[Three Hundred Animals Contents]
A WELL known marine fish, between four or five inches in length, the back fin very remote from its nose; the lower jaw longer than the upper, the eyes blood-shot, like those of the Herring, and in shape so much like that fish that several clever ichthyologists have took the former to be the same as the latter, but not yet grown to its proper shape. But upon a nearer examination it has been ascertained that the Sprat has but forty eight dorsal vertebræ, whereas the herring has fifty-six: a difference so essential that neither age nor any other cause can obliterate it. They arrive yearly in the beginning of November in the river Thames, and generally a large dish of them is presented on the table at Guildhall, on Lord Mayor’s Day. They continue through the winter and depart in March. They are sold by measure, and yield a great deal of sustenance to poor people in the hard season. It is reported that they have been taken yearly about Easter time in a lake about Cheshire, called Kostern Meer, and in the river Mersey, in which the sea ebbs and flows seven or eight miles below the lake.
The Sardine, caught on the southern shores of France, where it is held in great repute, is much like the sprat, only a size bigger. It is sent here pickled in the same way as herrings, and packed in barrels.