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on this account, in a mixed group of bathers, the white complexioned are always the selected victims of a first attack; but to get at human flesh of any description, they will make extraordinary efforts-bound for this purpose out of the sea like tigers from a jungle, right athwart a vessel in full course, to pick off some unwary sailor occupied in the rigging* -or leap into a high fishing-boat, to the consternation of the crew, and grapple with the men at their oars; or, when hard pressed and hungry, even spring ashore and attack man on his own element.
A famished shark will snap up everything, but though he may swallow all, yet there are some morsels even a shark cannot stomach; witness the following lively anecdote from the Edinburgh Observer:
Looking over the bulwarks of the schooner (writes a correspondent of the Scotch newspaper), I saw one of these watchful monsters winding lazily backwards and forwards like a long meteor; sometimes rising till his nose disturbed the surface, and a gushing sound like a deep breath rose through the breakers; at others, resting motionless on the water, as if listening to our voices, and thirsting for our blood. As we were watching the motions of this monster, Bruce (a little lively negro and my cook) suggested the possibility of destroying it. This was briefly to heat a fire-brick in the stove, wrap it up hastily in some old greasy cloths as a sort of disguise, and then to heave it overboard. This was the work of a few minutes, and the effect was triumphant. The monster followed after the hissing prey; we saw it dart at the brick like a flash of lightning and gorge it instanter. The shark rose to the surface almost immediately, and his uneasy motions soon betrayed the success of the manœuvre; his agonies became terrible, the waters appeared as if disturbed by a violent squall, and the spray was driven over the taffrel where we stood, while the gleaming body of the fish repeatedly burst through the dark waves, as if writhing with fierce and terrible convulsions. Sometimes also we thought we heard a shrill, bellowing cry, as if indicative of anguish and rage, rising through the gurgling
waters. His fury, however, was soon exhausted; in a short time the sounds broke away into distance, and the agi tation of the sea subsided; the shark had given himself up to the tides, as unable to struggle against the approach of death, and they were carrying his body unresistingly to the beach.
A poet is born a poet, and a shark is born a shark; in infancy a malignant, a sea-devil from the egg. When but a few weeks old, and a few inches in length, a Lilliputian Squalus exhibits a pugnacity almost without parallel for his age; attacking fish two or three times older and larger than himself, and if caught and placed upon a board for observation, resenting handling to the very utmost of his powers, striking with the tail a finger placed on any part of the body where it can be reached. But though always thus hostile to man, and generally so to each other, love for a season subjugates even these savage dispositions, and makes them objects of a reciprocal regard.
M. Lacepède, who seems to have entered intimately into the private feelings of sharks, speaks thus of their amours:- Radoucis maintenant et cedant à des affections bien différentes d'un sentiment destructeur, ils mêlent sans crainte leurs armes meurtrières, rapprochent leurs gueules enormes et leurs queues terribles, et bien loin de se donner la mort s'exposeront à la recevoir plutôt que de se separer; et ne cessent de defendre avec fureur l'objet de leur vives jouissances.'
Plutarch bears testimony to the tenderness of sharks for their offspring. He says:-In paternal fondness, in suavity and amiability of disposition, the shark is not surpassed by any living creature. The female brings forth young, not perfect, but enclosed each in a pouch,t and watches over these till the brood is excluded with the anxiety as it were of a second birth. After this both parents vie with each other in procuring food, and teaching their offspring to frolic and swim; and should danger threaten the defence
* Among the cruelties said to have been practised on board slave ships, one was to suspend a negro from the bowsprit, in order to watch the efforts of the sharks to reach him; and they have been known to effect this at a height of more than twenty feet above the level of the sea.
+ In the stomach of the blue shark, young ones are often found alive; but the prison is an unsafe one, especially in coming out of it- facilis descensus Averni, &c.
less little ones, they find in the open mouth of their affectionate progenitors a sure asylum;' 'from which,' says Oppian, who relates the same story with variations, they issue forth when the alarm is over and the waters again safe.'
Notwithstanding these short paroxysms of tenderness, taken as a class, it may be safely asserted that nothing in nature is more savage than the whole Dog-fish tribe, the only difficulty being to determine precisely to which of the several species the bad pre-eminence belongs; whether to the White, the Blue or Basking Shark, the Canesca, the Zygana, the Rough-hound or Bounce, &c., for they are all Red Republicans of the deep; strife is their element, blood their delight, cruelty their pastime. Even the soft sex, which amongst most creatures deserves this winning epithet, in the Squalidæ is so far from being a recommendation, that the females are more ferocious than the males. A Messalina sharkesse has been known to dash into a crowd of unhappy bathers, tearing and butchering all one after another, nor, till wearied out and gorged, but still unsated with her victims, leave the spot
Et lassata viris, nondum satiata, recessit.
Well, indeed, do these 'fell, unhappie, and shrewd monsters,' as Pliny calls them, deserve the ill names bestowed by man-Lamia the fury, witch or hobgoblin; Anthropophagus, or man-eater, and Requin; so called, in anticipation of the requiems which may certainly be offered up by friends for the soul of any one whose body comes in the way of a shark.
The white shark is one of the largest of the tribe, and measures sometimes from twenty to twenty-five feet; there is however another, the Squalus Maximus, only met with in northern latitudes, which greatly transcends
him; reaching, when fully developed, thirty and even forty feet in length. One taken off Marseilles with a whole man in armour, integer et cadavere toto, pouched in his stomach, affords some grounds for supposing that the great fish that swallowed the prophet Jonah was a shark; especially as this case of the warrior is not a solitary instance, for Rondolet relates the story of a man and his dog going down the open mouth of a shark into the stomach, the first to look about him and to say he had been there, the other to prowl round and pick up offal.
Jonah was swallowed by this Piscis Anthropophagus is probable, though only conjectural; that he was not swallowed by a whale is certain, for whales have very small gullets and no internal 'accommodation for a single man,' like the shark; their food consists entirely of small_narrow creatures an inch or two long, and not thicker round than the barrel of a common-sized quill.*
The origin of this mistake, perpetuated by sculptors aud painters, proceeds from a misconception of the Hebrew word tannanim, translated whale, but evidently designating large fish generally; just as its Latin equivalent, cete, signifies any heavy fish; size, not species, determining the appellation.†
Great as are the dimensions of many existing Squali, there can be no doubt that some of the antedilu. vian period greatly exceeded in size any species at present known. We are indebted to M. Lacepède for this discovery, and the ingenious procedure by which he arrived at it deserves notice. M. Lacepède was one of the first naturalists who applied the since well understood and more fully developed principle of ex pede Herculem to the objects of natural history. Having received from Dax, in the Pyrenees, a shark's tooth of the very unusual size of four inches
Specimens of the whale's food were exhibited last July at the scientific meeting in Ipswich by one of the coast guard, a very intelligent and accurate observer.
That great fish generally were termed cete, is clear from the name Cetarius given to the trader who dealt in them, and who certainly sold turbot, and not whales. The distinction implied by this appellation provoked great jealousy among retailers of pisciculi, or 'little fish,' and led them to annoy the Cetarii and their customers. Aristophanes represents a sprat-seller, who, in the genuine spirit of a French Socialist, seeing a gentleman buying sturgeon
Bawls from his booth in accents fierce and rude,
VOL. XLV. NO. CCLXIX.
and a half in the enamel, or the part visible above the socket, he was prompted to discover, if possible, the size of its original possessor; for this purpose he measured first the teeth, and next the bodies of all the Squali accessible to him in the museums of Paris, and found in every case, that the relative proportion they bore to each other was as one to two hundred, and applying this general scale to the particular tooth from Dax, M. Lacepède found that he held in hand the relic of a creature that in the days of the flesh must have been fully seventy feet long. The proportions between the body and the head being also definite, it was as readily made clear that a Squalus stretching to this length had jaws with a bow above thirteen feet, and a mouth capable of gaping more than twenty-six feet round. In comparison with such a Squalus, those chronicled by Rondolet requiring two horses to drag them, and even one mentioned by Gillius, weighing four thousand pounds, dwindle into mere minnows and gudgeons.
Cruel as all Squali undoubtedly are, reasons perhaps might be sug gested, if not wholly exculpatory of their conduct, sufficient to obtain them an acquittal before either a French or an Italian court of judicature. The French verdict would be meurtre, avec circonstances attenuentes. An Italian jury would at once pronounce a shark criminal, arabbiato -in a passion-consider this sufficient excuse, and summarily dismiss the ease. Such lenient judgments might be based on the grounds of their having teeth unusually numerous, efficient, and long, and on temperament; but sharks possess also, enormous abdominal viscera; full onethird of the body is occupied with spleen or liver, and the bile and other digestive juices secreted from such an immense apparatus, and poured continually into the stomach, must be enough to stimulate appetite prodigiously, and what hungry animal was ever tender-hearted? We read in the Anabasis, that the Greeks would not treat with the
Persians about a truce till after dinner; and every one knows that to be the time most propitious to cha
rity and good neighbourhood; a hungry man is ever a churl, and centre affamé n'a point d'oreilles. A shark's appetite is never appeased; for, moreover, in addition to his bilious diathesis he is not a careful masticator of victuals, but hastily bolts a repast, producing thereby not only the moroseness of indigestion, but a whole host of tenias, which goad and irritate the intestine to that degree, that the poor Squalus is sometimes quite beside himself from the torment, and rushes like a blind Polyphemus through the waves in search of anything to cram down his maw and allay such urgent distress; he does not seek to be cruel, but he is cruelly famished, and must satisfy, not only his own ravenous appetite, but the constant demands of these internal parasites either with dead or living animals; so, sped as from a catapult, he pounces on a quarry, and gorges, like a boa constrictor, a meal sometimes so great as to press upon and protrude a large portion of the intestine, which, after one of these crapulous repasts, may not unfrequently be seen trailing several feet from the body.
It is an interesting fact in the history of sharks-and one by no means without precedent in our own
that violent passions, parasites, and indigestions, do not seem to ruffle the equable current of the blood, and that the pulse continues regular, and averages only sixty beats in a minute. As with us a good digestion (the common accom paniment of a quiet pulse) may be and often is connected with a bad disposition, who knows but that Heliogabalus and Nero, those admirable human types and representatives of the genus shark in so many other particulars, may have resembled them in this also, and in the midst of their orgies and atrocities have enjoyed a calm circulation.
Sharks are sometimes eaten, but more out of bravado and revenge than because they afford a desirable food. Athenæus indeed records that the Greeks were Squalophagi, but they would eat anything. Archistratus, the bon-vivant of his book, will not allow men to object to a shark diet, merely because the shark
* The liver of a medium sized shark will yield two tons and a-half of oil.
sometimes diets upon men. Galen, on the other hand, denounces shark's flesh, but only from its supposed tendency to produce melancholy. We do not know whether the Latins ever ate them. Among modern nations, Italians and Sicilians cook only the belly of the old fish; and foetal sharks, not much bigger than gudgeons, whenever they can procure a dish. In the still less dainty Hebrides, the Squalus vulgaris is consumed entire; in England they are not relished; but in Norway and Iceland the inhabitants make indiscriminate use of every species that they capture, hanging up the carcases for a whole year that the flesh may mellow. Though no part of the shark is really wholesome, one part, the liver, very valuable in a commercial point of view from the abundance of oil squeezed from it, is highly prejudicial for food, as we learn, on the evidence of the following case of an obscure French cobbler, recorded by an eminent French physician :
Sieur Gervais, his wife and two children, supped upon a piece of shark's liver; in less than half an hour all were seized with invincible drowsiness, and threw themselves on a straw mattress; nor did they arouse to consciousness till the third day. At the end of this long lethargy their faces were inflamed and red, with an insupportable itching of the whole body; complete desquamation of the cuticle followed, and when this flaying process was concluded, the whole party slowly recovered.
to us from antiquity with dubious names, and despite its merits, without one laudatory comment from the stylus of Apicius! The actual Greek and Latin names for Lamprey are palpable forgeries, and though no doubt this, like other prime fish at Rome, was served up as the king of cooks enjoined, either in Alexandrian gravy-jus Alexandrinum, or in jus diabotonon-gravy (diaboravov) aux fines herbes, still there is no name in his ichthyological bill of fare applicable to the present species. Nothing can better show the mistakes and blunders into which etymology, unguided by sound discretion, is prone to run, than the retracing certain Greek and Latin fish names to their source. The real derivation of the Italian word Lampetra (through Lamproie, Lampryon, Lampetron) is our Own word Lamprey; and this, again, is obviously itself derived from Lang, long, and prey, prick, or pride, the trivial name for the small river lamprey. When, however, our Anglo-Saxon appellative had, in passing into Italian, thus come to assume a Latin form, the mistake soon crept in that it was bonâ fide Latin, and etymologists accordingly set themselves to work to find out what it meant. After a time, it was discovered by the learned, and adopted by the simple, that Lampetra was derived—a lambendo petras -from sucking stones, a well-known propensity of the Lamprida. This Latin blunder, duly established and generally adopted, led, at no very distant period, to a second: an ingenious ichthyologist, we believe somewhere about Queen Anne's day, having coined and issued the Greek designation Petromyzon, the equivalent and plain translation of Lampetra, this was as speedily adopted as the last, and the popular, but as we see erroneous belief was, and mayhap still is, that Lampetra occurs in Pliny, and that Petromyzon may be found in Aristotle. With a variety of classical misnomers which have been taken up by modern authors from ancient sources, evidently without sufficient consideration, it is not our purpose to intermeddle. There are, however, two names,-a Greek one occurring in Oppian, and a Latin one,
employed both by Ausonius and Pliny, that seem to be really the ancient representatives of the species now under review. That Pliny's and Ausonius's Mustela, or Weasel, is to be interpreted of the lamprey there seems to us to be little doubt; for, imprimis, that fish is exactly portrayed by Ausonius under this name; secondly, Pliny, in describing the Mustela, mentions that it is of two kinds, differing chiefly in size, and that one inhabits fresh, the other salt water; which passage obviously has reference to the pride or river lamprey, and to the proper or sea lamprey. Thirdly, the name itself strongly countenances this view, for what fish is so like a weasel, not only as to colour and markings, but also in his habits and proceedings, as the lamprey? When once fastened to a rock, there he sticks, sucking away with pertinacity, as though he would prove the fallacy of the old proverb, and succeed in extracting blood even out of a stone. Under the Greek name Echeneis, Stay-ship, Oppian has given a correct detailed account of the lamprey; taking slight poetic liberties, indeed, with the actual dimensions of the fish, but in other respects describing the kind in question perfectly. Strabo's Lybian leeches, with perforated branchiæ, which ascended rivers, were also, no doubt, lampreys; though the venial licence to be conceded to a poet, swells into open licentiousness in a geographer, who stretches the original measurement of four feet to twelve. After this, we find the number of feet, like Falstaff's men in buckram, run on increasing, till one Statius Libonius is not ashamed to assert, nor one Pliny to quote, the following:- Within Ganges, a river of India, there be fishy, snouted and tailed-dolphins, fifteen cubits long, called Platanistæ, and Statius Libonius reportethas strange a thing besides namely, that in the said river, there be certain worms or serpents with two fins of a side, sixty cubits long, of colour blue, which be so strong that when the elephants come into the river for drink, they catch fast hold with their teeth, by
their trunks or muzzles, and, maugre their hearts, force them down under the water, of such force and power they are.' These were no doubt lampreys, seen through the microscope of a warm imagination, and therefore highly magnified. Aldrovandi, however, who believed them also to be lampreys, swallows the story as he finds it, cubits and all, and seeks to justify Libonius's Gulliverism and Pliny's gullability to the reader, by gravely telling him he need not be surprised, since all things attain to great dimensions in India: in India omnia grandiora sunt.
Repudiating, of course, these giant impersonations of the lamprey as altogether fabulous, our little Cyclostome presents himself to notice, with quite a sufficiency of recommendations as he is, to dispense with the aid of any orientalisms to set him off. No animal in creation has so singular and sensitive a mouth, as it serves, in fact, both as a prehensile instrument to secure, and also as an organ for the trituration of food. The lamprey, in a sense peculiar to himself, thus lives from hand to mouth, since these are both one. The oral apparatus consists of a loose extensile lip, which the fish can project in a circular manner, hence his name of Cyclostome, or round-mouth,-and apply, like a boy's leathern sucker, to wood, stone, or any other object he happens to have a design upon. Within the circle of this extensile lip, lies a nimble little rasping tongue, stuck all over with points, and always on the wag; and as this sharp file works up and down on the surface of whatever may be covered by the flattened mouth, the result of its operations soon becomes apparent, especially when, as it often happens, the scalp of an unfortunate fish is the subject of experiment. In this case, it matters not how large or how fierce the victim may be, no effort can extricate the luckless head from under that fatal disk; quicker than any eating ulcer the tongue works its way through the integuments; the giant patient may plunge and writhe, but the operation of tre
* The Latin name for this fish is remora (hence remoror, I delay), and it was considered no good augury to encounter one bathing during a love or a law-suit, or any other business that required despatch.