The Viper

The Viper by Jemima Blackburn (née Wedderburn) (1823-1909) Click on image to enlarge it. 1886. “Photographed from the originals and printed in planotype.” From Bible Beasts and Birds (Hathi Trust online version of a copy in the Getty Research Institute). At the bottom of the picture the artist has inscribed a from Acts and added on a later page that scriptural text plus another from the Gospel of Mark. This is one of the images towhich Blackburn has not added a quotation from Paradise Lost:

And when they were escaped, then they knew that the Island was called Melita.

And the Barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a Fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.

And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the Fire, there came a Viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.

And when the Barbarians saw the Venomous Beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves. No doubt this man is a Murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the Sea, yet Vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the Beast into the Fire, and felt no harm.

Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly : but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a God.                   Acts xxviii. 1-6.

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

They shall take up Serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.                   Mark XVI. 17, 18.

You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Hathi Trust and the Getty Research Institute and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. — George P. Landow.


Blackburn, Jemima. Bible Beasts and Birds: A New Edition of Illustrations of Scripture by an Animal Painter. London: Kegan Paul, 1886. Hathi Trust online version of a copy in the Getty Institute. Web. 11 January 2021.

Last modified 11 January 2021