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roides, were brought back to my mind with increased interest. The correctness of the facts related by the great Stagirite respecting that fish could no longer be doubted, as soon as it had been ascertained that another member of the same family has habits so nearly similar to those of the fish of Hellas. There was, moreover, a particular charm in the prospect of confirming the reports of a philosopher of classic Greece, by investigations made in a country so recently covered with the primitive forest, and roamed over by the native tribes of Indians. I availed myself with eagerness, therefore, of the opportunity afforded by Professor Felton's visit to Greece to obtain, if possible, freshwater fishes from that country, to ascertain by direct comparison what the Glanis of Aristotle really is. Though I had no longer reason to doubt the facts reported by the ancients respecting its mode of reproduction, I was not prepared to believe that Cuvier is correct in considering the Glanis as identical with the Silurus of Central and Eastern Europe, even though the opinion expressed by Cuvier is that entertained also by Pliny, and the naturalists of the Middle Ages ; * for I have been acquainted with the Silurus from my boyhood; I was brought up on the shore of a lake where it is common, where fishing is practised on an extensive scale, and where I have myself spent weeks and months in the delightful, lazy, and enticing pursuit; and yet I have never heard nor seen anything respecting that Siluroid which could apply to the Glanis of Aristotle. I wrote by Professor Felton a letter to my old friend, Dr. Roeser, first physician to their majesties, the king and queen of Greece, requesting him to spare no efforts in procuring for me freshwater fishes from that country, in the hope of thus obtaining the means of ascertaining by actual inspection the true character of the Glanis. Some time after, I received from Dr. Roeser a very fine collection of well-preserved specimens from the Eurotas, the Ache.
* Ælian (Nat. An. XII. 14) does not confound the two : "The Lagnis (Glanis) is found in the Mæander, the Lycus, and other Asiatic rivers, and in Europe, in the Strymon; and resembles the Silurus in appearance. Of all fishes it has the most natural affection for its young. When the female has laid her eggs, she is relieved of all care of the young, like one in childbed; but the male, taking his post as the guardian of his offspring, stands by them, keeping off every assailant. He is capable even of swallowing a hook, as Aristotle relates."
Pliny (IX. 52), however, makes the mistake : “ The male Silurus alone watches the eggs when laid, often even fifty days, that they may not be destroyed by others”; - thus transferring Aristotle's description of the Glanis to the Silurus of Central Europe.
lous, and the Spercheios, to which were appended labels with the local names under which they are known to the Greek fishermen at the present day. A more interesting collection than this I have seldom had an opportunity to examine. In it were half a dozen specimens labelled flavídia (Glanidia), caught in the Achelous, the chief river in Acarnania, from which locality Aristotle himself had derived his information about the Glanis. The identity of the name and of the place leave no doubt that I am now in possession of the true Glanis of the Greek philosopher ; that this Glanis is a genuine Siluroid, but not the Silurus Glanis of the systematic writers.* It is a distinct
* The following quotations will sustain these assertions : – “ The Cordylus swims with its feet and its tail; and it has a tail like the Glanis." - Aristotle, Hist. An. I. 5. 3.
“Of those that have gills, some have simple gills and some have double ; but the last, nearest the body, is in all cases simple. And some have few gills, others have many, but all have an equal number on both sides. Those that have the fewest have one on each side, but that double, as the Capros; others have two on each side, one simple, the other double, as the Conger Eel and the Scarus; others have four simple ones on each side, as the Elops, the Synagris, the Muræna, and the Eel; and others still have four, but in two lines, except the last, as the Kichle, the Perke, the Glanis, the Cyprinos.” — Ibid. II. 9. 4.
“Of those belonging to the sea, and having lungs, the dolphin has no gallbladder ; but all birds and fishes have the gall-bladder, the egg-laying, the fourfooted, and, to speak generally, sometimes more, sometimes less. But some of the fishes have it on the liver, as the Galeodes, the Glanis, the Rhine, the Leiobatos, the Narke; and of the lung fishes, the Enchelys, the Belone, and the Zygæna.” — Ibid. II. 11.7.
The river and lake fishes are exempt from pestilential disease, but some of them have peculiar disorders, as the Glunis, which, about the time of the dog.star, by reason of swimming on the surface, becomes sun-struck, and is stupefied by loud thunder; and many Glanides in shallow water perish by the bite of snakes." — Ibid. VIII. 20. 12.
These passages show, that, - 1. The anal fin of the Glanis of Aristotle has the form of the Glanidia of the Achelous. 2. The description of the gill agrees equally with those of the specimens in my possession. 3. The presence of the gall-bladder in the position described is another point of agreement. 4. The connected spawn of the Siluroid differs from the isolated eggs laid by many other fishes, as, for instance, the Salmonidæ. 5. The swimming near the surface agrees fully with what is observed among Siluroids in hot weather. So every statement of Aristotle relating to his Glanis, either agrees with the structure observed in the specimens obtained from Acarnania, or, as far as the habits are concerned, with the mode of spawning of the North American Pimelodus, with perhaps the single exception, that the account of Aristotle is more minute than any statements that could at this moment be made respecting our fishes of that family.
The passages here given contain all that Aristotle has said of the Glanis.
genus, closely allied to Silurus proper, of which I shall take an early opportunity to publish a detailed description, with figures, under the name of Glanis Aristotelis : and thus, though at this late day, vindicate once more the accuracy of the greatest naturalist of the ancient world.
“ The great work of Cuvier and Valenciennes, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons, contains all that was currently known about the class of fishes up to the time of its publication. The learned authors of this extensive book, which, though unfinished, numbers not less than twenty-two volumes, have not only described all the fishes they could obtain themselves, but also sedulously collected all the information that may be gathered from earlier writers, and even referred the statements of the ancients relating to these animals to their respective species, as far as this could be done. That work is therefore as truly a model of scientific erudition, as it is a standard for all future investigations upon the class of fishes.
“ These remarks are made chiefly with the view that I may not appear to disparage a scientific production which is destined to stand the test of time, because I happen to have it in my power to rectify some statements respecting the Silurus Glanis contained in that work.
“Strange condition of modern culture, which makes it possible for an inhabitant of the United States to contribute to the elucidation of the works of Aristotle, written more than two thousand years ago, and to vindicate the accuracy of that great naturalist by observations of a similar character made upon the inhabitants of the fresh waters of a continent, the existence of which was not even suspected by the Greek philosopher.”
Professor Felton remarked, that he had some acquaintance with the fishes of Greece, but chiefly in other than their scientific relations. He rose, however, not to speak of science, but to make a few philological remarks.
“ The communication of Professor Agassiz is extremely interesting in every point of view. It is a very striking fact, that the fish in question should, so many centuries after the death of Aristotle, have come from the Achelous across the Atlantic to this country, to furnish our associate with a commentary on the great philosopher, and to vindicate his accuracy as an observer against the criticism even of a Cuvier.
“ There can be no doubt of the identity of this fish with that whose habits are described by Aristotle, under the name rlávis. The ancient names of birds, fishes, and quadrupeds, in numerous instances, are preserved among the common people, under forms modified in the same way as other classes of words are by the uneducated. The oblique cases are often used, as is common in other languages among the ignorant, for the nominative; in other instances, diminutives are formed from the roots, as exhibited in the oblique cases, and used in the sense of the original word. The name in Aristotle is written Slávs ; the local name still preserved among the fishermen, in the same region, in the North of Greece, is flavide, formed, according to numerous analogies, from the genitive růávidos; and the plural of Flavíð. (IXavidcov) is flavidia, the word employed in the catalogue accompanying the specimens. Thus the fish sent from Acarnania to Athens, and from Athens to Cambridge, to find a place in Professor Agassiz's collection, though dumb, has spoken a noble eulogy upon the greatest philosopher of the ancient world.
“ There is a close connection, as Cicero long ago observed, a commune vinculum, between all departments of learning. This instructive fish has not only corrected Cuvier, but the Greek lexicographers, who must take a lesson of him, and change their definition. Pape, who is generally very accurate, defines TXávcs as eine Art Wels,' a kind of cat-fish, which is tolerably near the truth ; and Liddell and Scott, the translators of Passow, call it a kind of shad. Hereafter the shad must give place to horn-pout, a substitution less displeasing to the lexicographer than to the epicure.”
Dr. B. A. Gould acknowledged, in the name of Argelander, his election as Honorary Member, and offered as an apology in his behalf, for not directly addressing the Academy, his inability to write English with facility.
Dr. O. W. Holmes exhibited a section of a Hemlock which had recently fallen on his estate at Pittsfield. The section was made at the height of twelve feet, and by its rings showed its age to be at least three hundred and forty-six years, dating back to 1510. The section exhibited the usual inequality of growth at different periods in the varying width of its rings. Dr. Holmes made the specimen interesting, by indicating at different points the epoch of the birth and death
of some of the great lights of English literature, comparing the existence of each with the few inches of growth of the tree, exhibiting in striking contrast the shortness of man's earthly career. Some conversation ensued on the popular notion that, under certain circumstances of external condition, more than one ring might be formed in a single year.
Professor Gray regarded all such opinions as erroneous, or at least not based on any reliable observations. So far as is known, in temperate climates, all ordinary woods make one annual ring; the fact has not as yet been determined so decidedly in the case of tropical trees. Young trees grow more rapidly and unequally than old ones, and hence an inequality in the width of the rings.
Professor Agassiz said that Mr. H. J. Clark had recently noticed that in the climbing Dogwood (Rhus Toxicodendron) the side of the branches resting on any opposing object becomes thickened by an increased development of the rings on that side.
Professor Gray said he had observed this unequal growth in the same plant in old stems of the plant, but had not noticed it as bearing any relation to any circumstances of position. Such anomalies are common in climbing plants, particularly in those of southern and tropical climates. Mr. Clark had shown him very young stems of Rhus, in which the same irregularity existed without any reference to position. The fact is, that, after the first year, the woody layer fails to be formed on one side of the stem, and that too on the free and convex side, not on that which is flattened by pressure against the supporting object, as would have been expected. Mr. Clark has promised to investigate this anomalous growth more particularly
Dr. B. A. Gould stated, that in Texas it had been pointed out to him, that trees grow most on the south side ; and the circumstance was depended upon at times by hunters to direct their path.
Professor Gray observed that such facts are well known, as