The accompanying illustration, though heading the chapter in Olaus
Magnus regarding the Swamfisck and other fish, does not at all seem to
elucidate the text:--"The Variety of these Fish, or rather Monsters, is
here set down, because of their admirable form, and many properties of
Nature, as they often come to the Norway Shores amongst other
Creatures, and they are catcht for their Fat, which they have in great
d abundance. For the Fisher-men purge it, by boyling it like
flesh, on the fire, and they sell it to anoint leather, or for Oyl to
burn in Lamps, to continue light, when it is perpetual darkness.
Wherefore the first Monster that comes, is of a round form, in Norway
called Swamfisck, the greatest glutton of all other Sea-Monsters. For
he is scarce satisfied, though he eat continually. He is said to have no
distinct stomach; and so what he eats turns into the thickness of his
body, that he appears nothing else than one Lump of Conjoyned Fat. He
dilates and extends himself beyond measure, and when he can be extended
no more, he easily casts out fishes by his mouth because he wants a neck
as other fishes do. His mouth and belly are continued one to the other.
But this Creature is so thick, that when there is danger, he can, (like
the Hedg-Hog) re-double his flesh, fat and skin, and contract and cover
himself; nor doth he that but to his own loss, because fearing Beasts
that are his Enemies, he will not open himself when he is oppressed
with hunger, but lives by feeding on his own flesh, choosing rather to
be consumed in part by himself, than to be totally devoured by Wild
Beasts. If the danger be past, he will try to save himself.