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The Complete Angler by Izaak Walton

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To the Right worshipful

John Offley

of Madeley Manor, in the County of Stafford
Esquire, My most honoured Friend

Sir,-- I have made so ill use of your former favours, as by them to be
encouraged to entreat, that they may be enlarged to the patronage and
protection of this Book: and I have put on a modest confidence, that I
shall not be denied, because it is a discourse of Fish and Fishing, which
you know so well, and both love and practice so much.

You are assured, though there be ignorant men of another belief, that
Angling is an Art: and you know that Art better than others; and that
this is truth is demonstrated by the fruits of that pleasant labour which
you enjoy, when you purpose to give rest to your mind, and divest
yourself of your more serious business, and, which is often, dedicate a
day or two to this recreation.

At which time, if common Anglers should attend you, and be
eyewitnesses of the success, not of your fortune, but your skill, it would
doubtless beget in them an emulation to be like you, and that emulation
might beget an industrious diligence to be so; but I know it is not attain
bye by common capacities: and there be now many men of great
wisdom, learning, and experience, which love and practice this Art, that
know I speak the truth.

Sir, this pleasant curiosity of Fish and Fishing, of which you are so
great a master, has been thought worthy the pens and practices of divers
in other nations, that have been reputed men of great learning and
wisdom. And amongst those of this nation, I remember Sir Henry
Wotton, a dear lover of this Art, has told me, that his intentions were to
write a Discourse of the Art, and in praise of Angling; and doubtless he
had done so, if death had not prevented him; the remembrance of which
had often made me sorry, for if he had lived to do it, then the unlearned
Angler had seen some better treatise of this Art, a treatise that might
have proved worthy his perusal, which, though some have undertaken, I
could never yet see in English.

But mine may be thought as weak, and as unworthy of common view;
and I do here freely confess, that I should rather excuse myself, than
censure others, my own discourse being liable to so many exceptions;
against which you, Sir, might make this one, that it can contribute
nothing to YOUR knowledge. And lest a longer epistle may diminish
your pleasure, I shall make this no longer than to add this following
truth, that I am really, Sir, your most affectionate Friend, and most
humble Servant,

Iz. Wa.

The epistle to the reader

To all Readers of this discourse, but especially to the honest Angler

I think fit to tell thee these following truths; that I did neither
undertake, nor write, nor publish, and much less own, this Discourse to
please myself: and, having been too easily drawn to do all to please
others, as I propose not the gaining of credit by this undertaking, so I
would not willingly lose any part of that to which I had a just title
before I began it; and do therefore desire and hope, if I deserve not
commendations, yet I may obtain pardon.

And though this Discourse may be liable to some exceptions, yet I
cannot doubt but that most Readers may receive so much pleasure or
profit by it, as may make it worthy the time of their perusal, if they be
not too grave or too busy men. And this is all the confidence that I can
put on, concerning the merit of what is here offered to their
consideration and censure; and if the last prove too severe, as I have a
liberty, so I am resolved to use it, and neglect all sour censures.

And I wish the Reader also to take notice, that in writing of it I have
made myself a recreation of a recreation; and that it might prove so to
him, and not read dull and tediously, I have in several places mixed, not
any scurrility, but some innocent, harmless mirth, of which, if thou be a
severe, sour-complexioned man, then I here disallow thee to be a
competent judge; for divines say, there are offences given, and offences
not given but taken.

And I am the willinger to justify the pleasant part of it, because though
it is known I can be serious at seasonable times, yet the whole
Discourse is, or rather was, a picture of my own disposition, especially
in such days and times as I have laid aside business, and gone a-fishing
with honest Nat. and R. Roe; but they are gone, and with them most of
my pleasant hours, even as a shadow that passeth away and returns not.

And next let me add this, that he that likes not the book, should like the
excellent picture of the Trout, and some of the other fish, which I may
take a liberty to commend, because they concern not myself.

Next, let me tell the Reader, that in that which is the more useful part of
this Discourse, that is to say, the observations of the nature and
breeding, and seasons, and catching of fish, I am not so simple as not to
know, that a captious reader may find exceptions against something
said of some of these; and therefore I must entreat him to con. eider,
that experience teaches us to know that several countries alter the time,
and I think, almost the manner, of fishes' breeding, but doubtless of
their being in season; as may appear by three rivers in Monmouthshire,
namely, Severn, Wye, and Usk, where Camden observes, that in the
river Wye, Salmon are in season from September to April; and we are
certain, that in Thames and Trent, and in most other rivers, they be in
season the six hotter months.

Now for the Art of catching fish, that is to say, How to make a man that
was none to be an Angler by a book, he that undertakes it shall
undertake a harder task than Mr. Hales, a most valiant and excellent
fencer, who in a printed book called A Private School of Defence
undertook to teach that art or science, and was laughed at for his labour.
Not but that many useful things might be learned by that book, but he
was laughed at because that art was not to be taught by words, but
practice: and so must Angling. And note also, that in this Discourse I do
not undertake to say all that is known, or may be said of it, but I
undertake to acquaint the Reader with many things that are not usually
known to every Angler; and I shall leave gleanings and observations
enough to be made out of the experience of all that love and practice
this recreation, to which I shall encourage them. For Angling may be
said to be so like the Mathematicks, that it can never be fully learnt; at
least not so fully, but that there will still be more new experiments left
for the trial of other men that succeed us.

But I think all that love this game may here learn something that may
be worth their money, if they be not poor and needy men: and in case
they be, I then wish them to forbear to buy it; for I write not to get
money, but for pleasure, and this Discourse boasts of no more, for I
hate to promise much, and deceive the Reader.

And however it proves to him, yet I am sure I have found a high content
in the search and conference of what is here offered to the Reader's
view and censure. I wish him as much in the perusal of it, and so I
might here take my leave; but will stay a little and tell him, that
whereas it is said by many, that in fly-fishing for a Trout, the Angler
must observe his twelve several flies for the twelve months of the year,
I say, he that follows that rule, shall be as sure to catch fish, and be as
wise, as he that makes hay by the fair days in an Almanack, and no
surer; for those very flies that used to appear about, and on, the water in
one month of the year, may the following year come almost a month
sooner or later, as the same year proves colder or hotter: and yet, in the
following Discourse, I have set down the twelve flies that are in
reputation with many anglers; and they may serve to give him some
observations concerning them. And he may note, that there are in
Wales, and other countries, peculiar flies, proper to the particular place
or country; and doubtless, unless a man makes a fly to counterfeit that
very fly in that place, he is like to lose his labour, or much of it; but for
the generality, three or four flies neat and rightly made, and not too big,
serve for a Trout in most rivers, all the summer: and for winter fly-
fishing it is as useful as an Almanack out of date. And of these, because
as no man is born an artist, so no man is born an Angler, I thought fit to
give thee this notice.

When I have told the reader, that in this fifth impression there are many
enlargements, gathered both by my own observation, and the
communication with friends, I shall stay him no longer than to wish
him a rainy evening to read this following Discourse; and that if he be
an honest Angler, the east wind may never blow when he goes a-

I. W.

The first day

A Conference betwixt an Angler, a Falconer, and a Hunter, each
commending his Recreation

Chapter I

Piscator, Venator, Auceps

Piscator. You are well overtaken, Gentlemen! A good morning to you
both! I have stretched my legs up Tottenham Hill to overtake you,
hoping your business may occasion you towards Ware whither I am
going this fine fresh May morning.

Venator. Sir, I, for my part, shall almost answer your hopes; for my
purpose is to drink my morning's draught at the Thatched House in
Hoddesden; and I think not to rest till I come thither, where I have
appointed a friend or two to meet me: but for this gentleman that you
see with me, I know not how far he intends his journey; he came so
lately into my company, that I have scarce had time to ask him the

Auceps. Sir, I shall by your favour bear you company as far as
Theobalds, and there leave you; for then I turn up to a friend's house,
who mews a Hawk for me, which I now long to see.

Venator. Sir, we are all so happy as to have a fine, fresh, cool morning;
and I hope we shall each be the happier in the others' company. And,
Gentlemen, that I may not lose yours, I shall either abate or amend my
pace to enjoy it, knowing that, as the Italians say, " Good company in a
journey makes the way to seem the shorter ".

Auceps. It may do so, Sir, with the help of good discourse, which,
methinks, we may promise from you, that both look and speak so
cheerfully: and for my part, I promise you, as an invitation to it, that I
will be as free and open hearted as discretion will allow me to be with

Venator. And, Sir, I promise the like.

Piscator. I am right glad to hear your answers; and, in confidence you
speak the truth, I shall put on a boldness to ask you, Sir, whether
business or pleasure caused you to be so early up, and walk so fast ? for
this other gentleman hath declared he is going to see a hawk, that a
friend mews for him

Venator. Sir, mine is a mixture of both, a little business and more
pleasure; for I intend this day to do all my business, and then bestow
another day or two in hunting the Otter, which a friend, that I go to
meet, tells me is much pleasanter than any other chase whatsoever:
howsoever, I mean to try it; for to-morrow morning we shall meet a
pack of Otter-dogs of noble Mr. Sadler's, upon Amwell Hill, who will
be there so early, that they intend to prevent the sunrising.

Piscator. Sir, my fortune has answered my desires, and my purpose is to
bestow a day or two in helping to destroy some of those villanous
vermin: for I hate them perfectly, because they love fish so well, or
rather, because they destroy so much; indeed so much, that, in my
judgment all men that keep Otter-dogs ought to have pen" signs from
the King, to encourage them to destroy the very breed of those base
Otters, they do so much mischief.

Venator. But what say you to the Foxes of the Nation, would not you as
willingly have them destroyed ? for doubtless they do as much mischief
as Otters do.

Piscator. Oh, Sir, if they do, it is not so much to me and my fraternity,
as those base vermin the Otters do.

Auceps. Why, Sir, I pray, of what fraternity are you, that you are so
angry with the poor Otters?

Piscator. I am, Sir, a Brother of the Angle, and therefore an enemy to
the Otter: for you are to note, that we Anglers all love one another, and
therefore do I hate the Otter both for my own, and their sakes who are
of my brotherhood.

Venator. And I am a lover of Hounds; I have followed many a pack of
dogs many a mile, and heard many merry Huntsmen make sport and
scoff at Anglers.

Auceps. And I profess myself a Falconer, and have heard many grave,
serious men pity them, it is such a heavy, contemptible, dull recreation.

Piscator. You know, Gentlemen, it is an easy thing to scoff at any art or
recreation; a little wit mixed with ill nature, confidence, and malice,
will do it; but though they often venture boldly, yet they are often
caught, even in their own trap, according to that of Lucian, the father of
the family of Scoffers:

Lucian, well skilled in scoffing, this hath writ,
Friend, that's your folly, which you think your wit:
This you vent oft, void both of wit and fear,
Meaning another, when yourself you jeer.

If to this you add what Solomon says of Scoffers, that they are an
abomination to mankind, let him that thinks fit scoff on, and be a
Scoffer still; but I account them enemies to me and all that love Virtue
and Angling.

And for you that have heard many grave, serious men pity Anglers; let
me tell you, Sir, there be many men that are by others taken to be
serious and grave men, whom we contemn and pity Men that are taken
to be grave, because nature hath made them of a sour complexion;
money-getting men, men that spend all their time, first in getting, and
next, in anxious care to keep it; men that are condemned to be rich, and
then always busy or discontented: for these poor rich-men, we Anglers
pity them perfectly, and stand in no need to borrow their thoughts to
think ourselves so happy. No, no, Sir, we enjoy a contentedness above
the reach of such dispositions, and as the learned and ingenuous
Montaigne says, like himself, freely, " When my Cat and I entertain
each other with mutual apish tricks, as playing with a garter, who
knows but that I make my Cat more sport than she makes me? Shall I
conclude her to be simple, that has her time to begin or refuse, to play
as freely as I myself have? Nay, who knows but that it is a defect of my
not understanding her language, for doubtless Cats talk and reason with
one another, that we agree no better: and who knows but that she pities
me for being no wiser than to play with her, and laughs and censures
my folly, for making sport for her, when we two play together?"

Thus freely speaks Montaigne concerning Cats; and I hope I may take
as great a liberty to blame any man, and laugh at him too, let him be
never so grave, that hath not heard what Anglers can say in the
justification of their Art and Recreation; which I may again tell you, is
so full of pleasure, that we need not borrow their thoughts, to think
ourselves happy.

Venator. Sir, you have almost amazed me; for though I am no Scoffer,
yet I have, I pray let me speak it without offence, always looked upon
Anglers, as more patient, and more simple men, than I fear I shall find
you to be.

Piscator. Sir, I hope you will not judge my earnestness to be
impatience: and for my simplicity, if by that you mean a harmlessness,
or that simplicity which was usually found in the primitive Christians,
who were, as most Anglers are, quiet men, and followers of peace; men
that were so simply wise, as not to sell their consciences to buy riches,
and with them vexation and a fear to die; if you mean such simple men
as lived in those times when there were fewer lawyers; when men
might have had a lordship safe]y conveyed to them in a piece of
parchment no bigger than your hand, though several sheets will not do
it safely in this wiser age; I say, Sir, if you take us Anglers to be such
simple men as I have spoke of, then myself and those of my profession
will be glad to be so understood: But if by simplicity you meant to
express a general defect in those that profess and practice the excellent
Art of Angling, I hope in time to disabuse you, and make the contrary
appear so evidently, that if you will but have patience to hear me, I
shall remove all the anticipations that discourse, or time, or prejudice,
have possessed you with against that laudable and ancient Art; for I
know it is worthy the knowledge and practice of a wise man.

But, Gentlemen, though I be able to do this, I am not so unmannerly as
to engross all the discourse to myself; and, therefore, you two having
declared yourselves, the one to be a lover of Hawks, the other of
Hounds, I shall be most glad to hear what you can say in the
commendation of that recreation which each of you love and practice;
and having heard what you can say, I shall be glad to exercise your
attention with what I can say concerning my own recreation and Art of
Angling, and by this means we shall make the way to seem the shorter:
and if you like my motion, I would have Mr. Falconer to begin.

Auceps. Your motion is consented to with all my heart; and to testify it,
I will begin as you have desired me.

And first, for the Element that I use to trade in, which is the Air, an
element of more worth than weight, an element that doubtless exceeds
both the Earth and Water; for though I sometimes deal in both, yet the
air is most properly mine, I and my Hawks use that most, and it yields
us most recreation. It stops not the high soaring of my noble, generous
Falcon; in it she ascends to such a height as the dull eyes of beasts and
fish are not able to reach to; their bodies are too gross for such high
elevations; in the Air my troops of Hawks soar up on high, and when
they are lost in the sight of men, then they attend upon and converse
with the Gods; therefore I think my Eagle is so justly styled Jove's
servant in ordinary: and that very Falcon, that I am now going to see,
deserves no meaner a title, for she usually in her flight endangers
herself, like the son of Daedalus, to have her wings scorched by the
sun's heat, she flies so near it, but her mettle makes her careless of
danger; for she then heeds nothing, but makes her nimble pinions cut
the fluid air, and so makes her highway over the steepest mountains and
deepest rivers, and in her glorious career looks with contempt upon
those high steeples and magnificent palaces which we adore and
wonder at; from which height, I can make her to descend by a word
from my mouth, which she both knows and obeys, to accept of meat
from my hand. to own me for her Master, to go home with me, and be
willing the next day to afford me the like recreation.

And more; this element of air which I profess to trade in, the worth of it
is such, and it is of such necessity, that no creature whatsoever-not only
those numerous creatures that feed on the face of the earth, but those
various creatures that have their dwelling within the waters, every
creature that hath life in its nostrils, stands in need of my element. The
waters cannot preserve the Fish without air, witness the not breaking of
ice in an extreme frost; the reason is, for that if the inspiring and
expiring organ of any animal be stopped, it suddenly yields to nature,
and dies. Thus necessary is air, to the existence both of Fish and Beasts,
nay, even to Man himself; that air, or breath of life, with which God at
first inspired mankind, he, if he wants it, dies presently, becomes a sad
object to all that loved and beheld him, and in an instant turns to

Nay more; the very birds of the air, those that be not Hawks, are both so
many and so useful and pleasant to mankind, that I must not let them
pass without some observations. They both feed and refresh him; feed
him with their choice bodies, and refresh him with their heavenly
voices:-I will not undertake to mention the several kinds of Fowl by
which this is done: and his curious palate pleased by day, and which
with their very excrements afford him a soft lodging at night:-These I
will pass by, but not those little nimble musicians of the air, that warble
forth their curious ditties, with which nature hath furnished them to the
shame of art.

As first the Lark, when she means to rejoice, to cheer herself and those
that hear her; she then quits the earth, and sings as she ascends higher
into the air and having ended her heavenly employment, grows then
mute, and sad, to think she must descend to the dull earth, which she
would not touch, but for necessity.

How do the Blackbird and Thrassel with their melodious voices bid
welcome to the cheerful Spring, and in their fixed months warble forth
such ditties as no art or instrument can reach to!

Nay, the smaller birds also do the like in their particular seasons, as
namely the Laverock, the Tit-lark, the little Linnet, and the honest
Robin that loves mankind both alive and dead.

But the Nightingale, another of my airy creatures, breathes such sweet
loud musick out of her little instrumental throat, that it might make
mankind to think miracles are not ceased. He that at midnight, when the
very labourer sleeps securely, should hear, as I have very often, the
clear airs, the sweet descants, the natural rising and falling, the
doubling and redoubling of her voice, might well be lifted above earth,
and say, " Lord, what musick hast thou provided for the Saints in
Heaven, when thou affordest bad men such musick on Earth! "

And this makes me the less to wonder at the many Aviaries in Italy, or
at the great charge of Varro's Aviary, the ruins of which are yet to be
seen in Rome, and is still so famous there, that it is reckoned for one of
those notables which men of foreign nations either record, or lay up in
their memories when they return from travel.

This for the birds of pleasure, of which very much more might be said.
My next shall be of birds of political use. I think it is not to be doubted
that Swallows have been taught to carry letters between two armies; but
'tis certain that when the Turks besieged Malta or Rhodes, I now
remember not which it was, Pigeons are then related to carry and
recarry letters: and Mr. G. Sandys, in his Travels, relates it to be done
betwixt Aleppo and Babylon, But if that be disbelieved, it is not to be
doubted that the Dove was sent out of the ark by Noah, to give him
notice of land, when to him all appeared to be sea; and the Dove proved
a faithful and comfortable messenger. And for the sacrifices of the law,
a pair of Turtle-doves, or young Pigeons, were as well accepted as
costly Bulls and Rams; and when God would feed the Prophet Elijah,
after a kind of miraculous manner, he did it by Ravens, who brought
him meat morning and evening. Lastly, the Holy Ghost, when he
descended visibly upon our Saviour, did it by assuming the shape of a
Dove. And, to conclude this part of my discourse, pray remember these
wonders were done by birds of air, the element in which they, and I,
take so much pleasure.

There is also a little contemptible winged creature, an inhabitant of my
aerial element, namely the laborious Bee, of whose prudence, policy,
and regular government of their own commonwealth, I might say much,
as also of their several kinds, and how useful their honey and wax are
both for meat and medicines to mankind; but I will leave them to their
sweet labour, without the least disturbance, believing them to be all
very busy at this very time amongst the herbs and flowers that we see
nature puts forth this May morning.

And now to return to my Hawks, from whom I have made too long a
digression. You are to note, that they are usually distinguished into two
kinds; namely, the long-winged, and the short-winged Hawk: of the first
kind, there be chiefly in use amongst us in this nation,

The Gerfalcon and Jerkin,
The Falcon and Tassel-gentle,
The Laner and Laneret,
The Bockerel and Bockeret,
The Saker and Sacaret,
The Merlin and Jack Merlin,
The Hobby and Jack:
There is the Stelletto of Spain,
The Blood-red Rook from Turkey,
The Waskite from Virginia:
And there is of short-winged Hawks,
The Eagle and Iron
The Goshawk and Tarcel,
The Sparhawk and Musket,
The French Pye of two sorts:

These are reckoned Hawks of note and worth; but we have also of an
inferior rank,

The Stanyel, the Ringtail,
The Raven, the Buzzard,
The Forked Kite, the Bald Buzzard,

The Hen-driver, and others that I forbear to name.

Gentlemen, if I should enlarge my discourse to the observation of the
Eires, the Brancher, the Ramish Hawk, the Haggard, and the two sorts
of Lentners, and then treat of their several Ayries, their Mewings, rare
order of casting, and the renovation of their feathers: their reclaiming,
dieting, and then come to their rare stories of practice; I say, if I should
enter into these, and many other observations that I could make, it
would be much, very much pleasure to me: but lest I should break the
rules of civility with you, by taking up more than the proportion of time
allotted to me, I will here break off, and entreat you, Mr. Venator, to
say what you are able in the commendation of Hunting, to which you
are so much affected; and if time will serve, I will beg your favour for a
further enlargement of some of those several heads of which I have
spoken. But no more at present.

Venator. Well, Sir, and I will now take my turn, and will first begin
with a commendation of the Earth, as you have done most excellently
of the Air; the Earth being that element upon which I drive my pleasant,
wholesome, hungry trade. The Earth is a solid, settled element; an
element most universally beneficial both to man and beast; to men who
have their several recreations upon it, as horse-races, hunting, sweet
smells, pleasant walks: the earth feeds man, and all those several beasts
that both feed him, and afford him recreation. What pleasure doth man
take in hunting the stately Stag, the generous Buck, the wild Boar, the
cunning Otter, the crafty Fox, and the fearful Hare ! And if I may
descend to a lower game, what pleasure is it sometimes with gins to
betray the very vermin of the earth; as namely, the Fichat, the Fulimart,
the Ferret, the Pole-cat, the Mouldwarp, and the like creatures that live
upon the face, and within the bowels of, the Earth. How doth the Earth
bring forth herbs, flowers, and fruits, both for physick and the pleasure
of mankind! and above all, to me at least, the fruitful vine, of which
when I drink moderately, it clears my brain, cheers my heart, and
sharpens my wit. How could Cleopatra have feasted Mark Antony with
eight wild Boars roasted whole at one supper, and other meat suitable,
if the earth had not been a bountiful mother ? But to pass by the mighty
Elephant, which the Earth breeds and nourisheth, and descend to the
least of creatures, how doth the earth afford us a doctrinal example in
the little Pismire, who in the summer provides and lays up her winter
provision, and teaches man to do the like! The earth feeds and carries
those horses that carry us. If I would be prodigal of my time and your
patience, what might not I say in commendations of the earth? That
puts limits to the proud and raging sea, and by that means preserves
both man and beast, that it destroys them not, as we see it daily doth
those that venture upon the sea, and are there shipwrecked, drowned,
and left to feed Haddocks; when we that are so wise as to keep
ourselves on earth, walk, and talk, and live, and eat, and drink, and go a
hunting: of which recreation I will say a little, and then leave Mr.
Piscator to the commendation of Angling.

Hunting is a game for princes and noble persons; it hath been highly
prized in all ages; it was one of the qualifications that Xenophon
bestowed on his Cyrus, that he was a hunter of wild beasts. Hunting
trains up the younger nobility to the use of manly exercises in their
riper age. What more manly exercise than hunting the Wild Boar, the
Stag, the Buck, the Fox, or the Hare ? How doth it preserve health, and
increase strength and activity !

And for the dogs that we use, who can commend their excellency to
that height which they deserve ? How perfect is the hound at smelling,
who never leaves or forsakes his first scent, but follows it through so
many changes and varieties of other scents, even over, and in, the
water, and into the earth! What music doth a pack of dogs then make to
any man, whose heart and ears are so happy as to be set to the tune of
such instruments! How will a right Greyhound fix his eye on the best
Buck in a herd, single him out, and follow him, and him only, through a
whole herd of rascal game, and still know and then kill him! For my
hounds, I know the language of them, and they know the language and
meaning of one another, as perfectly as we know the voices of those
with whom we discourse daily.

I might enlarge myself in the commendation of Hunting, and of the
noble Hound especially, as also of the docibleness of dogs in general;
and I might make many observations of land-creatures, that for
composition, order, figure, and constitution, approach nearest to the
completeness and understanding of man; especially of those creatures,
which Moses in the Law permitted to the Jews, which have cloven
hoofs, and chew the cud; which I shall forbear to name, because I will
not be so uncivil to Mr. Piscator, as not to allow him a time for the
commendation of Angling, which he calls an art; but doubtless it is an
easy one: and, Mr. Auceps, I doubt we shall hear a watery discourse of
it, but I hope it will not be a long one.

Auceps. And I hope so too, though I fear it will.

Piscator. Gentlemen, let not prejudice prepossess you. I confess my
discourse is like to prove suitable to my recreation, calm and quiet; we
seldom take the name of God into our mouths, but it is either to praise
him, or pray to him: if others use it vainly in the midst of their
recreations, so vainly as if they meant to conjure, I must tell you, it is
neither our fault nor our custom; we protest against it. But, pray
remember, I accuse nobody; for as I would not make a " watery
discourse," so I would not put too much vinegar into it; nor would I
raise the reputation of my own art, by the diminution or ruin of
another's. And so much for the prologue to what I mean to say.

And now for the Water, the element that I trade in. The water is the
eldest daughter of the creation, the element upon which the Spirit of
God did first move, the element which God commanded to bring forth
living creatures abundantly; and without which, those that inhabit the
land, even all creatures that have breath in their nostrils, must suddenly
return to putrefaction. Moses, the great lawgiver and chief philosopher,
skilled in all the learning of the Egyptians, who was called the friend of
God, and knew the mind of the Almighty, names this element the first
in the creation: this is the element upon which the Spirit of God did first
move, and is the chief ingredient in the creation: many philosophers
have made it to comprehend all the other elements, and most allow it
the chiefest in the mixtion of all living creatures.

There be that profess to believe that all bodies are made of water, and
may be reduced back again to water only; they endeavour to
demonstrate it thus:

Take a willow, or any like speedy growing plant newly rooted in a box
or barrel full of earth, weigh them all together exactly when the tree
begins to grow, and then weigh all together after the tree is increased
from its first rooting, to weigh a hundred pound weight more than when
it was first rooted and weighed; and you shall find this augment of the
tree to be without the diminution of one drachm weight of the earth.
Hence they infer this increase of wood to be from water of rain, or from
dew, and not to be from any other element; and they affirm, they can
reduce this wood back again to water; and they affirm also, the same
may be done in any animal or vegetable. And this I take to be a fair
testimony of the excellency of my clement of water.

The water is more productive than the earth. Nay, the earth hath no
fruitfulness without showers or dews; for all the herbs, and flowers, and
fruit, are produced and thrive by the water; and the very minerals are
fed by streams that run under ground, whose natural course carries
them to the tops of many high mountains, as we see by several springs
breaking forth on the tops of the highest hills; and this is also witnessed
by the daily trial and testimony of several miners.

Nay, the increase of those creatures that are bred and fed in the water
are not only more and more miraculous, but more advantageous to man,
not only for the lengthening of his life, but for the preventing of
sickness; for it is observed by the most learned physicians, that the
casting off of Lent, and other fish days, which hath not only given the
lie to so many learned, pious, wise founders of colleges, for which we
should be ashamed, hath doubtless been the chief cause of those many
putrid, shaking intermitting agues, unto which this nation of ours is now
more subject, than those wiser countries that feed on herbs, salads, and
plenty of fish; of which it is observed in story, that the greatest part of
the world now do. And it may be fit to remember that Moses appointed
fish to be the chief diet for the best commonwealth that ever yet was.

And it is observable, not only that there are fish, as namely the Whale,
three times as big as the mighty Elephant, that is so fierce in battle, but
that the mightiest feasts have been of fish. The Romans, in the height of
their glory, have made fish the mistress of all their entertainments; they
have had musick to usher in their Sturgeons, Lampreys, and Mullets,
which they would purchase at rates rather to be wondered at than
believed. He that shall view the writings of Macrobius, or Varro, may
be confirmed and informed of this, and of the incredible value of their
fish and fish-ponds.

But, Gentlemen, I have almost lost myself, which I confess I may easily
do in this philosophical discourse; I met with most of it very lately, and,
I hope, happily, in a conference with a most learned physician, Dr.
Wharton, a dear friend, that loves both me and my art of Angling. But,
however, I will wade no deeper into these mysterious arguments, but
pass to such observations as I can manage with more pleasure, and less
fear of running into error. But I must not yet forsake the waters, by
whose help we have so many known advantages.

And first, to pass by the miraculous cures of our known baths, how
advantageous is the sea for our daily traffick, without which we could
not now subsist. How does it not only furnish us with food and physick
for the bodies, but with such observations for the mind as ingenious
persons would not want!

How ignorant had we been of the beauty of Florence, of the
monuments, urns, and rarities that yet remain in and near unto old and
new Rome, so many as it is said will take up a year's time to view, and
afford to each of them but a convenient consideration! And therefore it
is not to be wondered at, that so learned and devout a father as St.
Jerome, after his wish to have seen Christ in the flesh, and to have
heard St. Paul preach, makes his third wish, to have seen Rome in her
glory; and that glory is not yet all lost, for what pleasure is it to see the
monuments of Livy, the choicest of the historians; of Tully, the best of
orators; and to see the bay trees that now grow out of the very tomb of
Virgil! These, to any that love learning, must be pleasing. But what
pleasure is it to a devout Christian, to see there the humble house in
which St. Paul was content to dwell, and to view the many rich statues
that are made in honour of his memory! nay, to see the very place in
which St. Peter and he lie buried together! These are in and near to
Rome. And how much more doth it please the pious curiosity of a
Christian, to see that place, on which the blessed Saviour of the world
was pleased to humble himself, and to take our nature upon him, and to
converse with men: to see Mount Sion, Jerusalem, and the very
sepulchre of our Lord Jesus! How may it beget and heighten the zeal of
a Christian, to see the devotions that are daily paid to him at that place!
Gentlemen, lest I forget myself, I will stop here, and remember you,
that but for my element of water, the inhabitants of this poor island
must remain ignorant that such things ever were, or that any of them
have yet a being.

Gentlemen, I might both enlarge and lose myself in such like
arguments. I might tell you that Almighty God is said to have spoken to
a fish, but never to a beast; that he hath made a whale a ship, to carry
and set his prophet, Jonah, safe on the appointed shore. Of these I might
speak, but I must in manners break off, for I see Theobald's House. I cry
you mercy for being so long, and thank you for your patience.

Auceps. Sir, my pardon is easily granted you: I except against nothing
that you have said: nevertheless, I must part with you at this park-wall,
for which I am very sorry; but I assure you, Mr. Piscator, I now part
with you full of good thoughts, not only of yourself, but your recreation.
And so, Gentlemen, God keep you both.

Piscator. Well, now, Mr. Venator, you shall neither want time, nor my
attention to hear you enlarge your discourse concerning hunting.

Venator. Not I, Sir: I remember you said that Angling itself was of great
antiquity, and a perfect art, and an art not easily attained to; and you
have so won upon me in your former discourse, that I am very desirous
to hear what you can say further concerning those particulars.

Piscator. Sir, I did say so: and I doubt not but if you and I did converse
together but a few hours, to leave you possessed with the same high and
happy thoughts that now possess me of it; not only of the antiquity of
Angling, but that it deserves commendations; and that it is an art, and
an art worthy the knowledge and practice of a wise man.

Venator. Pray, Sir, speak of them what you think fit, for we have yet
five miles to the Thatched House; during which walk, I dare promise
you, my patience and diligent attention shall not be wanting. And if you
shall make that to appear which you have undertaken, first, that it is an
art, and an art worth the learning, I shall beg that I may attend you a day
or two a-fishing, and that I may become your scholar, and be instructed
in the art itself which you so much magnify.

Piscator. O, Sir, doubt not but that Angling is an art; is it not an art to
deceive a Trout with an artificial Fly ? a Trout ! that is more sharp-
sighted than any Hawk you have named, and more watchful and
timorous than your high-mettled Merlin is bold ? and yet, I doubt not to
catch a brace or two to-morrow, for a friend's breakfast: doubt not
therefore, Sir, but that angling is an art, and an worth your learning. The
question is rather, whether you be capable of learning it? angling is
somewhat like poetry, men are to be born so: I mean, with inclinations
to it, though both may be heightened by discourse and practice: but he
that hopes to be a good angler, must not only bring an inquiring,
searching, observing wit, but he must bring a large measure of hope and
patience, and a love and propensity to the art itself; but having once got
and practiced it, then doubt not but angling will prove to be so pleasant,
that it will prove to be, like virtue, a reward to itself.

Venator. Sir, I am now become so full of expectation, that I long much
to have you proceed, and in the order that you propose.

Piscator. Then first, for the antiquity of Angling, of which I shall not
say much, but only this; some say it is as ancient as Deucalion's flood:
others, that Belus, who was the first inventor of godly and virtuous
recreations, was the first inventor of Angling: and some others say, for
former times have had their disquisitions about the antiquity of it, that
Seth, one of the sons of Adam, taught it to his sons, and that by them it
was derived to posterity: others say that he left it engraver on those
pillars which he erected, and trusted to preserve the knowledge of the
mathematicks, musick, and the rest of that precious knowledge, and
those useful arts, which by God's appointment or allowance, and his
noble industry, were thereby preserved from perishing in Noah's flood.

These, Sir, have been the opinions of several men, that have possibly
endeavoured to make angling more ancient than is needful, or may well
be warranted; but for my part, I shall content myself in telling you, that
angling is much more ancient than the incarnation of our Saviour; for in
the Prophet Amos mention is made of fish-hooks; and in the book of
Job, which was long before the days of Amos, for that book is said to
have been written by Moses, mention is made also of fish-hooks, which
must imply anglers in those times.

But, my worthy friend, as I would rather prove myself a gentleman, by
being learned and humble, valiant and inoffensive, virtuous and
communicable, than by any fond ostentation of riches, or, wanting
those virtues myself, boast that these were in my ancestors; and yet I
grant, that where a noble and ancient descent and such merit meet in
any man, it is a double dignification of that person; so if this antiquity
of angling, which for my part I have not forced, shall, like an ancient
family, be either an honour, or an ornament to this virtuous art which I
profess to love and practice, I shall be the gladder that I made an
accidental mention of the antiquity of it, of which I shall say no more,
but proceed to that just commendation which I think it deserves.

And for that, I shall tell you, that in ancient times a debate hath risen,
and it remains yet unresolved, whether the happiness of man in this
world doth consist more in contemplation or action? Concerning which,
some have endeavoured to maintain their opinion of the first; by saying,
that the nearer we mortals come to God by way of imitation, the more
happy we are. And they say, that God enjoys himself only, by a
contemplation of his own infiniteness, eternity, power, and goodness,
and the like. And upon this ground, many cloisteral men of great
learning and devotion, prefer contemplation before action. And many of
the fathers seem to approve this opinion, as may appear in their
commentaries upon the words of our Saviour to Martha.

And on the contrary, there want not men of equal authority and credit,
that prefer action to be the more excellent; as namely, experiments in
physick, and the application of it, both for the ease and prolongation of
man's life; by which each man is enabled to act and do good to others,
either to serve his country, or do good to particular persons: and they
say also, that action is doctrinal, and teaches both art and virtue, and is
a maintainer of human society; and for these, and other like reasons, to
be preferred before contemplation.

Concerning which two opinions I shall forbear to add a third, by
declaring my own; and rest myself contented in telling you, my very
worthy friend, that both these meet together, and do most properly
belong to the most honest, ingenuous, quiet, and harmless art of

And first, I shall tell you what some have observed, and I have found it
to be a real truth, that the very sitting by the river's side is not only the
quietest and fittest place for contemplation, but will invite an angler to
it: and this seems to be maintained by the learned Peter du Moulin,
who, in his discourse of the fulfilling of Prophecies, observes, that
when God intended to reveal any future events or high notions to his
prophets, he then carried them either to the deserts, or the sea-shore,
that having so separated them from amidst the press of people and
business, and the cares of the world, he might settle their mind in a
quiet repose, and there make them fit for revelation.

And this seems also to be imitated by the children of Israel, who having
in a sad condition banished all mirth and musick from their pensive
hearts, and having hung up their then mute harps upon the willow-trees
growing by the rivers of Babylon, sat down upon those banks,
bemoaning the ruins of Sion, and contemplating their own sad

And an ingenious Spaniard says, that " rivers and the inhabitants of the
watery element were made for wise men to contemplate, and fools to
pass by without consideration ". And though I will not rank myself in
the number of the first, yet give me leave to free myself from the last,
by offering to you a short contemplation, first of rivers, and then of fish;
concerning which I doubt not but to give you many observations that
will appear very considerable: I am sure they have appeared so to me,
and made many an hour pass away more pleasantly, as I have sat
quietly on a flowery bank by a calm river, and contemplated what I
shall now relate to you.

And first concerning rivers; there be so many wonders reported and
written of them, and of the several creatures that be bred and live in
them, and those by authors of so good credit, that we need not to deny
them an historical faith.

As namely of a river in Epirus that puts out any lighted torch, and
kindles any torch that was not lighted. Some waters being drunk, cause
madness, some drunkenness, and some laughter to death. The river
Selarus in a few hours turns a rod or wand to stone: and our Camden
mentions the like in England, and the like in Lochmere in Ireland.
There is also a river in Arabia, of which all the sheep that drink thereof
have their wool turned into a vermilion colour. And one of no less
credit than Aristotle, tells us of a merry river, the river Elusina, that
dances at the noise of musick, for with musick it bubbles, dances, and
grows sandy, and so continues till the musick ceases, but then it
presently returns to its wonted calmness and clearness. And Camden
tells us of a well near to Kirby, in Westmoreland, that ebbs and flows
several times every day: and he tells us of a river in Surrey, it is called
Mole, that after it has run several miles, being opposed by hills, finds or
makes itself a way under ground, and breaks out again so far off, that
the inhabitants thereabout boast, as the Spaniards do of their river
Anus, that they feed divers flocks of sheep upon a bridge. And lastly,
for I would not tire your patience, one of no less authority than
Josephus, that learned Jew, tells us of a river in Judea that runs swiftly
all the six days of the week, and stands still and rests all their sabbath.

But I will lay aside my discourse of rivers, and tell you some things of
the monsters, or fish, call them what you will, that they breed and feed
in them. Pliny the philosopher says, in the third chapter of his ninth
book, that in the Indian Sea, the fish called Balaena or Whirlpool, is so
long and broad, as to take up more in length and breadth than two acres
of ground; and, of other fish, of two hundred cubits long; and that in the
river Ganges, there be Eels of thirty feet long. He says there, that these
monsters appear in that sea, only when the tempestuous winds oppose
the torrents of water falling from the rocks into it, and so turning what
lay at the bottom to be seen on the water's top. And he says, that the
people of Cadara, an island near this place, make the timber for their
houses of those fish bones. He there tells us, that there are sometimes a
thousand of these great Eels found wrapt or interwoven together He
tells us there, that it appears that dolphins love musick, and will come
when called for, by some men or boys that know, and use to feed them;
and that they can swim as swift as an arrow can be shot out of a bow;
and much of this is spoken concerning the dolphin, and other fish, as
may be found also in the learned Dr. Casaubon's Discourse of Credulity
and Incredulity, printed by him about the year 1670.

I know, we Islanders are averse to the belief of these wonders; but there
be so many strange creatures to be now seen, many collected by John
Tradescant, and others added by my friend Elias Ashmole, Esq., who
now keeps them carefully and methodically at his house near to
Lambeth, near London, as may get some belief of some of the other
wonders I mentioned. I will tell you some of the wonders that you may
now see, and not till then believe, unless you think fit.

You may there see the Hog-fish, the Dog-fish, the Dolphin, the Cony-
fish, the Parrot-fish, the Shark, the Poison-fish, Sword-fish, and not
only other incredible fish, but you may there see the Salamander,
several sorts of Barnacles, of Solan-Geese, the Bird of Paradise, such
sorts of Snakes, and such Birds'-nests, and of so various forms, and so
wonderfully made, as may beget wonder and amusement in any
beholder; and so many hundred of other rarities in that collection, as
will make the other wonders I spake of, the less incredible; for, you
may note, that the waters are Nature's store-house, in which she locks
up her wonders.

But, Sir, lest this discourse may seem tedious, I shall give it a sweet
conclusion out of that holy poet, Mr. George Herbert his divine "
Contemplation on God's Providence".

Lord! who hath praise enough, nay, who hath any ?
None can express thy works, but he that knows them;
And none can know thy works, they are so many,
And so complete, but only he that owes them.

We all acknowledge both thy power and love
To be exact, transcendant, and divine;
Who cost so strangely and so sweetly move,
Whilst all things have their end, yet none but thine.

Wherefore, most sacred Spirit! I here present,
For me, and all my fellows, praise to thee;
And just it is, that I should pay the rent,
Because the benefit accrues to me.

And as concerning fish, in that psalm, wherein, for height of poetry and
wonders, the prophet David seems even to exceed himself, how doth he
there express himself in choice metaphors, even to the amazement of a
contemplative reader, concerning the sea, the rivers, and the fish therein
contained! And the great naturalist Pliny says, " That nature's great and
wonderful power is more demonstrated in the sea than on the land ".
And this may appear, by the numerous and various creatures inhabiting
both in and about that element; as to the readers of Gesner,
Rondeletius, Pliny, Ausonius, Aristotle, and others, may be
demonstrated. But I will sweeten this discourse also out of a
contemplation in divine Du Bartas, who says:

God quickened in the sea, and in the rivers,
So many fishes of so many features,
That in the waters we may see all creatures,
Even all that on the earth are to be found,
As if the world were in deep waters drown'd.
For seas--as well as skies--have Sun, Moon,
Stars As well as air--Swallows, Rooks, and Stares;
As well as earth--Vines, Roses, Nettles, Melons,
Mushrooms, Pinks, Gilliflowers, and many millions
Of other plants, more rare, more strange than these,
As very fishes, living in the seas;
As also Rams, Calves, Horses, Hares, and Hogs,
Wolves, Urchins, Lions, Elephants, and Dogs;
Yea, Men and Maids, and, which I most admire,
The mitred Bishop and the cowled Friar:
Of which, examples, but a few years since,
Were strewn the Norway and Polonian prince.

These seem to be wonders; but have had so many confirmations from
men of learning and credit, that you need not doubt them. Nor are the
number, nor the various shapes, of fishes more strange, or more fit for
contemplation, than their different natures, inclinations, and actions;
concerning which, I shall beg your patient ear a little longer.

The Cuttle-fish will cast a long gut out of her throat, which, like as an
Angler doth his line, she sendeth forth, and pulleth in again at her
pleasure, according as she sees some little fish come near to her; and
the Cuttle-fish, being then hid in the gravel, lets the smaller fish nibble
and bite the end of it; at which time she, by little and little, draws the
smaller fish so near to her, that she may leap upon her, and then catches
and devours her: and for this reason some have called this fish the Sea-

And there is a fish called a Hermit, that at a certain age gets into a dead
fish's shell, and, like a hermit, dwells there alone, studying the wind and
weather and so turns her shell. that she makes it defend her from the
injuries that they would bring upon her.

There is also a fish called by Ælian the Adonis, or Darling of the Sea;
so called, because it is a loving and innocent fish, a fish that hurts
nothing that hath life, and is at peace with all the numerous inhabitants
of that vast watery element; and truly, I think most Anglers are so
disposed to most of mankind.

And there are, also, lustful and chaste fishes; of which I shall give you

And first, what Du Bartas says of a fish called the Sargus; which,
because none can express it better than he does, I shall give you in his
own words, supposing it shall not have the less credit for being verse;
for he hath gathered this and other observations out of authors that have
been great and industrious searchers into the secrets of nature.

The adult'rous Sargus doth not only change
Wives every day, in the deep streams, but, strange!
As if the honey of sea-love delight
Could not suffice his ranging appetite,
Goes courting she-goats on the grassy shore,
Horning their husbands that had horns before.

And the same author writes concerning the Cantharus, that which you
shall also hear in his own words:

But, contrary, the constant Cantharus
Is ever constant to his faithful spouse
In nuptial duties, spending his chaste life.
Never loves any but his own dear wife.

Sir, but a little longer, and I have done.

Venator. Sir, take what liberty you think fit, for your discourse seems to
be musick, and charms me to an attention.

Piscator. Why then, Sir, I will take a little liberty to tell, or rather to
remember you what is said of Turtle-doves; first, that they silently
plight their troth, and marry; and that then the survivor scorns, as the
Thracian women are said to do, to outlive his or her mate, and this is
taken for a truth; and if the survivor shall ever couple with another,
then, not only the living, but the dead, be it either the he or the she, is
denied the name and honour of a true Turtle-dove.

And to parallel this land-rarity, and teach mankind moral faithfulness,
and to condemn those that talk of religion, and yet come short of the
moral faith of fish and fowl, men that violate the law affirmed by St.
Paul to be writ in their hearts, and which, he says, shall at the Last Day
condemn and leave them without excuse--I pray hearken to what Du
Bartas sings, for the hearing of such conjugal faithfulness will be
musick to all chaste ears, and therefore I pray hearken to what Du
Bartas sings of the Mullet.

But for chaste love the Mullet hath no peer;
For, if the fisher hath surpris'd her pheer
As mad with wo, to shore she followeth
Prest to consort him, both in life and death.

On the contrary, what shall I say of the House-Cock, which treads any
hen; and, then, contrary to the Swan, the Partridge, and Pigeon, takes no
care to hatch, to feed, or cherish his own brood, but is senseless, though
they perish. And it is considerable, that the Hen, which, because she
also takes any Cock, expects it not, who is sure the chickens be her
own, hath by a moral impression her care and affection to her own
brood more than doubled, even to such a height, that our Saviour, in
expressing his love to Jerusalem, quotes her, for an example of tender
affection, as his Father had done Job, for a pattern of patience.

And to parallel this Cock, there be divers fishes that cast their spawn on
flags or stones, and then leave it uncovered, and exposed to become a
prey and be devoured by vermin or other fishes. But other fishes, as
namely the Barbel, take such care for the preservation of their seed,
that, unlike to the Cock, or the Cuckoo, they mutually labour, both the
spawner and the melter, to cover their spawn with sand, or watch it, or
hide it in some secret place unfrequented by vermin or by any fish but

Sir, these examples may, to you and others, seem strange; but they are
testified, some by Aristotle, some by Pliny, some by Gesner, and by
many others of credit; and are believed and known by divers, both of
wisdom and experience, to be a truth; and indeed are, as I said at the
beginning, fit for the contemplation of a most serious and a most pious
man. And, doubtless, this made the prophet David say, " They that
occupy themselves in deep waters, see the wonderful works of God ":
indeed such wonders and pleasures too, as the land affords not.

And that they be fit for the contemplation of the most prudent, and
pious, and peaceable men, seems to be testified by the practice of so
many devout and contemplative men, as the Patriarchs and Prophets of
old; and of the Apostles of our Saviour in our latter times, of which
twelve, we are sure, he chose four that were simple fishermen, whom
he inspired, and sent to publish his blessed will to the Gentiles ; and
inspired them also with a power to speak all languages, and by their
powerful eloquence to beget faith in the unbelieving Jews; and
themselves to suffer for that Saviour, whom their forefathers and they
had crucified; and, in their sufferings, to preach freedom from the
incumbrances of the law, and a new way to everlasting life: this was the
employment of these happy fishermen. Concerning which choice. some
have made these observations:

First, that he never reproved these, for their employment or calling, as
he did the Scribes and the Money-changers. And secondly, he found
that the hearts of such men, by nature, were fitted for contemplation
and quietness; men of mild, and sweet, and peaceable spirits, as indeed
most Anglers are: these men our blessed Saviour, who is observed to
love to plant grace in good natures, though indeed nothing be too hard
for him, yet these men he chose to call from their irreprovable
employment of fig, an, and gave them grace to be his disciples, and to
follow him, and do wonders; I say four of twelve.

And it is observable, that it was our Saviour's will that these, our four
fishermen, should have a priority of nomination in the catalogue of his
twelve Apostles, as namely, first St. Peter, St. Andrew, St. James, and
St. John; and, then, the rest in their order.

And it is yet more observable, that when our blessed Saviour went up
into the mount, when he left the rest of his disciples, and chose only
three to bear him company at his Transfiguration, that those three were
all fishermen. And it is to be believed, that all the other Apostles, after
they betook themselves to follow Christ, betook themselves to be
fishermen too; for it is certain, that the greater number of them were
found together, fishing, by Jesus after his resurrection, as it is recorded
in the twenty-first chapter of St. John's gospel.

And since I have your promise to hear me with patience, I will take a
liberty to look back upon an observation that hath been made by an
ingenious and learned man; who observes, that God hath been pleased
to allow those whom he himself hath appointed to write his holy will in
holy writ, yet to express his will in such metaphors as their former
affections or practice had inclined them to. And he brings Solomon for
an example, who, before his conversion, was remarkably carnally
amorous; and after, by God's appointment, wrote that spiritual dialogue,
or holy amorous love-song the Canticles, betwixt God and his church:
in which he says, " his beloved had eyes like the fish-pools of Heshbon

And if this hold in reason, as I see none to the contrary, then it may be
probably concluded, that Moses, who I told you before writ the book of
Job, and the Prophet Amos, who was a shepherd, were both Anglers;
for you shall, in all the Old Testament, find fish-hooks, I think but
twice mentioned, namely, by meek Moses the friend of God, and by the
humble prophet Amos.

Concerning which last, namely the prophet Amos, I shall make but this
observation, that he that shall read the humble, lowly, plain style of that
prophet, and compare it with the high, glorious, eloquent style of the
prophet Isaiah, though they be both equally true, may easily believe
Amos to be, not only a shepherd, but a good-natured plain fisherman.
Which I do the rather believe, by comparing the affectionate, loving,
lowly, humble Epistles of St. Peter, St. James, and St. John, whom we
know were all fishers, with the glorious language and high metaphors
of St. Paul, who we may believe was not.

And for the lawfulness of fishing: it may very well be maintained by
our Saviour's bidding St. Peter cast his hook into the water and catch a
fish, for money to pay tribute to Caesar. And let me tell you, that
Angling is of high esteem, and of much use in other nations. He that
reads the Voyages of Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, shall find that there he
declares to have found a king and several priests a-fishing. And he that
reads Plutarch, shall find, that Angling was not contemptible in the days
of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and that they, in the midst of their
wonderful glory, used Angling as a principal recreation. And let me tell
you, that in the Scripture, Angling is always taken in the best sense; and
that though hunting may be sometimes so taken, yet it is but seldom to
be so understood. And let me add this more: he that views the ancient
Ecclesiastical Canons, shall find hunting to be forbidden to Churchmen,
as being a turbulent, toilsome, perplexing recreation; and shall find
Angling allowed to clergymen, as being a harmless recreation, a
recreation that invites them to contemplation and quietness.

I might here enlarge myself, by telling you what commendations our
learned Perkins bestows on Angling: and how dear a lover, and great a
practiser of it, our learned Dr. Whitaker was; as indeed many others of
great learning have been. But I will content myself with two memorable
men, that lived near to our own time, whom I also take to have been
ornaments to the art of Angling.

The first is Dr. Nowel, sometime dean of the cathedral church of St.
Paul, in London, where his monument stands yet undefaced; a man that,
in the reformation of Queen Elizabeth, not that of Henry VIII., was so
noted for his meek spirit, deep learning, prudence, and piety, that the
then Parliament and Convocation, both, chose, enjoined, and trusted
him to be the man to make a Catechism for public use, such a one as
should stand as a rule for faith and manners to their posterity. And the
good old man, though he was very learned, yet knowing that God leads
us not to heaven by many, nor by hard questions, like an honest Angler,
made that good, plain, unperplexed Catechism which is printed with
our good old Service-book. I say, this good man was a dear lover and
constant practiser of Angling, as any age can produce: and his custom
was to spend besides his fixed hours of prayer, those hours which, by
command of the church, were enjoined the clergy, and voluntarily
dedicated to devotion by many primitive Christians, I say, besides those
hours, this good man was observed to spend a tenth part of his time in
Angling; and, also, for I have conversed with those which have
conversed with him, to bestow a tenth part of his revenue, and usually
all his fish, amongst the poor that inhabited near to those rivers in
which it was caught; saying often, "that charity gave life to religion ":
and, at his return to his house, would praise God he had spent that day
free from worldly trouble; both harmlessly, and in a recreation that
became a churchman. And this good man was well content, if not
desirous, that posterity should know he was an Angler; as may appear
by his picture, now to be seen, and carefully kept, in Brazen-nose
College, to which he was a liberal benefactor. In which picture he is
drawn leaning on a desk, with his Bible before him; and on one hand of
him, his lines, hooks, and other tackling, lying in a round; and, on his
other hand, are his Angle-rods of several sorts; and by them this is
written, "that he died 13 Feb. 1601, being aged ninety-five years, forty-
four of which he had been Dean of St. Paul's church, and that his age
neither impaired his hearing, nor dimmed his eyes, nor weakened his
memory, nor made any of the faculties of his mind weak or useless". It
is said that Angling and temperance were great causes of these
blessings; and I wish the like to all that imitate him, and love the
memory of so good a man.

My next and last example shall be that under-valuer of money, the late
provost of Eton College, Sir Henry Wotton, a man with whom I have
often fished and conversed, a man whose foreign employments in the
service of this nation, and whose experience, learning, wit, and
cheerfulness, made his company to be esteemed one of the delights of
mankind. This man, whose very approbation of Angling were sufficient
to convince any modest censurer of it, this man was also a most dear
lover, and a frequent practiser of the art of Angling; of which he would
say, " it was an employment for his idle time, which was then not idly
spent "; for Angling was, after tedious study, "a rest to his mind, a
cheerer of his spirits, a diverter of sadness, a calmer of unquiet
thoughts, a moderator of passions, a procurer of contentedness; and that
it begat habits of peace and patience in those that professed and
practiced it ". Indeed, my friend, you will find Angling to be like the
virtue of humility, which has a calmness of spirit, and a world of other
blessings attending upon it.

Sir, this was the saying of that learned man And I do easily believe, that
peace, and patience, and a calm content, did cohabit in the cheerful
heart of Sir Henry Wotton, because I know that when he was beyond
seventy years of age, he made this description of a part of the present
pleasure that possessed him, as he sat quietly, in a summer's evening,
on a bank a-fishing. It is a description of the spring; which, because it
glided as soft and sweetly from his pen, as that river does at this time,
by which it was then made, I shall repeat it unto you:-

This day dame Nature seem'd in love
The lusty sap began to move;
Fresh juice did stir th' embracing vines.
And birds had drawn their valentines.

The jealous trout, that low did lie
Rose at a well-dissembled fly
There stood my Friend, with patient skill,
Attending of his trembling quill.

Already were the eves possess
With the swift pilgrim's daubed nest;
The groves already did rejoice
In Philomel's triumphing voice:

The showers were short, the weather mild,
The morning fresh, the evening smil'd.
Joan takes her neat-rubb'd pail, and now,
She trips to milk the sand-red cow;

Where, for some sturdy foot-ball swain,
Joan strokes a syllabub or twain.
The fields and gardens were beset
With tulips, crocus, violet;

And now, though late, the modest rose
Did more than half a blush disclose.
Thus all looks gay, and full of cheer,
To welcome the new-livery'd year.

These were the thoughts that then possessed the undisturbed mind of
Sir Henry Wotton. Will you hear the wish of another Angler, and the
commendation of his happy life, which he also sings in verse: viz. Jo.
Davors, Esq.?

Let me live harmlessly, and near the brink
Of Trent or Avon have a dwelling-place
Where I may see my quill, or cork, down sink
With eager bite of Perch, or Bleak, or Dace;
And on the world and my Creator think:
Whilst some men strive ill-gotten goods t' embrace;
And others spend their time in base excess
Of wine. or worse. in war and wantonness

Let them that list, these pastimes still pursue,
And on such pleasing fancies feed their fill;
So I the fields and meadows green may view,
And daily by fresh rivers walk at will
Among the daisies and the violets blue,
Red hyacinth, and yellow daffodil,
Purple Narcissus like the morning rays,
Pale gander-grass, and azure culver-keys.

I count it higher pleasure to behold
The stately compass of the lofty sky;
And in the midst thereof, like burning gold,
The flaming chariot of the world's great eye:

The watery clouds that in the air up-roll'd
With sundry kinds of painted colours fly;
And fair Aurora, lifting up her head,
Still blushing, rise from old Tithonus' bed.

The hills and mountains raised from the plains,
The plains extended level with the ground
The grounds divided into sundry veins,
The veins inclos'd with rivers running round;
These rivers making way through nature's chains,
With headlong course, into the sea profound;
The raging sea, beneath the vallies low,
Where lakes, and rills, and rivulets do flow:

The lofty woods, the forests wide and long,
Adorned with leaves and branches fresh and green,
In whose cool bowers the birds with many a song,
Do welcome with their quire the summer's Queen;
The meadows fair, where Flora's gifts, among
Are intermix", with verdant grass between;
The silver-scaled fish that softly swim
Within the sweet brook's crystal, watery stream.

All these, and many more of his creation
That made the heavens, the Angler oft doth see;
Taking therein no little delectation,
To think how strange, how wonderful they be:
Framing thereof an inward contemplation
To set his heart from other fancies free;
And whilst he looks on these with joyful eye,
His mind is rapt above the starry sky.

Sir, I am glad my memory has not lost these last verses, because they
are somewhat more pleasant and more suitable to May-day than my
harsh discourse. And I am glad your patience hath held out so long as to
hear them and me, for both together have brought us within the sight of
the Thatched House. And I must be your debtor, if you think it worth
your attention, for the rest of my promised discourse, till some other
opportunity, and a like time of leisure.

Venator. Sir, you have angled me on with much pleasure to the
Thatched House; and I now find your words true, " that good company
makes the way seem short "; for trust me, Sir, I thought we had wanted
three miles of this house, till you showed it to me. But now we are at it,
we'll turn into it, and refresh ourselves with a cup of drink, and a little

Piscator. Most gladly, Sir, and we'll drink a civil cup to all the Otter-
hunters that are to meet you to-morrow.

Venator. That we will, Sir, and to all the lovers of Angling too, of
which number I am now willing to be one myself; for, by the help of
your good discourse and company, I have put on new thoughts both of
the art of Angling and of all that profess it; and if you will but meet me
to-morrow at the time and place appointed, and bestow one day with
me and my friends, in hunting the Otter, I will dedicate the next two
days to wait upon you; and we too will, for that time, do nothing but
angle, and talk of fish and fishing.

Piscator. It is a match, Sir, I will not fail you, God willing, to be at
Amwell Hill to-morrow morning before sun-rising.

The second day

On the Otter and the Chub

Chapter II

Piscator, Venator, Huntsman, and Hostess

Venator. My friend Piscator, you have kept time with my thoughts; for
the sun is just rising, and I myself just now come to this place, and the
dogs have just now put down an Otter. Look ! down at the bottom of the
hill there, in that meadow, chequered with water-lilies and lady-
smocks; there you may see what work they make; look! look! you may
see all busy; men and dogs; dogs and men; all busy.

Piscator. Sir, I am right glad to meet you, and glad to have so fair an
entrance into this day's sport, and glad to see so many dogs, and more
men, all in pursuit of the Otter. Let us compliment no longer, but join
unto them. Come, honest Venator, let us be gone, let us make haste; I
long to be doing; no reasonable hedge or ditch shall hold me.

Venator. Gentleman Huntsman, where found you this Otter?

Huntsman. Marry, Sir, we found her a mile from this place, a-fishing
She has this morning eaten the greatest part of this Trout; she has only
left thus much of it as you see, and was fishing for more; when we
came we found her just at it: but we were here very early, we were here
an hour before sunrise, and have given her no rest since we came; sure
she will hardly escape all these dogs and men. I am to have the skin if
we kill her.

Venator. Why, Sir, what is the skin worth?

Huntsman. It is worth ten shillings to make gloves; the gloves of an
Otter are the best fortification for your hands that can be thought on
against wet weather.

Piscator. I pray, honest Huntsman, let me ask you a pleasant question:
do you hunt a beast or a fish?

Huntsman. Sir, it is not in my power to resolve you; I leave it to be
resolved by the college of Carthusians, who have made vows never to
eat flesh. But, I have heard, the question hath been debated among
many great clerks, and they seem to differ about it; yet most agree that
her tail is fish: and if her body be fish too, then I may say that a fish will
walk upon land: for an Otter does so sometimes, five or six or ten miles
in a night, to catch for her young ones, or to glut herself with fish. And I
can tell you that Pigeons will fly forty miles for a breakfast: but, Sir, I
am sure the Otter devours much fish, and kills and spoils much more
than he eats. And I can tell you, that this dog-fisher, for so the Latins
call him, can smell a fish in the water a hundred yards from him:
Gesner says much farther: and that his stones are good against the
falling sickness; and that there is an herb, Benione, which, being hung
in a linen cloth near a fish-pond, or any haunt that he uses, makes him
to avoid the place; which proves he smells both by water and land. And,
I can tell you, there is brave hunting this water-dog in Cornwall; where
there have been so many, that our learned Camden says there is a river
called Ottersey, which was so named by reason of the abundance of
Otters that bred and fed in it.

And thus much for my knowledge of the Otter; which you may now see
above water at vent, and the dogs close with him; I now see he will not
last long. Follow, therefore, my masters, follow; for Sweetlips was like
to have him at this last vent.

Venator. Oh me! all the horse are got over the river, what shall we do
now? shall we follow them over the water ?

Huntsman. No, Sir, no; be not so eager; stay a little, and follow me; for
both they and the dogs will be suddenly on this side again, I warrant
you, and the Otter too, it may be. Now have at him with Kilbuck, for he
vents again.

Venator. Marry! so he does; for, look! he vents in that corner. Now,
now, Ringwood has him: now, he is gone again, and has bit the poor
dog. Now Sweetlips has her; hold her, Sweetlips! now all the dogs have
her; some above and some under water: but, now, now she is tired, and
past losing Come bring her to me, Sweetlips. Look! it is a Bitch-otter,
and she has lately whelp'd. Let's go to the place where she was put
down; and, not far from it, you will find all her young ones, I dare
warrant you, and kill them all too.

Huntsman. Come, Gentlemen ! come, all! let's go to the place where we
put down the Otter. Look you ! hereabout it was that she kennelled;
look you ! here it was indeed; for here's her young ones, no less than
five: come, let us kill them all.

Piscator. No: I pray, Sir, save me one, and I'll try if I can make her
tame, as I know an ingenious gentleman in Leicestershire, Mr. Nich.
Segrave, has done; who hath not only made her tame, but to catch fish,
and do many other things of much pleasure

Huntsman. Take one with all my heart; but let us kill the rest. And now
let's go to an honest ale-house, where we may have a cup of good barley
wine, and sing " Old Rose," and all of us rejoice together.

Venator. Come, my friend Piscator, let me invite you along with us. I'll
bear your charges this night, and you shall bear mine to-morrow; for my
intention is to accompany you a day or two in fishing.

Piscator. Sir, your request is granted; and I shall be right glad both to
exchange such a courtesy, and also to enjoy your company.

The third day

Venator. Well, now let's go to your sport of Angling.

Piscator. Let's be going, with all my heart. God keep you all,
Gentlemen; and send you meet, this day, with another Bitch-otter, and
kill her merrily, and all her young ones too.

Venator. NOW, Piscator, where will you begin to fish ?

Piscator. We are not yet come to a likely place; I must walk a mile
further yet before I beam.

Venator. Well then, I pray, as we walk, tell me freely, how do you like
your lodging, and mine host and the company ? Is not mine host a witty
man ?

Piscator. Sir, I will tell you, presently, what I think of your host: but,
first, I will tell you, I am glad these Otters were killed; and I am sorry
there are no more Otter-killers; for I know that the want of Otter-killers,
and the not keeping the fence-months for the preservation of fish, will,
in time, prove the destruction of all rivers. And those very few that are
left, that make conscience of the laws of the nation, and of keeping
days of abstinence, will be forced to eat flesh, or suffer more
inconveniences than are yet foreseen.

Venator. Why, Sir, what be those that you call the fence-months?

Piscator. Sir, they be principally three, namely, March, April, and May:
for these be the usual months that Salmon come out of the sea to spawn
in most fresh rivers. And their fry would, about a certain time, return
back to the salt water, if they were not hindered by weirs and unlawful
gins, which the greedy fishermen set, and so destroy them by thousands;
as they would, being so taught by nature, change the fresh for salt
water. He that shall view the wise Statutes made in the 13th of Edward
the First, and the like in Richard the Second, may see several provisions
made against the destruction of fish: and though I profess no knowledge
of the law, yet I am sure the regulation of these defects might be easily
mended. But I remember that a wise friend of mine did usually say, "
that which is everybody's business is nobody's business ": if it were
otherwise, there could not be so many nets and fish, that are under the
statute size, sold daily amongst us; and of which the conservators of the
waters should be ashamed.

But, above all, the taking fish in spawning-time may be said to be
against nature: it is like taking the dam on the nest when she hatches
her young, a sin so against nature, that Almighty God hath in the
Levitical law made a law against it.

But the poor fish have enemies enough besides such unnatural
fishermen; as namely, the Otters that I spake of, the Cormorant, the
Bittern, the Osprey, the Sea-gull, the Hern, the King-fisher, the Gorara,
the Puet, the Swan, Goose, Duck, and the Craber, which some call the
Water-rat: against all which any honest man may make a just quarrel,
but I will not; I will leave them to be quarrelled with and killed by
others, for I am not of a cruel nature, I love to kill nothing but fish.

And, now, to your question concerning your host. To speak truly, he is
not to me a good companion, for most of his conceits were either
scripture jests, or lascivious jests, for which I count no man witty: for
the devil will help a man, that way inclined, to the first; and his own
corrupt nature, which he always carries with him, to the latter. But a
companion that feasts the company with wit and mirth, and leaves out
the sin which is usually mixed with them, he is the man, and indeed
such a companion should have his charges borne; and to such company
I hope to bring you this night; for at Trout-hall, not far from this place,
where I purpose to lodge to-night, there is usually an Angler that proves
good company. And let me tell you, good company and good discourse
are the very sinews of virtue. But for such discourse as we heard last
night, it infects others: the very boys will learn to talk and swear, as
they heard mine host, and another of the company that shall be
nameless. I am sorry the other is a gentleman, for less religion will not
save their souls than a beggar's: I think more will be required at the last
great day. Well! you know what example is able to do; and I know what
the poet says in the like case, which is worthy to be noted by all parents
and people of civility:

many a one
Owes to his country his religion;
And in another, would as strongly grow,
Had but his nurse or mother taught him so.

This is reason put into verse, and worthy the consideration of a wise
man. But of this no more; for though I love civility, yet I hate severe
censures. I'll to my own art; and I doubt not but at yonder tree I shall
catch a Chub: and then we'll turn to an honest cleanly hostess, that I
know right well; rest ourselves there; and dress it for our dinner.

Venator. Oh, Sir! a Chub is the worst fish that swims; I hoped for a
Trout to my dinner.

Piscator. Trust me, Sir, there is not a likely place for a Trout hereabout:
and we staid so long to take our leave of your huntsmen this morning,
that the sun is got so high, and shines so clear, that I will not undertake
the catching of a Trout till evening. And though a Chub be, by you and
many others, reckoned the worst of fish, yet you shall see I'll make it a
good fish by dressing it.

Venator. Why, how will you dress him ?

Piscator. I'll tell you by-and-by, when I have caught him. Look you here,
Sir, do you see? but you must stand very close, there lie upon the top of
the water, in this very hole, twenty Chubs. I'll catch only one and that
shall be the biggest of them all: and that I will do so, I'll hold you
twenty to one, and you shall see it done.

Venator. Ay, marry! Sir, now you talk like an artist, and I'll say you are
one, when I shall see you perform what you say you can do: but I yet
doubt it.

Piscator. You shall not doubt it long; for you shall see me do it
presently. Look ! the biggest of these Chubs has had some bruise upon
his tail, by a Pike or some other accident; and that looks like a white
spot. That very Chub I mean to put into your hands presently; sit you
but down in the shade, and stay but a little while; and I'll warrant you,
I'll bring him to you.

Venator. I'll sit down; and hope well, because you seem to be so

Piscator. Look you, Sir, there is a trial of my skill; there he is: that very
Chub, that I showed you, with the white spot on his tail. And I'll be as
certain to make him a good dish of meat as I was to catch him: I'll now
lead you to an honest ale-house, where we shall find a cleanly room,
lavender in the windows, and twenty ballads stuck about the wall.
There my hostess, which I may tell you is both cleanly, and handsome,
and civil, hath dressed many a one for me; and shall now dress it after
my fashion, and I warrant it good meat.

Venator. Come, Sir, with all my heart, for I begin to be hungry, and
long to be at it, and indeed to rest myself too; for though I have walked
but four miles this morning, yet I begin to be weary; yesterday's hunting
hangs still upon me.

Piscator. Well, Sir, and you shall quickly be at rest, for yonder is the
house I mean to bring you to.

Come, hostess, how do you ? Will you first give us a cup of your best
drink, and then dress this Chub, as you dressed my last, when I and my
friend were here about eight or ten days ago ? But you must do me one
courtesy, it must be done instantly.

Hostess. I will do it, Mr. Piscator, and with all the speed I can.

Piscator. NOW, Sir, has not my hostess made haste? and does not the
fish look lovely?

Venator. Both, upon my word, Sir; and therefore let's say grace and fall
to eating of it.

Piscator. Well, Sir, how do you like it?

Venator. Trust me, 'tis as good meat as I ever tasted. Now let me thank
you for it, drink to you and beg a courtesy of you; but it must not be
denied me.

Piscator What is it, I pray, Sir? You are so modest, that methinks I may
promise to grant it before it is asked.

Venator. Why, Sir, it is, that from henceforth you would allow me to
call you Master, and that really I may be your scholar; for you are such
a companion, and have so quickly caught and so excellently cooked this
fish, as makes me ambitious to be your scholar.

Piscator. Give me your hand; from this time forward I will be your
Master, and teach you as much of this art as I am able; and will, as you
desire me, tell you somewhat of the nature of most of the fish that we
are to angle for, and I am sure I both can and will tell you more than
any common angler yet knows.

The third day-continued

How to fish for, and to dress, the Chavender of Chub

Chapter III

Piscator and Venator

Piscator. The Chub, though he eat well, thus dressed, yet as he is
usually dressed, he does not. He is objected against, not only for being
full of small forked bones, dispersed through all his body, but that he
eats waterish, and that the flesh of him is not firm, but short and
tasteless. The French esteem him so mean, as to call him Un Villain;
nevertheless he may be so dressed as to make him very good meat; as,
namely, if he be a large Chub, then dress him thus:

First, scale him, and then wash him clean, and then take out his guts;
and to that end make the hole as little, and near to his gills, as you may
conveniently, and especially make clean his throat from the grass and
weeds that are usually in it; for if that be not very clean, it will make
him to taste very sour. Having so done, put some sweet herbs into his
belly; and then tie him with two or three splinters to a spit, and roast
him, basted often with vinegar, or rather verjuice and butter, with good
store of salt mixed with it.

Being thus dressed, you will find him a much better dish of meat than
you, or most folk, even than anglers themselves, do imagine: for this
dries up the fluid watery humour with which all Chubs do abound. But
take this rule with you, That a Chub newly taken and newly dressed, is
so much better than a Chub of a day's keeping after he is dead, that L
can compare him to nothing so fitly as to cherries newly gathered from
a tree, and others that have been bruised and lain a day or two in water.
But the Chub being thus used, and dressed presently; and not washed
after he is gutted, for note, that lying long in water, and washing the
blood out of any fish after they be gutted, abates much of their
sweetness; you will find the Chub, being dressed in the blood, and
quickly, to be such meat as will recompense your labour, and disabuse
your opinion.

Or you may dress the Chavender or Chub thus:

When you have scaled him, and cut off his tail and fins, and washed
him very clean, then chine or slit him through the middle, as a salt-fish
is usually cut; then give him three or four cuts or scotches on the back
with your knife, and broil him on charcoal, or wood coal, that are free
from smoke; and all the time he is a-broiling, baste him with the best
sweet butter, and good store of salt mixed with it. And, to this, add a
little thyme cut exceedingly small, or bruised into the butter. The
Cheven thus dressed hath the watery taste taken away, for which so
many except against him. Thus was the Cheven dressed that you now
liked so well, and commended so much But note again, that if this
Chub that you eat of had been kept till to-morrow, he had not been
worth a rush. And remember, that his throat be washed very clean, I say
very clean, and his body not washed after he is gutted, as indeed no fish
should be.

Well, scholar, you see what pains I have taken to recover the lost credit
of the poor despised Chub. And now I will give you some rules how to
catch him: and I am glad to enter you into the art of fishing by catching
a Chub, for there is no fish better to enter a young Angler, he is so
easily caught, but then it must be this particular way:

Go to the same hole in which I caught my Chub, where, in most hot
days, you will find a dozen or twenty Chevens floating near the top of
the water. Get two or three grasshoppers, as you go over the meadow:
and get secretly behind the tree, and stand as free from motion as is
possible. Then put a grasshopper on your hook, and let your hook hang
a quarter of a yard short of the water, to which end you must rest your
rod on some bough of the tree. But it is likely the Chubs will sink down
towards the bottom of the water, at the first shadow of your rod (for
Chub is the fearfullest of fishes), and will do so if but a bird flies over
him and makes the least shadow on the water; but they will presently
rise up to the top again, and there lie soaring till some shadow affrights
them again. I say, when they lie upon the top of the water, look out the
best Chub, which you, setting yourself in a fit place, may very easily
see, and move your rod, as softly as a snail moves, to that Chub you
intend to catch; let your bait fall gently upon the water three or four
inches before him, and he will infallibly take the bait. And you will be
as sure to catch him; for he is one of the leather-mouthed fishes, of
which a hook does scarce ever lose its hold; and therefore give him play
enough before you offer to take him out of the water. Go your way
presently; take my rod, and do as I bid you; and I will sit down and
mend my tackling till you return back.

Venator. Truly, my loving master, you have offered me as fair as I
could wish. I'll go and observe your directions.

Look you, master, what I have done, that which joys my heart, caught
just such another Chub as yours was.

Piscator. Marry, and I am glad of it: I am like to have a towardly
scholar of you. I now see, that with advice and practice, you will make
an Angler in a short time. Have but a love to it; and I'll warrant you.

Venator. But, master! what if I could not have found a grasshopper?

Piscator. Then I may tell you, That a black snail, with his belly slit, to
show his white, or a piece of soft cheese, will usually do as well. Nay,
sometimes a worm, or any kind of fly, as the ant-fly, the flesh-fly, or
wall-fly; or the dor or beetle which you may find under cow-dung; or a
bob which you will find in the same place, and in time will be a beetle;
it is a short white worm, like to and bigger than a gentle; or a cod-
worm; or a case-worm; any of these will do very well to fish in such a

And after this manner you may catch a Trout in a hot evening: when, as
you walk by a brook, and shall see or hear him leap at flies, then, if you
get a grasshopper, put it on your hook, with your line about two yards
long; standing behind a bush or tree where his hole is: and make your
bait stir up and down on the top of the water. You may, if you stand
close, be sure of a bite, but not sure to catch him, for he is not a leather-
mouthed fish. And after this manner you may fish for him with almost
any kind of live fly, but especially with a grasshopper.

Venator. But before you go further, I pray, good master, what mean you
by a leather-mouthed fish ?

Piscator. By a leather-mouthed fish, I mean such as have their teeth in
their throat, as the Chub or Cheven: and so the Barbel, the Gudgeon,
and Carp, and divers others have. And the hook being stuck into the
leather, or skin, of the mouth of such fish, does very seldom or never
lose its hold: but on the contrary, a Pike, a Perch, or Trout, and so some
other fish, which have not their teeth in their throats, but in their
mouths, which you shall observe to be very full of bones, and the skin
very thin, and little of it. I say, of these fish the hook never takes so sure
hold but you often lose your fish, unless he have gorged it.

Venator. I thank you, good master, for this observation. But now what
shall be done with my Chub or Cheven that I have caught ?

Piscator. Marry, Sir, it shall be given away to some poor body; for I'll
warrant you I'll give you a Trout for your supper: and it is a good
beginning of your art to offer your first-fruits to the poor, who will both
thank you and God for it, which I see by your silence you seem to
consent to. And for your willingness to part with it so charitably, I will
also teach more concerning Chub-fishing. You are to note, that in
March and April he is usually taken with worms; in May, June, and
July, he will bite at any fly, or at cherries, or at beetles with their legs
and wings cut off, or at any kind of snail, or at the black bee that breeds
in clay walls. And he never refuses a grasshopper, on the top of a swift
stream, nor, at the bottom, the young humble bee that breeds in long
grass, and is ordinarily found by the mower of it. In August, and in the
cooler months, a yellow paste, made of the strongest cheese, and
pounded in a mortar, with a little butter and saffron, so much of it as,
being beaten small, will turn it to a lemon colour. And some make a
paste for the winter months, at which time the Chub is accounted best,
for then it is observed, that the forked bones are lost, or turned into a
kind of gristle, especially if he be baked, of cheese and turpentine. He
will bite also at a minnow, or peek, as a Trout will: of which I shall tell
you more hereafter, and of divers other baits. But take this for a rule,
that, in hot weather, he is to be fished for towards the mid-water, or
near the top; and in colder weather, nearer the bottom; and if you fish
for him on the top, with a beetle, or any fly, then be sure to let your line
be very long, and to keep out of sight. And having told you, that his
spawn is excellent meat, and that the head of a large Cheven, the throat
being well washed, is the best part of him, I will say no more of this
fish at the present, but wish you may catch the next you fish for.

But, lest you may judge me too nice in urging to have the Chub dressed
so presently after he is taken, I will commend to your consideration
how curious former times have been in the like kind.

You shall read in Seneca, his Natural Questions, that the ancients were
so curious in the newness of their fish, that that semed not new enough
that was not put alive into the guest's hand; and he says, that to that end
they did usually keep them living in glass bottles in their dining-rooms,
and they did glory much in their entertaining of friends, to have that
fish taken from under their table alive that was instantly to be fed upon;
and he says, they took great pleasure to see their Mullets change to
several colours when they were dying. But enough of this; for I doubt I
have staid too long from giving you some Observations of the Trout,
and how to fish for him, which shall take up the next of my spare time.

The third day - continued

On the Nature and Breeding of the Trout,
and how to fish for him

Chapter IV

Piscator, Venator, Milk-woman, Maudlin,

Piscator. The Trout is a fish highly valued, both in this and foreign
nations. He may be justly said, as the old poet said of wine, and we
English say of venison, to be a generous fish: a fish that is so like the
buck, that he also has his seasons; for it is observed, that he comes in
and goes out of season with the stag and buck. Gesner says, his name is
of a German offspring; and says he is a fish that feeds clean and purely,
in the swiftest streams, and on the hardest gravel; and that he may justly
contend with all fresh water fish, as the Mullet may with all sea fish, for
precedency and daintiness of taste; and that being in right season, the
most dainty palates have allowed precedency to him.

And before I go farther in my discourse, let me tell you, that you are to
observe, that as there be some barren does that are good in summer, so
there be some barren Trouts that are good in winter; but there are not
many that are so; for usually they be in their perfection in the month of
May, and decline with the buck. Now you are to take notice, that in
several countries, as in Germany, and in other parts, compared to ours,
fish do differ much in their bigness, and shape, and other ways; and so
do Trouts. It is well known that in the Lake Leman, the Lake of Geneva,
there are Trouts taken of three cubits long; as is affirmed by Gesner, a
writer of good credit: and Mercator says, the Trouts that are taken in the
Lake of Geneva are a great part of the merchandize of that famous city.
And you are further to know, that there be certain waters that breed
Trouts remarkable, both for their number and smallness. I know a little
brook in Kent, that breeds them to a number incredible, and you may
take them twenty or forty in an hour, but none greater than about the
size of a Gudgeon. There are also, in divers rivers, especially that relate
to, or be near to the sea, as Winchester, or the Thames about Windsor, a
little Trout called a Samlet, or Skegger Trout, in both which places I
have caught twenty or forty at a standing, that will bite as fast and as
freely as Minnows: these be by some taken to be young Salmons; but in
those waters they never grow to be bigger than a Herring.

There is also in Kent, near to Canterbury, a Trout called there a
Fordidge Trout, a Trout that bears the name of the town where it is
usually caught, that is accounted the rarest of fish; many of them near
the bigness of a Salmon, but known by their different colour; and in
their best season they cut very white: and none of these have been
known to be caught with an angle, unless it were one that was caught
by Sir George Hastings, an excellent angler, and now with God: and he
hath told me, he thought that Trout bit not for hunger but wantonness;
and it is the rather to be believed, because both he, then, and many
others before him, have been curious to search into their bellies, what
the food was by which they lived; and have found out nothing by which
they might satisfy their curiosity.

Concerning which you are to take notice, that it is reported by good
authors, that grasshoppers and some fish have no mouths, but are
nourished and take breath by the porousness of their gills, man knows
not how: and this may be believed, if we consider that when the raven
hath hatched her eggs, she takes no further care, but leaves her young
ones to the care of the God of nature, who is said, in the Psalms, "to
feed the young ravens that call upon him ". And they be kept alive and
fed by a dew; or worms that breed in their nests; or some other ways
that we mortals know not. And this may be believed of the Fordidge
Trout, which, as it is said of the stork, that he knows his season, so he
knows his times, I think almost his day of coming into that river out of
the sea; where he lives, and, it is like, feeds, nine months of the year,
and fasts three in the river of Fordidge. And you are to note, that those
townsmen are very punctual in observing the time of beginning to fish
for them; and boast much, that their river affords a Trout that exceeds
all others. And just so does Sussex boast of several fish; as, namely, a
Shelsey Cockle, a Chichester Lobster, an Arundel Mullet, and an
Amerly Trout.

And, now, for some confirmation of the Fordidge Trout: you are to
know that this Trout is thought to eat nothing in the fresh water; and it
may be the better believed, because it is well known, that swallows, and
bats, and wagtails, which are called half-year birds, and not seen to fly
in England for six months in the year, but about Michaelmas leave us
for a hotter climate, yet some of them that have been left behind their
fellows, have been found, many thousands at a time, in hollow trees, or
clay caves, where they have been observed to live, and sleep out the
whole winter, without meat. And so Albertus observes, That there is
one kind of frog that hath her mouth naturally shut up about the end of
August, and that she lives so all the winter: and though it be strange to
some, yet it is known to too many among us to be doubted.

And so much for these Fordidge Trouts, which never afford an angler
sport, but either live their time of being in the fresh water, by their meat
formerly gotten in the sea, not unlike the swallow or frog, or, by the
virtue of the fresh water only; or, as the birds of Paradise and the
cameleon are said to live, by the sun and the air.

There is also in Northumberland a Trout called a Bull-trout, of a much
greater length and bigness than any in these southern parts; and there
are, in many rivers that relate to the sea, Salmon-trouts, as much
different from others, both in shape and in their spots, as we see sheep
in some countries differ one from another in their shape and bigness,
and in the fineness of the wool: and, certainly, as some pastures breed
larger sheep; so do some rivers, by reason of the ground over which
they run, breed larger Trouts.

Now the next thing that I will commend to your consideration is, that
the Trout is of a more sudden growth than other fish. Concerning
which, you are also to take notice, that he lives not so long as the
Pearch, and divers other fishes do, as Sir Francis Bacon hath observed
in his History of Life and Death.

And next you are to take notice, that he is not like the Crocodile, which
if he lives never so long, vet always thrives till his death: but 'tis not so
with the Trout; for after he is come to his full growth, he declines in his
body, and keeps his bigness, or thrives only in his head till his death.
And you are to know, that he will, about, especially before, the time of
his spawning, get, almost miraculously, through weirs and flood-gates,
against the stream; even through such high and swift places as is almost
incredible. Next, that the Trout usually spawns about October or
November, but in some rivers a little sooner or later; which is the more
observable, because most other fish spawn in the spring or summer,
when the sun hath warmed both the earth and water, and made it fit for
generation. And you are to note, that he continues many months out of
season; for it may be observed of the Trout, that he is like the Buck or
the Ox, that will not be fat in many months, though he go in the very
same pastures that horses do, which will be fat in one month: and so
you may observe, That most other fishes recover strength, and grow
sooner fat and in season than the Trout doth.

And next you are to note, That till the sun gets to such a height as to
warm the earth and the water, the Trout is sick, and lean, and lousy, and
unwholesome; for you shall, in winter, find him to have a big head, and,
then, to be lank and thin and lean; at which time many of them have
sticking on them Sugs, or Trout-lice; which is a kind of a worm, in
shape like a clove, or pin with a big head, and sticks close to him, and
sucks his moisture, those, I think, the Trout breeds himself: and never
thrives till he free himself from them, which is when warm weather
comes; and, then, as he grows stronger, he gets from the dead still water
into the sharp streams and the gravel, and, there, rubs off these worms
or lice; and then, as he grows stronger, so he gets him into swifter and
swifter streams, and there lies at the watch for any fly or minnow that
comes near to him; and he especially loves the May-fly, which is bred
of the cod-worm, or cadis; and these make the Trout bold and lusty, and
he is usually fatter and better meat at the end of that month than at any
time of the year.

Now you are to know that it is observed, that usually the best Trouts are
either red or yellow; though some, as the Fordidge Trout, be white and
yet good; but that is not usual: and it is a note observable, that the
female Trout hath usually a less head, and a deeper body than the male
Trout, and is usually the better meat. And note, that a hog back and a
little head, to either Trout, Salmon or any other fish, is a sign that that
fish is in season.

But yet you are to note, that as you see some willows or palm-trees bud
and blossom sooner than others do, so some Trouts be, in rivers, sooner
in season: and as some hollies, or oaks, are longer before they cast their
leaves, so are some Trouts, in rivers, longer before they go out of

And you are to note, that there are several kinds of Trouts: but these
several kinds are not considered but by very few men; for they go under
the general name of Trouts; just as pigeons do, in most places; though it
is certain, there are tame and wild pigeons; and of the tame, there be
hermits and runts, and carriers and cropers, and indeed too many to
name. Nay, the Royal Society have found and published lately, that
there be thirty and three kinds of spiders; and yet all, for aught I know,
go under that one general name of spider. And it is so with many kinds
of fish, and of Trouts especially; which differ in their bigness, and
shape, and spots, and colour. The great Kentish hens may be an
instance, compared to other hens: and, doubtless, there is a kind of
small Trout, which will never thrive to be big; that breeds very many
more than others do, that be of a larger size: which you may rasher
believe, if you consider that the little wren end titmouse will have
twenty young ones at a time, when, usually, the noble hawk, or the
musical thrassel or blackbird, exceed not four or five.

And now you shall see me try my skill to catch a Trout; and at my next
walking, either this evening or to-morrow morning, I will give you
direction how you yourself shall fish for him.

Venator. Trust me, master, I see now it is a harder matter to catch a
Trout than a Chub; for I have put on patience, and followed you these
two hours, and not seen a fish stir, neither at your minnow nor your

Piscator. Well, scholar, you must endure worse luck sometime, or you
will never make a good angler. But what say you now? there is a Trout
now, and a good one too, if I can but hold him; and two or three turns
more will tire him. Now you see he lies still, and the sleight is to land
him: reach me that landing-net. So, Sir, now he is mine own: what say
you now, is not this worth all my labour and your patience?

Venator. On my word, master, this is a gallant Trout; what shall we do
with him?

Piscator. Marry, e en eat him to supper: we'll go to my hostess from
whence we came; she told me, as I was going out of door, that my
brother Peter, a good angler and a cheerful companion, had sent word
he would lodge there to-night, and bring a friend with him. My hostess
has two beds, and I know you and I may have the best: we'll rejoice
with my brother Peter and his friend, tell tales, or sing ballads, or make
a catch, or find some harmless sport to content us, and pass away a little
time without offence to God or man.

Venator. A match, good master, let's go to that house, for the linen
looks white, and smells of lavender, and I long to lie in a pair of sheets
that smell so. Let's be going, good master, for I am hungry again with

Piscator. Nay, stay a little, good scholar. I caught my last Trout with a
worm; now I will put on a minnow, and try a quarter of an hour about
yonder trees for another; and, so, walk towards our lodging. Look you,
scholar, thereabout we shall have a bite presently, or not at all. Have
with you, Sir: o' my word I have hold of him. Oh! it is a great logger-
headed Chub; come, hang him upon that willow twig, and let's be
going. But turn out of the way a little, good scholar! toward yonder high
honeysuckle hedge; there we'll sit and sing whilst this shower falls so
gently upon the teeming earth, and gives yet a sweeter smell to the

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