Thence home, and to see my Lady Pen — where my wife and I were shown a fine rarity: of fishes kept in a glass of water, that will live so for ever; and finely marked they are, being foreign.
Dr Albert J Klee has published an essay1 in which he questions what has become the standard dogma for the identity of Lady Pen’s fish. He has shown that goldfish were imported into Europe earlier than claimed by Hervey and Hems and that the Paradise Fish first arrived much later. He also notes the close ties between Lady Pen2 and family in the Netherlands, where goldfish arrived with the Jesuit, Martinus Martini, in 1653. He, and I, see Coates’s point about survival in a small vessel to be irrelevant. Even large goldfish have survived for decades in small goldfish bowls. I knew of one which had been in the family for twenty or more years; the water was changed every day.
1 The mystery of Lady Pen’s fish. Aquarium Hobby Historical Society of America, Facebook Files, May 4, 2016. See the Society’s Facebook page for a download of this and other essays.
2 Lady Pen was the mother of William Penn (1644-1718), founder of Pennsylvania.