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It is not surprising under these circumstances to learn that sticklebacks are successful and increasing animals. Their numbers are enormous, wherever they get a fair chance in life, because they multiply rapidly up to the extreme limit of the means of subsistence, and develop as fast as food remains for them. There the inexorable Malthusian law at last steps in: when there is not food enough for all some must starve; that is the long and the short of the great population question. But while provender is forthcoming they increase gayly. Sticklebacks live mainly on the spawn of other fish, though they are so careful of their own, and they are therefore naturally hated by trout-preservers and owners of fisheries in general. Thousands and thousands are caught each year; in some places, indeed, they are so numerous that they are used as manure. It is their numbers, of course, that make them formidable; they are the locusts of the streams, well armed and pugnacious, and provided with most remarkable parental instincts of a protective character, which enables them to fill up all vacancies in their ranks as fast as they occur with astonishing promptitude.

Tradition says that it was she who chose the Virgin's name, and if so, what a debt of gratitude do we not owe her for her judicious selection! It makes one shudder to think what might have happened if she had named the child Keren-Happuch, as poor Job's daughter was called. How could we have said, "Ave Keren-Happuch!" What would the musicians have done? I forget whether Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz was a man or a woman, but there were plenty of names quite as unmanageable at the Virgin's grandmother's option, and we cannot sufficiently thank her for having chosen one that is so euphonious in every language which we need take into account. For this reason alone we should not grudge her her portrait, but we should try to draw the line here. I do not think we ought to give the Virgin's great-grandmother a statue. Where is it to end? It is like Mr. Crookes's ultimissimate atoms; we used to draw the line at ultimate atoms, and now it seems we are to go a step farther back and have ultimissimate atoms. How long, I wonder, will it be before we feel that it will be a material help to us to have ultimissimissimate atoms? Quavers stopped at demi-semi-demi, but there is no reason to suppose that either atoms or ancestresses of the Virgin will be so complacent.

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