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another day or two in hunting the otter, which a friend that I go to meet, tells me, is much pleasanter than any other chase whatsoever : howsoever I mean to try it; for to-morrow morning we shall meet a pack of otter-dogs of noble Mr. Sadler's, upon Anwell-hill, who will be there so early, that they intend to prevent the sun-rising.
“ Pisc. Sir, my fortune has answered my desires, and my purpose is to bestow a day or two in helping to destroy some of those villainous vermin, for I hate them perfectly, because they love fish so well, or rather, because they destroy so much; indeed so much, that in my judgement, all men who keep otter-dogs ought to have pensions from the king, to encourage them to destroy the breed of these base otters, they do so much mischief.
“ Venat. But what say you to the foxes of the nation, would you not as willingly have them destroyed ? for, doubtless, they do as much mischief as otters do.
“ Pisc. Oh, Sir, if they do, it is not so much to me and my fraternity, as those base vermin the otters do.
“ Auceps. Why, Sir, I pray, of what fraternity are you, that you are so angry with the poor otters?
Pisc. I am, Sir, a brother of the angle, and therefore an enemy to the otter: for you are to note, that we, anglers, all love one another; and therefore do I hate the otter, both for my own and for their sakes who are of
brotherhood. “ Ver. And I am a lover of hounds: I have followed many a pack of dogs many a mile, and heard many merry huntsmen make sport and scoff at anglers.
“ Auc. And I profess myself a falconer, and have heard many grave, serious men pity them, it is such a heavy, contemptible, dull recreation.
“ Pisc. You know, gentlemen, it is an easy thing to scoff at any art or recreation; a little wit mixt with ill-nature, confidence, and malice, will do it; but though they often venture boldly, yet they are often caught, even in their own trap, according to Lucian, the father of the family of scoffers :
Lucian, well skilled in scoffing, this hath writ,
If to this you add what Solomon said of scoffers, that they are an abomination to mankind, let him that thinks fit scoff on, and be a scoffer still; but I account them an enemy to me and all that love virtue and angling.
“ And for you that have heard many grave, serious men, pity anglers, let me tell you, Sir, there be many men that are by others taken to be serious and grave, which we contemn and pity. Men that are taken to be grave, because Nature hath made them of a sour complexion, money-getting men, men that spend all their time first in getting, and next in anxious care to keep it; men that are condemned to be rich, and then always busy or discontented : for these poor, rich men, we anglers pity them perfectly, and stand in no need to borrow their thoughts to think ourselves happy. No, no, Sir, we enjoy a contentedness above the reach of such dispositions, and as the learned and ingenuous Montaigne says, like himself, freely, “When my cat and I entertain each other with mutual apish tricks, as playing with a garter, who knows but that I make my cat more sport than she makes me? shall I conclude her to be simple, that has her time to begin or refuse to play as freely as I myself have? Nay, who knows but that it is a defect of my not understanding her language (for, doubtless, cats talk and reason with one another) that we agree no better: and who knows but that she pities me for being no wiser, than to play with her, and laughs and answers my folly for making sport for her when we two play together ? Thus freely speaks Montaigne concerning cats, and I hope I may take as great a liberty to blame any man, and laugh at him too, let him be never so grave, that hath not heard what anglers can say in the justification of their art and recreation, which I may again tell you, is so full of pleasure, that we need not borrow their thoughts to think ourselves happy."
The eloquence of the sage Isaac makes a convert of Venator, whose hostility to others must naturally have predisposed him to the change. He becomes his pupil, and is minutely instructed in every department of the art; the detail of which, however, is enlivened by the introduction of much wit, moral precept, and practical illustration.-See with what certainty of science he catches a chub.
“ Pisc. And now to your question concerning your host; to speak truly, he is not to me a good companion, for most of his conceits were either scripture jests or lascivious jests; fór which I count no man witty, for the devil will help a man that way inclined to the first, and his own corrupt nature which he always carries with him to the latter ; but a companion that feasts the company with wit and mirth, and leaves out the sin which is usually mixed with them, he is the man; and, indeed, such a companion should have his charges borne, and to such company I hope to bring you this night; for at Trout-hall, not far from this place, where I purpose to lodge to-night, there is usually an angler that proves good company: and let me tell you, good company and good discourse are the very sinews of virtue. But for such , discourse as we heard last night, it infects others; the very boys will learn to talk and swear as they heard mine host, and another of the company that shall be nameless.
I am sorry the other is a gentleman, for less religion will not save their souls, than a beggar's; I think more will be required at the last great day. Well, you know what example is able to do, and I know what the poet says in the like case, which is worthy to be noted by all parents and people of civility :
many a one
This is reason put into verse, and worthy the consideration of a wise man.
But of this no more, for though I love civility, yet I hate severe censures : I'll to my own art, and I doubt not but at yonder tree I shall catch a chub, and then we'll turn to an honest cleanly hostess, that I know right well, rest ourselves there, and dress it for our dinner.
“ Ven. Oh, sir, a chub is the worst fish that swims, I hoped for a trout to my dinner.
“ Pisc. Trust me, sir, there is not a likely place for a trout hereabouts, and we staid so long to take our leave of your huntsmen this morning, that the sun is got so high, and shines so clear, that I will not undertake the catching of a trout till evening; and though a chub be by you and many others reckoned the worst of fish, yet you shall see I'll make it a good fish, by dressing it.
“ Ven. Why, how will you dress him?
“ Pisc. I'll tell you by and by, when I have caught him. Look you here, sir, do you see? but you must stand very close, there lie upon the top of the water, in this very hole, twenty chubs, I'll catch only one, and that shall be the biggest of them all: and that I'will do so, I'll hold you twenty to one, and you
shall see it done. “ Ven. Ay, marry sir, now you talk like an artist, and I'll say you are one, when I shall see you perform what you say you can do, but yet I doubt it.
“ Pisc. You shall not doubt it long, for you shall see me do it presently: look, the biggest of these chubs has had some bruise upon his tail, by a pike or some other accident, and that looks like a white spot; that very chub I mean to put into your hands presently; sit you but down in the shade, and stay but a little while, and I'll warrant you I'll bring him to you.
« Ven. I'll sit down and hope well, because you seem to be so confident.
“ Pisc. Look you, sir, there is a trial of my skill, there he is. That
very chub that I shewed you, with the white spot on his tail; and I'll be as certain to make him a good dish of meat, as I was to catch him. I'll now lead you to an honest ale-house, where we shall find a cleanly room, lavender in the windows, and twenty ballads stuck about the wall; there my hostess, which I may
is both cleanly and handsome, and il, hath dressed many a one for me, and shall now dress it after my fashion, and I warrant it good meat.”
But it is not enough to teach the student merely to catch fish, honest Isaac is equally erudite in the science of dressing them, and gives precise rules accordingly. Of the merits of his cookery we do not pretend to be judges, and refer this part of the work to the research and experience of the gastro-didactic, Dr. Kitchener.
As a specimen of our author's love of nature, and of that serenity of mind and true sensibility, which enables the heart of man to sympathise with the tranquil and happy scenery around him, we select the following passage :
“ Pisc. Nay, stay a little, good scholar; I caught my last trout with a worm, now I will put on a minnow, and try a quarter of an hour about yonder trees for another, and so walk towards our lodging. Look you, scholar, thereabout we shall have a bite presently, or not at all; have with you, sir : o'my word I have hold of him. Oh it is a great logger-headed chub; come,
hang him upon that willow twig, and let's be going. But turn out of the way a little, good scholar, towards yonder high honeysuckle hedge; there we'll sit and sing, whilst this shower falls so gently upon the teeming earth, and gives yet a sweetest smell to the 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 seem 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 possest my soul with content, that I thought, as the poet has happily exprest 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
“ Good 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-w. 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 sillabub 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 mean time will you drink a draught of red cow's milk? you shall have it freely
“ Pisc. 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 past over this meadow, about eight or nine days since.
“ Milk-w. 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? “ Pisc. 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-w. 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.