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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

3137 Jonathan Swift 1667-1745 John Bartlett

AUTHOR:Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)
QUOTATION:Seamen have a custom, when they meet a whale, to fling him out an empty tub by way of amusement, to divert him from laying violent hands upon the ship. 1
ATTRIBUTION:Tale of a Tub. Preface.
Note 1.
In Sebastian Munster’s “Cosmography” there is a cut of a ship to which a whale was coming too close for her safety, and of the sailors throwing a tub to the whale, evidently to play with. This practice is also mentioned in an old prose translation of the “Ship of Fools.”—Sir James Mackintosh: Appendix to the Life of Sir Thomas More. [back]