Originally posted by chissler
man I'm bored.
someone tell a story or make a worthy attempt to entertain me.
I think I can post the whole story because it is in the public domain:
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea..............
A SHIFTING REEF
THE year 1866 was signalised by a remarkable incident, a mysterious
and puzzling phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten. Not to
mention rumours which agitated the maritime population and excited the
public mind, even in the interior of continents, seafaring men were
particularly excited. Merchants, common sailors, captains of vessels,
skippers, both of Europe and America, naval officers of all countries, and
the Governments of several States on the two continents, were deeply
interested in the matter.
For some time past vessels had been met by "an enormous thing," a long
object, spindle-shaped, occasionally phosphorescent, and infinitely larger
and more rapid in its movements than a whale.
The facts relating to this apparition (entered in various log-books)
agreed in most respects as to the shape of the object or creature in
question, the untiring rapidity of its movements, its surprising power of
locomotion, and the peculiar life with which it seemed endowed. If it was a
whale, it surpassed in size all those hitherto classified in science.
Taking into consideration the mean of observations made at divers times --
rejecting the timid estimate of those who assigned to this object a length
of two hundred feet, equally with the exaggerated opinions which set it
down as a mile in width and three in length -- we might fairly conclude
that this mysterious being surpassed greatly all dimensions admitted by the
learned ones of the day, if it existed at all. And that it did exist was an
undeniable fact; and, with that tendency which disposes the human mind in
favour of the
marvellous, we can understand the excitement produced in the entire world
by this supernatural apparition. As to classing it in the list of fables,
the idea was out of the question.
On the 20th of July, 1866, the steamer Governor Higginson, of the
Calcutta and Burnach Steam Navigation Company, had met this moving mass
five miles off the east coast of Australia. Captain Baker thought at first
that he was in the presence of an unknown sandbank; he even prepared to
determine its exact position when two columns of water, projected by the
mysterious object, shot with a hissing noise a hundred and fifty feet up
into the air. Now, unless the sandbank had been submitted to the
intermittent eruption of a geyser, the Governor Higginson had to do neither
more nor less than with an aquatic mammal, unknown till then, which threw
up from its blow-boles columns of water mixed with air and vapour.
Similar facts were observed on the 23rd of July in the same year, in
the Pacific Ocean, by the Columbus, of the West India and Pacific Steam
Navigation Company. But this extraordinary creature could transport itself
from one place to another with surprising velocity; as, in an interval of
three days, the Governor Higginson and the Columbus had observed it at two
different points of the chart, separated by a distance of more than seven
hundred nautical leagues.
Fifteen days later, two thousand miles farther off, the Helvetia, of
the Compagnie-Nationale, and the Shannon, of the Royal Mail Steamship
Company, sailing to windward in that portion of the Atlantic lying between
the United States and Europe, respectively signalled the monster to each
other in 42° 15' N. lat. and 60° 35' W. long. In these simultaneous
observations they thought themselves justified in estimating the minimum
length of the mammal at more than three hundred and fifty feet, as the
Shannon and Helvetia were of smaller dimensions than it, though they
measured three hundred feet over all.
Now the largest whales, those which frequent those parts of the sea
round the Aleutian, Kulammak, and Umgullich
islands, have never exceeded the length of sixty yards, if they attain
In every place of great resort the monster was the fashion. They sang
of it in the cafes, ridiculed it in the papers, and represented it on the
stage. All kinds of stories were circulated regarding it. There appeared in
the papers caricatures of every gigantic and imaginary creature, from the
white whale, the terrible "Moby Dick" of sub-arctic regions, to the immense
kraken, whose tentacles could entangle a ship of five hundred tons and
hurry it into the abyss of the ocean. The legends of ancient times were
Then burst forth the unending argument between the believers and the
unbelievers in the societies of the wise and the scientific journals. "The
question of the monster" inflamed all minds. Editors of scientific
journals, quarrelling with believers in the supernatural, spilled seas of
ink during this memorable campaign, some even drawing blood; for from the
sea-serpent they came to direct personalities.
During the first months of the year 1867 the question seemed buried,
never to revive, when new facts were brought before the public. It was then
no longer a scientific problem to be solved, but a real danger seriously to
be avoided. The question took quite another shape. The monster became a
small island, a rock, a reef, but a reef of indefinite and shifting
On the 5th of March, 1867, the Moravian, of the Montreal Ocean
Company, finding herself during the night in 27° 30' lat. and 72° 15'
long., struck on her starboard quarter a rock, marked in no chart for that
part of the sea. Under the combined efforts of the wind and its four
hundred horse- power, it was going at the rate of thirteen knots. Had it
not been for the superior strength of the hull of the Moravian, she would
have been broken by the shock and gone down with the 237 passengers she was
bringing home from Canada.
The accident happened about five o'clock in the morning, as the day
was breaking. The officers of the quarter-deck hurried to the after-part of
the vessel. They examined the sea with the most careful attention. They saw
nothing but a strong eddy about three cables' length distant, as if the
had been violently agitated. The bearings of the place were taken exactly,
and the Moravian continued its route without apparent damage. Had it struck
on a submerged rock, or on an enormous wreck? They could not tell; but, on
examination of the ship's bottom when undergoing repairs, it was found that
part of her keel was broken.
This fact, so grave in itself, might perhaps have been forgotten like
many others if, three weeks after, it had not been re-enacted under similar
circumstances. But, thanks to the nationality of the victim of the shock,
thanks to the reputation of the company to which the vessel belonged, the
circumstance became extensively circulated.
The 13th of April, 1867, the sea being beautiful, the breeze
favourable, the Scotia, of the Cunard Company's line, found herself in 15°
12' long. and 45° 37' lat. She was going at the speed of thirteen knots and
At seventeen minutes past four in the afternoon, whilst the passengers
were assembled at lunch in the great saloon, a slight shock was felt on the
hull of the Scotia, on her quarter, a little aft of the port-paddle.
The Scotia had not struck, but she had been struck, and seemingly by
something rather sharp and penetrating than blunt. The shock had been so
slight that no one had been alarmed, had it not been for the shouts of the
carpenter's watch, who rushed on to the bridge, exclaiming, "We are
sinking! we are sinking!" At first the passengers were much frightened, but
Captain Anderson hastened to reassure them. The danger could not be
imminent. The Scotia, divided into seven compartments by strong partitions,
could brave with impunity any leak. Captain Anderson went down immediately
into the hold. He found that the sea was pouring into the fifth
compartment; and the rapidity of the influx proved that the force of the
water was considerable. Fortunately this compartment did not hold the
boilers, or the fires would have been immediately extinguished. Captain
Anderson ordered the engines to be stopped at once, and one of the men went
down to ascertain the extent of the injury. Some minutes afterwards they
discovered the existence of a large hole, two yards in diameter, in the
ship's bottom. Such a
leak could not be stopped; and the Scotia, her paddles half submerged, was
obliged to continue her course. She was then three hundred miles from Cape
Clear, and, after three days' delay, which caused great uneasiness in
Liverpool, she entered the basin of the company.
The engineers visited the Scotia, which was put in dry dock. They
could scarcely believe it possible; at two yards and a half below
water-mark was a regular rent, in the form of an isosceles triangle. The
broken place in the iron plates was so perfectly defined that it could not
have been more neatly done by a punch. It was clear, then, that the
instrument producing the perforation was not of a common stamp and, after
having been driven with prodigious strength, and piercing an iron plate 1
3/8 inches thick, had withdrawn itself by a backward motion.
Such was the last fact, which resulted in exciting once more the
torrent of public opinion. From this moment all unlucky casualties which
could not be otherwise accounted for were put down to the monster.
Upon this imaginary creature rested the responsibility of all these
shipwrecks, which unfortunately were considerable; for of three thousand
ships whose loss was annually recorded at Lloyd's, the number of sailing
and steam-ships supposed to be totally lost, from the absence of all news,
amounted to not less than two hundred!
Now, it was the "monster" who, justly or unjustly, was accused of
their disappearance, and, thanks to it, communication between the different
continents became more and more dangerous. The public demanded sharply that
the seas should at any price be relieved from this formidable cetacean. 1.
1. Member of the whale family.
PRO AND CON
AT THE period when these events took place, I had just returned from a
scientific research in the disagreeable territory
of Nebraska, in the United States. In virtue of my office as Assistant
Professor in the Museum of Natural History in Paris, the French Government
had attached me to that expedition. After six months in Nebraska, I arrived
in New York towards the end of March, laden with a precious collection. My
departure for France was fixed for the first days in May. Meanwhile I was
occupying myself in classifying my mineralogical, botanical, and zoological
riches, when the accident happened to the Scotia.
I was perfectly up in the subject which was the question of the day.
How could I be otherwise? I had read and reread all the American and
European papers without being any nearer a conclusion. This mystery puzzled
me. Under the impossibility of forming an opinion, I jumped from one
extreme to the other. That there really was something could not be doubted,
and the incredulous were invited to put their finger on the wound of the
On my arrival at New York the question was at its height. The theory
of the floating island, and the unapproachable sandbank, supported by minds
little competent to form a judgment, was abandoned. And, indeed, unless
this shoal had a machine in its stomach, how could it change its position
with such astonishing rapidity?
From the same cause, the idea of a floating hull of an enormous wreck
was given up.
There remained, then, only two possible solutions of the question,
which created two distinct parties: on one side, those who were for a
monster of colossal strength; on the other, those who were for a submarine
vessel of enormous motive power.
But this last theory, plausible as it was, could not stand against
inquiries made in both worlds. That a private gentleman should have such a
machine at his command was not likely. Where, when, and how was it built?
and how could its construction have been kept secret? Certainly a
Government might possess such a destructive machine. And in these
disastrous times, when the ingenuity of man has multiplied the power of
weapons of war, it was possible that, without the
knowledge of others, a State might try to work such a formidable engine.
But the idea of a war machine fell before the declaration of
Governments. As public interest was in question, and transatlantic
communications suffered, their veracity could not be doubted. But how admit
that the construction of this submarine boat had escaped the public eye?
For a private gentleman to keep the secret under such circumstances would
be very difficult, and for a State whose every act is persistently watched
by powerful rivals, certainly impossible.
Upon my arrival in New York several persons did me the honour of
consulting me on the phenomenon in question. I had published in France a
work in quarto, in two volumes, entitled Mysteries of the Great Submarine
Grounds. This book, highly approved of in the learned world, gained for me
a special reputation in this rather obscure branch of Natural History. My
advice was asked. As long as I could deny the reality of the fact, I
confined myself to a decided negative. But soon, finding myself driven into
a corner, I was obliged to explain myself point by point. I discussed the
question in all its forms, politically and scientifically; and I give here
an extract from a carefully-studied article which I published in the number
of the 30th of April. It ran as follows:
"After examining one by one the different theories, rejecting all
other suggestions, it becomes necessary to admit the existence of a marine
animal of enormous power.
"The great depths of the ocean are entirely unknown to us. Soundings
cannot reach them. What passes in those remote depths -- what beings live,
or can live, twelve or fifteen miles beneath the surface of the waters --
what is the organisation of these animals, we can scarcely conjecture.
However, the solution of the problem submitted to me may modify the form of
the dilemma. Either we do know all the varieties of beings which people our
planet, or we do not. If we do not know them all -- if Nature has still
secrets in the deeps for us, nothing is more conformable to reason than to
admit the existence of fishes, or cetaceans of other kinds,
or even of new species, of an organisation formed to inhabit the strata
inaccessible to soundings, and which an accident of some sort has brought
at long intervals to the upper level of the ocean.
"If, on the contrary, we do know all living kinds, we must necessarily
seek for the animal in question amongst those marine beings already
classed; and, in that case, I should be disposed to admit the existence of
a gigantic narwhal.
"The common narwhal, or unicorn of the sea, often attains a length of
sixty feet. Increase its size fivefold or tenfold, give it strength
proportionate to its size, lengthen its destructive weapons, and you obtain
the animal required. It will have the proportions determined by the
officers of the Shannon, the instrument required by the perforation of the
Scotia, and the power necessary to pierce the hull of the steamer.
"Indeed, the narwhal is armed with a sort of ivory sword, a halberd,
according to the expression of certain naturalists. The principal tusk has
the hardness of steel. Some of these tusks have been found buried in the
bodies of whales, which the unicorn always attacks with success. Others
have been drawn out, not without trouble, from the bottoms of ships, which
they bad pierced through and through, as a gimlet pierces a barrel. The
Museum of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris possesses one of these defensive
weapons, two yards and a quarter in length, and fifteen inches in diameter
at the base.
"Very well! suppose this weapon to be six times stronger and the
animal ten times more powerful; launch it at the rate of twenty miles an
hour, and you obtain a shock capable of producing the catastrophe required.
Until further information, therefore, I shall maintain it to be a
sea-unicorn of colossal dimensions, armed not with a halberd, but with a
real spur, as the armoured frigates, or the 'rams' of war, whose
massiveness and motive power it would possess at the same time. Thus may
this puzzling phenomenon be explained, unless there be something over and
above all that one has ever conjectured, seen, perceived, or experienced;
which is just within the bounds of possibility."
If you want, I can continue at page 15, it is public domain........
Or you could rent the movie, I can't post that without repercussions. :shk:
[edit on 6/2/2006 by anxietydisorder]