from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A sort of drag-net or dredge of various sizes, made of strong canvas, and used in the collection of specimens of natural history; a tow-net. See towing, 2.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
I shall see Professors Owen and Forbes when I reach London, and I have a letter of introduction to Sir John Herschel (who has, I hear, a great penchant for the towing-net).
But it is a curious fact, that if you want a boat for dredging, ten chances to one they are always actually or potentially otherwise disposed of; if you leave your towing-net trailing astern in search of new creatures, in some promising patch of discoloured water, it is, in all probability, found to have a wonderful effect in stopping the ship's way, and is hauled in as soon as your back is turned; or a careful dissection waiting to be drawn may find its way overboard as a "mess."