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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 on the Pike.
CHAP. VIII. Observations on the LUCE or PIKE, with Directions how to fish
for him. Piscator. The mighty Luce or Pike is taken to be the tyrant, as the Salmon is the king of the fresh waters. '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 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
(1) The story is told by Hakewill, who in his “ Apologie of the power and providence of God,” fol. Oxf. 1635. P. I. p. 145, says, “I will close up ter with a relation of Gesner's, in his Epistle to the Emperor Ferdinand, prefixed before his booke De Piscibus, touching the long life of a Pike which was cast into a pond or poole near Hailebrune in Swevia, with this inscription ingraven upon a collar of brass fastened about his necke. Ego sum ille piscis huic stagno omnium primus impositus per mundi rectoris Frederici Secundi manus, 5 Octobris, anno 1930. I am that fish which was first of all cast into this poole
it is observed, that the old or very great Pikes have in them more of state than goodness; the smaller or middlesized 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, that, 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. Seagrave, 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.
by the hand of Fredericke the Second, governour of the world, the fift of October, in the year 1230. He was again taken up in the yeare 1497, and by the inscription it appeared he had tlien lived there 267 yeares."
(1) Bowlker, in his Art of Angling before cited, page 9, gives the following instance of the exceeding voracity of this fish : “My father catched a Pike in Barn-Meer, (a large standing water in Cheshire) was an ell long, and weighed thirty-five pounds, which he brought to the lord Cholmondeley: his lordship ordered it to be turned into a canal in the garden, wherein were abundance of
But if these relations be disbelieved, it is too evident to be doubted, that a Pike will devour a fish of his own kind
several sorts of fish. About twelve months after, his lordship draw'd the canal, and found that this overgrowu Pike had devoured all the fish, except one large Carp, that weighed between nine and ten pounds, and that was bitten in several places. The Pike was then put into the canal again, together with abundance of fish with him to feed upon, all which he devoured in less than a year's time; and was observed by the gardener and workmen there, to take the ducks, and other water-fowl, under water. Whereupon they shot magpies and crows, and threw them into the canal, which the Pike took before their eyes : of this they acquainted their lord; who, thereupon, ordered the slaughterman to fling in calves-bellies, chickens.guts, and such like garbage to him, to prey upon : but being soon after neglected, he died, as supposed, for want of food.
The following relation was inserted as an article of news in one of the Lon. don Papers, 2d Jan. 1765.
Extract of a Letter from Littleport, Dec. 17. “ About teu days ago, a large Pike was caught in the river Ouse, which weighed upwards of 28 pounds, and was sold to a gentleman in the neighbourhood for a guinea. As the cook-maid was gutting the fish, she found, to her great astonishment, a watch with a black ribbon and two steel seals annexed, in the body of the Pike; the gentleman's butler, upon opening the warch, found the maker's name, Thomas Cranefield, Burnham, Norfolk. Upon a strict enquiry, it appears, that the said watch was sold to a gentleman's servant, who was unfortunately drowned about six weeks ago, in his way to Cambridge, between this place and South-Ferry. The watch is still in the possession of Mr. John Roberts, at the Cross-Keys in Littleport, for the inspection of the public.”
And this in the same paper, the 25th of the same month and year. Tuesday last, at Lillishall lime-works, near Newport, a pool about nine yards deep, which has not been fished for ages, was let off by means of a level brought up to drain the works, when an enormous Pike was found: he was drawn out by a rope fastened round his head and gills, amidst hundreds of spectators, in which service a great many men were employed : he weighed upwards of 170 pounds, and is thought to be the largest ever seen. Some time ago, the clerk of the parish was trolling in the above pool, when bis bait was seized by this furious creature, which by a sudden jerk pulled him in, and doubtless would have devoured him also, had he not, by wonderful agility and dexterous swimming, escaped the dreadful jaws of this voracious animal.”
Io Dr. Plot's History of Staffordshire, 246, are sundry relations of Pike of great.magnitude; one in particular, caught in the Thame, an ell and two inches long.
The following story, containing further evidence of the voracity of this fish, with the addition of a pleasant circumstance, I met with in Fuller's Worthies, Lincolnshire, page 144.
“A cub Fox drinking out of the river Arnus in Italy, had his head seized on by a mighty Pike, so that neither could free themselves, but were iograppled together. In this contest, a young man runs into the water, takes them out both alive, and carrieth them to the Duke of Florence, whose palace was hard by. The porter would not admiť him, without a promise of sharing his full half in what the duke should give him ; to which he (hopeless otherwise of entrance) condescended. The duke, highly affected with the rarity, was about giving him a good reward, which the other refused, desiring his highness would appoint one of his guard to give him an hundred lashes, that so his porter might have fifty according to his composition. And here my intelligence leaveth me, how much farther the jest was followed."
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 appears to us to be cold, can get 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 it.”
The same Author relates, from a book entitled Vor Piscis, printed in 1626, that one Mr. Anderson, a townsman and merchant of Newcastle, talking with a friend on Newcastle bridge, and fingering his ring, let it fall into the river; but it having been swallowed by a fish, and the fish afterwards taken, the ring was found and restored to him. Worthies, Northumberland, 310. A like story is, hy Herodotus, related of Polycrates king of Samos.
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
any body, 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 cu-, riosity 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.
(1) Very late discoveries of naturalists contradict this hypothesis concerning the generation of fishes, and prove that they are produced by the conjunction of the male and female, as other animals are. See the Philosuphical Transactions, Vol. XLVIII, Part II, for the year 1754, page 870.