle[283] mentions two unicorn animals. "There are only a few
[animals] that have a solid hoof and one horn, as the Indian ass and the

Pliny[284] tells us that the Orsæan Indians hunt down a very fierce animal
called the monoceros, which has the head of the stag, the feet of the
elephant, and the tail of the boar, while the rest of the body is like
that of the horse. It makes a deep lowing noise, and has a single black
horn, projecting from the middle of its forehead, and two cubits in
length. This animal, it is said, cannot be taken alive. In speaking of the
Indian ass, he says,[285] "the Indian ass is only a one-horned animal";
and of the oryx of Africa,[286] "the oryx is both one-horned and

Ælian[287] transfers the locality back again from Africa to Asia, and it
may be presumed, in the following quotation, that he indicates the country
north of the Himalaya, Thibet, and Tartary, which still has the reputation
of being one of the homes of the unicorn.

"They say that there are mountains in the innermost regions of India
inaccessible to men, and full of wild beasts; where those creatures which
with us are domesticated, such as sheep, dogs, goats, and cattle, range
about at their own free will, free from any charge by a shepherd or

"Both historians, and the more learned of the Indians, among whom the
Brahmins may be specified, declare that there is a countless number of
these beasts. Among them they enumerate the unicorn, which they call
cartazonon, and say that it reaches the size of a horse of mature age,
possesses a mane and reddish yellow hair, and that it excels in swiftness
through the excellence of its feet and of its whole body. Like the
elephant, it has inarticulate feet, and it has a boar's tail; one black
horn projects between the eyebrows, not awkwardly, but with a certain
natural twist, and terminating in a sharp point.

"It has, of all animals, the harshest and most contentious voice. It is
said to be gentle to other beasts approaching it, but to fight with its
fellows. Not only are the males at variance in natural contention amongst
themselves, but they also fight with the females, and carry their combats
to the length of killing the conquered; for not only are their bodies
generally indued with great strength, but also they are armed with an
invincible horn. It frequents desert regions and wanders alone and
solitary. In the breeding season it is of gentle demeanour towards the
female, and they feed together; when this has passed and the female has
become gravid, it again becomes fierce and wanders alone.

"They say that the young, while still of tender age, are carried to the
King of the Prasians for exhibition of their strength, and exposed in
combats on festivals; for no one remembers them to have been captured of
mature age."

Cæsar[288] records the reputed existence in his day, within the bounds of
the great Hercynian Forest, of a bull, shaped like a stag, with one horn
projecting from the middle of its forehead and between the ears.

Cosmas,[289] surnamed Indicopleustes, a merchant of Alexandria, who lived
in the sixth century, and made a voyage to India, and subsequently wrote
works on cosmography, gives a figure of the unicorn, not, as he says, from
actual sight of it, but reproduced from four figures of it in brass
contained in the palace of the King of Ethiopia. He states, from report,
that "it is impossible to take this ferocious beast alive; and that all
its strength lies in its horn. When it finds itself pursued and in danger
of capture, it throws itself from a precipice, and turns so aptly in
falling, that it receives all the shock upon the horn, and so escapes safe
and sound." It is noteworthy that this mode of escape is attributed, at
the present day, to both the musk ox and the Ovis Ammon.

Marco Polo may or may not indicate a rhinoceros in the passage, "Après
avoir descendu ces deux journées et demie, on trouve une province au midi
qui est sur les confins de l'Inde, on l'appelle Amien--on marche quinze
journées par des lieux desertes et par de grands bois où il y a beaucoup
d'éléphants et de licornes et d'autres bêtes sauvages. Il n'y a ni hommes
ni habitations aussi, nous laisserons ce lieu."

But no such inference can be attached to the descriptions of the Ethiopian
unicorn by Leo and Ludolphus.

The first says:[290]

"The unicorn is found in the mountains of high Ethiopia. It is of an ash
colour and resembles a colt of two years old, excepting that it has the
head of a goat, and in the middle of its forehead a horn three feet long,
which is smooth and white like ivory, and has yellow streaks running along
from top to bottom.

"This horn is an antidote against poison, and it is reported that other
animals delay drinking till it has soaked its horn in the water to purify
it. This animal is so nimble that it can neither be killed nor taken. But
it casts its horn like a stag, and the hunters find it in the deserts. But
the truth of this is called in question by some authors."

Ludolphus[291] says:

"Here is also another beast, called arucharis, with one horn, fierce and
strong, of which unicorn several have been seen feeding in the woods."

Coming down to later days we find the unicorn described by Lewes
Vertomannus[292]--he who, having visited, among other places, the site of
the legend of St. George and the Dragon,[293] and undergone a variety of
adventures, visits, in the course of them, the temple of Mecca, and, as
follows, gives a description "of the unicorns of the Temple of Mecha,
which are not seen in any other place."

"On the other part of the temple are parks or places enclosed, where are
seen two unicorns, named of the Greeks monocerotæ, and are there showed to
the people for a miracle, and not without good reason, for the seldomness
and strange nature. The one of them, which is much higher than the other,
yet not much unlike to a colt of thirty months of age; in the forehead
groweth only one horn, in manner right foorth, of the length of three
cubits. The other is much younger, of the age of one year, and like a
young colt; the horn of this is of the length of four handfulls.

"This beast is of the colour of a horse of weesell colour, and hath the
head like a hart, but no long neck, a thynne mane hanging only on the one
side. Their leggs are thin and slender like a fawn or hind. The hoofs of
the fore-feet are divided in two, much like the feet of a goat. The outer
part of the hinder feet is very full of hair.

"This beast doubtless seemeth wild and fierce, yet tempereth that
fierceness with a certain comeliness.

"These unicorns one gave to the Sultan of Mecha as a most precious and
rare gift. They were sent him out of Ethiope by a king of that country who
desired by that present to gratify the Sultan of Mecha."

Visiting the interior of Arabia from Aden, and afterwards starting for
Persia, Vertomannus was driven back by a contrary wind to Zeila (in
Africa), which he describes as being an important city with much
merchandise--when again he says, "I saw there also certain kyne, having
only one horn in the middle of the forehead, as hath the unicorn, and
about a span in length, but the horn bendeth backwards. They are of bright
shining red colour."

In an account of the travels of Johann Grueber, Jesuit (about 1661),
contained in Astley's collection of voyages, we find:--

"Sining[294] is a great and populous city, built at the vast wall of
China, through the gate of which the merchants from India enter Katay or
China. There are stairs to go a-top of the wall, and many travel on it
from the gate at Sining to the next at Soochew, which is eighteen days'
journey, having a delightful prospect all the way, from the wall, of the
innumerable habitations on one side, and the various wild beasts which
range the desert on the other side.

"Besides wild bulls, here are tigers, lions, elephants, rhinoceroses, and
monoceroses, which are a kind of horned asses.

"Thus the merchants view the beasts free from danger, especially from that
part of the wall which, running southward, approaches Quang-si, Yunnan,
and Tibet; for at certain times of the year they betake themselves to the
Yellow River, and parts near the wall which abound with thickets, in order
to get pasture and seek their prey."

Father Jerome Lobo, a Portuguese Jesuit, who embarked for Abyssinia in the
year 1622,[295] states that--

"In the province of Agaus has been seen the unicorn; that beast so much
talked of and so little known. The prodigious swiftness with which the
creature runs from one wood into another has given me no opportunity of
examining it particularly; yet I have had so near a sight of it as to be
able to give some description of it.

"The shape is the same with that of a beautiful horse, exact and nicely
proportioned, of a bay colour, with a black tail, which in some provinces
is long, in others very short; some have long manes hanging to the ground.
They are so timorous that they never feed but surrounded with other beasts
that defend them.

"Deer and other defenceless animals often herd about the elephant, which,
contenting himself with roots and leaves, preserves the beasts that place
themselves, as it were, under his protection, from the others that would
devour them."

There is a somewhat doubtful story contained in the _Narrative of a
Journey from St. Petersburg, in Russia, to Peking, in China, in
1719_,[296] to the effect that between Tobolsky and Tomski--

"Our baggage having waited at Tara till our arrival, we left that place on
the 18th, and next came to a large Russian village sixty versts from Tara,
and the last inhabited by Russians till you pass the Baraba and come to
the river Oby.... One of these hunters told me the following story, which
was confirmed by several of his neighbours, that in the year 1713, in the
month of March, being out a-hunting, he discovered the track of a stag,
which he pursued. At overtaking the animal he was somewhat startled on
observing it had only one horn, stuck in the middle of its forehead. Being
near this village, he drove it home, and showed it, to the great
admiration of the spectators. He afterwards killed it, and ate the flesh,
and sold the horn to a comb-maker in the town of Tara, for ten alteens,
about fifteen pence sterling.

"I inquired carefully about the shape and size of this unicorn, as I
shall call it, and was told that it exactly resembled a stag.

"The horn was of a brownish colour, about one archæon or twenty-eight
inches long, and twisted from the root till within a finger's length of
the tip, where it was divided, like a fork, into two points, very sharp."

One of the most trustworthy of observers, the Abbé Huc, speaks very
positively on the subject of the unicorn.[297] He says: "The unicorn
really exists in Thibet.... We had for a long time a small Mongol Treatise
on Natural History, for the use of children, in which a unicorn formed one
of the pictorial illustrations.... The Chinese Itinerary says, on the
subject of the lake you see before your arrival at Atzder (going from east
to west), 'The unicorn, a very curious animal, is found in the vicinity of
this lake, which is forty _li_ long.'"

The unicorn is known in Thibet by the name of serou; in Mongolia, by that
of _kere_; while in a Thibetan manuscript examined by the late Major
Lattre, it is called the one-horned _tsopo_.

Mr. Hazlitt, in his notes appended to the statement by Huc as to the
unicorn, states that Mr. Hodgson, of Nepaul, sent to Calcutta the skin and
horn of a unicorn that died in the menagerie of the Rajah of Nepaul.

It was described as being very fierce, and abundant in the plains of
Tingri, in the southern part of the Thibetan province of Tsang, watered by
the Arroun; it assembled round salt beds. The form is graceful, colour
reddish, two tufts of hair project from the exterior of each nostril, and
there is much down round the hair and mouth. The hair is rough and seems
hollow. Doctor Able designated it _Antelope Hodgsonii_.

Baron von Müller described,[298] through the medium of M. Antoine
d'Abbadie, a unicorn animal which he had received when at Melpes in

"I met, on the 17th of April 1848, a man who was in the habit of selling
to me specimens of animals. One day he asked me if I wished also for an
_a'nasa_, which he described thus: 'It is the size of a small donkey, has
a thick body and thin bones, coarse hair, and tail like a boar. It has a
long horn on its forehead, and lets it hang when alone, but erects it
immediately on seeing an enemy. It is a formidable weapon, but I do not
know its exact length. The _a'nasa_ is found not far from here (Melpes),
towards the south-southwest. I have seen it often in the wild grounds,
where the negroes kill it, and carry it home to make shields from its
skin.' _N.B._--This man was well acquainted with the rhinoceros, which he
distinguished, under the name of _fetit_, from the _a'nasa_.

"On June the 14th I was at Kursi, also in Kordofan, and met there a slave
merchant who was not acquainted with my first informer, and gave me
spontaneously the same description of the _a'nasa_, adding that he had
killed and eaten one long ago, and that its flesh was well flavoured."

This creature is mentioned by Rupell, under the name of _Nillekma_ or
_Arase_, as indigenous to Kordofan, and, by Cavassi, as known in Congo
under that of _Abada_.

Mr. Freeman, in the _South African Christian Recorder_ (vol. i.), gives
the native account of an animal not uncommon in Makooa, and called the
_Ndzoodzoo_, described as being about the size of a horse, extremely fleet
and strong, with a single horn from two feet to two and a half feet in
length, projecting from its forehead, which is said to be flexible when
the animal is asleep, and capable of being curled up at pleasure, but
becoming stiff and hard under the excitement of rage. It is extremely
fierce, and invariably attacks a man when it discerns him. The female is
without a horn.

Our latest information as to this species comes from Prejevalski,[299]
who, speaking of it as the orongo, says that it has elegant black horns
standing vertically above the head; the back is dun-coloured; the middle
of the breast, stomach, and rump, white; seen at a distance it appears
white; it is very numerous in Northern Thibet. He adds: "Another prevalent
superstition is that the orongo has only one horn growing vertically from
the centre of the head. In Kansu and Kokonor we were told that unicorns
were rare, one or two in a thousand. The Mongols in Tsaidan deny it, but
say it may be so in south-west Thibet."

Turning to the Chinese classics and books of antiquity, we find
references, sometimes vague and mythical, sometimes exact, to several
distinct unicorn animals. These may be enumerated as:--

  [300]1. The Ki-Lin, represented in Japan by the Kirin.
       2. The King.
       3. The Kioh Twan.
       4. The Poh.
       5. The Hiai Chai.
       6. The Too Jon Sheu.

Besides these there are clear descriptions of the rhinoceros, which cannot
in any way be confounded with the above. The only one of these popularly
familiar is the Ki-Lin, the history of which is interwoven with that of
remote ages. The first mention of it is made in the Bamboo Books--only in
that part, however, of them which is apparently a commentary, note, or
subsequent addition, though some authorities hold it to be a portion of
the actual text. The work states that, during the reign of Hwang-Ti (B.C.
2697), Ki-Lins appeared in the parks.

Their appearance was generally supposed to signalise the reign of an
upright monarch, and Confucius considered that the appearance of one
during his epoch was a bad omen, as it did not harmonise with the troubled
state of the times. The name Ki-Lin is a generic or dual word, composed of
those of the Ki and the Lin, the respective male and female of the

[Illustration: FIG. 79.--THE KI-LIN. (_After a modern Chinese painting._)]

This peculiar species of word formation is adopted in other instances in
reference to birds and animals; thus we have the male Fung and the female
Hwang united in the Fung Hwang, or so-called Chinese phœnix, and the Yuen
and Yang in the Yuen Yang, or mandarin duck.

Sometimes the word Lin alone is used with the same generic meaning.

The _'Rh Ya_, in the original text, defines the Lin as having a Kiun's
body (the Kiun is a kind of muntjack or deer), an ox's tail, and one horn.
The commentary states that the tip of the horn is fleshy, and that the
King Yang chapter of the "Spring and Autumn Annals" of Confucius defines
it as a horned Kiun.

[Illustration: FIG. 80.--THE LIN (FEMALE OF THE CHINESE UNICORN). (_From
the 'Rh Ya._)]

The preface to the _Shi Shu_ quotes Li Siün to the effect that the Lin is
an auspicious and perfect beast.

Sun Yen says it is a spiritual beast. The _Shwoh Wan_ says the Lin is the
female of the K‘i and the K‘i is a beast endowed with goodness, possessing
a Kiun's body, an ox's tail, and one horn. According to the _Shwoh Wan_,
the Lin may be considered as a large female deer. Now the _Shu King_
considers that many of these beasts are comprised under the Ki-Lin, only
the characters, though retaining the sound, have become altered in form.

Cheu Nau calls it Lin-che-chi and Man Chw‘en says that the Lin is
truthful, and reducible to rule.

The _Li Yuen_ says: "If the unicorn can once be tamed, then the other
beasts will not show terror."

Ta Tai, in the _Li Ki_, quoting the _Yih_ [_King_], says there are 360
kinds of hairy creatures, and the Ki-Lin is the chief of them.

The _Li Ki_, commenting on the _King Fang I Chw‘en_, says: "The Lin has a
Kiun's body, an ox's tail, a horse's hoof, and is of five colours. It is
twelve feet high."[301]

Again, in commenting on Fuh Kien's _Ho Chwen_, it says: "The Lin springs
from the earth's central regions. It is a beast of superior integrity, is
attached to its mother, and reducible to rule. The _Shu King_, quoting Luh
Li, says the Lin has a Kiun's body, an ox's tail, a horse's feet, and a
yellow colour, round hoofs, and one horn; the tip of the horn is erect and

"Its call in the middle part thereof is like a monastery bell. Its pace is
regular; it rambles only on selected grounds and after it has examined the
locality. It will not live in herds, or be accompanied in its movements.
It cannot be beguiled into pitfalls, or captured in snares. When the
monarch is virtuous, this beast appears."

At present there are Lin existing on the frontiers of Ping Cheu. Even the
large or small Lin are always like deer, so that this species is not the
auspicious Ying Lin; although Tsz Ma Siang Su,[302] in his odes on the
shooting of the Mi and trapping Lin, says that it is.

The top of the horn being fleshy is a characteristic of the Lin, and Mao
Chw‘en says that the Lin's horn is an emblem of goodness. Ching Tsien says
that the horn has a fleshy termination, indicating the peaceful character
of the beast, and that it has no use for it.

The "Book of Rites," quoting the _Kwang Ya_, says that on account of its
elegant style it takes place, _par excellence_, among the large-horned
beasts; the existing edition of the _Kwang Ya_ omits this.

The _Kung Yang Chw‘en_ says the Kiun also has horns.

Kung Ssun Tsz, in the annals of the fourteenth year of the Duke Ngai
(State of Lu), says that the Kiun has fleshy horns.

Kwoh, in his preface, proves the Lin to have a Kiun's body.

The _'Rh Ya_ gives the drawing of a unicorn animal called the Ki; but no
reference to the horn is given in the text, which simply describes it as a
large Kiun with a yak's tail and dog's feet.

[Illustration: FIG. 81.--THE KI.]

The Ki is not defined in the _'Rh Ya_, and the only information I have as
to it is derived from Williams' dictionary, where it is stated to be "a
fabulous auspicious animal, which appears when sages are born; the male of
the Chinese unicorn. It is drawn like a piebald scaly horse, with one horn
and a cow's tail, and may have had a living original in some extinct
equine animal." But there is a very full account of an animal called the
King. It is not impossible that it is identical with the King which, in
the usual brief style of the original text of the _'Rh Ya_, is epitomised
as a large Biao (a kind of stag), with an ox's tail and one horn; and the
several commentaries on it are as follows:--

"In the time of the Emperor Wu, of the Han dynasty, during the worship of
heaven and earth at the solstices at Yung, there was captured a unicorn
beast like a Piao; it was at that time designated the Lin; it was,
however, a Piao related to the Chang (a kind of deer)."

[Illustration: FIG. 82.--THE KING. (_From the 'Rh Ya._)]

The _Shwoh Wan_ says: "The King is a large stag with an ox's tail and one
horn." It may be a large form of the Piao. The Wang Hwu Analects say that
the Piao is an object of the chase, and that it is as swift as a stag.

Kwan Tsz, in the _Ti Yuen_ volume, says that as there are Mi and Piao and
many species of deer, so also the Piao is a species of deer.

The "Shi Ki," in the book _Fung Shen_, says that during the worship at the
solstices at Yung, there was captured a one-horned beast like a Piao, and
that the local authorities assert that as His Majesty was making
reverential invocations on the country altar to the Supreme Being, he was
recompensed for the sacrifice by a beast which was a unicorn.

Wu Chao's preface to the _Loh Yiu_ says: "The body is like that of a
muntjack, and it has one horn"; while the Spring and Autumn (Annals)
allude to this animal in speaking of the horned Kiun.

The inhabitants of Ch‘u say the Kiun is a Piao. Kwoh, in his preface, says
that the capture made in the time of Wu, of the Han dynasty, was actually
a Piao, as demonstrated by the Han books. The _Chung Kiun_ narrative
states that in Shang Yung was captured a white Lin bearing one horn, of
which the tip was fleshy. At the present day nothing has been heard of a
Piao with a fleshy tip, therefore these must be different beasts.

Kwoh also says that the Piao is identical with the Chang, and the Chang
with the Kiun. This corresponds with what Wei Chao So had already stated,
that the people of Ch‘u assert that the Kiun is a Piao, and that the Piao
is certainly a kind of deer.

Its meat is eminently savoury.

Luh Ki says that of all four-footed creatures, the Piao is the most

Yeu Shi states in the _Kiao Sz_ annals ("Sacrifices to Heaven and Earth"),
that the Piao is a kind of deer. Its body exactly resembles that of the

Finally, the explanatory prefaces of many classical works, when commenting
on the _'Rh Ya_, say that the Piao is identical with the Chang and of a
black colour; and they confirm Kwoh's opinion, although the _'Rh Ya_
forgets to allude to the three characters denoting the black colour.

[Illustration: FIG. 83.--THE KI-RIN. (_From a Japanese Drawing in a Temple
at Kioto._)]

It was probably some unicorn animal which is referred to in the General
History of China, called the _Tong Kien Kang Mu_ (_vide_ Père de Mailla's
translation), as having been presented to the Emperor Yung Loh of the Ming
dynasty, in A.D. 1415, by envoys from Bengal. De Mailla says it was called
a Ki-Lin by the Chinese out of flattery.

Again, the same History says that in the succeeding year the kingdom of
Malin sent as tribute a Ki-Lin similar to that from Bengal.

The Ki-Rin, a Japanese version of the Ki-Lin, is simply borrowed from
Chinese sources. It is figured in the illustrated edition of the great
Japanese Encyclopædia _Kasira gaki zou vo Sin mou dzu wi tai sei_,[303]
and represented, as in the Chinese drawings, as covered with scales; but
it must be noted that nothing in any of the texts of either country
warrants this furniture of the body.[304]

The same encyclopædia figures another unicorn beast under the name of the
Kai Tsi, and describes it as being an animal of foreign countries,
resembling a lion, and having a single horn. It is also called the Sin You
or divine sheep. It is able to distinguish between right and wrong. When
Kau You exercised criminal jurisdiction, he handed over those whose crime
was doubtful to the Kai Tsu, and it is said that this animal destroyed the
guilty and spared the innocent.

This is described in the Chinese work _Yuen Kien Léi Han_,[305] under the
name of the Hiai Chai, and similar powers of discrimination are there
attributed to it.

[Illustration: FIG. 84.--THE SZ, OR MALAYAN RHINOCEROS. (_From the 'Rh

A synonym for it was the Chiai Tung. It states that, according to the _Si
Yang Y Shu_, a one-horned spiritual lamb was born in the Ping Shen
district, and in the twenty-first year of Kai Yuen. The horn was fleshy,
and the top of the head covered with white hair. The second chapter on the
same subject says that, in ancient times, if parties were at law, the
judge brought this animal out, and it would gore at the guilty one.

The Kioh Twan is yet another unicorn animal described in the _Yuen Kien
Léi Han_,[306] which is said to have the appearance of a deer with the
tail of a horse, but to be of a greenish colour, with one horn above the
nose, and to be capable of traversing eighteen thousand _li_ in one day.

The _Li Kau Sing Sha Shao_ says that the Emperor Yuen Ti Su sent his
ambassadors to the western part of India, who procured animals several
tens of feet in height,[307] unicorn, like the rhinoceros. The rumour went
that these were inauspicious for the Emperor, and they were immediately

_The Poh._

The _Shan Hai King_ describes an animal as existing among the plains of
Mongolia, having the appearance of a horse, with a white body, black tail,
one horn, teeth and claws like a tiger, which howls like the roll of a
drum, devours tigers and leopards, and is capable of being used instead of
soldiers; it is called Poh.

The _'Rh Ya_ describes the same animal as like a horse, with saw teeth,
existing on tigers and leopards.

The "History of the North" says that in the Kingdom of Peh Chi (?) a
magistrate named Chung Wa held office, who was very equitable in his
rule. His district was invaded by some ferocious animals. Suddenly six of
the Poh came and killed and devoured them as a reward for his good rule.

The Sung History says that a man named Leu Chang, an ambassador, arrived
at a district called Shen Su, where the mountains contained a strange
animal, in appearance like a horse, but capable of eating tigers and
leopards. The people were unacquainted with it, and asked Leu Chang what
it was, who said it was called the Poh, and referred them to the _Shan Hai
King_ for a description of it.

[Illustration: FIG. 85.--TARGET IN THE FORM OF A SPHYNX. (_From the Sun Li
T'u._). The arrows were discharged upwards and fell into the cylinder
behind the figure.]

Among other remarkable and interesting drawings which have come down from
antiquity in the _San Li T'u_,[308] or illustrated edition of the three
(ceremonial) rituals, are some representing the various targets used by
officials of different ranks in the military examinations, in which the
arrows had to be lodged by shooting upwards from a distance. These are
fashioned in the form of animals, one realising the idea of the sphynx,
and two representing unicorn animals, called respectively the Lu--which,
according to some, is like an ass with one horn, but, according to others,
differing from a donkey in having a cleft hoof--and the Sz, which is said
to be like an ox with one horn.

[Illustration: FIG. 86.--THE LU TARGET. (_From the San Li T'u._)]

[Illustration: FIG. 87.--THE SZ TARGET. (_From the San Li T'u._)]

[Illustration: FIG. 88.--THE TOO JOU SHEN. (_From the Ming Tombs._)]

[Illustration: FIG. 89.--THE TOO JOU SHEN. (_From the Ming Tombs._)]

The Too Jou Shen is the name of an animal with a lion-like body and head,
cloven hoofs, and a blunt short horn projecting from the centre of the
forehead. Two pairs of these form a portion of the avenue of stone figures
of animals leading up to the Ming tombs, about eighty miles north of
Pekin. I have not found it described in any book.

A writer in the _China Review_[309] endeavours to prove that the Ki-Lin is
a reminiscence of the giraffe, which he supposes may once have spread over
Asia, and, in addition to various passages included among those which I
have quoted above, adduces one from the _Wu Tsah Tsu_, which states that,
"In the period Yung Loh of the Ming dynasty (1403-1425) a Ki-Lin was
caught, and a painter was ordered to make a sketch and hand it up to the
high magistrates. According to the picture, the body was perfectly shaped
like that of a deer, _but the neck was very long, perhaps three or four
feet_." I must admit that I cannot agree with him in his conclusions.
Harris[310] has given much better arguments in favour of the unicorn being
merely a species of oryx. He appears to me, however, to speak too
absolutely, to make his facts too pliant, and to base his main belief on
the untenable theory that the myth, tradition, or theory is based on the
profile drawing of an oryx, exhibiting one horn only. We might just as
soon expect people to start stories of two-legged cows or horses, or
one-legged races of men, if so slender a basis for forging a species were
sufficient. What the zoological status of the unicorn may be I am not
prepared to show, but I find it impossible to believe that a creature
whose existence has been affirmed by so many authors, at so many different
dates, and from so many different countries, can be, as mythologists
demand, merely the symbol of a myth. There is a possible solution, which
does not appear to have struck previous writers on the subject, viz., that
the unicorn may be merely a hybrid produced occasionally and at more or
less rare intervals.

By accepting this view we could explain the extraordinary combinations of
character assigned to it, and the discrepancy which exists between the
qualities of courage and gentleness ascribed to it by Western and Chinese
authors. A valuable chapter remains to be written by naturalists and
progressionists on the limits within which hybridization exists in a state
of nature among the higher animals; its prevalence among the lower and
among plants is, of course, well known. A cross between some equine and
cervine species might readily result in a unicorn offspring, and either
the courageous qualities of the sire[311] or the gentleness of the dam
might preponderate, according to the relations of the species in each of
the instances.

As an alternative, we may speculate on the unicorn being a generic name
for several distinct species of (probably) now extinct animals; missing
links between the three families, the Equidæ, Cervidæ, and Bovidæ;
creatures which were the contemporaries of prehistoric man, and which,
before they finally expired, attracted the attention of his descendants,
during early historic times, by the rare appearance of a few surviving

The supernatural qualities ascribed to these by various nations must be
considered merely the embroidery of fancy, designed to enrich and adorn an
article esteemed rare and valuable.



From the date of the earliest examination of the literature of China, it
has been customary among Sinologues to trace a fancied resemblance between
a somewhat remarkable bird, which occupies an important position in the
early traditions of that Empire, and the phœnix of Western authors. Some
mythologists have even subsequently concluded that the Fung Hwang of the
Chinese, the phœnix of the Greeks, the Roc of the Arabs, and the Garuda of
the Hindoos, are merely national modifications of the same myth. I do not
hold this opinion, and, in opposing it, purpose, in the future, to discuss
each of these birds in detail, although in the present volume I treat only
of the Fung Hwang.


The earliest notice of it is contained in the _'Rh Ya_, which, with its
usual brevity, simply informs us that the male is called Fung and the
female Hwang; the commentator, Kwoh P‘oh, adding that the Shui Ying bird
(felicitous and perfect--a synonym for it) has a cock's head, a snake's
neck, a swallow's beak, a tortoise's back, is of five different colours,
and more than six feet high. The _'Rh Ya Chen I_, a later and
supplementary edition of the former work, quotes the _Shwoh Wan_ to the
effect that the united name of the male and female bird is Fung Hwang, and
that Tso's commentary on the 17th year of the Chao, says one appeared in
the time of the Emperor Che (dynastic title, Shaou Haou). The original
passage in the _Tso Chuen_ is so interesting that I quote _in extenso_ Dr.
Legge's translation of it:--

"When my ancestor, Shaou-Haou Che, succeeded to the kingdom, there
appeared at that time a phœnix, and therefore he arranged his government
under the nomenclature of birds, making bird officers, and naming them
after birds. There were so and so Phœnix bird, minister of the calendar;
so and so Dark bird [the swallow], master of the equinoxes; so and so Pih
Chaou [the shrike], master of the solstices; so and so Green bird [a kind
of sparrow], master of the beginning (of spring and autumn); and so and so
Carnation bird [the golden pheasant], master of the close (of spring and
autumn).... The five Che [Pheasants] presided over the five classes of

"So in previous reigns there had been cloud officers, fire officers, water
officers, and dragon officers, according to omens."

I think there is some connection between this old usage and the present or
late system of tribe totems among the North American Indians. Thus we have
Snake, Tortoise, Hare Indians, &c., and I hope some day to explain some of
the obscure and apparently impossible passages of the _Shan Hai King_, in
reference to strange tribes, upon what I may call the totem theory.

The _Kin King_, a small work devoted to ornithology, and professing to
date back to the Tsin dynasty [A.D. 265 to 317], opens its pages with a
description of the Fung Hwang, because, as it states, the Fung is the
principal of the three hundred and sixty different species of birds.
According to it, the Fung is like a swan in front and like a Lin behind;
it enumerates its resemblances pretty much as the commentator in the _'Rh
Ya_ gives them; but we now find a commencement of extraordinary
attributes. Thus the head is supposed to have impressed on it the Chinese
character expressing virtue, the poll that for uprightness, the back that
for humanity; the heart is supposed to contain that of sincerity, and the
wings to enfold in their clasp that of integrity; its foot imprints
integrity; its low notes are like a bell, its high notes are like a drum.
It is said that it will not peck living grass, and that it contains all
the five colours.[312]

When it flies crowds of birds follow. When it appears, the monarch is an
equitable ruler, and the kingdom has moral principles. It has a synonym,
"the felicitous _yen_." According to the _King Shun_ commentary upon the
_'Rh Ya_, it is about six feet in height. The young are called Yoh Shoh,
and it is said that the markings of the five colours only appear when it
is three years of age.[313]

There appears to have been another bird closely related to it, which is
called the Lwan Shui. This, when first hatched, resembles the young Fung,
but when of mature age it changes the five colours.

The _Shăng Li Teu Wei I_ says of this, that when the world is peaceful its
notes will be heard like the tolling of a bell, Pien Lwan [answering to
our "ding-dong"]. During the Chao dynasty it was customary to hang a bell
on the tops of vehicles, with a sound like that of the Lwan.[314] From
another passage we learn that it was supposed to have different names
according to a difference in colour. Thus, when the head and wings were
red it was called the red Fung; when blue, the Yu Siang; when white, the
Hwa Yih; when black, the Yin Chu; when yellow, the To Fu. Another
quotation is to the effect that, when the Fung soars and the Lwan flies
upwards, one hundred birds follow them. It is also stated that when either
the Lwan or the Fung dies, one hundred birds peck up the earth and bury

Another author amplifies the fancied resemblances of the Fung, for in the
_Lun Yü Tseh Shwai Shing_ we find it stated that it has six resemblances
and nine qualities. The former are: 1st, the head is like heaven; 2nd, the
eye like the sun; 3rd, the back is like the moon; 4th, the wings like the
wind; 5th, the foot is like the ground; 6th, the tail is like the woof.
The latter are: 1st, the mouth contains commands; 2nd, the heart is
conformable to regulations; 3rd, the ear is thoroughly acute in hearing;
4th, the tongue utters sincerity; 5th, the colour is luminous; 6th, the
comb resembles uprightness; 7th, the spur is sharp and curved; 8th, the
voice is sonorous; 9th, the belly is the treasure of literature.

When it crows, in walking, it utters "Quai she" [returning joyously]; when
it stops crowing, "T‘i fee" [I carry assistance?]; when it crows at night
it exclaims "Sin" [goodness]; when in the morning, "Ho si" [I congratulate
the world]; when during its flight, "Long Tu che wo" [Long Tu knows me]
and "Hwang che chu sz si" [truly Hwang has come with the Bamboos].[315]
Hence it was that Confucius wished to live among the nine I [barbarian
frontier countries] following the Fung's pleasure.

The Fung appears to have been fond of music, for, according to the _Shu
King_, when you play the flute, in nine cases out of ten the Fung Wang
comes to bear you company; while, according to the _Odes_, or Classic of
Poetry, the Fung, in flying, makes the sound _hwui hwui_, and its wings
carry it up to the heavens; and when it sings on the lofty mountain called
Kwang, the Wu Tung tree flourishes,[316] and its fame spreads over the

The presence of the Fung was always an auspicious augury, and it was
supposed that when heaven showed its displeasure at the conduct of the
people during times of drought, of destruction of crops by insects
(locusts), of disastrous famines, and of pestilence, the Fung Wang retired
from the civilised country into the desert and forest regions.

It was classed with the dragon, the tortoise, and the unicorn as a
spiritual creature, and its appearance in the gardens and groves denoted
that the princes and monarch were equitable, and the people submissive and

Its indigenous home is variously indicated. Thus, in the _Shan Hai King_,
it is stated to dwell in the Ta Hueh mountains, a range included in the
third list of the southern mountains; it is also, in the third portion of
the same work (treating of the Great Desert), placed in the south and in
the west of the Great Desert, and more specifically as west of Kwan Lun.

There is also a tradition that it came from Corea; and the celebrated
Chinese general, Sieh Jan Kwéi, who invaded and conquered that country in
A.D. 668, is said to have ascended the Fung Hwang mountain there and seen
the phœnix.

According to the Annals of the Bamboo Books phœnixes, male and female,
arrived in the autumn, in the seventh month, in the fiftieth year of the
reign of Hwang Ti (B.C. 2647), and the commentary states that some of them
abode in the Emperor's eastern garden; some built their nests about the
corniced galleries (of the palaces), and some sung in the courtyard, the
females gambolling to the notes of the males.

The commentary of the same work adds that (among a variety of prodigies)
the phœnix appeared in the seventieth year of the reign of Yaou (B.C.
2286), and again in the first year of Shun (B.C. 2255).

Kwoh P‘oh states that, during the times of the Han dynasty (commencing
B.C. 206 and lasting until A.D. 23), the phœnixes appeared constantly.

In these later passages I have adopted the word phœnix, after Legge and
other Sinologues, as a conventional admission; but, as will be seen from
all the extracts given, there are but few grounds for identifying it,
whether fabulous or not, with the phœnix of Greek mythology. It reappears
in Japanese tradition under the name of the Ho and O (male and female),
and, according to Kempfer, who calls it the Foo, "it is a chimerical but
beautiful large bird of paradise, of near akin to the phœnix of the
ancients. It dwells in the high regions of the air, and it hath this in
common with the Ki-Rin (the equivalent of the Chinese Ki-Lin), that it
never comes down from thence but upon the birth of a _sesin_ (a man of
incomparable understanding, penetration, and benevolence) or that of a
great emperor, or upon some such other extraordinary occasion."

It is a common ornamentation in the Japanese temples; and I select, as an
example, figures from some very beautiful panels in the Nichi-hong-wanji
temple in Kioto. They depart widely from the original (Chinese) tradition,
every individual presenting a different combination of gorgeous colours;
they only agree in having two long central tail feathers projecting from a
plumose, bird-of-paradise-like arrangement.

These can only be accepted as the evolution of an artist's fancy; nor can
any opinion be arrived at from the figure of it illustrating the _'Rh Ya_,
of which I reproduce a _fac-simile_. I have already stated that Kwoh
P‘oh's illustrations have been lost.

[Illustration: FIG. 91.--THE FUNG HWANG. (_From the 'Rh Ya._)]

The frontispiece to this volume is reduced from a large and very beautiful
painting on silk, which I was fortunate enough to procure in Shanghai, by
an artist named Fang Heng, otherwise styled Sien Tang; it professes to be
made according to the designs of ancient books. The original is, I
believe, of some antiquity.

In this case the delineation of the bird shows a combination of the
characters of the peacock, the pheasant, and the bird of paradise; the
comb is like that of a pheasant. The tail is adorned with gorgeous eyes,
like a peacock's, but fashioned more like that of an argus pheasant, the
two middle tail feathers projecting beyond the others, while stiffened
plumes, as I interpret the intention of the drawing, are made to project
from the sides of the back, and above the wings, recalling those of the
_Semioptera Wallacii_. The bird perches, in accordance with tradition, on
the Wu-Tung tree. Without pretending to assert that this is an exact
representation of the Tung, I fancy that it comes nearer to it than the
ordinary Chinese and Japanese representations.

Looking to the history of the appearance of the Fung, the general
description of its characteristics, and disregarding the supernatural
qualities with which, probably, Taouist priests have invested it, I can
only regard it as another example of an interesting and beautiful species
of bird which has become extinct, as the dodo and so many others have,
within historic times.

Its rare appearance and gorgeousness of plumage would cause its advent on
any occasion to be chronicled, and a servile court would only too readily
seize upon this pretext to flatter the reigning monarch and ascribe to his
virtues a phenomenon which, after all, was purely natural.




"Obartés Elbaratutu being dead, his son Xisuthros (Khasisatra) reigned
eighteen sares (64,800 years). It was under him that the great Deluge took
place, the history of which is told in the sacred documents as follows:
Cronos (Ea) appeared to him in his sleep, and announced that on the
fifteenth of the month of Daisios--the Assyrian month Sivan--a little
before the summer (solstice) all men should perish by a flood. He
therefore commanded him to take the beginning, the middle, and the end of
whatever was consigned to writing, and to bury it in the city of the Sun,
at Sippara; then to build a vessel and to enter it with his family and
dearest friends; to place in this vessel provisions to eat and drink, and
to cause animals, birds, and quadrupeds to enter it; lastly, to prepare
everything for navigation. And when Xisuthros inquired in what direction
he should steer his bark, he was answered 'Toward the gods,' and enjoined
to pray that good might come of it for men.

"Xisuthros obeyed, and constructed a vessel five stadia long and five
broad; he collected all that had been prescribed to him, and embarked his
wife, his children, and his intimate friends.

"The Deluge having come, and soon going down, Xisuthros loosed some of the
birds. These, finding no food nor place to alight on, returned to the
ship. A few days later Xisuthros again let them free, but they returned
again to the vessel, their feet full of mud. Finally, loosed the third
time, the birds came no more back.

"Then Xisuthros understood that the earth was bare. He made an opening in
the roof of the ship, and saw that it had grounded on the top of a
mountain. He then descended with his wife, his daughter, and his pilot,
who worshipped the earth, raised an altar, and there sacrificed to the
gods; at the same moment he vanished with those who accompanied him.

"Meanwhile those who had remained in the vessel, not seeing Xisuthros
return, descended too, and began to seek him, calling him by his name.
They saw Xisuthros no more; but a voice from heaven was heard commanding
them piety towards the gods; that he, indeed, was receiving the reward of
his piety in being carried away to dwell thenceforth in the midst of the
gods, and that his wife, his daughter, and the pilot of the ship shared
the same honour. The voice further said that they were to return to
Babylon, and, conformably to the decrees of fate, disinter the writings
buried at Sippara, in order to transmit them to men. It added that the
country in which they found themselves was Armenia. These, then, having
heard the voice, sacrificed to the gods and returned on foot to Babylon.
Of the vessel of Xisuthros, which had finally landed in Armenia, a portion
is still to be found in the Gordyan mountains in Armenia, and pilgrims
bring thence asphalte that they have scraped from its fragments. It is
used to keep off the influence of witchcraft. As to the companions of
Xisuthros, they came to Babylon, disinterred the writings left at Sippara,
founded numerous cities, built temples, and restored Babylon."

       *       *       *       *       *

The large amount of work done by the few followers of Xisuthros, seems
very surprising, but easily accounted for if we take the version of the
Deluge given by Nicolaus Damascenus (a philosopher and historian of the
age of Augustus, and a friend of Herod the Great).

"He mentions that there is a large mountain in Armenia, which stands above
the country of the Minyæ, called Baris. To this it was said that many
people betook themselves in the time of the Deluge, and were saved. And
there is a tradition of one person in particular floating in an ark, and
arriving at the summit of the mountain."[318]




BOOK II. ch. 26.

The dragon [which is perfectly fearless of beasts], when it hears the
noise of the wings of an eagle, immediately conceals itself in

BOOK II. ch. 21.

Æthiopia generates dragons reaching thirty paces long; they have no proper
name, but they merely call them slayers of elephants, and they attain a
great age. So far do the Æthiopian accounts narrate. The Phrygian history
also states that dragons are born which reach ten paces in length; which
daily in midsummer, at the hour when the forum is full of men in assembly,
are wont to proceed from their caverns, and [near the river Rhyndacus],
with part of the body on the ground, and the rest erect, with the neck
gently stretched out, and gaping mouth, attract birds, either by their
inspiration, or by some fascination, and that those which are drawn down
by the inhalation of their breath glide down into their stomach--[and that
they continue this until sunset,] but that after that, concealing
themselves, they lay in ambush for the herds returning from the pasture to
the stable, and inflict much injury, often killing the herdsmen and
gorging themselves with food.

BOOK VI. ch. 4.

When dragons are about to eat fruit they suck the juice of the wild
chicory, because this affords them a sovereign remedy against inflation.
When they purpose lying in wait for a man or a beast, they eat deadly
roots and herbs; a thing not unknown to Homer, for he makes mention of the
dragon, who, lingering and twisting himself in front of his den, devoured
noxious herbs.

BOOK VI. ch. 21.

In India, as I am told, there is great enmity between the dragon and
elephant. Wherefore the dragons, aware that elephants are accustomed to
pluck off boughs from trees for food, coil themselves beforehand in these
trees, folding the tail half of their body round the limbs, and leaving
the front half hanging like a rope. When an elephant approaches for the
purpose of browsing on the young branches, the dragon leaping on him,
tears out his eyes, and then squeezing his neck with his front part and
lashing him with his tail, strangles him in this strange kind of noose.

BOOK VI. ch. 22.

The elephant has a great horror of the dragon.

BOOK VI. ch. 17.

In Idumea, or Judæa, during Herod's power, according to the statement of
the natives of the country, a very beautiful, and just adolescent, woman,
was beloved by a dragon of exceptional magnitude; who visited her betimes
and slept with her as a lover. She, indeed, although her lover crept
towards her as gently and quietly as lay in his power, yet utterly
alarmed, withdrew herself from him; and to the end that a forgetfulness of
his passion might result from the absence of his mistress, absented
herself for the space of a month.

But the desire of the absent one was increased in him, and his amatory
disposition was daily so far aggravated that he frequently came both by
day and night to that spot, where he had been wont to be with the maiden,
and when unable to meet with his inamorata, was afflicted with a terrible
grief. After the girl returned, angry at being, as it were spurned, he
coiled himself round her body, and softly and gently chastised her on the

BOOK VI. ch. 63.

A dragon whelp, born in Arcadia, was brought up with an Arcadian child;
and in process of time, when both were older, they entertained a mutual
affection for one another. The friends of the boy, seeing how the dragon
had increased in magnitude in so short a time, carried him, while sleeping
with the boy in the same bed, to a remote spot, and, leaving him there,
brought the boy back. The dragon thereon remained in the wood [feeding on
growing plants and poisons], preferring a solitary life to one in towns
and [human] habitations. Time having rolled on, and the boy having
attained youth, and the dragon maturity, the former, while travelling upon
one occasion through the wilds in the neighbourhood of his friend, fell
among robbers, who attacked him with drawn swords, and being struck,
either from pain, or in the hopes of assistance, cried out. The dragon
being a beast of acute hearing and sharp vision, as soon as he heard the
lad with whom he had been brought up, gave a hiss in expression of his
anger, and so struck them with fear, that the trembling robbers dispersed
in different directions, whom having caught, he destroyed by a terrible
death. Afterwards, having cared for the wounds of his ancient friend, and
escorted him through the places infested with serpents, he returned to the
spot where he himself had been exposed--not showing any anger towards him
on account of his having been expelled into solitude, nor because
ill-feeling men had abandoned an old friend in danger.

BOOK VIII. ch. 11.

Hegemon, in his Dardanic verses, among other things mentions, concerning
the Thessalian Alevus, that a dragon conceived an affection for him.
Alevus possessed, as Hegemon states, golden hair, which I should call
yellow, and pastured cattle upon Ossa near the Thessalian spring called
Hæmonium [as Anchises formerly did on Ida]. A dragon of great size fell
violently in love with him, and used to crawl up gently to him, kiss his
hair, cleanse his face by licking it with his tongue, and bring him
various spoils from the chase.

BOOK X. ch. 25.

Beyond the Oasis of Egypt there is a great desert which extends for seven
days' journey, succeeded by a region inhabited by the Cynoprosopi, on the
way to Æthiopia. These live by the chase of goats and antelopes. They are
black, with the head and teeth of a dog, of which animal, in this
connection, the mention is not to be looked upon as absurd, for they lack
the power of speech, and utter a shrill hissing sound, and have a beard
above and below the mouth like a dragon; their hands are armed with strong
and sharp nails, and the body is equally hairy with that of dogs.

BOOK X. ch. 48.

Lycaonus, King of Emathia, had a son named Macedon, from whom eventually
the country was called, the old name becoming obsolete. Now, one of
Macedon's sons, named Pindus, was indued both with strength of mind and
innate probity, as well as a handsome person, whereas his other children
were constituted with mean minds and less vigorous bodies.

When, therefore, these latter perceived Pindus's virtue and other gifts,
they not only oppressed him, but in the end ruined themselves in
punishment for so great a crime.

Pindus, perceiving that plots were laid for him by his brothers,
abandoning the kingdom which he had received from his father, and being
robust and taking pleasure in hunting, not only took to it himself, but
led the others to follow his example.

Upon one occasion he was pursuing some young mules, and, spurring his
horse to the top of its powers, drew away a long distance from those who
were hunting with him. The mules passing into a deep cavern, escaped the
sight of their pursuer, and preserved themselves from danger. He leaped
down from the horse, which he tied to the nearest tree, and whilst he was
seeking with his utmost ability to discover the mules, and probing the
dens with his hands, heard a voice warning him not to touch the mules.
Wherefore, when he had long and carefully looked about, and could see no
one, he feared that the voice was the result of some greater cause, and,
mounting his horse, left the place. On the next day he returned to the
spot, but, deterred by the remembrance of the voice he had heard, he did
not enter the place where they had concealed themselves.

When, therefore, he was cogitating as to who had warned him from following
his prey, and, as it appeared, was looking out for mountain shepherds, or
hunters, or some cottage--a dragon of unusual magnitude appeared to him,
creeping softly with a great part of its body, but raising up its neck and
head a little way, as if stretching himself--but his neck and head were of
such height as to equal that of the tallest man.

Although Pindus was alarmed at the sight, he did not take to flight, but,
rallying himself from his great terror, wisely endeavoured to appease the
beast by giving him to eat the birds he had caught, as the price of his

He, cajoled by the gifts and baits, or, as I may say, touched, left the
spot. This was so pleasing to Pindus, that, as an honourable man, and
grateful for his escape, he carried to the dragon, as a thank-offering,
whatever he could procure from his mountain chases, or by fowling.

Nor were these gifts from his booty without return, for fortune became
immediately more favourable to him, and he achieved success in all his
hunting, whether he pursued ground or winged game.

Wherefore he achieved a great reputation, both for finding and quickly
catching game.

Now, he was so tall that he caused terror from his bulk, while from his
excellent constitution and beautiful countenance he inflamed women with so
violent an affection for him, that the unmarried, as if they were furious
and bacchantes, joined his hunting expeditions; and married women, under
the guardianship of husbands, preferred passing their time with him, to
being reported among the number of goddesses. And, for the most part, men
also esteemed him highly, as his virtue and appearance attracted universal
admiration. His brothers only held a hostile and inimical feeling towards
him. Wherefore upon a certain occasion they attacked him from an ambush,
when he was hunting alone, and having driven him into the defiles of a
river close by, when he was removed from all help, attacked him with drawn
swords and slew him.

When the dragon heard its friend's outcries (for it is an animal with as
sharp a sense of hearing as it has quickness of vision), it issued from
its lair, and at once, casting its coils round the impious wretches,
suffocated them.

It did not desist from watching over its slain [friend] with the utmost
care, until those nearest related to the deceased came to him, as he was
lying on the ground; but nevertheless, although clad in proper mourning,
they were prevented through fear of the custodian from approaching and
interring the dead with proper rites, until it, understanding from its
profound and wonderful nature, that it was keeping them at a distance,
quietly departed from its guard and station near the body, in order that
it might receive the last tokens of esteem from the bystanders without any

Splendid obsequies were performed, and the river where the murder was
effected received its name from the dead man.

It is therefore a peculiarity of these beasts to be grateful to those from
whom they may have received favours.

BOOK XI. ch. 2.--_Dragon Sacred to Apollo._

The Epirotes, both at home and abroad, sacrifice to Apollo, and solemnise
with extreme magnificence a feast yearly in his honour, There is a grove
among them sacred to the god, and inclosed with a wall, within which are
dragons, pleasing to the god. Hither a sacred virgin comes alone, naked,
and presents food to the dragons. The Epirotes say that these are
descended from the Delphic python. If they regarded the virgin ministering
to them with favour, and took the food promptly, they were believed to
portend a fertile and healthful year; if they were rude towards her, and
would not accept the proffered food, some predicted, or at least expected,
the contrary for the coming year.

BOOK II. ch. 16.--_Dragon in Lavinium._

There is a peculiar divination of the dragon, for in Lavinium, a town of
the Latins but in Lavinium, there is a large and dense sacred grove, and
near it the shrine of the Argolic Juno. Within the grove is a cave and
deep den, the lair of a dragon.

Sacred virgins enter this grove on stated days, who carry a barley cake in
their hands, with bandaged eyes. A certain divine afflatus leads them
accurately to the den, and gently, and step by step, they proceed without
hindrance, and as if their eyes were uncovered. If they are virgins, the
dragon admits the food as pure and fit for a deity. If otherwise, it does
not touch it, perceiving and divining them to be impure.

Ants, for the sake of cleansing the place, carry from the grove the cake
left by the vitiated virgin, broken into little pieces, so that they may
easily carry it. When this happens, it is perceived by the inhabitants,
and those who have entered are pointed out and examined, and whoever
proves to have forfeited her virginity is punished with the penalties
appointed by the laws.

"The masculine sex also seems to be privileged by nature among brutes,
inasmuch as the male dragon is distinguished by a crest and hairs, with a

BOOK XVI. ch. 39.

Onesicritus Astypalæus writes that there were two dragons in India
[nurtured by an Indian dancer], one of forty-six and the other of eighty
cubits, and that Alexander (Philip's son) earnestly endeavoured to see
them. It is affirmed in Egyptian books that, during the reign of
Philadelphus, two dragons were brought from Æthiopia into Philadelphia
alive, one forty, the other thirty cubits in magnitude.

Three were also brought in the time of King Evergetis, one nine and
another seven cubits. The Egyptians say that the third was preserved with
great care in the temple of Æsculapius.

It is also said that there are asps of four cubits in length. Those who
write the history of the affairs of Chios say that a dragon of extreme
magnitude was produced in a valley, densely crowded and gloomy with tall
trees, of the Mount Pelienæus in that island, whose hissing struck the
Chians with horror.

As none either of the husbandmen or shepherds dare, by approaching near,
estimate its magnitude, but from its hissing judged it to be a large and
formidable beast, at length its size became known by a remarkable
accident. For the trees of the valley being struck by a very strong wind,
and the branches ignited by the friction, a great fire thence arising,
embraced the whole spot, and surrounded the beast, which, being unable to
escape, was consumed by the ardour of the flame. By these means all things
were rendered visible in the denuded place, and the Chians freed, from
their alarms, came to investigate, and lighted on bones of unusual
magnitude, and an immense head, from which they were enabled to conjecture
its dimensions when living.

BOOK XI. ch. 17.

Homer was not rash in his line,

  Terrible are the gods when they manifest themselves.

For the dragon, while sacred and to be worshipped, has within himself
something still more of the divine nature of which it is better to remain
in ignorance.

Indeed, a dragon received divine honours in a certain tower in Melita in
Egypt. He had his priests and ministers, his table and bowl. Every day
they filled the bowl with flour kneaded with honey, and went away;
returning on the following day, they found the bowl empty.

Upon one occasion, a man of illustrious birth, who entertained an intense
desire of seeing the dragon, having entered alone, and placed the food,
went out; and when the dragon commenced to feed at the table, he opened
suddenly and noisily the doors, which according to custom he had closed.

The dragon indignantly left; but he who had desired to see him, to his own
destruction, being seized with an affliction of the mind, and having
confessed his crime, presently lost his speech, and shortly after died.

BOOK XII. ch. 39.

When Halia, the daughter of Sybasis, had entered the grove of Diana in
Phrygia, a certain sacred dragon of large size appeared and copulated with
her; whence the Ophiogenæ deduce the origin of their race.

BOOK XV. ch. 21.--_Concerning the Indian Dragon._

Alexander (while he attacked or devastated some portions of India, and
also seized others), lighted on, among other numerous animals, a dragon,
which the Indians, because they considered it to be sacred, and worshipped
it with great reverence, in a certain cave, besought him with many
entreaties to let alone, which he agreed to. However, when the dragon
heard the noise made by the passing army (for it is an animal endowed with
a very acute sense of hearing as well as of vision), it frightened and
alarmed them all with a great hissing and blowing. It was said to be
seventy cubits long.

It did not, however, show the whole of itself, but only exposed its head
from the cave. Its eyes were said to have been of the size (and rotundity)
of a Macedonian shield.



The Classic containing "Wonders by Land and Sea" has been praised by all
who have read it, for its depth, greatness, far sightedness and
completeness; since the narratives therein contained are all wonderful and
different from ordinary things. Moreover, the truth or veracity of the
book is a matter of doubt to nearly all men, and I therefore think it fit
that I should give my opinion on the subject. It has been said by the
philosopher Chuang that "the things that men do know can in no way be
compared, numerically speaking, to the things that are unknown," thus in
reading "Wonders by Land and Sea," the force of his remark becomes
apparent to me.

Now, since heaven and earth are vast, it follows that the beings which
inhabit them must reasonably be numerous. The positive and negative
elements being heated by vernal warmth, produce myriads of living beings
of classes innumerable. When the essence of ether combines, motion becomes
apparent and generates into wondrous and roving spirits, which, floating
about and coming into contact with anything, enter into it and thus create
wonderful beings, whether they be inhabitants of mountain or sea, or wood
or stone; yea, so numerous are they, that it is an impossible task for me
to give them in detail.

The evolution of the essence of the elements generates sound, which by
development produces a certain image. When we call a thing wonderful, it
is because we do not know the reasons attending its origin, and what we do
not call wonderful, we still are unaware why it is not so. And why? A
thing is, _per se_, not wonderful, it is because we wish to consider it
so; the wonder is in ourselves and not in the thing. For instance, when a
savage looks at the cotton cloth we wear, he calls it hemp; and when an
inhabitant of Yüch (Soochow and vicinity) sees a rug, he calls it fur or
hair. The reason may be found in this: we believe only those things to
which we have been educated, and anything which might not be perfectly
understood by us we deem wonderful. Hence the shortsightedness of human
nature. I will now give a passing remark of what is known amongst us. A
place called Ping Shui (?) produces fire, while the Yen mountain produces
rats. Now all men know these facts, and yet when we read and speak of the
classic treating of the "Wonders by Land and Sea," we call it wonderful!
When a thing is really wonderful, we do not consider it so; and what is
not wonderful, we persist in considering it to be so. Such being the case,
if, what should be wondered at, we do not call it so, then there cannot be
a single wonder in the whole Universe; and if we call a thing wonderful
which in truth is not so, then up to the present time there can be nothing
wonderful. Moreover, if what is unknowable appears clear to our minds, it
follows that all things on earth should be understood by us.

According to the Bamboo Annals of Chi Chuen, and the records of King Müh,
it is said that when that King went to visit the Fairy Queen of the West,
he took with him as gifts to her, beautiful jade stones, and the best of
raw and embroidered silks; while, on the other hand, the Fairy Queen gave
a banquet in honour of the King, on the banks of the lake formed by white
jade stones. During the banquet they composed and spoke their thoughts in
verse, and the sentiments embodied therein were beautiful. Then the royal
pair repaired to the hillock adjoining the Küen Lun mountain, and roamed
over the palaces of King Hsüen Yüan, which were situated there, and thence
to the artificial terraces of the Chung hill, and gazed on the precious
and wonderful things collected by that king. Returning to the residence of
the Fairy Queen, King Müh had a stone tablet engraved recording the event,
and erected it in the Queen's magic garden. On King Müh's return home, he
brought with him to the Middle Kingdom beautiful wood and magnificent
flowers, precious stones and elegant jades, golden oils and silver
candles. In his travels, King Müh rode in a chariot drawn by eight
splendid horses; the right-hand horses were of a dark colour, while those
on the left hand were greenish. Tsao Fu was the charioteer, and Pen Yung,
who stood on the King's right, was the body-guard. Myriads of _lis_ could
thus be traversed. They went over barren wastes and over celebrated
mountains and large rivers, yet none of them barred their onward course.
To the east they came across the Halls of the Giants; to the west they
arrived at the mansions of the Fairy Queen; to the south they crossed over
a bridge composed of immense tortoises; and to the north they drove over
streets made of layers of feathers. Traversing these, then, King Müh
commenced his journey homeward full of joy. History informs us that "King
Müh, riding in a chariot drawn by eight magnificent horses, with Tsao Fu
as charioteer, made a journey to the west, in search of adventures in
hunting, and, coming to the Fairy Queen of the West, was so happy, that
he almost forgot to return home." These words are similar to those
recorded in the "Bamboo Annals" of Chi Chuen. The classic called "Spring
and Autumn," says that "King Müh was a man of vast ambition, and desired
that the whole world should bear the tracks of his cart-wheels, and
receive the imprints of his horse's hoof," and the "Bamboo Annals"
illustrate this ambition.

The disciples of Ts'ian Chow were all eminent scholars of famous
attainments, but they were all sceptical as to the veracity of the
adventures of King Müh, and say that in looking over history they are
convinced of their fallacy. Sz Ma Tseen also, in writing the preface to
the "Records of Ta Wan," says that when Chang Ch'ien went on his mission
to Ta Hsia, he traversed the whole length of the Huang Ho up to its very
source, but never came across the Küen Lun mountain. Moreover, Sz Ma Tsëen
in his own history also says, in referring to the "Book of Wonders by Land
and Sea," that, "As to the wonders described in that work, I, for my part,
dare not vouch for their truth." In the face, therefore, of all these
authorities, is it not a hard task for me to prove the contrary? If the
"Bamboo Annals" of a thousand years ago be not taken at the present day as
a truthful record of the past, then, indeed, most of the narratives
contained in the "Book of Wonders by Land and Sea" must be false. Now,
Tung Fang Shun knew of Pe Fang; Lin Tsz Chen proved satisfactorily the
existence of Tao Chea by a corpse from that kingdom. Wang Ch'i had an
interview with men having two distinct faces on their heads, and a man
from the sea coast picked up a dress having two very long sleeves. In
carefully studying, therefore, these books, I am convinced that their
stories mainly coincide with the tales in the "Book of Wonders by Land and
Sea." Behold these evidences then, ye who doubt, and place some credence
in the narrations contained in this book.

The Sage King made exhaustive researches into these wondrous beings, and
then drew their images. It is indeed impossible to hide the existence of
these wonders! The "Book of Wonders by Land and Sea" was compiled seven
dynasties ago (up to the Tsin dynasty), a space of 3,000 years. During the
Han dynasty this book received the closest attention, and was elucidated
for the benefit of its readers; but shortly after it again fell into
neglect. Moreover, since then, the names of some mountains and rivers have
undergone changes. At the present day, teachers and expounders are unable
to explain these wonders, and hence through disuse their reasons given at
an earlier age have almost sunk into oblivion. Alas, for the loss of
Reason! Fearing, therefore, that it will be entirely lost, I have written
the accompanying work, making lucid the points that are obscure, and
erasing those that are useless; pointing out what would not be noticeable,
and explaining the parts that are deep. I shall endeavour to reclaim what
has almost become obsolete, that it may stand for thousand of ages, and
the wonders herein recorded shall not, from the present day, be lost. Thus
the works of the Emperor Yü of the Hsia dynasty will not be lost in the
future, and the records of the Barren Wastes beyond the boundaries of this
Empire will be transmitted to posterity. Will not this be a laudable

Insects that spring from grassy ground cannot soar as high as the birds of
the air, nor can the living beings that inhabit the sea rise up
heavenwards like the dragon. A man of medium abilities in music can never
be a member of the Orchestra in the Halls of Chuen Tien, nor can the
water-buffalo traverse the watery deeps to which even ships dare not
venture. Hence, unless a person be of the highest understanding, it would
be a hard task to converse with him intelligently of the "Wonders by Land
and Sea." And I sigh because it is only the learned and intelligent man
that can read understandingly the tales in this work.

  Assistant Secretary and an Official of the 6th Rank,
  of the Tsin Dynasty.



The Memorialist, an officer of the Fourth Rank and Charioteer to His
Majesty the Emperor, having received commands to comment upon and make
right wonderful books, now reports that an officer named Wang, a
subordinate in the Board of Civil Office, had already made comments and
set right thirty-two chapters of the "Book of Wonders by Land and Sea,"
but which the memorialist has reduced to eighteen chapters. This book was
compiled during the time of the three Emperors (Yao, Shun, and Yü). At
that time there was a great flood, insomuch that the people had no places
to live, but only in caves and holes in the rocks, and upon the tops of

The father of Yü, by name K'un, being ordered by the Emperor to assuage
the floods, was unable to do so; the Emperor Yao therefore ordered Yü, the
son, to do so. Yü used four things in his journey around to make the
floods flow away. He first cut away the trees on high mountains to obtain
a view of the surrounding country; and having settled as to which was the
highest mountain, and which the largest river, Yih and Peh Ye undertook to
drive away the wild beasts and birds abounding in the country, and named
the mountains and rivers, and classified the fauna of the country, and
pointed out which was water and which was land. The feudal lords assisted
Yü in his work, and thus he traversed the four quarters of the Empire,
where footprint of man seldom could be found, and where boats and carts
scarcely reached. He named the five mountain divisions of the Empire and
eight seas that bound it. He noted where each kind of precious stone could
be found, and the wonderful things he had seen. The abode of animals of
land and sea, flora of the country, birds of the air, and beasts of the
field, worms, the unicorn, and the phœnix, all these he fixed, and also
made known their hiding-places; also the furthest removed kingdom of the
earth, and men who were different from human beings. Yü divided the
Empire into nine divisions, and determined upon the tribute to be given by
each division, and Yih and his comrade noted which was hurtful and which
was harmless for the "Book of Wonders by Land and Sea."

All the deeds handed down to us of the sages are clearly noted in the
Maxims of the Ancients. The work therein expressed is a matter that can be
believed in. During the reign of Shiao Wu there was commonly seen a rare
bird, which would eat nothing. Tung Fang Suh saw this bird, and gave its
name; he also told what it would eat. His words being attended to, the
bird ate what was given it. Someone asked Suh how he knew of it; he said
he had read of the bird in the "Book of Wonders by Land and Sea." During
the reign of Shiao Hsüen, a large stone was broken in Shang Chuen, which
then sank into the ground and displayed a house of stone; in the house was
a man of Tao Chia, with his arms tied. At that time the memorialist's
father, named Hsiang, was a Censor, and he said that this Tao Chia man was
a traitor to his king. Being questioned by the Emperor how he could know
it, he said that he had read of it in the "Book of Wonders by Land and
Sea," which says, "A traitor having killed his king in Tao Yü, he was
chained and confined in a mountain, his right leg was cut off, and both
his arms tied behind his back." The Emperor was much surprised at this.
All scholars acknowledge that this book is perfectly wonderful, and all
intelligent men should read it, and be able to speak upon these wonderful
beings and things, and learn the customs of far-off kingdoms and their
inhabitants. Hence the Yi King says, "In speaking of the products of the
empire, care should be taken to avoid confusion," and learned men,
therefore, may not be doubtful.

A memorial presented to the Throne by




In the sayings of the philosopher Tso, the following remarks may be found:
"Virtue existed during the times of the Hsia dynasty; drawings of all
animals far and wide were made, and the metal from which the urn was made,
for the purpose of engraving thereon the images of these animals, was
presented as tribute by the feudal lords of the Nine Kingdoms. This urn
contained the images of all manner and kinds of animals. This was for the
purpose of letting the people know about their existence, so that they
might avoid them in entering the mountains and forests, and the genii of
the mountains and rivers. Hence the object of the classic treating on the
'Wonders by Land and Sea.'" When Yü assuaged the floods, the Emperor
presented him with a red-coloured wand made of jadestones, and then
abdicated his throne in his favour; on this account he ordered a tribute
of metals from the feudal lords of the Nine Kingdoms, wherewith to cast
the urn, on which were engraved all kinds of animals from far and wide,
such as the wonderful animals and beings of mountains, rivers, grass, and
wood, as well as the wonders to be found among walking animals and
inhabitants of the air. Yü, when Emperor, caused the forms of these
wonders to be described, how produced, and their natures; he also had them
classified. When he had described those wonders, whether seen or heard of,
or common or uncommon, or rarely heard of, all these he had described
minutely, whereby, when the people heard of them, an exceeding fear fell
on them. All animals and beings that were common in those days were
described in the Annals of Yü, but such as were wonderful and rare were
engraved on the nine urns. These urns when completed were placed in those
parts of the empire where these wonders originally came from, in order
that the people of that age might learn and see daily the things that were
either heard of or seen by others.

The things brought by tribute-bearers from afar were also added unto the
nine urns. Indeed, this made wonders an ordinary matter. That the people
might learn these things was the idea of the sage King Yü. Hence, even
though at that time all things were described honestly, still the works of
that period are far deeper than those of the Chow dynasty. At the time of
the last Emperor of the Hsia dynasty, the historiographer Chung Ku,
fearing that that Emperor might destroy the books treating of the ancient
and present time, carried them in flight to Yin. History also says that
K‘ung Kiah compiled into a book all the things that were engraved on the
vases and dishes from the time of Hwang Ti and his ministers, Yao and Sz.
And the Annals treating on the animals described on the nine urns were due
to such men as Chung Ku and K‘ung Kiah. These Annals are now known as the
classic treating on "Wonders by Land and Sea." The nine urns were extinct
at the time of Tsing, but the pictures and classic still existed. During
the Tsin dynasty, T'ao Chang and his school of poets gazed upon the
pictures of the "Wonders of Land and Sea." In the "Seven Commentaries" of
the Yuen family, there is observed a case of Chang Sun Yao's pictures of
these wonders. These cases may be cited as proofs of the authenticity of
the wonders. At the present time, the classic treating on these wonders
still exists, but the pictures have become extinct. This classic has been
treated upon and commented on and made intelligent by the people that have
come after it, insomuch that the names of different districts of the Tsing
and Han dynasties have been made to correspond with some of the names
mentioned in the "Book of Wonders by Land and Sea." Hence the readers of
this book are divided into the believing and the doubting. The believers
base their belief upon the fact that it was the Emperor Yü who compiled it
and explained its origin. The doubtful base their doubt on the probable
fact of the book having been written by people who existed after Yü, and
therefore unreasonable. This is indeed a base calumny. Liu Hsiu of the Han
dynasty makes mention of the book in his seven chapters treating on it.
And his style of composition might be said to be very ancient. Kwoh P'oh
of the Tsin dynasty in his preface and notes on this book, states these
wonders. The honour of transmitting this book to posterity is due to Liu
Hsiu and Kwoh P'oh; but, to prevent learners from considering that the
notes made by the two scholars are of no importance, I have therefore
written this preface.

  Of the Ming Dynasty.




Ch. II., p. 264.

"The dragon holds a remarkable position in the history and government of
China. It also enjoys an ominous eminence in the affections of the Chinese
people. It is frequently represented as the great benefactor of mankind.
It is the dragon which causes the clouds to form and the rain to fall. The
Chinese delight in praising its wonderful properties and powers. It is the
venerated symbol of good.

"The Emperor appropriates to himself the use of the _true_ dragon, the one
which has five claws on each of its four feet. On his dress of state is
embroidered a likeness of the dragon. His throne is styled 'the dragon's
seat.' His bedstead is the 'dragon's bedstead.' His countenance is 'the
dragon's face.' His eyes are 'the dragon's eyes.' His beard is 'the
dragon's beard.'

"The true dragon, it is affirmed, never renders itself visible to mortal
vision wholly at once. If its head is seen, its tail is obscured or
hidden. If it exposes its tail to the eyes of man, it is careful to keep
its head out of sight. It is always accompanied by or enshrouded in,
clouds, when it becomes visible in any of its parts. Water-spouts are
believed by some Chinese to be occasioned by the ascent and descent of the
dragon. Fishermen and residents on the border of the ocean are reported to
catch occasional glimpses of the dragon ascending from the water and
descending to it.

"It is represented as having scales, and without ears; from its forehead
two horns project upwards. Its organ of hearing seems to be located in
these horns, for it is asserted that it hears through them. It is regarded
as the king of fishes.

Proclamations emanating directly from the Emperor, and published on yellow
paper, sometimes have the likenesses of two dragons facing each other, and
grasping or playing with a pearl, of which the dragon is believed to be
very fond.

Ch. II. p. 338.

"The sagacious geomancer is also careful to observe the mountain or hill
on the right and left sides of the spot for a lucky grave. The left-hand
side is called the black dragon; the right-hand side is called the white
tiger. The lucky prospects, in a Chinese sense, on the hills situated to
the left, should clearly surpass the prospects of the hills on the right.
And the reason for this is manifest, for the _black dragon_ is naturally
weaker than the _white tiger_.

Ch. I. p. 275.

"The common belief is that the dragon and the tiger always fight when they
meet; and that when the dragon moves, the clouds will ascend and rain will
soon fall.

"Hence, in a time of drought, if the bones of a tiger should be let down
into this well called the 'dragon's well,' and kept there for three days
at the most, there will, it is sagely affirmed, most likely be rain soon.

"The tiger's bones are used to stir up or excite the dragon."



THE KIAO-LUNG. (The four-footed coiled Dragon. The Iguanodon.--_Eitel._)

This animal, according to Shi Chan, belongs to the dragon family. Its
eye-brows are crossed, hence its name signifies "the crossed reptile." The
scaled variety is called the _Kiao-Lung_, the winged the _Ying-Lung_. The
horned kind are called _K‘iu_, the hornless kind _Li_. In Indian books it
is called _Kwan-P'i-Lo_.

Shi Chan, quoting from the _Kwan Cheu Ki_, says: "The Iguanodon (?) is
more than twelve feet long; it resembles a snake, it has four feet, and is
broad like a shield. It has a small head and a slender neck, the latter
being covered with numerous protuberances. The front of its breast is of a
red colour, its back is variegated with green, and its sides as if
embroidered. Its tail is composed of fleshy rings; the larger ones are
several. Its eggs are also large. It can induce fish to fly, but if a
turtle is present they will not do so.

"The Emperor Chao, of the Han, when fishing in the river Wéi, caught a
white Iguanodon. It resembled a snake, but was without scales. Its head
was composed of soft flesh, and tusks issued from the mouth. The Emperor
ordered his ministers to get it preserved. Its flesh is delicious; bones
green, flesh red."

From the above it may be seen the Iguanodon is edible.


"The _T'o_ Fish, we call it the Earth Dragon, and have correctly written
the character. It resembles the dragon, its voice is terrible, and its
length is a _ch'ang_ (a hundred and forty-one English inches). When it
breathes it forms clouds, which condense into rain. Being a dragon, the
term 'fish' should be done away with."

Shi Chan says the _T'o_ character in appearance resembles the head, the
belly, and the tail. One author says that an animal, which is identified
with the crocodile, is found in the lagoons and marshes of the Southern
Sea, at no fixed time. Its skin is made into drums. It is very tenacious
of life. Before it can be flayed quantities of boiling water have to be
poured down its throat. Another author states that the crocodile is of a
sleepy disposition, with the eyes (nearly) always shut. It is of immense
strength. It frequently dashes itself against the river bank. Men dig them
out of their caves. If a hundred men dig them out, a hundred men will be
required to pull them out; but if one man dig, one man may pull them out;
but the event in either case is very uncertain. Another author states that
recently there were found in the lakes and estuaries many animals
resembling lizards and pangolins in appearance, which utter dreadful cries
during the night, to the great terror of sailors. Shi Chan says
crocodiles' dens are very deep, and that bamboo ropes are baited in order
to catch him; after he has swallowed the bait he is gradually pulled out.
He flies zigzag, but cannot fly upwards. His roar is like a drum's, and he
responds to the striking of the watches of the night, which is called the
crocodile drum, or the crocodile watch. The common people, when they hear
it, predict rain. The nape of the neck is bright and glistening, more
brilliant than those of fish. It lays a large number of eggs, as many as a
hundred, which it sometimes eats. The people of the South appreciate the
flesh, and use it at marriage festivities. One author states that the
crocodile has twelve different varieties of delicious flesh; but the tail,
like serpent's flesh, is very poisonous. The crocodile's flesh cures quite
a host of diseases.

THE JĂN SHÉ, or SOUTHERN SNAKE. (_Mai-Teu-Shé_ = closed up (concealed)
head snake.)

Shi Chan says: "This snake is a reptile (having a wriggling motion). Its
body is immense, and its motion is wrig-wriggling (_jăn-jăn_)[319] and
slow; hence its name, _Jăn-Shé_. Another author says its scales have hair
like moustaches (_jăn_). It lives in Kwangtung and Kwangsi (literally,
South of the Hills). Those that do not lift their head are the true kind;
in this way they were called the 'Concealed Head Snake.'"

Sung quotes T'ao Hung King to the effect that its habitat is in Tsin-ngan
(Fukien), and also Su Kung, who says that it is found in Kwéicheu and
Kwangcheu, towards the south, at Kaocheu and Hoün. At several places in
the south of the Hills they are still found. Hung King says the large ones
(in their coils?) are several fathoms in circumference. Those that walk
without raising their heads are the genuine ones. Those that conceal their
heads are not genuine. Its fat and gall can be mixed together. The large
ones are more than a foot in diameter and more than twelve feet long. It
is a snake, but it is short and bulky. Su Kung remarks that its form
resembles a mullet's and its head a crocodile's. Its tail is round and
without scales. It is very tenacious of life. The natives cut up its flesh
into slices, and esteem it as a great delicacy. Another says: When steeped
in vinegar the slices curl round the chop-sticks, and cannot be released;
but when the chop-sticks are made of grass stems (_mong'tso_), then it is

Another says: "This snake is a hundred and forty-four feet long; it often
swallows a deer. When the deer is completely digested, then it coils round
a tree, when the bones of the deer in the stomach protrude through the
interstices of the scales.... If a woman's dress is thrown towards it, it
will coil round and will not stir."

Shi Chan, quoting "The Wonderful Records," says: "The boa is sixty to
seventy feet long, and four to five feet in circumference; the smaller
ones from thirty-six to forty-eight feet long. Their bodies are striped
like a piece of embroidery. In spring and summer it frequents the recesses
of forests, waiting for the deer, to devour them. When the deer is
digested the boa becomes fat. Someone says that it will eat a deer every

Another author says: "The boa, when it devours a deer or wild boar, begins
with the hind legs. The poisonous breath of the boa comes in contact with
the horns; these fall off. The galls, the smaller they are the better they
are." Another says: "Boas abound in Wang Cheu (Kwangsi). The large ones
are more than a hundred and forty feet long. They devour deer, reducing
the horns and bones to a pulp. The natives use the dolishos and rattans to
fill up the entrance to its den. The snake, when it smells them, becomes
torpid. They then dig him out. Its flesh is a great delicacy. Its skin may
be made into a drum, and for ornamenting swords, and for making musical

The _Yu Hăng Chi_ says: "Rustic soldiers in Kwangsi, when capturing boas,
stick flowers in their heads, which when the snake observes, it cannot
move. They then come up to it and cut off its head. They then wait till it
exhausts itself by its jumping about and dies. They then take it home and
feast on it." Compare Ælian [_De Naturâ Animalium_, lib. vi. chap., xxi.]:
"They hung before the mouth of the Dragon's den a piece of stuff flowered
with gold, which attracted the eyes of the beast, till by the sound of
soft music they lulled him to sleep, and then cut off his head."

The _Shan Hai King_ says: "The _Pa_ snake can eat an elephant, the bones
of which, after three years, are got rid of. Gentlemen that eat of this
snake will be proof against consumption." Kwoh P'oh, in his commentary,
says the boa of to-day is identical with the _Pa_ snake.




The _Shwoh Wăn_ says: "The dragon is the chief of scaly reptiles: in the
spring he mounts the heavens, in the autumn he frequents the streams. This
is favourable." Again, "When the dragon walks he is called _sah_, when he
flies he is a _yao_."

The _Kwang Ya_ says: "When he has scales he is a _Kiao_,[320] when he has
wings a _Ying-Lung_,[321] when horns a _Kiu-Lung_,[322] without horns a

The _Ming Wuh Kiai_ of the _Odes_ says the dragon has horns at five
hundred years, at one thousand years he is a _Ying-Lung_.

The _P‘i Ya Kwang Yao_ says: "The dragon has eighty-one scales. This is
nine times nine, nine is the _yang_ (male principle). The dragon is
produced from an egg, in which he is enfolded." Again, it says that the
_Néi Tien_ says: "Dragon-fire comes in contact with moisture and there is
smoke, with water and it is consumed (_i.e._ a man may extinguish it with

The _Fang Yen_ says: "Before the dragon has ascended to heaven he is a
_P‘an[323] Lung_." The Yih King says: "When his clouds move the rain
falls, and the various things put forth their forms at the time he rides
upon the six dragons and ascends the heavens." "The first nine: The hidden
dragon is inactive. The diagram indicates that the subtile ether is below.
The second nine: When the dragon is seen in the fields it is profitable
to meet the great man. The diagram indicates that virtue is extended.
Fifth nine: The flying dragon appears in the heavens: The diagram
indicates the great man creates." Again, "The dragons contend in the
wilds, their blood is azure and yellow." Again, "Thunder is a dragon."

The Yuen-Ming-Pao section of the _Ch‘un ts‘iu_ says: "The dragons begin to
speak, _yin_ and _yang_[324] are commingled"; thence, it is said, the
dragon ascends and clouds are multiplied. The _Yih King_, in all the
diagrams, clearly says: "The summer winds arise and the dragon mounts the

In the _Yuen-Shăn-K‘i_ of the _Hiao King_ it is said: "Virtue approaches
the fountains and the yellow dragon appears. It is the Prince's image."

In the "_Tso-K‘i_" of the _Hiao King_ it is said: "The Emperor is filial,
the heavenly dragon bears the plans and the earthly tortoise issues a
book." The _Ho-t‘u_ says: "Yellow gold after one thousand years produces a
yellow dragon, azure gold after one thousand years, the azure dragon; red
and white dragon is also thus. Black gold after one thousand years
produces the black dragon."

The _Twan-ying-t‘u_ says: "The yellow dragon is the chief of the four
dragons, the true beauty of the four regions. He can be large or small,
obscure or manifest, short or long, alive or dead; the king cannot drain
the pool and catch him. His intelligence and virtue are unfathomable;
moreover he ensures the peaceful air, and sports in the pools." Again, it
says: "The yellow dragon does not go in company, and does not live in
herds. He certainly waits for the wind and rain, and disports himself in
the azure air. He wanders in the wilds beyond the heavens. He goes and
comes, fulfilling the decree; at the proper seasons if there is perfection
he comes forth, if not he remains (unseen)."

The _Shi Ki_ says: "The bright moon pearl is concealed in the oyster, the
dragon is there."

Books of the after Wei dynasty say, "Persia has three pools." They narrate
that a dragon lives in the largest, his wife in the second, and his child
in the third. If travellers sacrifice, they can pass; if they do not
sacrifice they encounter many storms of wind and rain.

Lü-lan asserts that Confucius said, "The dragon feeds in the pure (water)
and disports in the clear (water)."

Sun-k‘ing-tsz says: "The accumulated waters form the streams, the
_Kiao-Lung_ is brought forth." Han-Féi-shwoh-nan says: "Now as the dragon
is a reptile he can be brought under control and ridden.[325] But below
his throat are tremendous scales, projecting a foot. If a man should come
in contact with them he would be killed."

Kwan-tsz says: "The dragon's skin has five colours, and he moves like a
spirit; he wishes to be small and he becomes like a silkworm; great, and
he fills all below heaven; he desires to rise, and he reaches the ether;
he desires to sink, and he enters the deep fountains. The times of his
changing are not fixed, his rising and descending are undetermined; he is
called a god (or spirit)."

Hwai-nan-tsz says: "The dragon ascends and the brilliant clouds follow."
Again, he says: "This _Kiao-Lung_ is hidden in the streams, and his eggs
are opened at the mound. The male cries above and the female cries below,
and he changes; his form and essence are of the most exalted (kind). Man
cannot see the dragon when he flies aloft. He ascends, and wind and rain
escort him."

The _Tihing P‘ien_ says: "Wings beautiful grow for the flying dragon; hair
soft like that of a calf on the _ying_ dragon; scales only for the
_Kiao-Lung_. Only in pools is found the _Sien-Lung_." Chang-hang said:
"How the _Ts‘ang-Lung_ meets the summer and aspires to the clouds, and
shakes his scales, accomplishing the season. He passes the winter in the
muddy water, and, concealed, he escapes harm." Pan-ku, answering Pin-hi,
said: "The _Ying-Lung_ hides in the lakes and pools. Fish and turtle
contemn him, and he does not observe it. He can exert his skill and
intelligence, and suddenly the clear sky appears. For this reason the
_Ying-Lung_, now crouching in the mud, now flying in the heavens, appears
to be divine."

Lun-hang says, "When the dragon is small, all the fish are small; this is

Pao-pòh-tz says: "There are self-existent dragons and there are worms
which are changed into dragons." Again, he says: "Among the hills the
_Ch‘ăn day_, called the rain master, is a dragon." Hwai-nan-tsz said: "The
_Chuh-Lung_ is north of the goose gate concealed in the Wei-Ü mountain."
The _Shan-hai-king_ says the god of the Chung-shan is called _Chuh-Lung_.
When he opens his eyes it is day, when he shuts his eyes it is night. His
body is three thousand _li_ long.

The _Shui-hing-chu_ says: "The _Yulung_ considers the autumn days as
night. But the dragon descends in the autumn and hibernates in the deep
pools; how then can he say that autumn is night?" It also says: "There is
a divine dragon in the vermilion pools at Kiao-chew. Whenever there was a
drought, the village people obstructed the upper tributaries of the pool,
and many fish died; the dragon became enraged at such times, and caused
much rain."

The _Kwah-ti-t‘u_ says: "At the dragon pool there is a hill with four
lofty sides, and within them is a pool seven hundred _li_ square; a herd
of dragons live there, and feed upon the many different kinds of trees.
It is beyond Hwui-ki forty-five thousand _li_." Again, it says: "If you do
not ride on a dragon you cannot reach the weak waters[327] of the Kwan-lun

The _Poh-Wuh-Chi_ says: "If you soak the dragon's flesh in an acid (and
eat it), you can write essays." Again, it says: "The Tiao-sheh is in form
like a dragon, but smaller. It likes danger; hence it is appointed to
guard decayed timber." Again, it says: "The dragon lays three eggs. The
first is _Ki-tiao_. He goes ashore and cohabits with the deer or deposits
his semen at the water's edge, where it becomes attached to passing boats
or floating wood and branches. It appears like a walnut, it is called
_Tsz-chao_ flower, and constitutes what is mentioned in the _Tao-ch‘u_ as
dragon-salt." Again, it says: "Below the dragon-gate every year in the
third month of spring, yellow carps, two[328] fish, come from the sea, and
all the streams, with speed to the contest. But seventy-one can ascend the
dragon-gate in a year; when the first one ascends the dragon-gate there is
wind and rain. It is followed by fire which burns his tail, and then he is
a dragon."

The _Shih-I-Ki_ says: "East of the hills of Fang-chang there is a dragon
plain where there are dragon skins and bones like a mountain: spread out
they would cover one thousand five hundred acres. To meet him when he
sloughs his bones is like the birth of a dragon. Or it is said the dragons
constantly wrangle at this place. It is enriched with blood like flowing

The _Shuh-I-Ki_ says: "In the P‘uning district there are the isles where
the dragons are buried. Fu-loo says the dragons shed their bones at these
isles, the water now contains many dragon-bones, in these mountains,
hills, peaks, and gorges. The dragons make the wind and rain. There are
dragons' bones everywhere, whether in the deep or shallow places; there
are many in the ground. Teeth, horns, vertebral columns, feet, it seems as
though they are everywhere. The largest measure one hundred feet or exceed
one hundred feet. The smallest are two feet or three or four inches. The
bones are everywhere. Constantly when looking for anything they are seen."
Again, it says: "It is told of the Kuh mountains in Ki-cheu that when the
dragon is a thousand years old, he enters the mountains and casts his
bones. Now there is a dragon hill, from the midst of the hill issues the
dragon's brains."

The _K‘ié-Lan Records at Loh-yang_[329] say: "You cannot trust the hills
in the west. They are too cold. There is snow both winter and summer. In
the hills there is a pool where a bad dragon lives; long ago some
merchants rested near the pool, until the dragon became enraged, abused,
and killed them. A priest,[330] Pan-T‘o, heard of it, and, leaving his
seat to the pupils, went to the kingdom of Wuchang to learn the Po-lo-man
incantations; he mastered them in four years, and returned to his seat. He
went to the pool and invoked the dragon. The dragon was transformed into a
man, repented, and followed the king. The king then removed." Again, it
says: "To the west of the kingdom of Wuchang there is a pool in which the
dragon prince dwells. There is a monastery on the banks of the pool, in
which there are more than fifty priests. Whenever the dragon prince does
anything marvellous, the king comes and beseeches him, using gold,
precious stones, pearls, and valuables, throwing them into the pool.
Afterwards they are cast up and the priests gather them. This monastery
relies upon the dragon for food and clothing and the means to assist
people. Its name is 'Dragon Prince Monastery.'"

The _Ts‘i-ti_ records say there is a well in the city of Ch‘áng-ping at
the brambles; when the water is disturbed a spiritual dragon comes and
goes. So the city is called the dragon city.

The _Shi-San-Tsin_ records say Ho-li has also the name Dragon Gate. Great
fish collect below it, in number one thousand. They cannot ascend. If one
ascends it is a dragon. Those which do not ascend are fish. Hence it is
called the "Pao-sai-lung-man." (Great carp ascend the dragon gate and
become dragons; those which do not ascend prick the forehead and strike
the cheek.) Again, it says: "The Lung-sheu mountains are sixty _li_ long;
the head enters the Wei waters, the tail extends to the Fan streams. This
head is two hundred feet high; his tail descends gradually to a height of
fifty or sixty feet. It is said that long ago a strange dragon came out
from south of the mountains to drink the Wei waters. The road he travelled
became mountain. Hence the name."

The _Kiao-Cheu-Kí_ says: "In Kiao-chi at Fung-ki-hien there is a dyke with
a dragon gate; the water is one hundred fathoms deep. Great fish ascend
this gate and become dragons. Those which cannot pass, strike the cheek
and puncture the forehead, until the blood flows. This water is
continually like the Vermilion pool."

The annals of Hwa-yang say: "Only at Wu-ch‘ing district does the earth
meet the gate of heaven; the dragon which mounts to heaven and does not
reach it, falls dead to this place, hence when excavating you find

The _I-Tung-Chi_ says: "Twenty _li_ west of Lin-fung-hien is a stone
dragon, among the cliffs is a rock like a dragon. In a year of drought
wash it, and it rains." Again, it says: "At Yen-T‘ang there is a pond
called Smoky Pond; it is north-east of the city ten _li_. Its depth has
never been ascertained. It is reported that long ago a man caught a white
eel, and was about to cook it, when an old man said, 'This is the dragon
of the river Siang; I fear calamity will follow.' The man was angry, and,
regarding the words as vain, proceeded. The next day the whole village was

The _Kwoh-Shi-Pu_ says: "At the time of the spring rains the carp springs
through the dragon gate and becomes transformed. At the present time, in
Fan-cheu of Shansi, there is a cave in the mountains; in it are many cast
bones and horns of dragons. They are collected for medicine, and are of
five colours. It is recorded in the _Chw‘en_ that north of the Wu-t'ai
hills, below the terrace, is Azure Dragon Pool, about one-third of an acre
in extent. The Buddhist books say five hundred evil dragons are confined
(here). Whenever it is mid-day a thick mist gradually arises. A pure
priest and candidates for the priesthood may see it. If a nun or females
approach then there is great thunder, lightning, and tempest. If they come
near the pool, he certainly will belch forth poisonous breath and they
will die at once. Foreigners say that in Piolosz there is a spiritual
dragon which goes and comes among the granaries. When a servant comes for
rice the dragon vanishes. If the servant comes constantly for rice the
dragon does not suffer it. If there is no rice in the granaries, the
servant worships the dragon, and the granaries are filled."

_Yuin-Chu-Tsih_ records: "If one sees a dragon's egg in the lake or river
there will certainly be a flood."

The _Nan-Pu-Sin-Shu_ says: "The dragon's disposition is ferocious, and he
fears bees'-wax, loves jade, and the King-ts‘ing delight to eat the flesh
of cooked sparrows. For this reason men who eat sparrows do not cross the

The _Pah-mung-so-yen_ says: "The perverse dragon, when rain is wanted,
sneaks away into old trees or into the beams of houses. The thunder god
pulls him out."

_Wu-ch‘ăn-tsah-ch‘ao_ says: "There is a great dragon which sloughed his
skin on the brink of the Great Lake. Insects come out from his scaly
armour. Instantly they are transformed into dragon-flies of a red colour.
If men gather them they get fever and ague. If men now-a-days see these
red dragon-flies they call them dragon-armour, also dragons' grandsons,
and are unwilling to hurt them."

_Pi-shu-suh-hwa_ says: "In Suh-chan and Hang-cheu the twentieth day of the
fifth month is called the day of the separation of the dragons. Therefore,
in the fifth and sixth months, whenever there is thunder, and the clouds
crowd together, if they see a tail bent down, and stretching to earth from
among the clouds, moving like a serpent, they say, 'The dragon is

Tsu-tz say: "The spiritual dragon leaves the water and dwells in the dry
place, and the mole, crickets, and ants annoy him."

Kung Sun Hung replied to Tung Fang Shoh, saying: "Before the dragon has
ascended he is of a sort with fish and turtles; after he has ascended the
heavens his scales cannot be seen."

Siu Tsung Yuen answered an inquirer, saying: "The _Kiao-Lung_ ascends to
the heavenly fountain. He pervades the six regions (North, South, East,
West, Above, Below). He moistens all things. Shrimps and the leech cannot
depart one foot from the water."

The _Shwoh-Wan_ says: "The _Kiao_ belongs to the dragon species. When a
fish attains three thousand six hundred [years ?] it becomes a _Kiao_; on
attaining this much the dragon flies away." Again, it says: "[Dragons]
without horns are _Kiao_."

The _P'i-Ya_ says: "The _Kiao's_ bones are green, and they can bring their
heads and tails together and constrict anything; hence they are called
_Kiao_. A popular name for them is 'the horse's lasso.'" Another author
says the _Kiao's_ tail has fleshy rings; they are able to compress any
creature, and then tear it with the head.

The _Shuh-I-Ki_ says the eye-brows of a _Kiao_ unite, and their uniting is
a proof that it is a _Kiao_.

The _Siang-Shu_ (Book of Physiognomy) says that when the eye-brows unite
the epithet _Kiao_ is applied, because the _Kiao Shăn_ has crossed

The _Yueh-kiu_ (Divisions of Seasons) says that the season of autumn is
unfavourable to the _Kiao_.

The _Kia-Yü_ (Family Discourses) says that if a stream contains fish, then
no _Kiao_ will stay in it.

Hwai-nan-tsze says that no two _Kiao_ will dwell in one pool.

The _Shan-Hai-King_ says the _Kiao_ is like a dragon and snake, with a
small head and fine neck. The neck has white ornamentations on it. The
girth (?) is five cubits; the eggs of the capacity of three catties; and
it can swallow a man.



THE SHAN.[331]

"The _Shăn_ belongs to the snake species."

"The _Tsah Ping Shu_ (Work on Military Science) says: 'In drilling an
army,[332] when you arrange it like the _Shăn_ expelling its breath, its
appearance is like that of a snake, but the waist is large; below there
are scales, running backwards.'

"One says that its form is like that of the Ch‘i-lung, which has ears and
horns and a mane of a red colour. When it exhales its breath, it forms a
cloud just like a palace or tower, looking as if its walls are moving in a
cloud of mist, or like a weary bird flying above. This makes everyone feel
very happy until the exhalation or snorting of the breath is finished.

"There is a popular saying about building a _Shăn_ tower. When the sky
appears to rain you can see a resemblance of it.

"The _Shi-Ki_ (Book of Odes or Classical Poetry) uses the expression, 'The
_Shăn's_ breath forms a tower'; it is in allusion to this.

"At the present day it is said that the _Chi_ (a pheasant or
francolin[333]) and the snake copulate and produce the _Shăn_.

"The oily substance of _Shăn_ combined with wax makes the Chinese wax
candles, the fragrance of which, when burning, can be recognized for one
hundred feet in all directions; and the smoke emitted from the flame forms
the appearance of a tower."

"The _Pih T‘an_ (Familiar Stories) says that at Tang-cheu (in Shantung),
in the midst of the sea, there are often clouds arise and appear like the
imperial palace, or towers of the city walls, and there is also an
appearance of people, carriages, and horses busily engaged [mirage?].
They call this phenomenon 'the market of the sea,' while others say it is
but the breath of the _Shăn Kiao_.

"The _Wu Léi Siang Kan Chi_ says the _Shăn_ is but another sort of dragon,
and can be found in some of the ponds and wells. They throw out the air,
forming rain as in the locality of Wu San Yin.

"The _P‘i Ya Kwang Yao_ says, when a snake transforms it becomes a _shăn_,
in the likeness of the _Kiao_, but without paws."


"The twelfth chapter of _Ching Kiün Chw'en_ says that Hü Ching Kiün,
author of the above book, met a youth, quite handsome in his apparel. The
youth pretended to be very modest, Hu Kiün knowing all the time that he
was a _Kiao_ in another form. So he told his followers, 'I regret to think
that the province of Kiang-si will often meet with the misfortune of
inundation if we do not exterminate that _Kiao Shăn_, and are not careful
to prevent its escape.' But the _Shăn_ knew what Hu Kiün was saying, and
gradually slipped away to a place called Sung-sha-cheu, where he
transformed himself into a yellow ox. But at the same time Ching Kiün also
transformed himself into a black ox, tying a handkerchief over his neck to
distinguish him from the other ox, and ordered his disciple, Shi Tai Yu,
to use his sword, and thrust at the left thigh, because he had entered
within the city wall, in the western part of which there is a well. By
jumping this well he found a road to Tau-cheu, and once more transformed
himself into a handsome youth, and by so doing got married to the daughter
of a magistrate called Ku Yu, with plenty of jewels and gold. Then Ching
came to see Ku Yu and said, 'I hear that you have a very noble son-in-law.
May I see him?' Ku answered 'Yes,' and told him to come out. But he
excused himself upon account of sickness, and hid himself. Then Ching
Kiün, saying, 'The dangerous things of the rivers and the lake are old
devils, and they dare to transform themselves into human beings,' ordered
the son-in-law to transform himself into his original form, and hid
himself beneath the table. Then the magistrate said, 'Kill this,' and they
did so. Then Kiun sprinkled water on the two sons, and they were
immediately transformed into _Shăn_. [There must be children born from the
marriage.--_Translator._] He advised Ku Yu that he must put them away
immediately, or the whole house would be in danger of breaking."

"The _Tai Ping Kwang Ki_ says that the lake of Wan Tun, at Fì Chi,
contains a _Shăn_ which often fought with the _Shăn_ of Lake Su. Near this
lake is a place called Yao, where there lived a man called Ch‘ang Sing
Shan, of great bravery, and an expert archer. He once dreamed that a
_Shăn_ snake was transformed into a Taouist, and then it said to him: 'I
am endangered by the _Shăn_ of the lake of Lu. Can your honour assist me?
if so I will reward you heavily. The tight white chain is me.' Next day
Sing Shan went with a youth of Yao to the shore of the lake and dreamed.
He waited until the waves rose and the surf struck the shore, making a
noise like thunder. He saw two oxen coming, one with a white belly and
legs; then Sing Shan discharged an arrow at it, and it turned out to be a
_Shăn_. The water immediately turned into blood, and the _Shăn_, after
receiving the wound, tried to return to the lake of Lu, but died before it
reached there."

_Kang Hi Dictionary._

"The _Shăn Kiao_ belongs to the _Kiao_ species, and also has the
appearance of a snake. It has horns like a dragon; the mane is red below
the waist; all the scales are projecting. It eats swallows, and can emit
an air which appears like a tower.

"Again, any turtle when old enough may be called a _Shăn_."



[1] This tributary offering is a common feature in dragon legends. A good
example is that given by El Edrisi in his history of the dragon destroyed
by Alexander the Great in the island of Mostachin (one of the Canaries?).

[2] The latest writer on this point summarizes his views, in his opening
remarks, as follows:--"The science of heraldry has faithfully preserved to
modern times various phases of some of those remarkable legends which,
based upon a study of natural phenomena, exhibit the process whereby the
greater part of mythology has come into existence. Thus we find the solar
gryphon, the solar phœnix, a demi-eagle displayed issuing from flames of
fire; the solar lion and the lunar unicorn, which two latter noble
creatures now harmoniously support the royal arms. I propose in the
following pages to examine the myth of the unicorn, the wild, white,
fierce, chaste, moon, whose two horns, unlike those of mortal creatures,
are indissolubly twisted into one; the creature that endlessly fights with
the lion to gain the crown or summit of heaven, which neither may retain,
and whose brilliant horn drives away the darkness and evil of the night
even as we find in the myth, that Venym is defended by the horn of the
unicorn."--_The Unicorn; a Mythological Investigation._ Robert Brown,
jun., F.S.A. London, 1881.

[3] "The midgard or world-serpent we have already become tolerably well
acquainted with, and recognise in him the wild tumultuous sea. Thor
contended with him; he got him on his hook, but did not succeed in killing
him. We also remember how Thor tried to lift him in the form of a cat. The
North abounds in stories about the sea-serpent, which are nothing but
variations of the original myths of the Eddas. Odin cast him into the sea,
where he shall remain until he is conquered by Thor in Ragnarok."--_Norse
Mythology_, p. 387. R. B. Anderson, Chicago, 1879.

[4] _Vide_ Anderson.

[5] Just as even the greatest masters of fiction adapt but do not
originate. Harold Skimpole and Wilkins Micawber sat unconsciously for
their portraits in real life, and the most charming characters and fertile
plots produced by that most prolific of all writers, A. Dumas, are mere
elaborations of people and incidents with which historical memoirs
provided him.

[6] _Atlantis; the Antediluvian World._ J. Donelly, New York, 1882. The
author has amassed, with untiring labour, a large amount of evidence to
prove that the island of Atlantis, in place of being a myth or fable of
Plato, really once existed; was the source of all modern arts and
civilization; and was destroyed in a catastrophe which he identifies with
the Biblical Deluge.

[7] So also, Father Stanislaus Arlet, of the Society of Jesus, writing to
the General of the Society in 1698 respecting a new Mission in Peru, and
speaking of a Peruvian tribe calling themselves Canisian, says: "Having
never before seen horses, or men resembling us in colour and dress, the
astonishment they showed at our first appearance among them was a very
pleasing spectacle to us, the sight of us terrifying them to such a degree
that the bows and arrows fell from their hand; imagining, as they
afterwards owned, that the man, his hat, his clothes, and the horse he
rode upon, composed but one animal."

[8] _The Voyages and Adventures of Ferdinand Mendez Pinto_, done into
English by H. C. Gent, London, 1653, p. 109. The vindication of Pinto's
reputation for veracity will doubtless one day be, to a great extent,
effected, for although his interesting narrative is undoubtedly
embroidered with a rich tissue of falsity, due apparently to an
exaggerated credulity upon his part, and systematic deception upon that of
his Chinese informants, he certainly is undeserving of the wholesale
condemnation of which Congreve was the reflex when he made Foresight,
addressing Sir Sampson Legend, say: "Thou modern Mandeville, Ferdinand
Mendez Pinto was but a type of thee, thou liar of the first
magnitude."--_Love for Love_, Act. 2, Scene 1. There are many points in
his narrative which are corroborated by history and the accounts of other
voyages; and it must be remembered that, although the major part of the
names of places and persons which he gives are now unrecognisable, yet
this may be due to alterations from the lapse of time, and from the
difficulty of recognising the true original Chinese or Japanese word under
those produced by the foreign mode of transliteration in vogue in those
days. Thus the Port Liampoo of Pinto is now and has been for many years
past only known as Ningpo, the first name being a term of convenience,
used by the early Portuguese voyagers, and long since abandoned. Just as
the wonderful Quinsay of Marco Polo (still known by that name in Pinto's
time) has been only successfully identified (with Hangchow-fu) through the
antiquarian research of Colonel Yule. So also the titles of Chaems,
Tutons, Chumbins, Aytons, Anchacy's, which Pinto refers to (p. 108), are
only with difficulty recognisable in those respectively of Tsi‘ang (a
Manchu governor), Tu-tung (Lieutenant-General), Tsung-ping
(Brigadier-General), Tao-tai [??] (Intendant of Circuit) and Ngan-ch‘a
She-sze (Provincial Judge), as rendered by the modern sinologue Mayers in
his Essay on the Chinese Government, Shanghai, 1878. The incidental
references to the country, people, habits, and products, contained in the
chapter describing his passage in captivity from Nanquin to Pequin are
true to nature, and the apparently obviously untruthful statement which he
makes of the employment by the King of Tartary of thousands of rhinoceri
both as beasts of burthen and articles of food (p. 158) is explicable, I
think, on the supposition that some confusion has arisen, either in
translation or transcription, between rhinoceros and camel. Anyone who has
seen the long strings of camels wending their way to Pekin from the
various northern roads through the passes into Mongolia, would readily
believe that a large transport corps of them could easily be amassed by a
despotic monarch; while the vast numbers of troops to which Pinto makes
reference are confirmed by more or less authentic histories.

[9] "I was myself an eye-witness of two such discoveries and helped to
gather the articles together. The slanderers have long since been
silenced, who were not ashamed to charge the discoverer with an
imposture."--Prof. Virchow, in Appendix I. to Schliemann's _Ilios_.
Murray, 1880.

[10] "But ask them to credit an electric telegram, to understand a
steam-engine, to acknowledge the microscopic revelations spread out before
their eyes, to put faith in the Atlantic cable or the East India House,
and they will tell you that you are a barbarian with blue eyes, a fan
kwai, and a sayer of that which is not. The dragon and the phœnix are
true, but the rotifer and the message, the sixty miles an hour, the cable,
and the captive kings are false."--_Household Words_, October 30th, 1855.

[11] Address delivered to the Biological Section of the British
Association. Glasgow, 1876.

[12] In 1854 a communication from the Torquay Natural History Society,
confirming previous accounts by Mr. Goodwin Austen, Mr. Vivian, and the
Rev. Mr. McEnery, "that worked flints occurred in Kents Hole with remains
of extinct species," was rejected as too improbable for publication.

[13] "She is set down a thorough heretic, not at all to be believed, a
manufacturer of unsound natural history, an inventor of false facts in
science."--Gosse, _Romance of Nat. Hist._, 2nd Series, p. 227.

[14] _Pop. Sci. Monthly_, No. 60, April 1877.

[15] "By the kindness of my friend, Mr. Bartlett, I have been enabled to
examine a most beautiful Japanese carving in ivory, said to be one hundred
and fifty years old, and called by the Japanese _net suke_ or _togle_.
These togles are handed down from one generation to the next, and they
record any remarkable event that happens to any member of a family. This
carving is an inch and a half long, and about as big as a walnut. It
represents a lady in a quasi-leaning attitude, and at first sight it is
difficult to perceive what she is doing; but after a while the details
come out magnificently. The unfortunate lady has been seized by an octopus
when bathing--for the lady wears a bathing-dress. One extended arm of the
octopus is in the act of coiling round the lady's neck, and she is
endeavouring to pull it off with her right hand; another arm of the
sea-monster is entwined round the left wrist, while the hand is fiercely
tearing at the mouth of the brute. The other arms of the octopus are
twined round, grasping the lady's body and waist--in fact, her position
reminds one very much of Laocoon in the celebrated statue of the snakes
seizing him and his two sons. The sucking discs of the octopus are carved
exactly as they are in nature, and the colour of the body of the creature,
together with the formidable aspect of the eye, are wonderfully
represented. The face of this Japanese lady is most admirably done; it
expresses the utmost terror and alarm, and possibly may be a portrait. So
carefully is the carving executed that the lady's white teeth can be seen
between her lips. The hair is a perfect gem of work; it is jet black,
extended down the back, and tied at the end in a knot; in fact, it is so
well done that I can hardly bring myself to think that it is not real
hair, fastened on in some most ingenious manner; but by examining it under
a powerful magnifying glass I find it is not so--it is the result of
extraordinary cleverness in carving. The back of the little white comb
fixed into the thick of the black hair adds to the effect of this
magnificent carving of the hair. I congratulate Mr. Bartlett on the
acquisition of this most beautiful curiosity. There is an inscription in
Japanese characters on the underneath part of the carving, and Mr.
Bartlett and myself would, of course, only be too glad to get this
translated."--Frank Buckland, in _Land and Water_.

[16] Max Müller, _Science of Language_, 4th edition, p. 163-165. London,

[17] _Science of Language_, p. 168.

[18] "When a naturalist, either by visiting such spots of earth as are
still out of the way, or by his good fortune, finds a very queer plant or
animal, he is forthwith accused of inventing his game, the word not being
used in its old sense of _discovery_ but in its modern of _creation_. As
soon as the creature is found to sin against preconception, the great
(mis?) guiding spirit, _à priori_ by name, who furnishes philosophers with
their omniscience _pro re natâ_, whispers that no such thing _can_ be, and
forthwith there is a charge of hoax. The heavens themselves have been
charged with hoaxes. When Leverrier and Adams predicted a planet by
calculation, it was gravely asserted in some quarters that the planet
which had been calculated was not _the_ planet but another which had
clandestinely and improperly got into the neighbourhood of the true body.
The disposition to suspect hoax is stronger than the disposition to hoax.
Who was it that first announced that the classical writings of Greece and
Rome were one huge hoax perpetrated by the monks in what the announcer
would be as little or less inclined than Dr. Maitland to call the dark
ages?"--_Macmillan_, 1860.

[19] _Poetic Epistles_, Bk. iii., Ep. 3.

[20] _Rara avis in terris, nigroque simillima cygno._

[21] "Having showed the foregoing description of the mountain cow, called
by the Spaniards _ante_ [_manatee_?], to a person of honour, he was
pleased to send it to a learned person in Holland." This learned person
discusses it and compares it with the hippopotamus, and winds up by
saying, in reference to a description of the habits of the hippopotamus,
as noticed at Loango by Captain Rogers, to the effect that when they are
in the water they will sink to the bottom, and then walk as on dry ground,
"but what he says of her sinking to the bottom in deep rivers, and walking
there, if he adds, what I think he supposes, that it rises again, and
comes on the land, I much question; for that such a huge body should raise
itself up again (though I know whales and great fish can do) transcends
the faith of J. H."--F. J. Knapton, _Collection of Voyages_, vol. ii.,
part ii. p. 13. 4 vols., London, 1729.

[22] _Historical Account of Discoveries and Travels in Asia._ Hugh Murray,
F.R.S.E., 3 vols. 8vo. Edinburgh, 1820.

[23] Bk. x., chap. 53.

[24] A writer in _Macmillan's Magazine_ in 1860 concludes a series of
objections to the canal as follows: "And the Emperor must hesitate to
identify himself with an operation which might not impossibly come to be
designated by posterity as 'Napoleon's Folly.'"

[25] The Bower Bird, _Ptilonorhyncus holosericeus_, and the
Garden-building Bird of New Guinea, _Amblyornis inornara_.

[26] _Recherches, &c. des Mammiferes_, plate 1. Paris, 1868 to 1874.

[27] "This obstacle was a forest of oaks, not giant oaks, but the very
reverse, a forest of dwarf oaks (_Quercus nana_). Far as the eye could
reach extended the singular wood, in which no tree rose above thirty
inches in height. Yet was it no thicket, no undergrowth of shrubs, but a
true forest of oaks, each tree having its separate stem, its boughs, its
lobed leaves, and its bunches of brown acorns."--Capt. Mayne Reid, _The
War Trail_, chap. lxiv.

[28] Respecting the timber trees of this tract, Dr. Ferdinand von Mueller,
the Government botanist, thus writes:--"At the desire of the writer of
these pages, Mr. D. Bogle measured a fallen tree of _Eucalyptus
amygdalina_, in the deep recesses of Dandenong, and obtained for it a
length of 420 feet, with proportions of width, indicated in a design of a
monumental structure placed in the exhibition; while Mr. G. Klein took the
measurement of a _Eucalyptus_ on the Black Spur, ten miles distant from
Healesville, 480 feet high! In the State forest of Dandenong, it was found
by actual measurement that an acre of ground contained twenty large trees
of an apparent average height of about 350 feet."--R. Brough Smyth, _The
Gold Fields of Victoria_. Melbourne, 1869.

[29] "In the next place, we must remember how impossible it is for the
mind to invent an entirely new fact. There is nothing in the mind of man
that has not pre-existed in nature. Can we imagine a person, who never saw
or heard of an elephant, drawing a picture of such a two-tailed
creature?"--J. Donelly, _Rangarok_, p. 119. New York, 1883.

[30] "I conceive that quite a large proportion of the most profound
thinkers are satisfied to exert their memory very moderately. It is, in
fact, a distraction from close thought to exert the memory overmuch, and a
man engaged in the study of an abstruse subject will commonly rather turn
to his book-shelves for the information he requires than tax his memory to
supply it."--R. A. Proctor, _Pop. Sci. Monthly_, Jan. 1874.

[31] "It was through one of these happy chances (so the Brothers Grimm
wrote in 1819) that we came to make the acquaintance of a peasant woman of
the village of Nieder-Zwehrn, near Cassel, who told us the greater part of
the Märchen of the second volume, and the most beautiful of it too. She
held the old tales firmly in her memory, and would sometimes say that this
gift was not granted to everyone, and that many a one could not keep
anything in its proper connection. Anyone inclined to believe that
tradition is easily corrupted or carelessly kept, and that therefore it
could not possibly last long, should have heard how steadily she always
abided by her record, and how she stuck to its accuracy. She never altered
anything in repeating it, and if she made a slip, at once righted herself
as soon as she became aware of it, in the very midst of her tale. The
attachment to tradition among people living on in the same kind of life
with unbroken regularity, is stronger than we, who are fond of change, can
understand."--_Odinic Songs in Shetland._ Karl Blind, _Nineteenth
Century_, June 1879.

[32] See quotation from Gladstone, _Nineteenth Century_, Oct. 1879.

[33] Mr. C. P. Daly, President of the American Geographical Society,
informs us, in his Annual Address [for 1880], that in one book found in
the royal library at Nineveh, of the date 2000 B.C., there is--

1. A catalogue of stars.

2. Enumeration of twelve constellations forming our present zodiac.

3. The intimation of a Sabbath.

4. A connection indicated (according to Mr. Perville) between the weather
and the changes of the moon.

5. A notice of the spots on the sun: a fact they could only have known by
the aid of telescopes, which it is supposed they possessed from
observations that they have noted down of the rising of Venus, and the
fact that Layard found a crystal lens in the ruins of Nineveh. (N.B.--As
to the above, I must say that telescopes are not always necessary to see
the spots on the sun: these were distinctly visible with the naked eye, in
the early mornings, to myself and the officers of the S.S. _Scotia_, in
the Red Sea, in the month of August of 1883, after the great volcanic
disturbances near Batavia. The resulting atmospheric effects were very
marked in the Red Sea, as elsewhere, the sun, when near the horizon,
appearing of a pale green colour, and exhibiting the spots distinctly.)

[34] Ammianus Marcellinus (bk. xxii., ch. xv., s. 20), in speaking of the
Pyramids, says: "There are also subterranean passages and winding
retreats, which, it is said, men skilful in the ancient mysteries, by
means of which they divined the coming of a flood, constructed in
different places lest the memory of all their sacred ceremonies should be

As affording a minor example of prophesy, I quote a correspondent's
communication, relating to Siam, to the _North China Daily News_ of July
28th, 1881:--"Singularly enough the prevalence of cholera in Siam this
season has been predicted for some months. The blossoming of the bamboo
(which in India is considered the invariable forerunner of an epidemic)
was looked upon as ominous, while the enormous quantity and high quality
of the fruit produced was cited as pointing out the overcharge of the
earth with matter which, though tending to the development of vegetable
life, is deleterious to human. From these and other sources of knowledge
open to those accustomed to read the book of nature, the prevalence of
cholera, which, since 1873, has been almost unknown in Siam, was predicted
and looked for; and, unlike most modern predictions, it has been certainly
fulfilled. So common was the belief, that when, some months since, a
foreign official in Siamese employ applied for leave of absence, it was
opposed by some of the native officials on the ground that he ought to
stay and take his chance of the cholera with the rest of them."

[35] "It is now generally admitted by biologists who have made a study of
the Vertebrata that birds have come down to us through the Dinosaurs, and
the close affinity of the latter with recent struthious birds will hardly
be questioned. The case amounts almost to a demonstration if we compare
with Dinosaurs their contemporaries, the Mesozoic birds. The classes of
birds and reptiles as now living are separated by a gulf so profound that
a few years since it was cited by the opponents of evolution as the most
important break in the animal series, and one which that doctrine could
not bridge over. Since then, as Huxley has clearly shown, this gap has
been virtually filled by the discoveries of bird-like reptiles and
reptilian birds. Compsognathus and Archæopteryx of the old world, and
Icthyornis and Hesperornis of the new, are the stepping-stones by which
the evolutionist of to-day leads the doubting brother across the shallow
remnant of the gulf, once thought impassable."--_Marsh._

[36] Professor Carl Vogt regards the Archæopteryx "as neither reptile nor
bird, but as constituting an intermediate type. He points out that there
is complete homology between the scales or spines of reptiles and the
feathers of birds. The feather of the bird is only a reptile's scale
further developed, and the reptile's scale is a feather which has remained
in the embryonic condition. He considers the reptilian homologies to

[37] A similar habit is ascribed by the Chinese to the mammoth and to the
gigantic Sivatherium (Fig. 6, p. 39), a four-horned stag, which had the
bulk of an elephant, and exceeded it in height. It was remarkable for
being in some respects between the stags and the pachyderms. The
Dinotherium (Fig. 8), which had a trunk like an elephant, and two inverted
tusks, presented in its skull a mixture of the characteristics of the
elephant, hippopotamus, tapir, and dugong. Its remains occur in the
Miocene of Europe.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.--DINOTHERIUM. (_After Figuier._)]

[38] "It enters Europe early in April, spreads over France, Britain,
Denmark, and the south of Sweden, which it reaches by the beginning of
May. It does not enter Brittany, the Channel Islands, or the western part
of England, never visiting Wales, except the extreme south of
Glamorganshire, and rarely extending farther north than Yorkshire."--A. R.
Wallace, _Geographical Distribution of Animals_, vol. i. p. 21. London,

[39] _Bible Customs in Bible Lands._ By H. J. Van Lennep, D.D. 1875.
Quoted in _Nature_, March 24, 1881.

[40] _Origin of Species_, C. Darwin, 5th edit. 1869.

[41] Thus Mr. Wallace considers that the identity of the small fish,
_Galaxias attenuatus_, which occurs in the mountain streams of Tasmania,
with one found in those of New Zealand, the Falkland Islands, and the
temperate regions of South America, cannot be considered as demonstrating
a land connection between these places within the period of its specific
existence. For there is a possibility that its ova have been transported
from one point to another on floating ice; and for similar reasons
fresh-water fish generally are unsafe guides to a classification of
zoological regions. Mr. Darwin has shown (_Origin of Species_, and
_Nature_, vol. xviii. p. 120 and vol. xxv. p. 529) that mollusca can be
conveyed attached to or entangled in the claws of migratory birds. Birds
themselves are liable to be blown great distances by gales of wind.
Beetles and other flying insects may be similarly transferred. Reptiles
are occasionally conveyed on floating logs and uprooted trees. Mammals
alone appear to be really trustworthy guides towards such a
classification, from their being less liable than the other classes to
accidental dispersion.

[42] _Mémoires concernant l'histoire, &c. des Chinois, par les
Missionaires de Pekin_, vol. iv. p. 481.

[43] _The Natural History of Pliny_, J. Bostock and H. T. Riley, book
viii. chap iv.

[44] _The Voyage of the Vega_, A. E. Nordenskjöld. London, 1881.

[45] _On the Range of the Mammoth in Space and Time_, by W. B. Dawkins,
_Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc._, 1879, p. 138.

[46] The notice is taken from _Les Peuples du Caucause, ou Voyage
d'Abou-el-Cassim_, par M. C. D'Ohsson, p. 80, as follows:--"On trouve
souvent dans la Boulgarie des os (fossils) d'une grandeur prodigieuse.
J'ai vu une dent qui avait deux palmes de large sur quatre de long, et un
crâne qui ressemblait à une hutte (Arabe). On y déterre des dents
semblables aux défenses d'éléphants, blanche comme la neige et pesant
jusqu' à deux cents menns. On ne sait pas à quel animal elles out
appartenu, mais on les transporte dans le Khoragur (Kiva), où elles se
vendent à grand prix. On en fait des peignes, des vases, et d'autres
objets, comme on façonne l'ivoire; toute fois cette substance est plus
dure que l'ivoire; jamais elle ne se brise."

[47] _The World before the Deluge_, L. Figuier. London, 1865.

[48] According to Woodward, over two thousand grinders were dredged up by
the fishermen of Happisburgh in the space of thirteen years; and other
localities in and about England are also noted.--Dana's _Manual of
Geology_, p. 564.

[49] Lyell, _Antiquity of Man_, p. 185, 2nd edit., 1863.

[50] Fr. μάχαιρα "a sword," and ὀδούς "a tooth."

[51] From μαστός "a teat," and ὀδούς "a tooth."

[52] _Palæontology_, R. Owen. Edinburgh, 1860.

[53] _The British Lion_, W. Boyd Dawkins, _Contemporary Review_, 1882.

[54] The Moa was associated with other species also nearly or totally
extinct: some belonging to the same genus, others to those of _Papteryx_,
of _Nestor_, and of _Notornis_. One survivor of the latter was obtained by
Mr. Gideon Mantell, and described by my father, Mr. John Gould, in 1850. I
believe the Nestor is still, rarely, met with. Mr. Mantell is of opinion
that the Moa and his congeners continued in existence long after the
advent of the aboriginal Maori. Mr. Mantell discovered a gigantic fossil
egg, presumably that of the Moa.

[55] A. E. Nordenskjöld, _The Voyage of the 'Vega,'_ vol. i. p. 272, _et
seq._ London, 1881.

[56] Pliny, _Nat. Hist._, Bk. x., chap. xvii., and Bk. xxx., chap. liii.

[57] _The Romance of Natural History_, by P. H. Gosse, 2nd Series, London

[58] _Pop. Sci. Monthly_, October 1878.

[59] _Excelsior_, vol. iii. London, 1855.

[60] _The Chinese Classics_, vol. iii. p. 1, by James Legge, B.D.

[61] Inaugural Address by President, T. W. Kingsmill, North China Branch
of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1877.

[62] Chabas, _Études sur l'Antiquité Historique, d'après les sources

[63] Subsequently to 1874.

[64] O. F. von Mollendorf, _Journal_ of North China Branch of the Royal
Asiatic Society, New Series, No. 2, and T. W. Kingsmill, "The Border Lands
of Geology and History," _Journal_ of North China Branch of the Royal
Asiatic Society, 1877.

[65] "Intercourse of China with Eastern Turkestan and the adjacent country
in the second century B.C.," T. W. Kingsmill, _Journal_ of North China
Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series, No. 14.

[66] _The Natural History of Pliny._ Translated by J. Bostock and H. T.
Biley, 6 vols. Bohn, London, 1857.

[67] _Æliani de Natura Animalium_, F. Jacobs. Jenæ, 1832.

[68] _Géographie d'Edrisi, traduite de l'Arabe en Français_, P. Amédée
Jaubert, 2 vols. Paris, 1836.

[69] _Phil. Trans._, vol. cxlix. p. 43, 1859; vol. clxxi. p. 1,037, 1880;
vol. clxxii. p. 547, 1881.

[70] Description of some New Species and Genera of Reptiles from Western
Australia, discovered by John Gould, Esq., _Annals and Magazine of Natural
History_, vol. vii. p. 88, 1841.

[71] "We shall, I think, eventually more fully recognise that, as is the
case with the periods of the day, each of the larger geological divisions
follows the other, without any actual break or boundary; and that the
minor subdivisions are like the hours on the clock, useful and
conventional rather than absolutely fixed by any general cause in
Nature."--Annual Address, President of Geological Society, 1875.

"With regard to stratigraphical geology, the main foundations are already
laid, and a great part of the details filled in. The tendency of modern
discoveries has already been, and will probably still be, to fill up those
breaks, which, according to the view of many, though by no means all
geologists, are so frequently assumed to exist between different
geological periods and to bring about a more full recognition of the
continuity of geological time. As knowledge increases, it will, I think,
become more and more apparent that all existing divisions of time are to a
considerable extent local and arbitrary. But, even when this is fully
recognised, it will still be found desirable to retain them, if only for
the sake of convenience and approximate precision."--Annual Address,
President of Geological Society, 1876.

[72] "It was not until January 1832, that the second volume of the
_Principles_ was published, when it was received with as much favour as
the first had been. It related more especially to the changes in the
organic world, while the former volume had treated mainly of the inorganic
forces of nature. Singularly enough, some of the points which were seized
on by his great fellow-labourer Murchison for his presidential address to
this Society in 1832, as subjects for felicitation, are precisely those
which the candid mind of Lyell, ever ready to attach the full value to
discoveries or arguments from time to time brought forward, even when in
opposition to his own views, ultimately found reason to modify. We can
never, I think, more highly appreciate Sir Charles Lyell's freshness of
mind, his candour and love of truth, than when we compare certain portions
of the first edition of the _Principles_ with those which occupy the same
place in the last, and trace the manner in which his judicial intellect
was eventually led to conclusions diametrically opposed to those which he
originally held. To those acquainted only with the latest editions of the
_Principles_, and with his _Antiquity of Man_, it may sound almost
ironical in Murchison to have written, 'I cannot avoid noticing the clear
and impartial manner in which the untenable parts of the dogmas concerning
the alteration and transmutation of species and genera are refuted, and
how satisfactorily the author confirms the great truth of the recent
appearance of man upon our planet.'

"By the work (_Principles of Geology_, vol. iii.), as a whole, was dealt
the most telling blow that had ever fallen upon those to whom it appears
'more philosophical to speculate on the possibilities of the past than
patiently to explore the realities of the present,' while the earnest and
careful endeavour to reconcile the former indications of change with the
evidence of gradual mutation now in progress, or _which may be_ in
progress, received its greatest encouragement. The doctrines which Hutton
and Playfair had held and taught assumed new and more vigorous life as
better principles were explained by their eminent successor, and were
supported by arguments which, as a whole, were incontrovertible."--Annual
Address, President of Geological Society, 1876.

"But, as Sir Roderick Murchison has long ago proved, there are parts of
the record which are singularly complete, and in those parts we have the
proof of creation without any indication of development. The Silurian
rocks, as regards oceanic life, are perfect and abundant in the forms they
have preserved. _Yet there are no fish._ The Devonian age followed
tranquilly and without a break, and in the Devonian sea, suddenly, fish
appear, appear in shoals, and in form of the highest and most perfect
type."--The Duke of Argyll, _Primeval Man_, p. 45, London, 1869.

[73] T. Mellard Reade, "Limestone as an Index of Geological Time,"
_Proceedings_, Royal Society, London, vol. xxviii., p. 281.

[74] _Scientific American_, Supplement, February 1881.

[75] _Proceedings_, Royal Society, vol. xv. No. 82, 1866.

[76] _Athenæum_, August 25, 1860, &c.

[77] The mass of astronomers, however, deny that this is possible to any
very great extent.

[78] James Croll, F.R.S., &c., _Climate and Time in their Geological

[79] Figs. 19 and 21 are taken, by permission of Edmund Christy, Esq.,
from _Reliquiæ Aquitanicæ_, &c., London, 1875.

[80] In some cases as much as 150 feet.

[81] "Starting from the opinion generally accepted among geologists, that
man was on the earth at the close of the Glacial epoch, Professor B. F.
Mudge adduces evidence to prove that the antiquity of man cannot be less
than 200,000 years.

"His argument, as given in the Kansas City Review of Science, is about as

"After the Glacial epoch, geologists fix three distinct epochs, the
Champlain, the Terrace, and the Delta, all supposed to be of nearly equal

"Now we have in the delta of the Mississippi a means of measuring the
duration of the third of these epochs.

"For a distance of about two hundred miles of this delta are seen forest
growths of large trees, one after the other, with interspaces of sand.
There are ten of these distinct forest growths, which have begun and ended
one after the other. The trees are the bald cypress (_Taxodium_) of the
Southern States, and some of them were over twenty-five feet in diameter.
One contained over five thousand seven hundred annual rings. In some
instances these huge trees have grown over the stumps of others equally
large, and such instances occur in all, or nearly all, of the ten forest
beds. This gives to each forest a period of 10,000 years.

"Ten such periods give 100,000 years, to say nothing of the time covered
by the interval between the ending of one forest and the beginning of
another, an interval which in most cases was considerable.

"'Such evidence,' writes Professor Mudge, 'would be received in any court
of law as sound and satisfactory. We do not see how such proof is to be
discarded when applied to the antiquity of our race.

"'There is satisfactory evidence that man lived in the Champlain epoch.
But the Terrace epoch, or the greater part of it, intervenes between the
Champlain and the Delta epochs, thus adding to my 100,000 years.

"'If only as much time is given to both those epochs as to the Delta
period, 200,000 years is the total result.'"--_Popular Science Monthly_,
No. 91, vol. xvi. No. 1, p. 140, November 1878.

[82] Such as the destruction of the Alexandrine Library on three distinct
occasions, (1) upon the conquest of Alexandria by Julius Cæsar, B.C. 48;
(2) in A.D. 390; and, (3) by Amrou, the general of the Caliph Omar, in
640, who ordered it to be burnt, and so supplied the baths with fuel for
six months. Again, the destruction of all Chinese books by order of Tsin
Shi Hwang-ti, the founder of the Imperial branch of the Tsin dynasty, and
the first Emperor of United China; the only exceptions allowed being those
relating to medicine, divination, and husbandry. This took place in the
year 213 B.C.

[83] The Chinese have used composite blocks (wood engraved blocks with
many characters, analogous to our stereotype plates) from an early period.
May not the brick-clay tablets preserved in the Imperial Library at
Babylon have been used for striking off impressions on some plastic
material, just as rubbings may be taken from the stone drums in China: may
not the cylinders with inscribed characters have been used in some way or
other as printing-rollers for propagating knowledge or proclamations?

[84] As, for example, the old canal from the Nile to the Red Sea, in
reference to which Herodotus says (_Euterpe_, 158), "Neco was the son of
Psammitichus, and became King of Egypt: he first set about the canal that
leads to the Red Sea, which Darius the Persian afterwards completed. Its
length is a voyage of four days, and in width it was dug so that two
triremes might sail rowed abreast. The water is drawn into it from the
Nile, and it enters it a little above the city Bubastis, passes near the
Arabian city Patumos, and reaches to the Red Sea." In the digging of which
one hundred and twenty thousand Egyptians perished in the reign of Neco.

[85] The co-called tanks at Aden, reservoirs constructed one below the
other, in a gorge near the cantonments, are as perfect now as they were
when they left the hand of the contractor or royal engineer in the time of

[86] In the 29th year of the Emperor Kwei [B.C. 1559] they chiselled
through mountains and tunnelled hills, according to the Bamboo Books.

[87] An interesting line of investigation might be opened up as to the
origin of inventions and the date of their migrations. The Chinese claim
the priority of many discoveries, such as chess, printing, issue of
bank-notes, sinking of artesian wells, gunpowder, suspension bridges, the
mariner's compass, &c. &c. I extract two remarkable wood-cuts from the
_San Li T'u_, one appended here showing the origin of our college cap; the
other, in the chapter on the Unicorn, appearing to illustrate the fable of
the Sphynx.

[Illustration: FIG. 22.--ROYAL DIADEM OF THE CHEN DYNASTY. (_From the San
Li T'u._)]

I also give a series of engravings, reduced facsimiles of those contained
in a celebrated Chinese work on antiquities, showing the gradual evolution
of the so-called Grecian pattern or scroll ornamentation, and origination
of some of the Greek forms of tripods.

[88] "The old Troglodytes, pile villagers, and bog people, prove to be
quite a respectable society. They have heads so large that many a living
person would be only too happy to possess such."--A. Mitchell, _The Past
in the Present_, Edinburgh, 1880.

[89] I have given in the annexed plates a few examples of the early
hieroglyphics on which the modern Chinese system of writing is based,
selected from a limited number collected by the early Jesuit fathers in
China, and contained in the _Mémoirs concernant l'Histoire, &c. des
Chinois, par les Missionaires de Pekin_, vol. i., Paris, 1776. The modern
Chinese characters conveying the same idea are attached, and their
derivation from the pictorial hieroglyphics, by modification or
contraction, is in nearly all cases obvious.

[90] "The Porcelain Tower of Nankin, once one of the seven wonders of the
world, can now only be found piecemeal in walls of peasants'
huts."--Gutzlaff, _Hist. China_, vol. i. p. 372.

[91] The outer casing of the pyramid of Cheops, which Herodotus
(_Euterpe_, 125) states to have still exhibited in his time an
inscription, telling how much was expended (one thousand six hundred
talents of silver) in radishes, onions, and garlic for the workmen, has
entirely disappeared; as also, almost completely, the marble casing of the
adjacent pyramid of Sen-Saophis. According to tradition the missing
marbles in each instance were taken to build palaces with in Cairo.

[92] "The work of destruction was carried on methodically. From the
Caspian Sea to the Indus, the Mongols ruined, within four years, more than
four centuries of continuous labour have since restored. The most
flourishing cities became a mass of ruins: Samarkand, Bokhara, Nizabour,
Balkh, and Kandahar shared in the same destruction."--Gutzlaff, _Hist.
China_, vol. i. p. 358.

[93] "An army of 700,000 Mongols met half the number of
Mahommedans."--_Ibid._ p. 357.

[94] Those interested in the subject may read with great advantage the
section on dynamical geology in Dana's valuable manual. He points out the
large amount of wear accomplished by wind carrying sand in arid regions,
by seeds falling in some crevice, and bursting rocks open through the
action of the roots developed from their sprouting, to say nothing of the
more ordinarily recognized destructive agencies of frost and rain,
carbonic acid resulting from vegetable decomposition, &c.

[95] Darwin, in _Vegetable Mould and Earth-worms_, has shown that
earthworms play a considerable part in burying old buildings, even to a
depth of several feet.

[96] Rev. T. K. Cheyne, Article "Deluge," _Encyclopædia Britannica_, 1877.
François Lenormant, "The Deluge, its Traditions in Ancient Histories,"
_Contemporary Review_, Nov., 1879.

[97] Bunsen estimates that 20,000 years were requisite for the formation
of the Chinese language. This, however, is not conceded by other

[98] Rawlinson quotes the African type on the Egyptian sculptures as being
identical with that of the negro of the present day.

[99] "While the tradition of the Deluge holds so considerable a place in
the legendary memories of all branches of the Aryan race, the monuments
and original texts of Egypt, with their many cosmogenic speculations, have
not afforded one, even distant, allusion to this cataclysm. When the
Greeks told the Egyptian priests of the Deluge of Deucalion, their reply
was that they had been preserved from it as well as from the conflagration
produced by Phaeton; they even added that the Hellenes were childish in
attaching so much importance to that event, as there had been several
local catastrophes resembling it."--Lenormant, _Contemporary Review_,
November 1879.

[100] François Lenormant, "The Deluge; its Traditions in Ancient
Histories," _Contemporary Review_, vol. xxxvi. p. 465.

[101] Here several verses are wanting.

[102] "The water of the twilight at break of day," one of the
personifications of rain.

[103] The god of thunder.

[104] The god of war and death.

[105] The Chaldæo-Assyrian Hercules.

[106] The superior heaven of the fixed stars.

[107] Vases of the measure called in Hebrew _Seäh_. This relates to a
detail of the ritualistic prescriptions for sacrifice.

[108] These metaphorical expressions appear to designate the rainbow.

[109] The god of epidemics.

[110] It is probably as much from a superstitious sentiment as upon merely
physical grounds that many of the deserted cities in Asia have been
abandoned; while, as a noticeable instance, we may quote Gour, the ruined
capital of Bengal, which is computed to have extended from fifteen to
twenty miles along the bank of the river, and three in depth. The native
tradition is that it was struck by the wrath of the gods in the form of an
epidemic which slew the whole population. Another case is the reputed
presence of a ruined city, in the vicinity of the populous city of
Nanking, and at some distance from the right bank of the river Yangtsze,
of which the walls only remain, and of the history of which those in the
vicinity profess to have lost all record.

[111] _i.e._ (according to the Historical Records) a carriage to travel
along the dry land, a boat to travel along the water, a sledge to travel
through miry places, and, by using spikes, to travel on the hills.

[112] Balfour, _North China Daily News_, Feb. 11, 1881.

[113] Dr. Schliemann found a vase in the lowest strata of his excavations
at Hissarlik with an inscription in an unknown language.

Six years ago the Orientalist E. Burnouf declared it to be in Chinese, for
which he was generally laughed at at the time.

The Chinese ambassador at Berlin, Li Fang-pau, has read and translated the
inscription, which states that three pieces of linen gauze are packed in
the vase for inspection.

The Chinese ambassador fixes the date of the inscription at about 1200
B.C., and further states that the unknown characters so frequently
occurring on the terra cotta are also in the Chinese language, which would
show that at this remote period commercial intercourse existed between
China and the eastern shores of Asia Minor and Greece.--_Pop. Sci.
Monthly_, No. 98, p. 176, June 1880.

[114] Pierre Bergeron suggests that Solomon's fleets, starting from
Ezion-geber (subsequently Berenice and now Alcacu), arrived at
Babelmandeb, and then divided, one portion going to Malacca, Sumatra, or
Java, the other to Sofala, round Africa, and returning by way of Cadiz and
the Mediterranean to Joppa.

[115] There are various accounts of the circumnavigation of Africa in old
times. For example, Herodotus (_Melpomene_, 42): "Libya shows itself to be
surrounded by water, except so much of it as borders upon Asia. Neco, King
of Egypt, was the first whom we know of that proved this; he, when he had
ceased digging the canal leading from the Nile to the Arabian gulf, sent
certain Phœnicians in ships with orders to sail back through the pillars
of Hercules into the Northern Sea, and so to return to Egypt. The
Phœnicians accordingly, setting out from the Red Sea, navigated the
Southern Sea; when autumn came they went ashore, and sowed the land, by
whatever part of Libya they happened to be sailing, and waited for
harvest; then, having reaped the corn, they put to sea again. When two
years had thus passed, in the third, having doubled the pillars of
Hercules, they arrived in Egypt, and related what to me does not seem
credible, but may to others, that as they sailed round Libya, they had the
sun on the right hand." Again, Pliny tells us (Book ii. chap. lxvii,
Translation by Bostock and Riley), "While the power of Carthage was at its
height, Hanno published an account of a voyage which he made from Gades to
the extremity of Arabia: besides, we learn from Cornelius Nepos, that one
Eudoxus, a contemporary of his, when he was flying from King Lathyrus, set
out from the Arabian Gulf, and was carried as far as Gades. And long
before him, Cœlius Antipater informs us, that he had seen a person who had
sailed from Spain to Ethiopia for the purposes of trade. The same
Cornelius Nepos, when speaking of the northern circumnavigation, tells us
that Q. Metellus Celer, the colleague of L. Afranius in the consulship,
but then proconsul in Gaul, had a present made to him by the King of the
Suevi, of certain Indians, who, sailing from India for the purposes of
commerce, had been driven by tempests into Germany."

Ptolemy Lathyrus commenced his reign 117 B.C. and reigned for thirty-six
years. Cornelius Nepos is supposed to have lived in the century previous
to the Christian era, and Cœlius Antipater to have been born in the middle
of the second century B.C.

[116] Edrisi compiled, under the instruction of Roger, King of Sicily,
Italy, Lombardy, and Calabria, an exhaustive geographical treatise
comprising information derived from numerous preceding works, principally
Arabic, and from the testimony of all the geographers of the day.

_Vide_ the Translation into French by M. Amédée Jaubert, 2 vols. 4to,
Paris, 1836, included in the _Recueil de Voyages et de Mémoires publié par
la Société de Géographie_.

"Ce pays touch celui de Wac Wac où sont deux villes misérables et mal
peuplées à cause de la rareté des subsistances et du peu de ressource en
tout genre; l'une se nomme Derou et l'autre Nebhena; dans son voisinage
est un grand bourg nommé Da'rgha. Les naturels sont noirs, de figure
hideuse, de complexion difformé; leur langage est une espèce de
sifflement. Ils sont absolument nus et sont peu visités (par les
étrangers). Ils vivent de poissons, de coquillages, et de tortues. Ils
sont (comme il vient d'être dit) voisins de l'ile de Wac Wac dont nous
reparlerons, s'il plait à Dieu. Chacun de ces pays et de ces iles est
situé sur un grand golfe, on n'y trouve ni or, ni commerce, ni navire, ni
bêtes de somme."--_El Edrisi_, vol. i. p. 79.

[117] The _Agave Americane_, which substance has as many uses among the
Mexicans as the bamboo (the iron of China) among the Chinese, or the camel
among nomads.

[118] _The Thousand and One Nights_, vol. iii. chap. xxv. p. 480, Note 32,
E. W. Lane, London, 1877.

A similar account is given by Quazvini. See _Scriptorum Arabum de Rebus
Indicis_, J. Gildemeister, Bonn, 1838.

[119] The diggings are seventy to one hundred and fifty miles from Port
Darwin. There is gold on Victoria River.

Jacks, in his report to the Queensland Government, published March or
April of 1880, reports no paying gold in Yorke's peninsula.

One hundred miles from Port Darwin and twenty-six miles from the Adelaide
River a new rush occurred in July 1880: nuggets from 70 to 80 oz. of
common occurrence; one found weighed 187 oz.

[120] _Scientific American_, Aug. 14, 1880.

[121] E. J. Elliott, "The Age of Cave Dwellers in America," _Pop. Sci.
Monthly_, vol. xv. p. 488.

[122] _Scientific American_, Jan. 24, 1880.

[123] _Macmillan's Magazine_, quoted in _Pop. Sci. Monthly_, No. 82.

[124] _Œuvres_, I. 7, pp. 197, 198.

[125] _Two Voyages to New England_, p. 124; London, 1673.

[126] Robert Knox, _The Races of Men_; London, 1850.

[127] _Principles of Geology_, chap. xii.

[128] _Atlantis_, by Ignatius Donelly; New York, 1882.

[129] It is given in great detail by Mr. Donelly; want of space forbids my
including it.

[130] I use the text of the edition of Diodorus Siculus of L. Rhodomanus,
Amsterdam, 1746.

[131] "Professor Virchow considers this an example how certain artistical
or technical forms are developed simultaneously, without any connection or
relation between the artists or craftsmen."--Preface to _Ilios_,
Schliemann. Murray, 1880.

[132] Knivet's description of the West Indies, _Harris' Voyages_, vol. i.
p. 705.

[133] T. Wright, _Marco Polo_, p. 267. Bohn, 1854.

[134] _Harris' Voyages_, vol. i. p. 859.

[135] Dr. J. le Conte describes a ceremonial of cremation among the Cocopa
Indians of California, and it is an ancient practice among the Chinese,
dating back beyond the Greek and Roman historical periods.

[136] British Association, 1871.

[137] Staunton, _China_, vol. ii. p. 455.

[138] Humboldt, _Researches in America_, English Translation, vol. i. p.

[139] "In turning to the consideration of the primitive works of art of
the American continent ... when in the bronze work of the later iron
period, imitative forms at length appear, they are chiefly the snake and
dragon shapes and patterns, borrowed seemingly by Celtic and Teutonic
wanderers, with the wild fancies of their mythology, from the far eastern
land of their birth."--D. Wilson, _Prehistoric Man_, 1862.

"He had remarked that the Indians of the north-west coast frequently
repeat in their well-known blackstone carvings the dragon, the lotus
flower, and the alligator."--C. G. Leland, _Fusang_, London, 1875.

[140] "Dragon, an imaginary animal something like a crocodile."--Rev. Dr.
Brewer, _Dictionary of Phrase and Fable_, p. 243.

[141] "In the woods of Java are certain flying snakes, or rather drakes;
they have four legs, a long tail, and their skin speckled with many spots,
their wings are not unlike those of a bat, which they move in flying, but
otherwise keep them almost unperceived close to the body. They fly nimbly,
but cannot hold it long, so that they fly from tree to tree at about
twenty or thirty paces' distance. On the outside of the throat are two
bladders, which, being extended when they fly, serve them instead of a
sail. They feed upon flies and other insects."--Mr. John Nieuhoff's Voyage
and Travels to the East Indies, contained in a collection of _Voyages and
Travels_, in 6 vols., vol. ii. p. 317; Churchill, London, 1732.

[142] _Chambers' Encyclopædia_, vol. iii. p. 635.

[143] The following is the nearest approach to such an assertion I have
met with, but appears from the context to apply to geologic time prior to
the advent of man. "When all those large and monstrous amphibia since
regarded as fabulous still in reality existed, when the confines of the
water and the land teemed with gigantic saurians, with lizards of
dimensions much exceeding those of the largest crocodiles of the present
day: who to the scaly bodies of fish, added the claws of beasts, and the
neck and wings of birds: who to the faculty of swimming in water, added
not only that of moving on the earth but that of sailing in air: and who
had all the characteristics of what we now call chimeras and dragons, and
perhaps of such monsters the remains, found among the bones and skeletons
of other animals more resembling those that still exist and propagate, in
the grottos and caverns in which they sought shelter during the deluges
that affected the infancy of the globe, gave first rise to the idea that
these dens and caves were once retreats whence such monsters watched and
in which they devoured other animals."--Thomas Hope, _On the Origin and
Prospects of Man_, vol. ii. p. 346; London, 1831.

Southey, in his Commonplace Book, pityingly alludes to this passage,
saying, "He believes in dragons and griffins as having heretofore

[144] From the context, Lanuvium appears to have been on the Appian Road,
in Latium, about twenty-fives miles from Rome.

[145] Propertius, _Elegy VIII._; Bohn, 1854.

[146] _History of Animals_, Book ix., chap. ii. § 3; Bohn.

[147] _Ibid._, Book vi., chap. xx. § 12.

[148] _Ibid._, Book i., § 6.

[149] _History of Animals_, Book ix., chap. vii. § 4.

[150] _Natural History of Pliny_, Book viii., chap. xli., translated by J.
Bostock and H. T. Riley; London, 1855.

[151] _Anim. Nat._, Book vi., chap. iv.

[152] _Natural History_, Book viii., chap. xxii.

[153] "On the contrary, towards ourselves they were disappointingly
undemonstrative, and only evinced their consciousness of the presence of
strangers by entwining themselves about the members of the family as if
soliciting their protection.... They were very jealous of each other, Mr.
Mann said; jealous also of other company, as if unwilling to lose their
share of attention.... Two sweet little children were equally familiar
with the other boas, that seemed quite to know who were their friends and
playfellows, for the children handled them and petted them and talked to
them as we talk to pet birds and cats."--Account of Snakes kept by Mr. and
Mrs. Mann, of Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, in _Snakes_, by C. C. Hopley; London,

[154] _Natural History_, Book xxix., chap. xx.

[155] "It is probable that the island of Zanig described by Qazvinius, in
his geographical work (for extracts from which vide _Scriptorum Arabum de
Rebus Indicis loci et opuscula inedita_, by I. Gildemeister, Bonnæ, 1838),
as the seat of the empire of the Mahraj, is identical with Zaledj. He says
that it is a large island on the confines of China towards India, and that
among other remarkable features is a mountain called Nacan (Kini Balu?),
on which are serpents of such magnitude as to be able to swallow oxen,
buffaloes, and even elephants. Masudi includes Zanig, Kalah, and Taprobana
among the islands constituting the territory of the Mahraj."--P. Amédée
Jaubert, _Géographie d'Edrisi_, vol. i. p. 104; Paris, 1836.

[156] Book vi., chap. iv. § 16.

[157] _Serpent Worship_, p. 35; Welder, New York, 1877.

[158] _Pliny's Natural History_, Book viii., chap. xi., translated by J.
Bostock and H. T. Riley; Bohn, London, 1855.

[159] _Pliny's Natural History_, Book viii., chap. xii.

[160] _Ibid._, Book viii., chap. xiii.

[161] _Ibid._, Book viii., chap. xiv.

[162] "At the present day the longest Italian serpents are the Æsculapian
serpent (a harmless animal) and the _Colubes quadrilineatus_, neither of
which exceeds ten feet in length."--_Nat. Hist._, Book viii., chap. xiv.

[163] _Aristotle's History of Animals_, Book viii., chap. xxvii. § 6, by
R. Cresswell, Bohn's Series; Bell, London, 1878.

[164] An abridgment of these travels is contained in _Voyages par Pierre
Bergeron_, à la Haye, 1735. They were originally written in Hebrew,
translated into Latin by Benoit Arian Montare, and subsequently into
French. [The introduction refers to his return to Castille in 1173,
presumably after the termination of his voyages; but in the opening
paragraph there is a marginal note giving the same date to his setting out
from Sarragossa.] Sir John Mandeville gives a similar account in speaking
of the tower of Babylon; he says, "but it is full long sithe that any man
durste neyhe to the Tour: for it is all deserte and fulle of Dragouns and
grete serpents, and fulle of dyverse venemous Bestes alle about he."--_The
Voyages of Sir John Mandeville, Kt._, p. 40; J. O. Halliwell, London,

[165] _Harris's Voyages_, vol. i. p. 360.

[166] _Ibid._, vol. i. p. 392.

[167] _Encyclopædia of Arts and Sciences_, first American edition,
Philadelphia, 1798.

[168] See _Voyage to the East Indies_, by Francis Leguat; London, 1708.
Leguat hardly makes the positive affirmation stated in the text. In
describing Batavia he says there is another sort of serpents which are at
least fifty feet long.

[169] Broderip, _Leaves from the Note Book of a Naturalist_, p. 357.

[170] _Australasia_, p. 273.

[171] _Quedah_; London, 1857.

[172] _Perak and the Malays_, p. 77.

[173] _Figuier, Reptiles and Birds_, p. 51.

[174] _La Chine Illustré_, d'Athase Keichere, chap. x. p. 272. Amsterdam,

[175] Vol. i. p. 601.

[176] See _Proceedings_ of Royal Society of Tasmania, September 13, 1880.
Mr. C. M. Officer states--"With reference to the Mindi or Mallee snake, it
has often been described to me as a formidable creature of at least thirty
feet in length, which confined itself to the Mallee scrub. No one,
however, has ever seen one, for the simple reason that to see it is to
die, so fierce it is, and so great its power of destruction. Like the
Bunyip, I believe the Mindi to be a myth, a mere tradition."

[177] Pinkerton's _Voyages_, vol. xiv. p. 247.

[178] _Ibid._, vol. xiv. p. 514.

[179] It is interesting to compare this belief with stories given
elsewhere, by Pliny, Book viii. chap. xiv., and Ælian, Book ii. chap.
xxi., of the power of the serpents or dragons of the river Rhyndacus to
attract birds by inhalation.

[180] Pinkerton's _Voyages_, vol. xiv. p. 713.

[181] Herodotus, Book iii. chap. cvii., cviii.

[182] Herodotus, Book iii. chap. cviii.

[183] Herodotus, Book ii., chap. lxxv.

[184] _Ibid._, Book ii., chap. lxxvi.

[185] _Ibid._, Book i., chap. v.

[186] _Antiquities of the Jews_, Book ii., chap. x.

[187] Book viii. chap. xxxv.

[188] _Pharsalia_, Book ix.

[189] Herodotus, Book iv. chap. cv.

[190] Book iii. chap. xx.

[191] "It may be some comfort to graziers and selectors who are
struggling, under many discouragements, to suppress the rabbit plague in
Victoria, to learn that our condition, bad as it is, is certainly less
serious than that of New Zealand. There, not only is an immense area of
good country being abandoned in consequence of the inability of lessees to
bear the great expense of clearing the land of rabbits, but, owing to the
increase of the pest, the number of sheep depastured is decreasing at a
serious rate. Three years ago the number exceeded thirteen millions; but
it is estimated that they have since been diminished by two millions,
while the exports of the colony have, in consequence, fallen off to the
extent of £500,000 per annum. A Rabbit Nuisance Act has been in existence
for some time, but it is obviously inefficient, and it is now proposed to
make its provisions more stringent, and applicable alike to the Government
as well as to private landowners. A select committee of both Houses of the
Legislature, which has recently taken a large amount of evidence upon this
subject, reports in the most emphatic terms its conviction that unless
immediate and energetic action is taken to arrest the further extension
of, and to suppress the plague, the result will be ruinous to the colony.
A perusal of the evidence adduced decidedly supports this opinion. Many of
the squatters cannot be accused of apathy. Some of them have employed
scores of men, and spent thousands of pounds a year in ineffectual efforts
to eradicate the rabbits from their runs. One firm last year is believed
to have killed no less than 500,000; but the following spring their run
was in as bad a state as if they had never put any poison down. Similar
instances of failure could be easily multiplied. It is found, as with us,
that one of the chief causes of non-success is the fact that the
Government do not take sufficient steps to destroy the rabbits on
unoccupied Crown lands. This foolish policy, of course, at once diminishes
the letting value of the adjacent pastoral country--to such an extent,
indeed, that instances have occurred in which 34,000 acres have been
leased for £10 a year. Poison is regarded as the most destructive agent
that can be employed, and it is especially effective when mixed with oats
and wheat, a striking testimony to the value of Captain Raymond's
discovery. Most of the witnesses examined were strongly of opinion that
the Administration of the Rabbit Suppression Act should not be left to
private and, perhaps, interested persons, as at present, but should be
conducted by officers of the Government, probably the sheep inspectors, on
a principle similar to that by which the scab was eradicated from the
flocks of the colony. The joint committee adopted this view, and also
recommended the Legislature to enact that all unoccupied Crown land, as
well as all native, reserved, or private land, should bear a proportionate
share of the cost of destroying the rabbits, and of administering the act.
It is to be hoped that, in the midst of the party conflicts which have so
impeded practical legislation this session, the Parliament will yet find
time to give effect to the useful recommendations of the Rabbit Nuisance
Committee."--_Australasian_, 10th September 1881.

[192] Book xv. chap. i. § 37.

[193] See Smith's _Dictionary of the Bible_, p. 145-47. Murray, 1863.

[194] _Æneid_, Book vii. 561.


  Non Arabum volucer serpens, innataque rubris
  Æquoribus custos pretiosæ vipera conchæ
  Aut viventis adhuc Lybici membrana cerastæ.--
                                    _Pharsalia_, Book vi. 677.

[196] The popular illustrations of the Story of the Black and White Snakes
given by him, a favourite story among the Chinese, always represent them
as winged. _Folk Lore of China_, N. P. Dennys, Ph.D.

[197] Broderip, _Zoological Recreations_, p. 333.

[198] Compare Shakspeare, "Peace, Kent. Come not between the Dragon and
his wrath."

[199] _Metamorphoses_, Book iii. 35, translated by H. J. Riley; London,

[200] In reference to colours so bright as to be inconsistent with our
knowledge of the ordinary colours of reptiles, it may be of interest to
compare the description by D'Argensola--who wrote the history of the
successive conquests of the Moluccas, by the Spaniards, Portuguese and
Dutch--of a blue and golden saurian existing upon a volcanic mountain in
Tarnate. "Il y a aussi sur cette montagne un grand lac d'eau douce,
entouré d'arbres, dans lequel on voit de crocodiles azurés et dorés qui
ont plus d'un brasse de longueur, et qui se plongent dans l'eau lors
qu'ils entendent des hommes."--D'Argensola, vol. iii. p. 4, translated
from the Spanish, 3 vols.; J. Desbordes, Amsterdam, 1706. And Pliny, _Nat.
Hist._, Book viii. chap. xxviii., speaks of lizards upon Nysa, a mountain
of India, twenty-four feet long, their colour being either yellow, purple,
or azure blue.

[201] Ovid, _Fasti_, Book iv. 501.

[202] These wood-cuts occur on pp. 239, 240.

[203] Broderip, _Zoological Recreations_, p. 332.

[204] Lucan, _Pharsalia_, Book ix. 726-32.

[205] Book xvi. chap. x.

[206] Book xv. chap. v.; A.D. 355.

[207] Lord Lytton, _King Arthur_, Book i. Stanza 4.

[208] _Chamber's Cyclopædia_, 1881.

[209] J. Grimm, _Deutsche Mythologie_, vol. ii. p. 653.

[210] A dragon without wings is called a lintworm or lindworm, which Grimm
explains to mean a beautiful or shining worm (here again we have a
corroboration of the idea of the gold and silver dragon given _ante_.)

[211] Brewer's _Dictionary of Phrase and Fable_.

[212] Rev. Dr. Brewer, _Dictionary of Phrase and Fable_, London.

[213] _The Harleian Collection of Travels_, vol. ii. p. 457. 1745.

[214] The italics are mine.

[215] Churchill, _Collection of Voyages_, vol. v. p. 213; London, 1746.

[216] Ulyssis Aldrovandi _Serpentum et Draconum Historiæ_; Bononiæ, 1640.

[217] Scaliger, lib. iii. Miscell. cap. i. See _ante_, p. 182, "Winged

[218] _De Naturâ Rerum_, lib. vii., cap. 29.

[219] Athanasii Kircheri _Mundus Subterraneus_, Book viii. 27.

[220] Probably many of my readers are acquainted with Schiller's poem
based on this story, and with the beautiful designs by Retsch illustrating

[221] Harris, _Collection of Voyages_, vol. i. p. 474; London, 1764.

[222] _De Moribus Brachmanorum_, p. 63. Strabo, lib. 16, p. 75. Bochart
Hieroz, p. 11, lib. 3, cap. 13.

[223] Ælian, _De Animal._, lib. xv. cap. 21.

[224] Strabo, lib. xvi.

[225] Gosse tells us that it is still a common belief in Jamaica that
crested snakes exist there which crow like a cock.

[226] Strabo, lib. xvi.

[227] Jonston, _Theatr. Animal._, tome ii. p. 34, "De Serpentibus."
Note.--It is interesting to record that in China, to the present day, the
tradition of the gold and silver scaled species of dragons remains alive.
Two magnificent dragons, 200 feet and 150 feet long, representing
respectively the gold and silver dragon, formed part of the processions in
Hongkong in December 1881, in honour of the young princes.

[228] Strabo, lib. xvi.

[229] In China the dragon is peculiarly the emblem of imperial power, as
with us the lion is of the kingly. The Emperor is said to be seated on the
dragon throne. A five-clawed dragon is embroidered on the Emperor's
court-robes. It often surrounds his edicts, and the title-pages of books
published by his authority, and dragons are inscribed on his banners. It
is drawn stretched out at full length or curled up with two legs pointing
forwards and two backwards; sometimes holding a pearl in one hand, and
surrounded by clouds and fire.

[230] The _Yih King_--extracts from papers by Monsieur De la Couperie, in
the _Journal_ of the Royal Asiatic Society.

"The _Yih King_ is the oldest of the Chinese books, and is the mysterious
classic which requires '_a prolonged attention to make it reveal its
secrets_'; it has peculiarities of style, making it the most difficult of
all the Chinese classics to present in an intelligible version."

"We have multifarious proofs that the writing, first known in China, was
already an old one, partially decayed, but also much improved since its
primitive hieroglyphic stage. We have convincing proofs (_vide_ my 'Early
History of Chinese Civilization,' pp. 21-23, and the last section of the
present paper) that it had been borrowed, by the early leaders of the
Chinese Bak families [Poh Sing] in Western Asia, from an horizontal
writing traced from left to right, the pre-cuneiform character, which
previously had itself undergone several important modifications.

"At that time the Ku-wen was really the phonetic expression of speech. (By
an analysis of the old inscriptions and fragments, and by the help of the
native works on palæography, some most valuable, I have compiled a
dictionary of this period.)

"If the _kwas_, which were a survival of the arrows of divination known to
the ancestors of Chinese culture before their emigration eastward," &c.
&c.--Vol. xiv. part 4.

"This mysterious book is still avowedly not understood, and we assist,
now-a-days, at a most curious spectacle. There are not a few Chinese of
education among those who have picked up some knowledge in Europe or in
translations of European works of our modern sciences, who believe openly
that all these may be found in their _Yih_. Electricity, steam power,
astronomical laws, sphericity of the earth, &c., are all, according to
their views, to be found in the _Yih King_; they firmly believe that these
discoveries were not ignored by their sages, who have embodied them in
their mysterious classics, of which they will be able to unveil the
secrets when they themselves apply to its study a thorough knowledge of
the modern sciences. It is unnecessary for any European mind to insist
upon the childishness of such an opinion. Even in admitting, what seems
probable, that the early leaders of the Bak people (Poh Sing) were not
without some astronomical and mathematical principles, which have been
long since forgotten, there is no possible comparison between their rude
notions and our sciences.

"It is not a mysterious book of fate and prognostics. It contains a
valuable collection of documents of old antiquity, in which is embodied
much information on the ethnography, customs, language, and writing of
early China.

"Proofs of various kinds--similitude of institutions, traditions and
knowledge, affinities of words of culture; and, in what concerns the
writing, likenesses of shapes of characters, hieroglyphic and arbitrary,
with the same sounds (sometimes polyphons) and meanings attached to them,
the same morphology of written words, the same phonetic laws of
orthography--had led me, several years ago, to no other conclusion than
that (as the reverse is proved impossible by numerous reasons), at an
early period of their history, and before their emigration to the far
East, the Chinese Bak families had borrowed the pre-cuneiform writing and
elements of their knowledge and institutions from a region connected with
the old focus of culture of south-western Asia.

"Numerous affinities of traditions, institutions, and customs, connect the
borrowing of script and culture by the Chinese Bak families with the
region of Elam, the confederation of states of which Susa was the chief
town, and the Kussi the principal population.

"What are the historical facts of this connection we do not know. Has the
break-up which happened in those states and resulted in the conquest of
Babylonia by the Elamite king, Kudur Nakhunta, at the date, which is
certain, of 2285 B.C., been also the cause of an eastern conquest and a
settlement in Bactria? and would this account for the old focus of culture
coeval with the earlier period of Assyrian monarchy said to have existed
in Central Asia?

"The two ethnic names, which, as we have pointed out, were those of the
Chinese invaders, Bak and Kutti or Kutta, are not altogether foreign to
those regions. The Chinese Kutti and the Kussi, the Chinese Bak and Bakh,
the ethnic of Bakhdi (Bactria), will be, most likely, one day proved to be
the same ethnic names. Had not the Chinese, previous to my researches, and
quite on different reasons, been traced back westerly to the regions of
Yarkand and Khotan? This is not far distant from the old focus of culture
of Central Asia, and the connection cannot be objected to by geographical
reasons."--Vol. xv. part 2.

[231] Dr. Williams, _Hien-ning_.

[232] Williams, _Shi-Wéi_.

[233] Williams, _Liu-Léi_.

[234] Williams, _Shu King_.

[235] Williams, _Yih and Ts‘ih_.

[236] I am under the impression that the dragons to which Mencius refers
were probably alligators, of which one small species still exists, though
rare, in the Yang-tsze-kiang. So also we may regard as alligators the
dragons referred to above in the annals of the Bamboo Books on the passage
of the Kiang by Yu. Mr. Griffis, in his work on Corea, says, "The creature
called _a-ke_, or alligator, capable of devouring a man, is sometimes
found in the largest rivers."

[237] For a full account of this work, see an Article by E. C. Bridgman in
_Chinese Repository_, xviii. (1849), p. 169; and _Botanicon Sinicum_, by
Dr. E. Bretschneider, in the _Journal_ of the North China Branch of the
Royal Asiatic Society, New Series, vol. xvi. 1881.

[238] _Notes on Chinese Literature_, A. Wylie, Shanghai and London, 1867.

[239] "Bot. Sin." in _Journal_ of N. China Branch R. A. S., 1881.

[240] _Journal Asiatique, Extr._ No. 17 (1839).

[241] The three prefaces by these authors are given in _extenso_ in the
Appendix to this Chapter.

[242] The reader is referred, for a careful _précis_ of the contents of
this valuable work, to an exhaustive paper entitled "Botanicon Sinicum,"
in the _Journal_ of North China Branch Royal Asiatic Society, 1881, by E.
Bretschneider, M.D.

[243] The character for a hare is very like the character for a devil. The
Japanese, in quoting this passage, have fallen into this error.

[244] The dragons' bones sold by apothecaries in China consist of the
fossilized teeth and bones of a variety of species, generally in a
fragmentary condition. The white earth striæ, or dragons' brains, here
referred to, are probably asbestos. The asbestos sold in Chefoo market,
under the name of Lung Ku or dragons' bones, is procured at O-tzu-kung.

[245] The _boletus_, supposed to possess mystic efficacy.

[246] The first two stories are from the _Ko Ku Shi Riyăh_, a recent
history of Japan, from the earliest periods down to the present time, by
Matsunai, with a continuation by a later author. They are contained in the
first chapter of the first volume. The third is given as an ordinary item
of news in the journal called the _Chin-jei-Nippo_, April 30th, 1884.

[247] The idea of the eight heads probably originated in China; thus, in
the caves in Shantung, near Chi-ning Chou, among carvings of mythological
figures and divinities, dating from A.D. 147, we find a tiger's body with
eight heads, all human.

[248] _Mourakoumo_ means "clouds of clouds"; _ama_ means "heaven";
_tsurogi_ means "sword."

[249] White snakes are occasionally, although rarely, seen in Japan. They
are supposed to be messengers from the gods, and are never killed by the
people, but always taken and carried to some temple. The white snake is
worshipped in Nagasaki at a temple called Miyo-ken, at Nishi-yama, which
is the northern part of the city of Nagasaki.

[250] _Mémoires sur les Contrées occidentales, traduits du Sanscrit en
Chinois en l'an 648; et du Chinois en Francais_, par M. Stanislas Julien.
2 vols., Paris, 1857.

[251] _Foĕ Kouĕ Ki, ou Relation des Royaumes Bouddhiques, par Chĕ Fa
Hien._ Translated from the Chinese by M. Abel Remusat; Paris, 1836. This
volume contains a number of very interesting dragon legends, and quaint
conceits about them; but I find nothing in it to supplement my
materialistic argument.

[252] Montaigne, _Essays_, chap. xxvi.

[253] "I fully believe in this great marine monster. I have as much
evidence as to its existence as of anything not seen. Some years ago,
Captain Austin Cooper and the officers and crew of the _Carlisle Castle_,
on a voyage to Melbourne, saw the 'varmint.' A description and sketch of
it were published in the _Argus_. This, when it arrived in London, it
being the 'silly season' in journalism, was seized and torn to pieces by
one of the young lions of the _Daily Telegraph_, in a leading article, in
which much fun was poked at the gallant sailor. 'I don't see any more
sea-serpents,' said my Irish friend to me. 'It is too much to be told that
one of Green's commanders can't tell the difference between a piece of
sea-weed and a live body in the water. If twenty serpents come on the
starboard, all hands shall be ordered to look to port. No London
penny-a-liner shall say again that Austin Cooper is a liar and a fool.'
After this we softened down over some Coleraine whiskey. Again, some three
years ago, the monster was plainly seen off the great reef of New
Caledonia by Commandant Villeneuve, and the officers of the French
man-of-war, the _Seudre_. Chassepots were procured to shoot it, but before
it came within easy range it disappeared. During my late visit to Fiji,
Major James Harding, who was an officer in Cakoban's army when that chief,
'by the grace of God' was king of Fiji, described exactly the same
creature as passing within a few yards of his canoe on a clear moonlight
night in the Bay of Suva. It swam towards a small island outside the reef,
which is known amongst Fijians as the 'Cave of the Big Snake.' Major
Harding is a cool, brave soldier, who saw much hot work with Cakoban's men
against the hill tribes of Vonua Levu. He was once riddled by bullets, and
left for dead. Accustomed for years to travel about the reefs in canoes,
every phase of the aspect of the waters was known to him, and he was not
likely to be frightened with false fire. The extraordinary thing is, that
the English sailor, the French commander, and the Fijian soldier, all gave
the same account of this monster. It is something with a head slightly
raised out of the water, and with a sort of mane streaming behind it,
whilst the back of a long body is seen underneath the water. So, from
these instances, in which I know the witnesses, I fully believe in the
sea-serpent. What is there very wonderful in it, after all? The whale is
the largest living thing. Why shouldn't the waters produce snakes of
gigantic size." THE VAGABOND, in Supplement to the _Australasian_,
September 10, 1881.

[254] Contained in Eden's _Travels_.

[255] Connected with the breathing apparatus?

[256] Pinkerton, _Voyages and Travels_, vol. i. p. 376.

[257] A. de Brooke, _Travels to the North Cape_.

[258] 1 ell = 2 feet.

[259] _Transactions_ of the Wernerian Society, vol. i. p. 442.

[260] No. 92, May 1873; London, Van Voorst.

[261] _Shetland Islands_, p. 565.

[262] Jardine's _Naturalist's Library_, vol. xxv.

[263] How this reminds one of the Chinese dragon.

[264] Within a few days of writing these lines I made one of a party of
four to visit the waterfalls of Taki-kwannon, near Nagasaki. I asked for
estimates of the height of the fall, which was variously guessed, by
different members of the party, at from forty-three to one hundred and
fifty feet.

[265] _Folklore of China_, p. 113.

[266] _Vide Verhandelingen van Het Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en
Weten Schappen, Deel_ xxxix., 1ere Stuk., Batavia, 1877.

[267] About 1-1/3 lb. avoirdupois.

[268] _Contributions to Materia Medica and Natural History of China_, by
F. P. Smith, M.B., London; Shanghai and London, 1871.

I give, in the appendix to this chapter, some accounts of a reputed
monster, the Shan, the description of which by Chinese authors, although
vague, appears to me to point to the sea-serpent. I only insert a portion
of the latter part of the legends regarding it which I find in my
authority, as they are perfectly valueless. The sample given may, however,
be interesting as an example of how the Taouists compiled their absurd
miraculous stories.

[269] For _sea-serpent_ read _octopus_.

[270] I must also add, on the information of Mr. H. C. Syers, of Selangor,
that Captain Douglas, late Resident of Perak, had a large sea-serpent rise
close to him, somewhere off Perak, when in a boat manned by Malays. Mr.
Syers had the account both from Captain Douglas and from the crew; and he
tells me that there is a universal belief in the existence of some large
sea-monster among the Malays of the western coast of the Peninsula.

[271] This is one of the fleet of the important Japanese Mitsu Bish
Company, the equivalent of the P. and O. Company in Japan.

[272] _Pop. Sci. Monthly_, No. 56, December 1876, p. 234.

[273] It must be remembered that it is with a blow of its powerful tail
that the alligator stuns its prey and knocks it into the water (when any
stray animal approaches the bank), and it is with the tail that the
dragon, in the fable related by Ælian, chastises, although gently, its
mistress, and constricts, according to Pliny, the elephant in its folds.

[274] _Nineteenth Century_, March 1877, p. 20. Article on "Authority in
Matters of Opinion," by G. Cornewall Lewis. Reviewed by W. E. Gladstone.

[275] From the _Daheim_, No. 17, Supplement. January 27th, 1883. Leipzig.

[276] 41° Fahrenheit.

[277] _A Collection of Voyages_, in 4 volumes. J. J. Knapton, London,

[278] _A Voyage to the East Indies_, by Francis Leguat. London, 1708.

[279] I find the following note in _Maclean's Guide to Bombay_, for 1883:
"Since the first edition of this Gazette was published, Captain Dundas, of
the P. and O. Company's steamer _Cathay_, has informed me that the
statements of old travellers regarding these serpents are quite accurate.
The serpents are not seen excepting during the south-west monsoon the
season in which alone voyages used to be made to India. In Horsburgh's
_Sailing Directions_, shipmasters are warned to look out for the serpents,
whose presence is a sign that the ship is close to land. Captain Dundas
says that the serpents are yellow or copper-coloured. The largest ones are
farthest out to sea. They lie on the surface of the water, and appear too
lazy even to get out of a steamer's way."

[280] The _Romance of Natural History_, P. H. Gosse, F.R.S., First Series,
London, 1880, 12th edition; Second Series, 1875, 5th edition.

[281] "At length, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, they were
thrown open for examination by the desire which then existed in Germany to
possess the _ebur fossile_, or 'unicorn's horn,' a supposed infallible
specific for the cure of many diseases. The unicorn horn was to be found
in the caves, and the search for it revealed the remains of lions, hyænas,
elephants, and many other tropical and strange animals." _Pop. Sci.
Monthly_, No. 32.

[282] Book iv. ch. cxci. and cxcii.

[283] Book ii. ch. ii. § 8.

[284] Book viii. ch. xxxii.

[285] Book xi. ch. cvi.

[286] _Ibid._

[287] Ælian, _De Naturâ Animalium_, Book xvi. ch. xx.

[288] _De Bello Gallico_, ch. ii. p. 26.

[289] _Vide_ Charton's _Voyageurs du Moyen Ages_, vol. ii. p. 25.

[290] Harris' _Voyages_, vol. i. p. 362; "Africa," by John Leo.

[291] Pinkerton's _Voyages_, vol. i. p. 392; "Ethiopia," by Jobus

[292] _The Navigation and Voyage of Lewes Vertomannus, of Rome, into
Arabia, Egypt, &c., in 1503_, contained in "_The History of Travayle in
the East and West Indies_," done into English by Richard Eden. London,

[293] Berynto, a city on the seacoast of Syria, Phœnicia.

[294] Sining is on the western frontier of Kansuh, towards Kokonor.

[295] Pinkerton's _Voyages_, vol. xv. p. 23.

[296] Pinkerton's _Voyages_, vol. vii. p. 333.

[297] _Travels in Tartary, Thibet, and China._ Huc and Gabet. Translated
by W. Hazlitt, vol. ii. p. 245.

[298] Gosse, _Romance of Natural History_.

[299] Prejevalski's _Mongolia_, vol. ii. p. 207; London, 1876.

[300] See _'Rh Ya_ and _Yuen Keen Luy Han_, vol. ccccxxix. p. 1.

[301] This height will have to be reduced in accordance with the
difference between the magnitude of old and new standards of measurement.

[302] A poet, native of Hang Cheu.

[303] _Vide_ the translation into French by L. Serrurier, Leyden, 1875.

[304] "The Chinese have a tradition that this animal skips, and is so holy
or harmless that it won't even tread upon an insect, and that it is to
come in the shape of an incomparable man, a revealer of mysteries,
supernatural and divine, and a great lover of all mankind, who is expected
to come, about the time of a particular constellation in the heavens, on a
special mission for their benefit. The Japanese unicorn answers the
description of the animal bearing that name, and supposed to be still
extant in Ethiopia, and which is equal to the size of a small horse,
reddish in colour, and slender as a gazelle, the male having one horn. The
unicorn is the ancient crest of the kings of Israel, and is still retained
by the Mikado." _Epitome of the Ancient History of Japan_, p. 116; N.
McLeod, Nagasaki, 1875.

[305] Vol. ccccxxx. p. 18.

[306] Vol. ccccxxxii. p. 38.

[307] This will have to be reduced by nearly one-half, to equate it with
the present measures of length.

[308] _San Li T'u_, vol. viii. p. 3. The _San Li T'u_ is an illustrated,
modern, edition by Nieh Tsung I. of the old _San Li_; it was written
during the reign of the great patron of literature, Kang Hi (A.D. 1661 to

[309] Vol. vii. No. 1, p. 72.

[310] Harris, _Game and Wild Animals of Southern Africa_. The Oryx
Capensis--The Gemsbock.

"The figure of the renowned unicorn can be traced in all the ancient
ear-rings, coins, and Latin heraldic insignia, to some one of the members
of the oryxine family; of all the whimsies of antiquity, whether emanating
from the unbridled and fertile fancies of the people of Egypt and Persia,
or devised by the more chaste and classic taste which distinguished Greece
and Rome, the unicorn--unquestionably the most celebrated--is the chimera
which has in modern ages engrossed the largest portion of attention from
the curious.

"The rhinoceros is supposed to be the animal so often alluded to in
Scripture under the name of _reem_ or unicorn, yet the combination
presented in the oryx of the antelopine and equine characters, the horns
and cloven hoof of the one, blended with the erect mane, general contour
and long switch tail of the other, corresponds in all essential
particulars with the extant delineations and descriptions of the heraldic
unicorn, which is universally represented to have been possessed of a
straight slender horn, ringed at the base, and to have the hoof divided;
to have worn a mane reversed, a black flowing tail, and a turkey-like tuft
on the larynx, whilst both the size and ground colour were said to be
those of the ass, with the addition of sundry black markings, imparting to
the face and forehead a piebald appearance.

"The alterations required to reduce the African oryx to the standard of
this model, are slight and simple, nor can it be doubted that they have
been gradually introduced by successive copyists; the idea of the single
horn having been derived in the first instance from profile
representations of that animal given in bas-relief on the sculptured
monuments of ancient Egypt and Nubia.... They have in their aspect a
certain bovine expression; and Arabs and other natives never consider them
as antelopes but as a species of buffalo.... The oryx boldly defends
itself when pressed by the hunters, is quarrelsome during the rutting
season, and it is said that even the lion dreads an encounter with it."

[311] Even the patient ass, in a state of nature, is endowed with great
courage. Baharan, one of the early Persian monarchs, received the surname
Baharan Guz from his transfixing, with one arrow, a wild ass and a lion
engaged in active combat.

[312] Black, red, azure (green, blue, or black), white, yellow.

[313] Many species of bird do not attain their mature plumage until long
after they have attained adult size, as some among the gulls and birds of
prey. I think I am right in saying that some of these latter only become
perfect in their third year. We all know the story of the ugly duckling,
and the little promise which it gave of its future beauty.

[314] According to Dr. Williams, the Lwan was a fabulous bird described as
the essence of divine influence, and regarded as the embodiment of every
grace and beauty, and that the argus pheasant was the type of it.

Dr. Williams says that it was customary to hang little bells from the
phœnix that marked the royal cars.

[315] In reference to Hwang Ti (?) writing the Bamboo Books?

[316] The Wu Tung is the _Eleococca verrucosa_, according to Dr. Williams;
others identify it with the _Sterculia platanifolia_. There is a Chinese
proverb to the effect that without having Wu Tung trees you cannot expect
to see phœnixes in your garden.

[317] Berosus lived in the time of Alexander the Great, or about B.C.
330-260, or 300 years after the Jews were carried captive to Babylon.

[318] _Encyclopædia Britannica._

[319] _Jăn-jăn_ means a gradual but imperceptible advance.

[320] Defined by Williams "as the dragon of morasses and thickets, which
has scales and no horn, corresponding very nearly to the fossil
iguanodon." _Vide_ the description (ante) from the _Pan-Tsaou-Kang-mu_,

[321] _Ying_--correct, true.

[322] According to Williams, this is a young dragon without a horn,
although others, as in the text, say with one.

[323] _P'an_--to curl up, to coil.

[324] The male and female principle.

[325] See the notices in the body of the work from the _Shan Hai King_.

[326] See the description of the dragon from the _P'au-Tsaou-Kang-mu_.

[327] Waters of such specific gravity that even a feather would sink.

[328] Probably a pair from each stream.

[329] In Foh-kien.

[330] Probably equivalent to "abbot."

[331] Extract from the _Yuen Keen Lei Han_, vol. ccccxxxviii., p. 23.

[332] In drilling an army there are names for all positions of the army.
Thus, the general says: "Arrange yourselves like a snake, or like a
dragon, or any other imaginable shape."

[333] Williams gives this translation only, but I think there must be
another meaning; probably some sort of reptile is indicated.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Footnote 128 appears on page 150 of the text, footnote 157 on page
168, and footnote 326 on page 400. The original text contains no
corresponding markers.

Several quotation marks are unmatched, as they were in the original

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