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Of the remaining fish that are held in any degree of esteem, the mullet1 is the most highly valued, as well as the most abundant of all; it is of only a moderate size, rarely exceeds two pounds in weight, and will never grow beyond that weight in preserves or fish-ponds. These fish are only to be found in the Northern Ocean,2 exceeding two pounds in weight, and even there in none but the more westerly parts. As for the other kinds, the various species are numerous; some3 live upon sea-weed, while others feed on the oyster, slime, and the flesh of other fish. The more distinctive mark is a forked beard, that projects beneath the lower lip. The lutarius,4 or mud-mullet, is held in the lowest esteem of all. This last is always accompanied5 by another fish, known as the sargus, and where the mullet stirs up the mud, the other finds aliment for its own sustenance. The mullet that is found on the coast is not6 highly esteemed, and the most esteemed of all have a strong flavour7 of shell-fish. Fenestella is of opinion, that this fish received its name of mullet [mullus] from its resemblance to the colour of the red or mullet-coloured shoes.8 The mullet spawns three9 times a year: at all events, the fry makes its appearance that number of times. The masters in gastronomy inform us, that the mullet, while dying, assumes a variety of colours and a succession of shades, and that the hue of the red scales, growing paler and paler, gradually changes, more especially if it is looked at enclosed in glass.10 M. Apicius, a man who displayed a remarkable degree of ingenuity in everything relating to luxury, was of opinion, that it was a most excellent plan to let the mullet die in the pickle known as the "garum of the allies"11—for we find that even this has found a surname—and he proposed a prize for any one who should invent a new sauce,12 made from the liver of this fish. I find it much easier to relate this fact, than to state who it was that gained the prize.

1 Cuvier says that this is the τριγλαof the Greeks, the triglia of modern Italy, the rouget of Provence, and the Mullus barbatus of Linnæus.

2 The coasts of La Manche, Cuvier says, and the Gulf of Gascony produce a kind of mullet of larger size than usual, varied with stripes of a yellow colour. This, the Mullus surmuletus of Linnæus, is also to be found in the Mediterranean, but much more rarely than the smaller kind, which is red all over.

3 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. viii c. 5; Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. ii. c. 41; and Oppian, Halieut. B. iii. 1. 435.

4 Hardouin says that it is larger than the sea-mullet; and that it dwells in muddy or slimy spots in the vicinity of the sea-shore.

5 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 5.

6 Probably from the fact of its living in the mud. "Doctors differ" on this point. Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 16, says that shore-fish are superior to those caught out at sea; while Seneca, on the other hand, Nat. Quæst. B. iii. c. 18, says that rock-fish and those caught out at sea are the best.

7 He would almost seem to imply by this that they feed upon shell-fish: but Hardouin has a note to the effect, that Pliny does not mean that they live on shell-fish, as it would be impossible for them to break the shell to devour the fish within, but only that they have the same flavour as shellfish. But query as to this explanation.

8 On the other hand, Isidorus says that the mullet-coloured shoes were so called from the colour of the fish, which, indeed, is most probable. These shoes were made of a kind of red Parthian leather, probably not unlike our morocco leather. Festus seems to say that they were worn in general by all the patricians; but the passage of Varro which he quotes, only shows that they were worn by the curule magistrates, the consul, prætor, and curule ædile.

9 Hence their Greek name,τρίγλα, according to Oppian, Halieut. B. i. 1. 590.

10 Seneca has a passage on this subject, Quæst. Nat. B. iii. c. 18, which strongly bespeaks the barbarous tastes of the Romans. He says: "A mul- let even, if just caught, is thought little of, unless it is allowed to die in the hand of your guest. They are carried about enclosed in globes of glass, and their colour is watched as they die, which is changed by the struggles of death into various shades and hues." And again: "There is nothing, you say, more beautiful than the colours of the dying mullet; as it struggles and breathes forth its life, it is first purple, and then a paleness gradually comes over it; and then, placed as it is between life and death, an uncertain hue comes over it."

11 This anchovy, pickle, or fish-sauce, will be found more fully spoken of in B. xxxi. c. 44.

12 Alecem. See B. xxxi. c. 44. Seneca speaks of this cruel custom of pickling fish alive, Quæst. Nat. B. iii. c. 17. "Other fish, again, they kill in sauces, and pickle them alive. There are some persons who look upon it as quite incredible that a fish should be able to live under-ground. How much more so would it appear to them, if they were to hear of a fish swimming in sauce, and that the chief dish of the banquet was killed at the banquet, feeding the eye before it does the gullet?"

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