February 19, 2010
In a passage in his History of Poland (1698), in a paragraph subtitled ‘monstrous fish’, Bernard Connor explained:
Dr. Conner, in his Memoirs says, that it was reported when he was in Poland, that the Year before he came thither a Barbel Fish was found in the River San, at Velasco, an Estate of the late Queens, which was above 4 Polish Ells long, which is better than 8 Foot of our measure, and near 3 Foot broad, and weighed at least 200 weight. He says that the same Species of Fish, of this largeness, are very common in that River, and one was reported to have had an entire Skeleton of a Man, suppos’d to have been drown’d some time before, found in his Belly, together with a Knife and Sheath. This Fish has no Scales.
In addition to this formidable and monstrous fish, there were fish that could be used as meterological tools:
He says likewise, that there are Fish in Lithuania which are made use of to shew the change of Weather: For this purpose they are to be put into a Bottle, where they will make a sort of squeeking noise when the weather is to alter.
Connor also found that there were in Poland ‘a sort of Hogs with uncloven-Feet’.
Connor (1666-98) was an Irish Catholic physician who lived much of his life on the continent. He had occasion to visit Poland after being made supervisor of the sons of the crown chancellor of that country. He became personal physician to King Jan III Sobieski.