Reptilians in Literature
A Sussex Dragon Discourse
"True and Wonderful. A discourse relating a strange and monstrous serpent (or dragon) lately discovered and yet living, to the great annoyance and divers slaughters both of man and cattell, by his strong and violent poyson: in sussex, two miles from horden, in a woode called st leonard's forrest, and thirtie miles from london, this present month of august 1614. With the true generation of serpents".
"In sussex, there is a pretty market towne, called horsden, neare unto it a forrest, called st leonard's forrest, and there, in a vast and unfrequented place, heathie, vaultie, full of unwholesome shades, and overgrown hollows, where this serpent is thought to be bred; but, wheresoever bred, certaine and true it is, that there it yet lives."
"Within 3 or 4 miles of the compass, are its usual haunts, oftentimes in a place called faygate, and it hath been seen within halfe a mile of horsham; a wonder, no doupt, most terrible and noisome to the inhabitants thereabouts." "
"There is always in his tracke or path left a glutinous or slimie matter (as by a small similitude we may perceive a snaile's) which is very corrupt and offensive to the scent; insomuch that they perceive the air to be putrified withall, which must needs to be very dangerous. for much of the corruption of it cannot strike the outward part of a man, unless heated into his blood; yet receiving it in any of the breathing organs (mouth or nose) it is at any authoritie of all authors, writing in that kinde, mortall and deadlie, as one thus saith:
"Noxia serpantem est admixo sanguine pertis" --- Lucan
"This serpent (or dragon, as some call it) is reputed to be nine feete, or rather more in lenth, and shaped in the forme of an axeltree of a cart ; a quantitie of thickness in the middest, and somewhat smaller at both endes. The former part, which he shootes forth as a necke, is supposed to be an elle long; with a white ring, as if it were, of scales about it. The scales alomg his back seem to be blackish, and so much as discovered under his bellie, appeareth to be red; for i speak of no nearer description than of reasonable occular distance. For coming near it; hath already beene too dearly payd for you, as you shall hear hereafter".
"It is likwise discovered to have large feete but the eye may be there deceived; for some suppose that serpents have no feete, but glide upon certain ribbes and scales, which defend them from the upper part of their throat unto the lower part of their bellie, and also cause them to move much faster. For so this doth, and rids away (as we call it) as fast as a man can run."
"He is of countenance very proud, and at the sight or nearing men or cattell, will raise his necke upright, and seem to listen and looke about, with a great arrogancy. there are likewise on either side of him discovered, two great bunches so big as a large football, and (as some thinke) will in time grow into wings; but god, i hope, will (to defend the poor people in the neighbourhood) that he be destroyed before he grows to full fledge".
"He will cast his venom about 4 rodde from him, as by woeful experience it was proved on the bodies of a man and a woman comming that way, who afterwards were found dead, being poysoned and very much swelled, but not preyed upon".
"Likewise a man going to chase it, as he imagined, to destroy it with two mastive dogs, and yet not knowing the great danger of it, his dogs were killed, and he himelf glad to returne to preserve his own life. Yet this is to be noted, that the dogs were not preyed upon, but slain and left whole: for his food is thought to be, for the most part, in a conie warren, which he much frequents; and it is found much scanted and impaired in the encrease it had woont to afford".
From the Hareian Miscellany.
Archive date: 04-07-01
Supplied by Peter James Froude
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