Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/449

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AUGUST, 1881.

By Professor T. H. HUXLEY.

IT is now nineteen years since my attention was first specially directed to the natural history of the herring, and to the many important economical and legal questions connected with the herring-fisheries. As a member of two successive Royal Commissions, it fell to my lot to take part in inquiries held at every important fishing-station in the United Kingdom between the years 1862 and 1865, and to hear all that practical fishermen had to tell about the matter; while I had free access to the official records of the Fishery Boards. Nor did I neglect such opportunities as presented themselves of studying the fish itself, and of determining the scientific value of the terms by which, in the language of fishermen, the various conditions of the herring are distinguished.

Diligent sifting of the body of evidence thus collected and passed under review led to the satisfactory clearing away, in my own mind, of some of the obscurities which, at that time, surrounded the natural history of the fish. But many problems remained, the solution of which was not practicable by investigations which, after all, were only incidents in the course of a large inquiry, embracing a vast number of topics besides herrings and herring-fisheries; and it is only within the last few years that the labors of the German West Baltic Fishery Commission have made such large additions to the state of our knowledge in 1865 that the history of the herring is brought within measurable distance of completeness.

Considering the vast importance of the herring-fisheries of the eastern counties, it occurred to me, when the President of the National

  1. A lecture delivered at the National Fishery Exhibition, Norwich, April 21, 1881.