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and in that state it is probable that the Roe and Milt are mixed together. A fish whose weight, at twenty years old, shall be thirty pounds, generates the first or second year, when perhaps it does not weigh more than half a pound; and it is certain that the Male seems more attached to the Eggs than the Female, for when she ceases to drop them, the Male instantly abandons her, and with ardour follows the Eggs which are carried down by the stream, or dispersed amongst the waves by the wind, passing and repassing many times over every spot where he finds the Eggs.
Summer is the usual spawning time, because at that season the water is tepified by the beams of the Sun, and is therefore better adapted for quickening the Eggs into life. How the Eggs of fishes are impregnated is wholly unknown. All that obviously offers is, that in ponds, the Sexes are often seen together among the long grass at the edge of the water; that there they seem to struggle, and are in a state of suffering, as they grow thin, lose their appetite, whilst their flesh becomes flabby, and in some, the scales grow rough and lose their lustre; on the contrary, when the time of coupling is over, their ap
Lord Mayor to the KING. It is so spiritless a fish that when taken accidently, as it sometimes is, in the Salmon nets, it scarcely makes any resistance, but is drawn out of the water apparently lifeless. One of the largest ever caught in our Rivers was taken in the Esk about twenty-six years ago, it weighed four hundred and sixty pounds. In April and May the Sturgeon deposits almost innumerable Ova. CATESBY declares that the Females contain frequently a Bushel of Spawn each, and LEUWENHOECK found in the Roe of one of them no fewer than 150,000,000,000 Eggs.
petite returns, their natural agility is resumed, and their Scales become brilliant, and beautiful. The Spawn continues in the state of eggs a longer or a shorter period, but this is for the most part proportioned to the size of the animal. The young animal remains in the form of an Egg from December until April, in the Salmon kind; the Carp not above three Weeks; and the Gold fish from China is produced in a still less time; with all the advantages of minuteness and agility when excluded from the Egg, there is not one, perhaps, of a thousand, that survives the dangers of its youth. Among the spinous fishes, there is no trace of parental Affection; they abandon their Eggs to be hatched by the warmth of the Season; and if they ever return to the spot where their young first received life, the Parents that gave them birth, become the most formidable Enemies.
Although the fishes perish by millions, by the rapacity of one another, yet they have other destroyers. Many of the Quadrupeds, and a great proportion of Sea Fowls, either feed on fish, are the merciless invaders of the small fry, or devour the Spawn. In a Savage state, numbers of the Human race wander round the Lakes and Rivers*, whence a considerable
* The Title, Ichthyophagi, or FISH-EATERS, so frequently occurring in HERODOTUS and other ancient Authors, was applied to such Nations as lived partly on Fish, and was probably intended as a mark of Contempt, or to express their wretched mode of Subsistence. MENELAUS, relating his Adventures in Egypt, seems to consider the living upon Fish as not the least of his Hardships. Of his Companions, he says,
"They around the Isle with Hooks The Fishes snaring, roamed, by Famine urged."
portion of their Sustenance is derived; and among those Nations, whom Arts and Agriculture have rendered less dependent on this precarious support, Superstition has usurped the place of Want, and given a new edge to their Avidity for this Species of food; but the munificent Author of Nature, notwithstanding the annual consumption of fishes is constant and immense, has made a kind provision for his creatures, in which the Glory of his Providence is remarkable in a two-fold manner. First, by giving fishes, at certain fixed Seasons of the year, a particular inclination to approach the land; and this always at a time when they are the fattest, and not emaciated by breeding; as the Salmon in the Spring, Mackerel about Midsummer, Herrings in the Autumn, Cod in the Winter, &c. Secondly, by the amazing Fertility which he has conferred on this class of beings. The Fecundity of fishes far surpasses that of any other animals: if we should be told of a being so very prolific, that it would bring forth in one Season, as many of its kind as there are Inhabitants in England, our surprise would be deeply excited, yet upwards of nine millions of Ova have been found in the Roe of a single Cod. One million three hundred and fifty-seven thousand four hundred have been taken from the belly of a Flounder; the Mackerel, Carp, Tench, and a variety of others, are endowed with a fertility but little inferior. Such an astonishing progeny, were they allowed to arrive at maturity, would soon overstock the Element allotted them but their numbers, by the means abové mentioned, are considerably lessened, and thus two important
purposes are answered in the Economy of Nature; by the extraordinary fruitfulness of fishes, amongst a Host of Foes it preserves the Species, and furnishes the rest with an aliment adapted to their Nature.
The Table of the ingenious Mr. HARMER, and his accurate remarks upon the prolific powers of fishes, deserve a place here, and no alteration is made in them, except that of classing the Fresh and Saltwater fishes, without mixing them together.
The plan to ascertain the numbers of the Eggs was to exactly weigh the whole Spawn, then taking a piece weighing twenty, thirty, or forty grains, as was most convenient; and after weighing that parcel accurately, and giving the turn of the scale to the eggs, to tell them very carefully over, and then by dividing the number of Eggs by the grains, to find how many eggs there were in each grain, or nearly so; Mr. H. says nearly, for by this method there. must have been rather more; but he chose thus to estimate them, that there might be no danger of representing the fecundity of these animals greater than the Truth. The Eggs were limited to those that could be distinguished by the naked Eye, although by such limitation, numbers were passed over that by the help of an Eye-glass might justly have been counted: they were told on a fine earthen vessel, extremely black, by which means they are better discovered, and the weights they were reckoned by Avoirdupois; but there being no weights of that sort small enough to answer all purposes, Mr.
H. was obliged to make use of Grains along with them, of which he reckoned four hundred and thirty-seven and a half, made an Ounce Avoirdupois.
From this table it appears, that the size of the Eggs is almost equal in great and small fishes of the same species, at the same time of the year; that the quantity of Spawn is, in general, nearly proportionate to the Size of the animal; from whence a tolerable guess may be given, of the greatest fecundity of each kind, if it is known to what weight they have been found to grow in a breeding state: their produce at a medium may likewise be settled, upon learning what the mean size of each sort is, when in the fore-mentioned condition; this is not however universal, and consequently not perfectly exact, some fish being much more prolific than others, although of a similar bulk and species.
Mr. H. further observes, that the great fruitfulness of Fishes is not, upon examinations of this nature, the only thing that affects the imagination: the extreme disproportion of their first appearance in the water after being hatched, and that of their full growth, as well as the difference between the magnitude of fish of various kinds, and that of their eggs, are striking curiosities. The Egg of a Smelt (continues Mr. H.), which weighs at its full growth but three or four ounces, appeared larger than those of a Cod of twenty pounds weight, and which might have grown to forty; whilst that of a Stickleback, the smallest of all known fish, was found to be