Return to TOC. Chapter II. Chapter III. Chapter IV. Chapter V.
THE SECOND DAY.
OBSERVATIONS OF THE OTTER AND CHUB.
Venator. My friend Piscator, you have kept time with my thoughts; for the sun is just rising, and I myself just now come to this place, and the dogs have just now put down an otter. Look! down at the bottom of the hill there, in that meadow, chequered with water-lilies and lady-smocks; there you may see what work they make; look! look! you may see all busy; men and dogs: dogs and men; all busy.
Pisc. Sir, I am right glad to meet you; and glad to have so fair an entrance into this day's sport; and glad to see so many dogs, and more men, all in pursuit of the otter. Let us compliment no longer, but join unto them. Come, honest Venator! let us be gone, let us make haste; I long to be doing; no reasonable hedge or ditch shall hold me.
Ven. Gentleman huntsman, where found you this otter?
Hunt. Marry, sir, we found her a mile from this place a-fishing. She has this morning eaten the greatest part of this trout; she has only left this 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 will hardly escape all these dogs and men. I am to have the skin if we kill her.
Ven. Why, sir, what is the skin worth?
Hunt. It is worth ten shillings, to make gloves; the gloves of an otter are the best fortification for your hands that can be thought on against wet weather.
Pisc. I pray, honest huntsman, let me ask you a pleasant question; do you hunt a beast or a fish?
Hunt. Sir, it is not in my power to resolve you; I leave it to be resolved by the college of Carthusians, who have made vows never to eat flesh. But I have heard, the question hath been debated among many great clerks: and they seem to differ about it: yet most agree that her tail is fish. And if her 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, to catch, for her young ones, or to glut herself with fish. And I can tell you that pigeons will fly forty miles for a breakfast. But, sir, I am sure the otter devours much fish; and kills and spoils much more than he eats. And I can tell you, that this dog-fisher, for so the Latins call him, can smell a fish in the water an hundred yards from him: Gesner says much further---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 smells both by water and land. And I can tell you, there is brave hunting this water-dog in Cornwall: where there have been so many, that our learned Camden says, there is a river called Ottersey, which was so named, by reason of the abundance of otters that bred and fed in it.
And thus much for my knowledge 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 last vent.
Ven. Oh me; all the horse are got over the river; what shall we do now? shall we follow them over the water?
Hunt. No, sir, no: be not so eager; stay a little, and follow me: for 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 Killbuck, for he vents again.
Ven. Marry! so he does, for, look! he vents in that corner. Now, now, Ringwood has him: now, he is gone again; and has bit the poor dog. Now, Sweetlips has her; hold her, Sweetlips! now all the dogs have her; some above and some under water: but, now, now, she is tired, and past losing. Come bring her to me, Sweetlips. Look! it is a bitch-otter, and she has lately whelped. Let's 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! let's go to the place where we put down the otter. Look you! hereabout it was that she kenneled; look you! here it was indeed; for here are her young ones, no less than five; come, let us 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 ingenious gentleman in Leicestershire, Mr. Nich. Seagrave, has done; who hath not only made her tame, but to catch fish, and do many other things of much pleasure.
Hunt. Take one, with all my heart; but let us kill the rest. And now let's go to an honest ale-house, where we may have a cup of good barley wine and sing Old Rose, and all of us rejoice together.
Ven. Come, my friend Piscator, let me invite you along with us. I'll bear your charges this night; and you shall bear 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 courtesy, and also to enjoy your company.
THE THIRD DAY.
Ven. Well, now let's go to your sport of angling.
Pisc. Let's 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.
Ven. Now, Piscator, where will you begin to fish?
Pisc. We are not yet come to a likely place; I must walk a mile further yet before I begin.
Ven. Well, then, I pray, as we walk, tell me freely, how do you like your lodging, and mine host and the company. Is not mine host a witty man?
Pisc. Sir, I will tell you, presently, what I think of your host: but, first, I will tell you, I am glad these otters were killed; and I am sorry there are no more otter-killers; for I know that the want of otter-killers, and the not keeping the fence-months for the preservation of fish, will, in time, prove the destruction of all rivers. And those very few that are left, that make conscience of the laws of the nation, and of keeping days of abstinence, will be forced to eat flesh, or suffer more inconveniences than are yet foreseen.
Ven. Why, sir, what be those that you call the fence-months?
Pisc. Sir, they be pricipally three, namely, March, April and May; for these be the usual months that salmon come out of the sea, to spawn in most fresh rivers. And their fry would, about a certain time, return back to the salt-water, if they were not hindered by wires and unlawful gins, which the greedy fishermen set; and so destroy them by thousands, as they (the fry) would, being so taught by nature, change the fresh for salt water. He that shall view the wise statutes made in the 13th of Edward I., and the like in Richard II., may see several provisions made against the destruction of fish: and though I profess no knowledge of the law, yet I am sure the regulation of these defects might be easily mended. But I remember that a wise friend of mine did usually say, "That which is every body's business is no body's business:" ---if it were otherwise, there could not be so many nets, and fish, that are under the statute-size, sold daily amongst us; and of which the conservators of the waters should be ashamed.
But, above all, the taking fish in spawning-time, may be said to be against nature; it is like taking the dam on the nest when she hatches her young---a sin so against nature, that Almighty God hath in the Levitical law made a law against it.
But the poor fish have enemies enough besides such unnatural fishermen; as, namely, the otters that I spake of, the cormorant, the bittern, the osprey, the seagull, the hern, the king-fisher, the gorara, the puet, the swan, goose, duck, and the crabber, which some call the Water-rat: against all which any honest man may make a just quarrel---but I will not; I will leave them to be quarrelled with and killed by others: for I am not of a cruel nature, I love to kill nothing but fish.
And, now, to your question concerning your host: To speak truly, he is not to me a good companion; for most of his conceits were either scripture jests---or, lascivious jests---for which I count no man witty; for the devil will help a man that way inclined, to the first; and his own corrupt nature, which he always 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 mixed with them, he is the man; and indeed such a companion should have his charges borne; and to such company I hope to bring you this night; for at Trout-hall, not far from this place, where I purpose to lodge to-night, there is usually an angler that proves good company. And, let me tell you, good company and good discourse are the very sinews of virtue. But for such discourse as we heard last night, it infects others; the very boys will learn to talk and swear, as they heard mine host, and another of the company that shall be nameless:---I am sorry the other is a gentleman; for less religion will not save their souls than a beggar's: I think more will be required at the last great day. Well! you know what example is able to do; and I know what the poet says in like case---which is worthy to be noted by all parents and people of civility:---
-------------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 the reason put in verse, and worthy the consideration of a wise man. But of this no more; fro though I love civility, yet I hate 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 hostess, that I know right well; rest ourselves there; and dress it for our dinner.
Ven. Oh, sir! a chub is the worst fish that swims; I hoped for a trout to my dinner.
Pisc. Trust me, sir, there is not a likely place for a trout hereabout: and we staid so long to take our leave of your huntsman 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 fish, yet you shall see I'll make it a good fish by dressing it.
Ven. Why, how will you dress him?
Pisc. I'll tell you by and by, when I have caught him. Look you here, sir, do you see? (but you must stand very close), there lie upon the top of the water, in this very hole, 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: and you shall see it done.
Ven. Ay, 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. You shall not doubt it long; for you shall see me do it presently. Look! the biggest of these chubs has had some bruise upon his tail, by a pike, or some other accident; and that looks like a white spot. That very chub I mean to put into your hands presently; sit you but down in the shade; and stay but a little while; and, I'll warrant you, I'll bring him to you.
Ven. I'll sit down; and hope well, because you seem to be so confident.
Pisc. Look you, sir, there is a trial of my skill; there he is; that very chub, that I showed you, with a 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 ale-house, where we shall find a cleanly room, lavender in the windows, and twenty ballads stuck against the wall. There my hostess---Which, I may tell you, is both cleanly, and handsome, and civil---hath dressed many a one for me; and shall now dress it after my fashion; and I warrant it good meat.
Ven. Come, sir, with all my heart; for I begin to be hungry and long to be at it, and indeed to rest myself too,---for though I have walked but four miles this morning, yet I begin to be weary,---yesterday's hunting hangs still upon me.
Pisc. Well, sir, and you shall quickly be at rest, for yonder is the house I mean to bring you to.
Come, hostess! how do you do? Will you first give us a cup of your best drink; and then dress this chub, as you dressed my last, when I and my friend were here about eight or ten days ago? But you must do me one courtesy; it must be done instantly.
Host. I will do it, Mr. Piscator, and with all the speed I can.
Pisc. Now, sir, has not my hostess made haste? and does not the fish look lovely?
Ven. Both, upon my word, sir; and therefore let's say grace, and fall to eating of it.
Pisc. Well, sir, how do you like it?
Ven. Trust me, 'tis as good meat as I ever tasted. Now let me thank you for it; drink to you; and beg a courtesy of you,---but it must not be denied me.
Pisc. What is it, I pray, sir? You are so modest, that methinks I may promise it, before it is asked.
Ven. Why, sir, it is, that from henceforth you will allow me to call you master, and that really I may be your scholar; for you are such a companion, and have so quickly caught, and so excellently cooked this fish, as makes me ambitious to be your scholar.
Pisc. Give me your hand. From this time forward I will be your master, and teach you as much of this art as I am able; and will, as you desire me, tell you somewhat of the nature of most of the fish that we are to angle for, and I am sure I both can and will tell you, more than any common angler yet knows.
THE THIRD DAY.
HOW TO FISH FOR, AND TO DRESS THE CHAVENDER, OR CHUB.
Piscator. The chub, though he eat well, thus dressed; yet as he is usually dressed, he does not. He is objected against, not only for being full of small forked bones, dispersed all through his body, but that he eats waterish, and that the flesh of him is not firm, but short and tasteless. The French esteem him so mean, as to call him un villain. Nevertheless, he may be so dressed, as to make him very good meat, as namely, if he be a large chub, then dress him thus:---
First, scale him; and then wash him clean; and then take out his guts,---and to that end make the hole as little, and near to his gills, as you may conveniently. And, especially, make clean his throat from the grass and weeds that are usually in it; for if that be not very clean, it will make him taste very sour. Having so done, put some sweet herbs into his belly; and then tie him with two or three splinters to a spit; and roast him, basted often with vinegar, or rather verjuice and butter, and with good store of salt mixed with it.
Being thus dressed, you will find him a much better dish of meat than you, or most folk, even than anglers themselves do imagine. For this dries up the fluid watery humour with which all chubs do abound.
But take this rule with you, that a chub newly taken and newly dressed, is so much better than a chub of a day's keeping after he is dead, that I can compare him---to nothing so fitly as---to cherries newly gathered from a tree, and others that have been bruised and lain a day or two in water. But the chub being thus used; and dressed presently: and not washed after he is gutted---for note,---that lying long in water, and washing the blood out of any fish after they be gutted, abates much of their sweetness---you will find the chub (being dressed in the blood, and quickly) to be such meat as will recompense your labour, and disabuse your opinion.
Or you may dress the chavender or chub thus:---
When you have scaled him, and cut off his tail and fins, and washed him very clean;---then chine or slit him through the middle, as a salt fish is usually cut; then give him three or four cuts or scotches on the back with your knife; and broil him on charcoal or wood coal, that is free from smoke. And all the time he is broiling, baste him with the best sweet butter, and good store of salt mixed with it. And to this, add a little thyme cut exceedingly small, or bruised into the butter. The cheven thus dressed hath the watery taste taken away, for which so many except against him. Thus was the cheven dressed that you now liked so well, and commended so much. But note again, that if this chub, that you eat of, had been kept till to-morrow, he had not been worth a rush. And remember,---that his throat be washed very clean, I say very clean,---and his body not washed after he is gutted, as indeed no fish should be.
Well, scholar, you see what pains I have taken to recover the lost credit of the poor despised chub. And now I will give you some rules how to catch him: and I am glad to enter you into the art of fishing by catching a chub; for there is no better fish to enter a young angler,---he is so easily caught, but then it must be this particular way. Go to the same hole in which I caught my chub; where, in most hot days, you will find a dozen or twenty chevens flaoting near the top of the water. Get two or three grasshoppers as yo go over the meadow: and get secretly behind the tree, and stand as free from motion as possible. Then put a grasshopper on your hook; and let your hook hang a quarter of a rod short of the water, to which end you must rest your rod on some bough of the tree. But it is likely the chubs will sink down towards the bottom of the water, at the first shadow of your rod: for the chub is the fearfulest of fishes; and will do so if but a bird flies over him, and makes the least shadow on the water. But they will presently rise up to the top again, and there lie soaring till some shadow affrights them again. I say, when they lie on top of the water, look out the best chub; which you, setting yourself in a fit place, may very easily see; and move your rod, as softly as a snail moves, to that chub you intend to catch; let your bait fall gently on 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-mouthed fishes, of which a hook does scarecely ever lose its 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 do as I bid you; and I will sit down and mend my tackling till you return back.
Ven. Truly, my loving master, you have offered me as fair as I could wish. I'll go and observe your directions.
Look you, master, what I have done! that which joys 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 wil make an angler in a short time. Have but a love to it: and I'll warrant you.
Ven. But master! what if I could not have found a grasshopper?
Pisc. Then I may tell you, that a black snail, with his belly slit, to show the 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 cow-dung; or a bob, which you will find in the same place, and in time will be a beetle,---it is a short white worm, like to and bigger than a gentle; or a cod-worm; or a case-worm; any of these will do very well 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 shall see or hear him leap at flies; then if you get a grasshopper, 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 top of the water; you may, if you stand close, be sure of a bite, 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 fly, but especially with a grasshopper.
Ven. 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 gudgeon, and carp, and divers others have. And the hook being stuck into the leather, or skin of the mouth of such fish; does very seldom or never lose its hold: but on the contrary, a pike, a perch, or trout, and so some other fish, which have not their teeth in their throats, but in their mouths; which you shall 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 your fish, unless he have gorged it.
Ven. I thank you, good master, for this observation. But now, what shall be done with my chub or cheven that I have caught?
Pisc. Marry! sir, it shall be given away to some poor body; for I'll warrant you I'll 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 you and God for it, which I see by your silence you seem to consent to. And for your willingness to part with it so charitably, I will also teach more concerning chub-fishing: you are to note, that in March and April he is usually taken with worms; in May, June, and July, he will bite at any fly, or at cherries,---or at beetles with their legs and wings cut off,---or at any kind of snail,---or at a black bee, that breeds in clay walls. and he never refuses a grasshopper, on the top of a swift stream; nor, at the bottom, the young humble bee that breeds in long grass, and is ordinarily found by the mower of it. In August, and in the cooler months, a yellow paste, made of the strongest cheese and pounded in a mortar, with a little butter and saffron, so much of it as being beaten small will turn it to a lemon colour. And some make a paste, for the winter months (at which time the chub is accounted best; for then it is observed, that the forked bones are lost, or turned into a kind of gristle, especially if he be baked), of cheese and turpentine. He will bite also at a minnow, or penk; as a trout will: of which I shall tell you more hereafter, and of divers other baits. But take this for a rule, that in hot weather he is to be fished for towards the mid-water, or near the top; and in colder weather, nearer the bottom. And if you fish for him on the top, with a beetle, or any fly; then be sure to let your line be very long, and to keep out of sight. And having told you that his spawn is excellent meat,---and that the head of a large cheven, the throat being well washed, is the best part of him, I will say no more of this fish at present, but wish you may catch the next you fish for.
But, lest you may judge me too nice in urging to have the chub dressed so presently after he is taken, I will commend to your consideration how curious former times have been in the like kind.
You shall read in Seneca's "Natural Questions," lib. iii. cap. 17, that the ancients were so curious in the newness of their fish, that that seemed not new enough that was not put alive into the guest's hand. And he says, that to that end they did usually keep them living in glass bottles in their dining-rooms; and they did glory much, in their entertaining of friends, to have that fish taken from under their table alive that was instantly to be fed upon. And he says, they took great pleasure to see their mullets change to several colors, when they were dying. But enough of this; for I doubt I have stayed too long from giving you some observations of the trout, and how to fish for him,---which shall take up the next of my spare time.
THE THIRD DAY.
OBSERVATIONS OF THE NATURE AND BREEDING OF THE TROUT, AND HOW TO FISH FOR HIM. AND THE MILKMAID'S SONG.
Piscator. The trout is a fish highly valued, both in this and foreign nations. He may be justly said, as the old poet said of wine, and we English say of venison, to be a generous fish: a fish that is so like the buck, that he also has his seasons; for it is observed, that he comes in and goes out of season with the stag and buck. Gesner says, his name is of German offspring; and he says he is a fish that feeds clean and purely, in the swiftest streams,and on the hardest gravel; and that he may justly contend with all fresh-water fish; as the mullet may with all sea-fish, for precedency and daintiness of taste; and that being in right season, the most dainty palates have allowed precedency to him.
And before I go further into my discourse, let me tell you, that 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---compared to ours, fish do differ much in their bigness and shape, and other ways, and so do trouts. It is well known, that in the Lake Leman, the lake of Geneva, there are trouts taken of three cubits long; as is affirmed by Gesner, a writer of good credit. And Mercator says, the trouts that are taken in the Lake of Geneva are a great part of the merchandise of that famous city. And you are further to know, that there be certain waters that breed trouts remarkable, both for their number and smallness. I know a little brook in Kent, that breeds them to a number incredible, and you may take them twenty or forty in an hour, but none greater than about the size of a gudgeon. 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 twenty or forty 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 be bigger than a herring.
There is also in Kent, near to Canterbury, a trout called there a Fordidge trout, a trout that bears the name of the town where it is usually caught, that is accounted the rarest of fish; many of them near the bigness of a salmon, but known by their different colour; and in their best season they cut very white: and none of these have been known to be caught with an angle, unless it were one that was caught by Sir George Hastings, an excellent angler, and now with God; and he hath told me, he thought that trout bit, not for hunger, but wantonness; and it is 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 satisfy their curiosity.
Concering which you are to take notice, that it is reported by good authors, that grasshoppers, and some fish have no mouths, but are nourished and take breath by the porousness of their gills, man knows not how; and this may be believed, if we consider that when the raven hath hatched her eggs, she takes no further care, but leaves her young ones to the care of the God of nature, who is said in the Psalms, "To feed the young ravens that call upon him;" and they be kept alive and fed, by dew, or worms that breed in their nests; or some other way that we mortals know not. And this may be believed of the Fordidge trout, which---as it is said of the stork, that he knows 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 fasts three in the river of Fordidge. And you are to note, that those townsmen are very punctual in observing the time of beginning to fish for them; and boast much that their river affords a trout that exceeds all others. And just so does Sussex boast of several fish; as namely, a Shelsey cockle, a Chichester lobster, an Arundel mullet, and an Amerly trout.
And, now, for some confrontation of the Fordidge trout: 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 swallows, and bats, and wagtails---which are called half-year birds, and not seen to fly 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, have been found, many thousands at a time, in hollow trees, or clay caves, where they have been observed to live, and sleep 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 she lives so all the winter; and though it be strange to some, yet it is known to too many among us to be doubted.
And so much for these Fordidge 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 virtue of the fresh water only,---or, as the birds of paradise and the chameleon are said to live, by the sun and the air.
There is also in Northumberland a trout called a bull-trout, of a much greater length and bigness than any in these southern parts. And there are, in many rivers that relate to the sea, salmon-trouts, as much different from others, both in shape and in their sopts, as we see sheep in some countries differ from one another, in their shape and bigness, and the fineness of their wool. And, certainly, as some pastures breed larger sheep, so do some rivers, by reason of the ground over which they run, breed larger trouts.
Now the next thing that I will commend to your consideration is, that the trout is of a more sudden growth than other fish. Concerning which, you are also to take notice, that he lives not so long as the perch, and divers other fishes do; as Sir Francis Bacon hath observed in his "History of Life and Death."
And next you are to take notice, that he is not like the crocodile, which if he lives nver so long, yet always thrives till his death; but it is not so with the trout, for after he is come to his full growth, he declines in his body, and keeps his bigness, or thrives only in his head, till his death. And you are to know, that he will, about (especially before) the time of his spawning, get, almost miraculously, through weirs and flood-gates, against the streams; even through such high and swift places as is almost incredible. Next, that the trout usually spawns about October or November, but in some rivers a little sooner or later, which is the more observable, because most other fish spawn in the spring or summer, when the sun hath warmed both the earth and water, and made it fit for generation. And you are to note, that he continues many months out of season; for it may be observed of the trout, that he is like the buck, or the ox, that will be fat in many months, though he go in the very same pastures that horses do, which will be fat in one month. And so you may observe, that most other fishes recover strength, and grow sooner fat and in season than the trout doth.
And next you are to note, that till the sun gets to such a height as to warm the earth and the water, the trout is sick and lean, and lousy, and unwholesome; for you shall, in winter, find him to have a big head, and then, to be lank, and thinand lean, at which time many of them have sticking on them sugs, or trout-lice; which is a kind of a worm, in shape like a clove, or pin with a big head, and sticks close to him and sucks his moisture; those, I think, the trout breeds himself, and never thrives till he free himself from them, which is when warm weather comes; and then, as he grows stronger, he gets from the dead still water into the sharp streams and the gravel, and there rubs off these worms or or lice; and then, as he grows stronger, so he gets him into swifter and swifter streams, and there lies at the watch for any fly or minnow that comes near to him; and he especially loves the May-fly, which is bred of the cod-worm, or cadis; and these make the trout bold and lusty. And he is usually fatter and better meat at the end of that month (May) than at any time of the year.
Now you are to know, that it is observed, that usually the best trouts are either red or yellow; though some, as the Fordidge trout, be white, and yet good; but that is not usual. And it is a note observable, that the female trout hath usually a less head, and a deeper body than the male trout, and is usually the better meat. And note, that a hogback and a little head---to either trout, salmon, or any other fish--is a sign that that fish is in season.
But yet you are to note, that as you see in some willows, or palm-trees, bud and blossom sooner than others do; so some trouts be, in rivers, sooner in season: and as some hollies, or oaks, are longer before they cast their leaves; so are some trouts, in rivers, longer before they go out of season.
And you are to note, that there are several kinds of trouts: But these several kinds are not considered but by very few men; for they go under the general name of trouts,---just as pigeons do, in most places; though it is certain, there are tame and wild pigeons; and of the tame, there be helmits and runts, and carriers and croppers, and indeed too many to name. Nay, the Royal Society have found and published lately, that there be thirty and three kinds of spiders; and yet all, for aught I know, go under that one general name of spider. And it is so with many kinds of fish, and of trouts especially; which differ in their bigness and shape, and spots and colour. The great Kentish hens may be an instance, compared to other hens. And, doubtless, there is a kind of small trout, which will never thrive to be big; that breeds very many more than others do, that be of a larger size: which you may rather believe, if you consider that the little wren and titmouse will have twenty young ones at a time, when usually, the noble hawk, or the musical thrassel or blackbird, exceed not four or five.
And now you shall see me try my skill to catch a trout. And at my next walking, either this evening or to-morrow morning, I will give you direction how you yourself shall fish for him.
Ven. Trust me, master! I see now it is a harder matter to catch a trout than a chub: for I have put on patience, and followed you these two hours, and not seen a fish stir, neither at your minnow nor your worm.
Pisc. Well, scholar! you must endure 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 now, is not this worth all my labor and your patience?
Ven. On my word, master! this is a gallant trout; what shall we do with him?
Pisc. Marry! e'en eat him to supper: we'll go to my hostess 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 lodge there to-night, and bring a friend with him. My hostess has two beds, and I know you and I have the best; we'll rejoice with my brother Peter and his friend, tell tales, or sing ballads, or make a catch, or find some harmless sport to content us, and pass away a little time without offence to God or man.
Ven. A match, good master! let's go to that house, for the linen looks white, and smells of lavender, and I long to lie in a pair of sheets that smell so. Let's be going, good master, for I am hungry again, with fishing.
Pisc. Nay, stay a little, good scholar. I caught my last trout with a worm; now, I will put on a minnow, and try a quarter of an hour about yonder trees for another: and so, walk towards our lodging. Look you, scholar! thereabout, we shall have a bite presently, or not at all. Have with you, sir: o'my word I have hold of 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 scholar, toward yonder high honeysuckle hedge; there, we'll sit and sing, whilst this shower falls so gently upon the teeming earth, and gives yet a sweeter smell to the lovely flowers that adorn these verdant meadows.
Look! under that broad beech-tree, I sat 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 tree, near to the brow of that primrose-hill. There, I sat viewing the silver streams glide silently towards their centre, the tempestuous sea; yet sometimes opposed by rugged roots and pebblestones, which broke their waves, and turned them into foam. And sometimes I beguiled time by viewing the harmless lambs; some leaping securely in the cool shade, whilst others sported themselves in the cheerful sun,---and saw others craving comfort from the swollen udders of their bleating dams. As I thus sat, these and other sights had so fully possest my soul with content, that I thought, as the poet has happily expressed it,
I was for that time lifted above earth;
And possest joys not not promised 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 not yet attained so much age and wisdom as to load her mind, with any fears of many things that will never be, as too many men too often do: but she cast away all care, and sung like a nightingale; her voice was good; and the ditty fitted for it,---it was 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 than the strong lines which are now in fashion in this critical age. Look yonder! on my word, yonder, they both be a milking again. I will give her the chub, and persuade them to sing those two songs to us.
God speed you, good woman! I have been a fishing; and am going to Bleak-hall to my bed; and having caught more fish than will sup myself and my friend, I will bestow this upon you and your daughter, for I use to sell none.
Milk-w. Marry! God requite you, sir, and we'll eat it cheerfully. And if you come this way a-fishing two months hence, a grace of God! I'll give you syllabub of new verjuice, in a new-made haycock, for it. And my Maudlin shall sing you one of her best ballads; for she and I both love all anglers, they be such honest, civil, quiet men. In the meantime will you drink a draught of red cow's milk? you shall have it freely.
Pisc. No, I thank you; but, I pray, do us a courtesy that shall stand you and your daughter in nothing, and yet we will think ourselves still something in your debt: it is but to sing us a song that was sung by your daughter when I, last, past over this meadow, about eight or nine days since.
Milk-w. What song was it, I pray? Was it, :Come shepherds, deck your herds?" or, "As at noon Dulcina rested?" or, "Phillida flouts me?" or, "Chevy Chace?" or, "Johnny Armstrong?" or, "Troy Town?"
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-w. O, I know it now. I learned the first part in my golden age, when I was about the age of my poor daughter; and the latter part, which indeed fits me best now, but two or three years ago, when the cares of the world began to take hold of me: but you shall, God willing, hear them both; and sung as well as we can, for we both love anglers. Come, Maudlin! sing the first part to the gentlemen, with a merry heart; and I'll sing the second, when you have done.
THE MILK-MAID'S SONG.
Come live with me, and be my love;
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That valleys, groves, or hills, or field,
Or woods, and steepy mountains yield,---
Where we will sit, upon the rocks,
And see the shepherds feed our flocks,
By shallow rivers; to whose falls,
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses;
And, then, a thousand fragrant posies;
A cap of flowers; and a kirtle,
Embroider'd all with leaves of myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool,
Which from our pretty lambs we pull:
Slippers, lined choicely for the cold;
With buckles of the purest gold
A belt, of straw and ivy-buds,
With coral clasps, and amber studs.
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.
Thy silver dishes for thy meat
As precious as the Gods do eat,
Shall, on an ivory table, be
Prepared each day for thee and me.
The shepherd swains shall dance and sing,
For thy delight, each May morning.
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me, and be my love.
Ven. Trust me, master! it is a choice song, and sweetly sung by honest Maudlin. I see now it was not without cause, that our good Queen Elizabeth did so often wish herself a milk-maid all the month of May; because they are not troubled with fears and cares, but sing sweetly all the day, and sleep securely all the night,---and without doubt, honest, innocent, pretty Maudlin does so. I'll bestow Sir Thomas Overbury's milk-maid's wish upon her, "That she may die in the spring; and being dead, may have good store of flowers stuck round about her winding-sheet."
THE MILK-MAID'S MOTHER'S ANSWER.
If all the world and love were young;
And truth in every shepherd's 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,
Then Philomel becometh dumb;
And age complains of care to come.
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
The wayward winter, reckoning, yields.
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies,
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten;
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.
The belt of straw, and ivy buds,
The coral clasps, and amber studs,---
All these in me no means can move,
To come to thee, and be thy love.
What should we talk of dainties, then,
Of better meat than's fit for men?
These are but vain; that's only good
Which God hath blest, and sent for food.
But could youth last; and, love still breed;
Had joys no date; nor age no need;
Then those delights my mind might move,
To live with thee, and be thy love.
Mother. Well! I have done my song. But stay, honest angler! for I will make Maudlin sing you one short song more. Maudlin! sing that song that you sung last night, when young Coridon the shepherd played so purely on his oaten pipe, to you and your cousin Betty.
Maud. I will, mother!
I married a wife of late,
The more's my unhappy fate:
I married her for love,
As my fancy did me move,
And not for a worldly estate.
But oh! the green sickness
Soon changeth her likeness;
And all her beauty did fail.
But 'tis not so, with those that go,
Through frost and snow,
As all men know,
And carry the milking-pail.
Pisc. Well sung. Good woman! I thank you. I'll give you another dish of fish one of these days; and then beg another song of you. Come, scholar! let Maudlin alone: do not you offer to spoil her voice. Look! yonder comes mine hostess to call us to supper. How now! is my brother Peter come?
Hostess. Yes, and a friend with him. They are both glad to hear that you are in these parts; and long to see you; and long to be at supper, for they be very hungry.
THE THIRD DAY.
MORE DIRECTIONS HOW TO FISH FOR, AND HOW TO MAKE FOR THE TROUT AN ARTIFICIAL MINNOW AND FLIES, WITH SOME MERRIMENT.
Pisc. WELL met, brother Peter! I heard that you and a friend would lodge here to-night; and that hath made me to bring my friend to lodge here too. My friend is one that would fain be a brother of the angle: he hath been an angler but this day; and I have taught him how to catch a chub by daping with a grasshopper; and the chub he caught was a lusty one of nineteen inches long. But pray, brother Peter! Who is your companion?
Peter. Brother Piscator! my friend is an honest country-man, and his name is Coridon: and he is a downright witty companion, that met me here purposely to be pleasant and eat a trout; and I have not wetted my line since we met together: but I hope to fit him with a trout for his breakfast; for I'll be early up.
Pisc. Nay, brother! you shall not stay so long; for look you! here is a trout will fill six reasonable bellies.
Come, hostess! dress it presently, and get us what other meat the house will afford; and give us some of your best barley-wine, the good liquor that our honest forefathers did use to drink of; the drink which preserved their health, and made them live so long, and to do so many good deeds.
Peter. O' my word! this trout is perfect in season. Come, I thank you, and here is a hearty draught to you, and to all the brothers of the angle wheresoever they be, and to my young brother's good fortune to-morrow: I will furnish him with a rod, if you will furnish him with the rest of the tackling; we will set him up and make him a fisher.
And I will tell him one thing for his encouragement, that his fortune hath made him happy to be the scholar to such a master; a master that knows 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 salmon, as any that I ever met withal.
Pisc. Trust me, brother Peter! I find my scholar to be so suitable to my own good humour, which is to be free and pleasant and civilly merry, that my resolution is to hide nothing that I know from him. Believe me, scholar! this is my resolotion; and so here's to you a hearty draught, and to all that love us and the honest art of angling.
Ven. Trust me, good master! you shall not sow your seed in barren ground; for I hope to return you an increse answerable to your hopes: but, however, you shall find me obedient, and thankful, and serviceable to my best ability.
Pisc. 'Tis enough, honest scholar! come, let's to supper. Come, my friend Coridon, this trout looks lovely; it was twenty-two inches when it was taken; and the belly of it looked, some part of it, as yellow as a marigold, and part of it as white as a lily; and yet, methinks, it looks better in this good sauce.
Cor. Indeed, honest friend! it looks well and tastes well; I thank you for it, and so doth my friend Peter, or else he is to blame.
Peter. Yes, and so I do; we all thank you; and, when we have supped, I will get my friend Coridon to sing you a song for requital.
Cor. I will sing a song, if anybody will sing another: else to be plain with you, I will sing none: I am none of those that sing for for meat--but for company: I say, " 'Tis merry in hall, when men sing all."
Pisc. I'll promise you I'll sing a song that was lately made, at my request, by Mr. William Basse; one that hath made the choice songs of the "Hunter in his career," and of "Tom of Bedlam," and many others of note; and this that I will sing is in praise of angling.
Cor. And then mine shall be the praise of a countryman's life: what will the rest sing of?
Peter. I will promise you, I will sing another song in praise of angling to-morrow night; for we will not part till then---but fish to-morrow, and sup together: and the next day every man leave fishing, and fall to his business.
Ven. 'Tis a match; and I will provide you a song or a catch against then too, which shall give some addition of mirth to the company; for we will be civil and as merry as beggars.
Pisc. 'Tis a match, my masters. Let's e'en say grace, and turn to the fire, drink the other cup to whet our whistles, and so sing away 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 falls to Coridon.
Cor. Well, then! I will begin, for I hate contention.
Oh the sweet contentment
The countryman doth find!
Heigh trolie lollie loe,
Heigh trolie lollie lee.
That quiet contemplation
Posseseth all my mind:
Then, care away;
And wend along with me.
For courts are full of flattery,
As hath too oft been tried,
Heigh trolie lollie loe, &c.
The city, full of wantonness;
And both are full of pride:
Then care away, &c.
But oh the honest countryman
Speaks truly from his heart;
Heigh trolie lollie loe, &c.
His pride is in his tillage,
His horses and his cart:
Then care away, &c.
Our cloathing is good sheep-skins,
Gray russet for our wives;
Heigh trolie lollie loe, &c.
'Tis warm and not gay cloathing,
That doth prolong our lives:
Then care away, &c.
The ploughman, though he labour hard,---
Yet, on the holy-day,
Heigh trolie lollie loe, &c.
No emperor so merrily
Does pass his time away:
Then care away, &c.
To recompense our tillage,
The heavens afford us showers
Heigh trolie lollie loe, &c.
And, for our sweet refreshments,
The earth affords us bowers:
Then care away, &c.
The cuckow and the nightingale,
Full merrily do sing,
Heigh trolie lollie loe, &c.
And with their pleasant roundelays
Bid welcome to the spring:
Then care away, &c.
This is not half the happiness
The countryman enjoys;
Heigh trolie lollie loe, &c.
Though others think they have as much,
Yet he that says so, lies:
Then come away,
Turn countryman 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 well 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 make yourselves merrier for a little than 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 compliment you out of the debt that I owe you, and therefore I will begin my song; and wish it may be so well liked.
THE ANGLER'S SONG.
As inward love breeds outward talk,---
The hound some praise; and some the hawk
Some, better pleased with private sport,
Use tennis; some a mistress court:
But these delights I neither wish,
Nor envy,---while I freely fish.
Who hunts, doth oft in danger ride;
Who hawks, lures of both far and wide
Who uses games, shall often prove
A loser; but who falls in love,
Is fetter'd in fond Cupid's 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
Than 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 tim'rous 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 allurements ne'er surprise.
But yet, though while I fish I fast,
I make good fortune my repast;
And thereunto my friend invite,---
In whom I more than that delight,---
Who is more welcome to my dish,
Than to my angle was my fish.
A 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 choose 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.
Cor. Well sung, brother! you have paid your debt in good coin. We anglers are all beholden to the good man that made this song: come, hostess! give us more ale: and let's drink to him.
And now let's every one go to bed, that we may rise early: but first let's pay our reckoning, for I will have nothing to himder me in the morning; for my purpose is to prevent the sun-rising.
Pet. A match. Come, Coridon! you are to be my bed-fellow. I know, brother! you and your scholar will lie together. But where shall we meet to-morrow night? for my friend Coridon and I will go up the water towards Ware.
Pisc. And my scholar and I will go down towards Waltham.
Cor. Then let's meet here; for here are fresh sheets that smell of lavender; and I am sure we cannot expect better meat, or better usage in any place.
Pet. 'Tis a match. Good night to every body.
Pisc. And so say I.
Ven. And so say I.
THE FOURTH DAY.
Pisc. Good morrow, good hostess! I see my brother Peter is still in bed: come, give my scholar and me a morning drink, and a bit of meat to breakfast: and be sure to get a dish of meat or two against supper, for we shall come home as hungry as hawks. Come, scholar, let's be going.
Ven. Well now, good master! as we walk towards the river, give me direction, according to your promise, how I shall fish for a trout.
Pisc. My honest scholar, I will take this very convenient opportunity to do it.
The trout is usually caught with a worm---or a minnow, which some call a penk---or with a fly, viz. either a natural or an artificial fly: concerning which three I will give you some observations and directions.
And, first, for worms. Of these there be very many sorts: some breed only in the earth, as the earth-worm; others of, or amongst, plants, as the dug-worm; and others breed either out of excrements, or in the bodies of living creatures, as in the horns of sheep or deer; or some of dead flesh, as the maggot or gentle, and others.
Now these be most of them particularly good for particular fishes. But for the trout---the dew-worm, which some also call the lob-worm, and the brandling, are the chief, and especially the first for a great trout; and the latter for a less. There be also, of lob-worms, some called squirrel-tails; a worm that has a red head, a streak down the back, and a broad tail; which are noted to be the best, because they are the toughest and most lively, and live longest in the water---for you are to know that a dead worm is but a dead bait, and like to catch nothing, compared to a lively quick stirring worm. And for a brandling: he is usually found in an old dunghill, or some very rotten place near to it---but most usually in cow-dung, or hog's-dung, rather than horse-dung which is somewhat too hot and dry for that worm. But the best of them are to be found in the bark of tanners; which they cast up in heaps, after they have used it about their leather.
There are also divers other kinds of worms, which, for colour and shape, alter even as the ground out of which they are got; as the marsh-worm, the tag-tail, the flag-worm, the dock-worm, the oak-worm, the gilt-tail, the twachel, or lob-worm, which of all others is the most excellent bait for a salmon---and too many to name, even as many sorts as some think there be of several herbs or shrubs, or of several kinds of birds in the air: of which I shall say no more. But tell you, that what worms soever you fish with, are the better for being well scoured, that is, long kept before they be used; and in case you have not been so provident, then, the way to cleanse and scour them quickly, is to put them all night in water, if they be lob-worms, and then put them into your bag with fennel; but you must not put your brandlings above an hour in water, and then put them into fennel, for sudden use; but if you have time, and purpose to keep them long, then they be best preserved in an earthen pot, with good store of moss, which is to be fresh every three or four days in summer, and every week or eight days in winter, or, at least, the moss taken from them, and clean washed, and wrung betwixt your hands till it be dry, and then put it to them again. And when your worms, especially the brandlings, begins to be sick and lose of his bigness, then you may recover him, by putting a little milk or cream, about a spoonful in a day, into them, by drops on the moss; and if there be added to the cream an egg beaten and boiled in it, then it will both fatten and preserve them long. And note, that when the knot, which is near to the middle of the brandling, begins to swell, then he is sick; and, if he be not well looked to, is near dying. And for moss, you are to note, that there be divers kinds of it, which I could name to you; but will only tell you, that that which is likest a buck's horn is the best, except it be soft white moss, which grows on some heaths, and is hard to be found. And note, that, in a very dry time, when you are put to an extremity for worms, walnut-tree leaves squeezed into water, or salt in water, to make it bitter, or salt, and then that water poured on the ground where, you shall see, worms are used to rise in the night, will make them to appear above ground presently. And you may take notice, some say that camphire put into your bag with your moss and worms, gives them a strong and so tempting a smell, that the fish fare the worse, and you the better for it.
And now I shall show you how to bait your hook with a worm, so as shall prevent you from much trouble, and the loss of many a hook too, when you fish for a trout with a running line; that is to say, when you fish for him by hand at the ground. I will direct you in this as plainly as I can, that you may not mistake.
Suppose it be a big lob-worm: put your hook into him somewhat above the middle, and out again a little below the middle; having done so, draw your worm above the arming of your hook; but note, that at the entering of your hook, it must not be at the head-end of the worm, but at the tail-end of him, that the point of your hook may come out toward the head-end, and, having drawn him above the arming of your hook, then put the point of your hook, again, into the very head of the worm, till it come near to the place where the point of the hook first came out; and then draw back that of the worm that was above the shank or arming of your hook, and so fish with it. And if you mean to fish with two worms, then put the second on, before you turn back the hook's head of the first worm. You cannot lose above two or three worms before you attain to what I direct you; and having attained it, you will find it very useful, and thank me for it, for you will run on the ground without tangling. Now for the minnow, or penk. He is not easily found and caught till March, or in April, for then he appears first in the river; nature having taught him to shelter and hide himself in the winter, in diches that be near to the river, and there, both to hide and keep himself warm in the mud, or in the weeds, which rot not so soon as in a running river, in which place if he were in winter, the distempered floods that are usually in that season would suffer him to take no rest, but carry him headlong to mills and weirs, to his confusion. And of these minnows: first, you are to know that the biggest size is not the best; and next, that the middle size and the whitest are the best; and then, you are to know, that your minnow must be so put on your hook, that it must turn round when 'tis drawn against the stream; and that it may turn nimbly, you must put it on a big-sized hook, as I shall now direct you, which is thus: put your hook in at his mouth, and out of his gill; then, having drawn your hook two or three inches beyond or through his gill, put it again into his mouth, and the point and beard out at his tail; and then tie the hook and his tail about, very neatly, with a white thread, which will make it the apter to turn quick in the water; that done, pull back that part of your line which was slack when you did put your hook into the minnow the second time; I say, pull that part of your line back, so that it shall fasten the head, so that the body of the minnow shall be almost straight on your hook; this done, try how it will turn, by drawing it across the water, or against a stream; and if it do not turn nimbly, then turn the tail a little to the right or left hand, and try again till it turn quick: for if not, you are in danger to catch nothing; for know, that it is impossible that it should turn too quick. And you are yet to know, that in case you want a minnow, then a small loach, or a stickle-bag, or any other small fish that will turn quick, will serve as well. And you are yet to know, that you may salt them, and by that means keep them ready and fit for use three or four days, or longer; and that, of salt, bay-salt is the best.
And here, let me tell you what many old anglers know right well, that at some times, and in some waters, a minnow is not to be got; and therefore (let me tell you) I have, which I will show to you, an artificial minnow, that will catch a trout as well as an artificial fly; and it was made by a handsome woman that had a fine hand, and a live minnow lying by her; the mould or body of the minnow was cloth,---and wrought upon, or over it, thus with a needle,---the back of it with very sad French green silk, and paler green silk towards the belly, shadowed as perfectly as you can imagine, just as you see a minnow; the belly was wrought also with a needle, and it was a part of it white silk, and another part of it with silver thread; the tail and fins were of a quill, which was shaven thin; the eyes were of two little black beads; and the head was so shadowed, and all of it so curiously wrought, and so exactly dissembled, that it would beguile any sharp-sighted trout in a swift stream. And this minnow I will now show you; look! here it is; and if you like it, lend it you, to have two or three made by it; for they be easily carried about an angler; and be of excellent use, for note, that a large trout will come as fiercely at a minnow, as the highest mettled hawk doth seize on a partridge, or a greyhound on a hare. I have been told that 160 minnows have been found in a trout's belly; either the trout had devoured so many, or the miller that that gave it a friend of mine had forced them down his throat after he had taken him.
Now for flies; which is the third bait wherewith trouts are usually take. You are to know, that there are so many sorts of flies, as there be of fruits: I will name you but some of them; as the dun-fly, the stone-fly, the red-fly[,] the moor-fly, the tawny-fly, the shell-fly, the cloudy or blackish-fly, the flag-fly, the vine-fly: there be---of flies---caterpillars, and canker-flies, and bear-flies; and indeed too many either for me to name, or for you to remember. And their breeding is so various and wonderful, that I might easily amaze myself, and tire you in a relation of them.
And, yet, I will exercise your promised patience by saying a little of the caterpillar, or the palmer-fly or worm; that by them you may guess what a work it were, in a discourse, but to run over those very many flies, worms, and little living creatures, with which the sun and summer adorn and beautify the river-banks, and meadows; both for the recreation and contemplation of us anglers,---pleasures which, I think, myself enjoy more than any other man that is not of my profession.
Pliny holds an opinion, that many have their birth, or being, from a dew that in the spring falls upon the leaves of trees; and that some kinds of them are from a dew left upon herbs or flowers, and others from a dew left upon the coleworts or cabbages. All which kinds of dews being thickened and condensed, are by the sun's generative heat, most of them, hatched,---and, in these days, made living creatures: and these of several shapes and colours; some being hard and tough, some smooth and soft; some are horned in their head,---some in their tail, some have none; some have hair, some none; some have sixteen feet, some less, and some have none,---but (as our Topsel hath, with great diligence, observed,) those which have none, move upon the earth, or upon broad leaves, their motion being not unlike to the waves of the sea. Some of them, he also observes to be bred of the eggs of other caterpillars, and that those in their time turn to be butterflies; and again, that their eggs turn the following year to be caterpillars. And some affirm, that every plant hath its particular fly or caterpillar, which it breeds and feeds. I have seen, and may therefore affirm it, a green caterpillar, or worm, as big as a small peascod, which had fourteen legs, eight on the belly, four under the neck, and two near the tail. It was found on a hedge of privet, and put into a large box, and a little branch or two of privet put to it, on which I saw it feed as sharply as a dog gnaws a bone; it lived, thus, five or six days,---and thrived, and changed the colour two or three times,---but by some neglect in the keeper of it, it then died and did not turn into a fly: but if it had lived, it had doubtless turned into one of those flies that some call flies of prey, which those that walk by the rivers may, in summer, see fasten on smaller flies, and I think, make them their food. And it is observable, that as there be these flies of prey, which be very large; so there be others, very little,--- created, I think, only to feed them, and breed out of I know not what; whose life, they say, nature intended not to exceed an hour,---and yet that life is, thus, made shorter by other flies, or by accident.
It is endless to tell you, what the curious searchers into nature's productions have observed of these worms and flies: but yet I shall tell you what Aldrovandus, our Topsel, and others, say of the palmer-worm, or caterpillar: That whereas others content themselves to feed on particular herbs or leaves; (for most think, those very leaves that gave them life and shape give them a particular feeding and nourishment, and that upon them they usually abide;) yet he observes, that this is called a pilgrim, or palmer-worm, for his very wandering life, and various food,---not contenting himself, as others do, with any one certain place for his abode, nor any certain kind of herb or flower for his feeding; but will boldly and disorderly wander up and down, and not endure to be kept to a diet, or fixt to a particular place.
Nay, the very colours of caterpillars are, as one has observed, very elegant and beautiful. I shall, for a taste of the rest, describe one of them; which I will some time the next month, show you feeding on a willow-tree,---and you shall find him punctually to answer this description: his lips and mouth somewhat yellow; his eyes black as jet; his forehead purple; his feet and hinder parts green; his tail two-forked and black; the whole body stained with a kind of red spots, which run along the neck and shoulder-blade, not unlike the form of St. Andrew's cross, or the letter X, made thus cross-wise, and a white line drawn down his back to his tail; all which add much beauty to his whole body. And it is to me observable, that at a fixed age, this caterpillar gives over to eat; and, towards winter, comes to be covered over with a strange shell or crust, called an aurelia; and so lives a kind of dead life, without eating, all the winter; and as others of several kinds turn to be several kinds of flies and vermin, the spring following; so this caterpillar, then, turns to be a painted butterfly.
Come, come, my scholar, you see the river stops our morning walk: and I will also here stop my discourse,---only as we sit down under this honeysuckle hedge, whilst I look a line to fit the rod that our brother Peter hath lent you, I shall, for a little confirmation of what I have said, repeat the observation of Du Bartas:---
God---not contented to each kind to give,
And to infuse, the virtue generative---
By his wise power made many creatures breed
Of lifeless bodies, without Venus' deed.
So the Cold Humour breeds the Salamander;
Who, in effect, like to her birth's commander,
With child with hundred winters, with her touch
Quencheth the fire though glowing ne'er so much.
So in the fire, in burning furnace, springs
The fly Perausta with the flaming wings:
Without the fire it dies: in it, it joys,
Living in that which all things else destroys.
So slow Bootes underneath him sees,
In th'icy islands, goslings, hatch'd of trees,
Whose fruitful leaves falling into the waters,
Are turn'd, 'tis known, to living fowls soon after.
So rotten planks of broken ships do change
To barnacles. Oh transformation strange!
'Twas first a green tree; then a broken hull;
Lately, a mushroom; now, a flying gull.
Ven. O my good master, this morning-walk has been spent to my great pleasure and wonder: but I pray, when shall I have your direction---how to make artificial flies, like to those that the trout loves best; and also, how to use them?
Pisc. My honest scholar, it is now past five of the clock: we will fish till nine; and then go to breakfast. Go you to yon sycamore-tree, and hide your bottle of drink under the hollow root of it; for about that time, and in that place, we will make a brave breakfast with a piece of powdered beef, and a radish or two that I have in my fish-bag; we shall, I warrant you, make a good, honest, wholesome, hungry breakfast. And I will, then, give you direction for the making and using of your flies: and in the mean time, there is your rod and line, and my advice is, that you fish as you see me do, and let's try which can catch the first fish.
Ven. I thank you, master! I will observe and practise your direction as far as I am able.
Pisc. Look you, scholar! you see I have hold of a good fish: I now see it is a trout: I pray, put that net under him, and touch not my line, for if you do, then we break all. Well done, scholar! I thank you.
Now, for another. Trust me, I have another bite: Come scholar, lay down your rod, and help me to land this as you did the other. So, now, we shall be sure to have a good dish of fish for supper.
Ven. I am glad of that: but I have no fortune: sure, master! yours is a better rod and better tackling.
Pisc. Nay, then, take mine; and I will fish with yours. Look you, scholar! I have another. Come, do as you did before. And now I have a bite at another. Oh me! he has broke all; there's half a line and a good hook lost.
Ven. Ay, and a good trout too.
Pisc. Nay, the trout is not lost; for, pray, take notice, no man can lose what he never had.
Ven. Master! I can neither catch with the first nor the second angle: I have no fortune.
Pisc. look you, scholar! I have yet another. And, now, having caught three brace of trouts, I will tell you a short tale as we walk towards our breakfast: A scholar, a preacher I should say, that was to preach to procure the approbation of a parish that he might be their lecturer, had got from his fellow pupil the copy of a sermon that was preached with great commendation by him that composed it: and though the borrower of it preached it, word for word as it was at first; yet it was utterly disliked, as it was preached by the second to his congregation---which the sermon-borrower complained of to the lender of it: and was thus answered: I lent you, indeed, my fiddle, but not my fiddle-stick; for you are to know, that every one cannot make music with my words, which are fitted to my own mouth." And so, my scholar, you are to know, that as the ill pronunciation or ill accenting of words in a sermon spoils it, so the ill carriage of your line, or not fishing even to a foot in a right place, makes you lose your labour: and you are to know, that though you have my fiddle, that is, my very rod and tacklings with which you see I catch fish,---yet you have not my fiddle-stick, that is, you yet have not skill to know how to carry your hand and line, or how to guide it to a right place;---and this must be taught you; for you are to remember, I told you, angling is an art, either by practice or long observation, or both. But take this for a rule, when you fish for a trout, with a worm,---let your line have so much, and not more lead than will fit the stream in which you fish: that is to say, more in a great, troublesome stream than in a smaller that is quieter; as near as may be, so much as will sink the bait to the bottom, and keep it still in motion, and not more.
But now let's say grace, and fall to breakfast. What say you, scholar, to the providence of an old angler? does not this meat taste well? and was not this place well chosen to eat it? for this sycamore tree will shade us from the sun's heat.
Ven. All excellent good; and my stomach excellent good, too. And now I remember and find that true which devout Lessius says, "that poor men, and those that fast often, have much more pleasure in eating than rich men, and gluttons, that always feed before their stomachs are empty of their last meat and call for more; for by that means, they rob themselves of that pleasure that hunger brings to poor men." And I do seriously approve of that saying of yours,"that you had rather be a civil, well-governed, well-grounded, temperate, poor angler, than a drunken lord." But I hope there is none such. However I am certain of this, that I have been at many costly dinners that have not afforded me half the content that this has done; for which I thank God and you.
And now, good master! proceed to your promised direction for making and ordering my artificial fly.
Pisc. My honest scholar, I will do it; for it is a debt due unto you by my promise. And because you shall not think yourself more engaged to me than indeed you really are,---I will freely give you such directions as were lately given to me by an ingenious brother of the angle, an honest man, and a most excellent fly-fisher.
You are to note, that there are twelve kinds of artificial made-fies, to angle with upon the top of the water. Note, by the way, that the fittest season of using these, is a blustering windy day, when the waters are so troubled that the natural fly cannot be seen, or rest upon them. The first is the dun-fly, in March: the body is made of dun-wool; the wings of the partridge's feathers. The second is another dun-fly: the body of black wool; and the wings made of the black drake's feathers, and of the feathers under his tail. The third is the stone-fly, in April: the body is made of black wool; made yellow under the wings and under the tail, and so made with wings of the drake. The fourth is the ruddy-fly, in the beginning of May: the body made of red wool, wrapt about with black silk; and the feathers are the wings of the drake; with the feathers of a red capon, also, which hang dangling on his sides next to the tail. The fifth is the yellow or greenish fly, in May likewise; the body made of yellow wool; and the wings made of the red cock's hackle, or tail. The sixth is the black-fly, in May also: the body made of black wool, and lapt about with the herle of a peacock's tail the wings are made of the wings of a brown capon, with his blue feathers in his head. The seventh is the sad yellow-fly in June: the body is made of black wool, with a yellow list on either side: and the wings taken off the wings of a buzzard, bound with black braked hemp. The eighth is the moorish-fly; made, with the body, of duskish wool; and the wings made of the blackish mail of the drake. The ninth is the tawny-fly, good until the middle of June; the body made of tawny wool; the wings made contrary one against the other, made of the whitish mail of the wild drake. The tenth is the wasp-fly in July: the body made of black wool, lapt about with yellow sik; the wings made of the feathers of the drake, or of the buzzard. The eleventh is the shell-fly, good in mid-July: the body made of greenish wool, lapt about with the herle of a peacock's tail: and the wings made of the wings of the buzzard. The twelfth is the dark drake-fly, good in August: the body made with black wool, lapd about with black silk: his wings are made with the mail of the black drake, with a black head. Thus have you a jury of flies likely to betray and condemn all the trouts in the river.
I shall next give you some other directions for fly-fishing, such as are given by Mr. Thomas Barker, a gentleman that hath spent much time in fishing: but I shall do it with a little variation.
First, let your rod be light, and very gentle: I take the best to be of two pieces. And let not your line exceed---especially for three or four links next to the hook---I say, not exceed---three or four hairs at the most; though you may fish a little stronger, above, in the upper part of your line: But if you can attain to angle with one hair,---you shall have more rises, and catch more fish. Now you must be sure not to cumber yourself with too long a line; as most do. And before you begin to angle, cast to have the wind on your back; and the sun, if it shines, to be before you; and to fish down the stream; and carry the point or top of your rod downward, by which means the shadow of yourself, and rod too, will be the least offensive to the fish,---for the sight of any shade amazes the fish, and spoils your sport, of which you must take great care.
In the middle of March, till which time a man should not in honesty catch a trout---or in April, if the weather be dark, or a little windy or cloudy---the best fishing is with the palmer worm, of which I last spoke to you; but of these there be divers kinds, or at least of divers colours: these and the May-fly are the ground of all fly-angling: which are to be thus made:---
First, you must arm your hook with the line, in the inside of it: then take your scissors, and cut so much of a brown mallard's feather as, in your reason, will make the wings of it,---you having, withal, regard to the bigness or littleness of your hook; then lay the outmost part of your feather next to your hook; then, the point of your feather next the shank of your hook,---and having so done, whip it three or four times about the hook with the same silk with which your hook was armed; and having made the silk fast, take the hackle of a cock['s] or capon's neck,---or, a plover's top, which is usually better,---take off the one side of the feather, and then take the hackle [and whip it three or four times round with] silk, or crewel, gold or silver thread; make these fast at the bent of the hook, that is to say, below your arming; then you must take the hackle, the silver or gold thread, and work it up to the wings,---shifting or still removing your finger, as you turn the silk about the hook,---and still looking, at every stop or turn, that your gold, or what materials soever you make your fly of, do lie right and neatly; and if you find they do so, then when you have made the head, make all fast: and then work your hackle up to the head, and make that fast: and then, with a needle or pin, divide the wing into two; and then, with the arming silk, whip it about cross-ways betwixt the wings: and then with your thumb you must turn the point of the feather towards the bent of the hook; and then work three or four times about the shank of the hook; and then view the proportion; and if all be neat, and to your liking, fasten.
I confess, no direction can be given to make a man of dull capacity able to make a fly well: and yet I know, this, with a little practice, will help an ingenious angler in a good degree. But to see a fly made by an artist in that kind, is the best teaching to make it. And, then, an ingenious angler may walk by the river, and mark what flies fall on the water that day; and catch one of them, if he sees the trout leap at a fly of that kind and then---(having always hooks ready hung with him): and having a bag also always with him; with bear's hair, or the hair of a brown or sad-coloured heifer; hackles of a cock or capon; several coloured silk and crewel; to make the body of the fly;---the feathers of a drake's head; black or brown sheep's wool, or hog's wool or hair; thread of gold and of silver; silk of several colours, especially sad-coloured; to make the fly's head: and there be also other coloured feathers, both of little birds and of speckled fowl: I say, having those with him in a bag, and---trying to make a fly, though he miss at first, yet shall he at last hit it better, even to such a perfection, as none can well teach him. And if he hit to make his fly right,--- and have the luck to hit, also, where there is store of trouts, a dark day, and a right wind; he will catch such store of them, as will encourage him to grow more and more in love with the art of fly-making.
Ven. But, my loving master! if any wind will not serve, then I wish I were in Lapland, to buy a good wind of one of the honest witches, that sell so many winds there, and so cheap.
Pisc. Marry, scholar! but I would not be there, nor indeed from under this tree; for look how it begins to rain! and by the clouds, if I mistake not, we shall presently have a smoking shower; and therefore sit close; this sycamore tree will shelter us. And I will tell you, as they shall come into my mind, more observations of fly-fishing for a trout.
But, first, for the wind: You are to take notice, that of the winds, the south wind is said to be the best. One observes, that
----------when the wind is south,
It blows your bait into a fish's mouth.
Next to that, the west wind is believed to be the best: and having told you that the east wind is the worst, I need not tell you which wind is the best in the third degree. And yet, as Solomon observes, that "he that considers the wind shall never sow;" so he that busies his head too much about them, if the weather be not made extreme cold by an east wind, shall be a little superstitious: for as it is observed by some, that "there is no good horse of a bad colour;" so I have observed, that if it be a cloudy day, and not extreme cold, let the wind sit in what corner it will, and do its worst, I heed it not. And yet take this for a rule, that I would willingly fish standing on the lee-shore. And you are to take notice, that the fish lies or swims nearer to the bottom, and in deeper water, in winter than in summer; and also nearer the bottom, in any cold day, and then, gets nearer the lee-side of the water.
But I promised to tell you more, of the fly-fishing for a trout; which I may have time enough to do, for you see it rains May butter. First for a May-fly: you may make his body with greenish coloured crewel or willowish colour; darkening it in most places with waxed silk; (or ribbed with black hair; or, some of them, ribbed with silver thread;) and such wings, for the colour, as you see the fly to have that season, nay, at that very day on the water. Or you may make the oak-fly: with an orange, tawny, and black ground; and the brown of a mallard's feather for the wings. And you are to know, that these two are most excellent flies, that is, the May-fly and the oak-fly.
And let me again tell you, that you keep as far from the water as you can possibly, whether you fish with a fly or worm; and fish down the stream. And when you fish with a fly,---if it be possible, let no part of your line touch the water, but your fly only; and be still moving your fly upon the water, or casting it into the water, you yourself being also always moving down the stream.
Mr. Barker commends several sorts of the palmer-fly; not only those ribbed with siver and gold,---but others that have their bodies all made of black; or, some with red, and a red hackle. You may also make the hawthorn-fly, which is all black, and not big, but very small, the slimmer the better. Or the oak-fly, the body of which is orange colour and black crewel, with a brown wing. Or a fly made with a peacock's feather, is excellent in a bright day: you must be sure you want not in your magazine-bag the peacock's feather: and, grounds of such wool and crewel as will make the grasshopper. And note, that, usually, the smallest flies are the best; and note also, that the lightest fly does usually make most sport in a dark day; and the darkest and least fly, in a bright or clear day: and lastly note, that you are to repair, upon any occasion, to your magazine-bag; and upon any occasion, vary and make them lighter or sadder according to your fancy, or the day.
And now I shall tell you, that the fishing with a natural fly is excellent, and affords much pleasure. They may be found thus: the May-fly, usually, in and about that month, near to the river side, especially against rain: the oak-fly, on the butt or body of an oak or ash, from the beginning of May to the end of August; it is a brownish fly, and easy to be so found, and stands usually with his head downward, that is to say, towards the root of the tree: the small black-fly, or hawthorn-fly, is to be had, on any hawthorn bush after the leaves be come forth. With these---and a short line, as I showed to angle for a chub---you may dape or dop; and also with a grasshopper; behind a tree, or in any deep hole; still making it to move on top of the water, as if it were alive; and still keeping yourself out of sight,---you shall certainly have sport if there be trouts; yea, in a hot day, but especially in the evening of a hot day, you will have sport.
And now, scholar; my direction for fly-fishing is ended with this shower, for it has done raining. And now look about you, and see how pleasantly that meadow looks; nay, and the earth smells as sweetly too. Come let me tell you what holy Mr. Herbert says of such days and flowers as these; and then we will thank God that we enjoy them; and walk to the river and sit down quietly, and try to catch the other brace of trouts.
Sweet day! so cool, so calm, so bright;
The bridal of the earth and sky;
Sweet dews shall weep thy fall to-night,
for thou must die.
Sweet rose! whose hue, angry and brave,
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye;
Thy root is ever in its grave,
and thou must die.
Sweet spring! full of sweet days and roses;
A box where sweets compacted lie:
My music shows you have your closes,
and all must die.
Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like season'd timber, never gives,
But when the whole world turns to coal,---
then, chiefly, lives.
Ven. I thank you, good master! for your good direction for fly-fishing; and for the sweet enjoyment of the pleasant day,---which is, so far, spent without offence to God or man. And I thank you, for the sweet close of your discourse with Mr. Herbert's verses; who, I have heard, loved angling,---and I do the rather believe it, because he had a spirit suitable to anglers, and to those primitive Christians that you love, and have so much commended.
Pisc. Well, my loving scholar! and I am pleased, to know that you are so well pleased with my direction and discourse.
And since you like these verses of Mr. Herbert's, so well,---let me tell you, what a reverend and learned divine---that professes to imitate him, and has indeed done so most excellently---hath writ of our book of Common Prayer; which I know you will like the better, because he is a friend of mine, and I am sure no enemy to angling.
What! PRAY'R by the BOOK? and COMMON? Yes, why not?
The spirit of grace
Is not left free, alone
For time and place,
But manner too: TO READ, OR SPEAK, by rote,
Is, all, alike---to him that prays,
In's heart, what with his mouth he says.
They that in private, by themselves, alone,
Do pray; may take
What liberty they please,
In choosing of the ways
Wherein to make
Their souls' most intimate affections known
To Him that sees in secret, when
Th'are most conceal'd from other men.
But he, that unto others leads the way,
In public prayer;
Should do it, so,
As all that hear, may know
They need not fear
To tune their hearts unto his tongue and say
Amen; not doubt they were betray'd
To blaspheme, when they meant to have prayed.
Devotion will add life unto the letter:
And why should not
That which authority
Prescribes, esteemed be
If th'prayer be good,---the commoner the better.
Prayer in the Church's WORDS as well
As SENSE, of all prayers bears the bell.
And now, scholar! I think it will be time to repair to our angle-rods; which we left in the water to fish for themselves; and you shall choose which shall be yours; and it is an even lay, one of them catches.
And, let me tell you, this kind of fishing with a dead rod, and laying night-hooks; are like putting money to use; for they both work for the owners when they do nothing but sleep,---or eat,---or rejoice, as you know we have done this last hour, and sat as quietly and as free from cares under this sycamore, as Virgil's Tityrus and his Meliboeus did under their broad beech-tree. No life, my honest scholar! no life so happy and so pleasant, as the life of a well-governed angler; for when the lawyer is swallowed up with business,---and the statesman is preventing, or contriving, plots,---then, we sit on cowslip-banks, hear the birds sing, and possess ourselves in as much quietness as these silent silver streams, which we now see glide so quietly by us. Indeed, my good scholar, we may say of angling---as Dr. Boteler said of strawberries, "Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did;" and so, if I might be judge,---"God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation, than angling."
I'll tell you, scholar! when I sat last on this primrose-bank, and looked down these meadows, I thought of them as Charles the emperor did of the city of Florence:---"That they were too pleasant to be looked on, but only on holy-days." As I then sat on this very grass, I turned my present thoughts into verse: 'twas a wish which I'll repeat to you.
THE ANGLER'S WISH
I in these flowery meads would be:
These chrystal streams should solace me,
To whose harmonious bubbling noise,
I with my angle would rejoice:
Sit here and see the turtle dove
Court his chaste mate to acts of love:
Or on that bank, feel the west wind
Breathe health and plenty: please my mind,
To see sweet dew-drops kiss these flowers,
And, then, wash'd off by April showers:
Here, hear my Kenna sing a song:
There see a blackbird feed her young,
Or a leverock build her nest:
Here give my weary spirits rest,
And raise my low-pitched thoughts above
Earth, or what poor mortals love:
Thus free from law-suits and the noise
Of princes' courts, I would rejoice.
Or---with my Bryan, and a nook---
Loiter long-days near Shawford-brook:
There, sit by him; and eat my meat:
There see the sun both rise and set:
There bid good morning to next day:
There meditate my time away;
And angle on; and beg to have
A quiet passage to a welcome grave.
When I had ended this composure, I left the place; and saw a brother of the angle sit under that honeysuckle hedge, one that will prove worth your acquaintance; I sat down by him: and, presently, we met with an accidental piece of merriment; which I will relate to you,---for it rains still.
On the other side of this very hedge, sat a gang of gipsies; and near to them, sat a gang of beggars. The gipsies were, then, to divide all the money that had been got that week, either by stealing linen or poultry, or by fortune-telling, or legerdemain, or indeed by any other sleights and secrets belonging to their mysterious government. And the sum that was got that week, proved to be but twenty and some odd shillings. The odd money was agreed to be distributed amongst the poor of their own corporation; and for the remaining twenty shillings,---that was to be divided unto four gentlemen gipsies, according to their several degrees in their commonwealth.
And the first or chiefest gipsy was, by consent, to have a third part of the twenty shillings; which all men know is 6s. 8d.
The second was to have a fourth part of the 20s., which all men know to be 5s.
The third was to have a fifth part of the 20s., which all men know to be 4s.
The fourth and last gipsy was to have a sixth part of the 20s., which all men know to be 3s. 4d.
As, for example,
3 times 6s. 8d. is ---------20s.
And so is 4 times 5s.-------20s.
And so is 5 times 4s.-------20s.
And so is 6 times 3s. 4d. --20s.
And yet he that divided the money was so very a gipsy that though he gave to every one these said sums, yet he kept one shilling of it for himself.
As for example,
Make but . . . 19 0
But now you shall know, that when the four gipsies saw that he had got one shilling by dividing the money,---though not one of them knew any reason to demand more, yet, like lords and courtiers, every gipsy envied him that was the gainer, and wrangled with him; and every one said, the remaining shilling belonged to him: and so they fell to so high a contest about it, as none that knows the faithfulness of one gipsy to another, will easily believe; only we that have lived these last twenty years, are certain that money has been able to do much mischief. However, the gipsies were too wise to go to law, and did therefore choose their choice friends Rook and Shark, and our late English Gusman, to be their arbitrators and umpires. And so they left this honeysuckle hedge, and went to tell fortunes and cheat, and get more money and lodging, in the next village.
When these were gone we heard as high a contention amongst the beggars, whether it was easiest to rip a cloak, or to unrip a cloak? One beggar affirmed it was all one; but that was denied, by asking her, if doing and undoing were all one? Then another said 'twas easiest to unrip a cloak, for that was to let it alone; but she was answered, by asking her, how she unript it if she let it alone? and she confest herself mistaken. These, and twenty such like questions were proposed, with as much beggarly logic and earnestness as was ever heard to proceed from the mouth of the most pertinacious schismatic; and sometimes all the beggars--- whose number was neither more nor less than the poet's nine muses---talked, all together, about this ripping and unripping; and so loud, that not one heard what the other said. But, at last, one beggar craved audience, and told them that old father Clause, whom Ben Jonson, in his Beggar's Bush, created king of their corporation, was that night to lodge at an ale-house, called Catch-her-by-the-way, not far from Waltham Cross, and in the high road towards London; and he therefore desired them to spend no more time about that and such like questions, but refer all to father Clause at night,---for he was an upright judge,---and in the mean time draw cuts, what song should be next sung, and who should sing it. They all agreed to the motion; and the lot fell to her that was the youngest, and veriest virgin of the company. And she sung Frank Davison's song, which he made forty years ago; and all the others of the company joined to sing the burthen with her. The ditty was this---but first the burthen:
Bright shines the sun. Play, beggars, play:
Here's scraps enough to serve to-day.
What noise of viols is so sweet,
As when our merry clappers ring?
What mirth doth want, when beggars meet?
A beggars life is for a king.
Eat, drink, and play; sleep when we list,
Go where we will, so stocks be mist.
Bright shines the sun. Play, beggars, play:
Here's scraps enough to serve to-day.
The world is ours, and ours alone;
For we alone have world at will.
We purchase not; all is our own;
Both fields and streets we beggars fill:
Nor care to get, nor fear to keep,
Did ever break a beggar's sleep.
Bright shines the sun. Play, beggars, play:
Here's scraps enough to serve to-day.
A hundred herds of black and white
Upon our gowns securely feed;
And yet if any dare us bite,
He dies, therefore, as sure as creed.
Thus beggars lord it as they please,
And only beggars live at ease.
Bright shines the sun. Play, beggars, play:
Here's scraps enough to serve to-day.
Ven. I thank you, good master! for this piece of merriment; and this song, which was well humoured by the maker, and well remembered by you.
Pisc. But, I pray, forget not the catch which you promised to make against night; for our countryman, honest Coridon, will expect your catch,---and my song, which I must be forced to patch up, for it is so long since I learnt it, that I have forgot a part of it. But, come, now it hath done raining, let's stretch our legs a little in a gentle walk to the river; and try what our angles will pay us, for lending them so long to the trouts; lent them indeed, like usurers, for our profit and their destruction.
Ven. Oh, me, look you, master! a fish! a fish! oh, alas, master, I have lost her!
Pisc. Ah, marry, sir! that was a good fish indeed: if I had had the luck to have taken up that rod, then it is twenty to one he should not have broken my line by running to the rod's end, as you suffered him. I would have held him within the bent of my rod,---unless he had been fellow to the great trout that is near an ell long, which was of such a length and depth, that he had his picture drawn, and now is to be seen at mine host Ricabie's at the George in Ware; and it may be, by giving that very great trout the rod, that is, by casting to him in the water, I might have caught him at the long run; for so I use always to do when I meet with an overgrown fish; and you will learn to do so too, hereafter; for I tell you, scholar! fishing is an art---or, at least, it is an art to catch fish.
Ven. But, master! I have heard that the great trout you speak of is a salmon.
Pisc. Trust me, scholar! I know not what to say to it. There are many country people that believe hares change sexes every year: and there be very many learned men think so too,---for in their dissecting them, they find many reasons to incline them to that belief. And to make the wonder seem yet less, that hares change sexes, note that Dr. Meric Casaubon affirms, in his book of credible and incredible things, that Gaspar Peucerus, a learned physician, tells us of a people that, once a year, turn wolves, partly in shape, and partly in conditions. And so, whether this were a salmon when he came into fresh water, and his not returning into the sea hath altered him to another colour or kind, I am not able to say; but I am certain he hath all the signs of being a trout, for his shape, colour, and spots: and yet many think he is not.
Ven. But, master! will this trout which I had hold of die? for it is like he hath the hook in his belly.
Pisc. I will tell you, scholar! that unless the hook be fast in his very gorge, 'tis more than probable he will live: and a little time, with the help of the water, will rust the hook; and it will in time wear away,--- as the gravel doth in the horse-hoof which only leaves a false quarter.
And now, scholar! let's go to my rod. Look you, scholar! I have a fish too: but it proves a logger-headed chub; and this is not much amiss; for this will pleasure some poor body, as we go to our lodging to meet our brother Peter and honest Coridon. Come! now bait your hook again, and lay it into the water: for it rains again, and we will even retire to the sycamore-tree, and there I will give you more directions concerning fishing; for I would fain make you an artist.
Ven. Yes, good master! I pray let it be so.
Pisc. Well, scholar! now we are sat down and are at ease, I shall tell you a little more of trout-fishing, before I speak of the salmon, which I purpose shall be next, and then, of the pike or luce.
You are to know, there is night as well as day-fishing for a trout; and that, in the night, the best trouts come out of their holes. And the manner of taking them is: on the top of the water, with a great lob or garden-worm, or rather two, which you are to fish with in a place where the waters run somewhat quietly, for in a stream the bait will not be so well discerned. I say, in a quiet or dead place, near to some swift; there draw your bait over the top of the water to and fro, and if there be a good trout in the hole, he will take it; especially if the night be dark,---for then he is bold, and lies near the top of the water, watching the motion of any frog or water-rat, or mouse, thay swims betwixt him and the sky; these he hunts after, if he sees the water but wrinkle, or move in one of these dead holes, where these great old trouts usually lie, near to their holds; for you are to note, that the great old trout is both subtle and fearful, and lies close all day, and does not usually stir out of his hold; but lies in it as close in the day, as the timorous hare does in her form; for the chief feeding of either is seldom in the day, but usually in the night, and then the great trout feeds very boldly.
And you must fish for him with a long line, and not a little hook: and let him have time to garge your hook, for he does not usually forsake it, as he oft will in the day-fishing. And if the night be not dark, then fish so with an artificial fly of a light-colour, and at the snap, nay he will sometimes rise at a dead mouse, or a piece of cloth, or anything that seems to swim across the water, or be in motion. This is a choice way: but I have not oft used it, because it is void of the pleasures that such days as these that we two now enjoy, afford an angler.
And you are to know, that in Hampshire---which I think exceeds all England, for swift, shallow, clear, pleasant brooks, and store of trouts---they use to catch trouts in the night, by the light of a torch or straw; which when they have discovered, they strike with a trout-spear, or other ways. This kind of way they catch very many; but I would not believe it till I was an eye-witness of it, nor do I like it now I have seen it.
Ven. But, master! do not trouts see us, in the night?
Pisc. Yes, and hear, and smell, too, both then and in the day-time. For Gesner observes, the otter smells a fish forty furlongs off him in the water; and that it may be true, seems to be affirmed by Sir Francis Bacon, in the eighth century of his Natural History; who there proves that waters may be the medium of sounds, by demonstrating it thus: "That if you knock two stones together very deep under the water, those that stand on a bank near to that place, may hear the noise without any diminution of it by the water." He also offers the like experiment concerning the letting an anchor fall, by a very long cable or rope, on a rock, or the sand, within the sea. And this being so well observed and demonstrated, as it is by that learned man, has made me to believe that eels unbed themselves, and stir, at the noise of thunder; and not only, as some think, by the motion or stirring of the earth, which is occasioned by that thunder.
And this reason of Sir Francis Bacon, "Exper." 792, has made me crave pardon of one that I laughed at for affirming, that he knew carps come to a certain place in a pond, to be fed at the ringing of a bell or the beating of a drum. And however, it shall be a rule for me, to make as little noise as I can, when I am fishing, until Sir Francis Bacon be confuted, which I shall give any man leave to do.
And lest you may think him singular in this opinion,---I will tell you, this seems to be believed by our learned Doctor Hakewell, who, in his "Apology of God's Power and Providence," p. 360, quotes Pliny, to report that one of the emperors had particular fish-ponds; and in them, several fish that appeared and came, when they were called by their particular names. And St. James tells us, chap. iii. 7, that all things in the sea have been tamed by mankind. And Pliny tells us, Lib. ix. 35, that Antonia, the wife of Drusus, had a lamprey, at whose gills she hung jewels or ear-rings: and that others have been so tender-hearted, as to shed tears at the death of fishes, which they have kept and loved. And these observations, which will to most hearers seem wonderful, seem to have a further confirmation from Martial, Lib. iv. Epigr. 30, who writes thus:---
Piscator! fuge, ne nocens, &c.
Angler! would'st thou be guiltless? then forbear;
For these are sacred fishes that swim here,
Who know their sovereign, and will lick his hand,
Than which none's greater in the world's command;
Nay more, they've names, and when they called are,
Do to their several owner's call repair.
All the further use that I shall make of this shall be, to advise anglers to be patient and forbear swearing, lest they be heard and catch no fish.
And so I shall proceed, next, to tell you, it is certain, that certain fields near Leominster, a town in Herefordshire, are observed to make the sheep that graze upon them more fat, than the next, and also to bear finer wool,---that is to say, that that year in which they feed in such a particular pasture, they shall yield finer wool than they did that year before they came to feed in it; and coarser again, if they shall return to their former pasture; and, again, return to a finer wool, being fed in the fine wool ground:---Which, I tell you, that you may the better believe that, I am certain, if I catch a trout in one meadow he shall be white and faint, and very likely to be lousy; and, as certainly, if I catch a trout in the next meadow, he shall be strong, and red, and lusty, and much better meat. Trust me, scholar! I have caught many a trout in a particular meadow, that the very shape and enamelled colour of him hath been such, as hath joyed me to look on him: and I have then, with much pleasure, concluded with Solomon, "Everything is beautiful in its season."
I should, by promise, speak next of the salmon; but I will, by your favour, say a little of the umber or grayling; which is so like a trout for his shape and feeding, that I desire I may exercise your patience with a short discourse of him; and then, the next shall be of the salmon.