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proper appliances it cannot be preserved,
and the surplus of to-day is followed by the
dearth of to-morrow.

Odd antipathies have sometimes
intervened between wholesome food and hungry
mouths. The strong prejudice that exists
in Scotland against the eel is among the
things not generally known to the south
of Tweed. An Argyleshire or a Lanark
ploughman would as soon cook a veritable
viper as the "foul sarepent creature" which
in England would be reckoned a plump
silver eel worth some shillings in the market.
The Irish peasant will leave whole mounds
of enormous skate to rot upon the sea-beach,
under a vague impression that they are
unwholesome, if not poisonous. Indeed,
Pat has but a low opinion of fish of any
sort, while in England the poor regard it as
a flabby and watery viand, scarcely worth
the trouble of dressing. In Denmark, on
the contrary, the dwellers on the banks of
the Aggerfiord live by preference on fish.
With them it is fish for breakfast, dinner,
and supper, and they care little for bread
itself in comparison with their cherished
staple. It is a shame, says the Aggerfiord
man, that good corn should be ground to
flour and kneaded into loaves, when it
might so much more reasonably have been
converted into brandy. The people of the
poorer isles of the Hebrides, and of the
Shetland group, are less peculiar in their
taste; for if they feed on whelks and
mussels, it is because their bleak and sea-washed
rocks afford them spare nourishment
beyond the shellfish that cling to the wave-
worn stones.

The Neapolitan of the lowest class has
his winter dish of roasted sea-eel, when his
summer dinner of sliced melon goes out
of season. The great capitone, often of
thirty or forty pounds' weight, is to the
lazzaroni what solid beef is to the
Yorkshireman. Great quantities of eels caught
at Commacchio, in Corsica, are sent across
to the Naples market, and the fisheries
along the Italian coast are tolerably
productive, but, as a rule, the Mediterranean
is not largely stocked with fish, probably
because so few great rivers flow into
it. On the other hand, the seas around the
Antilles absolutely teem with delicious fish
of wonderful shapes and of preposterous
colours, and China, where so many broad
streams pour down their yellow waters to
the sea, has piscine treasures not as yet half
catalogued by science.

The lamprey, so dear to the Roman
gourmand, and which the knights and
senators of Nero's time were now and then
accused of fattening on the plumpest of
their slaves, has fallen into utter neglect.
But the turtle, unknown to the ancients,
comes to offer its tribute of green fat in
our markets, and the oysters of Britain are
as juicy and as delicate as were their
ancestry in the days of Lucullus. But these
nourish no large proportion of any
population, and like whitebait at Greenwich, or
the stewed terrapins and buttered clams of
Baltimore, are mere dainties for the
epicure's table.

It is a pity that the princely sturgeon,
once the king's perquisite whenever the
noble stranger was found trespassing in
an English river, should be so rarely
met with. His firm, white flesh is almost
as nutritious as veal, besides being both
wholesome and palatable, and the size to
which he grows would make him a
valuable article of food if only he were more
abundant. As much cannot be said for
his ruder cousin the porpoise, the meat of
which is as bad beef, or even for the more
succulent shark, which yields a steak of
something like pork, with a strong marine
flavour. Sailors eat shark with little
scruple, and porpoise also, in times of
scarcity, and the Arab slave dealers feed
their African slave cargoes on the first of
these charming creatures, while a South
Sea harpooner will tell you that, excepting
the delicacy of a draught of the yellow,
creamy milk taken from a freshly-speared
she-whale, whale fins, properly cooked, are
the greatest of conceivable dainties. The
rank, rich, heat-producing flesh of the seal
vies, in the opinion of an Esquimaux, with
the merits of blubber cut from the flanks
of a stranded whale.

No systematic attempt has ever been
made, unless on the most trivial scale, to
provide for an adequate and regular supply
of fish food for the million. Laws have
unquestionably been passed, in our own
country, to regulate the herring fishery,
but the deliberate opinion of a royal
commission was against such laws, as either
impotent or mischievous. Wiser and more
needful enactments have done a good deal
towards preventing the literal extinction of
the salmon in British rivers, while the
most praiseworthy attempts have been
made both here and in France to restock
the exhausted streams. The Acclimatisation
Society struggled to add to our
indigenous salmonidæ, to the salmon, trout,
grayling, the bull-trout, sewin, and gillaroo,
the natives of foreign fresh waters.