Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/245

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233
OYSTERS.

the shore, where their flavour and size are rapidly improved. They have been known to augment the circumference of their shell even to the extent of an inch during the first two months, but in such cases the concavity within the valves is shallow."[1]

Almost all the information we yet possess on the economy of the Oyster, is derived from Bishop Sprat's "History of the Royal Society," and is contained in a paper entitled, "The History of the Generation and Ordering of Green Oysters, commonly called Colchester Oysters." It reads as follows:—

"In the month of May the oysters cast their spawn (which the dredgers call their spat); it is like to a drop of candle, and about the bigness of an halfpenny. The spat cleaves to stones, old oyster-shells, pieces of wood, and such like things at the bottom of the sea, which they call cultch. It is probably conjectured that the spat in twenty-four hours begins to have a shell. In the month of May, the dredgers (by the law of the Admiralty Court) have liberty to catch all manner of oysters of what size soever. When they have taken them, with a knife they gently raise the small brood from the cultch, and then they throw the cultch in again, to preserve the ground for the future, unless they be so newly spat that they cannot be safely severed from the cultch; in that case they are permitted to take the stone or shell, &c. that the spat is upon, one shell having many times twenty spats. After the month of May it is felony to carry away the cultch, and punishable to take any other oysters, unless it be those of size (that is to say) about the bigness of a half-crown piece,

  1. Penny Cyclop. xvii. 363.