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phine goes on, and soon, and with all the ease of a cheesemonger driving his scoop into the rind of a Cheshire or Stilton, does the lamprey
checketh, scorneth, and arresteth them all; let the winds blow as much as they will, rage the storms and tempests never so strong, even yet this little fish commandeth their fury, restraineth their
push his tongue through the bony puissance, and, maugre all their force,
as great as it is, compelleth the ships to stand still! Why should our fleets and armadas at sea make such turrets on the walls and forecastles, when one little fish (see the vanitie of man !)—is able to arrest and stay perforce our goodly and tall ships? Certes, reported it is, that in the navall battle before Actium, wherein Anthony and Cleopatra were defeated by Augustus, one of these fishes staid the admiral ship, wheron M. Anthony was; at what time as he made all the hast and means he could devise, with help of ores, to encourage his people from ship to ship, and could not prevail, until he was forced to abandon the same admirall and goe into another galley. Meanwhile the armada of Augustus Cæsar, seeing the disorder, charged with greater violence, and soon invested the fleet of Anthony. Of late days also, and within our remembrance, the like happened to the roiall ship of the Emperor Caius Caligula; at what time as he rowed back and made saile from Astura to Antium; and as soon as the vessel (a gallien, it was furnished with 5 banks of ores to a side) was perceived alone in the fleet to stand still, presently a number of bold fellows leapt out of their ships into the sea, to search after the said galley, what the reason might be that it stirred not,' and found one of these fishes sticking fast to the vere helme; which being
plates of the skull, and draw it back, with a sample of brains adhering. This singular small instrument furnishes a good emblem of the tongue of the wicked, as described in Holy Writ; though 'a little member,' it is emphatically a keen sword,' and may boast 'great things. Amongst the most remarkable of its boasts, is that of being able, in conjunction with the lips, to arrest vessels suddenly in their course, rendering wind and tide of no avail to stir them! St. James compares the helm of a vessel to the human tongue; as that guides or misguides the man, so this guides or misguides the ship, which it turneth about at will.' The moment, however, a lamprey's tongue has seized the rudder, that moment, it seems, the control of the helm ceases, and the course of the vessel is suspended! Who,' asks Oppian, 'would have believed such a thing as this, unless it had been a matter of common notoriety and experience.' truth of this assertion being taken for granted, he next places himself, like a real poet, on an imaginary quarter-deck, and begins to relate, as a quasi eye-witness, how the vessel, rolling on impetuously before a strong current and a steady reported to C. Caligula, he fumed and
breeze, stops suddenly in full canvas, to the consternation of the crew; how the wind now roars in vain from behind, and the strong current runs by under the motionless keel; how the beams call to the rafters, and the rafters to the bowsprit, to go a-head-and all to no purpose; how sails, ribs, and cordage, flutter, groan, and crack, in the passing blast; how the strained planks creak and start; how the mast sways to and fro, and finally snaps and goes overboard; and how the passive hulk moves no more than if it lay in dock! Pliny, with equal confidence, relates the following of the same fish :
The current of the sea is great, its tides mighty, the winds puissant, and forcible; and more than that, ores and sailes withal to help forward the rest are mighty and powerful-and yet there is one little sillie fish, Echeneis, that
an emperor, taking a great indignation that so small a thing as this should hold her back perforce, and check the strength of all his warriors, notwithstanding there were no fewer than 400 lustie men in his galley, that laboured at the ore, all that ever they could do to the contrary. This fish presaged an unfortunate event, for no sooner was he arrived at Rome but some souldiours in a mutinie fell upon him and stabbed him to death.
That lampreys occasionally play the same pranks with modern vessels as they did with ancient galleys seems certain, if we may believe all that ichthyologists assert. Rondolet informs us that he himself met with an adventure very like to that of Caius Caligula. He was going to Rome in the suite of Cardinal Tournon, in a fine ship, which was scudding glibly before the wind, when she suddenly came to a stand-still, and after much wonderment and
investigation as to the nature of the impediment, a lamprey was found fixed to the helm, which was removed not without difficulty, when the vessel, freed from the incumbrance, proceeded on her course. Rondolet invokes the whole crew to attest his veracity, and their cognizance of a fact which we would not believe though it were down in the captain's log-book.
The lamprey is a fine fish but for a short season, only while they proceed up the river to spawn; after this they remain lean and illfavoured with the new brood till autumn, when all repair together to the sea; but neither then nor later is lamprey flesh so fine in quality as early in the year, at which period accordingly Galen prescribes this fish to his patients. The best came from Sicily.
Taormini was to the court of Rome what Gloucester used to be to that of London; the best lampreys, but not the largest in size, were procured thence as presents to the reigning Cæsar, or the highest functionaries of state. It is not hence, however, to be inferred that Tyber lampreys were bad; the contrary seems the fact, but they were probably scarce in quantity; as to quality, greedy competitors, in Jovius' day, would, he tells us, commonly give five, six, or seven pieces of the then gold currency for one, and he mentions an instance where an hundred pieces were paid. This bespeaks a 'dainty dish' indeed; and a handsome present for any man 'to set before a king.' But the high price, while it establishes the excellence of the fish, also proves it scarce; and hence no doubt the necessity of scouring foreign creeks to obtain it. The same Jovius, who was a bit of a cook as well as a naturalist, advises to drown lampreys in fine wine; and after letting them soak awhile, stuffing the mouth with nutmeg, and the fourteen flute holes with as many cloves, to simmer over a very slow fire in a sauce of Cretan wine, oil, bread-crumbs, bruised hazel-nuts, and plenty of spice, and to serve hot.
The fresh water lamprey, or pride,
is about half the size of the sea lamprey, and abounds in most of our rivers, being a source of great profit to the fishermen. It is exported to Hamburg, Danzic, and other places, either for food or for live bait. The Dutch prize it highly on account of its toughness and tenacity to life, and use it largely in the cod and turbot fisheries. Yarrell states that they will give from two to five pounds a thousand; and so abundant are these fish in the Thames that in one year four hundred thousand were thus disposed of; the minimum given by this author is one hundred thousand, the maximum eight hundred thousand.
To connect objects in Natural History by any single, however characteristic, point of resemblancethough it may be convenient for the sake of reference, and be adopted by systematic writers generally in their books-is often to take strange liberties with the book of Nature, and to bring into an unnatural and coerced apposition creatures the most dissimilar. A striking exemplification of this occurs in the grouping together, by authors, the small family Petromyzons just mentioned, and the Rays, of which mention is now to be made. It would seem, on a prima facie view, quite incredible to any one but an ichthyologist, that lampreys and skates should have anything more in common than gudgeons with whales, or minnows with tritons; and further inquiry would only tend to strengthen such a general impression. For while the lamprey is almost finless, a skate is nearly half fin; while the body of the lamprey is long and cylindrical, that of the skate, on
This part of the recital is probably correct; no bull-dog, badger, or limpet being more adhesive than a lamprey. Once fastened to an object he will not suffer it to escape. Pennant cites an instance of a lamprey which weighed 8 lbs. adhering to a body of 12 lbs. so firmly as to raise it when he was himself raised into the air.
the other hand, is a lozenge and flat; and whereas the first tribe have smooth backs, and carry no hostile weapons, the other armed at every point, bristles cap-à-queue with swords, saws, and stilettoes. As to size, again, we might as well compare Lilliputians with Brobdignagians as some species of the first with the larger kinds of the second; for the longest Petromyzons rarely reach three feet, or weigh above three pounds; while it requires several pairs of sinewy hands to drag fullgrown specimens of the biggest Rays to the steelyard, or to force them into the balance, when a counterpoise has often to be effected by a whole pile of cannon-balls, and the result recorded in avoirdupois reaches sometimes two hundred weight. Lastly, lampreys, according to their biographers, are fish of retiring, cautious, and unsocial habits; whereas skate are gregarious, delight in society, and are impetuous and headlong in their passions. Why, then, are creatures thus essentially different in so many obvious points of comparison, placed so near in ichthyological works as to be separated only by the thin partition of a single page? Because,' says the systemist, though common observers are content in skindeep knowledge, to look superficially and to note merely palpable distinctions, the practised eye of a naturalist penetrates deeper; he cuts through all integumentary impediments, clears away muscle, artery, vein, and nerve, as mere incumbrances, and goes direct to the skeleton; there finds that lampreys and rays, unlike most other fish, agree with each other in the common possession of a cartilaginous back, and considers this a sufficient ground for bringing them together.' Thus, then, has a single point of physiological resemblance, and that, too, by no means an essentially characteristic one-for cartilage is but the early stage of bone-been held a sufficient reason to upset various plain and striking differences, which might have suggested to an unbiased judgment the propriety of keeping creatures so unlike, apart. The irrupta copula of a scientific mésalliance binds rays and lampreys indissolubly together, and there is no likelihood now of their
ever being separated. Having travelled for the last century with a common passport, under the name of Chondropterygians, they will no no doubt continue members of the same unhappy family party to the latest posterity, swimming nose to nose in the same illustrated plate, and catalogued in the order in which we now present them to the reader.
The Rays may be considered the rhinoceroses of the deep; having for the most part, as the name imports, thick and rugose hides. In spite, however, of this unpromising outside, they are reputed to possess, in common with certain men of unpolished exterior, many amiable internal qualities, by way of compensation. Thus M. Lacepède reports, amidst other commendatory passages, that their susceptibilities are lively and their attachments strong; that whatever may be the truth with regard to oysters, rays may certainly be crossed in love,' and that the whole family displays a warmth of affection beyond any of their briny associates. Seuls entre les poissons, says he, 'ils ne sont pas étrangers, comme tous les autres habitans des eaux, aux charmes de la volupté partagée, et d'une sorte de tendresse, au moins légere et momentanée.' From this, however, it may be de duced, even on M. Lacepéde's own showing, that they are also fickle in their amours, and make but indifferent French husbands at best. But though divorces may be common, and the legitimate Mrs. Ray have too often to make way for some rival Madame de Maintenon, to occupy her place ad interim, skates carry out their scheme of patriarchal life in a more amiable particular; showing themselves in the paternal relation excellent pères de famille; displaying a forethought and storge for the young posterity truly admirable, and almost as boundless as the element in which it works. This philoprogenitiveness of the parent outlasts the weak and helpless state of infancy, and exerts itself in training the adolescent fish in the art of providing for his own wants. Theirs then is a very peculiar storge: one of a patient, almost moral character; without partiality, and given without stint to all alike. Chacun à son part et tous l'ont tout entier.
Wrapt in domestic bliss, old and young alike lie together many fathoms deep, far out of sight, till, urged by the call of hunger, they quit these loved retreats, muster in full force, and start on a foray forth with. Under the guidance of an unerring instinct,
Who forms the phalanx and who leads the way;
the impetuous cohort speeds forward as one fish; nor is there a moment's pause nor slacking speed till the object which set it in motion is at length discerned: as soon as a migatory horde of fish is seen scudding in advance, chase is given, and when it is reached the army of skates at once dash upon the quarry, and carry it off to some ocean eyrie to feast unmolested.
The singular habit which many of the rays adopt of hovering with out-spread fins and fixed eyes evidently on the look out for game, and also of wheeling in exploratory circles through the watery expanse with the like view, added to the unfish-like practice of pouncing upon prey, and afterwards of banqueting upon it without witnesses, present so many striking points of resemblance to the evolution of rapacious birds, that several of these fish have received names from different members of the Falcon family; names, not more appropriate from this mode of hunting and dealing with their victims when caught, than from the efficient and formidable weapons by which they secure them. These weapons, from very early times, rendered the possessors objects of public curiosity and interest. Few fish, indeed, as a group, are better prepared for aggression or self-defence than the rays, many of the larger kinds being armed from the tail to the very teeth; but there are some kind that, since the days of Aristotle, have enjoyed throughout all the posterities' a reputation quite sui generis, for certain supposed poisonous instruments, which are commonly, like the sting in bees and scorpions, seated in or near the tail. The most renowned of those 'noli
me tangere' rays is the sea-eagle. This colossal fish possesses an enor mous pair of fins, which, stretching out from either side of the body, offer a striking resemblance to a pair of wide-spread wings; he possesses, moreover, a detached head, terminating in a porrect process, like a beak, and a large pair of piercing bright eyes: these are the fancied analogies which have procured him the honour of dividing his name with the king of birds.
The vast carcase of the sea-eagle always challenged our attention, as it lay extended on the lava flags of the Neapolitan market place. Alive in the water this fish is said to be facile princeps of all swimmers; performing natatory evolutions in a manner so graceful and stately as to defy competition. Gliding in slow majestic pomp through the waters, with all the dignity of a tragedy queen, her marine majesty seems to have attracted particular attention along the Marseillaise coast, where the more polite and educated class of observers conferred on this ray the sobriquet of La Glorieuse ;' but as there are many ways of look. ing at the same object, and as fishermen are not celebrated for using courteous epithets, it is not wonderful to find La Glorieuse' stripped of all her glory in passing into such rude hands.. They, regarding the shape and pose of the head and the large salient eyes as indicative of a resemblance to a toad rather than a dido or an eagle, have coined their name from that Batrachian, and in the Marseilles market accordingly, offer not skate, but crapand de mer for dinner. Other common-place observers, attracted by the enormous length of a switchtail, frequently twice as long as the body of the fish, and not finding such an appendage in queens, toads, or eagles, have degraded 'La Glorieuse' into a water-rat. Others, again, looking only to the peculiar appearance of the lateral processes for swimming, which seem like and yet unlike both fins and wings, and bear a nearer resemblance to the aeronautic leathery apparatus of
Aristotle, mistaking these wide-spread appendages for parts of the body proper, asserts that rays have no fins, but move entirely by bending the sides of the body. After the lapse of many centuries, however, the case of Ray versus Aristotle being impartially tried, the decision of antiquity has been quashed, and the full possession of his fins granted to the plaintiff.
bats, have vespertilianized this skate into the Sea-bat.
So much concerning the various names of this ray; and now, touching the formidable weapon already alluded to, which renders the seaeagle so dangerous of approach. It lies, as has been already said, at the base of the tail, just at its nethernmost part. To protect this organ from irreverent handling, a sharp bony sword is placed sentinel, like the kirtle knife by which a Janissary secures respect to his beard. This weapon is not only dangerous from its great length, but also from the rows of serrated teeth at each side; every tooth of which being in itself a small saw, and very sharp, readily enters the flesh on the slightest wag of the tail; and once entered can only be drawn out again by making a torn and ragged opening. The worst and most dangerous wound, however, is when the elastic tail dashes the apparatus, saws and all, its whole length, half a foot or more, into an unfortunate fisherman's thigh (as has frequently happened in spite of the ordinary precautions), dragging it out again to make a new lunge before the unhappy victim has had time to escape; and so expert is the skate in this small-sword exercise, and so swiftly does stroke follow stroke, that persons who have seen it in operation report that, but for the spoutings of fresh blood, and the larger display of raw surface, they would have declared the weapon motionless all the time. No wound with which surgery is acquainted is more hazardous than this; the soft parts are cut, contused, torn, jagged, intermixed, and mammocked in every conceivable way; and besides all the dangers of an ugly flesh-wound there is peril too from the tearing of the fascias and tendons, and lest the periosteum of the bone should be scraped and exposed. The terrible sufferings inflicted by this atrocious caudine weapon-which is borne by four other colossal skates as well as by the sea-eagle-has caused it to be regarded with as much superstitious reverence by fishermen, as was the tail of his music-master, Chiron, by the youthful Achilles. Every Lazzarone has some sinistre to tell of a brother, cousin, or comrade, who was either many months an in
mate of the Seaman's Hospital before he could follow his craft again, or who was at the very time a cripple in that of the Incurables.
Upon this dart the sea-eagle depends as much for supplies as the fowler does on his gun, or the huntsman on his boar-spear. Lying perdu in the sand, and, herself unseen, seeing everything that passes, the wily creature, so soon as she discovers a fish of size swimming within reach, suddenly protrudes the tail, which uncurling, like a spring-lasso, one instant, has coiled itself the next round the body of the prey; and is dragging it to impale on the fatal saw-sword below. This either summarily despatches it at a blow, or if the victim be strong, a succession of stabs is dealt on the convulsed body with lightning rapidity and certain effect. Such being the potency of this terrible dart, we do not wonder that in early days men should have somewhat exaggerated the truth, that its wounds should have been described not only as painful and mischievous, but poisoned, and, like the prick of the rattle-snake's tooth, necessarily mortal. This was the weapon, according to ancient authorities, put by the enchantress Circe into the hands of her son Telegon, wherewith he slew his father Ulysses; this, which, more deadly than the deadly wourali, was said to kill an animal by mere contact with the skin; and which if it but scratched the bark of a tree, forthwith the tree perished. Nothing on sea or land could be conceived (said they) so pestiferous, immedicable, and fatal to all things endowed with life! This of course is pure fiction, yet to this day-such is the hereditary mischief caused by a bad name-it would be as easy to persuade a Neapolitan Baccarole that a Vesuvian viper had no venom in the tooth as that the sea-eagle had none in the tail. So strongly are all fishermen possessed of this idea, that did not the enactment exist, requiring these fish to be disarmed before importation to the market, every man of them would cautiously remove the dreaded instrument, partly by way of precaution, and partly to adorn his cabin with another trophy of a poisoned dart, wrenched from a powerful foe he had helped to capture.