NATURAL HISTORY AND SPORT.*
THE title, Marvels of Fish Life, which Dr. Francis Ward has chosen for his book hardly prepares the reader for the amount of interesting and original observations which it contains. Little has been written, comparatively speaking, on the habits and emotions of fishes, because they are extremely difficult to watch and interpret. Dr. Ward has been helped by the use of photography and various ingenious devices. His last two chapters deal with the practical side of work with a camera. Some part of his success is also due to an " observation chamber," built into the side of a pond, where, unsus- pected and unseen, the naturalist pursued his studies. Here, as he tells us, he could watch the world as seen with the eyes of a fish, and since the pond, unlike a glass aquarium, was only lighted from above this claim is partially accurate. But do we really know what the eyes of a fish convey to its brain? Many of the photo- graphs, for those who see protective coloration everywhere, show fish concealed in marvellous fashion. The silvery dace reflects green weeds in the mirrors of its scales. The gudgeon is hardly seen among the gravel. The bars of the perch harmonize with the reeds. But why is a young pike barred and an old pike spotted ? We do not agree with Dr. Ward that old pike forsake the reeds. He tells us that in the spring time the young shoots of " the common rush " are exactly the red of roach or perch fins; and he adds : "At this time of the year the fish spawn among the reeds." But "reeds" are not "rushes," and this instance of protective colouring seems far-fetched. In the main Dr. Ward's views confirm Mr. Thayer's theories. A fish is most conspicuous when seen silhouetted against the sky. Here his colour avails him nothing. Like a fish, the most gaudy salmon-fly, as our author points out, appears a grey iridescent sil- houette against the surface of the water. But fish have the power, by relaxing the pigment cells of the skin, of changing colour. By keeping a pike with his head in the dark and in the light by turns Dr. Ward showed that the light acted through the medium of the fish's eye. A variety of photographs of pike and other fishes show how the emotions affect the attitude and demeanour of the animal. Curiosity is a strong impulse ; and fear and anger (1) Marvels of Fish Life. By Francis Ward, M.D., F.Z.S., &c. Profusely illustrated with photographs from Nature. London : Cassell and Co. [6s. net.] —(2) Sea Fishing. By C. 0. Minchin. With 32 Illustrations in the text, mostly from original sketches, by J. A. Minchin. London : A. and C. Black. fas. 6d. net.]—(3) The Compleat Angler. By Izaak Walton. With Illustra- tions by James Thorpe. London: Hodder and Stoughton. [15s. net.]—(4) Partridges and Partridge Manors. By Captain Aylmer Maxwell. With 16 Illustrations in colour by George Rankin. London A. and C. Black. [6s. net.] —(5) Round the Year with Nature. By William J. Claxton. With 200 Illus- trations from photographs and 24 coloured plates from originalpaintings Maude Umphreville Clarke. London : Geo. Routledge and Sons. [7s. 6d. net. —(6) The Young Ornithologist. By W. Percival Westell, F.L.S., M.B.O. . With a frontispiece in colour and 65 photographic illustrations. London : Methuen and Co. [5s.]—(7) A Fauna of the Tweed Area. By A. H. Evans. Edinburgh : David Douglas. [30s.]—(8) The Life and Love of the Insect. By J. Henri Fabre. Translated by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos. London : A. and C. Black. [5e. net.'—(9) The Life of Crustacea. By W. T. Calman, D.Sc. With 32 plates and 85 figures. London : Methuen and Co. (.68.1
are commonly felt, but do not last long. Dr. Ward rightly claims that no one has paid enough attention to reflection as a factor in concealment ; for the life of a fish is a hard struggle to eat and not be eaten. Why does a fish become pale with fear? A chapter on the salmon gives a summary of our present knowledge, and another on marine food fishes gives an elementary account of the growth, migrations, and capture of certain food-fishes. At the end we come to crustacea, molluscs, and sea-urchins. It is the earliest part of the book which is of most real interest. It suggests various problems and several lines of study.
We pass now from fish to fishing. We have nothing but praise for Mr. C. 0. Minchin's book on Sea Fishing. It con- tains the advice and experiences of a very well-known angler in foreign as well as British seas ; and a chapter with maps gives advice, without any minute details, about resorts for sea anglers on our south coast. Some of the text has appeared in periodicals, but the illustrations of tackle and fish are mostly new and exceptionally clear. The great merit of Mr. Minchin's book is that it will be found good reading even by one who is not an enthusiastic sea angler. He gives information on the natural history and habits of common sea fish and facts about the fishing industry. He draws on his own experiences and also on Mr. Cunningham's book. The result is a very instructive, readable volume with information abreast of modern knowledge. The practical art of sea angling is treated with sufficient and never-wearisome detail. Hints that will prove useful are scattered through the book, and the zoologist will find Latin names and a classified table of common fishes. The result is a pleasant, entertaining volume for the sea angler who takes an intelligent interest in ichthyology.
Another new and handsome volume for anglers calls for a word of praise. It is an edition of Izaak Walton's Compleat Angler, with " a preliminary cast " by Mr. R. B. Marston, very prettily bound and clearly printed. But the feature of the book is the series of coloured illustrations by Mr. James Thorpe. These plates, with their clean lines and cheerful colouring, are most pleasing. Mr. Thorpe has cleverly caught the spirit of Walton's characters and of his times, and reflects the peaceful atmosphere of the book.
We pass from fishing to shooting. Sportsmen who have read Captain Aymer Maxwell on grouse will find interest and pleasure in his almost too short work on Partridges and Partridge Manors. His chapter on the rules which govern successful driving contains much useful matter by one who has practical knowledge. The diagrams are instructive to study. The arts of preserving and rearing partridges are excellently dealt with, and a chapter of exceptional interest gives the experience of keepers and owners of numerous big partridge shootings. This information was obtained in answer to written questions. Captain Maxwell's arguments on the economic value of sport to the community are not always convincing to a political economist. His gibes at Mr. Lloyd George's ignorance of shooting, gathered from a notorious speech, are not unfair, but they seem out of place in a book of this kind. The weakest chapter of the book, on the natural history of par- tridges, would have been better for the assistance of a scientifie ornithologist. The chapter on vermin places the rat at the head of the list. Some of Mr. George Rankin's coloured plates are excellent, but they are of singularly unequal merit.
The next volume on our list is a mixture of sport and natural history covering a wide range. The first feeling of the reviewer on laying down Mr. William J. Claxton's Round the Year with Nature is amazement at the boldness of an author in writing on subjects of which he has so little knowledge. It is an unfortunate accident, perhaps, that the coloured frontispiece entitled " October " should depict a foxhunter in pink coat and top-hat, or that a picture of grouse-shooting should be called " The first of August." But the text con- tains much of the same inaccurate nature. Of partridge- shooting we are told that "there are two methods employed in the drive." In one "the `guns' walk over the fields in line with the `beaters' " ! Of the cuckoo : "I have never yet beard of anyone who has actually seen a cuckoo on any nest in the act of laying her egg, neither have I heard of anyone seeing her take the egg to the nest of the foster-parent." These are two specimens of dozens of passages we have noted. Much of the zoology is antiquated. The best portions of the boplc give a chatty and exclamatory account of plant-life
with which Mr. Claxton is most familiar. He knows how to interest children. There are over 200 photographs and coloured plates. Many are excellent and all are superior to the text.
Let us pass on to ornithology. In compiling The Young Ornithologist Mr. W. Percival Westell has been fortunate in getting help from Mr. Horwood, of Leicester Museum. The eighty pages of hints for the young ornithologist which Mr. Horwood contributes are the best part of the book, and teach the youthful naturalist what to observe in birds and how to set about it. There are also suggestions on keeping notes, collecting eggs, photography, and bird skinning. When we come to the rest of the volume it must be confessed that Mr. Westell's writing is marred by many faults, the worst being the number of inaccurate statements which any critical ornithologist could have pointed out. We are told, for in- stance, that the swallow very seldom perches on "a roof" and that it feeds especially on " beetles." Sometimes the writer seems to forget what he has just said. On p. 153 we are told that " the swallow lives a quiet domestic life in pairs,': on p. 151 that it is " gregarious, like martin and swift.' Sometimes Mr. Westell's statements appear wanting in sense' Of the lapwing he writes : " That they can swim seems certain' for some years ago a pair nested on a small island." Of the bullfinch : "It is said that they will destroy 2,000 buds at a time." Personal recollections like the following waste space that might be better employed when the information about the bird is meagre : " On one occasion I spent a whole morning with a bird friend, seated in a secluded woodland dell, listening exclusively to the soul-inspiring lyrics of this warbler." The coloured frontispiece represents a bittern (Botaurus stellaris), but Mr. Westell, " for the purpose of justifying the appear- ance of our frontispiece," drags in (p. 242) an account of the little bittern (Ardetta minuta), a different bird, quite different in appearance. The volume is illustrated with a number of small but extremely clear photographs. The aim of the book is a good one, but the critic would be to blame if he did not point out the useless and untrustworthy nature of the text. Mr. Horwood's contribution is unfortunate in being tacked on to such feeble work. The young ornithologist of the present day wants something better than this.
A very different type of natural history work must be noticed next. A Fauna of the Tweed Area, by Mr. A. H. Evans, is the eleventh volume of a series edited by Mr. J. A. Harvie-Brown and familiar to all students of British zoology. They will be glad to add another of the green-covered, well- printed, and well-illustrated volumes to their libraries, secure in the knowledge that no one more competent than Mr. Evans could be found for the work. He has had the assistance of many local naturalists and has drawn freely upon earlier writers. The Tweed area includes the eastern border country on either side of the Anglo-Scottish frontier. It is of excep- tional interest to ornithologists because it embraces the Fame Islands. Here also the great grey seal breeds. The district, moreover, as Mr. Evans points out in his introductory and historical chapter, occupies an inter-faunal position. Here we have the northern range of the nuthatch, shrike, wryneck, and green woodpecker meeting the southernmost breeding range of the eider-duck, widgeon, and possibly of the green- shank. The Chillingham cattle are shortly dismissed with a bibliographical reference. Reptiles and batrachians are in- cluded, but the fishes of the district have been omitted in order that they may be dealt with in a volume on the Forth area, which is promised from the pen of Mr. William Evans. The editor deplores the loss which naturalists have sustained by the death of Mr. Robert Service, who was connected with this border country.
We come now to entomology. What can one say about Fabre's Life and Love of the Insect, translated by Mr. Alexander Teixeira de Mattos P The veteran entomologist has seen his writings become classical. J. H. Fabre is still alive, and an English translation of his selected popular essays might have found readers in this country. But the present version is hardly satisfactory or even readable. A couple of specimens taken at random from adjoining pages will suffice : "Then what does the globulous form, which presents the most effica- cious preventative against desiccation during the heat of summer, do here ? " On the next page we read : " Plying this trade as a setter-in of ordure without preliminary manipula- tion, the copris, evidently, is absolutely ignorant for the time
being of the art of kneading and modelling a globular loaf." It would be better to struggle with the French and a dictionary than this English jargon.
We come lastly to an extremely good piece of work which is in some respects a model of a popular work by a scientific man. Dr. W. T. Calrnan is one of our chief authorities on this group of arthropods, but his volume The Life of Crustacea is "for readers unfamiliar with the technicalities of zoology." We cannot say that our author has avoided all long or so-called alarming words, but he explains from the beginning. Taking a lobster as a type, he shows in most clear fashion that the body is a series of segments, each with a pair of appendages, variously modified, and passing from antenna; to jaws, legs, pincers, and swimmerets. There are twenty pairs, but whether stalked eyes and swimmerets are homologous is doubtful. The chapter on Classification is essential, but may be considered dull ; the charge of dullness cannot, however, be made when we come to the habits and life- histories of one of the most interesting groups of animals about which the ordinary person knows nothing. There are chapters on crustacea of the sea, the land, and the fresh- water; on fossil forms, on parasites, and on crustacea as a source of food. There are also a great number of unusually good illustrations. Some are photographs familiar to those who know the British Museum " Guide"; others are drawings by Miss Gertrude M. Woodward. The accuracy of detail, the clearness of outline, and the skilful shading of Miss Wood- ward's illustrations make them exceedingly attractive.