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The Complete Angler by Izaak Walton

Part 4 out of 4

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note, that when you store your pond, you are to put into it two or three
melters for one spawner, if you put them into a breeding-pond; but if
into a nurse-pond, or feeding-pond, in which they will not breed, then
no care is to be taken whether there be most male or female Carps.

It is observed that the best ponds to breed Carps are those that be stony
or sandy, and are warm, and free from wind; and that are not deep, but
have willow-trees and grass on their sides, over which the water does
sometimes flow: and note, that Carps do more usually breed in marle-
pits, or pits that have clean clay bottoms; or in new ponds, or ponds that
lie dry a winter season, than in old ponds that be full of mud and weeds.

Well, Scholar, I have told you the substance of all that either
observation or discourse, or a diligent survey of Dubravius and Lebault
hath told me: not that they, in their long discourses, have not said more;
but the most of the rest are so common observations, as if a man should
tell a good arithmetician that twice two is four. I will therefore put an
end to this discourse; and we will here sit down and rest us.

The FIFTH day-continued

Chapter XXI

Piscator and Venator

Piscator. Well, Scholar, I have held you too long about these cadis, and
smaller fish, and rivers, and fish-ponds; and my spirits are almost spent,
and so I doubt is your patience; but being we are now almost at
Tottenham where I first met you, and where we are to part, I will lose
no time, but give you a little direction how to make and order your
lines, and to colour the hair of which you make your lines, for that is
very needful to be known of an angler; and also how to paint your rod,
especially your top; for a right-grown top is a choice commodity, and
should be preserved from the water soaking into it, which makes it in
wet weather to be heavy and fish ill-favouredly, and not true; and also it
rots quickly for want of painting: and I think a good top is worth
preserving, or I had not taken care to keep a top above twenty years.

But first for your Line. First note, that you are to take care that your hair
be round and clear, and free from galls, or scabs, or frets: for a well-
chosen, even, clear, round hair, of a kind of glass-colour, will prove as
strong as three uneven scabby hairs that are ill-chosen, and full of galls
or unevenness. You shall seldom find a black hair but it is round, but
many white are flat and uneven; therefore, if you get a lock of right,
round, clear, glass-colour hair, make much of it.

And for making your line, observe this rule: first, let your hair be clean
washed ere you go about to twist it; and then choose not only the
clearest hair for it, but hairs that be of an equal bigness, for such do
usually stretch all together, and break all together, which hairs of an
unequal bigness never do, but break singly, and so deceive the angler
that trusts to them.

When you have twisted your links, lay them in water for a quarter of an
hour at least, and then twist them over again before you tie them into a
line: for those that do not so shall usually find their line to have a hair
or two shrink, and be shorter than the rest, at the first fishing with it,
which is so much of the strength of the line lost for want of first
watering it, and then re-twisting it; and this is most visible in a seven-
hair line, one of those which hath always a black hair in the middle.

And for dyeing of your hairs, do it thus: take a pint of strong ale, half a
pound of soot, and a little quantity of the juice of walnut-tree leaves,
and an equal quantity of alum: put these together into a pot, pan, or
pipkin, and boil them half an hour; and having so done, let it cool; and
being cold, put your hair into it, and there let it lie; it will turn your hair
to be a kind of water or glass colour, or greenish; and the longer you let
it lie, the deeper coloured it will be. You might be taught to make many
other colours, but it is to little purpose; for doubtless the water-colour
or glass-coloured hair is the most choice and most useful for an angler,
but let it not be too green.

But if you desire to colour hair greener, then do it thus: take a quart of
small ale, half a pound of alum; then put these into a pan or pipkin, and
your hair into it with them; then put it upon a fire, and let it boil softly
for half an hour; and then take out your hair, and let it dry; and having
so done, then take a pottle of water, and put into it two handfuls of
marigolds, and cover it with a tile or what you think fit, and set it again
on the fire, where it is to boil again softly for half an hour, about which
time the scum will turn yellow; then put into it half a pound of
copperas, beaten small, and with it the hair that you intend to colour;
then let the hair be boiled softly till half the liquor be wasted, and then
let it cool three or four hours, with your hair in it; and you are to
observe that the more copperas you put into it, the greener it will be;
but doubtless the pale green is best. But if you desire yellow hair, which
is only good when the weeds rot, then put in more marigolds; and abate
most of the copperas, or leave it quite out, and take a little verdigris
instead of it.

This for colouring your hair.

And as for painting your Rod, which must be in oil, you must first make
a size with glue and water, boiled together until the glue be dissolved,
and the size of a lye-colour: then strike your size upon the wood with a
bristle, or a brush or pencil, whilst it is hot: that being quite dry, take
white-lead, and a little red-lead, and a little coal-black, so much as
altogether will make an ash-colour: grind these altogether with linseed-
oil; let it be thick, and lay it thin upon the wood with a brush or pencil:
this do for the ground of any colour to lie upon wood.

For a green, take pink and verdigris, and grind them together in linseed
oil, as thin as you can well grind it: then lay it smoothly on with your
brush, and drive it thin; once doing, for the most part, will serve, if you
lay it well; and if twice, be sure your first colour be thoroughly dry
before you lay on a second.

Well, Scholar, having now taught you to paint your rod, and we having
still a mile to Tottenham High-Cross, I will, as we walk towards it in
the cool shade of this sweet honeysuckle hedge, mention to you some
of the thoughts and joys that have possessed my soul since we two met
together. And these thoughts shall be told you, that you also may join
with me in thankfulness to the Giver of every good and perfect gift, for
our happiness. And that our present happiness may appear to be the
greater, and we the more thankful for it, I will beg you to consider with
me how many do, even at this very time, lie under the torment of the
stone, the gout, and tooth-ache; and this we are free from. And every
misery that I miss is a new mercy; and therefore let us be thankful.
There have been, since we met, others that have met disasters or broken
limbs; some have been blasted, others thunder-strucken: and we have
been freed from these, and all those many other miseries that threaten
human nature; let us therefore rejoice and be thankful. Nay, which is a
far greater mercy, we are free from the insupportable burthen of an
accusing tormenting conscience; a misery that none can bear: and
therefore let us praise Him for His preventing grace, and say, Every
misery that I miss is a new mercy. Nay, let me tell you, there be many
that have forty times our estates, that would give the greatest part of it
to be healthful and cheerful like us, who, with the expense of a little
money, have eat and drunk, and laughed, and angled, and sung, and
slept securely; and rose next day and cast away care, and sung, and
laughed, and angled again; which are blessings rich men cannot
purchase with all their money. Let me tell you, Scholar, I have a rich
neighbour that is always so busy that he has no leisure to laugh; the
whole business of his life is to get money, and more money, that he
may still get more and more money; he is still drudging on, and says,
that Solomon says '`The diligent hand maketh rich"; and it is true
indeed: but he considers not that it is not in the power of riches to make
a man happy; for it was wisely said, by a man of great observation, "
That there be as many miseries beyond riches as on this side of them ".
And yet God deliver us from pinching poverty; and grant, that having a
competency, we may be content and thankful. Let not us repine, or so
much as think the gifts of God unequally dealt, if we see another
abound with riches; when, as God knows, the cares that are the keys
that keep those riches hang often so heavily at the rich man's girdle, that
they clog him with weary days and restless nights, even when others
sleep quietly. We see but the outside of the rich man's happiness: few
consider him to be like the silk-worm, that, when she seems to play, is,
at the very same time, spinning her own bowels, and consuming
herself; and this many rich men do, loading themselves with corroding
cares, to keep what they have, probably, unconscionably got Let us,
therefore, be thankful for health and a competence; and above all, for a
quiet conscience.

Let me tell you, Scholar, that Diogenes walked on a day, with his
friend, to see a country fair; where he saw ribbons, and looking-glasses,
and nutcrackers, and fiddles, and hobby-horses, and many other
gimcracks; and, having observed them, and all the other finnimbruns
that make a complete country-fair, he said to his friend, " Lord, how
many things are there in this world of which Diogenes hath no need!"
And truly it is so, or might be so, with very many who vex and toil
themselves to get what they have no need of. Can any man charge God,
that He hath not given him enough to make his life happy? No,
doubtless; for nature is content with a little. And yet you shall hardly
meet with a man that complains not of some want; though he, indeed,
wants nothing but his will; it may be, nothing but his will of his poor
neighbour, for not worshipping, or not flattering him: and thus, when
we might be happy and quiet, we create trouble to ourselves. I have
heard of a man that was angry with himself because he was no taller;
and of a woman that broke her looking-glass because it would not shew
her face to be as young and handsome as her next neighbour's was. And
I knew another to whom God had given health and plenty; but a wife
that nature had made peevish, and her husband's riches had made purse-
proud; and must, because she was rich, and for no other virtue, sit in the
highest pew in the church; which being denied her, she engaged her
husband into a contention for it, and at last into a law-suit with a
dogged neighbour who was as rich as he, and had a wife as peevish and
purse-proud as the other: and this law-suit begot higher oppositions, and
actionable words, and more vexations and lawsuits; for you must
remember that both were rich, and must therefore have their wills.
Well! this wilful, purse-proud law-suit lasted during the life of the first
husband; after which his wife vext and chid, and chid and vext, till she
also chid and vext herself into her grave: and so the wealth of these
poor rich people was curst into a punishment, because they wanted
meek and thankful hearts; for those only can make us happy. I knew a
man that had health and riches; and several houses, all beautiful, and
ready furnished; and would often trouble himself and family to be
removing from one house to another: and being asked by a friend why
he removed so often from one house to another, replied, " It was to find
content in some one of them". But his friend, knowing his temper, told
him, " If he would find content in any of his houses, he must leave
himself behind him; for content will never dwell but in a meek and
quiet soul ". And this may appear, if we read and consider what our
Saviour says in St. Matthew's Gospel; for He there says" Blessed be
the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed be the pure in heart,
for they shall see God. Blessed be the poor in spirit, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven. And, Blessed be the meek, for they shall possess
the earth." Not that the meek shall not also obtain mercy, and see God,
and be comforted, and at last come to the kingdom of heaven: but in the
meantime, he, and he only, possesses the earth, as he goes towards that
kingdom of heaven, by being humble and cheerful, and content with
what his good God had allotted him. He has no turbulent, repining,
vexatious thoughts that he deserves better; nor is vext when he see
others possess of more honour or more riches than his wise God has
allotted for his share: but he possesses what he has with a meek and
contented quietness, such a quietness as makes his very dreams
pleasing, both to God and himself.

My honest Scholar, all this is told to incline you to thankfulness; and to
incline you the more, let me tell you, and though the prophet David was
guilty of murder and adultery, and many other of the most deadly sins,
yet he was said to be a man after God's own heart, because he abounded
more with thankfulness that any other that is mentioned in holy
scripture, as may appear in his book o Psalms; where there is such a
commixture, of his confessing of his sins and unworthiness, and such
thankfulness for God's pardon and mercies, as did make him to be
accounted, even by God himself, to be a man after his own heart: and
let us, in that, labour to be as like him as we can; let not the blessings
we receive daily from God make us not to value, or not praise Him,
because they be common; let us not forget to praise Him for the
innocent mirth and pleasure we have met with since we met together.
What would a blind man give to see the pleasant rivers, and meadows,
and flowers, and fountains, that we have met with since we met
together ? I have been told, that if a man that was born blind could
obtain to have his sight for but only one hour during his whole life, and
should, at the first opening of his eyes, fix his sight upon the sun when
it was in its full glory, either at the rising or setting of it, he would be so
transported and amazed, and so admire the glory of it, that he would not
willingly turn his eyes from that first ravishing object, to behold all the
other various beauties this world could present to him. And this, and
many other like blessings, we enjoy daily. And for the most of them,
because they be so common, most men forget to pay their praises: but
let not us; because it is a sacrifice so pleasing to Him that made that sun
and us, and still protects us, and gives us flowers, and showers, and
stomachs, and meat, and content, and leisure to go a-fishing.

Well, Scholar, I have almost tired myself, and, I fear, more than almost
tired you. But I now see Tottenham High-Cross; and our short walk
thither shall put a period to my too long discourse; in which my
meaning was, and is, to plant that in your mind with which I labour to
possess my own soul; that is, a meek and thankful heart. And to that
end I have shewed you, that riches without them, do not make any man
happy. But let me tell you, that riches with them remove many fears
and cares. And therefore my advice is, that you endeavour to be
honestly rich, or contentedly poor: but be sure that your riches be justly
got, or you spoil all. For it is well said by Caussin, " He that loses his
conscience has nothing left that is worth keeping ". Therefore be sure
you look to that. And, in the next place, look to your health: and if you
have it, praise God, and value it next to a good conscience; for health is
the second blessing that we mortals are capable of; a blessing that
money cannot buy; and therefore value it, and be thankful for it. As for
money, which may be said to be the third blessing, neglect it not: but
note, that there is no necessity of being rich; for I told you, there be as
many miseries beyond riches as on this side them: and if you have a
competence, enjoy it with a meek, cheerful, thankful heart. I will tell
you, Scholar, I have heard a grave Divine say, that God has two
dwellings; one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart;
which Almighty God grant to me, and to my honest Scholar. And so
you are welcome to Tottenham High-Cross.

Venator. Well, Master, I thank you for all your good directions; but for
none more than this last, of thankfulness, which I hope I shall never
forget. And pray let's now rest ourselves in this sweet shady arbour,
which nature herself has woven with her own fine fingers; 'tis such a
contexture of woodbines, sweetbriar, jasmine, and myrtle; and so
interwoven, as will secure us both from the sun's violent heat, and from
the approaching shower. And being set down, I will requite a part of
your courtesies with a bottle of sack, milk, oranges, and sugar, which,
all put together, make a drink like nectar; indeed, too good for any but
us Anglers, And so, Master, here is a full glass to you of that liquor: and
when you have pledged me, I will repeat the Verses which I promised
you: it is a Copy printed among some of Sir Henry Wotton's, and
doubtless made either by him, or by a lover of angling. Come, Master,
now drink a glass to me, and then I will pledge you, and fall to my
repetition; it is a description of such country recreations as I have
enjoyed since I had the happiness to fall into your company.

Quivering fears, heart-tearing cares,
Anxious sighs, untimely tears,
Fly, fly to courts,
Fly to fond worldlings' sports,
Where strain'd sardonic smiles are glosing still,
And Grief is forc'd to laugh against her will:
Where mirth's but mummery,
And sorrows only real be.

Fly from our country pastimes, fly,
Sad troops of human misery.
Come, serene looks,
Clear as the crystal brooks,
Or the pure azur'd heaven that smiles to see
The rich attendance of our poverty:
Peace and a secure mind,
Which all men seek, we only find.

Abused mortals I did you know
Where joy, heart's-ease, and comforts grow,
You'd scorn proud towers,
And seek them in these bowers;
Where winds, sometimes, our woods perhaps may shake,
But blust'ring care could never tempest make,
Nor murmurs e'er come nigh us,
Saving of fountains that glide by us.

Here's no fantastick mask, nor dance,
But of our kids that frisk and prance;
Nor wars are seen
Unless upon the green
Two harmless lambs are butting one the other,
Which done, both bleating run, each to his mother
And wounds are never found,
Save what the plough-share gives the ground.

Here are no false entrapping baits,
To hasten too, too hasty Fates,
Unless it be
The fond credulity
Of silly fish, which worldling like, still look
Upon the bait, but never on the hook;
Nor envy, unless among
The birds, for prize of their sweet song.

Go, let the diving negro seek
For gems, hid in some forlorn creek:
We all pearls scorn,
Save what the dewy morn
Congeals upon each little spire of grass,
Which careless shepherds beat down as they pass:
And gold ne'er here appears,
Save what the yellow Ceres bears,

Blest silent groves, oh may ye be,
For ever, mirth's best nursery !
May pure contents
For ever pitch their tents
Upon these downs, these meads, these rocks, these mountains.
And peace still slumber by these purling fountains:
Which we may, every year,
Meet when we come a-fishing here.

Piscator. Trust me, Scholar, I thank you heartily for these Verses: they
be choicely good, and doubtless made by a lover of angling. Come,
now, drink a glass to me, and I will requite you with another very good
copy: it is a farewell to the vanities of the world, and some say written
by Sir Harry Wotton, who I told you was an excellent angler. But let
them be writ by whom they will, he that writ them had a brave soul, and
must needs be possess with happy thoughts at the time of their

Farewell, ye gilded follies, pleasing troubles;
Farewell, ye honour'd rags, ye glorious bubbles;
Fame's but a hollow echo, Gold, pure clay;
Honour the darling but of one short day;
Beauty, th' eye's idol, but a damask'd skin;
State, but a golden prison, to live in
And torture free-born minds; embroider'd Trains,
Merely but pageants for proud swelling veins;
And Blood allied to greatness is alone
Inherited, not purchas'd, nor our own.
Fame, Honour, Beauty, State, Train, Blood and Birth,
Are but the fading blossoms of the earth.

I would be great, but that the sun doth still
Level his rays against the rising hill:
I would be high, but see the proudest oak
Most subject to the rending thunder-stroke:
I would be rich, but see men, too unkind
Dig in the bowels of the richest mind:
I would be wise, but that I often see
The fox suspected, whilst the ass goes free:
I would be fair, but see the fair and proud,
Like the bright sun, oft setting in a cloud:
I would be poor, but know the humble grass
Still trampled on by each unworthy ass:
Rich, hated wise, suspected, scorn'd if poor;
Great, fear'd, fair, tempted, high, still envy'd more.
I have wish'd all, but now I wish for neither.
Great, high, rich, wise, nor fair: poor I'll be rather.

Would the World now adopt me for her heir;
Would beauty's Queen entitle me the fair;
Fame speak me fortune's minion, could I " vie
Angels " with India with a speaking eye
Command bare heads, bow'd knees, strike justice dumb,
As well as blind and lame, or give a tongue
To stones by epitaphs, be call'd " great master "
In the loose rhymes of every poetaster ?
Could I be more than any man that lives,
Great, fair, rich wise, all in superlatives;
Yet I more freely would these gifts resign
Than ever fortune would have made them mine.
And hold one minute of this holy leisure
Beyond the riches of this empty pleasure.

Welcome, pure thoughts; welcome, ye silent groves;
These guests, these courts, my soul most dearly loves.
Now the wing'd people of the sky shall sing
My cheerful anthems to the gladsome spring:
A pray'r-book, now, shall be my looking-glass,
In which I will adore sweet virtue's face.
Here dwell no hateful looks, no palace cares,
No broken vows dwell here, nor pale-fac'd fears;
Then here I'll sit, and sigh my hot love's folly,
And learn t' affect an holy melancholy:
And if contentment be a stranger then,
I'll ne'er look for it, but in heaven, again.

Venator. Well, Master, these verses be worthy to keep a room in every
man's memory. I thank you for them; and I thank you for your many
instructions, which, God willing, I will not forget. And as St. Austin, in
his Confessions, commemorates the kindness of his friend Verecundus,
for lending him and his companion a country house, because there they
rested and enjoyed themselves, free from the troubles of the world, so,
having had the like advantage, both by your conversation and the art
you have taught me, I ought ever to do the like; for, indeed, your
company and discourse have been so useful and pleasant, that, I may
truly say, I have only lived since I enjoyed them and turned angler, and
not before. Nevertheless, here I must part with you; here in this now sad
place, where I was so happy as first to meet you: but I shall long for the
ninth of May; for then I hope again to enjoy your beloved company, at
the appointed time and place. And now I wish for some somniferous
potion, that might force me to sleep away the intermitted time, which
will pass away with me as tediously as it does with men in sorrow;
nevertheless I will make it as short as I can, by my hopes and wishes:
and, my good Master, I will not forget the doctrine which you told me
Socrates taught his scholars, that they should not think to be honoured
so much for being philosophers, as to honour philosophy by their
virtuous lives. You advised me to the like concerning Angling, and I
will endeavour to do so; and to live like those many worthy men, of
which you made mention in the former part of your discourse. This is
my firm resolution. And as a pious man advised his friend, that, to
beget mortification, he should frequent churches, and view monuments,
and charnel-houses, and then and there consider how many dead bodies
time had piled up at the gates of death, so when I would beget content,
and increase confidence in the power, and wisdom, and providence of
Almighty God, I will walk the meadows, by some gliding stream, and
there contemplate the lilies that take no care, and those very many other
various little living creatures that are not only created, but fed, man
knows not how, by the goodness of the God of Nature, and therefore
trust in him. This is my purpose; and so, let everything that hath breath
praise the Lord: and let the blessing of St. Peter's Master be with mine.

Piscator And upon all that are lovers of virtue; and dare trust in his
providence; and be quiet; and go a Angling.

"Study to be quiet."

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