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that no doubt the spawn was originally carried up through the agency of birds; which fact I am prepared to support, having myself shot a wild mallard, in the bill of which I found the ova of fish.
“ About twenty years ago, some gentlemen were grousing on Pumlumon ;* the conversation turned upon the peculiarity of Bygeilyn being destitute of the finny race, and the possibility of stocking it from a neighbouring rivulet: a staff-net was procured, and some dozens of small trout, caught in the river Rheidol, were turned into the lake. At that time myriads of horseleeches swarmed in its water. Some of the trout, when placed in the pool, lay upon their sides faint and exhausted. Strange as it may appear, the rapacious leeches attached themselves to the sick fish, and actually devoured them. Others of the trout were vigorous; these, and their progeny, have enforced the lex talionis with a vengeance, and not a leech is now to be seen. The late Captain Jones, R.N. of Machynllaith, and another gentleman now living, were the parties alluded to.
“ It will probably be asked, why this singularity occurs in the natural history of Bygeilyn? I have sought every information on the subject; and, after some labour and a good deal of observation, venture to place my theory for the opinions of the scientific, respecting the former nonexistence of fish, and of their rapid increase since.
“It is well known, that mineral solution is detrimental to fish; and the extensive lead-mines in this district certainly impregnated the lake with its poisonous quality: very likely portions of mineral exist at the bottom. But how do fish live and breed there now? The hurricanes on these hills I have before shortly described : between the turbary soil, now the eastern extremity of the pool, and its former eastern shore, there ran a ridge of disjointed soft stony lamina, acting as a dam between the pool and spongy soil; the broken stratum of which is still to be seen on the opposite margins. The water, urged by the westerly storms with an impetus impossible to describe, has at last cut through this calcareous lamina; a great portion of the turbary has necessarily been decomposed, and a thick deposit of black earth has gradually spread itself over the entire bottom, excepting the western margin, which is equally well protected by a crustaceous covering of fine pebbles, hard as the cemented floor of a malt-house; this is clearly * Generally spelt Plinlimmon, but Pumlumon is more correct.
ascertained, for every yard of the lake has been explored by means of a coracle: the deposit very probably has the effect of neutralising the effect of the poison, or, at least, of preventing its communicating to the lake any pernicious effect."
Now the chief questions appear to me to be, whether thesehog-backed fish are, or are not, some of the original trout turned in by the parties here mentioned, and having become cramped in the Rheidiol, which on Plinlimmon is a mere rill, consequently did not increase in size after being turned into the lake? Whether they had previously existed there, and were equally thwarted in their growth by the lead solution, and in consequence of their rarity and diminutiveness, remained unnoticed? or whether they are a distinct species, uninfluenced by place or circumstance? I conceive one or other of these theories to be true: yet there are very serious objections to the first two, as to the idea of their being Rheidiol trout, and having therefore lived six or seven and twenty years. We have an apparent denial to the fact given in the Animal Biography and Popular Zoology, edited by the Rev. Wm. Bingley, vol. iii. p. 276: “A gentleman who kept trout in ponds for the purpose of ascertaining the progress and duration of their lives, asserts that at four or five years old they were at their full growth. For three years subsequently to this they continued with little alteration in size; two years afterwards the head appeared to be enlarged, and the body wasted; and in the following winter they died. According to this computation, nine or ten years seem to be the term of their existence.”
This statement is not made in the most satisfactory manner. I could have wished to know who was the experimentalist; and, as to nine or ten years being the maximum of the age of trout, it will require no refutation from Nearly every proprietor of ponds is in possession of facts in direct contradiction of the statement, but whether their existence extends to nearly thirty years, is extremely questionable, and difficult of proof. As regards the supposition that they may be descendants of fish influenced by poisonous water, the question is, would their progeny, now that the injurious mineral quality is neutralized by a turbary bottom, continue to take the hunchback form, which is so dissimilar to others of the trout species? I think not; and I therefore arrive at the conclusion that they are a species of trout hitherto unknown. In the Animal Biography the
following remark occurs: “In two or three of the pools in North Wales there is found a variety of the trout which are naturally deformed, having a singular crookedness near the tail.” (Vol. iii. p. 277.) This " singular crookedness” can have no reference to the hog-backed fish of Bygeilyn: a view of the woodcut will immediately shew that the tail is exactly similar to that of the common trout; and the reader may rely upon the correctness of the cut, unless indeed that it is hardly so monstrous in form as the original. However, as regards my opinion of this fish being a distinct variety, I shall feel most happy to stand corrected by naturalists; all I seek, is a further and careful investigation; and, to enable the scientific to do so, I conceive I have given ample groundwork, though my mode of dealing with the subject may appear to some dry and uninteresting.
How much yet remains to be explored! But a few years have settled the question of the Gillaroo trout possessing internals, so thick and muscular as to resemble the gizzard of birds: that such is the fact, and that maceration of food is performed in those stomachs, is now indisputable. In Llyn Cwm Hywel, (the lake in Howel's dale,) near the pass of Drws Ardudwy (the door of Ardudwy), in Merioneddshire, it is generally asserted that there are trout with very peculiarly formed heads, not dissimilar from that of a toad, but no positive information upon the subject has yet been recorded. I trust the “ Cambrian and Caledonian Quarterly" will have the honour, at some future period, of giving to the world authenticated particulars; and to decide whether there is or is not truth in the report; also as respects the rare and undescribed species which are known to exist in Cardiganshire. It has been proved that that country produces large trout with spots and variegations different from all others, but the researches of the ingenious Mr. Bowlker have rendered us but little information, and no naturalist has since his time investigated the subject. These, and many matters of high interest, remain for examination. Natural history is a delightful and a rational study; the most able authors have resorted to it as a means of shewing the omnipotence of Providence, and as a never-failing argument in contradiction of doctrines set up by the profane and irreligious. But to a claim of possessing such power I have no pretension; if I have afforded a single moment of amusement, or given the reader the smallest useful information, I am amply rewarded.
THE LEGEND OF GELERT'S GRAVE.
Selected from unpublished Stories from the History of Wul's.
The heavy clouds which through the night
Have hung on Snowdon's head,
Now blushing rosy red;
What wakes the starting hare?
The pack's release declare ;
Calls to him every hound;
Save one, which ne'er was found
The fleetest of his race?
The leader of the chace;
While yet the dews are sheen;
Through Glaslyn's* valley green.
greet the rising sun."
The eager steeds are champing;
Of footmen stoutly tramping,
66 Oh! away,
The river Glaslyn, which runs through Beddgelert, rises in the lake upon Snowdon, called Glaslyn, or Blue Lake.
+ Y W'yddfa, or The Conspicuous, is the name of the highest peak of Snowdon.
From bracken couch up springs the deer;
Behold him stand to listen,
Which yet with dew-drops glisten.
Meantime, with noses to the ground,
In silence through the glen;
Now marks the scent, and then
Awhile at ease they run;
Just kindling in the sun;
Like magic-lantern pass,
O'er thy blue lake, Llynglas.
To catch the fresh-blown air,
The boldest rider there.
“ 'Tis but another step to dare
Eryri's* loftiest peak!
So did the chieftain speak.
Descries à mangled heap
At one tremendous leap
• The Red Ridge is a narrow terrace between the two highest peaks. † Cruig Eryri, the Eagle Crag, the name for Snowdon.