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Whence, then, came the assertion that, by the consent of all the learned, Dionysius introduced the method of beginning the year on the 25th of March?
It is perfectly true that, according to the common reckoning of the middle ages, the Annunciation and the Nativity were taken to be events of the year B. c. 1, to those who begin the year with January. It is also true that it became very common to begin the year with March 25, and that the beginning of A. D. 1 was made to be in the March preceding the Jan. 1, A. D. 1, from which we reckon. That these things have a connexion with one another we have no doubt; but we suspect the connexion to have originated in a misconception. If the year (Jan. 1-Dec. 31) A. D. 1 were considered by Dionysius as containing the Annunciation and the Nativity, and if those who reckoned from March 25 threw them into their A. D. 1, that is, into the year Mar. 25, B. C. 1—March 24, A. D. 1 of Dionysius-the misconception might easily have arisen if those who restored the reckoning of Dionysius happened to forget, or did not know, that the placing of the above events had shifted with the reckoning.
There is no occasion to settle this point either one way or the other, for our present purpose, which is to point out that no reasonable ground exists for citing any intention or declaration of Dionysius in favour of any meddling with the received mode of reckoning; and further, to put those who may need it on their guard against the undiscriminating learning of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the chronological logic of the nineteenth, which does not build on antiquity at all. A. DE MORGAN.
University College, London.
II.-BRITISH AND IRISH FISHERIES.
THE fisheries of an insular country like Great Britain must necessarily be of considerable importance. The extent of land available for agriculture is definite: it may be measured almost to a single square mile, whether reclaimed or unreclaimed; but the fisheries are practically unlimited, or at least the only limit is that which is determined by the ratio between the expense of catching and bringing the fish to market, and the value of the fish when caught. Our shores and streams are visited or inhabited by countless numbers of cod, ling, hake, herrings, salmon, mackerel, pilchards, lobsters, oysters, and other fish; and as these fish breed and increase without any care or cost to man, they must ever be an object of solicitude in a
country so sea-girt as England. The term Fisheries is only applied where there are localities frequented at certain seasons by shoals or great numbers of fish, sometimes of one particular description only: the mere sporting exercise with the fishing rod is another subject. The right of frequenting fishing grounds has frequently been matter of dispute between governments, and sometimes the subject of treaties; while exclusion from them, or invasion of presumed exclusive rights to their enjoyment, has even been the cause of warlike demonstrations. So far as regards British fishermen, their operations are carried on in rivers or estuaries, in bays or near coasts, and in far-distant stations.
The object of the present paper is to present an outline of the modes in which the British legislature has sought to encourage fisheries, and of the laws at present in operation to this end. To effect this, it will be desirable to make a threefold division of-1st, Scotch Fisheries; 2nd, Channel Fisheries; 3rd, Irish Fisheries; to which will be appended a few observations on Fresh-water Fish Farms. The subject of the distant fisheries, such as of the whale and the Newfoundland cod, scarcely comes within our present scope; but a few words concerning them may here be premised. The whale fishery was carried on successfully in the Bay of Biscay in the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries; but on failure of the supply in that quarter, the whalers in the 16th and 17th centuries turned their attention towards the northern ocean, near Spitzbergen and Greenland; and this has ever since been the chief seat of the whale fishery. At first it was the practice to boil the blubber on the spot, and bring home the oil in casks; but it was afterwards found more economical to bring home the blubber to be boiled. The open sea has long been almost exhausted of its whales; and the whalers now proceed to Davis Straits, where the supply is, in its turn, sensibly lessening. This is shown by comparing the returns of two periods of three years each :
Ships. Men. Tuns of oil. 1830-1-2......258......2750......30,083 1840-1-2...... 62...... 835...... 9767
This refers to British whalers only. The numbers have still further decreased since 1842. As the northern supply failed, the Southern or Pacific whale fisheries began to attract notice. They have not hitherto been conducted on so large a scale as the northern. With respect to the cod fishery, the capture of this fish off the Great Bank of Newfoundland has been conducted since 1500, and has been the subject of many international treaties between England, France, Portugal, and the United States. The produce is usually from 600,000 to 900,000 quintals of cod fish annually, which is exported either dry or wet. In 1848 the quantity reached as high as 1,000,000 quintals (a quintal=100lbs.). An Act of Parliament regulates the resort of English and French vessels to this station; and the French pursue it with vigour. As many as 360 vessels, from 100 to 300 tons burthen, visit the Newfoundland banks from France yearly; they are
worked by 16,000 men, while 12,000 more are engaged at the permanent fishing stations. The French government regards this as a nursery for seamen, and pays a bounty on the fish caught. In 1848 the English settlers, who can scarcely compete with the French, petitioned the English government for some kind of protection against their foreign rivals.
As early as the ninth century the taking of herrings was extensively pursued in Scotland; but the convention of royal burghs prohibited the exportation of fish until the townsmen were first supplied at a stipulated price; and in consequence of this shortsighted and selfish policy, the fishermen abandoned the trade. A number of these men, thus driven from home, settled in Holland, but continued to fish off their native coast; and thus their example attracted the attention of the Dutch to the value of the Scotch fisheries. Several attempts to recover the fishery were made by legal enactments under James III., IV., and V., of Scotland; and James VI., before his accession to the English throne, appointed three towns to be built in different parts of the Highlands, for the double purpose of civilizing the people and promoting the fisheries: but the attempt failed.
In 1633 Charles I. ordained an association of the three kingdoms, for a general fishery along the whole of the coasts; for its government he nominated a standing committee. Many persons of consideration embarked in the enterprise; and in order to render the object all the aid he could, the king ordered that Lent should be strictly observed; that the importation of foreign fish should be prohibited; and that his own naval stores should be purchased of the committee. The breaking out of the civil war speedily frustrated this scheme. During the Commonwealth, privileges were granted to two or three persons, with a view to induce them to foster the fisheries, but without much result. Charles II., soon after the Restoration, appointed a " Council of Royal Fishery," of which the Duke of York and Lord Clarendon were members, to make laws for the management of the fisheries. Many things, which despotism alone would attempt, were done to aid the operations of this council: victuallers and coffee-house keepers were compelled to buy a certain quantity of herrings yearly at a certain price; all duties on the export of fish were removed, and duties laid on the import; a lottery for three years was granted, and collections in the churches made, to provide funds for the council. But all would not do; the ricketty child of so much protection never throve. Other legislative attempts, made in the same century, were equally unsuccessful.
Laws were passed, and associations formed, for encouraging the fisheries, in 1720, 1749, 1759, and 1785, but with as little success as before. Some writers thought that the failure occurred because there were "insufficient means," some because "there were job
béry and mismanagement," some because "the Thames (the dearest British port) was made the head-quarters of the fishery." These repeated failures were rendered more conspicuous by the success of the Yarmouth merchants fishing on their own account. By proceeding farther to the north than the Dutch fishing grounds, they discovered better fish at an earlier season; and they succeeded in supplying the Hamburgh market before their rivals could appear to compete with them.
The high price of salt in the beginning of the present century was one drawback to the extension of the curing of herrings, and indirectly to the fishery itself. The government long resisted the removal of the duty on salt, but they continued the old system of granting bounties, by Acts passed in 1800, 1801, 1803, 1808, 1811, and 1815: in 1817 they granted the use of salt duty free to the fish curers, under certain stringent regulations; and a few years afterwards they removed the salt duty altogether. This last measure was better than any of the bounty systems. It was aided by the establishment of two bodies, each of which seems to have effected much good within its sphere of operation. One of these was the British Fishery Society, established in 1786, for purchasing land, and building thereon free towns, villages, and fishing stations, in the highlands and islands of Scotland. The other, under the provisions of an Act passed in 1808, was the election of a Board of Seven Commissioners of the Herring Fisheries, which was engrafted on the old Scotch Board of Trustees for Linen and Hempen Manufactures. For the inspection and branding of herrings, the whole coast of Great Britain was divided into districts; in each of these, officers were appointed to overlook the operations of the fishermen, and to see that all was done in conformity with the then existing laws.
For many years the public opinion had tended towards a condemnation of the bounty system; and, in accordance with this opinion, the tonnage bounty was repealed in 1821, and the fish bounty in 1830; since which time the system has been one of encouragement, but not actual money reward or bounty. The Board of Fisheries, having been found useful, was retained, although the bounty system was abolished; and the Board has continued with nearly constant powers ever since. The Scotch fisheries are so much more important than those on the east and west coasts of England, that the Board, although designated of the British fisheries, confines most of its operations to Scotland, the offices of the Board being in Edinburgh.
During the forty years that this Board has been established, there has been a yearly grant from parliament for its use. grant has been applied to bounties given to the fishermen, grants for building piers and fishery harbours, grants for repairing boats and fishing apparatus, expenses and salaries of the establishment, and the maintenance of a cruising cutter belonging to the Board. Until the year 1830, by far the largest item was that of bounties; but since that year the funds have been applied to indirect encou
ragement. The grants so appropriated have amounted to the following sums:
The greatest outlay in any one year was 99,6717. in 1824, of which no less a sum than 87,7477. was in bounties. In the nineteen years from 1829 to 1847, the Board appropriated 42,1391. towards the building or repairing of fishery piers and quays; and to corporations and individuals who applied a further sum of 19,4577.: according to the means or poverty of the applicants, the Board advanced from one-half to the whole of the expenses incurred in such works. The Board charges no dues whatever on fishing boats making use of these piers and quays; and it exacts a bond from the proprietors, to give to all fishing vessels and boats free ingress and egress at these places, without the payment of any harbour or port dues.
In August, 1848, the Board was called upon to state, in a return to parliament, the exact nature and purport of its duties; and the following is a condensed summary of the whole. "1st. To take an accurate account of the whole of the herrings, cod, ling, tusk, and hake, taken, cured, and exported; and also, as far as can be done, of those caught and consumed fresh; together with an account of all the vessels and boats employed in the fisheries, as well as of the fishermen, curers, and others engaged therein. 2nd. To affix the official brand to the barrels of herrings cured when it is applied for by the fish curers, and officially to punch the dried cod, ling, tusk, and hake, where that mark is required, as well as to brand the barrels of pickled cod; and at all times to give the best instructions and advice to the curers in regard to the proper mode of curing their fish. 3rd. As a great system of police, to keep order among 90,000 fishermen and others employed in the fisheries; to prevent their aggressions against each other; to protect the broods of fish from destruction by illegal fishing; to watch over the conduct of the French and other foreigners resorting to our coasts to fish, and to prevent them from infringing the various articles of the international fishery laws. 4th. To manage and apply the annual sum of 2,500/., allotted by Act of Parliament, for building piers or quays in Scotland; to receive and consider the applications made for them; and to give such aid from the fund as may be considered right for the construction of such harbours as may be applied for and approved of, and to contract for them and see them completed. 5th. To manage and dispense the annual sum of 500l., granted by Act of Parliament for repairing the boats of poor fishermen in Scotland; to receive and examine into the case of those who make application for aid, and to make such small grants as individual cases may warrant.'
The official brand on a barrel of herrings is a sort of pledge on