[Three Hundred Animals Contents]
BELONGS to the elegant order of the cyprinus. It is of a thick short body and seldom exceeds ten or eleven inches in length. The irides are red, the back, dorsal and ventral fins, dusky; the head, sides, and belly of a greenish hue, mixed with gold, and the tail very broad. Although they delight in still water, in the muddy parts of ponds, where secure, as they suppose, from the voracious ramblings and dreadful proscriptions of the tyrant pike, and from the hook of the angler, they live nearly motionless, covered by the flags, reeds, and weeds that shade their place of retirement; this inactive life has enabled some individuals of this species to attain an extraordinary bulk, and tenches have been seen of an astonishing size comparatively with the common length and thickness of the fish. We have read, as a well authenticated fact, that, in the northern part of England, and in a piece of water, which, having been long neglected, was filled with pieces of timber, stones, and rubbish, a great number of Tenches of good size had been found; and that one, in particular, that seemed to have been shut up in a nook, had not only surpassed in size the common ones, but had also taken the form of the hole in which it had been accidentally confined. The body was in the shape of a half moon, answering in the convexity of its outlines the concavity of the dungeon where this innocent sufferer had been immured for several years. Did the water which the imprisoned creature inhaled, carry in itself food enough not only to support, but even over-reach the cravings of nature, and produce superabundance of nourishment? Or did some kindred neighbour bring small insects or other aliment, in pity for the confined sister of the pond; an act of charity which has been often remarked in other individuals of the brute creation? However inaction and contentedness, two qualities which that Tench is supposed to have enjoyed in a great degree, are sufficient to create health and bulk in any animated being.