King of the Sea

(The). The herring.

“The head of an average-sized whale is from fifteen to sixteen feet [about one-third the length], and the lips open some six or eight feet; yet to such a mouth there is scarcely any throat, not sufficiently large to allow a herring to pass down it. This little scaly fellow [the herring], some fourteen inches in length, would choke a monster whale, and is hence called `the king of the sea.” —C. Thomson: Autobiography, p. 132.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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