Essays in Natural History and Agriculture

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Thomas Garnett

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Title: Essays in Natural History and Agriculture

Author: Thomas Garnett

Release Date: May 2, 2006 [EBook #18298]

Language: English

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Produced by R. L. Garnett





Introductory Observations
The Salmon enters and ascends Rivers for other purposes besides
Suggestions for an alteration in the Laws regarding Salmon
Artificial Breeding of Fish
Artificial Propagation of Fish
Remarks on a Proposed Bill for the better Preservation of Salmon

On the Cultivation of Wheat on the same Land in Successive Years
The Cultivation of Wheat
On the Gravelling of Clay Soils

Wrens' Nests
The Long-tailed Titmouse
Identity of the Green with the Wood Sandpiper
The Stoat
The Marsh Titmouse
Wrens' Nests
Alarm-note of one Bird understood by other Species of Birds
Dates of the appearance of some Spring Birds in 1832, at Clitheroe
The Rook Serviceable to Man.--Prejudice against it
On Birds Dressing their Feathers with Oil from a Gland
Mocking powers of the Sedge-warbler
The Water Ouzel
Scolopax, Sabines, Sabine's Snipe
Fish and other River Phenomena
On the Spawning of the Minnow
On the Possibility of Introducing Salmon into New Zealand and
On the Formation of Ice at the bottom of Rivers
On the Production of Ice at the bottoms of Rivers

* * * * *


* * * * *


In the following observations I intend to offer some remarks on
the various migratory fish of the _genus Salmo_; and then some
facts and opinions which tend to show the importance of some
change in the laws which are now in force regarding them.

We have first the Salmon; which, in the Ribble, varies in weight
from five to thirty pounds. We never see the fish here before May,
and then very rarely; a few come in June, July, and August if
there are high floods in the river, and about the latter end of
September they become tolerably abundant; as the fisheries near
the mouth of the river have then ceased for the season, and the
Salmon run very freely up the river from that time to the middle
or end of December. They begin to spawn at the latter end of
October, but the greater part of those that spawn here do so in
December. I believe nearer the source of the river they are
earlier, but many fish are seen on the spawning beds in January;
and I have even seen a pair so late as March; but this last is of
very rare occurrence.

Some of the male Kipper (Kelts) come down in December and January,
but the greater part of the females remain in the river until
April, and they are occasionally seen herding with shoals of
Smolts in May. In this state they will take a worm very readily,
and are, many of them, caught with the fly in the deeps; but they
are unfit to eat, the flesh being white, loose, and insipid;
although they have lost the red dingy appearance which they had
when about to spawn, and are almost as bright as the fresh fish,
their large heads and lank bodies render it sufficiently easy to
distinguish them from fish which are only ascending the river,
even if the latter were plentiful at this season; but this is
unfortunately not the case.

Secondly, we have the Mort. I am not sure whether this fish is
what is called the Grilse in Scotland, or whether it is the Sea
Trout of that country; it is a handsome fish, weighing from one
and a half to three pounds. We first see Morts in June; from that
time to the end of September they are plentiful in favourable
seasons in the Hodder, a tributary stream of the Ribble, although
they are never very numerous in the Ribble above the mouth of that
stream. It is the opinion of the fishermen here that this is a
distinct species; my own opinion is, that it is a young Salmon,
and yet, if I were called upon to give reasons for thinking so, I
could not offer any very conclusive ones: the best I have is, that
there is no perceptible difference in the fry when going down to
sea. It may be said, How do you know that one of the three or four
varieties of Smolts which you describe further on, is not the fry
of the Mort? To this objection, if made, I say that these
varieties exist in the Wharfe, where, owing either to natural or
artificial causes, there is never either a Mort or a Sprod
(Whitling?) seen.

Thirdly, we have the Sprod, which is, I believe, synonymous with
the Whitling, Whiting, or Birling of Scotland. It is a beautiful
fish of six or eight ounces in weight, and has more the appearance
of the Salmon than the Mort; it seldom ascends the river before
July, and, like the Mort, is far more abundant in the Hodder than
in the Ribble; this fish sometimes rises pretty freely at the fly,
and when it does so, makes a very handsome addition to the
angler's basket, but at other times it is difficult to hook,
because of its shyness. It disappears in a great measure about

Fourthly, we have the Pink, or Par, which is found of two or three
sizes in the Ribble; the largest are all males, and in October the
milt in them is large; they are small fishes, ranging in weight
from about one to three ounces each, and it is well remarked by
the author of that delightful book "Wild Sports of the West," they
have very much the appearance of Hybrids between the Salmon and
the Trout; they rise very freely at the fly and maggot, from July
to October, and afford good sport to the angler who is satisfied
with catching small fish. I trust I shall be able in the following
pages to give some information respecting this fish which will
assist in dispelling the mystery in which its natural history has
been enveloped.

I will now mention a few of the opinions respecting the various
species of the Salmon, and also my own, when they are at variance
with the generally received ones, and give the facts and
reasonings which have induced me to form those opinions, and I
shall be very glad, if I am in error on any of these points, if
some one of my readers, better acquainted with the subject than I
am, will take the trouble to set me right. It seems to be the
opinion of many, indeed of most persons, that the Salmon spawns
from November to February, that the young fry, or Smolts, go down
to the sea in the April or May following; my own opinion is that
they stay in the river much longer. The Grilse is by many believed
to be a distinct species, whilst others stoutly maintain that it
is a young Salmon.

The testimony of the witnesses from the Severn, the Wye, the Lee,
near Cork, and the Ness (see the evidence given before the Select
Committees of the House of Commons in 1824 and 1825), would lead
one to suppose that the fish were in best season from November to
March, whilst the evidence of the witnesses from other parts of
the kingdom goes to prove that this is the very worst period for
catching them.

One maintains that each river has its own variety of fish, which
can be distinguished from the fish of any other river; another
contends that there is no such difference; a third states that
stake nets are exceedingly injurious to the breed of the fish; and
a fourth attests that stake nets only catch the fish when they are
in the best season, that neither Kelt nor fry are taken in them,
and that if they were prohibited it would only be preserving the
fish for the grampuses and seals;--in short, the evidence
regarding both their habits, and the best mode of catching them,
having in view the preservation and increase of the breed, is so
completely contradictory as to leave a doubt in the mind of every
one who reads it, and has no other means of forming an opinion. I
will endeavour to show in some instances which of the testimonies
is correct, and it will be for my readers to judge how far I
succeed, and I hope they will be so obliging as to correct any
error into which I may fall.

First.--It is my opinion that the fry of Salmon are much older
when they leave the river than seems to be generally supposed, and
that the growth of this fish is by no means so rapid as it is
considered to be by those who have written upon the subject. For
several years previous to 1816 the Salmon were unable to ascend
into the upper parts of the river Wharfe, being prevented either
by the high weirs in the lower parts, or by some other cause, and
of course there were no Smolts or Par; but in that year either the
incessant rains of that summer or rumours of the formation of an
association for the protection of fish, or some other unknown
cause, enabled some Salmon to ascend the river, thirty or forty
miles, and to spawn there. In the next spring, 1817, there were no
Smolts, but about September they began to rise at the very small
flies which the anglers use in that river--they were then a little
larger than Minnows. In the spring of 1818 there were blue Smolts,
or what are generally known as Salmon fry, which went down to the
sea in the May of that year; but these were only part of the
brood, the females only, the males remaining all that summer,
being at the period when the females went down very much smaller
than they, and what was called at the Wharfe Grey Smolt and Pinks,
or Par elsewhere.

I have shown that there were two migrations from the spawn of
1816; but this was not all--there still remained a few Smolts
through the summer of 1819, which by that time were from four to
six ounces in weight, and which are known by the anglers there as
Brambling Smolts. The blue marks on their sides are very distinct,
and the fish is a perfect Smolt, except that it is considerably
larger. It is quite different from the Whitling, or Sprod, which
is not known in the Wharfe, at least not in the upper parts of
that river, whilst the Brambling is never seen in the Ribble. [1]

The Brambling is a beautiful fish, and it rises very freely both
at the May fly and the artificial fly through the summer; it is
occasionally caught by anglers with the worm on the Salmon
spawning beds in the autumn, with the milt perfectly developed,
and in a fluid state. Although this fish is not found in the
Ribble, so far as my observations and inquiries have gone, I
believe that it is found in the Tweed, and perhaps also in other
rivers running into the German Ocean; for a letter addressed to
Mr. Kennedy, who was chairman of the select committee appointed to
investigate this subject, by a Mr. George Houy, states that the
Smolts are sometimes found there ten inches long, which he
attributes to their not being able to get down at the proper
period for want of a flood in the river. But I know that in the
Ribble Smolts will go down to the sea without there being a flood
at all, if that does not come within ten days or a fortnight of
the time at which they usually descend to the sea. I also know
that Brambling are found in the Wharfe, in years where there has
been no deficiency in that respect; yet why they should be common
in that river, when they are never met with in the Ribble, which
has ten times as many Salmon and Smolts in it, I am unable to

It is my opinion that the ova of the Salmon are not hatched before
March or April. Two anglers, who were in April wading in the river
Wharfe, came upon a spawning bed, which they had the curiosity to
examine; they found a number of ova, in which they could see the
young fry already alive, and one of them took these eggs home with
him. By regularly and frequently supplying them with fresh water,
he succeeded in hatching them, and kept some of the young fishes
alive for some time; but they died in consequence of neglect, and
were even then very diminutive. The opinion generally received in
Scotland seems to be, if I may judge from the evidence given
before the House of Commons, that the Smolts go down to the sea in
the spring after they are spawned, and that they return in the
summer and autumn of the same year as Grilse. When they return,
and what size they are on their first visit, I have hitherto been
unable to ascertain; but I think I have succeeded in proving that
they do not go to the sea so soon as is generally believed, nor do
any of the witnesses give their reasons for thinking that they do.
I should very much like to learn what evidence they have to offer
in behalf of this opinion.

I remember seeing an article in the "Scotsman," perhaps about
twelve months ago, in which it was stated that Dr. Knox had made
some important discoveries in the natural history of the Salmon
and Herring, both in their food and propagation, and, if I
recollect aright, it stated that he had ascertained that the eggs
remained several months in the gravel, and that then, in a few
days or weeks after, they (_i.e._ the fish hatched from them) were
so much grown as to go down to the sea; but none of the data which
enabled him to arrive at this conclusion were given, and since
then I have heard nothing about the matter. As it is so long since
I read this article, I may have quoted it incorrectly, but I
believe its substance was what I have stated.

The only conclusive evidence I can find about the hatching of
Salmon fry is that of Mr. George Hogarth (second Parl. Report, p.
92), and his account agrees with my own: he states that he took
Salmon spawn from the spawning beds, and by keeping it freely
supplied with fresh water, he succeeded in hatching some of the
eggs; he gives drawings of the appearance of the fry in three or
four different stages, from the egg to the age of eight days (see
Appendix to second Parl. Report), that the young fry, by keeping
them well supplied with fresh water, were very lively and vigorous
for three weeks, but that they after this time appeared to grow
languid and uneasy, and as they would eat nothing they died when
one inch long. Unfortunately he does not state at what time of the
year they were hatched, but if this were in March or April, which
I see no reason to doubt, it is sufficient to prove that they
would not reach the size that Smolts are when they leave the river
for the sea; for supposing them to be hatched the last week in
March, and that they lived a month, this would bring us to the
time when they are about to migrate, at which time they average
more than six inches long; many of them are eight inches, and at
this period they are fond of feeding upon worms, flies, maggots,
and caddis worms, as is known to every schoolboy living on the
banks of a river frequented by Salmon. It is also my opinion that
neither Salmon nor Trout spawn every year, [2] for Salmon ascend
the river as early as January, in the highest condition, with roe
in them no bigger than mustard seed: these could not have spawned
that season, as the Kelts, particularly the females, do not return
to the sea until March or April, [3] and at that time they are in
very bad condition, and do not appear to have a particle of spawn
in them; and in the evidence of Mr. Mackenzie (see Parl. Rep., p.
21), we have an account of a Grilse Kelt which was caught and
marked in March, 1823, and was again caught as a Salmon on its
return to the river in March, 1824. In this case the fish had
evidently required a residence of twelve months in the sea before
it was in a condition to visit the river a second time, and in the
Wharfe it is the constant practice of the angler to catch Trout
through the winter with very minute roe in them, and in high
condition with the worm and Salmon roe, and also with night lines.
In fact, one of the fishermen has frequently remarked to me that
he occasionally caught dishes of Trout with the fly in January,
and in finer condition, than he has found them in April, which he
accounted for by saying that the spawned fish (Kelts) of that
season had not begun to rise freely at the fly at the former
period, but they had at the latter, so that his pannier contained
as many Kelts as fresh fish. Another reason has just occurred to
me: it is, that in January the spawned fish will still be in the
small brooks in which they are so fond of breeding, and of course
the bulk of the fish remaining in the river at that time would be
fish in good season.

As it is some years since I acquired this information, or at least
a part of it, I felt afraid of giving it incorrectly; and I
therefore addressed a letter to a friend living on the banks of
the Wharfe, requesting him to send me all the information in his
possession on this subject, that derived from his own observations,
as well as that collected from others. He has since the above was
written sent me the following reply:--"I have seen Robinson (one
of the best anglers and fly makers between Cornwall and Caithness),
and have had some conversation with him on the subject of Salmon,
&c. He is of opinion that the spawn of the Salmon remains five
months in the gravel before hatching; he examined the spawn in
April, and found the young fry alive in the eggs, and Ingham,
another angler, took some home and kept one of the Smolts two or
three months. I have subsequently seen Ingham, and he has given me
the same account. All the fishermen here are of opinion that the
female Smolts remain one year, and the males two years, before they
go down to the sea. The Bramblings are supposed to be Smolts which
remain a year longer than the usual time; they are few in number,
and are generally taken with the May fly. I have no doubt that the
above opinions are correct, for we have now three distinct sizes of
Smolts in the river exclusive of Bramblings, the largest of which
are nearly four ounces in weight, and are all males, as they
contain milt in October and November. The next are the females of
the present year: I have had one since the receipt of your letter,
which weighed half an ounce and measured five inches in length;
this was a real blue Smolt; the third are the males of the same
age, and are much smaller; these are occasionally taken with the
worm, and will rise at the fly all the next summer."

"We were for several years, but I do not know the dates, entirely
without Salmon, and of course without Smolts; and we invariably
found that the Smolts made their appearance the year after the
Salmon, but were very small till the second year, when we had what
we call blue Smolts, which disappeared in May or June; and what
you called Pinks, which remained till the following year; and
Brambling Smolts, which remained another year. The fishermen here
are also of opinion that neither Salmon nor Trout spawn every
year. Robinson says that one day lately (the letter is dated
December 13th) he caught seven Trouts, six of which were in good
season; and he brought me two the other day, one of which
contained roe, and the other was in excellent condition." My
friend states, in a subsequent communication, that one of the
fishermen had told him that he had caught the male Smolt (Par)
more abundantly on the Salmon spawning beds than elsewhere, and my
friend adds that the opinion there is, that if a female Salmon
gets up to the spawning beds, and if no male accompanies her, yet
her eggs are fecundated by the male Smolts; and they allege, in
support of this opinion, that a female got up one season and
spawned, and though no male was seen near her her eggs were
prolific. I mention this, although I apprehend it is evidence
which the unbeliever will consider inadmissible, for though no
male was seen, still there may have been one, or admitting that
one did spawn, without being accompanied by a male, yet another,
which contrived to bring her mate along with her, may have spawned
in the same place the same season; yet, notwithstanding its
liability to these objections, I have no doubt myself that if a
female were to come alone her eggs would be impregnated by the
Par. It is an excellent maxim, that Nature makes no useless
provisions; yet, if we admit that Par are young Salmon, for what
purpose is the milt if not to impregnate Salmon roe? and if we
deny this to be the fact, we must endeavour to show that there are
female Par, but in all my examinations, I have never been able to
meet with one that contained roe. That the Grilse are Salmon is
proved I think sufficiently by the evidence given before the House
of Commons. Mr. Wm. Stephens states (see Rep., p. 52) that he has
known Grilse kept in a salt-water pond until they became Salmon,
and that fry that had been marked came back that year as Grilse,
and the year after as Salmon; and Mr. George Hogarth states that
he has often seen a Salmon and a Grilse working together on the
spawning beds, as two Salmon, or two Grilse; and Mr. Mackenzie
states (page 21) that he, in March, 1823, marked a Grilse Kelt
with brass wire, and caught it again in March, 1824, a Salmon of
seven pounds weight. The testimony of the witnesses from the Ness,
the Severn, the Lee, and some other rivers, is too positive and
too well supported to admit of any doubt as to the excellent
condition of many of the fish ascending those rivers in November,
December, and January--a period when they are out of season, and
full of spawn generally, and even when many fish are caught in
those rivers in the same unseasonable condition. The fact that
there are many fish in fine season in those months may be, I
think, accounted for, if we admit that Salmon spawn every other
year, which I have I think shown to be very probable; but what it
is that induces those fish to ascend rivers so many months before
the spawning season, I cannot explain. Probably there may be some
quality in the waters of these rivers, all the year, which is
congenial to the habits of the fish, while the same quality may
only be found during part of the year in others; it is certain
that the quality of the waters in rivers generally varies very
much with the season: thus the water of the Ribble, after a flood
in summer, is always of a dark brown colour, being so coloured by
the peat moss over which it passes, while in winter no such tinge
can be observed; and there may be other differences with which we
are unacquainted; however, whether this is the true reason or not,
it certainly cannot be that the fish which spawn in October are
impelled by their desire to propagate their species to ascend the
river the January before; and if this long residence in fresh
water were necessary for the proper development of the ova in one
river, we might suppose it would be necessary in all; yet this is
not the case, as the red fish which ascend the river in November
and December have at that time the spawn in them nearly ready for

On one point, about which there is great difference of opinion,
viz. whether the fish which are bred in the river generally resort
to it again, and whether each river has its own variety of fish, I
am not a competent judge, as I am acquainted with too few rivers
to pretend to decide. I may, however, just remark that the Hodder,
though it is a much smaller river than the Ribble, is always much
better stocked with Salmon, Morts, Sprods, Smolts, and Par than is
the latter river, which I attribute to the fact that more fish
spawn in the river Hodder, which runs for many miles through the
Forest of Bowland (the property of the Duke of Buccleuch) and
other large estates, and the fish are much better protected there
than in the Ribble, where, with one or two exceptions, the
properties are very much divided, and few people think it worth
their while to trouble themselves on the subject. Dr. Fleming, in
his letter to Mr. Kennedy (Appendix to the first Rep., 1825),
seems to doubt that Salmon enter rivers for any other purpose than
of propagation, but lest I should misrepresent his opinions, I
will quote what he has said on the subject:--"In the evidence
taken before the Select Committee during the last season of
Parliament, and appearing in the report, there are several
statements of a somewhat imposing kind, which, as they appear to
me to be erroneous and apt to mislead, I shall here take the
liberty of opposing." He then enumerates several opinions
expressed before the Select Committee, one of which is, that
Salmon enter and leave rivers for other purposes than those
connected with spawning (see the evidence of Messrs. Little,
Halliday, and Johnstone).

First, "That they enter rivers to rid themselves of sea lice
(_Monoculus piscinus_);" secondly, "That they forsake rivers to
save themselves from being exhausted by residence in fresh water,
and from having their gills devoured by a maggot (_Lernaea
salmonea_)." The whole history of the Salmon contradicts this
hypothesis. Another of these errors is, that it is asserted (Rep.,
1824, p. 145), "That Salmon always return to the same river;" this
is not probable, when we consider the circumstances in which they
are placed during their residence in the sea. On the first of
these opinions, I am not a competent judge; but I think that the
fact that Salmon enter rivers nine or ten months before they are
ready to spawn, is of itself sufficient to show that there are
other reasons for their entering rivers than those connected with
propagation. With respect to the second, I believe that after
Salmon have once entered rivers, at least when they have ascended
into the upper parts of them, they never offer to descend again
until they have spawned. On the third opinion I would remark, that
although I do not think that Salmon always come to the same river
in which they were bred, yet I think they will do so if they can;
and I think that the fact which I have mentioned of the Hodder, a
smaller and a tributary stream to the Ribble, containing many more
Salmon, as well as more Morts and Sprods, countenances this
supposition, for why should the larger number of fish ascend the
smaller river except for such a reason?

I am of opinion that Salmon do not grow so fast in the sea as is
generally supposed. It is here generally believed that the Smolts,
which go down in the spring, come up again in the August or
September following, five or six pounds in weight; and George
Little, Esq., in his evidence states that as his opinion, but he
does not give any other reason for it than this: "That the Grilse
that ascend the river in June weigh one and a half or two pounds,
and that those which come in September weigh five or six pounds,"
--but opposed to this supposition is the evidence of Mr. Mackenzie,
before referred to (second Parl. Report, p. 21), who states that
he caught in March a Grilse Kelt which weighed three and a half
pounds, that he marked it with a brass wire, and let it go, and
that in the March following he caught it again a Salmon of seven
pounds weight. Now a fish which weighed three and a half pounds as
a Kelt, would weigh five pounds or six pounds when in high
condition the summer before, and if this were so, which I believe
all persons who are acquainted with Salmon will admit, the fish
would have gained only one pound or two pounds in fifteen or
eighteen months. Besides, if Salmon grew as fast as is stated and
believed by many persons, the breeds of different years would vary
very much in weight, whereas it is known to everybody that we have
them of all sizes, from five pounds to forty pounds; and it is
contrary to analogy to suppose that a fish which is two or three
years in arriving at the weight of as many ounces, should in two
or three months acquire as many pounds. There are, however, two or
three things about which all persons agree in opinion--one of
these is: that the breed of Salmon is decreasing every year, and
that the great cause of this decrease is the want of protection,
and a consequent destruction in the spawning season. The complaint
on this head is universal from north to south; from the Shannon to
the Tweed, the cry is--"Protect the breeding fish, or we shall
very soon have none to protect." And yet, although the destruction
of the spawning fish, and the destruction of the fry in the
Spring, are the chief reasons for this alarming falling off, no
one seems able to devise a remedy; no one seems inclined to make
the necessary sacrifices for so desirable an object, and without
these sacrifices it would be absurd to expect the fish to become
plentiful; and instead of furnishing an abundant supply of cheap
and wholesome food to all classes, which they certainly would do
if the fisheries were properly regulated, they will either become
wholly extinct, or so rare as to be found only at the tables of
the wealthy. James Gillies, in his evidence, states that his
brother had in one night killed in the Tweed four hundred Salmon
at one landing-place in close time; and all the reports are full
of statements showing how unceasing and universal is the
persecution the Salmon undergo, not only when in season, but at
all times, and most of all when every one should do his utmost to
preserve them--I mean when they are spawning. In this neighbourhood
the properties generally are so much divided, and so few good fish
are allowed to ascend the river, that no one has any interest in
protecting them in close time, and the consequence is, as might be
expected, that all sorts of contrivances for taking them are
resorted to: they are speared and netted in the streams by day and
night; they are caught with the fly, they are taken with switch
hooks (large hooks fixed to the ends of staves), or with a triple
hook fixed to the end of a running line and a salmon rod; if the
river becomes low, parties of idle fellows go up each side of it
in search of them, and by stoning the deeps, or dragging a horse's
skull, or large bone of any kind through them, they compel the
fish to _side_, and there they fall an easy prey, in most cases
where the pool is of small extent. In a river so small as the
Ribble, it will be readily believed that not many fish can deposit
their spawn in safety, when practices of this kind are followed
almost openly, and when no one feels a sufficient interest in the
matter to put a stop to them. A single party of poachers killed
four hundred Salmon in one spawning season near the source of the
river; the roe of which, when potted, they sold for L20. Need we
be surprised, then, if the breed decreases? The only wonder is that
they have not been exterminated long ago.

I may perhaps be allowed to say what, in my opinion, would remedy
this alarming destruction, particularly as no one hitherto seems
to have devised an efficient preventive. I believe that in 1826
there was an Act of Parliament passed which either repealed or
modified some of the old laws on the subject, and I have also
understood that the good effects of this new law are already
perceptible in Scotland, to which it is exclusively applied. There
was a bill introduced into Parliament in 1825 which was intended
to apply to the whole kingdom; but some of the clauses were so
very objectionable, that if they had been carried they could not
possibly have been enforced without stopping and ruining the
manufactories which were carried on by water-power, and the bill
was consequently abandoned. The first thing to be done is to give
the proprietors on the upper part of the river such an interest in
the fisheries as will make them anxious about the preservation of
the fish in the spawning season; and to accomplish so desirable an
object no one ought to fish or keep a net stretched across a river
for more than twelve hours each day, or from sunrise to sunset;
and every mill-owner ought to be compelled to facilitate the
passage of the fish over his weir by every means consistent with
the proper supply of water to his wheels. At present the fisheries
at the mouths and lower parts of rivers so completely prevent the
access of the fish to the upper parts, that unless there happen to
be high floods, which prevent the fishermen below from keeping
their nets in, the upper proprietors comparatively seldom see any
until the season is at an end. The evidence before the House of
Commons on this point is exceedingly amusing. One person thinks
the upper proprietors have no right to expect any fish, as they
have never paid any consideration for them when they bought their
estates; another states that he pays L7,000 a year to the Duke of
Gordon, and that if he is compelled to observe a weekly (not a
daily) close time, he will lose that proportion of his rent;
another observes the weekly close time, and opens a passage for
the fish, but places a crocodile, painted in very glaring colours,
in the gap to frighten them back again; another says he observes
the weekly close time in his cruive fishing, but no one is allowed
to inspect the cruives; another sends men to break down the stake
nets in the estuary, which reach from high to low water-mark, and
at the same time stretches a net completely across the river from
March to August, so that a fish cannot pass without his
permission. No wonder that fish are scarce in the upper parts of
the river, when such samples of _disinterestedness_ are manifested
by the proprietors of the fisheries below. No wonder that the
upper proprietors should be careless about the protection of fish
from which they are not allowed to derive any benefit. No wonder
that they should connive at, and even encourage, the shameful
destruction of fish in close time, since that is the only time
they are allowed to have any. Let the fishermen below make it
worth the while of the upper proprietors to protect the fish, and
they will receive that protection; but it is too much to expect
from human nature that these proprietors will take all the odium
and trouble of preserving them when others reap all the benefit.
There ought to be conservators employed, to see that the fisheries
are properly regulated, and these should be paid by an assessment
on all the proprietors in proportion to the value of their

I should also recommend an extension and uniformity of close time
in all the rivers in the kingdom, for although it is an undoubted
fact that some clean fish are caught in the river early in the
season, yet they are comparatively few in number, and their
capture involves that of a far greater number of spawning and Kelt
fish, which are not only of no value for the table, but the
destruction of which is in effect the destruction of millions of
fish which would proceed from them. In the first Parl. Rep., p.
11, Mr. Walter Jamieson says, that in the river Tweed, from
January 10th to February 1st, he caught one hundred and twenty-one
fish, only one of which had spawned; from February 1st to March
1st he took forty-four fish, twenty-five of which had not spawned
--fifteen were Kelts and four were clean fish; from March 1st to
March 10th he took seventeen fish, seven of which had not spawned
(four of them on the 10th)--six were Kelts and one clean fish. Now
the close time varies in almost every river, and some have no
close time at all; thus in the Ribble the close time begins on
September 15th and ends on December 31st, and in the Hodder there
is no legal close time; but there is no practical difference
between them in this respect, every one thinking himself entitled
to kill all the fish he can, at all times of the year, in both of
them. The observance of the weekly close time, that is, opening a
passage for the fish from sunset on Saturday night to sunrise on
Monday morning, is a mere farce, even if it could not be evaded,
as it almost invariably is, for it is well known to every one
conversant with the habits of Salmon, that they only ascend the
rivers when there are freshes (floods) in them, and in summer the
ground is generally so dry, and vegetation absorbs so much
moisture, and the evaporation is so great, that it not only
requires twice as much rain to produce a flood in the river then
as it does in winter, but when the rain does come its effects are
only visible in the river for a short time. I have known a strong
fresh in the Ribble in the morning, and the river low again in the
afternoon of the same day. A fresh coming at the beginning of a
week, would disappear long before the close of it, unless the
rainy weather continued; and thus the strict observance of the
weekly close time would be of little service to the upper
proprietors unless the fresh came at the right end of the week.

The Smolts and the Par ought to be protected as strictly as the
Salmon; and there ought to be a penalty attached to the killing of
them, or having them in possession, and conservators of rivers
ought to have the power of inspecting all mills and manufactories
driven by those rivers, to ascertain that they have no contrivances
for taking the fry on their way to the sea, as it appears that in
some rivers they are taken in large quantities. There ought also to
be a penalty attached to the killing of Kelt fish, which in that
state are not only tasteless and insipid, but actually unwholesome;
yet they are pursued and destroyed with as much avidity as the fresh
fish, and a very small number of the few that spawn in safety ever
return to the sea. A penalty ought also to be inflicted for selling,
buying, using, or having in possession Salmon roe, either in a fresh
or salted state, as its excellence as a bait for Trout and Eels, and
the consequent high price at which it sells, are sufficient
temptations to poachers to kill the Salmon in the spawning season
even if they could not sell or use any other part. Yet destructive
as this practice is, there is an extensive trade in this article--
a fishing-tackle maker in Liverpool having told a friend of mine
that he sold 300 lbs. in a season, which, supposing every egg to
hatch, would produce perhaps five times as many Salmon as are caught
in one year throughout the whole kingdom. [4]

In concluding this imperfect sketch, I may remark that I have
omitted many things concerning the natural history and habits of
the Salmon, fearing to trespass too much on the patience of my
readers; but I have wished, in addition to communicating some
facts in the natural history of this fish, which I believe are not
generally known, to call the attention of the public to the
present state of the Salmon fisheries in England. Many of the
preceding observations are founded on the evidence of persons
connected with the fisheries in Scotland, and are perhaps no
longer applicable to that part of the kingdom, since there has
been an alteration in the laws; whether this is the case or not, I
have no present means of ascertaining. I shall be glad if any one
having a knowledge of the subject will say what benefit, if any,
has been derived from the alteration; however, it is sufficient
for my present purpose to show what is the state of things when
there are no laws on the subject, or, which is the same thing,
when there is no attention paid to them; a state of things which,
instead of promoting an abundant supply of these excellent fish,
and rendering the Salmon fisheries nationally important, tends by
the habitual disregard of the laws by one party, the selfishness
of another, and the neglect of a third, to render these fisheries
of little and decreasing value; whereas if the lower proprietors
would allow a tolerable supply of Salmon to come up the river when
they were worth taking, and the upper ones would preserve them
during close time, there would be plenty for each and for all.

I am aware it will be difficult to legislate upon this subject
without injury to what is of infinitely greater importance--I mean
the manufactories of the country. The absurd and impracticable
clauses which were contained in the bill for the protection of the
fisheries, which was introduced into Parliament in 1825, show
this; yet notwithstanding this difficulty, I think it is possible
to protect the fish without interfering with the interest of the
mill-owners, and to make such laws on the subject as will be
effectual, without calling forth a single objection from any
unprejudiced person. I shall be glad if what I have said on this
subject should induce any gentleman to turn his attention to it.
There must be many whose opportunities of observation will enable
them to determine whatever is doubtful in the natural history of
the Salmon tribe; whose experience will teach them the defects and
absurdities of the present laws on the fisheries; and whose
influence will, if they can be induced to exert it, materially
contribute to their amendment.

CLITHEROE, _January_, 1834.

* * * * *


In addition to the objections which I have offered to the seeming
doubt of Dr. Fleming, whether Salmon enter rivers for any other
purpose besides propagation, the following have come to mind; and
though they do not apply to the Salmon, they confirm me in the
opinion that there are reasons, of which we know nothing, for fish
ascending rivers, which are not at all connected with propagation.
One is the habit of what is here called streaming. In the winter
the fish not engaged in spawning (I speak of Trout, Grayling,
Chub, Dace, &c.) leave the streams and go into deep water; either
because the water is warmer there, or because they there find more
food; and it is well known to fly-fishers that they do not catch
many fish in the streams if they begin early, say in February. It
is proverbial here that fish begin to stream when the great grey,
or what is called in other districts the devil or dule crook, and
in March brown or brown drake, comes upon the water; and I have
seen Trout by scores leaping at a weir in the beginning of May,
whether in search of food or an instinct implanted in them to keep
all parts equally stocked with them, I do not know; but it has
certainly nothing to do with their spawning. Is it presumptuous to
suppose that God in His providence has implanted this instinct in
Salmon for our good, that we might have a supply of excellent
food, which without this would be in a great measure unattainable?
Whether this is the true cause, and the only one, I am unable to
determine; but this is the effect produced, and in the absence of
other reasons it is, in my opinion, one that ought to be admitted.
Another reason why fish ascend rivers is their impatience of heat.
I speak now more particularly of Grayling; if the weather is very
hot at the end of May or the beginning of June, the Grayling in
the Wharfe (they are almost unknown in this part of the Ribble)
ascend the mill streams by hundreds, and go up the wheel races as
far as they can get, and stay there until the stoppage of the
wheels (many a ducking have I had in pursuit of them), when they
are obliged to beat a retreat, and this often proves a disastrous
one to many of them. The ascent of young Eels by millions, and the
ascent of the Flounder, are neither of them connected with the
propagation of their kind, and though I cannot say for what
purposes they do ascend, I am, I think, justified in doubting
assertions which seem to have nothing to support them but the
positive manner in which they are made.

The Salmon Par is neither a Hybrid nor a distinct species of the
_genus Salmo_, but a state of the common Salmon. The author of
"Wild Sports of the West" says of the Par, as I have noted
previously, "That it has very much the appearance of a Hybrid
between the Salmon and the Trout, and (in a note) that the natural
history of this fish is doubtful. Some conjecture that it is a
Hybrid between the Salmon and Trout, because it is only found in
rivers which are frequented by Salmon. Others think it a cross
breed between the sea Trout and river Trout," and then he speaks
of this "hybridous diminutive," as if he thought one of these
opinions was correct. That the Par is not the result of a cross
between a sea Trout and a river Trout, is proved by the fact that
there are no sea Trouts in the Wharfe, the Par (admitting it to be
a distinct species, which I do not), the Salmon, and common Trout
being the only kinds of Salmonidae which are found in that river,
at least where I am acquainted with it. If the Par be the result
of a cross between the Salmon and the Trout, what becomes of it in
the spring, and where are all the Par, which were so abundant in
October, gone to in April? Did they migrate to the sea, the shoals
would be met with by somebody; and did they stay in the river they
would be caught at one time or other. However, as it is well known
that neither of these cases is ever realized, we must suppose
another, which I have already done in my former communication. In
fact, in angling in the beginning of March, fish are often caught
which would puzzle the most experienced fisherman to determine
whether they are Par or Smolts, especially after they have been
caught some time; and in a large number caught at that time there
are all the intermediate shades of appearance between the perfect
Par and the real blue Smolt.

CLITHEROE, _May 29th_, 1834.

* * * * *

CLITHEROE, _March 18th_, 1846.


SIR,--Through the polite attention of Mr. Cardwell I have been
favoured with a copy of your bill--"For the better preservation of
Salmon." As this is a subject to which I have paid some attention,
I trust it will not be deemed impertinent if I offer some
suggestions for your consideration with regard to the free gap. It
appears to me that it will be desirable to specify the width and
depth of this free gap, or it may on the one hand degenerate into
a mouse-hole, or on the other hand the surveyor, by the provisions
of the 13th section of the Act, may insist on such a gap being
made that the whole of the water may be diverted through it, which
in small rivers, where there are ancient and legal hecks or
cruives for the purpose of taking Salmon, will destroy the value
of the fishery. Then, with regard to fence time:--In the 6th
section of the Act, I presume you do not intend that night fishing
shall be allowed at any season of the year; but it appears to me
that the expressions in the 6th section would scarcely prevent the
owners of cruives from keeping them open, as they need not go near
them between sunset and sunrise, and then they will neither lay,
draw, nor fish with any net, device, or engine. Would it not be
better to expressly insist upon all cruive fisheries being
positively closed from sunset to sunrise? or, what would be still
better, that the cruive or heck should have a free gap in it, of a
specified size, which should be kept constantly open between
sunset and sunrise. As this is one of the most important sections
of the Act, I may be pardoned for calling your particular
attention to it; for unless this section be vigorously enforced,
it will be in vain to legislate on the subject;--for the
proprietors near the sources of rivers (where most of the fish
spawn) will never interest themselves about the preservation of
fish which they are not allowed to see when in season, and which
has hitherto been the case in this neighbourhood at all events;
but if the fish are allowed a free passage everywhere, and at all
times, between sunset and sunrise, the upper proprietors will then
have some inducement to take care of the fish in the spawning
season. Until now, all the good fish have been taken in the
fisheries near the mouth of the river.

There is at present a great trade carried on in this neighbourhood
in Salmon roe, as a bait for Trout and Eels, and scores of
spawning Salmon are now destroyed for little else than the spawn
they contain. Cannot this be prevented?

* * * * *

_May 5th_, 1846.


SIR,--I enclose a letter I had addressed to Mr. Pakington on the
subject of the preservation of the breed of Salmon. I had written
to him because I perceived that he had introduced the bill into
the House of Commons, but since that letter was written I have
been favoured with your address through the politeness of Sir
Thomas Winnington, to a friend of mine, and as he requests that
any suggestion about weirs may be addressed to you, I make no
apology for enclosing the letter I had addressed to Mr. Pakington
with some further suggestions, which on looking over my letter I
find I have omitted to notice.

In one of the clauses of the bill (I do not remember which, and I
have not the bill at hand to refer to) you require that a grating,
the bars of which shall not be more than three inches distant from
each other, and which shall be placed at the junction of the tail-
goit with the river, as well as in front of the wheel. This I
presume is to prevent any fish being injured by the wheels, but I
assure you that during the twenty-two years in which I have had
the management of the works here, I never knew an instance of a
Salmon being either killed or hurt by the wheels. Indeed, I do not
know half-a-dozen instances of Salmon ever ascending the tail-goit
to the wheel, and I must have seen many instances if this was a
common occurrence. This may, however, happen, and the fish may be
occasionally injured where there is much fall lost, and a strong
stream running from a wheel constituted in the old way with open
float boards. But the objections to such a plan on the part of the
manufacturers will be insuperable, in fact, the accumulation of
sticks and leaves in the autumn, and ice in the winter, will be so
great at the grating in the tail-goit, that the wheels will be
thrown into back water and the works stopped, and all this loss
and inconvenience will be incurred because of the possibility of a
Salmon being killed or hurt by the wheel. There is not much
probability of this frequently happening, because, as I said in my
other letter, Salmon seldom migrate except where there are freshes
in the rivers, and then there is so much water flowing down the
usual course of the stream, that the fish have no inducement to
leave it to seek for a passage elsewhere. I would, however,
suggest that power be given to conservators to go at all times up
the tail-goits and into the wheelhouses, to see that there are no
illegal contrivances in them for catching the Salmon and Smolts in
their migration, as I have certainly heard of such things

In Sir Thomas Winnington's note to my friend, he says we have
difficulty enough in endeavouring to obtain support for one day's
clear course; two we could not carry, however desirable. Allow me
to suggest, that in endeavouring to carry so little you rouse up
your opponents, while there is not enough to stimulate the zeal of
your friends, for it will be in vain to look for the zealous co-
operation of the proprietors on the upper part of rivers unless
you give them some inducement. This one day in the week will not
effect, and besides this, you make it illegal to catch Smolts,
even with the rod, which is destroying one of the greatest
amusements of the anglers, and depriving them of the most delicate
of fish, and for no object: because, if the provisions of your
bill are carried (without this clause), there will be an abundant
supply of fish for all purposes, even after the anglers have
enjoyed their sport. I do not see the propriety and utility of
prohibiting the killing of Smolts, because if they lived they
would become Salmon, any more than I see the propriety of
prohibiting the eating of eggs, because if they were hatched and
lived long enough they would become barn-door fowls.

Let the legislature and the estuary fisheries give the upper
proprietors a fair share of Salmon when in season, and they will
be glad to see the angling for Smolts abolished; but it is rather
too bad for the estuary fisheries to catch all the good Salmon,
and then grudge to the upper proprietors the angling for Smolts.

In conclusion, allow me to urge on you the propriety of
endeavouring to obtain such a bill as will give the proprietors of
land on the upper parts of rivers a strong inducement to support
you, and at the same time that it does this will not injure the
mill-owners; and, with the modifications I have pointed out, I
think this may be accomplished. I speak on this subject as a
practical man, having some knowledge of the habits of Salmon, and
superintending a mill driven by water-power which employs nearly a
thousand people; so that if a bill like yours could be worked in a
satisfactory manner here, on so small a stream as the Ribble, it
may anywhere in the kingdom. But if you make a tinkering job of
it, and ask for too little, you will rouse your opponents and
discourage your friends. By all means go for a free passage for
the fish every night from sunset to sunrise in all cases where
this does not interfere with manufactories, and then there will be
some inducement to support you.

I refer you to some papers which I wrote on this subject in the
Magazine of Natural History, in the year 1834, and if you think it
worth while to ask for further information on the subject, I shall
be happy to give you any I may possess.

* * * * *

LOW MOOR, _July 1st_, 1846.

To the Editor of "The Times."

The attempt which is now making to amend the laws relating to the
Salmon fisheries, appears to run such a great risk of failure,
from the opposition of interested persons, that I think a short
sketch of the defects of the present laws and their effects on the
breed of fish, and a comparison of them with the proposed
amendment, may be interesting to some of your readers, and may,
perhaps, induce some influential gentlemen to throw their
influence into the right scale, in the approaching discussion on
this subject.

The Salmon fisheries in former times appear to have supplied food
for a large portion of the people, as there are still traditions
current on the banks of various rivers in the north, that the
indentures of apprenticeship always stipulated that the apprentice
should not be compelled to eat Salmon more frequently than three
days a week, and however exaggerated this story may appear at the
present day, I hope to succeed in showing that it is neither
improbable that it has been so, nor impossible that it may be so
again,--if good laws are made for their protection, and these laws
are properly enforced. At present there is no doubt the fisheries
are rapidly declining, and in some rivers which used to have a
good many Salmon in them, and which used to swarm with Smolts (or
fry) in the spring within my remembrance, they are now rarely
seen. To show their scarcity I may mention a circumstance which
occurred in the Wharfe, which was formerly one of the finest
rivers in Yorkshire for Salmon. A few years ago a pair of Salmon
were seen on a spawning bed in the Wharfe, about forty miles from
its mouth. This became known at the anglers' club, and it was
deemed so important to preserve them, that the club divided
themselves into three or four watches, and guarded the spawning
bed night and day, whilst the fish were spawning, and this
spawning lasted about a week.

Here in the Ribble the Salmon fisheries are not quite so near
extinction (though they are rapidly progressing in that
direction), for although we are very seldom allowed to see or
catch fish in seasonable condition, a good many come up the river
to spawn, though very few of them ever do so, and very few of
those that do ever reach the sea again. The reason is obvious, no
one here has any interest in preserving the spawning fish, and
they are openly killed by the poachers, who never dream of being
prosecuted for it. I am credibly informed that in a stream not
five hundred yards from where I write, sixty spawning fish were
killed last winter. Some years ago one gang of poachers killed
three hundred Salmon on the spawning beds in one season, and sold
potted Salmon roe (which is a most destructive bait for Trout) to
the value of L20.

In the Lune the proprietors of the fisheries near Lancaster sent
men to protect the spawning fish in the streams above; but these
men were warned off by the landed proprietors, who said, If you
catch all the good fish you must at least allow us to catch the
bad ones. In the Tweed and its tributaries it used to be quite as
bad (what the new Scotch law has done I do not know), but a
poacher who gave evidence before the Committee of the House of
Commons in 1825 said that he had assisted to take four hundred
Salmon at one haul in close time in the Tweed.

Sir Walter Scott's vivid description of burning the water, which
occurs in "Guy Mannering," shows that he knew how to kill Salmon
in close time. In fact, his account, and that of Hogg (the Ettrick
Shepherd), show that both were regular black fishers.

There are various devices for killing the fish in close time: they
are speared, netted, and hooked on the spawning beds, and when the
rivers get low, gangs of idle fellows range up and down on the
banks, stoning and beating the water by poles, or, what is more
effective still, a large bone, or horse's skull, and by fastening
a cord to it, one end of which is passed to each side of the
river, they draw this skull up and down in the pools where they
know there are Salmon, and the fish are so foolish and timid, that
they thrust their heads under any stone or cover they can find,
and are taken without trouble; it being common enough in such
cases to slip a noose over the tail, then tightening it, and the
fish is hauled out immediately.

Then again, gentlemen who want to have the reputation of being
skilful anglers, employ their game-keepers to find the Kippers
(Scottice Kelts) or spawned fish in the pools, which is a very
easy matter in low water, and dropping a hook baited with a lob
worm before their noses, it is greedily taken, and the poor fish
(which are unfit for food) are caught. It is then trumpeted forth
to the angling world that Mr. A. B. has had splendid sport--he has
caught a dozen Salmon with the rod in a single day, meaning it to
be understood that these fish have been caught with the fly. I by
no means uphold these practices, neither do I think them very
deserving of censure in the present state of the law, for all the
good fish are taken near the mouths of the rivers.

This leads me to consider the defects of the present law, which is
by no means adapted to protect and increase the breed of Salmon.

In the first place, the close time is too short. It commences in
the Ribble nominally (for in reality the fish are openly killed
all the year through) on the 15th September, and ends on the 31st
of December; whereas it ought to extend to the end of April, for
the following reasons. A very large proportion of the fish are
spawning in January and February, and I have even seen a spawning
fish as late as the 3rd of April. In the evidence given before the
House of Commons in 1825, it was proved by a fisherman from the
Tweed, that in March for one clean fish that was caught there were
ten caught that were not so, as they were either fish that had not
spawned, or Kelts, that is, fish which have finished spawning but
have not returned to the sea, and are then flabby, unwholesome,
and unfit for food. A very large proportion of these Kippers or
Kelts do not go to the sea until April, and not then without there
is a fresh in the river, for, like the Smolts, they seem disposed
to remain in the rivers until they can avail themselves of the
assistance of a flood, to enable them more easily to reach the

Another defect in the present law is that it fails to secure a
supply of good fish to the upper proprietors. There are no
provisions in it (or they are not enforced) for giving the fish a
free passage, no prohibition of nets, traps, or devices for
stopping them in their progress up the rivers. No daily or weekly
close time, but everywhere there is so short-sighted a selfishness,
that it is completely realizing the fable of the man who killed the
goose which laid the golden egg. The fisheries are declining so
rapidly, that unless something is done, and done quickly, the breed
of Salmon will be extinct in the rivers in this neighbourhood.

Again, there is no power to appoint or pay conservators, and
without their assistance there is no chance of preserving Salmon
in the spawning beds. Game-keepers are most certainly not to be
depended upon.

In pointing out the defects of the present laws I have, in fact,
given an opinion how they should be remedied. I would extend the
close time from the end of September to the end of April. I would
establish a daily close time, allowing no net, device, or engine
to be employed in taking Salmon between sunset and sunrise above
tideway in any river; and below, I would only allow nets to be set
for twelve hours per diem. I would appoint conservators, whom I
would pay by a tax on the fisheries on the whole course of the
river, which tax should be determined by a valuation of the
fisheries, and paid accordingly. I would fine every one who sold,
used, or had in his possession any potted or prepared Salmon roe
for the purpose of angling, and I would give conservators the
power of examining all mill goits and races, for the purpose of
seeing that no unfair practices were resorted to for the taking of
Salmon or Salmon fry; and I would give the upper proprietors the
power of making any alterations in mill weirs and dams which did
not impair their stability or the efficiency of the water power.
If some such enactments as these were made and properly enforced,
there is no doubt Salmon would swarm in every river, for their
fecundity is such, that a very few Salmon spawning in a river
under favourable circumstances stock it abundantly with Smolts. A
large Salmon having not less than 25,000 eggs in it, how soon,
with a little forbearance and care, would every river swarm with
this delicious fish, even to such a degree as to be a cheap food
for the poor! But to obtain such results it must be made the
interest of every person to protect them.

In reading over the evidence on the Salmon fisheries, which was
given before the House of Commons in 1825, I was exceedingly
amused by the reasons given by the tenants of some of the
fisheries in Scotland why there should be no weekly close time,
and the shifts and evasions practiced by others. One said he paid
L7,000 a year rent to the Duke of Gordon for his fishery, and if
one day in the week were allowed for close time he would lose
L1,000 a year. Another said he kept the close time, but he would
allow nobody to go and see whether he kept the free gap open or
not. Another proved that he kept open the free passage, but it was
also proved that he had a crocodile placed in the gap, painted
with very glaring colours, in order to frighten back any fish that
attempted to pass. Another sent his boats to break down the stake
nets which were set in the estuary, but acknowledged that he kept
his own nets set across the river day and night. There would be no
difficulty in stocking every suitable river in the kingdom with
Salmon, either by putting into them a few pairs of breeding fish,
or by artificially fecundating the eggs, and placing them in
artificial spawning beds. It is a plan I have frequently adopted,
and sometimes successfully; but in other experiments I have
failed, from the difficulty of choosing a suitable locality in the
river. If too rapid a stream was chosen, the eggs and gravel were
all washed away; and if too calm and still a place was selected,
the gravel was filled up with sand and mud, and the eggs rotted
instead of hatching. I am even of opinion that where there is
already a breed of Salmon fry in a river, it is not absolutely
necessary that any male Salmon should come up the river in the
spawning season, the male Par, or Penks, as we call them in the
Ribble, being sufficient to fecundate the eggs. If this is
doubted, I would ask how it happens that in the autumn they have
fluid milt in them? for as nature makes no unnecessary provisions,
for what purpose is this, if not to provide for the possibility of
a female Salmon coming alone? These Pars swarm on the Salmon
spawning beds.

* * * * *


CLITHEROE, _October 12th_, 1851.

To the Editor of the "Gardeners' Chronicle."

As the amusement of fly-fishing is one which holds a first place
in the opinion of every one who understands it, and as the Trout
and the Salmon are the only fish which afford genuine sport to the
angler, and as I believe that the latter in some of the southern
counties is nearly extinct, whilst the former is far from being
abundant, I wish to call the attention of such of your readers as
are possessed by the true _piscatorial furor_, to the facility
with which these fish can be bred artificially. And as many
experiments have been made under my direction, and having
witnessed the results, I unhesitatingly say that there is little
risk of failure, if due care be taken.

The experiments of Shaw and Agassiz, my own also included, have
proved that fish can be bred artificially. The experiments of
Boccius I have not yet tried, although he proposes to arrive at
the same result in another manner, and acting in the manner
recommended by them, Trout and Salmon have been bred by thousands
during the last ten years.

As the season for making the experiment will shortly be here, I
hope that those who intend to try the plan will lose no time in
looking after their supply of breeding fish.

To begin with Trout:--Catch as many as you can conveniently obtain
upon the spawning beds, [6] and examine them carefully one by one,
to see that the spawn and milt are in a fit state for exclusion;
and also to enable you to separate the males from the females. If
they are in a fit state to be operated upon (which may be known by
the facility with which the milt and the roe run from them on a
slight pressure), squeeze the milt of the males into a little
water, and when you have obtained all the milt you can get, add so
much water that the mixture remains slightly opalescent--say about
equal in colour to a tablespoonful of milk mixed in a quart of
water; pour this into a deep dish or bowl, large enough to hold
the largest of your female Trouts; take one of these and put it
into the water so prepared, and gently squeeze the roe from it
whilst the vent is immersed in the water. [7] Do this as quickly as
possible, and return the fish into fresh water, and then pour off
the water containing the impregnated roe, through a strainer,
carefully preserving it for the remaining fish, and immediately
return the roe into fresh spring or brook water. Repeat the
operation for every female Trout, and you will then have a
quantity of impregnated roe, which if properly managed will hatch
with great certainty. Have ready as many boxes as you are able to
stock with spawn (three feet long, two feet broad, and six inches
deep). Fill them to the depth of two inches of river sand, which
ought to be previously so well washed that there is not a particle
of mud left in it, and upon that put two inches of river gravel,
also exceedingly well washed, the pebbles varying in size from a
hazel nut to a pigeon or pullet's egg. These boxes must be so
placed that the water from a spring will flow into the first, and
from the surface of that into the second, and below the whole nest
of boxes there ought to be a small reservoir made--say three yards
by two and eighteen inches deep, and well gravelled at the bottom.
All these matters having been previously arranged, and the water
flowing nicely over the gravel, sprinkle the impregnated roe
equally over the surface of the gravel, say a quarter of a pint to
each box, and it will roll down into the interstices of the gravel
and find a bed in which it will remain snugly until the spring,
when, about March, if all has been properly managed, you will
find, on a careful examination, that the young Trout are coming to
life by hundreds. I am very particular in recommending spring
rather than brook water, for several reasons. In the first place,
brooks are liable to be flooded, and are sometimes so overcharged
with sand and mud that the gravel in the spawning-boxes is
completely choked with it and the spawn is lost, as I know to my
great and frequent disappointments. At other times all is washed
away together. In the second place, the gravel of brooks swarms
with water-lice (shrimps) and the larvae of aquatic insects, as
well as bull-heads and loaches, all of which prey upon the spawn
of the Trout and Salmon. In the third place, if you put your
spawning-boxes in a brook, you will find it difficult to prevent
the escape of the fry when hatched, and you are left in doubt as
to the success of your experiment. With spring water all these
inconveniences are avoided. But if your watercourse should contain
water-lice or aquatic larvae, it is a very easy matter to destroy
them before putting in your boxes, with a little salt or
quicklime. It is also desirable to cover your spawning-boxes with
a wire grating, to exclude the light, and to protect them in
severe weather from the chance of being frozen.

When they begin to hatch, open a communication between the boxes
and the little reservoir below, and if this communicates with a
watercourse in which aquatic plants are growing, so much the
better. The fry, as soon as they are strong enough, will make
their way into this ditch, and will find abundance of food among
the water plants; thence they ought to be able to make their way
into the brook, river, or lake which it is intended to store with
them. All ducks, wild and tame, should be driven from this ditch,
or few of the Trout will be allowed to find their way to their
final place of destination.

These rules, with some modification, are applicable to the
breeding of Salmon as well as Trout; the only difference being in
the mode of placing the female fish, when obtaining the roe, and
the size of the gravel in which the spawn is deposited in the
boxes. The Salmon is too large a fish to put into the vessels in
which the diluted milt is placed, but I think that she should be
held by an assistant, in such a manner that the tail and lower
part of the body up to the vent are immersed in the water
containing the milt. And it is also very necessary to hold her
firmly, otherwise a large fish, in the struggles which it makes to
get free, is apt to upset the vessel containing the milt, and then
the experiment is at an end, at least for the time. Being held
firmly by the assistant, as above stated, the belly of the fish
must be gently pressed by the hands to promote the exclusion of
the spawn, which on exclusion must be gently stirred in the
diluted milt, to bring every grain into contact with it; but the
roe ought not to remain in contact with the milt a minute, if it
can sooner be got out, as I have found that if the diluted milt be
too strong, or if the ova remain too long in contact with it, they
become opaque, and never hatch at all, apparently because they are
over-impregnated. In the ordinary way in which Salmon and Trout
are bred, the milt must be largely diluted with water, and the
contact between the milt and ova can only be momentary, for the
streams in which these fish spawn (particularly the Salmon) are so
rapid, that the milt on exclusion must be carried away immediately.

There is another method, which is preferred by Ramsbottom, to the
one I have been describing, and it is certainly less troublesome.
This is to take the ova from the female fish in the first place
(taking care to exclude the air from it, by immersing the fish
into water up to the vent), and when all the roe has been
collected into a large bowl or basin, then mix the milt with it,
the same diluted in the proportion which has been before
described, namely, until the water which covers the roe becomes
lightly opalescent.

I am quite aware that there is another theory which assumes that
impregnation takes place twelve months before the exclusion of the
ova. [8] But a very careful and long continued examination of the
spawning of minnows and lampreys (I have never been able closely
to examine the spawning of Salmon), convinces me that it is not a
correct one. Besides, did any one ever succeed in hatching the ova
of a fish which had not been allowed to come in contact with milt
after exclusion? If they have, when, where, and how has this been
accomplished, and where is it recorded? I know that I could never
succeed, although I have often tried the experiment. On the other
hand, it is the easiest thing imaginable, with due care and a
suitable situation, to hatch those which have been properly
impregnated after exclusion. But if, to avoid argument, I admit
that this theory is correct, it will not at all interfere with
artificial breeding of Trout and Salmon; on the contrary, it will
materially facilitate it. It will only be necessary to catch
female fish with the ova ready for exclusion, and place these ova
in clean gravel in a box, as before described, but there will be
no occasion for males. But supposing Trout and Salmon can be bred
in this manner, which I by no means believe, there would be no
means of breeding hybrids, which I consider a far more important
achievement, and to which I will now refer.

Ever since my attention was turned to the artificial breeding of
fish, it has always appeared to me exceedingly desirable and
important to breed hybrids between the Trout and the Salmon. The
fry of the Salmon, which, by-the-bye, is perhaps the most
delicately flavoured fish that exists in this country, although it
lives and thrives in fresh water for two or three years, if kept
in a locality where it cannot escape to the sea, yet, if kept
longer than that time, pines away and dies. If, therefore, we
could obtain a hybrid fish, bred between the river Trout and the
Salmon, we should probably produce a fish which, being a mule,
would be always in good condition; being crossed with a river
fish, it would probably never require a visit to salt water to
keep it in good health. Being crossed with a Salmon, it ought to
get to a good size in a comparatively short period; and, if it
would rise at the artificial fly, or the minnow, ought to afford
first-rate sport to the angler.

There does not appear to be a greater specific difference between
the Trout and the Salmon than there is between the horse and the
ass, between the mallard and the musk duck, or between a cabbage
and a turnip. But hitherto, in all my experiments, I have never
succeeded in producing a hybrid between the Trout and the
Salmon. [9] Yet I do not despair of doing so, for there was always
a something to complain of, and to doubt about, in every one I
tried, and I still think I shall succeed by perseverance. Even if
I shall succeed, the result may not prove quite so favourable as I
anticipate, but may turn out as unfortunately as the marriage of
the gentleman in the story, which relates that, being good-
tempered but ugly himself, he married a handsome ill-tempered
wife, hoping that his children would have his good-temper and
their mother's good looks; but when they came, they were as ugly
as the father and as ill-tempered as the mother. So it may prove
with these hybrids--they may not always thrive in fresh water;
they may not grow to a good size; they may not rise at the
artificial fly; they may be worthless for the table. Nevertheless,
it is desirable if possible that this should be ascertained. The
progeny of a male Salmon and a female Trout may be much better or
much worse fitted for a continual residence in fresh water than
the descendants of a male Trout and a female Salmon; but this can
only be determined by experiment. Dr. Lindley says, in his
introduction to the "Guide to the Orchard," that in the cross
fertilization of fruits, the seedlings always partake more of the
character of the male than of the female parent. But I believe
that in breeding mules it is found more desirable that the father
should be an ass than a horse. In my poultry yard I breed hybrids
between the musk duck and the common duck, and I find that I have
a much better progeny from the musk drake and the common duck than
from the common drake and the musk duck. In the latter cross,
although the males are fine birds, the females are not larger than
a widgeon, and fly about almost like wild ducks. This may not
always be the case, but it has proved so with me.

But to return to the fish. If any gentleman who is interested in
such matters will do me the honour to read this paper, and wishes
for further information on the subject, I shall be happy to give
it, so far as I am able. Very sure I am that the sportsman who
once fairly starts as a fly-fisher, and is so fortunate as to hook
a Salmon or a large Trout, will thenceforward despise or lightly
esteem corks and floats, ground-bait and trimmers, punts and Perch
fishing, and will fairly wish them all exchanged for a nice stream
well stocked with Trout--as a gentleman lately said to me, fly-
fishing is a perfect infatuation! He was quite right. The extreme
avidity with which it is followed by the thoroughly initiated, can
only be explained on that supposition; to the casual observer,
there does not appear to be any strong excitement in it. But that
is a great mistake. Let me get to the bank of a river well stocked
with Trout in a good humour, early in the morning, and I feel
neither hunger, thirst, nor fatigue if I fish until dark without
tasting of anything. And the excitement of hooking a ten or twelve
pound Salmon is not much inferior to that produced by a long run
after the hounds.

I cannot conclude without calling the attention of all interested,
and who are able to render assistance in remedying the evil, to
the great falling off in the quantity of fish there is in all the
Salmon rivers in England. With those in Scotland and Ireland I am
not acquainted, but believe that matters are not in a much better
state there. I believe that the unsatisfactory state of the laws
has a great deal to do with this decline in the value of the
fisheries, and I also believe that it is quite possible so to
alter the law as to very greatly improve them, and that without
improperly interfering with what is of far more importance--I mean
the manufactories of the country. As the law stands at present the
proprietors of the upper parts of rivers have not the slightest
interest in the preservation of the fish in the breeding season,
for, as they are seldom allowed to see a fish when it is fit for
the table, why should they look after the poachers in close time?
Why should they be put to much expense and trouble, as well as the
risk of the lives of their game-keepers, merely to breed fish for
the proprietors of stake nets and estuary fisheries, who don't
spend a farthing in the preservation of the fish when breeding,
and yet reap all the benefit? I had occasion, some years ago, to
examine the evidence on this subject given before the House of
Commons in 1825, and was exceedingly amused at the schemes
resorted to to evade the law, moderate and inefficient as was the
law at that time. (Since then the law has been altered both in
Scotland and Ireland, but I do not know what are the provisions,
nor what has been the effect of the new law.) It required that
there should be a free passage for the fish (Salmon) through all
the traps, nets, weirs, and devices that were used to catch or
detain them, from sunset on Saturday night to sunrise on Monday
morning. One man said he paid L7,000 a year for his fishery, and
should lose one-seventh of his catch. Another said he allowed a
free passage on Sundays, but would not permit anybody to go and
examine for themselves. A third proved that he allowed the fish a
free passage on Sundays, but his neighbours proved that he placed
in the gap a crocodile, painted red. And a fourth was convicted of
breaking down the stake nets in the estuary of a river--at the
same time he had a net stretched entirely across the river above,
both day and night. And so with many others, every one striving
with all his might to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs.

This is not the way to improve the Salmon fisheries. To do this
effectually the upper proprietors must have a strong interest in
the preservation of the breeding of fish, and in order to give
them this interest they ought to have an ample supply of fish when
they are in the best condition; but to give them this supply the
law ought to be altered. At present I believe the law does not
require a free passage for the fish (at least in English rivers)
except from Saturday night to Monday morning; in many of them I
believe this is not insisted upon; whereas the law ought to
prohibit fishing for or obstructing the passage of the fish every
night from sunset to sunrise, and this regulation ought to be
rigorously enforced. This would give the upper proprietors a
chance of having good fish, and a corresponding inducement to take
care of them. Nobody would be so much benefited as the owners of
fisheries at the mouths of rivers; they would be the first takers,
and would still get the lion's share of all the fish that ascended
the river. If this regulation were enforced, the expenses of
conservators might be defrayed by levying a small tax, in the
shape of a licence for angling, which all true sportsmen would be
glad to pay if it gave a reasonable prospect of a well-stocked
river. Now matters are getting worse every day, and notwithstanding
the enormous fecundity of the Salmon (a large one producing 25,000
ova in a season), they are now extinct in some rivers where they
used to be found in my recollection, and in others where they were
once abundant they are now very scarce. No one need to wonder at
this, when he is told that gangs of poachers are on the look-out
for them all through the spawning season. In one winter, some
years ago, I am credibly informed that two hundred Salmon were
taken in one stream within five hundred yards of the spot where
I am now writing. It is nobody's business and nobody's interest to
prevent this, and therefore it goes on openly night and day.

Are there no influential gentlemen in the House of Commons who
will take up this matter and endeavour to get an equitable and
comprehensive law passed for the preservation and increase of the
breed of Salmon? It is a matter of even national importance, and
if duly provided for and properly attended to, I see no
improbability in the supposition that Salmon would again be as
abundant as they were when the apprentices on the banks of the
Ribble stipulated that they should not be compelled to eat Salmon
oftener than three days in the week. The apathy of country
gentlemen in this matter is to me unaccountable. I have some
reason to believe, however, that Government have at all times been
so far from lending their influence to the promotion of any
attempts to amend these laws, that they have obstructed rather
than assisted them, most probably from an idea that the
preservation of the fish would interfere with manufactories. If I
thought that this would be the case, I should not say a word on
the subject; but I am very far from holding such an opinion. So
far from this being the case, I assert without hesitation that
weirs need form no obstruction to the free passage of fish, and
that without impairing the efficiency of the water power. With the
poisonous and filthy mixtures sent by some manufactories down the
rivers, the case is far different, and where this is done the case
is hopeless. Salmon and Trout will rapidly disappear from such
rivers, never to be seen there again, so long as these noxious
contaminations are permitted to flow into them.

* * * * *


CLITHEROE, _December 26th_, 1853.

To the Editor of the "Manchester Guardian."

SIR,--I have read with some interest the letter of your
correspondent, Salmo Salar, on the artificial breeding of fish;
and knowing, as I do, the great interest which the writer feels in
the preservation and increase of his namesakes, I shall be most
happy if my humble efforts in the same cause throw any more light
on the same subject, and in any degree contribute to the same end.

But Mr. Salmo Salar is quite wrong in saying that, with the
exceptions of the experiments made on the banks of the Hodder, by
Ramsbottom, no efforts have been made to increase the number of
Salmon by providing artificial breeding-places. Passing over my
own numerous experiments here for the last fourteen or fifteen
years (which you, Sir, are aware of, though the fishing world is
not), I may refer to the extensive experiments made by Mr. Fawkes,
of Farnley, in 1841 and 1842, and renewed again in 1848 and 1849;
and the whole of which (with the exception of a portion of these
in 1842) were successful. The experiments of Salmo Salar were not
made until 1851 and 1852, and were intended merely to test the
accuracy of an assumption that the impregnation of the ova takes
place long prior to their exclusion; which experiments terminated
in a complete failure. Salmo Salar says that the quantity of
Salmon fry in the river is enormous; and that he has caught five
pounds of them in a single pool in a single day. I have known
three times that quantity caught in the same way. But still this
proves nothing at all, for it is well known that almost all
migratory animals, however solitary their general habits may be,
are gregarious at the time of migration. Witness swallows,
fieldfares, and even woodcocks. Witness also the clouds of small
Eels ascending the rivers in May and June; and if we are to
believe the accounts of travellers, the enormous flocks of
antelopes in Africa, and of bisons in America, are proofs of the
same general law. No doubt Salmo Salar will find, as he says, that
the Samlets are exceedingly abundant in some of the pools, when
they have flocked together for the purpose of migration; but he
may perhaps travel for miles either up or down the river before he
will find any more. It is notorious that, in the tributaries of
the Hodder, they are walled in, in many places, for the purpose of
detaining them, that unscrupulous anglers may get as many of them
as possible before they go to the sea. Salmo Salar is in error
also when he says that Ramsbottom deposited 40,000 in the ponds of
Galway, of which 20,000 are expected to be fruitful. The fact is,
that he deposited 40,000 in December, 1852, of which above 20,000
are now alive and in the ponds, varying from four to five inches
long to two or three, notwithstanding that experiment was made
under very unfavourable circumstances; for there was so much mud
in the stream that supplied the spawning-boxes, that when
Ramsbottom left Galway he was afraid all the ova would be choked
by it.

Salmo Salar seems to think that almost all the ova deposited
naturally come to life, and that very few of those deposited
artificially do so. This, however, is quite contrary to my
experience, and I think that if Salmo Salar will listen to the
evidence he will change his opinion. It is well known that
Salmon are very fond of particular streams, their instinct no
doubt informing them which are suitable to their purpose; and when
one pair of fish have finished spawning, another pair will come
and occupy the same place. Now, what takes place under such
circumstances? The ova which were deposited by the first pair are
rooted up by the second, and their specific gravity is so near
that of the water, that they roll down out of the loose gravel and
are picked up by the Trouts, Par, and other fish that are always
lying in wait just below for that purpose. When Ramsbottom was in
Galway he caught a large Trout, out of whose throat he squeezed a
thousand ova, which were deposited in a spawning-box, many of
which came to life notwithstanding the pit they had escaped from.
The extraordinary avidity with which Trout take Salmon roe as a
bait is also a proof (if that were needed) of their preying upon
it in the spawning beds. Yet, in addition to them, are all the
Par, Bullheads, Eels, Loaches, and aquatic larvae which may be
found swarming in every spawning bed by any one who will look for
them. In addition to these enemies, millions of the ova are
destroyed by being washed away by heavy floods, and as many more
are destroyed by being choked with mud and sand in the spawning
beds as well as by being left dry at low water owing to the Salmon
spawning in places which frequently become quite dry in early
spring. No doubt many of the Salmon fry when they have reached the
sea are destroyed by enemies there, of which we know nothing. But
still, if 500,000 are bred, in addition to all that are reared
naturally, it will represent a larger proportion of the whole than
Salmo Salar seems to suppose; otherwise, how is it that in rivers
where Salmon are protected, or still more in unsettled countries,
the Salmon are so numerous? The Salmon in the Columbia river, on
the north-west coast of America, are cast dead upon the shores by
myriads after the spawning season, and these are merely the fish
dying from exhaustion, as a small portion always do here. How
numerous, then, are those which ascend the river to spawn, and go
down again to the sea afterwards! No doubt the grand object to be
attained is to make Salmon abundant, and the most important step
towards the attainment of this object will be to give an efficient
protection to the spawning fish, and the only way to do this
effectually is to give the upper proprietors of rivers such an
interest in the Salmon fisheries as will make them worth
attention. At present this is far from being the case. Now the
upper proprietors are merely considered as so many clucking hens,
whose business and whose duty it is to hatch Salmon for the
proprietors of fisheries at the mouths of rivers, who do not in
many cases spend a farthing in their protection when spawning, and
who grievously begrudge the upper proprietors every fish that is
able to pass their nets and other engines of destruction. Let the
upper proprietors of Salmon rivers bestir themselves so to amend
the law as to give them a chance of having a supply of Salmon when
they are in season. They cannot and will not have a more efficient
ally than Salmo Salar. Salmo Salar is in my opinion quite right
when he says that the fish kept in ponds will not be quite so well
able to take care of themselves as fish which have been bred and
lived all their lives in the river. Nor do I think that this is
necessary for any longer period than until the young fry get rid
of the umbilical vessel; after which they are quite able to take
care of themselves. Before that time they are scarcely able to
move, and thousands of them fall a prey, not only to the other
fish, but to the larvae of aquatic insects which prey upon them
very greedily. As I happen to know from my own observations, the
larva of the stone fly (May fly of Lancashire) and those of all
the larger ephemera (drakes), to say nothing of the fresh-water
shrimps, swarm in all the spawning beds, and no doubt destroy
myriads of the ova. All these would be saved by proper precautions
and well formed spawning-boxes, with good supplies of spring water
to feed them.

I think Salmo Salar has very greatly over-estimated the quantity
of Salmon fry that go down to the sea from the rivers. He speaks
of them going down by millions. Now we will take the river Hodder
as a river with which both Salmo Salar and myself are well
acquainted, and I will venture to say that, so far is this an
over-estimate, that if he would take the hundredth part of the
number he would be much nearer the truth. The Samlets when they go
to the sea may be reckoned to weigh eight to the pound, and two
millions would at that rate weigh one hundred and ten tons. Does
Salmo Salar think that one ton and a tenth of Smolts go down the
river Hodder to the sea on an average of years? I have more
favourable means of judging of the quantity that go down the river
Ribble than I have of those of the Hodder, and I believe I should
very greatly exaggerate their numbers if I estimated them at any
such weight as a fourth of that quantity. Again, the Hodder and
the Ribble are, in some respects, far more favourable for spawning
than many other rivers; for partly owing to the country through
which they pass, and partly owing to the rapidity of their
streams, the gravel is large and very suitable for spawning in;
there is also far less mud and sand in them, and the spawning beds
are much less liable to be choked up than they are in many other
rivers. No doubt the Salmon will make the best selection in their
power, but they can only select from such places as there are; and
if those are not suitable the ova must be in a great measure
destroyed. Since Ramsbottom returned from Scotland he has visited
the river Dee, about forty miles from Chester, and there he found
the spawning beds (ridds as Salmo Salar calls them) silted up with
mud and sand, and the ova buried in them to the depth of eighteen
inches. How or when were the newly hatched fish (supposing, which
is very improbable, that they ever did hatch) to make their escape
from such a heap of filth? It would be quite impossible.

In conclusion, it seems desirable and quite necessary to say a few
words as to the priority of discovery of this process of fish
propagation. The French claim it; the Irish seem to claim it; the
Messrs. Ashworth take great credit for it; and now Salmo Salar
says he first suggested it. Allow me, as there are so many
claimants in the field, to suggest one or two more. In the year
1832, without knowing that such a thing had ever been done or even
thought of, I made some experiments on the spawning of fish and
the artificial impregnation of their ova, which I communicated to
"Loudon's Magazine of Natural History," in which they appeared.
After that came the Duke of Buccleuch's game-keeper, Shaw, whose
experiments were both satisfactory and conclusive. This was in
1836 or 1838. Then after my experiments at home, I induced Mr.
Fawkes to take up the matter in 1841, and they were resumed in
1842, and again in 1848 and 1849, both with Salmon and Trout. It
was at this period that Ramsbottom came into the field. At Mr.
Fawkes's request I instructed him in the art, and sent him to
Farnley, where he was perfectly successful; and since then, I
believe he has had more experience and been more successful than
any other propagator in the kingdom.

The principle of this system is very easily comprehended; but
success depends on many niceties of manipulation, and much
experience in judging whether the fish, both male and female, are
in the proper condition for operating upon.

This experience is not gained without much practice. This practice
Ramsbottom has in great perfection. There is no doubt the
artificial breeding of fish will be found exceedingly beneficial,
if properly carried out; and I hope to see the time when Salmo
Salar may catch half-a-dozen of his namesakes at Whitewell, any
good day in the season.

I am, Sir,
Yours very truly,

* * * * *


CLITHEROE, _9th January_, 1854.

To the Editor of the "Manchester Guardian."

SIR,--As I believe that Salmo Salar is quite as desirous of
increasing the breed of Salmon as myself, the controversy between
us may be reduced to very narrow limits. He believes that Trout
eat very few of the Salmon ova, and therefore cannot do much harm.
I will just mention a few facts which make me think otherwise.
When Ramsbottom was in Galway he caught in one night twenty-five
Trout on the spawning ground, which had on the average not less
than five hundred ova in each of their stomachs; from one of their
throats he squeezed a thousand. As the net would not take a fish
of less than two pounds, how many had passed through it? When he
was at Knowlmere, in sweeping the river for spawning fish he
caught nine Par, two Trouts, and a Sprod on the spawning bed, all
of which were gorged with Salmon spawn; when he went into the
brooks there he never found a pair of Trout spawning without also
finding a number of smaller fish behind, some of which he caught,
and in all such cases found them gorged with roe up to the throat;
the male Trout would occasionally drive them off, but as soon as
he returned to the female they were again close in the rear.

In the "Perthshire Courier" of the 22nd December is the following
statement: The men employed in taking the breeding fish secured a
Whitling on Tuesday about three-quarters of a pound, and as they
observed Salmon ova coming out of his mouth he was brought to the
office of Mr. Buist for examination; on being opened, upwards of
three hundred impregnated Salmon ova were taken from his stomach
quite undigested. It may be, therefore, fairly presumed, that this
youngster had taken this quantity for his breakfast; if he dined
and breakfasted in the same style each day during the breeding
season, it is difficult to estimate the expense of his keep. Such
is the amount of loss of impregnated roe in one morning from one
trifling fish; what must it be throughout the season from the
various enemies it has to encounter?

Salmo Salar is facetious about the destruction of the roe by
insects, and says, "because an aquatic insect will devour a
minnow's egg, which is not as large as a pin's head, we have no
right to infer that it will devour that of a Salmon, which is as
large as a pea; it would be just as reasonable to suppose that
because a wasp feasts upon a cherry, or a strawberry, therefore he
will eat a turnip or a mangold wurtzel." As he seems to have made
a slip of the pen in naming the two last _fruits_, allow me to
supply what I suppose he meant to say, which I presume was that
because a wasp eats a cherry or a strawberry, we must not
therefore infer that he will either eat a pear or a plum; if that
is his meaning, I think I can understand it. If he adheres to his
own version, I would merely observe that there is no analogy in
the two cases. But the inference does not rest upon mere
supposition; the freshwater shrimps at Knowlmere were seen
devouring the ova in the spawning-boxes. We have seen above that
Par eat ova as well as Trout. Let us suppose that the millions of
Smolts (as Par) have only one meal each of Salmon roe, and we will
stint them to twenty ova apiece. I fear that very few of the five
millions which Salmo Salar says are deposited in the Hodder will
be left to grow into Salmon. In addition to these, ducks, both
wild and tame, eat them greedily. When Ramsbottom was in Galway he
saw that the tame ducks frequented the spawning ford, and the
superintendent bought one, and found its crop quite full of Salmon
roe. If this had been buried eighteen inches in the gravel (as
Salmo Salar suggests), the duck would have had some difficulty in
extracting it; but so far as my experience goes, it is not usually
one-half that depth, although this varies in different rivers.
Then, if one Salmon is able to plough up gravel which is cemented
together by sand and long continuance in one place, why should not
another be able to do the same when the gravel is loose and easily
removed? But there is another enemy whom Salmo Salar has not
mentioned, who does more harm than all the rest: that is the
poacher, and I fear that many of the Salmon which Salmo Salar saw
spawning in the Hodder and its tributaries have since then made a
journey overland. At all events, I am credibly informed that in
one season a gang of poachers took seventy Salmon in the Hodder.
Is he sure they have taken none this season? Salmo Salar seems to
think that one pair of Salmon will not spawn on the same ground,
which has been previously occupied by another pair; but he has
only to watch the same ridd for a week or two to be convinced he
is mistaken. As to fish refusing to spawn on new gravel, I may
state that when Mr. Fawkes was making his experiments at Farnley
he put some new gravel into his brook, and there were sixteen
pairs of Trout spawning on it the next morning. Salmo Salar says
that if he can have those simple checks which he enumerates to the
present practices, he will restore abundance of Salmon to the
Ribble; they are all very good in their way, but do not go quite
far enough, and they would do very little good without a fourth,
namely, protection from the poacher for the fish on the spawning
beds. Until this can be given more efficiently than it is at
present, all the rest will be unavailing; and until the upper
proprietors can have a greater interest in the preservation of
Salmon than they now have, they cannot be expected to give
themselves much trouble on the subject.

My readers would not be much edified by strong assertion and
counter-assertion of what Trout do, and what they cannot do; nor
is it probable that where we differ we should convince each other;
neither do I see any occasion for personality, when both parties
are actuated by the same motives--a desire to see the Salmon
fisheries restored to a state of great prosperity. I therefore
avoid noticing some of Salmo Salar's remarks, which seem to me a
little tinged with this spirit, and hope we shall be able to act
in concert for the attainment of that desirable result. Salmo
Salar will find that the number of Smolts is not always determined
by the quantity of ova deposited: if he will examine the bed of
the Hodder the next low water, he will find many of the ridds
disturbed by the ice floods of yesterday; and if he doubts this, I
shall be happy to examine them along with him, if he will give me
previous notice of his intention.

Since the above was written I have seen Ramsbottom, who tells me
that the stream in the Tay, where he caught the whole of the fish
from which he obtained 300,000 to 400,000 ova, was on one side of
it one continuous ridd, and that the fish could not avoid
ploughing up the gravel which previous fish had spawned in, and at
Oughterard, where 300 pairs of fish spawned in the same number of
yards, it was the same; and they found thousands of ova buried so
deep that they were rotting in great quantities.

With regard to what Salmo Salar says about the infrequency of a
veritable spawning bed being washed away by floods, I refer him to
what I have said previously; but Ramsbottom tells me the game-
keeper at Harden (Haworth) will be able to give him sufficient
proof that in the Langden Brook this has occurred, as he found the
ova on the dry land by thousands, which had been left there by the

When Ramsbottom was at Perth he found on one of the fords, a space
of twenty yards long and fourteen yards wide, filled with ridds,
which was entirely left dry. What would become of all the spawn
deposited there?

Salmo Salar seems to think nature is quite sufficient to take care
of her own interests without our interference, and that without
some counter-acting influence to keep the breed of fish in check,
the river would not hold all that would be bred. I quite agree
with him in this, provided nature had fair play; but she has not,
and occasionally needs a little help: else why do we employ game-
keepers to trap cats, foxes, and weasels, to shoot hawks, carrion
crows, and magpies, and to breed pheasants, as well as to prevent
poaching? If these precautions are unnecessary, why go to such
expense? and if they are necessary for hares and birds, may they
not be also for fish?

I hope Salmo Salar will investigate what I said about walling in
of the Smolts in Langden Brook. I fancy he may have seen these
enclosures himself; at all events, I have, and although I cannot
prove they were erected for that purpose, I do not doubt the
accuracy of my information.

I am, Sir,
Yours very truly,

* * * * *

The following letter was sent to me from Chester:--

CHESTER, _3rd February_, 1854.

SIR,--We are about to make application to Parliament for a
Commission of Inquiry into the state of laws respecting the
fisheries of England and Wales. And Mr. Ashworth, of Poynton, has
been so good as to refer me to you, as able and willing to furnish
us with information on the subject.

The annual meeting of the river Dee fishery association will be
held on the 20th instant, when I purpose to lay before them the
draft of a petition to Parliament for their approval.

I am anxious in the meantime to obtain all the information
possible relative to the working of the present laws, their
defects, and the alterations to be proposed in them, in order that
a condensed statement may be embodied in the petition as the
ground of our application.

I should be exceedingly obliged for any remarks your experience
may suggest, and trust you will accept the cause which dictates my
writing as a sufficient apology for troubling you on the subject.

I have had great pleasure in reading your able replies to Salmo
Salar's letters. On the appearance of the first, I was strongly
prompted to reply to it myself, but rejoiced to find him in much
better hands.

I remain, Sir,
Yours very truly,

* * * * *

CLITHEROE, _4th February_, 1854.


DEAR SIR,--I am favoured with your letter of yesterday, and shall
be glad to give you any information I may possess on the habits of
Salmon, or the requirements of any act of Parliament necessary for
the preservation and increase of this valuable fish. Being a mill-
owner, I have interests which are supposed to clash with those of
fish preservers; but I hope to be able to show that all mill-
owners are able to give a passage over their weirs at all times
when the fish are inclined to run; that is, when there are freshes
in the river. I say this the more confidently, as I believe the
works here are the largest in England for the power of the stream
they stand upon, and I find it necessary to employ 150 horse-power
of steam. Yet I find from a careful register, which has been kept
here since the year 1838, that we are able, without interfering
with the efficiency of the water power, to give the fish a passage
over the weir 181 days, or part of days, annually, and this at
times when alone they are disposed to avail themselves of such a
passage--that is in floods.

The suggestions that occur to me from time to time I will not fail
to send you. At present the following seem to me to be essential,
to give efficacy to any Act of Parliament framed for the purpose
of preserving and increasing the breed of Salmon, for without some
such provisions the gentlemen on the upper parts of rivers will
have no inducement to exert themselves in the matter.

First.--No nets or other engines, except rod and line, should be
used for taking fish from six o'clock at night to six o'clock in
the morning, and all fish should be allowed a free passage up the
stream every night when this does not destroy or impair the
efficacy of the water power.

Second.--No mill-owner nor his servants, nor any other person,
should be allowed to take fish at his weir, or within fifty yards
of it.

Third.--Conservators should be allowed to go into all wheel-races,
wheel-houses and tail-goits, and also upon all lands on the banks
of Salmon rivers, as well as inspect all cruives, weirs, &c.,
without being deemed guilty of trespass.

Fourth.--All weirs kept solely for fishing purposes, cruives, &c.,
should be compelled to give a free passage to the fish every night
from six o'clock to six o'clock in the morning; and any
obstruction placed in the gap calculated to hinder or frighten the
fish back, should be deemed breaches of the Act of Parliament and
liable to a penalty.

Fifth.--All nets and other devices for catching Eels should be
prohibited in April, May, and June.

Sixth.--Close time should be altered and extended, as well as made
uniform, in all rivers.

Seventh.--The sale and use of Salmon roe should be prohibited.

Eighth.--Justices should be enabled to assist the passage of fish
over weirs by any contrivance which did not impair their stability
nor the efficiency of the water power.

Ninth.--All cruives should be formed of vertical bars, and should
have the intervening spaces to measure not less than three inches.

Tenth.--No nets used in a Salmon river should measure in the mesh
less than two inches and a half from knot to knot.

Eleventh.--Any person having no right of fishing found with a net
in his possession or a Salmon out of season, should be guilty of

Twelfth.--A ten shillings' licence for angling for Salmon.

The reasons for most of these suggestions will be obvious to you,
but there are some which may not be so; I will therefore give a
short comment on such.

Third and fourth.--The conservators shall have the right to
inspect all wheel-races, cruives, &c., to see they are properly
regulated, and also to see that no contrivance is used to drive
the fish back. In the evidence given before the House of Commons
in 1825, it was proved that the lessee of a fishery in Scotland
used to place a crocodile painted red in the king's gap, which the
law compelled him to give from Saturday night till Monday morning.

Fifth.--The prohibition to set Eel nets in April, May, and June is
to prevent the destruction of Smolts when going down to the sea.

Seventh.--Salmon are destroyed here when spawning chiefly for the
sake of the roe. If a man were fined for selling it or having it
in his possession, this inducement would be weakened.

Eleventh.--There is the same reason for seizing the net of the
black fisher that there is for seizing the snare of the poacher,
and if the latter can be convicted for having hares or snares in
his possession, I do not see why the former should not for having
nets and Salmon.

A meeting of the gentlemen interested in the fisheries of the
Ribble and the Hodder will be held on Friday, the 17th instant,
previous to which time I should be glad of your criticism.

I am, dear Sir,
Yours very truly,

P.S.--It occurs to me since closing my letter that I have
forgotten one important provision required in any new Act of
Parliament--namely, protection to the Smolts in their downward
migration. Here the pools are swept with small meshed trammel nets
of all the fish that they contain.

* * * * *


CLITHEROE, _23rd April_, 1863.

To the Editors of the "Leeds Mercury."

GENTLEMEN,--I am somewhat at a loss to understand the object of
Mr. Horsfall's letter on this subject which appears in the
"Mercury" of to-day. If he means that fish hatched by this process
are as much at the mercy of their natural enemies as they are in
their natural spawning beds I differ from him entirely; but if he
means that there is no good in breeding migratory fish like
Salmon, when the obstacles to their return in the shape of stake
nets, impassable weirs, and poisonous waters are so numerous as
they are at present in many rivers (the Wharfe and the Aire are
examples of both), I entirely agree with him. Let us consider both
suppositions, for the more this subject is ventilated the more
likely is good to arise from the discussion. I think Mr. Horsfall
is entirely wrong in the first supposition, for the following
reasons: By artificial propagation the young fish escape all
damage from floods, and particularly ice floods, which scoop out
all the loose gravel from the spawning beds, which are frequently
entirely carried away by these floods. They escape all danger from
drought, which in some rivers is almost as bad, there being now
several mounds of dry gravel in my length of the Ribble which were
spawning grounds last December. They escape being destroyed as ova
by Trout, Eels, Bullheads, Loaches, the larva of aquatic insects,
ducks (wild and tame), water rats, and water shrews. The last are
said to be destructive to the spawn; but this I do not vouch for,
as these two last-mentioned animals have not come under my own
observation as devourers of spawn.

With regard to the 500 Salmon ova said to have been taken from the
stomach of a Trout, Ramsbottom is the authority for it, only he
says there were nearer 1,000 than 500, and he took them from the
maw of a large lake Trout at Oughterard, when netting the spawning
Salmon for his artificial propagation. When Ramsbottom was fish
breeding for Mr. Peel the year after he first went to Ireland for
that purpose, he went into the brooks at night with a light. He
never found a pair of spawning fish without also finding several
waiters on Providence in the shape of small Trout, which were
picking up the ova that descended the streams towards them.
Several of these he caught, and they were perfectly gorged with

With regard to the ducks, Ramsbottom is again my authority. He
found that a flock of tame ducks frequented the spawning beds at
Oughterard; he bought one for the purpose of ascertaining whether
they eat spawn or not, and he found its crop quite full of spawn.
With regard to the aquatic larvae of insects, Mr. Horsfall may
easily satisfy himself that they destroy spawn if he will turn
some into an artificial spawning bed. One of my friends failed to
hatch his Trout ova because he could not keep out the fresh-water

Mr. Horsfall seems to think that nature would be sufficient to
take care of her own interests if man did not step in to aid her
endeavours; but if he is a sportsman he no doubt has a game-
keeper, who not only preserves the ground from poachers, but traps
cats and weasels, shoots hawks, magpies and carrion crows, breeds
tame pheasants, and generally looks to the well being of the game
without trusting to the efforts of unassisted nature.

Let us take the second supposition, that there is no good in
artificial propagation when the fish which are sent to the sea can
never come back again by reason of insurmountable obstacles. If
Mr. Horsfall means this he is quite right; there is no good in the
upper proprietors of Salmon rivers becoming brood hens for the
owners of fisheries at the mouths of rivers or the proprietors of
impassable weirs, who take all the fish which get to the foot of
these weirs. I quite agree with Mr. Horsfall that it is in most
cases easy to build practicable fish passes, and at a slight
expense, if people were willing to do so; but I wish to show that
notwithstanding the boasted effects of the Act of 1861, the upper
riparian proprietors have not a sufficient inducement to build
fish passes, and will not do so unless the expense can be made
very moderate indeed.

I will take the river Ribble to illustrate my meaning. As a
general rule we have no fresh run Salmon until May, and the upper
proprietors are supposed to have a sufficient share of the fish
that ascend the stream if the owners of the fisheries in the
estuary and the tidal part of the river cease to net from six
o'clock on the Saturday night to six o'clock on the Monday
morning. That is a day and a half per week. The fishing for Salmon
(except angling) ceases on the 31st of August, and from the 1st of
May to the 31st of August there are 123 days. Call the period
eighteen weeks, which gives us twenty-seven days during which time
the Salmon have liberty to pass to the upper parts of the river.
But on the average of seasons, owing to droughts, the rapid
absorption of moisture by vegetation, and the great evaporation,
there is no fresh water to enable the fish to ascend during two-
thirds of that time. Every one who knows anything of the habits of
Salmon is aware that they never ascend the rivers from the estuary
unless there is a fresh in the river; and, as I said before, on
the average of seasons there is no fresh for two-thirds of the
time from May to August. This reduces the twenty-seven days (which
are supposed to feed the upper proprietors with Salmon to
repletion) to nine days, and these nine days are expected to stock
the river and its tributaries for one hundred miles. It is true I
have not taken into consideration the privileges which the upper
proprietors have of angling to the 1st of November; but besides
the fact that the fish are then full of spawn, and ought not to be
killed at all, very few rise at the fly, and when they are taken
they can neither be sold nor used by any one who knows what a
fresh Salmon is. It is a greater crime against public polity to
kill a spawning Salmon than it is to steal a sheep; for, supposing
it produces 10,000 ova, and one in a hundred returns as a Salmon,
it returns from a place (the sea) where it has cost nothing in
rent, taxes, or superintendence, and, in the finest condition
imaginable, it invites us to take it.

Mr. Horsfall and I both wish for the same results (rivers swarming
with fish), and although we may somewhat differ as to details, I
have no doubt both would be glad to see public attention directed
to these matters rather more than it is at present.

If Mr. Horsfall will do me the honour to come and see me, I will
show him an efficient fish-pass which has been in operation forty
years. It may suggest some ideas to him, and he may be able to
suggest some improvements in it which I should be glad to receive.

I am, Gentlemen,
Your obedient Servant,

* * * * *

LOW MOOR, _4th January_, 1865.

DEAR SIR,--As I believe Mr. Eden, the Commissioner of Salmon
fisheries, is visiting various districts connected with Salmon
rivers in England and Wales, with a view of explaining the
proposed alterations and additions to the bill of 1861, and as I
think from what I have learnt that the proposed alterations and
additions will not be satisfactory to the upper proprietors of
Salmon rivers, I wish to call your attention to the matter, that,
if he should come into this district, the gentlemen interested may
be able to point out to him how far these alterations are from
meeting their wishes. Supposing that the new bill (as published in
the "Field" newspaper, and explained and commented on by Mr. Eden)
is to be understood as a government measure and one in which they
will allow of no alterations, I maintain that it is very
objectionable both from what it omits and what it purposes to do.

To begin with the former, or, in other words, to take the
recommendations of the Worcester meeting as the groundwork of new
legislation, it does not touch on several of them; they were, so
far as I remember (for I have no memoranda to refer to) an
extension of the weekly and annual close time--minimum penalties:
--a close time for Trout, and a right of way on the banks of
Salmon rivers for all water-bailiffs, duly appointed, without
their being deemed guilty of trespass; and a tax on fishery nets
and implements, for the purpose of defraying the expenses of

Now, so far as I understand the bill as proposed, the only one of
these recommendations included in it is the tax. I am wrong in
this--the taxation is not included in the bill, but was suggested
by Mr. Eden at the meeting he attended lately at Chester. The bill
proposes that the choice of conservators shall be vested in the
magistrates at quarter sessions, and the conservators shall have
power to expend all the funds raised by voluntary subscriptions
for certain purposes mentioned in the act. But Mr. Eden suggested
at Chester that if these funds were inadequate the conservators
should have the power of supplementing them by a rate on the
owners and lessees of fisheries in proportion to their extent. Now
one man may have an estate on the banks of a river extending for
miles from which he derives little or no revenue; while another
may have a fishery not extending more yards than the other does
miles, but from which he derives a revenue of as many pounds as
the other does pence. If Mr. Eden's meaning is lineal extent, I
feel very sure it will not meet with the approval of the upper
riparian proprietors. Again, why should the magistrates in quarter
sessions (nine-tenths of whom know nothing of Salmon or Salmon
rivers) choose the conservators? What, for instance, would the
magistrates meeting at Wakefield know of the Ribble or the Hodder?
What would they care about the matter? They would choose the men
who had power to tax the riparian proprietors and lessees; but as
they would not be taxed themselves, they would look on with great
composure. No; if we are to be taxed, let us tax ourselves, and
not leave it to those who will have no interest in the matter, and
who may involve us in litigation and expense over which we shall
have no control.

The recommendations of the Worcester committee deserved more
consideration on the part of Government. They were suggested by
men of great experience, and, moreover, unless they are adopted
and legalized by Parliament there can be no permanent prosperity
for Salmon rivers. Take the extension of close time as an
instance. It cannot be right that the owners or lessees of estuary
fisheries shall be allowed to take ninety per cent. of the fish
which they have neither bred nor fed, and whose well-being and
increase they have done nothing to promote; while the upper
proprietors, on whom devolve all the care, trouble, and expense,
are to rest satisfied with what the thirty-six hours per week can
give them. What did they give the upper proprietors on the Ribble
and the Hodder last season? Little or nothing. When the bill of
1861 was before the House of Commons, I had an opportunity of
suggesting (indirectly) to the late Sir George Cornewall Lewis the
propriety and desirableness of an extension of the weekly close
time for the benefit of the upper proprietors. He replied, "You
might as well propose to restrict the shooting of partridges to
three days a week as to restrict the netting of Salmon." But with
all due deference to so great an authority, there is no analogy
between the two cases. If partridges had all to migrate and return
before they could be legally shot, and had, like the Salmon, all
to return by the same road, ninety per cent. of them before
reaching the district where they were reared would become the prey
of men who had neither bred nor fed them. I fancy sportsmen would
want protection for them; and if they were not able to obtain it,
they would do what is seriously proposed by many people with
regard to the Salmon--they would do all they could to exterminate
them, rather than continue to act as brood hens to hatch chickens
for other men's eating.

Then take the annual close time and the pretended compensation it
offers in the two months' rod-fishing (September and October).
After the nets have been withdrawn, what is it worth? Or, what is
the value of black fish full of spawn? They cannot be sold; they
are not fit to eat; the spawn has nearly arrived at maturity, and
the only value the fish has is in the spawn, which is potted and
sold in many instances by the poacher who kills the fish. He
deserves no other name, whatever may be his rank or station.

Again, in the 21st section, regulating the weekly close time, it
is enacted "That any person acting in contravention of this
section shall forfeit all the fish taken by him, and any net or
movable instrument used by him in taking the same, and, in
addition thereto, shall incur a penalty of not exceeding five
pounds, and a further penalty of not exceeding one pound for each
fish." But in the 17th section, which regulates the annual close
time, though there is a penalty for the contravention and
forfeiture of the Salmon so taken, there is no forfeiture of nets
and implements. You will no doubt remember how this worked when
the watchers took a net and boat, near Preston, last season, after
the setting in of the annual close time. How the owner of the net
and boat came to claim them, on the pretence that the net had been
stolen from the bank, where it had been left to dry, although his
own men were the parties who were so illegally using them.

Minimum penalties.--I see no mention of them in the new bill,
although it is notorious that many magistrates have fined
convicted poachers in the penalty of a farthing or a shilling.
What is this but an encouragement to do so again?

Close time for Trout.--This is greatly needed in Salmon rivers, as
it is well known that many a poacher pretends to be fishing for
Trout when he is looking after Salmon. This is doubly needed when
the Salmon ascend the small tributaries to spawn.

The right of way for water bailiffs.--There is no clause or
section in the new bill giving the right of way on the banks of
Salmon rivers to duly authorized persons without their being
deemed guilty of trespass. But there is one by which they are
permitted to examine weirs. There is on my part no objection to
this examination, but why are millowners stigmatized by being
subjected to exceptional legislation? Are not the gamekeepers of
gentlemen who have many miles of river subject to no surveillance
on the part of the water bailiffs as likely to act illegally as
the servants of the millowners? Let both be watched with equal
care, and I do not mind how vigilant the watching may be; but I do
object to being made the object of special and exceptional
legislation. The tax ought to be upon nets and rods and other
implements in proportion to their value. But if a tax is laid on
the extent of the fishery, we may bid adieu to voluntary

In conclusion, if Mr. Eden comes into this district, I think it
ought to be distinctly intimated to him that no bill would be
satisfactory to the upper proprietors which did not give them a
greater interest in the increase and improvement of rivers. There
are three ways of doing this. The mesh of the Salmon net might be
enlarged from eight to twelve inches round. This would allow
grilse to pass, and fill the river with breeding fish. Or,
secondly, the weekly close time might be extended so as to include
Friday as well as Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Or, thirdly, the
annual close time for net and rod fishing might commence a month
earlier than at present; say net fishing to close on the 1st of
August, and rod fishing on the 1st of October. Any of these
measures would give the upper proprietors a much better supply of
fish than they now have. They all, I think, deserve consideration.
One thing at least is certain, that unless the upper proprietors
have a better share of the fish than they have at present, they
will soon cease to take an interest in their preservation.

To Colonel J. Wilson Patten, M.P.

* * * * *

LOW MOOR, _10th January_, 1865.

MY DEAR SIR,--I shall be very glad if I can induce you to read my
opinions on the Salmon question. It is one which I think may
become of even national importance, if properly managed. But the
sad tinkering it has hitherto received in the nine hundred and
ninety-nine Acts of Parliament wholly or partly devoted to the
subject makes me almost hopeless about future legislation. Yet it
seems to me that the only way to greatly increase the breed of
Salmon is so simple and obvious, that its not having been adopted
long since can only be accounted for by supposing that all the
parties interested in the matter are like the man in the fable,
who killed the goose that laid the golden eggs.

Hitherto the law has never properly recognized the claims of the
upper riparian proprietors. These men have all the trouble and
expense of rearing and protecting the young fish, whilst the
owners of estuary fisheries, men who never lift a hand nor spend a
penny in taking care of the brood, take above ninety per cent. of
the grown Salmon when in season; and even then think they are
hardly used. How can it be expected that the upper proprietors
should be very earnest in their protection of fish from which they
derive little or no benefit, merely acting the part of brood hens
and hatching the chickens for the benefit of other people?

In June, 1769, 3,384 Salmon and Salmon Trout were taken at a
single haul of the net in the Ribble, near Penwortham. Now the sea
is as wide, and, for anything we know to the contrary, as capable
of feeding them as it was a hundred years ago; and the rivers are
as capable of breeding and rearing them now as they were at that
time; and therefore I do not see why, if proper steps were taken,
they should not be as abundant now as they were then.

If we take a sheep or a bullock, and to his first cost add the
rent of the land on which he has pastured, and something for
insurance and interest on capital, the transaction is not a very
profitable one in the long run. But in the case of the Salmon, we
send a little fish down to the sea which is not worth a penny, and
he remains there, paying neither rent nor taxes, neither
gamekeepers' nor bailiffs' wages, costing nothing to anyone, until
he returns to the river, worth ten or twenty shillings, as the
case may be. Surely this is a branch of the public wealth that
deserves sedulous cultivation.

I think with you that the Calder can never become a Salmon river,
so long as manufactories flourish on its banks, and it is not
desirable that it ever should become so at their expense; but even
in the Calder (and its tributaries) a little care would prevent
immense mischief. Some people at Church, a few years ago, very
carelessly pushed a quantity of poisonous matter into the Hyndburn
brook, and the first thunderstorm that followed carried it down
the Calder into the Ribble, and poisoned all the fish between
Calder foot and Ribchester. Take another instance of carelessness
in the Ribble, the emptying of the gas-holder tank at Settle,
which when turned into the river killed nearly all the fish
between that town and Mitton. Several other instances occur to me,
but these two are sufficient to show the great mischief occasioned
by avoidable neglect and carelessness. Such mischief should not be
perpetrated with impunity.

The act of 1861 was very good as far as it went, notwithstanding
some oversights; but it did not go far enough. It did not give to
the upper riparian proprietors such an interest in the fish as
they are entitled to, nor is the interest they now have sufficient
to induce them to exert themselves in the preservation and
increase of the Salmon as they might and would do if such
additional stimulus were given to them. The law now is, that no
nets shall be used in the taking of Salmon between twelve o'clock
at noon on Saturdays, and six o'clock on Monday mornings. That is,
forty-two hours per week. But in the Ribble, as a rule, we never
see seasonable Salmon until May. Now from that time to the 1st of
September, is, say sixteen weeks, and at forty-two hours per week
(the length of the weekly close time) this gives twenty-eight days
during which time the fish may pass up the river without
interruption; but this is by no means the true state of the case.
Everyone conversant with the habits of Salmon knows that they
never ascend rivers except when they are in a state of flood; and
in average summers, partly owing to droughts, and partly to the
rapid evaporation and absorption of moisture by vegetation, these
twenty-eight days may fairly be reduced by two-thirds, to give the
true time allowed for the ascent of the fish. But say ten days,
which are supposed to give an adequate supply of fish to a hundred
miles of river,--the extent of the Ribble and its Salmon-breeding
tributaries. Is it surprising that the upper proprietors are not
satisfied with this state of things? It would be surprising if
they were content with such a cheeseparing allowance.

When the bill of 1861 was before the House of Commons, I had an
opportunity (indirectly) of suggesting to the late Sir George
Cornewall Lewis the propriety of a considerable extension of the
weekly close time. He replied, "You might as well propose to shoot
partridges only three days a week, as to restrict the netting of
Salmon to only three days." With all due deference to such an
authority, there is no analogy between the two cases. But if
partridges had all to migrate and return before they could be
legally shot, and had, like Salmon, to come by one road, and if,
like them, ninety per cent. of them became the prey of men who had
neither bred nor fed them, I fancy the sportsman who reared them
would want some restrictions placed on their being shot by men who
had not spent a farthing in breeding and protecting them, but who
took the lion's share in their appropriation.

I saw Lord Derby on the subject last spring. He had, however, so
little time at his disposal that he could only give me a few
minutes. He said a good deal must be allowed for vested interests.
I said, "My Lord, I am a manufacturer. When the Ten Hours Bill was
passed, manufacturers were deprived of one-sixth of their fixed
capital at a stroke, and had not a farthing allowed for their
vested interests; nay, more, that measure involved the destruction
of machinery which had cost millions. All this was done on grounds
of public policy. And is not the Salmon question one of public
policy? If, as I suppose, the measure I advocate produced a great
increase in the breed of Salmon, the estuary fisheries would be
the first to profit by it. They are the first on the river.
Indeed, the stake nets in the estuaries are taking fish daily in
times of drought, when fish will not ascend the river at all."

In 1859 we had not a fresh in the river between the 10th of April
and the 1st of August. And last year we had only a few days of
flood between the beginning of May and the 31st August, when close
time (for nets) commences.

I have said above that only ten days per year are allowed for the
supply of fish to the upper proprietors. I may be told that they
have two months (September and October) in which they are allowed
to angle for them. True, but what are they worth? They are not
allowed to be sold, they are not fit to eat, the fish are black
(or red), the milt and spawn nearly at maturity, and the only
temptation they offer is to the poacher (who often pots the roe as
a bait for Trout); and he is a poacher, whatever his rank or
station, who will kill an October fish when full of spawn.

Last year, at my suggestion, a meeting of gentlemen interested in
Salmon fisheries was convened at Worcester, during the meeting
there of the Royal Agricultural Society, and a number of
suggestions were made, and resolutions were come to, which were
intended to serve as a basis for the desired alterations in the
Salmon Bill of 1861. I have no memoranda to which I can now refer,
but the most important, according to my recollection, were the
following:--The extension of the weekly close time; the annual
close time to be extended to Trout; a right to be given to all
conservators and water-bailiffs, duly appointed, to pass along the
banks of Salmon rivers without being deemed guilty of trespass; a
tax on fishing-nets, rods, and implements, to defray the expenses
of protecting the rivers from poachers.

The Commissioner of Salmon Fisheries, Mr. Eden, has been convening
meetings of gentlemen interested in Salmon rivers at Chester,
Conway, York, and various other places, to explain the provisions
of the bill which Government introduced at the end of last session
and intend to bring forward again. I have not attended any of
these meetings, but expect he will be at Whalley or Preston
shortly, when we shall hear what he has got to say. The new bill,
as printed last year, does not embody any of the suggestions of
the Worcester meeting; but as I learn from private sources, Mr.
Eden, at the various meetings he has lately attended, has thrown
out various suggestions, some of which are highly objectionable.

For instance, he suggests that the magistrates in quarter sessions
assembled shall have the power to appoint conservators, and that
the conservators shall have the power to expend all the money
raised by subscription in having water-bailiffs to put up fish-
ladders, commencing actions at law in certain cases; and if the
subscriptions are not adequate to defray all these expenses, that
they (the conservators) shall have the power to levy a rate in aid
on the riparian proprietors.

I cannot see how this can be made to work equitably. If the rate
be laid on the extent of frontage to the river, one man may have a
great extent of no value for fishing purposes, another may have
only one pool, so conveniently formed and placed for netting that
he will be able to catch ten times as many fish as the other. Then
how are the fisheries in the estuary and just above tideway to be
valued? They probably take ninety per cent. of all the seasonable
fish. Will they be willing to pay ninety per cent. of the rate?

Again, the college at Stonyhurst claims a right of _several
fishery_, both in the Ribble and the Hodder. That is, they
exercise a right to fish in both rivers, where they have no land,
and they exercise this right so freely that they take more fish
than all the other upper proprietors added together. If, then, the
tax is laid on the extent of frontage to the rivers, these
reverend gentlemen would escape entirely, so far as the right of
_several fishery_ extends, and would only pay the rate on their
own extent of frontage.

Again, the new bill does not embody the suggestions of the
Worcester meeting as to the right of way for the water-bailiffs;
but according to Mr. Eden's comment upon it at Chester and
elsewhere, a strict surveillance is to be kept on weirs, to which
the water-bailiffs are to have free access. Personally I have no
objection to this, provided the water-bailiffs are allowed free
access to the banks of the river elsewhere; but I have a strong
objection to be made the subject of offensive exceptional
legislation. Are not gamekeepers as likely to need looking after
as mill-owners?

Again, the bill does not touch on minimum penalties. This it ought
to do, for in some districts (Wales, for instance) there is a
strong animus against all attempts at preserving the Salmon, and
notorious poachers, duly convicted of offences against the act of
1861, in some instances have been fined a shilling, in others a

To W. H. Hornby, Esq., M.P.

* * * * *


CLITHEROE, _August 27th_, 1860.


DEAR SIR,--I am favoured by the receipt of your letter of the 25th
inst., and the accompanying draft of a proposed bill "for the
better Preservation of Salmon," and proceed at once to offer such
remarks and suggestions as occur to me, and shall be glad to learn
that they meet with your approval.

In the third clause (section) you give an interpretation of the
names under which you wish to include all fish of the Salmon kind.
Does not this include common Trout? You specially include Char by
name. Would it not be better to limit your intentions to all
migratory fish of the Salmon kind, to wit, Salmon, Grilse, &c.
&c.? I think also the meaning of a fixed net wants defining more
rigorously. As it now stands it appears to me that it would
include any net which should be fastened on a root or stone whilst
it was being drawn through a pool, if the men employed in doing
this were to let go the cords whilst they loosed the net from the

Fourth clause.--I quite agree with you on the period allotted to
annual close time, but think there ought to be a penalty for
buying, selling, or having in possession Salmon roe (save and
except for the purpose of artificial propagation).

Seventh.--I do not agree with you at all on the subject of the
weekly close time, which in my opinion ought to be for one-half of
every day, except Sunday, and the whole of that day. Why should
the owners of fisheries at the mouths of rivers, who are at
neither trouble nor expense in breeding or preserving the spawning
fish, have all the benefit derivable from their increase? Why
should the upper proprietors act the part of brood hens for these,
hatching and preserving the fish for the benefit of those who take
no trouble about these things themselves?

Twelfth.--I do not agree with you as to the size of the mesh: I do
not think that a mesh of twelve inches in circumference, or three
inches from knot to knot, at all too large; it would permit fish
below six pounds to escape, and this being done, there would under
any circumstances be a fair supply of breeding fish.

Fifteenth.--I think your leister requires a more rigorous
definition. A man in this neighbourhood is reputed to have killed
a good many Salmon with a hay or a dung fork. Are either of these

Your sixteenth section is utterly impracticable. How could such
hecks or grates be prevented from choking with leaves in the
autumn and ice in the winter, thus stopping the wheels? You might
as well require a farmer to hedge out the game. Impose a penalty,
if you like, upon any millowner who may kill Salmon in his mill
lead; and as you give your conservators power to inspect
everywhere, you will readily detect such practices. But it will
never do to close the mills by pretexts that the fish may be taken
or killed there.

Twenty-first.--I do not understand the meaning of this. But taken
in its ordinary sense, it seems to me to be very unjust. Many
persons have traps in their weirs for the purpose of taking Salmon
to which they plead a prescriptive right. Do you mean to do away
with these? You may succeed in this, but why should not a man be
allowed to fish in the river above the weir where there are no
obstructions to the passage of the fish? And why should not a man
be allowed to fish with a rod and line below the weir, and as near
to it as he chooses? I think weirs might be safely divided into
two classes: those used for manufacturing purposes and those for
fishery purposes; that a man should be allowed to say in which
class his weir should be included. If for manufacturing purposes
he should not be allowed to catch Salmon (except with rod and
line) within a certain distance below the weir. If he choose to
class his weir as one for fishery purposes, he should then be
compelled to give a free passage to the fish for twelve hours
every day; but he should be compelled to make his election as to
the class in which he would include his weir.

Twenty-fifth.--It would never do to allow the commissioners to
make bye-laws. Suppose the case of a millowner who got into a
dispute with them: he might be utterly ruined by their bye-laws;
they might make bye-laws which deprived him of his water-power,
under a pretext that they were taking more efficient care of the

Thirty-first.--I think the licence to angle should be compulsory,
and not at the discretion of the commissioner. That it should be
in the nature of a game licence, qualifying and enabling the
holder to angle in any river of Great Britain and Ireland,
provided he had the consent of the owner of the fishery where he
was angling.

(_Additional observations_). Twelfth.--You say that no double net
shall be used. Do you mean to prohibit the trammel, which is
usually a treble and not a double net? You also prohibit one net
behind another, but you do not specify the distance outside of
which a second net would be lawful. If neither a series of Scotch
nets nor a single trammel is to be used, by what sort of net do
you propose to catch the Salmon?

Nineteenth.--You say the sluices which admit water to wheels or
factories shall be kept closed from six o'clock on Saturday night
to six o'clock on Monday morning. How, then, are the repairs of
shafting and machinery to be made? These are generally done when
the workpeople have gone home on Saturdays. Besides, what is your
object? If the river is low, the Salmon will not be running up the
stream, and if it be in flood there will always be an abundant
supply running over the weir in addition to that which would be
required to turn the wheel. You add that the water may be allowed
to flow freely through the waste-gate, provided the opening of
such a waste-gate shall not deprive the mill of the necessary
supply of water.

Eighteenth.--In this clause you say that in weirs already
constructed it shall be lawful for the commissioner, on the
application of any two or more persons interested in the fisheries
of such river, and at the proper costs and charges of the persons
making such application--proof having been first given, &c.--to
cause a survey to be made of such dam or weir by a competent
engineer, and to direct such alterations to be made therein as
shall, in the opinion of the commissioner, be necessary and
desirable, &c.

In this clause, which so far as it goes is very desirable, you
have omitted a proviso without which it could never pass into a
law. You have forgotten to provide for the legal right of the
millowner, which would, or might, be taken away by the alteration
made in the weir unless there were some provision in the act which
prevented this being done. At present there is no such proviso in
your act. Here I have offered for years to allow the upper
proprietors to make any alteration they liked in the weir,
provided such alterations did not affect the milling power, the
stability of the weir, or my legal title to the weir as existing
at present. And my legal adviser tells me that any alteration made
in the weir without a guarantee from the upper proprietors would
very probably deprive me of my present title.

* * * * *


* * * * *


_To The Editor of the "Manchester Guardian."_

CLITHEROE, October 5th, 1843.

SIR,--I PROMISED to send you some details of my attempt to grow
wheat on the same soil year after year. These I now forward, and
hope they may prove interesting. I was led into these experiments
by reading Liebig's book on the "Chemistry of Agriculture;" for,
assuming his theory to be true, it appeared to me to be quite
possible to grow wheat on the same land year after year; as,
according to that theory, the carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, which
constitute the great bulk of all cereal crops (both grain and
straw), are supplied in abundance from the soil and atmosphere (or
perhaps, to speak more correctly, from the latter), and we have
only to supply those inorganic substances, which, however
numerous, form but a small part of the whole weight of the crop.
With the view of testing this theory, and hoping that I might be
able to find out what were the elements which built up and
cemented the carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen together--or, in other
words, which constituted fertility--I begun, in the autumn of
1841, to experiment on a field which had been exhausted by a
succession of crops, and which had just been cleared of one of
oats. I chose an exhausted field in preference to any other, as
the only one in which I could test the truth of the theory. It was
very foul, being full of couch grass and weeds of all kinds. It
was ploughed up and hastily picked over, for the season was so
unfavourable for cleaning the land (from the great quantity of
rain that fell) that I was almost induced to abandon the
experiment. Previously to sowing the seed, one-fourth of the field
was manured with a compost of night-soil and coal-ashes, at the
rate of forty tons to the customary acre (7840 yards); the
remaining three-fourths having the seed put in without any manure
whatever. The winter was very unfavourable for the plants in our
cold wet soil, and in the unmanured part of the field many of them
perished, and those that survived made very little progress, from
having no stimulus at the roots. Thinking it desirable to apply my
experimental manures in moist weather, I waited until the 6th May,
when I treated that part of the field which had _not_ been manured
(three-fourths of the whole) in the following manner. I applied
guano to one-fourth, at the rate of two hundredweight to the
statute acre, and the same weight of nitrate of soda over another
fourth, leaving one-fourth entirely without manure. The wheat
manured with the guano and nitrate of soda grew vigorously, and
the ears, more particularly in the part manured with guano, were
the finest I had ever seen, but when it came to ripen it
shrivelled in the ear, and the sample was very indifferent; the
soil being evidently deficient in some property necessary for
perfecting the grain. The crop also suffered much from the
depredations of the birds.

The portion manured with night-soil produced
     to the statute acre 32 bushels of 60 lbs. each.

Guano            "   "   27      "    "    "
Nitrate of Soda  "   "   27      "    "    "
Unmanured part   "   "   19 2/3  "    "    "

I give these details to show that the land was in an exhausted
state previous to the commencement of the experiment I am now
about to detail. After the crop of 1842 was reaped, the land was
immediately ploughed up, and the season being very favourable, it
was tolerably well cleaned, and the seed was sown (without any
manure) about the first week in October. After the wheat came up,
it was manured with a dusting of one hundredweight of guano, over
the entire field (about one acre, three roods), to keep the plants
alive through the winter. In the spring, being divided into three
portions, it was manured with the same number of experimental
manures, which were furnished to me by Mr. Blyth, of Church, near
Accrington, who also analyzed the soil and subsoil for me. These
manures were applied about the 10th of April, and the experiment
was still further varied by covering a portion of each division
with guano a fortnight afterwards, at the rate of two hundredweight
to the acre, but all the manure applied to the crop, including the
hundredweight of guano put on in the autumn, did not exceed 6 1/2
hundredweight. The crop, which was a very thin one in the spring,
improved so much by the application of these manures, that when it
came into ear, it was allowed by all who saw it to be the best in
the neighbourhood; but the heavy rains of July caused it to lodge
in the best part of the field, and there it was attacked by rust,
and the sample was very indifferent. In addition to this drawback,
there being very little wheat grown in the neighbourhood of the
town, and this being much earlier than any of the other fields,
was attacked by the birds as soon as the grain was formed in the
ear. Notwithstanding all the efforts made to prevent them, they
continued feeding upon it until it was cut; and it is a very
moderate estimate of the damage, to say that they destroyed one-
fourth of the crop throughout the field. That part of the field
covered with manure (No. 1) being the earliest, suffered most.
There were patches of several square yards where there did not
appear to be a single grain left; and wherever the birds took a
grain from the middle of the ear, when in the milky state, the
grains on each side of it appeared to grow no more, but shrivelled
up in the ear.

I have little doubt that in this portion of the field one-third of
the crop was destroyed. All this seems to reduce the experiment to
little more than guess-work; and it will, probably, be very
difficult to persuade those who did not see the field when it was
cut, to credit this report of the devastation made by the birds;
even when they are told that Clitheroe is a town of 7,000
inhabitants, and probably as many sparrows, and that apparently
they were all assembled to feed in this field; and they became so
accustomed to the good living they found there, that even when our
neighbours' wheat was fit to eat, they continued to favour this
field with their visits in preference to going elsewhere. I
estimate the damage on No. 1 at one-third, No. 2 at one-fourth,
No. 3 at one-fifth; this was later than the others, and suffered
more from rust than birds.

The following are the results:--From 3,060 yards manured with No.
1, there were obtained 1,042 lbs. of wheat, or 27 1/2 bushels of
60 lbs. each to the statute acre; if we add one-half to this, as
we assume that one-third was destroyed by the birds, it will give
41 1/4 bushels to the statute acre. The weight of straw from this
portion was 188 stones 5 lbs., 14 lbs. to the stone. From 2,856
yards manured with No. 2, 962 lbs. of wheat were obtained, and 155
stones 9 lbs. of straw; this is equal to 27 1/4 bushels per acre,
or with one-third added, for estimated damage, it is equal to 36
bushels per statute acre. From 2610 yards manured with No. 3,
there were 1,067 lbs. of wheat, and 211 stones 7 lbs. of straw, or
33 bushels to the statute acre, to which if we add one-fourth,
according to the estimate of damage, it will be equal to 41 1/4
bushels per acre. It will be observed that this portion yielded a
far greater weight of straw per acre than either of the others,
and from the sort of manure applied, it was expected that this
would be the case.

No. 1 yielded straw at the rate of 297 3/4 stones per acre.
 "  2    "      "     "       "    246 3/4      "     "
 "  3    "      "     "       "    392 1/3      "     "

Many people may feel inclined to say, that all these apparent data
are mere guesses, and that a crop may be made into anything one
likes, if they assume so much for damages; but, fortunately, it is
not all guess-work. I have stated previously that I covered a part
of each division with guano a fortnight after the application of
the manures in April, intending to see what advantage was obtained
by the use of it; but, owing to the depredations of the birds, the
portions of the first and second divisions manured with guano were
not kept separate from those which were left without guano; but
the third being later, and, therefore, not so much injured by
them, gave me an opportunity of ascertaining the effect. I
measured off a land which had been so manured, and reaped and
thrashed it out separately. From this land of 100 yards long and
10 feet wide (3,000 square feet), there was obtained 220 lbs. of
wheat, or 53 bushels of 60 lbs. per statute acre; and this was far
from being the best portion of the field. I don't mean that it was
not the best portion of the crop, but I mean that the soil was not
so good there as it was in other parts of the field; as I have
before stated, in the best part of the field the crop was spoiled
by being lodged by the rain, and subsequently attacked by rust.

I communicate this to you, in the hope that the publication of it
in your paper maybe the means of stimulating others to try the
same experiments. It is not too late yet to try for the next
year's crop, and I have no doubt that Mr. Blyth will be happy to
supply both material and information to any who may require them
from him. It is the duty of everyone to promote the advancement of
agriculture; and this is my contribution towards it. I have not
yet done, for I have sown the same field with wheat again, and
hope, with a favourable season, to reap a still more abundant crop
next year.

* * * * *

_To the same._

CLITHEROE, _October 12th_, 1844.

SIR,--Last October you published an account of an attempt of mine
to grow wheat on the same land year after year; and, as I have
repeated the experiment this year, I shall be obliged if you will
be kind enough to insert the account of it in the "Guardian," as
the subject appears to me to be an important one; and, as many
persons who may read this letter may either not have seen the
former, or may have forgotten it, I trust that a short summary of
the former experiments may not be out of place.

These experiments took place in the autumn of 1841, after the
field had been cleared of a crop of oats, which was a very bad
one; the land being not only naturally poor, but foul and
exhausted by long cropping. As the season was very wet, it was
indifferently cleaned, and one-fourth of it manured with a compost
of night-soil and ashes, and then the field was sowed with wheat.
Two of the remaining three-fourths were manured on the 6th of May,
1842 (the spring being a very dry one, no rain came until that
day), one with guano, the other with nitrate of soda, each at the
rate of two hundredweight to the statute acre, and the remaining
fourth was left unmanured.

The following were the results at harvest:--That manured with
night-soil and ashes produced 32 bushels of 60 lbs. per acre;
guano, 27 bushels; nitrate of soda, 27 bushels; unmanured, 19 2/3
bushels. When the field had been cleared of the crop, it was
immediately ploughed up, and, as the season was favourable, the
land was well cleaned and sowed with wheat in October, 1842,
without any manure except 1 cwt. of guano, which was scattered
over it when the wheat was coming up. The field was divided into
three portions, and in April, 1843, was manured as follows:--No.
1, with 90 lbs. of sulphate of magnesia, and 2 cwt. nitrate of
soda to the statute acre; No. 2, with a compound from a
manufacturer of chemical manures; No. 3, with 60 lbs. of silicate
of soda and 2 cwt. of nitrate of soda to the acre; and, with the
view of still further varying the experiment, a part of each
portion was sowed with guano a fortnight after the application of
the chemical manures. The crop promised to be a very good one, but
it was much plundered by the birds, and as the summer was wet, it
suffered also much from rust. Allowing for the destruction
occasioned by the birds, the crop was estimated at:

41 1/4 bushels in patch No. 1,
36       "        "     No. 2,
41 1/4   "        "     No. 3,

and in that part of No. 3 which was also covered with guano, it
reached by actual weight (not by estimate), 53 bushels of 60 lbs.
to the acre. Those patches in Nos. 1 and 2 which had guano put on
them, suffered so much from the depredations of the birds, that no
account was taken of them separately. The crop was cleared off the
land, which was cleaned, and again sowed with wheat on 3rd
October, 1843. It was drilled in rows seven inches apart, and at
the rate of 2 1/2 bushels to the acre. It is to the results of
this crop that I now wish to call your attention. Before sowing,
the land was subsoiled to the depth of from 14 to 16 inches;
except a strip of about 10 feet in width, down the middle of the
field, which was left untouched for the purpose of determining
what were the advantages derived from subsoiling. If the advantage
was merely that of thorough draining (for the field had not been
thoroughly drained previous to the subsoiling), it was thought
probable that this strip of 10 feet wide would be drained by the
subsoiling on each side of it; but if, in addition to this, the
wheat plant derived more nourishment by striking its root deeper
into the soil, where that was loosened by the subsoil plough, the
crop ought to be better in the subsoiled than in the unsubsoiled
part. The field runs over the ridge of a hill, and upon that ridge
the soil is so poor and thin, that it was deemed expedient to give
it a slight dressing of coal-ashes and night-soil, from an idea
that the plant would scarcely survive the winter unless some
stimulus were applied there; but the ashes contained little
manure, and were only applied to the worst part of the field,
covering about one-third of its surface. The wheat was Spalding's
Prolific; it came up evenly and well all over the field. It was
hand-sowed with lime early in February to the extent of about 24
cwt. of dry lime on the acre. In order to ascertain  the value of
lime, and the proper quantity, I had the field uniformly covered
with it, except one land, which was left entirely without, and the
headlands, which had one three, the other six times as much lime
put upon them as any other part. The field was also dressed with a
chemical manure of the following ingredients on the 16th March,

                                          L.      s.     d.

1 1/4 cwt. nitrate of soda                0      17      6
1      "   impure sulphate of magnesia    0       5      0
  3/4  "   silicate of soda               0      11      3
  3/4  "   common salt                    0       2      0
1 1/4  "   gypsum                         0       2      0
Mixing and applying it, say               0       2      3

Total for statute acre                   L2       0      0

Speculating on the probability of a dry summer, I gave it an extra
quantity of manure, and I think where guano is used afterwards, as
it is by me, the nitrate of soda might be dispensed with, which
would bring the cost to L1 2s. 6d. per acre. I should prefer guano
to nitrate of soda, because of the phosphates contained in the
former. At the distance we are from the sea (about thirty miles)
it would seldom be necessary to apply common salt, as the gales of
winter generally bring as much as is needed; but last winter we
had no high winds, and I thought that where salt was applied with
other chemical manures, the wheat was more luxuriant than where
there was none; but owing to a misunderstanding of the instructions
to that effect, the produce was not kept separate. When the chemical
manure was applied, one land was left without, for the purpose of
comparison. Guano was sowed on the land on the 29th March, at the
rate of something less than 2 cwt. to the statute acre, one side of
the field being covered with Peruvian, the other with African, and
the land on which no chemical manure had been sowed was half of it
covered with guano, and the other half left without anything except
lime; but as it was thought desirable to ascertain the value of the
chemical manure without guano, half of this patch was sowed with the
chemical manure in April, after the long drought of the last spring
had set in. A small patch was left without manure, to show the
natural condition of the field, and to serve as a comparison with
the manured part alongside it, and also with the condition of the
field when the experiment commenced, 1841-2, when the unmanured
portion yielded only 19 2/3 bushels to the acre. This part of the
experiment, however, was frustrated by the carelessness of the men
who thrashed out the wheat. The crop was a very good one throughout
the field, but was evidently shorter and thinner where there was
no lime, and also where guano was applied alone. It was best on
the headlands where more lime had been applied. The weather was
extremely favourable until the wheat was going out of bloom, but
it then changed, and the crop was beaten down by the rain, in some
places so thoroughly that it never rose again; and from that time
to the day it was reaped (21st August), there were not more than
six fine warm days. This cold and ungenial weather would, no
doubt, materially affect both the quantity and quality of the
crop,--the sample only being just fair. On thrashing out the crop,
I find the result to be as follows:--Where the guano and chemical
manure were applied, but no lime, the yield was 49 1/5 bushels of
60 lbs. per statute acre; where the land was left unsubsoiled, it
was 52 1/2 bushels; when guano alone was applied, it was 42 1/3
bushels; where the chemical manure alone was applied, it was 43
1/2 bushels; where the African guano was applied, it was 45
bushels; where the Peruvian was applied, it was 52 2/3 bushels; on
the headlands, where three times the quantity of lime (or 3 1/2
tons per acre) was applied, it was nearly 62 bushels; and where
six times the quantity of lime (or 7 tons to the acre), it was 49
2/3 bushels. I give this last result as it was ascertained, but do
not consider it conclusive, for the wheat plant on this headland
looked quite as well as the other, until it went out of bloom,
when from some unknown cause it was partially blighted; an
irregular patch from a foot to a yard in width and extending
almost from end to end of the headland becoming brown and parched,
as if affected by lightning or some atmospheric visitation. With
the view of making these results a little clearer to the eye, I
subjoin the following tabular statement of the produce per acre in
the different parts of the field:--

Bushels of 60 lbs. per statute acre.

Guano alone                                   42 1/3
Chemical manure alone                         43 1/2
Guano and chemical manure, with 24 cwt.
lime to the acre, but land unsubsoiled        52 2/3
Guano and chemical manure, but no lime        49 1/5
African guano and lime                        45
Peruvian  "      "                            52 2/3
"    "   and 3 times as much lime             62
"    "   and 6     "         "                49 2/3
Average crop throughout the field             50

It may be as well to observe, that the total expense of manure,
and of its application to that portion of the field which produced
sixty-two bushels per acre (including the guano and the additional
quantity of lime used), was at the rate of 81s. per statute acre.
Deducting the cost of the nitrate of soda, the utility of which,
under the circumstances, I am inclined to doubt, it would have
been 63s. 6d. I consider these to be very favourable results, and
as offering strong inducements to continue the experiment. I have
accordingly had the land ploughed up and cleaned; and it was again
sowed with wheat on the 9th inst. Having detailed the general
results of the experiment, I beg to offer the following remarks
upon some points in it, which seem to me to require a little
elucidation. I consider the success of this experiment to be in a
great measure owing to the use of soluble silica and magnesia;
because, although there is an abundance of silica in the soil, my
first crop showed very miserable results, the grain being ill-fed
and poor, and the straw soft and discoloured, although the year
1842 was, in this district, very favourable for wheat, the month
of August being singularly fine and warm; but when I combined the
nitrate of soda with sulphate of magnesia, as in experiment No. 1
in 1843, but still more so when I combined it with the silicate of
soda, as in No. 3 of that year, the straw became as strong, firm,
and bright as need be desired; and this year when both these salts
are combined with nitrate of soda, common salt, and gypsum, I have
not only good and bright straw, but also an abundant crop of wheat.

With respect to the lime used, it may be as well to state that the
field had not been limed for many years, and although in a
limestone district, showed a deficiency of lime on analysis. The
soil is a strong loam, on a brick clay subsoil, in which there is
little or no lime, although the stony clays, which form the
subsoil in a great part of the district, abound in it, containing
from twenty to thirty per cent. of carbonate of lime. I had always
believed that lime was used in great excess in this neighbourhood,
and had, in fact, an idea that its good qualities were overrated,
inasmuch as it does not enter into the composition of the plant,
except in very minute proportion; but last winter I saw a paper
(by Mr. Briggs of Overton) on the possibility of growing wheat on
the same land year after year, in which the utility of lime in
preventing rust was incidentally touched upon. I also saw Liebig's
letters explaining the action of quicklime in liberating potash
from the clay; and then I considered it very important to
ascertain the proper quantity to be applied. The quantity required
to decompose the phosphate of iron was not great, and assuming
Liebig's theory of its action in liberating the potash to be true,
it seemed to me that an excess of lime would permanently
impoverish the land; for, supposing that the crop required 100
lbs. of potash, and as much lime was applied as liberated 500
lbs., what became of the 400 lbs. which did not enter into the
composition of the plant? was not a large portion of this 400 lbs.
washed down the drains by the rain, and so lost for ever? Perhaps
the absence of lime in this field accounts for its beneficial
action in the experiment just detailed; but if my supposition is
correct, that any excess of potash which may be liberated from the
clay by the use of quicklime (that is, any more than may be
required to perfect the crop), is washed down the drains, and thus
the land is permanently impoverished by the excessive use of lime,
it behoves landed proprietors to ascertain what is required, and
they should take care to apply no more than is necessary. This
caution is most particularly needed in this neighbourhood, where
lime is cheap, and where the opinion is prevalent that the more
there is applied the better it is for the land, and where it is
common to apply ten or twelve tons to the acre. I have stated
above that chemical manure was applied to a small portion of the
field after the setting-in of the drought in April. The action of
this manure showed that a good thing may be very injurious if
applied at an improper time; for, although it produced a
stimulating effect on the plant immediately after its application,
there was too little moisture in the land to dissolve it
thoroughly, and thus enable the plants to appropriate it, until
the rain came, about the end of June, when the wheat had been in
flower some time; but the stimulus was then so great that all the
plants threw up fresh stalks (from the roots), which were in
flower when the wheat was cut, and it was then found that they had
not only impoverished the plants, but had prevented the grain from
ripening. This was the case not only in the experimental field,
but in several others also, where the chemical manure was sowed
after the setting-in of the drought. When the field was sowed with
guano, it was thought desirable to cover one part of it with the
African, and the other with Peruvian, for the sake of comparison;
but as the African did not appear to produce the same stimulating
effect as the other, fifty per cent. more was applied, that the
cost might be equal (the Peruvian cost 10s., the African 7s. per
cwt.); but as the latter application of the African was made when
the wheat was just shooting into ear, the same objection applies
to the experiment which does to the chemical manure applied after
the drought had set in--viz., that there was not sufficient
moisture in the soil to dissolve it thoroughly until the plant was
too far advanced to benefit by it; and therefore its failure would
be no proof of the value of the African as compared with the
Peruvian, which was the object of the experiment. It is true, no
bad effects followed the application similar to those produced by
the misapplication of the chemical manure in dry weather, yet if
soluble salts like the latter did not find sufficient moisture in
the ground when applied in April, there is reason to suppose that
the former would not do so when applied in May. I regret the
failure of the experiment without any manure, as I think the
result would have shown satisfactorily that the land is so far
from being impoverished by this system of cropping, that it is
improving every year. I think, however, that this is shown by the
produce of the land manured with guano alone. In the first year's
experiment the produce from guano alone was 27 bushels per acre,
and both straw and wheat were very indifferent in quality. This
year the produce from guano alone is 42 1/3 bushels; and although
neither straw nor wheat are so good as upon the adjoining lands,
they are both very much better than they were in 1842. It will be
observed that the result from the unsubsoiled portion is very
good, and if nothing more were said about it, people would be led
to conclude that there was no advantage in subsoiling. But this,
in my opinion, would be a great mistake; for to say nothing of the
advantage which the unsubsoiled portion would derive from the
drainage which it received from the subsoiling on each side of it,
I found, when the field was ploughed up this autumn, that whilst
the unsubsoiled portion was stiff and heavy, the subsoiled part
was comparatively friable and loose, like a garden, and will, I
expect, show its superiority in the succeeding crops. It must be
borne in mind, in reading these experiments, that we have here one
of the most unfavourable climates in the kingdom for growing
wheat, from the excessive quantity of rain that falls, three times
more rain falling annually in the north of Lancashire than at
York, and this, no doubt, is very prejudicial to the success of
such a series of experiments as I have been detailing. It has been
objected to these experiments, that allowing all to have been done
which is here detailed, it leads to no important conclusion; for
although it may be practicable to grow wheat every year, in a
small field like the one experimented on, it is not so on a large
scale. But the objectors should remember that there is not the
seed of a single weed sowed with the manure; and therefore if the
land is thoroughly cleaned, and kept so, by hoeing the crop in the
spring, it will require very little labour to fit it for another.
But I shall be better able to speak on this head next harvest,
having sowed wheat on an oat stubble with once ploughing. It is
said there are no weeds in Chinese husbandry, and if they can
eradicate them completely, so may we, if we adopt the same methods
and follow them up as perseveringly. Again, admitting that it is
not practicable to grow wheat on the same land year after year on
a large scale, yet if we can double the crop in those years in
which we do grow it, by the application of chemical manures (and
the same manures are applicable to all cereal crops), will not
that be a conclusion worth arriving at? That it is possible to do
so, is, I think, sufficiently shown by the results I have
obtained. What, then, may we expect when these experiments are
infinitely multiplied and varied, under the superintendence of
skilful and experienced men, who will devote their whole time and
attention to the subject? Will raising the average produce from
twenty-five to fifty bushels per acre be the utmost limit to which
improvement can be carried? I believe not. In conclusion, I would
urge on all owners and occupiers of land, the importance of
devoting at least a small field to agricultural experiments, as I
think there can be no doubt that, if these are carefully and
systematically made and followed up by agriculturists generally,
we shall be so far from needing an importation of corn in average
years that we shall have a large surplus to spare for our

NOTE.--In the use of silicates of soda and potash one precaution
is very necessary--viz., that you really have a soluble silicate,
and not a mere mechanical mixture of ground flint and soda: this
is a very different thing, and one, if it be not carefully guarded
against, which will lead to nothing but disappointment. Again, the
silicate may be properly made in the first place, but in a long
exposure to the atmosphere the soda attracts carbonic acid, and
the soda is liberated, and this has defeated my expectations more
than once. Again, though I consider it desirable to defer the
application of it until vegetation has fairly started in the
spring, yet, in one instance, I delayed the application of it so
long, that there was not moisture to dissolve it until the end of
June, and then the wheat began to shoot afresh from the roots and
the crop was seriously injured by it: but this was in an
exceedingly dry spring, and might not happen again for many years.

* * * * *

_To the same._

LOW MOOR, _18th December_, 1845.

SIR,--I promised to communicate to you the results of my attempt
to grow wheat on the same land year after year, this being the
fourth crop of wheat (the fifth white crop) grown in successive
years on the same soil, and though I consider the crop an
indifferent one, I don't think the failure ought in any degree to
be attributed to the over-cropping, but to the wetness and
coldness of the season, as well as other untoward circumstances
hereafter to be mentioned.

In a former letter of mine of the 12th October, 1844--which was
published in the "Guardian" a few days after--I gave an account of
the crop of 1844, which was a very good one, being fifty bushels
to the acre throughout the field, and as much as fifty-two bushels
in the best part of it. This I considered so satisfactory that I
had the field again ploughed up and sowed with wheat on the 9th
October, 1844, and it is to the results of this crop that I wish
to call your attention. As remarked in my former letter, the field
was subsoil ploughed in the autumn of 1843, and this subsoiling
was carried to such a depth that most of the drains in the field
were more or less injured by it; and although this did no injury
to the crop of 1844, owing to the very dry season, yet when the
rain came in the winter of 1844, the want of drainage was found to
be very prejudicial, and in the wet places large patches of the
young wheat went off altogether, and there was a great deficiency
of roots in many parts of the field; the long continuance of frost
and after that the ungenial weather which continued so long in the
spring (of 1845) were also unfavourable, yet with all these
drawbacks the appearance of the plant after the growing weather
_did_ come, was very promising, and many of my friends predicted
that I should have as good a crop as in 1844. On the 24th March I
applied chemical manure of the same kind as I had done in 1844, at
the rate of about 3 1/4 cwt. to the acre (costing 23s. 6d.), and a
fortnight after I had it sowed with 2 cwt. of guano to the acre.
When the warm weather came, these manurings seemed to help it
wonderfully, and it was, as I have before stated, a very promising
crop; but the cold, ungenial weather we had through a great part
of the summer, and the continued rain we had whilst the wheat was
in flower, destroyed all the former promise: and the manuring with
guano, so far from being beneficial, was very injurious--so much
so, that I believe every shilling's-worth of it applied to my
wheat this year, made the crop a shilling worse than if nothing
had been applied; and all ammoniacal manures had the same effect.
It may be asked how I know it was the guano, and not the chemical
manure. In answer to this inquiry, if made, I may observe, that I
supplied two of my neighbours with the chemical manure, and they
applied it without guano on very poor land, and they both assert
they had never such good crops of wheat before; but everywhere in
this neighbourhood, the only good samples of wheat that I saw or
heard of were grown on exhausted soil. This appears to me to be a
strong proof that chemistry has a great deal to learn before it
can adapt its measures to all varieties of seasons, particularly
as it cannot know beforehand how the season may turn out. If
further proof be required of the injurious effect upon grain crops
of ammoniacal manures in general, and of guano in particular, I
may mention that in another field of wheat, sowed on the 21st
December, and which did not come up until the frost broke, in
March (the previous crop having been Swedes), the blade was so
yellow and the plant altogether so small and sickly in appearance,
that I had it manured with a water-cart from a cesspool in April.
This appeared to produce a wonderful improvement immediately, as
the plant assumed a deep green and grew very fast, but when it
ought to have shot, the heads seemed to stick in the sockets, the
blade and straw became mildewed and made no progress in ripening.
It was not fit to cut for three weeks after the experimental
field, although it was an early white wheat, and the result was a
miserable crop--far worse than the experimental field. The
instance of injury from the use of guano, I had from a neighbour,
who told me he had sowed a patch of oats with it, and that they
never ripened at all, and that he was compelled to cut them green
as fodder for his cattle. I had a striking proof this season of
the much lower temperature required by oats than wheat, when
strongly stimulated by manuring. I had gathered an ear of wheat
and a panicle of oats the previous season, which seemed to me to
be superior varieties; and that they might have every chance, I
dibbled them alongside each other in my garden, and determined to
manure them with every kind of manure I could procure, as I had an
idea that it was not easy to over-manure grain crops, if all the
elements entering into the composition of the plant were applied
in due proportion to each other, and I also wished to ascertain
whether wheat and oats would thrive equally well with the same
sort of manuring. I accordingly limed the land soon after the
wheat came up, and in March I applied silicate of soda, sulphate
of magnesia, gypsum, common salt, and nitrate of soda. A fortnight
after this I applied guano, then bones dissolved in sulphuric
acid, then woollen rags dissolved in potash (the two latter in
weak solution); and the consequence was, that I don't think there
was a single grain in the whole parcel--at least I could not find
one--the straw was no great length, and the blade much discolored
with mildew, whilst the oats were seven feet high, and with straws
through which I could blow a  pea, and large panicles, although
the oat was not particularly well-fed. The inference I have drawn
from these experiments is, that as far as is practicable the
manuring should be adapted to the temperature, but as this is
obviously impossible in a climate like ours, the only way is to
rather under than over manure, and to apply no ammoniacal manure
to the wheat crop, or at all events very little; for although
guano was beneficial to wheat when used in conjunction with
silicates, &c. &c. in 1844, yet the injury it did in 1845 may very
fairly be set against that benefit. I should feel obliged if any
of your readers who may have tried the experiment of manuring
grain crops with guano, the last season (1845) would publish the
result as compared with a similar crop without such manuring. I
feel convinced that such result would be against the use of guano
for wheat in 1845. I am the more confirmed in the opinion that
ammoniacal manures are unfavourable for wheat, by a series of
articles in the "Gardener's Chronicle" on the "Geo-Agriculture of
Middlesex," in which the writer states that land in that county
which in Queen Elizabeth's time produced such good wheat that it
was reserved for her especial use, will now scarcely grow wheat at
all, and when that grain is sowed upon it, the straw is always
mildewed, and the sample very poor; and this is attributed--and no
doubt justly so--to the extensive use of London manure. My crop
was only 32 bushels to the acre of 60 lbs. to the bushel; last
year the crop, as I have said before, was 50 bushels of the same

* * * * *

_To the same._

CLITHEROE, _7th March_, 1848.

On continuing my attempts to grow wheat on the same land year
after year, I observed that the crop of 1845 was very seriously
injured by the deficient drainage--the old drains having been
destroyed by the subsoil plough. It was therefore necessary to
replace them: they were accordingly put in four feet deep. This
occupied so much time that the season for sowing wheat had gone
by, and the ground was cropped with potatoes, which were got up in
September, and the wheat might have been got in early in October.
But seeing in your paper that sowing too early was not advisable,
and also being carried away by the arguments of the thin-seeders,
I deferred sowing until the middle of November, and then put in
little seed; and the winter proving very unfavourable, when the
wheat was coming up, there was not half plant enough in the
spring, and I hesitated whether to plough up the ground or drill
in barley. I determined to do the latter, which was done on the
18th April, and wheat and barley grew up together, and when cut
and threshed, proved to be equal to 48 bushels to the acre.

* * * * *

LOW MOOR, _31st December_, 1844.


I duly received your obliging letter in reply to my pamphlet on
the growth of wheat year after year on the same land, and now
offer my rejoinder to your remarks. You seem to consider the
expense is too great under the system pursued by me; and that it
was more than was required by the crop, is proved in my opinion by
the fact that the fertility of the land is very much augmented
since the commencement of the experiment in 1841: as my first crop
with guano alone produced only 27 bushels per acre, whilst this
year from guano alone the produce was 42 bushels. But still I
think that your allowance of manure is far too little, and not
exactly what I should apply, and I shall frankly state my
objections and opinions, in the hope that they may elicit a reply
from you, as it will be from discussion and the experiments
instituted to test the various theories propounded, that
agriculture will be most materially benefited. You state that
Liebig's present theory is, that plants obtain the necessary
oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen from the rain and
atmosphere, and that the plants merely require the supply of
inorganic constituents, and that you are inclined to agree with
him. My copy of his work on the Chemistry of Agriculture is his
first edition; and I don't know how far he has since modified or
altered the opinions therein expressed, which are in some degree
at variance with each other. He states that it may be received as
an axiom in agricultural chemistry that the nitrogen of the
atmosphere is never assimilated by plants, except in the form of
ammonia or nitric acid. He certainly states that plants and
animals derive their nitrogen from the atmosphere; but why, if
this be true, does he attach so much importance to the excrements
(particularly urine), of men and animals being husbanded with so
much care? and he states that for every pound of urine wasted, a
pound of wheat is thrown away. But even if he said it was utterly
worthless, every practical farmer who has tried it knows how
exceedingly valuable it is. It may be said there are other
ingredients in urine besides ammonia, and these are what make it
valuable; and in reply to this I would ask what is it that makes
the ammoniacal liquor from gasworks so valuable? There are no
phosphates or alkalies there, and yet what a powerful stimulant it
is. Again, Liebig states that the carbon is derived from the
atmosphere; but to say nothing of the argument which might be
deduced from the advantage which is derived by plants from having
their soil loosened about their roots, the experiments of Dumas
and Boussingault prove that a tree which was cut off below the
branches expired a large quantity of carbonic acid. It may be
asked how I know this was not precipitated by the rain. I don't
know; but if the plant would assimilate this, why should it not
assimilate that which arises from the decomposition of the
carbonaceous matter in the soil? My idea is that it does both, and
that carbon in the soil does good if it offers an abundant supply
of carbonic acid to the plant when it is in a condition to
appropriate it. Your allowance of lime appears to  me to be far
too small, for if any reliance can be placed on my experiments,
lime can be profitably used to far  greater extent than you seem
to imagine. And, again, you seem to think that where there is
plenty of silex in the soil, the plant will be able to obtain as
much as it requires. I think that it is quite necessary that the
silex should be  in a soluble state, as I think that it is not
only desirable that all the elements necessary to fertility should
be in the soil, but that they should be in such a form that they
can be assimilated by the plant. Some of our compounds for
producing fertility may perhaps be as absurd as it would be to
give muriatic acid to a man troubled with indigestion, because
free muriatic acid is found in the stomach of a healthy person.
Let me recommend you to try both silex and magnesia in a soluble
state, and I think you will be satisfied with the benefit derived
from their use.

Recurring again to the quantity of manure necessary to grow
thirty-six bushels of wheat, I would ask, why limit yourself to so
small a crop? The difference in the cost of your manuring a field,
and my manuring it, is more than made up by the increase of
fourteen bushels of wheat and the corresponding increase of straw,
even if the land did not improve every year by the application;
and as the seed, rent, labour, and liabilities of the land are the
same whether you grow a small crop or a large one, why not have it
as large as possible? Again, if I applied far more manure than was
necessary, I ought to have had the crop equally good throughout
the field; but on the ridge of the hill, where the soil was thin
and poor, neither straw nor wheat were so good as they were where
it was deeper and richer. My own opinion is, that the plant is
never able to extract from the soil all the manure, and therefore
it ought to be brought up to a good standard before good crops can
be expected. I am not satisfied with any analogy that I can think
of, but the best that occurs to me is that of a cloth in a dye-
copper. You can never get it to absorb either all or half the
colouring matter, and if you don't use far more than is taken up
by the cloth, you will never obtain the desired results. Besides,
in chemical combinations it is desirable to use far more than the
chemical equivalents, or the experiments don't succeed. I perceive
that you intend to use guano next year, and that you intend to use
it along with the seed. I trust it will not be sowed in contact
with either the seed or the quicklime, which you proposed to use
in some of your land. The best time I have found for applying
guano is in wet weather, just when vegetation is making a start in
the spring--say the last week in March, or the first week in
April--as I fear a large part of the soluble portion of it would
be washed away by the rains of winter. It is true we have had none
this winter, but when shall we have such another? Did you ever use
woollen rags as manure? They ought to be excellent, as they are
almost all albumen, and are, I fancy, to be had at a very moderate
price, not far from you. Can you inform me what it is that causes
the land to be clover-sick? If it is the abstraction of something
from the soil, what is that something? Sir Humphrey Davy said that
a dressing of gypsum would prevent it; but clover does not succeed
here (even when dressed with gypsum), if sowed every four years.
One reason why I think so small a quantity of manure will not
succeed, is based on the theory of excrementitious secretion.
Decandolle proved that this secretion took place, but he did not
succeed in proving that it poisoned the land for a similar crop. I
can only reason from analogy, and it does not follow that an
analogy drawn from animal life will hold good when applied to
plants; but if we were to feed an animal with pure gluten and pure
starch, with the proper quantity of phosphates, &c., are we to
suppose it would have no excrements? Let this be applied to
plants: are we to suppose that the plant assimilates all that is
absorbed by its roots and leaves? When that which is absorbed is
what would enter into the composition of the plant, is it not more
rational to suppose that the inorganic and gaseous constituents
only combine in fixed proportions, and that although the plant may
absorb a much larger proportion of one than is required, the
surplus is discharged excrementitiously, and perhaps may be
unfitted for entering into the plant until it has undergone a
decomposition? In conclusion, I trust you will pardon my frankness
in so boldly canvassing your opinions; but it is in this collision
of opinion that the truth will be elicited, and if I judge you
aright, it is that you wish to discover whether it harmonizes with
your preconceived notions or not.

* * * * *

LOW MOOR, _1st May_, 1845.


I duly received your pamphlet on the use of lime, for which I am
much obliged, and am delighted to perceive that you confirm the
idea (expressed in my pamphlet on the growth of wheat every year
on the same land) that the excessive use of lime is ultimately
injurious to the fertility of the soil to which it is applied.
This, coming from a gentleman of your reputation and experience,
will, I hope, induce someone capable of performing the experiment
to endeavour to ascertain with precision how much lime it is
desirable to apply to an acre to give the best results, and with
the least waste, assuming that the land contained little or none
previous to the experiment; and it would also be desirable to
ascertain whether it is better, in an economical point of view, to
apply a small quantity every year, or a larger quantity every
third or fourth. My own opinion is in favour of the former method,
except that it is difficult to get it ploughed in, particularly in
wet weather, immediately after spreading (which is essential where
you grow wheat on the same land every year) without injuring the
feet of the horses. You speak of ten days or a fortnight being
necessary to neutralize caustic lime, but our horses had their
feet injured by it six weeks after it had been spread on the land,
last year, although the weather had been wet almost the whole of
the time, say from the beginning of February to the middle of
March. You appear to think that lime will replace silica in the
wheat plant. Whose authority have you for this? It will be very
important to establish this supposition, but I fear it is too good
news to be true. On referring to your letter, I find you don't say
what I supposed you did, but that the lime liberates the soluble
silicates, potash, &c. This may be, and certainly the beneficial
effects of lime in growing wheat are not to be explained by any
other hypothesis with which I am acquainted. I am this year trying
some experiments to ascertain (if I can) the cause of clover-
sickness, and I hope to be in a position to say whether your
supposition that lime, gypsum, &c. will prevent it, is correct. My
experiments so far are opposed to this theory, but it is not very
safe or philosophical to draw conclusions from one or two
experiments only. I doubt the possibility of making silicate of
soda by merely mixing lime, sand, and salt together, as my
chemical friends tell me this cannot be accomplished unless the
silex and the alkali are fused together. If a soluble silicate of
soda can be made in the way you mention, it will be a great saving
of expense. Has it been tried? You have no doubt seen a report of
the enormous crop of wheat grown in a field in Norfolk last year
(90 bushels to the acre), and that the Royal Agricultural Society
have determined to have the soil analyzed by Dr. Playfair. This is
very desirable, but as Dr. Playfair is more of a lecturing than an
analyzing chemist, I think it is very necessary that his analysis
should be checked by another, made by the most eminent chemist
that Europe can produce, for 90 bushels is so unheard-of a crop,
that no expense should be spared which would enable us to
ascertain what the soil contained to enable it to produce such a
crop, which is the more remarkable as the field seems to have been
a good many years under the plough. As your Wakefield Farmers'
Club has many wealthy members in it, allow me to hint the
desirableness of your undertaking this analysis, which, if
properly performed, will be worth a thousand times more than its
cost. When you are aware that even Davy missed 16 per cent. of
alumina in one of his analyses and that the chemists of the
present day don't seem to have detected the potash which exists so
abundantly in potato-tops, you will, I think, agree how
exceedingly important it is that such analysis should be checked
by others, made without any communication between the parties. You
speak of an original letter of Liebig's appearing in the "Farmer's
Journal." On what subject is it? as I have no means of referring
to the periodical in question. Does it throw any light upon the
new manure for which he is said to be taking out a patent? You
speak of humus and humic acid. What do you understand by humus?
as, according to Liebig, humus sometimes means one thing and
sometimes another, and he appears to treat it very much as modern
chemists treat phlogiston, as something which they don't
comprehend, but which they need to explain the phenomena of
vegetation. If you are a believer in humus, what is it composed
of, and how does it act in forwarding vegetation? I suppose you
will reply, By combining with oxygen and forming humic acid. But
would not the theory of the decomposition of carbon do quite as
well? I don't perceive the injurious effects of quicklime upon
grass land which you anticipate in your paper, but the contrary,
and the more caustic it is the more beneficial is its action, so
far as I can judge from my own experiments; and it is my practice
in liming grass land to spread it as soon as I can get it into the
state of flour. I shall be glad to hear the result of your
electrical experiment--at present I am rather sceptical on the

P.S.--Am I to suppose that you have abandoned the idea of manuring
an acre of wheat for thirteen shillings?

* * * * *


_October 1st_, 1852.

To the Editor of the "Manchester Guardian."

The increasing quantity of agricultural produce consumed in this
country makes it desirable that the cultivation of the land should
be carried to the highest point consistent with profit; and the
increasing scarcity of agricultural labourers will shortly render
it difficult for the farmers in some districts to gather in their
crops. It therefore becomes increasingly desirable that every
mechanical contrivance which will facilitate their doing so should
be made as perfect as possible; and also that the crops themselves
should be so cultivated as to make these mechanical aids to work
to the greatest advantage.

But it has been a difficult matter (at least in the wet climate of
Lancashire) to ascertain how far it is prudent to manure for
wheat, for in unfavourable seasons the plant runs so much to straw
that it is liable to lodge, and become mildewed; in which cases
the manure is not only wasted, but becomes positively injurious,
as appears to be the case in the South of England this year, and
as was also the case in the North in 1845, when every shilling
expended in manuring the wheat crops of that year made the crop at
least a shilling worse than if no manure had been applied.

But if we could find a wheat so short in the straw that it would
bear heavy manuring without being lodged, wheat-growing would be a
far less hazardous occupation than it is at present, and we might
confidently calculate on a far greater production than we can now.

The following appear to me to be some of the advantages of growing
a short-strawed wheat:--

1st. It will bear highly manuring without lodging, and with much
less liability to mildew, than a long-strawed wheat.

2nd. The proportion of grain to straw is greater in short than in
long-strawed wheat.

3rd. As it very rarely lodges, it will be far better suited to the
reaping-machine than a long-strawed wheat; and no doubt other
advantages will occur to the minds of experienced agriculturists.

When making these assertions I ought to state that my experience
of wheat-growing does not extend beyond the counties of York and
Lancaster, but from what I can learn of the agriculture of more
southerly districts, I fancy these opinions of mine will be found
correct even there. I may be asked to prove my assertion, and I
will endeavour to do so.

I have been experimenting on the growth of wheat for the last ten
or eleven years--particularly with reference to the practicability
of doing this on the same land year after year; and that I might
do it in the most satisfactory manner, I have varied my seed-wheat
and my manure very frequently: but I very soon discovered that the
advantages of abundance of manure and high cultivation did not
insure good crops of wheat, inasmuch as in our moist climate, we
had not one summer in five that was favourable, and consequently
the crop was generally lodged, and the straw mildewed. I found
that the time of sowing, and also of applying the manure, were
matters of great importance, and it occurred to me that the remedy
would be--a straw so short, that it would not lodge when highly
manured. I consequently addressed a query to the "Gardener's
Chronicle," asking what was the shortest-strawed variety of wheat
known, and was told that Piper's Thickset was so; I therefore got
some of this sort from Mr. Piper, which I have cultivated since
1847. It is a coarse red wheat, but the quality has improved with
me every year, and this season _being the third successive crop on
the same land_, I have nearly eight quarters to the statute acre
from this variety.

2. The proportion of wheat in Piper's Thickset is 38 per cent. of
the gross weight of the crop; in the Hopetown wheat (I speak of my
own crops only), 34 per cent.

3. Not having seen a reaping-machine, it may seem absurd in me to
say that short-strawed wheat is better adapted to it than long-
strawed; but every report of the working of these machines goes to
show that, so far, they are not well adapted to the cutting of
laid corn; therefore a variety that always stands upright will be
much better suited to the working of them.

I have been trying for the last six years to obtain (by cross-
breeding) a wheat of good quality, and with a straw shorter than
Piper's, but hitherto with indifferent success; but, thanks to the
kindness of Messrs. Brownells, of Liverpool, who furnished me with
many samples of Chilian wheat about three years ago, I have now
got varieties much shorter in the straw than Piper's, and some
which appear to be of much better quality, but these will require
to be tested for a year or two before I can speak decisively about
them. The Chilian varieties are very difficult to acclimatize. The
original samples were beautiful white wheats, very much resembling
the Australian, but when grown in Lancashire they resemble rye
more than wheat, and three years' sowing has not much improved
them. It has, however, enabled me  to obtain crosses which seem
better adapted to the soil and climate, and so short in the straw
that the highest manuring produces no tendency to lodge.

If we could obtain a variety of wheat of good quality, which,
instead of two tons of straw and one of wheat to the acre,
produced a ton and a half of each, it might be profitably
cultivated, and the differences in the chemical composition of
grain and straw are not so very great as to make me despair of
this being done some time or other. It may be asked, Where can a
short-strawed wheat of good quality be procured? To this I am
afraid the reply will be, Nowhere at present. But can none of our
expert manipulators, who rejoice exceedingly when they cross-breed
a geranium or a fuchsia, turn their attention to the cross-breeding
of wheat? Cannot the Royal Agricultural Society offer a premium
for a short-strawed wheat of good quality? Do none of the great
agriculturists themselves see how desirable such a wheat would be
for the agriculture of this country? Apparently not; for with the
exception of Mr. Raynbird, of Hampshire, I am not aware of one
scientific operator who is endeavouring to produce such a wheat.
My own attempts at cross-breeding are such as may be tried by
anyone who has sufficient perseverance, and (with one or two
exceptions, of doubtful success) have been confined to sowing the
different varieties I wished to cross in contiguous drills, and
then sowing the produce of these. At the second harvest I
carefully select such ears as differ from both varieties, and at
the same time seem by their quality of grain and the shortness of
their straw to be the best suited to my wishes. It has been, no
doubt, to the accidental contact of distinct varieties that we owe
the numerous kinds now known to agriculturists, and which differ
from each other in colour, quality, yield, and comparative value
in the various districts in which they are grown.

Fully sensible of my inability to do justice to this important
subject, I yet hope (if you do me the honour to publish my letter)
that my remarks may induce scientific men to consider it; for it
appears unaccountable to me that hitherto they seem to have
thought it unworthy of their attention.

P.S.--There is still time to try the experiment during the present
season. If any gentleman wishes to try the short-strawed Chilian
wheat, I shall be glad to give him a sample of it for the purpose
of cross-breeding. Samples were sent to Mr. H. Briggs, Mr.
Raynbird, and Mr. Stevenson, Stockport.

* * * * *

_January 27th_, 1848.

To the Editor of the "Agricultural Gazette."

You invite persons who have grown good crops of grain or turnips
to forward you the particulars. I therefore enclose you an account
of an attempt which I made to grow wheat on the same land year
after year, that account reaching to the fourth white crop in
1844. As I still continue the experiment, I shall be in a position
to continue the account up to the present time (as I am now
threshing out the last year's crop), and will send it to you if
you think it worthy of insertion in the "Agricultural Gazette."

If the account I now send is not worth inserting, please to send
it to your correspondent A. W., who doubted whether there were
authenticated instances of land producing eighty, seventy, or even
fifty bushels to the acre.

I attribute my success in growing wheat to the use of silicate of
soda, and yet, singularly enough, until now I have been unable to
induce anyone else to try it. This season, however, several
persons have applied to me to procure it for them. Among them is
the talented editor of the "Liverpool Times," whose farm at Barton
Moss shows what good management will accomplish on very
unpromising soils. If, as I hope will be the case, the silicate of
soda should supply to peat its greatest deficiency, no one will
more readily discover it than Mr. Baines.

In the use of silicates of soda and potash, one precaution is very
necessary, namely, that you really have a soluble silicate, not a
mere mechanical mixture of ground flint and alkali. This is a very
different thing, and one which, if it be not carefully guarded
against, will lead to nothing but disappointment.

Again, the silicate of soda may be properly made, in the first
instance, but in a long exposure to the atmosphere, the soda
attracts carbonic acid, and is liberated from the silex, and this
has disappointed my expectation more than once.

Again, though I consider it desirable to defer the application of
soluble silicates until vegetation has made a fair start in the
spring, yet in one instance I delayed the application of it so
long that there was not moisture to dissolve it until the end of
June, and then the plant began to send up suckers from the roots,
and the crop was seriously injured by it; but this was in an
exceedingly dry spring, and may not happen again for many years.

* * * * *

CLITHEROE, _March 7th_, 1848.

In continuing my attempts to grow wheat on the same land year
after year, I observed that the crop of 1845 was very seriously
injured by the deficient drainage--the old drains having been
destroyed by the subsoil plough. It was therefore necessary to
replace them; they were accordingly put in four feet deep. This
took up so much time, that the season for sowing wheat had gone
by, and the ground was cropped with potatoes, which were dug up in
September, and the wheat might have been got in early in October;
but seeing in your paper that sowing too early was not advisable,
and also being carried away by the arguments of the thin-seeders,
I deferred sowing until the middle of November, and also put in
little seed, and the weather proving very unfavourable when the
wheat was coming up, there was not half plant enough in the
spring, and I hesitated whether to plough up the ground or to
drill in barley. I determined to do the latter. It was put in on
the 18th April, and wheat and barley grew up together, and when
cut and threshed, it yielded 48 bushels to the acre.

* * * * *


There is an old story of a man, who, having a very stony field,
determined to experiment on the value of these stones in the
growth of his crops.

With this view he divided his field into three equal parts. From
No. 1 he gathered all the stones, which he spread upon No. 3,
leaving No. 2 in its original condition. He then sowed barley over
the whole field, and carefully noted the results. The story ends
by saying that No. 1 bore a miserably poor crop, No. 2 a tolerable
one, and No. 3 a splendid one.

I quote this story as a text on which I wish to speak as to the
advantage of gravelling heavy clay soils. Some weeks since I spent
a few days at the village of Milnthorpe, in Westmoreland, and
during one day with Mr. Hutton, the celebrated bone-setter, I
remarked that the land was very stony, being covered with stones
(not pebbles) having very much the appearance of road metal. He
replied, that these stones were essential to the fertility of the
soil, and said that some years before there was a great demand for
such material in the neighbourhood of Preston, and the high prices
stimulated the farmers to gather these stones from their land, and
send them to Preston; but the consequences were so injurious to
the growth of their crops, that they were compelled--at least
those who had the means of doing so--to lead stones again upon
their land before their crops would grow again with the vigour
which they had before the stones were abstracted. This brought to
mind what had occurred in my own farm practice. A church was built
in the neighbourhood, and the stones for it were hewn on the
corner of a field which was afterwards sown with wheat, and I
remarked that the straw was much brighter, the ripening was
forwarded ten days, and the sample was much better where the
stones had been hewn than elsewhere in the field. (The stones of
which the church was built were of ordinary sandstone, probably
millstone grit.)

Borrowing from this hint, I had the field covered with about 400
cartloads of alluvial gravel (from the bed of the river) to the
acre, and the land was then ploughed two furrows deep, one plough
following the other. Previous to this gravelling, the land was a
stiff, obdurate clay nearly to the surface. The subsequent effect
was the doubling, or more probably trebling the value of the land,
which has now become a nice friable soil.

I was much amused with the criticisms of some of the neighbouring
farmers (men of the old school), one of whom remarked that he had
seen land tilled (manured) in various ways before my time, but
until now he had never seen a field tilled with cobble-stones. I
said, "What is your objection to it, John?" "Why, ye see, it makes
th' land so poor." I replied, "Making anything or anybody poor,
means robbing them of something. If you had twenty shillings in
your pocket, and I filled it up with these cobble-stones, how much
poorer would you be? Of what have I robbed this field by putting
gravel into it?" "Why, of nothing; but it looks so queer." I said,
"John, did you never hear of a man gathering the stones off his
field, and then having to lead them back again?" "Yes, I have; but
then they were _natural_ to the soil." I said, "What does manuring
land mean, but putting something into it of which it is deficient?
You don't till a muck-midden. If in stony land stones are
essential for the vigorous growth of the crop, is it not
exceedingly probable that they will be still more beneficial on
stiff land which has no stones in it?"

This is a doctrine I tried many years since to inculcate upon our
friend Mechi, and some of his land (I speak of its condition
twenty years since) needed such a gravelling as much as any land I
ever saw. Whether he adopted my suggestion, or his land remains
in the same condition now as then, I don't know; but if it does, I
would just suggest to him and to all landed proprietors who own
stiff clay lands, if they are near to gravel-pits, to try a small
portion by gravelling it freely, and let us hear the results.

_December 2nd_, 1871.

* * * * *


_June 1st_, 1842.


I have for some time intended to call your attention to the
importance of attempting to grow fine cotton in Peru, but my
inability to do justice to the subject, both from my being
practically unacquainted with any mode of growing cotton and my
general want of information, has hitherto prevented me; but as I
made you a promise to that effect yesterday, I have endeavoured to
put a few suggestions on paper, and hope that if they be carefully
acted upon, some benefit may be derived from the experiments.

We have been (as you are aware) consumers of Peruvian cotton to
some extent for the last six or eight months, and from the
observations I have made on it during that time, I have no
hesitation in saying that it possesses many excellences: it is
long enough (almost too long), very sound in staple, and where
well managed of a very good colour. Its defects are coarseness and
harshness of staple, and if these could be removed I don't see
what is to prevent its rivalling the Egyptian and Sea Islands
cotton, any considerable approximation to which would very
materially enhance its value, seeing that the highest quotation
for Sea Island, was last week 30d. per lb. (2s. 6d.), whilst the
highest for Peruvian was no more than 6 1/2 d.

With the view of improving the quality of the cotton in Peru, I
would strongly recommend you to send seeds of various kinds,
packed in air-tight boxes, particularly Sea Island and Egyptian,
which some of the cotton-brokers would easily procure from the
spinners using these descriptions, and, judging from what I hear
of the climate of both countries, I should think the Egyptian
would go to a very similar atmosphere and mode of cultivation to
that of the country where it had been raised, which would probably
render it more easy to acclimatize, and, of course, make it more
likely to succeed than a sort of cotton which had been grown under
dissimilar circumstances of soil, climate, and mode of cultivation.

These seeds when sown, ought (with the exceptions hereafter to be
mentioned) to be planted at such a distance from all other cottons
as to render it very unlikely for the wind or insects to carry the
pollen from the flowers of one kind to those of another; for
without this precaution, such is the tendency in many genera of
plants to hybridize (and I believe, from what I have heard, there
is this tendency in the different varieties of cotton) or cross-
breed with each other, that, however good the quality in the first
instance, they would all revert to the old variety in a year or
two in consequence of the great preponderance of that variety over
any newly-introduced ones. So much are the growers of turnip-seed
for sale in England aware of the importance of attending to this,
that the greatest precautions are taken to remove all _cruciform
plants_ from the vicinity of the field whilst their turnips are in
flower, as there is such a tendency in them all to hybridize that
the quality of the seed is often injured by the wild mustard
(_Sinapis arvensis_) springing up in the same or the adjoining
fields; whilst, on the other hand, by carefully selecting the best
bulbs for seed, and by judiciously crossing one variety with
another, new sorts are obtained, combining the excellences of
both. This leads me to observe, that probably seed of foreign
varieties of cotton may not thrive well in the first instance, and
I would therefore strongly recommend the gentlemen who may make
the experiment carefully to select seed from the plants on their
estates which they see are growing the best and finest cotton, and
sow them in contact with a few seeds of each of the sorts you may
send out, carefully removing them in every instance as far as may
be practicable from the vicinity of all other cotton; and then
again sowing the seeds which are obtained from the plants thus
raised in contiguity to each other, and carefully examining the
cotton grown upon each of them, it is more than probable they will
find that _some_ of the plants will be varieties partaking of the
character of both the parent kinds, and by selecting the best of
these and sowing them only (still apart from all other cotton),
there is little doubt that much benefit will be derived by the
persevering and skilful cultivator.

I have heard it stated that the origin of Sea Island cotton is to
be traced to something of this kind. An observing and experimental
planter, by carefully examining his cotton, and by sowing his seed
only from those plants that produced the finest and longest
staple, at last arrived at the excellent quality which is now
known by that name.

Look, again, at what has been done in Egypt by the introduction of
better varieties of cotton. There these improved varieties have by
no means had a fair chance of showing what they are capable of
becoming, inasmuch as the wretched cultivator has not the
slightest inducement to improve their quality--he gets no more per
pound for the finest and cleanest cotton than he does for the
coarsest and dirtiest, and therefore it is not very likely to
improve under his care. But with all this neglect and want of
management, we can see by what it is, what it would most probably
become in the hands of an enterprising and intelligent man who
knew that every improvement he made in its quality would be to his
own advantage. Assuming that your Peruvian friends could so far
improve the quality of their cotton as to double its value in this
market (and I don't think myself too sanguine in expecting more
than this), with very little extra labour nearly all the
additional price would be profit.

But supposing even that cross-breeding, or hybridizing, as the
horticulturists call it, does not frequently occur naturally in
cotton, it is well known that it is very easy to effect it
artificially by prematurely unfolding the petals and with fine
scissors cutting away all the stamens before impregnation takes
place. This requires to be carefully done, so as not to injure the
petals, and they will then close again of themselves, and when
they expand naturally, then impregnate the stigma of the flower
with the pollen of the kind you want to cross with. We owe many of
our finest varieties of fruits to this practice. The late Mr.
Payne Knight was very successful in raising new varieties of many
sorts of fruit in this way, and it appears to me from the
experiments I have made that the more frequently this cross-
breeding takes place, the more easy (within certain limits) is it
to extend it until cultivation has so completely changed the
character of the plant that it bears very little resemblance to
its original stock. There is nothing growing wild like our
cabbages, turnips, and cauliflowers; nor even like our carrots,
celery, and asparagus. Where are the originals of our wheat,
barley, rye, beans, and peas? Many of these appear to be so
completely transformed by cultivation that we don't know where to
look for the parent stocks from which they originated. But I am
forgetting cotton altogether, yet beg to refer to the preceding
paragraph to show how much is owing to careful cultivation, and
trust that it may not be without its use if my letter induces your
friends to make the experiments here suggested, even though their
first attempts are unsuccessful.

This letter was translated into Spanish and circulated in Peru,
but with what success I do not know. It was also published in the
"Gardener's Chronicle," and led to a reply from Dr. Royle, which
occasioned the following letter.

* * * * *

_August 14th_, 1845.

To the Editor of the "Gardener's Chronicle."

I am very glad that my letter and your remarks on the improvement
of cotton in India have attracted the attention of so able a
correspondent as G. F. R. (Dr. Royle), who appears to be
conversant with a good deal of what has been attempted there. No
doubt there are, as he states, great diversities of soil and
climate in so extensive a country as India; and if so, although
there may be some which are not adapted to the growth of either
the _Gossypium Barbadense_ or the _Gossypium Peruvianum_, there
must be both soil and climate suited to them in various localities
in that country.

My chief reason for suspecting that the injury arises from the new
kinds hybridizing with the indigenous cotton, is, that very good
cotton has been grown from both varieties in the first generation,
but when the seed from this first crop is sown again, the quality
always deteriorates (at least all the gentlemen say so with whom I
have conversed on this subject). I have a sample of Indian-grown
cotton of excellent quality from Pernambuco seed, worth twice as
much as the best Surat cotton I ever saw; but I cannot learn that
anything deserving the name of aught but a sample was ever
obtained. We hear of no increase in the quantity of this improved
variety; it does not--like cotton in the United States--go on from
ten bags to ten thousand, in eight or ten years; on the contrary,
so far as I can learn, it dwindles away to nothing. The Tinnivelly
cotton brought forward as an example by your correspondent is no
exception to this--it is no more like Bourbon cotton, than Bowed
cotton is like Sea Island--at least none that I ever saw. Bourbon
is a long, silky-stapled cotton, whilst Tinnivelly has the
shortness and inequality of fibre common to most of the cotton of
India. It is generally much cleaner than the cotton grown on the
western side of India, but this arises from the greater care in
picking it.

An intelligent friend of mine, now in India, says that the pod of
cotton is overhung by a brown leaf (bractea?), and if the cotton
is gathered early in the morning, whilst the dew is on the plant,
this leaf is tough and does not break, and the cotton is gathered
clean; but if it is picked after the dew has evaporated, this leaf
is brittle, and gets mixed with the cotton in the picking. But he
says that no persuasion can induce the ryots to keep that which is
picked in the morning from that which is gathered in the heat of
the day. He also suggests that the cotton should be irrigated
during its growth, and alleges as a motive for doing this, that in
Egypt and Peru no good cotton can be grown without resorting to
it. But the cases are not exactly parallel, inasmuch as no rain
falls in either of these countries, whilst rain is most abundant
in India, eighty or ninety inches of rain sometimes falling at
Bombay in three months during the monsoon.

Another intelligent gentleman with whom I have conversed on this
subject since my former letter was written, and who has resided at
Bombay many years, where he has paid much attention to this
subject, tells me that the gentleman entrusted by the East India
Company with the management of one of the experimental cotton
estates, assures him he has grown excellent Orleans cotton, and
that the ryots were so satisfied with its superiority over the
indigenous kind that 1,200 begahs (say 300 acres) were planted
with it. But this was two years ago, and as the disturbances took
place in this very neighbourhood, he fears these plantations have
perished, as he heard no more of the matter, and had omitted to
inquire of the gentleman entrusted with the management.

I reserved this until I saw the second letter from your
correspondent G. F. R., which I have now read, as well as an
article on the same subject in the "Manchester Guardian," in which
it is stated that 20,000 acres are now under cultivation, planted
with this improved cotton. I fear this is too good news to be
true. My informant is a gentleman who was in correspondence with
Mr. Mercer, the superintendent of these cotton estates, or some of
them, and I have again questioned him. He says that the crop which
would be gathered in March last, would amount to what I have
stated (1,200 begahs), according to Mr. Mercer's letter to him,
but he says it is now twelve months since he heard from Mr.
Mercer, as he left Bombay for England shortly after. His fear was
that none of this cotton would be gathered, as the disturbances
which took place in Central India, and which required so long a
time to quell them, were in this very district. If your
correspondent G. F. R. has got samples of this improved cotton, of
the second or third generation, he would confer a great obligation
upon me by sending me a small sample of it by post. But this is
wandering from what I intended to say, which was most heartily to
thank your correspondent for his second communication, which goes
far to prove the truth of what I had previously supposed, that the
cotton of India is capable of great improvement by being
judiciously crossed with suitable foreign varieties. Your
correspondent thinks if the old varieties deteriorate the new when
growing in proximity to each other, the new ought, for the same
reason, to improve the old; and no doubt they will, but to a much
smaller extent. It is said that a man leaping up into the air
attracts the earth (proportionately) as much as the earth attracts
him, and it may be so with the old and new cotton. What I mean to
say is, that although some of the old sort of cotton might be
hybridized by the new, the improved variety would be in so small a
quantity that a thousand to one the cultivator would never observe
it; and such is the aversion or indifference to anything new among
the natives of India, that if an improved plant were observed, it
is again a thousand to one he would take no pains to preserve it;
and if he did, it is again perhaps a thousand to one that it would
be entirely spoilt in the next generation by being planted among
the indigenous sorts.

I trust your correspondent will continue to favour us with his
communications whenever he has any fresh information on the
subject, which, the more it is considered the more important it
seems to be.

* * * * *


* * * * *


THE Editor of Loudon's "Magazine of Natural History," and one of
his contributors, Mr. Jennings, were of opinion that the common
Wren never lined its nest with feathers. The following contribution
was sent to the "Magazine of Natural History" in consequence of
this, and led to some discussion afterwards:--

_April 17th_, 1829.

Mr. Jennings and yourself, in opposition to Montagu, are of
opinion that the Wren never lines its nest with feathers; like the
knights of the gold-and-silver shield, both sides are right. It is
true, many Wrens' nests may be found in which there are no
feathers; but did you ever find either eggs or young ones in them?

As far as my observations go, the nest in which the Wren lays its
eggs is profusely lined with feathers; but during the period of
incubation, the male--apparently from a desire to be doing
something--constructs several nests in the vicinity of the first,
none of which are lined; and whilst the first nest is so artfully
concealed as to be found with difficulty, the last is very often
seen. The Wren does not appear to be very careful in the selection
of a site for these cock-nests, as they are called in Yorkshire by
the schoolboys. I have frequently seen them in the twigs of a
thick thorn hedge, under banks, in haystacks, in ivy bushes, in
old stumps, in the loopholes of buildings, and in one instance in
an old bonnet, which was placed among some peas to frighten away
the blackcaps.

* * * * *

_August 15th_, 1831.


In your edition of Montagu's "Ornithological Dictionary," just
published, you say--speaking of the Wren--"An anonymous
correspondent of Loudon's 'Magazine of Natural History,' &c. &c.;"
and you remark, "There can be no doubt of these supposed 'cock-
nests' being nothing more than unfinished structures of paired
birds; otherwise, the story would require the support of very
strong evidence to render it credible."

As I am the anonymous correspondent alluded to, I forward you a
few observations of facts tending, as I think, to confirm my view
of the question.

In the first place, these nests are far too abundant for the
birds, which are not plentiful--at least, in this neighbourhood.
Again, it is at least five to one that any Wren's nest which is
found during the summer without a lining of hair or feathers is
ever completed, or has any eggs in it. This I have verified in a
hundred instances, when, having found Wrens' nests, I have visited
them again at intervals, for the purpose of ascertaining whether
my opinion of cock-nests was correct.

Farther, in a small wood adjoining my garden, where I was certain
there was only one pair of Wrens, I found at least half-a-dozen
nests, not one of which was either lined with feathers or ever had
eggs in it; although I discovered they were not all deserted, as I
found an old bird roosting in one of them. I was induced to be
more particular in my remarks in consequence of my seeing Mr.
Jennings's remarks in the "Magazine of Natural History;" and I
searched, as I supposed, every bank, bush, and stump in the wood
two or three times before I could find the breeding-nest, which I
at last discovered in the twigs of a willow on the bank of the
river, in the centre of a bunch of tangled grass, cotton waste,
and straws which had been left there by the floods, and which the
bird had apparently excavated and in it formed its nest, which was
profusely lined with rooks' feathers.

The fear of being thought tedious prevents my giving other facts
which tend, as I think, to prove the correctness of my opinion;
however, I will just add that all the persons with whom I have
conversed who take an interest in such pursuits, agree with me in
opinion in this matter.

The nest I have just spoken of was also a strong proof that Wrens,
although they may not always adapt their materials to the locality
they have chosen for a nest, frequently do so; and if this is not
with the intention of concealing it, but merely because the
materials are at hand, it serves the purpose of concealment also,
and very effectually. The one I am speaking of was so exactly like
the other lumps of rubbish which had been left by the floods in
the same bush, that I did not discover that it was a Wren's nest
until I had pulled it out of the twigs; and if a Wren builds its
nest in a haystack--which it frequently does--the front of the
nest is almost invariably composed of the hay from the stack,
which prevents its being seen much more effectually than if the
moss of which the body of the nest is composed were visible on the

The fact that the long-tailed tits occasionally associate to the
number of six or seven, and have a nest in common, which is
mentioned in the same page of the "Magazine of Natural History" as
the Wrens' nests, I could prove by the testimony of twenty people
who saw the nest and young there spoken of. I should be glad to
learn whether the same thing has been noticed by other people.

Among the few rare birds which it has been my good fortune to
procure is a Woodpecker, which I killed this summer, and which is
not mentioned in your edition of Montagu, although spoken of by
Bewick as a dubious species, under the name of the Middle Spotted

A pair of these birds had built their nest, or rather hatched
their young (for there was no nest), in a hole in a decayed ash
tree about twenty feet from the ground. There were two young ones,
which I secured, as well as one of the old ones, and they are all
in the possession of a professional friend of mine, who is a
collector of ornithological specimens.

The old one measures 9 1/2 inches long, and weighed 46 1/2 dwts.
an hour after it was killed. The forehead is a dirty buff, the
whole crown of the head a bright crimson; the irides a dark lead
colour, and it has a white ring round its neck. In other respects
it corresponds with your description of the _Picus major_. The sex
was not ascertained. The young ones have also the bright crimson
head, and differ very materially from the old one.

The Chevy Linnet, as the lesser Redpole is called, is found here
throughout the year, and is at no time a scarce bird with us. It
frequently builds its nest in the alder and willow bushes, on the
banks of the brooks or rivers. It is a late breeder, the nests
being often met with containing eggs or young in July. In the
winter it feeds upon the seeds of the alder or the cones of the
larch, hanging suspended from the twigs like the titmouse.

We have also the Gray Wagtail (_Motacilla sulphurea_) with us the
whole year, but it is rather a rare bird at all times and in all
localities with which I am acquainted. (1853:--It is more
plentiful now than it was in 1831.)

I very strongly suspect Selby is mistaken when he says, "that
previous to its departure in September, it assembles in small
flocks or families, which haunt the meadows or bare pastures."
This does not agree with my observations of this bird, although
quite true when applied to the Spring Wagtail (_Motacilla flava_);
on the contrary, the Grey Wagtail is solitary throughout the year,
except in the breeding season, and never frequents the meadows,
but is found in the beds of the rivers, brooks, or ditches, where
its shrill note often betrays it to eyes which would otherwise
never see it.

This bird may be easily distinguished from the Spring Wagtail by
its note when flying--yet, notwithstanding the difference is very
apparent to a person who hears them both, it is not so easily
described. In attempting to do so, therefore, I hope I shall be
excused if I don't make the difference so apparent in the
description as it is in reality. The latter part of the note of
the Grey Wagtail when flying is higher in the musical scale than
the former part, and is very staccato, thus: [BAR OF MUSIC]
generally being uttered as the bird makes a spring in the air, [10]
whilst the latter part of the note of the summer-bird is lower in
the scale than the former part, which is more prolonged than in
the note of the Grey Wagtail, and is slurred into the latter part,
something in the following manner: [BAR OF MUSIC] Of course I
don't mean it to be understood that these notes are either of the
same pitch, or that they bear the same relation to each other that
the notes of the bird do, but as a rude attempt at illustrating
what I could not explain in any other way.

A singular habit which I have noticed in several individuals of
this species (_M. sulphurea_) has amused me exceedingly. They were
in the habit of looking at their own images in the windows and
attacking them, uttering their peculiar cry, and pecking and
fluttering against the glass as earnestly as if the object they
saw was a real rival instead of an imaginary one (a friend who
observed it, insisted that, Narcissus-like, it was in an ecstasy
of self-admiration). What is more remarkable, two of these
instances occurred in the autumn, when one would not suppose the
same motives for animosity to exist that would probably actuate
them in the spring.

The first of these instances was when I was a boy, and was
repeated daily for several weeks, both against the windows of my
father's house and those of our neighbour, who, being rather
superstitious, was alarmed about it, and came to consult my mother
on the subject. She said there was a bird which her brother told
her was a barley-bird (_Motacilla flava_), which was continually
flying against her windows, and as birds were not in the habit of
doing so generally, she thought something serious was portended by
it. My mother comforted her as well as she could, and I undertook
to rid her of the annoyance, which I did by setting a horsehair-
noose on one of the window-ledges which it frequented. I soon
caught it, and by plucking out the under-tail coverts, with which
I wanted to dress _yellow duns_, I effectually cured it of the
propensity--whether, Narcissus-like, it was in an ecstasy of self-
admiration, or like the cock which attacked its own image in the
boot (which Mr. Robert Warren's poet and painter have immortalized),
it would admit of no rival.

It has been suggested, and I think with great probability, that
the bird was merely attempting to catch the flies which it saw on
the inside of the panes of glass; but certainly it was not so
silent about it as these birds generally are when they are

* * * * *


To the Editor of "Loudon's Magazine."

Some years ago, when my brother and myself were seekers of birds'
nests, we found one of the Long-tailed Titmouse (_Parus
caudatus_), about two miles from home, containing young ones half-
fledged. Being anxious to rear them, we hit upon the plan of
catching the old ones, and giving them the trouble instead of
ourselves. We accordingly set lime-twigs near the nest, and caught
six old ones out of the seven of which the colony consisted, and
brought them away in triumph; but the old ones would not eat in
confinement, and all died but one, which we allowed to escape, in
the hope that it would come back and rear the young ones. This it
did, and by the most unwearied exertion reared the whole brood,
sometimes feeding them ten times in a minute.

Never having seen this social habit stated in any ornithological
work to which I have access, I am not aware that it is generally
known to naturalists; but it is right to state that I have only
found one nest of the species since, and this my avocations would
not permit me to examine. I am therefore not aware whether the
fact I have stated was an exception to the general habit of the
bird, or whether such is invariably the case. Some of your
correspondents will, no doubt, be able to give an answer to this

* * * * *


To the Editor of the "Magazine of Natural History."

The question whether the Green and the Wood-Sandpiper are the same
species seems from Rennie's edition of Montagu's "Ornithological
Dictionary" to be undecided; but as a specimen has just come under
my notice which appears to me to clear up this difficulty, I shall
offer no apology for sending a description of it.

The length from the bill to the tail is 10 inches, to the end of
the toes, 11 3/4 inches; breadth, 17 inches; thigh-joint to the
toe, 5 1/2 inches. The bill measures 1 5/8 inches from the corner
of the mouth, and is very slender; the upper mandible, which is
black and slightly curved at the point, is a little longer than
the lower one, which is a dark green at the base and black at the
point; a dark streak extends from the base of the upper mandible
to the corner of the eye, and above it is a patch of dirty white
intermixed with minute dusky spots; a small circle of dirty white
surrounds the eyes; the chin is white; the cheeks, throat, and
forepart of the neck white, spotted with dusky, with which colour
a few laminae of each feather are marked their whole length. The
breast has a dappled stripe of the same colour as the throat
running down the middle of it; with this exception it is white, as
are also the belly, vent, and under tail-coverts. The crown of the
head and hinder part of the neck are a dingy brown, which on the
neck has a shade of ash colour; the bend of the wing and lesser
wing-coverts are a brownish black; the whole upper surface of the
plumage is of a glossy brownish-green, which is spotted on the
middle wing-coverts with minute white spots, that change to a
dingy yellow on the back, scapulars, and tertials, the last of
which have twelve spots on the outer margin of the feathers, and
six on the inner one; the tertials are very long, the longest of
them reaching to within a quarter of an inch of the extreme top of
the wing, which reaches to the end of the tail; the quill feathers
are wholly black, as are also the secondaries; the upper part of
the rump is black, and each feather is slightly tipped with white,
which forms small wavy lines on that part of the plumage; the
lower part of the rump and upper tail-coverts are pure white; the
tail, which is even at the end, consists of twelve feathers, which
are barred with black and white alternately.

At the end of Bewick's description of the Green Sandpiper there is
a very exact representation of a covert feather of the tail, and
an inner-wing covert, which will give a better idea of their
appearance than a page of letterpress. The legs are dark green,
the outer toe connected with the middle one by a membrane as far
as the first joint; toes very slender, middle one 1 1/4 inch long;
weight, 2 3/4 oz. Killed on the 17th September, 1831, near

I have been thus minute in my description from a wish to clear up
the doubt that appears to exist as to the identity of these two
birds. The one I have now before me is, undoubtedly, the Green
Sandpiper of Bewick, but it corresponds in so many particulars
with the Wood Sandpiper of Montagu, and appears to combine so many
of the peculiarities of both without exactly agreeing with either,
that I think it proves their identity satisfactorily. The glossy
green of the upper plumage and the barring of the under wing-
coverts and the tail identify this bird with the Green Sandpiper;
whilst on the other side the yellowish spots on the scapulars and
tertials, the black rump, the length of the leg, and the web
between the outer and middle toes are characteristic of the Wood
Sandpiper of Montagu.

* * * * *


I. M. (in the "Magazine of Natural History") says that the Stoat
is more timid than the weasel, and that it does not change its
colour as in the more northern parts of the world. I know not why
he calls it timid, even relatively, as I think it is the most
fearless wild animal we have in the kingdom, in proof of which I
will mention an incident I witnessed myself. I one day saw a Stoat
carrying off a large rat it had killed, and I immediately pursued
it, but it stuck so tenaciously to its prey (although it was so
encumbered with its load as to be scarcely able to run at all)
that I was close upon it before it would abandon it; however, it
then took refuge in a wall that happened to be close by. I took up
the rat, and the Stoat put its head out of the wall, spitting and
chattering with every appearance of the most lively indignation
against me for having so unjustly robbed it of a lawful prize. I
amused myself with watching it for some time, and then being
desirous of seeing how far its evident desire to recapture its
booty would overcome its fear of me, I held the rat just before
the hole in which it was, when after several attempts, in which
its discretion got the better of its valour, it at length screwed
up its courage to the sticking-place, came boldly out of the wall,
and dragged it out of my hand into the hole.

I know not in what county I. M. lives, nor do I know whether he
means to include any part of England in the more northern parts of
the world, but I do know that the Stoat is white in the winter in
Yorkshire, as I have caught and still more frequently seen
specimens of this colour.

* * * * *


I have been much interested this spring at witnessing in two or
three instances the tenacity with which the Marsh Titmouse sits on
its nest. Being in a wood near my own house, I perceived a pair of
these birds in one of the trees, and having seen them in the same
place several times before, and being desirous of finding the
nest, I sat down to watch their motions. After examining me on all
sides with much chattering and many gesticulations, indicative of
dislike and suspicion, the female flew to the root of a tree,
three or four yards off, and disappeared, as she had gone to the
opposite side of the tree to that on which I sat; and as there
were several holes about the root I was at a loss to know in which
the nest was built, and began to strike the root with a stick,
expecting her to fly out, but nothing appeared. I then examined
the holes one by one, and whilst doing so heard her hissing and
puffing from within, in such a way that if I had not known she was
there I should have thought it was a snake rather than a bird.
However, as she would not come out, and the hole was so small that
I could not get my hand in, I was obliged to raise the siege until
next morning, when I returned armed with a hammer and chisel with
which to storm her citadel. As the wood was sound, the hole small,
and the nest six or eight inches within the tree, I was five or
ten minutes before I could get to it, during which I gave her
repeated opportunities of escaping if she chose; but she still sat
on her nest, puffing and pecking at the stick that I thrust in in
order to drive her off. She at last crept to the further edge of
the nest, which I then took out, as I wanted it for one of my
friends who is a collector of eggs, but on attempting to blow one
I found they had been sat upon too long, and I then felt desirous
of seeing whether the old bird would hatch them after having her
nest torn from under her, and I turned back to the tree whence I
had taken them, and found her still sitting in the hole where I
had left her. I regret to add that the humane part of my
experiment did not succeed, for although she remained after I had
returned the nest to its place, she left it immediately after, and
did not return to it again.

Another instance which I witnessed was in a nest containing young
ones. This was also at the root of a tree, but the situation did
not appear to be so well chosen as is usually the case with the
Titmouse tribe; for in this instance the hole went quite through
the tree, and on one side was large enough to admit the hand. As
the young ones were exposed to the weather, and were also liable
to be seen by anyone going along the adjoining footpath, I
attempted to remedy this defect by covering the larger hole with a
sod, which to a casual observer would appear to have grown there.
On taking the sod off one day, to see how the nestlings were going
on, I perceived that a clod of earth had fallen from the sod upon
them, and I took a stick and hooked it out, lest it should smother
them. Whilst I was doing this I perceived the old one sat on the
further side of the nest, so still and quiet that until I
perceived her eye I fancied she was dead; and she also endured
several pokings with the stick before she would move, although the
hole on the opposite side of the tree enabled her to escape
whenever she thought proper.

Perhaps Mr. Rennie, in his next edition of Montagu's Dictionary,
will give us a new name for this bird, as the one it has at
present is no more applicable to this species than it is to the
_Parus caeruleus_, or the _Parus major_, and not half so much so
as it would be to the _Parus biarnicus_; and he has changed good
names into bad ones with far less reason, witness _Corvus
frugilegus_ into _Corvus predatorius_. The former name is strictly
applicable to that species, and to that alone; and so useful a
bird does not deserve the name of a thief. The Chaffinch (which
received its name of _Coelebs_ from Linnaeus on account of the
males alone remaining in Sweden in the winter, which fact is
corroborated by White, who found scarcely any but females in
Hampshire during that season) has had its name changed by Mr.
Rennie into _Spiza_. The old name is characteristic of a
remarkable fact in the habits of this bird; why the new one is
more appropriate (neither understanding Greek, nor having read
Aristotle), I cannot say. Will Mr. Rennie condescend to enlighten

Once for all--if we are to have a new nomenclature, let a
committee of able naturalists decide upon it, or let us submit to
the authority of a master (for instance Linnaeus or Temminck), but
don't let every bookmaker who publishes a work on Natural History,
rejecting names long established and universally received, give
new ones in such a way as serves only to show his own presumption
and to confuse what it ought to be his business to elucidate.

* * * * *


The Nuthatch does not occur in this, and I doubt if in any part of
Lancashire, but the Creeper is very common, and is a bird with the
habits and peculiar call of which I have been acquainted from my
childhood. Mr. Bree, who combines with accurate and extensive
information, an amiable and pleasant manner of communicating it,
has not, I perceive, witnessed the Creepers associating with the
Titmice in winter, at which I am rather surprised, and think if
they are numerous in his neighbourhood, he will hereafter not fail
to perceive them among the small flocks of Titmice which associate
through the winter.

* * * * *


In Mr. Rennie's edition of Montagu's Dictionary, and also in his
"Architecture of Birds," after copying what I have said on the
subject of Wrens' nests being lined with feathers, he says:--
"There can be no doubt, I apprehend, of these supposed cock-nests
being nothing more than the unfinished structures of paired birds;
otherwise the story would require the support of strong evidence
to render it credible." Mr. Rennie afterwards goes on to say that
in two instances he had seen nests which had about half-a-dozen
feathers interwoven into the linings with hair; and Mr. Jennings,
if I recollect aright, as I have not the work to refer to at
present, says that Wrens don't line their nests with anything but
moss, and he thinks Montagu is in error when he says they are
lined with feathers. Along with this I send you three or four
Wrens' nests, which you will perceive have abundance of feathers
in the inside; and although the Wren will occasionally use cows'
hair along with the feathers, yet I am persuaded from the
localities in which I have met with them, that cows' hair has been
used because feathers were not to be found; but when the nests are
in the vicinity of a rookery, a farm-yard, or any other locality
where feathers are abundant, the Wrens will use them exclusively.
What the "strong evidence" must be which will convince Mr. Rennie
about cock-nests, I don't know; but I know of a dozen of these
nests at the present moment, several of which have remained in the
state in which they were left in the middle of April. Other nests
found about the same time have now young ones in them. I doubt not
these nests are occasionally used for breeding in: for instance,
if the first nest of a Wren be taken, or if it breed a second
time, it will occasionally take possession of a cock-nest; as I
have sometimes found that after remaining in the same unfinished
state for several weeks, they have afterwards been fitted up with
a lining, and bred in.

Mr. Rennie asserts that Montagu is wrong when he says that the
Wren always adapts its materials to its locality. Although it
certainly is not always the case, yet so very generally is it so,
that I think it is not surprising that Montagu made this

Thus, if a Wren build in a haystack, the front of the nest is
generally composed of the hay from the stack; if it be built in a
bush by the side of a river, and (which is frequently the case)
below flood mark, it is generally covered on the outside with the
rubbish which has been left there by the flood; and if it build in
a mossy stump, the front of the nest is composed of the dark-
coloured moss which grows there. (May 22, 1832.)

Along with my last letter, I sent some Wrens' nests lined with
feathers, and I could easily have increased them to a dozen of the
same sort, only I did not wish to deprive so many of my little
favourites of their eggs and young. Every day convinces me more
decidedly, that I am right both with regard to the lining of the
Wrens' nests, and as to the cock-nests also. The nests I sent you
will prove the former, and I know of at least twenty instances of
the latter, in nests which I have known of all through the spring,
from April to the present time, which have remained in the same
unfinished state, although they are not forsaken, as I have found
the birds in them, in several instances, when I have examined
them. I found one of these nests on the 10th of April, under a
bank on the side of the river; and I examined it repeatedly
through April and May, and always found it in the same state,
although there was always a pair of Wrens about, and I could find
no other nest; yet I am sure there was another, for in the
beginning of this month (June) there were some young Wrens, which
had evidently only just come out of the nest; and there were only
two or three bushes grew thereabouts, so that it is not probable
they had come from any other quarter, but the bushes were filled
with dead leaves, and other rubbish brought down by the flood.
However, when I heard them, I looked out for another nest, as I
believe (notwithstanding what Montagu says, that there are few
birds, if any, that would produce a second lot of eggs if the
first were unmolested) that most of the small birds which are
early breeders build a second time the same year, even when they
succeed in rearing the first brood. I have had proof of this (if
anything can be considered proof, except marking the birds), in
the Throstle, the Blackbird, the Wren, the Redbreast, and the
Hedge Sparrow, whose second nests may be found contiguous to the
first; and in point of time, this always happens just when the
first brood have left the nest. The cock-bird, too, who had been
silent whilst his young were unfledged, begins to sing again, and
throwing off the anxious and care-beset manners of a parent, again
assumes that of a bridegroom. But to return to Wrens' nests. I
found one within ten yards of the one I had known of since the
10th of April, lined, and ready for an egg. As I was anxious to
prove what I had so long believed, I pulled out this nest,
thinking that the old bird was ready for laying a second lot of
eggs; and that when I had destroyed this, as she had no other nest
ready, she would probably take up with the cock-nest.

As it was half a mile from my house, I did not visit it again
until the 16th of June, and was then delighted to find the old
bird sitting on six or seven eggs in the cock-nest, which had
remained so long unoccupied. I believe that in this instance there
is very little lining (fur, feathers, &c.) in the nest, although I
should be sorry to examine it minutely until the young have left
it; but I consider it an exception to the general rule, inasmuch
as I believe the bird was ready to lay when I pulled out the other
nest. As she would have to find another with as little delay as
possible, she would not have time to embellish the inside in the
same manner as she probably would have done if she had had more

On examining another Wrens' nest a few evenings ago, I found the
young ones had flown, and as there was a cock-nest in some wrack
left by the river in a bush a few yards off, I gave it a shake to
see if the old ones had taken possession of it for another brood;
and I was surprised to see one, and then a second young one come
flying out, and a third putting out its head to reconnoitre.
Whether the whole brood was there I don't know, as I did not
disturb them further. As I had examined this nest only ten days
before, when it had not an egg in it, I was at first at a loss to
account for these young ones; but I have now no doubt they were
the young from the adjoining nest, which had taken up their
quarters for the night in the new house. But how had they learnt
the way? Young birds generally roost where night finds them, and
if I had found only one, I should not have been surprised, but to
find at least three, probably six or seven, in a nest where I am
certain they were not bred, was something new to me. I went
several times in the evening after this, but never found them; I
suppose the fright I gave them deterred them from lodging there

The editor of "Loudon's Magazine," in a paragraph appended to this
article, says: "We have examined the Wrens' nests sent; their
staple materials are moss, feathers, and hair. Into the moss on
the exterior of the nest are woven a more or less perfect but
feeble frond or two, and separate pinnae as well of Aspidium
Filix-Mas, and leaves of apple, elm, and oak trees. Interiorly
cows' hair is not scarce, and is partly inwoven with the moss and
laces it together, and partly mingled with the feathers; a horse-
hair or two are also observable. The feathers in each nest,
apparently those of domestic fowls, are numerous enough to fill
the hollow of the hand when the fingers are so folded over as not
to much compress the feathers."

* * * * *


In Montagu's "Ornithological Dictionary," under the article "Song
of Birds," there is the following remark: "Regarding the note of
alarm which birds utter on the approach of their natural enemies,
whether a Hawk, an Owl, or a Cat, we consider it to be a general
language perfectly understood by all small birds, though each
species has a note peculiar to itself." I was last April very much
pleased at witnessing an illustration of the truth of this
opinion. I found a nest of young Throstles at the root of a hazel,
and although they could scarcely fly, yet as they were near a
footpath, and the next day was Sunday, when many idle and
mischievous lads would be rambling about, I thought they would be
safer out of their nest than in it; and as I knew that when so far
fledged, if they were once disturbed they would not continue in
the nest, I took one from the nest and made it cry out, and then
put it back again; but in one minute, not only it but its three
companions had disappeared in the long dry grass which was round
about. On hearing the cry of their young one, the parent bird set
up such shrieks of alarm as brought all the birds in the wood to
see what was the matter. I noticed the Blackbird, the Chaffinch,
the Titlark, the Robin, the Oxeye (greater Titmouse), the Blue and
Marsh Titmouse, and the Wren all uttering their cries of alarm and
apprehension; even the golden-crested Wren, which usually seems to
care for nothing, was as forward and persevering as any of them in
expressing its fears on this occasion; indeed, the only bird which
seemed indifferent to all these manifestations of alarm was the
Creeper, which continued its anxious and incessant search for
food, as it flitted from one tree to another, examining them from
root to branch without ever seeming to understand or to care for
what seemed to have so much frightened the others. (June 30th,

* * * * *


Young Rooks heard, 5th April; House Martin seen, 14th; Sandpiper,
14th; Willow Wren, Spring Wagtail, and Redstart, 17th; Wheatear,
19th (this is generally the first spring bird seen); Sand Martin
and Swallow, 22nd; Cuckoo heard, 26th; Wood Wren, Blackcap, and
Whinchat, 28th; Mocking-bird and Whitethroat, 4th May; Swift, 7th;
Flycatcher, 11th; and Fieldfares were not seen until the 2nd of
May, which is later than I ever observed them before. (In the
parish of Allesby, near Coventry, Fieldfares were observed as late
as the 14th of May.)

No doubt many of these birds were in the neighbourhood earlier
than the dates I have attached to them, but they are the periods
at which I saw or heard them.

The study of Natural History is perhaps as little followed in this
neighbourhood as in any part of the kingdom, notwithstanding the
facilities which are offered. Our flora is beautiful, varied, and
possesses many rare plants, yet I only know of two herbaria; the
birds are abundant, yet there is but one collector of them; and as
for insects, although I frequently take what I consider rare
species, yet I cannot find an entomologist in the whole district,
or I would send them to him.

In conclusion, allow me to say, that the leisure hours a somewhat
busy life has enabled me to spend in these pursuits, have been
some of the happiest of my existence, and have awakened and
cherished such an admiration of nature and such a love for the
country and its scenes, as I think can never be appreciated by the
inhabitants of large towns, and which I cannot describe so well as
in the words of one of my friends in a beautiful apostrophe to
England, when leaving it--never to return: [11]--

"To thee Whose fields first fed my childish fantasy, Whose
mountains were my boyhood's wild delight, Whose rocks, and woods,
and torrents were to me The food of my soul's youthful appetite;
Were music to my ear--a blessing to my sight."

* * * * *


A strong prejudice is felt by many persons against Rooks, on
account of their destroying grain and potatoes, and so far is this
prejudice carried, that I know persons who offer a reward for
every Rook that is killed on their land; yet so mistaken do I deem
them as to consider that no living creature is so serviceable to
the farmer as the Rook, except his own live stock.

In the neighbourhood of my native place is a rookery belonging to
William Vavasour Esq., of Weston in Wharfdale, in which it is
estimated there are 10,000 Rooks, that 1 lb. of food a week is a
very moderate allowance for each bird, and that nine-tenths of
such food consists of worms, insects, and their larvae: for
although they do considerable damage to the crops for a few weeks
in seed-time and harvest, particularly in backward seasons, yet a
very large proportion of their food, even at these times, consists
of insects and worms, which (if we except a few acorns, walnuts,
and potatoes in autumn) at all other times form the whole of their

Here, then, if my data be correct, there is the enormous quantity
of 468,000 lbs., or 209 tons of worms, insects, and their larvae
destroyed by the birds of a single rookery, and to everyone who
knows how very destructive to vegetation are the larvae of the
tribes of insects (as well as worms) fed upon by Rooks, some
slight idea may be formed of the devastation which Rooks are the
means of preventing. I have understood that in Suffolk and in some
of the southern counties, the larvae of the cockchafer are so
exceedingly abundant that the crops of corn are almost destroyed
by them, and that their ravages do not cease even when they have
become perfect insects. Various plans have been proposed to put a
stop to their ravages, but I have little doubt that their
abundance is to be attributed to the scarcity of Rooks, as I have
somewhere seen an account that these birds are not numerous in
those counties (I have never been there), either from the trees
being felled in which they nested, or from their having been
destroyed by the prejudiced farmer. I am the more inclined to be
of this opinion, because we have many Rooks in this neighbourhood
where the cockchafer is not known as a destructive insect, and I
know that insects of that class and their larvae are the most
favourite food of the Rook, which may be seen in the twilight
catching both cockchafers and the large blackbeetles which are
flying at that time in the evening.

I will mention another instance of the utility of the Rook which
occurred in this neighbourhood. Many years ago a flight of locusts
visited Craven, and they were so numerous as to create considerable
alarm among the farmers of the district. They were, however, soon
relieved from their anxiety, for the Rooks flocked in from all
quarters by thousands and tens of thousands, and devoured the
locusts so greedily that they were all destroyed in a short time.
Such, at least, is the account given, and I have heard it repeatedly
mentioned as the reason why the late Lord Ribblesdale was so partial
to Rooks. But I have no means of ascertaining how far this is true.

It was stated in the newspapers a year or two back that there was
such an enormous quantity of caterpillars upon Skiddaw, that they
devoured all the vegetation on the mountain, and people were
apprehensive they would attack the crops in the enclosed lands;
but the Rooks (which are fond of high ground in the summer) having
discovered them, put a stop to their ravages in a very short time.
(June 30th, 1832.)

These remarks are confirmed by a writer in the "Essex Herald" and
by Mr. Waterton. The former says:--"An extensive experiment
appears to have been made in some of the agricultural districts on
the Continent, the result of which has been the opinion that
farmers do wrong in destroying Rooks, Jays, Sparrows, and, indeed,
birds in general on their farms, particularly where there are

That birds do mischief occasionally among ripe corn there can be
no doubt; but the harm they do in autumn is amply compensated by
the good they do in spring by the havoc they make among the insect
tribes. The quantity of grubs destroyed by Rooks and of
caterpillars and grubs by the various small birds, must be
annually immense. Other tribes of birds which feed on the wing--as
Swifts, Swallows, and Martins--destroy millions of winged insects
which would otherwise infest the air and become insupportably
troublesome. Even the Titmouse and the Bullfinch, usually supposed
to be so mischievous in gardens, have actually been proved only to
destroy those buds which contain a destructive insect. Ornithologists
have of late determined these facts to be true, and parish officers
would do well to consider them before they waste the public money
in paying rewards to idle boys and girls for the heads of dead birds,
which only encourages children and other idle persons in the
mischievous employment of fowling instead of minding their work or
their schooling. But to return to the experiment alluded to. On some
very large farms in Devonshire the proprietors determined a few
summers ago to try the result of offering a great reward for the
heads of Rooks, but the issue proved destructive to the farms, for
nearly the whole of the crops failed for three succeeding years, and
they have since been forced to import Rooks and other birds wherewith
to re-stock their farms.

Of late years the extensive destruction of the foliage and young
fruit in orchards by a species of caterpillar has excited the
attention of the naturalist, and it has been found to have arisen
from the habit of destroying those small birds about orchards
which if left unmolested would have destroyed or kept down those
rapacious insects.

* * * * *


Sandpipers breed about Clitheroe. I this year (1832) started an
old one from her nest at the root of a Weymouth pine. She screamed
out, and rolled about in such a manner, and seemed so completely
disabled, that, although perfectly aware that her intention was to
allure me from her nest, I could not resist my inclination to
pursue her, and in consequence I had great difficulty in finding
the nest again. It was built of a few dried leaves of the Weymouth
pine, and contained three young ones just hatched, and an egg
through which the bill of a young one was making its way. Yet,
young as they were, on my taking out the egg to examine it, the
little things, which could not have been out of the shell more
than an hour or two, set off out of the nest with as much celerity
as if they had been running about a fortnight. As I thought the
old one would abandon the egg if the young ones left the nest, I
caught them again and covering them up with my hand for some time,
they settled down again. Next day all four had disappeared.

Montagu says: "It is probable many of the Sandpipers are capable
of swimming if by accident they wade out of their depth. Having
shot and winged one of this species as it was flying across a
piece of water, it fell, and floated towards the side, and as we
reached to take it up, the bird instantly dived, and we never saw
it rise again to the surface; possibly it got entangled in the
weeds and was drowned." I quote this remark because the same thing
has happened to myself. I winged a Sandpiper, and on going to take
it up, it fluttered into the water and dived, but never rose again
to the surface that I could perceive, although I watched long and
attentively for it. In this instance the bird could not have been
entangled by the weeds, inasmuch as the bottom of the river was
covered with gravel and not a weed was growing there. Whether the
Sandpiper laid hold of the gravel at the bottom with its feet, or
how it managed, I cannot tell, nor have I ever been able to
account for it. (June 30th, 1832.)

* * * * *


Mr. Waterton doubts ("Mag. of Nat. History," vol. v. p. 413) if
the small nipple on the rump of birds is an oil-gland, or that
birds ever oil their feathers with matter obtained from it; and he
asks if any naturalist will say that he has ever witnessed this
process, and if so how it is that the bird contrives to take this
oil in its bill and how it manages to oil its head and neck? I
will therefore state what I think I have witnessed, and trust to
Mr. Waterton's forbearance if I am in error; yet I cannot help
suspecting that Mr. Waterton's queries are (like those of Charles
the Second to the Royal Society) more for the purpose of laughing
at our ignorance than from any wish he has to obtain information,
for I can scarcely suppose that so acute an observer can have
failed to perceive everything perceptible on the point at issue.

I have just watched a Muscovy Duck go through the operation of
preening and dressing its feathers, and it certainly appears
obvious enough to me that this bird uses the gland on the rump for
the purpose for which birds are generally supposed to use it. The
bird erected the feathers on the rump so as to exhibit the gland
very distinctly, and then, after pressing it with the bill, rubbed
the under mandible and chin down to the throat upon it, and then,
after drawing some of the feathers through the bill, rubbed the
lower mandible and chin upon the back and scapulars, apparently to
apply the oil which adhered to them, and then, turning its head
back, it rubbed the crown and sides of the head and neck upon
those parts which it had previously rubbed with the chin and under
mandible. By this rubbing of the head and neck it is easy to
perceive how birds can oil these parts if it be allowed that birds
oil themselves at all.

I cannot see how we can explain this action of birds in relation
to any other object. It certainly does not seem calculated to
expel or disturb any vermin lodged there, and I remarked that it
never occurred except when the bird had been applying its bill to
the gland as above mentioned. However, Mr. Waterton, and anyone
who doubts this oiling, may readily judge for themselves. Let them
take a common duck, and shut it up for two or three days, so that
it can have no access to water except for drinking, and at the end
of that time let them turn it out, and allow it to go to a brook
or pond; it will give itself a thorough ablution--ducking, diving,
and splashing with its wings--and on coming out, will begin to
dress and arrange its feathers, very frequently applying its bill
to the gland on its rump. If this application is not for the
purpose of procuring a supply of oil, perhaps Mr. Waterton will
have the goodness to inform us what it is for, and what end this
gland answers in the economy of the feathered tribes if not that
which has hitherto been supposed. (June 30, 1832.)

* * * * *


In the article "Sedge Bird," in Montagu's "Dictionary of
Ornithology" (Rennie's edition, p. 455), the writer says: "It has
a variety of notes, which partake of those of the Skylark and the
Swallow, as well as the chatter of the House-Sparrow." According
to my observation, it has a much greater variety than this. I have
heard it imitate in succession (intermixed with its own note,
_chur, chur_), the Swallow, the House-Martin, the Greenfinch, the
Chaffinch, the Lesser-Redpole, the House-Sparrow, the Redstart,
the Willow-Wren, the Whinchat, the Pied-Wagtail, and the Spring-
Wagtail; yet its imitations are chiefly confined to the notes of
alarm (the fretting-notes as they are called here) of those birds,
and so exactly does it imitate them in tone and modulation, that
if it were to confine itself to one (no matter which), and not
interlard the wailings of the little Redpole and the shrieks of
the Martin with the _curses_ of the House-Sparrow, the _twink,
twink_ of the Chaffinch, and its own _care-for-naught_ chatters,
the most practiced ear would not detect the difference. After
being silent for awhile, it often begins with the _chue, chue_ of
the House-Sparrow, so exactly imitated in every respect that were
it not for what follows, no one would suppose it to be any other
bird. It is called a Mocking-Bird here, and it well deserves the
name, for it is a real scoffer at the sorrows of other birds,
which it laughs to scorn and turns into ridicule by parodying them
so exactly. I never heard it attempt to imitate any of the Larks
or Thrushes, although I have listened to it for hours.

This bird was very plentifully met with in Wharfdale ten years
ago, and is also found in this neighbourhood, but I am not aware
that anybody in either of these districts ever attempted to keep
one in confinement, although from their powers of imitation, I
think the experiment well worth trying; probably the idea that it
would be difficult to supply them with proper food has prevented
the experiment being made. (May 2nd, 1832.)

I am surprised that no other writer on Natural History has noticed
the wonderful imitative power of this bird. So far is the above
notice from overstating this bird's powers of imitation, that I
have scarcely enumerated half the notes which it hits off with
such wonderful exactness.

In listening to one the other day for about a quarter of an hour,
I heard it give three notes of the Swallow, two of the Martin, and
two of the Spring-Wagtail; and in addition, notes of the House-
Sparrow, Whinchat, Starling, Chaffinch, Whitethroat, Greenfinch,
Little Redpole, and Whin-Linnet, besides the notes of half-a-dozen
birds which I did not know; at least, a reasoning from analogy
would induce me to think them imitations, and I have no right to
suppose they were not because I did not happen to recognize them.
I am not strictly correct when I say that it only imitates the
alarm-notes (called here fretting-notes) of other birds, for
although this is generally the case, it is not invariably so. For
instance, in addition to the alarm-note of the Swallow, _chizzic,
chizzic_, it also had the _whit, whit_, which the Swallow uses
when flying about, and the chatter of self-satisfaction (not the
song) which one often hears in a barn when two Swallows are
arranging their plan of operations in the spring. Again, in
addition to the shriek of the Martin, there was the note which it
utters when on the wing in pursuit of its food. There was also the
chirrup of the Greenfinch, and the _whee, whee, whee_ which is the
climax of the Linnet's song, by which it is so irresistible as a
call-bird, and which appears to bring down the flock in spite of

Although the Sedge-Bird imitated all I have mentioned, it made
much more frequent use of the notes of some than of others--the
Sparrow, the Whinchat, the Swallow, and the Starling appeared to
be its chief favourites, whilst it only touched once or twice on
the notes of the Greenfinch and the Linnet. It had been very
sparing also in its use of the Chaffinch's note, until one in the
neighbourhood had begun to _twink, twink, twink_; then the
Mocking-Bird took it up, and _twinked_ away for fifty times
together. Next morning the Linnet's note was much more frequent in
request, and it also made more use of notes with which I was not
acquainted. On neither day did it touch upon the notes of the
Redstart, or Pied-Wagtail, both of which I had heard frequently
used by the Mocking-Bird before. On the other hand, I had not
previously observed the notes of the Starling and Whin-Linnet, and
therefore, although I have said that I have never heard it make
use of the notes of any of the Larks or the Thrushes, I would not
be understood to say that this never happens. It is, perhaps,
difficult to say whether it has a note which is not an imitation
of some other bird, but there is one which it always makes use of
when any person approaches its nest (intermixed, however, with the
notes of the Swallow, Whinchat, and Whitethroat). This is
something like _chur-r-r, chur-r-r_, prolonging the sound of the
_r_ very considerably, and in a style which would be quite an
acquisition to the Northumbrians if they could attain it. (May
29th, 1834.)

* * * * *


The Water Ouzel sings very frequently, and as much in winter as at
any time. Perched on a stone or a piece of ice, it chirps away at
a famous rate, but its song consists almost entirely of its note
_zeet, zeet_, which it hashes up in all sorts of ways, lengthening
and shortening--now a crotchet, then a semiquaver, rising an
octave or so, and then descending again. It makes as much of it as
can be made, but with all its efforts its song is a very _so-so_
affair, all its syllables beginning with _z_, and almost ending
with it too. Yet, although it is not much of a songster, it is
almost a sacred bird with me, in consequence of the associations
connected with it. A pair had built for forty years, according to
tradition, in a wheel-race near to where I was born, and had never
been molested by anybody until a gentleman in the neighbourhood,
who was a great ornithologist, employed his gamekeeper to shoot
this pair. I think the natives of Calcutta were not more indignant
when an unlucky Englishman got one of their sacred bulls into his
compound and baited him, than was our little community at what we
considered so great an outrage. The gamekeeper narrowly escaped
being stoned by myself and some more lads, any one of whom would
have shot fifty Blackbirds or Fieldfares without any misgivings.

This bird very much resembles the Wren in its habits and motions,
its nods and curtsies, and cocks its tail in exactly the same
manner. Its nest is also similar in form to that of the Wren.

Some persons seem to think that it is impossible for the Water
Ouzel to walk at the bottom of the water, owing to its body being
of less specific gravity. I will not argue the point with them,
but disbelieving my own eyes, I will endeavour to submit with a
good grace; otherwise I should have said that I have repeatedly
seen it doing so, from a situation where I had an excellent
opportunity of observing it, the window of a building directly
over the place where it was feeding. It walked into the water and
began to turn over the pebbles with its bill, rooting almost like
a pig, and it seemed to have no difficulty whatever in keeping at
the bottom at all depths where I could see it; and I have
frequently observed it when the water just covered it, and its
head appeared above the water every time it lifted it up, which it
did incessantly, turning over a pebble or two, then lifting its
head, and again dipping it below to seize the creepers (_aquatic
larvae_) it had disturbed from their hiding-places. Besides, its
speed was too slow for diving. Every aquatic bird with which I am
acquainted moves much faster when diving than when it is swimming
or walking, and its course is generally in a straight line, or
nearly so; but the Water Ouzel, when feeding, turns to the right
or left, or back again to where it started, stops and goes on
again, just as it does when out of the water. Yet when it wished,
it seemed to have the power of altering its own gravity, as after
wading about two, or perhaps five minutes, where it could just get
its head out, it would suddenly rise to the surface and begin to
swim, which it does quite as well as the Water-hen. The awkward,
tumbling, shuffling wriggle which it appears to have, is
occasioned by the incessant motion of its head as it turns over
the gravel in search of creepers, which appear to me to form the
bulk of its food.

Sir George Mackenzie seems to think that these birds destroy
salmon spawn, and this opinion is prevalent in Scotland. If it is
correct, it would go far towards putting an end to my partiality
for them; but I rather think that they are unjustly accused, and
believe they are catching creepers when they are supposed to be
eating spawn. If this is the fact (and it is well worth
ascertaining) they are rendering an essential service to the
fisheries instead of injuring them, because these creepers (the
larvae of the stone-fly, bank-fly, and all the drakes) are
exceedingly destructive to spawning-beds, and as the Water Ouzel
feeds on them at all other times, and as they are more abundant in
the winter than at any other season, I think this is the more
probable supposition. Of course, if Sir George Mackenzie has shot
the bird, and speaks from his own knowledge, after dissecting it,
there can be no doubt of the fact that it destroys spawn; but if
he merely supposes so because the Water Ouzel feeds in the same
streams where the salmon are spawning, it is very probable he is
mistaken, for the reasons before mentioned. (May 29th, 1834).

* * * * *


Some years ago I killed what I am now persuaded was a Sabine's-
Snipe, but unfortunately it was not preserved, for hanging it up
in the larder with the other birds I had killed, I found to my
great mortification that the cook had stripped it of every feather
before I was aware, and before I had noted down the markings of
the plumage.

The dry weather of August, 1820, had driven a flock of the Golden
Plover from the moors to the banks of the river Wharfe, and on the
14th of that month I had been out with my gun, endeavouring to
shoot some of them. On my return I sprung this Snipe from a pond
near home, and killed it. When I picked it up, I was astonished to
find a Snipe with the plumage of a Woodcock, and showed it to a
friend of mine, who is a good practical ornithologist, but he was
as much puzzled as myself to give it a name; so not being able to
find a description of it in any books to which we had access, we
jumped to the conclusion that it was a hybrid between the Snipe
and the Woodcock, and called it a bastard Woodcock.

According to the recollection I have of it, it was as large as the
solitary Snipe, and the bill was a little longer; the general
appearance of the plumage on the wings and back resembled a dark-
coloured Woodcock; but under the wings the fine blue inner coverts
exactly resembled those of the Snipe. In those days I had no idea
of the value attached to rare birds, nor did I know anything of
the art of preserving birds, or of bird-preservers, and no doubt
some of these gentlemen will pronounce me a great Goth when I tell
them that what I regretted most, when I found that the bird was
plucked, was the loss of the wings, the feathers of which I wanted
to dress artificial flies with. Three days after I had killed
this, I saw another in a ditch adjoining Sir Henry Ibbetson's
park, at Denton, but being in his preserve I had no opportunity of
procuring it. I had never seen one since, and until I had seen the
sixth edition of Bewick's "Birds," I was unable to make out its
name, about which I may still be mistaken. (May 29th, 1834.)

* * * * *


A writer in the "British Naturalist" says, that "fish don't feed,
and therefore we may conclude they don't discern in sunny
weather." If the author had ever been a May-fly-fisher he would
have known that bright weather and clear water were essentially
necessary to his success.

This fly is one of the best baits I know for large Trout, and is
much used by the anglers in some of the rivers in Yorkshire
(perhaps in other counties also), where two methods of fishing it
are practised. The one is bobbing, which with one sort of bait or
another is universal, and therefore needs no description. However,
it is always practised in bright weather. In the other method
(which I believe is peculiar to the North of England) the May-fly
(stone-fly) is fished with a long line in rapid streams, in the
same way as the artificial fly, except that it is fished up the
stream; that is, the angler throws his line into the stream above
where he stands, and allows it to float down opposite to him, when
he makes another throw; by this means he always keeps his line
slack, and the May-fly floats on the surface, which is essential
to his success. I mention these two methods of angling because
both are practised in bright weather, and therefore prove that
fish both discern and feed in such days. I believe the fact is,
that at such times they frequently see too well for the angler,
and are consequently aware that his artificial flies are not what
they seem to be. Fishes, particularly Par and Grayling, may be
seen rising by dozens at the small flies (midges) which abound in
sunny weather, yet the angler is unable to hook a single fish.
First-rate anglers are well aware of this, and abandon their
larger flies as the summer advances, use smaller hooks, dress
their flies much finer, and substitute horsehair for the fishing-
gut, when they can procure it of good quality.

* * * * *


Lampreys abound in the Ribble. Some of them, of the large species
(_Petromyzon marinus_), weigh three and four pounds each, [12] but
owing to a prejudice against them (I suppose on account of their
ugliness) they are seldom eaten. I will illustrate this prejudice
by giving the remark of a keen fisherman to myself, on my saying
that I should eat a large one I had just caught. "Well," said he,
"if you can manage to eat such a thing as that, you would not
stick at devouring a child in the small-pox." This, if not an
elegant, was at least a forcible expression of his opinion on the
subject, and this dislike of them is almost universal in this
neighbourhood. (Jan. 17th 1832.)

"An Old Angler," in the "Magazine of Natural History," having
questioned the assertion of Sir Everard Home that the Lamprey was
hermaphrodite--in fact, that all were spawners and emitted eggs--
the following was addressed to the "Magazine of Natural History":--

When I had the pleasure of writing to you before, I had either
overlooked or forgotten the queries of "An Old Angler" respecting
the Lamprey. However, your remarks have induced me to pay a little
more attention to the subject. I can now confirm in the strongest
and most conclusive manner the supposition of "An Old Angler" that
the sexes are as distinct in the Lamprey as they are in the Cod or
Herring. How so distinguished an anatomist as Sir Everard Home
fell into such a mistake, it is not for me to say; but I am as
certain that the sexes are distinct in the Lamprey as that they
are so in any other animal, and I will now give my reasons for
making this positive assertion.

On the 8th of May, chancing to cross a small stream, I saw a
number of Lampreys in the act of spawning, and remembering the
queries of your correspondent, I stood to watch their motions.
After observing them for some time, I observed one twist its tail
round another in such a manner, and they both stirred up the sand
and small gravel from the bottom in such a way, as convinced me it
was a conjunction of the sexes. However, there were so many of
them together, and they kept so continually moving about, that I
could not single out the two individuals, and thus ascertain
whether they were male and female; but I felt so desirous of being
able to set this question at rest, that I went again next morning,
and was fortunate enough to find only two, a male and a female. I
then witnessed several sexual conjunctions, during which the sand
and small gravel was stirred up by them, and each of which was
followed by the ejection of a jet of eggs from the female. I then
caught them both, and dissected them. The sexual organ in the male
was projected above a quarter of an inch, and the body filled with
milt; the female, although she seemed to have shed a considerable
quantity of her spawn, had still a tolerable stock remaining.

I frequently afterwards witnessed the same thing, and always found
the same difference of sexes; in fact, there was generally no
difficulty in distinguishing the male from the female, without
taking them out of the water: the latter might be readily known by
the enlargement of her body, and the former by a still more
incontestable token. I have been induced to describe this more
minutely than I otherwise should have done, in consequence of the
mystery in which the propagation of fish has been wrapped
hitherto; and I am not aware that what I have described has been
witnessed by anyone before--at least I don't know that it has been

I caught half-a-dozen Lampreys, four males and two females, and
preserved them in spirits, and these I now forward to you.

I am unable to give the same information concerning the large
Lamprey, having never seen it in the act of spawning; but I have
repeatedly caught both milters and spawners of species with the
milt and roe as distinctly visible in them as it is in the Salmon
or any other fish.

I am of opinion that the _P. marinus_ and the _P. fluviatilis_ are
distinct species, for the following reasons:--1st. Because the
latter stays with us the whole year, while the former only ascends
the rivers to spawn, and then returns to the sea immediately. 2nd.
Because fish that are in the habit of descending to the sea, never
(unless the small Lamprey be an exception to the general rule)
arrive at maturity [13] until they have visited it; and, 3rdly,
because there are no intermediate sizes (at least in the Ribble)
between the one which, although only six or seven inches long, and
an ounce in weight, is yet capable of propagation, and the one of
a pound. Not having one of the larger kind to refer to, I am
unable to point out any specific difference of form. (May 2nd,

* * * * *


As I had been so fortunate in observing the Lampreys, I felt
desirous of ascertaining whether the same thing could be seen in
other fish (as in Natural History it is not always safe to reason
from analogy), and as there was a large shoal of Minnows spawning
near the place where I had seen the Lampreys, I determined to
watch their motions. They happened to have chosen a very
convenient place for being observed, being between two large
stones in the river, which lay about three feet from each other;
so that by cautiously approaching them from behind one of the
stones, I got close to without disturbing them, but after watching
them carefully and repeatedly within the distance of two feet, I
can only speak doubtfully of their operations, for they were so
numerous, and their motions were so incessant; and when a female
was about to shed her spawn, the males (which were ten times more
numerous than the females) crowded round her in such a manner as
to render it very difficult, if not impossible, to speak with
certainty on the subject. I will state what steps I took to
satisfy myself, and perhaps the history of my failure may be of
use to future observers.

It occurred to me from what I observed, that it was probable the
males had the power of absorbing the eggs after their exclusion by
the female, and impregnating them within their own bodies; and I
caught a dozen males at different times, when they were attending
on females, and opened them, but I could discover nothing like an
egg. I then caught a female, and scattered the spawn (which was
expelled by the slightest pressure) in a place frequented by a
number of males, but they took no notice of it whatever. I after
this caught a female when she was surrounded by a number of males,
and apparently in the act of shedding her spawn, and examined
whether the spawn which I pressed from her body was impregnated;
but it appeared perfectly homogeneous, and so delicate in its
texture that it burst with the slightest touch, whilst in that
which I picked up from among the gravel where it was scattered
abundantly, the impregnation was visible with the assistance of a
microscope, and it was so much tougher in its covering as to bear
rolling about in my hand without injury. I then tried to
impregnate the eggs _mechanically_, and applied a drop of the
spermatic fluid to the egg at the moment of exclusion, and it
certainly seemed, in one instance, both to increase the size and
to alter the colour of the ova it was applied to; but I was not
able to produce the same effect so decidedly in any of my
subsequent attempts.

My observations, which were often repeated, induce me to believe
that the egg is impregnated at the moment of exclusion, and that
two males have (almost invariably) access to the female at the
same time; for I frequently remarked, that when a female came
among a number of males, they immediately pursued her: if she was
not ready for shedding her spawn, she made a precipitate retreat;
but if she was, she came boldly in among them, and was immediately
pressed closely by a male on each side, who when they had been in
that situation a short time, were superseded by other two, who
wedged themselves in between them and the female, who appeared to
treat all her lovers with the same kindness.

One difficulty is, that the spermatic fluid mixes very readily
with water; and I cannot imagine how its virtue is preserved, [14]
if (as I suppose must be the case) the egg is impregnated after
exclusion; but I also think it probable that the ventral fins of
the female serve to conduct this fluid to the place where it is
needed, and the chemical affinity between it and the egg may be
sufficient for impregnation.

P.S. July 27th. I tried to hatch some of the eggs I had
endeavoured to fecundate. The attempt was unsuccessful. I placed
the eggs, which I had put into some clean-washed gravel, in a
shallow vessel (open at the top, and with holes drilled through
the sides) in a small stream of water, but I found to my great
mortification on looking for them a day or two after that there
was not one left, but that in their stead were many aquatic
insects, which had no doubt feasted on them as long as they
lasted, and after this I was not able to meet with another shoal
of Minnows in the act of spawning.

The head of the Minnow in the spawning season is spotted over with
small white knobs, apparently osseous in their structure, which
make their appearance immediately before the fish begins to spawn,
and which disappear again as shortly after, and I think they are
intended as a protection to the head of the fish during the
spawning; as I remarked that they generally thrust their heads in
between two pebbles, and had their tails sticking up almost
perpendicularly. Yet this was not always the case, as they
sometimes ran nearly out of the water, and it was in this
situation that I observed what I have before mentioned, as I found
it impossible to discover anything that was done by those in
deeper water; for when a female went into such a situation, there
was such a crowd of males rushed to the place that I lost sight of
her in a moment.

I was astonished to find how quickly the eggs were hatched. I
discovered a large shoal spawning on the 11th of May; on the 12th
they were diminished to one-tenth of the number, and on the 14th
(the 13th being Sunday) there was not one left. As I had by no
means satisfied myself on the subject, I felt disappointed that
they had so soon finished their operations, and I took up a
handful of the gravel where they had been spawning, and examined
it with the microscope, to see whether I could discover any ova,
and how they were going on, when to my great surprise I found them
already hatching and some of them already excluded from the egg.
One of them, which I took on the point of a knife, swam briskly
away, and another was the means of pointing out an enemy to me
which I had not previously suspected, and that I had always
hitherto believed to be the prey of and not the preyer upon fish.
The poor Minnow had somehow got fast to the point of the knife,
and in its struggles to free itself it attracted the attention of
a creeper--the larva of one of the aquatic flies called drakes
(_Ephemerae_)--which pounced upon it as fiercely as the water
staphylinus does on the luckless tadpole, but, fortunately for the
Minnow, either the glittering of the knife-blade or the motion of
my hand, scared it away again without its prey.

The young Minnows in this state were quite transparent, except the
eyes, which were disproportionately large; and they seemed to be
perfectly aware that they owed their safety to concealment, as
those that I saw immediately buried themselves in the gravel when
they were set at liberty. (July 27th, 1832.)

* * * * *


To the Editor of the "Gardener's Chronicle."

My attention has been called to a paragraph in a Worcester paper
giving an account of a (so-called) discovery by Mr. Boccius, that
Eels are propagated by spawn, like other fish, and that they are
not brought forth alive, as had hitherto been supposed. This may
be true, but before I can give an unqualified belief to the
assertion, I should like to have a few questions answered by Mr.
Boccius. Who saw the fish from which those thousands of eggs were
extracted at the time this dissection was made? Are the parties
who saw these eggs quite certain that the fish was an Eel and not
a Lamprey? Who saw the eggs from which Mr. Boccius produced living
Eels? Who beside Mr. Boccius ever saw Eel-fry in a pond which had
no communication with a river? Will Mr. Allees and Mr. Reed (the
gentlemen to whom the spawn was exhibited) say whether the ovary
which was shown to them was pretty much of the same form as that
of the Lamprey? and if not, in what respect did it differ?

I am induced to ask these questions, both because by inference
they show my own opinions on the subject, and because I am led on
undoubted authority to believe that Mr. Boccius is inclined to
claim at _least_ all that belongs to him; and also because I have
my doubts about the scientific attainments of Mr. Boccius in the
Natural History of Fishes.

It is difficult to prove a negative. My never having seen the
strange things above mentioned certainly does not prove that other
people with better eyes and more discrimination have likewise
failed to do so; but I can't help doubting, and I publish my
doubts in the hope that the subject may be further inquired into.
A true naturalist ought only to wish for the truth, without
reference to his own preconceived notions; but so far as my
examinations have gone, I have failed altogether to detect spawn
in the fringes which I have fancied were the ovaria of the fish,
or elsewhere, and I don't believe that Eels are bred in fresh
water at all. I see the fry ascending from the sea in May and June
by thousands and millions, but I never met with one of these in a
pond having no communication with a river. I have little doubt
that I shall be pronounced in error touching this matter, except
perhaps by those who know how perseveringly these little Eels make
their way up every stream, ditch, and driblet of water into which
they can gain access. They penetrate into the water-pipes and
pumps; they climb up the perpendicular faces of the rocks and
weirs which obstruct the course of the rivers, even when they are
only moist--adhering to the moss and stones like snails.

The downward migration of Eels is observed here from July to the
middle of September, but in the Manchester market I find them up
to this time (the end of November), and am informed that they are
caught at the foot of Windermere in their downward migration.

Would a dissection of the Conger at various seasons throw any
light on the propagation of Eels? One would think that in such
large fish the ovaria would be much more easily distinguished than
in smaller specimens. (November, 1850.)

_The above elicited the following reply:_--

T. G. denies the possibility of Eels breeding in fresh water. We
have a pond here covering three or four acres which swarms with
Eels of all sizes. I have caught them from the size of my little
finger up to the weight of five pounds. The supply of water is
from nothing else than land springs--there being no communication
between the pond and any river. When much rain occurs I am obliged
to put up a sluice-board, in order to prevent the banks from
overflowing. I have taken from one to two hundredweight at a time
from a box which the water flows through at the bottom of the
sluice-board. The large quantity that has been taken out of this
pond leaves no doubt that they breed there to a great extent, but
whether they are propagated by spawn or brought forth alive I am
unable to say.--G. H., _Finedon Hall_.

_Reply to the foregoing._

Your correspondent G. H. says T. G. denies the possibility of Eels
breeding in fresh water. This is rather too strong. I don't deny
the _possibility_ of Eels being bred in fresh water, I only deny
the _probability_. The expression I used was that I did not
believe they were bred in fresh water at all, and I distinctly
stated that my not having seen these things (Eel spawn, &c.), did
not prove that other people had not done so. But to the question.
G. H. says that he has caught them of all sizes, from the
thickness of his little finger to five pounds weight. No doubt he
may have done so, but did he catch them of the thickness of a
crow's quill, and three inches long? because that is the size at
which they usually ascend rivers. He says his pond does not
communicate with any river. Is there no escape of water from it? I
mean, is the evaporation from its surface equal to the supply of
water? If not, where does the surplus go to? Does it not directly
or indirectly flow into a river or the sea? I am the more inclined
to think that this is the case, because G. H. says he caught a
hundredweight at a time from a box which the water flows through
at the bottom of the sluice-board. This is exceedingly like what
is done here and elsewhere from July to the end of November, when
the Eels are on their downward migration. Will G. H. be kind
enough to say whether he does not catch his about the same time?
will he also say whether the Eels he catches are not Silver Eels?
and will he also state whether he does not catch them principally
after heavy rains have increased the flow of water out of the
pond? If he answers these questions in the affirmative, I shall
still think I am right, and request him to keep a sharp look-out
after rains in May and June, when I think he would probably see
the grigs passing through his box into the pond. If, on the other
hand, there is no escape of water from the pond at any time, I
must admit that I am wrong, but at present I don't know how to
reconcile the impounding the water so completely with what he says
about the flow of the water through the box at the bottom of the
sill. Where does the water flow to, and for what is this sill?

_G. H. replied as follows._

T. G. asks if I have caught Eels of the size of a crow's quill. I
have caught them of the size of a tobacco-pipe, and from three to
four inches in length.

Our surplus water flows indirectly into the river Nene from our
sluice. It supplies some stews where we have been in the habit of
keeping reserve fish, and passing over several waterfalls, it
enters into a ditch which is about three-quarters of a mile long,
and then reaches the river I have just named.

The greatest take of Eels I have had was on the 23rd of December,
but the time of the year is of little consequence with us,
provided the water is thick and muddy and the weather rather warm,
which, of course, only occurs during very heavy rains. If I were
to draw all the water out of the pond when in a clear state, I
should not catch a fish. The variety is the Silver Eel. Our pond
is upwards of fifty miles from the sea; therefore how is it that
those little Eels had got no larger during their long journey,
interrupted as it is by numerous and almost insurmountable
obstacles, before they could reach the little ditch, three-
quarters of a mile long, that would conduct them to our pond? And,
last of all, after this long and tedious journey, within a hundred
yards of their destination they would have to climb four
waterfalls and a perpendicular sluice-board. It appears to me they
should have grown much larger than a common tobacco-pipe and
longer than three or four inches in that time, but I will leave
this point for T. G. to explain.--G. H., _Finedon Hall_.

_Reply to the foregoing._

Many thanks to G. H. for his second letter on this subject. It
appears to me that we think very much alike about Eels.

He says his pond is fifty miles from the sea; "therefore, how is
it that these little Eels get no larger in their long and tedious
journey? interrupted as it is by numerous and almost insurmountable
obstacles, before they could reach the little ditch, three-quarters
of a mile long, which would conduct them to our pond? and last of
all, after this long and tedious journey, within a hundred yards
of their destination, they would have to climb four waterfalls and
a perpendicular sluice-board. It appears to me they should have
grown much larger than a common tobacco-pipe during that time; but
I will leave that point to T. G. to explain."

This is so fairly put, that I will tell what I have seen, hoping
that this will be a sufficient explanation.

In June, 1850, I chanced to go down to the bank of the Ribble, and
there I saw a column of small Eels steadily making their way up
the stream. I should suppose there might be fifty in every lineal
yard, for they kept pretty close to the bank, apparently because
they met with less resistance from the stream, and without
pretending to accuracy I supposed they travelled at the rate of a
mile an hour. This was about five o'clock in the afternoon, and I
went to look for them about nine in the evening--they were still
going in one unbroken column. How long they had been going when I
first saw them, and how long they continued to go after my second
visit, I don't know, but many thousands--perhaps millions--must
have passed that day. At this rate (of a mile an hour) they would
have required little more than two days to reach G. H.'s pond,
fifty miles from the sea; but he says they had to pass over three
or four waterfalls and a perpendicular sluice-board. If these
waterfalls and the sluice-board were covered with moss, they would
climb them as readily as a cat does a ladder. I have seen them in
swarms at a perpendicular weir here, winding their way through the
damp moss with which the stones are covered; but this was not all:
where there was no moss, the little things seemed to have the
power of adhering to the perpendicular face of the stones, like so
many snails. I must not omit to remark, that although they seemed
to choose the margin of the stream for the sake of easier
travelling, yet they took care to keep in the stream, as I had a
nice opportunity of observing.

At the point where I first saw them, the tail goit of a water-
wheel had its junction with the river, but being Sunday there was
no current there--not a single Eel took its course up the goit,
although the water was deeper there than where they went. The
water being low and perfectly clear, I could trace their course
both above and below the place where I stood without any

If we allowed that they travelled a mile in the hour, and that the
obstructions of the waterfalls and sluice-board took as long to
get over as all the rest of the journey, they would be able to
reach G. H.'s pond in four days from the sea; and from what I have
seen of their ability to surmount such obstructions, I am quite
convinced that they would travel that distance in the time. But
say they were a week--they would not grow much in that time,
particularly if they had been travelling without food the whole of
the distance, and that they must have done so, is proved to my
mind by their keeping in column; for if they had dispersed to seek
for food, by what contrivance were they marshalled into line
again, to enable them to proceed? Now the place I saw them is
forty miles from the sea, although not that distance from salt-
water. T. says it is no proof that Eels are bred in fresh water
because they may be found in ponds having no connection with a
river--the proof required is _ab ovo_. If we wait for this proof I
fear we will have to wait for some time, for I fancy that no one
but Mr. Boccius ever saw the ova of Eels, and he will not
condescend to enlighten us on the subject. At the same time I
admit that finding them there is no proof that they were bred
there, inasmuch as I have myself stocked such ponds for my
friends, and what I have done may be done by others.

T. says further there is also room for inquiry into another
curious subject--do Eels return to fresh water after having gone
to the sea for spawning? In reply to this, I can only say, that no
trace of such a migration is ever seen here, and I think if it
existed at all, I should have observed it, for the following

The Ribble here supplies a large mill, the water-wheels of which
are 150 horse-power; therefore, when they are at work in the
daytime, the whole force of the river is often passing through the
mill-lead (goit) and the bed of the river between the weir, and
the tail goit in such times is left dry, except in a few pools. If
there was a shoal of Eels between these two points it would have
been seen at one time or another, and this has never happened, so
far as I know. It may be said that they migrate singly, but they
don't do so in their first migration, and, so far as I am aware,
it is not the habit of any animal to do so. Herrings, Pilchards,
Smelts, Flounders, Sturgeon, Bisons, Antelopes, Woodcocks,
Swallows, Fieldfares, Locusts, and even Butterflies congregate
together previous to migration.

NOTE.--The last paragraph requires some modification, as I have
since proved that Eels migrate singly when going to the sea, as I
have had occasion to know in a hundred cases when watching my Eel-
trap, where every Eel may be seen as it descends into the trap.

_On the same subject._

I [Jeremiah Garnett, brother of the writer, and editor of the
"Manchester Guardian,"] having noticed the communications on this
subject which have recently appeared in your columns, am desirous
of mentioning a fact which appears to me to throw some light upon
the localities in which Eels are bred, though it leaves the
question of the mode of generation precisely where it stood

Like your correspondent T. G., I have many times seen columns of
small Eels ascending the Ribble and other rivers in the months of
May and June, at considerable distances from the sea, but only on
one occasion have I seen them under circumstances which evidently
brought them near the place of their nativity.

I happened to be attending the Lancaster Spring Assizes in the
month of March in the year 1826, and learning that there was a
remarkably high tide in the estuary of the Lune, I walked down to
the riverside about the time of high water, and found that the
tide had covered the grass in many places; and as it began to ebb,
I observed something moving in every small hollow which had been
overflowed, and in which a little water had been left behind. On
examination I found that the moving bodies were exceedingly
diminutive Eels, rather less, to the best of my recollection, than
three-quarters of an inch long, and almost transparent, but
exhibiting in every respect the true form of the mature Eel. They
had evidently followed the water to its extreme verge, where it
could not have been more than an inch deep, and that they must
have been very numerous was clear from the large numbers which
were left behind and had perished--for that they did perish I
found on the following day, when they were lying dead on the grass
by hundreds. Some of your correspondents who reside in localities
favourable for making observations on this subject may be induced
to pay attention to it; the exact appearance may be ascertained,
with probably other facts calculated to throw light on the obscure
question of their generation.

* * * * *


_October_, 1859.

The colonists of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand appear to
wish for the introduction of Salmon and Trout into the rivers of
these colonies, and one of them, Tasmania, is said to have offered
the reward of L500 for the first pair of live Salmon which reaches
that colony. If this is true it is a liberal offer, and one that
is likely to induce various persons, both in England and France,
to make the attempt.

I should be sorry to say anything to check so laudable an
endeavour, but I greatly fear that Van Diemen's Land (to say
nothing of the Australian colonies) is too near the tropics to
offer a reasonable chance of success. I think it is practicable to
take these fish there (or at least fertilized ova), but I don't
think they would live and thrive in the rivers of that colony.
Never having been there, I can, of course, only reason from
European experience, but the best inquiries I can make lead me to
suppose that there are no Salmon in France (south of Brittany),
Spain, or any of the countries washed by the Mediterranean Sea;
and in America (although I confess I am not so well informed on
that country) I have never heard of Salmon being seen to the south
of the tributaries of the St. Lawrence. Supposing this to be so, I
think that we may fairly infer that if Salmon are not found south
of a certain latitude in Europe and America, it must be that the
climate of these southern countries is not congenial to the habits
of this fish. I believe, however, that the Trout lives and thrives
much further south than the Salmon; for instance, it is found in
the Pyrenees and in the lakes of Northern Italy (Lady M. W.
Montagu). It is also found in Northern Turkey, and probably
Albania also (Spencer); and therefore I think it is quite probable
that it might live in Tasmania--that is, if the streams are never
dried up and the rivers reduced to a number of water-holes, which
appears to be the case in Australia. Should this be the case in
Tasmania also, I doubt whether even Trout would thrive, for here
in Lancashire I have known the Trout to die in great numbers from
the heat, when, owing to the water-wheels of the mill diverting
the river from its usual channel, there was no stream, but merely
a series of detached pools or water-holes; and the Grayling seem
to be more incommoded by heat than the Trout, and it was one of
the diversions of my boyhood to wait until the wheels of my
father's mill were stopped in the hot weather, and then go up the
covered wheel-races in search of the Grayling that had gone there
to get out of the sunshine. I used to catch them there in great
numbers. However, this has nothing to do with the matter, except
to suggest that although Grayling are very desirable fish to
introduce into the colonies, I fear they would be too impatient of
heat to thrive there. But my object in addressing you is to ask
whether it is true that the legislature of Tasmania has offered
the prize of L500 for the first pair of live Salmon taken there?

Secondly, whether they offer a prize for the introduction of
Salmon fry; and if so, what is the amount offered?

Thirdly, whether they offer a prize for the introduction of
fertilized ova of Salmon or Trout, and what is the amount?

I ask these questions because I happen to know a good deal on such
matters, and I have been applied to this day by James Birch, the
head water-bailiff of our river (Ribble), to obtain some
information for him on the subject, as he seems seriously bent on
making the experiment, provided the reward be an adequate one;
for, to be successful, it would involve the necessity of his
making the voyage himself, and it would be a cruel thing to induce
him to do so, and in the end to find that he was entitled to no

I'll say this for him, that if he tries he will succeed, if
success be possible; but his pecuniary resources are too limited
for him to undertake such a risk.

I have reason to believe that he has been applied to by Ramsbottom
to go to Tasmania, but this he declines to do under Ramsbottom's
auspices. As he (R.) professes to be in communication with the
authorities of Tasmania (or at all events with influential persons
there) let him make the first attempt, and if he succeed, there
will be no necessity to apply to me on the subject; but if he
should fail--as I think he will--why, then the persons interested
in the matter may, if they wish to try again, let me know their
wishes and the amount of remuneration they mean to give.

I should certainly suggest that both Salmon and Salmon Trout (as
well as the common Trout) should be included in their list of
desiderata, and although for reasons previously given I have no
great hopes of success with the two former, I think it quite
probable that the common Trout would succeed better. Of course I
know nothing of the fish already in the rivers of Tasmania; for
aught I know there may be fish in all those rivers quite as
voracious and destructive as the Pike are here. If this is the
case, the chances of success would be materially lessened, as
Trout and Salmon fry are rare in all rivers stocked with Pike.
However, those who are making the attempt ought to know what they
are about, and will, no doubt, have considered such obstacles, if
there are any such in the way. Will you, therefore, be kind enough
to answer the questions I have asked above, at your earliest
convenience, and if your replies offer any inducement to Birch to
make the attempt, I have no doubt that he will be quite ready to
do so.

For various reasons he can only start from here in the autumn or
winter, and he should, if he reaches Tasmania with either live
fish or fertilized ova, have someone to render him prompt and
cordial assistance to enable him to deposit the fish or ova, or
fish and ova, in suitable places for spawning and hatching; and
therefore if this letter be replied to, the answer ought to say to
whom Birch should apply on his arrival in Tasmania.

It may be asked, who is the man who obtrudes his opinions on the
colony unasked, and what can be his motives? As I am not aware
that I know a single person in Tasmania, I cannot refer to anyone
there; but I happen to know one or two gentlemen in Melbourne, and
if you will take the trouble to refer there to Messrs. W. and B.
Hick, or to W. Bailey, the corn merchant, they will be able to
satisfy all inquiries.

If it be asked what I know of the habits of fish, and Salmon in
particular, I beg to refer the inquirers to Loudon's "Magazine of
Natural History" for 1834 (if there is a copy of that work in the
colony), and they will there find two papers (signed "T.G.,"
Clitheroe) which will show that I then knew all that has since
been proved by the elaborate experiments made at Perth by
Ramsbottom, and moreover I taught Ramsbottom himself the art of
propagating fish artificially.

I want no compensation: the honour of being the first man who
succeeded in introducing these valuable fish into the colonies
would be a sufficient reward to me. But with Birch the case is
different: he is a working man, and L500 would be a fortune to
him. On the other hand, he could not afford to come to Hobart Town
from England at his own expense, as he has not the means.

Would the colony, if other attempts failed, be willing to pay
Birch's passage out and home if he failed also, and would he
receive the L500 if he succeeded?

By success I mean that he would either bring live fish or ova that
would hatch into live fish. Either of these objects being
accomplished, he ought, in my opinion, to receive the reward; for
although he would attempt both, he would probably fail in the

Should he attempt this under my advice, I should not only send
Salmon and Salmon Trout and their ova, but the common brown Trout
and its ova also, for the reason previously given in this letter;
and although I am by no means sanguine of success, on account of
the temperature, the experiment is too important to be abandoned
for a mere theoretical objection which may be erroneous.

I think New Zealand offers far greater chances of success. It is
not only further removed from the tropics, but, if I am rightly
informed, the streams are more abundant and constant than those of
Australia and Tasmania--in fact, I believe it is as well watered
as this country; and if the authorities there are as much alive to
the importance of introducing these fish into their rivers, I
would undertake to do this with much greater confidence of
ultimate success than I should have if I undertook to introduce
them into Tasmania or the sister colonies.

Some time since (it may be eighteen months or two years ago) there
was a very intelligent correspondent of the "Field" newspaper,
whose _nom de plume_ was the Maori one, "Wetariki no te wai
Herekeke," or a similar one; and I having written something in the
"Field" on this subject, the New Zealander asked for my address,
which, for some private reason of his own, the Editor declined to
give until so long a time had elapsed that Wetariki Herekeke had
returned to the colony--this I learnt from an indirect source--
otherwise I should have tried to induce him to undertake the
experiment of introducing all the various species of the genus
Salmo which are to be found in our rivers.

If the colonists of New Zealand wish to make the attempt, I shall
be most happy to render them all the assistance in my power, and I
know no one so qualified as Birch to undertake the management of
such an experiment; for he is exceedingly intelligent, has a
perfect knowledge of the habits of both Trout and Salmon, and
thoroughly understands the feeding of fish, both in their natural
haunts and artificially, and would consequently be able to select
suitable localities for conducting such an experiment to a
successful issue.

NOTE.--No reply was given to this by the authorities of Tasmania,
but a similar communication, addressed to the Governor of New
Zealand, elicited a very polite reply from his secretary, in which
he said that there were no funds available for such a purpose, but
that the subject would be brought before the legislature on their
assembling, and would no doubt meet with their favourable
consideration; but the Maori troubles broke out immediately after,
and I heard no more about it.

* * * * *

CLITHEROE, _October 14th_, 1859.

To the Editor of the "Field."

In the "Field" of some weeks since, it was stated that the
colonists of Tasmania were offering a large reward for the
introduction of live Salmon, Salmon fry, or the fertilized ova of

Will you have the kindness to say what was the amount offered? who
were the parties who made themselves responsible for the payment?
and what time did they give within which they would pay for a
successful attempt?

I am the more anxious to have this information, because I have
been applied to for advice by an exceedingly likely person, as the
reward (L500) which he understood to be offered is to him so
tempting a sum, that he would need very little encouragement to
undertake the management of the experiment; and from what I know
of him I will venture to assert that he will succeed, if success
be practicable.

But before I speak confidently of success, I would like a little
more information, and will thank any of your readers who are able
to do so, to give me replies to the following questions:--

Are there any Salmon in the rivers of Spain, or in France, south
of the Loire, or even in that river? If not, why not?

Are there any Salmon in North America, in any river (not a
tributary of the St. Lawrence), south of that river? If there are,
what rivers in the States contain Salmon.

Do any of the rivers on the west coast of America below the
latitude of 40 degrees N. contain Salmon?

Do any of the rivers of China (not Chinese Tartary) contain

If I am right in supposing that the rivers I have pointed out have
no Salmon in them, is it not exceedingly probable that the high
temperature of these southern countries is unsuited to the habits
and uncongenial to the health of these fish? Or how is it when
they are on the same seaboard further north, they don't ascend
these rivers, unless there are some such objections to their doing
so? And if these objections really exist, then do they not equally
exist in the rivers of Australia and Tasmania?

But there may be other objections equally fatal: there may be fish
in their rivers as voracious and destructive as our Pike; there
may be Sharks and other fish in their seas and estuaries, which
would snap up every Salmon that entered them. There may be Seals,
Porpoises, Albatrosses, Man-of-War birds, and Cormorants, as well
as fifty other nameless enemies, all combining their efforts to
defeat so desirable a consummation; and, after all, there may be
no one willing to make himself responsible for a repayment of the
necessary expenses, for corporations and public bodies are
proverbially untrustworthy.

Yet, notwithstanding all these doubts of success, I think the
experiment ought to be made; for its success would confer so great
a boon on the colony in which it was made, that they (the
colonists) ought to incur considerable risk and outlay for the
chance of success, however small. I don't think there will be much
difficulty in carrying fertilized ova there, but when hatched I
fear they would not thrive.

I think New Zealand offers far better chances of success: it is
further from the tropics, it abounds in suitable rivers, the
climate and temperature are more like England, and I believe the
rivers never degenerate into mere water-holes, as they seem to do
in Australia; and I think the residents of that colony ought to
make a vigorous attempt to introduce Salmon, Salmon Trout, and the
common brown Trout into their rivers immediately; and I should be
delighted to render all the assistance in my power to accomplish
so desirable an object.

* * * * *


_Anchor Frosts._

A correspondent of the "Magazine of Natural History," in
endeavouring to explain the causes why water freezes at the bottom
in rapid streams, says this unusual phenomenon may be rationally
accounted for by anyone who has attended to it; that the streams
in which anchor frosts occur generally are those which contain
water of different temperatures--viz., surface-drainage and land
springs and main springs, the first being always colder than the
latter, in winter these never being less than 40 degrees, even in
severe frosts.

These colder globules being first frozen, float on the surface of
the water individually, being prevented from coalescing by the
intermediate main-spring-water, and where the water passes in a
shallow stream over the pebbles the crystals are intercepted by
the interstices of the stones, and then become heaped together in
thick beds.

The fact of the crystals of ice (which are specifically lighter
than the water) sinking below the surface, is a circumstance
requiring explanation. They do not sink from their specific
gravity, but in the commotion of the current they are occasionally
submerged, and while so are stopped by any obstruction, when they
commence and compose the aggregation.

Thinking this was an erroneous view of the matter, I replied as

J. M., in his remarks on anchor frosts, appears to me to have
fallen into several errors in endeavouring to account for them
(they are called bottom frosts in Yorkshire); for, admitting that
main springs are of the temperature stated (40 degrees) when they
issue from the earth, I am by no means prepared to believe that
they keep that temperature long, or that the water issuing from
them does not mingle intimately and immediately with the water of
the river into which it flows; especially in the situations where
anchor frosts are most common, which are rough and rapid streams.

From J. M.'s statement it would appear that globules of water of
different temperatures mix together without the one imparting its
excess of caloric to the other, which is contrary to the
experience of everyone; it is true, that in still places there
will be different temperatures in the same body of water, but it
is not owing to the main springs of which J. M. speaks, but to the
peculiar way in which water is affected by cold. It is well known
that water increases in density down to 40 degrees, below which
temperature it begins to expand, and this expansion continues
until it reaches the freezing-point, so that in severe frosts
there will be strata of different temperatures from 32 degrees to
40 degrees. Again, he says that "the crystals of ice are
intercepted by the interstices of the stones, and then become
heaped together in thick beds;" but if my observations are
correct, these depositions begin first round the large stones,
which are not likely to stop small spiculae any more than are the
water-gates of mills, where, he says, the accumulations also take

Anchor frosts are most common in the rapid streams occurring below
deeps in rivers, and I have seen a weir on the river Wharfe which
had a wall of ice four feet high formed upon it in a single night
by a sharp north wind. In my opinion a sufficient explanation of
this freezing at the bottom of rivers is to be found in the fact
that water when kept still may be cooled down below the freezing-
point without being congealed; but if the vessel in which it is
kept be shaken, a portion of it will be converted into a porous,
spongy ice, and the temperature immediately rises to 32 degrees.
In the deeps of rivers the same cooling below the freezing-point
takes place without congelation, but as soon as this water reaches
the stream below, the agitation immediately converts a portion of
it into ice, which collects round the large stones at the bottom
in the same way that crystallization commences in a solution of
salt or sugar around a piece of thread or other substance which
may be suspended in it. If a severe frost is followed by a bright
day, thousands of these detached pieces of spongy ice may be seen
rising from the stones which have served as nuclei for them; which
proves that the detention of them is not merely mechanical, but
that precipitation (if I may be allowed to call it so) takes place
in the first instance, the stone serving as a nucleus, and that
this adhesion is destroyed by the action of the sun's rays.

I have never seen any attempt to explain the phenomenon of bottom-
frosts before this of J. M.'s, and I am not philosopher enough to
speak positively on the subject; but the above is the way in which
I have always endeavoured to account for it. Perhaps some of your
scientific readers may be able to give much better reasons for it
than have been offered either by J. M. or myself. (January 17th,

Another writer (J. Carr, of Alnwick,) says that anchor frosts are
merely long and severe ones where long masses of ice are frozen to
the stones at the bottom of rapid streams, and this is simply
owing to these stones acquiring a degree of cold far below the
freezing-point, and the water in contact with them freezing and
spreading into large sheets of ice, which are sometimes torn up
and carry away the gravel adhering to the under surface.

Thinking that this was an error, I again wrote to the "Magazine of
Natural History" as below:--

I perceive that others beside myself have endeavoured to account
for anchor frosts. Mr. Carr says they never occur except in long
and severe frosts, and that the adhesion of the ice to the stones
at the bottom is owing to their acquiring a degree of cold far
below the freezing-point. He is in error when he says they never
occur except in long-continued frosts, as the walls of ice which
are sometimes raised on the crowns of weirs are invariably (so far
as my observations have extended) deposited there _before_ the
water in the reservoir above is frozen over, which proves that the
frost has not been of long continuance, although it may have been
severe. As to what he says about the stones acquiring a degree of
cold far below the freezing-point, and imparting that coldness to
the water, I would just ask how it is that a stone at the bottom
of a river acquires this excess of cold, and if it is not more
probable that the stones impart warmth to the surrounding water? I
can easily conceive how the stones may, by the action of the sun's
rays upon them, warm the surrounding water; but I do not see how
they can impart cold, or, in other words, how their temperature
can be reduced below that of the water by which they are
surrounded. Stones certainly impart warmth to the water they are
in, in bright weather, as the rays of the sun do not give much
warmth in passing through any transparent medium; but on coming in
contact with any opaque bodies, the heat is absorbed or reflected
as the case may be, and in this way transparent media such as air
and water acquire a warmth by contact which they would not
otherwise possess. Thus, if an anchor frost is followed by a
bright day, the rays of the sun impart so much warmth to the
stones at the bottom of the river as is sufficient to liberate the
ice from them, and on such days thousands of pieces of ice may be
seen rising from the bottom and floating down the streams.

Since my former observations were written I have had the
satisfaction of finding my views on the subject confirmed by a
very eminent chemist, [15] and if the discussions in your Magazine
were to be settled by authority, and not by argument (which I
trust will never be the case), he is one to whom many would be
inclined to appeal, and to whom few would refuse to submit. (May
2nd, 1832.)

* * * * *

To the Editor of the "Agricultural Gazette."

In a leading article of the 10th of January, 1852, after an
account of the effects produced on water by radiation and the
protection afforded to plants by the ice with which ponds are
covered in winter, you go on to say that there are some
circumstances under which water-plants suffer greatly, and from a
singular cause, but one which when looked into is sufficiently
simple and intelligible. As you do not appear to have hit upon the
true reason, allow me to quote a little further, and then give my
reason for this singular effect.

You say that on a very fine but still night, water is cooled less
rapidly than the earth: under such circumstances the bottom of the
pond cools more rapidly than the surface, the plants become
colder--in fact, some degrees below the freezing-point, &c. &c.

I submit that such reasons are inadmissible, for there would be an
immediate upward current, which, as water is such an excellent
conductor of heat, would immediately equalize the temperature of
all the water above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and stratified (if I
may use the expression) above the water of this temperature there
would be another layer of water of equal but gradually decreasing
temperature until it fell below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

The explanation I offer is this. It is well known that if water is
kept perfectly still it may be cooled down considerably, or at
least some degrees below 32 degrees, without freezing; but the
moment it is shaken a portion of it is converted into a spongy,
porous ice, and the temperature rises to 32 degrees.

What may be the case in the rivers of the South of England I do
not know, but in the rapid streams of the North this process may
be seen on a very extensive scale in severe frosts. The water in
the still pools (before they are frozen over) is cooled down to
below 32 degrees, and so soon as this cooled water reaches the
next stream, precipitation (if I may so call it) takes place, and
the spongy ice lays hold of every projecting pebble, which serves
as a nucleus in the same way as threads and bits of stick serve in
the crystallization of salts. After a severe frost, when followed
by bright sunshine the next morning, I have seen thousands of
these bits of spongy ice rising from the stones to which they had
been attached to the surface of the water. I have seen after long-
continued frost the course of a stream completely altered by this
bottom-ice (as it is called here), and I have also seen a weir
with a wall of ice on it three feet high (raised in a single
night) by the same cause. Now apply this to the bottom-ice in
ponds (which however I must confess I never saw). The night being
calm, the water gets cool below 32 degrees, but then a breeze
springing up the water becomes agitated, precipitation takes
place, and the plants serving as nuclei become immediately clothed
with this spongy ice, and the sun shining next morning imparts so
much warmth to the plants that the ice thaws which is in contact
with them, and rises to the surface. Of course if the sun does not
shine next morning, and the frost continues, the plants may be
clothed with ice for a long time.

To the foregoing the Editor of the "Agricultural Gazette" replied
as follows:--

We cannot admit the soundness of our correspondent's explanation
of the formation of bottom-ice or ground _gore_. We are well
acquainted with the statements of Arago and other writers as to
the cause of this curious phenomenon, and after a careful
consideration of the subject believe that it is due to radiation
and not to any other cause. Bottom-ice has been observed in ponds
on perfectly still nights when there was no breeze to agitate the
surface of the water.

The waters in the pools between the rapids of rivers can hardly
ever be still enough for the water to fall below the freezing-
point and yet remain fluid; the temperature of water in such
situations is not below 33 degrees.

The following was my rejoinder:--

You say at the end of remarks about bottom-ice that you cannot
admit the soundness of my explanation, and that you are well aware
of what is said by Arago and others on this curious phenomenon,
and that bottom-ice has been observed in ponds when there was no
breeze, and that the water in pools between the rapids of weirs
can hardly ever be still enough to fall below the freezing-point,
and yet remain fluid.

I was not aware before seeing your remarks that either Arago or
any other philosopher had ever written about bottom-ice, and even
now I do not know what are their opinions on the subject, and if
the discussions in your paper are to be settled by authority and
not by argument, I can only make my bow and withdraw; but if it
meets your views to allow your correspondents to state their
opinions temperately, and support them by such arguments as occur
to them, I do not yet feel inclined to give up my notions about
bottom-ice. Will you allow me to ask whether you ever personally
saw ice at the bottom of a pond when there was none on the
surface? and if so, under what circumstances? I have heard of such
an occurrence, but never witnessed it, and feel inclined to doubt
the fact unless you will vouch for it; for it appears to me that
the moment the water at the bottom falls below 40 degrees it will
begin to rise to the surface, and it is so excellent a conductor
that it will instantly equalize the temperature of the mud at the
bottom with that of its own temperature.

I am neither chemist nor meteorologist, and therefore I am not
able to say much about radiation; but my idea of it is, that its
effects in water would be much greater in still pools than in
rapid streams, and that, therefore, if radiation was the cause of
bottom-ice, there ought to be more of it in the pools than in the
rapid streams. But the contrary is the fact, for after a severe
night's frost, I can frequently find the streams filled with this
bottom-ice, when none can be observed in the pools.

Again, can the fact of the weir which had a wall of this bottom-
ice three feet high in a single night, be accounted for by
radiation? It appears to me to be very easily accounted for by
supposing that the water in the deep above was so quietly cooled
down as to retain its fluidity until the shaking it got on flowing
over the weir suddenly produced congelation. I think that
radiation would not go on at the crown of the weir alone.

Why do you think that the water in pools is never still enough to
allow it to get below 32 degrees without freezing on still clear
nights? In long deep pools, where the body of the water is perhaps
a hundred times as great as the current flowing into it, the
motion is so extremely slow that I cannot for a moment doubt that
it gets below 32 degrees without congelation, but when it arrives
at a rapid, this ice is immediately formed.

The Editor closed the discussion at this point by saying that the
subject was not of sufficient agricultural importance to be
continued further.

The following is my brother Richard Garnett's [16] account of his
observations on bottom-frosts. (The paper was written in 1818, and
published in the "Journal of the Royal Institution.")

* * * * *


The phenomenon of the production of ice at the bottoms of rivers
has been repeatedly noticed, but I am not aware that any
satisfactory solution of the cause has hitherto been given. In
Nicholson's "Dictionary of Chemistry," several different
hypotheses are enumerated, which I shall not stop now to examine,
since it may be safely asserted that they neither accord with the
established principles of chemistry, nor with the facts for which
they endeavour to account. The most recent theory with which I am
acquainted is that of Mr. A. Knight, who in a paper lately
published in the "Philosophical Transactions," seems to consider
the particles of ice as originally formed at the surface, and
afterwards absorbed by the eddies of streams to the bottom. He
states, in support of this idea, that he did not observe any
similar phenomenon in still water. I shall advert to this
hypothesis in the sequel, and at present it may suffice to remark
of it and all others which I have hitherto seen, that supposing
any of them to be correct, the same effects ought regularly to be
produced whenever the atmosphere is at a similar temperature, or
in other words, that whenever the frost is so intense as
materially to affect the water of a river, we may then expect to
find ice at the bottom. Now this is certainly not the case, since
the appearance we are treating of never occurs but under peculiar
_atmospherical_ circumstances, and rivers are frequently frozen
over, and remain so for a length of time without a particle of ice
being visible at the bottom of their streams. I do not now profess
to have developed this mystery, but merely intend to state the
circumstances under which the phenomenon takes place, as well as a
few particulars connected with it, which are perhaps not generally
known, and which may hereafter be serviceable as data for
investigating the cause.

It is well known to meteorologists that a severe frost in winter
does not always commence in a uniform manner. Sometimes it begins
with a gentle wind from the E. or N.E., and is at first
comparatively mild in its operations, but afterwards gradually
increases in intensity. Frosts of this kind are generally more
lasting than others, and during such, I have not observed that any
ice is generated at the bottoms of streams; though the deep and
still parts of rivers are often frozen over to a considerable
extent. At other times, during the continuance of the violent
south-westerly gales which are so prevalent in this country in the
winter months, the wind frequently shifts on a sudden from S.W. to
N.W., commonly about an hour before sunset, and blows with great
impetuosity in the latter direction, attended with a severe frost,
and sometimes with a heavy fall of snow. The effects of this
frost, in places exposed to the wind, are extremely rapid, so as
to render the ground impenetrably hard in about a couple of hours
from its commencement. Situations that are not so much exposed
seem comparatively little affected--at least, I have repeatedly
observed that a small sheltered pond in a field was nearly free
from ice, while the current of a large and rapid river at no great
distance was nearly choked up by it. I believe that the phenomenon
under consideration seldom occurs except during such frosts as
these, and the following are the principal circumstances connected
with it which I am able to state from my own observation.

It may here be premised that ice of this description is seldom
seen adhering to anything beside rock, stone, or gravel, and that
it is more abundantly produced in proportion to the greater
magnitude and number of the stones composing the bed of the river,
combined (as will be further noticed) with the velocity of the
current. I have been informed by a friend that he has occasionally
seen it attached to solid wooden piles at a considerable depth
below the surface of the water, but I never saw or heard of any on
earth, mud, or clay. It is not easy to ascertain the precise time
at which the process begins to take place. It appears, however,
almost invariably to commence during the first night of the frost,
and probably within a few hours after sunset. On the ensuing
morning the first thing which strikes an observer is an immense
quantity of detached plates of ice floating down the stream. Mr.
Knight naturally enough supposed these to have been formed at the
surface by the influence of the freezing atmosphere, and
afterwards absorbed by the current; but I think that a minute
inspection would have led him to form a different conclusion--
viz., that they are first formed in the bed of the river, and
afterwards rise to the surface. It is true that none are to be
seen in situations where there is no sensible current, and that
they abound most in rough and rapid places; but on closely
examining any stream of moderate velocity, yet smooth, equable,
and free from all appearance of eddy or rippling, a great number
of these plates of ice will be found adhering to the rock, stone,
or gravel at the bottom. If they are watched with attention, they
will be observed to rapidly increase in bulk, till at last, on
account of their inferior specific gravity, aided, perhaps, by the
action of the current, they detach themselves from the substances
to which they first adhered, and rise to the surface of the water.
The form of these pieces of ice is very irregular, depending in a
great measure on the size and shape of the stones or other
substances to which they were originally attached. Most of them
seem to be of an oblong or circular figure; they are generally
convex on the upper surface, and have a number of laminae and
spiculae shooting from them in various directions, especially from
their circumference. Sometimes when those floating pieces or
plates meet with any obstruction in the channel of the river, they
accumulate in such quantities as to cover the surface of the
water, and become frozen together in one large sheet, but this
kind of ice may be always readily distinguished from that produced
in the usual way by the action of the cold air on the surface,
which is smooth, transparent, and of an uniform texture; on the
contrary, one of these conglomerated fields or sheets is opaque,
uneven, full of asperities, and the form of each separate plate
composing it may be distinctly traced. In this situation, they
generally assume the shape of irregular polygons, with angles
somewhat rounded; a form apparently caused by the lateral pressure
of the contiguous pieces.

On the river Wharfe, near Otley, in the West Riding of Yorkshire,
is a weir or milldam where this phenomenon is sometimes manifested
in a striking manner. This structure is of hewn stone, forming a
plane inclined at an angle of from 35 degrees to 50 degrees,
fronting the north and extending from west to east, to the length
of 250 or 300 yards. When one of the above-mentioned frosts
occurs, the stone which composes the weir soon becomes incrusted
with ice, which increases so rapidly in thickness as in a short
time to impede the course of the stream, which falls over it in a
tolerably uniform sheet, and with considerable velocity; at the
same time, the wind blowing strongly from the north-west,
contributes to repel the water and freeze such as adheres to the
crest of the weir when its surface comes nearly in contact with
the air. The consequence is that in a short time the current is
entirely obstructed, and the superincumbent water forced to a
higher level. But as the above-mentioned causes continue to act,
the ice is also elevated by a perpetual aggregation of particles,
till by a series of similar operations an icy mound or barrier is
formed, so high as to force the water over the opposite bank, and
thus produce an apparent inundation. But in a short time the
accumulated weight of a great many thousand cubic feet of water
presses so strongly against the barrier as to burst a passage
through some weak part, through which the water escapes and
subsides to its former level, leaving the singular appearance of a
wall or rampart of ice three or four feet high, and about two feet
in thickness, along the greatest part of the upper edge of the
weir. The ice composing this barrier where it adheres to the
stone, is of solid consistency, but the upper part consists of a
multitude of thin laminae or layers resting upon each other in a
confused manner, and at different degrees of inclination, their
interstices being occupied by innumerable icy spiculae, diverging
and crossing each other in all directions. The whole mass much
resembles the white and porous ice which may be seen at the edge
of a pond or small rill where the water has subsided during a

It may be further observed that a frost of this kind is very
limited in its duration, seldom lasting more than thirty-six or
forty hours. On the morning of the second day after its
commencement, a visible relaxation takes place in the temperature
of the atmosphere. Usually before noon, the wind on a sudden
shifts to the south-west, and a rapid thaw comes on, frequently
attended with rain. What appears somewhat remarkable is, that
during several hours after the commencement of the thaw, the
production of ice at the bottom of rivers seems to go on without
abatement, and upon examining a rapid stream, the stones over
which it flows will be found at this period completely incrusted
with the above description of icy plates. It seems evident from
this that the bed of the river, which has been reduced below the
freezing temperature, is not for some time affected by the change
of the atmosphere. This may be in some measure illustrated by the
well-known fact, that rain which falls upon a rock or stone wall,
is frequently converted into ice, though the air and the ground
are evidently in a state of thaw. Before the following morning,
the ice of which we have been speaking generally disappears, being
carried away by the current or dissolved by the thaw.

The last time that I remarked this phenomenon, was in a stream of
the river Aire, near Bradford, in Yorkshire, on the 1st of
January, 1814. This instance did not precisely accord with what I
have stated to be the usual circumstances of the case, as the
frost then had existed several days without any previous
appearance of this kind; but there were several indications of
approaching change of temperature, and the day following there was
a partial thaw attended with rain, the wind having veered from
north-west to south-west. This thaw, however, did not continue
long, and was succeeded by a frost which surpassed all within my
recollection in severity and duration. Yet during the whole of the
period, though the thermometer often stood below 18 degrees
Fahrenheit, and the estuary of the Tees several miles below
Stockton, where the spring-tides rise from twelve to eighteen
feet, was for two months frozen over, so as to allow the passage
of a loaded waggon, I could never perceive a particle of ice
adhering to the rock or gravel, in the bed of the small and rapid
river Leven in Cleveland, where I then resided. This circumstance
seems decisively to prove that the phenomenon does not merely
depend on an intensity of cold.

I confess I am unable to frame any hypotheses respecting the
above-mentioned facts which would not be liable to numerous and
formidable objections. The immediate cause of the formation of the
ice seems to be a rapid diminution of the temperature in the stone
or gravel in the bed of the river, connected with the sudden
changes in the state of the atmosphere, but it does not seem very
easy to explain the precise nature of this connection.

We may easily conceive that by a sudden change from a state of
thaw to an intense frost attended by a strong wind, the whole body
of water in a river may become quickly cooled, and consequently
diminish the temperature of the stone or gravel over which it
flows; but to suppose that water which is not itself at freezing-
point is capable of reducing the substances in contact with it by
means of a continual application of successive particles so far
_beneath_ that temperature as in process of time to convert the
contiguous water to ice, seems not to accord very well with the
usually received theory of the equilibrium of caloric. However,
the fact that the quantity of ice thus produced is always greater
in proportion to the superior velocity of the stream, little or
none being found where there is no sensible current, seems in some
degree to countenance the above idea.

I cannot learn that any experiments have ever been instituted on
this subject, though it seems that they might easily be made by a
person conveniently situated and possessed of the necessary
instruments. A careful examination by properly contrived
thermometers of the relative temperatures of the air, the water,
and the bed of the river and of the changes undergone by them
during the above process, would probably go a great way towards
solving the problem. I know no one better qualified for this
undertaking than Mr. Knight, if he should at any future time have
leisure and opportunity to direct towards it the same acuteness of
observation and accuracy of investigation which have enabled him
to make such important discoveries in the economy of the vegetable
kingdom, and if the explanation of this phenomenon should ever
lead to results of any importance to the cause of science, I shall
feel sufficiently satisfied if it be deemed that I have been of
any service in pointing out the way.


BLACKBURN, _May 16th_, 1818.

* * * * *


CLITHEROE, _October 20th_, 1859.

To the Editor of the "Field."

"A Young Inquirer" asks what is the cause of that appearance so
often met with in the autumn, resembling spider-webs. He says, if
it be the production of that insect, how do you account for their
hanging apparently unsuspended in the air, as it is seen fifty or
sixty feet high, without a tree or any other object near to which
it could be attached?

I suppose you have not time to give to such questions minutely, as
your reply would lead one to infer that Gossamer proceeded from
spiders in general; and if it be meant that all true spiders spin,
it is no doubt correct; but the Gossamer which "A Young Inquirer"
asks about is the production of a small black spider about the
size of a flea, which was a true aeronaut long before Montgolfier
or Lunardi, and if "A Young Inquirer" has access to either the
"Linnean Transactions" or the first series of Loudon's "Magazine
of Natural History," he will find particulars in the latter,
showing that a violent controversy raged through the three first
volumes between Mr. Blackwall and Dr. Murray on the question
whether the ascent of this spider (_A. AEronautica_) was electric,
or whether it merely travelled in the direction of the wind. But
if "A Young Inquirer" would deserve his name, let him begin with
these spiders and observe for himself; he will find the inquiry
highly interesting.

He has no doubt frequently seen a small black spider creeping on
his hat or clothes (if he lives in the country this must have
occurred to him many times); this is the aeronautic spider. Let
him take this upon his hand, and if he be in the house let him
carry it to the open door or window, and allow it to creep up to
the tip of his finger, which he must then hold in a horizontal
position. When the spider finds it can proceed no further by
creeping, it generally drops a few inches, where it remains
suspended for a short time, apparently quite still, but if very
closely observed another thread (Gossamer) may be seen proceeding
from its vent, and when this has reached the length which the
spider's instinct tells it is sufficient for the purpose, it cuts
off the connection till then existing between it and the thread by
which it has hitherto been suspended from the finger, and floats
away into space. Very often it rises almost vertically, sometimes
its course is nearly horizontal, and sometimes it is oblique.

I cannot say, as Mr. Murray does, that I have seen the spider go
_against_ the wind, neither can I confirm Mr. Blackwall's
assertions that he always goes right before the wind, for I have
seen him go apparently across the current, so far as I could judge
of the direction of the wind at the time.

If "A Young Inquirer" makes the experiment I have suggested, let
him not be discouraged if the first he tries does not go off at
all, as I have sometimes found this to be the case, which I
accounted for by supposing that possibly the supply of materials
might be exhausted at the time.

I do not remember that I ever saw one of these aeronautic spiders
preying upon any insect, yet it must be for some such purpose that
they ascend to great altitudes, sometimes in countless numbers,
and the way they come down again is quite as curious as the manner
in which they ascend.

Many years since, as I was walking over the hills in the
neighbourhood of Blackburn, on a bright, still morning in
September, thousands of small locks of what looked like cotton
wool were slowly descending to the ground from various altitudes--
some as high as I could see--and tens of thousands of similar
locks were lying on the ground on both sides of the path by which
I was travelling; and on examination I found that all these locks
were Gossamer, some with the spider still with them, but generally
deserted. The spiders when they wanted to come down, finding there
was no descending current of air, or perhaps, as Mr. Murray says,
no electricity, determined to descend in _parachutes_; they
therefore had drawn up their cables hand over hand (as they may
often be seen to do when they wish to ascend their own lines)
until they accumulated a mass heavy enough to fall by its own
weight, and carry them along with it.

I have seen Gossamer in this form at other times before and since,
but in the likeness of a snow-shower I never saw it except on that
occasion, and, if I recollect aright, the same enormous shower of
Gossamer was observed to extend as far as Liverpool.

What induced these millions of spiders to go up at the same time,
of course I do not know, and can only suppose that they went up to
feed; but, as I have said previously, I never saw one of this
species preying upon anything. The idea that they go aloft to kill
the _Furia Infernalis_ is too fanciful to deserve credit. Who
knows whether the _Furia Infernalis_ is anything else than a
murderous Mrs. Harris--at all events, who has seen one, and what
was it like?

I suppose they are true sportsmen, and disdaining to take their
fish in nets, they, like thorough brothers of the angle, fish only
_with fine gut_.

Gilbert White noticed one of these showers of Gossamer, and as his
account is very interesting, I quote it. He says that on the 21st
of September, 1741, intent upon field diversions, he rose before
daybreak, but on going out he found the whole face of the country
covered with a thick coat of cobweb drenched with dew, as if two
or three setting-nets had been drawn one over the other. When his
dogs attempted to hunt, their eyes were blinded and hoodwinked, so
much that they were obliged to lie down and scrape themselves.
This appearance was followed by a most lovely day. About 9 A.M. a
shower of these webs (formed not of single threads, but of perfect
flakes, some near an inch broad and five or six long) was observed
falling from very elevated regions, which continued without
interruption during the whole of the day, and they fell with a
velocity which showed they were considerably heavier than the
atmosphere. When the most elevated station in the country where
this was observed was ascended, the webs were still to be seen
descending from above, and twinkling like stars in the sun, so as
to draw the attention of the most incurious. The flakes of the web
on this occasion hung so thick upon the hedges and trees, that
basketsful might have been collected. No one doubts (he observes)
but that these webs are the production of small spiders.

These aerial spiders are of two sizes, although of the same colour
and general appearance; they are probably male and female. At all
events they do not vary in size more than other species of spiders
when the sexes differ.

Has it been observed by naturalists that spiders eat their own
webs? A large one that I used to feed when I was a lad with wasps,
humble bees, and flesh-flies, used to do so occasionally. These
insects were so strong that they often ruined the web in their
efforts to escape, and the spider, quite aware of the rough
customers it had to deal with, would often coil a cable of many
folds round them before venturing to seize them with its
mandibles. It would, if the web was ruined by the struggles of the
insect, deliberately gorge it, which I accounted for by supposing
that unless it did so it would not be able to secrete a sufficient
supply of material to enable it to spin another.

The leaping spiders are another curious species, which construct
no webs, although they spin threads. This spider may be seen
frequently on the walls of houses, and if carefully watched it
will be seen to range up and down in quest of small gnats and
other insects; when it observes one it creeps to within about two
inches of it, and backing slightly, it appears to hesitate for a
moment, and then springs upon the fly, but always before doing so
it fixes a thread to the spot from whence it springs, so that if
the fly happens to be too strong for it, and is able to detach
itself from the wall, they both remain suspended from the thread
which has been previously fixed by the spider. This I have seen
more than once.

They sometimes venture on larger game than the small gnats. One I
was watching one day came upon one of the large _Ephemera_ (the
Browndrake), an insect ten times as large as the spider, but after
many points (for the setting of the spider before it springs is
very similar in manner to that of a thoroughbred pointer [17]), in
which it kept varying its position, apparently to gain some
advantage, it gave up the attempt, discretion proving the better
part of valour.

When botanizing on Erris Begh (in Connemara), this summer, I
passed through many spider-lines so strong as to offer a very
sensible resistance before breaking. I don't remember to have ever
before met with them so strong and tenacious, and the makers of
optical instruments might there have found abundance of threads
which I am told are valuable as _cross-wires_ for transit-
instruments and theodolites. I did not meet with any of the
spiders that had thrown out these lines, but judging of them by
their works I suppose they must have been large ones.

One of your correspondents was inquiring a few weeks since how it
was that a spider could throw out a long line between two trees or
buildings at a considerable distance from each other. This seems
to me to be very easily explained, if we reason from the analogy
of the flying spider. The spider seems to throw out a line,
trusting it will catch somewhere or other, and it is able to
ascertain it has done so by pulling at it, and when it finds that
it is firmly fixed it starts off to travel upon it, as I have
occasionally noticed.

Everyone has noticed how carefully the spider carries her cocoon
of eggs attached to the vent, and how disconsolate she appears to
be when deprived of them; but I don't think it is so generally
known that some of the spiders carry their young on their backs
for some time after they are hatched. I remember seeing an
instance of this one day when on the Moors, grouse-shooting. I saw
what seemed to be a very curious insect travelling on the ling
(heather), and on stooping down to examine it I found it was a
large spider, upon the back of which (in fact, all over it) were
clustered some dozens of young ones, about the size of pins'
heads; she also seemed to guard them with great care, and seemed
much afraid of losing them.



[1] There is a fish somewhat resembling the Brambling in the
Dunsop, a tributary of the Hodder, where it is known by the name
of the Bull Penk.

[2] My opinion that neither Trout nor Salmon spawn every year is I
think strongly corroborated by the fact, that previous to the Act
of 1861 the London fish market was supplied with Salmon of the
largest size, and of the best quality, in October, November, and
December. When these fish were examined, it was found that the
ovaries were but small, and the individual ova were not larger
than mustard seed. These fish could not have spawned that season,
nor would they have done so if left alive, if the growth of the
ova in the ovaries is uniform--I mean if the growth of the ova is
as great in one month as another--because in May and June the ova
in a female Salmon is four times as large as these were in

Again, when the gas tank at Settle was emptied into the Ribble, in
September, 1861, all the fish so far as was known were killed
between that place and Mitton, Salmon as well as Par and Trout.
Supposing that Salmon spawn every year, and that the Smolts come
up the river, as Grilse in the summer of the same year in which
they have gone to the sea in the spring, there ought to have been
a great scarcity of both Grilse and Salmon in the Ribble in the
year 1862, but so far was this from being the case, that both
Grilse and Salmon were more abundant that season than they had
been for some years previously, but there was a scarcity of both
in 1863.

Again, when the Smolts were turned out of the breeding ponds at
Dohulla, Galway, the experiment was looked upon as a failure
because no Grilse returned the same season, not one having showed
itself, but many came the summer after, proving pretty conclusively
that in some rivers, at all events, the Smolt requires a year's
residence in the sea before it returns as Grilse.

[3] In the evidence of Mr. George Hogarth, it is stated that he
saw upwards of ninety Kelt fish in the mill lead at Grandholme, on
the Don, May 6th.

[4] Salmon are said to produce 18,000 or 20,000 eggs each, and I
have no doubt that a large Salmon will produce more, as one I
examined a year or two ago, of about ten pounds weight, had a roe
which weighed two pounds nine ounces, and the skin in which the
eggs were enveloped (they were not in the loose state in which
they are found just before exclusion) weighed three ounces, after
all the eggs were washed from it; so that there were thirty-eight
ounces of eggs. I weighed fifty of them, and found they weighed
sixty-five grains. At that rate, thirty-eight ounces would give
12,788, and 300 lbs. 1,615,000; but as they would be much lighter
when dried and potted than when taken from the belly of the fish,
we may safely estimate that the 300 lbs. would contain 2,000,000,
a prodigious number to pass through the hands of one tackle maker
in a season.

[5] From "Loudon's Magazine of Natural History."

[6] I have frequently found, when catching Trout for this purpose,
that the milt and roe were not ready for exclusion; when this was
the case, I put them into a wire cage, which I sunk in the water,
examining the fish every week, until I found they were in a fit
state for the experiment.

[7] I fancy that if the ova come in contact with the air on
exclusion, they are not so readily impregnated as if they are
always covered with the water, and therefore I have laid some
stress on the desirableness of keeping the air excluded from the
ova as much as possible.

[8] There is, however, one fact which must lead a casual observer
to suppose that the ova are impregnated twelve months before
exclusion. It is this: the male Par (Salmon fry) are at this
season, October, full of milt, almost ready for exclusion; whilst,
in the female, the ova are so small that they require a microscope
to see them individually, and the whole ovary is merely like a
thread, leading to the conclusion that either the milt of the male
is not required for the female Par, or the ova are impregnated
twelve months before exclusion. The fact is, that the milt of the
Par is used to impregnate the ova of the Salmon on the spawning

[9] When I commenced this paper I had no doubt that hybrids had
been produced between the Sprod (sea Trout) and the common Trout;
since then, having seen the fry said to be so produced, and on
making some further inquiries, I find there is some doubt whether
the female was a _Sprod_, or merely a white Trout, and therefore I
cannot confidently assert (as some time ago I believed I could)
that hybrid fish had already been produced. As some of my readers
may not know what a _Sprod_ is, it may be necessary to explain. In
the Ribble we have a fish ascending from the sea in July and
August, weighing from six to ten ounces, which, in appearance at
least, is a miniature Salmon. I believe the same fish is called a
Whitling in Scotland. Besides this, we have a similar but larger
fish, which begins to come a little earlier, and which weighs from
one to three pounds; this, in the Ribble, is called a Mort (in
Scotland a sea Trout). Both these fish (if they are two species)
afford splendid sport to the angler, who must never consider them
beaten until he has them in the landing-net. They are also
delicate eating.

_Note on cross-breeding of Fish._

Since the above paper was published, the breeding of Hybrids has
been successfully accomplished. I have had fish sent from two
different gentlemen living on the banks of the reservoirs
belonging to the Liverpool Waterworks; these were beautiful fish
(three in number), more like the sea Trout than the Salmon, and
the largest of them weighing two pounds. I had put them into the
brooks running into the reservoirs three years before.

I also learn from a friend that a beautiful specimen of the _ombre
Chevalier_ (French Char) was taken out of the Rivington reservoir.
About a thousand had been put there by me two years before.

[10] Persons conversant with the habits of birds will readily
comprehend me; for the sake of those who do not, I will just
observe that the flight of all the Wagtails is very peculiar,
being a succession of great leaps in the air (if I may be allowed
the expression), which form a series of curves, the bird rising
considerably at the commencement of each effort, and sinking again
at the close.

[11] The intrepid and unfortunate traveller Joseph Ritchie, who
accompanied Captain Lyon's expedition to Fezzan, and died there in
1819. Mr. Ritchie was a native of Otley, and an intimate friend of
Mr. Garnett and his brothers. The beautiful poem from which the
quotation is taken is printed in Alaric Watts's "Poetical Album."

[12] 1853.--I regret that in 1853, and for some years previous, we
have not seen one. I fear they are extinct. The smaller kind are
still numerous.

[13] The male Par is an exception to this rule.

[14] It appears to be a beautiful provision of Nature that mixture
with water should increase the sphere of its action. Spallanzani
found by actual experiment that three grains of the seed of a male
frog might be diluted with a pint of water without destroying its
stimulating power. See "Dissertations," vol. ii. p. 142, chap. 3,
Ed. "Mag. Nat. History."

[15] Mr. Thomson, of Primrose.

[16] Assistant Keeper of Printed Books in the British Museum.
Author of "Philological Essays," &c.

[17] The toad, when going to take a bee, points for a second or
two as beautifully as the best-trained pointer before it strikes
with its tongue.

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Agriculture, by Thomas Garnett


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