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of depositing her eggs. As soon as she
appears, the male fish appears mad with
excitement, darts round her in every direction,
then darts to his nest and back again, betraying
in every possible way the most frantic
delight. The female then, passing through
the nest, deposits the spawn in the cavity
prepared for it.

The cares of the male fish do not end here.
He remains assiduous in his attention to
the nest; sometimes shaking up the
materials, sometimes repairing it, sometimes putting
his head into the aperture at the top, to
assure himself of the continued safety of his
treasures; or, now and then, hanging head
downwards over it, to drive a current of
water over the spawn, probably for the
purpose of free ventilation. In the midst of
all these occupations, he does not lose his
chivalrous propensities; but still defends his
charge, dashing down like a true fish-at-arms
upon any stranger who intrudes on his

But his assiduities increase when the young
fry begin to be hatched; then the combats
become more frequent and more prolonged,
being conducted, according to one observer,
with much science. The sparring, in one
instance observed by Mr. Hancock, of
Newcastle, "was very wary, and generally lasted a
few seconds before the combatants closed.
The attack was usually commenced by one
quietly creeping up, watching its opportunity;
on this, the other, acting on the defensive,
would turn its broadside to the enemy, and
raising the ventral spine, wait to receive the
onslaught; the assailant, intimidated by this
formidable demonstration, would then slowly
retreat, and, in its turn, had in the same
manner to defend itself. After thus advancing
and retreating for a few times, one, taking
advantage of an unguarded moment, would
rush in upon its opponent and butt at it with
its head, apparently endeavouring to bite;
the other, rallying, returned the compliment,
and after dashing at each other in this way
two or three times with extraordinary rapidity,
the round would terminate, and each fish
retreat to its nest to recommence its more
immediate rudimental duties." Translated
into proper scientific language, one might
write such things of reasonable beings in a
sporting newspaper.

The parent at this time rarely quits the
nest; during the day, his attention to his
offspring is unwearied; during the night, he
rests either upon or close alongside the nest.
When any members of the young family
venture for the first time to swim out, they
are instantly seized in the mouth of their
ever-watchful guardian, and are quietly put
back into the nest. Rarely do any of them, at
this time, escape his vigilance, and when they
do, it is commonly their fate to fall into the
jaws of an enemy: they are devoured by fish
of their own species.

In about three days after the first appearance
of fry in the nest, all the eggs are hatched,
and the parent's labour for the ventilation of
the nest ceases. The young that were first
hatched are then allowed more liberty, and
the whole of the family is, by degrees,
accustomed to a less restricted boundary. For
some time, however, they are all kept within
certain limits, and brought back in the mouth
of their parent whenever they succeed in
breaking out of bounds.

Another fish, nearly allied to this, the
Fifteen-spined Stickleback, which is not
uncommon on our coast, forms a very similar
nest, and appears in other respects to behave
like the common fresh-water species; and
there are, no doubt, many more possessing
habits quite as interesting, which have not
yet been discovered, owing to the obvious
difficulty of observing closely the behaviour of
a fish in his own home. The extent of the
difficulty may be appreciated, when we reflect
that, although the tittlebat is so common an
inhabitant of every puddle throughout the
country, the facts in its natural history, of
which we have just now been speaking, are
quite recent additions to our knowledge.


AFTER a climb up six hundred steps cut in
the solid rock, I found myself the other day
in the picturesque village of Anacapri, also,
in the clouds. The excitement of the Feast
of Saint Antonio of Padua was just dying
away, but I found that the excitement of a
grand wedding that was to take place on the
succeeding day maintained abundant liveliness
among the villagers. That very afternoon
"things" were to be priced, and other
necessary business was on foot; I had friends
in the place, and was initiated into all the
mysteries. I did but peep in at the bride, for
she and her attendants were alarmed at our
intrusion. Diana and her nymphsthe
female members of her familywere seated
round a table, many gossips helping them,
and three or four valuers being at work among
them upon the wardrobe of the bride, that
formed a large heap in the middle. Love in
most countries is acquainted with arithmetic,
and in this case the bride was bound to carry
to her future lord not only the treasure of
herself, but also a fixed sum in coin or clothes.
With a view to the strict fulfilment of this
portion of the marriage contract, her wardrobe
was, at the moment when I peeped in at
her door, being examined and appraised
carefully piece by piece. If a wife among these
villagers die childless, the dowry she took
with her to her husband, clothes and all,
returns to her own family.

The treasures of this bride had been
increased by presents from her friends, each of
whom had brought to her some little keepsake
a handkerchief, a pair of stockings, or
a sheet, perhapsand now the resulting

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