23 JULY 1927, Page 38


(P. S. King. 12s.)—The most surprising thing about this book is that it was not written years ago. We have had statistics about the herring fisheries, statistics galore, pamphlets in sheaves, and a score of very excellent books dealing in the driest possible manner with a subject which is not only a wet and slippery one, but also as highly charged with romance and adventure as well might be. We are reminded here that the herring is the only fish which has been the direct cause of several wars. For the herring fishery has been a prolonged battle against the elements and marauding enemy vessels the like of which would be unbe- lievable in any other industry. Men have squabbled and fought each other over herrings as cats do ever since the first fishery of importance was started by the Dutch at Scania, at the entrance to the Baltic Sea. (The British, it may be interpolated here, have not been slow to possess themselves of other nations' secrets, as the following injunction, sent to the masters of two herring busses, shows : " Do you direct perswade the most sedate and ingenious parts of your English crews, nay, bribe them to it by a gallon or so of Brandy, to learn the Dutchman's secret in gyping, salting, packing, and curing of herrings.") To-day the Scottish herring fisheries alone employ some 17,000 men, and if there is not material for interesting reading in that, then the present reviewer is a Dutchman : which he certainly is not. Professor Jenkins's account is exhaustive, and always entirely alive. And even those who may be uncertain about the exact difference between a kipper, a bloater, and a red herring need not feel that they are at any time out of their depth in technicalities.