Skip to main content

Full text of "Ichthyology"

See other formats






7 / . 3^Y 

Library of 


DEC \ \ 1328 







Fn^raved for ih^MUi/ralists Iibrarif. 


'EMT^MM^mTB 2L3B3IA3^» 


Ivory &■ Skua Gull Dolphin & Flying- Fish. 








F.n.B.E., F.L.S., ETC., ETC. 



U Y J. S. B U S n N A N, M. U., 

V.RS.E., ETC., ETC. 






•^ .si. 



The Edible Lethrynus. 

Lethrynus esadejitus. Plate XII. 

Mailed Peristedion. 

Peristedion oataphractum. Plate XIII. 

Armed Monocentris. 

Alonocentris cornutus. Plate XIV. 

Spotted Ostracion. 

Ost radon cubicus. Plate XV. . 

Porcupine Diodon. 

Diodon hystrix. Plate XVI. . . 

Radiated "Weaver. 

Trachinus radiatus. Plate XVII. 

Blainville's Piked Dog-fish. 

Spinax BlainvUlii. Plate XVIII. 

Yellow-bellied Acanthurus. 

Acanthurus hepatus. Plate XIX. 

Port Praslin Balistes. 

Balistes praslinoides. Plate XX. 

Homed Ostracion. 

Ostracion comutus. Plate XXI. 

Four-homed Aspidopborus. 

A^idophorus quadricornis. Plate XXII. 

Atlantic Corypbsene, or Dolphin. 

Coryphczna equisitis. Plate XXIII. . 

Dolphin of the Ancients. 

Coryphcena hippuris. Plate XXIV. . 

Painted Labrus. 

Labrus formosus. Plate XXV. 

fialvani's Torpedo. 

Torpedo Gahani. Plate XXVI. 

White Shark. 

Charcharias vulgaris. Plate XXVII. 








Blue Shark. Plate XXVII.* (Plate only given.) . 161 

Cirrated Saw-fish. 

Pristis drratus. Plate XXVIII. . . .166 

Common Sword-fish. Plate XXIX. (Plate only given.) ib. 

Indian Histiophorus. 

Histiophorus hidkus. Plate XXX. (Plate 29 in text.) 167 

Long-beaked Chelmon. 

Chelmon longirostris. Plate XXXI. (Plate 30 in text.) 170 

On the Economical Uses of Fishes . . . .171 

Portrait of Hippolito Salviani .... 2 

Vignette Title-page 3 

In all Thirty-four Plates in this Volume. 

Note It will be observed, that there are two Plates given 

in the contents above without any particular description of 
them being in the text, in consequence of their descriptioa 
having been embraced in the other corresponding forms. 


Memoir of Hippolito Salviam . 




The Banded Ophisurus. 

Opldsurus alternans. Plate I. . . 


Indian Pilot-fish. 

Naiicrates Indictis. Plate II. 


The Short Sun-fish. 

Orthogoriscus mola. Plate III. 


Sf inola's Trachipterus. 

Trachypteriis Spi?iolcB. Plate IV. 


Halgan's Spine-tailed Ray. 

Trygon Halgani. Plate V. . . . 


The New Zealand Gurnard. 

Trigla kumu. Plate VI. . 


The Oriental Daotylopterus. 


Dactylopterus orientalis. Plate VII. , , 

. . 107 

Common Flying-fish. 

Exocetus volitans. Plate VIII. . . 


The Homed Zanclus or Chsetodon. 

Zanclus cornutus. Plate IX. . • • 


Argus Pteraclis. 

Pteraclis ocellatus. Plate X. . . . 


Back's Grayling. 

Thymullus signifer. Plate XI. , . • 



The Edible Lethrynus. 

Lethrynus escuUntus. Plate XII. 

Mailed Peristedion. 

Peristedion oataphradum. Plate XIII. 

Armed Monocentris. 

Afonoceniris comuttis. Plate XIV. 

Spotted Ostracion. 

Ostracion cubicus. Plate XV. . 

Porcupine Diodon. 

Diodon hystrix. Plate XVI, . . 

Radiated Weaver. 

Trachinus radiatus. Plate XVII. 

Blainville's Piked Dog-fish. 

Spinax Blainvillii. Plate XVIII. 

Yellow-bellied Acanthurus. 

Acanthurus hepatus. Plate XIX. 

Port Praslin Balistes. 

Batistes praslinoides. Plate XX. 

Horned Ostracion. 

Ostracion comutus. Plate XXI. 

Four-homed Aspidophorus. 

Aspidophorns quadricomis. Plate XXII. 

Atlantic Coryphaene, or Dolphin. 

CoryphcB7ia equisitis. Plate XXIII. . 

Dolphin of the Ancients. 

Chryphcena hippuris. Plate XXIV. . 

Painted Labrus. 

Labrus formosus. Plate XXV. 

Oalvani's Torpedo. 

Torpedo Galvani. Plate XXVI. . 

White Shark. 

Charcharias vulgaris. Plate XXVII. 






Blue Shark. Plate XXVII.* (Plate only given.) . 161 

Cirrated Saw-fish. 

Pristis drratus. Plate XX VIII. . . .166 

Common Sword-fish. Plate XXIX. (Plate only given.) ib. 

Indian Histiophorus. 

Histiophorus Indkus. Plate XXX. (Plate 29 in text.) 167 

Long-beaked Chelmon, 

Chelmonlongirostris. Plate XXXI. (Plate 30 in text.) 170 

On the Economical Uses of Fishes . . . .171 

Portrait of Hippolito Salviam .... 2 

Vignette Title-page 3 

In all Thirty-four Plates in this Volume. 

Note. — It will be observed, that there are two Plates given 
in the contents above without any particular description of 
them being in the text, in consequence of their description 
having been embraced in the other corresponding forms. 







Though the subject of the present Memoir is pro- 
bably unknown even by name to the rast majority of 
our readers, he nevertheless possesses such indispu- 
table claims to celebrity, as an early and successful 
cultivator of Natural History, that his services 
should be overlooked by none who take an interest 
in the study of Zoology. Flourishing in a distant 
age, — in agitating and troublous times, and con- 
fining his chief attention to a somewhat obscure 
and difficult department of the science, his services 
seem to have been appreciated only by Ichthyolo- 
gists; and certainly he has never acquired that 
notoriety in the general annals of literature which 
nas been bestowed upon much inferior men. Even 
his name is not inscribed in those long lists which 
have been accumulated, in the course of ages, in 
the commonwealth of European celebrity ; and still 
less has it found a place in the annals of British 




science*. Though it may be impossible now to 
attain, or recover, much of his personal and private 
history, yet as his beautiful work remains, and as 
it is universally allowed to be not more elegant 
than it has been useful, it is clear that the admirers 
of Natural History owe him a debt of gi-atitude 
which is far from having been paid. His chief 
production is a splendid illustrated work on Ichthy- 
ology ; and few attempts could be more appropriate, 
we conceive, than that in that department of the 
Naturalist's Library which is dedicated to Fishes, 
and in which their faithfully coloured delineation 
is second only to their accurate scientific description, 
an endeavour should be made to do justice to the 
memory and labours of one of the most distin- 
guished revivers of the science in modem times. 

The only sketch of Salviani that we have seen, 
and it is a very slight one, is from the pen of Baron 
Cuvier. This illustrious Frenchman, great in every 
department of Natural History, laboured more as- 
siduously in none than in the difficult one of Ich- 
thyology. In his celebrated introductory history of 
this branch of science, he was naturally led to con- 
sider the labours of its early cultivators ; and some 
of his remarks in this admirable summary are so 
applicable to our present subject, as well as so 
valuable in themselves, that we shall enrich our 
pages with a very short epitome of them. 

* No notice of Salviani is to be found in Moreri or Bayle, 
or in the English Universal Biographies, or in any of the 
Encyclopaedias, which have become such complete compcn«« 
diums of information. 


Natural History, he remarks, is a science of 
fects, and the number it comprehends is so great, 
that no single individual can collect or verify those 
which belong even to a single department: they 
can advantageously be studied only by examining 
all the authors who have ^vritten upon them, and 
by comparing their statements with nature. It is 
likewise true, that for the profitable examination 
of these writers, for a just estimate of the degree 
of confidence to be reposed in each, for the dis- 
covery of the result of their individual labours, and 
what they derived from those of their predecessors, 
it is requisite that we should also know the circum- 
stances in which they worked, the time when they 
lived, the state in which they found the science, 
the favouring circumstances in which they were 
placed, both as it regards themselves and their 
assistants, whether friends, patrons or pupils. These 
details, arranged in the order of time, and connected 
by their several links, constitute the history of the 
science, the necessary basis of any work which 
would present a general view of the whole. 

Three principal epochs may be recognized in the 
progress of Ichthyology. Like the other branches 
of Zoology, it was at first, and for many ages, 
composed only of detached observations. Aristotle, 
three hundred years before the present era, began 
to collect the scattered materials into a system, at 
first very imperfect; founded upon observations 
and rules which were scarcely verified, and pecu- 
liarly destitute of the means whereby one species 


miglit be distinguished fiora another. For more 
than 1800 years, those who wrote upon the sub-, 
ject almost entirely confined their attention to 
copying, or commenting upon Aristotle. In the 
middle of the 16th centuiy, however, Belon, Ron- 
dolet, and Salviani returned to the true method of 
observation, and rectifying and extending the state- 
ments of Aristotle, conferred on Ichthyology a real 
foundation by the description and representation of 
a certain number of w^ell determined species. 
Finally, Willoughby and Ray, at the end of the 
3 7th century, attempted to arrange these species 
according to a plan founded upon the distinctive 
characters derived from their organization ; and 
Artedi and Linnaeus, in the middle of the 18th, 
completed this enterprise, by establishing well 
defined genera, including in them various accu- 
rately ascertained species. Since that period Ich- 
thyology has been steadily advancing towards 
perfection, and will continue to advance, with a 
rapidity regulated by the ardour and sagacity with 
which each Naturalist distinguishes what is true, 
and publishes it, so as to ensure general appro- 

Aristotle, by accumulating the stores of his prede- 
cessors, by his own extraordinary assiduity, and by 
the not less extraordinary assistance afforded him by 
his distinguished patron Alexander the Great, recog- 
nized 117 species of fishes. He dwelt upon their 
mode of life, their percgiinations, their likings 
and dislikings, their cunning, amours, and fecun- 


dltv ; the mode in ^vllic■ll tliey are captured, the time 
they are most in season, and many other details. 
What is most to be regretted in this mass of 
valuable information is, that the author never sus- 
pected that the nomenclature he employed would 
become obsolete and obscure, a defect common to 
all the ancient Naturalists, and which almost com- 
pels us to do little more than guess at much, and 
remain ignorant of the rest. Pliny's list of aquatic 
animals amounts to 174; but Avhen we subtract 
the shell -fish, the cete or whales, and the other 
animals which are not true fish, there will not 
remain above 95 or 96, some of w hich are probably 
only duplicates of the others : about 30 of them 
appear to be difi*erent from those mentioned by 

Upon a careful examination of all the works of 
the first epoch which remain, it would appear that 
the ancients had recognized and named about 150 
kinds of fish, which amounted to nearly the whole 
of those which are used in the Mediterranean as 
articles of food ; but they had not fixed precisely 
their characters, nor had they established any me,- 
thodical arrangement, so that they themselves were 
often perplexed in endeavouring to identify them. 
After the time of Aristotle, no one had engaged in 
the investigation of their structure ; such inquiries 
ceasing with the Peripatetic school. The Barba-r. 
rians added nothing. And the nine succeeding 
centuries were not more favourable ; the Monks not 
occupying themselves with observations, and even 


Aristotle's works being for a time unknown to them. 
But a brighter day at last dawned. Dante and 
Petrarch did much in the 1 4th century ; the Greeks, 
driven from Constantinople in the 15th, carried the 
works of classic ages along with them, printing was 
invented, America and the Indies were discovered, 
letters revived, and with them Natural History saw 
before it a field of boundless extent. Ichthyology 
was the first branch which revived under these 
happy auspices ; and the first care of its cultivators 
was to ascertain and imderstand what was kno"wn 
upon the subject by the ancients. This task ac- 
complished, the second great epoch, as already 
hinted, arrived; the foundation of modem ichthy- 
)logy was laid, and chiefly by the labours of men 
whose works appeared very much at the same time, 
Belon's in the year 1555, Rondolet's in 1554-5, 
and Salviani's in 1554-8. From this statement, it 
is manifest that these distinguished individuals must 
have laboured very much independently of each 
other, though they were cotemporaries ; and hence 
each merits a separate consideration, and presents 
a distinct claim to our respectful regard. 

HiPPOLiTO Salviani was born in the year 1514, 
in La Citta di Castello, situated on the Tiber (the 
ancient Ti/ernum Metaurense)^ twenty-seven miles 
8. w. of Urbino, the capital, of the Duchy of that 
name. He was of noble descent* ; -and after hav- 
ing finished his general education, he studied medi- 
* See Biographic Universelle, sub. voce. 


cine; and having -s-isited the cities of Italy, he 
finally settled at Rome, where, according to Dr. 
Paul Freher of Nuremberg, he long practised the 
healing art with great celebrity, and taught the 
science of medicine in its University mth much 
success, magnum auditorum, concursu*. His va- 
ried talents, and peculiar taste for Natural History, 
obtained for him the friendship of Cardinal Cervini, 
who procured for him the situation of Physician to 
Pope Julius III. Salviani selected the class of 
fishes as the chief object of his researches, and 
used every effort to collect such as he could pro- 
cure in Italy, while he extended the range of 
his knowledge by obtaining, with the help of his 
protector, accurate drawings of those which were 
kno^Mi in Greece, France, Germany, and Britain. 
Many notices of his success in these endeavours 
will be found in the following pages. He esta- 
blished in his own dwelling a regular printing 
establishment, whence issued his lesser treatises, 
and where he corrected his great work, entitled 
Aquatilium, Animalium. Historia. The date of 
this elegant volume, on the frontispiece, is 1554, 
although the impression was not completed till the 
year 1558. The author had first dedicated his 
work to his benefactor Cardinal Cervini ; but this 
prelate, one of the presidents of the Council of 
Trent, having become Pope, under the title of 
Marcellus II., and having died of apoplexy twenty- 

* See Theatnim Virorum Eruditione Singular! Clarorum, 
p. 1265, Noremb. 1688. 


one days after his election, he substituted another 
dedication to his successor, Pope Paul lY. 

To these very scanty statements concerning Sal- 
viani's earlier and riper years, the perusal of his 
work will, as may readily be supposed, supply 
various additional particulars. These we will irot 
attempt to anticipate ; but we may remark, in 
general, that he was speedily regarded as the prin- 
cipal and most distinguished Naturalist of his day 
in the Great City. Thus we learn, that when any 
thing curious in animated nature found its way to 
Rome, he was almost invariably and immediately 
apprised of it ; and he, in his turn, lost no time in 
informing all his scientific friends, who immediately 
resorted to him, to inquire and examine for them- 
selves. " I communicate the tidings (he remarks), 
not only that I may not deprive them of the gratifi- 
cation which I myself enjoy but also that from our 
mutual conversations on these new and strange 
objects, we may be able more satisfactorily to arrive 
at correct conclusions." After all were in this way 
satisfied, Salviani was in the habit of examining 
the internal parts of the animal, and of making 
preparations, always retaining the skin, and pre- 
paring, when possible, a stuffed specimen, together 
with accurate drawings. 

, "Without further preliminary remark, we now 
turn to Salviani's great work, and shall consider 
the more important objects that are there brought 
under review, in a brief analysis, which we trust 
will be both useful and interesting;. 


The work is an immense folio of 500 pages, got 
up in a style of elegance of execution of which ive 
rarely see an example even in these latter times, and 
comprising nearly 100 copperplates of the same 
dimensions, many of which have not been surpassed 
by the efforts of modern art. To the proper subject- 
matter of the volume are prejSxed various imperial 
and other documents confirming the copy-right to 
the author. One of these is from the Emperor 
Charles V., and another from the Pope; and of 
this latter, as containing some allusion to our 
author, as well as illustrating the aspiring spirit 
and practical working of the ecclesiastical power, 
and also as exhibiting the views then entertained 
on the subject of literary property and the rights of 
authors, a subject of undiminished interest now, 
we may here quote a part : — " Pope Julius III. &c. 
Forasmuch as our beloved son, Hippolito Salviani, 
a Roman citizen, and who for many years has been 
our ordinary physician, has caused it to be notified 
to us, that with gi*eat labour he has written a 
history of aquatic animals, and has printed it, to- 
gether with copperplate figures of the animals, 
drawn from the Hfe, and engraved at much per- 
sonal expense, and since he apprehends that a 
work of this kind may be reprinted without his 
leave, and greatly to his prejudice. We, wishing to 
protect him from loss, grant and appoint that the 
said history and figures be not printed, sold, or 
kept for sale, by any one without his pennission, 
during the ten years succeeding their first impress- 


sion; prohibiting all and every one of tlie faith- 
ful in Christendom, of both sexes, both in Italy 
and beyond it, and especially all booksellers and 
printers, under the penalty of the greater excommu- 
nication, in the countries subject either directly or 
indirectly to the Roman church, together with the 
penalty of 500 golden ducats, and the forfeiture of 
the books. We commit this, moreover, in special 
charge to our venerable brothers, the Archbishops, 
Bishops, and their vicars-general, and also to the 
legates in temporal affairs of the Apostohc see, and 
likemse to the governors and rulers of the several 
states themselves, that as often as they, or any of 
them, shall be required at the instance of the said 
Hippolito, they shall inflict and execute the fore- 
said penalties, with all their might, against all 
contraveners, by ecclesiastical censures, whose se- 
verity may be increased, and by other legal mea- 
sures under the Apostohc see ; calling to their help 
the aid of the ci^dl power, when that may be 

The whole work is arranged in two great divi- 
sions, very different from each other in their plan 
and character. The former, occupying about one- 
fifth of the volume (112 pages), is a kind of synop- 
tical account of the whole of the inhabitants of " TJje 
World of Waters," alphabetically arranged, in a sort 
of continuous table, in which, in a number of suc- 
cessive columns, are supplied many interesting par- 
ticulars concerning each of them. This statement, 
however, requires further explanation, and this may 


be supplied in the -words of the author. " After I 
had formed the resolution of writing a history of 
aquatic animals, being well aware of the difficulty of 
the undertaking, I thought it would be advantageous 
again, to examine with additional care, the authors, 
both ancient and modem, who had treated of them, 
and who had committed to writing any thing worthy 
of notice. After carefully collecting all these parti- 
culars, I arranged under their proper heads, in one 
view, and in alphabetical order, what had previously 
been w idely scattered and existed in the midst of 
confusion. When after much labour I had completed 
this task, I found that I had executed a greater and 
more useful work than I anticipated; for besides 
a vast collection of materials for my principal ob- 
ject, this other result followed, that having so 
much under my eye, it was generally easy to illus- 
trate what was obscure, and to correct whatever was 
erroneous ; and having thus experienced so much 
benefit myself, I determined to arange it, as in my 
first book, for the benefit of others*." It will now be 
more easily understood that upon opening the volume 
in any part of this first portion, it is seen that the 
two pages under the eye go together to form part 
of a continuous alphabetic table, consisting of nine 
columns ; the first three of which, beginning at the 
left hand, are occupied with the name or names of 
the animals brought under review, first in Latin, 
then in classical Greek, and thirdly in the vulgar 
tongue, whether of Italy, Greece, France, or else- 

* Prsefatio. 


where. All tliese names are not to be considered 
as an unnecessary display of scliolarship, because, 
in fact, at this and previous periods, ^vllen the true 
principles of classification were unknown, the names 
were indispensable in relation to that matter, which 
of all others most confused naturalists, viz., the cor- 
rectidentification of the species ; and even after all 
their care, much uncertainty still remained. The 
fourth column contains what is denominated the ' at- 
tributa^' a word of somewhat extended signification, 
and made to comprehend the properties, qualities, lo- 
cality, &c. as will immediately be illustrated. The re- 
maining six, contain accurate references to the works 
of previous authors, wherein the information supphed 
in the atfributa is authenticated, the first five being 
assigned to those who were regarded as the chief 
authorities in the science, viz., to Aristotle, Oppian, 
Pliny, Athenius, and ^lian, and the last not to 
one, but to all the remaining authorities, or rather 
authors, not confined to Natural History only, but 
referring to such travellers, historians, and even 
poets, as had made interesting allusions to the ani- 
mals under review. This last list is of course some- 
what heterogeneous, and shows the extended reading 
of the author. It contains numerous references to the 
waitings of such men as Hesiod, Heroditus, Hesy- 
chius and Pausanius, Strabo, Dioscorides, Cicero, 
Galen, and Ausonius ; among the poets, to Terence, 
Ovid, and Virgil, also to Suidas and Massaria ; 
among the Fathers, as they are called, to Clemens 
Alexandrina, St. Basil, Ambrose, and Isidore of 


Seville; and among many others, finally, to V. Gylllus 
and Mathiolus, among more modern authors. It 
should be observed that these references, though mi- 
nute and accurate, are not extracts or quotations, but 
simply references ; so that they are useful only when 
the work mentioned is itself actually consulted." 

It should now be noted that this first book, be- 
sides proper fishes, contains, as before stated, accounts 
of the kind just described, of all varieties of aquatic 
animals, — of such quadrupeds as in popular lan- 
guage are called amphibious, as the beaver, otter, 
seal, and hippopotamus, — of the whole order of 
cete or whales, — of reptiles, such as crocodiles, 
frogs, tadpoles, lizards, saurines, tortoises, &c. — of 
molluscous animals, as the nautilus and purpura, — 
of proper shell-fish, as the oyster, &c. — of Crus- 
tacea, as the crab and lobster, — also of echin- 
dermata and polypi, such as the star-fish and sponges; 
and finally, the group of what may be called sea* 
monsters, such as the triton, mermaid, the marine 
horse and elephant, the sea-lion and hyaena, ape, 
and hare, and the kraken ; beings as much involved 
in obscurity at that time as they have been both 
before and since. 

"We shall now supply a few specimens of the 
information furnished by the author, from which 
the character of this part of the work, and the state 
of the science, may be easily inferred ; and in doing 
this, we shall rather follow the modem classification 
than the alphabetic arrangement. Of the Hippo- 
potamus, or river-horse, we are informed that the 


nose Is very flat, the teeth and tail are like those of 
the boar, though the former are somewhat less cut- 
ting ; it has the mane and hack of the horse, and 
neighs like it ; the hoof is cleft ; the hide impene- 
trable, except when moistened, and covered with a 
few hairs ; in size it equals the ass ; its internal 
parts are like those of the horse ; it inhabits the 
banks of the Nile, and is amphibious. According 
to Pliny, it was first exhibited at Rome by Marcus 
Scaurus. It browses on the corn fields, with much 
cunning ; it has little or no afiection for its parents ; 
according to Pausanias, it is as dangerous to man as 
the crocodile ; and according to Pliny, it taught men 
the use of phlebotomy — mittendi sanguinis rationem 
docuit. It is accounted sacred in the Papremitanan 
district. An account of its mode of capture is 
given by Heroditus ; according to ^lian, its flesh is 
hard and difiicult to cook ; finally, the diseases in 
which it may be usefully employed are stated in 
the references given to Pliny, Nicander, Dioscori- 
des, and Paulus ^gineta. Again, of the seal or 
sea-calf, we are told that it receives its name from 
its lowing cry ; that it is an imperfect quadruped, 
with small feet, the fore ones like those of the beai, 
the hind ones like the tails of fishes, but covered 
with hair ; that it has no external ears, but has the 
auditory passage ; that its eye changes into a thou- 
sand colours; that the teeth are like those of the 
sow, and the tongue is cleft at the point. It has 
no gall, the kidnies have no internal cavities, but are 
solid and like those of the ox. It is very fleshy and 


soft, and its bones cartilaginous ; it Las mammsa 
and milk, and brings forth its young on shore 
and, according to Aristotle, at all seasons, like man, 
having one, two, and sometimes three at a birth. 
On the same authority, after twelve days, it con- 
ducts its young to the watery element, habituating 
them to it from time to time ; and from this quar- 
ter it procures its food. It breathes and sleeps — no 
animal more soundly : it bellows even in its sleep. 
It is capable of instruction, and may be taught to 
salute the people by its look and voice, and it an- 
swers when called by name. They are accustomed 
to fight dreadfully with each other. According to 
Aristotle, the seal belongs to the cetaceous tribes ; 
it lives both on land and in the water. According 
to Pliny, it is the only marine animal which is not 
struck by lightning. It is killed with great diffi- 
culty, except when struck on the head. How it is 
taken may be learned from Oppian ; its flesh is soft 
and disagreeable ; the elasticity of its skin is great. 
Pliny states that a strong soporific virtue resides in 
the right flipper ; its other remedial powers may be 
learned from Pliny and Galen, in the various parts 
of their writings which are cited. 

With regard to the whale tribe, he enumerates 
the balaena, physeter, phalasna or capadolio, the 
tursio, orca, dolphin, and platanista, most of which 
have kept their places in most of our systems to 
the present day, and concerning many of them, all 
obscurity is far from being removed. As an ex- 
ample of the opinions of the time respecting this 


order, we shall supply the account of the dolphin. 
" It has neither ears nor apertures in place of ears, 
yet it hears, which, indeed, is wonderful. It has no 
appearance of an olfactory organ, and yet has a very 
acute smell. The snout is flat, the mouth under the 
snout, and almost in the middle of the abdomen . It 
has a tongue like that of a pig, has no branchiae, but 
a blow-hole ; it has lungs, but no gall ; it has bones, 
but no spines ; it has a broad flat back ; it is covered 
with a strong hide or skin. It produces its young 
in the tenth month, during summer, and sometimes 
two at a birth ; its aff*ection towards its young and 
those of its own kind is remarkable ; it grows during 
ten years, and lives for thirty. Whenever it touches 
iand it dies ; it belongs to the class cetacea ; it 
seems a terrestrial and aquatic animal ; it breathes 
like man and groans ; raising its blow-hole above 
the surface of the water, it there sleeps, breathing 
while sleeping ; it is carnivorous and seizes its prey 
only when it turns upon its back. It is the s^^dftest 
of all animals, and is supposed to be in continual 
motion. It is soothed by music, is very friendly to 
man, is mindful of kindness conferred. It fishes for 
its prey in company with men ; and is very sagacious 
in swimming, in foreseeing a storm, also when it is 
caught, and in preparing a place for its burial. It 
is accounted a sacred fish ; the reason why it is 
regarded agreeable to Neptune ; it is the king of 
fishes ; in what manner it fights with the Amia ; 
how it kills the crocodile in the Nile; it conceals 
itself in the dog-days ; where and by whom it has 


been bought at a great price. Its flesli is hard and 
unsavory. According to Oppian, its capture is un- 
la^vful ; the diseases for which it is a remedy are 

From among the moUuscousj animals we may 
supply his description of the purpura (Buccinum, 
Lin., Purpura, Lamarck) that shell-fish from a 
vesicular reservoir of which the ancients derived 
their beautiful purple, " Tyrioque ardehat Murice 
lana ;" and which the discovery of cochineal has 
now very much superseded. " This animal appears 
to be of the turbinated family by its projecting 
wedge-shaped snout, and by the tongue being pushed 
forward, and extending club-shaped to the ex- 
tremity. It has seven spines in the circle ; it pos- 
sesses a natural covering; its tongue is very hard, 
and about an inch long. It is much in request as 
a dye, this pecuHar substance being found near the 
middle of the fauces in a white vesicle. Both Aris" 
totle and Pliny mention the time and the method 
by which it is procured. The intensity of the 
colour is in proportion to its proximity to the sun. It 
is brought forth in spring, from slime and putrefying 
matter*. It grows very rapidly, for it attains its full 
size in a year. It possesses the senses of taste and 
smell ; it is capable of motion but in a slight degree. *^ 

Aristotle states how and upon what it feeds ; it con- 

* The reader will here and elsewhere perceive that Aris- 
totle, as well as some eminent modern naturalists, is an advo- 
cate for equivocal generation. He will also remember that 
many of the opinions here delivered are not only obsolete, 
but incorrect. 



ceals itself in the dog-days. It lives generally seven 
years, and. can exist for fifty days out of the water. 
The circles of its shells correspond to the years of 
its existence. In Carteia it has been found weigh- 
ing ten pounds. It is killed by rain and fresh 
water. Aristotle describes the method by which it 
is caught with the net ; its flesh is hard. Dios- 
corides and Galen dwell upon the diseafjes in which 
it is useful ; there are several species, the best of 
which is that of T}Te." 

Once more, with regard to a true conchifera, the 
pecten or scallop-shell (Pecten, Lamarck), Salviani 
tells us its common appellation is St. James' shell, 
from the custom of pilgrims wearing it in their 
hats or about their neck, expressive of their 
crossing the sea in their way to the Holy Land, 
or to some distant object of devotion. The 
pecten is a shelhfish and a bivalve ; the shell is 
striated, whence its name. One of the valves is 
swelling, the other flat ; each shell has two pro- 
jecting auricles. It has an ovum on one side of its 
edge, which neaily disappears during spring; for 
as the season advances the ovum diminishes in 
size, till at length it quite disappears. It is 
produced spontaneously, in sandy places, and in 
spring. It grows rapidly, for it attains its full size 
in a year. On moving the finger towards it, it 
gapes, and immediately closes its shell, as if it 
noticed and observed. It springs about, and is 
observed to make a noise when it moves ; it con- 
ceals itself in great heats and colds ; it is injured 


by filtli, and acquires a reddish colour. It is sought 
for during the night by the Urtica : the Cancillus 
sometimes grows in it. By cooking it becomes 
digestible, and is very agreeable when stewed with 
ciiMiamon and pepper. According to Athenasus, the 
white pecten is the best, and the largest of the red 
and dark coloured best in spring, whilst, according 
to Pliny, the darkest coloured and the largest are 
best in summer. They are procured in great per- 
fection near Mytilene. Pliny, Clemens Alex- 
andrinus, and Methymneus speak of their medicinal 
virtues." It will be noticed that in this description 
it is said that this shell-fish springs about. Volitat. 
This statement is given on the testimony of Aristotle, 
Pliny, and Massaria, and in their works is more largely 
insisted upon. It is so strange an attribute that it 
may have been generally regarded as legendary and 
untrue, and yet the statement has recently been 
abundantly confirmed. If a basket of the common 
pecten be placed near the water-edge it will be seen 
that it is speedily emptied, by its inmates springing 
fi'om their confinement to their native element. 
This is effected by the sudden opening and shutting 
of their valves, the lower striking against the sand 
and acting as a spring*. 

On the sea-monsters we need not dwell long. 
Oppian, Pliny, and iElian are the authorities for 
the merman. Homo marinus, testifying as to what 
he really is, and when and where he was seen. 
The description of the sea-horse is given by Isidore 
* See Stark's Elements of Nat. Hist. vol. ii., p 80. 


and P. Gyllius ; and that of the kraJcen^ the arbot% 
is from Pliny and Massaria, a sea-monster of vast 
dimensions, which has been noticed in the Atlantic 
ocean, not far from Gibraltar. 

It -svill be observed that these descriptions, though 
alluding to the inhabitants of the ocean, yet really do 
not refer to true fish, according to the more accurate 
classification of modem times. None of these latter, 
however, are omitted in this first book, the whole 
receiving a full share of attention. On the other 
hand, the second book or part, being composed only 
of fishes properly so called, and all these being 
accompanied by plates prepared from drawings made 
under the author's eye, or that of his friends, these 
other aquatic animals, whether mammalia, reptiles, 
shell-fish, or zoophites, are wholly excluded from it. 
Before, then, leaving this portion of the work, we 
shall adduce a specimen or two of the account it 
supplies of tnie fishes, and we shall take these very 
much as they occur in the alphabetical table. The 
fish called Acanthias, the AKxv6txi of the Greeks, 
claims attention from naturalists, as it is the one 
whose name most approximates, and which pro- 
bably suggested to Artedi the appellation of his 
most numerous order the Acanthopterygii, those 
which have their rays or fins hard, simple, and in 
form of spines ; a name which, being adopted by 
Baron Cuvier, ^vill probably long retain its distin- 
guished position. These acanthopterygii are the 
first and most numerous order of the osseous fishes, 
which are contradistinguished fi'om the ckondro2>' 


torijyian or cartilaginous ones, the other great, 
thoiigli less numerous series ; and by the simplest 
and most natural suggestion, this name, whieli cha- 
racterizes the largest number of osseous fishes, is 
applied by our author, as by the ancients, to a fish 
not of the osseous but cartilaginous series, to a 
Squalus of Linnaeus, the Spinax acanthias of Cuvier, 
the picked dog-fish. We are informed that the 
acanthias is so denominated from its osseous spine ; 
that it is of the family of sharks ; that its heart is 
five-cornered ; that it has the ova near the prascordia, 
over the mammae ; that it is not produced in the 
channel of Negropont, between Boeotia and Eubia." 
The account here supplied of one of the sturgeons, 
the accijyensor, is very much of the same character. 
" Its name is adopted by the Romans from the 
Greeks ; it is a small fish, with a great gape, of a 
triangular figure. This fish is the only one whfch 
has the scales turned tow^ards the mouth. The 
branchiae are four in number and simple. I^he gall 
flows into the intestines. It s-svims in a course op- 
posite to the current of water ; it is not often met 
with. It feeds in the depths of the Pamphylian 
Sea and in no other place. It has often been re- 
garded the noblest of fishes, and is brought into 
feasts by persons crowned with garlands, and ac- 
companied Avith music." Lastly, of these true fish 
we shall give the somewhat more extended account 
of the common eel, anguilla. " It is long and slip- 
pery ; its branchiae are four in number, simple 
and small. It has only two fins ; its skin is very 


tliick ; its throat is small, and its stomach ; there is 
gall in the liver. It does not abound in fat. No 
sexual difference is to be found in them, and thev 
are produced, says Aristotle, spontaneously. It 
feeds on mud, weeds, and slime, and mostly during 
ihe night. It attains the length of thirty feet in 
the Ganges. According to Aristotle, it lives only 
in clear vrater ; in lakes, rivers, and the sea also ; 
't descends from rivers into the ocean, and lives sepa- 
ratelyfrom other fishes. It has been disputed whether 
they mutually devour each other. They become very 
tame, so that, according to Pliny and ^lian, you may 
supply them with earrings. Its natural period of life 
is eight years, and it can live out of the water for six 
days. The sea-eel is more worthy of commendation 
than the fresh-water one. It is held sacred by 
the Egyptians, and is sacrificed to the gods by the 
Boeotians. It is exceedingly juicy. Eustachius 
maintains it is the best of fishes, whilst Galen says 
it is never good. Aristotle narrates the methods 
by which it is captured, and observes it is the only 
fish which does not float when it is dead." 

These extracts describing the true fishes, and 
those inhabitants of the water which are not so, 
along wdth other details, will convey a tolerably 
accurate idea of the first great division of Salviani's 
work. It is an Ichthyological Dictionary of its time, 
specifying the most important particulars knoTVTi of 
each species, and referring to all previous works for 
the details. Its perusal may remind the reader 
•f more modern systems of natural history, and 


tliougli it cannot compete with them as to accuracy 
of intbrmation and classification, it probably has 
the advantage as to general interest and amusement. 
Besides this principal alphabetic table, there arc 
two other lists, the former of th«5 -Greek names, and 
the other of the vulgar ones in modem languages, 
both followed by the Latin synonymes. This shows, 
at all events, the author's ambition to make his work 
extensively useful. The English synonymes are 
probably those he found most difficult ; and the very 
imperfect list would not now prove of much use in 
Britain; the names are such as these: — barbel, 
chieven, macrel, perc, polard, sandilz, viver, &c. 

"We now proceed to the second and larger divi- 
sion of the work, which is written upon quite a 
diflferent plan. Here the beautiful plates bear the 
prominent part ; they follow each other according 
to no system, for the time of systems had not yet 
come ; and the appearance of grouping, though 
apparent, is far from being closely observed. -Asso- 
ciated with each plate is a minute description of the 
animal : first, as of primary importance, a disquisi- 
tion regarding the name and synonymes, then a de- 
scription of the external character, and of its nature 
and habits ; then as to the methods in which it is 
caught, cured, and dressed; next what kind of nutri- 
ment and other products it yields ; and finally the 
diseases in which it may be beneficially employed : 
" So that," says our author, " nothing is wanting in 
my judgment to a perfect history of the animal." 
He adds, " There are many who transfer what they 


read in others to their own works, without con- 
sidering whether the statements are true or false, 
following rather the authority of men than the 
truth of history, as Pliny has done with Asistotle, 
Solina with Pliny, ^lian with Oppian, &c. It has 
been our determination, however, on the contrary, 
to state nothing, the truth of which we had not 
ascertained, and hence we have often been forced 
to criticise the "writings of our predecessors, without, 
however, the slightest wish to be captious." It was 
this fixed determination to subject the authority of 
men to that of truth, and to reject whatever was 
imauthenticated and fabulous, and retain only the 
little that was true, which constituted the marked 
improvement of the age, and which together with 
the advantageous employment of such opportuni- 
ties as they personally enjoyed, raised the small 
band of Ichthyologists, of which Salviani was one, 
to the eminence they have obtained, and to which 
they have so just a claim. 

The number of species represented in the second 
book amounts only to ninety-nine ; and even 
this number must be reduced. Four of the most 
striking and best plates represent those molluscous 
animals now known under the classical appellation 
of cephalopodia^ the sepia of older naturalists, and 
popularly the singular cuttlefish, from which it has 
been thought, we believe erroneously, that China 
ink is prepared. Dismissing these, upon which 
much that is curious is said, and allowing for 
the two plates of the singular cetrina^ the num- 


ber offish is reduced to ninety-four. Baron Cuvier 
brings them down to ninety-two * ; which may pos- 
sibly be a mistake, but more probably arises from 
his having considered several plates as nothing more 
than duplicates of others. Of this reduced number, 
eighteen species appear to have been previously 
imnamed and undescribed; and ten more, having 
no Greek appellation, must have been unknown to 
Aristotle and the earHer naturalists; so that, con- 
sidering the small authority of Pliny and later 
zoologists, a large proportion, and, in fact, a consi- 
derable number was brought to notice and described 
by Salviani. To a few of these our author himself 
has not ventured to attach a name, though his plates 
have enabled later ichthyologists to do so ; and thus 
real progress was made, and the benefit retained in 
our modern systems. 

Thus, then, vrithout aiming at any thing like a 
complete analysis, have we endeavoured to furnish 
an account and specimen of this important work, 
ample to an extent commensurate with the respect 
we conceive due to our author on the one hand, 
and to our readers on the other ; and by which the 
latter may at once form a correct estimate of the 
kind and variety of information they are hkely to 
derive from consulting its pages. We have some- 
where seen it observed concerning this volume, that 
on account of the general accuracy of its plates and 
description, it may be considered as indispensable 
to the modem ichthyologist. Its extreme rarity 
* See Diction. Biograph, 


would make this statement, if literally true, not a 
little distressing. It is so scarce, that for a long 
time -yve were not able to lay hands upon it, nor 
even to hear where a copy could be procured. It 
is, moreover, true, that much of its valuable infor- 
mation has been filtrated, so to speak, into Aldro- 
vandi's, and other more recent treatises. In addition. 
Baron Cuvier supplies on this point a valuable ob- 
servation. He remarks, that as the author borrows 
many of his details from the ancients, and as these 
passages do not always refer to the same species, 
much caution is required in consulting them. Upon 
the whole, however, the classical Ichthyologist 
cannot but esteem the work, and highly prize the 
opportunity it affords him of clearing up many obscu- 
rities which hang over the earher portion of the 
history of the science. 

In De Bure's " Bihlioc/raphie" No. 1716, it is 
said that the Roman is the only edition of this 
work ; but this statement would appear to be incor- 
rect, as we find it stated in the Biographie Univer- 
selle, that there was a reprint at Venice in the 
years 1600-2. The volume, however, is not^^^Lth- 
standing undoubtedly scarce. 

Although Salviani devoted a large share of his 
attention to Ichthyology and other departments of 
Natural History, we are not to imagine that he 
confined it to these branches of science. We have 
read, that he assiduously practised his profession, 
both publicly and privately, at Rome; and we 
have learned, too, that he taught the class of 


physic for twenty-two years. It would like- 
wise appear that he '\Trote on medical subjects. 
He published, in the year 1 558, a book under the 
following title, De crisihus ad Galeni censuram 
liber; of which a second edition appeared in 1589. 
And amidst these scientific labours he did not forget 
literature, but opened up a new avenue which 
dramatists, who were accustomed only to follow in 
the footsteps of the ancients, might pursue, by de- 
picting the vices of his time, in a comedy which 
was entitled La Riiffiana^ Rome, 1554. He is 
supposed likewise to have been the author of various 
satirical and critical productions, which appeared 
anon}Tnously at the time. 

Of his more private history we have been able to 
procure no gleanings. He had two sons who sur- 
vived him. The elder, Gaspar, acquired very consi- 
derable literary reputation, and was a distinguished 
member of the Academy of Humorists*. The 
younger, Salust, trod in the footsteps of his father, 
and practised physic in Rome with much reputation. 
On the death of Marcellus II., his successor, Pope 
Paul lY. confirmed our Salviani in the several 
appointments he enjoyed ; and he continued to dis- 
charge their duties with the highest credit till his 
death, which happened in Rome in the year 1 572. 

* See Maricini, torn. xxvi. p. 449. 


The noblest aspiration of man is his thirst after 
knowledge, and his chief characteristic, the power 
which he possesses of communicating this knowledge 
to others by records, which not only enlighten his 
contemporaries, but surviving the time in which 
they were written, render the attainments of each 
age subservient to those of succeeding generations, so 
that not only individuals, but the race, is suscep- 
tible of progressive improvement. And at no 
previous period has this aspiration after knowledge 
been so general and intense, or the records calcu- 
lated to diffuse it so numerous — so almost over- 
whelming — as at the present. Divested of the 
long prevalent prejudices of the schools, the highest 
talents of the age have been devoted to direct the 
studies of the present and future generations from 
the exciting subjects of classical lore, into a field 
richly abounding with what is more properly the 
business of life. They are labouring — and it is 
our anxious endeavour to assist in the great task — 
to make people in general ac<juainted with the laws 


of their own being, physical and moral, as well as 
with the characters of all the objects of nature by 
which they are surrounded; — subjects which "come 
home to every man's business and bosom," but 
which, in an ordinary course of education as pre- 
viously conducted, had met with comparatively 
little attention. 

But still, while the press teems with elementary 
works upon Botany, Geology, and Mineralogy, in 
all their branches, very few comparatively have 
been devoted to the Zoological departments of Na- 
tural History as far as regards its grand divisions. 
Many, it is true, afford more or less accurate ac- 
coimts of the habits of individual animals ; many 
magnificent works have been MTitten, detailing, 
with praiseworthy perseverance their external cha- 
racters, and illustrating with minute fidelity, their 
forn>s, spots and colours; certain organs have been 
carefully noticed; and the peculiarities observed 
by which species are to be distinguished. Never- 
theless, the English language possesses few works 
devoted to the consideration, as a Race of Beings, 
either of Quadrupeds, Birds, Reptiles, or Fishes ; 
Entomology is the only division of Zoology which 
has been treated of as a whole. The other 
branches still require full and accurate gene- 
ralizations with regard both to the anatomy and 
physiology — the structure and functions — of their 
several tribes ; at present, the student is frequently 
compelled, in order to acquire the knowledge of a 
single fact relating to each, to wade through masses 


of extraneous matter, the extent of which can be 
known only to those who have experienced the 
labour of so doing. To supply this desideratum, 
>ve have commenced our Elementary Treatises upon 
the structure and functions of the beings composing 
the several divisions of the Zoological kingdom : 
and in which, avoiding as much as possible the dry 
abstractions of science, we shall endeavour to lay 
before our readers a portion of what is known of 
these most interesting subjects. We have chosen 
" Ichthyology" for the first of our series, as being 
vast in extent, and engrossing in the interest which 
its study excites; involving in its pursuit consi- 
derations of the greatest importance and utility, 
not only as regards the place which Fishes hold in 
the mighty scale of Creation, but also in respect to 
their economical and commercial relations. And we 
have other reasons — as will presently be seen — for 
our choice. In the mean time, we offer our "Work, 
with the anxious desire to lay before our readers, in 
a collected and condensed form, the immense mass 
of information concerning the structure and func- 
tions of Fishes, which is scattered through innume- 
rable works, many of which are almost altogether 
inaccessible to most persons ; and also in the hope 
of attracting the attention of the student to this 
most interesting department of Nature, in which 
he cannot fail to find unanswerable illustrations 
of the wisdom, and goodness, and power of the 

In pursuance of this plan, we shall first notice 




By people altogether uneducated, every animal 
is regarded as a fish which is an inhabitant of 
the water; and although persons somewhat bet- 
ter informed do not use the term in quite so 
comprehensive a sense as this, but exclude the 
animals commonly called shell-fish, belonging to 
those classes which are destitute of an internal 
skeleton, they still commonly embrace under this 
title all the inhabitants of the waters which possess 
such a skeleton, and which move by fins. Even 
this, however, is a more extensive sense than that 
in which the word Fish is employed by Naturalists, 
who confine this appellation to an animal which, 
besides being possessed of the above-mentioned 
characters, breathes by means of gills, and not by 
true lungs, has a single instead of a double heart cir- 
culating cold instead of warm blood. Now, this is not 
the case with whales, dolphins, porpoises, and many 
other tribes of aquatic animals ; all of which breathe 
by lungs, have a double heart, aie waim-blooded, 
and are, consequently, with propriety, excluded from 
the class of fishes. The whale, and other aquatic 
animals, resemble the mammalia in their structure 
and it is, accordingly, in the same class that they 


are, "with propriety, arranged under tlie general 
name of Cetaceous Animals*. 

It is not without some violence to our ordinary- 
associations that we can divest the mind of the 
idea, that the huge Leviathan, and numerous other 
animals which take their pastime in the deep, are 
really fishes, as we have been accustomed to regard 
them; but the circumstance of their being sur- 
rounded by the waters, is no better calculated to 
identify them with fishes, properly so called, than 
the similar analogy of birds and quadrupeds, being 
both suiTounded by the air, is calculated to identify 
them with each other. Nor can it be urged, as 
establishing a difference in the latter case which is 
wanting in the former, that birds are capable of 
rising in the air, while quadrupeds rest upon the 
earth ; since a similar difference may be remarked 
between fishes, properly so called, and the ceta- 
ceous tribes, that while the former have their abode 
indiscriminately in any part of the water, the latter 
are compelled — for respiration — to remain, except 
for very limited periods, near the top, and even 
with a part of their bodies above the surface. 

By the term Fish, then, is to be understood a 
vertebrated animal inhabiting the water, with a 
naked body, or one covered with plates or scales ; 
moving commonly by means of fins, breathing, if 
we may use the term, by gills, possessed of a single 

* See a former volume of the Naturalist's Library, devoted 
to the history of whales, &c. 




heart, circulating cold blood, and, in general, ovi- 
parous. The skeleton of fishes is composed of 
either cartilage or proper bone ; and this circum- 
stance, combined mth many peculiarities in their 
general structure and economy, has furnished oc- 
casion for arranging the whole tribe of Fishes into 
two great fami ies, CartilaginoiLs and Osseous. 

Fishes, as inhabitants of a medium so widely 
different from that in which man and terrestrial 
creatures exist, and, in general, rapidly perishing 
when withdraAvn from their native element, are 
much less frequently the objects of our observation 
than those animals which, as sharing with us the 
vital influence of the atmosphere, and being inha- 
bitants of the soil on which we ourselves rest, we 
meet vA\h. at every turn, and with the forms and 
habits of which we become, almost unconsciously, 
more or less familiar. Tliey are rarely domesticated 
m our houses ; we do not meet with them in our 
walks ; they are never presented to us in our me- 
nageries ; — nay, we seldom find preparations of 
them even in our museums : we see them, for the 
most part, only in our markets, or on our tables, 
and know them chiefly but as administering to our 
plates. If even we follow them to their native 
Aaunts, it is too frequently in the same spirit that 
we pui'sue the fluttering bird with our gun, or the 
panting hare with our hounds, — in pursuit of a 
barbarous sport, and w'lih. no other end in \'iew 
than the gratification of vanity, in the contempla- 
tion of our dexterity in hooking and torturing them« 


But are Fishes, constituting, as they do, the prin- 
cipal inhabitants of by far the largest portion of our 
globe, worthy of no greater attention than this? 
Is their structure less wonderful, or are their habits 
less interesting, than those of the animals with, 
which we are for the most part better acquainted ? 
On the contrary, is it not reasonable to suppose that 
the investigation of the structure, and functions, 
and habits of animals, so peculiarly circumstanced, 
will open to us sources of admiration and delight, 
as extensive as they are novel ; and, by furnishing 
us with so many new associations, render us still 
better informed with respect to animals, concerning 
which, we may flatter ourselves, we have little or 
nothing to know ? 

If it be, in general, true, that it is impossible to 
be thoroughly acquainted with any one department 
of science without having a considerable insight 
into many others, it is no where more so than in 
Zoology; each department of which is connected 
by so many, and such intricate links with eveiy 
other, that, in order to be accurately acquainted 
with the organs and functions of any one tribe of 
animals, it is essential that we be at least mode- 
rately well informed respecting those of all the rest. 
Could we suppose a person acquainted with merely 
human anatomy and physiology, however perfectly, 
how circumscribed would be his real knowledge of 
the structm-e and offices even of the human frame I 
Thus isolated, it would be, not knowledge, pro- 
perly so called, but memory. But let such a person 


once condescend to study the coiTesponding parts 
and actions of quadrupeds, and how vast would be 
the increase, by the numberless associations thus 
opened to him, of his knowledge, with respect to 
things which he had previously perhaps imagined 
he had perfectly understood ! Again, let him 
descend to birds and reptiles, and at each step of 
his progress, his acquaintance, not only with the 
subjects immediately in hand, but with every thing 
appertaining to the subjects of his previous studies, 
will be increased almost infinitely ; — new and un- 
thought of relations spring up at every turn ; — 
aaalogies, numerous and striking in proportion to 
the greater extent of his grasp, every where meet 
him ; — and facts which he at first acquiesced in as 
ultimate, and knew only as disjointed links of a 
chain, of the extent and complication of which he 
was profoundly ignorant, he now contemplates as 
parts of a stupendous whole, and is at once de- 
lighted and exalted by the contemplation. But 
the goal is only in view; it is not yet attained. 
Let him proceed to Fishes, or to those animals 
destitute of a skeleton, and further light still 
breaks in upon him; he finds, in the study of 
their economy, many of his former blanks filled 
up — many of his former en-ors corrected — many 
difficulties removed — many just conclusions esta- 
blished or corroborated — many happy associations 
illustrated or extended. It may be received as 
an axiom, that the less a man knows, not only the 
less susceptible is he of further knowledge, but 


the less he acquires by any given addition to his 
stock ; a fact which, to a well informed man, be- 
comes, like seed sowji upon good ground, a tree 
bearing fruit, and this always abundant, in precise 
proportion to the accuracy and extent of his previous 
ittformation ; while it is in the hands of an ignorant 
man, a barren and a useless thing. It is this inca- 
pacity for forming such associations which renders 
the first steps to knowledge so difficult and weari- 
some ; and it is this gradually increasing capacity 
for forming such associations, which renders our 
progress in a short time easy and light, and at 
length almost intuitive, and in the highest degree 
delightful and seducing. 

But are the different tribes of animals really 
connected together by such intimate relations, as , 
that a knowledge of any one can always be made 
subservient to the illustration of the rest ? At first 
view, nothing can be more dissimilar in structure 
than a quadruped and a fish. The former has its 
head more or less erected on a neck fixed at an 
angle with its body — it has a capacious chest 
behind the neck — and it stands supported by legs : 
in the latter, the head and body are in a line with 
each other — it has no neck nor chest, properly so 
called — and it is without proper legs, using other 
organs, termed fins, in their place. Again, the 
quadruped breathes by limgs, — while, in fishes, 
the influence of the air is imparted to the blood and 
system by means of gills ; and in the former the 
heart is double, — while in the latter it is single. 


These, however, can be proved to be differences in 
degree, and not in kind. The main support of the 
trunk, of both the quadruped and fish, is what is 
termed the vertebral column, composed of a series 
of small irregularly shaped bones, or vertebrae, in 
the continuous canal of which is situated a prin- 
cipal part of the nervous system ; and whether this 
column be placed throughout on the same horizon- 
tal plane, as in fishes and most reptiles, or tend 
about the anterior portion of it, more or less to the 
perpendicular, as in birds and quadrupeds; — and 
whether the ribs be under the head, so as to lie 
almost in the mouth, as in fishes, — or behind the 
head, so as to cons^titute a proper chest, as in the 
higher tribes of animals, the difference is merely 
formal. At the anterior extremity of the spinal 
column is placed the head, composed, in both qua- 
druped and the fish, of the same essential bones ; 
and although the cavity is relatively much larger in 
the former than in the latter, this cannot be re- 
garded as a fundamental distinction. Nor can those 
fins of the fish, by which principally it supports 
itself and moves in the water, be regarded as any 
thing else than the rudiments, as it were, of the 
limbs of the quadruped. Similar bones enter into 
their composition, and they are attached in a similar 
manner to the trunk ; and it is in the highest de- 
gree interesting to notice, in how very slow and 
progressive a manner these small and simple fins of 
the fish rise through the insignificant legs of some 
reptiles, to the more perfect and available wings or 


legs of birds, and thence, ultimately, to the sturdy 
members of the rhinoceros and elephant. But 
surely, it may be said, the gills of fishes, and their 
single heart, as contrasted with the lungs and double 
heart of quadrupeds, constitute an essential differ- 
ence between the two tribes. Such, however, is 
not the case. Many fishes have a kind of lungs, as 
well as gills, the air-bladder in some of these ani- 
mals being supposed to perform functions analogous 
to true lungs — and, from the form of this organ in 
serpents, the transition is easy through the lungs of 
other reptiles and of birds, to those of quadrujjeds. 
With respect to the double heart of the qua- 
druped, there was a time, during its developement, 
when its heart equalled in simplicity that of the 
fish, the division of it into two cavities not taking 
place until its progress to maturity is considerably 
advanced. The fish, then, in these respects, may 
he said to constitute the primary model on which 
the quadruped is formed ; and, in fact, in the rep- 
tile, a kind of intermediate structure, with respect 
of the last mentioned organs, prevails. The Ba' 
trachian reptiles — the young fi-og, for example, or 
tadpole — breathing at first by gills alone, afterwards 
by both lungs and gills, and, lastly, using its lungs 
alone as respiratory organs ; and the turtle and 
crocodile having a heart which is neither entirely 
single nor entirely double, but something mid-way 
between the two. How very gradual, then, are the 
steps by which, in these respects, we ascend from 
the fish to the quadruped ; and the same analogies 


existing, in a still more marked decree, between 
the various other organs of each, how well cal- 
culated must be the study of the one, to illustrate 
the nature of the other ! Nature acknowledges no 
sudden transitions — she has made no animated being 
isolated — none w^hich is not connected by one link 
below, and by another above itself, with all the 
)est — man alone, in this particular, excepted. 
And while she has constructed no hnks but what 
constitute a part of the great chain, extending from 
the lowest animated being up to man, she has left 
no gap in tliis chain into which one additional link 
could have been advantageously inserted. And 
who shall say that the Divine hand, which has 
permitted man to be elevated so much higher than 
other animals upon the same foundation, has not 
permitted other beings to proceed infinitely further 
still ; so that to them man is far, far more insigni- 
ficant and contemptible, than to him is the veriest 
worm that crawls. Can we, then, for a moment 
imagine, that a knowledge of the structure of so 
extensive a tribe as that of fishes, the connecting 
series of links, as it were, betAveen the two funda- 
mental divisions of the whole animal kingdom, the 
vertebrated and avertebrated, is isolated, and cal- 
culated to throw no light upon that of other ani- 
mals; or that we can perfectly understand the 
economy of any one tribe, so long as we remain 
ignorant of the numberless points of analogy w^hich 
this interesting tribe presents in relation to every 
other ? And, with respect to the functions and 


lm1)its of other animals, and of fislies, the analogies 
are not less perfect than -with respect to their struc- 
ture. The latter move in their native element as 
\\ e do in oui's : they use, like all other animals, 
certain means of self-defence and of attack ; they 
smell, see, hear, and feel ; they furnish numer- 
ous evidences of instinct, and not a few, perhaps, 
in its very highest range ; they respire ; they circu- 
late their fluids ; they digest their aliment ; they 
perpetuate their species : and can a knowledge of 
the peculiarity of the processes hy which they do 
all this, be supposed to be superfluous to one en- 
gaged in investigating the corresponding processes 
in other forms of animated nature ? Certainly not. 
Let us cease, then, to regard fishes as standing, as 
it were, alone in the creation, and constituting a 
tribe of uninteresting beings, the study of the eco- 
nomy of which is meagre in itself, and has only a 
very remote and obscure bearing on that of any 
other department of Natural History. Nature — 

'* Acts not by partial, but by general laws." 

And these laws can never be fully understood, 
so long as they are contemplated only partially — so 
long as any tribe of created beings, and especially 
so extensive and important a tribe as that under 
consideration, is excluded from the account. 




>vill next claim our attention. — As the earth 
is the natural inheritance of maramiferoUs ani- 
mals, of birds, and of reptiles, — so that of fishes 
alone, of all the vertebrated tribes, is in the wa- 
ter; and as in the extent of their dominions they 
fai* surpass terrestrial animals, so, in the anti- 
quity of their possession, and in the uninterrupted 
tenure by which they have held it from the begin- 
ning of time, they are still our superiors. While 
yet " the fowl that flies above the earth," and " the 
cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth," 
were uncreated, the waters had brought forth abun- 
dantly, and every living denizen of the seas and 
rivers existed; and when, subsequently, " the 
waters prevailed upon the earth," and " all flesh 
died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and 
of cattle, and of beast, and of creeping thing that 
creepeth upon the earth, and every man," the 
aquatic tribes were still unscathed in this their 
native element, and continued to take their pastime 

Among the vertebrated animals, fishes alone, 
•with the exception of the immature young of cer- 
tain reptiles, can be said, with strict propriety, to 


dwell in the water, as their natural and only habi- 
tation ; for although the cetaceous tribes, or whales 
and porjjoises, which, as we have already observed, 
are not so much fishes as great beasts of the ocean, 
are constantly in the water, it is only the bulk of 
their bodies which is so ; a part of the top of their 
heads being often kept above the surface, or brought 
there at short intervals for the purpose of respira- 
tion. The cetaceous animals breathe air like our- 
selves; which air finds access to their lungs by 
by means of holes, called spiracles^ situated on the 
the top of their heads — although, in other respects, 
quite corresponding to the nostrils of other animals. 
In like manner, many other maramiferous animals, 
as the various species of seals, — the morse, or sea- 
horse, — the hippopotamus, — the otters, — and the 
New Holland Ornithorynchi, with many others, 
are more frequently in the water than out of 
it. The same is also the case with many of the 
wading and diving birds; while, among the rep- 
tiles, — the turtle, and the crocodiles, &c., make it 
nearly their sole habitation. Still no one of these 
animals is competent — for the same reason as 
prevents the cetacea from so doing — to remain 
under water beyond a period more or less limited ; 
and thus the crocodile, which seldom leaves the 
immense rivers of tropical countries, — subjected by 
nature to its rule, — remains, in general, floating on 
the surface of the water like a large piece of timber, 
maintaining its respiration without impediment, and 
ready, at the same time, to seize on such hapless 


victims as thii-st, or any other occasion, may bring 
to the banks. 

On the other hand, fishes live, and move, and 
have their being permanently in the water; and, 
so far from requiring an occasional change of the 
medium by which they are surrounded, are, in 
general, soon destroyed by being removed into the 
air. It is requisite, indeed, that the water in which 
fishes reside be charged with a certain proportion of 
air, otherwise it could not minister to their respira- 
tion ; but it is still through the water that air is in 
them subservient to this function ; and they can no 
more breathe the air, unless water be its vehicle, 
than terrestrial animak can breathe it in that state 
of admixture. 

It is true, indeed, that some fishes, particularly 
those popularly called " Flat Fish," such as the 
turbot, the halibut, the sole, the plaice, and the 
flounder, may be said to inhabit rather the mud 
and sand at the bottom of the water, than the 
water itself; and the same is the case with the 
great loche (Colitis fossilis)^ a native of GeiTaany, 
which seldom quits the mud, except on the approach 
of stormy weather — hence it has sometimes been 
used as a kind of living barometer; as also with 
the fossile silure f Silurus /ossilisj, a native of the 
Indian lakes, from the muddy bottom of which it 
is sometimes dug up in the same manner as the 
great loche ; and hence the specific name fossilis, 
by which both are distinguished. Other fishes, 
again, as the laimer, or sand-eel (Ammod^/tes 


tohiamiSy^ and the dragon- weever (Trachinus 
dracc)^ lie, in general, wholly or partially covered 
with sand ; the former often at the depth of a foot 
or more, with its slender body rolled up into a 
spiral form. Under these circumstances, however, 
the fishes in question are not wholly removed from 
the influence of the water which is above them ; 
and they can therefore be regarded as inhabitants 
of the water only, though completely immersed in 
the mud and sand at its bottom. 

But there are also fishes which are capable of alto- 
gether deserting, for a time, their natural element, 
and becoming temporary denizens of the earth and 
air. Thus, eels are well known frequently to crawl 
along the grass, during the night, from one piece 
of water to another; and, if we can credit every 
thing that is printed, we have still more extraor- 
dinary tales reported, such as rooting up seeds and 
pease in their tract, and nestling under hay-ricks 
to avoid the cold* ! And the soldier loricaria 
(Loricaria callitJdhys)^ a native of Surinam, is 
described by Marcgrave, as not only making its 
way over land to a deeper stream, when that 
which it inhabits becomes too shallow, but even 
sometimes burrowing under ground for the same 
purpose ! We thus find fishes, at one time, crawling 
over the ground like snails, — and, at another, bur- 
rowing under it Hke moles ; but what shall we say 
to fishes climbing trees like the sloth, or even flying 
through the air? There are few fishes, indeed, 

* Abertus magnus. 


whicli display the former propensity; but such, is 
the case with the red sparus f Spams sigillatus), 
a native of India, about the size and figure of a 
perch, and it Avas accordingly formerly known by 
the name of the climbing perch, or Perca scandens. 
Attention to this previously unknown fact was 
drawn, in 1791, by Lieutenant DalsdorfF of Tran- 
quebar, in a Latin letter addressed to Sir Joseph 
Banks, and published in the third volume of the 
Linnasan Transactions. He caught the fish in a 
broad fissure of the bark of the Borassus Jlahelli- 
formis — a species of palm — at the height of about 
five feet from the ground; and it was still busy in 
making progress upwards, when its course was ar- 
rested by the ruthless hand of the Naturalist. The 
fact, that many fishes are capable of rising from the 
water, and of maintaining, for some time, a kind 
of flight through the air, is more generally kno'WTi. 
This is most remarkably the case with the fish 
commonly called, par excellence, the flying-fish, 
the Exoceti of system atists, and of which several 
species have now been discovered. Nevertheless, 
as the only surrounding medium which ministers 
to the well being of all other vertebrated animals, 
at least in a state of maturity, is the atmosphere, 
so that which supports, for an indefinite time, the 
life of fishes, is the water*. 

The solid parts of the bodies of most fishes are, 
like those of the bodies of animals in general, some- 

* See a more particular accoimt of these organs, when wo 
come to treat of the " locomotion" of fish^gs. 


what heavier than water, their hones, for e^anjple, 
generally sinking in this fluid ; consequently, had 
Nature not provided them with a sufficient supply 
of some substance lighter than water, by which their 
tendency to sink in this fluid, at least at all ordinary 
depths might be counteracted, it would have re- 
quired a constant effort on their parts to keep 
themselves at any given level. This tendency is 
accordingly provided against, in a great measure, 
by the quantity of fat with which fishes are in 
general furnished, and which, being very nearly m 
such proportion to the soHd parts as to bring their 
body, collectively taken, to about the same specific 
gravity as that of the water which they inhabit, 
supersedes in them the necessity of making any 
efibrts, except for the purpose of changing their 
situation. It is well known of how oleaginous a 
nature is the flesh of many fishes commonly used 
at table — the salmon and eel, for example ; and in 
the internal parts of fishes, in general, the quan- 
tity of fat is still more remarkable. The gall of 
many is little else than a kind of oil; and the 
enormous quantity of this fluid which may be 
obtained from the liver of the basking shark, the 
fod, the ling, with several other fishes, is suf- 
ficiently well known; it is said, that the liver 
of a single basking shark frequently affords seven 
or eight barrels of oil. Fishes have no true lungs, 
which, to all the terrestrial and aerial tribes of 
animals, as always containing a considerable quan- 
tity of air, are one great source of buoyancy ; but 


in place of lungs in this capacity, many fishes are 
provided witli an organ commonly kno^vn as the 
air or swim-bladder, to which they owe more, in 
this respect, than most other animals do to their 
lungs. The principal use of this bladder, however, 
appears to be, not so much that of rendering the 
body of fishes uniformly buoyant, but to modify 
this buoyancy as occasion may require. 

It is for the same purpose of diminishing their 
specific gravity, that the cetaceous tribes — the bones 
of which, unlike those of most fishes, are in general 
lighter than water — are furnished with a prodigious 
quantity of fat ; for it must be remembered that they 
require, not merely to be kept at any given level be- 
low the water, but to be raised again to the surface, 
as often as in the pursuit of their prey, or from any 
other cause, they had dived below it. This is a prin- 
cipal use of the enormous quantity of oil which is 
found in these animals, contained, in most part, in 
what is called the blubber, immediately under the 
skin, and constituting the train-oil of commerce. The 
cetaceous animals, also, have no proper air-bladder ; 
but their lungs, which are generally continued in 
an elongated form along the spine, instead of being 
confined, as in the other mammiferous animals, to 
the plane of the proper chest, serve, in some mea- 
sure, as a substitute for that organ. 

Fishes are of nearly the same specific gravity as wa* 
ter, and consequently they have little or no tei> 
dency, at any given level, either to rise to the surface, 
or sink to the bottom, but can move either upwards 


or downwards with equal facility; whereas the 
natural tendency of the cetaceous tribes and of 
birds being always to the top, and that of the rest 
of the raammiferous animals and of reptiles to the 
bottom, the two former experience comparative 
difficulty in sinking, and the two latter, equal diffi- 
culty in rising in the fluid. Independently, then, 
of any other causes, they cannot, on this account, 
be said to be so much in their natural element, 
when surrounded by this medium, as fishes are, 
nor to be at all upon a par with them, in their 
claim to be considered inheritors of the waters. 

We alluded just now to the possession, by most 
fishes, of an organ called the air or swim-bladder, 
sometimes familiarly known by the name of the 
sound. Every body must have noticed, near the 
back-bone of the herring, and other fishes, a shin- 
ing, pearly-looking membrane, almost enveloped 
by the roe or milt of the animal. This is the 
organ in question ; and it is of this organ, as found 
in the sturgeon, the carp, the ling, the burbot, and 
many more fishes, when dried and prepared by 
certain processes, that the substance called isinglass 
is manufactured ; and the same part of the cod, 
when salted or cui'ed, forms a well-known favourite 
dish for the table. The air-bladder consists of a 
membraneous pouch, more or less tubular, situated 
along the lower part of the spinal column. It is 
simple in the majority of fishes which possess it, 
fig. 1. of the salmon, but in some, as among the 
Cyprinidce^ it is double, fig. 2. of the chub ; that is 




to say, it consists of an anterior and posterior portion, 
communicating by a narrow neck : in others, as the 

Scicena umhra, &c., it is arborescent, or branches 

in the manner of a tree ; and it also assumes other 



forms, as those represented in our third wood-cut. 
In general, its cavity is without any partitions, as 

already stated ; but in some members of the genera 
Diodon and Tetrodon, tribes remarkable for their 
uncouth globular form and prickly surface — as well 
as in the genus Silurusy and in the sword-fishes 
fXiphiasJ, it is sub-divided in the manner of the 
lungs of reptiles, so that its interior has a cancel- 
lated, or honey-comb appearance. This correspond- 
ence of the air-bladder of fishes and the membra- 
neous lungs of reptiles, is a po-vverful argument in 
favour of the doctrine of those who represent all 


animals as formed essentially upon the same model, 
and regard the air-bladder of fishes, and not their 
gills, as analogous to the lungs of the superior 
tribes of animals; the gills of the former, in the 
mean time, being considered as having no corres- 
ponding organ in the latter, in their mature state, 
although they are always met with in one stage of 
their progress towards maturity. The air-bladder 
of fishes is either a perfectly blind pouch, without 
any communication with the contiguous organs, or 
it has an opening into it, called the trachea, either 
from the gullet or from the stomach. It appears 
quite blind in many species of the genus Scicena^ 
just alluded to, as well as in the perches. On the 
contrary, it communicates with either the gullet 
or the stomach, in the sturgeons, salmon, pike, 
perch, chub, &c. ; and, in the cod, this com- 
munication is sometimes effected by two distinct 
passages. In most fresh water fishes, it is found 
to be filled with the gas called nitrogen, or azote, 
which is comparatively light, and is one of the 
ingredients of common atmospheric air; while in 
those inhabiting the salt waters, it contains car- 
bonic acid gas, which is considerably heavier than 
the former, and is one of the gasses commonly 
evolved during the progress of combustion and fer- 
mentation, as well as by the respiration of terrestrial 

The air-bladder is not met with in all fishes. 
It appears to be wanting among the cartilaginous 
tribes, in the lampreys and myxines whicli are 


found cmomonly in the mud at the bottom of the 
water, and in the rays ; and among the osseous 
fishes, it is wanting generally in the flat fishes, as 
the turhot, and the rest already mentioned as inha- 
bitants rather of the mud at the bottom of the 
water, than of the water itself — ^in the launce or 
sand-eel, already likewise alluded to, as inhabiting 
the sand rather than the water — as well as in the 
European angler (LopMus pkcatorius ) ; which, 
again, is one of the fishes described as in the habit 
of burying itself in the soil, while lying in wait for 
its prey. It appears to be wanting also in the 
anchovy, the leaping blenny, the gudgeon, the 
flying scorpaena, the sucking-fishes, the mackerel, 
and many others. It wiU hence be observed, that 
there is no precise correspondence between the 
habits of fishes, as accustomed to remain at rest 
at the bottom of the water, or to glide through 
its bosom, and the absence or presence in them of 
an air-bladder ; since, while, on the one hand, not 
a few of them elsewhere spoken of, as found com- 
monly in the mud or in the sand, are furnished 
with this organ, many of those, on the other hand, 
above specified as destitute of it, are still accustomed 
to move freely through the water. 

The principal use of the air-bladder of fishes, 
appears to be that of increasing or diminishing their 
bulk, without changing their absolute weight, and 
thus of modifying their specific gravity as circum- 
stances may require; and it is probably owing to 
the circumstance of fresh water being lighter than 


salt water, that a lighter gas, such as nitrogen, is 
requisite to such fishes as inhabit the former, while, 
to those which live in the latter, a hea-vder gas, such 
as carbonic acid, is adequate for the purpose. They 
are thus enabled to rise or to sink in the water 
without much muscular exertion ; all that is re- 
quired being, in the former case, to distend the 
organ in question, — and, in the latter, to contract 
it : but in what manner they effect this change in 
its volume is not very well understood. The com- 
mon impression is, that the air-bladder, in its 
ordinary state, is subjected to a certain uniform 
pressure by the contraction of the contiguous 
muscles ; and that it is by reUeving it from a part 
of this pressure, by relaxing these muscles, and 
thus allowing of a rarefication of the air which it 
contains, that fishes rise in the water; whereas, 
when they desire to sink, they contract these 
muscles to a still greater degree than usual, by 
which means this air i?, in a corresponding degree, 
condensed. Upon these principles, the actual quan- 
tity of air contained in the air-bladder may be pre- 
sumed to be at all times the same, and this may 
possibly be the case in those fishes in which the air- 
bladder does not communicate with the neighbouring 
passages ; but in those in which such a communica- 
tion exists, it is obvious that any compression of 
the bladder will not merely condense the air, but 
expel a portion of it through the mouth or over the 
gills ; and there must consequently be some means 
by which such air is renewed, independently of any 


supply of it from the atmosphere, since, otherwise, 
a fish which had once sunk below the water hy 
expelling a portion of air from its air-bladder, could 
never have risen again by the help of this organ. 
Further, the character of the contained gas, at 
least m the salt-water fishes, is such, as to be in- 
compatible with the idea that it is derived from the 
atmosphere, which, abounding as it does in nitrogen, 
contains a very insufficient quantity of carbonic acid 
gas ; nor can it be derived from the water, in either 
the fresh-water or the salt-water fishes, since water 
is destitute alike of nitrogen and of carbonic acid, 
at least in any thing like what may be supposed to 
be a sufficient proportion for this purpose. It is 
manifest, therefore, that at least such fishes as 
expel at intervals a portion of the air from their 
air-bladders, must have the power of renewing it 
by a process going on within themselves — in other 
words, that they form this air from their blood, by 
a process called secretion, in the same manner as 
they form their gall, or any other of their natural 
fluids ; nor will the suddenness with which such air 
must be presumed to be frequently formed, occur as 
an objection to this doctrine, to any one who reflects 
on the almost instantaneous effect of certain emo- 
tions of the mind exciting in man a copious flow 
of tears, or bathing the whole body in perspi- 
ration, — efi'ects which are confessedly the results 
of secretion. This was the opinion of Dr. Monro 
and Mr. Hunter, respecting the source of the air 
within the air-bladder of fishes; and the former 


has even presumed, that a certain red, fleshy- 
looking substance, which is often found within 
it, acts in the manner of a gland, and secretes 
from the blood the air which it contains. It 
seems fair to conclude, then, that at least a 
great number of fishes rise in the water by means 
of their air-bladder, not by removing from this 
organ a part of its accustomed pressure, and thus 
rarefying the air which it contains, but by deposit- 
ing more air within it ; and that they sink in the 
water, not by condensing this air, as the result of 
the increased pressure to which they subject the 
air-bladder, but by getting rid of a portion of it : 
and if this be certainly the case in so many fishes, 
analogy would render it probable that it is so in 
all; and that the only difference between those 
which have, and those which have not a passage 
from their air-bladder, is, that in the former the 
pressure exercised directly expels the air, while, in 
the latter, it promotes its absorption. It has been 
contended, that the floating of fishes after death is 
a proof that they rise in the water, during life, 
merely by relieving the air-bladder from its ordinary 
pressure, and not by any active process ; but this 
argument is very fallacious, since fishes in general, 
unlike the cetaceous animals, which are naturally 
lighter than water, do not float till some time 
after death ; and, when they do so, it is as the 
result of a quantity of new gasses formed in their 
body by putrefaction, precisely as occurs with man 
and terrestrial animals in general. Besides, if it 


was owing to the distention of their air-bladder that 
fishes floated after death, they should not, as they 
usually do, turn belly upwards under these circum- 
stances — the air-bladder being above their centre of 
gravity — but should present themselves in their 
ordinary posture. This circumstance seems to be a 
sufficient proof, that the gasses which occasion the 
floating of fishes after death are formed principally 
in the organs contained in the belly, which are, in 
all animals, among the first to putrefy ; and some 
fishes, such as the Diodons and Tetrodons^ or por- 
cupine fishes, employ sometimes the device of 
swallowing air when they wish to inflate their body, 
and thus to raise their bristles in self-defence; 
which air, passing into their stomach, renders the 
belly, in spite of their air-bladder, which runs 
along the spine, the lightest part of their body, and 
they always assume, accordingly, the posture of a 
dead fish as it floats upon the water. 

But by whatever immediate means the air-bladder 
of fishes is either expanded or contracted, there can- 
not be any reasonable doubt that it is by means of 
changes in the volume of this organ, and, conse- 
quently, of the whole body of the animal, that such 
fishes as are possessed of it are enabled to rise and 
sink in the water with little or no muscular effort 
In proof of this it is sufficient to observe, that in 
these fishes the power of rising in the water is quite 
lost if the air-bladder be perforated, or otherwise 
incapacitated for retaining air; and that they are 
equally incapable of sinking in this fluid if the 


volume of contained air is considerably expanded. 
It was established by experiment, many years ago, 
by the celebrated naturalist Ray, that, after pricking 
the air-bladder, fishes were no longer able to rise in 
the water, but remained constantly at the bottom, 
like so many of the other tribes which are naturally 
destitute of this organ; and fishermen are at pre- 
sent in the habit of availing themselves of this 
knowledge, by adroitly pricking the air-bladders of 
the cod, and other fishes, as soon as they are 
caught, for the purpose of keeping them at the 
bottom of their well-boats, and thus of preserving 
them fresh for the market. On the other hand, it is 
equally well known, that if fishes have remained long 
near the surface of the water, exposed to a scorching 
sun, which produces a great rarefication of the air 
contained in their air-bladder, they are no longer 
capable of sinking in the water, but are obliged to 
remain at the top, till the cool of the evening has 
again condensed this air, and reduced the bladder 
to its usual volume, rendering buoyant some other 
part, at the expense of those by which their vital 
functions are maintained. 

With respect to those fishes which are destitute 
of an air-bladder, and which, nevertheless, rise 
freely in the water, they can eff"ect this only by an 
effort, although a very slight effort may be con- 
ceived to be sufficient for the purpose. This is 
performed, in the ray tribe, by means of their enor- 
mous pectoral fins, the motions of which act up- 
wards and downwards, upon precisely the same 


principles as a bird rises in the air ; and in most 
other fishes, under these circumstances, by means 
of either these fins or the tail. It is true, the tail 
of fishes, in general, being placed upright, and not 
flat, as it is in the cetaceous tribes, and moving 
from side to side, and not upwards and downwards, 
is calculated, not so much to raise them in the 
water — as that of the cetaceous tribes does — as to 
propel them forwards in a horizontal line ; but it 
must be remembered, that some of the fishes which 
are destitute of an air-bladder, for example, most 
of the flat fishes, swim, not on their bellies, but 
on their sides, so that their tail, in fact, lies flat 
upon the water, its motions are perpendicular, and 
it is, consequently, as well adapted for raising 
them in this fluid, as that of the cetacea. The 
circumstance of these tribes swimming on their 
sides, is a corroboration of the opinion, that one 
use of the air-bladder is to keep the back of those 
fishes, which possess it, uppermost. It does by 
no means follow, however, that fishes, destitute 
of an air-bladder, may not have other equally 
effectual means of keeping the back uppermost 
in their motions through the water. In the 
eel-shaped lampreys and myxines, the imperfect 
cartilaginous spinal column is probably as light, 
or lighter, than the aggregate of the other parts; 
in the rays, the same motions which raise them 
in the w^ater, necessarily keep the back upwards; 
and in the other fishes, above enumerated, as 
wanting an air-bladder, it is easy to conceive 


that the motions of their spine, or of their several 
fins, may be abundantly instrumental to the same 
end. It is a very vicious line of reasoning which 
leads us to the question, that any alleged object is 
effected, in certain animals, by any given organ, 
because the same object is, in other animals, ef- 
fected without it. 

The same organ, which to man is the instrument 
of touch, is, to the quadruped that of support — 
to the bird that of flight — to the fish that of 
swimming ; whereas touch, which is in man seated 
in the hand, is, in other mammiferous animals, 
seated sometimes in the root of the whiskers, some- 
times in the snout, sometimes in the tip of the 
wings, sometimes in the tail ; while, in the duck, 
its seat is the bilL 

It is probable that all fishes, with very few 
exceptions, rise occasionally to the surface of the 
water ; but to what depth they are capable of de- 
scending with impunity, remains undecided. It is 
universally known, that the atmosphere exercises a 
pressure on every thing exposed to it, which goes 
on, progressively increasing from above, doAvnwards, 
so that it is the greatest at the surface of the earth ; 
and that the water exercises a similar pressure, 
which, in like manner, becomes progressively 
greater from the top to the bottom of the mass, 
so that it is the greatest in immediate contact 
with the base of the reservoir in which it is con- 

But although near its surface, water exercises 


very little more pressure on things immersed in it 
than air does, we must keep in mind, that as it 
becomes deeper this pressure becomes, in a cor- 
responding degree, increased, till, at the depth of 
thirty-four feet — the height of a column of water 
is equal in weight to that of a corresponding 
column of the whole atmosphere — it presses upon 
bodies immersed in it with the weight of two 
atmospheres, and so on progressively for still 
greater depths ; and it has accordingly been found 
by experiment, that at very great depths, the 
pressure is such as to drive in the most firmly 
fixed corks of bottles, and to flatten the most 
solid pewter vessels, which have been exposed 
to it. 

Now, it is reasonable to beheve, that fishes would 
be materially injured by being subjected to any- 
thing like such pressure as is competent to produce 
these efi'ects. Among the cetaceous tribes, the great 
northern whale, on being harpooned by the fishermen, 
sometimes descends, by strong muscular efforts, 
to such immense depths, that its body must have 
been exposed to a pressure equal to that of many 
atmospheres; but it is not with impunity that it 
does this. On the contrary, on rising again to the 
surface, as it is sooner or later obliged to do to take 
breath, it is found frequently to spout blood from 
almost every outlet of the body, as the result of the 
inordinate pressure to which it has been subjected, 
or rather, perhaps, as the result of a return to the 
ordinary pressure, after having been exposed to a 


pressure so enormous. Those who descend in 
diving-bells, also, to great depths — ^since, of course, 
the pressure made upon their bodies, in these cir- 
cumstances, by the air which surrounds them, is 
always equal to that made upon this air by the 
water which is in contact with it — are often found 
to spit blood, and to manifest many other marks of 
disturbance of their functions, upon rising again to 
the surface of the water. 

It seems, then, fair to conclude, that it is only 
to a certain depth below the surface of the water 
that fishes can descend with impunity ; and that, 
universally diffused as they may be in pools and 
most rivers, it is only within a certain determinate 
range of the ocean that they are capable of existing. 
This circumstance is not sufficiently often reflected 
upon, when we unhesitatingly represent fishes as 
living upon the water-plants which grow at the 
bottom of the deep, and describe every thing that 
is thrown into the water as becoming indiscrimi- 
nately their prey. In all likelihood, the supposed 
water-plants, growing in many parts of the ocean, 
never come within the reach of fishes, at any rate, 
till they have become separated from their parent 
stalks; and the substances thrown overboard, in 
many cases, soon pass beyond it, unless they are 
adroit enough to seize it by the way. There may 
be, undoubtedly, 

" a thousand fearful wTecks — 

A thousand men that fishes gnaw upon, 
All scattered in the bottom of the sea," 


but it is, perhaps, requisite for this purpose, that 
the sea be not too deep for them ; and the sugges- 
tion, accordingly, of Mr. Pennant and others, that 
some fishes, which are destined at certain seasons 
to migrate, are, at other times, buried in the vast 
profundity of the seas, is not a very probable one ; 
at least, we know, that the greater number of 
fishes congregate principally in shallow waters, and 
about coasts ; and that, when farther from the 
shore, it is chiefly over sand-banks, such as those 
of Newfoundland and the Dogger-bank, that they 
are met with. Is it conceivable that the herring, 
for example, should exist unscathed, as has been 
supposed, under a pressure of 683 fathoms of water, 
which has been proved to be the depth of some 
parts of the sea between Iceland and the north of 
Norway ; or under that of more than 780 fathoms, 
to which depth the water, a little further north, has 
been sounded, without finding a bottom ? Whe- 
ther the animal could ever reach these depths, by 
the most energetic efforts, may be very reasonably 
questioned ; but that it could long hold its station 
there, and that in full possession of all its functions, 
appears to be most improbable. We shall now 
proceed to the manner and the organs by which 
fishes move through their native element, or 



In the preceding chapter we detailed the principal 
means by which fishes, on the one hand, preserve 
their level in the water which they inhabit, and, on 
the other rise, and, within certain limits sink in 
this fluid, according to circumstances. These pro- 
cesses are, or may be all, in a great measure 
passive ; but those by which these animals effect 
their various locomotions, otherwise than perpendi- 
cularly upwards or downwards, by which they 
creep along, or into the mud or sand at the bottom 
of the water, or, even deserting their natural ha- 
bitat, crawl along the grass, or climb trees, as well 
as those by which they perform their various evo- 
lutions in the water, leap occasionally from its 
surface, and even skim for some space through the 
air, are strictly active, and fall now to be considered. 
It is not, indeed, improbable, that some fishes, 
like the duck-weed and star-grass among plants, 
and the sea-blubber, and many other invertebrate 
tribes, among animals, may be moved in the water 
principally ]>y the currents and tides, or by the 
winds ; but the number of those in which loco- 
motion is otherwise than active, is certainly very 

The chief organs of locomotion in fishes are the 


spine and the fins, including, under the latter 
term, the tail ; but, to understand clearly the func- 
tions and motions of these parts, it will be necessary, 
first, shortly to notice the mechanism and structure 
of the skeleton and muscles. The spine, or verte- 
bral column, to the extremity of which the tail, or 
caudal fin, is attached, is by far the most important 
organ in the locomotion of fishes. The other fins, 
analogous to the extremities of the higher animals, 
being used, and only much developed under parti- 
cular circumstances, never possess the firm and 
sturdy, or active structure, which are requisite, 
and enables birds and mammalia firmly to support 
themselves in another medium. Those limbs, or 
fins, then, in fishes, are used more for the purpose 
of direction than of progression ; and even in the 
prodigious manner in which we shall see that some 
of them are developed, we do not find that there is 
a corresponding power imparted. The spinal co- 
lumn, then, is expanded upwards and downwards ; 
and the muscles of the trunk, which almost all 
assist in its movements, are placed in numerous 
transverse strata along the sides, with strong ten- 
dinous fascia between, and the whole are disposed in 
longitudinal layers, directed alternately in dijfferent 

The spine, in general, consists of numerous 
small irregularly shaped bones or vertebras, of a 
rounded form, from which proceed several projec- 
tions or processes ; and they are familiarly known 
to present the appearance of a shallow cup, with 



one or more handles. Those placed nearest the 
head, are called abdominal — for fishes have no neck 
or chest, properly so called. They have the sharp 
process pointing obliquely upwards from the body 
of the vertebra, and, in general, two projecting 
outwards from its sides. 

Connected with the upper spinous process, of 
more or fewer of the abdominal vertebree, and on 
the same line with it, is a short bone, called the 
interspinous bone ; and connected, again, with this 
last, is another longer bone, still in the same line, 
and it is this which supports the dorsal fin. On 
the other hand, the two transverse processes have 
each connected with them a long curved bone, 
encircling a great part of the bulk of the body like 
a half hoop, and commonly mistaken for the ribs 
of the animal ; but, if they are to be so called, they 
should at least be distinguished by the name of 
abdominal ribs; for the true, or thoracic ribs, or 
those corresponding to the ribs of man and the 
higher classes of animals, are placed very far for- 
wards, and almost under the lower jaw of fishes, 
and have no direct connexion w^th the spine. 
These reputed ribs are wanting in most of the rays, 
and in the cartilaginous fishes in general, as well as 
in the Diodons, Tetrodons^ and several of the osseous 
fishes ; but they are a well-kno-vvn source of annoy- 
ance to those eating the herring, and numerous 
other fishes commonly brought to table. The rest 
of the vertebras of the spine, or those situated 
nearest the tail, are called, from this circumstance, 


caudal; and have each the same kind of upper 
spinous process, often with its appendages, the 
interspinous bone, and the ray, of the fin still 
called dorsal, as the abdominal vertebrae. Instead, 
however, of the two transverse processes, and their 
appendages the abdominal ribs, which characterize 
the abdominal vertebras, the caudal vertebras have 
a second spinous process, with two roots, pointing 
obliquely downwards from the body of the vertebrae ; 
and, connected with this lower spinous process, 
exactly in the same manner as the corresponding 
parts are with the upper one, a second interspinous 
bone, and a ray of the anal jin^ lying near the tail 
of the animal, and on the opposite surface of the 
body from the dorsal. The caudal Jln^ lastly, or 
what is commonly called the tail of fishes, is an 
appendage, like a portion of the dorsal, and the 
whole of the anal fin, to the caudal vertebrae ; to 
the upper and lower spinous processes of which it 
is attached, almost directly in the axis of the 
spine, forming, in appearance, a kind of fan, moved 
by powerful flat muscles. It will hence be obvious, 
that the dorsal fin, the anal fin, and the caudal fin, 
are, in fact, only appendages to the spinal column 
of fishes; the two former being, in reality, de- 
velopements of the spinous processes. These are 
used chiefly directing ; and, from their position, 
except in giving greater power to the rapid motion 
of the body from side to side, are not directly 
employed in progression or turning. 

Where the bodies of the individual vertebrae of 


fishes are applied to each other, there is a deep 
conical cavity, commonly with a small hole in the 
centre ; and this hole is, in many of the cartila- 
ginous fishes, so large, that the bodies of their 
vertebrae represent almost one continuous tube. 
These cavities are filled, in the living animal, with 
a soft jelly-like matter, which extends, also, for 
some little space, beyond their rims, being kept 
in its place by a tough elastic membrane. The 
fluid amounts, in some of the larger fishes, to some 
pints, between every two vertebrae ; and such is the 
pressure exercised upon it by the membrane by 
which it is immediately invested, that, if this be 
suddenly punctured in the skin, as noticed by Sir 
Everard Home, the liquid is projected with a force 
sufficient to carry it four or five feet high. Nothing 
could possibly have been better adapted than this 
part of the structure of the spine of fishes, to 
ensure free motion, and to protect the surfaces of 
the bone from injury when so continually plied. 
The bodies of each vertebrae, in fact, move, as it 
were, laterally on each other, by means of so many 
interposed elastic balls. This motion is almost 
entirely from side to side ; from the form of each 
bone, and the presence of the upper and under 
spinous processes, it must be obvious, that motion 
in any other direction would be superfluous, while, 
if it had been permitted, more important uses must 
have been sacrificed. 

In the motions of all fishes^ the spinal column 
is an essential assistant, and may be said to be the 


acting power which regulates the motions of the 
fins, which are only accessaries. In all the long 
finake-formed species it acts an important part ; 
and although, in the eels and lampreys, the power 
of the posterior extremity in the water is increased 
hy heing bordered by a narrow fin, yet the motions 
of these fish, when they hare to travel over portions 
of land, or any dense weeds, which is very fre- 
quently the case, are conducted entirely by the 
spine, the finny border being there quite unneces- 
sary. Our first Plate, illustrating a curiously 
marked species, will illustrate this ; — it is 



Ophisurus altemans, QuoY and Gaimard, 

Two specimens, only, of this curiously marked fish, 
seem to have been procured during the voyage of 
Freycinet, of no great size, hut remarkably conspi- 
cuous, from the regular and decided banding and 
spotting with which the body is marked. The 
ground-colour is of a delicate bluish-giey ; the bands, 
amounting from thirty to thirty-two, of a deep rich 
brown, and having from one to two round spots 
occasionally placed in the intervals ; and the Na- 
turalists who describe it, are of opinion that these 
spots and bands become more numerous with the 
age of the fish. The motion of this fish is described 
to be very slow, and, looking at its form, we can 
easily understand that will be very smooth and 
gliding. The banded Ophisurtts was discovered on 
the coast of the island of Guam. 

There are a few other fishes also, whose ap- 
pearance has gained for them such titles as Ophi- 
surits and Ichthyophis^ where a bounding fin is 
totally wanting to the body, and where the motions 





are entirely conducted by the spine. The form of 
these fish is very similar to that of a snake, as their 
names imply ; and even the pectoral fins are ex- 
tremely small in proportion, compared with those 
of fishes having the same lengthened form. These 
and the true eels can move very rapidly through the 
water, hut when undisturbed upon the bottom, 
their motions have more the aspect of crawling 
than of swimming. 

We shall now notice, with more detail, the cases 
of the various fins, as they are connected with the 
spinal column, and as instrumental to the loco- 
motion of fishes. And we shall first describe the 
tail, or caudal jin, as by far the most important 
organ in active progression; for, in rapid move- 
ments through the water, it must be at once per- 
ceived that the fish could not possibly move any of 
its fins so as to act as propelling powers, for if, 
at any period, they projected at angles from the 
sides of the animal, they would materially ob- 
struct its motion. The tail, in the greater number 
of osseous fishes, consists of a series of jointed rays 
fixed to flat bones, which are, again, articulated to 
the last joint of the vertebral column. These rays 
are connected by a web, and ordinarily exhibit a 
flat fan or paddle; and it is the elongation or 
shortening of these rays, with the form of the in- 
tervening web, which occasions the almost endless 
variation which we see in the shape of this organ. 
The structure which is most conducive to a swift 
motion, as well as to the power of keeping up a 


rapid progression for a length of time, is a Innated, 
or crescent form, having the breadth and depth of 
the curvature in certain relative proportions : that 
which we see in the common trout and the salmon ; 
that of the pilot-fishes is also near this proportion. 
These fishes have the power of very rapid and long 
sustained motion in the water, and immense power, 
as we shall afterwards see, of surmounting obstacles 
in their courses. The migrations of the salmon, 
and its ascending rivers filled with rapids and water- 
falls is famiharly known ; while the power of 
swift and long-sustained motion will be exemplified 
in the genus Namrates, or pilot-fishes. In both of 
which, we see this powerful form of tail combined 
with the tapering, yet solid, construction of the 
body, and which altogether combines those pro- 
perties in their highest developement. To illustrate 
this, we have added a figure of the 


2 -d 




Naucrates Indicus^ Lesson. 


Pilote Indian, Naucratus Indicus, Less. — Voyage par Du- 
perrey, i. page 157, pi. xiv. 

This species of Naucrates was discovered, during 
the voyage above quoted, on the coasts of New 
Ireland. It is of an elegant and graduated form, 
having the tail, however, rather more forked and 
swallow-like than this member in the Salmonidw^ 
where we consider the form nearly at perfection 
for swift and long-continued motion. The colours 
are not bright, but are chastely shaded; and the 
markings on the tail are bold and conspicuous. 

When the tail begins to diverge, from that now 
illustrated, either by the rays in the centre being 
elongated, as in the Eleotris lanceolatus, fig. 1, launce- 
tailed goby, or in Lonchurus ancylodon of Schneider, 
fig. 2, or by an excess or prolongation of the lateral 
rays, as in the forms, are immediately diminished. 
We pass through every gradation of form between 
these two extremes; and when we examine those 
fishes where a great power of locomotion does not 



become so important to their economy, we find 
most extraordinary forms occurring. As an organ 
of defence, and furnished with strong armour, it is 

often a most formidable weapon, as we shall notice 
in its proper place ; and in fishes whose defence is 
not so requisite, we see it triftircated, as in some 
of the Cyprinida3y the well-known gold-fish, for 
example. In the singularly formed sun-fishes, 
shown in 





Orthagoriscus Tnola, Schneider. 

PLATE in. 

The rays of the fin stretch round the whole pos- 
terior part of the fish, where it acts the part of a 
tail. This fish, and another species, has heen oc- 
casionally taken on our coasts; and, Mr. Yarrell 
remarks, have gained their name both from the 
shape and the brightness of the skin. Notwith- 
standing their occurrence, however, we know little 
of their manners, or how the tail influences their 
motions. It is known and recorded to lie, and 
perhaps to sleep, with the head out of the water,, 
and is supposed to keep near the bottom, and to 
feed on sea-weeds; and when taken, Mr. Crouch, 
says, it makes powerftd but awkward attempts to 

In the genus Trachypterus (Cuv. and Valenci- 
ennes), the member is most remarkable, as indeed 
cire the whole fins, both in their form and struc- 
ture ; but the form will be best understood by our 
figure of 

* Yarrell, ii. p. 352. 



Trackypierus Spinolce, Cuv. and Val. 

A small species of extreme rarity, found in the 
European seas; M. Risso procured it near Nice. 
Tlie remarkable position and form of the fins, on 
the upper part of the head, seems rather to belong 
to the dorsal than to the caudal fin. 

In some other fishes, again, one of the lobes of 
the tail is prolonged into a slender filament equaling 
the whole length of the fish, and of which it is 
difficult to conceive the use. This may be observed 
in the Loricoria cirrhosa, Schneid. In another fish, 

Sty'eporus chordatus, Schneid., remarkable for its 
whole form ; the extremity extends nearly tyn.ce the 

























f:^ -^:^ 


length of the the fish. Among the cartilaginous 
fishes, it is often more an organ of defence than of 
locomotion. The sharks use it as a powerful rud- 
der ; but in the various genera of rays, where it is 
always nearly the length of the fish, it is often 
strongly armed, in addition to being fiimished with 
small adipose fins, and in some it is prolonged to 
an enormous length, as in the Raga Jlagellum of 
Schneid. The form is generally not very elegant, 
neither are the colours brilliant; but our annexed 
Plate, while it exhibits the general form of the tail 
in this race, will also exhibit an exception to the 
generally dull colouring which prevails among 



Trygon Halgani, Lesson. 


I'rygon lymna. — Riippell, pi. xiii. fig. 1. 

This species of ray, so very distinct from most of 
its congeners by the bright spotting which adorn its 
upper surface, seems to have been known and de- 
scribed by several travellers, or there may be one or 
two species which are closely alhed by their form and 
markings ; for the figure of Riippell represents two 
spines on the tail, whereas Lesson's fish has only one 
of these organs of defence. It is a small species ; the 
general size of the species being only about six inches 
in length, to which may be added about eight inches 
for that of the tail ; the spine is placed about the 
middle of the tail, is flattened at the base, and at the 
point is finely barbed, which would cause it to inflict 
a dangerous wound. The upper part of the fish, or 
back, is thickly marked "vvith azure spots, as we 
have endeavoured to represent, and which beauti- 
fully relieves the pale uniform tint which otherwise 
covers it. Lesson and the expedition met with 
Halgans ray very abundant in the Bay of Ofiack, 


m ■■''<■ 


; < 







' — 













halgan's spine-tailed ray. 95 

111 the isle of Waigou, and also in New Ireland. 
They furnished food for a great portion of the ex- 
pedition during their stay at these islands. 

Almost every one is aware that a boat may be, 
with certainty, urged forwards by what is called 
sculling ; that is to say, by means of one oar passed 
over its stem, and continually mov in the water 
from side to side. Now it is precisely upon this 
principle that the tail of fishes, moving from side 
to side, operates in propelling them forward. It is 
evident that the oar, on the one hand, and the tail, 
on the other, in this alternate lateral motion, is 
continually displacing a quantity of water great in 
proportion to the length of the instrument em- 
ployed, and consequently to the sweep which it 
makes in its oscillations ; and it is by the resistance 
which the water makes to this displacement by the 
oar or tail, in coming from its extreme sweep to 
the axis or mesial plane of the boat or fish, that 
either is urged onwards. 

It will easily be understood why Nature has been 
so soUcitous to remove from the portion of the spinal 
column, by which the tail of fishes is moved, every 
possible cause of obstruction to its free lateral 
motion — why it is not burthened by the same kind 
of ribs which are connected with the anterior por- 
tion of the spine — why all the viscera are placed so 
far forward — and why, lastly, there is either no 
pelvis at all, or, at any rate, only a rudimentary 
one, and, in general, unconnected with this part of 
the body. The movements of the tail are only, or 


chiefly lateral in fishes; and, of course, in those 
which swim, as the majority of them do, on their 
belly, it moves in the water from side to side; 
whereas in those which, like the osseous flat fishes, 
swim on their sides, it moves upwards and down- 
wards ; but its eficcts are, of course, precisely the 
same in urging the animal forwards, except that, in 
the latter case, the animal advances in the diagonal, 
intermediate, not between a force urging it to the 
right and another urging it to the left, but between 
a force urging it downwards and another urging it 
upwards. On the other hand, in the cetaceous 
tribes the movements of the tail are only or chiefly 
perpendicular ; so that, in them, swimming as they 
do on their belhes, the tail moves upwards and 
downwards, and they are urged forwards, therefore, 
on precisely the same principles as the flat osseous 
fishes while swimming on their sides. 

Nor is the tail of fishes employed merely as an 
oar to effect their progress in the water, but also as 
a rudder to direct it ; the slightest continued incli- 
nation of this organ to the right side, for example, 
while the body is still in motion, necessarily deter- 
mining the direction of the course of the animal in 
the same degree to this side, the resistance now 
offered by the water to the course of the animal 
directly forwards being greater on this side than on 
the other ; and the same thing results if the fish 
move the tail through a greater sweep, or with more 
force, from right to left, than in the opposite direc- 
tion. And if either this inclination of the tail to 


the right side be sufficiently long-continued, or the 
sweep and force with Avhich it moves from right to 
left sufficiently exceed that with which it moves 
from left to right, the animal will wheel completely 
round, or may be even made to revolve upon the 
same horizontal plane, as upon a pivot driven verti- 
cally through its centre of gravity. Now, it is 
exactly on the same principle that the flat osseous 
fishes, which have no air-bladder, use their tail, 
not only in swimming in a straight line through the 
water, but also in rising and sinking in this fluid ; 
for the same loss of balance in the motions of a tail 
moving from side to side as w^ould turn an animal 
to the right or left, in those of a tail moving verti- 
cally, will, of course, depress or raise it. And it is 
thus also that, in the cetaceous tribes, the necessity 
of an air-bladder is superseded ; since, when they 
desire to rise in the water, all that they have to do 
is to strike a few smart blows with their tail down- 
wards, when their heads are necessarily carried in 
an opposite direction ; and when they wish to sink, 
a few similar blows with the tail in the upward di- 
rection, at once serves to bury their heads beneath 
the waters. 

But the tail of fishes is useful to them still in 
another capacity, besides that of either a paddle or 
a rudder, since it is chiefly by means of this organ 
that they are enabled to leap out of the water ; and 
the height to W'hich some of them are capable of 
thu'S bounding into the air is astonishing. From 
the enormous basking-shark to the minute stickle- 


backs, this power seems to belong to the greater 
number of fishes ; and to be exercised sometimes in 
sport, at others to avoid their enemies, to reach 
their prey, to escape from confinement, or to over- 
come obstacles during their migrations. Thus the 
haddock, when pursued by the dog-fish, or other 
voracious fishes, is observed frequently to leap for 
an instant out of the water ; and it is, as pressed 
by the pursuit of their numerous enemies, that the 
various kinds of flying- fishes — of which we shall 
speak more fully presently, as not rising into the 
air, but of maintaining for some time a continuous 
course therein — spring out of their natural element. 
Many fishes, also, which feed on insects fluttering 
over their heads, are enabled to reach them only by 
these means ; and the rising of the trout out of its 
stream, for this purpose, is well known to anglers. 
The silvery trichiurus, a taper-shaped fish, inhabit- 
ing the lakes of South America, India, and China, 
not unfrequently takes such surprising somersets 
after its prey, as to fall into vessels which are acci- 
dentally passing at the time. Other fishes, again, 
as the mullets and the carp, are observed frequently 
to escape in this way from the nets by which they 
have been environed, a whole shoal of them some- 
times vaulting over, one after another, Hke a flock 
of sheep over a fence. This circumstance, "with 
respect at least to the former, was known to 
Oppian — 

The mullet, wlien encircling seme's enclose, 
The fntaJ threads and treacherous bosom knows; 


Instant he rallies all his vigorous powers, 
And fjiithftil aid of every nerve implores ; 
O'er battlements of cork up-darted flies. 
And finds from air th' escape the sea denies. 

But the feats of fishes, in this way, are most re- 
markable during their migrations, if any obstacles 
are opposed to their determined progress. Under 
these circumstances the little stickleback, the in- 
habitant of almost every pond, river, and marsh, is 
capable of bounding from the water, perpendicularly, 
to a height of eighteen or twenty inches ; equal in 
force to what would be required to project a man 
into the air to a height of fifty or sixty feet. There 
is no fish, however, the vaulting of which, in the 
course of its migrations, is so celebrated as that of 
the common salmon. It is very generally known 
that, as the spa'svning-time approaches, these ani- 
mals pass in shoals from the sea and ascend the 
rivers; and, in their course, have frequently to 
make their way over cataracts, the obstacles offered 
by which would appear to be insurmountable. 
Such are those of Pont Aberglastyn, among the 
hills of Snowdoun, of Leixlip on the Tivy, in South 
AVales, and of Kenneth, near Dublin ; all which 
the salmon every year surmount, and, having at- 
tained the even water beyond them, quietly pursue 
their march towards the sources of the river. There 
are several of these falls which are celebrated as 
salmon leaps, the fish having to make great exer- 
tions to overcome their height, and making several 
attempts before they can surmount them. The 


height of the actual leap which they can take has, 
however, heen much exaggerated ; for unless there 
be parts in the fall where the fish can attain a tem- 
porary resting-place, and gain another spring, they 
cannot surmount a cataract of any great height : in 
some places, these temporary resting-places are 
taken advantage of to take the fish by various 
contrivances. And it is on record, as an appendage 
to one of the princely monasteries of old, that a 
pot was placed in such a position near the fall, and 
supplied with fael, as sometimes to receive the fish 
which missed their leap, and which, falling into 
the vessel, caused a bell to be rung, and themselves 
intimated, that they might soon be placed on the 

Another fish, almost equally celebrated as a 
voltigeur, is the sturgeon (Acipenser sturioj^ 
which, in its migrations up the American rivers, 
is often observed to leap to the height of several 
yards perpendicularly from the surface of the water, 
falling back again with so much violence, as some- 
times to sink the small canoes of the Indians ; who, 
accordingly, stationing themselves in larger boats, 
frequently employ this means of capturing it. 

Next to the tail or caudal fin, the pectoral fins 
in fishes are of most importance in their locomotion. 
These comprise, in a rudimentary form, the same 
parts as are met with in the arm, fore -arm, wrist, 
and hand 'of man, — and the ventral fins, in a still 
more rudimentary form, many of those which are 
found in the inferior extremity ; and as the former 


are all supported in man by the blade-bone and 
collar-bone, and the latter by the bones of the 
pelvis, so there are corresponding bones, in most 
fishes, for the support respectively of the pectoral 
and ventral fins. It is true, the correspondence of 
these parts in fishes and in man — the lowest and 
the highest tribes of vertebrated animals — is so 
obscure, that, if the comparison be made abruptly, 
no sort of resemblance will perhaps be traced ; but 
if we are content to follow, in our investigations, 
the same order which Nature has followed in her 
w^orks, and to advance, by progressive steps, from 
the lowest to the highest links of the chain, we 
shall at once recognize the analogy, and shall be 
compelled to acknowledge that all the parts above- 
mentioned, as corresponding in fishes and in man, 
are really constructed upon the same model. The 
analogy, however, between the pectoral fins of 
fishes, and the anterior or upper extremities of 
the higher classes of animals, is far more striking 
than that between the ventral fins and the poste- 
rior or lower extremities ; and, indeed, the ventral 
fins are in general of a size so disproportionate to 
that of the pectoral, and sometimes placed in so 
unusual a situation, as on the same plane with, or 
even nearer to the snout than the latter, that it is 
difficult at first to reconcile ourselves to the idea 
that they correspond to legs. It is a principle, 
however, in tracing the correspondence between 
the several parts of different animals, to disregard 
altogether size and situation, as constituting no 


essential distinctions, provided any analogy exist 
in elementary structure ; and that such an analogy 
is maintained, in the case under consideration, is 

The blade-bone or scapula of fishes in general, 
is a somewhat broad and flat bone, attached some- 
times to their spinal column — although without 
forming a proper appendage to it, and sometimes 
to the bones of the head ; at other times it is, as in 
man, buried in the substance of the flesh, about 
the shoulders, without any proper attachment to 
either. With this are connected long spines, cross- 
ing over the front of the neck, so as in general to 
meet their fellows of the opposite side, and to 
constitute arches below and behind the arches 
formed by the lower jaw and lingual bones : and of 
these, one corresponds to the collar-bone, or cla- 
vicle, of the higher classes of animals; and the 
other, which in fishes is called the coracoid bone, 
to the merry- thought, or furcula, which is proper 
to some reptiles and to birds. In this respect, 
then, fishes are in advance of the mammiferous 
animals, for the latter has no coracoid bone, or 
furcula, but only the rudiments of it, in what is 
called the coracoid process ; and many of them, for 
example all those wdth hoofs, are destitute also of a 
clavicle. But if fishes are before us in the develope- 
ment of these bones, they are, in the same degree, 
behind not only mammiferous animals, but reptiles 
and birds also, in the next bone, or that corres- 
ponding to the arm-bone, or humerus of man, 


"whicli, in most fislies, is quite rudimentary ; so 
much so, that the two bones of the fore-arm seem 
to be in general almost directly connected with the 
scapula, no proper bone being interposed between 
them. The shoulder-joint, therefore, and the 
elbow-joint of fishes, are, in general, almost one 
and the same. The two bones of the fore-arm are 
the ulna and the radius ; which two bones are, in 
some few fishes, so constructed, as to roll with 
tolerable freedom on each other, exactly in the 
same way as they roll on each other in man, in the 
action of rotating the hand; and it is by this 
means that they have the power of changing the 
direction of the flat part of their pectoral fin, during 
its play in the water; a power which, as we shall 
presently find, is so conducive to the full use of 
this organ. These two bones, however, are firmly 
united together in most reptiles, in all birds, and in 
many quadrupeds ; so that here, again, certain 
fishes have the advantage of many of the superior 
tribes of animals. To the ulna and radius are 
attached the several bones of the wrist, quite cor- 
responding to those of the wrist of man ; and from 
these, again, proceed the long radiating bones, 
equally corresponding to those of the hands and 
fingers of man, and constituting, with the mem- 
brane extending between them, all that is seen, on 
a superficial view, of a pectoral fin, and all in 
which such a fin is vulgarly supposed to consist. 
It is not peculiar to fishes, however, to have a 
great part of these anterior extremities concealed 


under the common covering of the body ; such ser- 
pents as have the rudiments of these extremities, 
have not only the greater part of them, but often 
the whole, so concealed ; and in no animal, in fact, 
is the whole so completely exposed as in man. 
Generally speaking, then, we observe the most 
perfect structural analogy between the apparently 
rude and insignificant pectoral fin of the fish, and 
the upper extremity of man; there is, indeed, a 
point in the transition, through the various tribes 
of animals, from the one to the other, as in the 
case of the dolphin and other cetaceous tribes, 
where we cannot tell whether the member may be 
called, with more propriety, a fin, or a hand and 
arm ; and that organ of man, so noble in form, and 
so exquisite in structure, which is at once the 
source of his most delicate perceptions, and the 
instrument of his sublimest works; — that organ, 
which is so often folded in love, or stretched in ado- 
ration, is fundamentally the same as the coarse 
flabby web which hangs from the neck of an obscure 
fish, and serves merely to assist its course, or main- 
tain its station in the water. In this member of 
fishes we perceive almost as much variation of 
form as of the tail. The usual form is that repre- 
sented on the accompanying cut, and prevails in 
all those possessed of swift or long-sustained mo- 
tion; it is often proportionally elongated, and is 
also sometimes much spread out, or broadened at 
its tip. In a few fishes it is altogether wanting, 
and in about an equal number it is nearly only 



rudimentary, or very small. In the Cotti^ or bull- 
beads, it becomes very much developed at the tip. 

and becomes broadened by a wide and thin mem- 
brane intervening between the rays. In Trigla^ 
or the gurnards, it continues the broadened form 
and wide membrane, but adds length to its breadth ; 
in Trigla fasciata^ Schneider, it is more than half 
the length of the fish. In some of our native species 
it is of great expanse, and, in addition, is adorned 
with the brightest and most brilliant colours. In 
another curious tribe of fishes it is singular and 
scarcely less developed ; in the Pegasus draconis it 
appears like two little fans extended from the side, 
as if the fish were about to fly. In a foreign species, 
gurnard, which we shall represent, the pectoral fins 
are very beautiful. 



Trigla kurnu, LessoK. 

Trigla kumu, Lesson. — Voi/. de la Coquille, plate xix. rol. u. 

page 214. 

This beautiful species was found abundantly in the 
bays of New Zealand by the expedition of Duperey, 
where it was used as food by the natives, and 
brought on board by them in abundance. It is not 
a large fish, reaching only a length of from fifteen 
to eighteen inches, and is in form rather slender. 
The dorsal fins are relieved by the strong rays being 
of a dark yellowish-red, the intervening webs pale 
rose colour. The upper part of the fish is of a 
brownish-red, rather abruptly broken in the middle, 
below which it is of a shining silvery hue. The 
pectoral fins are very large and roimded ; they are 
of a brilliant emerald-green, broadly bordered >vith 
azure blue round the extremity, and having an oval 
patch of velvety-black upon the interior edge, which 
is beautifully relieved with snow-white spots. In 
another fish, forming a distinct, but nearly allied 
^enus, the pectorals are also of extreme size. This 





J 07 

Dactylopterus orientalis, Cuv. & Val. 


And whicli, along with the Sciena volitans and a 
few others, were said to fly above the surface of 
the waves. There seems, however, no authority 
for any thing farther than a leap, which the large 
fins enable them to sustain for some time. It has 
been taken on the coast of the Isle of France. 
Among the Scorjywnce and Exoceti, or flying-fishes, 
where the develop ement reaches its utmost extent, 
the power is occasionally used as affbrding a means 
of escape from impending danger, through the 
medium of another element. In the Scorpcence, 
the whole apparatus of fins presents extraordinary 
developement, and that of the pectoral often reaches 
beyond the insertion of the tail. This is the 
structure of the S. volitans of the Indian seas ; and 
the web which connects the rays is cut into, or 
divided for half its length, so as, with little power 
of imagination, to resemble the quills in the wing 
of a bird. None of these species, however, appear 
to leave their native element, although the appella- 


tion of " volitans" and some others of nearly similar 
signification, has been applied. It is in those fishes 
only to ■which the name of " flying-fish," par ex- 
cellence^ has been given, that use their pectoral fin 
for the purpose of a temporary absence from the 
waters, exemplified by the 

Eococetus voliians. Pennant. 


Of which specimens appear occasionally to have 
been met with on the British coasts, though cer- 
tainly only of occasional occurrence. There are 
several species, possessing nearly an equal develope- 
ment of those fins which seem to occur in different 
ranges of latitude, and not to stir beyond their 
bounds, with as much regularity as we find in the 
distribution of the other vertebrated classes. By 
many authors, this power of the Exoceti has been 
pourtrayed as actual flying, that is, propelling 
themselves forward by the motion of their fins or 
wings, after they had risen from the waters. The 
later and most to be credited testimonies go mostly 
to confute this ; and it seems pretty evident, that it 
is the first impulse or spring from the water which 
is the propelling power, and that the breadth and 
volume of the fins supports them so long as the 
moisture continues : a very interesting account of 
the manners of one of these fishes will be found in 
Mr. Bennett's Wanderings, and the above, we be- 


lieve, is the conclusion to which he arrives. From 
fifty to one hundred yards is sometimes passed over 
by this leap or skim^ rising considerably above the 
water, and performing in the leap an arc of a 

In the rays or skates, and some allied genera of 
cartilaginous fishes, the parts analogous to the pec- 
toral fins are also much developed, but they are 
used more as a vast flapper to raise the fish from 
the bottom, or to bury it in the sand or mud, than 
as a powerful locomotive organ ; this will be bet- 
ter understood by referring to Plate Y. page 94. 
They are not, except that their outline is more 
angular, very unlike the flat osseous fishes — for 
example, the flounder ( Pleuronectes maximusj; 
but nothing can be more dissimilar in their struc- 
ture and general economy. When we look upon 
the flat part of the latter we see the animal in 
profile, and the extreme boundaries of the body, 
between the snout and tail, are formed by the back 
and beUy, the dorsal and anal fins. On the other 
hand, when we look upon the flat part of the 
former, it is either the back or belly that we con- 
template; and the outline of the body, between 
the snout and tail, is formed partly by the two 
ventral, but chiefly by the two pectoral fins. These 
are attached by all enormous scapular arch running 
do\Mi each side of the simple fin of the animal, and 
supporting the proper bones of the arm, from which 
proceed innumerable jointed rays, or fingers, com • 
posed, like all other parts of the skeleton of carti 


laglnous fishes, of cartilage, and not of bone. It 
is principally these rays of the pectoral fins, and 
the flesh upon them, that are eaten at table ; in 
other words, it is the enormous hand of the animal 
chiefly on which we regale ourselves. The pectoral 
fins are very rarely wanting in fishes ; but such is 
the case with the lampreys and a few others. 

The ventral Jlns assist the pectorals, and are 
of use in turning and balancing the fish, but in 
their office are entirely subordinate. They are 
supported by the pelvis in the same manner as 
the scapula and clavicle support the pectoral fins. 
The bones of this part are extremely imperfect, and 
quite unattached, in the osseous fishes, to the 
spine, apparently for the purpose, as already re- 
marked, of leaving that portion of the spinal 
column, by which the tail is moved, as free from 
incumbrance as possible. The two rude bones of 
which it consists are situated sometimes before the 
pectoral fins, sometimes opposite to them, and 
sometimes behind them ; and they may be either 
attached to the bones of the head or to the sca- 
pular arch, or quite unattached to any part of the 
skeleton. With these pelvic bones are, in general, 
directly connected the long radiating bones corres- 
ponding to the instep and toes of the higher tribes 
of animals, no trace being commonly visible of the 
intermediate thigh, leg, and ancle bones, which are 
met with in the latter, although the previously 
named portions are quite sufficient to establish the 
structural analogy of the ventral fins of the fish 



with the posterior or inferior extremities of the 
reptile, the bird, the quadruped, and man; upon 
the same principle as even the claws of some kinds 
of serpents, already alluded to, are received as ana- 
logous to the arms, and the extremities of some 
kinds of lizards are admitted as analogous to both 
arms and legs. Fishes even rank before the ceta- 
ceous tribes in this respect, since few of the latter 
present any rudiments of posterior extremities at 

In many fishes the ventrals are very much deve- 
loped in length, but scarcely ever to the extent, 
or to the same comparative breadth with the pec- 
toral fins. They are long in the dories (Zeus.)^ 
also in the genus Platax. In some other genera, 
again, as Trichopus^ Osphrommus^ and Calisa, 
they are longer than the fish, but consist of only 
a single ray or filament. 

In some of the Lophii anglers they have almost 
the appearance of the paws of a quadruped, and in 


the harlequin-angler, they are more like a kind of 
feet than fins; so much so, that in the original 
delineation of this animal by Margrave, in his de 
scription of Brazilian Fishes, it is represented as 
squatting on these fins, almost in the manner of a 
frog or toad upon its haunches. M. Renaud. in- 
deed, in his History of Fishes, tells us, that he 
knew an instance of this fish living for three days 
out of the water ; and, in the mean time, trotting 
about the house, on these fins, like a dog upon its 
legs ! The ventral fins are, like the pectoral, of a 
comparatively large size in rays, which, unlike those 
fishes which rely most upon the motions of their 
tail for progression, have their pelvis attached to 
their caudal vertebrae ; and these fins, accordingly, 
co-operate with their pectoral fins in perfecting the 
rhomboidal form which their flat body so generally 
presents. The ventral fins are very often entirely 
wanting in fishes. This is the case with the eel 
tribe^ which, from this circumstance, are called by 
Linnaeus Apodal fishes, or fishes destitute of feet. 

The ventral fins of fishes in general lie commonly 
flat in the water, in whatever position the animal 
may be, and perhaps conduce rather to depress tho 
belly than to efi'ect any other specific purpose : the} 
may likewise co-operate with the pectoral fins i? 
preserving the balance, as well as between one side 
of the body and the other, as between its anteric 
and posterior portion. In some fishes, as the lump 
(Cyclopterus lumpus)^ there is formed of the 
united ventral fins a kind of sucker, by means of 



which the animal adheres strongly to any thing in 
contact with it ; hut to this suhject we shall have 
to recur presently. The deficiency of ventral fins, 
as well in so many fishes, as in the cetaceous tribes 
in general, would go to prove that their use is not, 
at any rate, a very important one. 

The remaining two fins which we have still to 
"notice, stand in a difi*erent direction from those we 
have already illustrated, being perpendicular to the 
centre of the body, and are employed as balances 
only, not as organs of progression, or of sinking 
und rising ; they are, nevertheless, in some species, 
developed to an extraordinary extent. The dorsal 
fin is of very varied form, either composed of a few 
spines only, or it is continued for the whole length of 
the fish ; it is either single, double, or triple ; and it 
possesses a degree of consistence so very difi'erent in 
different species, as to have given occasion, first to 
Ray and Artedi, and more recently to the late illus- 
trious Naturalist, the Baron Cuvier, to constitute 
this a leading distinction between two of the largest 
families of fishes — the Malacoptert/gii^ or those in 
which this organ is comparatively soft, and the 
Acanihopterygn^ or those in which it is hard and 
spinous. Generally speaking, it is most fully deve- 
loped in those fishes which inhabit the most stormy 
seas, while those which are found in comparatively 
still waters, have this organ much smaller and 
weaker; but there are many exceptions to this 
remark. In some fishes, also, it forms a powerful 
organ of nrotection from the strength of the spines ; 


and, in a few, it is capable of being raised and 
depressed as an oflPensive weapon, and inflicts a 
wound creating great pain. Examples of expanded 
developement may be seen in the members of the 
old genus ChcBtodon, among the dories, and in a 
very beautifully marked tribe, the Acanthuri; in 
these, the longest rays are often continued for an 
enormous length in the form of filaments. This 
will be seen in our representation of 



Zanclits cormttus^ Cuv. & Val. 

Chaetodon comutus, Ltnn. Block Le Tranchoir cornu, Cm\ 

and Vol. 

This curious and prettily marked fish is not of rare 
occurrence, and has been frequently met with by 
navigators and naturalists who have visited the 
seas around the Molucca islands, Sandwich isles^. 
Celebs, &c. &c., and is found not only in the 
Pacific, but also in the Indian oceans. The ge- 
neral form is that of the ChoBtodons^ a numerous 
and gaudily marked family, and from which it 
was separated by Commerson. From the gi-eat 
length to which the rays of the dorsal rays some- 
times extend, it is named by the inhabitants of the 
coast of the Isle of France, '•'' Jil en dos." The 
little protruding-Uke horns which project from the 
front, have gained for it the appellation of " cor- 
nutus" and its singular form has rendered it an 
object of superstition to the natives, who return 
it again to the waters with mai'ks of reverence. It 




^, however, an excellent and esteemed fish, having 
the flavour of turbot, and often reaching a weight 
of from twelve to fifteen pounds. Our Plate will 
give an idea of the banding and colouring which 
mark its skin. 

An extraordinary developement of both the anal 
and dorsal fins will also be seen in the 



Pteraclis ocellatus^ Cuv. & Vau 


These fishes have more than double the expanse of 
their surface in the dorsal and ventral fins, and one 
is at a loss to perceive for what purpose this im- 
mense developement is necessary ; at the same time, 
we must confess our entire ignorance of their habits 
and economy. It had been supposed that they 
were enabled to support themselves for a short 
period in the air, but this is not confirmed by any 
observations; and we do not see how such could 
take place in the perpendicular position of the fish. 
Two or three species only are known, and oiu: pre- 
sent one is of extreme rarity. Mons. Cuvier and 
Valenciennes took their specimen from the stomach 
of another fish. It was procured on the Mozam- 
bique coast. 

In the Histiophori or sword-fishes, where the 
passage through the water is extremely rapid, and 
which possess great strength, the dorsal fin is very 
large. So is it also in another curious fish, a 
native of the Madeira seas — Alepisaurus ferox. In 


1 ^^)/, * 















the beautiful genus of the Salmonidw, composed of 
the grayhngs of British Ichthyologists, we have 
this member more than ordinarily dereloped. Our 
next Plate will show this, and, at the same time, 
exhibit it in a fish which is otherwise near the 
proportions of the morfe active species, and those 
which perform long journeys or migrations. 



Thymallus sirjnifer, 


Coregonus signifer, BaclCs grayling ; Richardson in Frankliii's 
Journal^ and in Noriliern Zool. voL iii. pi. 88. 

The beautiful dorsal fin of this handsome species is 
so conspicuous, that it has been noticed by the natives 
dwelling on the banks of its streams, and, in their 
language, signifies " wiry-like fin." It inhabits the 
rocky streams that flow through the primitive 
country lying between Mackenzie's River and the 
Welcome*. It was found only in the clear waters, 
and, Richardson says, delights in the strongest 
streams, taking eagerly at the artificial fly, and, 
w^hen hooked, tugging strongly, and requiring as 
much dexterity to land safely as a trout six times 
the size. "We do not see clearly the organs from 
which this great power arises, except in the large 
size of the dorsal fin ; for, in our idea of the use 
which we have assigned to this fin, we look upon it 
as incapable of using much exertion. There is, how- 
ever, no other organ to which to refer it ; and if it 

* N. Zool. vol. vi. 

- :&^- 

Mi!) ^/^' t' ii < 


back's grayling. 121 

is referable to it, in those other fishes which have 
it so much, and often so curiously developed, the 
power, when known, may probably be in the ratio 
of its size. The colours of this grayling are beauti- 
ful, but chaste; above of a lavender-purple, be- 
neath greyish, with white spots; but the chief 
adornment is the large fin, of a graceful curving 
'^ form ; it is of a blackish grey, but is relieved by 
transverse rows of Berlin-blue spots. 

Chcetodon vespertilio will also exhibit great de- 
velopement of this series of fins. It is not a very 
uncommon fish, and has been many times figured. 
There is scarcely any fishes which approach the 
Pteraclis and this in the immense developement of 
the organs in question ; and, in the last, they give 
to the fish collectively almost the appearance of a 
half-moon, of which the extremities of the dorsal 
and anal fms, pointing backwards, constitute the 
horns. The principal use of the dorsal and anal 
fins of fishes, regarded merely as ministering to 
locomotion, appears to be that of poising those 
animals, and preventing them from continually 
reeling over to one side during either their station 
or progression in the water. The air-bladder, it is 
true, in most fishes, running as it does along the 
spine, tends to keep this part uppermost under 
ordinary cii cumstances ; but this provision would 
have been insufficient to counteract the influence 
of the waves and conflicting currents, without the 
additional security afibrded by the dorsal and anal 
fins, whichj by the saHent angle which they form 


with the body throughout a great part of its length, 
and the broad area which they present laterally to 
the water, must obviously oppose a much greater 
resistance to any rotatory motion of the animal oc 
its own axis, than any which it experiences in its 
motions either upwards or downwards, forwards or 
backwards. They thus operate in the same manner 
as the keel of a ship, and serve to keep the animal 
steady in its course ; and, for the same reason that a 
flat-bottomed boat rolls with every wave, and can keep 
its course at all only in very quiet waters, so a fish, 
from which these fins have been removed, reels 
continually to the right and left, and is able to 
preserve any thing like an equilibrium only by 
keeping its other fins in constant motion, as a man 
does his arms when balancing himself upon a tight- 
rope. But the dorsal and anal fins of fishes have 
an advantage which the best constructed keel can 
never possess; and that is, that their area and 
tension can be increased, within certain limits, in 
exact proportion to the necessity for greater secu- 
rity, the spines on which they are built being 
raised by proper muscles, which are under the 
controul of the animal, so that it has but to call 
these muscles into a greater or less degree of action 
to expand or relax the fins to the precise point that 
is required. It is thus that we may imitate Nature 
in our contrivances, but we can never approach 
her except at one or two removes; and the 
meanest and most insignificant of her works gives, 
every hour, lessons of mechanism to the most expert 


of human artificers, of which he may make a 
hunghng copy, but after the exquisite perfection of 
which, he pants and toils in vain. 

As connected with the station and locomotion o\ 
fishes, it is incumbent upon us to say a few words 
of the means by which many fishes are enabled to 
keep themselves stationary in the water, in defiance 
of the tendency of tides and tempests to dislodge 
them from their place. This of course might, in 
all cases, have been done by a muscular efifort on 
the part of the animal, calculated to counteract this 
tendency, and such is indeed the means by which 
fishes in general contrive to keep their station in 
the most turbulent and rapid seas ; but the neces- 
sity for such a waste of muscular power has been, 
in some cases, superseded by other contrivances. 
Thus the lamprey maintains its post among the 
stones at the bottom of the water chiefly by means 
of its tubular lips ; the sucking power of which — 
that is to say, the degree of pressure with which, by 
forming a vacuum within, they are capable of 
making the surrounding medium bear upon them — 
is so great, that the animal might be raised out of 
the water with a stone of ten or twelve pounds 
weight attached to them. The pressure of the 
atmosphere, it is sufficiently well known, is equal 
to fifteen pounds for every square inch of surface ; 
and that of the water will be of couise greater than 


this, in proportion to its depth. In this respect,, 
then, the lips of the lamprey serve the animal not 
only as an organ for taking food, like the tubular 
lips of so many of the invertebrate tribes, parti- 
cularly insects, but also as a kind of arms for 
clinging to contiguous objects; and the same is 
perhaps the case also with the sturgeon, the lips of 
which, situated, not at the extremity of the snout, 
but altogether under it, are somewhat similar in 
structure to those of the lamprey. Other fishes, 
such as the lump-sucker ( Cyclopterus lumpus)^ a 
native of the northern seas, have the power of ad- 
hering to rocks by means of a small oval and 
concave membraneous disc, which is surrounded by 
a fleshy margin fringed with thread-like appendages, 
situated at the lower part of the body, and composed 
apparently of their united ventral fins. In the in- 
terior of this they form a vacuum, and adhere, 
therefore, like the lamprey, upon the principle of 
suction ; and the power with which they do so is 
sometimes surprising, considering that the animal 
is rarely more than a foot and a half long. " We 
have known," says Mr. Pennant, " that on flinging 
a fisli of this species, just caught, into a pail of 
water, it fix itself so firmly to the bottom, that, on 
taking the fish by the tail, the whole pail was 
lifted, though it held some gallons, and that with- 
out removing the fish from its hold." But the fish 
which possesses, in the most remarkable degree, 
this power of suction, is that which is called, par 
txcellence^ the sucking-fish, forming the genus 




Echineis, natives of the Mediterranean, Atlantic, 
and Indian oceans. It is a small fish, seldom 
exceeding a foot in length, and either of a uni- 
formly brown colour, or black above and white 
below. Its characteristic mark is a large oval and 
flattened membranous disc, which has several trans- 
verse serrated bands forming cavities, in which 
are cartilaginous plates situated at the top of the 
head. It is by means of the retraction of these 
cartilages, by proper muscles adapted for the pur- 
pose, that the animal forms a series of vacua, and 
thus exerts the singular adhesive power by which it 
is distinguished — so singular, that it was classed by 
the ancients among the occult qualities of Nature, 
since they idly imagined that this little creature had 
force enough, by adhering to the keel of a ship, to 
stop her progress when under full sail. A marvel- 
lous account is given of its operations in this way 
by the credulous Pliny, from whom the following 
is an extract, as translated by Holland : — " The 
current of the sea is great, the tide much, the 
winds vehement and forcible, and, more than that, 
ores and sailers withall to help forward the rest, are 
mightie and powerfull : and yet there is one little 
sillie fish, named Echeneis, that checketh, scometh, 
and arresteth them all : let the winds blow as much 
as they will, rage the storms and tempests what 
they can, yet this little fish commandeth their fiirie, 
restraineth their puissance, and maugre all their 
force as great as it is, compelleth ships to stand 
still : a thing which no cables be they never so big 


and able as they will, can performe. She bridleth 
the violence and tamest the greatest rage of this 
iiniversall world, and that without any paine that 
she putteth herselfe unto, without any holding and 
putting backe, or any other meanes save only by 
cleaving and sticking fast to a vessell : in such sort 
as this one small and poore fish is sufficient to resist 
and withstand so great a power of both sea and 
navie, yea and to stop the passage of a ship, do all 
what they can possible to the contrarie." He goes 
on to say, that it was this little fish which stayed 
the progress of Marc Anthony's ship, in the naval 
engagement between him and Augustus Ceesar, and 
caused the defeat of the former ; and that Caligula 
once suffered a similar accident, which was the 
harbinger of his downfall. In the latter case, ac- 
cording to our author, " So soon as even the vessell 
(and a galHaie it was, furnished with five banks of 
ores to a side) was perceived alone in the fleete to 
stand still, presently a number of tall fellows leapt 
out of their ships into the sea, to search what the 
reason might be that it stirreth not ? and found one 
of these fishes sticking fast to the very helme : which 
being reported unto Caius Caligula, he fumed and 
fared as an Emperour, taking great indignation that 
so small a thing as it, should hold him back perforce, 
and check the strength of all his mariners, notwith- 
standing there were no fewer than foure hundred 
lustie men in his gallie that laboured at the ore all 
that ever they could to the contrarie." And, if 
Naturalists could be thus easily imposed upon with 


respect to the marvellous powers of the EcJiineus^ it 
is not surprising that these powers sliould have 
formed a theme for the wonder-losing poet. 

The sucking-fish beneath, with secret chains, 

Clung to the keel, the swiftest ship detains. 

The seamen run confused, no labour spared, 

Let fly the sheets, and hoist the top-mast yard. 

The master bids them give her all the sails 

To court the winds and catch the coming gaJes, 

But though the canvass bellies with the blast, 

And boisterous winds bear down the cracking mast, 

The bark stands firmly rooted on the sea. 

And will, unmoved, nor winds nor waves obey ; 

Still, as when calms have flatted all the plain. 

And infant waves scarce wrinkle on the main. 

But although the sucking-fish possesses no such 
powers as are here attributed to it, the force with 
which it attaches itself to any substance with which 
it comes into contact is very remarkable. Com- 
merson produced a kind of temporary palsy of his 
thumb, by exposing it for a short time to the sucking 
operation of the shield of this animal ; and they are 
separated with the greatest difficulty from the sharks 
and fishes to which they are frequently found, 
many together adhering, having attached themselves 
probably for the purpose of profiting by the more 
rapid power of motion possessed by other fishes. It 
is vulgarly supposed that the sucking-fish accompa- 
nies the shark for the purpose of directing him to 
his prey, or of warning him of approaching danger ; 
and hence it has been sometimes called the sharks 


pilot. It appears that this propensity of adhering 
to other fishes was formerly tm-ned to account by 
the Indians of Jamaica and Cuba, Avho used this 
animal, or rather one of the same genus (Echineis 
naucratesj, in catching fish, as hawks are em- 
ployed in taking other birds. " They kept them," 
says Mr. Bingley, " for the purpose, and had them 
regularly fed. The owner, on a calm morning, 
would caiTy one of them out to sea, secured to his 
canoe by a slender but strong line, many fathoms 
in length ; and the moment the creature saw a fish 
in the water, though at a gi'eat distance, it would 
dart away with the swiftness of an arrow, and soon 
fasten upon it. The Indian, in the mean time, 
loosened and let go the line, which was furnished 
with a buoy which floated on the surface of the 
ocean, and marked the course the sucking-fish had 
taken; and he pursued it in his canoe, until he 
perceived his game to be nearly exhausted. He 
then, taking up the buoy, gradually drew the line 
towards the shore, the sucking-fish still adhering 
mth so inflexible a tenacity to his prey as not 
easily to be removed." A similar employment of 
the latter species of sucking fish is said, by Com- 
merson, as quoted by Lacepede, to be still very 
common about the coasts of Mozambique, where 
they use it principally in taking turtles. For this 
purpose a ring is fastened round the tail of the 
animal, to which a long cord is attached ; and thus 
secured, it is allowed to approach the turtles, as 
they lie sleeping on the water, to the breast of one 



of which it soon attaches itself, and it is thus easily 
drawn ashore. 

The method of employing suckers, in attaching 
themselves to solid substances, is not peculiar to 
fishes, some other maritime animals, as the cuttle- 
fish, using such suckers very extensively ; and the 
force with which it is capable of adhering to rocks 
by this means has been already alluded to, when 
we were speaking of the muscular power which 
it occasionally, at the same time, exerts. These 
suckers (wood-cut, fig. 1.) have the appearance of 
little cups ; and, with them, the numerous • long 
arms of the animal are so plentifully studded, that 
their united power must be enormous. 

But, besides the principle of suction, some fishes, 
such as the eel, seem to secure their footing, at 
least when on land, by another contrivance, being 
supported, under unfavourable circumstances, by 
the viscidity of the fluid with which their body is 
smeared ; in the same way as the garden-snail em- 
ploys, for this purpose, in addition to the vacuum 
formed by its foot, the mucilaginous matter on the 
surface of this organ. It is thus that eels contrive 
to ascend the smoothest posts of flood-gates, and 
other perpendicular surfaces arising from water; 
projecting first the heads and a part of their bodies, 
and keeping these closely in contact with the wood, 
till the mucilaginous matter has become sufiiciently 
inspissated to give them a firm hold, when they ad> 
vance Mgher and higher by the motions of their 
spine, till they reach the dam above, frequently at 


tlie height of five or six feet. The process is, in 
some respects, like that of climbing trees by the 
Spar us ; but it differs from the latter, in requiring 
the additional security afforded by the viscid surface 
of the body of the animal, vv^hich, in the other case, 
is superfluous. 

The next portion of the Natural History of Fishes 
which will claim our attention, is the means which 
have been provided to them for attacking and se- 
curing their prey, and for defending themselves 
against the many foes which, in their turns, mu- 
tually prey on each other. These may be termed 
the organs of offence and defence. 

Fishes have not been provided with the same 
variety of organs of offence as we observe in the 
higher classes of the animal kingdom ; in their 
means of defence however, diversified provisions 
appear. As the parts concerned in both these 
purposes are most naturally associated with the 
integument, which is itself, even when least com- 
plicated, an organ of defence, it is found conve- 
nient to treat of all these at the same time. As 
illustrative of the organs of defence, it will be 
proper, therefore, to take a survey of the skin or 
general envelope of the body. The skin varies con- 
siderably in character even in fishes ranking in the 
same group ', in all, however, it adheres very firmly 
to the subjacent parts, and is in none so loose as to 
DC susceptible of the motion which is observed in 


mammalia, by means of the muscular expansion, 
termed panniculus carnosus. No trace of such a 
muscular expansion exists in fishes. This fact is 
worthy of attention, as in generalising on the sub- 
ject of the hypodermal muscular system, in the 
animal kingdom, an opposite yiew is often sug- 
gested. For example, the hypodermal or sub- 
cutaneous muscular system, as contrasted -with the 
skeleton muscles, is often represented as commencing 
almost in a rudimentary state in man, under the 
form of the slender sub-cutaneous muscular ex- 
pansion on the fore part and sides of his neck, 
termed platysma myoides, as growing in importance 
in the mammalia imder the term of panniculus 
carnosus^ it enables the animal to make the whole 
skin quiver, so as to shake off insects, and reaches 
a greater importance in many of them, for example, 
in the hedge-hog, and a great proportion of the 
Edentates. In the first, it forms a species of cap, 
resting on the back of the animal in its ordinary 
state, yet so constructed, that it is capable of enve- 
loping the extremities and whole body, when, on 
being attacked, it assumes the well-known form of 
a ball. Finally, that this hypodermal muscular 
expansion attains its extreme developement, as we 
descend in the scale of animals, until at last in the 
avertebral tribes, the mollusca, the Crustacea, and 
insects, it constitutes the whole of the muscular 
system ; all the active organs of locomotion in these 
being inserted into the integuments. This state- 
ment, then, is true only when it receives an im* 


portant limitation. The chain of deyelopement 
is not unbroken through the orders of animals, from 
man down to the mollusca, Crustacea, and insects ; 
the developement takes place at two extremes, the 
middle point between which is occupied by the 
order of fishes, in which this expansion is entirely 
deficient. In birds, the same muscular expansion 
attains but a trivial importance; and, of the rep- 
tiles, the Ophidia, or serpents, alone show faint 
traces of it. 

Some popular writers on comparative anatomy 
have made a statement liable to mislead, connected 
with the same organ, in representing the globular 
form assumed by the Diodons and Triodons^ and 
the erection of the numerous spines with which the 
surface of their bodies is beset, which happens when 
they are in danger, as analogous to the erection of 
the spines of the hedge-hog when it gathers itself 
into a ball. The analogy so far holds, that in the 
case of both the spines become erected as organs of 
defence when any danger appears ; but in the fishes, 
the distension of the skin is produced by a general 
enlargement of the whole body, consequent on the 
reception of air into the crop or first stomach ; while, 
in tlie hedgehog, the erection of the spines is pro- 
duced by the action of the muscular organ before 
referred to, an appendage of the panniculus car- 

To return to the skin itself, in this order of ani- 
mals, it has httle of a fibrous character, approaching 
more to the mucous texture ; its tissue is by no 


means close, the pigment is often pearly, and the 
epidermis, if it be not entirely deficient, often very 

In all its modification of form and accessaries, 
however, whether by the appearance of strong 
armour to resist attack, or by mucous and viscid 
lubrucations to facilitate escape, the skin is the first 
and most important organ of defence. And the 
most remarkable appendage of this integument in 
fishes is the scales ; they dificr from hairs and fea- 
thers in having no generating bulbs — nor have they 
the same character as the scales in the Edentates, 
Dasypus^ Manis, Chlatnpporus, &c., or in reptiles. 
More or less firmly adhering to the skin, they are 
shut up free in a species of pouch much flattened, 
and formed by a pinching up of the rete ^nucosum 
and its vascular tissue. To permit their separation 
and escape, this pouch must be torn. They appear 
to be produced by the internal surface of this vas- 
cular pouch, and to become excessively flattened, 
each composed of homy lines meeting in an apex, 
and derived from a more or less extended base, ac- 
cording to the form of the scale, and that is very 

It is commonly asserted that all fishes have 
scales — but in some they are not discoverable by 
the eye, and in others they do not appear in the 
fresh condition of the skin, but only when it has 
become dry. Under the former description fall the 
hag (Mwine glutinosa)^ and the lamprey (Fetro- 

* Op. cit. i. 144. ,' 


myzon marinus)^ which form a connecting link 
between fishes and molluscous animals ; also the 
lump-fish or sea-owl (Cyclopterus lumpus)^ which, 
like the two former, has the power of adhering to 
bodies by the suction of its mouth. Under the 
latter come the common eel ( Anguilla vulgaris)^ 
the conger (Murcena conger)^ the blenny (Blen- 
nius viviparusj, one of the osseous fishes which 
produce living young, and most of the Siluri. 

Another description of fishes is that in which the 
scales are not distinct, yet in which the skin is not 
slimy and viscous, as in those above referred to. 
In these the epidermis is smooth, and placed over 
nacreous pigment. This is exemphfied in the 
mackarel (Scomber scomber )y the blade-fish (Tri- 
chiurus Upturns )^ the Stylephorus argenteus^ and 
the stickleback ( Gasterosteiis aculeaJtus), 

But the form which should be regarded as the 
normal character of the skin in fishes, may be il- 
lustrated bj our figure of 


Lethrynus esculentus, Cuv. & Val. 


A GAUDILY marked fish of tte Indian seas, in whicli 
the body is uniformly covered "with scales ; and we 
shall find other examples of the same structure in 
the great majorty of the abdominal and thoracic 
tribes, as the salmon, herring, carp, perch, gilt- 
head wrasse, and the like. 

In some fishes, again, the covering of the body, 
or of the integuments, favour more the character o$ 
large regular plates than of scales, to which we 
usually associate the distribution of imbrication, or 
lopping of one over the other, and in their compo- 
sition are more or less of an osseous nature. Under 
this head come the Lepisostevs ossetts, many spe- 
cies of Trivia or the gurnards, of the Cottus or 
hard-heads, of the genus Silurus, and even of the 
Gasterosteus or stickle-backs ; but in a very marked 
manner in some of the extinct genera, whose remains 
have been preserved, and the scales yet, from their 
hardness, retain their entire form, and even the 
minuter parts which served to hook or join them 
together. But there is yet a more complete ossifi* 

i), 'kil^Mli 

g 2 




cation of the skin, if it may be so termed, observa- 
ble in some fishes ; this consists of osseous pieces, or 
at least of pieces very hard, of a mucoso-homy tex- 
ture. They are without any imbricature, and their 
imion is by the margins, and is very variable. Some 
of them, put together with the utmost geometrical 
precision, form a cuirass of great strength, which 
acts as an admirable defence against their asso- 
ciates, except such as possess the strongest and 
most powerful jaws and teeth. Many of the Syg- 
nathi and their allies exhibit this; among our na- 
tive fishes the Cotti will show it, and the C. cata- 
phractes^ or mailed bull-head, is an excellent 
example; while among the sturgeons, and their 
allied genera, we see it in various stages of deve- 
lopement, from a line of plates defending a part of 
the body, to a complete and close suit of strong 



Peristedion caiaphractum, Lacepedk. 


Shows a powerfully defended fish, somewliat re- 
sembling the sturgeons, yet belonging to the family 
of the gurnards. It inhabits the Mediterranean, 
and is described as frequenting rocky coasts, and 
swimming with gi'eat velocity ; and its strong ar- 
mour may perhaps be intended as a defence against 
the rough shores it may have to encounter during 
storms, or its rapid progression. It is, moreover, 
strongly armed with the spines on its head and 
cheeks, and with the two prolongations of the 
snout, which project forward, and sometimes are 
broken by the force with which they seem to be 
used against some objects of the deep. 

The subject of the next Plate mil also show an 
extraordinary view of the distribution of the inte- 
gimients ; it is the 


■" 4':'i-;t 



Monocentris comutus^ Schneider. 


In this singularly formed fish, of, so far as we 
know, very harmless habits, we have a form of no 
elegance, and an exterior covered with very strong 
and rough plates, besides an array of blunt spines 
from the upper and under surface, which would 
render it an unsatisfactory mouthful even to the 
most voracious. It is a native of the Japanese seas, 
but appears far from being common ; and we know 
little of its economy, by which to judge what its 
strange covering is particularly intended for. The 
spines, which M. Cuvier and Valenciennes describe, 
are only about ten inches in length, which agree 
nearly in size with those previously described by 

In another tribe of fishes, the plates, as we have 
already observed, were placed with the utmost 
regularity. The 



Ostradon cuhiciis, Block. 


Will illustrate this form. In the small group of 
fishes which have received the title of Ostracion, 
the covering is remarkably hard, and is composed of 
numerous pieces or compartments joined with the 
greatest regularity, and often with a mathematical- 
like precision in hexagonal plates. This covering 
is discontinued at the tail, which is free for a short 
space, and shows the necessity for this organ to be 
placed so as to be capable of voluntary action. The 
Spotted Ostracion is not an uncommon fish in the 
Indian seas, and is said sometimes to reach a foot 
in length. In the Isle of France it is esteemed for 
its flesh, and is kept in artificial ponds, where it 
becomes tame and famihar. 

Besides these forms of the skin, there is exem- 
plified in many cartilaginous fishes a peculiarity in 
the existence of the tubercules, usually pointed, 
ind having some resemblance to scales, but more 
or less perfectly osseous, and are implanted deep to 
adhere firmly. To this form belongs the tubercules 

,!- V 

A H 


PM !j 


on many of the rays, the small, but rough and very 
hard points on the skin of the sharks, which both 
afford a substitute for the file of the cabinet-maker, 
and, when polished, exhibit a beautiful material 
often made use of in various neat articles of every- 
day utility. To these, also, may perhaps be added, 
the calcareo-comeous spines of the Diodons and 
Telraodons^ which are placed with comparative 
regularity, and, from their strength and hardness, 
and the sharpness of their points, must be a species 
of defensive organ most efficient. 



Diodon hystrijc^ Bloch. 

Represents this structure. These fish are harm- 
less inhabitants of the ocean, and possess a power 
which is an indispensable accessory to render effi- 
cient the weapons which have been thus allotted to 
them. When undisturbed, or making their way 
through the waters, their form is longitudinal, and 
the spines lie flat on the common integument ; but 
on the approach of danger, or upon sudden alarm, 
they can inflate the body nearly to the form of a 
globe, which places the spines erect and stiffly set, 
and renders them, in truth, a most formidable re- 
sistance against every aggressor. The species which 
we represent frequents the seas of the tropics, and 
is said to feed on the cricstacea and- echinodet^inata. 
The wounds of the spines are by some considered 
poisonous, or to leave a painful and mflammatory 
wound, and which may act in the same manner 
with the pricks from the spines of the Trackini 
on various constitutions. 

In addition, however, to these provisions for 
defence which are liberally furnished to those spe- 


^^^^^^^^^^^'■l^v - 



cies which roam openly, and do not naturally conceal 
themselves among rocks or the forefcts of sea-weeds, 
or among the mud and sUme of the bottoms, there 
are many species which have different and accessory 
parts of the form strongly knotted and spined, and 
which we can scarcely view in any other light than 
as accessory parts of defence. Thus many of the 
PercidcG have their gill-covers strongly spined and 
serrated. The first and second rays in the dorsal 
fin of the same family are often also very strong and 
rough ; and every one accustomed to fish for the 
rommon perch of the British lakes and rivers, must 
nave observed the powerful manner in which these 
are erected, when the fish is first raised from the 
water; it is evidently used instinctively as a de- 
fence, and by this means it is one of the few species 
which we can keep in company with the pike. The 
heads of the Cotti are all strongly armed with spines, 
with which they are able to wound severely, by 
turning or wriggling. Such is also the case with 
the Scorpoence, and the Triyla or gurnards. In the 
weavers, forming the genus TroLchinus^ they are 
exhibited in the 



Tra€hi7ms radiatus, Cuv. & Val. 


A NATIVE of the Mediterranean, and found on the 
coast of Naples, and also on the southern shores of 
France ; it has never, however, been found on 
the British coasts, though it is possible it may have 
yet been overlooked. The first dorsal fin is a for- 
midable weapon, apparently possessing some dele- 
terious quality communicated by the wound, inde- 
pendent of the mere prick, and acting difi'erently 
on different constitutions. This fin is almost 
always carried flat, or level with the back ; but 
on alarm, or on being trampled on, for they bur- 
row in the sand, it is suddenly raised, and, from 
the great muscular power which accompanies the 
action, often inflicts a severe puncture, which, in 
some individuals, in a few minutes after, causes 
a severe burning pain, with inflammation of the 
part around. In several of the continental markets, 
a penalty is exigible if this fish be brought for 
sale without these fins being removed. The spines 
on almost all the species of sticklebacks ( Gasteros- 
teus), perform the same ofiice of defence, and can be 
erected at pleasure. Several of the spines are only 

'ifY'- oh .If 



^ i 

H tS 



from a Jine and a half to two lines In length; 
but such is the muscular power possessed, that it is 
with difficulty one of the spines can be pressed 
do^vn, so long as the fish survives. 

Spines, in some form or other, appear the most 
ordinary manner in which a weapon is provided. 
In those fishes we have alluded to, they have ge- 
nerally been farnished by some peculiar modifica- 
tion of other parts of the structure used for necessary 
purposes ; but in a great many species we shall find 
the same kind of weapons placed on different parts 
of the body. What an admirable defence the 
jagged back and tail of the thorn-back skate affbrds ; 
while in some of the same family we find the tail 
armed with a long spine, sometimes plain and some- 
times seri'ated ; an example of the latter structure 
will be found in our Plate V., and it occurs in very 
many other genera; in many of these, we are 
inclined to believe that the tail can be wielded, and 
a wound inflicted. 

Some of the dog-fish, forming the genus Spinax^ 
of the family of the sharks, have also very strong 
and beautifully rounded spines; these are placed 
sometimes at the posterior base of the dorsal, and 
sometimes near both first and second dorsal fins ; 
and it is possible that with these a wound may 
be given designedly. A good example of this 
form of defence may be seen in our native Spincca 
acantkias, also in many foreign species, and which 
we may further illustrate by a closely allied fish, 




Spinax Blainvillii^ Bonapartb. 

Acanthias Blainvillii, Risso. — Spinax Blainvillii, Spinoroio 
comune, Bonap Icongrophia della Fauna Italica. 

A NATIVE of the Italian shores, confounded with 
the Linn^an S, acanthias^ and distinguished from 
it chiefly by the relative proportion of its different 
parts. It seldom exceeds two feet in length. 

In a few genera of osseous fishes we have spines 
inserted into various parts, very frequently just 
before the junction of the tail with the body; in 
some they are several in number, in others they are 
single only. The genus Acanthurus is so named 
from the presence of three such spines ; and in the 


Mm i 






r— t 
















Acanthurus hepatus^ Bloch. 

It is well marked. This fish is a native of the seas 
of India, is adorned with a distribution of rich 
colours, and is armed at the base of the tail with 
a spine of considerable length. 

In the genus Batistes also, we see a somewhat 
similar defence, numerous rows of hooked spines 
being placed near the tail. The 


Bcdistes praslinoides. Lesson. 


Baliste praslinoide, Lesson, pi. ix. fig, 3. page 117, vol. ii. 

Will exhibit this. It is a fish met with by the ex- 
pedition of the Coquille at Port Praslin, in New 
Ireland, of an oblong form, and reaching in length 
about eight inches ; it is armed near the tail with 
three rows of crooked spines. Our figure will show the 
beautiful tints which adorn this species, remarkable 
both for its sharp armature and brilliant colours, 
Little or nothing is otherwise known regarding it. 

In the genus Ostracion^ again, these spines are 
placed in various positions, and are both very strong 
and sharp. In the 



Ostradoyi cornutus^ Bloch. 


Tavo are placed as horns, and in the same situation, 
and two are placed posterior to the ventral fins. It 
is one of the oldest known species, is found on 
the shores of the Isle of France and Java, and is 
mdely distributed in the Mediterranean. In another 
very singular fish, the O. turritus^ the " Chemeau 
7narin" of the French naturalists, the back rises 
triangularly up, and a strong spine surmounts the 
summit; two others are placed perpendicularly 
above the eyes ; while, on the lower surface of the 
fish, four others, strong and bent, defend it. Al- 
though these spines are not moveable, and cannot 
be used as an active defence, they must present 
awkward impediments to other fishes seizing, or 
attempting to swallow them. 

These curious furnitures may all be placed as 
organs of defence, few of them being ever used 
either to secure their prey or as offensive weapons : 
but before leaving the conformation of the skin, we 
must shortly advert to its colours. In many in-. 


stances the accommodation or keeping, as it were, 
of the colours of the skin to the materials of rock 
or sand by which the animal is surrounded, harmo- 
nises, and is unconspicuous to the fishes which look 
for prey among their own tribes ; at other times the 
colours are so vivid and brilliant, or the exterior is 
marked with spots of silver and gold, which may 
act as an attraction to lure some of the weaker 
species within reach of predatory fishes ; at least, 
the vivid colours in the plumage of several birds 
have been hinted at as being attractions for the 
various insects, which afford food for many ; and if 
such be the case, it is more than probable that the 
inhabitants of the deep may be coloured, as many 
of them are, for a similar purpose. We may per- 
haps add to these the defence which the most 
singular and grotesque figures of some species would 
afford, by inspiring terror or disgust ; and we give 
the figure of a curious little fish, which will both 
show an extraordinary form, and a considerable 
array of spined or knobbed projections. It is the 


Aspidophorus quadricomis, 


The specimen is in the British Museum ; and little 
more seems to be known regarding it, than that it 
was taken on the coast of Karatschatka. 

The pigment of the skin in fishes, corresponding 
to what is termed the rete mucosum in human ana- 
tomy, as offering the most lively play of colours, 
from the most delicate silveriness to the brightest 
golden hues, deserves some mention. 

Every colour, and almost every shade and mix- 
ture of colours, are exemplified in the surface of 
fishes; yet these colours are often as fleeting as 
they are glowing. Often they become changed, or 
disappear with the life of the animal ; and some- 
times the mere removal of it from its natural ele- 
ment destroys all its splendour. It is universally 
observed in fishes, that the superior part, which is 
exposed to light, is more vividly coloured than the 
inferior, which indeed is most commonly pure 
white ; and even in those fishes, as in the pleuro- 
nectes^ which swim on the side, the colour is con- 
fined to that which is presented to the light. 




These focts naturally lead to the expectation, whiclx 
experience verifies, that the fishes of intertropical 
seas, on which a more intense light falls, should 
exhibit more vivid colours. Not a few of our fishes, 
even in northern regions, exhibit very bright tints, 
as the gilt-head (Sparus auratus)^ the common 
salmon (Salmo salar)^ the mackerel (Scomber 
scomber); but for the most vivid colours we must 
look to more genial climates. The golden-carp 
(Cyprinus auratus), so much prized, is thought 
to be a native of China, where it is kept in porce- 
lain vessels in the houses of the rich for ornament. 

The genus Coryphena^ which contains numerous 
species, is distinguished by the beaut}'^ and varying 
play of its colours. The 



CoryphcBna equisitis, Linn-eus, 


Will exhibit the general form of these fishes, and 
the colouring so remarkable for the variation of its 
tints ; a play of vivid green and gold and silver being 
spread over it in various lights, and " changing as 
it dies," keep up in this one also the well known 
ancient traditions. It is a native of the Atlantic 
Ocean, and has been taken off the coast of South 
America, and in the vicinity of St. Helena. These 
fishes often follow in the wake of vessels, and being 
agile and swift in their movements, when swim- 
ming near the surface in the lustre of a clear and 
brilliant sun, display their colours in the most 
varied manner. They are, according to our ac- 
counts, extremely voracious, feeding on the flying- 
fish, which, in troops, either are passed through, or 
follow the vessel, and at the same time they eagerly 
seize whatever falls or is thrown from it. 

Two other species have been termed, firom the 
variety and vividness of their tints, the sea-peacock 
and the blue-fish. But the species best kno'vvn is 
the dolphin of sailors. 










CoryphcBTia hippuris. 


Although we have applied the name of Dolphin of 
the Ancients to this species, it is probable that that 
described by the poets may have been different. 
Some very closely allied species, and possessed of 
even more brilliancy of tints, being met with in the 
seas whence they were most likely to procure or 
see the celebrated fish. This may be of trifling 
consequence in a scientific point; and we intro- 
duce the figure as the supposed fish to which the 
" dolphin" was applied. 

The name Coryphmna^ from «o§y<pj}, top, was 
applied to this species, as indicating the crest it 
bears on the cranium. It is an active voracious 
animal, and greedily pursues the flying-fish, which 
constitutes its favourite food. It is about five feet 
long, as elegant in form as brilliant in the colours. 
It is the most brilliant inhabitant of the sea, 
more particularly when it is eager in the pursuit of 
its prey at the surface, and the undulations of its 
large dorsal fin throw off the reflexions of its vivid 


hues. Above it is silvery-blue, with markings of 
deeper azure, and reflexions of pure gold; the 
lower parts are citron-yeUow, marked with pale 
blue ; the pectoral fins are partly lead colour, partly 
yellow; the ventral fins are yellow on the under 
surface, and black above; the anal fin is yellow; 
the insides are of bright golden. Its colours vary 
and fade after it is taken out of the water, so that 
but a faint notion of its original brilliancy can be 
formed from the inspection of the dried specimens 
preserved in our Museums. 

But though possessing this splendid brightness of 
colouring, and far-famed for it in ancient story, 
there are perhaps other fishes which, from the de- 
cided marking out of their brilliant hues, and the 
contrast in which they are sometimes placed in 
regard to each other, are more striking, and have 
attracted much attention. 

The Spari, Labri, Scari^ Chcetodons^ Acanthurt^ 
&c., all present numerous examples ; and as one, 
we have selected the 



Labrus /ormostis, Bknnet, 


A rare native of the Ceylonese seas, where it is 
taken on account of the nutritious quality of its 
flesh ; it is said to frequent rocky situations, and is 
remarkable for the very regular crimson markings 
near the tail. 

The epidermis exists most unequivocally in those 
fishes in which the surface is smooth, without being 
viscid, as in the mackerel and sword-fish ; in other 
fishes, the mucosity of the surface in a great mea- 
siu*e supplies its place. And as the abundance of 
this mucosity varies very much in different fishes, it 
is to be inferred, that the apparatus by which it is 
generated exhibits a corresponding variation. Ac- 
cordingly the hag, the lamprey, the blenny, the 
eel, both the common and the electrical, and vis- 
cous fishes in general, present on the head, the 
jaws, and along the lateral line, a greater or smaller 
number of holes, or rounded pores, systematically 
arranged, which have been looked on as the source 
of this viscosity. It is, however, by no means 


certain that such is the only use of these pores ; or 
supposing that they are concerned in producing it, 
there are, nevertheless, evidences, that the whole 
external surface of the skin is employed in the 
secretion, which is, in fact, a fluid epidermis. 

There is still another property possessed by a few 
fishes, which, though not connected mth the struc- 
ture or appendages of the skin, will naturally rank 
among the organs of defence, and should be men- 
tioned before we begin to notice those more properly 
employed in attack or offence. We allude to the 
electric power possessed by the torpedo, gymno- 
tus, and a few others. It is perhaps the case, that 
this curious power is sometimes used as a mode of 
benumbing the prey which come within the range 
of the stroke, particularly by the torpedo, which is 
a sluggish and inactive fish, and possesses the 
manners, in a great measure, of the rays ; as an 
organ of defence, however, it is known to be most 
powerful, both against enemies of its own kind, or 
the contrivances wrought by the hand of man. Any 
animal, or even substance, coming within its reach, 
and producing alarm, is immediately subjected to it, 
and the stroke being communicable, though other 
conducting substances intervene, not being in actual 
contact is no safeguard, and has afforded a subject 
for the poet to dilate on, while of old a certain su- 
perstitious awe was conveyed with it. Its immense 
power, in some species, is very remarkable; and 
the spirited account of Humboldt, which we intro- 
duced into our First Volume on Ichthyology, where 


it is used to capture the wild horses of South Ame- 
rica, will he read with interest. 

The species which possess this property are 
mostly of clumsy or disgusting form, particularly 
the torpedos. 


Torpedo Galvani, Risso, 

Will show their form. According to our latest 
British Ichthyology, the torpedo occurring on the 
British coasts has scarcely been properly identified 
with those of the continental seas ; but that which 
we have given to represent the form is one of the 
most powerfully supplied with galvanic influence. 

The fishes in which these electrical organs have 
been unequivocally discovered, are, as before men- 
tioned, the electric ray (Raja torpedo)^ now the 
torpedo proper, the electric eel (Gymnotus electri- 
cusj, the Silurus electricus, the Tetrodon electricus, 
and the Trichiurus electricus, or Indicus, as it is 
termed by some naturalists. 

Carus declares the electric organ in these fishes 


to be distinctly of a muscular nature, consisting of 
numerous strata, cells or prisms formed by tendi- 
nous partitions, and filled with a thickish gelatinous 
fluid. The same anatomist adds, — " As a great 
number of nerves (but few vessels) are distributed 
to these cells and strata, and as the activity of the 
organ depends upon those nerves, it is at least not 
improbable that the nervous power accumulates in 
the cells, whence it can be voluntarily discharged, 
in the same manner as it is capable of being collected 
in muscles, in order to produce their contraction*." 
It was before noticed, that there is a peculiar 
developement of the spinal chord in those fishes 
which possess the electrical power ; and it should 
be added, that in Spallanzani's experiments on the 
electric ray, it was found that the activity of the 
shock was always proportioned to the energy of the 
vital powers at the time, and that the section of 
the nerves of the organ efiectually destroyed this 
property in the animal. 

The organs of offence or attack in fishes may be 
said to be very limited ; a few possess weapons of 
peculiar structure and formidable appearance, and 
are said occasionally to use them in wanton attack ; 
but as they are few in number, so is their actual 
usage but comparatively little known. We are not 

* Cams' Comparative Anatomy, by Gore, vol. i. p. 345. 
See also, for information on this subject, the experiments 
of Matteucci, detailed in various scientific periodicals for 
1837 and 1838. 


aware of battles among species taking place as among 
animals dwelling upon land, nor of struggles for su- 
premacy during the season of amours ; but if these 
more frequently take place in the hidden recesses 
of the ocean, they may, with a few exceptions, be 
carried on by the assistance of the tail and of the 
teeth. The latter are the great predatory organs 
among all the rapacious fishes, and the great pro- 
portion of these continues living one on another — a 
strong upon a weaker race. We have their struc- 
ture in almost every variation. In the greater pro- 
portion they are used only for seizing and securely 
holding their prey, without assisting in any man- 
ducatory process. In a few they crush the harder Crus- 
tacea and molusca before they are swallowed ; and 
by still fewer they are placed low in the gullet, and 
act by muscular contractions on the food as it passes 
down, or perhaps may for a short period be retained 
within their power. 

The shark tribe has for ages been a fruitful 
source of terror even to man. Of these the white 
shark (Squalus carcharias) is the most noted. 
His means of offence lie in the size of his mouth, 
the strength of his jaw, the numerous teeth with 
which his mouth is armed, and in the extreme 
vigour and rapidity of his motions. An erroneous 
accoimt is usually given of the teeth of the shark : 
it is said that the interior rows of teeth lie flat while 
the animal is in a state of repose, and that they be- 
come erected when it prepares to seize its prey. 
The truth is, that the outer row of teeth is alone of 


any use to the animal ; the other rows are a provi- 
sion or resource against the breaking of those of the 
outer row, and till this happens they remain flat in 
the mouth, incapable of being erected; as soon, 
however, as a tooth in the outer row is broken, as 
frequently must happen, owing to the force with 
which the animal closes his jaws, often on hard 
bodies, the tooth immediately within becomes 
erected, and advances forward with the line of 
the outer row, to supply the place of that which 
was destroyed. 

The annexed wood-cut will show the general 
distribution of the teeth in the jaws of these vora- 
cious fishes, and the figure on the accompanying 
plate that of the general form adapted for rapid 
passage through the water by a swift and gliding 
motion, and an activity and grace in making turns 
in pursuit of its prey. 




Charcharias vulgaris. 


The white shark is supposed to have a particular 
predilection for human flesh — this it would be diffi- 
cult to establish ; and perhaps all the points in its 
history, which serve to countenance such a suppo- 
sition, are sufficiently explicable, on the assumption 
of an extreme voracity, such as belongs to many 
fishes not so well provided with the means of gra- 
tifying it at the expense of man. When a man 
unfortunately comes within reach of a shark, he is 
fortunate if he escape with the loss of a limb, to 
sever which is, for this voracious creature, but the 
work of a moment. Yet many stories are current, 
some of which deserve credit, of man having suc- 
cessfully encountered sharks in their own element. 
The plan of attack depends on the knowledge of the 
mode in which the shark seizes his prey ; to do this 
the animal is obliged to turn on its side, and while 
it is assuming this attitude, some daring spirits 
have succeeded in plunging a knife into its body, 
so as to escape threatened destruction, or avenge 




the death of a friend. The teeth in the various 
forms of this family are all most formidable weapons, 
remarkably sharp, hard and cutting ; and in some 
of the larger species, of such size as entirely to 
preclude the possibility of escape with life, to any 
creature which is so unlucky as to come within 
their grasp. 

Many other fishes possess a very powerful forma- 
tion of long and sharp teeth, as in the accompanying 
cut of the head of Lonchurus ancylodon, Schn. In 

none are the teeth comparatively more formidable 
than in the common pike, the shark of the British 
waters ; in specimens of this fish, of from twenty to 
thirty pounds weight, they are as large as those of 
a cat, and the whole of the roof of the mouth, 
the tongue, and arches of the gills are so thickly 
set, that, when every circumstance is considered, 
this provision is more ample than in any other 
fish. Many of the spari have ven^ strong and 
sharp teeth ; in some other forms, again, the teeth 



construct, as it were, the edges of the mouth, and 
consist of large bent plates, having the appearance 
of a parrot's bill (see cut). In the Anarichas lupus^ 

or sea-cat, they are thickly set, and, though rounded 
on the tops, are so hard, as to leave a mark on the 
hardest substances vs^hich have been seized hy the 
fish in the struggles of death. In the rays, again, 
they cover the lips like a pavement, are blunt, and 
very regularly set, but from the muscular power 
which acts on them, they are beautifully adapted 
for crushing the hard shell-fish on which these 
tribes subsist. In all their modifications, however 
formidable, we do not know them in any other 


light but as organs for seizing their prey. When the 
fishes are taken by any artificial means, they will be 
roused, often successfully, to cut the line or cord 
which hold them, and any object placed within 
the jaws is firmly seized and held ; but this cannot 
be viewed in the light of voluntary attack. 

The saw-fishes indicate unusual provisions for 
ofiensive warfare. These are closely allied to the 
sharks, and several species have been discovered. 
The upper jaw is prolonged into a projecting flat- 
tened snout, the greatest length of which seems to 
be about six feet. On the lateral margins of this 
snout are set, horizontally, numerous sharp pikes 
similar to teeth, which exhibit a formidable edge, 
and if wielded with force must be a most powerful 
and dangerous weapon. The true teeth of the ani- 
mal are placed on the jaws, somewhat similar to 
those of the rays and some sharks. 

The Pristis antiquorum is one of the largest 
species, growing to the length of from fifteen to 
sixteen feet; at least such is the size of the speci- 
mens hitherto met with. The general colour is a 
dull grey, growing paler as it approaches the under 
parts, where it is nearly white. The wood-cut 
will show the form of the snout, or saw, which the 
small size of our other figure scarcely details, suf- 


Snout of P. Antiquorum, Lath. 


The saw-fish is said to be one of the most formi- 
dable enemies of the whale tribe. Though so much 
smaller, it attacks and even overcomes the Green- 
land whale. It seems probable, however, that one 
saw-fish is unequal to such a victory, and that 
several usually attack the whale in concert. Mr. 
Yarrel, in his recent work on British Fishes, refers 
to an account of a combat, on the west coast of 
Scotland, between a whale and a company of saw- 
fish, aided by an auxiliary force of thrashers ; the 
sea was dyed with blood from the stabs inflicted 
in the water by the serrated snouts of the saw-fish, 
while the thrashers, watching their opportunity, 
struck at the unwieldy animal as often as he rose 
to the surface for breath. We shall illustrate this 
form farther by the 



Pristis drratus, Latham. 


P. cirratus, Lath. — Trans. Lin. Soc. ii. p. 28 L fig. 28. 

A NATIVE of the New Holland seas, and apparently 
yet not very common ; its principal characteristic is 
the presence of two cirri on each side of the snout 
or saw. The spines of the saw are irregular, three 
smaller or shorter ones being placed between each 
larger. The mouth, where the true teeth are 
placed, is furnished with five rows of minute, but 
very sharp teeth. The colour is a pale brown, 
shading below to white. 

The srvord-Jishes present another formidable ar- 
mature, which is capable of being employed with 
immense force. They have been separated into 
two subdivisions, both armed with the elongated 
snout or sword, as it is popularly called, but differ- 
ing in the want of ventral, and in the forward posi- 
tion of the dorsal fins, and to them has been appHed 
the name of Xiphias, or sword-fish; while the 
others, by which we shall illustrate the form, has 
the dorsal fin large, while the ventral fins are re- 
presented by long and slender filaments. Another 
name has been given to them, the 







Histiopliorus Indictis. 

Brought, according to Cuvier and Valenciennes, 
from India by Banks, and from the Red Sea by 
Eherenberg, will serve as an illustration. The form 
is rather graceful, and this is heightened by the 
ample dorsal fin. Species have been taken seven 
or eight feet in length, and, according to those 
naturalists who have seen the fish newly taken, the 
colour is of a brownish-red on the upper parts ; the 
body is covered with large an lengthened scales. 

The sword-fishes are of mild and gentle manners, 
living chiefly on marine vegetables, and seldom 
attacking other animals, except in self-defence. On 
such occasions they become bold and active, main- 
taining fierce combat with powerful whales, and, as 
has been alleged, even with the crocodile; when 
thus engaged, they inflict wounds not less deadly 
than those given by the saw-fish, as the weapon, 
though not serrated, is of much harder consistence. 
The Xiphias gladius inhabits the Atlantic, from 
the northern ocean to the south temperate zone, 


and also the Mediterranean. It attains the length 
of fifteen, or even twenty feet, the sword being then 
four or five feet long ; this sword is merely a pro- 
longation of the snout covered with skin, and 
flattened into a sword shape. Though this pro- 
jection is far from being sharp, either on the mar- 
gins or at the point, yet, when urged forward by 
the rapid motion of the animal, it has been kno^vn 
to pierce a thick plank of wood. This fact, referred 
to by Pliny in ancient times, has often been called 
in question ; but it appears to be sufficiently authen- 
ticated by recent instances, a piece of plank, con- 
taining part of the snout of a sword-fish, is exhibited 
in the British Museum. Several instances of this 
fact are mentioned by Cuvier and Valenciennes; 
and specimens are preserved, in the Museum at Paris, 
of the sword imbedded in parts of vessels, which, it 
is considered, the fish had mistaken for some large 
whale, or other marine animal, which they had been 
in the habit of attacking. 

Nature has furnished a great proportion of fishes 
with a more than ordinarily powerful array of teeth 
which are used to secure their prey, but not, we 
think, almost ever as either defensive or offensive 
weapons ; and we have seen very formidable weapons 
in the sword and saw-fishes. There are, however, 
other modes of securing their prey for which suitable 
provision has been made; a very curious one is 
observed in the family of ChModon^ a tribe of 
fishes remarkable also for their often singular forms 
and for the beauty of their colouring. Those pos- 


sessing the curious property we are about to describe, 
and where the jaws are elongated, have been placed 
in a sub-genus by Cuvier and Valenciennes, under 
the title of Chelmon. 

The singular mode in which one of this genus, 
the Chcetodon rostratus or jaculator^ strikes down 
its prey, will excuse a few words of digression 
here. It approaches with gentle caution to within 
a few feet of the animal it seeks to make prey of ; 
it then projects a drop of water from its mouth at 
the insect with an aim so unerring as seldom fails to 
bring it down, and secures it from escape. This 
species has been kept in a vessel of water for the 
purpose of examining more narrowly this unusual 
mode of overcoming its prey. If an insect be fixed 
on the edge of the vessel, or held on the end of a 
stick within reach of the missile drop, the fish goes 
on repeating the discharge, as the insect does not 
fall, while it hardly ever misses its aim. On these 
occasions it seems to be provided with a large supply 
of water, as it perseveres for a considerable time in 
projecting drops to the distance of four or five feet, 
without any appearance of taking in a fresh supply. 

Another example of this singular structure used 
in securing their prey is seen in the 



Chelmon longirostris^ Cuv. & Val. 


It is found in the Indian ocean, around the coasts 
of the Society Islands, and the Isle of France. The 
form is not particularly elegant, but the colouring 
is remarkable from the decided marks of black on 
the sides of the head. It appears to be a rare 
species ; and we have copied Yalenciennes* figure, 
with the view of directing attention to the better 
ascertaining of the manners generally, and the 
mode in which it uses the provision of its beak. 






Even from remote antiquity the seas have furnished 
an abundant supply of food for man, and the fish- 
eries there carried on give employment to no incon- 
siderable part of the population of the entire globe. 
When we consider the extraordinary fecundity of 
many kinds of fish, and indeed, of most of those 
which are used as food, one is at no loss to account 
for the immense shoals in which they swim, and the 
myriads which people every sea, lake, and river, 
" affording," as Mr. Barrow observes, " an inex- 
hausible harvest, ripe for gathering at all seasons of 
the year, without the labour of tillage, without ex- 
pense of seed or manure, and without the payment 
of rent or taxes." Accordingly, the fisheries in this 
country have all along received the attention due to 
them by Government, and statutes have been enact- 
ed for their extension and promotion. One of the 
measures from which the most important results 
were anticipated, was the giving of bounties to those 
engaged in the fisheries, and although this certainly 


had the eflfect of increasing the quantity of fish pro- 
duced, yet it is very questionable whether that re- 
sult was attended with ultimate success. Although 
the bounty system is now discontinued, and the 
number of those engaged in the fisheries much re- 
duced, yet, according to Mr. Barrow, the value of 
the entire annual produce of the foreign and do- 
mestic fisheries of Great Britain is as much as 
jE8,300,000 ; and, although the accuracy of this 
estimate is disputed, and even by a most competent 
judge* reduced to less than one-half, yet the fisheries 
must ever be regarded as an important source of 
national wealth. Besides giving employment to 
some, and contributing to the necessities of others, 
the British fisheries may be considered as a nursery 
in which are reared a large portion of our finest 
seamen, furnishing a ready supply from which to 
recruit the navy and the merchant service. 

The Dutch owe much of their prosperity to the 
fisheries, and so do the Americans, always noted for 
their enterprise and the zeal with which they carry 
on their undertakings. The French, too, and many 
other nations, carry on this branch of industry to a 
greater or less extent. 

Perhaps the esteem in which fish is held as food 
(in this country at least) cannot be better illustrated 
than by attending to the fact, that 120,000 tons of 
fish are annually imported into the metropolis alone, 
and in order to procure this supply, whole fleets of 
vessels are employed, manned by their thousands of 

* Maculloch. 


not merely British, but even Dutch and French 
fishermen, bringing fresh fish, such as cod for in- 
stance, from a distance of many hundred miles, as 
from the coasts of Scotland, and even from Nor- 

From the class of fishes are procured not only 
articles of food within the reach even of the poorest, 
but luxuries and delicacies to be seen only at the 
tables of the rich, although few would now-a-days 
be inclined to go the length of some Roman epi- 
cures, who are known to have given upwards of 
£80 for a single fish, one too of no great size, and 
held in light esteem at the present day. Besides 
these, isinglass or fish glue, as well as the caviare 
of commerce, are both obtained from the sturgeon, 
and a kind of shagreen is prepared from several 
fishes of the shark family. The scales of some 
species are used in the manufactm'e of artificial 
pearls, and excellent oil is got from the liver of 
many others. Fishes are sometimes used by the 
farmer as manure, but only when very abundant, 
and besides, those which are generally employed for 
this purpose, are from their small size unfit for food, 
and would otherwise be useless. Lastly, among the 
economical uses of fishes it will be proper to include 
the pleasure afforded by angling, although both Dr. 
Johnson and Lord Byron have denounced this pur- 
suit as at once absurd and cruel, and would fain 
condemn all its votaries from the days of Isaac Wal- 
ton downwards, as at best but cold-blooded mortals, 
devoid of the better feelings of our nature. Yet it 


is regarded by many, and we think with justice, as 
a dehghtful pastime, the source of much enjoyment. 
To enumerate merely, all, or even the greater 
part of those fishes which are used as food by man, 
would be a task not easily to be accomplished ; we 
shall, therefore, and in strict accordance vdih the title 
at the beginning of this chapter, confine our obser- 
vations to a few of the most important in an econo- 
mical point of view. Accordingly, we may begin 
with the cod, as it is, perhaps, upon the whole, the 
most important. 

Before the discovery of the immense supply of 
cod to be found on the northern coasts of America, 
the principal fishery was carried on off the coasts of 
Iceland and Norway, as well as the Orkney, Shet- 
land, and Western Islands. A great part of the cod 
taken on our own shores is eaten in a fresh state, 
and vessels have been constructed in which the fish 
are brought alive from a considerable distance, to 
supply the markets of our large cities, especially 
the metropolis. But it is on the great banks of 
Newfoundland and Labrador that the cod fishery is 
carried on to its greatest extent, by the Americans, 
British, and French, but especially the former. Here 
the cod is found in immense shoals, and indeed this 
is hardly to be wondered at, when we consider that 
nine millions of eggs have been found in the roe of 
a single individual of this species. A few yeeirs ago, 
it was calculated, that about ten thousand British 
seamen were employed in the Newfoundland fish- 
eries, independently of perhaps an equal number on 


shore, engaged in preparing the fish. Cod is there 
preserved in two ways, and is called respectively 
green^ or pickled^ and dried cod. Most of the dried 
fish exported from Newfoundland by British sub- 
jects, is sent to Spain, Italy, and other Catholic 
European countries ; the rest goes to the West Indies 
and Great Britain. 

The British Government have now discontinued 
the plan of giving bounties to those engaged in the 
cod fishery, but the French, as late as 1829, in 
which year 400 ships were sent out by them to pro- 
secute this fishery, gave bounties to the amount of 
^60,000. In order to describe the manner in which 
this fishery is conducted, we cannot do better than 
give an abstract of an account by Mr. Audubon of 
" Cod Fishing at Labrador." The American vessels 
used for this purpose, are commonly either schooners 
or " pickaxes," of about one hundred tons or so, 
manned by twelve men ; and each vessel is provided 
with a small boat for every two of the crew. The 
wages of the fishermen vary from sixteen to thirty 
dollars a month, and spirituous liquors are seldom 
allowed on board. The baits used, are at first mus- 
sels salted for the purpose, then capelins, and often 
the flesh of gannets, and other sea-fowl. The vessel 
being in a convenient harbour, at three o'clock in the 
morning the boats proceed to the fishing banks 
several miles ofi", and anchor in a depth of from ten 
to twenty feet. Each man has two lines, and the 
fish ai*e unhooked when drawn up, by throwing 
them across a bar of iron. The boats, after being 


filled, return to the vessel, and the fish are thrown 
on deck hy means of a pole armed at the top with 
an iron hook. The hoats again return for more fish, 
of which Mr. Audubon calculates, each boat may 
procure 2000 per diem, and, in the mean time, the 
men on board proceed to clean the fish, which they 
do in the following manner. One breaks off the 
head, throws it overboard, and rips up the belly. 
His neighbour tears out the entrails, separates the 
liver, which he throws into a cask, and casts the 
rest overboard. A third person separates the back- 
bone, and throws the fish into the hold, where others 
are busy in salting and packing the whole. Such of 
the fish as are intended to be dried, are, after being 
salted, laid side by side in the sun, and allowed to 
remain thus exposed for some time, after which 
they are piled in heaps, the process being now 
completed. When the capelins approach the shore 
to spawn, the cods follow them in prodigious shoals, 
and immense numbers of the latter are caught in 
seines and other nets, although this mode of pro- 
cedure is prohibited by law, a large proportion of the 
fish thus taken being altogether useless from their 
small size. Finally, Mr. Audubon considers, that 
whatever be the means of the fishermen, if the 
season is favourable they are generally well repaid 
for their labour, and he has knoA^Ti of individuals 
engaged in this fishery who procured an indepen- 
dence in the course of perhaps ten years. 

The cod is caught on our own coast by means of 
long lines, which are always shot across the tide. 


and allowed to remain for about six hours. The 
hooks are placed at regular distances along the line, 
baited with mussels, limpets, or other shell fish, and 
sand eels are sometimes used with great success for 
the same purpose. At other times, the fishermen 
use hand lines, of which one man is able to manage 
two, each with a couple of hooks, and in this way, 
Mr. Yarrell mentions, eight men have been known 
to take eighty score of cod off the Dogger Bank, in 
the course of a singlf day. 

The value of tho cod, as an article of food, both 
in the fresh state and when dried, is too well known 
to require any comment. In Iceland and many 
parts of Norway, it forms, perhaps, the principal 
food of the inhabitants ; also in Sweden, where it 
has been fished for ever since the middle of the 
14th century. The liver, which is large, furnishes 
oil of excellent quality, and to give an idea of the 
extent to which it is used, we may mention, that in 
1829, the Labrador and Newfoundland fisheries 
yielded oil of the value of about .£18,000. By the 
Icelanders and NorTv^egians, the heads, as well as 
the bones, are given to their cattle as food, and good 
isinglass is made in Iceland from the swimming 
bladder. The tongue is considered a delicacy, and 
the gills are used as bait. In fine, ahnost all parts 
of this fish are useful to man. 

Many other species of the cod family, besides that 
just mentioned, furnish food more or less excellent 
for man. Of these we shall enumerate the most 
important. Though of smaller size, and perhaps 



inferior to the cod, the haddock, Morrhua ceglejinus, 
is much prized as an excellent article of food, both 
when fresh and in the dried state. It is taken 
abundantly on all our shores, especially on the eas- 
tern coasts, and is fished for in the same way as the 
cod. The haddock is said to be in best condition 
in the months of November and December, as well 
as in June and July. The whiting, Merlangus vul- 
garis^ is a much esteemed and delicate fish, found 
on all our coasts, but the greatest numbers are taken 
in the winter months, when large shoals approach 
the coast to spawn. It is sometimes eaten in a dried 
state, but is preferred when fresh. When of small 
size, being then known by the name of sillock or 
podley, the coal-fish, M, carbonarius, is considered 
as a delicacy, and even equally so with the preced- 
ing, and at certain seasons forms a principal part of 
the food of the poorer classes in the Hebrides and 
Orkney islands. When of large size, it is generally 
salted or dried, and is at best but a course fish. It 
is, however, sometimes very abundant, and Mr. Couch 
says, that on the Cornish coast, he has known four men 
to take with the rod and line twenty-four hundred 
weight of this fish in the course of a very few hours. 
The pollock, M. Pollackius, is another coarse insipid 
fish when of ordinary size, found in Britain, North 
America, Asia, and the Indies, and, according to Dr. 
Richardson, " very good bread" may be made from 
the roe. The hake, Merluccius vulgaris, though 
found in all the northern seas, is in this country 
most abundant on our southern coasts, where it is very 


destructive to the pilchard, a fish to be afterwards 
mentioned. Off the coast of Waterford the hake is 
so abundant, that one thousand have been taken with 
the Hne by six men in the course of a single night. 
It is also fished for in the Mediterranean, and is 
usually salted and dried, but little being eaten in the 
fresh state. The ling. Lota molva^ and the tusk, 
Brosmius vulgaris^ are two other large and coarse 
fish, taken on our own coast, principally among the 
northern islands, and a great portion of what is there 
procured is exported to Spain and other CathoHc 
countries, where they are eaten in large quantities 
during lent. The oil obtained from the liver of 
the former fish, besides being used by the poorer 
classes in many places for ordinary purposes, has 
been rather extensively employed internallyj in cases 
of severe rheumatism, and often with great success 
but it is said, that a person who has taken it, for 
some time continues to exhale a disagreeable odour. 
The air-bladder, or sound of this fish, is used for 
the same purposes as that of the cod. The diffe- 
rent species above-mentioned, constitute, collectively, 
what is called the white fisheries, which give more 
permanent employment than almost any other. 

We shall now consider the salmon fishery, which 
in Britain is principally carried on in the Scotch 
and Irish rivers. Unfortunately, however, its value 
has diminished fully one-half of late years, owing to 
the scarcity of fish, which is accounted for in various 
ways, some attributing it to the great increase in the 


number and kinds of water-machinery, others again 
to the prevailing use of lime as a manure, of which 
part is carried down by the floods, and destroys the 
fish ; but it is now generally considered as owing to 
the enormous extent to which poaching is carried 
on during close time, when the breeding fish can 
easily be destroyed. In order to protect this noble 
fish, which has justly been considered as private pro- 
perty, as much so as the difibrent kinds of game, 
various statutes have been enacted by Government, 
and these now in force fix the duration of close 
time between August and January, according to the 
circumstances of different rivers. 

The salmon is caught in our rivers and estuaries 
in nets of different kinds. What are called stake 
nets, are used in friths, estuaries, and the mouths of 
rivers, and are constructed by fixing a line of stout 
poles in the mud or sand, at a place of easy access 
at low water; between these poles is stretched a 
strong net, conducting to a labyrinth in which are 
enclosed such fish as come in contact with the 
meshes. This kind of net is often carried far 
out to sea, sometimes employing several miles of 
netting. Salmon are taken at the mouth of the 
Forth, above Alloa, in bag-nets, which are dropped 
into the stream or current of tide from a kind of 
stage or platform run out from the bank. Whenever 
a fish enters, a man in readiness pulls up the net 
and secures it. Many fish are caught in yairs^ 
somewhat similar in construction to stake nets, 
although on a much smaller scale, and sometimes 


constructed of wicker work instead of netting. But 
perhaps more salmon are taken by what is called 
the coble and net fishery, than by any other method. 
This is carried on in large streams, such as the Tay 
and Tweed, in the following manner : — A small boat 
of a peculiar construction, called a coble, managed 
by a single man, and carrying at the stern a long 
net, one end of which is fastened to the shore, is 
rowed out into the stream ; the net, which is heavily 
weighted, sinks to the bottom, and is kept nearly 
perpendicular by means of large floats in its upper 
margin; and, as the boat proceeds, the net continues 
dropping into the water, describing, by the time 
the coble reaches the shore, a complete semicircle. 
The whole net is then dragged to the bank, some- 
times by the assistance of a windlass. Higher up 
the rivers, weirs are formed, by building a dyke 
across the stream, generally one of small size ; in this 
dyke are several apertures, leading to enclosures of 
different kinds, called cruives, into which the fish 
enter, and are taken out at convenience, being 
unable to find an opening through which to escape. 
The salmon is also taken on the flats of the Sol way 
Frith, by means of funnel shaped nets fastened to a 
pole, which are used during the ebbing and flowing 
of the tide. In the Welsh rivers, salmon are fished 
for with a kind of trammel net, from small boats 
called coracles, carrying each a single man *. There 

* Salmon are sometimes taken by means of loose nets, in 
the meshes of which tlie fish are filled and easily taken. 
About five years ago nearly 800 were taken at one hawl in s 


are, besides, some other contrivances for netting 
this fish in common use in various parts, which it 
would be needless to mention. Many fish are killed 
during the period when they ascend to the stream 
heads fi^r the purpose of spa"\vning, by means of 
what is called a leister or waster, an instrument 
somewhat similar to a harpoon, or perhaps still more 
so to a trident. Salmon are speared with this in- 
strument by torch-light, and the fish, which are 
sometimes of very large size, though often unhealthy 
at this season, bewildered by the imusual glare of 
light, ^and the splashing in the water, are easily dis- 
covered, and followed from pool to pool, till an 
opportunity of striking them is afforded. Besides 
these methods for destropng salmon, no small num- 
ber is annually taken by the rod, and this kind of 
fishing has probably now arrived at the highest pitch 
of perfection. Angling for salmon (in the Tweed at 
least) is allowed for a month after the net fishing 
has closed for the season. 

The greater part of the salmon taken in the Scotch 
rivers is sent to the London market, principally 
packed in ice ; comparatively little is sold in the 
neighbourhood of the fishing stations, and much is 
dried, pickled, or otherwise preserved. 

In many parts of North America it is very plen- 
tiful, being annually exported from Newfoundland 
alone, of the value of, in 1815, £14,000. This 

bay on the east coast, probably by a net of this kind. Dr. 
Young relates an extraordinary capture of 1452 salmon by 
Bome Irish fishermen in the year 1776, at one drag of a single 



valuable fish is now A'ery rare in the United States, 
where it was formerly abundant, in consequence of 
the number of steamers plying on all the navigable 
rivei-s. It is now confined, we are informed, to the 
north-eastern states alone. In the arctic regions, 
the salmon occurs in such profusion, that 3378 were 
taken at one haul in the month of July, and Sir 
John Ross obtained a ton weight of salmon from an 
Esquimaux in exchange for one or two knives *. 

The whole of the numerous species composing 
the family SalmonidcB^ may be regarded as furnishing 
food, excellent in its kind, for man, but none of 
them, in this country at least, are of equal impor- 
tance, in an economical point of view, with the 
salmon which we have just treated of at consider- 
able length. One species, however, well known as 
the salmon trout, is so abundant in the Scotch rivers, 
aifd attains such a large size, as to be frequently 
sold for the young salmon, although much inferior 
according to some. " Two hundred are frequently 
taken at a single draught of a sweep net, and three 
hundred have occasionally been counted." In fact, 
the different kinds of trout, and other salmoni-dae in 
this country, are better known as affording amuse- 
ment to the angler, than as food for man. There is, 

* The Norwegian rivers have long been known to produce 
salmon of superior quality, and from the nature of the streams 
in which they are found, the mode of taking them varies con- 
siderably from those in common use in this country. But, 
from want of space, we shall not stop to enumerate them, 
however interesting they may be. 


however, one exception. It is a small fish, the 
smelt or spirling, Osmerus esperlanus^ found abun- 
dantly on the British coasts, and much esteemed as 
a delicacy. It is generally taken in greatest plenty 
at the mouths of large rivers, or in estuaries, as well 
as on sandy shores, in small nets, and always com- 
mands a ready sale. 

We shall now proceed to give an account of the 
fishery for the mackarel. Scomber^ scomber. 

This beautiful fish annually visits our coasts in 
immense shoals, and its fishery gives ample employ- 
ment to thousands in the spring and summer months. 
It is said to be in best condition in May and June, 
and should be eaten when very iresh, as it can be 
kept in a fit state for food only a few hours. 

Mackarel are caught either with the hook and 
line, or by the drift-net, the latter being generally 
preferred, as by it larger numbers may be taken. 
The net in question is 20 feet deep by 120 feet in 
length, and the size of the mesh is usually about 
two and a half inches. As many of these nets as 
are at hand are joined together by a strong rope, 
and thrown out when the fishing vessel is in full 
sail. The whole extent of netting, which not un- 
frequently exceeds a mile in length, properly sus- 
pended by corks, but without any lead to sink it, 
being shot out, the boat is fastened to one end of 
the drift-rope, and rides as it were at anchor, the 
strain of the vessel keeping the net in a state of 
extension. In the morning the whole of the nets 


are hauled in, and the fish, which during the night 
had got entangled in the meshes, are taken out and 
conveyed to shore, generally hy other boats, leaving 
the fishermen to resume their fijrmer occupation. 

By means of these nets astonishing numbers of 
fish have been taken in a single night ; thus, Mr. 
Yarrell states, that on the 30th of Jime, 1821, the 
value of the catch of sixteen boats from Lowestofie 
amounted to <£ 5,252. 

Mackarel are also caught by a species of angling, 
by a line heavily weighed and fastened to a stout 
rod, while the vessel is under rapid sale. The bait 
used is either a portion of a small fish, even the 
mackarel itself, or else a piece of scarlet cloth, which, 
strange to say, is for them at all times a deadly 
bait. Tv men, in this way, it is said, may capture 
from five hundred to a thousand fish in the course 
of the day. That the mackarel fishery is of con- 
siderable importance may be concluded from the 
circumstance, that off the Suffolk coast alone this 
fish is taken of the annual value of £10,000, and 
that too in the space of only six weeks. The macka- 
rel, though considered a somewhat dry fish, is never- 
theless held in high repute, and, when the take is 
considerable, on account of the short time it will 
keep fresh, is sometimes sold at a very low rate. 
Thus, although in Scotland, where it is rarely so 
plentiful as a little farther to the south, it is seldom 
within the reach of the poorer classes, yet in Nor- 
folk, during last summer, we saw abundance hawked 


about at the rate of two a penny, though this is far 
from being the usual price. 

In North America, especially off the coasts of 
Labrador and NeAvfoundland, mackarel of different 
species, however, occur periodically in prodigious 
shoals, and their arrival is eagerly looked for. 

A fish nearly allied to the preceding, the tunny, 
Thynnius vulgaris^ was well knoA\Ti and highly 
prized by the ancients, having constituted from the 
earliest ages, according to Dr. Neale, a gi'eat source 
of riches and commerce to the nations inhabiting 
the shores of the Mediterranean, and, in fact, being 
the principal food of the people of Bithynia. We 
shall have occasion to speak of it at greater length 

We may now pass on to the consideration of the 
herring fishery, and there is perhaps no one fishery 
in any country which has come so much under the 
attention of the legislature, or given rise to so much 
speculation. Fishing \dllages were built, and com- 
panies w^ere formed, w^hich were all eventually un- 
successful in their objects. Then, soon after the 
commencement of the present century, a fishery 
board was established by Government, and a bounty 
was given, not merely on the tonnage of the vessels 
employed in the fishery, but also on the number of 
baiTels produced, which bounty on the latter, for 
eleven years, was equal to half the value of the her- 
rings as sold by the fishermen. This bounty of four 


shillings a barrel, naturally held out great induce- 
ments to begin the business of herring curing, and 
gave rise to much speculation. The fishery -was of 
course extended, and the number of herrings pro- 
duced much increased. By and bye the bounty 
was gradually diminished, and, in 1820, entirely 
done away. The policy of this measure is unques- 
tionable, as henceforth the supply Avill be more pro- 
portioned to the real demand. 

The Dutch have been long engaged in this fishery, 
which, at one time, was said to have given employ- 
ment to one-fifth of the whole population of Hol- 
land. Though this estimate is now generally con- 
sidered to have been overrated, yet no doubt much 
of the prosperity of that country then depended on 
the fishery in question, and it is even now a pro- 
verbial saying, that " Amsterdam is founded upon 
herring bones." The Dutch have always been ac- 
knowledged as superior in the art of curing herring 
to any other nation, and their herrings, not many 
years ago, brought double or even treble the price 
of the British article in every European market * 
The British fishermen, though long encouraged by 
a bounty from Government, as before mentioned, 
yet failed in producing an article which can compete 
with the Dutch herrings, and for obvious reasons. 
The Dutch carry on the fishery at sea, and from 

* One grand object of the fishery board was to attempt 
bringing the British herrings to a level with those of the 
Dutch, but they signally failed in accomplishing that object. 


the small quantity whicli their vessels are capable 
of containing, in order to cover the expense of fit- 
ting out, and ensure some profit to themselves, can 
only do so by preparing their few barrels in a very 
superior way, more as a delicacy than a staple 
article of food. The British, again, fish in the neigh- 
bourhood of their o^ah coasts, and the immense 
numbers of fish which they take can only be either 
disposed of when fresh, or cured by them in the 
most expeditious way, and their profits are insured 
by selling a large quantity at a very lo w rate. 

The value of the herring fishery in this country 
has been long progressively increasing. The fisheries 
in the north of Scotland, for instance, have been of 
immense benefit to the neighbouring counties, and 
have opened up a mine of wealth not easily to be 
exhausted. Thus, according to the Parliamentary 
reports of that date, in the year ended on the 5th 
April, 1819, the astonishing quantity of 340,660 
barrels was landed from the fishery and cured, and 
of this, 227,162 barrels were exported from Great 
Britain, chiefly to Ireland, the continent of Eui'ope, 
the West Indies, and even to Calcutta. Of this 
quantity only one twenty-second part of the whole 
was taken by English fishermen, the rest was the 
produce of the Scottish coast, the little town of 
Wick furnishing nearly one-fifth of the whole. 

The herring is taken in drift nets somewhat simi- 
lar to those employed for mackarel and pilchards, 
and much judgment is required in laying them to 


the greatest advantage. A dark niglit is generally 
most successful, and the drawing the nets in the 
morning is said to present a very animated scene. 

Herrings are eaten hoth -when fresh, pickled, or 
dried. In the fresh state, in towns in the neighbour- 
hood of the sea, the consumption is at times enor- 
mous, for the herring furnishes a very cheap article 
of food to all classes. We recollect seeing this fish, 
a few years ago, sold in the streets of Edinburgh, 
for several weeks, at the rate of twelve for a penny. 
In this country the best pickled herring are con- 
sidered to be those from Lochfine, on our west coast, 
and this is owing, not so much to the greater atten- 
tion there paid in curing them, as to their original 
superior excellence and larger size. 

Another fish belonging to the valuable family of 
herrings, the pilchard, Clupea pilchardus^ though 
not quite so large as the herring, is yet of great 
importance in an economical point of view, when 
we consider that the average value of the pilchards 
taken annually, in Cornwall alone, is between 
£50,000 and £60,000. In 1827, the total amount 
of capital invested in this fishery was £441,215, 
giving employment to upwards of ten thousand per- 
sons, fishermen and others. 

This fish is met with in various parts of the 
European seas, as on the coasts of France, but 
especially those of Cornwall and Devon, where there 
is an extensive pilchard fisheiy during the months of 
August and September. As far back as the days of 
Elizabeth, statutes were enacted for the protection 


of this fishery, and there was, until lately, a bounty 
of 8s. 6d. on every hogshead exported. 

Pilchards are caught with scans or drift nets, but 
principally with the former. By means of one or more 
scans, each of which is 360 feet in length and 36 
in depth, a shoal is enclosed ; then the bottom of the 
net is drawn together by a pecuUar contrivance, and 
the fish, thus prevented from escaping, are taken 
out at low water in small bag nets. Sometimes, 
according to Mr. Yarrell, the quantity enclosed is so 
great, that a week may elapse before the whole can 
be conveniently disposed of, a part being taken up 
every night. Seven thousand hogsheads, or about 
twenty-four millions and a half of pilchards, are said 
to have been taken at once from a single shoal, wliich, 
however, may cover an extent of several square miles. 

Drift-nets, as we said before, are also used for the 
same pui'pose, and several are joined together when 
required, sometimes extending three quarters of a 
mile. The most successful time for using them is 
during a hazy night, with a slight swell or breeze. 
The nets are drawn soon after sunset, and again 
before morning, and it is considered a moderate 
capture if from five to ten thousand fish are taken 
in a single night. 

Such as are intended for exportation are pickled, 
and afterwards packed in barrels by means of great 
pressure, which reduces the bulk of the fish to one- 
third of what it formerly was, and during this pro- 
cess, there is obtained a coarse but pure oil in the 
proportion of three or four gallons from a hogshead 


of fisli. The mixture of oil, blood, and pickle, 
which exudes from the immense heaps into which 
the fish are piled before undergoing the process of 
pickling, is used in large quantity in the neighbour- 
hood as manure. The fish itself, when very abun- 
dant, is sometimes used for the same purpose, though 
not to the same extent as the next species to be 
mentioned. It is said that a single pilchard is suffi- 
cient to manure a square foot of land. 

Besides furnishing fresh food for the poorer classes 
in the neighbourhood, pilchards are exported, it is 
said, to the annual amount of £50,000, principally 
to the West Indies, along with herrings, for the use 
of the slave, or rather negro population there. 

The sprat fishery in this country is carried on 
during the winter months, after the termination of 
the herring season. This fish, the Clupea sprattus 
of authors, is principally taken in estuaries, and 
elsewhere, in large bag-nets of a peculiar construc- 
tion, fi'om what are called stow boats, on the 
Kent, Essex, and Suffolk coasts. The quantity 
taken is sometimes enormous;, and the greater part 
is used to manure the land, forty bushels being 
required to the acre. Sprats, moreover, are not 
unfrequently, despite of their small size, eaten in 
great numbers, being sometimes excessively cheap, 
and in Edinburgh, for instance, this fish, there 
kno"v\Ti by the name of garvie-herring, is occasionally 
haAvked about in carts at a very low rate. 

A large species of herring, the shad, Clupea alosa, 
is found to enter certain of our rivers at stated 
periods, for the purpose of spa^ATiing, at which time 


great numbers are caught, principally, it is said, in 
the Severn. It is then much tiner than ^vhen taken 
in the sea, and the flesh more delicate. It is taken 
in almost all our northern seas, even the Caspian ; 
but is more abundant in North America, and there 
of more importance to man than elsewhere. 

The white-bait fishery, as carried on in the Thames, 
is one of peculiar interest, not to say productive of 
considerabls benefit to those concerned, on account 
of the esteem in which it is held by the Londoners, 
who resort in vast numbers to Blackwall, Green- 
•wich, and other places where it is most abundant, 
to enjoy a fish dinner in certain taverns of white- 
bait notoriety. According to Mr. Yarrell, white- 
bait, Clupea alha^ are taken in long bag-nets from 
vessels moored in the tide-way, and the fish are taken 
out by untjdng the end of the hose, and shaking it 
into the boat. 

As this fish has lately been discovered, among 
other places, about Queensferry, and in the Solway 
Frith, where it has not been disturbed, its fishery 
in these places might be turned to some account, as 
remarked by Dr. Pamell, who was among the first 
to discover it in the localities just mentioned. 

"We shall now pass on to consider another series 
of fish, the Pleuronectidw of naturalists, or flat-fish, 
the taking of which is called the flat-fishery. 

The plaice, Platessa vulgaris, is held in high esti- 
mation for the table. " It inhabits sandy banks and 
muddy places in the sea." It is often taken with 
lines, but, in the south of England, where it some* 


times occurs in such extraordinary abundance that 
Mr. Yarrell has kno^^^l great quantities of plaice, 
averaging three pounds weight each, to be sold at 
one penny per dozen, it is caught in trawl-nets, 
whenever such can be used. On the Norwegian 
coasts, where the sea is remarkably transparent, this 
fish is often taken of very large size by a short 
spear with a line attached, which is dropped down 
upon them, and not only the plaice, but many other 
kinds of flat-fish are thus secured. 

The mud-flounder, P.Jlesus^ is another very com- 
mon fish, although much inferior in quality to the 
preceding. Sandy or muddy bays, or inlets, but 
especially brackish water at the mouth of rivers, 
which it sometimes ascends a considerable way dur- 
ing floods, produce this fish in the greatest abun- 
dance, and its capture is attended with little or no 
difficulty, as hardly any kind of bait will come amiss 
\o it. In the Thames, vast numbers are caught in 
nets of a peculiar kind, so constructed as to enclose 
and secure all the fish within a limited space. 

We now pass on to one which sometimes attains 
an enormous size, it is even said that three or four 
hundred pounds is no very unusual weight for the 
fish in question. It is the halibut, Hippoglossus vul- 
garis^ but unfortunately this large fish is not much 
esteemed, " its flesh," according to good authority, 
" though white and firm, is dry, the muscular fibre 
coarse, with but little flavour," and, stiange to say, 
*' the head and fins are said to be the best parts." This 
fish is more common farther to the north than in 



Britain, and is very plentiful, for instance, on the 
great banks of Newfoundland, where Mr. Audubon 
informs us, only the side-fin and the part adherent to 
that organ, are used. It is said, on good authority, 
that 160,000 halibut are annually imported into New 
York alone, yielding about 16,000 dollars, at only 
2 cents per pound. The halibut is generally taken 
with the line, but we have known it harpooned off 
the Norfolk coast, although for mere amusement, for 
this practice is by no means general. 

The turbot. Rhombus maximus, is the most prized 
of all the fishes belonging to this family. This fine 
fish is not so abundant in Scotland as it is still far- 
ther south, and the best are generally supposed to 
be taken on the Flemish banks. Pennant describes 
the extensive turbot fishery which was in his time, 
and probably still is, carried on off the Yorkshire 
coast near Scarborough. The lines used are about 
thi-ee miles in length, with nearly three thousand 
hooks. They ai'e laid across the tide, and allowed 
to remain for six hours before being hauled. But 
the turbot is found in greatest plenty on the various 
sand-banks between the eastern shores of England 
and the coast of Holland. It is here that the Dutch 
fishermen carry on their great turbot fishery ; and 
this has been so well described by Mr. Barrow, that 
we shall abridge his account of it. 

This fishery begins about the end of March, a 
few leagues to the south of Scheveling, but, as the 
warm weather comes on, the fish gradually advance 
to the northward, followed by the fishermen, who 


continue to take them until the middle of August, 
>vhen they are found on some banks off the mouth 
of the Elbe. At the beginning of the season the 
drag-net is used, which brings up not only turbot 
but many other flat-fish in great abundance, but, as 
the season advances, and the fish retire to deeper 
water, where the net cannot be used with advan- 
tage, recourse is had to the hook and line. The 
lines used for this purpose are sometimes three miles 
in length, and the number of hooks on each varies 
from six to eight hundred, each baited with a small 
fish, which requires to be very fresh, and such as 
are of a bright colour are generally found to answer 
best. To prevent lines of such immense length from 
being shifted, or even carried away by the tide, 
large masses of lead, or sometimes small anchors, 
are attached to them. The Dutch are said to have 
drawn not less than £80,000 a-year from the turbot 
sent by them to the London market, where it seems 
to be preferred. 

The Dutch are said to furnish about one-fourth of 
the whole supply of this fish sent to London, besides 
what is purchased from them at sea by our own 
fishermen, and thus brought to market free of duty, 
which otherwise is £6 per boat. In the Channel 
the French carry on a rather extensive turbot fishery, 
the greater part of the produce of which also enters 
cur markets. According to Mr. Yarrell, the number 
of turbot brought to Billingsgate in the course of 
Iwelve months, was 87,958. 

The only other flat-fish used as food which we shall 


mention, is the sole, Solea vulgaris^ ■which is in 
season almost the whole year round, and whose flesh 
is considered of excellent quality, being " firm and 
white." Soles are taken principally by the trawl- 
net, and in such plenty, that 80,000 baskets of this 
fish were sold in Billingsgate market alone in one 

Two kinds of fresh water eels are to be seen in 
the shops, but their consumption is limited. They 
are caught in the Thames and other rivers, where 
they abound, in traps of wickerwork, which stop 
many of the fish in the autumnal months, in tbeir 
periodical migration to the salt water. Many are 
killed by means of a long three-pronged spear, which 
is thrust down into the mud from a boat, and only 
those of pretty large size are thus taken, as the 
smaller ones escape between the prongs. We have 
seen another method of catching eels practised on 
some of the English rivers, by a man in a small boat, 
with a stick and line in each hand, at the end ol 
the line there is a large bunch of worms, strung upon 
thread or worsted, and tied in a bunch. It requires 
some dexterity to lift the eels into the boat before 
they slip off, as no hook is used to detain them. 
This is a very successful way of fishing. The prin- 
cipal supply of eels to the London market is derived 
from Holland, whence they are brought over in well- 

The conger eel, Conger vulgaris^ frequents out 
rocky coasts in various places, and is so abundant 
in Cornwall, that, according to Mr. Couch, it is not 


uncommon for a boat, with five men, to bring on 
sbore from five hundred-weight to two tons of this 
fish, all taken in the course of a single night. It is 
taken by lines, and the bait most successful is a 
small fish. The flesh is not held in much esteem, 
except by the lower classes, who make a virtue of 
necessity, but this is probably in a great measure 
owing to the unprepossessing appearance of the fish 
itself. It is sometimes dried, and large quantities 
are said to have been exported to Spain and other 
catholic countries. When dried in a particular man- 
ner, the flesh used formerly to be ground or grated 
to powder, and in this state was employed to thicken 

The sand-eel, Ainmodytes tohianus, and the sand- 
launce, A. lancea, which are both very abundant on 
our sandy shores, are objects of great importance to 
the fishermen, as furnishing a bait much in request 
for taking many of the larger fishes. From their 
habit of burrowing in the sand, they can easily be 
procured at low-water by means of a rake of a pe- 
culiar construction. We have seen the strong sickles 
with teeth, that are used for cutting sea-weed, 
employed with great success in scratching up sand- 
eels, which are also caught, acccrding to Montagu, 
in nets with remarkably small meshes, when a shoal 
is discovered at sea, and seven bushels have been 
taken at a single haul. Though of such small size, 
yet they are very delicate ea,ting, and vast numbers 
are consumed in summer by the natives of the 


From the livers of several kinds of dog-fish of the 
genus Spinax^ a good oil is extracted, although this 
is not done on the large scale, and in some parts of 
the country, as the Hebrides and Orkney islands, 
the fish themselves are eaten when nothing better is 
in the way. The larger species of shark, which are 
occasionally taken on our coast, are generally valu- 
able captures, from the quantity of oil procured from 
the liver by boiling, and in this way, from a basking 
shark, twenty-six feet in length, mentioned by Pen - 
nant as having occurred off Anglesey, 156 gallons of 
oil were obtained. This leads us to mention various 
species of ray, better known in this country by the 
names of skate, thornback, &c., the large wings or 
fins of which are much esteemed. 

We had occasion to mention, about the beginning 
of this chapter, that the scales of several species are 
used in the manufacture of artificial pearls, and for 
this purpose, in Britain at least, the white-bait, for- 
merly mentioned, and the bleak, Cyprinus alhurnus, 
are best adapted. Properly speaking, it is not the 
scales of these fish, but the silvery pigment which 
gives them their lustre, that is used in this manu- 
facture, which, however, is by no means carried to 
the same extent now that it was a few years ago^ 
when, as Dr. Lister states, a manufacturer in Paris 
used, in a single winter, thirty hampers of hleak. 
The mode of procedure is as follows : The scales are 
well washed, and then allowed to soak in water, 
when, after a time, the colouring matter is found at 
the bottom of the vessel. This pigment is then dis- 


solved in caustic ammonia or hartshorn, and inject- 
ed into hollow glass balls, with a minute aperture, 
and of the requisite size and form, and after the 
hartshorn has evaporated, the glass is left coated in 
the inside with the pigment, which gives it a pearly 
lustre. Sometimes wax is poured in to render them 
heavier, and complete the operation. 

In this country, of late years, the scales of the 
perch, Perca vulgaris^ of the roach, Cyprinus rutilus^ 
and a few others, have come into use with the fair 
sex, being used by them in different kinds of fancy 

Having now enumerated the principal species of 
fish which furnish food to man, or serve as objects 
of commercial interest in this country, we may per- 
haps be expected to make some general observations 
on so important a subject. But this task has already 
been accomplished by abler hands than ours, and for 
information on this head it will only be necessary to 
refer to Mr. Barrow's article on the " Fisheries," in 
the ninth volume of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. 
In the mean while, we may state the conclusions he 
arrives at, after viewing his subject in all its bear- 

Mr. Barrow considers the real cause of the back- 
ward state of the British fisheries as simply arising 
from the want of a steady demand for their produce, 
and not, as has generally been alleged, from a defi- 
ciency in the supply. He states, that the use of 
fish is scarcely known in the interior, so that in the 
inland and midland counties, " the labouring classes 


scarcely know the taste of fish," although all are 
agreed in regarding that article of food as of the 
highest importance, not only from its quality, but 
also from the low rate at which it might he supplied. 
The metropolis, moreover, absorbs a great part of 
what might otherwise be sold elsewhere, as may be 
seen from the following table, which shows the 
quantity sent to the London market in six days, 
from the 19th to the 24th of June inclusive. 

Salmon 253| boxes. 

Turbot 3,153 individuals. 

Mackarel 131,700 do. 

Whitings 31,175 do. 

Soles 164 bushels. 

Maids and Plaice 1,045 do. 

Besides fresh codfish, skate, haddock, and other fish 
in smaller quantities. 

There are many species of fish, of common 
occurrence in this country, which, although not of 
sufiicient importance to be regarded as objects of 
commercial interest, yet deserve some mention here 
as furnishing amusement to anglers, many of them 
requiring considerable skill in order to effect their 

At the head of these has always stood the salmon, 
whose economical history, hoAvever, we have already 
considered at length, and shall merely observe, that 
to such a degree of perfection has the capture of this 


fish been brought, that it is now no very uncommon 
feat for some heroes of the rod and line to pull out 
a salmon of thirty pounds weight by means of a 
hook attached to their fishing tackle by single gut. 
Fishing for salmon with the rod, is permitted in the 
Tweed for a month after net fishing is given up for 
the season in that river. All the species of trout 
are also fished for in this country, and so abundant 
are they, in the north especially, that almost every 
stream and lake which they inhabit, has a variety 
peculiar to itself, and differing from others, as much 
in the excellence of its flesh as in colour and shape. 
The most remarkable of these, and one of the largest, 
is the great loch trout, Salmo ferox^ found in some 
of the larger lakes of Britain, and angling for this 
fish has been described as the ne plus ultra of pisca- 
torial sport, but with what justice, we leave others 
to determine. Perhaps the most delicate of all our 
trouts is the Lochleven species, S. ccecifer parnel^ 
of which a large quantity finds its way into the 
Edinburgh market, and we understand it has already 
come into considerable repute in London, where, 
however, the supply is very limited indeed. 

The large size which the pike sometimes attains, 
conjoined with his well-known voracity, renders this 
fish a great favourite with sportsmen and anglers. 
Pike may be easily shot when in shallow water, in 
the heat of summer, as then, if not disturbed, they 
will remain for hours together in the same position, 
and so near the surface as to afford an easy mark 
even to indifferent shots — like ourselves ! They are 


generally, however, caught with lines, and one kind 
of apparatus called a trimmer, and in some places a 
ligger is very successful in taking, not only this fish, 
but large perch also. By using this, which is a 
common line, with a large pike -hook attached, rolled 
round a piece of wood or bunch of rushes allowed 
to float about, Mr. Yarrell relates that a friend of his 
CMTi took, in the course of four days fishing in Nor- 
folk, 2i">6 pike, weighing altogether 1135 pounds. 
Pike of enormous size have been taken in some of 
our Scotch lakes by the rod and line ; one caught 
by trolling, by Colonel Thornton of sporting cele- 
brity, in Loch Awe, after a struggle of an hour and 
a quarter, weighed fifty pounds, but a pike of still 
greater dimensions was taken in a loch in Galloway, 
of the enormous weight of seventy-two pounds, and 
this, in all probability, may be considered as the 
largest fish ever killed with the rod. It rose, we 
believe, at an artificial fly. The pike, especially 
when of moderate size, is considered by some as 
superior even to salmon. This is, however, a mere 
matter of opinion. Though we are very sceptical 
on this subject, to do the pike justice, we seldom 
tasted a more delicious fish. Considerable quanti- 
ties are sold in London and in other large cities in 
the south of England, and they bring a high price. 
Almost all the British Cyprin'idce are (more or 
less) objects of interest to the angler, but, as food, 
they may be regarded as rather insipid than other- 
wise. There are some exceptions, however ; among 
others, the tench, C thica^ and the carp, C carjno, 


which are reared in many places in fish-ponds for 
the purpose of supplying the London market. The 
former has been introduced of late years into Scot- 
land for economical purposes, but we believe the 
experiment has not succeeded so well as was anti- 
cipated; the latter, on the contrary, is so easily 
managed in a state of captivity, that it has been kept 
for months and years together out of the water, en- 
veloped in moss or other similar substance, moistened 
now and then, and placed in a damp cellar. It is 
fed by the hand, and not only keeps in good health, 
but is said to " thrive uncommonly well." The 
roach and dace, as well as the bream and others, 
are all familiar to anglers, affording, strange to say, 
more amusement in their capture than satisfaction 
in eating them afterwards ; for, as we said before, 
their flesh is insipid, and, moreover, often savours 
strongly of mud, when taken in a place where that 
article abounds *. 

* Among the modes of destroying fish not usually men- 
tioned in books, are two, which may be worthy of notice, 
though certainly not of imitation. By dissolving in water a 
substance called cocculus indicus^ the l)erry of a plant used in 
medicine, the fish in the vicinity become stupified, in a yery 
short time rising to the surface, and in this state may easily 
be taken with a landing net. This practice, which is illegal, 
we have, however, seen on two occasions, and on one of these, 
a large shoal of roach and dace was completely intoxicated by 
this drug, and all the larger ones picked out at leisure by two 
persons in a boat. Lime water is used in some places to destroy 
fish, especially in deep pools on rapid streams, and it is re- 
lated, that in the county of Kerry, a kind of spurge is used 
by the peasantry for the same purpose as cocculus indicus^ 
which latter is much used in some countries of the east, where 
the plant grows. 


Having now considered such of the fishes which 
in this country are used hy man for economical pur- 
poses, as appear most worthy of notice, and treated 
of them as far as is consistent with the plan of this 
work, little now remains to he done before briefly 
mentioning, and, in many cases, merely indicating 
such species as are valued by the inhabitants of 
other parts of the globe. Such a sketch, however, 
must, from its very nature be exceedingly imperfect, 
as in order to do any thing like justice to that sub- 
ject, whole volumes would be required, and could be 
written without at all exhausting the various sources 
of information on this head. 

The two hard bones found just within the sides of 
the head in fish, and called, from analogy, ear bones 
or ear stones, though, correctly speaking, not so, 
were formerly, as procured from the Scicena aquila^ 
the umbrina of the Romans, in high repute as 
charms. Even in the days of Belon, according to 
that author, they were considered as infallible in 
preventing and even curing several maladies, espe- 
cially colic, hence they were best kno^vn by the 
name of colic stones. In order to secure the benefits 
of this panacea, it was believed, that unless they were 
received as a gift, they had no efi*ect. If purchased, 
they immediately lost all medicinal properties, — this 
we can easily understand. The fish producing them 
is excellent eating ; it is abundant in the Mediter- 
ranean, and sometimes wanders to our own shores. 

Many fishes, formerly highly esteemed by the 


ancient Romans, and celebrated by their poets, are 
now-a-days little tbouglit of, though still as abun- 
dant as ever. Among these are the surmullet, or 
red mullet, Mullus barlatus, taken also on our 
southern coasts, and the murcena^ a fish nearly allied 
to the conger, formerly treated of, but which is, even 
to this day, an article of considerable importance in 
various parts of the Mediterranean. 

Shagreen, of inferior quality, hoAvever, is obtained 
from the skin of several species of rays and dog-fish, 
but the best is obtained by subjecting the hides of 
the horse and ass to a peculiar process, best under- 
stood in Turkey, from which country it is exported 
to most parts of the civilized globe, and used for 
covering cases of difi'erent kinds, especially those for 
mathematical instruments. From the skin of the 
Raja sephen^ a native of the Red Sea, is procured a 
beautiful kind of shagreen, the galluchat of the 
French, which is often tinged with blue, green, or 
red, and afterwards polished, when it is used for 
covering telescope cases and other similar articles. 
In China, another species of ray furnishes a mate- 
rial which is employed for making scabbards. The 
skin of many fishes, which have that texture suffi- 
ciently rough for the purpose, is used in Britain 
and abroad for polishing wood, and Pliny mentions, 
that the Romans were in the habit of using a sub- 
stance of this sort for the purpose of polishing both 
wood and ivory. The angel-shark, perhaps, affords 
the best, and this appears to have been the kind 
used by the ancients. 


The tunny fisheries in the Mediterranean are still 
objects of great importance, though their value has 
much diminished since the days of the ancients. 
They are now principally carried on by the Sicilian 
fishermen, who export a considerable quantity of 
the fish in question in the dried state, chiefly from 
Palermo. The tunny, although sometimes of enor- 
mous size, is taken in nets of a peculiar construction, 
of great strength, and of such size, that, according to 
Scillius, twenty vessels might be filled by a single 
cast. The numbers of this and other fish which 
pass through the Bosphorus, in performing their 
periodical migrations, is said to be absolutely in- 
credible, immense numbers, principally young tun- 
nies, being then taken with very little trouble. 

The sword-fish, Xiphias gladius, mentioned in 
a former part of this volume, is another fish highly 
esteemed by the Sicilians, who take it in rather a 
singular manner. A man, stationed either at the 
mast-head, or perched on a neighbouring rock, gives 
notice to his comrades when a fish is seen. They 
immediately make for the spot, and strike the sword- 
fish with a harpoon, to which is attached a long line, 
by which their prey, after being exhausted by a 
struggle, sometimes of several hours duration, is at 
length drawn on board. The ancient manner of 
taking this fish, as described by Strabo, appears to 
be quite the same as that which we have just de- 
scribed. The fish, when taken, is generally cut in 
pieces, and salted for future use, as comparatively 


little is eaten fresh, being little relislied in that 

Another fishery of considerable importance, car- 
ried on in the Mediterranean, is that for the anchovy 
Engraulis encrasicolus. It belongs to the valuable 
family of the herrings, and is used extensively as 
food by the inhabitants of many of the countries of 
southern Europe. In Britain it is well known as 
contributing to form one of our most admired fish- 
sauces, which bears its name. As a proof of the 
extent to which it is used, we may mention that the 
duty alone on the quantity imported into Britain, 
was, two or three years ago, £1500 per annum. A 
large proportion, however, of the so-called anchovy 
sauce used in this country, is prepared from the 
white-bait, the fishing of which in the Thames we 
briefly described a few pages farther back. 

In the Mediterranean, the anchovy is caught 
during the summer months, and is said to be chiefly 
taken at night, the fish being attracted by the glare 
of a large fire from a raft or fishing-boat. Such of 
the fish as are not eaten when fresh, are pickled 
much in the same manner as herrings, and packed 
in barrels, being then ready for the market. Red- 
coloured salt is sometimes employed to pickle them, 
and anchovies thus preserved, are considered as of 
finer flavour than those cured in the usual way with 
common salt. 

The African fishes of economical use to man, are 
exceedingly numerous ; but a mere catalogue of 


empty names is almost all that could be given were 
one SO inclined, and that could hardly aflPord a cor- 
rect idea of anything but the number of species so 
employed. The many noble streams which traverse 
the coimtry are in general stocked with fish, and 
none more so than the far-famed Nile. Probably the 
two best flavoured fish found in that river are the 
Lates Niloticus, one of the perch family, described 
and figured in a former volume of this work, and 
the Polypterus lichin — the latter of which is rare 
At the Cape, the neighbouring rivers are said to be 
singularly devoid of fish, but the seas around amply 
make up for this deficiency. " I was present," says 
M. Adamson, " at a very extraordinary capture of 
fish, made in March, i.750, on the coast of Ben, 
within a league of the island of Goree, by the com- 
pany belonging to one of the East India ships, which 
had anchored in the road. They had only a net of 
about sixty fathoms, which they threw at a venture 
into the sea ; for they were not so lucky as to espy 
any of those shoals of fishes : yet they had such 
enterprising success, that the shore was covered, the 
whole length of the net with the fish they caught, 
though the net was in a bad condition. I reckoned 
part of them, and judged that they might in all be 
upwards of 6000, the least of them as large as a fine 
carp. There you might see pilchards, rock-fish, 
mullets, or gull-fish, of different sorts; molebats, 
vAth. other fishes very little known. The negroes of 
the neighbouring village took each their load, and 
the ship's crew tilled their boat till it was ready to 


sink, leaving the rest on the sea-shore. In any other 
country such a capture of fish would, without ail 
doubt, pass for a miracle." 

Along the East Indian coasts lAany species are 
much used as food by the natives and Europeans. 
Among these are the mango-fish, Polynemus para- 
discus^ well known in Calcutta, where it is eaten 
fresh, and also when salted and dried ; the Scomber 
leopardus^ or leopard-mackarel ; a fish analogous to 
the sole of Europe, the zebra-sole, Pleuronectes zebra; 
and a small fish called by the natives bumbalo, but 
the scientific name of which we are unable to ascer- 
tain, which, in a dried state, furnishes an important 
article of commerce, and is said to form a principal 
article of food among the lascars or Indian sailors. 
The Ganges and other large rivers of India are well 
stocked with abundance of edible fish. 

But perhaps the most important fish which we 
might mention as occurring in Asia is the sturgeon, 
several species of which, but chiefly, it is believed, 
the Accipenser huso, yield the isinglass of commerce. 
Sturgeons ascend the rivers in the northern seas at 
certain seasons, in vast numbers, for the purpose of 
spa>vning, and their fishery is then of great impor- 
tance. The principal sturgeon fishery is carried on 
in the rivers which are connected with the Caspian 
sea, and the fish are generally taken in weirs or 
chambers, analogous to those for catching sahnon, 
used in many parts of Scotland. The process for 
making isinglass was long kept a secret by the 



Russians, who still enjoy a monopoly in tlie trade, 
although a fish glue, sufiicient for ordinary purposes, 
may be procured from many fishes of common oc- 
currence on our own coasts, especially the cod. For 
the purpose of making isinglass, the sounds are cut 
open when fresh, well washed^- and divested of their 
thin outer membrane, and then exposed for a short 
time to the air, being afterwards formed into rolls 
about the thickness of a finger. 

It is said by an English traveller, who saw the 
Russian sturgeon fisheries on the Caspian, that all 
the fish taken are thrown away, and allowed to rot 
on the ground, after the only parts considered of 
use, the sounds and the roe, have been preserved. 
Their flesh, however, is in this country considered 
excellent, and wdienever sturgeons occur on our 
coast, which not unfrequently happens, they always 
command a ready sale. One species, indeed, when 
properly cooked, is said to resemble delicate veal in 
no ordinary degree. 

Isinglass is extensively employed by brewers and 
others, for the purpose of clarifying malt-liquors and 
wines. It is also formed into a mild nutritious jelly 
by being boiled in milk, and is sometimes used 
medicinally. This jelly is the blanc-mange of our 
tables A solution of isinglass, with the addition of 
some balsam, and spread on black silk, constitutes 
the court-plaster of the shops. Besides this, the 
substance in question may be used instead of glue 
or gum-arabic, and is preferable to either in many 


Another substance called caviare is procured from 
the sturgeon. It is the salted roe of that fish, formed 
into a soft mass, or into cakes, and is much esteemed 
as food by the Russians, who, besides, export it in 
considerable quantities to this and other countries. 
For our part, we only wonder that any but a Rus- 
sian stomach can bear it *. 

Fresh water fishes are probably found no where 
more plentiful than in the great rivers and lakes of 
the Celestial Empire, and it is said, that no nation 
on the earth puts in practice a greater variety of 
modes for catching fish than the Chinese. Some 
of these are very ingenious, and quite in accordance 
with the general character of the whole nation^: 
One plan of fishing is pursued with great success, 
and Avith little trouble, on moonlight nights, in long 
and narrow boats, attached to which, on each side, 
is fastened a plank, covered with shining japan, and 
nearly touching the water. The fish are attracted 
to the spot by the light of the moon's rays as reflect- 
ed from the burnished surface, and great numbers 
are taken which have either actually leapt into the 
boat, or got upon the board. 

A species of qormorant, a kind of sea-bird, well 
known as an expert diver, and which feeds on fish, 
is domesticated by the Chinese fishermen, and used 

* "We had almost forgot to mention, that there is yet 
another economical substance ptocurcd from the sturgeon, 
for " the ligamento-cartilaginous cord which pervadps the 
spine, constitutes a Russian delicacy, named ve&u/a.'''' 


by them in their avocation. Small boats and rafts 
of a peculiar kind are used in this kind of fishing, 
and each man, so employed, is the ov^Tier of about a 
dozen of the birds in question. On a given signal, 
the birds, which have often a ring fastened loosely 
round the neck to prevent their swallowing their 
prey, plunge into the water and seize any fish they 
are able to master, bringing it to the top, where 
the fisherman is in waiting to receive the produce of 
their industry. If the fish be very large, and too 
much for a single bird to manage, one of his fellows 
is sure to come to his assistance. 

The Chinese sometimes secure large fish by shoot- 
ing them with arrows, having a string attached. 
But, perhaps, the most curious trait of the Chinese 
fishermen, is their singular practice of hatching the 
eggs of fish under fowls ! Ihis, however incredible 
it may seem, is nevertheless well authenticated. 

As it would be unnecessary to indicate the dif- 
ferent species used in China as food, on account of 
their number, we shall merely refer our readers who 
wish for information on this subject, to a volume 
on China in the Edinburgh Cabinet Library, and 
conclude by stating, that a great proportion of the 
population of that densely peopled country, live prin- 
cipally upon fish. 

The natives of the innumerable islands with which 
the Indian and Pacific oceans are studded, have 
been noted, ever since their discovery by Europeans, 
for the skill and dexterity displayed by them in 
fishing, and many of their instruments, however 


nidely formed, are, to say the least, often as efficient 
as those of more civilized countries. The wooden 
and mother-of-pearl hooks, used by the natives of 
the Sandwich and other isles, are still preferred to 
those of iron in many instances. 

A voyager describes the fishing-tackle of two In- 
dians engaged in fishing for the halibut, somewhat 
as foUows : " Their hook is a large simple piece of 
wood, the shank at least half-an-inch in diameter, 
that part which turns up, and which forms an acute 
angle, is considerably smaller, and brought gradually 
to a point. A flat piece of wood, about six inches 
in length, is neatly lashed to the shank, on the back 
of which is neatly carved the representation of a 
human face." Their lines were no less coarse when 
compared with those of Europeans, being construct- 
ed of sinews or intestines of animals. He adds, 
that his boat's crew, of seven men, was completely 
beaten in fishing by these poor savages, and found 
it more profitable to buy from them than fish for 

The fisheries carried on in North America are 
both numerous and extensive, as may be conjec- 
tured from their produce, which of three, the cod, 
mackarel, and herring, in the United States annually 
amount to the sum of more than a milHon of dol- 
lars, nearly one-half of which is derived from the 
cod- fishery. As we have already despatched these 
above-mentioned fisheries, at least as conducted in 
Britain, a notice of the fresh- water fish used as food 


by the inhabitants of the dreary regions to the north 
of the states may not be out of place. 

Among the numerous members of the perch family, 
inhabiting the northern regions, and many of whi<;h 
will be found described and figured in a former 
volume of this work, devoted to the Percidce, the 
huron or black-bass, Perca nigricans^ is the most 
notable. It is considered the best fish that is found 
in the great Canadian lakes, and is easily captured 
with almost any bait, even a white rag trailed after 
the boat, in this latter respect resembling the 

The pike, Esox lucius^ exactly similar to that 
found in Britain, according to Dr. Richardson, 
readily takes a bait in winter imder the ice, and is 
then an important resource to the Indian hunter 
when the chace fails him. Salmon ascend the St. 
Lawreace as far as Lake Ontario, and before the 
war, there was an extensive salmon-fishery at the 
head of the lake. The Salmo Scouleri is a large 
species of trout, or rather a true salmon, found on 
the north-west coast of America in such abundance, 
that sixty were killed with boarding-pikes, by a few 
men in a small brook, in a very short time. " Du- 
ring the summer," says Dr. Richardson, " the north- 
west Indians reside near the coast, or the banks of 
rivers where the salmon is abundant, and occupy 
themselves in curing the fish for winter use. They 
cut two long and broad slices from each side of the 
fish, and eat them like bread." In New Caledonia, 
the natives are said to eat the roe of this fish, mixed 


with rancid oil, wliicli, in their estimation, gives the 
savoury morsel additional flavour. The smell alone, 
is said, by a traveller, to be so nauseous, as to prevent 
any but a native from partaking of it, unless severely 
pressed wilh hunger. 

Of another kind of salmon, named afterwards 
S. Rossii, 3378 fish, whose aggregate weight was 
six tons, were taken at one haul of a small seine on 
the coast of Boothia Felix. Hearne describes the 
number of Coppermine salmon in the river of that 
name as almost incredible. Another exquisite fish, 
known among the natives by the strange name of 
attihawmeg, the Corregonus alhus of more civilized 
systematists, is much esteemed by those residing in 
the fur countries. It is taken in great abundance 
during the winter in gill-nets, which are stretched 
under the ice, between two holes, which are kept 
constantly open for the purpose of inspection. This 
fish, when frozen, will keep in that state without 
any other precaution for a whole winter, though the 
fresh ones are always preferable. 

Sturgeons of immense size are at times found in 
myriads in some of the North American rivers, which 
they enter for the purpose of spawning. 

The fish found in the seas of the northern regions 
of America, are neither so numerous or important to 
man as the firesh-water species just-mentioned, with 
the exception of the cod and one or two others. 
The capelin, Mallotiis Grcenlandicus^ in Labrador, is 
principally used as bait for cod, although farther 
north, when diied, it " forms so important an article- 


of food in Greenland, that it has been termed the 
daily bread of the natives." The voyager Hakluyt, 
so far back as 1578, writes " of these (capelins) 
being as good as a smelt, you may take up vcith a 
shoye-net as plentiftdly as you do wheate in a shovell, 
sufficient in three or four hours for a whole citie." 
It is imported in the dried state into this country, 
though the quantity is inconsiderable. Another fish, 
the Greenland bull-head, Cottus Grcenlandicus^ is of 
no less consequence to the natives, who, besides, are 
exceedingly fond of it, eating even the roe, and that 
in a raw state. Dr. Richardson relates of the methy, 
Lotha maculosa, that " when well bruised and mixed 
with a little flour, the roe can be baked into very 
good biscuits, which are used in the fur-countries as 
tea-bread." Two species of mackarel, the Scomber 
grex, and vernalis, are at times very abundant, and 
their vast shoals carry plenty to the shores they chance 
to visit. The halibut, as mentioned before, is often 
taken on the American coast, but the fins alone are 
eaten ; at least, in general, such is the case. There 
are extensive shad fisheries in the United States, 
especially in the neighbourhood of New York, where 
the greater part of those caught are taken in per- 
manent erections for the purpose, which stop them 
in their passage up into fresh water. The sheep's 
head, or, in more scientific language, the Sargus 
avis, is a favourite fish in America, where it visits 
the coasts in large shoals during the summer and 
autumn. Its principal fishery is off the coasts of 
New York, and thousands are sometimes taken at 


a single cast of the large nets used at some places. 
The fish, immediately upon their capture, are packed 
in ice, and sent to the New York market, where 
they have been known to sell as high as at £^ 
sterling for one of large size, although the usual 
price of the sheep's head is about a dollar. This fish 
is pretty generally considered throughout the states, 
both by epicures and others, as an. almost sans 
pareil, and Dr. Mitchell, who has written much on 
American ichthyology, is of the same opinion. 

The swimming-bladder of the weak-fish, Otholi- 
ihus regalis^ is convertible into good glue, and, 
according to Mitchell, as good blanc-mange is made 
from it as from the isinglass of the sturgeon. But 
it would be useless to enumerate more of the Ameri- 
can fish useful as food or commercial articles, as we 
have already devoted to their consideration more 
space than was intended ; suffice it to say, as afibrd- 
ing an idea of the number of edible species in the 
United States, that one hundred and seventy are 
described as being brought to the market of New 
York alone. 

Several kinds of fish are said to be poisonous, but 
their poisonous properties have not been properly 
investigated, and, until this is done, and the causes 
on which they depend well ascertained, our know- 
ledge of this subject must be considered as very 
vague indeed. The symptoms of fish poisoning are 
stated to resemble cholera in a striking degree, 
although it is not so fatal in its consequences. The 


poisonous qualities of certain fishes appear to be 
induced periodically, and are probably connected 
with their kind of food at the time, although the 
causes on which these anomalous properties depend 
are at present wholly unknown, notwithstanding the 
many hypotheses which have at different times been 
proposed for their explanation The most probable 
of these, and the one best sustained by facts, ascribed 
the developement of the poison in question to an 
impregnation with copper, but this is now considered 
as untenable. Not le:S so is that thcorj'- which 
traced the poisonous effects to the process of putre- 
faction, for, however fresh the fish may be, fatal 
consequences have resulted from eating of them. In 
the West Indies, the most poisonous fish, and the 
one of which the deleterious properties have been 
investigated with most success, is a kind of herring, 
the yellow-billed sprat, Clupea ihyrsa^ which, though 
at times considered as excellent food, and much 
esteemed by the negroes, yet is at certain periods, 
and when taken in certain situations, so poisonous, 
that a single mouthful, though immediately ejected, 
has been known to cause death *- Several AVest 
Indian fishes become p )isonous in the same way, 
and among others the baracouda, Perca major ^ which, 
however, is supposed to owe its poisonous properties 
to the yellow- billed sprat, upon which it s>me times 
feeds. When fislies of doubtful excellence as food 
are taken within the tropics, it is customary to boil 
them along with a silver coin, and if the silver be 

* Dr. Ferguson, Edin. Med, and Surg. Journal. 


not tarnislied, the fish, it is supposed, may be eaten 
at once with perfect safety. But this diagnosis is 
by no means infallible. 

In this country, it is very seldom indeed that 
poisoning is occasioned by unwholesome fish, al- 
though the mussel, and perhaps other shell-fish, 
when found in certain localities, have frequently 
caused fatal accidents to such as hare eaten of them. 
Thus, not many years ago, in the town of Leith, 
upwards of thirty people were seriously affected by 
eating of some mussels attached to a piece of timber 
in the docks, and of that number, two died. 

The treatment, in cases of fish-poisoning, which 
appears most successful^ is the immediate exhibition 
of emetics and purgatives, to get rid of as much of 
the poison as possible, followed up by stimulants, 
such as ammonia, spirits, or ether, to prevent the 
excessive debility, or even paralysis of the lower 
extremities, which shortly comes on. 

With this we may conclude our account of the 
economical uses of fishes, and, we hope, not without 
having shown that the finny tribes are not less use- 
ful to man as food, than interesting to the naturalist 
from their diversified structure.