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Life of a Scotch Naturalist, Thomas Edward
Chapter XVI. Discoveries among Zoophytes, Molluks, and Fishes


At the same time that Edward was occupied in searching out new species of crustaceans for Mr. Spence Bate and Mr. Norman, he was also collecting marine objects for other naturalists. He found numerous star-fish, zoophytes, mollusks, and sponges, which he sent to his naturalist correspondents to be named.

Edward always endeavored to bring home the fishes, crustaceans, and other sea objects that he captured, alive; for the purpose of watching their manners and habits. He had always plenty of dishes in readiness, filled with sea-water—some having sand on the bottom, some mud, some bits of gravel, and others bits of rock—the latter being covered with Algae or Zoophytes. Into one of these vessels he would put his living specimens, in order that he might watch and learn something of their various characteristics. Some of his observations were published in the Zoologist, and were regarded as highly interesting, many of them being new to science.

This could hardly have been otherwise, for it was his habit, first to observe, and then to kill. He never had any mercenary object in view in wandering about with his gun and his traps; he only desired to obtain knowledge; and what he observed he told as plainly and clearly as he could, without knowing whether his observations had been printed before or not. He only regretted that he had so little time to publish his descriptions of the habits of animals, fishes, and crustaceans.

One of Edward’s most delightful studies was that of the star-fish. He published an article on the subject in the Zoologist. His object in doing so, he said, was to induce others to employ their spare time in discovering the starfishes found along the Banffshire coast, and to make them publicly known. “If this,” said he, “were done generally throughout the country, we might, ere long, be able to form something like an adequate notion of what we really do possess; but until that be done, we can not expect to arrive at any thing like a perfect idea of what our British fauna consists of, or where the objects are to be found. Let naturalists, then, and observers of nature everywhere, look to and note this, that all who can may reap the benefit.”

Edward was as enthusiastic about the star-fish as he was about any other form of animated being. He would allow none of them to be called “common.” They were all worthy of the most minute investigation, and also worthy of the deepest admiration. Of the daisy brittle stars (Ophio-coma bellis) he says: “They are the most beautiful of this beautiful tribe which I have ever seen. Their disks differ considerably from the star-fislies ordinarily met with, being of a pyramidal or conical form, sometimes resembling the well-known shell Trochus tumidus. In color they are like the finest variegated polished mahogany; their disks exhibiting the most beautiful carved work. The rays are short in proportion to the size of the disk—strong, and closely beset with short, thick, hard spines. I may add that the specimens I allude to were procured from that heterogeneous repository of marine objects, the stomach of a cod, which was taken about thirteen miles out at sea.”

Edward’s children also helped him to procure star-fishos. “I remember,” be says, “my young friend Maggie, and three of her sisters, once bringing me a large cargo of the granulated brittle star (Ophiocoma gmnulata)—nearly two hundred of them, which they had gathered up where the fishermen clean their lines. I remember being particularly struck with the numerous and brilliant colors displayed by the cargo, exhibiting, as they did, all those tints—perhaps more than it is possible to name—from the brightest scarlet down to the deepest black, scarcely two being alike. Their disks, too, were remarkably varied; some were of a perfect oval, while others were pentangular; some were flat, while others were, in a measure, pyramidal, and what, in truth, may be termed triangular in form.”

Of all his daughters, Maggie seems to have been the most helpful. She went down to Gardenstown to obtain the refuse from the fishermen’s lines, to collect fish, Crustacea, and such-like, and send them home to her father by the carrier. She sometimes accompanied him along the coast as far as Fraserburgh and Peterhead. One evening, while Edward was partaking of his evening meal, Maggie entered, and accosted him joyfully, “Father, I’ve got a new starfish t’ ye, wi’ sax legs!” “I hope so, Maggie,” he answered, “but I doubt it.” After he had finished his supper, he said, “Now, Maggie, let’s see this prodigy of yours.” After looking at it, “Just as I thought, Maggie,” said he; “it’s not a new species—it’s only an Ophiocoma Ballii, but rather a peculiar one in its way, having, as you said,1 sax legs instead of five.”

Of the rosy-feather star (Camatula roseacea)—which Edward had long been searching for, and at last found—he says: “What a pretty creature! but how brittle! and oh, how beautiful! Does any one wonder, as I used to do, when he hears of a stone-lily or of a lily-star, as applied to this genus? Then let him get a sight of a crenard-star, and sure I am that his surprise will give place to admiration. And how curious! It was once supposed to have been the ‘ most numerous of the ocean’s inhabitants,’ whereas now there are only about a dozen kinds to be found alive—one only in the British seas, and that but rarely met with. Well, I am proud to be able to record its occurrence on the Banffshire coast. The specimen I allude to was taken from the stomach of a cod.”

But still more wonderful is that rare species, the great sea-cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa), the king of the Ilolo-thuridae family, found on the Banffshire coast. Edward’s specimen was brought up on the fishermen’s lines. “When at rest,” he says, “it is fully sixteen inches long. It is of a very deep purple on all except the under side, which is grayish. It is a most wonderful, and at the same time a most interesting, animal. What strange forms and curious shapes it assumes at will! Now it seems like a pear, and again like a large purse or long pudding. Sometimes it has the appearance of two monster potatoes joined endways, from which it diverges into a single bulb, with no suckers visible; and again it looks as long as my arm, rough and warty-looking. Its tentacula too, how curious they are! Simple to appearance, yet how complete and how beautiful withal. What strange forms and what beauteous creatures and inconceivable things there are in the ocean’s depths! What a pity it is that we can not traverse its hidden fields and explore its untrodden caverns!”

Edward found numerous zoophytes along the coast, which excited his admiration almost as much as the star-fish. Of one species, called “ dead-mcn’s paps,” “ sea-fingcrs,” etc. (Aic.yonium digitatam),ho says, “It is frequently brought ashore by the fishermen, attached to shells and stones. It is curious to observe the strange and fantastic forms which these creatures at times assume. They are loathed by the generality of people when found 011 the sands. But were they to be seen in their proper element, with the beautiful leaf-like tentacula of the little polyps, thousands of which compose the living mass, these feelings of loathing would give place to wonder and delight. Touch one of those polyps, and it instantly contracts and withdraws its tentacles, while the others continue their movements. But touch them again and again, and they will shrink and hide themselves in their fleshy home, which becomes greatly reduced in bulk. Wait a little, and you will observe the pap assume its natural size, and the surface will appear roughish and covered with small protuberances. From these asperities the numerous polyps may now be noticed, slowly, and almost imperceptibly, emerging one by one; and having-gained a sufficient height, their slender and fragile arms, or tentacula, will also be observed cautiously expanding, which, when nearly fully developed, gives to the whole mass the enchanting appearance of a bouquet of flowers of the richest dye, or of a gaudy-colored wreath of beautiful and delicate blossoms, combined in one cluster, enough to excite wonder and admiration even in the dullest mind.”

Without following Edward farther in his description of the zoophytes, we may proceed to state that he was for some time engaged in collecting mollusks for Mr. Alder, of Newcastle, who was engaged in writing a paper on the subject. Having observed the great number of tunicata, or acephalous mollusks, found upon the fishermen’s lines, Edward proceeded to collect and examine these lower productions of marine life. As usual, he wished to have them named, and he sent a large number of specimens to Mr. Alder for the purpose. Some of Mr. Alder’s letters have been preserved, from which a few extracts are subjoined:

“I have received yours of the 16th inst. (October, 1864), and also two parcels of Ascidians. I shall be most happy to receive and name for you any Tunicata you may send. Our communications may be mutually advantageous, as I should like to have information concerning the Tunicata of your coast, being engaged upon a work on the British species. In the first parcel that came I could only find one specimen, though you mentioned parts of two or three. It was, I think, a Botryllida incrusting the stem of a sea-weed, but of what species I can not say. In the second parcel, received this morning, there is a piece of Leptoclinum \punctatum, and also part of an ascidian which appears to be A. parallelograma. The Botryllida are very difficult to distinguish unless they are quite fresh. I have never heard of Aplidium lobatum being found in this country. It is a Red Sea and Mediterranean species..... I am much obliged to my friend Mr. Norman for recommending you to send specimens to me, and I shall be glad to hear from you again.”

The specimen of Aplidium lobatum which Edward sent to Mr. Alder was cast ashore at Banff; though its usual habitat is the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean.

In a future letter Mr. Alder says: “I received your box containing a specimen of Ascidia sordida (young), and also a Zoophyte, the Alcyonidium yelatinosum, for which accept my thanks. I see that you have been very successful in discovering small fish. Your account of them is very interesting. I wish any one on our coast would pay attention to these things, but we have no one living permanently on the coast that cares any thing about natural history.”

Edward afterward discovered a fine specimen of the Onychoteuthis Bartlinyii or Banlcsii. It was the first met with in Britain—the range of the species being said to be from Norway to the Cape and Indian Ocean. This specimen was found on the beach betwixt the mouth of the river Deveron and the town of Macduff. Doubtless many other specimens of this and other marine animals had been cast upon the beach before, but no one had taken the trouble to look for or observe them. Many, also, of the fishes and marine objects which Edward was the first to discover had probably been haunting the Moray Firth for hundreds or thousands of years; but science had not yet been born in the district, and there were none who had the seeing eye and the observant faculties of our Banffshire naturalist.

Edward also discovered a specimen of the Leptoclinum panelatum, which had been thrown on shore during a severe storm. It was of a most beautiful greenish color, variegated with steel-blue. This specimen he sent to Mr. Alder, who answered him in the following letter: “The Ascidian which you have sent me is a Leptoclinum, and may probably be a new species. There are few of that genus with star-shaped calcareous crystals imbedded in them. The species that you have sent has the star-shaped crystals, and differs in color from any I have seen, being of a greenish-blue color. I put it into water to moisten it after it came, and it stained the water of a blue color. I presume, therefore, that it would be of that color when fresh. It seems, from the sea-weed to which it is attached, to be a littoral species. I shall be glad of any other information which you can give me about it.”

This was the last letter Edward received from Mr. Alder. As he was about to send off another large cargo of Tunicata to Newcastle, containing three new species, he received notice of Mr. Alder’s sudden death; and knowing of no other person who could name his Ascidians, he ceased collecting them, although there is still a rich field for students of Mollusca along the Banffshire coast. “It is young, ardent, and devoted workers,” said Edward, “that are wanted to bring such things to light.”

We next proceed to mention Edward’s researches as to new fishes. Having discovered a specimen of Drummond’s Echiodon—the first that had ever been found in the Firth —Edward published an account of it in the Zoologist for April, 1863, and offered to afford naturalists the opportunity of examining it. The article came under the notice of Mr. Jonathan Couch, of Polperro, in Cornwall, who was then engaged in writing his celebrated work on British fishes; and he entered into a correspondence with Edward on the subject. The first letter that Mr. Couch wrote to Edward did not reach him. It was returned to Polperro. Banff seems not to have been known at the General Postoffice. Another letter, with “N. B.” added, reached its address. Mr. Couch requested an inspection of the curious fish, together with an account of its exact color when fresh from the sea, and also the particular circumstances, of weather or otherwise, under which so large a number of the fishes had been taken. The information asked for was at once furnished by Edward. Dr. Gray also requested a specimen for the British Museum, which was forwarded to London.

Now that Edward had found another opening for his discoveries, he proceeded to send numerous new specimens of fish for Mr. Couch’s identification. Mr. Couch having informed him that he was then employed upon the wrasses, Edward immediately began to search for wrasses, and shortly after he dispatched numbers of them to Polperro. Among the specimens of Wrasse latras which Edward sent to Mr. Couch, there was one which Cuvier described as being found only in New Guinea, on the farther side of the world. “And yet,” said Mr. Couch, after examining the fish, “I can not suppose that fishes from New Guinea can have visited you.” The finding of this fish at New Guinea and at the Moray Firth furnished only another illustration of the scarcity of observers in natural history; for it must certainly, like most other species, have existed in numerous other parts of the world besides these.

In describing his little fish, Edward says: “Although I can not say much of importance concerning the traits of our little friend, still there is one which can not be passed over in silence. It is this: on coming out of the water after I took the prize, I had occasion to lay it down upon the sand until a bottle was prepared for its reception and exclusive use, as I was anxious to take it home alive, so that I might see and learn as much of its habits as possible. While thus employed, I was rather surprised at seeing it frequently leap several inches at a time. Thinking that the damp sand might have in some way or other aided the operation, when I got home I placed it on a dry board to see how it would perform there. It did just the same. Away it jumped, jump after jump, until I was fully satisfied that there was no difference as to place; after which I put him again into his little aquarium. I now observed, however, that the tail, which is pretty large, was the chief and most important object used. The head and shoulders were first raised a little, and then, by a doubling of the tail, which acted as a kind of spring, the animal was, by a slight jerk, enabled to raise and propel itself forward, or to either side, and not unfrequently right over. In the water, too, when touched with any thing, instead of swimming away, as fish generally do, it merely leaped or jerked to one side in order to avoid the annoyance. I am not exactly aware whether this gymnastic performance is a common propensity with this family of fishes or not, but it was so with this specimen.”

After further observations, Edward came to the conclusion that these little fishes were inhabitants of our own seas, but that they differed from those which Cuvier had described. He was of opinion that, from the differences which he had observed between the true wrasses and the fish in question, it might yet be necessary, after further investigation, to place it in a new or sub-genus. In that case a portion of the name would require to be changed, and until then Edward held that its name should be the “microscopical wrasse of the Moray Firth.”

Another batch of little fishes which Edward sent to Mr. Couch led to an interesting correspondence. Edward no sooner found an opening for further work on the sea-shore, than he went into it with enthusiasm. As Mr, Couch was approaching the conclusion of his work, Edward seemed to become more energetic than before. Thus Mr. Couch had written out and sent off his history and description of the Ecliiodon to be printed, before he knew of Edward’s discovery. And now there arrived from Banff another batch of specimens, containing a little fish, which Mr. Couch declared to be a new species, and even a new genus. At first be supposed it to be tbe mackerel midge, but, after a careful examination, he declared it to be entirely new. Mr. Coucb concluded his letter containing his views as to the new fish with these words: “You will perceive that I set a great value on your communications, and I shall take care to acknowledge them when I speak of these different species.”

Edward, in his reply to Couch, observed: “I was aware that the new fish was not the mackerel midge, for I have examined it. But this is a far more splendid species; in fact, its colors and resplendence equal, if they do not excel, those of the pretty argentine. The one I sent you first, I kept alive for two days. It was one of the most restless and watchful fishes I bad ever seen. I took it with a small hand-net, which I used for taking the smaller crustaceans. I only took one at first; but a few days after, I took several together. I also found some cast ashore on tbe sands. Those that I send now are old and young. There is a little thing just out of tbe egg; it has the ovary sac still attached. Be kind enough, when you write me, to let me know the name of the fish.”

In replying to Edward, Couch said: “Your last box has reached me, with its contents in good order, for which I heartily thank you. I have already written an account of the fish. My intention is to give it the name of Couchia Thompsoni; and as I shall particularly refer to you, I think it may prove to your advantage to obtain as many specimens as possible, to answer any demands that may be made upon you. The reason why I have not answered you sooner is, that I have been much distressed by the loss of my eldest son—an eminent surgeon living at Penzance, in attendance on whom I was at that town for a fortnight, he was eminent in many departments of science, and was only forty-six years of age when he died. You may judge from this that I have had but little disposition to active exertion for some time past. I submit, as he was able to do, to the will of God, but there is difficulty in saying from the heart, ‘His will be done.’”

Edward discovered the above new fish in May, 1863. After a few weeks it disappeared from the coast, and nothing further was seen of it until the following May, when Edward took a few specimens. It disappeared again, and re-appeared toward the end of August. “As this,” he says, “was a lucky chance, and one not to be lost, I took a considerable number, not with the intention of destroying the beautiful little creatures—as beautiful they truly are—but for the purpose of ascertaining how they now stood as to size. Being satisfied as to this, I committed the most of them again to their native element, and right glad they were to be set once more at liberty. I found that, although late in the season, they had not in any way increased in bulk, as compared with those which were taken in spring. From this important and opportune circumstance, too, it is now my firm and decided belief that their average length does not exceed an inch. It would seem that they are a deep-water fish, and, herring-like, only visit the shore occasionally. Like that fish, too, they are gregarious—that is, they go in small shoals. They seem to be about the fleetest, most active, and most vigilant of the finny tribes. Besides what I observed in the sea itself, I kept a number of them alive, placed in the window before me when at work, so that I had both the pleasure as well as the satisfaction of observing their habits at my leisure; and I was well repaid for my time and patience.”

So soon as this discovery became known to the scientific world, numerous inquiries were made to Edward for specimens of the “new fish;” and, among others, Dr. Gray sent for some specimens for the Home Department of the British Museum.

Edward continued to ply Mr. Couch with new species of fish. Qn the 5th of September, 1864, he said: “I herewith send you another small fish, which I hope you will give me your opinion upon at your leisure. I freely confess that I am at a loss about it. Although small, it is so well proportioned in every respect, so firm, and so compact, that I can not believe it to be a young specimen. I took it about a fortnight since, in a small shoal of Thompson’s Midge; and though I have been netting each day since then, I have not yet met with another.”

Mr. Couch was equally at a loss with Edward. At first he said, “It appears to be a Wrasse labrus, but it is not exactly like any of the known kinds.” In his next letter he said, “I think your little fish is the young of the rock goby.” This did not satisfy Edward. He answered that “the fish, though little, was a full-grown fish; and that it might possibly be one of Thompson’s Irish fish.” “No,” replied Couch; “it will be plain to you that it is not Irish, from Mr. Thompson’s own description,” which he then gave. At last he thought it to be “the true mackerel midge.” He examined the little fish again, and finally came to the conclusion that it was a long-lost fish—Montagu’s Midge, or the silvery gade.

Colonel George Montagu was an old soldier and sportsman, who had flourished in Devonshire some seventy years before. Living in the country and by the sea-shore, his attention was directed to the pursuit of natural history. At first it was his hobby, and then it became his study. He observed birds carefully: this was natural to him as a sportsman. He published an “Ornithological Dictionary of British Birds.” But his range of study broadened. The sea-shore always presents a great attraction for naturalists. The sea is a wonderful nursery of nature: the creatures that live in and upon it are so utterly different from those which we meet with by land. Then, every thing connected with the ocean is full of wonder.

Colonel Montagu was an extraordinary observer. He was a man who possessed the seeing eye. He forgot nothing that he once clearly saw. He was one of the best naturalists, so far as logical acumen and earnest research were concerned, that England has ever seen. The late Professor Forbes said of him that, “had he been educated a physiologist, and made the study of nature his aim and not his amusement, his would have been one of the greatest names in the whole range of British science. There is no question about the identity of any animal that Montagu described He was a forward-looking philosopher; he spoke of every creature as if one exceedingly like it, and yet different from it, would be washed up by the waves next tide. Consequently his descriptions are permanent.” We might also say of Edward, that, although comparatively uneducated, he possessed precisely the same qualities of observing and seeing. Nothing that once came under his eyes was forgotten. He remembered, and could describe fluently and vividly, the form, habits, and habitats of the immense variety of animals that came under his observation.

Now, this Colonel Montagu had, in 1808, discovered on the shore of South Devonshire the same midge that Edward rediscovered in 1864 on the shore of the Moray Firth. Colonel Montagu had clearly and distinctly described the fish in the second volume of the “Memoirs of the Wernerian Natural History Society" but he had not given any figure of it. He named it the silvery gade (Gadus argen-teolus). The colonel passed away, and with him all further notice of his fish. It was never again observed until, fifty-six years later, it was rediscovered by Edward. Future writers on British fishes ignored it. They believed that Colonel Montagu had been mistaken, and had merely described the young of some species already known. Even Mr. Couch, the most accomplished ichthyologist of his time, had swept it out of his list of British fishes. But Montagu was too close an observer to be mistaken. As Professor Forbes had said of him, “There is no question about the identity of any animal that he described.... consequently his descriptions are permanent.”

Hence the surprise of Mr. Couch on receiving from Edward the identical fish that had so long been lost. “There is one of your little fishes,” he said in his reply to Edward’s letter, “that I am satisfied about, and the history of which is a matter of much interest. You are well acquainted with the little mackerel midge, first made known by myself, and which has been denominated Couchia glauca by Thompson. But, previously to this, Colonel Montagu had published an account of a species much like it, but differing in having only two barbels on the snout. It does not appear that any figure was given, but he speaks of them as occurring in Devonshire, where he lived. No one has seen a fish which answers to his description since that time—I suppose more than fifty years ago ; and it has been judged that some mistake was made, especially as he never gave a notice of the midge with four barbels. Yet Montagu was a good naturalist, and a correct observer. He calls his fish silvery gade; for he wrote before Cuvier made these fishes into a new genus, termed Motella. But your fish answers closely to Montagu’s lost fish. When I inform you that Montagu gives the number of rays in the fins, you may judge how closely he examined this fish. When my ‘History of British Fishes’ is ended, I intend to give a few as a supplement, and as ascertained too late to fall into the regular order. This little fish will find a place there, when I shall take care to mention your name as its rediscoverer.” In a notice which Edward afterward gave of the fish he observed: “I may mention that this genus of little fishes, designated with the appellation of midges from their small size, and containing three species, are now authentically known to be inhabitants of the Moray birth, all three, both young and old of each, having been procured here—a circumstance which perhaps can bo said of no other single district but our own. This, not so much for the lack of the fish themselves, as from the want of searchers for these things; for we can not allow ourselves to think for a single moment that they could be found in so widely distant localities as Cornwall, Belfast, Devon, and here, and not be met with at intermediate places. Such a thing appears to me to be one of those affairs called impossibilities. Let those, then, who live on the coast, and have time and a mind for these things, or whether they have time or not, if they have the will, let such, I say, look better about them, and I doubt not but they will find many of these little gems, as well as other rarities of a similar and kindred nature.” Edward had not yet finished his discovery of midges in the Moray Firth. In November, 1865, he sent to Mr. Couch a specimen of a little fish which he had caught, and which seemed quite new to him. Mr. Couch replied that it was not only new to him, but new to science. Mr. Couch expressed his regret that the midge “had come too late to find a place by the side of its near relation, Montagu’s Midge, in his work, the last number of which had just been published.” He also added: “As your little fish is certainly new, I have thought of sending an account of it to the Linnaean Society, in which case I should think it only a piece of justice to affix your name to it.”

Mr. Couch accordingly prepared a paper for the Linnaean Society, in which he embodied Edward’s description of the fish, and of its habits and habitat. He also attached to it the name of Edward’s Midge, Couchia Edioardii. In the course of Mr. Couch’s paper he says:

“Long before the discovery of the mackerel midge as a separate species, an account had been given by Colonel Montagu of a kindred fish, which he supposed to be common to the coast of Devonshire, and which he described as being distinguished by the possession of a pair only of the frontal barbs; and yet for more than half a century this species of midge had remained in obscurity, until it was again brought to light by the diligent and acute observation of Mr. Thomas Edward, of Banff, who found it in some abundance in the Moray Firth, and kindly supplied the writer with examples, which enabled him to give an account of it, with a figure, in the concluding portion of the fourth volume of his ‘History of the Fishes of the British Islands.’ The five-bearded species had been already represented in a colored figure in the third volume of the same book, as also in Mr. Yarrell’s well-known volumes. But a vacancy still existed in the analogy between the species of the nearly allied genera Motella and Concilia; and it is this, again, we are able to supply through the persevering diligence of Mr. Edward, whose intelligence enabled him to detect the existence of another species, and whose kindness has, with an example, communicated materials which enable the writer to produce, with a satisfactory likeness, a somewhat extended notice of its actions, the latter of which will be described, as far as can be, in this attentive observer’s own words. The length of the example from which my notes were taken is an inch and five-eighths; and as half a dozen others were about the same size, it may be judged to be their usual magnitude, as it does not differ much also from that of C. glauca and C. Montagui. Compared with the latter, its shape is more slender, the pectoral fin rather more lengthened and pointed, the ventral fins longer and slender, the cilia on the back, along the edge of the membrane, more extended, apparently more numerous, and very fine; barb on the lower jaw long; but what especially marks this little fish as distinct from the other speceies is, that, besides the pair of barbs in front of the head, there is a single one of much larger size in front of the upper lip, and which points directly forward with a slight inclination downward, thus analogically answering to the middle bail that projects from the snout of the four-bearded rockling (Motella cimbria). It is probable that there are teeth in the jaws, but they can scarcely be seen, and there is a row of pores along each border of the superior maxillary bone. Some further particulars of this fish I prefer to give in the w’ords of its discoverer, who describes its color as a beautiful deep green along the back when caught, the sides brilliantly white; hut when it reached me, preserved in spirit, it was blue, with a tinge of the same along the lateral line. In some examples in Mr. Edward’s possession the color on the back was a faint yellow, with a narrow stripe of bluish purple on the side, and in all of them the silvery hue of the lower portions of the body is found to rise nearer the back than in the other species of this genus. The back also and head were thickly covered with very small, dark, star-like spots, which, together with two narrow yellow streaks extending from the top of the head, above the mouth, and diverging to the eyes, had disappeared when subjected to my examination. Iris of the eye silvery, the pupil bluish green; the fins dull gray, as also the pair of barbs; but the single one on the lip at its root is almost of as deep a color as the top of the head and back.

“I regard it as no other than an act of justice to the discoverer of this fish to assign to it the name of Edward’s Midge (Couchia Edwardii), of which the specific character is sufficiently obvious.”

Mr. Edward followed up this paper by a fuller description of the midge, after he had had an opportunity of observing a much larger number of specimens.

It is scarcely necessary to describe at length the large number of new fishes belonging to the Moray Firth which Edward for the first time recognized and described. For instance, the bonito, the tunny—fishes for the most part found in the Mediterranean—the pilot-fish, the bear-fish, the short sun-fish, the bald-fish, the scald-fish, and several species of sharks. Strange fishes such as these had occasionally been found before; but Edward never missed the opportunity of carefully observing them and describing their habits, sometimes in the Zoologist and the Naturalist, and at other times in the Banffshire Journal. He also endeavored to secure as many specimens as possible for the Banff Museum, of which he was curator.

When Edward informed Mr. Couch of the struggles and difficulties he had to encounter in the formation of a museum, the latter replied: “I can sympathize with you, with a smile, at your annoyances and disappointments as regards your attempts at a museum; but a real love of nature, and even a wish for any thing beyond a very slight acquaintance with it, is rare, and can scarcely be infused into any one not naturally endued with so great a blessing. With your museum there ought to be a collection of books on natural history. What you say about the new midge reminds me of what occurred when I first announced the discovery of the mackerel midge. A paper on it was read before the Linnaean Society, but they hesitated to publish it —thinking, I believe, as in the present case, that the fish was a young condition of some other known species.

There is much in the internal structure of fishes that is not known generally, but which can only be ascertained by dissection. In fact, the riches of nature are inexhaustible; but if we can not discover all, there is no reason why we should not continue our search after more of them. The most unsatisfactory part of the subject is, to find how greatly in some instances our best authorities are mistaken.”

The works of Mr. Couch and Mr. Spence Bate being now published, and both of these gentlemen having been so much indebted to the investigations of Edward, it occurred to both of them to endeavor to get him elected an Associate of the Linnaean Society, as a reward for his labors. Mr. Couch, in his letter to Edward of the 1st of November, 1865, says: “There is another thing which I think worthy of your notice; for, as the world goes, honor is of some value; and the honor I refer to is of intrinsic value, at the same time that it will cost you nothing. In the Linnfcan Society there is a company of associates (A.L.S.), limited to thirty; but at this time I think there are no more than twenty-eight. These associates are entitled to several privileges in the society; and in order to be elected, it is necessary to obtain the recommendation of at least three of the Fellows, which I suppose you can procure. I shall feel a pleasure in signing the necessary application, and, if applied to, 1 have no doubt Dr. Gray will do the same.”

Mr. Bate warmly concurred in the proposal. The application was drawn up, signed, and sent to the Linnsean Society. Dr. Gray was of opinion that a similar application should have been made to the Zoological Society for Edward’s admission as an associate. But this does not seem to have been done. At length the day of the election arrived, and on the 5th of April, 1866, Edward was unanimously elected an associate. Mr. Couch wrote to congratulate him. He said, “The number of associates is now limited to a few, so that it is very difficult to get elected; but, then, it is a greater honor.”

It never rains but it pours. A few months later, Edward was unanimously admitted a member of the Aberdeen Natural History Society, at its monthly meeting, held in Marischal College; and in March, 1867, he was furnished with the diploma of the Glasgow Natural History Society.

“But a prophet is not without honor, save in his own country.” Although Banff possessed an “Institution for Science, Literature, and the Arts, and for the Encouragement of Native Genius and Talent,” the members did not even elect Edward an honorary member. The Linnaean Society perhaps the most distinguished association of naturalists in the world—had discovered Edward’s genius and talent, and elected him an associate. But the scientific men of Banff fought shy of the native shoe-maker. It may, however, be added that the Banff Institution, finding no native nor any other genius and talent to encourage, became defunct in 1875, and handed over their collection to the corporation, whose property it now is.


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