Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Among the witnesses whose evi. found nothing in the stomach of the dence is thus characterised, are Sir salmon but a " yellow fluid;" and Dr Humphry Davy, Sir Henry Fane, Knox asserts that this opinion must be Viscount Forbes, Mr Spring Rice- « quite peculiar to Professor Rennie, Sir George Rose, Mr Home Drum- as he knew of no author in which such mond, George Hogarth, jun., William a fact is mentioned." But this fact is Stephen, George Little, John Halli. not peculiar to the learned professor, day, Murdoch Mackenzie,--and our notwithstanding Dr Knox's assertion most respectable and learned asso- that it is so ; for it is repeatedly men. ciates, the Rev. Dr Fleming, and tioned in Sir Humphry Davy's work, James Jardine ; besides numerous entitled Salmonia, published a year other educated and respectable men, before Professor Rennie's Walton apmany of whom had spent the best part peared. And stranger still, this book of their lives in the daily observation is quoted, and a passage from the very of the fisheries of salmon, in different page in which the "yellow fluid" is parts of the United Kingdom.- The mentioned, animadverted on by Dr names of these individuals were war. Knox. The following is the pas. rant to the public that they were com- sage :-" The stomach of the salmon, petent to form a rational conjecture; you perceive, contains nothing but a their sources of information, that they little yellow fluid; and though the sal. were capable of giving direct evidence; mon is twice as large, does not exand their education and rank in life ceed much in size that of the trout." were warrant for their possessing at (P. 129.And again, in the following least some knowledge of the nature of page_“I have opened ten or twelve, testimony. And when, on the other and never found any thing in their stohand, it is considered that what is machs but tape-worms, bred there, and termed the natural history of the sal. some yellow fluid; but I believe this mon in this memoir, is rested on à is generally owing to their being caught single experiment, made in a hurried at the time of their migration, when visit to a salmon river and the nature they are travelling from the sea upof the food at all seasons and in all wards, and do not willingly load themplaces peremptorily determined, from selves with food. Their digestion apcutting up one or two stomachs at one pears to be very quick."-(Salmonia, period of the year, and at one station, p. 130.) In corroboration of Sir it would not be difficult for the least Humphry Davy's remark as to less versant in the nature of testimony to food being found in the stomach of say on which side the incompetency the salmon at the period of its annual was likely to be found.

migration, I may mention, that more

than one naturalist has noticed the Having made these preliminary re- fact, that as the generative organs inmarks, I pow proceed to show, from crease much, there seems less disposi. these much abused « Minutes of Evi- tion in fishes to feed, and that their sto. dence," and other sources, that the mach in such cases is generally found elaims of the author of the memoir as empty, or nearly so. John Monipennie, a discoverer, rest merely on his own also, in his description of Scotland, assertions; and that the main points published in 1612, mentions what I upon which he claimis merit were just have no doubt was a fluid of the same as well known before the appearance nature, though he does not mention its of his memoir as since that period. colour ; for, says he, “ Finally, there In this case, however, I shall not de is no man that knoweth readily where. tain the society with many quotations on this fish liveth, for never was any from writers on natural history as to thing yet found in their bellies, other the food of the salmon, either when in than a thick slimy humour." the sea or when found in rivers. The According to Bloch, (v. 245), “ the evidence taken before the Committee salmon feeds on little fishes, insects, of the House of Commons narrows and worms." According to Lacepede, the enquiry as to this point; and I shall it « lives on insects, worms, and the therefore avail myself of this evidence fry of fishes." (Hist. Nat. des Poisto corroborate what had been previous. Sons, xii. 135.) According to Bosc, ly stated on the subject.

“it is upon insects, worms, and small Professor Rennie, of the King's fishes, that it feeds.” (Nouv. Dict. College, London, it has been stated, Xxx. 251.) Hyppolyte Cloquet

states that it feeds upon worms, insects, the friths, where sand-eels are used as and small fishes ; and in Turton's tran- a bait. A line is attached to a buoy, slation of Gmelin's edition of the Sys. or bladder, and allowed to float with tema Naturæ, the salmon is said to the tide up the narrow estuaries. The “ feed on fishes, worms, and insects." salmon are also said to be occasionally « It is evident," says Pennant, “ that taken at the lines set for haddocks, at times their food is both fish and baited with sand-eels. At the mouths worms; for the angler uses both with of rivers they will rise freely at the good success; as well as a large gaudy artificial fly within fifty yards of the artificial fly, which probably the fish sea; and the common earth-worm is a mistakes for a gay Libellula, or dra- deadly bait for the clean salmon. All gon-fly." (Brit. Zool. ii. 387); the other marine salmon are known to and Dr Fleming states that “their fa. be very voracious; and there is novourite food in the sea is the sand-eel.thing in the structure of the mouth or (Brit. Animals, 179.) Dr Fleming's strong teeth of the common salmon means of knowledge I may, in passing, to warrant us to suppose that there is remark, were a residence of, I believe, any material difference in their food.'" fifteen years within sight of extensive (Vol. ii., p. 19.) “ Several obsalmon-fisheries on the Frith of Tay, servers," adds Mr Yarrell, “ have and an extensive and minute acquaint borne testimony to the partiality of ance with all the branches of British the salmon to the sand-launce as food, Zoology. And it may be a sufficient and I have a record, by an angler, of answer to the contemptuous allusions salmon caught in the Wye by a minby Dr Knox to that deservedly eminent now."-(P. 19.) individual, to say that his writings are, So much for the statements of sysreferred to as authoritative by almost tematic writers as to the food of the every author who treats of the subjects salmon. I shall now give some exwhich have been illustrated by his pen. tracts from the papers in the second

It is necessary again to mention, volume of the Highland Society that by insects, in these passages, is Transactions, regarding the salmon meant the class of animals included fisheries of Scotland, as to the food of under that name by Linnæus, which the salmon. In fresh water, accordextended to all annulose animals ; and ing to Dr Walker, “ little is found in the whole modern class Crustacere, in the stomach except slime, or some cluding minute crabs, shrimps, &c., half-digested, and some half.entire inas well as the divisions of Enchinoder- sects."-" It is probable that they remata and Entomostraca. By worms ceive, in the sea, a more copious food, is also meant the class Vermes of Lin, and of a different kind; but the prenæus, which included not only the cise nature of this food is unknown," naked but testaceous Mollusca ; and i.e. to Dr Walker. (P. 364 ) it is in reference to these extended Mr John Mackenzie says, “ It is classes that the terms used by the probable they live on the fry, or young writers of the period are to be under. of other fishes. It is well known that stood.

when in fresh water, they feed on ani. Later writers confirm the observa malcules, flies, small trouts, &c." (P. tions of the older authors as to the 384.) food of the salmon. Thus Mr Yarrell, Mr Alexander Morrison says, " I in his History of British Fishes, pub. have taken salmon within flood-mark, lished in 1835, has the following pas some of which had two, and others three sage relative to the food of this fish full-sized herrings in their stomach. “ Faber, in his Natural History of the When salmon enter rivers, where but Fishes of Iceland, remarks, the com. a small quantity of the fry of fish (on mon salmon feeds on small fishes and which they usually feed) is to be found, various small marine animals.' Dr Fle. they evidently become worse in the ming says, " Their favourite food in course of twenty-four hours. From the sea is the sand-eel ;' and I myself," this it may be inferred, that salmon not says Mr Yarrell, “ have taken the re- only require a considerable quantity of mains of sand-launce from the stomach. food, but that their stomachs dissolve Sir William Jardine says," continues it in a very short period." (P. 392.) Mr Yarrell, “. In the north of Suther: Mr Archibald Drummond, after land a mode of fishing for salmon is stating that when in the river they eat sometimes successfully practised in every thing with voracity, notices the

common saying of the fishermen, that the salmon's food. But Mr Moir is nothing is ever found in their stomach. not singular in his opinion; for the

In these papers there is only one Rev. Dr Fleming asserts the same fact fact stated, on the personal knowledge from his own knowledge ; and on the of one of the writers, Mr Morrison, evidence of these two gentlemen alone, who has bimself taken from their sto. the fact of the salmon feeding much on machs full-sized herrings. The others sand-eels might at once be admitted. only state their conjectures, or opi. Dr Knox is equally virulent against nions. None of them refer to pre- another person, whom he does not vious writers, either British or foreign, name, for asserting what was consis. on the natural history of the salmon. tent with his own knowledge, that he

I now turn to the minutes of evi. had seen small fishes in the stomachs dence before the Committee of the of the thousands of salmon opened in House of Commons, for facts upon the the boiling-house. He alludes, I presubject of the food of the salmon. In sume, to Mr Halliday, in these terms: the Report of 1824, John Halliday _“ One practical fisher and tacksgives his evidence as to their food in man of salmon fisheries of vast extent, these words :-"I have had thousands was so ignorant of every fact in naof them dissected, when I have seen tural history, that he mistook the tapesmall fish in their stomachs.* I have seen worm (a parasite infesting certain thousands of fish opened in the boiling parts of the intestinal tube of the sal. house, and I have seen small things like mon) for the food of the salmon." (P. a worm, and skeddens, in the stomach 499.) The inference Dr Knox wishes of the salmon, or a small fish like a to be drawn from this circumstance minnow."-(P. 90.) “I have ob- (granting, for the sake of argument, served more of this worm and small that it is as he states it), is, that Mr seu-fish in those fish we get from parti. Halliday's evidence as to food is good cular parts of the sea-shore.16. for nothing, because he saw, without

Mr Moir states the chief food of the knowing it was so, a tape-worm salmon to be sand-eels. “ As all the amongst the small fishes in the stofish were cut up,” says he, “ for the pur- machs of the salmon opened. But pose of being preserved in a fresh this is neither fair to Mr Halliday nor state, I had an opportunity of examin. right in itself. There can be no doubt ing their stomachs. I never could de- of the fact of fishes, and a worm, being tect food of any kind in the stomachs found in the stomachs alluded to, for of salmon taken in the upper river- it is a common occurrence; and Mr fisbings; whereas those taken in the Halliday may be quite right as to the sea were frequently gorged with food, plain matter of fact, when he states which was principally sand-eels." "I what he had seen, while his opinion strongly suspect that the salmon fre- as to this fact or the nature of the subquent the flat sands between the Don stances, may be disregarded. But no and Ythan for the purpose of feeding;" one can mistake Mr Halliday's desand “a very successful stake-net tish, cription of the worm alluded to, who ery is carried on, on the sands at Mus- had ever seen one. He describes it selburgh, and another at Aberlady. as like a “crimped straw." If this These sands abound with sand-eels. rule were applied generally to Dr The one station is thirty, the other Knox's own paper, there would be forty miles from a spawning river."- found, I am afraid, evidence of deficient (Report, 1825, p. 171, 172.)

information sufficient to discredit the This last gentleman is, I conceive whole of his statements. (for Dr Knox very prudently does not In ordinary cases, where an obsermention his name), the person whom ver states a fact as coming under his he accuses of making the statement I own observation, any opinion he may have read, “in open defiance of truth form upon that fact is a separate thing and daily observation," when he from the fact itself, and does not averred, on his own knowledge, that necessarily detract from its truth. the sand-eel formed a principal part of Others, better informed, may draw a

* The specimen, No. 3, pow on the table, contains the vertebral remains of some small fishes. The same specimen contains in its intestinal canal the tape-worm which is usually found there.

VOL. XLIV. NO. CCLXXIV.

completely opposite inference from the curer, who published a Natural Hissame premises. Suppose, for instance, tory of the Salmon in 1830, is attacked (and I state the incident as it was re- in the same manner; and his statelated in the Courant newspaper, a few ments, founded on experience, are years ago), a large trout to be caught treated with disrespect, and as not to in the Canal, in a nearly exhausted be believed, because he counted only state, with a frog mounted upon its 54 vertebræ in the backbone of the back, and that the said trout was in- salmon, when, according to Dr Knox, jured in the neck, opposite the frog's there are really 61. “ Thus,” says mouth,-might not the learned doctor, the Doctor, “ an experience of forty like the narrator of the circumstance or fifty years as a salmon-curer and in the newspaper, very naturally sup- catcher has not enabled him to count pose that the frog was in the act of the backbones correctly."-(P.501.) devouring the trout? And, supposing And again, because Mr Fraser has the breed of frogs to be of national im. omitted to mention the “internal paportance, and their food a grave mat- rasitical animals," "I confess," says ter of philosophical enquiry, would Dr Knox, “ this excites strong doubts not this fact be considered as incon- in my mind as to the accuracy of Mr testable proof of the nature of their Fraser's observations generally, and aliment, however different from the causes me to undervalue altogether his frog's habits, and direct evidence that forty years' experience as a salmonthe reptile had taken at least one curer."-(P. 502.) And again, “ Mr mouthful ? The fact of the frog on the Fraser has a mind capable of rising back of the trout, and clasping it with above all prejudices in the support of its arms, is of undoubted occurrence- truth."-(P. 502.) the reason assigned is mere matter of Now, if to be able to count the opinion, and in this case would be per- number of vertebræ in the backbone of fectly erroneous. To those acquainted a salmon correctly be the rule of judgwith the natural history of the frog the ing of the credibility of testimony in solution is apparent, without in yol- other matters, what shall be said of Dr ving the crime of trout-murder. At Knox, if bis enumeration be not itself the usual period of the year, the in- correct? Mr Yarrell, whose knowstinet of reproduction in these animals ledge of fishes, internally as well as exis strong, and, failing females of their ternally, requires no praise of mine, own class, the male frog frequently makes the number of vertebræ in the sits the usual time upon the back of a salmon sixty! and so does the Rev. fish. (See Blumenbach and Spallan. Mr Jenyns, in his accurate work on Zani.) I have heard of ponds in Eng- the British Vertebrate Animals. “AClaud being nearly cleared of trout cording to Dr Richardson" (says Mr from this cause, where frogs abounded; Yarrell), “the cuecal appendages are the trout being literally ridden to in number from 63 to 68 ; and several death by these amphibious equestrians. observers have stated the number of Now, the natural conclusion of one vertebræ to be sizly, which I have ignorant of the habits of the animal, repeatedly found to be correct."on such an occurrence coming under British Fishes, ij. 6. his notice, would be that the frogs bad But Mr Fraser, it seems, has given seized upon the trouts for the pur- other and greater offence in speaking pose of devouring them; and one of the salmon's food. “In respect to more imaginative might naturally the food of the salmon” (says Dr enough conclude that imps in the Knox), “ Mr Fraser bas notions also shape of frogs were running sweep- perfectly local; that is, confined to him. stakes in a submerged racing.course. self. And as the whole passage adIt need not be said how far from truth mits of no sort of analysis, and as, inthese inferences would be ; but such is deed, no person having the smallest the mode in which the author of the knowledge of natural objects would paper before us treats the evidence think it necessary to read the article given by professional fishers, and twice, much less to examine it seriousothers, before a Committee of Parlia- ly, we shall simply quote his own ment. If they err in opinion, their words, and then leave it :- Their evidence as to fucts coming under their digestion is so quick, that in a few express cognisance is not to be be bours not a bone is to be discovered. lieved.

Of this I have had various proofs, in Mr Alexander Fraser, a salmontrouts caught by a par as a bait in set

lines. Fire or water could not con- the ova of fishes to the action of the sume them quicker.'”—(P. 501.) Sir gastric fluid. But beyond this single Humphry Davy shares in the con- remark, that ova of the Asterias gla, temptuous reprehension implied in the cialis is found occasionally in the stointroduction to this paragraph; for he mach of the salmon when in season, says, “their digestion appears to be there is nothing in the memoir that very quick"-(Salmonia, p. 130); and can be said to have extended our other writers corroborate the obser, knowledge of the food or natural his. vation.

tory and habits of the salmon. As to the food of the salmon, then, it appears clearly that this food, both The next portion of Dr Knox's pain rivers and in the sea, was well per which claims notice is " the Geneknown, and recorded by almost all ration of the Salmon, the Growth and writers on the natural bistory of fishes, Progress of the Smolt, and the descent long before the observations of Dr of the kelt or spawned fish to the Knox appeared. That food is, gene, ocean,”-(P. 471); and here again rally speaking, worms, insects, and the author seems to labour under a small fishes ; the first term including lamentable ignorance of what has been the Echinodermata of modern writers, recorded on this subject before the and the second the modern class Crus appearance of his paper ; for he detacea. The author's criticism on Dr clares he knows " of no continued Fleming saying that salmon go into series of observations on the subject, estuaries in search of worms and other published by any one, of an authentic bait,” is almost unworthy of notice. nature, and so as to admit of no doubt.'' Worms may mean only earth-worms To fill up this chasm, he resolves to in the vocabulary of Dr Knox, though detail the history of the salmon smolt, the use of the word in the plural num- from its first deposition under gravel, ber might have suggested to a person in the form of an egg, to its ultimate so learned, that there might be marine- disappearance from the fresh water worms as well as earth-worms in the streams; “remarking, that everything estuary alluded to. But in point of stated therein fell under my own imfact, one of the stomachs now on the mediate personal observation,” The table, confirms even the verbal accu- dates of observation are --Noy. 2 racy of Dr Fleming, had he even (1832 ?), Feb. 25, March 23, April į meant, as is sneeringly imputed to him, and 19, and May 5 (1833 ?). The merely earth-wormsfor there is ac- results of these observations will be tually an earth-worm in that stomach, stated in the sequel of this notice, as washed down probably from the banks compared with the prior observations of the river by the receding tide. The of others. It may now, however, be evidence of practical fishermen and mentioned generally, that Dr Knox others fully establishes, what previous has not stated a single fact regarding writers had asserted, that small fishes, the deposition or growth of the ova of particularly sand-eels and shrimps, the salmon---the periods of their asform a chief portion of the food of the cending the rivers where they breed, salmon, without, however, excluding and their return again to the sea, worms, and other animals found on which had not been observed and rethe shores which salmon frequent. corded with much greater minuteness That they may also feed on the ova of prior to the publication of his paper. the Asterias glacialis ; on the ova of Salmon ascend the British rivers at fishes ; and even, like the haddock, different periods according to the seaswallow this and other species of As- sons, generally from September to terias entire, I have no reason to January, and deposit their spawn durdoubt, and would willingly admit, ing the months of November, Decemeven on less than the single evidence ber, and January. This is fully ascerof Dr Knox, because that class of tained by the evidence led before the animals is, amongst others, stated by Committee of the House of Comall authors to form the food of the sal. mons. The names of the witnesses inon. And the existence of ova in the need not be here mentioned ; but they intestinal canal or stomach of the sal- state the period of salmon ascending mon and herring, when the other por- the rivers on observations for periods tions of the food are decomposed, is varying from a few years up to no less easily accounted for, from the known than forty. This evidence was taken resistance of the coriaceous envelope of in 1824-25., Dr Knox, in the single

« ПредишнаНапред »