Friday, October 16, 2015

Sea Fables Explained

Henry Lee - Sea Fables Explained (1883)

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An early skeptical work, examining the dubious nature of mermaids, hydras, whale spouts and barnacle geese.  "The belief that wild geese, instead of being hatched from eggs, like other birds, grew on trees and rotten wood has never been surpassed as a specimen of ignorant credulity and persistent error."

The author also wrote Sea Monsters Unmasked the same year.  Stoker apparently drew on the works for background to Dracula.  Henry Lee (1826-1888) was a naturalist at the Brighton Aquarium and temporarily its director.  He wrote notes for visitors to the aquarium.  The DNB says he "instituted important experiments on the migration of smelts".