Philemon Holland, translator (1601): C. Plinius Secundus The Historie of the World. Book IX. (Pages 234-270)
THE NINTH BOOKE OF
THE HISTORIE OF NATVRE,
WRITTEN BY C. PLINIVS
The nature of water creatures.
HAVE thus shewed the nature of those beasts which live upon the land, and therein have some societie and fellowship with men. And considering, that of all others besides in the world, they that flie bee the least, wee will first treat of those fish that keepe in the sea: not forgetting those also, either in running fresh rivers or in standing lakes.
What the reason is why the sea should breed the greatest living creatures.
THE waters bring forth more store of living creatures, and the same greater than the land. The cause thereof is evident, even the excessive abundance of moisture. As for the foules and birds, who live hanging (as it were) and hovering in the aire, their case is otherwise. Now in the sea, being so wide, so large and open, readie to receive from heaven above the genitall seeds and causes of generation; being so soft & pliable, so proper & fit to yeeld nourishment and encrease, assisted also by Nature, which is never idle, but alwaies framing one new creature or other: no marvell it is if there are found so many strange and monstrous things as there be. For the seeds and universall elements of the world are so interlaced sundrie waies, and mingled one within another, partly by the blowing of the winds, and partly with the rolling and agation of the waves, insomuch as it may truly bee said, according to the vulgar opinion, that whatsoever is engendred and bred in any part of the world besides, is to be found in the sea: and many more things in it, which no where els are to be seene. For there shall yee meet with fishes, resembling not onely the forme and shape of land creatures living, but also the figure and fashion of many things without life: there may one see bunches of grapes, swords, and sawes, represented, yea, and also cowcombers, which for colour, smell, and tast, resembleth those growing upon the earth. And therefore we need the lesse to wonder, if in so little shell fishes as are cockles, there be somewhat standing out like horse-heads.
Of the monstrous fishes in the Indian sea.
THE Indian sea breedeth the most and the biggest fishes that are: among which, the Whales and Whirlepooles called Balænæ, take up in length as much as foure acres or arpens of land: likewise the Pristes are two hundred cubites long and no marvell, since Locusts are there to bee found of foure cubites in length: and yeeles within the river Ganges of thirtie foot in length. But these monstrous fishes in the sea, are most to be seene about the middest of Summer, and when the daies be at the longest with us. For then by the meanes of whirlewinds, storms, winds, and blustering tempests which come with violence downe from the mountaines and promontories, the seas are troubled from the very bottome, and turned upside downe: whereupon the forging billowes thereof, raise these monsters out of the deepe, and roll them up to be seene. For in that manner so great a multitude of Tunnies were discovered and arose, that the whole armada of king Alexander the great, seeing them comming like to an armie of enemies in order of battell, was driven to range & make head against them, close united together: for otherwise, if they had sailed scattering asunder, there had been no way to escape, but overturned they had ben; with such a force and sway came these Tunnies in a skull upon them. And verily, no voice, crie, hollaing and houting, no nor any blowes and raps affrighteth in this kind of fish: onely at some cracke or crashing noise they be terrified: and never are they troubled and disquieted so much as when they perceive some huge thing readie to fall upon them.
In the red sea there lieth a great demie Island named Cadara, so farre out into the sea, that it maketh a huge gulfe under the wind, which king Ptolomæus was twelve daies and twelve nights a rowing through: for as much as there is no wind at all useth to blow there. In this creeke so close and quiet, there be fish and Whales grow to that bignesse, that for their very weight and unweldinesse of their bodie, they are not able to stirre. The Admirals and other captaines of the fleet of the foresaid Alexander the great, made report, that the Gedrosi, a people dwelling upon the river Arbis, use to make of such fishes chawes, the dores of their houses; also that they lay their bones overthwart from one side of the house to the another, in steed of beames, joists, and rafters to beare up their floores and roufes: and that some of them were found to be fortie cubites long.
In those parts there be found in the sea certaine strange beasts like sheepe, which goe foorth to land, feed upon the roots of plants and hearbes, and then returne againe into the sea. Others also which are headed like Horses, Asses, and Buls: and those many times eat downe in the standing corne upon the ground.
Which be the greatest fishes in any coast of the Ocean sea.
THE biggest and most monstrous creature in the Indian Ocean, are the Whales called Pristis and Balæna. In the French Ocean there is discovered a mightie fish called Physeter, [i. a Whirlepoole] rising up aloft out of the sea in manner of a columne or pillar; higher than the very sailes of the ships: and then he spouteth, and casteth forth a mightie deale of water as it were out of a conduit, ynough to drowne and sinke a ship. In the Ocean of Gades, betweene Portugall and Andalusia, there is a monstrous fish to be seene like a mightie great tree, spreading abroad with so mightie armes, that in regard thereof onely, it is thought verily it never entred into the streights or narrow sea there by of Gibraltar. There shew themselves otherwhiles fishes made like two great wheeles, and therupon so they be called: framed distinctly with foure armes, representing as many spokes: and with their eies they seeme to cover close the naves from one side to the other, wherein the said spokes are fastened.
Of Tritons, Nereides, and sea-Elephants, and their formes.
IN the time that Tiberius was Emperour, there came unto him an Embassador from Ulyssipon, sent of purpose to make relation, That upon their sea coast there was discovered within a certain hole, a certain sea goblin, called Triton, sounding a shell like a Trumpet or Cornet: & that he was in forme and shape like those that are commonly painted for Tritons. And for the Meremaids called Nereides, it is no fabulous tale that goeth of them: for looke how painters draw them, so they are indeed: only their bodie is rough and skaled all over, even in those parts wherin they resemble a woman. For such a Meremaid was seene, and beheld plainely upon the same coast neere to the shore: and the inhabitants dwelling neer, heard it a farre off, when it was a dying, to make piteous mone, crying and chattering very heavily. Moreover, a lieutenant or governour under Augustus Cæsar in Gaule, advertised him by his letters, That many of these Nereides or Meremaids were seene cast upon the sands, and lying dead. I am able to bring forth for mine authors divers knights of Rome, right worshipfull persons and of good credite, who testifie that in the coast of the Spanish Ocean neere unto Gades, they have seene a Mere-man, in every respect resembling a man as perfectly in all parts of the bodie as might bee. And they report moreover, that in the night season he would come out of the sea abourd their ships: but look upon what part soever he setled, he waied the same downe, and if he rested and continued there any long time, he would sinke it cleane. In the daies of Tiberius the Emperour, in a certain Island upon the coast of the province of Lions, the sea after an eb, left upon the bare sands three hundred sea-monsters and above, at one flote together, of a wonderfull varietie and bignesse, differing asunder. And there were no fewer found upon the coast of the Santones. And among the rest there were sea-Elephants and Rams, with teeth standing out; and hornes also, like to those of the land, but that they were white like as the foresaid teeth: over and besides, many Mere maids. Turanius hath reported, That a monster was driven and cast upon the coast of Gades, betweene the two hindmost finnes whereof in the taile, were sixteene cubites: it had 122 teeth, whereof the biggest were a span or nine inches in measure, and the least halfe a foot. M. Scaurus among other strange and wonderfull sights that he exhibited to the people of Rome, to doe them pleasure in his Ædileship, shewed openly the bones of that sea-monster, before which ladie Andromeda (by report) was cast to be devoured: which were brought to Rome from Ioppe, a town in Iudæa: and they caried in length fortie foot: deeper were the ribs than any Indian Elephant is high, and the tidge-bone a foot and halfe thicke.
Of the Balænes and Orcæ.
THESE monstrous Whales named Balænæ, otherwhiles come into our seas also. They say that in the coast of the Spanish Ocean by Gades, they are not seen before midwinter when the daies be shortest: for at their set times they lie close in a certaine calme deepe and large creeke, which they chuse to cast their spawne in, and there delight above all places to breed. The Orcæ, other monstrous fishes, know this full well, and deadly enemies they bee unto the foresaid Whales. And verily, if I should pourtrait them, I can resemble them to nothing els but a mightie masse and lumpe of flesh without all fashion, armed with most terrible, sharpe, and cutting teeth. Well, these being ware that the Whales are there, breake into this secret by-creeke out of the way, seeke them out, and if they meet either with young ones, or the dammes that have newly spawned, or yet great with spawne, they all to cut & hacke them with their trenchant teeth; yea, they run against them as it were a foist or ship of warre armed with sharpe brasen pikes in the beake-head. But contrariwise, the Balænes or Whales aforesaid, that cannot wind and turne aside for defence, and much lesse make head and resist, so unweldie as they bee by reason of their owne weightie and heavie bodie, (and as then either big bellied, or else weakened lately with the paines of travell and calving their young ones) have no other meanes of helpe and succour but to shoot into the deepe, and gaine sea-roume to defend themselves from the enemie. On the other side, the Orcæ labour (to cut them short of their purpose) to lie betweene them and home in their very way, and otherwhiles kill them unawares in the streights, or drive them upon the shelves and shallowes, or else force them against the very rockes, and so bruse them. When these combates and fights are seene, the sea seemeth as if it were angry with it selfe: for albeit no winds are up, but all calme in that creeke and gulfe, yet ye shall have waves in that place where they encounter (with the blasts of their breath, and the blowes given by the assailant) so great, as no tempestuous whirlewinds whatsoever are not able to raise. In the haven of Ostia likewise there was discovered one of these Orcæs, and the same assailed by Claudius the Emperour. It chaunced to come as he was making the said harbour or pere, drawne and trained thither with the sweetnesse of certaine beasts hides that were brought out of Gaule, and were cast away and perished by the way. Of them for certaine daies shee had fed, and still following them, with the weight of her heavie bodie had made a furrow and channel (as it were) with her bellie in the bottome among the shelves: and by reason of the flowing of the sea shee was so invested and compassed in with the sands, that by no means possible she could turne about: but still while she goeth after these hides whereof she fed, she was by the billows of the sea cast aflote upon the shore, so as her backe was to be seene a great deale above the water, much like to the bottome or keele of a ship turned upside downe. Then the Emperour commaunded to draw great nets and cords with many folds along the mouth of the haven on every side behind the fish, himselfe accompanied with certaine Pretorian cohorts, for to shew a pleasant sight unto the people of Rome, came against this monstrous fish, and out of many hoies and barkes the souldiours launced darts and javelines thicke. And one of them I saw my selfe sunke downe right with the abundance of water that this monstrous fish spouted and filled it withall. The Whales called Balænæ have a certaine mouth or great hole in their forehead, and therefore as they swim aflote aloft on the water, they send up on high (as it were) with a mightie strong breath a great quantitie of water when they list, like stormes of raine.
Whether fish doe breath and sleepe, or no.
ALL writers are fully resolved in this, That the Whales abovesaid, as well the Balænæ as the Orcæ, and some few other fishes bred and nourished in the sea, which among other inward bowels have lights, doe breath. For otherwise it were not possible, that either they or any other beast, without lights or lungs should blow. And they that be of this opinion, suppose likewise, that no fishes having guils, do draw in and deliver their wind againe too and fro: nor many other kinds besides, although they want the foresaid guils. Among others, I see that Aristotle was of that mind, and by many profound and learned reasons persuaded and induced many more to hold the same. For mine owne part, if I should speake frankely what I thinke, I professe that I am not of their judgement. For why? Nature if she be so disposed, may give in steed of lights some other organs and instruments of breath: to this creature one, to that another: like as many other creatures have another kind of moist humor in lieu of bloud. And who would marvell, that this vitall spirit should pierce within the waters, considering that hee seeth evidently how it riseth againe and is delivered from thence: also how the aire entreth even into the earth, which is the grossest and hardest element of al others? As we may perceive by this good argument, That some creatures, which albeit they be alwaies covered within the ground, yet live and breathe neverthelesse, and namely, the Wants or Mold-warpes. Moreover, I have divers pregnant and effectuall reasons inducing me to beleeve, that all water-creatures doe breath each one after their maner, as Nature hath ordained. First and principally I have observed oftentimes by experience, That fishes evidently breath and pant for wind (after a sort) in the great heat of Summer: as also that they yawne and gape when the weather is calme and the sea still. And they themselves also who hold the contrarie, confesse plainly, That fishes doe sleepe. And if that be true, How, I pray you, can they sleepe if they take not their wind? Moreover, whence come those bubbles which continually are breathed foorth from under the water? And what shall wee say to those shell-fishes which waxe and decay in substance of bodie, according to the effect of the moones encrease or decrease? But above all, fishes have hearing and smelling, and no doubt both these senses, are perfourmed and maintained by the benefit and matter of the aire: for what is smell and sent, but the verie aire, either infected with a bad, or perfumed with a good savour? Howbeit I leave everie man free to his owne opinion, as touching these points. But to returne againe to our purpose: this is certein, that neither the Whales called Balænæ, nor the Dolphins, have any guills; and yet doe both these fishes breath at certain pipes and conduits, as it were reaching downe into their lights: from the forehead, in the Balænes; and in the Dolphins, from the backe. Furthermore, the Sea-calves or Seales, which the Latines call Phocæ, doe both breath and sleepe upon the drie land. So doe the sea Tortoises also, whereof we will write more anon.
THE swiftest of all other living creatures whatsoever, and not of sea-fish only, is the Dolphin; quicker than the flying foule, swifter than the arrow shot out of a bow. And but that this fish is mouthed farre beneath his snout, and in manner towards the mids of his belly, there were nt a fish could escape from him, so light and nimble he is. But Nature in great providence fore-seeing so much, hath given these fishes some let and hinderance, for unlesse they turned upright much upon their backe, catch they can no other fish: and even therein appeareth most of all their wonderfull swiftnesse and agilitie. For when the Dolphins are driven for verie hunger to course and pursue other fishes downe into the bottome of the sea, and thereby are forced a long while to hold their breath, for to take their wind againe, they launce themselves aloft from under the water as if they were shot out of a bow; and with such a force they spring up againe, that many times they mount over the verie sailes and mastes of ships. This is to be noted in them, that for the most part they sort themselves by couples like man & wife. They are with yong nine moneths, and in the tenth bring forth their little ones, and lightly in summer time; and otherwhiles they have two little dolphins at once. They suckle them at their teats, like as the Whales or the Balænes doe: yea and so long as their little ones are so yong that they be feeble, they carry them too and fro about them: nay when they are growne to be good bigge ones, yet they beare them companie still a long time, so kind and loving be they to their young. Young Dolphins come very speedily to their growth, for in ten yeeres they are thought to have their fulle bignesse: but they live thirtie yeeres, as hath been knowne by the experience and triall in many of them, that had their taile cut for a marke when they were young, and let go again. They lie close everie yeere for the space of thirtie daies, about the rising of the Dog-starre; but it is straunge how they be hidden, for no man knoweth how: and in verie deed a wonder it were, if they could not breath under the water. Their manner is, to breake forth of the sea and come aland, and why they should so doe, it is not known: for presently assoon as they touch the dry ground, they die: and so much the sooner, for that their pipe or conduit above-said, incontinently closeth up and is stopped. Their tongue stirreth within their heads, contrarie to the nature of all other creatures living in the waters: the same is short and broad fashioned like unto that of a swine. Their voice resembleth the pittifull groning of a man: they are saddle-backed, and their snout is camoise and flat, turning up. And this is the cause that all of them (after a wonderfull sort) know the name Simo, and take great pleasure that men should so call them. The Dolphin is a creature that carrieth a loving affection not only unto man, but also to musicke: delighted he is with harmonie in song, but especially with the sound of the water instrument, or such kind of pipes. Of a man he is nothing affraid, neither avoideth from him as a stranger; but of himselfe meeteth with their ships, plaieth and disporteth himselfe, and fetcheth a thousand friskes and gambols before them. Hee will swimme along by the mariners, as it were for a wager, who should make way most speedily, and alwaies out-goeth them, saile they with never so good a fore-wind.
In the daies of Augustus Cæsar the Emperour, there was a Dolphin entred the gulfe or poole Lucrinus, which loved wonderous well a certain boy, a poore mans sonne: who using to go every day to schoole from Baianum to Puteoli, was woont also about noone-tide to stay at the water side, and to call unto the Dolphin, Simo, Simo, and many times would give him fragments of bread, which of purpose hee ever brought with him, and by this meane allured the Dolphin to come ordinarily unto him at his call. [I would make scruple and bash to insert this tale in my story and to tell it out, but that Mecænas Fabianus, Flavius Alfius, and many others have set it downe for a truth in their Chronicles.] Well, in processe of time, at what houre soever of the day, this boy lured for him and called Simo, were the Dolphin never so close hidden in any secret and blind corner, out he would and come abroad, yea and skud amaine to this lad: and taking bread and other victuals at his hand, would gently offer him his backe to mount upon, and then downe went the sharpe pointed prickes of his finnes, which he would put up as it were within a sheath for fear of hurting the boy. thus when he had him once on his back, he would carrie him over the broad arme of the sea as farre as Puteoli to schoole; and in like manner convey him backe againe home: and thus he continued for many yeeres together, so long as the child lived. but when the boy was falne sicke and dead, yet the Dolphin gave not over his haunt, but usually came to the woonted place, & missing the lad, seemed to be heavie and mourne again, untill for verie griefe and sorrow (as it is doubtles to be presumed) he also was found dead upon the shore.
Another Dolphin there was not many yeeres since upon the coast of Affricke, neere to the cittie Hippo, called also Diarrhytus, which in like manner would take meat at a mans hand, suffer himselfe gently to be handled, play with them that swom and bathed in the sea, and carrie on his backe whosoever would get upon it. Now it fell out so, that Flavianus the Proconsull or lieutenant generall in Affricke under the Romanes, perfumed and besmeared this Dolphin upon a time with a sweet ointment: but the fish (as it should seem) smelling this new and strange smell, fell to be drowsie and sleepie, and hulled too and fro with the waves, as if it had beene halfe dead: and as though some injurie had been offered unto him, went his way and kept aloufe, and would not converse any more for certain moneths with men, as before-time. Howbeit in the end hee came again to Hippo, to the great wonder and astonishment of all that saw him. But the wrongs that some great persons and lords did unto the cittizens of Hippo, such I meane as used to come to see this sight: and namely, the hard measure offered to those townsmen, who to their great cost gave them entertainment, caused the men of Hippo to kill the poore Dolphin.
The like is reported in the citie Iassos, long before this time: for there was seene a Dolphin many a day to affect a certaine boy, so as he would come unto him wheresoever he chaunced to espy him. But whiles at on time above the rest he followed egerly after the lad going toward the towne, hee shot himselfe upon the drie sands before he was aware, and died forthwith. In regard hereof, Alexander the Great ordained that the said young boy should afterward be the chiefe priest and sacrificer to Neptune in Babylon: collecting by the singular fancie that this Dolphin cast unto him, That it was a great signe of the speciall love of that god of the sea unto him, and that he would be good and gracious to men for his sake.
Egesidemus writeth, that in the same Iassus there was another boy named Hermias, who having used likewise to ride upon a Dolphin over the sea, chaunced at the last in a sodaine storme to be over-whelmed with waves as hee sate upon his backe, and so died, and was brought backe dead by the Dolphin: who confessing as it were that hee was the cause of his death, would never retire againe into the sea, but launced himselfe upon the sands, and there died on the drie land.
The semblable happened at Naupactum, by the report of Theophrastus. But there is no end of examples in this kind: for the Amphilocians and Tarentines testifie as much, as touching dolphins that have ben enamoured of little boies: which induceth me the rather to beleeve the tale that goeth of Arion. This Arion being a notable musitian and plaier of the harpe, chaunced to fall into the hands of certain mariners in the ship wherein he was, who supposing that he had good store of money about him, which he had gotten with his instrument, were in hand to kill him and cast him over-bourd for the said money, and so to intercept all his gaines: he, seeing himselfe at their devotion and mercie, besought them in the best manner that he could devise, to suffer him yet before he died, to play one fit of mirth with his harpe; which they graunted: (at his musicke and sound of harpe, a number of dolphins came flocking about him:) which done, they turned him over ship-bourd into the sea; where one of the dolphins tooke him upon his backe, and carried him safe to the bay of Tænarus.
To conclude and knit up this matter: In Languedoc within the province of Narbon, and in the territorie of Næmausium, there is a standing poole or dead water called Laterra, wherein men and Dolphins together, use to fish: for at one certain time of the yeere, an infinite number of fishes called Mullets, taking the vantage of the tide when the water doth ebbe, at certain narrow weares and passages with great force breake foorth of the said poole into the sea: and by reason of that violence, no nets can bee set and pitched against them strong enough to abide and beare their huge weight, and the streame of the water together, if so be men were not cunning and craftie to wait and espie their time to lay for them, and to entrap them. In like manner the Mullets for their part, immediatly make speed to recover the deepe, which they doe very soone by reason that the channell is neare at hand: and their onely hast is for this, to escape and passe that narrow place which affourdeth opportunitie to the fishers to stretch out and spread their nets. The fisher-men being ware thereof, and all the people besides (for the multitude knowing when fishing time is come, run thither, and the rather for to see the pleasant sport) crie as lowd as ever they can to the Dolphins for aid, and call Simo, Simo, to help to make an end of this their game and pastime of fishing. The Dolphins soon get the eare of their crie, and know what they would have; and the better, if the North-winds blow and carrie the sound unto them: for if it be a Southerne wind, it is later ere the voice bee heard, because it is against them. Howbeit, be the wind in what corner soever, the Dolphins resort thither flock-meale, sooner than a man would thinke, for to assist them in their fishing. And a wondrous pleasant sight it is to behold the squadrons as it were of those Dolphins, how quickly they take their places and be arraunged in battaile array even against the verie mouth of the said poole, where the Mullets use to shoot into the sea: to see (I say) how from the sea, they oppose themselves and fight against them; & drive the Mullets (once affrighted and skared) from the deep, upon the shelves. Then come the fishers and beset them with net and toile, which they beare up and fortifie with strong forkes: howbeit for all that, the Mullets are so quicke and nimble, that a number of them whip over, get away, and escape the nets. But the Dolphins then are readie to receive them: who contenting themselves for the present to kill only, make foule worke and havocke among them; and put off the time of preying and feeding upon, untill they have ended the battaile and atchieved the victorie. And now the skirmish is hote, for the Dolphins perceiving also the men at worke, are the more egre and courageous in fight, taking pleasure to bee enclosed within the nets, and so most valiantly charge upon the Mullets: but for feare least the same should give occasion unto the enemies and provoke them to retire and flie backe; betweene the boats, the nets, and the men there swimming, they glide by so gently and easily, that it cannot be seene where they gat out. And albeit they take great delight in leaping, and have the cast of it, yet none assaieth to get forth, but where the nets lie under them: but no sooner are they out, but presently a man shall see brave pastime betweene them, as they scuffle and skirmish as it were under the rampier. And so the conflict being ended and all the fishing sport done, the Dolphins fall to spoile and eat those which they killed in the first shocke and encounter. But after this service perfourmed, the Dolphins retire not presently into the deepe againe, from whence they were called, but stay untill the morrow, as if they knew verie well that they had so carried themselves, as that they deserved a better reward than one daies refection and victuals: and therefore contented they are not and satisfied, unlesse to their fish they have some sops and crummes of bread given them soaked in wine, and that their bellies full. Mutianus maketh mention of the semblable manner of fishing, in the gulfe of Iassos: but herein is the difference, for that the Dolphins come of their owne accord without calling, take their part of the bootie at the fishers hands: and every boat hath a Dolphin attending upon it as a companion, although it be in the night season and at torch light.
Over and besides, the Dolphins have a kind of common-wealth and publick societie among themselves: for it chaunced upon a time, that a king of Caria had taken a Dolphin, and kept him fast as a prisoner within the harbor: whereupon a mightie multitude of other Dolphins resorted thither, and by certaine signs of sorrow and mourning that they made, evident to be perceived and understood, seemed to crave pardon and mercie for the prisoner and never gave over untill the king had given commaundement that he should be enlarged and let go. Also the little ones are evermore accmopanied with some one of the bigger sort, as a guide to guard and keep him. To conclude, they have been seen to carrie one of their fellowes when he is dead, into some place of securitie, that he should not be devoured and torne of other sea-monsters.
THE Porpuisses, which the Latines call Tursiones, are made like the Dolphins: howbeit they differ in that they have a more sad and heavie countenance: for they are nothing so gamesome, playfull, and wanton, as be the Dolphins: but especially they are snouted like dogges when they snarle, grin, and are readie to doe a shrewd turne.
Of sea Tortoises, and how they are taken.
THERE be found Tortoises in the Indian sea so great, that one only shell of them is sufficient for the roufe of a dwelling house. And among the Islands principally in the red sea, they use Tortoise shells ordinarily for boats and wherries upon the water.
Many waies the fisher-men have to catch them, but especially in this manner: They use in the mornings when the weather is calme and still, to flote aloft upon the water with their backs to be seene all over: and then they take such pleasure in breathing freely and at libertie, that they forget themselves altogither: insomuch as their shell in this time is so hardened and baked with the sunne, that when they would they cannot dive and sinke under the water againe, but are forced against their wills to flote above, andd by that meanes are exposed as a prey unto the fishermen. Some say that they goe forth in the night to land for to feed, where, with eating greedily, they be wearie; so that in the morning, when they are returned againe, they fall soone asleepe above the water, and keepe such a snorting and routing in their sleepe, that they bewray where they be, and so are easily taken: and yet there must be three men about every one of them: and when they have swom unto the Tortoise, two of them turne him upon his backe, the third casts a cord or halter about him, as he lyeth with his belly upward, and then is he haled by many more togither, to the land. In the Phoenician sea, they make no great adoe to take them; for why, at a certaine time of the yeere they resort of themselves by great multitudes in sculls up into the river Eleutherius.
The Tortoise hath no teeth, but the sides and brimmes of his neb or becke, are sharpe and keene: whereof the upper part or chaw shutteth close upon the nether, like to the lid of a boxe. In the sea they live of muscles, cockles, and such small shell fishes, for their mouthes are so hard that they be able to crush and breake stones therewith. Their manner is to go aland, where among the grasse they lay egges as bigge as birds egs, to the number commonly of an hundred. When they have so done, they hide them within the earth in some little hole or gutter, sure enough from any place where the water commeth, they cover them with mould, beat it hard downe with their breast, and so pat it smooth, and in the night time sit upon them: they couvie a whole yeere before they hatch. Some say, that the looking wistly upon their egges with their eyes serveth in stead of sitting. The female flieth from the male, and will not abide to engender, untill such time as he pricke her behind and sticke somewhat in her taile for running away from him so fast.
The Troglodites have among them certaine Tortoises, with broad hornes like the pegges in a Lute or Harpe, and the same will wagge and stirre so, as in swimming they helpe themselves therewith, and are guided and directed by them. And this kind of Tortoise is called Celtium:1 of exceeding great bignesse, but rare to bee found and hard to come by: for their exceeding sharpe prickes like rockes, among which they keepe, fright the Chelonophagi (who delight to feed upon them) that they dare not search after them. And the Troglodites, unto whom these Tortoises use to swimme, adore them as holy and sacred things.
There be also land Tortoises (called thereupon in the workes that are made of them in pannell wise, Chersinæ) found in the deserts and wildernesse of Affrick, and principally in that part which is drie and full of sands: and they are thought to live upon nothing els but the moist dew. And in very truth, no other living creature there breedeth besides them.
Who first devised the cleaving of Tortoise shells into thin plantes like pannell.
THE first man that invented the cutting of Tortoise shells into thin plates, therwith to seel beds, tables, cupbourds, and presses, was Carbilius Pollio2 a man very ingenious and inventive of such toies, serving to riot and superfluous expense.
A division of water beasts into their severall kinds.
THE creatures that breed and live in the water, bee not all covered and clad alike: for some have a skin over them, and the same hairie, as the Seales and Water horses. Others have but a bare skin, as the Dolphins. There be againe that have a shell like a barke, as the Tortoises: and in others, the shell is as hard as the flint, and such be the oysters, muscles, cockles, and winkles. Some be covered with crusts or hard pills, as the locusts: others have besides them, sharpe prickes, as the Urchins. Some be skaled, as fishes: others are rough-coated, as the Soles, and with their skins folke use to polish and smooth wood and yvorie. Some have a tender and soft skin, as Lampreys: others none at all, as the Pourcuttle or Pourcontrell.3
Of the Sea-calfe, or Seale.
THE great Whales, called Pristis and Balæna, bring forth their young alive, and perfect living creatures: likewise all those that are covered with haire, as the Sea-calfe or Seale. She calveth on the drie land as other cattaile: and whensoever she calveth, she gleaneth afterwards as kine doe. The female is tied and lined to the male, like as bitches to dogges: shee never bringeth more than two at once; and she giveth milke at her dugs and paps, to her yong. Shee bringeth them to the sea not before they be twelv daies old, and then she traineth and acquainteth them to swimme and keepe the water ordinarily. These Seales be hardly killed, unlesse a man dash out their braines. In their sleepe, they seeme to low or blea, and thereupon they be called Sea-calves. Docible they be and apt to learne whatsoever is taught them. They will salute folke with a kind of countenance and regard: also with a voice such as it is, resembling a certaine rude and rumbling noise. If a man call them by their name, they will turn again, and in their language answer. There is no living creature sleepeth more soundly than they. The finnes which they use to swimme withall in the sea, serve their turns in stead of feet to go upon, when they be on land. Their skinnes, after they be flaied from their bodies, reteine still a proprietie and nature of the seas; for ever as the water doth ebbe, they are more rugged, and the haires or bristles stand up. Moreover, their right finnes or legs are thought to have a power and vertue to provoke sleepe, if they be laid under ones beds head.
Of fishes that be without haire, how they breed, and how many sorts thre be of them.
OF such creatures as want haires, two onely there be that bring forth their young with life: and namely, the Dolphin and the Viper. Of fishes, properly so called, there be 74 kinds: besides those that have rough crustie skins, which I count not; whereof there be 30 sorts. Of every one of them in particular, we will speake else-where, and at another time: for now wee are to treat of the natures of the chiefe and principall.
Of the names and natures of many fishes.
THE Tunies are exceeding great fishes: we have seene some of them to weigh fifteen talents, and the taile to be two cubits broad and a span. In some fresh rivers also, there be fish found full as bigge: and namely, the river-Whale called Silurus, in Nilus; the Lax, in the Rhene; the Attilus, in the Po. This fish groweth so fat with ease and lying still, that otherwiles it weigheth a thousand pounds: and being taken with a great hooke fastened and linked to a chaine, cannot be drawne forth of the river but with certaine yokes of oxen. And yet as big as he is, there is one little fish in comparison of him called Clupea, that killeth him: for upon a marveilous desire that he hath to a certaine veine that he hath within his jawes, he biteth in sunder with his teeth, and so dispatcheth the fore-named great fish Attilus.
As for the Silurus, a cut-throat hee is wheresoever hee goeth, a great devourer, and maketh foule worke: for no living creatures come amisse unto him, he setteth upon all indifferently. The very horses oftentimes as they swim, he devoureth,4 and specially in Mnus, a river of Germanie neere to Lisboa or Erlisbornis.
Moreover, in the river Donow, there is taken the Mario, a fish much like to a Ruffe or Porpuis.5 Also in the river Borysthenes, there is found a fish by report, exceeding great, with no chine not bone at all betweene; and yet the meat thereof is passing sweet and pleasant.
Within Ganges, a river of India, there be fishes snouted and tailed as Dolphins, 15 cubits long, which they call Platanistæ. And Statius Sibosus reporteth as strange a thing besides, namely, that in the said river there be certaine wormes or serpents with two finnes of a side, sixtie cubits long, of colour blew, and of that hew take their name [and be called Cyonoeides.] He saith moreover, that they be so strong, that when the Elephants come into the river for drinke, they catch fast hold with their teeth by their trunkes or muzzles, and maugre their hearts force them downe under the water; of such power and force they are.
The male Tunies have no finnes under their bellies. In the spring time they goe out of the great [Mediterranean] sea, and by whole flotes and troupes enter into Pontus; for in no other sea doe they bring forth their young. Their young frie, which accompanie their dams (when they are lightned of their burden) into the sea again in the autumne, are called Cordylæ. Afterwards, they begin to call them Palmides, and in Latine Limosæ, of the mud wherein they are kept: and when they be above one yeere old, then they be Tunies indeed, and so called. These Tunies are cut into peeces, whereof the nape of the necke, the bellie, and the flesh about the canell bones of the throat, are most commendable for meat: but these parcels onely when they be fresh and new killed, and yet then will they rise in a man's stomacke, and make him belch sower. The other parts being full of good meat and oleous, withall, are laid in salt, and so put in barrels and kept. And these peeces of the Tunie thus condite and powdred, are call called Melandrya, cut in slices like to oke shingles for all the world. The woorst peeces of all others, be those that are next the taile, because they are not fat: but the best is that which is toward the throat: howsoever in other fishes the taile-peece is in greatest request, as being most slitred and exercised. As for the young Tunnies called Pelamides, they are divided & cut into parcels, that be named Apolecti: but when they be cut peece-meale into certain squares, those peeces are named Cybia.
All kind of fishes grow exceeding soone to their bignesse, and especially in the sea Pontus: the reason is, because a number of rivers bring fresh water into it, and in some sort make it sweet: and namely in it, there is one called Amia, which groweth so fast and so evidently, that a man may perceive how it waxeth from day to day. These fishs, togither with the old Tunies and the young, called Pelamides, enter in great flotes and skulls, into the sea Pontus, for the sweet food that they there find: and every companie of them hath their fever all leaders and captaines; and before them all, the Maquerels lead the way; which, while they be in the water, have a colour of brimstone; but without, like they be to the rest. The Maquerels serve the market well in Spaine, and furnish the fish-shambles: namely, when as the Tunies repaire not into their seas. As for the sea Pontus, there enter into few or no ravenours that haunt and devoure fishes, unlesse it be the Seales and little Dolphins. The old Tunies, when they come into it, chuse the right side (upon the coast of Asia) but goe forth at the left. And this is the reason thereof, as it is thought. For that they see better with their right eye; and yet the sight of either of them is very good. Within the channell of the Thracian Bospherus, by which Propontis joyneth to the sea Euxinus, in the very streight of the Firth that divideth Asia from Europe, neare to Chalcedon upon the coast of Asia, there standeth a rocke, exceeing white and bright withall, which is so transparent and shining from the very bottom of the sea to the top of the water, that the Tunies (affrighted at the sodaine sight thereof) to avoid it, goe alwaies amaine in whole flotes, toward the cape overagainst Bizantium, which cape thereupon beareth the name of Auticorum. And therefore it is, that the Bizantines make great gaine by fishing for them: whereas the Chalcedonians have a great misse of that commoditie, and yet the arme of the sea or frith betweene them, is not past halfe a mile, or a mile at the most, over. Now they ever wait for the North wind, that (together with the tide) they might ease passe out of Pontus. Howbeit, the onely taking of them at Bizantium, is when they returne againe into Pontus. In Winter the Tunnies stirre not nor raunge abroad: but looke, wheresoever they are then found to bee, there they take up their Winter harbour, and make their abode untill the Spring Æquinoctiall about mid-March. Many a time they will accompanie the ships that saile thereby with full wind, and it is a wonderfull pleasant sight for the sailers to see them from the sterne, how for certaine houres together, and for the space of some miles, they will follow and attend upon the poupe, be the wind never so good, nay, although they strike at them with the trout speare sundrie times, or launce at them some three-tined instrument, yet wil they not be chased away, nor skared. These Tunnies that thus wait upon the ships under saile, some call Pompili. Many of them passe the Summer time in Propontis, and never enter into Pontus. Soles likewise use the same manner, and yet yee shall have many Turbos there. Neither shall a man find the Cuttil there, although these be good store of Sea-cuts or Calamaries. Moreover, of Stone-fishes, such as live among rocks, the sea Thrush, the sea Merle, and the purple shell-fishes are not to be found, where Oysters notwithstanding are in great abundance. For all such Winter in the Ægæan sea, called now Archipelago. Of them that enter into the sea Pontus, there is none staieth there, but goeth forth again, save onely the shell-fish called the Sardane or Trichia: for I thinke it good, in such diversitie of fishes names, seeing that one and the selfesame fish is in many countries called diversly, to use the Greeke name for the most of them. These fish, I say, alone goe up the river Ister, and out of it they passe against by certaine issues and conduits under the ground, and so descend into the Adriatick sea: and evermore a man shall see this kind of fish comming downe thither, but never mounting up againe out of that sea. The right fishing for the Tunnies, and the onely taking of them is from the rising of the starre Vergiliæ,* to the setting of Arcturus. All the Winter time besides they lie hidden in the deepe, at the bottome of pits and fulges within the sea, unlesse they come foorth to take their pleasure in some warme season, or otherwhiles when the Moon is at the full. They grow sometimes so far, that their skins will not hold, but they are readie to cleave and burst withall. The longest time that they live is two yeares and not above. Moreover, there is a little creature or vermine, made somewhat like a Scorpion, and as big as a Spider, which usually will set her sharp sting under the fin both of the Tunnie, and also of the sword-fish (whch many times is bigger than the Dolphin) and put them to such paine, that to avoid them, they oftentimes are driven to launce themselves, and skip into the very ships. Which propertie they have also at other times, for fear of the violence of other fishes; and most of all, the Mullets have this cast with them; and this they doe with such exceeding swiftnesse and agilitie, that they will fling themselves otherwhiles crosse over the ships.
Of presages and foretokenings by fishes, and of their diversitie.
NATURE willing to endue this Element also of the water with some Auguries, hath given to fishes likewise a kind of prescience and fore-knowledge of things to come. And verily during the Sicilian war, as Augustus Cæsar walked along the shore upon the sands, there was a certaine fish leapt forth of the sea, and light at his very feet. The Soothsaiers and Wisards upon this occurrent, being sought unto, gave this construction thereof, and presage therby, That they who at that time were lords of the sea, and held it in subjection, should be ranged under the obedience of Cæsar, and at his devotion. And yet at that present it is thought and said, That god Neptune had adopted Sen. Pompeius for his son, so fortunate he was, and such exploits had he achieved upon the sea.
The female kind of fishes are commonly bigger than the males. And there are some sorts of them, whereof there be no males at all, but all females, as the Erythini and the Chani. For they be taken alwaies spawners, and full of egs.
Fishes can bee skaled, for the most part swim in troupes, and sort together. The best fishing is before the sunne be up: for then fishes see least or not at all. For if the nights be cleare and moonshine, they see as well by night as day. Moreover, they say that it is good fishing twisein one and the same hole: for commonly upon the second cast, the draught is better than the first. Fishes love passing well to tast oyle: they joy also and like well in soft and gentle shewers, and therewith they will feed and become fast. And good reason there is of it: for why? we see by experience that canes and reedes, although they breed in meeres and standing water, yet they grow not to the purpose without raine. Moreover, it is observed, that fish keeping evermore in one dead poole and never removed, will die wheresoever it be, unlesse there fall raine water to refresh them. All fishes feele the cold of a sharpe and hard Winter, but those especially, who are thought to have a stone in their head, as the Pikes, the Chromes, Scienæ, & Pagri. If it be a bitter season in winter, many of them are taken up blind. And therefore during those cold moneths, they lurke hidden in holes, and within rockes, like as we have said, certaine land creatures doe. But, above all, others the Lobstars call Hippuri, and the Coracini, cannot abide extremitie of cold, and therefore be never caught in winter, unlesse it be at certain times when they come forth of their holes, which they keepe duly, and never stirre but then. In like sort, the Lamproie, the Orphe, the Conger, Perches and all stone-fishes that love rocks and gravell. Men say verily, that the crampe-fish, the Plaice, and the Sole lie hidden all Winter time in the ground, that is to say, in certaine crevisses and chinkes which they make in the bottome of the sea. Contrariwise, some againe be as impatient of heat, and can as ill away with hote weather; and therefore about Midsummer for 60 daies they lie hidden and are not to be seene: as the sea-fish Glaucus, the Cod, and the Gilthead. Of river-fishes, the Silurus or Sturgeon in the beginning of the dog daies is blasted and striken with a planet: other times also in a thunder and lightening he is smitten, so as therewith he is astonied and lieth for dead. And some thinke that the like accident befalleth to the sea Breame Cyprinus. And verily, all quarters of the sea throughout, feele the rising of the dog-starre; but most of all the influence and power thereof is to be seene in the streight of Bosphorus. For then may a man perceive ordinarily the reises of the sea, and the fishes flote aloft, and the sea so troubled, that every thing is cast up from the bottome to the upper part of the water.
Of the Mullet and other fishes: and that the same in all places are not of like request.
THE Mullets have a naturall and ridiculous qualitie by themselves, to be laughed at: for when they be afraid to be caught, they will hide theirh ead, and then they thinke they bee sure ynough, weening that all their bodie is likewise hidden. These Mullets neverthelesse are so letcherous, that in the season when they use to engender, in the coasts of Phoenice and Languedoc, if they take a milter out of their stewes or pooles where they use to keepe them, and draw a long string or line through the mouth and guils, and so tie it fast, and then put him into the sea, holding the other end of the line still in their hands, if they pull him againe unto them, they shal have a number of spawners or females follow him hard at taile to the banke side. Semblably, if a man doe the same with the female in spawning time, hee shall have as many milters follow after her. And in this manner they take an infinite number of Mullets.
In old time our auncestours set more store by the Sturgeon, and it carried the name above all other fishes. He is the only fish that hath the skales growing toward the head: hee swims against the streame. But now adaies there is no such reckoning and account made of him: whereat I marveil much, considering he is so hard and seldome to be found. Some call him Elops. Afterwards, Cornelius Nepos, and Laberius the Poet and maker of merie times have written, that the sea Pikes and the Cods gat away all the credit from the Sturgeon, and were of great request. As for the Pikes aforesaid, the best and most commendable of all other be they which are called Lanati, as a man would sayCotton Pikes, for the whitenesse and tendernesse of their flesh. Of Cods there be two sorts, Callariæ, or Hadocks, which be the lesse: and Bacchi, which are never taken but in the deepe, and therefore they are preferred before the former. But the Pikes that are caught in the river be better than all others. The fish called Scarus now carieth the price and praise of all others, and this fish alone is saidto chew cud, to live of grasse and weeds, and not to prey upon other fishes. In the Carpathian sea great store of them is found: and by their good will they never passe the cape or promontorie Lectos in Troas. In the daies of Tiberius Claudius the Emperour, Optatus his freed man (who sometime had been a slave of his) and then Admirall and Lieutenant generall of a fleet under him, brought them first ouf of that sea, and with them stored the whole coast of our seas between Ostia and Campania. Order was taken by streight inhibitions for the first five yeares, to kill none that were put into those seas, butif any were taken, that they should be cast in againe. In processe of time many of them came to be found and taken up all along the coast of Italie, whereas before, they were not to be had in those parts. See how gluttonie, and the desire to please a daintie tooth, hath devised means forsooth to sow fish, and to transplant them as it were, so to store the sea with strange breed: so that now we need no more to marvell, that forraine birds and foules, set out of farre countries have their airies at Rome, and breed there. Next to these fishes abovenamed the table is served with a kind of Lampreis or Eelepouts like to sea Lampreis, which are bred in certaine lakes about the Alpes, and namely; in that of Rhoetia called Brigantinus; and a strange thing it is, that they should be so like in proportion to those of the sea. Of all other fishes of any good account, the Barble is next, both in request, and also in plentie. Great in quantitie they are not: for hardly shall you find any of them weigh above two pound, neither will they feed and grow in stewes and ponds. They are bred onely in the Northren sea: and never shall you see them in the coast of the West Ocean. Moreover, of this fish there be sundrie sorts. And they live all of Reites and Seawds, of Oysters, of the fat mud, and of the flesh of other fishes. They have all of them two beards, as it were, hanging downe evidently from their nether jaw. The worst of all this kind, is that which is called Lutarius. And this fish hath another named Sargus, that willingly evermore beareth him companie: for whiles hee is rooting into the mud (whereof hee taketh his name) then commeth the Sargus, and devoureth the food that is raised therewith. Neither are the Barbels much accepted that keepe neare the shore, and in the river within land. But the best simply are those that tast like unto the shell-fish Conchyliu. Fenestella gave them the name Mulli, of certaine moyles or fine shoes, which in colour they doe resemble. They cast spawne thrice in one year at the least: for so often their yong Frie is seene. Our great belligods say, that a Barble when hee is dying, changeth his hue, and turneth into an hundred colours: the proofe and experience whereof may be seene if he be put into a glase: for through it, it is a pretie sport to see how he altereth and changeth his skales being readie to die, one while into a pale and wan colour, otherwhiles into a reddish hue, one after another for many times together. M. Apicius (who was a man of all others most inventive and wonderfull for his wittie devises to maintaine riot and excesse) thought it was a singular way to stifle and kill these Barbels in a certaine Pickle, called the Romane Allies sauce, (see how even such a thing as that, hath found a surname forsooth and a proper addition.) And he also went about to provoke men to devise a certaine manger or broth made of their livers, like to that dripping or gravie called Alec, that commeth of fishes when they pine and corrupt. For surely it is more easie for me to say who set men a worke that way first, than to set downe who woon the best game in the end, and was the greatest glutton. Asturius Celer, a man of great calling and high place, who sometime had been Consull, shewed his prodigalitie in this fish, and it was when Cn. Caligula was Emperour: for he gave for one Barbell eight thousand Sesterces. Certes, the consideration hereof ravisheth my mind, and carrieth it away to behold and wonder at those, who in their reproofes of gluttonie and gourmandise, complained, that a cooke carried a greater price in the market than a good horse of service. For now adaies a cooke will cost as much as the charge of a triumph: and one fish as deere as a cooke. And to conclude, no man is better esteemed and regarded more, than he that hath the most cunning cast to wast the goods, and consume the substance of his lord and maister.
Of the Barbil, the fish Coracinus, Stock fish, and Salmon.
LICINIUS MUTIANUS reporteth, That in the red sea there was taken a Barbell that weighed four-score pounds. Oh, what a price would he have borne among our gluttons here with us! what would he have cost our prodigall spendthrifts, ifhee had been taken upon our coasts neere Rome? Moreover, this is the nature of fish, that some are cheefe in one place, and some in another. As for example, the Coracinus in Ægypt carrieth the name for the best fish. At Gades in Spaine, the Doree or Goldfish, called Zeus and Faber. About the Isle Ebusus, the Stock-fish is much called for; whereas in other places it is counted but a base, muddie, and filthy fish: and which no where els they know how to seeth perfitely, unlesse it be first well beaten with cudgels. In the countrey of Aquitaine or Guienne in Fraunce, the river Salmon passeth all other sea Salmons whatsoever.
Of fish, some have many folds of guils: some single, others double. At these guils they deliver againe and put forth the water that they take in at the mouth. You may know when fish bee old by their hard skales: and yet all fishes are not skaled alike. There be two lakes in Italie at the foot of the Alpes, named Latius and Verbatius wherein fishes are to be seene every yeere at the rising of the starre Vergiliæ, thicke of skales, and the same sharpe pointed, like to the tongues of buckles, wherewith horsemen or men of armes doe fasten their greives: and never els but about that month doe they appeare.
Of the fish Exocoetus.
THE Arcadians make wonderous great account of their Exocoetus; so called, for that he goeth abroad, and taketh up his lodging on the drie land for to sleepe. This fish (by report) about the coast Clitorius, hath a kind of voice, and yet is without guils. And of some hee is named Adonis. But besides him, the sea Tortoises also (called Mures Marini) the Polypes and Lampreis use to goe forth to land. Moreover, in the rivers of India there is one certain fish doth so, but it leapeth backe againe into the water. For whereas many other fishes doe passe out of the sea into rivers and lakes, there is great and evident reason thereof, namely, for that they are in more safetie there, both to cast their spawne under the wind where the water is not so rough, and full of waves: and also to bring forth their little ones, because there be no great fishes to devour them. That these dumbe creatures should have the sence hereof, thus to know these causes, and observe duly their times, is very strange and wonderfull, if a man would sound the depth thereof: but more hee would marvell to consider how few men there bee that know which is the best season for fishing; namely, whiles the sunne passeth through the signe Pisces.
A division of fishes, according to the forme and shape of their bodies.
OF sea fishes some be plaine and flat, as Byres or Turbots, Solds, Plaice, and Flounders. And these differ from the Turbots only in the making of their bodie. For in a Turbot the right side turneth upward, and in a Plaice the left. Others again be long and round as the Lamprey and the Congre. And hereupon it is, that they have a difference in their fins, which Nature hath given to fish in steed of feet. None have above foure, some have twaine, some three, others none at all. Onely in the lake Fucinus there is a fish, which in swimming useth eight finnes. All that be long and slipperie as Yeeles and Congres, have ordinarily tow in all, and no more. Lampreies have none to swim with, ne yet perfect guils: all of this kind wind and wriggle with their bodies within the water, and so erch forward, like as Serpents doe upon the earth. They creep also when they are upon drie land: and therefore such live longer than the rest out of the water. Also of the foresaid flat fishes, some have no finnes, as the puffen or forke fish: for their breadth serveth them sufficiently to beare them up, and to swim. And among those that are counted soft, the Pourcuttell hath no fins, for his feet standeth him in steed of fins to swim withall.
YEELES live eight yeeres. And if the North wind blow, they abidealive without water sixe daies, but not so long in a Southerne wind. But yet in Winter time they may not endure to be in a little water, not if it be thicke, and muddie: whereupon, about the rising of the starre Virgiliæ they bee commonly taken, for that the rivers about that time use to bee troubled. Their feeding most commonly is in the night. Of all fish, they alone (if they be dead) flote not above the water.
The manner of taking them in the lake Benacus.
THERE is a lake in Italie called Benacus, within the territorie of Verona, through which the river Mincius runneth. At the issue wherof every yeare about the moneth of October, when the Autumne starre Arcturus ariseth, whereby (as it evidently appeareth) the lake is troubled as it were with a Winter storme and tempest, a man shall see rolling among the waves a wonderfull number of these yeels wound and entangled one within another: insomuch, as in the leapeweeks & weerenets devised for the nonce to catch them in this river, there be found sometime, a thousand of them wrapped together in one great ball.
Of the Lamprey.
THE Lamprey spawneth at all times of the yeare, whereas all other Fishes are delivered of their young at one certaine seaon or other. The egs or spane grow to a great passe exceeding soone. If they chance to slip out of the water to the drie land, the common sort is of opinion, that they engender with Serpents. The male or milter of this kind, Aristotle calleth Myrus. And herein is the difference: that the spawner properly called Muræna, is of sundrie colours, and spotted, and withall but weake: but the Mylter or the Myrus is of one hue, and withall very strong, having teeth standing without his mouth. In the North parts of France all the Lampreis have in their right jaw seven spots, resembling the seven starres about the North pole, called Charlemaines waine. They bee of a yellow colour, and glitter like gold, so long as the Lampreis be alive: but with their life they vanish away and be no more seen, after they be dead. Vedius Pollio, a gentleman of Rome by calling, and one of the great favorites and followers of Augustus Cæsar, devised experiments of crueltie by the means of this creature. For he caused certain slaves condemned to die, to be put into the stewes where these Lampreies or Murænes were kept, to be eaten and devoured of them: not for that there were not wild beasts ynow upon the land for this feat, but because he tooke pleasure to behold a man, torne and pluckt in peeces all at once: which pleasant sighthe couldnot see by any other beasts upon the land. It is said, that if they eat vinegre of all things, they become enraged and mad. They have a very thin & tender skin: contrariwise yeeles haev as thicke and rough: and Verrius writeth, That boies under seventeen years of age, were wont to be swinged and whipped with yeeles skins, and therfore they were fred from all other mulct and punishments.
Of flat and broad fishes.
OF flat and broad fishes, there is another sort, which in lieu of a chine or backe bone have a gristle. As the Ray or Skait, the Puffin like unto it, the Maids or Thornebacke, and the Crampefish: moreover, those moreover, those which the Greekes have tearmed by the names of their sea Cow, their Dog-fish, their Ægle and Frog of the sea. In this ranke are to bee raunged the Squali also, albeit they are not so flat and broad. All this kind in generall, Aristotle hath called in Greeke Selache, and he was the first that gave them that name: wee in Latine cannot distinguish them, unlesse we call them all Cartilaginea, that is to say, Gristlyfish. But all the sort of them that devour flesh are such: and their manner is to feed lying backward, like as wee observed in the Dolphins. And whereas other fishes cast spawn, which resemble knots of egs; these gristly fishes only, as also those great ones which we calle Cere, i. Whales, bring forth their young alive: and yet I must except the one kind of them which they call Rana, i. the sea Frogs.
Of Echeneis, [i. the stay-ship.].
THERE is a very little fish, keeping ordinarily about rockes named Echeneis. It is thought that if it settle and sticke to the Keele of a ship under water, it goeth the slower by that meanes: whereupon it was so called: and for that cause also it hath but a bad name in matters of love, for enchanting as it were both men and women, and bereaving them of their heat & affection that way: as also in law cass, for delay of issues and judiciall trials. But both these imputations and slaunders, it recompenseth againe with one good vertue and commendable qualitie that it hath: For in women great with child, if it be applied outwardly, it staieth the dangerous fluxe of the wombe, and holdeth the child unto the full time of birth. Howbeit, it is not allowed for meat to bee eaten. Aristotle thinketh, that it hath a number of feet, the finnes stand so thicke one by another.
As for the shell-fish Murex, Matianus saith it is broader than the Purple, having a mouth neither rough nor round, ne yet with a becke pointed cornered wise, but plaine and even, having a shell, which on both sides windeth and turneth inward. These Fishes chaunced upon a time to cleave fast unto a ship, bringing messengers from Periander, with commission to gueld all the noblemens sonnes in Gnidos, and staied it a long time, notwithstanding it was under saile and had a strong gale of a fore-wind at the poupe. And hereupon it is, that these shell-fishes for that good service, are honoured with great reverence in the temple of Venus, among the Gnidians.
But to returne againe unt our Stay-ship Echeneis, Trebius Niger saith it is a foot long, and five fingers thick, and that oftentimes it staieth a ship. And moreover, as he saith, it hath this vertue, being kept in salt, to draw up gold that is fallen into a pit or well being never so deepe, if it be let downe, and come to touch it.
The changeable nature of Fishes.
THE Cackarels change their colour: for these fishes being white all Winter time, they waxe blacke when Summer commeth. Likewise, the Mole or Lepo called Phycis, doth alter her hue: for howsoever all the yeare besides it be white, in the Spring it is speckled. This is the onely Fish that buildeth upon the reites and mosse of the sea, and laieth her egs, or spawneth in her nest. The sea Swallow flieth: and it resembleth in all points the bird so called. The sea Kite doth the same.
Of the fish called the Lanterne, and the sea Dragon.
THERE is a Fish commeth ordinarily above the water, called Lucerna, for the resemblance which it hath of a light or lanterne. For it lilleth forth the tongue out of the mouth, which seemeth to flame and burne like fire, and in calme and still nights giveth light and shineth. There is another Fish that putteth forth hornes above the water in the sea, almost a foot and a halfe long, which thereupon tooke the name Cornuta. Againe, the sea Dragon if he be caught and let goe upon the sand, worketh himselfe an hollow trough with his snout incontinently, with wonderfull celeritie.
Of bloudleße fishes.
SOME Fishes there be which want bloud: whereof wee now will speake. Of them are three sorts. First, those which bee called Soft: secondly such as be covered with thin crusts: and in the last place, they that are enclosed within hard shels. Of the first sort, which be counted soft, are reckoned the sea Cut or Calamarie, the Cuttle, the Polype, & the rest of that sort. These have their head betweene their feet and the bellie, and every one of them have eight feet. As for the Cuttill and the Calamarie, have two feet apeece longer than the rest, and the same rough, wherewith they convey and reach meat to their mouths: and with those they stay themselves as it were with anchor hold against the surging waves: the rest of their feet bee small like haires, and with them they hunt and catch their prey.
Of the Calamarie, Cuttles, Polypes, and Boat-fishes called Nautils.
ALSO the Calamarie launceth himselfe out of the water, as if hee were an arrow: and even so doth little Scalops. The male of the Cuttles kind, are spotted with sundry colours more darke and blackish, yea and more firme and steadie, than the female. If the female be smitten with a Trout-speare, or such like three-forked weapon, they will come to aid and succor her, but shee againe is not so kind to them: for if the male be strucken, shee will not stand to it, but runneth away. But both of them, the one as well as the other, if they perceive that they be taken in such streights that they cannot escape, shed from them a certaine blacke humour like to inke, and when the water therewith is troubled and made duskish, therein they hide themselves, and are no more seene.
Of Polypes or Pourcontrels, there be sundrie kinds. They that keepe neere to the shoare are bigger than those that haunt the deepe. All of them help themselves with their finnes and arms, like as we doe with feet and hands: as for their taile, which is sharpe and two-forked, it serveth them in the act of generation. These Pourcontrels have a pipe in their back, by the help whereof they swim all over the seas; and if they can shift, one while to the right side, and another while to the left. They swim awrie or side-long with their head above, which is verie hard, and as it were puft up, so long as they be alive. Moreover, they have certaine hollow concavities dispearsed within their clawes or armes like to ventoses or cupping glasses, whereby they will sticke too, and cleave fast, as it were by sucking, to anything; which they claspe and hold so fast (lying upward with their bellies) that it cannot be plucked from them. They never settle so low as the bottome of the water: and the greater they be, the lesse strong they are to claspe or hold anything. Of all soft fishes, they only goe out of the water to drie land, especially into some rough place; for they cannot abide those that are plain and even. They live upon shell-fishes, and with their hairs or strings that they have, they will twine about their shells and cracke them in peeces: and therefore a man may know where they lie and make their abode, by a number of shells that lie before their nest. And albeit otherwise it be a very brutish and senslesse creature, so foolish withall, that it will swim and come to a mans hand; yet it seemeth after a sort to be wittie and wise, and keeping of house and maintaining a family: for all that they can take, they carrie home to their nest. When they have eaten the meat of the fishes, they throw the emptie shells out of dores, and lie as it were in ambuskado behind, to watch and catch fishes that swim thither. They chaunge their colour eftsoones, and resemble the place where they be, and especially when they be afraid. That they gnaw and eat their owne clawes and armes, is a meere untruth; for they be the Congres that doe them that shrewd turne: but true it is, that they will grow againe, like as the taile of snakes, adders, and lizards. But among the greatest wonders of Nature, is that fish, which of some is called Nautilos, of others Pompilos. This fish, for to come aloft above the water, turneth upon his backe, and raiseth or heaveth himselfe up by little and little: and to the end he might swim with more ease, as disburdened of a sinke, he dischargeth all the water within him at a pipe. After this, turning up his two foremost clawes or armes, hee displaieth and stretcheth out betweene them, a membrane or skin of a wonderfull thinnesse: this serveth him in stead of a saile in the aire above water: with the rest of his armes or clawes, he roweth and laboureth under water; and with his taile in the mids, hee directeth his course, and steereth as it were with an helme. Thus holdeth he on and maketh way in the sea, with a faire shew of a foist or galley under saile. Now if he be afraid of any thing in the way, hee makes no more adoe but draweth in water to ballaise his bodie, and so plungeth himselfe downe and sinketh to the bottome.
Of the many foot fish called Ozæna, of the Nauplius, and Locusts of the sea, or Lobster.
OF THE Polypus or Pourcontrell kind with many feet, is the Ozæna, so called of the strong savour of their heads, for which cause especially, the Lampreys follow in chase after him. As for the Many-feet or Pourcuttels, they lie hidden for two moneths togither: and above two yeers they live not. They die alwaies of a consumption or Phthysicke: the female sooner than the males, and ordinarily after that they have brought forth their young frie. I cannot overpasse but record the reports of Trebius Niger, one of the traine and retinue of L. Lucullus Proconsull in Boetica, which he upon his knowledge delivered as touching these Many-feet fishes called Polypi: namely, That they are most desirious and greedie of cockles, muscles, and such like shell-fishes: and they againe on the contrarie side, so soone as they feele themselves touched of the Polypes, shut their shels hard, and therewith cut asunder their clawes or armes that were gotten within: and thus fall they to feed upon those, who sought to make a prey of them. [Now in very truth these shell-fishes, all of them see not at all, neither have they any other sense, but tasting of their meat, and feeling of their drinke.] These Polypi fore-seeing all this, lie in wait to spie when the said cockles, &c. gape wide open, and put in a little stone betweene the shells, but yet beside the flesh and bodie of the fish, for feare least if it touched and felt it, she would cast it forth againe: thus they theeve, and without all daunger and in securitie get out the fleshie substance of the meat to devoure it: the poore cockles draw their shells together for to clasp them betweene (as is above-said) but all in vaine, for by reason of a wedge betweene, they will not meet close nor come neere togither. See how subtle and craftie in this point these creatures be, which otherwise are most sottish and senselesse. Moreover, the said Trebius Niger affirmeth, that there is not any other beast nor fish in the sea more daungerous to doe a man a mischiefe within the water, than is this Pourcuttle or Many-feet Polypus: for if he chaunce to light upon any of these dyvers under the water, or any that have suffered shipwracke and are cast away, hee assailes them in this manner: He catcheth fast hold of them with his clawes or armes, as if he would wrestle with them, and with the hollow concavities and nookes betweene, keepeth a sucking of them; and so long he sucketh and soketh their bloud (as it were cupping-glasses set to their bodies in divers places) that in the end he draweth them drie. But the onely remedie is this; to turne them upon their back, and then they are soon done and their strength gone: for let them lie so, they stretch out themselves abroad, and have not the power to claspe or comprehend any thing. And verily all living creatures in the sea love the smell of them exceeding well, which is the cause that fishers besmeare and annoint their nets with them, to draw and allure fishes thither.
The rest which mine author hath related as touching this fish, may seeme rather monstrous lies and incredible, than otherwise: for he affirmed, that at Carteia there was one of these Polypi, which used commonly to go forth of the sea, and enter into some of their open cesterns and vauts among their ponds and stewes; wherein they kept great sea-fishes, and otherwhiles would rob them of their salt-fish, and so go his waies againe: which hee practised so long, that in the end he gat himselfe the anger and displeasure of the masters and keepers of the said ponds and cesterns, with his continuall and immeasurable filching: wherupon they staked up the place and empalled it round about, to stop all passage thither. But this thiefe gave not over his accustomed haunt for all that, but made meanes by a certaine tree to clamber over and get to the fore-said salt-fish; and never could he be taken in the manner nor discovered, but that the dogges by their quicke sent found him out and bayed at him: for as he returned one night toward the sea, they assailed and set upon him on all sides, and thereiwth raised the foresaid keepers, who were affrighted at this so sodaine an alarme, but more at the straunge sight which they saw. For first and foremost this Polype fish was of an unmeasurable and incredible bignesse: and besides, hee was besmeared and beraied all over with the brine and pickle of the foresaid salt-fish, which made him both hideous to see to, and also to stinke withall most strongly. Who would ever have looked for a Polype there, or taken knowledge of him by such markes as these? Surely they thought no other, but that they had to deale and encounter with some monster: for with his terrible blowing and breathing that he kept, he drave away the dogges, and otherwhiles with the ends of his long stringed winding feet, he would lash and whip them; somtimes with his stronger clawes like arms he rapped and knocked them well and surely, as it were with clubs. In summe, he made such good shift for himselfe, that hardly and with much adoe they could kill him, albeit he received many a wound by trout-speares which they launced at him. Well, in the end his head was brought and shewed to Lucullus for a wonder, and as bigge it was a good round hogshead or barrell that would take and containe 15 Amphores: and his beards (for so Trebius tearmed his clawes and long-stringed feet) carried such a thicknes and bulke with them, that hardly a man could fathom one of them about with both his armes, such knockers they were, knobbed and knotted like clubs, and withall 30 foot long. The concavities within them, and hollow vessels like great basons, would hold four or five gallons apeece; and his teeth were answerable in proportion to the bignes of his bodie. The rest was saved for a wonder to be seen, and waighed 700 pound weight. This author of mine Trebius affirmeth, that Cuttels also and Calamaries have been cast upon that shore, full as bigge. Indeed, in our sea there be Calamaries taken of five cubits long, and Cutrels of twaine, in length: and these live not above two years.
Mutianus reporteth, that himselfe saw in Propontis another kind of fish, carrying as it were a ship of his owne, and making saile with it like to some galley; and a shell-fish it was, fashioned with a keele like to a barge or barke, with a poupe embowed and turned up: yea and armed as it were in the proe with a three-forked pike. Within which lay hidden (as he saith) another living creature called Nauplius, resembling a Cuttle-fish; and for no other reason in the world, but to make sport and play with it for companie. Now the manner of this pastime and sailing was in two sorts, for if it were a calme sea and the winds downe, the Nauplius afore-said, that went as a passenger in this shell, would put downe his feet into the water like ores, and row therewith; but if a gale of wind were aloft, he would stretch the same alength and make them serve instead of an helme to steere withall, and then the Coquill or shell-fish would spread and display it selfe like sailes, to gather wind: so as the one of them tooke a pleasure to carrie, in manner of the vessell; the other had his delight to labour as a mariner, and to direct withall like to a pilot. Thus these two fishes (otherwise senselesse and blockish) take their pleasure togither, unlesse peradventure it fall out unhappily (for certain it is such that such a sight as this presageth no good to sailers) that men marre their sport, and either part them asunder, or force them to sinke under water.
The Lobsters (being of that kind which wanteth bloud) have a tender and brittle crust to cover and defend them. For five moneths they lie hidden. The Crabs likewise, who at the same time keepe close and secret: and both of them in the beginning of every spring cast their old coats or shells as snakes do their skins, and take them that be new and fresh. All others of this kind swim within the water: but the Lobsters flote aloft, and creepe as it were upon the water. So long as they are secure of any feare and daunger, they go directly streight, letting down their horns at length along their sides, which naturally by themselves have a round point or bob at the end; but if they be in any feare, up goe those hornes straight, and then they creepe byas and go side-long. With these hornes they oftentimes maintaine battaile one with another. Of all creatures, this onely hath a tender and short kind of flesh, which in the seething will not hang togither, unlesse it be sodden alive in scalding water, and then it will be stiffe and callous as brawne.
Of Sea-crabs, Urchins of the sea, and great Urchins called Echinometræ.
AS FOR the Lobsters, they love rockes and stonie places: but Crabs delight in soft and delicate places. In winter, they seeke after the warme or sun-shine shore: but when summer is come, they retire into the coole and deepe holes in the shade. All the sort of them take harme and paire by winter: in autumne and spring, they battle and waxe fat; and especially when the moon is at the full: because that planet is comfortable in the night time, and with her warme light mitigateth the cold of the night. Of these Crab-fishes, there be many kinds: to wit, Lobsters, Creyvishes of the sea, Crabs of Barbarie called Majæ, Grampels, Grits or Pungiers, Crabs of Heraclea, yellow river Creyfishes, and divers others of more base account. As for the Lobsters they differ from the rest in taile. In Phnicia, there is a kind of Crabs called Hippe, or rather Hippeis (that is to say, Horses or Horsemen) which are so swift, that it is impossible to overtake them. Crabs live long: eight clees or feet they have apeece, all crooked and hooked: the female hath the fore-clee double, the male but single. Moreover, two of their legs or arms are forked and toothed like pincers. The upper part of these fore clawes doth stir: the nether part mooveth not. The right legge in them all is bigger than the left. When they come in skulls all togither (as somtimes they doe) they are not able to passe one by another the streights of the sea Pontus about Constantinople, whereupon they are forced to returne backe and fetch a compasse about, and the beaten way with their tracks may be seene. The least of all these kind of Crabs, is called Pinnotheres,** and for his smalnesse, most subject and exposed to take wrong. But as subtle and craftie he is, as he is little: for his manner is to shrowd and hide himselfe within the shels of emptie oysters: and ever as he groweth bigger and bigger, to goe into those that be wider. Crabs when they be affraid, will recule backward as fast as they went forward. They will fight one with another, and then yee shall see them jurre and butt with their hornes like rammes. Singular good they are against the biting and stinging of serpents. It is reported, that whiles the sunne is in the signe Cancer, the bodies within of dead Crabs that lie without the water upon the drie land, will turne to be Scorpions. Of the same sort that the Crabs be, are the Urchins of the sea called Echini; and these, in stead of feet, have certain pointed prickles. Their manner of going, is to roll themselves, and tumble round: and therefore many times shall ye find them with their pricks worne. And of this sort be they that are called Echinometræ. The longest prickles they have of all others, and the least shells or cases wherein they are. Neither are they all of the same colour of glasse: for about Torone they are found to be white, and have small pricks. They have all of them five egges when they lay, but they are bitter. Their mouths stand in the mids of their bodies, bending downward to the earth. It is said, that they have a fore-sight and knowledge beforehand, of a sea tempest: for by reason that they are so round, and therefore soon whirled and carried here and there, they fall then to labour and gather stones, wherewith they charge and peise their bodies as with ballast, that they may abide more stedfast, for that they are not willing to weare their pricks with rolling and turning over and over: which when the mariners and sailers perceived once, then presently they cast many ankers, and stay their ships.
Of Winkles, and sea-Snailes.
IN THE same ranke are to be reckoned the Winkles, as well of the land as the water. When they put themselves out of their shells, they thrust out two hornes that they have, and they will plucke them in againe when they list. Eies have they none to see withall; and therefore these little homes serve them in good stead, to sound as it were and trie the way as they go.
Of Scallops: of the greatest Winkle called Murex; and other kinds of shell-fishes.
THE great Scallops in the sea, are counted of the same race: which lie hidden also in the time aswell of great heat as cold. They have certaine nailes as it were, shining like fire in the night season: yea in their very mouthes that be eating of them. As for the Pourcelanes or Murices, they have a stronger skaled shell; as also all the kind of Winkles great & small. Wherein a man may see the wonderfull varietie of Nature in this play and pastime of hers, giving them so many and sundrie colours, with such diversitie of formes and figures: soe of them ye shall have flat and plaine, hollow, long, horned like the moone, croissant, full round, halfe round, an dcut as it were just through the mids, bow-backs and rising up, smooth, rough, toothed and indented like a saw, ridged and chamifined betweene, wrinkling and winding upward to the top like cakraps, bearing out sharpe points in the edges, without-forth broad and spread as large, within-forth rolled in plaits. Moreover, there be other distinct shapes, besides all these: some bee striped and raied with long streakes, others crested and blasing with a bush of long haire: some againe crisped and curled, others made like an hollow gutter or pipe; some fashioned as it were a combe, others waving with plaits one above another tile-wise, others framed in the manner of a net or lattise; some are wrought crooked and byas, others spread out directly in length. A man shall see of them, those that are made thicke and massie thrust togither and compact, others stretched forth at large: yee shall have of them wrapt and lapt one within another. And to conclude, ye shall find them run round into a short fast knot, and all their sides united togither in one: some flat and plaine, good to give a clap; others turning inward crooked like a cornet, made as it were to sound and wind withall. Of all these sorts, the Pourcelanes or Venias Winkles, swimme above the water, and with their concavitie and hollow part which they set into the weather, helpe themselves in stead of sailes, and so gathering wind, saile as it were aloft upon the sea. The manner of the Scalops is to skip, and otherwhiles they will leape forth of the water. They also can find the meanes to make a boat of themselves, and so flote above and saile handsomely.
The riches of the Sea.
BUT what meane I all this while to stand upon these small trifling matters, when as in very truth the overthrow of all honestie, the ruine of good manners, and in lieu thereof all ryot and superfluitie, proceedeth from these shell-fishes, and from nothing so much? For now the world is growne to this passe, that there is nothing in it whatsoever, so chargeable to mankind, nothing so hurtfull and daungerous, as is the very Sea, and that so many waies: namely, in furnishing the table with such varietie of dishes, in pleasing and contenting the tast with so many daintie and delicate fishes: and those carrie the highest price, that be gotten with the greatest hazard and daunger of those that take them: otherwise they be of no regard and value to speake of.
Of Pearles: how, and where they be found.
HOWBEIT all that before-named is nothing in comparison to the Puprles, precious Coquils, and Pearls that come from thence. It was not sufficient belike to bring the seas into the kitchin, to let them down the throat into the belly, unlesse men and women both carried them about in their hands and eares, upon their head, and all over their bodie. And yet what societie and affinitie is there betweene the sea and apparell? what proportion betweene the waves and surging billowes thereof, and wooll? For surely this Element naturally receiveth us not into her bosome, unlesse we be starke naked. And set the case that there were so great good fellowship with it, and our bellies; How commeth our backe and sides to be acquainted with it! But we were not contented to feed with the perill of so many men, unlesse we be clad and arraied also therewith. Oh the folly of us men! See how there is nothing that goeth to the pampering and trimming of this our carcasse, of so great price and account, that is not bought with the utmost hazard, and costeth not the venture of a mans life! But now to the purpose. The richest merchandise of all, and the moat soveraigne commoditie throughout the whole world, are these Pearles. The Indian Ocean is chiefe for sending them: and yet to come by them, wee must goe and search amongst those huge and terrible monsters of the sea, which we have spoken of before. We must passe over so many seas, and saile into farre countries so remote, and come into those parts where the heat of the sunne is so excessive and extreame: and when all is done, wee may perhaps misse of them: for even the Indians themselves are glad to seeke among the Ilands for them, and when they have done all they can, meet with very few. The greatest plentie of them is to be found in the coast of Taprobane and Toidis, as hath been said before in our Cosmographie and description of the world: and likewise about Perimula, a promontorie and citie of India. But the most perfect and exquisite of all others, be they that are gotten about Arabia, within the Persian gulfe of the red sea. This shell-fish which is the mother of Pearle, differs not much in the manner of breeding and generation, from the oysters: for when the season of the yeere requireth that they should engender, they seeme to yawne and gape, and so doe open wide; and then (by report) theyconceive a certaine moist dew as seed, wherewith they swell and grow bigges; and when time commeth, labour to be delivered hereof: and the fruitof these shell-fishes are the pearles, better or worse, great or small, according to the qualitie and quantitie of the dew which they received. For if the dew were pure and cleare which went into them, then are the pearles white, faire, and orient: if grosse and troubled, the pearles likewise are dimme, foule, and duskish; pale (I say) they are, if the weather were close, darke, and threatning raine in the time of their conception. Whereby no doubt it is apparent and plaine, that they participate most of the aire and skie, than of the water and the sea; for according as the morning is faire, so are they cleere: otherwise, if it were mistie and cloudie, they also will be thicke and muddie in colour. If they may have their full time and season to seed, the pearles also will thrive and grow bigge: but if in the time it chaunce to lighten, then they close their shells togither, and for want of nourishment are kept hungrie and fasting, and so the pearles keepe at a stay and prosper not accordingly. But if it thunder withall, then sodainly they shut hard at once, and breed onely those excrescences which be called Physemata, like unto bladders puft up and hooved with wind, and no corporall substance at all: and these are the abortive & untimely fruits of these shell-fishes. Now those that have their full perfection, and be sound and good indeed, have many folds and skins wherein they be lapt, not unproperly as it may be thoughte, a thicke, hard, and callous rind of the bodie, which they that be skilfull doe pill and cleanse from them. Certes, I cannot chuse but wonder how they should so greatly be affected with the aire, and joy so much therein: for with the same they wax red, and lose their native whitenesse and beautie, even as the bodie of a man or woman that is caught and burnt with the sunne. And therefore those shells that keepe in the maine sea, and lie deeper than that the sun-beames can pierce unto them, keepe the finest and most delicate pearles. And yet they, as orient as they be, waxe yellow with age, become riveled, and looke dead without any lively vigor: so as that commendable orient lustre (so much sought for of our great lords and costly dames) continueth but in their youth, and decaieth with yeeres. When they be old, they will proove thicke and grosse in the very shells, and sticke fast unto their sides, so as they cannot be parted from them, unlesse they be filed asunder. These have no more but one faire face, and on that side are round, for the backe part is flat and plaine; and hereupon such are called Tympania, as one would say, Bell pearles. We see daily of these shells which serve as boxes to carrie sweet perfumes and precious ointments, and most commendable they are for this gift, That in them there be pearles of this sort naturally growing together like twins. The pearle is soft and tender so long as it is in the water; take it forth once and presently it hardeneth. As touching the shell that is the mother of Pearle, assoone as it perceiveth and feeleth a mans hand within it, by and by she shutteth, and by that meanes hideth and covereth her riches within: for well woteth she that therefore she is sought for. But let the fisher looke well to his fingers, for if she catch his hand betweene, off it goeth: so trencant and sharpe an edge she carrieth, that is able to cut it quite a two. And verily this is a just punishment for the theefe, and none more: albeit shee be furnished and armed with other meanes of revenge. For they keep for the most part about craggie rockes, and are there found: and if they be in the deepe, accompanied lightly they are with curst Sea-dogs. And yet all this will not serve to skare men away from fishing after them: for why? our dames and gentlewomen must have their eares behanged with them, there is no remedie. Some say, that these mother-pearles have their kings and captaines, as Bees have: that as they have their swarmes led by a master Bee, so everie troupe and companie of these, have one speciall great and old one to conduct it; and such commonly have a singular dexteritie and woonderfull gift to prevent and avoid all daungers. These they be that the dyvers after pearles are most carefull to come by: for if they be once caught, the rest scatter asunder and be soone taken up within the nets. When they be thus gotten, it is said that they be put up into earthen pots and well covered with salt: and when the salt hath eaten and consumed all the flesh within, then certaine kernels that were within their bodies (and those be the verie pearles) fall downe and settle to the bottome of those pots: There is no doubt but with much use they will weare; yea and chaunge colours through negligaunce, if they be not well looked unto. Their chiefe reputation consisteth in these two properties, namely, if they be orient white, great, round, smooth, and weightie. Qualities, I may tell you, not easily to be found all in one: insomuch as it is impossible to find two perfectly sorted togither in all these points. And hereupon it is, that our dainties and delicates here at Rome, have devised this name for them, and call them Uniones; as a man would say, Singular, and by themselves alone. For surely the Greekes hae no such tearmes for them, neither know they how to call them, nor yet the Barbarians, who found them first out; otherwise than Margaritæ. In the very whitenesse it selfe, there is a great difference among them. That which is found in the red sea, is the clearest and more orient. As for the Indian pearle, it resembleth the skales and pates of the stone, called Specularis; howsoever otherwise it passeth all others in greatnesse. The most commendation that they have is in their colour, namely, if they may be truly called Exaluminati, i. orient and cleare as Alume. They that be goodly great ones, are commendable in their degree. As for those that are long and pointed upward, growing downward broader and broader like a peare, or after the manner of Alabaster boxes, full and round in the bottome, they be calledElenchi. Our dames take a great pride in a braverie, to have these not only dangling at their fingers, but also two or three of them together pendant at their eares. And names they have forsooth newly devised for them, when they serve their turne in this their wanton excesse and superfluitie of roiot: for when they knocke one against another as they hang at their eares or fingers, they call them Crotalia, i. Cymbals: as if they tooke delight to heare the sound of their pearles ratling together. Nowadaies also it is growne to this passe, that meane women and poore mens wives affect to weare them, because they would be thought rich: and a by-word it is amongst them, That a fair pearle at a womans eare is as good in the street where she goeth as an huisher to make way, for that every one will give such the place. Nay, our gentlewomen are come now to weare them upon their feet, and not at their shoe latchets onely, but also upon their startops and fine buskins, which they garnish all over with pearle. For it will not suffice nor serve their turne to carie pearles about them, but they must tread upon pearles, goe among pearles, and walke as it were on a pavement of pearles.
Pearles were wont to be found in our seas of Italie, but they were small and ruddie, in certaine little shell fishes which they call Myæ: but more plentie of such were taken up in the streights of Bosphorus neere Constantinople. Howbeit, in Acarnania there is a little Cochle called Pinna, [i. a Nacre,] which engendreth such. Wherby it may appeare, that there be more than one sort of Mother-pearles. For king Iuba likewise hath left in writing, that in Arabia there is a kind of shel-fish like unto a Scallop, save that it is not chamfred, but thick and rough like unto a sea Urcheon, which beareth Pearls within the very flesh of the fish, like unto hailestones. But now adaies there be no such mother-pearles come to our coasts. Neither be there found in Acarnania any of value and reputation. For why they are all in manner without proportion, neither round nor weightie, and of a marble colour. They rather about the cape of Actium are better, and yet they be but little ones: like as they also which are taken in the coasts of Mauritania. Alexander Polyhistor, and Sudines, are of opinion that they will age, and in the end loose their colour. That they be solide and not hollow within, is evident by this, that with no fall they will breake. But they bee not alwaies found in the middest of the flesh within the mother-pearles, but here & there, sometime in one place, and sometime in another. Verily I have seene of them about the brim and edges of the shell, as if they were readie to goe foorth: and in some foure, in others five together. Unto this day few of them have beene knowne to weigh above halfe an ounce and one scrriptule. In Brittaine*** it is certaine that some do grow; but they bee small, dim of colour, and nothing orient. For Iulius Cæsar (late Emperour of famous memorie) doth not dissimule, that the cuirace or breast-plate which hee dedicated to Venus Mother within her temple, was made of English pearles.
I my selfe have seene Lollia Paulina (late wife, and after widdow, to Caius Caligula the emperor) when shee was dressed and set out, not in stately wise, nor of purpose for some great solemnitie, butonly when she was to goe unto a wedding supper, or rather to a feast when the assurance was made, and great persons they were not that made the said feast: I have seen her, I say, so beset and bedeckt all over with hemeraulds and pearles, disposed in rewes, rankes, and courses one by another: round about the attire of her head, her cawle, her borders, her perruke of hair, her bongrace and chaplet; at her ears pendants, about her neck in a carcanet, upon her wrest in bracelets, & on her fingersin rings, that she glitrered & shone againe like the sun as she went. The value of these ornaments, she esteemed and rated at 400 hundred thousand Sestertij: and offered openly to prove it out of hand by her books of accounts and reckonings. Yet were not these jewels the gifts and presents of the prodigall prince her husband, but the goods and ornaments from her owne house, fallen unto her by way of inheritance from her grandfather, which hee had gotten together even by the robbing and spoiling of whole provinces. See what the issue and end was of those extortions and outrageous exactions of his: this was it, that M. Lollius slandered and defamed for receiving bribes and presents of the kings in the East, and being out of favor with G. Cæsar, sonne of Augustus, and having lost his amitie, dranke a cup of poyson, and prevented his judiciall triall: that for sooth his neece Lollia, all to be hanged with jewels of 400 hundred thousand Sestertij, should bee seene glittering, and looked at of every man by candlelight all a supper time.
If a man would now of the one side reckon what great treasure either Curius or Fabricius carried in the pompe of their triumphs, let him cast a proffer and imagine what their shewes were, what their service at the table was: and on the other side, make an estimate of Lollia, one only woman, the dowagier of an Emperour, in what glorie she sitteth at the bourd; would not he wish rather, that they had been pulled out of their chariots, and never triumphed, than that by their victories the state of Rome should have growne to this wastfull excesse and intollerable pride? And yet this is not the greatest example that can be produced of excessive riot and prodigalitie.
Two onely Pearles there were together, the fairest and richest that ever have beene knowne in the world: and those possessed at one time byCleopatra the last queene of Ægypt; which came into her hands by the means of the great kings of the East, and were left unto her by descent. This princesse, when M. Antonius had strained himselfe to doe her all the pleasure hee possibly could, and had feasted her day by day most sumptuously, & spared no cost: in the height of her pride and wanton braverie (as being a noble curtezan, and a queene withall) began to debase the expence and provision of Antonie, and made no reckoning of all his costly fare. When he thereat demaunded againe how it was possible to goe beyond this magnificence of his: she answered againe, that she would spend upon him in one supper 100 hundred thousand Sestertij. Antonie, who would needs know how that might bee (for hee thought it was unpossible) laid a great wager with her about it; and she bound it againe, and made it good. The morrow after, when this was to be tried, and the wager either to bee won or lost, Cleopatra made Antonie a supper (because she would not make default, and let the day appointed to passe) which was sumptuous and roiall ynough: howbeit, there was no extraordinarie service seene upon the bourd: whereat Antonius laughed her to scorne, and by way of mockerie required to see a bill with the account of the particulars. She againe said, that whatsoever had been served up alreadie, was but the overplus above the rate and proportion in question, affirming still, that shee would yet in that supper make up the full summe that shee was seazed at: yea, her selfe alone would eat above that reckoning, and her owne supper should cost 600 hundred thousand Sestertij: and with that commaunded the second service to bee brought in. The servitours that waited at her trencher (as they had in charge before) set before her one onely crewet of sharpe vineger, the strength whereof is able to resolve pearles. Now she had at her eares hanging those two most precious pearles, the singular and onely jewels of the world, and even Natures wonder. As Antonie looked wistly upon her, and expected what shee would doe, shee tooke one of them from her eare, steeped it in the vineger, and so soon as it was liquefied, dranke it off. And as she was about to do the like by the other, L. Plancus12 the judge of that wager, laid fast hold upon it with his hand, and pronounced withall, That Antonie had lost the wager. Whereat the man fell into a passion of anger. There was an end of one pearle: but the fame of the fellow thereof may goe with it: for after that this brave queen the winner of so great a wager, was taken prisoner and deprived of her roiall estate, that other peare was cut in twaine, that in memoriall of that one halfe supper of theirs, it should remaine unto posteritie, hanging at both the eares of Venus at Rome, in the temple Pantheon. And yet as prodigall as these were, they shall not goe away with the prize in this kind, but shall loose the name of the cheefe and principall, in superfluitie of expence. For long before their time, Clodius the sonne of Aesope the Tragedian Poet, the only heire of his father; who died exceeding wealthie, practised the semblable in two pearles of great price: for that Antonie needeth not to be over prowd of his Triumvirate, seeing that hee hath to match him in all his magnificence, one little better than a stage-plaier: who upon no wager at all laid, (and that was more princely, and done like a king) but only in a braverie, and to know what tast pearles had, mortified them in vinegre, and drunke them up. And finding them to content his palat wonderous well, because hee would not have all the pleasure by himselfe, and know the goodnesse thereof alone, he gave to every guest at his table one pearle apeece to drinke in like manner.
Fenestella writeth, that after Alexandria was conquered and brought under obedience to the Romans, Pearles were rife at Rome, and commonly used of every man: also, that about the troublesome time of Sylla they began first to be in request: and those were but small ones, and of no price. Howbeit, he is grossely deceived, and in a great error. For Ælius Stilo doth report in his Chronicle, that in the time of the warre against Iugurtha, the faire and goodly great Pearles began to be named Uniones.
These Pearles (to say a truth) are of the nature (in a manner) of an inheritance to descend by perpetuitie. They follow commonly in right the next heires. When they passe in sale, they goe with warrantize, in as solemne manner as a good lordship.
As for the rich Purples, and the pretious Conchyles, every coast is full of them. And yet to that excesse and prodigalitie we are now growne, and our wanton roiot (the mother of all inordinate and wastfull expence) hath made them well neere as deere as Pearles.
The nature of purple fishes, and the Murex or Burret.
PURPLES live ordinarily seven yeares. They lie hidden for thirtie daies space about the dog daies, like as the Murices or Burrets doe. They meet together by troupes in the spring, and with rubbing one against another, they gather and yeeld a certaine clammie substance and moisture in manner of waxe. The Murices doe the like. But that beautifull colour, so much in request for dying of fine cloth, the Purples have in the midst of their neck and jawes. And nothing else it is, but a little thin liquor within a white veine: and that is it which maketh that rich, fresh, and bright colourof deepe red purple roses. As for all the rest of this fish, it yeeldeth nothing. Fishers strive to take them alive, for when they die, they cast up and shed that precious teinture and juice, together with their life. Now the Tyrians, when they light upon any great Purples, they take the flesh outof their shels, for to get the bloud out of the said vein: but the lesser, they presse and grind incertainem illes, and so gather that rich humour which issueth from them. The best purple colour in Asia is this, thus gotten at Tyros. But in Affricke, within the Island Merinx, and the coast of the Ocean by Getuliia. And in Europe, that of Laconica. This is that glorious colour, so full of state and majestie, that the Roman Lictors with their rods, halberds, and axes, make way for: this is it that graceth and setteth out the children of princes and noblemen: this maketh the distinction betweene a knight and consellor of state: this is called for and put on when they offer sacrifice to pacifie the gods: this giveth a lustre to all sorts of garments: and to conclude, our great Generals of the field, and victorious captaines in their triumphs weare this purple in their mantels, enterlaced and embrodered with gold among. No marvell therefore if Purples be so much sought for: and men are to be held excused, if they runne a madding after Purples. But how should the other shell-fishes called Conchylia, be so deere and high prised, considering the teincture of them carrieth so strong and stinking a savor, so sullen and melancholie a colour, enclining to a blew or watchet, and resembling rather the angrie and raging sea in a tempest? But to come unto the particular description. The Purple hath a tongue of a finger long, pointed in the end so sharpe, and so hard withall, that it is able to bore an hole and pierce into other shell-fishes, and thereby she feeds and gets her living. In fresh water they will die all, or if they be plunged and throwne in any river: otherwise, after they be taken, they will continue alive fiftie daies; even with that viscous and slime humor of their owne. All shell-fish in generall grow apace in a very small time: but Purples soonest of all others: for in one yeare they will come to their full bignesse. Now, if I should lay a straw here, and proceed no further in this discourse of Purples and such like, surely our luxurious and roiotous spendthrifts would thinke they had great wrong, and were defrauded of their right: they might I say complaine of me, and condemne me of idlenesse and negligence. Therefore I care not much to put my head within the diers shops and work-houses: that like as every man for the necessitie of this life, knoweth how the price of corne goeth, even so our fine folke and brave dainties, who take such pleasure and delight in these colours, may bee perfect what is the reason of this their onely life. In the first place, these shell-fishes that serve either for purple colours, or other lighter dies of the Conchylia, are all one in matter: the difference onely is in temperature more or lesse. And indeed, reduced they may all bee into two principall sorts. For the lesse shell called Buccinum, fashioned like unto that horne or cornet, wherewith they use to wind and sound, whereupon it tooke that name, hath a round backe, and is cut like a saw in the edges. The other is named Purpura, shooteth out a long becke like a guttur, and within the one side it doth writh and turne hollow in forme of a pipe, out of which the fish putteth forth a tongue. Moreover, this Purple is bestudded (as it were) even as far as to the sharpe top or turbant thereof round about with sharpe knobs pointed, lightly seven in number: which the sea-cornet Buccinum hath not. But this is common to both, that looke how many roundles they have like tendrils clasping about them, so many yeares old they bee. As for the Cornet Buccinum, it sticketh alwaies to great stones and rockes, and therefore is ever found and gathered about them.
How many sorts there be of Purples.
PURPLES have another name, and be called Pelagiæ, as one would say, Fishes of the deepe sea. But in truth there be many sorts of them, & those differing either in place where they keepe, or in food whereof they live. The first Lutense, i. muddie, because it is nourished of the corrupt and rotten mud: a second Algense (the worst of all) feeding upon reites or sea weeds named Alga: the third, Tæniense, (better than the former twaine) for that it is gathered and taken up about the brimmes and borders of the sea, called for the resemblance of fillets or lists in a cloth, Tæniæ. And yet this kind yeeldeth but a light colour, and nothing deepe. There be of them also which they tearme Calculosæ, of the sea gravell, which is wonderous good for all these kind of wilkes and shell fishes. And last of all, which simply bee the very best, the Purples Dialetæ, that is to say, wandering too and fro, chaunging their pasture, and feeding in sundrie soiles of the sea, [the muddie, the weedie, and the gravelly.] Now these Purples are taken with small nets, and thin wrought, cast into the deepe. Within which, for a bait to bite at, there must be certaine winckles and cockles, that will shut and open, and be readie to snap, such as we see these limpins be, called Mituli. Halfe dead they should be first, that being new put into the sea againe, and desirous to revive and live, they might gape for water: and then the Purples make at them with their pointed tongue, which they thrust out to annoy them: but the other feeling themselves pricked therewith, presently shut their shels together, and bite hard. Thus the Purples for their greedinesse are caught and taken up, hanging by their tongues.
The fishing time for Purples.
THE BEST time to take Purples, is after the dog star is risen, and before the Spring. For, when they have made that viscous muscilage in manner of waxe, their juice and humor for colour is overliquid, thin, and waterish. And yet the purple diers know not so much, nor take heed thereof, whereas indeed the skill thereof is a speciall point of their art, and wherein lieth all in all. Well, when they are caught, as is abovesaid, they take forth that veine before mentioned: and they lay it in salt, or else they doe not well: with this proportion ordinarily, namely, to every hundred weight of the Purple liquor, a Sestier or pint and halfe of salt. Full three daies and no more it must thus lie soking in powder. For the fresher that the colour is, so much is it counted richter and better. This done, they seeth it in leads, and to every Amphore, (i. which containeth about eight wine gallons) they put one hundred pound and a halfe just, of the colour so prepared. Boile it ought with a soft and gentle fire, and therefore the tunnell or mouth of the furnace must be a good way off from the lead and chawdron. During which time, the workemen that tend the lead, must eftsoones skim off and cleanse away the fleshie substance, which cannot chase but sticke to the veines which containeth the juice or liquor of purple beforesaid. And thus they continue ten daies, by which time ordinarily the lead or vessell will shew the liquor cleere, as it were sufficiently boiled. And to make a triall thereof, they dip into it a fleece of wooll well rensed and washt outof one water into another: and untill such time, that they see it give a perfect die, they still plie the fire, and give it a higher seething. That which staineth red is nothing so rich as that which giveth the deepe and sad blackish colour. When it is come to the perfection, they let the wooll lie to take the liquor five houres: then they have it forth, touse, and card it; and put it in againe, untill it hath drunke up all the colour, as much as it will. Now this is to be observed, that the sea cornet Buccinum maketh no good colourof it selfe: for their die will shed and loose the lustre. And therfore usually they joine to it the sea Purple Pelagium, which maketh too deepe and browne a colour: unto which it giveth a fresh and lively teinture, as it were in graine, and so maketh that sad purple which they desire. Thus by mixing and medling the force of both together, they mend one another, while the lightnesse or sadnesse of the one doth quicken and raise, or else dorr and take downe the colour of the other. To the dying of a pound of wooll, they use this proportion of two hundred Buccina or sea Cornets, joined with a hundred and eleven Pelagian Purples. And so commeth that rich Amethyst or puple violet colour, so highly commended above all other. But the Tyrians make their deepe red purple, by dipping the wooll first in the liquor of the Pelagian purples onely, whiles it is not throughly boiled to the heigth, but as it were greene yet and unripe; and thereof they let it take what it can drinke. Soone after they change it into another caudron or lead, where the colour of the sea cornets alone is boiled. And then is it thought to have a most commendable and excellent die, when it is as deepe a red as bloud that is cold and setled, blackish at the first sight, but looke betweene you and the light, it carieth a bright and shining lustre. And hereupon it is, that Homer calleth bloud, Purple.
When they began at Rome to weare Purple first.
I FIND in Chronicles, that Purple hath ben used in Rome time out of mind. Howbeit, king Romulus never ware it butin his roiall habite or mantell of estate, called Trabea. And well known it is, That Tullus Hostilius was the first Romane king, who after he had subdued the Tuscanes, put on the long purple robe named Pretexta, and the cassock broched and studded with scarlet in broad guards. Nepos Cornelius who died in the daies of Augustus Cæsar the Emperour, When (quoth he) I was a young man, the light violet purple was rife and in greater request, and a pound of it was sold for a hundred deniers:¶ and not long after the Tarentine red purple or skarlet was much called for, and of the same price. But after it, came the fine double died purple of Tyros, called Dibapha: and a man could not buy a pound of it for a thousand deniers,¶¶ which was the price of ten pound of the other. P. Lentulus Spinther in his Ædileship of the chaire, first ware a long robe embrodered with it, and was checked and blamed therefore. But now adaies (quoth Nepos) what is he that will not hang his parlour and dining chamber therewith, and have carpets, cushins, and cup-bord clothes thereof? And it is no longer agoe with Spinther was Ædile, than in the seven hundreth year after the foundation of Rome, even when Cicero was Consull. This purple in those daies was called Dibapha, i. twice died: and that was counted a matter of great cost, & very stately withall and magnificent. But now yee shall have no purple cloths at all ofany reckoning; but they have their double die. As for the cloth died with the purple of the shell-fish Conchylia, the manner of making the colour, and dying in all respects is the same, save that there be no sea Cornets used thereto. Moreover, the juice or liquor for that colour, is tempered with water in stead of the filthie pisse and urine of a man, altogether used in the other: and therein is sodden but the halfe proportion of colours to the foresaid tinctures. And thusis made that light pale stammell so highly commended, for being short of the deepe rich colour: and the lesse while that the wooll was suffered to drinke the fill, the more bright and fresh it seemeth.
The prices of wooll, died with these colours.
AS FOR these colours, they are valued deerer or cheaper, according to the coasts where these fishes are gotten more or lesse. Howbeit, it was never knowne that in any place, a pound of the right purple wooll, died with the Pelagian colour, or of the colour it selfe, was more worth thatn five hundred Sesterces:¶¶¶ nor a pound of the Cornets purple cost above one hundred. I would they knew so much that pay so deere for these wraes by retale here at home, and cannot have them, but at an excessive rate. But here is not all, neither is this an end of expence that way, for one sstill draweth on another: and men have a delight to spend and lay on still oe thing after another: to make mixtures and mixtures again, and so to sophsticate the sophistications of Nature: as namely to paint and die their seelings, and even the very embowed roufes and arches in building: to mixe and temper gold and silver together, and therewith to make an artificiall mettall Electrum: and by adding brasse or copper thereto, to have another mettal, counterfeiting the Corinthian vessels.16
The manner of dying the Amethyst, Violet, or Purple, the Chrymson and Scarlet in graine, and the light Stammell or Lustie-gallant.
IT WOULD not suffice our prodigall spendthrifts to rob the precious stone Amethyst of his name, and to applie it to a colour: but when they had a perfect Amethyst die, they must have it to bee drunken againe with the Tyrian purple, that they might have a superfluous and double name compounded of both (Tyriamethystus) correspondent to their two fold cost and duple superfluitie. Moreover, after they have accomlished fully the colour of the Conchylium, they are not content untill they have a second die in the Tyrian purple lead. It should seeme, that these double dies and compounded colours, came first from the errour and repentance of the workeman when his hand missed: and so was forced to change and alter that which hee had done before, and utterly misliked. And hereof forsooth is come now a prettie cunning and art thereof: & the monstrous spirites of our wastfull persons are growne to wish and desire that, which was a fault amended first: and seeing the two-fold way of a double charge and expence troden before them by the diers, have found the meanes to lay colour upon colour, and to over cast and strike a rich die with a weaker, so that it might be called a more pleasant and delicate colour. Nay it will not serve their turne to mingle the abovesaid tinctures of of sea-fishes, but they must also doe the like by the die of land-colours: for when a wooll or cloth hath taken a crimson or skarlet in graine, it must be died again in the Tyrian purple, to make (I would not els) the light, red, and fresh Lustie-gallant.
As touching the Graine serving to this tincture, it is red, and commeth out of Galatia, (as we shall shew in our storie of earthly plants) or else about Emerita in Portugall, & that of all other is of most account. But to knit up in one word these noble colours, note this, That when this Graine is but of one yeares age, it maketh but a weake tincture; but after foure years, the strength thereof is gone. So that neither young nor old is it of any great vertue. Thus I have sufficiently and at large treated of those meanes which men and women both, so highly esteeme, and thinke to make most for their state and honourable port, and setting out of themselves in the best maner.
Of the Nacre, and his guide or keeper, Pinnoter: and the perceivance of fishes.
THE Nacre also called Pinnæ, is of the kind of shell-fishes. It is alwaies found and caught in muddie places, but never without a companion, which they call Pinnoter or Pinnophylax. And it is no other but a little shrimpe, or in some places, the smallest crabbe; which beareth the Nacre companie, and waiteth upon him for to get some victuals. The nature of the Nacre is to gape wide, and sheweth unto the little fishes her seelie bodie, without any eie at all. They come leaping by and by close unto her: and seeing they have good leave, grow so hardie and bold, as to skip into her shell and fill it full. The shrimp lying in spiall, seeing this good time and opportunitie, giveth token thereof to the Nacre secretly with a little pinch. She hath no sooner this signall, but she shuts her mouth, and whatsoever was within, crushes and killeth it presently: and then shee devides the bootie with the little crab or shrimpe, her sentinell and companion. I marvell therefore so much the more at them who are of opinion, that fishes and beasts in the water have no sence. Why, the very Crampe-fish Torpedo, knoweth her owne force & power, and being her selfe not benummed, is able to astonish others. She lieth hidden over head and eares within the mud unseene, readie to catch those fishes, which as they swim over her, be taken with a nummednesse, as if they were dead. There is no meat in delicate tendernesse, preferred before the liver of this fish. Also the fish called the sea-Frog, (and of others, the sea-Fisher) is as craftie every whit as the other: It puddereth in the mud, and troubleth the water, that it might not bee seene: and when the little seely fishes come skipping about her, then she puts out her little hornes or Barbils which shee hath bearing forth under her eies, and by little and little tilleth and tolleth them so neere, that she can easily seaze upon them. In like manner, the Skate and the Turbot lie secret under the mud, putting out their finnes, which stirre and crawle as if it were some little wormes; and all to draw them neare, that she might entrap them. Even so dooth the Ray fish or Thorn-backe. As for the Puffen or Fork-fish, hee lieth in await like a theefe in a corner, readie to strike the fishes that passe by with a sharpe rod or pricke that hee hath, which is his weapon. In conclusion, that this fish is very subtile and craftie, this is a good proofe, That being of all others most heavie and slow, they are found to have in their bellie the Mullets, which of all others be the swiftest in swimming.
Of the Scolopendres, the sea-Foxes, and the Glanis.
THESE Scolopendres of the sea, are like to those long earewigs of the land, which they call Centipedes, or many-feet. The maner of this fish is this, when she hath swallowed an hook to cast up all her guts within, untill she hath discharged her selfe of the said hooke, and then she suppeth them in againe. But the sea-Foxes in the like danger have this cast with them, namely to gather in and let it go downe into the throat more and more still of the line, untill he come to the weakest part thereof, which he may easily fret and gnaw asunder. The Glanis is more slie and warie than they both: for his propertie is to bite at the backe of the hooke, and not to goble it up whole, but nibble away all the bait, and leave the hooke bare.
Of the Ram-fish.
THIS fish is a very strong theefe at sea, and makes foule worke where he commeth: for one while he squatteth close under the shade of bigge ships that ride at anker in the bay, where he lieth in ambush to wait when any man for his pleasure would swim and bath himselfe, that so he might surprise them: otherwhiles he putteth out his nose above the water, to spie any small fisher boats comming, & then he swimmeth close to them, overturneth and sinketh them.
Of those that have a third or middle nature, and are neither creatures nor yet Plants: also of the sea-Nettle-fishes, and Spunges.
I VERILY for my part am of opinion, that those which properly are neither beasts nor plants, but of a third nature betweene or compounded of both (the sea-Nettles I meane, and Sponges) have yet a kind of sense with them. As for those Nettles, there be of them that in the night raunge too and fro, and likewise chaunge their ccolour. Leaves they carrie of a fleshie substance, and of flesh they feed. Their qualitie is to raise an itching smart, like for all the world to the weed on the land so called. His manner is, when he would prey, to gather in his bodie as close, streight, and stiffe, as possibly may be. He spieth not so soone a silly little fish swimming before him, but hee spreadeth and displaieth those leaves of his like wings; with them he claspeth the poore fish, and so devoureth it. At other times, he lieth as if he had no life at all in him, suffering himselfe to be tossed and cast too and fro among the weeds, with the waves of the sea; and looke what fish soever he toucheth as he is thus floting, hee setteth a smart itch upon them, and whiles thy scratch and rub themselves against the rocks for this itch, he setteth upon them and eateth them. In the night season, he laieth for sea Urchins and Scalops. When he feeleth ones hand to touch him, he chaungeth colour, and draweth himselfe in close togither on a heap: and no sooner toucheth he one, but the place will itch, sting, and be readie to blister: make not good hast to catch him quickly, he is hidden out of hand and gone. It is thought verily, that his mouth lyeth in his foot, and that hee voided his excrements at a small pipe or issue above, where those fleshie leaves are.
Of Spunges, we find three sorts: the first thicke, exceeding hard, and rough; and this is called Tragos: a second, not all so thick, and somewhat softer; and this is named Manon: the third is fine and yet compact, wherewith they make sponges to cleanse and scoure withall, and this is tearmed Achilleum. They grow all upon rocks: and are fed with wilkes or shell-fish, with naked fish and mud. That they are not senslesse, appeareth hereby, for that when they feele that one would plucke them away, they draw in and retire back hard, so as with greater difficultie they are pulled from the rocke. The like doe they when they be beaten upon with waves. That they live upon some food, it is manifest by the little coquill and muscle shells that be found within them. And some say, that about Torone they continue still alive after they be plucked from the rocks: and that of the roots which are left behind, they grow againe. Moreover, upon those rocks from whence they be pulled, there is to be seen as it were some blood sticking; and especially in those of Affricke, which breed among the Syrtes. The Manæ, which otherwise be the least, become very great and most soft withall, about Lycia. But they be more delicate which are nourished in the deepe gulfes, where least wind or none is stirring. The rough kind, are in Hellespont: and the fine and massie, about the cape Malea. In sun-shine places they will corrupt and putrifie; and therefore the best are in the deepe gulfes and creeks, not exposed to the sun. They be of the same duske and blackish colour when they live, as they are afterwards being soked and full of moisture. They cleave to rockes neither by any one part, nor yet entire and whole all over: for there are betweene, certaine void pipes foure or five commonly, by which they are supposed to receive their food and nourishment. There be more of these pipes and concavities, but above they are grown togither hard and not hollow. A certaine pellicle or thin skin a man may perceive them to have at their roots. For certein it is knowne, that they live long. The worst kind of them all, be those that are called Aplysiæ, because unneth they may be separated, nor cleansed and made cleane, they are so foule: for great pipes they have: thick they are besides throughout, and very massie.
Of Hound-fishes, or Sea-dogs.
THE dyvers that use to plunge downe into the sea, are annoyed very much with a number of Sea-hounds that come about them, and put them in great jeopardie. And they say, that these fishes have a certain dim cloud or thin web, growing and hanging over their heads, resembling broad, flat, and gristly fishes, which clingeth them hard, and hindreth them from retiring backe and giving way. For which cause the said dyvers (as themselves say) carrie downe with them certaine sharpe prickes or goads fastened to long poles: for unlesse they be proked at and pricked with them, they will not turne their backe, by reason (as I suppose) of a mist before their eyes, or rather of some feare and amazednes that they be in. For I never heard of any man that found the like cloud or mist (for this tearme they give unto that unhappie thing whatever it be) in the raunge of living creatures. But yet much adoe they have and hard hold with these Hound-fishes notwithstanding: for they lay at their bellies and groines, at their heeles, and snap at everie part of their bodies that they can perceive to be white. The onely way and remedie is to make head directly affront them, and to begin with them first, and so to terrifie them: for they are not so terrible to a man, but they are as fraid of him againe. Thus within the deepe they are indifferently even matched: but when the dyvers mount up and rise againe above water, then there is some ods betweene, and the man hath the disadvantage, and is in more daunger; by reason that whiles he laboureth to get out of the water, he faileth of means to encounter with the beast, against the streame and sourges of the water. And therefore his onely recourse is, to have helpe and aid from his fellowes in the ship: for having a cord tied at one end about his shoulders, he shaketh it with his left hand, to give signe in what daunger hee is, whiles he maintaineth sight with the right, by taking into it the puncheon with the sharp point beforesaid; and so at the other end they draw him to them: and they need otherwise to pull and hale him but softly: mary when he is neere once to the ship, unlesse they give him a sodaine jerke and snatch him up quickly, they may be sure to see him worried and devoured before their face: yea and when they are at the point to be plucked up, and even now readie to goe abourd, they are many times caught away out of their fellowes hands, if they bestirre not themselves the better, and put their owne good will to the helpe of them within the ship; namely, by plucking up their legges and gathering their bodies nimbly togither round as it were in a ball. Well may some from shipbourd proke at the dogges aforesaid with forkes; others thrust at them with Trout speares and such like weapons, and all never the neare: so craftie and cautelous is this foule beast, to get under the very bellie of the barke, and so maintaine combat in safetie. And therfore, all the care that these fishers have, is to provide for this mischiefe, and to lie in wait for to entrap thse fell, unhappie, and shrewd monsters.
Of those fishes that lie within a stonie and hard flintie shell: also of those that have no sense: and of other nastie and filthie creatures.
THE greatest securitie that fishers and dyvers have of safetie, is when they see the broad flat gristly fishes: for certaine it is, that they be never in any place, where hurtfull and noisome beasts doe haunt: which is the cause that these dyvers which ducke and plunge for sponges, call those fishes Sacred.
We must needs confesse, that fishes within stone shells, have small or no sense, as namely oysters. Many are of the nature of very Plants, to wit, those that they call Holothuria: also Pulmones, resembling the lungs of a beast: and Star-fishes, made in forme of starres (such stars I meane as it pleaseth the painter to draw.) In summe, what is there not bred within the sea? Even the verie fleas that skip so merrily in summer time within victualling houses and Innes, and bite so shrowdly: as also lice that love best to lie close under the haire of our heads, are there engendred and to be found: for many a time the fishers twitch up their hookes, and see a number of these skippers and creepers settled thicke about their baits which they laid for fishes. And this vermin is thought to trouble the poore fishes in their sleep by night within the sea, as well as us on land. Last of all, some fishes there be, which of themselves are given to breed fleas and lice, among which the Chalcis, a kind of Turbot, is one.
Of venimous Sea-fishes.
MOREOVER, the sea is not without her deadly poisons: for the Sea-hare, which keepeth in the Indian sea, is so venimous, that the very touching of him is pestiferous; and presently causeth vomiting and over-turning of the stomacke, not without great daunger. They which be found in our sea, seeme to be a peece or lumpe of flesh without all forme and fashion, in colour onely resembling the land Hare. But with the Indians they be full as big, and resemble their Hare, onely it is more stiffe and hard. And verily they cannot possibly be taken there alive. The dragon or spider of the sea, is as daungerous and mischievous a creature as the other: and with the pricks that sticke forth of his chine and back-bone, he doth much hurt. But in no place is there any more detestable and pernicious, than is the pike that standeth out upon the taile of Trigonius, which we in Latine call Pastinaca, i. the Puffin or Forkfish of the sea; the which pike is five inches long. So venimous it is, that if it be strucken into the root of a tree, it killeth it: it is able to pierce a good cuirace or jacke of buffe, or such like, as if it were an arrow shot or a dart launced: but besides the force and power that it hath that way answerable to yron and steele, the wound that it maketh, is therewith poisoned.
Of fishes diseases.
WEE doe not here or read, that all sorts of fishes in generall be subject to maladies and diseases, as other beasts, and even those that are wild and savage. But that this or that fish in every kind may be sicke, it appeareth evidently, that some of them mislike and come to be carrion leane; whereas others of the same sort, be taken, not only in good plight but exceeding fat.
The wonderfull manner of their generation.
IN WHAT sort fishes doe engender, if I should not in this place shew, but put it off further, I should doe great wrong to mankind, who desire to know it, as much as they wonder how it should be. In one word, fishes engender by the friction and rubbing of their bellies one against another: which they performe with such celeritie, that no eye is so quicke as to note and observe it. Dolphins, and other great Whales, have no other way but that, mary they are longer somewhat about their businesse. The spawner, when the time serveth for generation, followeth after the male, and never linneth pecking and jobbing at his bellie with her muzzle. Semblably a little before spawning time, the milters follow after the female, only for that they would eat their spawne when they have cast it. But this is to be noted moreover, that the foresaid mixture and engendring of theirs is not sufficient for to accomplish generation, unlesse when their egges be laid or spawne cast, both male and female take it between them and keep a turning of it, thereby to breath a lively spirit into it, and as it were besprinkle it with a vitall dew, as it floteth upon the water. But turne they it and tosse it, breath they upon it as much as they will, yet all those little egs of their spawne doe not hit and come to proofe: for if they did, all seas and lakes, and all rivers and pooles would be so pestered full with fishes, that a man should see nothing els: for there is not one of these females, but at once conceiveth an infinite number in her bellie.
More as touching the generation of fishes, and which they be that doe spawne in manner of egs. .
THE spawne or egs of fishes in the sea, doe grow unto perfection, some of them exceeding soone, as that of the Lampreies: others are later ere they doe so. All flat and broad fishes, such namely as have no tails and sharp pricks to hinder (as have the Thornback, Skate, and Tortoises) when they engender, leape one another. The many-foot Pour-cuttels in this action fasten one of their winding clawes to the nose of the female. The Cuttels and Calamaies doe the feat with their tongues or pipes rather thrust into their mouths, clasping one another with their armes, and swimming one contrary to the other: and as they conceive at the mouth, so they deliver their fruit againe at the mouth. This only is the difference, that the shee Calamaries in this businesse, beare their heads downeward to the earth. As for those that are soft crusted, they doe it backward as dogs. Thus the Lobsters and Shrimpes engender. Crabs at the mouth. Frogs leape one another: the male with the forefeet claspeth the arme pits of the female, and with the hindfeet the hanches. That which is engendred and brought forth, is as it were some little mites of blackish flesh, which they call Tadpoles or Polwigs, shewing no good forme, but that they have some shew of eies onely, and a taile. Some few daies after, their feet are framed, and then parteth their taile in twaine, which serveth for the feet behind. And a strange thing it is of them: after they have lived some sixe moneths, they resolve into a slime or mud, no man seeth how: and afterward with the first raines in the Spring, returne againe to their former state, as they were first shapen, no man knoweth after what sort, by a secret and unknowne way incomprehensible ; notwithstanding it falleth out ordinarily so every yeare. As for the Limpins, Muskles, and Scallops, they breed of themselves in the mud and sands of the sea. Those which are of an harder coat, as the Pourcelaines and Purples, of a certaine viscous and slimie substance like a Muscilage. As for that little frie, resembling small gnats and flies of the sea, they come of a certaine putrifaction and sowernesse of the water: as the Apuæ, which are the groundlings and Smies, of the forme of the sea set in an heat & chased after some good shewer. They that are covered with a stonie shel, as Oisters, breed of the rotten and putrified slime and mud of the sea: or of the fome that hath stood long about ships or stakes and posts set fast in the water, and especially if they be of Holme wood. Howbeit, it hath been found of late in Oister pits, that there passeth from them in steed of Sperme a certain whitish humor like milke. As for Yeeles, they rub themselves against rocks and stones, and those scrapings (as it were) which are fretted from them, in time come to take life and prove snigs, and no other generation have they. Fishes of diverse kinds engender not one with another, unlesse it bee the Skate and the Raifish: and of them there commeth a fish, which in the forepart resembleth a Ray, and in Greeke hath a name compounded of both [Rhinobatos.] Other fishes there be that breed indifferently on land and sea, according to the warm season of the yeare. In spring time Scallops, Snailes, and Horseleeches doe engender, and by the same warmth quicken and come to life; but in Autumne they turne to nothing. The Pike and Sardane breed twice a yeer, like as all stone-fishes. The Barbels thrice, as also a kind of Turbit called Chalcis [i. the Shad:] the Carpe six times: the Scorpenes and Sargi twice, namely, in Spring and Autumne. Of flat broad fishes, the Skate onely twice in the yeer, to wit, in the Autumne, & at the setting or occultation of the star Vergiliæ. The greatest number of fishes engender for three months April, May, and Iune. The Cods or Stockfishes in Autumne. The Sargi, Crampfishes, & Squali, about the equinoctiall. Soft skinned fishes in the Spring: and the Cuttell in every month. The spawne of this fish, which hangeth together like a cluster of grapes, by the meanes of a certaine blacke glew or viscositie like ynke, the Milter dooth blow and breath upon before it can bee good, for otherwise it commeth to no proofe. The Pour-cuttles engender in Winter, and in the Spring, and then bring foorth a spawne crisped and curled (as it were) like the wreathing braunches and tendrils of a vine braunch; and that in such plentie, that when they are killed they are not able to receive and containe the multitude of their egges in the concavitie or ventricle of their head and belly, which they bare when they were great. They hatch them in fiftie daies, but many of them prove addle and never come to good, there is such a number of them. The Lobsters and the rest with thin shells, lay egge after egge, and sit upon them in that manner. The female Pourcuttle, one while sitteth over her egges, another while she covereth the cranie or gutter where she hath laid them, with her clawes and arms enfolded crosse one over another lattise-wise. The Cuttle laieth also upon the drie land among the reeds, or els wheresoever shee can find any sea-weeds or reits to grow, and by the fifteenth day hatcheth. The Calamaries lay egges in the deepe, which hang close and thicke togither, as the Cuttles doe. The Purples, Burrets, and such like, doe lay in the spring. The sea-Urchins are with egge every full moone in the winter time: and the winkles or cockles are bred in the winter likewise. The Crampfish is found to have fourescore young at once within her, and hatcheth her tender and soft egges within her bodie, shifting them from one place of the wombe to another. In like manner doe all they which are called Cartilagineus, or gristly. By which it commeth to passe, that fish alone both conceive with egge, and yet bring forth a living creature. The male sheath-fish or river-whale Silurus, of all others onely is so kind as to keepe and looke to the egges of the female after they be laid, many times for fiftie daies after, for feare they should be devoured of others. Other females hatch in three daies, if the male touch them. The Horne-beakes or Needle-fishes Belonæ, are the onely fishes which have within them so great egges that their wombe cleaveth and openeth when they should lay them: but after that they be discharged of them, it groweth togither and uniteth againe. A thing usuall (as they say) in Blind-wormes. The fish called Mus Marinus, diggeth a gutter or ditch within the ground, and there laieth her egges, and the same she covereth over with earth, and so lets them alone for thirtie daies, then she commeth and openeth the place againe, findeth her egges hatched, and leadeth her little ones to the water.
Of fishes wombes.
THE shell-fishes Erythini and Chanæ, have their wombs or matrices. As for that fish which in Greeke is called Trochos [i. the top] is thought to get it selfe with young. The frie of all water creatures, at the first, see not.
Of the exceeding long life of fishes.
IT IS not long since that we heard of one fishes memorable example, which prooved the long life of fishes. There is a faire house of retreat and pleasure called Pausilupum, in Campaine not far from Naples; where (as Anneus Seneca writeth) there died a fish in the fish-pooles of Cæsar, threescore yeeres after that it had been put in by Pollio Vedius: and there remained two more of that age and of the same kind, which lived still. And since we are come to make mention of fish-ponds, me thinkes I should doe well to write somewhat more thereof, before I give over this discourse of fishes and water creatures.
Of Oyster-pits, and who first devised them.
THE first that invented stewes and pits to keepe oysters in, was Sergius Orata, who made such about his house in Bajanum, in the daies of L. Crassus that famous oratour, before the Marsians warre. And this the man did not for his belly and to maintain gourmandise, but of a covetous mind for verie gaine. And by this and such wittie devises, hee gathered great revenues: for he it was that invented the hanging baines and pooles to bath in aloft upon the top of an house: and thus when hee had set out his manour house for the better sale, hee would make good merchandise of them, and sell them againe for commoditie and gaine. Hee was the first man that brought the Lucrine Oysters into name and credit for their excellent tast. For so it is, that the same kinds of fishes, in one place are better than in another. As the Pikes in the river Tiberis, which are taken betweene the two bridges: the Turbot of Ravenna: the Lamprey in Sicilie: the Elops at Rhodes, and so forth of other sorts of fishes: for I doe not meane heere to make a bill of all the daintie fish to serve the kitchin. There was no talke then of English oisters, when Orata brought those of the Lucrine lake into request; for as yet the British coasts were not ours; which indeed have the best oysters of all other. But afterwards it was thought it would quit the cost and pay for the paines, to fetch oysters from the furthest part of Italie, even as farre as Brundisium. And because there should grow no quarrell nor controversie arise, whether these or the former had the more delicate and pleasant tast, it was of late devised that the hungrie oysters (which in the long carriage from Brudise were almost famished) should be fed with the rest in the Lucrine lake, and so tast alike. In those very daies, but somwhat before Orata, Licinius Murena devised pooles and stewes for to keepe and feed other fishes: whose example noble men followed and did the like after them, namely Philip and Hortensius. Lucullus cut through a mountaine neere unto Naples for this purpose, namely, to let in an arme of the sea into his fish-pools: the doing whereof cost him more money, than the house it selfe which he there had built. Hereupon Pompey the Great gave him the name of Romane Xerxes, in his long robe. The fishes of that poole of his, after his death, were sold for thirtie hundred thousand Sesterces, i. three millions of Sesterces.
Who invented the stewes for Lampreys.
CAIUS HIRTIUS was the man by himselfe, that before all others devised a pond to keep Lampreys in. He it was that lent Cæsar Dictatour for to furnish his feasts and great suppers during the time of his triumph, 600 Lampreys, to be paid againe by weight and tale in the same kind: for sell them hee would not right out for any money, nor exchaunge them for other commodities. A house he had for his pleasure in the countrey, and but a very little one, yet the ponds and fishes about it sold the house for foure millions of Sesterces. In processe of time folke grew to have a love and cast a fancie to some one severall fish above the rest. For the excellent Oratour Hortensius had an house at Bauli, upon the side that lyeth to Baiæ, and a fish-pond to it belonging: and he took such an affection to one Lamprey in that poole, that when it was dead (by report) he could not hold but weepe for love of it. Within the same poole belonging to the said house, Antonia wife of Drusus (unto whome they fell by inheritance) had so great a liking to another Lamprey, that she could find in her heart to decke it, and to hang a paire of golden earings about the guils thereof. And surely for the noveltie of this straunge sight, and the name that went thereof, many folke had a desire to see Bauli, and for nothing else.
The stewes of Winkles, and who first was the deviser.
FULVIUS HIRPINUS was the first inventor of warrens as it were for Winkles, which hee caused to be made within the territorie of Tarquinij, a little before the civile warre with Pompey the Great. And those who had their distinct partitions, for sundrie sorts of them: that the white, which came from the parts about Reate, should be kept apart by themselves: the Illyrian (and those were chiefe for greatnesse) alone by their selves: the Africanes (which were most fruitfull) in one severall: and the Solitanes (simply the best of all the rest) in another. Nay, more than that, he had a devise in his head to feed them fat, namely, with a certaine past made of cuite and wheate meale, and many other such like: to the end forsooth, that the gluttons table might be served plentifully with home-fed and franked great Winkles also. And in time, men grew to take such a pride and glorie in this artificiall feat, and namely, in striving who should have the biggest, that in the end one of their shells ordinarily would containe fourescore measures called Quadrants, if M. Varro say true, who is mine author.
THEOPHRASTUS also telleth strange wonders of certain kinds of fishes, which are about Babylon, where there be many places subject to the inundations of Euphrates and other rivers, and wherein the water standeth, after that the rivers are returned within their bankes: in which the fish remain in certaine holes and caves. Some of them (saith he) use to issue forth a land for food and releefe, going upon their finnes in lieu of feet, and wagging their tailes ever as they go. And if any chase them, or come to take them, they will retire backe into their ditches aforesaid, and there make head and stand against them. They are headed like to the sea Frog,§ made in other parts as Gudgeons, and guilled in manner of other fishes. Moreover, that about Heraclea and Cromna, and namely neare the river Lycus, and in many other quarters of the kingdome of Pontus, there is one kind above the rest that ever haunteth rivers sides, and the utmost edges of the water: making her selfe holes under the bankes, and within the land wherein shee liveth, yea, even when the banks are drie, and the rivers gathered into narrow channels. By reason whereof they are digged forth of the earth: and as they say that find them, alive they bee, as may appeare by moving and stirring of their bodies. Neere unto the abovesaid Heraclea and the river Lycus, when it is fallen and the water ebbe, there be fishes breed of the egges and spawne left upon the mud and sand, who in seeking for their food, doe stirre and pant with their little guils: which they use to doe when they want no water, but even then when as the river is full. Which is the reason also that yeeles live a long time after they be taken foorth of the water. Hee affirmeth moreover, that the egs of fishes lying upon the drie land, will come to their maturitie and perfection, and namely those of the Tortoises. Also, that in the same countrey of Pontus, there bee taken fishes upon the yce, and gudgeons especially, which shew not that they bee alive, but by their stirring and leaping when they come to be sodden in hote caudrons. Hereof may some reason yet be rendred, although the thing be straunge and wonderfull. The same authour avoucheth, that in Paphlagonia there be digged out of the grond certaine land fishes that be excellent good meat, and most delicate: but they be found in drie places remote from the river, and whither no waters flow, whereby they are forced to make the deeper trenches for to come by them. Himselfe marvelleth how they should engender without the help of moisture. Howbeit, hee supposeth that there is a certaine minerall and naturall force therein, such as wee see to sweat out in pits, for as much as diverse of them have fishes found within them. Whatsoever it is, surely lesse wonderfull this is, considering how the Moldwarpes live (a creature naturally keeping under the ground) unlesse haply we should say that fishes were of the same nature that earth wormes be of.
Of the Mice of Nilus.
BUT the inundation of Nilus cleareth all these matters: the overflowing whereof is so admirable, and so farre passeth all other wonders, that we may well beleeve these things. For when as this river falleth and returneth againe into his channell, a man may find upon the mud yong Mice halfe made, proceeding from the generative vertue of water and earth together: having one part of their bodie living alreadie, but the rest as yet mishapen, and no better than the verie earth.
Of the fish Anthias, and how hee is taken.
I THINKE it is not meet to conceale that, which I perceive many doe beleeve, and hold, as touching the fish Anthias. We have in our Cosmographie made mention of the Islands Cheldoniæ in Asia, situate in a seafull of rocks under the promontorie of Taurus; among which are found great store of these fishes: and much fishing there is for them, but they are suddainely taken, and ever after one sort. For when the time serveth, there goeth forth a fisher in a small boat or barge, for certaine daies together, a pretie way into the sea, clad alwaies of apparell of one and the same colour, at one houre, and to the same place still, where he casteth forth a bait for the fish. But the fish Anthias is so craftie and warie, that whatsoever is throwne forth, hee suspecteth it evermore, that it is a meanes to surprise him. He feareth therfore, and distrusteth: and as he feareth, so is he as warie: untill at length, after much practise & often using this devise of flinging meat into one place, one above the rest groweth so hardie and bold, as to bite at it, for now by this time hee is growne acquainted with the manner thereof, and secure. The fisher takes good marke of this one fish, making sure reckoning that he will bring more thither, and be the means that he shall speed his hand in the end. And that is no hard matter for hiim to doe, because for certaine daies together, that fish and none but he, dare adventure to come alone into the bait. At length this hardie captaine meets with some other companions, and by little and little he cometh every day better accompanied than other, untill in the end he brings with him infinite troupes and squadrons together, so as now the eldest of them all (as craftie as they bee) be so well used to know the fisher, that they will snatch meat out of his hands. Then he espying his time, putteth forth an hook with the bait, sommewhat beyond his fingers ends, flieth and seizeth upon them more truly, then catcheth them, and speedily with a quick and nimble hand whippeth them out of the water within the shaddow of the ship, for feare least the rest should perceive, and giveth them one after another to his companion within, who ever as they be snatcht up, latcheth them in a course twillie or covering, and keepes them sure ynough from either strugling or squeaking, that they should not drive the rest away. The speciall thing that helpeth this game and pretie sport, is to now the captaine from the rest, who brought his fellowes to this feast, and take heed in any hand that he be not twicht up and caught. And therefore the fisher spareth him, that he may flie and goe to some other flocke, for to traine themm to the like banket. Thus you see the manner of fishing for these Anthiæ. Now it is reported moreover, that one fisher upon a time (of spightfull mind to doe his fellow a shrewd turne) laid wait for the said captaine fish, the leader of the rest (for he was verie well knowne from all others,) and so caught him: but when the foresaid fisher espied him in the market to be sold, and knew it was he: taking himselfe misused & wronged, brought his action of the case against the other, and sued him for the dammage; and in the end condemned him. Mutianus saith moreover, That the plaintife was awarded to have for recompence, ten pounds of the defendant. The same fishes, if they chaunce to see one of their fellows caught with an hooke, by report, with their sharpe finnes which they have upon their backe like sawes, cut the line in twaine: for he that hangeth at it, will of purpose stretch it out streight, that it may bee cut asunder more easily. But the Sargots have another tricke for that: for he that finds himselfe taken, fretteth the line in twaine, whereto the hooke hangeth, against a hard rocke.
Of the Sea fishes called Starres.
OVER and besides all these, I see that some deep clearks and great Philosophers have made a wonder at the Starre in the sea. And verily it is no other than a very little fish, made like a starre (as we see it painted.) A soft flesh it hath within: but without-forth hard an hard brawnie skin. Men say it is so fierie hote, that whatsoever it toucheth in the sea, it burneth: and looke what meat it receiveth, it makes a hand with it, and digesteth it presently. What proofe there is hereof, and how men shouuld come to the knowledge and experience of thus much, I cannot readily set downe. I would thinke that rather more memorable and worthie to bee recorded, whereof we have daily experience.
Of the Dactyli, and their wonderfull qualities.
OF THE shellfish kind are the Dactyli, so called of the likenesse of mens nailes, which they resemble. The nature of this fish is to shine by themselves in the dark night, when all other light is taken away. The more moisture they have within them, the more light they give: insomuch as they shine in mens mouths as they be chawing of them: they shine in their hands: upon the floore on their garments, if any drops of their fattie liquor chaunce to fall by: so as it appeareth, that doubtlesse it is the very juice and humour of the fish which is of that nature, which we doe so wonder at in the whole bodie.
Of the enmitie and amitie which is betweene fishes and other water beasts.
SUCH concord there is in some, and such discod in others, as it is wonderfull. The Mullet and the sea-Pike hate one another, and bee ever at deadly warre: likewise, the Congre and the Lamprey: insomuch as they gnaw off one anothers taile. The Lobster is so afraid of the Polype or Pourcuttell, that if he spie him neere, he evermore dieth for very woe. The Lobsters are readie to scratch and teare the Congre:§§ the Congres againe doe as much for the Polype. Nigidius writeth, That the sea-Pike biteth off the Mullets taile: and yet the same fishes in certaine set months are good friends, and agree well ynough. Hee saith moreoever, that those Mullets live all, notwithstanding their tailes be so curtold. On the other side, there be examples of freindship among fishes, besides those, of whose societie and fellowship I have alreadie written: and namely, betweene the great Whale Balæna, and the little Musculus. For whereas the Whale aforesaid hath no use of his eies (by reason of the heavie weight of his eie-browes that cover them) the other swimmeth before him, serveth him in steed of eies and lights, to shew when hee is neere the shelves and shallowes, wherein he may be soone grounded, so big and huge he is.
Thus much of Fish. Hence forward will we write of Foules.
The running title is "The ninth Booke of // Plinies Naturall Historie. " Heed should be paid to Holland's habitual inaccuracy with numbers. If accuracy is important, please consult the Latin text.
1. Sc. Chelium. .
2. Sc.Carvilius Pollio.
3. I.e., the octopus (Latin polypi).
4. If this is Silurus glanis, a European cat-fish, this seems improbable. See Silurus glanis; Silure Glane.
5. This bears only the very slightest resemblance to what Pliny writes. That is, Pliny says that this happens in the Danube; the rest is mangled by Our Translator. See Pliny HN ix(45).
*. I. in the beginning of May.
**. Or, Pinnoteres.
12. Holland has "Plancius".
¶ 3 lib. 2 shil. 6. d. sterl.
¶¶ 31. lib. 5. shil.
¶¶¶ 3 lib. 18. shil. 1 d. ob.
16. [See also Peacham's Valley of Variety on electrum.]
Alluding to the word Amethyst, which resisteth drunkennesse.
Diable de Mer.
3 wine gallons and three quarts: for Quadrans is 3 Cyathi, i. the 4 part of Sextarius, & Sextarius is a wine pint & a half or 18 ounce.
§ Or the sea divell.
§ § Locusta Congrum, ex. Arist. lib. 8. cap. 2. histor. animal. [Both this and the previous idea, actually; Scaliger pours scorn (and contrary evidence) on both stories. Both nevertheless survived. "namque locustas vincunt polypi; neque enim testa locustae nocet polypis: itaque si eodem in reti sesse prope esse senserint, moriuntur lucstae metu. Locustae congros superant: namque asperitas in causa est, quo mins dilabantur. At congri polypos devorant: neque enim ob lacuitatem apprehendi possunt."]
This page is by James Eason.