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Compleat Angler ;
Simon Peter said, I go a fishing : and they said,
London, Printed by T. Maxey for Rich. MARRIOT, in
S Dunstans Church-yard, Fleet street, 1653.
189. g. by
THE COMPLEAT ANGLER,
EDITION 1653, Forms the second of this series; and, retaining the quaint originality of the unique work, has been carefully gone over by
To the Right Worshipful
JOHN OFFLEY Of MADELY Manor in the County of Stafford, Esq.,
My most honoured Friend. SIR, I have made so ill use of your former favors, as by them to be encouraged to intreat that they may be enlarged to the patronage and protection of this Book; and I have put on a modest confidence, that I shall not be denyed, because 'tis a discourse of Fish and Fishing, which you both know so well, and love and practice so much.
You are assurd (though there be ignorant men of an other belief) that Angling is an Art; and you know that art better than any that I know: and that this is truth, is demonstrated by the fruits of that pleasant labor which you enjoy when you purpose to give rest to your mind, and devest your self of your more serious business, and (which is often) dedicate a day or two to this Recreation.
At which time, if common Anglers should attend you, and be eye-witnesses of the success, not of your fortune, but your skill, it would doubtless beget in them an emulation to be like you, and that emulation might beget an industrious diligence to be so: but I know it is not atainable by common capacities.
Sir, this pleasant curiositie of Fish and Fishing (of wch you are so great a master) has been thought worthy the pens and practices of divers in other nations, which have been reputed men of great Learning and Wisdome; and amongst those of this nation, I remember Sir Henry Wotton (a dear lover of this art) has told me, that his intentions were to write a discourse of the art, and in the praise of Angling, and doubtless he had done so, if death had not prevented him; the remembrance of which hath often made me sorry; for, if he had lived to do it, then the unlearned Angler (of which I am one) had seen some treatise of this art worthy his perusal, which (though some have undertaken it) I could never yet see in English.
But mine may be thought as weak and as unworthy of common view : and I do here freely confess, that I should rather excuse my self, than censure others, my own discourse being liable to so many exceptions; against which, you (Sir) might make this one. That it can contribute nothing to your knowledge; and lest a longer epistle may diminish your pleasure, I shal not adventure to make this epistle longer than to add this following truth, that I am really, Sir,
Your most affectionate Friend,
I think fit to tell thee these following truths; that I did not undertake to write, or to publish this discourse of fish and fishing, to please my self, and that I wish it may not displease others; for, I have confest there are many defects in it. And yet, I cannot doubt, but that by it, some readers may receive so much profit or pleasure, as if they be not very busie men, may make it not unworthy the time of their perusall; and this is all the confidence that I can put on concerning the merit of this book.
And I wish the reader also to take notice, that in writing of it, I have made a recreation, of a recreation ; and that it might prove so to thee in the reading, and not to read dull and tediously, I have in severall places mixt some innocent mirth ; of which, if thou be a severe, sowr complexioned man, then I here disallow thee to be a competent judge. For divines say, there are offences given; and offences taken, but not given. And I am the willinger to justifie this innocent mirth, because the whole discourse is a kind of picture of my owne disposition, at least of my disposition in such daies and times as I allow my self, when honest Nat, and R. R. and I go a fishing together.
And I am also to tel the reader, that in that which is the more usefull part of this discourse; that is to say, the observations of the nature and breeding, and seasons, and catching of fish, I am not so simple as not to think but that he may find exceptions in some of these ; and therefore I must intreat him to know, or rather note, that severall countreys, and several rivers alter the time and manner of fishes breeding; and therefore if he bring not candor to the reading of this discourse, he shall both injure me, and possibly himself too by too many criticisms.
Now for the art of catching fish; that is to say, how to make a man that was none, an Angler by a book : he that undertakes it, shall undertake a harder task than Hales, that in his printed book* undertook by it to teach the art of fencing, and was laught at for his labour. Not but that something usefull might be observed out of that book; but that art was not to be taught by words; nor is the art of angling. And yet, I think, that most that love that game, may here learn something that may be worth their money, if they be not needy : and if they be, then my advice is, that they forbear; for, I write not to get money, but for pleasure ; and this discourse boasts of no more : for I hate to promise much, and fail.
But pleasure I have found both in the search and conference about what is here offered to thy view and censure ; I wish thee as much in the perusal of it, and so might here take my leave; but I will stay thee a little longer by telling thee, that whereas it is said by many, that in Fly-fishing for a Trout, the angler must observe
* Called the Private School of Defence.