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ONE material point in the management of Fish is, to be able to have them immediately when wanted; a Second is, to have Supplies to recruit the Stock as it is diminished: this can never be effected without a certain order and method; and with that, nothing is more practicable*.
The ancients were so particular about their fish, and the ponds in which they were kept, that their
* The means of supplying Life with this Article of Food was, we are told, very imperfectly understood in this Country, or at least in part of it, since the poor Pagans in Sussex, though starving, knew not how to catch any fish except Eels, until Bishop WILFRED (who A. D. 678 took shelter in that District) instructed them in the use of Nets. He took three hundred fish at a draught, and by thus supplying the bodily wants of his Catechumens, he easily converted them to his Doctrines.
Mr. MACPHERSON remarks, that a Century and half preceding the above Date, the Natives of IRELAND and the North-west Coast of BRITAIN, and the adjacent Islands, caught Salmon and other Fish with Nets, but they knew nothing of the vast advantage to be derived from an extensive Fishery, and only caught Fish for their own Use.
Mr. PENNANT mentions that in 1382, a Ceremony was dropped, by which a Fisherman (supposed to be descended from EDRIC, one who used that Trade, A. D. 618) had a Right one Day in the Year to sit at Table with the PRIOR of Westminster, and to demand Ale and Bread of his Cellarer. The Founder of the Family had, it seems, in a stormy Night, conveyed St. PETER across the Thames, that he might consecrate the new-built ABBEY of Westminster.
value was astonishing. The fish in the ponds of LUCULLUS* sold, after his decease, for three Millions of Sesterces, (.24,218: 15: O sterling.) CAIUS HIRTIUS first introduced the keeping of Lampreys in Stews, and lent CESAR, during the time of his Triumph, six hundred of these fish, for which he would receive no Equivalent in money, nor any other commodity; but conditioned the Repayment to be by the same number and weight of Lampreys: his ponds and fish about his House, which was itself extremely small, were sold for one Million more than the above sum, (£.32,291 : 13: 4.) To return to more modern Times, and when an Heir does not find
* LUCULLUS, who presided as CONSUL, A. U. C. 680, was celebrated for his Military Talents and for his fondness of Luxury: the Expences of his Meals were immoderate, his Halls were distinguished by the different Names of the GoDs; and when CICERO and POMPEY attempted to surprise him, they were astonished at the Costliness of a Supper which had been prepared on the word of LUCULLUS, who had merely said to his Servant, that he would sup in the Hall of APOLLO. The Preparation however depended upon the word APOLLO, for his Rooms having all names, their Provision and Charge was allotted to each, which means his Steward and Cook, so soon as the Room was mentioned, knew exactly what to provide. The Sum fixed for that of APOLLO was, according to PLUTARCH, Fifty thousand Drachmæ, or about £.1,250. In point of Expence, this is far behind the Supper given by ELIUS VERUS, who, at one Entertainment where there were no more than Twelve Guests, spent Six Millions of Sesterces, or about £.48,439. But it is to be noticed, that whatever was most rare and costly was provided. The Guest never drank twice out of the same Cup, and whatever Vessels they had touched (which were Silver, Gold, Chrystal and Myrhine Vessels), they received from the EMPEROR when they left the Palace. He also gave each of them a Mule adorned with richest Trappings, to carry them home to their several Houses,
such a resource from his Ancestor's fish, yet in populous Countries like China or Holland, where every Article of food is in request, and every spot of Ground is turned to the best account, great attention is paid to the structure and management of Fish-ponds; there Experience has taught men to ascertain the quantity of every kind of fish which any given Space can support; in the former, it is supposed that ninety brace of well-sized Carp, and forty of Tench, are a full stock for an Acre of water, and that a more numerous store would languish and die; in the latter, a far greater number will thrive in a similar situation. In some parts of Germany, where the domestication of fish is practised, a Suit of ponds are so constructed, that they can empty the water and fish of one pond into another; the empty one is then ploughed and sown with Barley; when the grain is in Ear, the water and its inhabitants are again admitted, and, by feeding on the Corn, are more expeditiously fattened than by any other management. For all their ponds the Milters are thought preferable, as they become sooner fat than the Spawners.
In this Country many Acres of swampy, moorish grounds, producing little feed for Cattle, and, in their present state, a trifling rent, might be profitably converted into fish-ponds, particularly within thirty or forty miles of the Metropolis. An Acre of water (after being two years stocked) will annually yield two hundred Carp, and one hundred Tench, that will sell upon the spot to the London fishmongers at a shilling each; an Income to be ob