E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Patrick and the Serpent (St.).
According to tradition, St. Patrick cleared Ireland of its vermin; one old serpent resisted him; but St. Patrick overcame it by cunning. He made a box, and invited the serpent to enter it. The serpent objected, saying it was too small; but St. Patrick insisted it was quite large enough to be comfortable. After a long contention, the serpent got in to prove it was too small, when St. Patrick slammed down the lid, and threw the box into the sea. To complete this wonderful tale, the legend says the waves of the sea are made by the writhings of this serpent, and the noise of the sea is that of the serpent imploring the saint to release it.