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588 HOMEWARD BOUND.
men in the whole British navy, I should, I feel, be but giving them that character which they deserve. They are, in general, a set of picked men. Their pay is better than those in menof-war, and they are much better instructed in practical navigation than in the merchant service. It is, indeed, a lamentable fact, that the masters of our traders, so far from giving instruction to those who may wish for it, absolutely prevent men from “taking the sun,” or in any way improving themselves in the theory of their profession. On board the Crusader, and several other vessels of the Royal Yacht squadron that I have known, some of the men were regularly instructed in those different branches that qualify them for rising to be mates or masters.”
Besides all these considerations, the money expended in yachting finds its way into the pockets of our own countrymen. The vessel, and every thing belonging to her, is purchased at home; the wages of the men are, in a great part, paid to their wives or relations at home; and the provisions that are required, especially on a Mediterranean cruise, are procured at English ports.
We are now upon the little Sole-bank, and fast approaching home.
“Below, there, forrard.”
“Hand up the deep-sea lead.”
“Ay, ay, sir.”
“Now, then, my man, mind your helm. Come, my lads; one of you get out with it on the martingal. Luff, there, luff, and shake the wind out of her sails.”
“Luff, 'tis, sir.”
“Heave, men; heave.”
Splash goes the lead, and the coils are thrown off by the different hands.
“Soundings; haul on the line, now ; ninety-five fathoms.
* I should be wanting in duty did I not take this occasion to remember the care and attention exhibited on this subject by our sailing-master, Mr. W. Howard, as well as his skill and dexterity in the management of our vessel.
sArr. AT ANCHOR. 589
Come, keep her, her course, north-east half east; crack on her; the breeze freshens; stunsails, alow and aloft. There she goes, mine knots; and to-morrow we shall be within sight of old Ireland.”
On the morning of the 3rd of June, 1838, we entered Kingstown harbour. The hour was early ; the inhabitants had not yet stirred. There was scarcely a vessel in port. A thick mist hung over Killiney hill, and every thing looked lonely and deserted; but still it was with a longing eye and a beating heart I hailed that shore, to me
“More dear in its storms, its clouds, and its showers,
on A NEW M retition op preserving Fish Fort zoologic AI,
Being the Substance of a Paper read by the Author before the Natural History Section of the British Association”—August, 1839.
A good method of preparing fish for museums has been long considered a desideratum to the naturalist, but none of those that I have as yet seen preserve those two great requisites—colour and contour. This is so obvious in the distorted, faded specimens to be seen in collections, that I need not dwell upon the subject. My mode of preparation is as follows:–I make an incision through the scales down to the muscles, commencing about where the operculum joins the cranium, and continue it parallel with the dorsal outline to the centre of the tail. A similar cut is made from above the pectoral fin, till it also meets in the centre of the tail; by this means, somewhat less than a third of one side is included between the lines. The fish is kept steady on a smooth board, to which it adheres by its own natural gluten; water being poured over it from time to time, so as never to allow the scales to dry. The skin is then dissected back as far as the dorsal margin, where it meets the bony rays which support the fins. These are cut across, as close to the skin as possible, with a strong pair of scissors or a cutting forceps. A similar process is used towards the abdomen, taking care to keep as close to the facia to which the scales are attached as possible. The first vertebra is then separated from the cranium, and the skinning process continued by lifting up the body and leaving the skin adhering to the board; from which it should never be removed, if possible, till the dissection is completed. Difficulty will be experienced towards the tail, where the muscles become more tendinous, and are attached to the subcutaneous facia. The
rays of the caudal fin are then divided from the last vertebra, and the body removed entire. The gills are next taken out, and any remaining portion of the flesh about the head, cheeks, or thorax. It is as well, perhaps, to leave in the scapulac, or a large portion of them. An opening is made into the side of the cranium, where it will be found very thin, and the brain taken out. The eye is completely removed on the reverse side; a hook, passed down through the orbit, transfixes the back of the sclerotic of the other eye, in which an opening is made; the finger then pressed on the cornea in front will squeeze out the lens and humours, retaining the iris perfect in its place; and I have lately succeeded in retaining the gills, if necessary. The tongue is left in, and the fish is then cleansed from all impurities, care being taken not to stretch the skin nor to injure the scales. It is then well anointed with arsenical preparation, or wet with the spirituous solution of corrosive sublimate. There is, however, an objection to the use of corrosive sublimate in those fishes possessed of much mucous, for it turns them white upon turpentine being applied afterwards to soften them or remove the varnish; but when the specimens are to be set up immediately, and not damped afterwards, there is no objection to it. The globe of the eye is filled with cotton from the opening in the back—care being taken to keep the iris in its natural position. The cranium is also stuffed, and flakes of tow, cotton, or any material of a similar light description, laid along the body till a sufficiency to give the form of the animal has been put in. The refleeted edges of the skin are then returned—the fish removed from the board, and placed with the front up—the tail and fins expanded are pinned down in their natural position on cards, supported by little bits of cork; the fish is given its proper shape, and all the inequalities on its surface smoothed off with a soft brush. It is then set to dry in a current of cool air, with little light or sun, much in the same manner as a dried anatomical preparation, and should be carefully watched to see that it dries equally, and that no part of the skin shrinks more than another. If it should, a brush, wetted in cold water, touched upon the part, will restore it. It should be varnished the moment it is sufficiently dry, and the cards, &c., removed from the fins, which will now retain their natural position. I have tried several varnishes, and found the common copal, or mastic diluted with turpentine, the best. The cornea, which is continuous with the surrounding skin, now becoming hard and transparent, the wadding may be removed through the back of the sclerotic, and a bit of foil introduced in its place, of the colour originally possessed by the animal, in many of which we know the tapetum is very brilliant. Finally, a pin at head and tail will retain the preparation on a board, from which it stands out in bold relief, and preserves its shape and colours better than any other I have yet seen. Much difficulty will be found in skinning those on which the scales are very small, as in the mackerel tribe, and the thin skin will not, of itself, preserve the contour of the fish ; in those cases, I found that pasting a few layers of common brown paper on the inside of the skin, until it