Saint foin blows, & the Stfoin fly Sphinx filipendula, appears. Rain at Emsworth. Fyfield sprung a fern-owl on the zig-zag which seemed confounded by the glare of the sun, & dropped again immediately. Mr. Bridger sends me a fine present of trouts caught in the stream down at Oakhanger. The distant hills look very blue in the evenings.
The hogs have been turned for some weeks into the high-wood, & hanger, where they have availed themselves much of the large crop of beech-mast. The hogs find, no doubt, many trufles in the high-wood, where they are said to abound. Last week Wolmer-pond was sewed, & fished after an interval of almost 20 years. And yet there was no quantity of fish; for the carps did not amount to one hundred; nor was there any young stock: tench there were none; many young perch; a few large, lank pikes; & a few large eels. It is said that the pond is to lie a-sew all next summer. The pond being an area of more than 60 acres, was several days in running dry. If this pond continues dry next spring, more Roman coins may be found, in windy weather, on the surface of the sand. Many hundreds were found when it last lay dry, about the year 1741.
Two of my brother Henry’s gold-fish have been sick, & cannot live with the rest in the glass-bowl but in a tin-bucket by themselves they soon become lively, & vigorous. They were perhaps too much crouded in the bowl. When a fish sickens it’s head gets lowest; so that by degrees it stands as it were ont it’s head; ’till getting weaker & losing all poise, the tail turns over; & at last it floats on the water with it’s belly uppermost. Gold & silver-fishes seem to want no aliment, but what they can collect from pure water frequently changed. They will eat crumbs, but do better without; because the water is soon corrupted by the pieced of bread, & turns sour. Tho’ they seem to take nothing, yet the consequences of eating frequently drop from them: so that they must find many animalcula, & other nourishment. With their pinnae pectorales they gently protrude themselves forward or backward: but it is with their strong muscular tails only that Fishes move with such inconceivable rapidity.
It has been said that the eyes of fishes are immoveable: but these apparently turn them forward or backward in their sockets as their occasions require. They take little notice of a lighted candle, though applied close to their heads, but flounce and seem much frightened by a sudden stroke of the hand against the support whereon the bowl is hung; especially when they have been motionless, and are perhaps asleep. As fishes have no eyelids, it is not easy to discern when they are sleeping or not, because their eyes are always open.
Nothing can be more amusing than a glass bowl containing such
fishes: the double refractions of the glass and water represent them, when moving, in a shifting and changeable variety of dimensions, shades, and colours; while the two mediums, assisted by the concavo-convex shape of the vessel, magnify and distort them vastly; not to mention that the introduction of another element and its inhabitants into our parlours engages the fancy in a very agreeable manner.