Page images
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]





JANUARY, 1849.

THE GREAT SEA SERPENT. THE existence of the great sea serpent, although such a creature is minutely described by many of our earlier naturalists, has been long doubted. It has been, however, lately established beyond all question by an official letter to the Admiralty from Capt. M'Quhæ, of Her Majesty's ship “Dædalus," alluded to in our last volume, at page 510, and given at full in our present article.

Our engraving of it is copied, with some slight alterations which were found necessary to adapt it to the written description, from the official drawing, obligingly furnished to the “ Illustrated London News,” to which paper we are principally indebted for the following particulars.

The first intelligence on this subject appeared in the “Times” of the 10th October last, in a communication from Plymouth, dated Oct. 7, as follows :

" When the ‘ Dædalus ' frigate, Captain M‘Quhæ, which arrived here on the 4th inst., was on her passage home from the East Indies, between the Cape of Good Hope and St. Helena, her captain, and most of her officers and crew, at four o'clock one afternoon, saw a sea-serpent. The creature was twenty minutes in sight of the frigate, and passed under her quarter. Its head appeared to be about four feet out of the water, and there were about sixty feet


[ocr errors]

of its body in a straight line on the surface. It is calculated that there must have been under water a length of thirty or forty feet more, by which it propelled itself at the rate of 15 miles an hour. The diameter of the exposed part of the body was about sixteen inches ; and when it extended its jaws, which were full of large jagged teeth, they seemed sufficiently capacious to admit of a tall man standing upright between them. The ship was sailing north at the rate of eight miles an hour. The Dædalus' left the Cape of Good Hope on the 30th of July, and reached St. Helena on the 16th of August.”

Next the following report was forwarded to the Admiralty, by Capt. M'Quhæ :

“Her Majesty's ship · 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 ‘Dadalus,' under my command, on her passage from the East Indies, I have the honor 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 Barret, 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 maintop-sail yard would show in the water, there was at the very least sixty feet of the animal a fleur d'eau, no portion of which was, to 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 slighiest degree from its course to the S.W., which it held on at the pace of from 12 to 15 miles per hour, apparently on some determined purpose.

“ The diameter of the serpent was about 15 or 16 inches behind the head, which was, without any doubt, that of a snake ; and it was never, during the 20 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 seaweed, 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 post.--I have, &c.,

• Peter M‘Quhæ, Captain. “ To Admiral Sir W. H. Gage, G.C.H., Devonport."

The drawing above-named has been, by the courtesy of Captain MʻQuhæ, laid before the public through the medium already referred to.

The annexed evidence is from a letter addressed by Captain Beechey to Sir Francis Beaufort, F.R.S., Hydrographer :

“What an extraordinary creature the • Dædalus’ seems to have fallen in with ?

“ The description recalls to my mind an extraordinary appearance we witnessed in the ‘ Blossom 'in crossing the Atlantic. I took it for the trunk of a large tree, and before I could get my glass upon deck it had disappeared, and I could no where find itfresh breezes at the time.”

Long ago, the Great Sea Serpent was well known in Scandinavia. Thus Hans Egede, in “A full and particular relation of his voyage to Greenland, as a missionary, in the year 1734,” published in Danish, at Copenhagen, 1740, records :

“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 (the Danish word is laller,' which signifies something between paws and fins ; a seal's flappers are called lallen'); its body was covered with shell-fish, or scales (the Danish word used here signifies either); 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 his body."

On the right hand of our engraving the representation by Egede, is copied from his work.


We have not chosen these words as our motto, from any affectation of singularity ; but as admirably suited, when properly understood and applied, to introduce the New Year to the readers of the Youths' Magazine.

In our number for January last, we noticed under the title of “The Youth's own Bible," a beautiful edition of the Holy Scriptures then but partly published, by the Religious Tract Society.*

The little volume is lately completed; and to it we are indebted for the suggestion which we are now about to follow out. Not that this rendering of the opening verse of the sixth chapter of St. Paul's epistle to the Hebrews is to be found only in the Pocket Paragraph Bible, but because we there met with it when our thoughts were revolving a fitting paper for the present season; and it has thus assumed in our minds a bearing of highest interest, and perhaps some little novelty.

For where could we have found a theme so proper for the beginning of a New Year as that which conducts us to the beginning of our Christian course--not that we may there remain sta

* « The Holy Bible, according to the authorized version, arranged in paragraphs and parallelisms, with an entirely new selection of copious references to parallel and illustrative passages, prefaces to the several books, and numerous notes."- Religious Tract Society. We rejoice to see this cheap and elegant little volume completed. We know of no edition of the Scriptures so suitable for a Christmas or New Year's Gift to the Young, and shall be happy to learn that it has met with a sale commensurate with the labor and cost of its production.

« PreviousContinue »