New Complete and Universal Body or Systems of Natural History (London, 1785)

Chapter l. Natural History of fishes of the cetaceous kind. (Volume 12) The whale and its varieties, the cachalot, the dolphin, the grampus and the parpus.

A new complete and universal body or system of natural history: being a grand, accurate, and extensive description and faithful history of all the several classes of animals, which inhabit the air, the earth, and the water in the several parts of the world; comprehending a general and very particular account and descriptions of all kinds of vegetables, fossils, shells minerals; it also includes a theory of the earth in general.

 New Complete and Universal Body or 
Systems of Natural History
Millar, G. H., 1785 
Presented by Thomas Phillips, 1843 (PHI 00407)

The description of a whale relates to this picture: "It is a large heavy animal and the head alone makes a third of its bulk, the under lip is much broader than the upper.The tongue is composed of a soft spongy fat, capable of fielding five or six barrels of blubber. The gullet is very small for so vast a fish not exceeding four inches width. Inthe middle of the head are two orifices through which it spouts water to a vast height and with a great noise, especially when disturbed or wounded. The eyes are not larger than an ox; they are placed towards the back of the head, being the most convenient situation to enable them to see both before and behind.

In the back there is no fin, but on the sides beneath each eye, are two large ones. The tail is board and semi-lunar: and when the fish lies on one side its blow is tremendous. This whale varies in colour; the back of some being red, and the belly generally white. Some are black others are mottled, and others quite white, according to the observations of Morten, who says that the colours in the water are extremely beautiful, and that their skin is very smooth and slippery".

George Henry Millar also wrote The New and Universal System of Geography, assisted by one William Langford, who had accompanied Captain Cook in making his discoveries. Here you can view maps ofAmerica, which were engraved by T. Londer c.1785, showing the tracks of Cook's explorations.