The Pike, pp.256-258.

[Three Hundred Animals Contents]

   THE regions of fresh water have their sharks as well as the empire of the seas. This fish lives in rivers, lakes, and ponds: and, in a confined piece of water, he will soon destroy all other fish, as he generally does not feed upon any thing else and often swallows one nearly as big as himself; for through his greediness in eating, he takes the head foremost, and so draws it in by little and little at a time, till he has absorbed the whole. I remember to have seen in the stomach of a large Pike a gudgeon of good size, the head of which had already received clear marks of the power of digestion, whilst the rest of the fish was still fresh and unimpaired. 

   It is a very long lived fish. In the year 1497, a Pike was caught at Hailbrun in Swabia, to which was affixed a brazen ring with the following words engraved on it in Greek characters, “I am the fish which was first of all put into this lake by the hands of the governor of the universe, Frederick the Second, the fifth of October, 1230.” The Pike has a flat head and sharp teeth in his jaws, the under one of which is much more prominent than the superior one. This fish is of a white, firm, dry flesh, and wholesome. The larger and older, the more esteemed. The bones are long and pliant, and easily extracted in eating. The following lines are poetically expressive of the danger in which smaller fishes are at the approach of the Pike: 

“Beware, ye harmless tribes; the tyrant comes,” 

Exclaims the silver-mantled Nayad of the pond; 

“Beware, ye flirting gudgeons, barbels fair, 

And ye, quick-swimming minnows, gliding eels, 

And all who breathe the lucid crystal of the lake, 

Or lively sport betwixt the dashing wheels 

Of river mills, beware; the tyrant comes! 

Grim death awaits you in his gaping jaws 

And lurks behind his hungry fangs – beware!” 


   The best manner of cooking the Pike is to boil it in wine and water, or in the absence of wine with vinegar, accompanied with parsley, carrots, and other roots of agreeable flavour. It is served cold, upon a napkin, and eaten with oil and vinegar, with anchovy or cavice sauce. 

   The Anchovy is a fish about four or five inches long; some have been seen more than a span in length. It has a long slender body with small scales; the whole, like the smelt, is nearly transparent; the back is of a mixture of green and ash colour; the belly of a silvery white, the nose sharp, the eyes large, and the tail forked. They are taken on the coasts of Italy and in the Mediterranean, salted, preserved in barrels, and so brought to Great Britain, and to all parts of the Continent; where they are esteemed a very agreeable relish in sauces and sallads. An imposition is often practised by substituting sprats to Anchovies, but the deception is soon found out by the difference of taste. 

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