Letter to Walton. Reply
to Cotton. Irregular Stanzas.
Chapter I. Chapter II. Chapter III. Chapter IV.
THE COMPLETE ANGLER:
INSTRUCTIONS HOW TO ANGLE FOR A TROUT OR
GRAYLING IN A CLEAR STREAM:
BY CHARLES COTTON,
OF BERESFORD IN THE PEAK, ESQ.
Qui mihi non credit, faciat licet ipse pericium
Et fuerit scriptis ille meis.
TO MY MOST WORTHY FATHER AND FRIEND,
MR. IZAAK WALTON, THE ELDER.
Being you were pleased, some years past, to grant me your free leave to do what I have here attempted; and observing you never retract any promise, when made in favour even of your meanest friends, I accordingly expect to see these following particular directions for the taking of a Trout, to wait upon your better and more general Rules for all sorts of Angling: and, though mine be neither so perfect, so well digested, nor indeed so handsomely couched, as they might have been, in so long a time as since your leave was granted; yet I dare affirm them to be generally true: and they had appeared too in something a neater dress, but that I was surprised with the sudden news of a sudden new edition of your "Complete Angler;" so that, having but a little more than ten days' time to turn me in, and rub up my memory,--for, in truth, I have not, in all this long time [done so], though I have often thought on't, and almost as often resolved to go presently about it,--I was forced upon the instant to scribble what I here present you: which I have also endeavoured to accomodate to your own method. And, if mine be clear enough for the honest Brothers of the Angle readily to understand, which is the only thing I aim at, then I have my end, and shall need to make no further apology; a writing of this kind not requiring, if I were master of any such thing, any eloquence to set it off, or recommend it. So that if you, in your better judgement, or kindness, rather, can allow it passable, for a thing of this nature, you will then do me the honour, if the Cypher, fixed and carved in the front of my little fishing-house, may be here explained: and permit me to attend you in public, who, in private, have ever been, am, and ever resolve to be, Sir,
Your most affectionate Son and Servant
10th of March, 1675-6.
TO MY MOST HONOURED FRIEND,
CHARLES COTTON, ESQ.
You now see I have returned you your very pleasant and useful discourse of the Art of Fly-fishing, printed just as it was sent me: for I have been so obedient to your desires, as to endure all the praises you have ventured to fix upon me in it. And, when I have thanked you for them, as the effects of an undissembled love; then, let me tell you, Sir, that I will really endeavour to live up to the character you have given of me; if there were no other reason, yet, for this alone, that you, that love me so well, and always think what you speak, may not, for my sake, suffer by a mistake in your judgment.
And, Sir, I have ventured to fill a part of your margin, by way of paraphrase, for the reader's clearer understanding of the situation, both of your Fishing-house, and the pleasantness of that you dwell in. And I have ventured also to give him a copy of verses,---that you were pleased to send me, now some years past;--in which he may see a good picture of both; and so much of your own mind too, as will make any reader, that is blest with a generous soul, to love you the better. I confess, that for doing this you may justly judge me too bold: if you do, I will say so too; and so far commute for my offence, that though I be more than a hundred miles from you, and in the eighty-third year of my age, yet I will forget both, and next month begin a pilgrimage to beg your pardon; for I would die in your favour; and till then will live, Sir,
Your most affectionate Father and Friend,
April 29th, 1676.
MR. IZAAK WALTON.
FAREWELL, thou busy world! and may
We never meet again:
Here I can eat, and sleep, and pray,
And do more good in one short day,
Than he, who his whole age out wears
Upon the most conspicuous theatres,
Where nought but vanity and vice do reign.
Good God! how sweet are all things here!
How beautiful the fields appear!
How cleanly do we feed and lie!
Lord! what good hours do we keep!
How quietly we sleep!
What peace! what unanimity!
How innocent from the lewd fashion,
Is all our business, all our recreation!
Oh, how happy here's our leisure!
Oh, how innocent our pleasure!
Oh, ye valleys! Oh, ye mountains!
Oh, ye groves, and crystal fountains,
How I love at liberty,
By turns, to come and visit ye!
Dear Solitude, the soul's best friend,
That man acquainted with himself dost make,
And, all his Maker's wonders to entend,
With thee I here converse at will,
And would be glad to do so still,
For, it is thou alone, that keep'st the soul awake.
How calm, and quiet a delight,
Is it, alone
To read, and meditate, and write
By none offended, and offending none?
To, walk, ride, sit, or sleep at one's own ease!
And, pleasing a man's self, none other to displease.
Oh, my beloved Nymph! fair Dove!
Princess of Rivers! how I love
Upon thy flowery banks to lie,
And view thy silver stream,
When gilded by a summer's beam!
And in it, all thy wanton fry,
Playing at liberty:
And, with my angle upon them,
The all of treachery
I ever learn'd industriously to try.
Such streams, Rome's yellow Tiber cannot show,
The Iberian Tagus, or Ligurian Po:
The Maese, the Danube, and the Rhine,
Are puddle-water all, compared with thine:
And Loire's pure streams yet too polluted are
With thine much purer to compare;
The rapid Garonne, and the winding Seine,
Are both too mean,
Beloved Dove, with thee
To vie priority;
Nay, Thame and Isis when conjoin'd, submit
And lay their trophies at thy silver feet.
Oh, my beloved rocks!
To awe the earth and brave the skies:
From some aspiring mountain's crown,
How dearly do I love,
Giddy with pleasure, to look down,
And from the vales, to view the noble heights above!
Oh, my beloved caves! from Dog-star's heat,
And all anxieties, my safe retreat;
What safety, privacy, what true delight,
In th'artificial night,
Your gloomy entrails make,
Have I taken, do I take!
How oft when grief has made me fly
To hide me from society,
Ev'n of my dearest friends, have I
In your recesses' friendly shade,
All my sorrows open laid,
And my most secret woes, entrusted to your privacy!
Lord! would men let me alone;
What an over-happy one
Should I think myself to be,
Might I, in this desert place,
Which most men in discourse disgrace,
Live but undisturb'd and free!
Here, in this despis'd recess,
Would I, maugre winter's cold,
And the summer's worst excess,
Try to live out to sixty full years old!
And, all the while,
Without an envious eye
On any thriving under Fortune's smile,
Conted live, and then---contented die.
THE FIRST DAY.
CONFERENCE BETWEEN A COUNTRY GENTLEMAN PROFICIENT IN FLY-FISHING, AND A TRAVELLER WHO BECOMES HIS PUPIL.
PISCATOR JUNIOR, AND VIATOR.
OU are happily overtaken, sir: may a man be so bold as to enquire how far you travel this way?
Viat. Yes, sure, sir, very freely; though it be a question I cannot very well resolve you, as not knowing myself how far it is to Ashbourn, where I intend to-night to take up my inn.
Pisc. Why, then, sir, seeing I perceive you to be a stranger in these parts, I shall take upon me to inform you, that from the town you last came through, called Brelsford, it is five miles; and you are not yet above half a mile on this side.
Viat. So much! I was told it was but ten miles from Derby; and, methinks, I have rode almost so far already.
Pisc. O, sir, find no fault with large measure of good land; which Derbyshire abounds in, as much as most counties of England.
Viat. It may be so; and good land, I confess, affords a pleasant prospect: but, by your good leave, sir, large measure of foul way is not altogether so acceptable.
Pisc. True, sir; but the foul way serves to justify the fertility of the soil, accoding to the proverb, "There is good land where there is foul way:" and is of good use to inform you of the riches of the country you are come into, and of its continual travel and traffic to the country-town you came from: which is also very observable by the fulness of its road, and the loaden horses you meet everywhere upon the way.
Viat. Well, sir, I will be content to think as well of your country as you would desire. And I shall have a good deal of reason both to think and to speak well of you if I may obtain the happiness of your company to the fore-mentioned place; provided your affairs lead you that way, and that they will permit you to slack your pace, out of complacency to a traveller utterly a stranger in these parts, and who am still to wander further out of my own knowledge.
Pisc. Sir, you invite me to my own advantage, and I am ready to attend you; my way lying through that town; but to my business, that is, my home, some miles beyond it; however, I shall have time enough to lodge you in your quarters, and afterward to perform my own journey. In the mean time, may I be so bold as to enquire the end of your journey?
Viat. 'Tis into Lancashire, sir, and about some business of concern to a near relation of mine: for I assure you, I do not use to take so long journies, as from Essex, upon the single account of pleasure.
Pisc. From thence, sir! I do not then wonder you should appear dissatisfied with the length of the miles, and the foulness of the way; though I am sorry you should begin to quarrel with them so soon: for, believe me, sir, you will find the miles much longer, and the way much worse, before you come to your journey's end.
Viat. Why truly, sir, for that, I am prepared to expect the worst; but methinks the way is mended since I had the good fortune to fall into your good company.
Pisc. You are not obliged to my company for that: but because you are already past the worst, and the greatest part of the way to your lodging.
Viat. I am very glad to hear it, both for the ease of myself and my horse: but especially because I may then expect a freer enjoyment of your conversation: though the shortness of the way will, I fear, make me lose it the sooner.
Pisc. that, sir, is not worth your care; and I am sure you deserve much better, for being content with so ill company. But we have already talked away two miles of your journey; for, from the brook before us, that runsat the foot of this sandy hill, you have but three miles to Ashbourn.
Viat. I meet every where in this country with these little brooks; and they look as if they were full of fish. Have they not trouts in them?
Pisc. That is a question which is to be excused in a stranger, as you are: otherwise, give me leave to tell you, it would seem a kind of affront to our country, to make a doubt of what we pretend to be famous for, next, if not before, our malt, wool, lead, and coal: for you are to understand, that we think we have as many fine rivers, rivulets, and brooks, as any country whatever; and they are all full of trouts, and some of them the best, it is said, by many degrees in England.
Viat. I was first, sir, in love with you, and now shall be so enamoured of your country, by this account you give me of it, as to wish myself a Derbyshire man, or at least that I might live in it: for you must know I am a pretender to the angle, and, doubtless, a trout affords the most pleasure to the angler, of any sort of fish whatever, and the best trouts must needs make the best sport: but this brook, and some others I have met with upon this way, are too full of wood for that recreation.
Pisc. This, sir! why this, and several others like it, which you have passed, and some that you are like to pass, have scarce any name amongst us: but we can show you as fine rivers as clear from wood, or any other incumbrance to hinder an angler, as any you ever saw; and for clear, beautiful streams, Hantshire itself, by Mr. Izaak Walton's good leave, can show none such; nor I think any country in Europe.
Viat. You go far, sir, in the praise of your country rivers, and I perceive have read Mr. Walton's "Complete Angler," by your naming of Hantshire; and I pray what is your opinion of that book?
Pisc. My opinion of Mr. Walton's book is the same with every man's that understands any thing of the art of angling, that it is an excellent good one; and the fore-mentioned gentleman understands as much of fish, and fishing, as any man living. But I must tell you further, that I have the happiness to know his person, and to be intimately acquainted with him; and in him to know the worthiest man, and to enjoy the best and the truest friend any man ever had: nay, I shall yet acquaint you further, that he gives me leave to call him father, and I hope is not yet ashamed to own me for his adopted son.
Viat. In earnest, sir, I am ravished to meet with a friend of Mr. Izaak Walton's, and one that does him so much right in so good and true a character: for I must boast to you, that I have the good fortune to know him too, and came acquainted with him much after the same manner I do with you; that he was my master who first taught me to love angling, and then to become an angler; and, to be plain with you, I am the very man deciphered in his book under the name of Venator; for I was wholly addicted to the chace, till he taught me as good, a more quiet, innocent, and less dangerous, diversion.
Pisc. Sir, I think myself happy in your acquaintance; and before we part shall entreat leave to embrace you. You have said enough to recommend you to my best opinion; for my father Walton will be seen twice in no man's company he does not like, and likes none but such as he believes to be very honest men; which is one of the best arguments, or at least of the best testimonies I have, that I either am, or that he thinks me, one of those, seeing I have not yet found him weary of me.
Viat. You speak like a true friend; and, in doing so, render yourself worthy of his friendship. May I be so bold as to ask your name?
Pisc. Yes surely sir, and if you please a much nicer question: my name is ----------, and I intend to stay long enough in your company, if I find you do not dislike mine, to ask yours too. In the mean time, because we are now almost at Ashbourn, I shall freely and bluntly tell you, that I am a brother of the angle too; and, peradventure, can give you some instructions how to angle for a trout in a clear river, that my father Walton himself will not disapprove; though he did either purposely omit, or did not remember, them, when you and he sat discoursing under the sycamore tree. And, being you have already told me whither your journey is intended, and that I am better acquainted with the country than you are; I will heartily and earnestly entreat you will not think of staying at this town, but go on with me six miles further to my house, where you shall be extremely welcome; it is directly in your way; we have day enough to perform our journey, and, as you like your entertainment, you may there repose yourself a day or two, or as many more as your occasions will permit, to recompense the trouble of so much a longer journey.
Viat. Sir, you surprise me with so friendly an invitation upon so short acquaintance: but how advantageous soever it would be to me, and that my haste, perhaps is not so great, but it might dispense with such a divertisement as I promise myself in your company; yet I cannot, in modesty, accept your offer, and must therefore beg your pardon: I could otherwise, I confess, be glad to wait upon you, if upon no other account but to talk of Mr. Izaak Walton, and to receive those instructions you say you are able to give me for the deceiving a trout; in which art I will not deny, but that I have an ambition to be one of the greatest deceivers: though I cannot forbear freely to tell you, that I think it hard to say much more than has been read to me upon that subject.
Pisc. Well, sir, I grant that too; but you must know that the variety of rivers require different ways of angling: however, you shall have the best rules I am able to give, and I will tell you nothing I have not made myself as certain of, as any man can be in thirty years experience, for so long I have been a dabbler in that art; and that, if you please to stay a few days, you shall in a very great measure see made good to you. But of that hereafter: and now, sir, if I am not mistaken, I have half overcome you; and that I may wholly conquer that modesty of yours, I will take upon me to be so familiar as to say, you must accept my invitation; which, that you may the more easily be persuaded to do, I will tell you that my house stands upon the margin of one of the finest rivers for trouts and grayling in England: that I have lately built a little fishing-house upon it, dedicated to anglers, over the door of which, you will see the first two letters of my father Walton's name and mine, twisted in cypher; that you shall lie in the same bed he has sometimes been contented with, and have such country entertainment as my friends sometimes accept; and be as welcome, too, as the best friend of them all.
Viat. No doubt, sir, but my Master Walton found good reason to be satisfied with his entertainment in your house; for you, who are so friendly to a mere stranger, who deserves so little, must needs be exceeding kind and free to him who deserves so much.
Pisc. Believe me, no; and such as are intimately acquainted with that gentleman, know him to be a man who will not endure to be treated like a stranger. So that his acceptation of my poor entertainments, has ever been a pure effect of his own humility and good nature, and nothing else. But, sir, we are now going down the Spittle Hill into the town, and therefore let me importune you suddenly to resolve, and most earnestly not to deny me.
Viat. In truth, sir, I am so overcome by your bounty, that I find I cannot; but must render myself wholly to be disposed by you.
Pisc. Why that's heartily and kindly spoken, and I as heartily thank you: and being you have abandoned yourself to my conduct, we will only call and drink a glass on horseback at the Talbot, and away.
Viat. I attend you. But what pretty river is this, that runs under this stone bridge? Has it a name?
Pisc. Yes, 'tis called Henmore, and has in it both trout and grayling; but you will meet with one or two better anon. And so soon as we are past though the town, I will endeavour, by such discourse as best likes you, to pass away the time till you come to your ill quarters.
Viat. We can talk of nothing with which I shall be more delighted, than of rivers and angling.
Pisc. Let those be the subjects then. But we are now come to the Talbot. What will you drink, sir, ale, or wine?
Viat. Nay, I am for the country liquor, Derbyshire ale, if you please, for a man should not, methinks, come from London to drink wine in the Peak.
Pisc. You are in the right: and yet, let me tell you, you may drink worse French wine in many taverns in London, than they have sometimes at this house. What, ho! bring us a flagon of your best ale. And now, sir, my service to you, a good health to the honest gentleman you know of; and you are welcome into the Peak.
Viat. I thank you, sir, and present you my service again, and to all the honest brothers of the angle.
Pisc. I'll pledge you, sir: so there's for your ale, and farewell. Come, sir, let us be going: for the sun grows low, and I would have you look about you as you ride; for you will see an odd country, and sights that will seem strange to you.
THE FIRST DAY.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE PRINCIPAL RIVERS IN DERBYSHIRE. VIATOR LODGES AT PISCATOR'S HOUSE.
Pisc. junior. So, sir, now we have got to the top of the hill out of town, look about you, and tell me how you like the country.
Viat. Bless me! what mountains are here! Are we not in Wales?
Pisc. No, but in almost as mountainous a country; and yet these hills, though high, bleak, and craggy, breed and feed good beef and mutton above ground, and afford good store of lead within.
Viat. They had need of all these commodities to make amends for the ill landscape: but I hope our way does not lie over any of these, for I dread a precipice.
Pisc. Believe me, but it does, and down one especially, that will appear a little terrible to a stranger; though the way is passable enough, and so passable, that we, who are natives of these mountains, and acquainted with them, disdain to alight.
Viat. I hope, though, that a foreigner is privileged to use his own discretion, and that I may have the liberty to entrust my neck to the fidelity of my own feet, rather than to those of my horse: for I have no more at home.
Pisc. 'twere hard else. But in the meantime, I think 'twere best, while this way is pretty even, to mend our pace, that we may be past that hill I speak of, to the end your apprehension may not be doubled for want of light to discern the easiness of the descent.
Viat. I am willing to put forward as fast as my beast will give me leave; though I fear nothing in your company. But what pretty river is this we are going into?
Pisc. Why this, sir, is called Bently brook, and is full of very good trout and grayling; but so encumbred with wood in many places, as is troublesome to an angler.
Viat. Here are the prettiest rivers, and the most of them in this country that ever I saw. Do you know how many you have in the country?
Pisc. I know them all, and they were not hard to reckon, were it worth the trouble: but the most considerable of them I will presently name you. And to begin where we now are, for you must know we are now upon the very skirts of Derbyshire; we have, first, the river Dove, that we shall come to by and by, which divides the two counties of Derby and Stafford, for many miles together, and is so called from the swifness of its current, and that swiftness is occasioned by the declivity of its course, and by being so straitened in that course betwixt the rocks; by which, and those very high ones, it is hereabout, for four or five miles, confined into a very narrow stream. A river that, from a contemptible fountain, which I can cover with my hat, by the confluence of other rivers, rivulets, brooks, and rills, is swelled,---before it falls into Trent, a little below Egginton, where it loses the name,---to such a breadth and depth, as to be in most places navigable, were not the passage frequently interrupted with fords and wears: and has as fertile banks as any river in England, none excepted. And this river, from its head, for a mile or two, is a black water, as all the rest of Derbyshire rivers of note originally are; for they all spring from the mosses, but is in a few miles travel so clarified, by the addition of several clear, and very great springs, bigger than itself, which gush out of the lime-stone rocks, that before it comes to my house, which is but six or seven miles from its source, you will find it one of the purest crystalline streams you have seen.
Viat. Does Trent spring in these parts?
Pisc. Yes, in these parts; not in this county, but somewhere towards the upper end of Staffordshire, I think not far from a place called Trentham; and thence runs down not far from Stafford to Wolsey-bridge, and, washing the skirts and purlieus of the forest of Needwood, runs down to Burton in the same county; thence it comes into this where we now are, and, running by Swakeston and Dunnington, receives Derwent at Wildon; and so to Nottingham, thence to Newark, and by Gainsborough to Kingston-upon-Hull, where it takes the name of Humber, and thence falls into the sea: but that the map will best inform you.
Viat. Know you whence this river Trent derives its name?
Pisc. No, indeed, and yet I have heard it often discoursed upon, when some have given its denomination from the fore-named Trentham, though that seems rather a derivative from it; others have said 'tis so called from thirty rivers that fall into it, and these lose their names; which cannot be neither, becuase it carries that name from its very fountain, before any other rivers fall into it: others derive it from thirty several sorts of fish that breed there; and that is the most likely derivation; but be it how it will, it is doubtless one of the finest rivers in the world, and the most abounding with excellent salmon, and all sorts of delicate fish.
Viat. Pardon me, sir, for tempting you into this digression: and then proceed to your other rivers, for I am mightily delighted with this discourse.
Pisc. It was no interruption, but a very seasonable question; for Trent is not only one of our Derbyshire rivers, but the chief of them, and into which all the rest pay the tribute of their names; which I had, perhaps, forgot to insist upon, being got to the other end of the county, had you not awoke my memory. But I will now proceed; and the next river of note, for I take them as they lie eastward from us, is the river Wye: I say of note, for we have two lesser betwixt us and it, namely, Lathkin and Bradford: of which Lathkin is, by many degrees, the purest and most transparent stream that I ever saw, either at home or abroad; and breeds, 'tis said, the reddest and the best trouts in England; but neither of these are to be reputed rivers, being no better than great springs. The river Wye, then, has its source near unto Buxton, a town some ten miles from hence, famous for a warm bath, and which you are to ride through in your way to Manchester: a black water too at the fountain, but, by the same reason with Dove, becomes very soon a most delicate clear river, and breeds admirable trout and grayling, reputed by those, who, by living upon its banks, are partial to it, the best of any; and this running down by Ashford, Bakewell, and Haddon, at a town a little lower called Rowsley, falls into Derwent and there loses its name. The next in order, is Derwent, a black water too, and that not only from its fountain but quite through its progress, not having these crystal springs to wash and cleanse it, which the two fore-mentioned have; but abounds with trout and grayling, such as they are, towards its source, and with salmon below: and this river, from the upper and utmost part of this county, where it springs, taking its course by Chatsworth, Darley, Matlock, Derby, Burrow-Ash, and Awberson, falls into Trent at a place called Wildon, and there loses its name. The east side of this county of Derby is bounded by little inconsiderable rivers, as Awber, Eroways, and the like, scarce worth naming, but trouty too, and further we are not to inquire. But, sir, I have carried you, as a man may say, by water, till we are now come to the descent of the formidable hill I told you of, at the foot of which runs the river Dove, which I cannot but love above all the rest; and therefore prepare your self to be a little frighted.
Viat. Sir, I see you would fortify me, that I should not shame myself; but I dare follow where you please to lead me; and I see no danger yet; for the descent, methinks, is thus far, green, even, and easy.
Pisc. You will like it worse presently, when you come to the brow of the hill:---and now we are there, what think you?
Viat. What do I think? Why I think it the strangest place that ever sure, men and horses went down; and that, if there be any safety at all, the safest way is to alight.
Pisc. I think so too for you, who are mounted upon a beast not acquainted with these slippery stones: and, though I frequently ride down, I will alight too, to bear you company, and to lead you the way; and, if you please, my man shall lead your horse.
Viat. Marry, sir? and thank you too: for I am afraid I shall have enough to do to look to myself; and with my horse in my hand should be in a double fear, both of breaking my neck, and my horse's falling on me; for it is as steep as a penthouse.
Pisc. To look down from hence it appears so, I confess; but the path winds and turns, and will not be found so troublesome.
Viat. Would I were well down, though! Hoist thee! there's one fair 'scape! these stones are so slippery I cannot stand! yet again! I think I were best lay my heels in my neck, and tumble down.
Pisc. If you think your heels will defend your neck, that is the way to be soon at the bottom. But give me your hand at this broad stone, and then the worst is past.
Viat. I thank you, sir, I am now past it, I can go myself. What's here? the sign of a bridge. Do you use to travel with wheel-barrows in this country?
Pisc. Not that I ever saw, sir. Why do you ask that question?
Viat. Because this bridge certainly was made for nothing else; why a mouse can hardly go over it: it is not two fingers broad.
Pisc. You are pleasant, and I am glad to see you so: but I have rid over the bridge many a dark night.
Viat. Why, according to the French proverb, and 'tis a good one among a great many of worse sense and sound that language abounds in, Ce que Dieu garde, est bien garde, they whom God takes care of, are in safe protection: but, let me tell you, I would not ride over it for a thousand pounds, nor fall off it for two; and yet I think I dare venture on foot, though if you were not by to laugh at me, I should do it on all four.
Pisc. Well, sir, your mirth becomes you, and I am glad to see you safe over; and now you are welcome into Staffordshire.
Viat. How, Staffordshire! What do I there trow? There is not a word of Staffordshire in all my direction.
Pisc. You see you are betrayed into it: but it shall be in order to something that will make amends; and 'tis but an ill mile or two out of your way.
Viat. I believe all things, sir, and doubt nothing. Is this your beloved river Dove? 'Tis clear and swift, indeed, but a very little one.
Pisc. You see it here at the worst; we shall come to it anon again after two miles riding, and so near as to lie upon the very banks.
Viat. Would we were there once! But I hope we have no more of these Alps to pass over.
Pisc. No, no, sir, only this ascent before you, which you see is not very uneasy; and then you will no more quarrel with your way.
Viat. Well, if ever I come to London, of which many a man there, if he were in my place would make a question, I will sit down and write my travels; and, like Tom Coriate, print them at my own charge. Pray what do you call this hill we come down?
Pisc. We call it Hanson Toot.
Viat. Why, farewell Hanson Toot! I'll no more on thee: I'll go twenty miles about first. Pah! I sweat, that my shirt sticks to my back.
Pisc. Come, sir, now we are up the hill, and now how do you?
Viat. Why very well, I humbly thank you, sir, and warm enough, I assure you. What have we here, a church. As I'm an honest man, a very pretty church! Have you churches in this country, sir?
Pisc. You see we have: but, had you seen none, why should you make that doubt, sir?
Viat. Why, if you will not be angry, I'll tell you, I thought myself a stage or two beyond Christendom.
Pisc. Come, come! we'll reconcile you to our country before we part with you: if showing you good sport with angling will do it.
Viat. My respect to you, and that together may do much, sir: otherwise, to be plain with you, I do not find myself much inclined that way.
Pisc. Well, sir, your raillery upon our mountains has brought us almost home. And look you where the same river of Dove has again met us to bid you welcome, and to invite you to a dish of trouts to-morrow.
Viat. Is this the same we saw at the foot of Penmenmaure? It is a much finer river here.
Pisc. It will appear yet much finer to-morrow. But look you, sir, here appears the house, that is now like to be your inn, for want of a better.
Viat. It appears on a sudden, but not before 'twas looked for. It stands prettily, and here's wood about it, too, but as young, as appears to be of your own planting.
Pisc. It is so. Will it please you to alight, sir.---And now permit me, after all your pains and dangers, to take you in my arms, and to assure you that you are infinitely welcome.
Viat. I thank you, sir, and am glad with all my heart I am here; for, in downright truth, I am exceedingly weary.
Pisc. You will sleep so much the better: you shall presently have a light supper and to bed.
Come, sirs, lay the cloth, and bring what you have presently, and let the gentleman's bed be made ready in the mean time, in my father Walton's chamber. Now, sir, here is my service to you; and once more welcome!
Viat. I, marry, sir, this glass of good sack has refreshed me. And I'll make as bold with your meat, for the trot has got me a good stomach.
Pisc. Come, sir, fall to then, you see my little supper is always ready when I come home; and I'll make no stranger of you.
Viat. That your meal is so soon ready, is a sign your servants know your certain hours, sir. I confess I did not expect it so soon; but now 'tis here, you shall see I will make myself no stranger.
Pisc. Much good do your heart! and I thank you for that friendly word. And now, sir, my service to you in a cup of More-Lands ale; for you are now in the More-Lands, but within a spit and a stride of the Peak. Fill my friend his glass.
Viat. Believe me, you have good ale in the More-Lands: far better than that at Ashbourn.
Pisc. That it may soon be: for Ashbourn has, which is a kind of a riddle, always in it the best malt, and the worst ale in England. Come, take away, and bring us some pipes, and a bottle of ale, and go to your own suppers. Are you for this diet, sir?
Viat. Yes, sir, I am for one pipe of tobacco; and I perceive yours is very good by the smell.
Pisc. The best I can get in London, I assure you. But, sir, now you have thus far complied with my designs, as to take a troublesome journey into an ill country, only to satisfy me; how long may I hope to enjoy you?
Viat. Why truly sir, as long as I conveniently can; and longer, I think, you would not have me.
Pisc. Not to your inconvenience by any means, sir, but I see you are weary, and therefore I will presently wait on you to your chamber, where take counsel of your pillow, and to-morrow resolve me. Here! take the lights, and pray follow them, sir. Here you are like to lie: and, now I have showed you your lodgings, I beseech you command any thing you want; and so I wish you good rest!
Viat. Good night, sir!
THE SECOND DAY.
CONFERENCE CONTAINING A DESCRIPTION OF COTTON'S FISHING-HOUSE, WITH HIS APOLOGY FOR WRITING A SUPPLEMENT TO WALTON"S BOOK.
Pisc. junior. Good morrow, sir! What, up and dressed so early?
Viat. Yes, sir, I have been dressed this half hour: for I rested so well, and have so great a mind either to take, or see a Trout taken, in your fine river, that I could no longer lie a-bed.
Pisc. I am glad to see you so brisk this morning, and so eager of sport; though, I must tell you, this day proves so calm, and the sun rises so bright, as promises no great success to the angler: but, however, we'll try; and one way or other, we shall, sure, do something. What will you have to your breakfast, or what will you drink this morning?
Viat. For breakfast, I never eat any, and for drink I am very indifferent; but if you please to call for a glass of ale I'm for you: and let it be quickly, if you please, for I long to see the little fishing-house you spoke of, and to be at my lesson.
Pisc. Well, sir! you see the ale is come without calling: for though I do not know yours, my people know my diet; which is always one glass so soon as I am dressed, and no more till dinner; and so my servants have served you.
Viat. My thanks. And now, if you please, let us look out this fine morning.
Pisc. With all my heart; boy, take the key of my fishing-house, and carry down those two angle-rods in the hall-window, thither, and with my fish-pannier, pouch, and landing-net; and stay you there till we come. Come, sir, we'll walk after; where, by the way, I expect you should raise all the exceptions against our country you can.
Viat. Nay, sir, do not think me so ill-natured, nor so uncivil: I only made a little bold with it last night to divert you, and was only in jest.
Pisc. You were then in as good earnest as I am now with you: but had you been really angry at it, I could not blame you; for, to say the truth, it is not very taking at first sight. But look you, sir, now you are abroad, does not the sun shine as bright here as in Essex, Middlesex, or Kent, or any of your southern counties.
Viat. 'Tis a delicate morning, indeed! And I now think this a marvellous pretty place.
Pisc. Whether you think so or no, you cannot oblige me more than to say so: and those of my friends who know my humour and are so kind as to comply with it, usually flatter me that way. But look you, sir, you are at the brink of the hill, how do you like my river, the vale it winds through like a snake, and the situation of my little fishing-house?
Viat. Trust me, 'tis all very fine; and the house seems at this distance a neat building.
Pisc. Good enough for that purpose. And here is a bowling-green too, close by it; so, though I am myself no very good bowler, I am not totally devoted to my own pleasure, but that I have also some regard to other men's. And now, sir, you are come to the door, pray walk in, and there we will sit and talk, as long as you please.
Viat. Stay, what's here over the door? PISCATORIUS SACRUM! Why, then I perceive I have some title here; for I am one of them, though one of the worst; and here below it is the cypher too you spoke of, and 'tis prettily contrived. Has my master Walton ever been here to see it; for it seems new built?
Pisc. Yes, he saw it cut in the stone before it was set up; but never in the posture it now stands: for the house was but building when he was last here, and not raised so high as the arch of the door. And I am afraid he will not see it yet; for he has lately writ me word, he doubts his coming down this summer; which, I do assure you, was the worst news he could possibly have sent me.
Viat. Men must sometimes mind their affairs to make more room for their pleasures: and 'tis odds he is as much displeased with the business that keeps him from you, as you are that he comes not. But I am the most pleased with this little house of any thing I ever saw. It stands on a kind of peninsula too, with a delicate clear river about it. I dare hardly go in, lest I should not like it so well within as without; but by your leave I'll try. Why this is better and better, fine lights, finely wainscoted, and all exceeding neat, with a marble table and all in the middle.
Pisc. Enough, sir, enough! I have laid open to you the part where I can worst defend myself; and now you attack me there! Come boy, set two chairs, and whilst I am taking a pipe of tobacco, which is always my breakfast, we will, if you please, talk of some other subject.
Viat. None fitter, then, sir, for the time and place, than those instructions you promised.
Pisc. I begin to doubt, by something I discover in you, whether I am able to instruct you, or no: though, if you are really a stranger to our clear northern rivers, I still think I can; and therefore, since it is too early in the morning at this time of the year, to-day being but the seventh of March, to cast a fly upon the water, if you will direct me what kind of fishing for a trout I shall read you a lecture on, I am willing and ready to obey you.
Viat. Why, sir, if you will so far oblige me and that it may not be too troublesome to you, I would entreat you would run through the whole body of it: and I will not conceal from you, that I am so far in love with you, your courtesy, and pretty Moreland seat, as to resolve to stay with you long enough by intervals; for I will not oppress you, to hear all you can say upon that subject.
Pisc. You cannot oblige me more than by such a promise. And, therefore, without more ceremony I will begin to tell you, that my father Walton having read to you before, it would look like a presumption in me, and peradventure would do so in any other man, to pretend to give lessons for angling after him, who, I do really believe, understands as much of it, at least, as any man in England; did I not preacquaint you, that I am not tempted to it by any vain opinion of myself, that I am able to give you better directions; but, having from my childhood pursued the recreation of angling in very clear rivers, truly I think by much, some of them at least, the clearest in this kingdom, and the manner of angling here with us, by reason of that exceeding clearness, being something different from the method commonly used in others, which, by being not near so bright, admit of stronger tackle, and allow a nearer approach to the stream;---I may, peradventure, give you some instructions that may be of use even in your own rivers; and shall bring you acquainted with more flies, and show you how to make them, and with what dubbing too, than he has taken notice of in his "Complete Angler."
Viat. I beseech you, sir, do: and, if you will lend me your steel, I will light a pipe the while; for that is commonly my breakfast in a morning too.
THE SECOND DAY.
OF ANGLING FOR TROUT OR GRAYLING, DIVIDED INTO THREE BRANCHES.
Pisc. junior. Why then, sir, to begin methodically, as a master in any art should do, and I will not deny but that I think myself a master in this: I shall divide angling for trout or grayling, into these three ways: at the top; at the bottom; and in the middle. Which three ways, though they are all of them, as I shall herefter endeavour to make it appear, in some sort common to both these kinds of fish, yet are they not so generally and absolutely so, but that they will necessarily require a distinction; which, in due place, I will also give you.
That which we call angling at the top, is with a fly; at the bottom, with a ground-bait: in the middle, with a minnow, or ground-bait.
Angling at the top is of two sorts: with a quick-fly, or with an artificial-fly.
That we call angling at the bottom, is also of two sorts: by the hand, or with a cork or float.
That we call angling in the middle is also of two sorts: with a minnow for a trout, or with a ground-bait for a grayling.
Of all which several sorts of angling, I will, if you can have the patience to hear me, give you the best account I can.
Viat. The trouble will be yours, and mine the pleasure and the obligation. I beseech you therefore to proceed.
Pisc. Why then first of fly-fishing.
On to Chapter V