Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Complete Angler by Izaak Walton

Part 2 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

lovely flowers that adorn these verdant meadows.

Look ! under that broad beech-tree I sat down, when I was last this way
a-fishing; and the birds in the adjoining grove seemed to have a friendly
contention with an echo, whose dead voice seemed to live in a hollow
tree near to the brow of that primrose-hill. There I sat viewing the silver
streams glide silently towards their centre, the tempestuous sea; yet
sometimes opposed by rugged roots and pebble-stones, which broke
their waves, and turned them into foam; and sometimes I beguiled time
by viewing the harmless lambs; some leaping securely in the cool
shade, whilst others sported themselves in the cheerful sun; and saw
others craving comfort from the swollen udders of their bleating dams.
As I thus sat, these and other sights had so fully possess my soul with
content, that I thought, as the poet has happily express it,

I was for that time lifted above earth:
And possest joys not promis'd in my birth.

As I left this place, and entered into the next field, a second pleasure
entertained me; 'twas a handsome milk-maid, that had not yet attained
so much age and wisdom as to load her mind with any fears of many
things that will never be, as too many men too often do; but she cast
away all care, and sung like a nightingale. Her voice was good, and the
ditty fitted for it; it was that smooth song which was made by Kit
Marlow, now at least fifty years ago; and the milk-maid's mother sung
an answer to it, which was made by Sir Walter Raleigh, in his younger
days. They were old-fashioned poetry, but choicely good; I think much
better than the strong lines that are now in fashion in this critical age.
Look yonder! on my word, yonder, they both be a-milking again. I will
give her the Chub, and persuade them to sing those two songs to us.

God speed you, good woman! I have been a-fishing; and am going to
Bleak Hall to my bed; and having caught more fish than will sup myself
and my friend, I will bestow this upon you and your daughter, for I use
to sell none.

Milk-woman. Marry! God requite you, Sir, and we'll eat it cheerfully.
And if you come this way a-fishing two months hence, a grace of God!
I'll give you a syllabub of new verjuice, in a new-made hay-cock, for it.
And my Maudlin shall sing you one of her best ballads; for she and I
both love all anglers, they be such honest, civil, quiet men. In the
meantime will you drink a draught of red cow's milk ? you shall have it

Piscator. No, I thank you; but, I pray, do us a courtesy that shall stand
you and your daughter in nothing, and yet we will think ourselves still
something in your debt: it is but to sing us a song that was sung by your
daughter when I last passed over this meadow, about eight or nine days

Milk-woman. What song was it, I pray? Was it, " Come, Shepherds,
deck your herds " ? or, " As at noon Dulcina rested " ? or, " Phillida
flouts me " ? or, " Chevy Chace " ? or, " Johnny Armstrong " ? or, "
Troy Town " ?

Piscator. No, it is none of those; it is a Song that your daughter sung the
first part, and you sung the answer to it.

Milk-woman. O, I know it now. I learned the first part in my golden
age, when I was about the age of my poor daughter; and the latter part,
which indeed fits me best now, but two or three years ago, when the
cares of the world began to take hold of me: but you shall, God willing,
hear them both; and sung as well as we can, for we both love anglers.
Come, Maudlin, sing the first part to the gentlemen, with a merry heart;
and I'll sing the second when you have done.

The Milk-maid's song.

Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That valleys, groves, or hills, or fields,
Or woods, and steepy mountains yields;

Where we will sit upon the rocks,
And see the shepherds feed our flocks,
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses;
And, then, a thousand fragrant posies;
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle,
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull
Slippers, lin'd choicely for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy-buds,
With coral clasps, and amber studs.
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come, live with me, and be my love,

Thy silver dishes, for thy meat
As precious as the Gods do eat
Shall, on an ivory table, be
Prepared each day for thee and me.

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight, each May morning.
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me, and be my love.

Venator. Trust me, master, it is a choice song, and sweetly sung by
honest Maudlin. I now see it was not without cause that our good queen
Elizabeth did so often wish herself a milk-maid all the month of May,
because they are not troubled with fears and cares, but sing sweetly all
the day, and sleep securely all the night: and without doubt, honest,
innocent, pretty Maudlin does so. I'll bestow Sir Thomas Overbury's
milk-maid's wish upon her, "that she may die in the Spring; and, being
dead, may have good store of flowers stuck round about her winding-
sheet " .

The Milk-maid's mother's answer

If all the world and love were young
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee, and be thy love.

But Time drives flocks from field to fold.
When rivers rage, and rocks grow cold
Then Philomel becometh dumb
And age complains of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields.
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring but sorrow's fall.

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies,
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten;
In folly rise. in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw, and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps, and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee, and be thy love.

What should we talk of dainties, then,
Of better meat than's fit for men ?
These are but vain: that's only good
Which God hath blessed and sent for food.

But could youth last, and love still breed;
Had joys no date, nor age no need;
Then those delights my mind might move
To live with thee, and be thy love.

Mother. Well! I have done my song. But stay, honest anglers; for I will
make Maudlin sing you one short song more. Maudlin ! sing that song
that you sung last night, when young Coridon the shepherd played so
purely on his oaten pipe to you and your cousin Betty.

Maudlin. I will, mother.

I married a wife of late,
The more's my unhappy fate:
I married her for love,
As my fancy did me move,
And not for a worldly estate:

But oh! the green sickness
Soon changed her likeness;
And all her beauty did fail.
But 'tis not so
With those that go
Thro'frost and s
As all men know,
And carry the milking-pail.

Piscator. Well sung, good woman; I thank you. I'll give you another dish
of fish one of these days; and then beg another song of you. Come,
scholar ! let Maudlin alone: do not you offer to spoil her voice. Look !
yonder comes mine hostess, to call us to supper. How now! is my
brother Peter come?

Hostess. Yes, and a friend with him. They are both glad to hear that you
are in these parts; and long to see you; and long to be at supper, for they
be very hungry.

The third day - continued

On the Trout

Chapter V

Piscator, Peter, Venator, Coridon

Piscator. Well met, brother Peter! I heard you and a friend would lodge
here to-night; and that hath made me to bring my friend to lodge here
too. My friend is one that would fain be a brother of the angle: he hath
been an angler but this day; and I have taught him how to catch a Chub,
by dapping with a grasshopper; and the Chub he caught was a lusty one
of nineteen inches long. But pray, brother Peter, who is your companion

Peter. Brother Piscator, my friend is an honest countryman, and his
name is Coridon; and he is a downright witty companion, that met me
here purposely to be pleasant and eat a Trout; and I have not yet wetted
my line since we met together: but I hope to fit him with a Trout for his
breakfast; for I'll be early up.

Piscator. Nay, brother, you shall not stay so long; for, look you! here is
a Trout will fill six reasonable bellies.

Come, hostess, dress it presently; and get us what other meat the house
will afford; and give us some of your best barley-wine, the good liquor
that our honest forefathers did use to think of; the drink which
preserved their health, and made them live so long, and to do so many
good deeds.

Peter. On my word, this Trout is perfect in season. Come, I thank you,
and here is a hearty draught to you, and to all the brothers of the angle
wheresoever they be, and to my young brother's good fortune to-
morrow. I will furnish him with a rod, if you will furnish him with the
rest of the tackling: we will set him up, and make him a fisher. And I
will tell him one thing for his encouragement, that his fortune hath
made him happy to be scholar to such a master; a master that knows as
much, both of the nature and breeding of fish, as any man; and can also
tell him as well how to catch and cook them, from the Minnow to the
Salmon, as any that I ever met withal.

Piscator. Trust me, brother Peter, I find my scholar to be so suitable to
my own humour, which is to be free and pleasant and civilly merry, that
my resolution is to hide nothing that I know from him. Believe me,
scholar, this is my resolution; and so here's to you a hearty draught, and
to all that love us and the honest art of Angling.

Venator. Trust me, good master, you shall not sow your seed in barren
ground; for I hope to return you an increase answerable to your hopes:
but, however, you shall find me obedient, and thankful, and serviceable
to my best ability.

Piscator. 'Tis enough, honest scholar! come, let's to supper. Come, my
friend Coridon, this Trout looks lovely; it was twenty-two inches when
it was taken; and the belly of it looked, some part of it, as yellow as a
marigold, and part of it as white as a lily; and yet, methinks, it looks
better in this good sauce.

Coridon. Indeed, honest friend, it looks well, and tastes well: I thank
you for it, and so doth my friend Peter, or else he is to blame.

Peter. Yes, and so I do; we all thank you: and, when we have supped, I
will get my friend Coridon to sing you a song for requital.

Coridon. I will sing a song, if anybody will sing another, else, to be
plain with you, I will sing none. I am none of those that sing for meat,
but for company: I say,

'"Tis merry in hall,
When men sing all."

Piscator. I'll promise you I'll sing a song that was lately made, at my
request, by Mr. William Basse; one that hath made the choice songs of
the " Hunter in his Career," and of " Tom of Bedlam," and many others
of note; and this, that I will sing, is in praise of Angling.

Coridon. And then mine shall be the praise of a Countryman's life.
What will the rest sing of?

Peter. I will promise you, I will sing another song in praise of Angling
to-morrow night; for we will not part till then; but fish to-morrow, and
sup together: and the next day every man leave fishing, and fall to his

Venator. Tis a match; and I will provide you a song or a catch against
then, too, which shall give some addition of mirth to the company; for
we will be civil and as merry as beggars.

Piscator. Tis a match, my masters. Let's e en say grace, and turn to the
fire, drink the other cup to whet our whistles, and so sing away all sad
thoughts. Come on, my masters, who begins? I think it is best to draw
cuts, and avoid contention.

Peter. It is a match. Look, the shortest cut falls to Coridon.

Coridon. Well, then, I will begin, for I hate contention

Coridon's song.

Oh the sweet contentment
The countryman doth find!
Heigh trolollie lollie foe,
Heigh trolollie lee.
That quiet contemplation
Possesseth all my mind:
Then care away
And wend along with me.

For Courts are full of flattery,
As hath too oft been tried
Heigh trolollie lollie foe, etc.,
The city full of wantonness,
And both are full of pride:
Then care away, etc.

But oh, the honest countryman
Speaks truly from his heart
Heigh trolollie lollie foe, etc.
His pride is in his tillage,
His horses, and his cart:
Then care away, etc.

Our cloathing is good sheep-skins
Grey russet for our wives
Heigh trolollie lollie loe, etc.
'Tis warmth and not gay cloathing
That doth prolong our lives:
Then care away, etc.

The ploughman, tho' he labour hard,
Yet on the holy-day
Heigh trolollie lollie foe, etc.
No emperor so merrily
Does pass his time away:
Then care away, etc.

To recompense our tillage,
The heavens afford us showers
Heigh trolollie lollie foe, etc.
And for our sweet refreshment.
The earth affords us bowers:
Then care away, etc.

The cuckow and the nightingale
Full merrily do sing,
Heigh trolollie lollie foe, etc.
And with their pleasant roundelays
Bid welcome to the spring:
Then care away, etc.

This is not half the happiness
The countryman enjoys
Heigh trolollie lollie foe, etc.,
Though others think they have as much,
Yet he that says so lies:
Then come away,
Turn countrymen with me.

Jo. Chalkhill.,

Piscator. Well sung, Coridon, this song was sung with mettle; and it
was choicely fitted to the occasion: I shall love you for it as long as I
know you. I would you were a brother of the angle; for a companion
that is cheerful, and free from swearing and scurrilous discourse, is
worth gold. I love such mirth as does not make friends ashamed to look
upon one another next morning; nor men, that cannot well bear it, to
repent the money they spend when they be warmed with drink. And
take this for a rule: you may pick out such times and such companies,
that you make yourselves merrier for a little than a great deal of money;
for "'Tis the company and not the charge that makes the feast "; and
such a companion you prove: I thank you for it

But I will not compliment you out of the debt that I owe you, and
therefore I will begin my song, and wish it may be so well liked.

The Angler's song.

As inward love breeds outward talk
The hound some praise, and some the hawk
Some, better pleas'd with private sport
Use tennis, some a mistress court:
But these delights I neither wish
Nor envy, while I freely fish.

Who hunts, doth oft in danger ride;
Who hawks, lures oft both far and wide
Who uses games shall often prove
A loser, but who falls in love,
Is fetter'd in fond Cupid's snare:
My angle breeds me no such care.

Of recreation there is none
So free as fishing is alone;
All other pastimes do no less
Than mind and body both possess:
My hand alone my work can do,
So I can fish and study too.

I care not, I, to fish in seas,
Fresh rivers best my mind do please,
Whose sweet calm course I contemplate,
And seek in life to imitate:
In civil bounds I fain would keep,
And for my past offences weep.

And when the timorous Trout I wait
To take, and he devours my bait,
How poor a thing, sometimes I find,
Will captivate a greedy mind:
And when none bite, I praise the wise
Whom vain allurements ne'er surprise.

But yet, though while I fish, I fast,
I make good fortune my repast;
And "hereunto my friend invite,
In whom I more than that delight:
Who is more welcome to my dish
Than to my angle was my fish.

As well content no prize to take,
As use of taken prize to make:
For so our Lord was pleased, when
He fishers made fishers of men;
Where, which is in no other game,
A man may fish and praise his name.

The first men that our Saviour dear
Did choose to wait upon him here,
Blest fishers were, and fish the last
Food was that he on earth did taste:
I therefore strive to follow those
Whom he to follow him hath chose.

W. B.

Coridon. Well sung, brother, you have paid your debt in good coin. We
anglers are all beholden to the good man that made this song: come,
hostess, give us more ale, and let's drink to him. And now let's every
one go to bed, that we may rise early: but first let's pay our reckoning,
for I will have nothing to hinder me in the morning; for my purpose is
to prevent the sun-rising.

Peter. A match. Come, Coridon, you are to be my bed-fellow. I know,
brother, you and your scholar will lie together. But where shall we meet
to-morrow night? for my friend Coridon and I will go up the water
towards Ware.

Piscator. And my scholar and I will go down towards Waltham.

Coridon. Then let's meet here, for here are fresh sheets that smell of
lavender; and I am sure we cannot expect better meat, or better usage in
any place.

Peter. 'Tis a match. Good-night to everybody.

Piscator. And so say I.

Venator. And so say I.

The fourth day

Piscator. Good-morrow, good hostess, I see my brother Peter is still in
bed. Come, give my scholar and me a morning drink, and a bit of meat
to breakfast: and be sure to get a dish of meat or two against supper, for
we shall come home as hungry as hawks. Come, scholar, let's be going.

Venator. Well now, good master, as we walk towards the river, give me
direction, according to your promise, how I shall fish for a Trout.

Piscator. My honest scholar, I will take this very convenient opportunity
to do it.

The Trout is usually caught with a worm, or a minnow, which some call
a peek, or with a fly, viz. either a natural or an artificial fly: concerning
which three, I will give you some observations and directions.

And, first, for worms. Of these there be very many sorts: some breed
only in the earth, as the earth-worm; others of, or amongst plants, as the
dug-worm; and others breed either out of excrements, or in the bodies
of living creatures, as in the horns of sheep or deer; or some of dead
flesh, as the maggot or gentle, and others.

Now these be most of them particularly good for particular fishes. But
for the Trout, the dew-worm, which some also call the lob-worm, and
the brandling, are the chief; and especially the first for a great Trout,
and the latter for a less. There be also of lob-worms, some called
squirrel-tails, a worm that has a red head, a streak down the back, and a
broad tail, which are noted to be the best, because they are the toughest
and most lively, and live longest in the water; for you are to know that a
dead worm is but a dead bait, and like to catch nothing, compared to a
lively, quick, stirring worm. And for a brandling, he is usually found in
an old dunghill, or some very rotten place near to it, but most usually in
cow-dung, or hog's-dung, rather than horse-dung, which is somewhat
too hot and dry for that worm. But the best of them are to be found in
the bark of the tanners, which they cast up in heaps after they have used
it about their leather.

There are also divers other kinds of worms, which, for colour and
shape, alter even as the ground out of which they are got; as the marsh-
worm, the tag-tail, the flag-worm, the dock-worm, the oak-worm, the
gilt-tail, the twachel or lob-worm, which of all others is the most
excellent bait for a salmon, and too many to name, even as many sorts
as some think there be of several herbs or shrubs, or of several kinds of
birds in the air: of which I shall say no more, but tell you, that what
worms soever you fish with, are the better for being well scoured, that
is, long kept before they be used: and in case you have not been so
provident, then the way to cleanse and scour them quickly, is, to put
them all night in water, if they be lob-worms, and then put them into
your bag with fennel. But you must not put your brandlings above an
hour in water, and then put them into fennel, for sudden use: but if you
have time, and purpose to keep them long, then they be best preserved
in an earthen pot, with good store of moss, which is to be fresh every
three or four days in summer, and every week or eight days in winter;
or, at least, the moss taken from them, and clean washed, and wrung
betwixt your hands till it be dry, and then put it to them again. And
when your worms, especially the brandling, begins to be sick and lose
of his bigness, then you may recover him, by putting a little milk or
cream, about a spoonful in a day, into them, by drops on the moss; and
if there be added to the cream an egg beaten and boiled in it, then it will
both fatten and preserve them long. And note, that when the knot,
which is near to the middle of the brandling, begins to swell, then he is
sick; and, if he be not well looked to, is near dying. And for moss, you
are to note, that there be divers kinds of it, which I could name to you,
but I will only tell you that that which is likest a buck's-horn is the best,
except it be soft white moss, which grows on some heaths, and is hard
to be found. And note, that in a very dry time, when you are put to an
extremity for worms, walnut-tree leaves squeezed into water, or salt in
water, to make it bitter or salt, and then that water poured on the ground
where you shall see worms are used to rise in the night, will make them
to appear above ground presently. And you may take notice, some say
that camphire put into your bag with your moss and worms gives them
a strong and so tempting a smell, that the fish fare the worse and you
the better for it.

And now, I shall shew you how to bait your hook with a worm so as
shall prevent you from much trouble, and the loss of many a hook, too,
when you fish for a Trout with a running line; that is to say, when you
fish for him by hand at the ground. I will direct you in this as plainly as
I can, that you may not mistake.

Suppose it be a big lob-worm: put your hook into him somewhat above
the middle, and out again a little below the middle: having so done,
draw your worm above the arming of your hook; but note, that, at the
entering of your hook, it must not be at the head-end of the worm, but
at the tail-end of him, that the point of your hook may come out toward
the head-end; and, having drawn him above the arming of your hook,
then put the point of your hook again into the very head of the worm,
till it come near to the place where the point of the hook first came out,
and then draw back that part of the worm that was above the shank or
arming of your hook, and so fish with it. And if you mean to fish with
two worms, then put the second on before you turn back the hook's-
head of the first worm. You cannot lose above two or three worms
before you attain to what I direct you; and having attained it, you will
find it very useful, and thank me for it: for you will run on the ground
without tangling.

Now for the Minnow or Penk: he is not easily found and caught till
March, or in April, for then he appears first in the river; nature having
taught him to shelter and hide himself, in the winter, in ditches that be
near to the river; and there both to hide, and keep himself warm, in the
mud, or in the weeds, which rot not so soon as in a running river, in
which place if he were in winter, the distempered floods that are
usually in that season would suffer him to take no rest, but carry him
headlong to mills and weirs, to his confusion. And of these Minnows:
first, you are to know, that the biggest size is not the best; and next, that
the middle size and the whitest are the best; and then you are to know,
that your minnow must be so put on your hook, that it must turn round
when 'tis drawn against the stream; and, that it may turn nimbly, you
must put it on a big-sized hook, as I shall now direct you, which is thus:
Put your hook in at his mouth, and out at his gill; then, having drawn
your hook two or three inches beyond or through his gill, put it again
into his mouth, and the point and beard out at his tail; and then tie the
hook and his tail about, very neatly, with a white thread, which will
make it the apter to turn quick in the water; that done, pull back that
part of your line which was slack when you did put your hook into the
minnow the second time; I say, pull that part of your line back, so that it
shall fasten the head, so that the body of the minnow shall be almost
straight on your hook: this done, try how it will turn, by drawing it
across the water or against a stream; and if it do not turn nimbly, then
turn the tail a little to the right or left hand, and try again, till it turn
quick; for if not, you are in danger to catch nothing: for know, that it is
impossible that it should turn too quick. And you are yet to know, that
in case you want a minnow, then a small loach, or a stickle-bag, or any
other small fish that will turn quick, will serve as well. And you are yet
to know that you may salt them, and by that means keep them ready and
fit for use three or four days, or longer; and that, of salt, bay-salt is the

And here let me tell you, what many old anglers know right well, that at
some times, and in some waters, a minnow is not to be got; and
therefore, let me tell you, I have, which I will shew to you, an artificial
minnow, that will catch a Trout as well as an artificial fly: and it was
made by a handsome woman that had a fine hand, and a live minnow
lying by her: the mould or body of the minnow was cloth, and wrought
upon, or over it, thus, with a needle; the back of it with very sad French
green silk, and paler green silk towards the belly, shadowed as perfectly
as you can imagine, just as you see a minnow: the belly was wrought
also with a needle, and it was, a part of it, white silk; and another part
of it with silver thread: the tail and fins were of a quill, which was
shaven thin: the eyes were of two little black beads: and the head was
so shadowed, and all of it so curiously wrought, and so exactly
dissembled, that it would beguile any sharp-sighted Trout in a swift
stream. And this minnow I will now shew you; look, here it is, and, if
you like it, lend it you, to have two or three made by it; for they be
easily carried about an angler, and be of excellent use: for note, that a
large Trout will come as fiercely at a minnow as the highest-mettled
hawk doth seize on a partridge, or a greyhound on a hare. I have been
told that one hundred and sixty minnows have been found in a Trout's
belly: either the Trout had devoured so many, or the miller that gave it a
friend of mine had forced them down his throat after he had taken him.

Now for Flies; which is the third bait wherewith Trouts are usually
taken. You are to know, that there are so many sorts of flies as there be
of fruits: I will name you but some of them; as the dun-fly, the stone-
fly, the red-fly, the moor-fly, the tawny-fly, the shell-fly, the cloudy or
blackish-fly, the flag-fly, the vine-fly; there be of flies, caterpillars, and
canker-flies, and bear-flies; and indeed too many either for me to name,
or for you to remember. And their breeding is so various and
wonderful, that I might easily amaze myself, and tire you in a relation
of them.

And, yet, I will exercise your promised patience by saying a little of the
caterpillar, or the palmer-fly or worm; that by them you may guess what
a work it were, in a discourse, but to run over those very many flies,
worms, and little living creatures, with which the sun and summer
adorn and beautify the river-banks and meadows, both for the
recreation and contemplation of us anglers; pleasures which, I think,
myself enjoy more than any other man that is not of my profession.

Pliny holds an opinion, that many have their birth, or being, from a dew
that in the spring falls upon the leaves of trees; and that some kinds of
them are from a dew left upon herbs or flowers; and others from a dew
left upon coleworts or cabbages: all which kinds of dews being
thickened and condensed, are by the sun's generative heat, most of
them, hatched, and in three days made living creatures. and these of
several shapes and colours; some being hard and tough, some smooth
and soft; some are horned in their head, some in their tail, some have
none; some have hair, some none: some have sixteen feet, some less,
and some have none: but, as our Topsel hath with great diligence
observed, those which have none, move upon the earth, or upon broad
leaves, their motion being not unlike to the waves of the sea. Some of
them he also observes to be bred of the eggs of other caterpillars, and
that those in their time turn to be butterflies; and again, that their eggs
turn the following year to be caterpillars And some affirm, that every
plant has its particular fly or caterpillar, which it breeds and feeds. I
have seen, and may therefore affirm it, a green caterpillar, or worm, as
big as a small peascod, which had fourteen legs; eight on the belly, four
under the neck, and two near the tail. It was found on a hedge of privet;
and was taken thence, and put into a large box, and a little branch or
two of privet put to it, on which I saw it feed as sharply as a dog gnaws
a bone: it lived thus, five or six days, and thrived, and changed the
colour two or three times but by some neglect in the keeper of it, it then
died and did not turn to a fly: but if it had lived, it had doubtless turned
to one of those flies that some call Flies of prey, which those that walk
by the rivers may, in summer, see fasten on smaller flies, and, I think,
make them their food. And 'tis observable, that as there be these flies of
prey, which be very large; so there be others, very little, created, I think,
only to feed them, and breed out of I know not what; whose life, they
say, nature intended not to exceed an hour; and yet that life is thus
made shorter by other flies, or accident.

'Tis endless to tell you what the curious searchers into nature's
productions have observed of these worms and flies: but yet I shall tell
you what Aldrovandus, our Topsel, and others, say of the Palmer-worm,
or Caterpillar: that whereas others content themselves to feed on
particular herbs or leaves; for most think, those very leaves that gave
them life and shape, give them a particular feeding and nourishment,
and that upon them they usually abide; yet he observes, that this is
called a pilgrim, or palmer-worm, for his very wandering life, and
various food; not contenting himself, as others do, with any one certain
place for his abode, nor any certain kind of herb or flower for his
feeding, but will boldly and disorderly wander up and down, and not
endure to be kept to a diet, or fixt to a particular place.

Nay, the very colours of caterpillars are, as one has observed, very
elegant and beautiful I shall, for a taste of the rest, describe one of
them; which I will, some time the next month, shew you feeding on a
willow-tree; and you shall find him punctually to answer this very
description: his lips and mouth somewhat yellow; his eyes black as jet;
his forehead purple; his feet and hinder parts green; his tail two-forked
and black; the whole body stained with a kind of red spots, which run
along the neck and shoulder-blade, not unlike the form of St. Andrew's
cross, or the letter X, made thus crosswise, and a white line drawn
down his back to his tail; all which add much beauty to his whole body.
And it is to me observable, that at a fixed age this caterpillar gives over
to eat, and towards winter comes to be covered over with a strange shell
or crust, called an aurelia; and so lives a kind of dead life, without
eating all the winter. And as others of several kinds turn to be several
kinds of flies and vermin, the Spring following; so this caterpillar then
turns to be a painted butterfly.

Come, come, my scholar, you see the river stops our morning walk: and
I will also here stop my discourse: only as we sit down under this
honeysuckle hedge, whilst I look a line to fit the rod that our brother
Peter hath lent you, I shall, for a little confirmation of what I have said,
repeat the observation of Du Bartas:

God, not contented to each kind to give
And to infuse the virtue generative,
Made, by his wisdom, many creatures breed
Of lifeless bodies. without Venus' deed.

So, the cold humour breeds the Salamander,
Who, in effect, like to her birth's commander,
With child with hundred winters, with her touch
Quencheth the fire, tho'glowing ne'er so much.

So of the fire, in burning furnace, springs
The fly Pyrausta with the flaming wings:
Without the fire, it dies: within it joys,
Living in that which each shine else destroys.

So, slow Botes underneath him sees
In th' icy isles those goslings hatch'd of trees;
Whose fruitful leaves, falling into the water,
Are turn'd, they say, to living fowls soon after.

So, rotten sides of broken ships do change
To barnacles. O transformation strange!
'Twas first a green tree; then, a gallant hull;
Lately a mushroom; now, a flying gull.

Venator. O my good master, this morning-walk has been spent to my
great pleasure and wonder: but, I pray, when shall I have your direction
how to make artificial flies, like to those that the Trout loves best; and,
also, how to use them ?

Piscator. My honest scholar, it is now past five of the clock: we will
fish till nine; and then go to breakfast. Go you to yonder sycamore-tree,
and hide your bottle of drink under the hollow root of it; for about that
time, and in that place, we will make a brave breakfast with a piece of
powdered beef, and a radish or two, that I have in my fish bag: we shall,
I warrant you, make a good, honest, wholesome hungry breakfast. And I
will then give you direction for the making and using of your flies: and
in the meantime, there is your rod and line; and my advice is, that you
fish as you see me do, and let's try which can catch the first fish.

Venator. I thank you, master. I will observe and practice your direction
as far as I am able.

Piscator. Look you, scholar; you see I have hold of a good fish: I now
see it is a Trout.
I pray, put that net under him; and touch not my line, for if you do, then
we break all. Well done, scholar: I thank you.

Now for another. Trust me, I have another bite. Come, scholar, come
lay down your rod, and help me to land this as you did the other. So
now we shall be sure to have a good dish of fish for supper.

Venator. I am glad of that: but I have no fortune: sure, master, yours is a
better rod and better tackling.

Piscator. Nay, then, take mine; and I will fish with yours. Look you,
scholar, I have another. Come, do as you did before. And now I have a
bite at another. Oh me! he has broke all: there's half a line and a good
hook lost.

Venator. Ay, and a good Trout too.

Piscator. Nay, the Trout is not lost; for pray take notice, no man can
lose what he never had.

Venator. Master, I can neither catch with the first nor second angle: I
have no fortune.

Piscator. Look you, scholar, I have yet another. And now, having caught
three brace of Trouts, I will tell you a short tale as we walk towards our
breakfast. A scholar, a preacher I should say, that was to preach to
procure the approbation of a parish that he might be their lecturer, had
got from his fellow-pupil the copy of a sermon that was first preached
with great commendation by him that composed it: and though the
borrower of it preached it, word for word, as it was at first, yet it was
utterly disliked as it was preached by the second to his congregation,
which the sermon-borrower complained of to the lender of it: and was
thus answered: " I lent you, indeed, my fiddle, but not my fiddle-stick;
for you are to know, that every one cannot make musick with my
words, which are fitted for my own mouth". And so, my scholar, you
are to know, that as the ill pronunciation or ill accenting of words in a
sermon spoils it, so the ill carriage of your line, or not fishing even to a
foot in a right place, makes you lose your labour: and you are to know,
that though you have my fiddle, that is, my very rod and tacklings with
which you see I catch fish, yet you have not my fiddle-stick, that is, you
yet have not skill to know how to carry your hand and line, nor how to
guide it to a right place: and this must be taught you; for you are to
remember, I told you Angling is an art, either by practice or a long
observation, or both. But take this for a rule, When you fish for a Trout
with a worm, let your line have so much, and not more lead than will fit
the stream in which you fish; that is to say, more in a great troublesome
stream than in a smaller that is quieter; as near as may be, so much as
will sink the bait to the bottom, and keep it still in motion, and not

But now, let's say grace, and fall to breakfast. What say you, scholar, to
the providence of an old angler ? Does not this meat taste well? and
was not this place well chosen to eat it? for this sycamore-tree will
shade us from the sun's heat.

Venator. All excellent good; and my stomach excellent good, too. And
now I remember, and find that true which devout Lessius says, " that
poor men, and those that fast often, have much more pleasure in eating
than rich men, and gluttons, that always feed before their stomachs are
empty of their last meat and call for more; for by that means they rob
themselves of that pleasure that hunger brings to poor men". And I do
seriously approve of that saying of yours, " that you had rather be a
civil, well-governed, well-grounded, temperate, poor angler, than a
drunken lord ": but I hope there is none such. However, I am certain of
this, that I have been at many very costly dinners that have not afforded
me half the content that this has done; for which I thank God and you.

And now, good master, proceed to your promised direction for making
and ordering my artificial fly.

Piscator. My honest scholar, I will do it; for it is a debt due unto you by
my promise. And because you shall not think yourself more engaged to
me than indeed you really are, I will freely give you such directions as
were lately given to me by an ingenious brother of the angle, an honest
man, and a most excellent fly-fisher.

You are to note, that there are twelve kinds of artificial made Flies, to
angle with upon the top of the water. Note, by the way, that the fittest
season of using these is in a blustering windy day, when the waters are
so troubled that the natural fly cannot be seen, or rest upon them. The
first is the dun-fly, in March: the body is made of dun wool; the wings,
of the partridge's feathers. The second is another dun-fly: the body, of
black wool; and the wings made of the black drake's feathers, and of the
feathers under his tail. The third is the stone-fly, in April: the body is
made of black wool; made yellow under the wings and under the tail,
and so made with wings of the drake. The fourth is the ruddy-fly, in the
beginning of May: the body made of red wool, wrapt about with black
silk; and the feathers are the wings of the drake; with the feathers of a
red capon also, which hang dangling on his sides next to the tail. The
fifth is the yellow or greenish fly, in May likewise: the body made of
yellow wool; and the wings made of the red cock's hackle or tail. The
sixth is the black-fly, in May also: the body made of black wool, and
lapt about with the herle of a peacock's tail: the wings are made of the
wings of a brown capon, with his blue feathers in his head. The seventh
is the sad yellow-fly in June: the body is made of black wool, with a
yellow list on either side; and the wings taken off the wings of a
buzzard, bound with black braked hemp. The eighth is the moorish-fly;
made, with the body, of duskish wool; and the wings made of the
blackish mail of the drake. The ninth is the t-fly-fly, good until the
middle of June: the body made of tawny wool; the wings made contrary
one against the other, made of the whitish mail of the wild drake. The
tenth is the wasp-fly in July; the body made of black wool, lapt about
with yellow silk; the wings made of the feathers of the drake, or of the
buzzard. The eleventh is the shell-fly, good in mid-July: the body made
of greenish wool, lapt about with the herle of a peacock's tail: and the
wings made of the wings of the buzzard. The twelfth is the dark drake-
fly, good in August: the body made with black wool, lapt about with
black silk; his wings are made with the mail of the black drake, with a
black head. Thus have you a jury of flies, likely to betray and condemn
all the Trouts in the river.

I shall next give you some other directions for fly-fishing, such as are
given by Mr. Thomas Barker, a gentleman that hath spent much time in
fishing: but I shall do it with a little variation.

First, let your rod be light, and very gentle: I take the best to be of two
pieces. And let not your line exceed, especially for three or four links
next to the hook, I say, not exceed three or four hairs at the most;
though you may fish a little stronger above, in the upper part of your
line: but if you can attain to angle with one hair, you shall have more
rises, and catch more fish. Now you must be sure not to cumber
yourself with too long a line, as most do. And before you begin to
angle, cast to have the wind on your back; and the sun, if it shines, to be
before you; and to fish down the stream; and carry the point or top of
your rod downward, by which means the shadow of yourself and rod
too, will be the least offensive to the fish, for the sight of any shade
amazes the fish, and spoils your sport, of which you must take great

In the middle of March, till which time a man should not in honesty
catch a Trout; or in April, it the weather be dark, or a little windy or
cloudy; the best fishing is with the palmer-worm, of which I last spoke
to you; but of these there be divers kinds, or at least of divers colours:
these and the May-fly are the ground of all fly-angling: which are to be
thus made:

First, you must arm your hook with the line, in the inside of it: then take
your scissors, and cut so much of a brown mallard's feather as, in your
own reason, will make the wings of it, you having, withal, regard to the
bigness or littleness of your hook; then lay the outmost part of your
feather next to your hook; then the point of your feather next the shank
of your hook, and, having so done, whip it three or four times about the
hook with the same silk with which your hook was armed; and having
made the silk fast, take the hackle of a cock or capon's neck, or a
plover's top, which is usually better: take off the one side of the feather,
and then take the hackle, silk or crewel, gold or silver thread; make
these fast at the bent of the hook, that is to say, below your arming; then
you must take the hackle, the silver or gold thread, and work it up to the
wings, shifting or still removing your finger as you turn the silk about
the hook, and still looking, at every stop or turn, that your gold, or what
materials soever you make your fly of, do lie right and neatly; and if
you find they do so, then when you have made the head, make all fast:
and then work your hackle up to the head, and make that fast: and then,
with a needle, or pin, divide the wing into two; and then, with the
arming silk, whip it about cross-ways betwixt the wings: and then with
your thumb you must turn the point of the feather towards the bent of
the hook; and then work three or four times about the shank of the
hook; and then view the proportion; and if all be neat, and to your
liking, fasten.

I confess, no direction can be given to make a man of a dull capacity
able to make a fly well: and yet I know this, with a little practice, will
help an ingenious angler in a good degree. But to see a fly made by an
artist in that kind, is the best teaching to make it. And, then, an
ingenious angler may walk by the river, and mark what flies fall on the
water that day; and catch one of them, if he sees the Trouts leap at a fly
of that kind: and then having always hooks ready-hung with him, and
having a bag always with him, with bear's hair, or the hair of a brown or
sad-coloured heifer, hackles of a cock or capon, several coloured silk
and crewel to make the body of the fly, the feathers of a drake's head,
black or brown sheep's wool, or hog's wool, or hair, thread of gold and
of silver; silk of several colours, especially sad-coloured, to make the
fly's head: and there be also other coloured feathers, both of little birds
and of speckled fowl: I say, having those with him in a bag, and trying
to make a fly, though he miss at first, yet shall he at last hit it better,
even to such a perfection as none can well teach him And if he hit to
make his fly right, and have the luck to hit, also, where there is store of
Trouts, a dark day, and a right wind, he will catch such store of them, as
will encourage him to grow more and more in love with the art of fly-

Venator. But, my loving master, if any wind will not serve, then I wish I
were in Lapland, to buy a good wind of one of the honest witches, that
sell so many winds there, and so cheap.

Piscator. Marry, scholar, but I would not be there, nor indeed from
under this tree; for look how it begins to rain, and by the clouds, if I
mistake not, we shall presently have a smoking shower, and therefore
sit close; this sycamore-tree will shelter us: and I will tell you, as they
shall come into my mind, more observations of fly-fishing for a Trout.

But first for the wind: you are to take notice that of the winds the south
wind is said to be best. One observes, that

when the wind is south,
It blows your bait into a fish's mouth.

Next to that, the west wind is believed to be the best: and having told
you that the east wind is the worst, I need not tell you which wind is the
best in the third degree: and yet, as Solomon observes, that " he that
considers the wind shall never sow "; so he that busies his head too
much about them, if the weather be not made extreme cold by an east
wind, shall be a little superstitious: for as it is observed by some, that "
there is no good horse of a bad colour"; so I have observed, that if it be
a cloudy day, and not extreme cold, let the wind sit in what corner it
will and do its worst, I heed it not. And yet take this for a rule, that I
would willingly fish, standing on the lee-shore: and you are to take
notice, that the fish lies or swims nearer the bottom, and in deeper
water, in winter than in summer; and also nearer the bottom in any cold
day, and then gets nearest the lee-side of the water.

But I promised to tell you more of the Fly-fishing for a Trout; which I
may have time enough to do, for you see it rains May butter. First for a
Mayfly: you may make his body with greenish-coloured crewel, or
willowish colour; darkening it in most places with waxed silk; or ribbed
with black hair; or, some of them, ribbed with silver thread; and such
wings, for the colour, as you see the fly to have at that season, nay, at
that very day on the water. Or you may make the Oak-fly: with an
orange, tawny, and black ground; and the brown of a mallard's feather
for the wings. And you are to know, that these two are most excellent
flies, that is, the May-fly and the Oak-fly.

And let me again tell you, that you keep as far from the water as you
can possibly, whether you fish with a fly or worm; and fish down the
stream. And when you fish with a fly, if it be possible, let no part of
your line touch the water, but your fly only; and be still moving your fly
upon the water, or casting it into the water, you yourself being also
always moving down the stream.

Mr. Barker commends several sorts of the palmer-flies; not only those
ribbed with silver and gold, but others that have their bodies all made of
black; or some with red, and a red hackle. You may also make the
Hawthorn-fly: which is all black, and not big, but very small, the
smaller the better. Or the oak-fly, the body of which is orange colour
and black crewel, with a brown wing. Or a fly made with a peacock's
feather is excellent in a bright day: you must be sure you want not in
your magazine-bag the peacock's feather; and grounds of such wool and
crewel as will make the grasshopper. And note, that usually the smallest
flies are the best; and note also, that the light fly does usually make
most sport in a dark day, and the darkest and least fly in a bright or
clear day: and lastly note, that you are to repair upon any occasion to
your magazine-bag: and upon any occasion, vary and make them lighter
or sadder, according to your fancy, or the day.

And now I shall tell you, that the fishing with a natural-fly is excellent,
and affords much pleasure. They may be found thus: the May-fly,
usually in and about that month, near to the river-side, especially
against rain: the Oak-fly, on the butt or body of an oak or ash, from the
beginning of May to the end of August; it is a brownish fly and easy to
be so found, and stands usually with his head downward, that is to say,
towards the root of the tree: the small black-fly, or Hawthorn-fly, is to
be had on any hawthorn bush after the leaves be come forth. With these
and a short line, as I shewed to angle for a Chub, you may cape or cop,
and also with a grasshopper, behind a tree, or in any deep hole; still
making it to move on the top of the water as if it were alive, and still
keeping yourself out of sight, you shall certainly have sport if there be
Trouts; yea, in a hot day, but especially in the evening of a hot day, you
will have sport.

And now, scholar, my direction for fly-fishing is ended with this
shower, for it has done raining. And now look about you, and see how
pleasantly that meadow looks; nay, and the earth smells so sweetly too.
Come let me tell you what holy Mr. Herbert says of such days and
flowers as these, and then we will thank God that we enjoy them, and
walk to the river and sit down quietly, and try to catch the other place
of Trouts.

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky,
Sweet dews shall weep thy fall to-night,
For thou must die.
Sweet rose, whose hue, angry and brave,
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Thy root is ever in its grave,
And thou must die.

Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie;
My music shews you have your closes,
And all must die.

Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like season'd timber, never gives,
But when the whole world turns to coal,
Then chiefly lives.

Venator. I thank you, good master, for your good direction for fly-
fishing, and for the sweet enjoyment of the pleasant day, which is so far
spent without offence to God or man: and I thank you for the sweet
close of your discourse with Mr. Herbert's verses; who, I have heard,
loved angling; and I do the rather believe it, because he had a spirit
suitable to anglers, and to those primitive Christians that you love, and
have so much commended.

Piscator. Well, my loving scholar, and I am pleased to know that you
are so well pleased with my direction and discourse.

And since you like these verses of Mr. Herbert's so well, let me tell you
what a reverend and learned divine that professes to imitate him, and
has indeed done so most excellently, hath writ of our book of Common
Prayer; which I know you will like the better, because he is a friend of
mine, and I am sure no enemy to angling.

What ! Pray'r by th' book ? and Common ? Yes; Why not ?

The spirit of grace
And supplication
Is not left free alone
For time and place,
But manner too: to read, or speak, by rote,
Is all alike to him that prays,
In's heart. what with his mouth he says.

They that in private, by themselves alone,
Do pray, may take
What liberty they please,
In chusing of the ways
Wherein to make
Their soul's most intimate affections known
To him that sees in secret, when
Th' are most conceal'd from other men.

But he, that unto others leads the way
In public prayer,
Should do it so,
As all, that hear, may know
They need not fear
To tune their hearts unto his tongue, and say
Amen; not doubt they were betray'd
To blaspheme, when they meant to have pray'd.

Devotion will add life unto the letter:
And why should not
That, which authority
Prescribes, esteemed be
Advantage got ?
If th' prayer be good, the commoner the better,
Prayer in the Church's words, as well
As sense, of all prayers bears the bell.

And now, scholar, I think it will be time to repair to our angle-rods,
which we left in the water to fish for themselves; and you shall choose
which shall be yours; and it is an even lay, one of them catches.

And, let me tell you, this kind of fishing with a dead rod, and laying
night-hooks, are like putting money to use; for they both work for the
owners when they do nothing but sleep, or eat, or rejoice, as you know
we have done this last hour, and sat as quietly and as free from cares
under this sycamore, as Virgil's Tityrus and his Meliboeus did under
their broad beech-tree. No life, my honest scholar, no life so happy and
so pleasant as the life of a well-governed angler; for when the lawyer is
swallowed up with business, and the statesman is preventing or
contriving plots, then we sit on cowslip-banks, hear the birds sing, and
possess ourselves in as much quietness as these silent silver streams,
which we now see glide so quietly by us. Indeed, my good scholar, we
may say of angling, as Dr. Boteler said of strawberries, " Doubtless God
could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did "; and so,
if I might be judge, God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent
recreation than angling.

I'll tell you, scholar; when I sat last on this primrose-bank, and looked
down these meadows, I thought of them as Charles the emperor did of
the city of Florence: " That they were too pleasant to be looked on, but
only on holy-days ". As I then sat on this very grass, I turned my present
thoughts into verse: 'twas a Wish, which I'll repeat to you:-

The Angler's wish.

I in these flowery meads would be:
These crystal streams should solace me;
To whose harmonious bubbling noise
I with my Angle would rejoice:
Sit here, and see the turtle-dove
Court his chaste mate to acts of love:

Or, on that bank, feel the west wind
Breathe health and plenty: please my mind,
To see sweet dew-drops kiss these flowers,
And then washed off by April showers:
Here, hear my Kenna sing a song;
There. see a blackbird feed her young.

Or a leverock build her nest:
Here, give my weary spirits rest,
And raise my low-pitch'd thoughts above
Earth, or what poor mortals love:
Thus, free from law-suits and the noise
Of princes' courts, I would rejoice:

Or, with my Bryan, and a book,
Loiter long days near Shawford-brook;
There sit by him, and eat my meat,
There see the sun both rise and set:
There bid good morning to next day;There meditate my time away,
And Angle on; and beg to have
A quiet passage to a welcome grave.

When I had ended this composure, I left this place, and saw a brother of
the angle sit under that honeysuckle hedge, one that will prove worth
your acquaintance. I sat down by him, and presently we met with an
accidental piece of merriment, which I will relate to you, for it rains

On the other side of this very hedge sat a gang of gypsies; and near to
them sat a gang of beggars. The gypsies were then to divide all the
money that had been got that week, either by stealing linen or poultry,
or by fortune-telling or legerdemain, or, indeed, by any other sleights
and secrets belonging to their mysterious government. And the sum that
was got that week proved to be but twenty and some odd shillings. The
odd money was agreed to be distributed amongst the poor of their own
corporation: and for the remaining twenty shillings, that was to be
divided unto four gentlemen gypsies, according to their several degrees
in their commonwealth. And the first or chiefest gypsy was, by consent,
to have a third part of the twenty shillings, which all men know is 6s.
8d. The second was to have a fourth part of the 20s., which all men
know to be 5s. The third was to have a fifth part of the 20s., which all
men know to be 4s. The fourth and last gypsy was to have a sixth part
of the 20s., which all men know to be 3s. 4d.

As for example,
3 times 6s. 8d. are 20s.
And so is 4 times 5s. are 20s.
And so is 5 times 4s. are 20s.
And so is 6 times 3s. 4d. are 20s.

And yet he that divided the money was so very a gypsy, that though he
gave to every one these said sums, yet he kept one shilling of it for

As, for example, s. d.
6 8
5 0
4 0
3 4

make but . . . . . . 19 0

But now you shall know, that when the four gypsies saw that he had got
one shilling by dividing the money, though not one of them knew any
reason to demand more, yet, like lords and courtiers, every gypsy
envied him that was the gainer; and wrangled with him; and every one
said the remaining shilling belonged to him; and so they fell to so high
a contest about it, as none that knows the faithfulness of one gypsy to
another will easily believe; only we that have lived these last twenty
years are certain that money has been able to do much mischief.
However, the gypsies were too wise to go to law, and did therefore
choose their choice friends Rook and Shark, and our late English
Gusman, to be their arbitrators and umpires. And so they left this
honeysuckle hedge; and went to tell fortunes and cheat, and get more
money and lodging in the next village.

When these were gone, we heard as high a contention amongst the
beggars, whether it was easiest to rip a cloak, or to unrip a cloak ? One
beggar affirmed it was all one: but that was denied, by asking her, If
doing and undoing were all one? Then another said, 'twas easiest to
unrip a cloak; for that was to let it alone: but she was answered, by
asking her, how she unript it if she let it alone ? and she confess herself
mistaken. These and twenty such like questions were proposed and
answered, with as much beggarly logick and earnestness as was ever
heard to proceed from the mouth of the pertinacious schismatick; and
sometimes all the beggars, whose number was neither more nor less
than the poets' nine muses, talked all together about this ripping and
unripping; and so loud, that not one heard what the other said: but, at
last, one beggar craved audience; and told them that old father Clause,
whom Ben Jonson, in his Beggar's Bush, created King of their
corporation, was to lodge at an ale-house, called " Catch-her-by-the-
way," not far from Waltham Cross, and in the high road towards
London; and he therefore desired them to spend no more time about
that and such like questions, but refer all to father Clause at night, for
he was an upright judge, and in the meantime draw cuts, what song
should be next sung, and who should sing it. They all agreed to the
motion; and the lot fell to her that was the youngest, and veriest virgin
of the company. And she sung Frank Davison's song, which he made
forty years ago; and all the others of the company joined to sing the
burthen with her. The ditty was this; but first the burthen:

Bright shines the sun; play, Beggars, play;
Here's scraps enough to serve to-day.

What noise of viols is so sweet,
As when our merry clappers ring ?
What mirth doth want where Beggars meet ?
A Beggar's life is for a King.
Eat, drink, and play, sleep when we list
Go where we will, so stocks be mist.
Bright shines the sun; play, Beggars, play,
Here's scraps enough to serve to-day.

The world is ours, and ours alone;
For we alone have world at will
We purchase not, all is our own;
Both fields and streets we Beggars fill.
Nor care to get, nor fear to keep,
Did ever break a Beggar's sleep,
Play, Beggars, play; play, Beggars, play;
Here's scraps enough to serve to-day.

A hundred head of black and white
Upon our gowns securely feed If any dare his master bite
He dies therefore, as sure as creed.
Thus Beggars lord it as they please;
And only Beggars live at ease.
Bright shines the sun; play, Beggars, play;
Here's scraps enough to serve to-day.

Venator. I thank you, good master, for this piece of merriment, and this
song, which was well humoured by the maker, and well remembered by

Piscator. But, I pray, forget not the catch which you promised to make
against night; for our countryman, honest Coridon, will expect your
catch, and my song, which I must be forced to patch up, for it is so long
since I learnt it, that I have forgot a part of it. But, come, now it hath
done raining, let's stretch our legs a little in a gentle walk to the river,
and try what interest our angles will pay us for lending them so long to
be used by the Trouts; lent them indeed, like usurers, for our profit and
their destruction.

Venator. Oh me! look you, master, a fish! a fish! Oh, alas, master, I
have lost her.

Piscator. Ay marry, Sir, that was a good fish indeed: if I had had the
luck to have taken up that rod, then 'tis twenty to one he should not
have broken my line by running to the rod's end, as you suffered him. I
would have held him within the bent of my rod, unless he had been
fellow to the great Trout that is near an ell long, which was of such a
length and depth, that he had his picture drawn, and now is to be seen at
mine host Rickabie's, at the George in Ware, and it may be, by giving
that very great Trout the rod, that is, by casting it to him into the water,
I might have caught him at the long run, for so I use always to do when
I meet with an over-grown fish; and you will learn to do so too,
hereafter, for I tell you, scholar, fishing is an art, or, at least, it is an art
to catch fish.

Venator. But, master, I have heard that the great Trout you speak of is a

Piscator. Trust me, scholar, I know not what to say to it. There are
many country people that believe hares change sexes every year: and
there be very many learned men think so too, for in their dissecting
them they find many reasons to incline them to that belief. And to make
the wonder seem yet less, that hares change sexes, note that Dr. Mer.
Casaubon affirms, in his book " Of credible and incredible things," that
Gasper Peucerus, a learned physician, tells us of a people that once a
year turn wolves, partly in shape, and partly in conditions. And so,
whether this were a Salmon when he came into fresh water, and his not
returning into the sea hath altered him to another colour or kind, I am
not able to say; but I am certain he hath all the signs of being a Trout,
both for his shape, colour, and spots; and yet many think he is not.

Venator. But, master, will this Trout which I had hold of die ? for it is
like he hath the hook in his belly.

Piscator. I will tell you, scholar, that unless the hook be fast in his very
gorge, 'tis more than probable he will live, and a little time, with the
help of the water, will rust the hook, and it will in time wear away, as
the gravel doth in the horse-hoof, which only leaves a false quarter.

And now, scholar, let's go to my rod. Look you, scholar, I have a fish
too, but it proves a logger-headed Chub: and this is not much amiss, for
this will pleasure some poor body, as we go to our lodging to meet our
brother Peter and honest Coridon. Come, now bait your hook again, and
lay it into the water, for it rains again; and we will even retire to the
Sycamore-tree, and there I will give you more directions concerning
fishing, for I would fain make you an artist.

Venator. Yes, good master, I pray let it be so.

Piscator. Well, scholar, now that we are sate down and are at ease, I
shall tell you a little more of Trout-fishing, before I speak of the
Salmon, which I purpose shall be next, and then of the Pike or Luce.

You are to know, there is night as well as day fishing for a Trout; and
that, in the night, the best Trouts come out of their holes. And the
manner of taking them is on the top of the water with a great lob or
garden-worm, or rather two, which you are to fish with in a stream
where the waters run somewhat quietly, for in a stream the bait will not
be so well discerned. I say, in a quiet or dead place, near to some swift,
there draw your bait over the top of the water, to and fro, and if there be
a good Trout in the hole, he will take it, especially if the night be dark,
for then he is bold, and lies near the top of the water, watching the
motion of any frog or water-rat, or mouse, that swims betwixt him and
the sky; these he hunts after, if he sees the water but wrinkle or move in
one of these dead holes, where these great old Trouts usually lie, near
to their holds; for you are to note, that the great old Trout is both subtle
and fearful, and lies close all day, and does not usually stir out of his
hold, but lies in it as close in the day as the timorous hare does in her
form; for the chief feeding of either is seldom in the day, but usually in
the night, and then the great Trout feeds very boldly.

And you must fish for him with a strong line, and not a little hook; and
let him have time to gorge your hook, for he does not usually forsake it,
as he oft will in the day-fishing. And if the night be not dark, then fish
so with an artificial fly of a light colour, and at the snap: nay, he will
sometimes rise at a dead mouse, or a piece of cloth, or anything that
seems to swim across the water, or to be in motion. This is a choice
way, but I have not oft used it, because it is void of the pleasures that
such days as these, that we two now enjoy, afford an angler

And you are to know, that in Hampshire, which I think exceeds all
England for swift, shallow, clear, pleasant brooks, and store of Trouts,
they used to catch Trouts in the night, by the light of a torch or straw,
which, when they have discovered, they strike with a Trout-spear, or
other ways. This kind of way they catch very many: but I would not
believe it till I was an eye-witness of it, nor do I like it now I have seen

Venator. But, master, do not Trouts see us in the night?

Piscator Yes, and hear, and smell too, both then and in the day-time: for
Gesner observes, the Otter smells a fish forty furlongs off him in the
water: and that it may be true, seems to be affirmed by Sir Francis
Bacon, in the eighth century of his Natural History, who there proves
that waters may be the medium of sounds, by demonstrating it thus: "
That if you knock two stones together very deep under the water, those
that stand on a bank near to that place may hear the noise without any
diminution of it by the water " . He also offers the like experiment
concerning the letting an anchor fall, by a very long cable or rope, on a
rock, or the sand, within the sea. And this being so well observed and
demonstrated as it is by that learned man, has made me to believe that
Eels unbed themselves and stir at the noise of thunder, and not only, as
some think, by the motion or stirring of the earth which is occasioned
by that thunder.

And this reason of Sir Francis Bacon has made me crave pardon of one
that I laughed at for affirming that he knew Carps come to a certain
place, in a pond, to be fed at the ringing of a bell or the beating of a
drum. And, however, it shall be a rule for me to make as little noise as I
can when I am fishing, until Sir Francis Bacon be confuted, which I
shall give any man leave to do.

And lest you may think him singular in this opinion, I will tell you, this
seems to be believed by our learned Doctor Hakewill, who in his
Apology of God's power and providence, quotes Pliny to report that one
of the emperors had particular fish-ponds, and, in them, several fish that
appeared and came when they were called by their particular names.
And St. James tells us, that all things in the sea have been tamed by
mankind. And Pliny tells us, that Antonia, the wife of Drusus, had a
Lamprey at whose gills she hung jewels or ear-rings; and that others
have been so tender-hearted as to shed tears at the death of fishes which
they have kept and loved. And these observations, which will to most
hearers seem wonderful, seem to have a further confirmation from
Martial, who writes thus:-

Piscator, fuge; ne nocens, etc.

Angler ! would'st thou be guiltless ? then forbear;
For these are sacred fishes that swim here,
Who know their sovereign, and will lick his hand,
Than which none's greater in the world's command;
Nay more they've names, and, when they called are,
Do to their several owner's call repair.

All the further use that I shall make of this shall be, to advise anglers to
be patient, and forbear swearing, lest they be heard, and catch no fish.

And so I shall proceed next to tell you, it is certain that certain fields
near Leominster, a town in Herefordshire, are observed to make the
sheep that graze upon them more fat than the next, and also to bear
finer wool; that is to say, that that year in which they feed in such a
particular pasture, they shall yield finer wool than they did that year
before they came to feed in it; and coarser, again, if they shall return to
their former pasture; and, again, return to a finer wool, being fed in the
fine wool ground: which I tell you, that you may the better believe that I
am certain, if I catch a Trout in one meadow, he shall be white and
faint, and very like to be lousy; and, as certainly, it I catch a Trout in
the next meadow, he shall be strong, and red, and lusty, and much
better meat Trust me, scholar, I have caught many a Trout in a
particular meadow, that the very shape and the enamelled colour of him
hath been such as hath joyed me to look on him: and I have then, with
much pleasure, concluded with Solomon, "Everything is beautiful in his

I should, by promise, speak next of the Salmon; but I will, by your
favour, say a little of the Umber or Grayling; which is so like a Trout
for his shape and feeding, that I desire I may exercise your patience
with a short discourse of him; and then, the next shall be of the Salmon.

The fourth day - continued

The Umber or Grayling

Chapter VI


The Umber and Grayling are thought by some to differ as the Herring
and Pilchard do. But though they may do so in other nations, I think
those in England differ nothing but in their names. Aldrovandus says,
they be of a Trout kind; and Gesner says, that in his country, which is
Switzerland, he is accounted the choicest of all fish. And in Italy, he is,
in the month of May, so highly valued, that he is sold there at a much
higher rate than any other fish. The French, which call the Chub Un
Villain, call the Umber of the lake Leman Un Umble Chevalier; and
they value the Umber or Grayling so highly, that they say he feeds on
gold; and say, that many have been
caught out of their famous river of Loire, out of whose bellies grains of
gold have been often taken. And some think that he feeds on water
thyme, and smells of it at his first taking out of the water; and they may
think so with as good reason as we do that our Smelts smell like violets
at their being first caught, which I think is a truth. Aldrovandus says,
the Salmon, the Grayling, and Trout, and all fish that live in clear and
sharp streams, are made by their mother Nature of such exact shape and
pleasant colours purposely to invite us to a joy and contentedness in
feasting with her. Whether this is a truth or not, is not my purpose to
dispute: but 'tis certain, all that write of the Umber declare him to be
very medicinable. And Gesner says, that the fat of an Umber or
Grayling, being set, with a little honey, a day or two in the sun, in a
little glass, is very excellent against redness or swarthiness, or anything
that breeds in the eyes. Salvian takes him to be called Umber from his
swift swimming, or gliding out of sight more like a shadow or a ghost
than a fish. Much more might be said both of his smell and taste: but I
shall only tell you that St. Ambrose, the glorious bishop of Milan, who
lived when the church kept fasting-days, calls him the flower-fish, or
flower of fishes; and that he was so far in love with him, that he would
not let him pass without the honour of a long discourse; but I must; and
pass on to tell you how to take this dainty fish.

First note, that he grows not to the bigness of a Trout; for the biggest of
them do not usually exceed eighteen inches. He lives in such rivers as
the Trout does; and is usually taken with the same baits as the Trout is,
and after the same manner; for he will bite both at the minnow, or
worm, or fly, though he bites not often at the minnow, and is very
gamesome at the fly; and much simpler, and therefore bolder than a
Trout; for he will rise twenty times at a fly, if you miss him, and yet rise
again. He has been taken with a fly made of the red feathers of a
paroquet, a strange outlandish bird; and he will rise at a fly not unlike a
gnat, or a small moth, or, indeed, at most flies that are not too big. He is
a fish that lurks close all Winter, but is very pleasant and jolly after
mid-April, and in May, and in the hot months. He is of a very fine
shape, his flesh is white, his teeth, those little ones that he has, are in
his throat, yet he has so tender a mouth, that he is oftener lost after an
angler has hooked him than any other fish. Though there be many of
these fishes in the delicate river Dove, and in Trent, and some other
smaller rivers, as that which runs by Salisbury, yet he is not so general a
fish as the Trout, nor to me so good to eat or to angle for. And so I shall
take my leave of him: and now come to some observations of the
Salmon, and how to catch him.

The fourth day - continued

The Salmon

Chapter VII


The Salmon is accounted the King of freshwater fish; and is ever bred
in rivers relating to the sea, yet so high. or far from it, as admits of no
tincture of salt, or brackishness. He is said to breed or cast his spawn, in
most rivers, in the month of August: some say, that then they dig a hole
or grave in a safe place in the gravel, and there place their eggs or
spawn, after the melter has done his natural office, and then hide it
most cunningly, and cover it over with gravel and stones; and then
leave it to their Creator's protection, who, by a gentle heat which he
infuses into that cold element, makes it brood, and beget life in the
spawn, and to become Samlets early in the spring next following.

The Salmons having spent their appointed time, and done this natural
duty in the fresh waters, they then haste to the sea before winter, both
the melter and spawner; but if they be stops by flood-gates or weirs, or
lost in the fresh waters, then those so left behind by degrees grow sick
and lean, and unseasonable, and kipper, that is to say, have bony
gristles grow out of their lower chaps, not unlike a hawk's beak, which
hinders their feeding; and, in time, such fish so left behind pine away
and die. 'Tis observed, that he may live thus one year from the sea; but
he then grows insipid and tasteless, and loses both his blood and
strength, and pines and dies the second year. And 'tis noted, that those
little Salmons called Skeggers, which abound in many rivers relating to
the sea, are bred by such sick Salmons that might not go to the sea, and
that though they abound, yet they never thrive to any considerable

But if the old Salmon gets to the sea, then that gristle which shews him
to be kipper, wears away, or is cast off, as the eagle is said to cast his
bill, and he recovers his strength, and comes next summer to the same
river, if it be possible, to enjoy the former pleasures that there possess
him; for, as one has wittily observed, he has, like some persons of
honour and riches which have both their winter and summer houses, the
fresh rivers for summer, and the salt water for winter, to spend his life
in; which is not, as Sir Francis Bacon hath observed in his History of
Life and Death, above ten years. And it is to be observed, that though
the Salmon does grow big in the sea, yet he grows not fat but in fresh
rivers; and it is observed, that the farther they get from the sea, they be
both the fatter and better.

Next, I shall tell you, that though they make very hard shift to get out of
the fresh rivers into the sea yet they will make harder shift to get out of
the salt into the fresh rivers, to spawn, or possess the pleasures that they
have formerly found in them: to which end, they will force themselves
through floodgates, or over weirs, or hedges, or stops in the water, even
to a height beyond common belief. Gesner speaks of such places as are
known to be above eight feet high above water. And our Camden
mentions, in his Britannia, the like wonder to be in Pembrokeshire,
where the river Tivy falls into the sea; and that the fall is so downright,
and so high, that the people stand and wonder at the strength and sleight
by which they see the Salmon use to get out of the sea into the said
river; and the manner and height of the place is so notable, that it is
known, far, by the name of the Salmon-leap. Concerning which, take
this also out of Michael Drayton, my honest old friend; as he tells it
you, in his Polyolbion:

And when the Salmon seeks a fresher stream to find;
(Which hither from the sea comes, yearly, by his kind,)
As he towards season grows; and stems the watry tract
Where Tivy, falling down, makes an high cataract,
Forc'd by the rising rocks that there her course oppose,
As tho' within her bounds they meant her to inclose;
Here when the labouring fish does at the foot arrive,
And finds that by his strength he does but vainly strive;
His tail takes in his mouth, and, bending like a bow
That's to full compass drawn, aloft himself doth throw,
Then springing at his height, as doth a little wand
That bended end to end, and started from man's hand,
Far off itself doth cast, so does that Salmon vault;
And if, at first, he fail, his second summersault
He instantly essays, and, from his nimble ring
Still yerking, never leaves until himself he fling
Above the opposing stream.

This Michael Drayton tells you, of this leap or summersault of the

And, next, I shall tell you, that it is observed by Gesner and others, that
there is no better Salmon than in England; and that though some of our
northern counties have as fat, and as large, as the river Thames, yet
none are of so excellent a taste.

And as I have told you that Sir Francis Bacon observes, the age of a
Salmon exceeds not ten years; so let me next tell you, that his growth is
very sudden: it is said that after he is got into the sea, he becomes, from
a Samlet not so big as a Gudgeon, to be a Salmon, in as short a time as
a gosling becomes to be a goose. Much of this has been observed, by
tying a riband, or some known tape or thread, in the tail of some young
Salmons which have been taken in weirs as they have swimmed
towards the salt water; and then by taking a part of them again, with the
known mark, at the same place, at their return from the sea, which is
usually about six months after; and the like experiment hath been tried
upon young swallows, who have, after six months' absence, been
observed to return to the same chimney, there to make their nests and
habitations for the summer following; which has inclined many to
think, that every Salmon usually returns to the same river in which it
was bred, as young pigeons taken out of the same dovecote have also
been observed to do.

And you are yet to observe further, that the He-salmon is usually bigger
than the Spawner; and that he is more kipper, and less able to endure a
winter in the fresh water than the She is: yet she is, at that time of
looking less kipper and better, as watry, and as bad meat.

And yet you are to observe, that as there is no general rule without an
exception, so there are some few rivers in this nation that have Trouts
and Salmon in season in winter, as 'tis certain there be in the river Wye
in Monmouthshire, where they be in season, as Camden observes, from
September till April. But, my scholar, the observation of this and many
other things I must in manners omit, because they will prove too large
for our narrow compass of time, and, therefore, T shall next fall upon
my directions how to fish for this Salmon.

And, for that: First you shall observe, that usually he stays not long in a
place, as Trouts will, but, as I said, covets still to go nearer the spring-
head: and that he does not, as the Trout and many other fish, lie near
the water-side or bank, or roots of trees, but swims in the deep and
broad parts of the water, and usually in the middle, and near the ground,
and that there you are to fish for him, and that he is to be caught, as the
Trout is, with a worm, a minnow which some call a peek, or with a fly.

And you are to observe, that he is very seldom observed to bite at a
minnow, yet sometimes he will, and not usually at a fly, but more
usually at a worm, and then most usually at a lob or garden-worm,
which should be well scoured, that is to say, kept seven or eight days in
moss before you fish with them: and if you double your time of eight
into sixteen, twenty, or more days, it is still the better; for the worms
will still be clearer, tougher, and more lively, and continue so longer
upon your hook. And they may be kept longer by keeping them cool,
and in fresh moss; and some advise to put camphire into it.

Note also, that many used to fish for a Salmon with a ring of wire on
the top of their rod, through which the line may run to as great a length
as is needful, when he is hooked. And to that end, some use a wheel
about the middle of their rod, or near their hand, which is to be
observed better by seeing one of them than by a large demonstration of

And now I shall tell you that which may be called a secret. I have been
a-fishing with old Oliver Henly, now with God, a noted fisher both for
Trout and Salmon; and have observed, that he would usually take three
or four worms out of his bag, and put them into a little box in his
pocket, where he would usually let them continue half an hour or more.
before he would bait his hook with them. I have asked him his reason,
and he has replied, " He did but pick the best out to be in readiness
against he baited his hook the next time ": but he has been observed,
both by others and myself, to catch more fish than I, or any other body
that has ever gone a-fishing with him, could do, and especially
Salmons. And I have been told lately, by one of his most intimate and
secret friends, that the box in which he put those worms was anointed
with a drop, or two or three, of the oil of ivy-berries, made by
expression or infusion; and told, that by the worms remaining in that
box an hour, or a like time, they had incorporated a kind of smell that
was irresistibly attractive, enough to force any fish within the smell of
them to bite. This I heard not long since from a friend, but have not
tried it; yet I grant it probable, and refer my reader to Sir Francis
Bacon's Natural history, where he proves fishes may hear, and,
doubtless, can more probably smell: and I am certain Gesner says, the
Otter can smell in the water; and I know not but that fish may do so too.
'Tis left for a lover of angling, or any that desires to improve that art, to
try this conclusion.

I shall also impart two other experiments, but not tried by myself,
which I will deliver in the same words that they were given me by an
excellent angler and a very friend, in writing: he told me the latter was
too good to be told, but in a learned language, lest it should be made

"Take the stinking oil drawn out of polypody of the oak by a retort,
mixed with turpentine and hive-honey, and anoint your bait therewith,
and it will doubtless draw the fish to it." The other is this: " Vulnera
hederae grandissimae inflicta sudant balsamum oleo gelato,
albicantique persimile, odoris vero longe suavissimi". "'Tis supremely
sweet to any fish, and yet assa foetida may do the like."

But in these I have no great faith; yet grant it probable; and have had
from some chymical men, namely, from Sir George Hastings and
others, an affirmation of them to be very advantageous. But no more of
these; especially not in this place.

I might here, before I take my leave of the Salmon, tell you, that there is
more than one sort of them, as namely, a Tecon, and another called in
some places a Samlet, or by some a Skegger; but these, and others
which I forbear to name, may be fish of another kind, and differ as we
know a Herring and a Pilchard do, which, I think, are as different as the
rivers in which they breed, and must, by me, be left to the disquisitions
of men of more leisure, and of greater abilities than I profess myself to

And lastly, I am to borrow so much of your promised patience, as to tell
you, that the trout, or Salmon, being in season, have, at their first taking
out of the water, which continues during life, their bodies adorned, the
one with such red spots, and the other with such black or blackish
spots, as give them such an addition of natural beauty as, I think, was
never given to any woman by the artificial paint or patches in which
they so much pride themselves in this age. And so I shall leave them
both; and proceed to some observations of the Pike.

The fourth day - continued

On the Luce or Pike

Chapter VIII

Piscator and Venator

Piscator. The mighty Luce or Pike is taken to be the tyrant, as the
Salmon is the king, of the fresh water. 'Tis not to be doubted, but that
they are bred, some by generation, and some not; as namely, of a weed
called pickerel-weed, unless learned Gesner be much mistaken, for he
says, this weed and other glutinous matter, with the help of the sun's
heat, in some particular months, and some ponds, apted for it by nature,
do become Pikes. But, doubtless, divers Pikes are bred after this
manner, or are brought into some ponds some such Other ways as is
past man's finding out, of which we have daily testimonies.

Sir Francis Bacon, in his History of Life and Death, observes the Pike to
be the longest lived of any fresh-water fish; and yet he computes it to be
not usually above forty years; and others think it to be not above ten
years: and yet Gesner mentions a Pike taken in Swedeland, in the year
1449, with a ring about his neck, declaring he was put into that pond by
Frederick the Second, more than two hundred years before he was last
taken, as by the inscription in that ring, being Greek, was interpreted by
the then Bishop of Worms. But of this no more; but that it is observed,
that the old or very great Pikes have in them more of state than
goodness; the smaller or middle-sized Pikes being, by the most and
choicest palates, observed to be the best meat: and, contrary, the Eel is
observed to be the better for age and bigness.

All Pikes that live long prove chargeable to their keepers, because their
life is maintained by the death of so many other fish, even those of their
own kind, which has made him by some writers to be called the tyrant
of the rivers, or the fresh-water wolf, by reason of his bold, greedy,
devouring, disposition; which is so keen, as Gesner relates, A man
going to a pond, where it seems a Pike had devoured all the fish, to
water his mule, had a Pike bit his mule by the lips; to which the Pike
hung so fast, that the mule drew him out of the water; and by that
accident, the owner of the mule angled out the Pike. And the same
Gesner observes, that a maid in Poland had a Pike bit her by the foot, as
she was washing clothes in a pond. And I have heard the like of a
woman in Killingworth pond, not far from Coventry. But I have been
assured by my friend Mr. Segrave, of whom I spake to you formerly,
that keeps tame Otters, that he hath known a Pike, in extreme hunger,
fight with one of his Otters for a Carp that the Otter had caught, and
was then bringing out of the water. I have told you who relate these
things; and tell you they are persons of credit; and shall conclude this
observation, by telling you, what a wise man has observed, " It is a hard
thing to persuade the belly, because it has no ears ".

But if these relations be disbelieved, it is too evident to be doubted, that
a Pike will devour a fish of his own kind that shall be bigger than his
belly or throat will receive, and swallow a part of him, and let the other
part remain in his mouth till the swallowed part be digested, and then
swallow that other part that was in his mouth, and so put it over by
degrees; which is not unlike the Ox, and some other beasts taking their
meat, not out of their mouth immediately into their belly, but first into
some place betwixt, and then chew it, or digest it by degrees after,
which is called chewing the cud. And, doubtless, Pikes will bite when
they are not hungry; but, as some think, even for very anger, when a
tempting bait comes near to them.

And it is observed, that the Pike will eat venomous things, as some kind
of frogs are, and yet live without being harmed by them; for, as some
say, he has in him a natural balsam, or antidote against all poison. And
he has a strange heat, that though it appear to us to be cold, can yet
digest or put over any fish-flesh, by degrees, without being sick. And
others observe, that he never eats the venomous frog till he have first
killed her, and then as ducks are observed to do to frogs in spawning-
time, at which time some frogs are observed to be venomous, so
thoroughly washed her, by tumbling her up and down in the water, that
he may devour her without danger. And Gesner affirms, that a Polonian
gentleman did faithfully assure him, he had seen two young geese at
one time in the belly of a Pike. And doubtless a Pike in his height of
hunger will bite at and devour a dog that swims in a pond; and there
have been examples of it, or the like; for as I told you, " The belly has
no ears when hunger comes upon it "

The Pike is also observed to be a solitary, melancholy, and a bold fish;
melancholy, because he always swims or rests himself alone, and never
swims in shoals or with company, as Roach and Dace, and most other
fish do: and bold, because he fears not a shadow, or to see or be seen of
anybody, as the Trout and Chub, and all other fish do.

And it is observed by Gesner, that the jaw-bones, and hearts, and galls
of Pikes, are very medicinable for several diseases, or to stop blood, to
abate fevers, to cure agues, to oppose or expel the infection of the
plague, and to be many ways medicinable and useful for the good of
mankind: but he observes, that the biting of a Pike is venomous, and
hard to be cured.

And it is observed, that the Pike is a fish that breeds but once a year;
and that other fish, as namely Loaches, do breed oftener: as we are
certain tame Pigeons do almost every month; and yet the Hawk, a bird
of prey, as the Pike is a fish, breeds but once in twelve months. And you
are to note, that his time of breeding, or spawning, is usually about the
end of February, or, somewhat later, in March, as the weather proves
colder or warmer: and to note, that his manner of breeding is thus: a he
and a she Pike will usually go together out of a river into some ditch or
creek; and that there the spawner casts her eggs, and the melter hovers
over her all that time that she is casting her spawn, but touches her not.

I might say more of this, but it might be thought curiosity or worse, and
shall therefore forbear it; and take up so much of your attention as to
tell you that the best of Pikes are noted to be in rivers; next, those in
great ponds or meres; and the worst, in small ponds.

But before I proceed further, I am to tell you, that there is a great
antipathy betwixt the Pike and some frogs: and this may appear to the
reader of Dubravius, a bishop in Bohemia, who, in his book Of Fish and
Fish-ponds, relates what he says he saw with his own eyes, and could
not forbear to tell the reader. Which was:

"As he and the bishop Thurzo were walking by a large pond in
Bohemia, they saw a frog, when the Pike lay very sleepily and quiet by
the shore side, leap upon his head; and the frog having expressed
malice or anger by his sworn cheeks and staring eyes, did stretch out his
legs and embrace the Pike's head, and presently reached them to his
eyes, tearing with them, and his teeth, those tender parts: the Pike,
moved with anguish, moves up and down the water, and rubs himself
against weeds, and whatever he thought might quit him of his enemy;
but all in vain, for the frog did continue to ride triumphantly, and to bite
and torment the Pike till his strength failed; and then the frog sunk with
the Pike to the bottom of the water: then presently the frog appeared
again at the top, and croaked, and seemed to rejoice like a conqueror,
after which he presently retired to his secret hole. The bishop, that had
beheld the battle, called his fisherman to fetch his nets, and by all
means to get the Pike that they might declare what had happened: and
the Pike was drawn forth, and both his eyes eaten out; at which when
they began to wonder, the fisherman wished them to forbear, and
assured them he was certain that Pikes were often so served."

I told this, which is to be read in the sixth chapter of the book of
Dubravius, unto a friend, who replied, " It was as improbable as to have
the mouse scratch out the cat's eyes". But he did not consider, that there
be Fishing frogs, which the Dalmatians call the Water-devil, of which I
might tell you as wonderful a story: but I shall tell you that 'tis not to be
doubted but that there be some frogs so fearful of the water-snake, that
when they swim in a place in which they fear to meet with him they
then get a reed across into their mouths; which if they two meet by
accident, secures the frog from the strength and malice of the snake;
and note, that the frog usually swims the fastest of the two.

And let me tell you, that as there be water and land frogs, so there be
land and water snakes. Concerning which take this observation, that the
land-snake breeds and hatches her eggs, which become young snakes,
in some old dunghill, or a like hot place: but the water-snake, which is
not venomous, and as I have been assured by a great observer of such
secrets, does not hatch, but breed her young alive, which she does not
then forsake, but bides with them, and in case of danger will take them
all into her mouth and swim away from any apprehended danger, and
then let them out again when she thinks all danger to be past: these be
accidents that we Anglers sometimes see, and often talk of.

But whither am I going ? I had almost lost myself, by remembering the
discourse of Dubravius. I will therefore stop here; and tell you,
according to my promise, how to catch this Pike.

His feeding is usually of fish or frogs; and sometimes a weed of his
own, called pickerel-weed, of which I told you some think Pikes are
bred; for they have observed, that where none have been put into ponds,
yet they have there found many; and that there has been plenty of that
weed in those ponds, and that that weed both breeds and feeds them:
but whether those Pikes, so bred, will ever breed by generation as the
others do, I shall leave to the disquisitions of men of more curiosity and
leisure than I profess myself to have: and shall proceed to tell you, that
you may fish for a Pike, either with a ledger or a walking-bait; and you
are to note, that I call that a Ledger-bait, which is fixed or made to rest
in one certain place when you shall be absent from it; and I call that a
Walking-bait, which you take with you, and have ever in motion.
Concerning which two, I shall give you this direction; that your ledger-
bait is best to be a living bait (though a dead one may catch), whether it
be a fish or a frog: and that you may make them live the longer, you
may, or indeed you must, take this course:

First, for your LIVE-BAIT. Of fish, a roach or dace is, I think, best and
most tempting; and a perch is the longest lived on a hook, and having
cut off his fin on his back, which may be done without hurting him, you
must take your knife, which cannot be too sharp, and betwixt the head
and the fin on the back, cut or make an incision, or such a scar, as you
may put the arming-wire of your hook into it, with as little bruising or
hurting the fish as art and diligence will enable you to do; and so
carrying your arming-wire along his back, unto or near the tail of your
fish, betwixt the skin and the body of it, draw out that wire or arming of
your hook at another scar near to his : the then tie him about it with
thread, but no harder than of necessity, to prevent hurting the fish; and
the better to avoid hurting the fish, some have a kind of probe to open
the way for the more easy entrance and passage of your wire or arming:
but as for these, time and a little experience will teach you better than I
can by words. Therefore I will for the present say no more of this; but
come next to give you some directions how to bait your hook with a

Venator. But, good master, did you not say even now, that some frogs
were venomous; and is it not dangerous to touch them ?

Piscator. Yes, but I will give you some rules or cautions concerning
them. And first you are to note, that there are two kinds of frogs, that is
to say, if I may so express myself, a flesh and fish frog. By flesh-frogs, I
mean frogs that breed and live on the land; and of these there be several
sorts also, and of several colours, some being speckled, some greenish,
some blackish, or brown: the green frog, which is a small one, is, by
Topsel, taken to be venomous; and so is the paddock, or frog-paddock,
which usually keeps or breeds on the land, and is very large and bony,
and big, especially the she-frog of that kind: yet these will sometimes
come into the water, but it is not often: and the land-frogs are some of
them observed by him, to breed by laying eggs; and others to breed of
the slime and dust of the earth, and that in winter they turn to slime
again, and that the next summer that very slime returns to be a living
creature, this is the opinion of Pliny. And Cardanus undertakes to give a
reason for the raining of frogs: but if it were in my power, it should rain
none but water-frogs; for those I think are not venomous, especially the
right water-frog, which, about February or March, breeds in ditches, by
slime, and blackish eggs in that slime: about which time of breeding,
the he and she frogs are observed to use divers summersaults, and to
croak and make a noise, which the land-frog, or paddock-frog, never

Now of these water-frogs, if you intend to fish with a frog for a Pike,
you are to choose the yellowest that you can get, for that the Pike ever
likes best. And thus use your frog, that he may continue long alive:

Put your hook into his mouth, which you may easily do from the middle
of April till August; and then the frog's mouth grows up, and he
continues so for at least six months without eating, but is sustained,
none but He whose name is Wonderful knows how: I say, put your
hook, I mean the arming-wire, through his mouth, and out at his gills;
and then with a fine needle and silk sew the upper part of his leg, with
only one stitch, to the arming-wire of your hook; or tie the frog's leg,
above the upper joint, to the armed-wire; and, in so doing, use him as
though you loved him, that is, harm him as little as you may possibly,
that he may live the longer.

And now, having given you this direction for the baiting your ledger-
hook with a live fish or frog, my next must be to tell you, how your
hook thus baited must or may be used; and it is thus: having fastened
your hook to a line, which if it be not fourteen yards long should not be
less than twelve, you are to fasten that line to any bough near to a hole
where a Pike is, or is likely to lie, or to have a haunt; and then wind
your line on any forked stick, all your line, except half a yard of it or
rather more; and split that forked stick, with such a nick or notch at one
end of it as may keep the line from any more of it ravelling from about
the stick than so much of it as you intend. And choose your forked stick
to be of that bigness as may keep the fish or frog from pulling the
forked stick under the water till the Pike bites; and then the Pike having
pulled the line forth of the cleft or nick of that stick in which it was
gently fastened, he will have line enough to go to his hold and pouch
the bait And if you would have this ledger-bait to keep at a fixt place
undisturbed by wind or other accidents which may drive it to the shore-
side, for you are to note, that it is likeliest to catch a Pike in the midst
of the water, then hang a small plummet of lead, a stone, or piece of
tile, or a turf, in a string, and cast it into the water with the forked stick
to hang upon the ground, to be a kind of anchor to keep the forked stick
from moving out of your intended place till the Pike come: this I take to
be a very good way to use so many ledger-baits as you intend to make
trial o

Or if you bait your hooks thus with live fish or frogs, and in a windy
day, fasten them thus to a bough or bundle of straw, and by the help of
that wind can get them to move across a pond or mere, you are like to
stand still on the shore and see sport presently, if there be any store of
Pikes. Or these live baits may make sport, being tied about the body or
wings of a goose or duck, and she chased over a pond. And the like may
be done with turning three or four live baits, thus fastened to bladders,
or boughs, or bottles of hay or flags, to swim down a river, whilst you
walk quietly a]one on the shore, and are still in expectaion of sport. The
rest must be taught you by practice; for time will not allow me to say
more of this kind of fishing with live baits.

And for your DEAD-BAIT for a Pike: for that you may be taught by one
day's going a-fishing with me, or any other body that fishes for him; for
the baiting your hook with a dead gudgeon or a roach, and moving it up
and down the water, is too easy a thing to take up any time to direct you
to do it. And yet, because I cut you short in that, I will commute for it
by telling you that that was told me for a secret: it is this: Dissolve gum
of ivy in oil of spike, and therewith anoint your dead bait for a Pike;
and then cast it into a likely place; and when it has lain a short time at
the bottom, draw it towards the top of the water, and so up the stream;
and it is more than likely that you have a Pike follow with more than
common eagerness. And some affirm, that any bait anointed with the
marrow of the thigh-bone of a heron is a great temptation to any fish.

These have not been tried by me, but told me by a friend of note, that
pretended to do me a courtesy. But if this direction to catch a Pike thus
do you no good, yet I am certain this direction how to roast him when
he is caught is choicely good; for I have tried it, and it is somewhat the
better for not being common. But with my direction you must take this
caution, that your Pike must not be a small one, that is, it must be more
than half a yard, and should be bigger.

"First, open your Pike at the gills, and if need be, cut also a little slit
towards the belly. Out of these, take his guts; and keep his liver, which
you are to shred very small, with thyme, sweet marjoram, and a little
winter-savoury; to these put some pickled oysters, and some anchovies,
two or three; both these last whole, for the anchovies will melt, and the
oysters should not; to these, you must add also a pound of sweet butter,
which you are to mix with the herbs that are shred, and let them all be
well salted. If the Pike be more than a yard long, then you may put into
these herbs more than a pound, or if he be less, then less butter will
suffice: These, being thus mixt, with a blade or two of mace, must be
put into the Pike's belly; and then his belly so sewed up as to keep all
the butter in his belly if it be possible; if not, then as much of it as you
possibly can. But take not off the scales. Then you are to thrust the spit
through his mouth, out at his tail. And then take four or five or six split
sticks, or very thin laths, and a convenient quantity of tape or filleting;
these laths are to be tied round about the Pike's body, from his head to
his tail, and the tape tied somewhat thick, to prevent his breaking or
falling off from the spit. Let him be roasted very leisurely; and often
basted with claret wine, and anchovies, and butter, mixt together; and
also with what moisture falls from him into the pan. When you have
roasted him sufficiently, you are to hold under him, when you unwind
or cut the tape that ties him, such a dish as you purpose to eat him out

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest