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Sea Monsters Unmasked and Sea Fables Explained   By: (1865-1932)

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First Page:

[Illustration: THE SEA SERPENT, AS FIRST SEEN FROM H.M.S. 'DÆDALUS.' Frontispiece. ]

( International Fisheries Exhibition LONDON, 1883)

SEA MONSTERS UNMASKED

BY

HENRY LEE, F.L.S., F.G.S., F.Z.S.

SOMETIME NATURALIST OF THE BRIGHTON AQUARIUM AND AUTHOR OF 'THE OCTOPUS, OR THE DEVIL FISH OF FICTION AND FACT'

ILLUSTRATED

LONDON WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES EXHIBITION AND 13 CHARING CROSS, S.W. 1883

PREFACE.

As I commence this little history of two sea monsters there comes to my mind a remark made to me by my friend, Mr. Samuel L. Clemens "Mark Twain" which illustrates a feeling that many a writer must have experienced when dealing with a subject that has been previously well handled. Expressing to me one day the gratification he felt in having made many pleasant acquaintances in England, he added, with dry humour, and a grave countenance, "Yes! I owe your countrymen no grudge or ill will. I freely forgive them, though one of them did me a grievous wrong, an irreparable injury! It was Shakspeare: if he had not written those plays of his, I should have done so! They contain my thoughts, my sentiments! He forestalled me!"

In treating of the so called "sea serpent," I have been anticipated by many able writers. Mr. Gosse, in his delightful book, 'The Romance of Natural History,' published in 1862, devoted a chapter to it; and numerous articles concerning it have appeared in various papers and periodicals.

But, for the information from which those authors have drawn their inferences, and on which they have founded their opinions, they have been greatly indebted, as must be all who have seriously to consider this subject, to the late experienced editor of the Zoologist , Mr. Edward Newman, a man of wonderful power of mind, of great judgment, a profound thinker, and an able writer. At a time when, as he said, "the shafts of ridicule were launched against believers and unbelievers in the sea serpent in a very pleasing and impartial manner," he, in the true spirit of philosophical inquiry, in 1847, opened the columns of his magazine to correspondence on this topic, and all the more recent reports of marine monsters having been seen are therein recorded. To him, therefore, the fullest acknowledgments are due.

The great cuttles, also, have been the subject of articles in various magazines, notably one by Mr. W. Saville Kent, F.L.S., in the 'Popular Science Review' of April, 1874, and a chapter in my little book on the Octopus, published in 1873, is also devoted to them. In writing of them as the living representatives of the kraken, and as having been frequently mistaken for the "sea serpent," my deductions have been drawn from personal knowledge, and an intimate acquaintance with the habits, form, and structure of the animals described. It was only by watching the movements of specimens of the "common squid" ( Loligo vulgaris ), and the "little squid" ( L. media ), which lived in the tanks of the Brighton Aquarium, that I recognised in their peculiar habit of occasionally swimming half submerged, with uplifted caudal extremity, and trailing arms, the fact that I had before me the "sea serpent" of many a well authenticated anecdote. A mere knowledge of their form and anatomy after death had never suggested to me that which became at once apparent when I saw them in life.

It is a pleasure to me to acknowledge gratefully the kindness I have met with in connection with the illustrations of this book. The proprietors of the Illustrated London News not only gave me permission to copy, in reduced size, their two pictures of the Dædalus incident, but presented to me electrotype copies of all others small enough for these pages namely, "Jonah and the Monster," Egede's "Sea Serpent," and the Whale as seen from the Pauline . Equally kind have been the proprietors of the Field ... Continue reading book >>




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