Chapter X. Chapter
Chapter XIV. Chapter XV. Chapter XVI. Chapter XVII. Chapter XVIII.
Chapter XIX. Chapter XX. Chapter XXI.
Return to TOC. On to Part II.
THE FOURTH DAY.
OBSERVATIONS OF THE BREAM, AND DIRECTIONS TO CATCH HIM.
Piscator. THE Bream, being at full growth, is a large and stately fish. He will breed both in rivers and ponds; but loves best to live in ponds, and where, if he likes the water and air, he will grow not only to be very large, but as fat as a hog. He is by Gesner taken to be more pleasant, or sweet, than wholesome: this fish is long in growing, but breeds exceedingly in a water that pleases him; yea, in many ponds so fast, as to over-store them, and starve the other fish. He is very broad with a forked tail, and his scales set in excellent order: he hath large eyes, and a narrow sucking mouth; he hath two sets of teeth, and a lozenge-like bone, a bone to help his grinding. The melter is observed to have two large melts, and the female two large bags of eggs or spawn.
Gesner reports, that in Poland, a certain and a great number of large breams were put into a pond, which in the next following winter were frozen up into one entire ice, and not one drop of water remaining, nor one of these fish to be found, though they were diligently searched for; and yet the next spring when the ice was thawed, and the weather warm, and fresh water got into the pond, he affirms they all appeared again. This Gesner affirms, and I quote my author, because it seems almost as incredible as the resurrection to an atheist. But it may win something in the point of believing it, to him that considers the breeding or renovation of the silk-worm, and of many insects. And that is considerable which Sir Francis Bacon observes in his "History of Life and Death," folio 20, that there be some herbs that die and spring each year, and some endure longer.
But though some do not, yet the French esteem this fish highly, and to that end have this proverb, "He that hath breams in his pond, is able to bid his friend welcome." And it is noted, that the best part of a bream is his belly and head.
Some say, that breams and roaches will mix their eggs and melt together, and so there is in many places a bastard-breed of breams, that never come to be either large or good, but very numerous.
The baits good to catch this Bream are many. First, paste made of brown bread and honey, gentles, or the brood of wasps that be young, and then not unlike gentles, and should be hardened in an oven, or dried on a tile before the fire to make them tough; or there is at the root of docks, or flags, or rushes, in watery places, a worm not unlike a maggot, at which [Bream] will bite freely. Or he will bite at a grasshopper with his legs nipped off, in June and July; or at several flies, under water, which may be found on flags that grow near to the water-side. I doubt not but that there be many other baits that are good, but I will turn them all into this most excellent one, either for a carp or bream, in any river or mere; it was given to me by a most honest and excellent angler, and, hoping you will prove both, I will impart it to you.
1. Let your bait be as big a red-worm as you can find, without a knot: get a pint or quart of them in an evening in garden-walks, or chalky commons, after a shower of rain, and put them with clean moss well washed and picked, and the water squeezed out of the moss as dry as you can, into an earthen pot or pipkin set dry, and change the moss fresh every three or four days for three weeks or a month together; then your bait will be at the best, for it will be clear and lively.
2. Having thus prepared your baits, get your tackling ready and fitted for this sport. Take three long angling-rods, and as many and more silk, or silk and hair, lines, and as many large swan or goose-quill floats. Then take a piece of lead made after this manner, and fasten them to the low-ends of your lines. Then fasten your link-hook also to the lead, and let there be about a foot or ten inches between the lead and the hook; but be sure the lead be heavy enough to sink the float or quill a little under the water, and not the quill bear up the lead, for the lead must lie on the ground. Note, that your link next the hook may be smaller than the rest of your line, if you dare adventure, for fear of taking the pike or perch, who will assuredly visit your hooks, till they be taken out, as I will show you afterwards, before either carp or bream will come near to bite. Note also, that when the worm is well baited, it will crawl up and down, as far as the lead will give leave, which much enticeth the fish to bite without suspicion.
3. Having thus prepared your baits, and fitted your tackling, repair to the river, where you have seen them to swim in the summer-time in a hot afternoon, about three or four of the clock; and watch their going forth of their deep holes and returning, which you may well discern, for they return about four of the clock, most of them seeking food at the bottom, yet one or two will lie on the top of the water, rolling and tumbling themselves whilst the rest are under him at the bottom; and so you shall perceive him to keep sentinel: then mark where he plays most, and stays longest, which commonly is in the broadest and deepest place of the river, and there, or near thereabouts, at a clear bottom and a convenient landing-place, take one of your angles ready fitted as aforesaid, and sound the bottom, which should be about eight or ten feet deep; two yards from the bank is best. Then consider with yourself whether that water will rise or fall by the next morning, by reason of any water-mills near, and according to your discretion take the depth of the place, where you mean after to cast your ground-bait, and to fish, to halt an inch; that the lead lying on, or near the ground-bait, to top of the float may only appear upright half an inch above the water.
Thus you having found and fitted for the place and depth thereof, go home and prepare your ground-bait; which is, next to the fruit of your labors, to be regarded.
You shall take a peck, or a peck and a half, according to the greatness of the stream, and deepness of the water, where you mean to angle, of sweet gross-ground barley malt, and boil it in a kettle; one or two worms is enough: then strain it through a bag into a tub, the liquor whereof hath often done my horse much good; and when the bag and malt is near cold, take it down to the water-side about eight or nine of the clock in the evening, and not before: cast in two parts of your ground-bait, squeezed hard between both your hands, it will sink presently to the bottom, and be sure it may rest in the very place where you mean to angle: if the stream run hard, or move a little, cast your malt in handfuls a little the higher, upwards the stream. You may, between your hands, close the malt so fast in handful, that the water will hardly part it with the fall.
Your ground thus baited, and tackling fitted, leave your bag with the rest of your tackling, and ground-bait near the sporting place all night; and in the morning, about three or four of the clock, visit the water-side, but not too near, for they have a cunning watchman, and are watchful themselves too.
Then gently take one of your three rods, and bait your hook, casting it over your ground-bait; and gently and secretly draw it to you, till the lead rests about the middle of the ground-bait.
Then take a second rod and cast in about a yard above, and your third below the first rod, and stay the rods in the ground; but go yourself so far from the water-side, that you perceive nothing but the top of the floats, which you must watch most diligently. Then, when you have a bite, you shall perceive the top of your float to sink suddenly into the water; yet nevertheless be not too hasty to run to your rods, until you see that the line goes clear away; then creep to the water-side, and give as much line as possibly you can: if it be a good carp or bream, they will go to the farther side of the river, then strike gently, and hold your rod at a bent a little while; but if you both pull together, you are sure to lose your game, for either your line, or hook, or hold, will break: and after you have overcome them, they will make noble sport, and are very shy to be landed. The carp is far stronger and more mettlesome than the bream.
Much more is to be observed in this kind of fish and fishing, but it is far fitter for experience and discourse than paper. Only thus much is necessary for you to know, and to be mindful and careful of; that if the pike or perch do breed in that river, they will be sure to bite first, and must first be taken. And for the most part they are very large; and will repair to your ground-bait, not that they will eat of it, but will feed and sport themselves amongst the young fry that gather about and hover over the bait.
The way to discern the pike and to take him, if you mistrust your bream-hook,---for I have taken a pike a yard long several times at my bream-hooks, and sometimes he hath had the luck to share my line,---may be thus:
Take a small bleak, or roach, or gudgeon, and bait it; and set it alive among your rods two feet deep from the cork, with a little red worm on the point of the hook; then take a few crumbs of white bread, or some of the ground-bait, and sprinkle it gently amongst your rods. If Mr. Pike be there, then the little fish will skip out of the water at his appearance, but the live-set bait is sure to be taken.
Thus continue your sport from four in the morning till eight, and if it be a gloomy, windy day, they will bite all day long. But this is too long to stand to your rods at one place, and it will spoil your evening sport that day which is this.
About four of the clock in the afternoon repair to your baited-place; and as soon as you come to the water-side, cast in one-half of the rest of your ground-bait, and stand off: then, whilst the fish are gathering together, for there they will most certainly come for their supper, you may take a pipe of tobacco, and then in with your three rods as in the morning. You will find excellent sport that evening till eight of the clock: then cast in the residue of your ground-bait, and next morning by four of the clock, visit them again for four hours, which is the best sport of all; and after that, let them rest till you and your friends have a mind to more sport.
From St. Jame's-tide until Bartholomew-tide is the best; when they have had all the summer's food they are the fattest. Observe, lastly, that after three or four days' fishing together, your game will be very shy and wary, and you shall hardly get above a bite or two at a baiting; then your only way is to desist from your sport about two or three days: and in the meantime, on the place you late baited, and again intend to bait, you shall take a turf of green but short grass, as big or bigger than a round trencher; to the top of this turf, on the green side, you shall, with a needle and green thread, fasten one by one as many little red worms as will near cover all the turf: then take a round board or trencher, make a hole in the middle thereof, and through the turf, placed on the board or trencher, with a string or cord as long as is fitting, tied to a pole, let it down to the bottom of the water for the fish to feed upon without disturbance about two or three days: and after that you have drawn it away, you may fall to, and enjoy your former recreation.
THE FOURTH DAY.
OBSERVATIONS OF THE TENCH, AND HOW TO ANGLE FOR HIM.
Piscator. The Tench, the physician of fishes, is observed to love ponds better than rivers, and to love pits better than either; yet Camden observes there is a river in Dorsetshire that abounds with tenches, but doubtless they retire to the most deep and quiet places in it.
This fish hath very large fins, very small and smooth scales, a red circle about his eyes, which are big and of a gold colour, and from either angle of his mouth there hangs down a little barb. In every tench's head there are two little stones, which foreign physicians make great use of; but he is not commended for wholesome meat, though there be very much use made of them, for outward applications. Rondeletius says, that at his being at Rome, he saw a great cure done by applying a tench to the feet of a very sick man. This, he says, was done after an unusual manner by certain Jews. And it is observed, that many of those people have many secrets, yet unknown to Christians; secrets that have never yet been written, but have been since the days of their Solomon, who knew the nature of all things, even from the cedar to the shrub, delivered by tradition from the father to the son, and so from generation to generation without writing; or, unless it were casually, without the least communicating them to any other nation or tribe: for to do that, they account a profanation. And yet it is thought that they, or some spirit worde than they, first told us, that lice swallowed alive were a certain cure for the yellow-jaundice. This, and many other medicines, were discovered by them, or by revelation; for, doubtless, we attained them not by study.
Well, this fish, besides his eating, is very useful, both dead and alive, for the good of mankind. But I will meddle no more with that; my honest humble art teaches no such boldness: there are too many foolish meddlers in physic and divinity, that think themselves fit to meddle with hidden secrets, and so bring destruction to their followers. But I'll not meddle with them, any further than to wish them wiser; and shall teach you next, for, I hope, I may be so bold, that the tench is the physician of fishes; for the pike especially, and that the pike, being either sick or hurt, is cured by the touch of the tench. And it is observed, that the tyrant pike will not be a wolf to his physician, but forbears to devour him though he be never so hungry.
This fish, that carries a natural balsam in him to cure both himself and others, loves to feed in very foul water, and amongst weeds. And yet I am sure he eats pleasantly, and, doubtless, you will think so too, if you taste him. And I shall therefore proceed to give you some few, and but a few, directions how to catch this Tench, of which I have given you these observations.
He will bite at a paste made of brown bread and honey, or at a marsh-worm, or a lob-worm; he inclines very much to any paste with which tar is mixed, and he will bite also at a smaller worm, with his head nipped off, and a cod-worm put on the hook before that worm: and I doubt not but that he will also in the three hot months, for in the nine colder he stirs not much, bite at a flag-worm, or at a green gentle, but can positively say no more of the tench, he being a fish that I have not often angled for, but I wish my honest scholar may, and be ever fortunate when he fishes.
THE FOURTH DAY.
OBSERVATIONS OF THE PERCH, AND DIRECTIONS HOW TO FISH FOR HIM.
Piscator. The Pearch is a very good, and a very bold-biting fish. He is one of the fishes of prey that, like the pike and trout, carries his teeth in his mouth, which is very large; and he dare venture to kill and devour several other kinds of fish. He has a hooked, or hog-back, which is armed with sharp and stiff bristles, and all his skin armed or covered over with thick, dry, hard scales; and hath, which few other fish have, two fins on his back. He is so bold that he will invade one of his own kind, which the pike will not do so willingly; and you may therefore easily believe him to be a bold biter.
The pearch is of great esteem in Italy, saith Aldrovandrus; and especially the least are there esteemed a dainty dish. And Gesner prefers the pearch and pike above the trout, or any fresh-water fish: he says, the Germans have this proverb, "more wholesome than a pearch of Rhine:" and he says the river-pearch is so wholesome, that physicians allow him to be eaten by wounded men, or by men in fevers, or by women in child-bed.
He spawns but once a year, and is by physicians held very nutritive; yet, by many, to be hard of digestion. They abound more in the river Po and in England, says Rondeletius, than other parts, sold by apothecaries, being there noted to be be very medicinable against the stone in the reins. These be a part of the commendations which some philosophical brains have bestowed upon the fresh-water pearch: yet they commend the sea-pearch, which is known by having but one fin on his back, of which they say, we English see but a few, to be a much better fish.
The pearch grows slowly, yet will grow, as I have been credibly informed, to be almost two foot long; for an honest informer told me, such a one was not long since taken by Sir Abraham Williams, a gentleman of worth, and a brother of the angle, that yet lives, and I wish he may. This was a deep-bodied fish, and doubtless durst have devoured a pike of half his own length; for I have told you, he is a bold fish, such a one as, but for extreme hunger, the pike will not devour: for to affright the pike, and save himself, the pearch will set up his fins, much like as a turkey-cock will sometimes set up his tail.
But, my scholar, the pearch is not only valiant to defend himself, but he is, as I said, a bold-biting fish, yet he will not bite at all seasons of the year; he is very abstemious in winter, yet will bite then in the midst of the day, if it be warm: and note, that all fish bite best about the midst of a warm day in winter, and he hath been observed by some, not usually, to bite till the mulberry-tree buds; that is to say, till extreme frosts be past the spring: for when the mulberry-tree blossoms, many gardeners observe their forward fruit to be past the danger of frosts; and some have made the like observation of the pearch's biting.
But bite the pearch will, and that very boldly; and as one has wittily observed, if there be twenty or forty in a hole, they may be, at one standing, all catched one after another; they being, as he says, like the wicked of the world, not afraid, though their fellows and companions perish in their sight. And you may observe, that they are not like the solitary pike; but love to accompany one another and march together in troops.
And the baits for this bold fish, [the Pearch,] are not many: I mean he will bite as well at some, or at any of these three, as at any or all others whatsoever; a worm, a minnow, or a little frog, of which you may find many in hay-time: and of worms, the dunghill-worm, called a brandling, I take to be best, being well scoured in moss or fennel: or he will bite at a worm that lies under cow-dung with a bluish head. And if you rove for a pearch with a minnow, then it is best to be alive, you sticking your hook through his back-fin; or a minnow with the hook in his upper lip, and letting him swim up and down, about mid-water or a little lower, and you still keeping him to about that depth by a cork, which ought not to be a very little one: and the like way you are to fish for the pearch, with a small frog, your hook being fastened through the skin of his leg, towards the upper part of it: and lastly, I will give you but this advice, that you give the pearch time enough when he bites, for there was scarce ever any angler that has given him too much. And now I think best to rest myself, for I have almost spent my spirits with talking so long.
Ven. Nay, good master, one fish more, for you see it rains still, and you know our angles are like money put to usury: they may thrive, though we sit still and do nothing but talk and enjoy one another. Come, come, the other fish, good master.
Pisc. But, scholar, have you nothing to mix with this discourse, which now grows both tedious and tiresome? Shall I have nothing from you, that seem to have both a good memory and a cheerful spirit?
Ven. Yes, master, I will speak you a copy of verses that were made by Doctor Donne, and made to show the world that he could make soft and smooth verses, when he thought smoothness worth his labour: and I love them the better, because they allude to rivers, and fish, and fishing. They be these:
Come, live with me, and be my love:
And we will some new pleasures prove,
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks;
With silken lines and silver hooks.
There will the river, whisp'ring, run,
Warm'd by the eyes more than the sun;
And there, the enamel'd fish will stay,
Begging themselves they may betray.
When thou wilt swim in that live bath---
Each fish, which every channel hath,
Most am'rously, to thee will swim,
Gladder to catch thee than thou him.
If thou to be seen be'st loath,
By sun or moon---thou dark'nest both;
And if mine eyes have leave to see,
I need not their light, having thee.
Let others freeze with angling reeds,
And cut their legs with shells and weeds;
Or treach'rously poor fish beset,
With strangling snares, or windowy net;
Let coarse bold hands, from slimy nest,
The bedded fish in banks outwrest;
Let curious traitors sleave silk flies,
To 'witch poor wand'ring fishes' eyes.
For thee, thou need'st no such deceit;
For thou, thyself, art thine own bait---
That fish, that is not catcht thereby,
Is wiser far, alas, than I.
Pisc. Well remembered, honest scholar. I thank you for these choice verses, which I have heard formerly, but had quite forgot till they were recovered by your happy memory. Well, being I have now rested myself a little, I will make you some requital, by telling you some observations of the eel, for it rains still; and because, as you say, our angles are as money put to use, that thrives when we play, therefore we'll sit still and enjoy ourselves a little longer under this honey-suckle hedge.
THE FOURTH DAY.
OBSERVATIONS OF THE EEL, AND OTHER FISH THAT WANT SCALES, AND [HOW] TO FISH FOR THEM.
Piscator. It is agreed by most men, that the Eel is a most dainty fish: the Romans have esteemed her the Helena of their feasts, and some the queen of palate-pleasure. But most men differ about their breeding: some say they breed by generation as other fish do; and others, that they breed, as some worms do, of mud; as rats and mice, and many other living creatures, are bred in Egypt, by the sun's heat when it shines upon the overflowing of the river Nilus; or out of the putrefaction of the earth, and divers other ways. Those that deny them to breed by generation as other fish do, ask if any man ever saw an eel to have a spawn or melt? And they are answered, that they may be as certain of their breeding as if if they had seen them spawn: for they say, that they are certain that eels have all parts fit for generation, like other fish, but so small as not to be easily discerned, by reason of their fatness, but that discerned they may be, and that the he and the she eel may be distinguished by their fins. And Rondeletius says, he has seen eels cling together like dew-worms.
And others say, that eels growing old, breed other eels out of the corruption of their own age, which, Sir Francis Bacon says, exceeds not ten years. And others say, that as pearls are made of glutinous dew-drops, which are condensed by the sun's heat in those countries, so eels are bred of a particular dew, falling in the months of May or June on the banks of some partucular ponds or rivers, apted by nature for that end; which in a few days are by the sun's heat turned into eels: and some of the ancients have called the eels that are thus bred the offspring of Jove. I have seen in the beginning of July, in a river not far from Canterbury, some parts of it covered over with young eels, about the thickness of a straw; and these eels did lie on the top of that water, as thick as motes are said to be in the sun: and I have heard the like of other rivers, as namely in Severn, where they are called yelvers; and in a pond or mere near unto Staffordshire, where about a set-time in summer such small eels abound so much, that many of the poorer sort of people, that inhabit near to it, take such eels out of this mere with sieves or sheets, and make a kind of eel-cake of them, and eat it like as bread. And Gesner quotes Venerable Bede to say, that in England there is an island called Ely, by reason of the innumerable number of eels that breed in it. But that eels may be bred as some worms, and some kind of bees and wasps are either of dew, or out of the corruption of the earth, seems to be made probable by the barnacles and young goslings bred by the sun's heat and the rotten planks of an old ship, and hatched of trees; both which are related for truths by Du Bartas and Lobel, and also by our learned Camden and laborious Gerard in his Herbal.
It is said by Rondeletius, that those eels that are bred in rivers that relate to or be nearer to the sea, never return to the fresh waters, as the salmon does always desire to do, when they have once tasted the salt-water; and I do the more easily believe this because I am cetain that powdered beef is a most excellent bait to catch an eel. And though Sir Francis Bacon will allow the eel's life to be but ten years, yet he, in his "History of Life and Death,: mentions a lamprey belonging to the Roman emperor to be made tame, and so kept for almost threescore years: and that such useful and pleasant observations were made of this lamprey, that Crassus the Orator, who kept her, lamented her death. And we read in Doctor Hakewill, that Hortensius was seen to weep at the death of a lamprey that he had kept long and loved exceedingly.
It is granted by all, or most men, that eels, for about six months, that is to say, the six cold months of the year, stir not up and down, neither in the rivers, nor in the pools in which they usually are, but get into the soft earth or mud; and there many of them together bed themselves, and live without feeding upon any thing, as I have told you some swallows have been observed to do in hollow trees for those cold six months: and this the eel and swallow do, as not being able to endure winter-weather: for Gesner quotes Albertus to say that in the year 1125, that year's winter being more cold than usually, eels did by nature's instinct get out of the water into a stack of hay in a meadow upon dry ground, and there bedded themselves; but yet at last a frost killed them. And our Camden relates, that in Lancashire, fishes were digged out of the earth with spades, where no water was near to the place. I shall say little more of the eel, but that as it is observed he is impatient of the cold, so it hath been observed that, in warm weather, an eel has been known to live five days out of the water.
And lastly let me tell you that some curious searchers into the natures of fish, observe that there be several sorts or kinds of eels: as the silver eel, and green or greenish eel, with which the river of Thames abounds, and those are called grigs; and a blackish eel, whose head is more flat and bigger than ordinary eels; and also an eel whose fins are reddish and but seldom taken in this nation, and yet taken sometimes. These several kinds of eels are, say some, diversely bred; and namely, out of the corruption of the earth, and some by dew, and other ways, as I have said to you; and yet it is affirmed by some for a certain, that the silver eel is bred by generation; but not by spawning as other fish do, but that her brood come alive from her, being then little live eels no bigger nor longer than a pin: and I have had too many testimonies of this to doubt the truth of it myself; and if I thought it needful I might prove it, but I think it is needless.
And this eel, of which I have said so much to you, may be caught with divers kinds of baits: as namely, with powdered-beef, with a lob, or garden-worm; with a minnow; or gut of a hen, chicken, or the guts of any fish; or with almost any thing, for he is a geedy fish. But the eel may be caught, especially, with a little, a very little lamprey, which some call a pride, and may in the hot months be found many of them in the river Thames, and in many mud-heaps in other rivers; yea, almost as usually as one finds worms in a dunghill.
Next note, that the eel seldom stirs in the day, but then hides himself; and therefore he is usually caught by night, with one of these baits of which I have spoken, and may be then caught by laying hooks, which you are to fasten to the bank, or twigs of a tree; or by throwing a string across the stream with many hooks at it, and those baited with the aforesaid baits; and a clod or plummet, or stone, thrown into the river with this line, that so you may in the morning find it near to some fixed place, and then take it up with a drag-hook or otherwise. But these things are, indeed, too common to be spoken of, and an hour's fishing with any angler will teach you better for these and many other common things in the practical part of angling, than a week's discourse. I shall therefore conclude this direction for taking the eel, by telling you, that in a warm day in summer, I have taken many a good eel by snigling, and have been much pleased with that sport.
And because you that are but a young angler, know not what snigling is, I will now teach it to you. You remember I told you that eels do not usually stir in the day-time, for then they hide themselves under some covert, or under boards or planks about flood-gates, or wears, or mills, or in holes in the river-banks: so that you, observing your time in a warm day, when the water is lowest, may take a strong, small hook, tied to a strong line, or to a string about a yard long; and then into one of these holes, or between any boards about a mill, or under any great stone or plank, or any place where you think an eel may hide or shelter herself, you may, with the help of a short stick, put in your bait, but leisurely, and a far as you may conveniently: and it is scarce to be doubted, but that if there be an eel within the sight of it, the eel will bite instantly, and certainly gorge it: and you need not doubt to have him, if you pull him not out of the hole too quickly, but pull him out by degrees; for he lying folded double in his hole, will, with the help of his tail, break all, unless you give him time to be wearied with pulling, and so get him out by degrees, not pulling too hard.
And to commute for your patient hearing this long direction, I shall next tell you how to make this Eel a most excellent dish of meat.
First, wash him in water and salt; then pull off his skin below his vent or navel, and not much further: having done that, take out his guts as clean as you can, but wash him not: then give him three or four scotches with a knife; and then put into his belly and those scotches, sweet herbs, an anchovy, a a little nutmeg grated or cut very small; and your herbs and anchovies must also be cut very small, and mixed with good butter and salt: having done this, then pull his skin over him all but his head, which you are to cut off, to the end you may tie his skin about that part where his head grew, and it must be tied so as to keep all his moisture within his skin: and having done this, tie him with tape or packthread to a spit, and roast him leisurely, and baste him with water and salt till his skin breaks, and then with butter: and having roasted him enough, let what was put into his belly, and what he drips, be his sauce.S. F.When I go to dress an eel thus, I wish he were as long and big as that which was caught in Peterborough river in the year 1667, which was a yard and three-quarters long. If you will not believe me, then go and see at one of the coffee-houses in King-street in Westminster.
But now let me tell you, that though the eel thus dressed be not only excellent good, but more harmless than any other way, yet it is certain that physicians account the eel dangerous meat; I will advise you therefore, as Solomon says of honey, Prov. xxv. 16, "Hast thou found it, eat no more than is sufficient, lest thou surfeit, for it is not good to eat much honey." And let me add this, that the uncharitable Italian bids us, "give eels, and no wine, to our enemies."
And I will beg a little more of your attention to tell you, that Aldrovandus and divers physicians commend the eel very much for medicine, though not for meat. But let me tell you one observation; that the eel is never out of season, as trout and most other fish are at set times; at least most eels are not.
I might here speak of many other fish whose shape and nature are much like the eel, and frequent both the sea and fresh rivers; as, namely, the lamprel, the lamprey, and the lamperne; as also of the mighty conger, taken often in Severn about Gloucester: and might also tell in what high esteem many of them are for the curiosity of their taste. But these are not so proper to be talked of by me, because they make us anglers no sport, therefore I will let them alone as the Jews do, to whom they are forbidden by their law.
And, scholar, there is also a flounder, a sea-fish, which will wander very far into fresh rivers, and there lose himself, and dwell, and thrive to a hand's breadth, and almost twice so long; a fish without scales, and most excellent meat: and a fish that affords much sport to the angler, with any small worm, but especially a little bluish worm, gotten out of marsh-ground or meadows, which should be well scoured. But this, though it be most excellent meat, yet it wants scales, and is, as I told you, therefore an abomination to the Jews.
But, scholar, there is a fish that they in Lancashire boast very much of, called a Char, taken there, and I think there only, in a mere called Winander-Mere; a mere, says Camden, that is the largest in this nation, being ten miles in length, and some say, as smooth in the bottom as if it were paved with polished marble. This fish never exceeds fifteen or sixteen inches in length, and 'tis spotted like a trout, and has scarce a bone but on the back. But this, though I do not know whether it make the anger sport, yet I would have you take notice of it, because it is a rarity, and of so high esteem with persons of great note.
Nor would I have you ignorant of a rare fish called a Guiniad, of which I shall tell you what Camden, and others speak. The river Dee, which runs by Chester, springs in Merionethshire; and, as it runs toward Chester, it runs through Pemble-Mere, which is a large water: and it is observed, that though the river Dee abounds with salmon, and Pemble-Mere with the Guiniad, yet there is never any salmon caught in the mere, nor a guiniad in the river. And now my next observation shall be of the Barbel.
THE FOURTH DAY.
OBSERVATIONS OF THE BARBEL, AND DIRECTIONS HOW TO FISH FOR HIM.
Piscator. The Barbel is so called, says Gesner, by reason of his barbs or wattels at his mouth, which are under his nose or chaps. He is one of those leather-mouthed fishes that I told you of, that does very seldom break his hold if he be once hooked: but he is so strong, that he will often break both rod and line, if he proves to be a big one.
But the barbel, though he be of a fine shape, and looks big, yet he is not accounted the best fish to eat, neither for his wholesomeness nor his taste: but the male is reputed much better than the female, whose spawn is very hurtful, as I will presently declare to you.
They flock together like sheep, and are at the worst in April, about which time they spawn, but quickly grow to be in season. He is able to live in the strongest swifts of the water, and in summer they love the shallowest and sharpest streams; and love to lurk under weeds, and to feed on gravel against a rising ground, and will root and dig in the sands with his nose like a hog, and there nests himself: yet sometimes he retire to deep and swift bridges, or floodgates, or wears, where he will nest himself amongst piles, or in hollow places, and take such hold of moss or weeds, that be the water never so swift, it is not able to force him from the place that he contends for. This is his constant custom in summer, when he and most living creatures sport themselves in the sun; but at the approach of winter, then he forsakes the swift streams and shallow waters, and by degrees retires to those parts of the river that are quiet and deeper: in which places, and I think about that time, he spawns; and, as I have formerly told you, with the help of the melter, hides his spawn or eggs in holes, which they both dig in the gravel; and then they mutually labour to cover it with the same sand, to prevent it from being devoured by other fish.
There be such store of this fish in the river Danube, that Rondeletius says, they may in some places of it, and in some months of the year, be taken by those that dwell near to the river, with their hands, eight or ten load at a time. He says, they begin to be good in May, and that they cease to be so in August, but it is found to be otherwise in this nation: but thus far we agree with him, that the spawn of a barbel, if it be not poison, as he says, yet that it is dangerous meat, and especially in the month of May; which is so certain, that Gesner and Gasius declare it had an ill effect upon them, even to the endangering of their lives.
This fish is of a fine cast and handsome shape, with small scales, which are placed after a most exact and curious manner, and, as I told you, may be rather said not to be ill, than to be good meat. The chub and he have, I think, both lost part of their credit by ill cookery, they being reputed the worst or coarsest of fresh-water fish. But the barbel affords an angler choice sport, being a lusty and cunning fish; so lusty and cunning as to endanger the breaking of the angler's line, to break it off with his tail, as is observed by Plutarch, in his book "De Industria Animalium;" and also so cunning to nibble and suck off your worm close to the hook, and yet avoid letting the hook come into his mouth.
The barbel is also curious for his baits; that is to say, that they be clean and sweet; that is to say, to have your worms well scoured, and not kept in sour and musty moss, for he is a curious feeder: but at a well scoured lob-worm, he will bite as boldly as at any bait, and specially, if, the night or two before you fish for him, you shall bait the places where you intend to fish for him, with big worms cut into pieces: and note, that none did ever over-bait the place, nor fish too early or too late for a barbel. And the barbel will bite also at gentles, which not being too much scoured, but green, are a choice bait for him; and so is cheese, which is not to be too hard, but kept a day or [two] in a wet linen cloth to make it tough: with this you may also bait the water a day or two before you fish for the barbel, and be much the likelier to catch store: and if the cheese were laid in clarified honey a short time before, as namely, an hour or two, you were still the likelier to catch fish. Some have directed to cut the cheese into thin pieces, and toast it, and then tie it on the hook with fine sik: and some advise to fish for the barbel with sheep's tallow and soft cheese beaten or worked into a paste, and that it is choicely good in August, and I believe it: but doubtless the lob-worm well scoured, and the gentle not too much scoured, and cheese ordered as I have directed, are baits enough; and I think will serve in any month; though I shall commend any angler that tries conclusions, and is industrious to improve the art. And now, my honest scholar, the long shower and my tedious discourse are both ended together: and I shall give you but this observation, that when you fish for a barbel, your rod and line be both long, and of good strength; for, as I told you, you will find him a heavy and a dogged fish to be dealt withal, yet he seldom or never breaks his hold if he be once strucken. And if you would know more of fishing for the umber or barbel, get into favour with Doctor Sheldon, whose skill is above others; and of that, the poor that dwell about him have a comfortable experience. And now let's go and see what interest the trouts will pay us for letting our angle-rods lie so long, and so quietly, in the water for their use. Come, scholar, which will you take up?
Ven. Which you think fit, master.
Pisc. Why, you shall take up that; for I am certain by viewing the line, it has a fish at it. Look you, scholar! Well done! Come now, take up the other too; well! Now you may tell my brother Peter at night, that you have caught a leash of trouts this day. And now let's move toward our lodging, and drink a draught of red-cow's milk as we go, and give pretty Maudlin and her honest mother a brace of trouts for their supper.
Ven. Master, I like your motion very well; and I think it is now about milking-time, and yonder they be at it.
Pisc. God speed you, good woman! I thank you both for our songs last night: I and my companion have had such fortune a-fishing this day, that we resolved to give you and Maudlin a brace of trouts for supper, and we will now taste a draught of your red-cow's milk.
Milkw. Marry, and that you shall with all my heart, and I will still be your debtor when you come this way: if you will but speak the word I will make you a good syllabub, of new verjuice, and then you may sit down in a hay-cock and eat it; and Maudlin shall sit by and sing you the good old song of the "Hunting in Chevy Chace," or some other good ballad, for she hath store of them. Maudlin, my honest Maudlin, hath a notable memory, and she thinks nothing too good for you, because you be such honest men.
Ven. We thank you, and intend once a month to call upon you again, and give you a little warning, and so good night! Good night, Maudlin. And now, good master, let's lose no time; but tell me somewhat more of fishing, and if you please, first something of fishing for a Gudgeon.
Pisc. I will, honest scholar.
THE FOURTH DAY.
OBSERVATIONS OF THE GUDGEON, THE RUFFE, AND THE BLEAK, AND HOW TO FISH FOR THEM.
Piscator. The Gudgeon is reputed a fish of excellent taste and to be very wholesome: he is of a fine shape, of a silver colour, and beautified with black spots both on his body and tail. He breeds two or three times in a year, and always in summer. He is commended for a fish of excellent nourishment; the Germans call him groundling, by reason of his feeding on the ground; and he there feasts himself in sharp streams and on the gravel. He and the barbel both feed so, and do not hunt for flies at any time, as most other fishes do: he is an excellent fish to enter a young angler, being easy to take with a small red-worm, on or very near to the ground. He is one of those leather-mouthed fish that has his teeth in his throat, and will hardly be lost from off the hook if he be once strucken. They be usually scattered up and down every river in the shallows, in the heat of summer; but in autumn, when the weeds begin to grow sour or rot, and the weather colder, then they gather together, and get into the deeper parts of the water; and are to be fished for there, with your hook always touching the ground, if you fish for him with a float, or with a cork. But many will fish for the gudgeon by hand, with a running-line upon the ground, without a cork, as a trout is fished for, and it is an excellent way, if you have a gentle rod and as gentle a hand.
There is another fish called a Pope, and by some a Ruffe; a fish that is not known to be in some rivers; he is much like the pearch for his shape, and taken to be better than the pearch, but will not grow to be bigger than a gudgeon: he is an excellent fish, no fish that swims is of a pleasanter taste, and he is also excellent to enter a young angler, for he is a greedy biter, and they will usually lie, abundance of them together, in one reserved place, where the water is deep, and runs quietly; and an easy angler, if he has found where they lie, may catch forty or fifty, or sometimes twice so many, at a standing.
You must fish for him with a small red worm, and if you bait the ground with earth, it is excellent.
There is also a Bleak, or Fresh-water Sprat, a fish that is ever in motion, and therefore called by some the River-Swallow: for just as you shall observe the swallow to be, most evenings in summer, ever in motion, making short and quick turns when he flies to catch flies in the air, by which he lives, so does the Bleak at the top of the water. Ausonius would have him called Bleak, from his whitish colour: his back is of a pleasant sad or sea-water green, his belly white and shining as the mountain-snow. And, doubtless, though he have the fortune, which virtue has in poor people, to be neglected, yet the Bleak ought to be much valued, though we want Allamot-salt, and the skill that the Italians have to turn them into Anchovies. This fish may be caught with a Pater-noster line; that is, six or eight very small hooks tied along the line, one half a foot above the other: I have seen five caught thus at one time, and the bait has been gentles, than which none is better.
Or this fish may be caught with a fine small artificial fly, which is to be of a very sad brown colour, and very small, and the hook answerable. There is no better sport than whipping for Bleaks in a boat, or on a bank in the swift water in a summer's evening, with a hazel top about five or six foot long, and a line twice the length of the rod. I have heard Sir Henry Wotton say, that there be many that in Italy will catch swallows so, or especially martins, this Bird-Angler standing on the top of a steeple to do it, and with a line twice so long as I have spoken of; and let me tell you, Scholar, that both Martins and Bleaks be most excellent meat.
And let me tell you, that I have known a Hern that did constantly frequent one place, caught with a hook baited with a big minnow or small gudgeon. The line and hook must be strong, and tied to some loose staff, so big as she cannot fly away with it; a line not exceeding two yards.
THE FOURTH DAY.
IS OF NOTHING; OR THAT WHICH IS NOTHING WORTH.
Piscator. My purpose is to give you some directions concerning Roach and Dace, and some other inferiour fish which make the angler excellent sport, for you know there is more pleasure in hunting the hare than in eating her: but I will forbear at this time to say anything more, because you see yonder come our brother Peter, and honest Coridon. But I will promise you, that as you and I fish and walk to-morrow towards London, if I have now forgotten any thing that I can then remember, I will not keep it from you.
Well met, gentlemen; this is lucky that we meet so just together at this very door. Come hostess, where are you? Is supper ready? Come, first give us our drink, and be as quick as you can, for I believe we are all very hungry. Well, brother Peter and Coridon, To you both! come drink, and then tell me what luck of fish: we two have caught but ten trouts, of which my scholar caught three; look, here's eight, and a brace we gave away; we have had a most pleasant day for fishing and talking, and are returned home both weary and hungry; and now meat and rest will be pleasant.
Pet. And Coridon and I have not had an unpleasant day and yet I have caught but five trouts: for indeed we went to a good honest ale-house, and there we played at shovel-board half the day; all the time that it rained we were there, and as merry as they that fished[.] And I am glad we are now with a dry house over our heads: for, hark! how it rains and blows. Come hostess, give us more ale, and our supper with what haste you may: and when we have supped let us have your song, Piscator, and the catch that your scholar promised us, or else Coridon will be dogged.
Pisc. Nay, I will not be worse than my word, you shall not want my song, and I hope I shall be perfect in it.
Ven. And I hope the like for my catch, which I have ready too: and therfore let's go merrily to supper, and then have gentle touch at singing and drinking; but the last with moderation.
Cor. Come, now for your song, for we have fed heartily. Come hostess, lay a few more sticks on the fire, and now sing when you will.
Pisc. Well then, here's to you, Coridon; and now for my song.
Oh! the gallant fisher's life,
It is the best of any;
'Tis full of pleasure, void of strife,
And 'tis beloved by many:
Are but toys,
For our skill
Breeds no ill,
But content and pleasure.
In a morning up we rise,
Ere Aurora's peeping:
Drink a cup to wash our eyes,
Leave the sluggard sleeping:
Then we go
To and fro,
With our knacks
At our backs,
To such streams
As the Thames,
If we have the leisure.
When we please to walk abroad
For our recreation,
In the fields is our abode,
Full of delectation:
Where in a brook
With a hook,
Or a lake,
Fish we take;
There we sit,
For a bit,
Till we fish entangle.
We have gentles in a horn,
We have paste and worms too;
We can watch both night and morn,
Suffer rain and storms too.
None do here
Use to swear,
Oaths do fray
We sit still,
And watch our quill;
Fishers must not wrangle.
If the sun's excessive heat
Make our bodies swelter,
To an osier-hedge we get
For a friendly shelter;
Where in a dike
Pearch or pike,
Roach or dace,
We do chase,
Bleak or gudgeon
We are still contented.
Or we sometimes pass an hour
Under a green willow;
That defends us from a shower,
Making earth our pillow;
Where we may
Think and pray,
Stops our breath:
Are but toys,
And to be lamented. --- JO. CHALKHILL.
Ven. Well sung, master! This day's fortune and pleasure, and this night's company and song, do all make me more and more in love with angling. Gentlemen, my master left me alone for an hour this day; and I verily believe he retired himself from talking with me, that he might be so perfect in this song; was it not, master?
Pisc. Yes, indeed, for it is many years since I learned it: and, having forgotten a part of it, I was forced to patch it up with the help of mine own invention, who am not excellent at poetry, as my part of the song may testify: but of that I will say no more, lest you should think I mean by discommending it to beg your commendations of it. And therefore, without replications, let's hear your catch, scholar; which I hope will be a good one, for you are both musical and have a good fancy to boot.
Ven. Marry, and that you shall; and as freely as I would have my honest master tell me some more secrets of fish and fishing as we walk and fish towards London to-morrow. But, master, first let me tell you that, that very hour which you were absent from me, I sat down under a willow-tree by the water-side, and considered what you had told me of the owner of that pleasant meadow in which you then left me: that he had a plentiful estate, and not a heart to think so; that he had at this time many law-suits depending, and that they both damped his mirth, and took up so much of his time and thoughts, that he himself had not leisure to take the sweet content that I, who pretended no title to them, took in his fields: for I could there sit quietly; and, looking on the water, see some fishes sport themselves in the silver streams, others leaping at flies of several shapes and colours; looking on the hills, I could behold them spotted with woods and groves; looking down the meadows, could see here a boy gathering lilies and lady-smocks, and there a girl cropping culverkeyes and cowslips, all to make garlands suitable to this present month of May. These, and many other field-flowers, so perfumed the air, that I thought that very meadow like that field in Sicily, if which Diodorus speaks, where the perfumes arising from the place make all dogs that hunt in it to fall off, and to lose their hottest scent. I say, as I thus sat, joying in my own happy condition, and pitying this poor rich man that owned this and many other pleasant groves and meadows about me, I did thankfully remember what my Saviour said, that the "Meek possess the earth;" or rather, they enjoy what the other possess and enjoy not: for anglers, and meek, quiet-spirited men are free from those high, those restless thoughts, which corrode the sweets of life; and they, and they only, can say
Hail! blest estate of lowliness!
Happy enjoyments of such minds,
As, rich in self-contentedness,
Can, like the reeds in roughest winds,
By yielding make that blow but small,
At which proud oaks and cedars fall.
There came also into my mind at that time, certain verses in praise of a mean estate and an humble mind: they were written by Phineas Fletcher, an excellent divine, and an excellent angler, and the author of excellent "Piscatory Eclogues," in which you shall see the picture of this good man's mind, and I wish mine to be like it.
No empty hopes, no courtly fears him fright,
No begging wants, his middle-fortune bite,
But sweet content exiles both misery and spite.
His certain life, that never can deceive him,
Is full of thousand sweets, and rich content;
The smooth-leaved beeches in the field receive him
With coolest shade, till noon-tide's heat be spent:
His life is neither toss'd in boisterous seas,
Or the vexatious world, or lost in slothful ease:
Pleas'd and full blest he lives, when he his God can please.
His bed, more safe than soft, yields quiet sleeps,
While by his side his faithful spouse hath place;
His little son into his bosom creeps,
The lively picture of his father's face.
His humble house or poor state ne'er torment him;
Less he could like, if less his God had lent him;
And when he dies, green turfs for a tomb content him.
Gentlemen, these were a part of the thoughts that then possessed me. And I there made a conversion of a piece of an old catch, and added more to it, fitting them to be sung by us anglers. Come, master, you can sing well; you must sing a part of it as it is in this paper.
Man's life is but vain;
For 'tis subject to pain,
And sorrow, and short as a bubble,
'Tis a hodge-podge of bus'ness,
and money, and care;
And care, and money, and trouble.
But we'll take no care,
When the weather proves fair
Nor will we vex now tho' it rain;
We'll banish all sorrow
And sing till tomorrow,
And angle, and angle again.
Pet. I marry, sir, this is music indeed! This has cheered my heart, and made me to remember six verses in praise of music, which I will speak to you instantly.
Music! miraculous rhetoric! that speak'st sense
Without a tongue, excelling eloquence;
With what ease might they errors be excus'd,
Wert thou as truly lov'd as thou 'rt abus'd!
But though dull souls neglect,
And some reprove thee,
I cannot hate thee, 'cause the Angels love thee.
Ven. And the repetition of these last verses of music, have called to my memory what Mr. Edmund Waller, a lover of the angle, says of love and music.
Whilst I listen to thy voice,
Chloris, I feel my heart decay;
That powerful voice
Calls my fleeting soul away:
Oh! suppress that magic sound,
Which destroys without a wound.
Peace! Chloris, peace; or singing die,
That together you and I
To heaven may go:
For all we know
Of what the blessed do above
Is that they sing, and that they love.
Pisc. Well remembered, brother Peter; these verses came seasonably, and we thank you heartily. Come, we will all join together, my host and all, and sing my scholar's catch over again, and then each man drink t'other cup and to bed, and thank God we have a dry house over our heads.
Well now, good night to everybody.
Pet. And so say I.
Ven. And so say I.
Cor. Good night to you all; and I thank you.
Pisc. Good morrow, brother Peter! and the like to you, honest Coridon. Come, my hostess says there is seven shillings to pay: let's each man drink a pot for his morning's draught, and lay down his two shillings; that so my hostess may not have occasion to repent herself of being so diligent, and using us so kindly.
Pet. The motion is liked by everybody, and so hostess, here's your money: we anglers are all beholden to you: it will not be long ere I'll see you again. And now brother Piscator, I wish you and my brother, your scholar, a fair day and good fortune. Come Coridon, this is our way.
THE FIFTH DAY.
OF ROACH AND DACE AND HOW TO FISH FOR THEM; AND OF CADIS.
Venator. Good master, as we go now towards London, be still so courteous as to give me more instructions, for I have several boxes in my memory, in which I will keep them all very safe, there shall not one of them be lost.
Pisc. Well, scholar, that I will: and I will hide nothing from you that I can remember, and can think may help you forward towards a perfction in this art. And because we have so much time, and I have said so little of Roach and Dace, I will give you some directions concerning them.
Some say the roach is so called from rutilus, which, they say, signifies red fins. He is a fish of no great reputation for his dainty taste; and his spawn is accounted much better than any other part of him. And you may take notice, that as the carp is accounted the water-fox, for his cunning, so the roach is accounted the water-sheep for his simplicity or foolishness. It is noted that the roach and dace recover strength, and grow in season in a fortnight after spawning; the barbel and chub in a month; the trout in four months; and the salmon in the like time, if he gets into the sea and after into fresh-water.
Roaches be accounted much better in the river than in a pond, though ponds usually breed the biggest. But there is a kind of bastard small roach that breeds in ponds, with a very forked tail, and of a very small size, which some say is bred by the bream and right roach, and some ponds are stored with these beyond belief; and knowing men that know their difference call them Ruds: they differ from the true roach as much as a herring from a pilchard. And these bastard-breed of roach are now scattered in many rivers, but I think not in the Thames, which I believe affords the largest and fattest in this nation, especially below London-bridge. The roach is a leather-mouthed fish, and has a kind of saw-like teeth in his throat. And lastly, let me tell you, the roach makes the angler excellent sport, especially the great roaches about London, where I think there be the best roach-anglers; and I think the best trout-anglers be in Derbyshire, for the waters there are clear to an extremity.
Next, let me tell you, you shall fish for this Roach in winter with paste or gentles, in April with worms or cadis: in the very hot months with little white snails, or with flies under water, for he seldom takes them at the top, though the dace will. In many of the hot months, roaches may also be caught thus: take a May-fly or ant-fly, sink him with a little lead to the bottom near to the piles or posts of a bridge, or near to the posts of a weir,---I mean any deep place where roaches lie quietly,---and then pull your fly up leisurely, and usually a roach will follow your bait to the vry top of the water and gaze on it there, and run at it and take it lest the fly should fly away from him.
I have seen this done at Windsor and Henly-bridge, and great store of roach taken; and sometimes a dace or chub. And in August you may fish for them with a paste made only of the crumbs of bread, which should be of pure fine manchet; and that paste must be so tempered betwixt your hands till it be both soft and tough too: a very little water, and time and labour, and clean hands, will make it a most excellent paste. But when you fish with it, you must have a small hook, a quick eye, and a nimble hand, or the bait is lost and the fish too---if one may lose that which he never had. With this paste you may, as I said, take both the roach and the Dace or Dare, for they be much of a kind, in matter of feeding, cunning, goodness, and usually in size. And therefore take this general direction for some other baits which may concern you to take notice of. They will bite almost at any fly, but especially at ant-flies; concerning which take this direction, for it is very good.
Take the blackish ant-fly out of the mole-hill or ant-hill, in which place you shall find them in the month of June; or if that be too early in the year, then doubtless you may find them in July, August, and most of September. Gather them alive, with both their wings, and then put them into a glass that will hold a quart or a pottle: but first put into the glass a handful, or more, of the moist earth out of which you gather them, and as much of the roots of the grass of the said hillock; and then put in the flies gently, that they lose not their wings: lay a clod of earth over it, and then so many as are put into the glass without bruising, will live there a month or more, and be always in a readiness for you to fish with: but if you would have them keep longer, then get any great earthen pot, or barrel of three or four gallons, which is better; then wash your barrel with water and honey, and having put into it a quantity of earth and grass-roots, then put in your flies, and cover it, and they will live a quarter of a year. These, in any stream and clear water, are a deadly bait for roach or dace, or for a chub; and your rule is, to fish not less than a handful from the bottom.
I shall next tell you a winter-bait for a roach, a dace, or chub; and it is choicely good. About All-hallowtide, and so till frost comes, when you see men ploughing up heath-ground, or sandy ground, or green swards, then follow the plough, and you shall find a white worm as big as two maggots, and it hath a red head; you may observe in what ground most are, for there the crows will be very watchful and follow the plough very close; it is all soft, and full of whitish guts: a worm that is in Norfolk, and some other counties, called a grub, and is bred of the spawn or eggs of a beetle, which she leaves in holes that she digs in the ground under cow or horse-dung, and there rests all winter, and in March or April comes first to be a red, and then a black beetle: gather a thousand or two of these, and put them with a peck or two of their own earth into some tub or firkin, and cover and keep them so warm that the frost, or cold air or winds, kill them not: these you may keep all winter, and kill fish with them at any time; and if you put some of them into a little earth and honey a day before you use them, you will find them an excellent bait for bream, carp, or indeed for almost any fish.
And after this manner you may also keep gentles all winter, which are a good bait then, and much the better for being lively and tough. Or you may breed and keep gentles thus: take a piece of beast's liver, and with a cross stick hang it in some corner over a pot or barrel, half full of dry clay; and as the gentles grow big, they will fall into the barrel, and scour themselves, and be always ready for use whensoever you incline to fish; and these gentles may be thus created till after Michaelmas. But if you desire to keep gentles to fish with all the year, then get a dead cat or a kite, and let it be fly-blown; and when the gentles begin to be alive and to stir, then bury it and them in soft, moist earth, but as free from frost as you can, and these you may dig up at any time when you intend to use them: these will last till March, and about that time turn to be flies.
But if you be nice to foul your fingers, which good anglers seldom are, then take this bait: get a handful of well-made malt, and put it into a dish of water, and then wash and rub it betwixt your hands till you make it clean, and as free from husks as you can; then put that water from it, and you put a small quantity of fresh water to it, and set it in something that is fit for that purpose over the fire, where it is not to boil apace, but leisurely and very softly, until it become somewhat soft, which you may try by feeling it betwixt your finger and thumb; and when it is soft, then put your water from it: then take a sharp knife, and turning the sprout-end of the corn upward, with the point of your knife take the back part of the husk off from it, and yet leaving a kind of inward husk on the corn, or else it is marred; and then cut off that sprouted end, I mean a little of it, that the white may appear, and so pull off the husk on the cloven side, as I directed you; and then cutting off a very little of the other end, that so your hook may enter; and if your hook be small and good, you will find this to be a very choice bait, either for winter or summer, you sometimes casting a little of it into the place where your float swims.
And to take the roach and dace, a good bait is the young brood of wasps or bees, if you dip their heads in blood especially, good for bream, if they be baked or hardened in their husks in an oven, after the bread is taken out of it; or hardened on a fire-shovel: and so also is the thick blood of sheep, being half-dried on a trencher, that so you may cut into such pieces as may best fit the size of your hook; and a little salt keeps it from growing black, and makes it not the worse, but better: this is taken to be a choice bait if rightly ordered.
There be several oils of a strong smell that I have been told of, and to be excellent to tempt a fish to bite, of which I could say much. But I remember I once carried a small bottle from Sir George Hastings to Sir Henry Wotton, they were both chemical men, as a great present: it was sent, and received, and used, with great confidence; and yet, upon inquiry, I found it did not answer the expectation of Sir Henry; which, with the help of this and other circumstances, makes me have but little belief in such things as many men talk of. Not but that I think fishes both smell and hear, as I have expressed in my former discourse: but there is a mysterious knack, which, though it be much easier than the philosopher's stone, yet is not attainable by common capacities, or else lies locked up in the brain or breast of some chemical man, that, like the Rosicrucians, will not yet reveal it. But let me, nevertheless, tell you that camphor, put with moss into your worm-bag with your worms, makes them, if many anglers be not very much mistaken, a tempting bait, and the angler more fortunate. But I stepped by chance into this discourse of oils, and fishes smelling; and though there might be more said, both of it and of baits for roach and dace, and other float-fish, yet I will forbear it at this time, and tell you in the next place how you are to prepare your tackling: concerning which I will, for sport sake, give you an old rhyme out of an old fish-book, which will prove a part, of which you are to provide.
My rod and my line, my float and my lead,
My hook and my plummet, my whetstone and knife,
My basket, my baits both living and dead,
My net and my meat, for that is the chief:
Then I must have thread, and hairs great and small,
With mine angling-purse, and so you have all.
But you must have all these tacklings, and twice so many more, with which, if you mean to be a fisher, you must store yourself; and to that purpose I will go with you either to Mr. Margrave, who dwells amongst the booksellers in St. Paul's Churchyard, or to Mr. John Stubbs, near to the Swan in Golding-lane; they be both honest men, and will fit an angler with what tackling he lacks.
Ven. Then, good master, let it be at ---------- for he is nearest to my dwelling, and I pray let's meet there the ninth of May next, about two of the clock; and I'll want nothing that a fisher should be furnished with.
Pisc. Well, and I'll not fail you, God willing, at the time and place appointed.
Ven. I thank you, good master, and I will not fail you. And, good master, tell me what baits more you remember, for it will not now be long ere we shall be at Tottenham High-Cross; and when we come thither I will make you some requital of your pains, by repeating as choice a copy of verses as any we have heard since we met together; and that is a proud word, for we have heard very good ones.
Pisc. Well, scholar, and I shall be then right glad to hear them. And I will, as we walk, tell you whatsoever comes in my mind, that I think may be worth your hearing. You may make another choice bait thus: Take a handful or two of the best and biggest wheat you can get; boil it in a little milk, like as frumity is boiled; boil it till it be soft, and then fry it very leisurely with honey and a little beaten saffron dissolved in milk; and you will find this a choice bait, and good I think for any fish, especially for roach, dace, chub, or grayling: I know not but that it may be as good for a river-carp, and especially if the ground be a little baited with it.
And you may also note, that the spawn of most fish is a very tempting bait, being a little hardnened on a warm tile, and cut into fit pieces. Nay, mulberries and those blackberries which grow upon briars, be good baits for chubs or carps: with these many have been taken in ponds, and in some rivers where such trees have grown near the water, and the fruit customarily dropped into it. And there be a hundred other baits, more than can well be named: which, by constant baiting the water, will become a tempting bait for any fish in it.
You are also to know, that there be divers kinds of cadis or case-worms, that are to be found in this nation in several distinct counties, and in several little brooks that relate to bigger rivers: as namely one cadis, called a Piper, whose husk or case is a piece of reed about an inch long, or longer, and about as big as the compass of a two-pence. These worms being kept three or four days in a woollen bag with sand at the bottom of it, and the bag wet once a day, will in three or four days turn to be yellow; and these be a choice bait for the chub or chavender, or indeed for any great fish, for it is a large bait.
There is also a lesser cadis-worm, called a Cockspur, being in fashion like the spur of a cock, sharp at one end, and the case or house in which this dwells is made of small husks, and gravel, and slime, most curiously made of these, even so as to be wondered at; but not to be made by man, no more than a king-fisher's nest can, which is made of little fishes' bones, and have such a geometrical interweaving and connection, as the like is not to be done by the art of man. This kind of cadis is a choice bait for any float-fish; it is much less than the piper-cadis, and to be so ordered; and these may be preserved ten, fifteen, or twenty, days, or it may be longer.
There is also another cadis, called by some a Straw-worm, and by some a Ruff-coat: whose house or case is made of little pieces of bents, and rushes, and straws, and water-weeds, and I know not what; which are so knit together with condensed slime, that they stick about her husk or case not unlike the bristles of a hedgehog. These three cadises are commonly taken in the beginning of summer; and are good, indeed, to take any kind of fish, with float or otherwise. I might tell you of many more, which as these do early, so those have in their time also of turning to be flies later in summer; but I might lose myself and tire you by such a discourse: I shall, therefore, but remember you, that to know these and their several kinds, and to what flies every particular cadis turns, and then how to use them, first as they be cadis, and after as they be flies, is an art, and an art that every one that professes to be an angler has not leisure to scratch over; and, if he had, is not capable of learning.
I'll tell you, Scholar, several countries have several kinds of cadises, that indeed differ as much as dogs do: that is to say, as much as a very cur and a greyhound do. These be usually bred in the very little rills or ditches that run into bigger rivers; and, I think, a more proper bait for those very rivers than any other. I know not, or of what, this cadis receives life, or what coloured fly it turns to; but, doubtless, they are the death of many Trouts: and this is one killing way.
Take one, or more if need be, of these large yellow cadis: pull off his head, and with it pull out his black gut; put the body, as little bruised as is possible, on a very little hook, armed on with a red hair, which will show like the cadis-head, and a very little thin lead, so put upon the shank of the hook that it may sink presently. Throw this bait, thus ordered, which will look very yellow, into any great still hole where a Trout is, and he will presently venture his life for it, 'tis not to be doubted, if you be not espied; and that the bait first touch the water, before the line: and this will do best in the deepest stillest water.
Next let me tell you, I have been much pleased to walk quietly by a brook with a little stick in my hand, with which I might easily take these and consider the curiosity of their composure; and if you shall ever like to do so, then note, that your stick must be a little hazel or willow: cleft, or have a nick at one end of it, by which means you may with ease take any of them in that nick out of the water, before you have any occasion to use them. These, my honest Scholar, are some observations told to you as they now come into my memory, of which you may make some use: but for the practical part, it is that that makes an Angler: it is diligence, and observation, and practice, and an ambition to be the best in the art that must do it. I will tell you, Scholar, I once heard one say, "I envy not him that eats better meat than I do, nor him that is richer, or that wears better clothes than I do: I envy nobody but him, and him only, that catches more fish than I do." And such a man is like to prove an Angler; and this noble emulation I wish to you and all young Anglers.
THE FIFTH DAY.
OF THE MINNOW OR PENK, OF THE LOACH, AND OF THE BULL-HEAD, OR MILLER'S-THUMB.
Piscator. There be also three or four little fish that I had almost forgot, that are all without scales; and may for excellence of meat, be compared to any fish of greatest value, and largest size. They be usually full of eggs or spawn all the months of summer; for they breed often, as 'tis observed mice and many of the smaller four-footed creatures of the earth do; and as those, so these come quickly to their full growth and perfection. And it is needful that they breed both often and numerously; for they be, besides other accidents of ruin, botha prey and baits for other fish. And first I shall tell you of the Minnow or Penk.
The Minnow hath, when he is in perfect season and not sick, which is only present after spawning,---a kind of dappled or waved colour, like to a panther, on his sides, inclining to a greenish and sky-colour, his belly being milk-white, and his back almost black or blackish. He is a sharp biter at a small worm, and, in hot weather makes excellent sport for young Anglers, or boys, or women that love that recreation. And in the spring they make of them excellent Minnow-Tansies; for being washed well in slat, and their heads and tails cut off, and their guts taken out, and not washed after,---they prove excellent for that use; that is, being fried with yolks of eggs, the flowers of cowslips, and of primroses, and a little tansie; thus used they make a dainty dish of meat.
The Loach is, as I told you, a most dainty fish: he breeds and feeds in little and clear swift brooks or rills, and lives there upon the gravel, and in the sharpest streams: he grows not to be above a finger long, and no thicker than is suitable to that length. This Loach is not unlike the shape of the eel: he has a beard or wattels like a barbel. He has two fins at his sides, four at his belly, and one at his tail; he is dappled with many black or brown spots; his mouth is Barbel-like under his nose. This fish is usually full of eggs or spawn, and is by Gesner, and other learned physicians, commended for great nourishment, and to be very grateful both to the palate and stomach of sick persons. He is to be fished for with a very small worm at the bottom; for he very seldom or never rises above the gravel, on which, I told you, he usually gets his living.
The Miller's-Thumb, or Bull-head, is a fish of no pleasing shape. He is by Gesner compared to the sea-toad-fish, for his similitude and shape. It has a head, big and flat, much greater than suitable to his body; a mouth very wide and usually gaping. He is without teeth, but his lips are very rough, much like to a file. He hath two fins near to his gills, which be roundish or crested; two fins also under the belly; two on the back; one below the vent; and the fin of his tail is round. Nature hath painted the body of this fish with whitish, blackish, brownish spots. They be usually full of eggs or spawn all the summer, I mean the females; and those eggs swell their vents almost into the form of a dug. They begin to spawn about April, and, as I told you, spawn several months in the summer. And in the winter the minnow, and loach, and bull-head, dwell in the mud, as the eel doth, or we know not where; no more than we know where the cuckoo and swallow, and other half-year-birds, which first appear to us in April, spend their six cold, winter, melancholy months. This bull-head does usually dwell and hide himself in holes, or amongst stones, in clear water: and in very hot days will lie a long time very still, and sun himself, and will be easy to be seen upon any flat stone, or any gravel; at which time he will suffer an Angler to put a hook baited with a small worm, very near unto his very mouth: and he never refuses to bite, nor indeed to be caught with the worst of anglers. Mattiolus commends him much more for his taste and nourishment, than for his shape or beauty.
There is also a little fish called a Sticklebag: a fish without scales, but hath his body fenced with several prickles. I know not where he dwells in winter, nor what he is good for in summer, but only to make sport for boys and women-anglers, and to feed other fish that be fish of prey; as trouts in particular, who will bite at him as at a penk; and better. if your hook be rightly baited with him; for he may be so baited as, his tail turning like the sail of a windmill, will make him turn more quick than any penk or minnow can. For note, that the nimble turning of that, or the minnow, is the perfection of minnow fishing. To which end, if you put your hook into his mouth, and out at his tail; and then, having first tied him with a white thread a little above his tail, and placed him after such a manner on your hook as he is like to turn, then sew up his mouth to your line, and he is like to turn quick, and tempt any trout; but if he does not turn quick, then turn his tail a little more or less towards the inner part, or towards the side of the hook; or put the minnow or sticklebag a little more crooked or more straight on your hook, until it will turn both true and fast: and then doubt not but to tempt any great trout that lies in a swift stream. And the loach that I told you of, will do the like: no bait is more tempting, provided the loach be not too big.
And now, scholar, with the help of this fine morning, and your patient attention, I have said all that my present memory will afford me, concerning most of the several fish that are usually fished for in fresh waters.
Ven. But, master, you have, by your former civility, made me hope that you will make good your promise, and say something of the several rivers that be of most note in this nation; and also of fish-ponds, and the ordering of them: and do it, I pray, good master, for I love any discourse of rivers, and fish and fishing, the time spent in such discourse passes away very pleasantly.
THE FIFTH DAY.
OF SEVERAL RIVERS, AND SOME OBSERVATIONS OF FISH.
Pisc. Well, scholar, since the ways and weather do both favour us, and that we yet see not Tottenham-Cross, you shall see my willingness to satisfy your desire. And, first, for the rivers of this nation: there be, as you may note, out of Doctor Heylin's Geography and others, in number three hundred and twenty-five; but those of chiefest note he reckons and describes as followeth.
The chief is Thamesis, compounded of two rivers, Thame and Isis; whereof the former, rising somewhat beyond Thame in Buckinghamshire and the latter near Cirencester in Gloucestershire, meet together about Dorchester in Oxfordshire; the issue of which happy conjunction is the Thamisis, or Thames. Hence it flieth betwixt Berks, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex, surrey, Kent and Essex, and so weddeth himself to the Kentish Medway in the very jaws of the ocean. This glorious river feeleth the violence and benefit of the sea more than any river in Europe; ebbing and flowing twice a-day more than sixty miles: about whose banks are so many fair towns and princely palaces, that a German poet thus truly spake:
Tot campos, &c.
We saw so many woods and princely bowers,
Sweet fields, brave palaces, and stately towers;
So many gardens, dress'd with curious care,
That Thames with royal Tiber may compare.
2. The second river of note, is Sabrina or Severn. It hath its beginning in Plinilimmon-Hill in Montgomeryshire, and his end seven miles from Bristol; washing in the mean space, the walls of Shrewsbury, Worcester, and Gloucester, and divers other places and palaces of note.
3. Trent, so called from thirty kind of fishes that are found in it, or for that it receiveth thirty lesser rivers; who, having his fountain in Staffordshire, and gliding through the counties of Nottingham, Lincoln, Leicester, and York, augmenteth the turbulent current of Humber, the most violent stream of all the isle. This Humber is not, to say truth, a distinct river, having a spring-head of his own, but it is rather the mouth, or aestuarium, of divers rivers here confluent and meeting together; namely, your Derwent, and especially of Ouse and Trent: and (as the Danow, having received into its channel the rivers Dravus, Savus, Tibuscus, and divers others) changeth his name into this of Humberabus, as the old geographers call it.
4. Medway, a Kentish river, famous for harbouring the royal navy.
5. Tweed, the north east bound of England, on whose northern banks is situated the strong and impregnable town of Berwick.
6. Tyne, famous for Newcastle, and her inexhaustible coal-pits. These and the rest of principal note, are thus comprehended in one of Mr. Drayton's sonnets.
Our flood's queen, Thames, for ships and swans is crown'd;
And stately Severn for her shore is prais'd;
The crystal Trent for fords and fish renown'd;
And Avon's fame to Albion's cliffs is rais'd.
Carlegion-Chester vaunts her holy Dee;
York many wonders of her Ouse can tell;
The Peak her Dove, whose banks so fertile be,
And Kent will say her Medway doth excel;
Cotswold commends her Isis to the Thame;
Our northern borders boast of Tweed's fair flood;
Our western parts extoll their Willy's fame,
And the old Lea brags of the Danish blood.
These observations are out of learned Dr. Heylin, and my old deceased friend, Michael Drayton; and because you say, you love such discourses as these of rivers and fish and fishing, I love you the better, and love the more to impart them to you: nevertheless, scholar, if I should begin but to name the several sorts of strange fish that are usually taken in many of those rivers that run into the sea, I might beget wonder in you, or unbelief, or both: and yet I will venture to tell you a real truth concerning one lately dissected by Dr. Wharton, a man of great learning and experience, and of equal freedom to communicate it; one that loves me and my art; one to whom I have been beholden for many of the choicest observations that I have imparted to you. This good man, that dares do anything rather than tell an untruth, did, I say, tell me he lately dissected one strange fish, and he thus described it to me.
"The fish was almost a yard broad, and twice that length; his mouth wide enough to take into it the head of a man; his stomach seven or [eight] inches broad. He is of a slow motion, and usually lies or lurks close in the mud, and has a moveable string on his head about a span, or near unto a quarter of a yard long; by the moving of which, which is his natural bait, when he lies close and unseen in the mud, he draws other smaller fish so close to him, that he can suck them into his mouth, and so devours and digests them."
And, scholar, do not wonder at this, for besides the credit of the relator, you are to note, many of these, and fishes, which are of the like, and more unusual shapes, are very often taken on the mouths of our sea-rivers, and on the sea-shore. And this will be no wonder to any that have travelled Egypt; where 'tis known the famous river Nilus does not only breed fishes that yet want names, but, by the overflowing of that river, and the help of the sun's heat on the fat slime which that river leaves on the banks, when it falls back into its natural channel, such strange fish and beasts are also bred, that no man can give a name to, as Grotius in his "Sophom," and others, have observed.
But whither am I strayed in this discourse? I will end it by telling you, that at the mouth of some of these rivers of our's, herrings are so plentiful, as namely, near to Yarmouth in Norfolk, and in the west-country, pilchers, so very plentiful, as you will wonder to read what our learned Camden relates of them in his "Britannia," p. 178, 186.
Well, scholar, I will stop here, and tell you what by reading and conference I have observed concerning fish-ponds.
THE FIFTH DAY.
OF FISH-PONDS, AND HOW TO ORDER THEM.
Piscator. Doctor Lebault, the learned Frechman, in his large discourse of Maison Rustique, gives this direction for making of fish-ponds. I shall refer you to read it at large; but I think I shall contract it, and yet make it as useful.
He adviseth, that when you have drained the ground, and made the earth firm where the head of the pond must be, that you must then, in that place, drive in two or three rows of oak or elm piles, which should be scorched in the fire, or half burnt, before they be driven into the earth; for being thus used it preserves them much longer from rotting. And having done so, lay faggots or bavins of smaller wood betwixt them; and then earth betwixt and above them: and then, having first very well rammed them and the earth, use another pile in like manner as the first were: and note, that the second pile, is to be of or about the height that you intend to make your sluice or flood-gate, or the vent that you intend shall cover the overflowings of your pond, in any flood that shall endanger the breaking of the pond-dam.
Then he advises that you plant willows or owlers about it, or both: and then cast in bavins in some places not far from the side, and in the most sandy places, for fish both to spawn upon, and to defend them and the young fry from the many fish, and also from vermin, that lie at watch to destroy them; especially the spawn of the carp and tench, when 'tis left to the mercy of ducks or vermin.
He, and Dubravius, and all others, advise, that you make choice of such a place for your pond, that it may be refreshed with a little rill, or with rain-water running or falling into it; by which fish are more inclined both to breed, and are also refreshed and fed the better, and do prove to be of a much sweeter and more pleasant taste.
To which end it is observed, that such pools as be large, and have most gravel, and shallows where fish may sport themselves, do afford fish of the purest taste. And note, that in all pools it is best for fish to have some retiring-place; as namely, hollow banks, or shelves, or roots of trees, to keep them from danger; and, when they think fit, from the extreme heat of summer; as also from the extremity of cold in winter. And note, that if many trees be growing about your pond, the leaves thereof falling into the water, make it nauseous to the fish, and the fish to be so to the eater of it.
'Tis noted that the tench and eel love mud, and the carp loves gravelly ground, and in the hot months to feed on grass. You are to cleanse your pond, if you intend either profit or pleasure, once every three or four years, especially some ponds, and then let it lie dry six or twelve months, both to kill the water-weeds, as water-lilies, candocks, reate, and bull-rushes, that breed there: and also that as these die for want of water, so grass may grow in the pond's bottom, which carps will eat greedily in all the hot months if the pond be clean. The letting your pond dry and sowing oats in the bottom is also good, for the fish feed the faster: and, being sometime let dry, you may observe what kind of fish either increases or thrives best in that water; for they differ much both in their breeding and feeding.
Lebault also advises, that if your ponds be not very large and roomy, that you often feed your fish by throwing into them clippings of bread, curds, grains, or the entrails of chickens, or any fowl or beast that you kill to feed yourselves; for these afford fish a great relief. He says that frogs and ducks do much harm, and devour both the spawn and the young fry of all fish, especially of the carp: and I have, besides experience, many testimonies of it. But Lebault allows water-frogs to be good meat, especially in some months, if they be fat: but you are to note, that he is a Frenchman, and we English will hardly believe him, though we know frogs are usually eaten in his country: however, he advises to destroy them and king-fishers out of your ponds. And he advises not to suffer much shooting at wild-fowl; for that, he says, affrightens, and harms, and destroys, the fish.
Note, that carps and tench thrive and breed best when no other fish is put with them into the same pond; for all other fish devour their spawn, or at least the greatest part of it. And note, that clods of grass thrown into any pond, feed any carps in summer; and that garden-earth and parsley thrown into a pond, recovers and refreshes the sick fish. And note, that when you store your pond, you are to put into it two or three melters for one spawner, if you put them into a breeding-pond; but if into a nurse-pond, or feeding-pond, in which they will not breed, then no care is to be taken, whether there be most male or female carps.
It is observed, that the best ponds to breed carps are those that be stony or sandy, and are warm and free from wind; and that are not deep, but have willow-trees, and grass on their sides, over which the water does sometimes flow: and note, that carps do more usually breed in marle-pits, or pits that have clean clay-bottoms, or in new ponds, or ponds that lie dry a winter-season, than in old ponds that be full of mud and weeds.
Well, scholar, I have told you the substance of all that either observation or discourse, or a diligent survey of Dubravius and Lebault hath told me: not that they, in their long discourses have not said more; but the most of the rest are so common observations, as if a man should tell a good arithmetician, that twice two is four. I will therefore put an end to this discourse, and we will here sit down and rest us.
THE FIFTH DAY.
DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING OF A LINE, AND FOR THE COLOURING OF BOTH ROD AND LINE.
Piscator. Well, scholar, I have held you too long about these cadis, and smaller fish, and rivers, and fish-ponds; and my spirits are almost spent, and so I doubt is your patience: but being we are now almost at Tottenham, where I first met you, and where we are to part, I will lose no time, but give you a little direction how to make and order your lines, and to colour the hair of which you make your lines, for that is very needful to be known of an angler; and also how to paint your rod, especially your top; for a right-grown top is a choice commodity, and should be preserved from the water soaking into it, which makes it in wet weather to be heavy, and fish ill-favouredly, and not true; and also it rots quickly for want of painting: and I think a good top is worth preserving, or I had not taken care to keep a top above twenty years.
But first for your line. First, note that you are to take care, that you hair be round and clear, and free from galls, or scabs, or frets; for a well-chosen, even, clear, round hair, of a kind of glass-colour, will prove as strong as three uneven, scabby hairs, that are ill-chosen, and full of galls or unevenness. You shall seldom find a black hair but it is round, but many white are flat and uneven; therefore, if you get a lock of right round, clear, glass-colour hair, make much of it.
And for making your line, observe this rule: first, let your hair be clean washed ere you go about to twist it; and then choose not only the clearest hair for it, but hairs that be of an equal bigness, for such do usually stretch all together, and break all together, which hairs of an unequal bigness never do, but break singly, and so deceive the angler that trusts to them.
When you have twisted your links, lay them in water for a quarter of an hour at least, and then twist them over again before you tie them into a line: for those that do not so, shall usually find their line to have a hair or two shrink, and be shorter than the rest at the first fishing with it; which is so much of the strength of the line lost for want of first watering it and then re-twisting it; and this is most visible in a seven hair line, one of those which hath always a black hair in the middle.
And for dyeing of your hairs, do it thus. Take a pint of strong ale, half a pound of soot, and a little quantity of the juice of walnut-tree leaves, and an equal quantity of alum: put these together into a pot, pan, or pipkin, and boil them half an hour; and having so done, let it cool; and being cold, put your hair into it, and there let it lie: it will turn your hair to be a kind of water or glass-colour or greenish; and the longer you let it lie, the deeper coloured it will be. You might be taught to make many other colours, but it is to little purpose: for doubtless the water-colour or glass-coloured hair, is the most choice and most useful for an anlger; but let it not be too green.
But if you desire to colour hair greener, then do it thus. Take a quart of small ale, half a pound of alum; then put these into a pan or pipkin, and your hair into it with them; then put it upon a fire, and let it boil softly for half an hour; and then take out your hair, and let it dry: and, having so done, then take a pottle of water, and put into it two handfuls of marygolds, and cover it with a tile, or what you think fit, and set it again on the fire, where it is to boil again softly for half an hour, about which time the scum will turn yellow; then put into it half a pound of copperas, beaten small, and with it the hair that you intend to colour; then let the hair be boiled softly till half the liquor be wasted; and then let it cool three or four hours, with your hair in it: and you are to observe, that the more copperas you put into it, the greener it will be; but doubtless the pale green is best. But if you desire yellow hair, which is only good when the weeds rot, then put in the more marygolds; and abate most of the copperas, or leave it quite out, and take a little verdigrise instead of it. This for colouring your hair.
And as for painting your rod, which must be in oil, you must first make a size with glue and water boiled together until the glue be dissolved, and the size of a lye-colour: then strike your size upon the wood with a bristle, or a brush, or pencil, whilst it is hot. That being quite dry, take white-lead, and a little red-lead, and a little coal-black, so much as all together will make an ash-colour; grind these all together with linseed-oil; let it be thick, and lay it thin upon the wood with a brush or pencil: this do for the ground of any colour to lie upon wood.
For a Green: Take pink and verdigrise, and grind them together in linseed-oil, as thin as you can well grind it; then lay it smoothly on with your brush, and drive it thin: once doing, for the most part, will serve, if you lay it well; and if twice, be sure you first colour be thoroughly dry before you lay on a second.
Well, scholar, having now taught you to paint your rod, and we having still a mile to Tottenham High-Cross, I will, as we walk towards it, in the cool shade of this sweet honeysuckle hedge, mention to you some of the thoughts and joys that have possessed my soul since we two met together. And these thoughts shall be told you, that you also may join with me in thankfulness, to "the Giver of every good and perfect gift," for our happiness. And, that our present happiness may appear to be the greater, and we the more thankful for it, I will beg you to consider with me, how many do, even at this very time, lie under the torment of the stone, the gout, and the tooth-ache; and this we are free from. And every misery that I miss is a new mercy: and therefore let us be thankful. There have been, since we met, others that have met disasters of broken limbs; some have been blasted, others thunder-strucken; and we have been freed from these, and all those many other miseries that threaten human nature: let us therefore rejoice and be thankful. Nay, which is a far greater misery, we are free from the unsupportable burthen of an accusing tormenting conscience; a misery that none can bear: and therefore let us praise Him for his preventing grace, and say, Every misery that I miss is a new mercy. Nay, let me tell you, there be many that have forty times our estates, that would give the greatest part of it to be healthful and cheerful like us; who, with the expense of a little money, have eat and drank, and laughed, and angled, and sung, and slept securely; and rose next day, and cast away care, and sung, and laughed, and angled again; which are blessings rich men cannot purchase with all their money. Let me tell you, scholar, I have a rich neighbour, that is always so busy that he has no leisure to laugh: the whole business of his life is to get money; and more money, that he may get more and more money; he is still drudging on, and says, that Solomon says, "The diligent hand maketh rich;" and it is true indeed: but he considers not that 'tis not in the power of riches to make a man happy; for it was wisely said, by a man of great observation, "That there be as many miseries beyond riches, as on this side them." And yet God deliver us from pinching poverty; and grant, that having a competency, we may be content and thankful. Let not us repine, or so much as think the gifts of God unequally dealt, if we see another abound with riches; when, as God knows, the cares that are the keys that keep those riches, hang often so heavily at the rich man's girdle, that they clog him with weary days, and restless nights, even when others sleep quietly. We see but the outside of the rich man's happiness: few consider him to be like the silk-worm, that, when she seems to play, is, at the very time, spinning her own bowels, and consuming herself. And this many rich men do; loading themselves with corroding cares, to keep what they have, probably unconscionably got. Let us, therefore, be thankful for health and a competence, and, above all, for a quiet conscience.
Let me tell you, scholar, that Diogenes walked on a day, with his friend, to see a country-fair; where he saw ribbons, and looking-glasses, and nut-crackers, and fiddles, and hobby-horses, and many other gimcracks: and having observed them, and all the other finnimbruns that make a complete country-fair; he said to his friend, "Lord! How many things are there in this world, of which Diogenes hath no need!" And truly it is so, or might be so, with very many who vex and toil themselves to get what they have no need of. Can any man charge God that he hath not given him enough to make his life happy? No, doubtless; for nature is content with a little. And yet you shall hardly meet with a man that complains not of some want; though he, indeed, wants nothing but his will, it may be, nothing but his will of his poor neighbour, for not worshipping, or not flattering him: and thus, when we might be happy and quiet, we create trouble to ourselves. I have heard of a man that was angry with himself because he was no taller; and of a woman that broke her looking-glass because it would not show her face to be as young and handsome as her next neighbour's was. And I knew another, to whom God had given health, and plenty; but a wife, that nature had made peevish, and her husband's riches had made purse-proud, and must, because she was rich, and for no other virtue, sit in the highest pew in the church; which being denied her, she engaged her husband into a contention for it; and, at last, into a law-suit with a dogged neighbour, who was as rich as he, and had a wife as peevish and purse-proud as the other: and this law-suit begot higher oppositions, and actionable words, and more vexations and law-suits; for you must remember, that both were rich, and must therefore have their wills. Well, this wilful, purse-proud law-suit, lasted during the life of the first husband; after which his wife vexed and chid, and chid and vexed, till she also chid and vexed herself into her grave: and so the wealth of these poor rich people was curst into a punishment; because they wanted meek and thankful hearts; for those only can make us happy. I knew a man that had health and riches, and several houses, all beautiful and ready furnished, and would often trouble himself and family to be removing from one house to another; and being asked by a friend, Why he removed so often from one house to another, replied, " It was to find content in some one of them." But his friend, knowing his temper, told him, "If he would find content in any of his houses, he must leave himself behind him; for content will never dwell but in a meek and quiet soul." And this may appear, if we read and consider what our Saviour says in St. Matthew's Gospel: for he there says,---"Blessed be the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed be the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed be the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And, Blessed be the meek, for they shall possess the earth." Not that the meek shall not also obtain mercy, and see God, and be comforted, and at last come to the kingdom of heaven; but in the mean time he, and he only, possesses the earth as he goes toward that kingdom of heaven, by being humble and cheerful, and content with what his God has alotted him. He has no turbulent, repining, vexatious thoughts, that he deserves better; nor is vexed when he sees others possessed of more honour, or more riches than his wise God has alotted for his share; but he possesses what he has with a meek and contented quietness; such a quietness as makes his very dreams pleasing both God and himself.
My honest scholar, all this is told to incline you to thankfulness: and to incline you the more, let me tell you, that though the prophet David was guilty of murder and adultery, and many other of the most deadly sins: yet he was said to be a man after God's own heart, because he abounded more with thankfulness than any other that is mentioned in Holy Scripture, as may appear in his book of Psalms; where there is such a commixture of his confessing of his sins and unworthiness, and such thankfulness for God's pardon and mercies, as did make him to be accounted, even by God himself, to be a man after his own heart: and let us, in that, labour to be as like him as we can; let not the blessings we receive daily from God, make us not to value, or not praise Him because they be common: let not us forget to praise Him for the innocent mirth and pleasure we have met with since we met together. What would a blind man give to see the pleasant rivers, and meadows, and flowers, and fountains, that we have met with since we met together? I have been told, that if a man that was born blind, could obtain to have his sight for but only one hour during his whole life, and should, at the first opening of his eyes, fix his sight upon the sun when it was in his full glory, either at the rising or setting of it, he would be so transported and amazed, and so admire the glory of it, that he would not willingly turn his eyes from that first ravishing object, to behold all the other various beauties this world could present to him. And this, and many other like blessings, we enjoy daily. And for the most of them, because they be so common, most men forget to pay their praises; but let us not; because it is a sacrifice so pleasing to Him that made that sun, and us, and still protects us, and gives us flowers, and showers, and stomachs, and meat, and content, and leisure to go a-fishing.
Well, scholar, I have almost tired myself, and I fear, more than almost tired you. But now I see Tottenham High-Cross; and our short walk thither shall put a period to my too-long discourse; in which my meaning was, and is, to plant that in your mind, with which I labour to possess my own soul; that is, a meek and thankful heart. And to that end I have showed you, that riches without them do not make any man happy. But let me tell you, that riches with them remove many fears and cares; and therefore my advice is, that you endeavour to be honestly rich, or contentedly poor: but be sure that your riches be justly got, or you spoil all. For it is well said, by Caussin, "he that loses his conscience has nothing left that is worth keeping." Therefore be sure you look to that. And, in the next place, look to your health: and if you have it, praise God, and value it next to a good conscience; for health is the second blessing that we mortals are capable of: a blessing that money cannot buy; and therefore value it, and be thankful for it. As for money, which may be said to be the third blessing, neglect it not: but note, that there is no necessity of being rich: for, I told you, there be as many miseries beyond riches as on this side them: and, if you have a competence, enjoy it with a meek, cheerful, thankful, heart. I will tell you, scholar, I have heard a grave Divine say, that God has two dwellings; one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart: which Almighty God grant to me, and to my honest scholar! And so you are welcome to Tottenham High-Cross.
Ven. Well, master, I thank you for all your good directions; but for none more than this last of thankfulness, which I hope I shall never forget. And pray now let's rest ourselves in this sweet shady arbour, which nature herself has woven with her own fine fingers; 'tis such a contexture of woodbine, sweetbriar, jessamine, and myrtle, and so interwoven, as will secure us both from the sun's violent heat, and from the approaching shower. And, being sat down, I will requite a part of your courtesies with a bottle of sack, milk, oranges, and sugar, which, all put together, make a drink like nectar; indeed, too good for any body but us anglers. And so, master, here is a full glass to you of that liquor; and when you have pledged me, I will repeat the verses which I promised you: it is a copy printed amongst some of Sir Henry Wotton's, and doubtless made either by him, or by a lover of angling. Come, master, now drink a glass to me, and then I will pledge you, and fall to my repetition; it is a description of such country recreations as I have enjoyed since I had the happiness to fall into your company.
Quivering fears, heart-tearing cares,
Anxious sighs, untimely tears,
Fly, fly to courts,
Fly to fond worldling's sports,
Where strain'd sardonic smiles are glosing still,
And grief is forc'd to laugh against her will:
Where mirth's but mummery,
And sorrows only real be.
Fly, from our country pastimes, fly,
Sad troops of human misery.
Come, serene looks,
Clear as the crystal brooks,
Or the pure azur'd heaven, that smiles to see
The rich attendance of our poverty:
Peace and a secure mind,
Which all men seek, we only find.
Abused mortals, did you know
Where joy, heart's-ease, and comforts grow,
You'd scorn proud towers,
And seek them in these bowers;
Where winds, sometimes, our woods perhaps may shake,
But blust'ring care could never tempest make;
Nor murmurs ere come nigh us,
Saving of fountains that glide by us.
Here's no fantastic masque nor dance,
But of our kids that frisk and prance;
Nor wars are seen,
Unless upon the green
Two harmless lambs are butting one the other,
Which done, both bleating run each to his mother:
And wounds are never found,
Save what the ploughshare gives the ground.
Here are no entrapping baits
To hasten too, too hasty fates,
Unless it be
The fond credulity
Of silly fish, which, worldling like, still look
Upon the bait, but never on the hook:
Nor envy, 'less among
The birds, for prize of their sweet song.
Go, let the diving negro seek
For gems hid in some forlorn creek:
We all pearls scorn,
Save what the dewy morn
Congeals upon each little spire of grass,
Which careless shepherds beat down as they pass:
And gold ne'er here appears,
Save what the yellow Ceres bears.
Blest silent groves! Oh may you be
For ever mirth's best nursery!
May pure contents
For ever pitch their tents
Upon these downs, these, meads, these rocks, these mountains,
And peace still slumber by these purling fountains.
Which we may every year
Meet when we come a-fishing here.
Pisc. Trust me, scholar, I thank you heartily for these verses; they be choicely good, and doubtless made by a lover of angling. Come, now, drink a glass to me, and I will requite you with another very good copy: it is a Farewell to the Vanities of the World, and some say, written by Sir Harry Wotton, who I told you was an excellent angler. But let them be writ by whom they will, he that writ them had a brave soul, and must needs be possessed with happy thoughts at the time of their composure.
Farewell ye gilded follies, pleasing troubles!
Farewell ye honour'd rags, ye glorious bubbles!
Fame's but a hollow echo;--Gold, pure clay;--
Honour, the darling but of one short day;--
Beauty, th'eye's idol, but a damask'd skin;
State, but a golden prison, to live in
And torture free-born minds:--Embroider'd trains
Merely but pageants for proud swelling veins:--
And blood ally'd to greatness is alone
Inherited, not purchas'd, nor our own.
Fame, Honour, Beauty, State, Train, Blood, and Birth,
Are but the fading blossoms of the earth.
I would be great,--but that the sun doth still
Level his rays against the rising hill:
I would be high,--but see the proudest oak
Most subject to the rending thunder-stroke:
I would be rich,--but see men too unkind,
Dig in the bowels of the richest mind:
I would be wise,--but that I often see
The fox suspected, whilst the ass goes free:
I would be fair,--but see the fair and proud
Like the bright sun oft setting in a cloud:
I would be poor,--but know the humble grass
Still trampled on by each unworthy ass:
Rich hated:--Wise suspected:--Scorn'd if poor:--
Great fear'd:--Fair tempted:--High still envy'd more:
I have wish'd all; but now I wish for neither;
Great, High, Rich, Wise, nor Fair; Poor I'll be rather.
Would the World now adopt me for her heir,
Would Beauty's queen entitle me to fair;--
Fame speak me fortune's minion;--could I vie
Angels with India;--with a speaking eye
Command bare heads, bow'd knees, strike justice dumb,
As well as blind and lame; or give a tongue
To stones by epitaphs; be called great master
In the loose rhymes of every poetaster:
Could I be more than any man that lives,
Great, fair, rich, wise, in all superlatives:
Yet I more freely would these gifts resign,
Than ever fortune would have made them mine;
And hold one minute of this holy leisure
Beyond the riches of this empty pleasure.
Welcome, pure thoughts! Welcome, ye silent groves!
These guests, these courts, my soul most dearly loves.
Now the wing'd people of the sky shall sing
My cheerful anthems to the gladsome spring:
A pray'r-book, now, shall be my looking-glass,
In which I will adore sweet virtue's face.
Here dwell no hateful looks, no palace-cares,
No broken vows dwell here, nor pale-fac'd fears:
Then here I'll sit, and sigh my hot love's folly,
And learn t'affect an holy melancholy:
And if Contentment be a stranger, then
I'll ne'er look for it, but in heaven again.
Ven. Well, master, these verses be worthy to keep a room in every man's memory. I thank you for them; and I thank you for your many instructions, which, God willing, I will not forget. And as St. Austin in his Confessions, book iv. chap. 3, commemorates the kindness of his friend Verecundus, for lending him and his companion a country-house, because there they rested and enjoyed themselves free from the troubles of the world; so, having had the like advantage, both by your conversation and the art you have taught me, I ought ever to do the like: for indeed, your company and discourse have been so useful and pleasant, that I may truly say I have only lived since I enjoyed them, and turned angler, and not before. Nevertheless, here I must part with you, here in this now sad place, where I was so happy as first to meet you: but I shall long for the ninth of May, for then I hope again to enjoy your beloved company at the appointed time and place. And now I wish for some somniferous potion, that might force me to sleep away the intermitted time, which will pass away with me as tediously as it does with men in sorrow; nevertheless I will make it as short as I can, by my hopes and wishes. And my good master, I will not forget the doctrine which you told me Socrates taught his scholars, that they should not think to be honoured so much for being philosophers, as to honour philosophy by their virtuous lives. You advised me to the like concerning angling, and I will endeavour to do so, and to live like those many worthy men of which you made mention in the former part of your discourse. This is my firm resolution. And as a pious man advised his friend, that, to beget mortification, he should frequent churches, and view monuments and charnel-houses, and then and there consider how many dead bones Time has piled up at the gates of Death: So when I would beget content, and increase confidence in the power, and wisdom, and providence of Almighty God, I will walk the meadows by some gliding stream, and there contemplate the lilies that take no care, and those very many other various little living creatures, that are not only created, but fed, man knows not how, by the goodness of the God of Nature, and therefore trust in him. This is my purpose; and so "Let every thing that hath breath plaise the Lord:" And let the blessing of St. Peter's Master be with mine.
Pisc. And upon all that are lovers of virtue; and dare trust in his providence, and be quiet, and go a-Angling.
STUDY TO BE QUIET.