THE COMPLETE ANGLER;
THE CONTEMPLATIVE MAN'S RECREATION.
Being a _Facsimile Reprint of the First Edition published in 1653. With a Preface by RICHARD LE GALLIENNE.
The "first edition" has been a favourite theme for the scorn of those who love it not. "The first edition—and the worst!" gibes a modern poet, and many are the true lovers of literature entirely insensitive to the accessory, historical or sentimental, associations of books. The present writer possesses a copy of one of Walton's Lives, that of Bishop Sanderson, with the author's donatory inscription to a friend upon the title-page. To keep this in his little library he has undergone willingly many privations, cheerfully faced hunger and cold rather than let it pass from his hand; yet, how often when, tremulously, he has unveiled this treasure to his visitors, how often has it been examined with undilating eyes, and cold, unenvious hearts! Yet so he must confess himself to have looked upon a friend's superb first edition of "Pickwick" though surely not without that measure of interest which all, save the quite unlettered or unintelligent, must feel in seeing the first visible shape of a book of such resounding significance in English literature.
Such interest may, without fear of denial, be claimed for a facsimile of the first edition of "The Compleat Angler" after "Robinson Crusoe" perhaps the most popular of English classics. Thomas Westwood, whose gentle poetry, it is to be feared, has won but few listeners, has drawn this fancy picture of the commotion in St. Dunstan's Churchyard on a May morning of the year 1653, when Richard Marriott first published the famous discourse, little dreaming that he had been chosen for the godfather of so distinguished an immortality. The lines form an epilogue to twelve beautiful sonnets a propos of the bi-centenary of Walton's death:
"What, not a word for thee, O little tome, Brown-jerkined, friendly-faced—of all my books The one that wears the quaintest, kindliest looks— Seems most completely, cosily at home Amongst its fellows. Ah! if thou couldst tell Thy story—how, in sixteen fifty-three, Good Master Marriott, standing at its door, Saw Anglers hurrying—fifty—nay, three score, To buy thee ere noon pealed from Dunstan's bell:— And how he stared and ... shook his sides with glee. One story, this, which fact or fiction weaves. Meanwhile, adorn my shelf, beloved of all— Old book! with lavender between thy leaves, And twenty ballads round thee on the wall."
Whether there was quite such a rush as this on its publishing day we have no certain knowledge, though Westwood, in his "Chronicle of the Compleat Angler" speaks of "the almost immediate sale of the entire edition." According to Sir Harris Nicolas, it was thus advertised in_ The Perfect Diurnall: from Monday, May 9th, to Monday, May 16th, 1653:
_"The Compleat Angler, or the Contemplative Man's Recreation, being a discourse of Fish and Fishing, not unworthy the perusal of most Anglers, of 18 pence price. Written by Iz. Wa. Also the Gipsee, never till now published: Both printed for Richard Marriot, to be sold at his shop in Saint Dunstan's Churchyard, Fleet street."
And it was thus calmly, unexcitedly noticed in the Mercurius Politicus: from Thursday, May 12, to Thursday, May 19, 1653: "There is newly extant, a Book of 18d. price, called the Compleat Angler, or the Contemplative Man's Recreation, being a discourse of Fish and Fishing, not unworthy the perusal of most Anglers. Printed for Richard Marriot, to be sold at his shop in St. Dunstan's Churchyard, Fleet street."
Thus for it, as for most great births, the bare announcement sufficed. One of the most beautiful of the world's books had been born into the world, and was still to be bought in its birthday form—for eighteen-pence.
In 1816, Mr. Marston calculates, the market value was about L4 4s. In 1847 Dr. Bethune estimated it at L12 12s. In 1883 Westwood reckoned it "from L70 to L80 or even more" and since then copies have fetched L235 and L310, though in 1894 we have a sudden drop at Sotheby's to L150— which, however, was more likely due to the state of the copy than to any diminution in the zeal of Waltonian collectors, a zeal, indeed, which burns more ardently from year to year.
Sufficiently out of reach of the poor collector as it is at present, it is probable that it will mount still higher, and consent only to belong to richer and richer men. And thus, in course of time, this facsimile will, in clerical language, find an increasing sphere of usefulness; for it is to those who have more instant demands to satisfy with their hundred-pound notes that this facsimile is designed to bring consolation. If it is not the rose itself, it is a photographic refection of it, and it will undoubtedly give its possessor a sufficiently faithful idea of its original.
But, apart from the satisfaction of such curiosity, the facsimile has a literary value, in that it differs very materially from succeeding editions. The text by which "The Compleat Angler" is generally known is that of the fifth edition, published in 1676, the last which Walton corrected and finally revised, seven years before his death. But in the second edition (1655) the book was already very near to its final shape, for Walton had enlarged it by about a third, and the dialogue was now sustained by three persons, Piscator, Venator and Auceps, instead of two—the original "Viator" also having changed his name to "Venator." Those interested in tracing the changes will find them all laboriously noted in Sir Harris Nicolas's great edition. Of the further additions made in the fifth edition, Sir Harris Nicolas makes this just criticism: "It is questionable," he says, "whether the additions which he then made to it have increased its interest. The garrulity and sentiments of an octogenarian are very apparent in some of the alterations; and the subdued colouring of religious feeling which prevails throughout the former editions, and forms one of the charms of the piece, is, in this impression, so much heightened as to become almost obtrusive."
There is a third raison d'etre for this facsimile, which to name with approbation will no doubt seem impiety to many, but which, as a personal predilection, I venture to risk—there is no Cotton! The relation between Walton and Cotton is a charming incongruity to contemplate, and one stands by their little fishing-house in Dovedale as before an altar of friendship. Happy and pleasant in their lives, it is good to see them still undivided in their deaths—but, to my mind, their association between the boards of the same book mars a charming classic. No doubt Cotton has admirably caught the spirit of his master, but the very cleverness with which he has done it increases the sense of parody with which his portion of the book always offends me. Nor can I be the only reader of the book for whom it ends with that gentle benediction—"And upon all that are lovers of virtue, and dare trust in his providence, and be quiet, and go a Angling"—and that sweet exhortation from I Thess. iv. 11—"Study to be quiet."
After the exquisite quietism of this farewell, it is distracting to come precipitately upon the fine gentleman with the great wig and the Frenchified airs. This is nothing against "hearty, cheerful Mr. Cotton's strain" of which, in Walton's own setting and in his own poetical issues, I am a sufficient admirer. Cotton was a clever literary man, and a fine engaging figure of a gentleman, but, save by the accident of friendship, he has little more claim to be printed along with Walton than the gallant Col. Robert Venables, who, in the fifth edition, contributed still a third part, entitled "The Experienc'd Angler: or, Angling Improv'd. Being a General Discourse of Angling," etc., to a book that was immortally complete in its first.
While "The Compleat Angler" was regarded mainly as a text-book for practical anglers, one can understand its publisher wishing to make it as complete as possible by the addition of such technical appendices; but now, when it has so long been elevated above such literary drudgery, there is no further need for their perpetuation. For I imagine that the men to-day who really catch fish, as distinguished from the men who write sentimentally about angling, would as soon think of consulting Izaak Walton as they would Dame Juliana Berners. But anyone can catch fish—can he, do you say?—the thing is to have so written about catching them that your book is a pastoral, the freshness of which a hundred editions have left unexhausted,—a book in which the grass is for ever green, and the shining brooks do indeed go on forever.
RICHARD LE GALLIENNE_.
The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative Man's Recreation.
Being a Discourse of FISH and FISHING, Not unworthy the perusal of most Anglers.
Simon Peter said, I go a fishing; and they said. We also wil go with thee. John 21.3.
London, Printed by T. Maxes for RICH. MARRIOT, in S. Dunstans Churchyard Fleet Street, 1653.]
To the Right Worshipful JOHN OFFLEY Of MADELY Manor in the County of Stafford, Esq, My most honoured Friend.
_I have made so ill use of your former favors, as by them to be encouraged to intreat that they may be enlarged to the patronage and protection of this Book; and I have put on a modest confidence, that I shall not be denyed, because 'tis a discourse of Fish and Fishing, which you both know so well, and love and practice so much.
You are assur'd (though there be ignorant men of an other belief) that Angling is an Art; and you know that Art better then any that I know: and that this is truth, is demostrated by the fruits of that pleasant labor which you enjoy when you purpose to give rest to your mind, and devest your self of your more serious business, and (which is often) dedicate a day or two to this Recreation.
At which time, if common Anglers should attend you, and be eye-witnesses of the success, not of your fortune, but your skill, it would doubtless beget in them an emulation to be like you, and that emulation might beget an industrious diligence to be so: but I know it is not atainable by common capacities.
Sir, this pleasant curiositie of Fish and Fishing (of which you are so great a Master) has been thought worthy the pens and practices of divers in other Nations, which have been reputed men of great Learning and Wisdome; and amongst those of this Nation, I remember Sir Henry Wotton (a dear lover of this Art) has told me, that his intentions were to write a discourse of the Art, and in the praise of Angling, and doubtless he had done so, if death had not prevented him; the remembrance of which hath often made me sorry; for, if he had lived to do it, then the unlearned Angler (of which I am one) had seen some Treatise of this Art worthy his perusal, which (though some have undertaken it) I could never yet see in English.
But mine may be thought: as weak and as unworthy of common view: and I do here freely confess that I should rather excuse myself, then censure others my own Discourse being liable to so many exceptions; against which, you (Sir) might make this one, That it can contribute nothing to your knowledge; and lest a longer Epistle may diminish your pleasure, I shall not adventure to make this Epistle longer then to add this following truth_, That I am really, Sir,
Your most affectionate Friend, and most humble Servant,
To the Reader of this Discourse: But especially, To the honest ANGLER.
I think fit to tell thee these following truths; that I did not undertake to write, or to publish this discourse of fish and fishing, to please my self, and that I wish it may not displease others; for, I have confest there are many defects in it. And yet, I cannot doubt, but that by it, some readers may receive so much profit or pleasure, as if they be not very busie men, may make it not unworthy the time of their perusall; and this is all the confidence that I can put on concerning the merit of this Book.
And I wish the Reader also to take notice, that in writing of it, I have made a recreation, of a recreation; and that it might prove so to thee in the reading, and not to read dull, and tediously, I have in severall places mixt some innocent Mirth; of which, if thou be a severe, sowr complexioned man, then I here disallow thee to be a competent Judg. For Divines say, there are offences given; and offences taken, but not given. And I am the willinger to justifie this innocent Mirth, because the whole discourse is a kind of picture of my owne disposition, at least of my disposition in such daies and times as I allow my self, when honest Nat. and R. R. and I go a fishing together; and let me adde this, that he that likes not the discourse, should like the pictures the Trout and other fish, which I may commend, because they concern not my self. And I am also to tel the Reader, that in that which is the more usefull part of this discourse; that is to say, the observations of the nature and breeding, and seasons, and catching of fish, I am not so simple as not to think but that he may find exceptions in some of these; and therefore I must intreat him to know, or rather note, that severall Countreys, and several Rivers alter the time and manner of fishes Breeding; and therefore if he bring not candor to the reading of this Discourse, he shall both injure me, and possibly himself too by too many Criticisms.
Now for the Art of catching fish; that is to say, how to make a man that was none, an Angler by a book: he that undertakes it, shall undertake a harder task then Hales offered to thy view and censure; I with thee as much in the perusal of it, and so might that in his printed Book [called the private School of defence] undertook by it to teach the Art of Fencing, and was laught at for his labour. Not but that something usefull might be observed out of that Book; but that Art was not to be taught by words; nor is the Art of Angling. And yet, I think, that most that love that Game, may here learn something that may be worth their money, if they be not needy: and if they be, then my advice is, that they forbear; for, I write not to get money, but for pleasure; and this discourse boasts of no more: for I hate to promise much, and fail.
But pleasure I have found both in the search and conference about what is here offered to thy view and censure; I wish thee as much in the perusal of it, and so might here take my leave; but I will stay thee a little longer by telling thee, that whereas it is said by many, that in Fly-fishing for a Trout, the Angler must observe his twelve Flyes for every Month; I say, if he observe that, he shall be as certain to catch fish, as they that make Hay by the fair dayes in Almanacks, and be no surer: for doubtless, three or four Flyes rightly made, do serve for a Trout all Summer, and for Winter-flies, all Anglers know, they are as useful as an Almanack out of date.
Of these (because no man is born an Artist nor an Angler) I thought fit to give thee this notice. I might say more, but it is not fit for this place; but if this Discourse which follows shall come to a second impression, which is possible, for slight books have been in this Age observed to have that fortune; I shall then for thy sake be glad to correct what is faulty, or by a conference with any to explain or enlarge what is defective: but for this time I have neither a willingness nor leasure to say more, then wish thee a rainy evening to read this book in, and that the east wind may never blow when thou goest a fishing. Farewel.
Because in this Discourse of Fish and Fishing I have not observed a method, which (though the Discourse be not long) may be some inconvenience to the Reader, I have therefore for his easier finding out some particular things which are spoken of, made this following Table.
The first Chapter is spent in a vindication or commendation of the Art of Angling.
In the second are some observations of the nature of the Otter, and also some observations of the Chub or Cheven, with directions how and with what baits to fish for him.
In chapt. 3. are some observations of Trouts, both of their nature, their kinds, and their breeding.
In chap. 4. are some direction concerning baits for the Trout, with advise how to make the Fly, and keep the live baits.
In chap. 5. are some direction how to fish for the Trout by night; and a question, Whether fish bear? and lastly, some direction how to fish for the Umber or Greyling.
In chap. 6. are some observations concerning the Salmon, with direction how to fish for him.
In chap. 7 are several observations concerning the Luce or Pike, with some directions how and with what baits to fish for him.
In chap. 8. are several observations of the nature and breeding of Carps, with some observations how to angle for them.
In chap. 9. are some observations concerning the Bream, the Tench, and Pearch, with some directions with what baits to fish for them.
In chap. 10. are several observations of the nature and breeding of Eeles, with advice how to fish for them.
In chap. 11 are some observations of the nature and breeding of Barbels, with some advice how, and with what baits to fish for them; as also for the Gudgion and Bleak.
In chap. 12. are general directions how and with what baits to fish for the Russe or Pope, the Roch, the Dace, and other small fish, with directions how to keep Ant-flies and Gentles in winter, with some other observations not unfit to be known of Anglers.
In chap. 13. are observations for the colouring of your Rod and Hair.
These directions the Reader may take as an ease in his search after some particular Fish, and the baits proper for them; and he will shew himselfe courteous in mending or passing by some errors in the Printer, which are not so many but that they may be pardoned.
The Complete ANGLER.
OR, The contemplative Mans RECREATION.
Piscator. You are wel overtaken Sir; a good morning to you; I have stretch'd my legs up Totnam Hil to overtake you, hoping your businesse may occasion you towards Ware, this fine pleasant fresh May day in the Morning.
Viator. Sir. I shall almost answer your hopes: for my purpose is to be at Hodsden (three miles short of that Town) I wil not say, before I drink; but before I break my fast: for I have appointed a friend or two to meet me there at the thatcht house, about nine of the clock this morning; and that made me so early up, and indeed, to walk so fast.
Pisc. Sir, I know the thatcht house very well: I often make it my resting place, and taste a cup of Ale there, for which liquor that place is very remarkable; and to that house I shall by your favour accompany you, and either abate of my pace, or mend it, to enjoy such a companion as you seem to be, knowing that (as the Italians say) Good company makes the way seem shorter.
Viat. It may do so Sir, with the help of good discourse, which (me thinks) I may promise from you, that both look and speak so cheerfully. And to invite you to it, I do here promise you, that for my part, I will be as free and open-hearted, as discretion will warrant me to be with a stranger.
Pisc. Sir, I am right glad of your answer; and in confidence that you speak the truth, I shall (Sir) put on a boldness to ask, whether pleasure or businesse has occasioned your Journey.
Viat. Indeed, Sir, a little business, and more pleasure: for my purpose is to bestow a day or two in hunting the Otter (which my friend that I go to meet, tells me is more pleasant then any hunting whatsoever:) and having dispatched a little businesse this day, my purpose is tomorrow to follow a pack of dogs of honest Mr. —— ——, who hath appointed me and my friend to meet him upon Amwel hill to morrow morning by day break.
Pisc. Sir, my fortune hath answered my desires; and my purpose is to bestow a day or two in helping to destroy some of those villainous vermin: for I hate them perfectly, because they love fish so well, or rather, because they destroy so much: indeed, so much, that in my judgment, all men that keep Otter dogs ought to have a Pension from the Commonwealth to incourage them to destroy the very breed of those base Otters, they do so much mischief.
Viat. But what say you to the Foxes of this Nation? would not you as willingly have them destroyed? for doubtlesse they do as much mischief as the Otters.
Pisc. Oh Sir, if they do, it is not so much to me and my Fraternitie, as that base Vermin the Otters do.
Viat. Why Sir, I pray, of what Fraternity are you, that you are so angry with the poor Otter?
Pisc. I am a Brother of the Angle, and therefore an enemy to the Otter, he does me and my friends so much mischief; for you are to know, that we Anglers all love one another: and therefore do I hate the Otter perfectly, even for their sakes that are of my Brotherhood.
Viat. Sir, to be plain with you, I am sorry you are an Angler: for I have heard many grave, serious men pitie, and many pleasant men scoff at Anglers.
Pisc. Sir, There are many men that are by others taken to be serious grave men, which we contemn and pitie; men of sowre complexions; mony-getting-men, that spend all their time first in getting, and next in anxious care to keep it: men that are condemn'd to be rich, and alwayes discontented, or busie. For these poor-rich-men, wee Anglers pitie them; and stand in no need to borrow their thoughts to think our selves happie: For (trust me, Sir) we enjoy a contentednesse above the reach of such dispositions.
And as for any scoffer, qui mockat mockabitur. Let mee tell you, (that you may tell him) what the wittie French-man [the Lord Mountagne in his Apol. for Ra-Se-bond.] sayes in such a Case. When my Cat and I entertaine each other with mutuall apish tricks (as playing with a garter,) who knows but that I make her more sport then she makes me? Shall I conclude her simple, that has her time to begin or refuse sportivenesse as freely as I my self have? Nay, who knows but that our agreeing no better, is the defect of my not understanding her language? (for doubtlesse Cats talk and reason with one another) and that shee laughs at, and censures my folly, for making her sport, and pities mee for understanding her no better? To this purpose speaks Mountagne concerning Cats: And I hope I may take as great a libertie to blame any Scoffer, that has never heard what an Angler can say in the justification of his Art and Pleasure.
But, if this satisfie not, I pray bid the Scoffer put this Epigram into his pocket, and read it every morning for his breakfast (for I wish him no better;) Hee shall finde it fix'd before the Dialogues of Lucian (who may be justly accounted the father of the Family of all Scoffers:) And though I owe none of that Fraternitie so much as good will, yet I have taken a little pleasant pains to make such a conversion of it as may make it the fitter for all of that Fraternity.
Lucian well skill'd in scoffing, this has writ, Friend, that's your folly which you think your wit; This you vent oft, void both of wit and fear, Meaning an other, when your self you jeer.
But no more of the Scoffer; for since Solomon sayes, he is an abomination to men, he shall be so to me; and I think, to all that love Vertue and Angling.
Viat. Sir, you have almost amazed me [Pro 24. 9]: for though I am no Scoffer, yet I have (I pray let me speak it without offence) alwayes look'd upon Anglers as more patient, and more simple men, then (I fear) I shall finde you to be.
Piscat. Sir, I hope you will not judge my earnestnesse to be impatience: and for my simplicitie, if by that you mean a harmlessnesse, or that simplicity that was usually found in the Primitive Christians, who were (as most Anglers are) quiet men, and followed peace; men that were too wise to sell their consciences to buy riches for vexation, and a fear to die. Men that lived in those times when there were fewer Lawyers; for then a Lordship might have been safely conveyed in a piece of Parchment no bigger then your hand, though several skins are not sufficient to do it in this wiser Age. I say, Sir, if you take us Anglers to be such simple men as I have spoken of, then both my self, and those of my profession will be glad to be so understood. But if by simplicitie you meant to expresse any general defect in the understanding of those that professe and practice Angling, I hope to make it appear to you, that there is so much contrary reason (if you have but the patience to hear it) as may remove all the anticipations that Time or Discourse may have possess'd you with, against that Ancient and laudable Art.
Viat. Why (Sir) is Angling of Antiquitie, and an Art, and an art not easily learn'd?
Pisc. Yes (Sir:) and I doubt not but that if you and I were to converse together but til night, I should leave you possess'd with the same happie thoughts that now possesse me; not onely for the Antiquitie of it, but that it deserves commendations; and that 'tis an Art; and worthy the knowledge and practice of a wise, and a serious man.
Viat. Sir, I pray speak of them what you shall think fit; for wee have yet five miles to walk before wee shall come to the Thatcht house. And, Sir, though my infirmities are many, yet I dare promise you, that both my patience and attention will indure to hear what you will say till wee come thither: and if you please to begin in order with the antiquity, when that is done, you shall not want my attention to the commendations and accommodations of it: and lastly, if you shall convince me that 'tis an Art, and an Art worth learning, I shall beg I may become your Scholer, both to wait upon you, and to be instructed in the Art it self.
Pisc. Oh Sir, 'tis not to be questioned, but that it is an art, and an art worth your Learning: the question wil rather be, whether you be capable of learning it? For he that learns it, must not onely bring an enquiring, searching, and discerning wit; but he must bring also that patience you talk of, and a love and propensity to the art itself: but having once got and practised it, then doubt not but the Art will (both for the pleasure and profit of it) prove like to Vertue, a reward to it self.
Viat. Sir, I am now become so ful of expectation, that I long much to have you proceed in your discourse: And first, I pray Sir, let me hear concerning the antiquity of it.
Pisc. Sir, I wil preface no longer, but proceed in order as you desire me: And first for the Antiquity of Angling, I shall not say much; but onely this; Some say, it is as ancient as Deucalions Floud: and others (which I like better) say, that Belus (who was the inventer of godly and vertuous Recreations) was the Inventer of it: and some others say, (for former times have had their Disquisitions about it) that Seth, one of the sons of Adam, taught it to his sons, and that by them it was derived to Posterity. Others say, that he left it engraven on those Pillars which hee erected to preserve the knowledg of the Mathematicks, Musick, and the rest of those precious Arts, which by Gods appointment or allowance, and his noble industry were thereby preserved from perishing in Noah's Floud.
These (my worthy Friend) have been the opinions of some men, that possibly may have endeavoured to make it more ancient then may well be warranted. But for my part, I shall content my self in telling you, That Angling is much more ancient then the incarnation of our Saviour: For both in the Prophet Amos [Chap. 42], and before him in Job [Chap. 41], (which last Book is judged to be written by Moses) mention is made fish-hooks, which must imply Anglers in those times.
But (my worthy friend) as I would rather prove my self to be a Gentleman, by being _learned_ and _humble, valiant_ and _inoffensive, vertuous_ and communicable_, then by a fond ostentation of _riches_; or (wanting these Vertues my self) boast that these were in my Ancestors; [And yet I confesse, that where a noble and ancient Descent and such Merits meet in any man, it is a double dignification of that person:] and so, if this Antiquitie of Angling (which, for my part, I have not forc'd) shall like an ancient Familie, by either an honour, or an ornament to this vertuous Art which I both love and practise, I shall be the gladder that I made an accidental mention of it; and shall proceed to the justification, or rather commendation of it.
Viat. My worthy Friend, I am much pleased with your discourse, for that you seem to be so ingenuous, and so modest, as not to stretch arguments into Hyperbolicall expressions, but such as indeed they will reasonably bear; and I pray, proceed to the justification, or commendations of Angling, which I also long to hear from you.
Pisc. Sir, I shall proceed; and my next discourse shall be rather a Commendation, then a Justification of Angling: for, in my judgment, if it deserves to be commended, it is more then justified; for some practices what may be justified, deserve no commendation: yet there are none that deserve commendation but may be justified.
And now having said this much by way of preparation, I am next to tell you, that in ancient times a debate hath risen, (and it is not yet resolved) Whether Contemplation or Action be the chiefest thing wherin the happiness of a man doth most consist in this world?
Concerning which, some have maintained their opinion of the first, by saying, "[That the nearer we Mortals come to God by way of imitation, the more happy we are:]" And that God injoyes himself only by Contemplation of his own Goodness, Eternity, Infiniteness, and Power, and the like; and upon this ground many of them prefer Contemplation before Action: and indeed, many of the Fathers seem to approve this opinion, as may appear in their Comments upon the words of our Saviour to Martha. [Luk. 10. 41, 42]
And contrary to these, others of equal Authority and credit, have preferred Action to be chief; as experiments in Physick, and the application of it, both for the ease and prolongation of mans life, by which man is enabled to act, and to do good to others: And they say also, That Action is not only Doctrinal, but a maintainer of humane Society; and for these, and other reasons, to be preferr'd before Contemplation.
Concerning which two opinions, I shall forbear to add a third, by declaring my own, and rest my self contented in telling you (my worthy friend) that both these meet together, and do most properly belong to the most honest, ingenious, harmless Art of Angling.
And first I shall tel you what some have observed, and I have found in my self, That the very sitting by the Rivers side, is not only the fittest place for, but will invite the Angler to Contemplation: That it is the fittest place, seems to be witnessed by the children of Israel, [Psal. 137.] who having banish'd all mirth and Musick from their pensive hearts, and having hung up their then mute Instruments upon the Willow trees, growing by the Rivers of Babylon, sate down upon those banks bemoaning the ruines of Sion, and contemplating their own sad condition.
And an ingenuous Spaniard sayes, "[That both Rivers, and the inhabitants of the watery Element, were created for wise men to contemplate, and fools to pass by without consideration.]" And though I am too wise to rank myself in the first number, yet give me leave to free my self from the last, by offering to thee a short contemplation, first of Rivers, and then of Fish: concerning which, I doubt not but to relate to you many things very considerable. Concerning Rivers, there be divers wonders reported of them by Authors, of such credit, that we need not deny them an Historical faith.
As of a River in Epirus, that puts out any lighted Torch, and kindles any Torch that was not lighted. Of the River Selarus, that in a few hours turns a rod or a wand into stone (and our Camden mentions the like wonder in England:) that there is a River in Arabia, of which all the Sheep that drink thereof have their Wool turned into a Vermilion colour. And one of no less credit then Aristotle, [in his Wonders of nature, this is confirmed by Ennius and Solon in his holy History.] tels us of a merry River, the River Elusina, that dances at the noise of Musick, that with Musick it bubbles, dances, and growes sandy, but returns to a wonted calmness and clearness when the Musick ceases. And lastly, (for I would not tire your patience) Josephus, that learned Jew, tells us of a River in Judea, that runs and moves swiftly all the six dayes of the week, and stands still and rests upon their Sabbath day. But Sir, lest this discourse may seem tedious, I shall give it a sweet conclusion out of that holy Poet Mr. George Herbert his Divine Contemplation on Gods providence.
_Lord, who hath praise enough, nay, who hath any? None can express thy works, but he that knows them: And none can know thy works, they are so many, And so complete, but only he that owes them.
We all acknowledge both thy power and love To be exact, transcendent, and divine; Who does so strangely, and so sweetly move, Whilst all things have their end, yet none but thine.
Wherefore, most Sacred Spirit, I here present For me, and all my fellows praise to thee: And just it is that I should pay the rent, Because the benefit accrues to me_.
And as concerning Fish, in that Psalm [Psal. 104], wherein, for height of Poetry and Wonders, the Prophet David seems even to exceed himself; how doth he there express himselfe in choice Metaphors, even to the amazement of a contemplative Reader, concerning the Sea, the Rivers, and the Fish therein contained. And the great Naturallist Pliny sayes, "[That Natures great and wonderful power is more demonstrated in the Sea, then on the Land.]" And this may appear by the numerous and various Creatures, inhabiting both in and about that Element: as to the Readers of Gesner, Randelitius, Pliny, Aristotle, and others is demonstrated: But I will sweeten this discourse also out of a contemplation in Divine Dubartas, who sayes [in the fifth day],
God quickened in the Sea and in the Rivers, So many fishes of so many features, That in the waters we may see all Creatures; Even all that on the earth is to be found, As if the world were in deep waters drownd. For seas (as well as Skies) have Sun, Moon, Stars; (As wel as air) Swallows, Rooks, and Stares; (As wel as earth) Vines, Roses, Nettles, Melons, Mushrooms, Pinks, Gilliflowers and many milions Of other plants, more rare, more strange then these; As very fishes living in the seas; And also Rams, Calves, Horses, Hares and Hogs, Wolves, Urchins, Lions, Elephants and Dogs; Yea, Men and Maids, and which I most admire, The Mitred Bishop, and the cowled Fryer. Of which examples but a few years since, Were shewn the Norway and Polonian Prince.
These seem to be wonders, but have had so many confirmations from men of Learning and credit, that you need not doubt them; nor are the number, nor the various shapes of fishes, more strange or more fit for contemplation, then their different natures, inclinations and actions: concerning which I shall beg your patient ear a little longer.
The Cuttle-fish wil cast a long gut out of her throat, which (like as an Angler does his line) she sendeth, forth and pulleth in again at her pleasure, according as she sees some little fish come neer to her [Mount Elsayes: and others affirm this]; and the Cuttle-fish (being then hid in the gravel) lets the smaller fish nibble and bite the end of it; at which time shee by little and little draws the smaller fish so neer to her, that she may leap upon her, and then catches and devours her: and for this reason some have called this fish the Sea-Angler.
There are also lustful and chaste fishes, of which I shall also give you examples.
And first, what Dubartas sayes of a fish called the Sargus; which (because none can express it better then he does) I shall give you in his own words, supposing it shall not have the less credit for being Verse, for he hath gathered this, and other observations out of Authors that have been great and industrious searchers into the secrets of nature.
The Adulterous Sargus doth not only change, Wives every day in the deep streams, but (strange) As if the honey of Sea-love delight Could not suffice his ranging appetite, Goes courting She-Goats on the grassie shore, Horning their husbands that had horns before.
And the same Author writes concerning the Cantharus, that which you shall also heare in his own words.
But contrary, the constant Cantharus, Is ever constant to his faithful Spouse, In nuptial duties spending his chaste life, Never loves any but his own dear wife.
Sir, but a little longer, and I have done.
Viat. Sir, take what liberty you think fit, for your discourse seems to be Musick, and charms me into an attention.
Pisc. Why then Sir, I will take a little libertie to tell, or rather to remember you what is said of Turtle Doves: First, that they silently plight their troth and marry; and that then, the Survivor scorns (as the Thracian women are said to do) to out-live his or her Mate; and this is taken for such a truth, that if the Survivor shall ever couple with another, the he or she, not only the living, but the dead, is denyed the name and honour of a true Turtle Dove.
And to parallel this Land Variety & teach mankind moral faithfulness & to condemn those that talk of Religion, and yet come short of the moral faith of fish and fowl; Men that violate the Law, affirm'd by Saint Paul [Rom. 2.14.15] to be writ in their hearts, and which he sayes shal at the last day condemn and leave them without excuse. I pray hearken to what Dubartas sings [5. day.] (for the hearing of such conjugal faithfulness, will be Musick to all chaste ears) and therefore, I say, hearken to what Dubartas sings of the Mullet:
But for chaste love the Mullet hath no peer, For, if the Fisher hath surprised her pheer, As mad with woe to shoare she followeth, Prest to consort him both in life and death.
On the contrary, what shall I say of the House-Cock, which treads any Hen, and then (contrary to the Swan, the Partridg, and Pigeon) takes no care to hatch, to feed, or to cherish his own Brood, but is sensless though they perish.
And 'tis considerable, that the Hen (which because she also takes any Cock, expects it not) who is sure the Chickens be her own, hath by a moral impression her care, and affection to her own Broode, more then doubled, even to such a height, that our Saviour in expressing his love to Jerusalem, [Mat. 23. 37] quotes her for an example of tender affection, as his Father had done Job for a pattern of patience.
And to parallel this Cock, there be divers fishes that cast their spawne on flags or stones, and then leave it uncovered and exposed to become a prey, and be devoured by Vermine or other fishes: but other fishes (as namely the Barbel) take such care for the preservation of their seed, that (unlike to the Cock or the Cuckoe) they mutually labour (both the Spawner, and the Melter) to cover their spawne with sand, or watch it, or hide it in some secret place unfrequented by Vermine, or by any fish but themselves.
Sir, these examples may, to you and others, seem strange; but they are testified, some by Aristotle, some by Pliny, some by Gesner, and by divers others of credit, and are believed and known by divers, both of wisdom and experience, to be a truth; and are (as I said at the beginning) fit for the contemplation of a most serious, and a most pious man.
And that they be fit for the contemplation of the most prudent and pious, and peaceable men, seems to be testified by the practice of so many devout and contemplative men; as the Patriarks or Prophets of old, and of the Apostles of our Saviour in these later times, of which twelve he chose four that were Fishermen: concerning which choice some have made these Observations.
First, That he never reproved these for their Imployment or Calling, as he did the Scribes and the Mony-Changers. And secondly, That he found the hearts of such men, men that by nature were fitted for contemplation and quietness; men of mild, and sweet, and peaceable spirits, (as indeed most Anglers are) these men our blessed Saviour (who is observed to love to plant grace in good natures) though nothing be too hard for him, yet these men he chose to call from their irreprovable imployment, and gave them grace to be his Disciples and to follow him.
And it is observable, that it was our Saviours will that his four Fishermen Apostles should have a prioritie of nomination in the catalogue of his twelve Apostles, as namely first, S. Peter, Andrew, James [Mat. 10.] and John, and then the rest in their order.
And it is yet more observable, that when our blessed Saviour went up into the Mount, at his Transfiguration, when he left the rest of his Disciples and chose onely three to bear him company, that these three were all Fishermen.
And since I have your promise to hear me with patience, I will take a liberty to look back upon an observation that hath been made by an ingenuous and learned man, who observes that God hath been pleased to allow those whom he himselfe hath appointed, to write his holy will in holy Writ, yet to express his will in such Metaphors as their former affections or practise had inclined them to; and he brings Solomon for an example, who before his conversion was remarkably amorous, and after by Gods appointment, writ that Love-Song [the Canticles] betwixt God and his Church.
And if this hold in reason (as I see none to the contrary) then it may be probably concluded, that Moses (whom I told you before, writ the book of Job) and the Prophet Amos were both Anglers, for you shal in all the old Testaments find fish-hooks but twice mentioned; namely, by meek Moses, the friend of God; and by the humble Prophet Amos.
Concerning which last, namely, the Prophet Amos, I shall make but this Observation, That he that shall read the humble, lowly, plain stile of that Prophet, and compare it with the high, glorious, eloquent stile of the prophet Isaiah (though they be both equally true) may easily believe him to be a good natured, plaine Fisher-man.
Which I do the rather believe, by comparing the affectionate, lowly, humble epistles of S. Peter, S. James and S. John, whom we know were Fishers, with the glorious language and high Metaphors of S. Paul, who we know was not.
Let me give you the example of two men more, that have lived nearer to our own times: first of Doctor Nowel sometimes Dean of S. Paul's, (in which Church his Monument stands yet undefaced) a man that in the Reformation of Queen Elizabeth (not that of Henry the VIII.) was so noted for his meek spirit, deep Learning, Prudence and Piety, that the then Parliament and Convocation, both chose, injoyned, and trusted him to be the man to make a Catechism for publick use, such a one as should stand as a rule for faith and manners to their posteritie: And the good man (though he was very learned, yet knowing that God leads us not to heaven by hard questions) made that good, plain, unperplext Catechism, that is printed with the old Service Book. I say, this good man was as dear a lover, and constant practicer of Angling, as any Age can produce; and his custome was to spend (besides his fixt hours of prayer, those hours which by command of the Church were enjoined the old Clergy, and voluntarily dedicated to devotion by many Primitive Christians:) besides those hours, this good man was observed to spend, or if you will, to bestow a tenth part of his time in Angling; and also (for I have conversed with those which have conversed with him) to bestow a tenth part of his Revenue, and all his fish, amongst the poor that inhabited near to those Rivers in which it was caught, saying often, That Charity gave life to Religion: and at his return would praise God he had spent that day free from worldly trouble, both harmlesly and in a Recreation that became a Church-man.
My next and last example shall be that undervaluer of money, the late Provost of Eaton Colledg, Sir Henry Wotton, (a man with whom I have often fish'd and convers'd) a man whose forraign imployments in the service of this Nation, and whose experience, learning, wit and cheerfulness, made his company to be esteemed one of the delights of mankind; this man, whose very approbation of Angling were sufficient to convince any modest Censurer of it, this man was also a most dear lover, and a frequent practicer of the Art of Angling, of which he would say, "['Twas an imployment for his idle time, which was not idly spent;]" for Angling was after tedious study "[A rest to his mind, a cheerer of his spirits, a divertion of sadness, a calmer of unquiet thoughts, a Moderator of passions, a procurer of contentedness, and that it begot habits of peace and patience in those that profest and practic'd it.]"
Sir, This was the saying of that Learned man; and I do easily believe that peace, and patience, and a calm content did cohabit in the cheerful heart of Sir Henry Wotton, because I know, that when he was beyond seventy years of age he made this description of a part of the present pleasure that possest him, as he sate quietly in a Summers evening on a bank a fishing; it is a description of the Spring, which because it glides as soft and sweetly from his pen, as that River does now by which it was then made, I shall repeat unto you.
This day dame Nature seem'd in love: The lustie sap began to move; Fresh juice did stir th'imbracing Vines, And birds had drawn their Valentines. The jealous Trout, that low did lye, Rose at a well dissembled flie; There stood my friend with patient skill, Attending of his trembling quil. Already were the eaves possest With the swift Pilgrims dawbed nest: The Groves already did rejoice, In Philomels triumphing voice: The showrs were short, the weather mild, The morning fresh, the evening smil'd.
Jone takes her neat rubb'd pail, and now She trips to milk the sand-red Cow; Where for some sturdy foot-ball Swain. Jone strokes a Sillibub or twaine. The fields and gardens were beset With Tulips, Crocus, Violet, And now, though late, the modest Rose Did more then half a blush disclose. Thus all looks gay and full of chear To welcome the new liveried year.
These were the thoughts that then possest the undisturbed mind of Sir Henry Wotton. Will you hear the wish of another Angler, and the commendation of his happy life [Jo. Da.], which he also sings in Verse.
_Let me live harmlesly, and near the brink Of_ Trent _or_ Avon _have a dwelling place, Where I may see my quil or cork down sink, With eager bit of_ Pearch, _or_ Bleak, _or_ Dace; _And on the world and my Creator think, Whilst some men strive, ill gotten goods t'imbrace; And others spend their time in base excess Of wine or worse, in war and wantonness.
Let them that list these pastimes still pursue, And on such pleasing fancies feed their fill, So I the fields and meadows green may view, And daily by fresh Rivers walk at will, Among the_ Daisies _and the_ Violets _blue, Red_ Hyacinth, _and yellow_ Daffadil, _Purple_ Narcissus, _like the morning rayes, Pale_ ganderglass _and azure_ Culverkayes.
_I count it higher pleasure to behold The stately compass of the lofty_ Skie, _And in the midst thereof (like burning Gold) The flaming Chariot of the worlds great eye, The watry clouds, that in the aire up rold, With sundry kinds of painted colour flye; And fair_ Aurora _lifting up her head, Still blushing, rise from old_ Tithonius _bed.
The hils and mountains raised from the plains, The plains extended level with the ground, The grounds divided into sundry vains, The vains inclos'd with rivers running round; These rivers making way through natures chains With headlong course into the sea profound; The raging sea, beneath the vallies low, Where lakes, and rils, and rivulets do flow.
The loftie woods, the Forrests wide and long Adorn'd with leaves & branches fresh & green, In whose cool bowres the birds with many a song Do welcom with their Quire the Sumers Queen: The Meadows fair, where Flora's gifts among Are intermixt, with verdant grass between. The silver-scaled fish that softly swim, Within the sweet brooks chrystal watry stream.
All these, and many more of his Creation, That made the Heavens, the Angler oft doth see, Taking therein no little delectation, To think how strange, how wonderful they be; Framing thereof an inward contemplation, To set his heart from other fancies free; And whilst he looks on these with joyful eye, His mind is rapt above the Starry Skie_.
Sir, I am glad my memory did not lose these last Verses, because they are somewhat more pleasant and more sutable to May Day, then my harsh Discourse, and I am glad your patience hath held out so long, as to hear them and me; for both together have brought us within the sight of the Thatcht House; and I must be your Debtor (if you think it worth your attention) for the rest of my promised discourse, till some other opportunity and a like time of leisure.
Viat. Sir, You have Angled me on with much pleasure to the thatcht House, and I now find your words true, That good company makes the way seem short; for, trust me, Sir, I thought we had wanted three miles of the thatcht House, till you shewed it me: but now we are at it, we'l turn into it, and refresh our selves with a cup of Ale and a little rest.
Pisc. Most gladly (Sir) and we'l drink a civil cup to all the Otter Hunters that are to meet you to morrow.
Viat. That we wil, Sir, and to all the lovers of Angling too, of which number, I am now one my self, for by the help of your good discourse and company, I have put on new thoughts both of the Art of Angling, and of all that profess it: and if you will but meet me too morrow at the time and place appointed, and bestow one day with me and my friends in hunting the Otter, I will the next two dayes wait upon you, and we two will for that time do nothing but angle, and talk of fish and fishing.
Pisc. 'Tis a match, Sir, I'l not fail you, God willing, to be at Amwel Hil to morrow morning before Sunrising.
Viat. My friend Piscator, you have kept time with my thoughts, for the Sun is just rising, and I my self just now come to this place, and the dogs have just now put down an Otter, look down at the bottom of the hil, there in that Meadow, chequered with water Lillies and Lady-smocks, there you may see what work they make: look, you see all busie, men and dogs, dogs and men, all busie.
Pisc. Sir, I am right glad to meet you, and glad to have so fair an entrance into this dayes sport, and glad to see so many dogs, and more men all in pursuit of the Otter; lets complement no longer, but joine unto them; come honest Viator, lets be gone, lets make haste, I long to be doing; no reasonable hedge or ditch shall hold me.
Viat. Gentleman Huntsman, where found you this Otter?
Hunt. Marry (Sir) we found her a mile off this place a fishing; she has this morning eaten the greatest part of this Trout, she has only left thus much of it as you see, and was fishing for more; when we came we found her just at it: but we were here very early, we were here an hour before Sun-rise, and have given her no rest since we came: sure she'l hardly escape all these dogs and men. I am to have the skin if we kill him.
Viat. Why, Sir, whats the skin worth?
Hunt. 'Tis worth ten shillings to make gloves; the gloves of an Otter are the best fortification for your hands against wet weather that can be thought of.
Pisc. I pray, honest Huntsman, let me ask you a pleasant question, Do you hunt a Beast or a fish?
H. Sir, It is not in my power to resolve you; for the question has been debated among many great Clerks, and they seem to differ about it; but most agree, that his tail is fish: and if his body be fish too, then I may say, that a fish will walk upon land (for an Otter does so) sometimes five or six, or ten miles in a night. But (Sir) I can tell you certainly, that he devours much fish, and kils and spoils much more: And I can tell you, that he can smel a fish in the water one hundred yards from him (Gesner sayes, much farther) and that his stones are good against the Falling-sickness: and that there is an herb Benione, which being hung in a linen cloth near a Fish Pond, or any haunt that he uses, makes him to avoid the place, which proves he can smell both by water and land. And thus much for my knowledg of the Otter, which you may now see above water at vent, and the dogs close with him; I now see he will not last long, follow therefore my Masters, follow, for Sweetlips was like to have him at this vent.
via. Oh me, all the Horse are got over the river, what shall we do now?
Hun. Marry, stay a little & follow, both they and the dogs will be suddenly on this side again, I warrant you, and the Otter too it may be: now have at him with Kil buck, for he vents again.
via. Marry so he is, for look he vents in that corner. Now, now Ringwood has him. Come bring him to me. Look, 'tis a Bitch Otter upon my word, and she has lately whelped, lets go to the place where she was put down, and not far from it, you will find all her young ones, I dare warrant you: and kill them all too.
Hunt. Come Gentlemen, come all, lets go to the place where we put downe the Otter; look you, hereabout it was that shee kennell'd; look you, here it was indeed, for here's her young ones, no less then five: come lets kill them all.
Pisc. No, I pray Sir; save me one, and I'll try if I can make her tame, as I know an ingenuous Gentleman in Leicester-shire has done; who hath not only made her tame, but to catch fish, and doe many things of much pleasure.
Hunt. Take one with all my heart; but let us kill the rest. And now lets go to an honest Alehouse and sing Old Rose, and rejoice all of us together.
Viat. Come my friend, let me invite you along with us; I'll bear your charges this night, and you shall beare mine to morrow; for my intention is to accompany you a day or two in fishing.
Pisc. Sir, your request is granted, and I shall be right glad, both to exchange such a courtesie, and also to enjoy your company.
* * * * *
Viat. Well, now lets go to your sport of Angling.
Pisc. Lets be going with all my heart, God keep you all, Gentlemen, and send you meet this day with another bitch Otter, and kill her merrily, and all her young ones too.
Viat. Now Piscator, where wil you begin to fish?
Pisc. We are not yet come to a likely place, I must walk a mile further yet before I begin.
Viat. Well then, I pray, as we walk, tell me freely how you like my Hoste, and the company? is not mine Hoste a witty man?
Pisc. Sir, To speak truly, he is not to me; for most of his conceits were either Scripture-jests, or lascivious jests; for which I count no man witty: for the Divel will help a man that way inclin'd, to the first, and his own corrupt nature (which he alwayes carries with him) to the latter. But a companion that feasts the company with wit and mirth, and leaves out the sin (which is usually mixt with them) he is the man: and indeed, such a man should have his charges born: and to such company I hope to bring you this night; for at Trout-Hal, not far from this place, where I purpose to lodg to night, there is usually an Angler that proves good company.
But for such discourse as we heard last night, it infects others; the very boyes will learn to talk and swear as they heard mine Host, and another of the company that shall be nameless; well, you know what example is able to do, and I know what the Poet sayes in the like case:
——Many a one Owes to his Country his Religion: And in another would as strongly grow, Had but his Nurse or Mother taught him so.
This is reason put into Verse, and worthy the consideration of a wise man. But of this no more, for though I love civility, yet I hate severe censures: I'll to my own Art, and I doubt not but at yonder tree I shall catch a Chub, and then we'll turn to an honest cleanly Alehouse that I know right well, rest our selves, and dress it for our dinner.
via. Oh, Sir, a Chub is the worst fish that swims, I hoped for a Trout for my dinner.
Pis. Trust me, Sir, there is not a likely place for a Trout hereabout, and we staid so long to take our leave of your Huntsmen this morning, that the Sun is got so high, and shines so clear, that I will not undertake the catching of a Trout till evening; and though a Chub be by you and many others reckoned the worst of all fish, yet you shall see I'll make it good fish by dressing it.
Viat. Why, how will you dress him?
Pisc. I'll tell you when I have caught him: look you here, Sir, do you see? (but you must stand very close) there lye upon the top of the water twenty Chubs: I'll catch only one, and that shall be the biggest of them all: and that I will do so, I'll hold you twenty to one.
Viat. I marry, Sir, now you talk like an Artist, and I'll say, you are one, when I shall see you perform what you say you can do; but I yet doubt it.
Pisc. And that you shall see me do presently; look, the biggest of these Chubs has had some bruise upon his tail, and that looks like a white spot; that very Chub I mean to catch; sit you but down in the shade, and stay but a little while, and I'll warrant you I'll bring him to you.
viat. I'll sit down and hope well, because you seem to be so confident.
Pisc. Look you Sir, there he is, that very Chub that I shewed you, with the white spot on his tail; and I'll be as certain to make him a good dish of meat, as I was to catch him. I'll now lead you to an honest Alehouse, where we shall find a cleanly room, Lavender in the windowes, and twenty Ballads stuck about the wall; there my Hostis (which I may tell you, is both cleanly and conveniently handsome) has drest many a one for me, and shall now dress it after my fashion, and I warrant it good meat.
viat. Come Sir, with all my heart, for I begin to be hungry, and long to be at it, and indeed to rest my self too; for though I have walked but four miles this morning, yet I begin to be weary; yester dayes hunting hangs stil upon me.
Pisc. Wel Sir, and you shal quickly be at rest, for yonder is the house I mean to bring you to.
Come Hostis, how do you? wil you first give us a cup of your best Ale, and then dress this Chub, as you drest my last, when I and my friend were hereabout eight or ten daies ago? but you must do me one courtesie, it must be done instantly.
Host. I wil do it, Mr. Piscator, and with all the speed I can.
Pisc. Now Sir, has not my Hostis made haste? And does not the fish look lovely?
Viat. Both, upon my word Sir, and therefore lets say Grace and fall to eating of it.
Pisc. Well Sir, how do you like it?
viat. Trust me, 'tis as good meat as ever I tasted: now let me thank you for it, drink to you, and beg a courtesie of you; but it must not be deny'd me.
Pisc. What is it, I pray Sir? You are so modest, that me thinks I may promise to grant it before it is asked.
viat. Why Sir, it is that from henceforth you wil allow me to call you Master, and that really I may be your Scholer, for you are such a companion, and have so quickly caught, and so excellently cook'd this fish, as makes me ambitious to be your scholer.
Pisc. Give me your hand: from this time forward I wil be your Master, and teach you as much of this Art as I am able; and will, as you desire me, tel you somewhat of the nature of some of the fish which we are to Angle for; and I am sure I shal tel you more then every Angler yet knows.
And first I will tel you how you shall catch such a Chub as this was; & then how to cook him as this was: I could not have begun to teach you to catch any fish more easily then this fish is caught; but then it must be this particular way, and this you must do:
Go to the same hole, where in most hot days you will finde floting neer the top of the water, at least a dozen or twenty Chubs; get a Grashopper or two as you goe, and get secretly behinde the tree, put it then upon your hook, and let your hook hang a quarter of a yard short of the top of the water, and 'tis very likely that the shadow of your rod, which you must rest on the tree, will cause the Chubs to sink down to the bottom with fear; for they be a very fearful fish, and the shadow of a bird flying over them will make them do so; but they will presently rise up to the top again, and there lie soaring till some shadow affrights them again: when they lie upon the top of the water, look out the best Chub, which you setting your self in a fit place, may very easily do, and move your Rod as softly as a Snail moves, to that Chub you intend to catch; let your bait fall gently upon the water three or four inches before him, and he will infallibly take the bait, and you will be as sure to catch him; for he is one of the leather-mouth'd fishes, of which a hook does scarce ever lose his hold: and therefore give him play enough before you offer to take him out of the water. Go your way presently, take my rod, and doe as I bid you, and I will sit down and mend my tackling till you return back.
viat. Truly, my loving Master, you have offered me as fair as I could wish: Ile go, and observe your directions.
Look you, Master, what I have done; that which joyes my heart; caught just such another Chub as yours was.
Pisc. Marry, and I am glad of it: I am like to have a towardly Scholar of you. I now see, that with advice and practice you will make an Angler in a short time.
Viat. But Master, What if I could not have found a Grashopper?
Pis. Then I may tell you, that a black Snail, with his belly slit, to shew his white; or a piece of soft cheese will usually do as well; nay, sometimes a worm, or any kind of fly; as the Ant-fly, the Flesh-fly, or Wall-fly, or the Dor or Beetle, (which you may find under a Cow-turd) or a Bob, which you will find in the same place, and in time wil be a Beetle; it is a short white worm, like to, and bigger then a Gentle, or a Cod-worm, or Case-worm: any of these will do very wel to fish in such a manner. And after this manner you may catch a Trout: in a hot evening, when as you walk by a Brook, and shal see or hear him leap at Flies, then if you get a Grashopper, put it on your hook, with your line about two yards long, standing behind a bush or tree where his hole is, and make your bait stir up and down on the top of the water; you may, if you stand close, be sure of a bit, but not sure to catch him, for he is not a leather mouthed fish: and after this manner you may fish for him with almost any kind of live Flie, but especially with a Grashopper.
Viat. But before you go further, I pray good Master, what mean you by a leather mouthed fish.
Pisc. By a leather mouthed fish, I mean such as have their teeth in their throat, as the Chub or Cheven, and so the Barbel, the Gudgion and Carp, and divers others have; and the hook being stuck into the leather or skin of such fish, does very seldome or never lose its hold: But on the contrary, a Pike, a Pearch, or Trout, and so some other fish, which have not their teeth in their throats, but in their mouthes, which you shal observe to be very full of bones, and the skin very thin, and little of it: I say, of these fish the hook never takes so sure hold, but you often lose the fish unless he have gorg'd it.
Viat. I thank you good Master for this observation; but now what shal be done with my Chub or Cheven that I have caught.
Pisc. Marry Sir, it shall be given away to some poor body, for Ile warrant you Ile give you a Trout for your supper; and it is a good beginning of your Art to offer your first fruits to the poor, who will both thank God and you for it.
And now lets walk towards the water again, and as I go Ile tel you when you catch your next Chub, how to dresse it as this was.
viat. Come (good Master) I long to be going and learn your direction.
Pisc. You must dress it, or see it drest thus: When you have scaled him, wash him very cleane, cut off his tail and fins; and wash him not after you gut him, but chine or cut him through the middle as a salt fish is cut, then give him four or five scotches with your knife, broil him upon wood-cole or char-cole; but as he is broiling; baste him often with butter that shal be choicely good; and put good store of salt into your butter, or salt him gently as you broil or baste him; and bruise or cut very smal into your butter, a little Time, or some other sweet herb that is in the Garden where you eat him: thus used, it takes away the watrish taste which the Chub or Chevin has, and makes him a choice dish of meat, as you your self know, for thus was that dressed, which you did eat of to your dinner.
Or you may (for variety) dress a Chub another way, and you will find him very good, and his tongue and head almost as good as a Carps; but then you must be sure that no grass or weeds be left in his mouth or throat.
Thus you must dress him: Slit him through the middle, then cut him into four pieces: then put him into a pewter dish, and cover him with another, put into him as much White Wine as wil cover him, or Spring water and Vinegar, and store of Salt, with some branches of Time, and other sweet herbs; let him then be boiled gently over a Chafing-dish with wood coles, and when he is almost boiled enough, put half of the liquor from him, not the top of it; put then into him a convenient quantity of the best butter you can get, with a little Nutmeg grated into it, and sippets of white bread: thus ordered, you wil find the Chevin and the sauce too, a choice dish of meat: And I have been the more careful to give you a perfect direction how to dress him, because he is a fish undervalued by many, and I would gladly restore him to some of his credit which he has lost by ill Cookery.
Viat. But Master, have you no other way to catch a Cheven, or Chub?
Pisc. Yes that I have, but I must take time to tel it you hereafter; or indeed, you must learn it by observation and practice, though this way that I have taught you was the easiest to catch a Chub, at this time, and at this place. And now we are come again to the River; I wil (as the Souldier sayes) prepare for skirmish; that is, draw out my Tackling, and try to catch a Trout for supper.
Viat. Trust me Master, I see now it is a harder matter to catch a Trout then a Chub; for I have put on patience, and followed you this two hours, and not seen a fish stir, neither at your Minnow nor your worm.
Pisc. Wel Scholer, you must indure worse luck sometime, or you will never make a good Angler. But what say you now? there is a Trout now, and a good one too, if I can but hold him; and two or three turns more will tire him: Now you see he lies still, and the sleight is to land him: Reach me that Landing net: So (Sir) now he is mine own, what say you? is not this worth all my labour?
Viat. On my word Master, this is a gallant Trout; what shall we do with him?
Pisc. Marry ee'n eat him to supper: We'l go to my Hostis, from whence we came; she told me, as I was going out of door, that my brother Peter, a good Angler, and a cheerful companion, had sent word he would lodg there to night, and bring a friend with him. My Hostis has two beds, and I know you and I may have the best: we'l rejoice with my brother Peter and his friend, tel tales, or sing Ballads, or make a Catch, or find some harmless sport to content us.
Viat. A match, good Master, lets go to that house, for the linen looks white, and smels of Lavender, and I long to lye in a pair of sheets that smels so: lets be going, good Master, for I am hungry again with fishing.
Pisc. Nay, stay a little good Scholer, I caught my last Trout with a worm, now I wil put on a Minow and try a quarter of an hour about yonder trees for another, and so walk towards our lodging. Look you Scholer, thereabout we shall have a bit presently, or not at all: Have with you (Sir!) on my word I have him. Oh it is a great logger-headed Chub: Come, hang him upon that Willow twig, and let's be going. But turn out of the way a little, good Scholer, towards yonder high hedg: We'l sit whilst this showr falls so gently upon the teeming earth, and gives a sweeter smel to the lovely flowers that adorn the verdant Meadows.
Look, under that broad Beech tree I sate down when I was last this way a fishing, and the birds in the adjoining Grove seemed to have a friendly contention with an Echo, whose dead voice seemed to live in a hollow cave, near to the brow of that Primrose hil; there I sate viewing the Silver streams glide silently towards their center, the tempestuous Sea, yet sometimes opposed by rugged roots, and pibble stones, which broke their waves, and turned them into some: and sometimes viewing the harmless Lambs, some leaping securely in the cool shade, whilst others sported themselvs in the cheerful Sun; and others were craving comfort from the swolne Udders of their bleating Dams. As I thus sate, these and other sighs had so fully possest my soul, that I thought as the Poet has happily exprest it:
I was for that time lifted above earth; And possest joyes not promis'd in my birth.
As I left this place, and entered into the next field, a second pleasure entertained me, 'twas a handsome Milk-maid, that had cast away all care, and sung like a Nightingale; her voice was good, and the Ditty fitted for it; 'twas that smooth Song which was made by Kit Marlow, now at least fifty years ago; and the Milk maid's mother sung an answer to it, which was made by Sir Walter Raleigh in his younger days.
They were old fashioned Poetry, but choicely good, I think much better then that now in fashion in this Critical age. Look yonder, on my word, yonder they be both a milking again: I will give her the Chub, and persuade them to sing those two songs to us.
Pisc. God speed, good woman, I have been a-fishing, and am going to Bleak Hall to my bed, and having caught more fish then will sup my self and friend, will bestow this upon you and your daughter for I use to sell none.
Milkw. Marry, God requite you Sir, and we'l eat it cheerfully: will you drink a draught of red Cow's milk?
Pisc. No, I thank you: but I pray do us a courtesie that shal stand you and your daughter in nothing, and we wil think our selves stil something in your debt; it is but to sing us a Song, that that was sung by you and your daughter, when I last past over this Meadow, about eight or nine dayes since.
Milk. what Song was it, I pray? was it, Come Shepherds deck your heads: or, As at noon Dulcina rested: or Philida flouts me?
Pisc. No, it is none of those: it is a Song that your daughter sung the first part, and you sung the answer to it.
Milk. O I know it now, I learn'd the first part in my golden age, when I was about the age of my daughter; and the later part, which indeed fits me best, but two or three years ago; you shal, God willing, hear them both. Come Maudlin, sing the first part to the Gentlemen with a merrie heart, and Ile sing the second.
The Milk maids Song.
_Come live with me, and be my Love, And we wil all the pleasures prove That vallies, Groves, or hils, or fields, Or woods and steepie mountains yeelds.
Where we will sit upon the_ Rocks, _And see the Shepherds feed our_ flocks, _By shallow_ Rivers, _to whose falls Mellodious birds sing_ madrigals.
_And I wil make thee beds of_ Roses, _And then a thousand fragrant posies, A cap of flowers and a Kirtle, Imbroidered all with leaves of Mirtle.
A Gown made of the finest wool Which from our pretty Lambs we pull, Slippers lin'd choicely for the cold, With buckles of the purest gold.
A belt of straw and ivie buds, With Coral clasps, and Amber studs And if these pleasures may thee move, Come live with me, and be my Love.
The Shepherds Swains shal dance and sing For thy delight each May morning: If these delights thy mind may move, Then live with me, and be my Love_.
Via. Trust me Master, it is a choice Song, and sweetly sung by honest Maudlin: Ile bestow Sir Thomas Overbury's Milk maids wish upon her, That she may dye in the Spring, and have good store of flowers stuck round about her winding sheet.
The Milk maids mothers answer.
_If all the world and love were young, And truth in every Shepherds tongue? These pretty pleasures might me move, To live with thee, and be thy love.
But time drives flocks from field to fold: When rivers rage and rocks grow cold, And Philomel becometh dumb, The Rest complains of cares to come.
The Flowers do fade, and wanton fields To wayward Winter reckoning yeilds A honey tongue, a heart of gall, Is fancies spring, but sorrows fall.
Thy gowns, thy shooes, thy beds of Roses, Thy Cap, thy Kirtle, and thy Posies, Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten, In folly ripe, in reason rotten.
Thy belt of straw and Ivie buds, Thy Coral clasps and Amber studs, All these in me no means can move To come to thee, and be thy Love.
But could youth last, and love stil breed, Had joys no date, nor age no need; Then those delights my mind might move To live with thee, and be thy love_.
Pisc. Well sung, good woman, I thank you, I'l give you another dish of fish one of these dayes, and then beg another Song of you. Come Scholer, let Maudlin alone, do not you offer to spoil her voice. Look, yonder comes my Hostis to cal us to supper. How now? is my brother Peter come?
Host. Yes, and a friend with him, they are both glad to hear you are in these parts, and long to see you, and are hungry, and long to be at supper.
Piscat. Wel met brother Peter, I heard you & a friend would lodg here to night, and that has made me and my friend cast to lodge here too; my friend is one that would faine be a brother of the Angle: he has been an Angler but this day, and I have taught him how to catch a Chub with daping a Grashopper, and he has caught a lusty one of nineteen inches long. But I pray you brother, who is it that is your companion?
Peter. Brother Piscator, my friend is an honest Country man, and his name is Coridon, a most downright witty merry companion that met me here purposely to eat a Trout and be pleasant, and I have not yet wet my line since I came from home: But I wil fit him to morrow with a Trout for his breakfast, if the weather be any thing like.
Pisc. Nay brother, you shall not delay him so long, for look you here is a Trout will fill six reasonable bellies. Come Hostis, dress it presently, and get us what other meat the house wil afford, and give us some good Ale, and lets be merrie.
The Description of a Trout.
Peter. On my word, this Trout is in perfect season. Come, I thank you, and here's a hearty draught to you, and to all the brothers of the Angle, wheresoever they be, and to my young brothers good fortune to morrow; I wil furnish him with a rod, if you wil furnish him with the rest of the tackling, we wil set him up and make him a fisher.
And I wil tel him one thing for his encouragement, that his fortune hath made him happy to be a Scholer to such a Master; a Master that knowes as much both of the nature and breeding of fish, as any man; and can also tell him as well how to catch and cook them, from the Minnow to the Sammon, as any that I ever met withall.
Pisc. Trust me, brother Peter, I find my Scholer to be so sutable to my own humour, which is to be free and pleasant, and civilly merry, that my resolution is to hide nothing from him. Believe me, Scholer, this is my resolution: and so here's to you a hearty draught, and to all that love us, and the honest Art of Angling.
Viat. Trust me, good Master, you shall not sow your seed in barren ground, for I hope to return you an increase answerable to your hopes; but however, you shal find me obedient, and thankful, and serviceable to my best abilitie.
Pisc. 'Tis enough, honest Scholer, come lets to supper. Come my friend Coridon, this Trout looks lovely, it was twenty two inches when it was taken, and the belly of it look'd some part of it as yellow as a Marygold, and part of it as white as a Lily, and yet me thinks it looks better in this good fawce.
Coridon. Indeed, honest friend, it looks well, and tastes well, I thank you for it, and so does my friend Peter, or else he is to blame.
Pet. Yes, and so I do, we all thank you, and when we have supt, I wil get my friend Coridon to sing you a Song, for requital.
Cor. I wil sing a Song if anyboby wil sing another; else, to be plain with you, I wil sing none: I am none of those that sing for meat, but for company; I say, 'Tis merry in Hall when men sing all.
Pisc. I'l promise you I'l sing a Song that was lately made at my request by Mr. William Basse, one that has made the choice Songs of the Hunter in his carrere, and of Tom of Bedlam, and many others of note; and this that I wil sing is in praise of Angling.
Cor. And then mine shall be the praise of a Country mans life: What will the rest sing of?
Pet. I wil promise you I wil sing another Song in praise of Angling, to-morrow night, for we wil not part till then, but fish to morrow, and sup together, and the next day every man leave fishing, and fall to his business.
Viat. 'Tis a match, and I wil provide you a Song or a Ketch against then too, that shal give some addition of mirth to the company; for we wil be merrie.
Pisc. 'Tis a match my masters; lets ev'n say Grace, and turn to the fire, drink the other cup to wet our whistles, and so sing away all sad thoughts.
Come on my masters, who begins? I think it is best to draw cuts and avoid contention.
Pet. It is a match. Look, the shortest Cut fals to Coridon.
Cor. Well then, I wil begin; for I hate contention.
Oh the sweet contentment The country man doth find! high trolollie laliloe high trolollie lee, That quiet contemplation Possesseth all my mind: Then care away, and wend along with me.
For Courts are full of flattery, As hath too oft been tri'd; high trolollie lollie loe high trolollie lee, The City full of wantonness, and both are full of pride: Then care away, and wend along with me.
But oh the honest countryman Speaks truly from his heart, high trolollie lollie loe high trolollie lee, His pride is in his Tillage, his Horses and his Cart: Then care away, and wend along with me.
Our clothing is good sheep skins Gray russet for our wives, high trolollie lollie loe high trolollie lee. 'Tis warmth and not gay clothing that doth prolong our lives: Then care away, and wend along with me,
The ploughman, though he labor hard, Yet on the Holy-day, high trolollie lollie loe high trolollie lee, No Emperor so merrily does pass his time away: Then care away, and wend along with me.
To recompence our Tillage, The Heavens afford us showrs; high trolollie lollie loe high trolollie lee, And for our sweet refreshments the earth affords us bowers: Then care away, &c.
The Cuckoe and the Nightingale full merrily do sing, high trolollie lollie loe high trolollie lee, And with their pleasant roundelayes bid welcome to the Spring: Then care away, and wend along with me.
_This is not half the happiness the Country man injoyes; high trolollie lollie loe high trolollie lee, Though others think they have as much yet he that says so lies_: Then come away, turn County man with me_.
Pisc. Well sung Coridon, this Song was sung with mettle, and it was choicely fitted to the occasion; I shall love you for it as long as I know you: I would you were a brother of the Angle, for a companion that is cheerful and free from swearing and scurrilous discourse, is worth gold. I love such mirth as does not make friends ashamed to look upon one another next morning; nor men (that cannot wel bear it) to repent the money they spend when they be warmed with drink: and take this for a rule, you may pick out such times and such companies, that you may make your selves merrier for a little then a great deal of money; for 'Tis the company and not the charge that makes the feast: and such a companion you prove, I thank you for it.
But I will not complement you out of the debt that I owe you, and therefore I will begin my Song, and wish it may be as well liked.
The ANGLERS Song.
_As inward love breeds outward talk, The_ Hound _some praise, and some the_ Hawk, _Some better pleas'd with private sport, Use_ Tenis, _some a_ Mistris _court: But these delights I neither wish, Nor envy, while I freely fish.
Who hunts, doth oft in danger ride Who hauks, lures oft both far & wide; Who uses games, may often prove A loser; but who fals in love, Is fettered in fond Cupids snare: My Angle breeds me no such care.
Of Recreation there is none So free as fishing is alone; All other pastimes do no less Then mind and body both possess; My hand alone my work can do, So I can fish and study too.
I care not, I, to fish in seas, Fresh rivers best my mind do please, Whose sweet calm course I contemplate; And seek in life to imitate; In civil bounds I fain would keep, And for my past offences weep.
And when the timerous Trout I wait To take, and he devours my bait, How poor a thing sometimes I find Will captivate a greedy mind: And when none bite, I praise the wise, Whom vain alurements ne're surprise.
But yet though while I fish, I fast, I make good fortune my repast, And there unto my friend invite, In whom I more then that delight: Who is more welcome to my dish, Then to my Angle was my fish.
As well content no prize to take As use of taken prize to make; For so our Lord was pleased when He Fishers made Fishers of men; Where (which is in no other game) A man may fish and praise his name.
The first men that our Saviour dear Did chuse to wait upon him here, Blest Fishers were; and fish the last Food was, that he on earth did taste. I therefore strive to follow those, Whom he to follow him hath chose. W.B.
Cor. Well sung brother, you have paid your debt in good coyn, we Anglers are all beholding to the good man that made this Song. Come Hostis, give us more Ale and lets drink to him.
And now lets everie one go to bed that we may rise early; but first lets pay our Reckoning, for I wil have nothing to hinder me in the morning for I will prevent the Sun rising.
Pet. A match: Come Coridon, you are to be my Bed-fellow: I know brother you and your Scholer wil lie together; but where shal we meet to morrow night? for my friend Coridon and I will go up the water towards Ware.
Pisc. And my Scholer and I will go down towards Waltam.
Cor. Then lets meet here, for here are fresh sheets that smel of Lavender, and, I am sure, we cannot expect better meat and better usage.
Pet. 'Tis a match. Good night to every body.
Pisc. And so say I.
Viat. And so say I.
* * * * *
Pisc. Good morrow good Hostis, I see my brother Peter is in bed still; Come, give my Scholer and me a cup of Ale, and be sure you get us a good dish of meat against supper, for we shall come hither as hungry as Hawks. Come Scholer, lets be going.
Viat. Good Master, as we walk towards the water, wil you be pleased to make the way seeme shorter by telling me first the nature of the Trout, and then how to catch him.
Pisc. My honest Scholer, I wil do it freely: The Trout (for which I love to angle above any fish) may be justly said (as the ancient Poets say of Wine, and we English say of Venson) to be a generous fish, because he has his seasons, a fish that comes in, and goes out with the Stag or Buck: and you are to observe, that as there be some barren Does, that are good in Summer; so there be some barren Trouts, that are good in Winter; but there are not many that are so, for usually they be in their perfection in the month of May, and decline with the Buck: Now you are to take notice, that in several Countries, as in Germany and in other parts compar'd to ours, they differ much in their bigness, shape, and other wayes, and so do Trouts; 'tis wel known that in the Lake Lemon, the Lake of Geneva, there are Trouts taken, of three Cubits long, as is affirmed by Gesner, a Writer of good credit: and Mercator sayes, the Trouts that are taken in the Lake of Geneva, are a great part of the Merchandize of that famous City. And you are further to know, that there be certaine waters that breed Trouts remarkable, both for their number and smalness—I know a little Brook in Kent that breeds them to a number incredible, and you may take them twentie or fortie in an hour, but none greater then about the size of a Gudgion. There are also in divers Rivers, especially that relate to, or be near to the Sea, (as Winchester, or the Thames about Windsor) a little Trout called a Samlet or Skegger Trout (in both which places I have caught twentie or fortie at a standing) that will bite as fast and as freely as Minnows; these be by some taken to be young Salmons, but in those waters they never grow to bee bigger then a Herring.
There is also in Kent, neer to Canterbury, a Trout (called there a Fordig Trout) a Trout (that bears the name of the Town where 'tis usually caught) that is accounted rare meat, many of them near the bigness of a Salmon, but knowne by their different colour, and in their best season cut very white; and none have been known to be caught with an Angle, unless it were one that was caught by honest Sir George Hastings, an excellent Angler (and now with God) and he has told me, he thought that Trout bit not for hunger, but wantonness; and 'tis the rather to be believed, because both he then, and many others before him have been curious to search into their bellies what the food was by which they lived; and have found out nothing by which they might satisfie their curiositie.
Concerning which you are to take notice, that it is reported, there is a fish that hath not any mouth, but lives by taking breath by the porinss of her gils, and feeds and is nourish'd by no man knows what; and this may be believed of the Fordig Trout, which (as it is said of the Stork, that he knowes his season, so he) knows his times (I think almost his day) of coming into that River out of the Sea, where he lives (and it is like feeds) nine months of the year, and about three in the River of Fordig.
And now for some confirmation of this; you are to know, that this Trout is thought to eat nothing in the fresh water; and it may be the better believed, because it is well known, that Swallowes, which are not seen to flye in England for six months in the year, but about Michaelmas leave us for a hotter climate; yet some of them, that have been left behind their fellows, [view Sir Fra. Bacon exper. 899.], have been found (many thousand at a time) in hollow trees, where they have been observed to live and sleep [see Topsel of Frogs] out the whole winter without meat; and so Albertus observes that there is one kind of Frog that hath her mouth naturally shut up about the end of August, and that she lives so all the Winter, and though it be strange to some, yet it is known to too many amongst us to bee doubted.
And so much for these Fordig Trouts, which never afford an Angler sport, but either live their time of being in the fresh water by their meat formerly gotten in the Sea, (not unlike the Swallow or Frog) or by the vertue of the fresh water only, as the Camelion is said to live by the air.