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animal or vege
it to comprehend all the other elements, and most allow it the chiefest in the mixtion of all living creatures.
There be that profess to believe that all bodies are made of water, and may be reduced back again to water only: they endeavour to demonstrate it thus :
Take a willow, or any like speedy growing plant, newly rooted in a box or barrel full of earth, weigh them all together exactly when the tree begins to grow, and then weigh all together after the tree is increased from its first rooting, to weigh an hundred pound weight more than when it was first rooted and weighed; and
shall find this augment of the tree to be without the diminution of one drachm weight of the earth. Hence they infer this increase of wood to be from water of rain, or from dew, and not to be from any other element. And they affirm, they can reduce this wood back again to water; and they affirm also, the same may be done in any table. And this I take to be a fair testimony of the excellency of
element of water. The water is more productive than the earth. Nay, the earth hath no fruitfulness without showers or dews; for all the herbs, and flowers, and fruit, are produced and thrive by the water; and the very minerals are fed by streams that run under ground, whose natural course carries them to the tops of many high mountains, as we see by several springs breaking forth on the tops of the highest hills; and this is also witnessed by the daily trial and testimony of several miners.
Nay, the increase of those creatures that are bred and fed in the water, are not only more and more miraculous, but more advantageous to man, not only for the lengthening of his life, but for preventing of sickness; for it is observed by the most learned physicians, that the casting off of Lent, and other fish-days, which hath not only given the lie to so many learned, pious, wise founders of col
leges, for which we should be ashamed, hath doubtless been the chief cause of those many putrid, shaking, intermitting agues, unto which this nation of ours is now more subject, than those wiser countries that feed on herbs, sallets, and plenty of fish; of which it is observed in story, that the greatest part of the world now do. And it may be fit to remember that Moses, Lev. xi. 9. Deut. xiv. 9. appointed fish to be the chief diet for the best commonwealth that ever yet was.
And it is observable, not only that there are fish, as namely the Whale, three times as big as the mighty Elephant, that is so fierce in battle, but that the mightiest feasts have been of fish. The Romans, in the height of their glory, have made fish the mistress of all their entertainments; they have had music to usher in their Stur.. geons, Lampreys, and Mullets, which they would purchase at rates rather to be wondered at than believed. He that shall view the writings of Macrobius,' or Varro, may be confirmed and informed of this, and of the incredible value of their fish and fish-ponds.
But, Gentlemen, I have almost lost myself, which I confess I may easily do in this philosophical discourse; I met with most of it very lately, and I hope happily, in a conference with a most learned physician, Dr. Wharton, a dear friend, that loves both me and my art of angling. But, however, I will wade no deeper in these mysterious arguments, but pass to such observations as I can manage with more pleasure, and less fear of running into error.
(1) Aurelius Macrobius, a learned writer of the fourth century; he was chamberlain to the Emperor Theodosius. Fabricius makes it a question whether he was a Christian or a Pagan. His works are A Commentary on the Somnium Scipionis of Cicero, in two books; avd Saturnalia Convivia, in seven. Besides these, he was the Author of many, which are lost.
(2) Marcus Terentius Varro, a most learned Roman, contemporary with Cicero, and author, as it is said, of near five hundred volumes. He is one of the best writers on agriculture.
But I must not yet forsake the waters, by whose help we have so many known advantages.
And first to pass by the miraculous cures of our known baths, how advantageous is the sea for our daily traffic, without which we could not now subsist! How does it not only furnish us with food and physic for the bodies, but with such observations for the mind as ingenious persons would not want!
How ignorant had we been of the beauty of Florence, of the monuments, urns, and rarities that yet remain in and near unto old and new Rome, so many as it is said will take up a year's time to view, and afford to each of them but a convenient consideration! And therefore it is not to be wondered at, that so learned and devout a father as St. Jerome, after his wish to have seen Christ in the flesh, and to have heard St. Paul preach, makes his third wish, to have seen Rome in her glory; and that glory is not yet all lost, for what pleasure is it to see the monuments of Livy, the choicest of the historians; of Tully, the best of orators; and to see the bay-trees that now grow out of the very tomb of Virgil! These, to any that love learning, must be pleasing. But what pleasure is it to a devout Christian, to see there the humble house in which St. Paul was' content to dwell, and to view the many rich statues that are made in honour of his memory! nay, to see the very place in which St. Peter' and he lie buried together!
(1) The Protestants deny, not only that St. Peter lies buried in the Vatican, as the Romish writers assert, but that he ever was at Rome. See the Historia Apostolica of Lud. Capellus.—The sense of the Protestants on this point is expressed in the following epigram, alluding to the prænomen of Peter. “Simon," and to the simony practised in that city:
An Petrus fuerat Romæ sub judice lis est,
But all must own that Simon hath been there. of which that may be observed which I have heard said of libels, “the more true the more provoking ;” and this the author, John Owen, the famous epigram
These are in and near to Rome. And how much more doth it please the pious curiosity of a Christian, to see that place, on which the blessed Saviour of the world was pleased to humble himself, and to take our náture upon him, and to converse with men : to see Mount Sion, Jerusalem, and the very sepulchre of our Lord Jesus! How may it beget and heighten the zeal of a Christian, to see the devotions that are daily paid to him at that place! Gentlemen, lest I forget myself, I will stop here, and remember you, that but for my element of water, the inhabitants of this poor island must remain ignorant that such things ever were, or that any of them have yet a being.
Gentlemen, I might both enlarge and lose myself in such like arguments; I might tell you that Almighty God is said to have spoken to a fish, but never to a beast; that he hath made a whale a ship, to carry and set his prophet Jonah safe on the appointed shore. Of these I might speak, but I must in manners break off, for I see Theobald's House. I cry you mercy for being so long, and thank
your patience. Auc. Sir, my pardon is easily granted you: I except against nothing that you have said: nevertheless, I must part with you at this park-wall, for which I am very sorry; but I assure you, Mr. Piscator, I now part
full of good thoughts, not only of yourself, but your recreation. . And so, Gentlemen, God keep you both.
Pisc. Well, now, Mr. Venator, you shall neither want time, nor my attention to hear you enlarge your discourse concerning hunting.
Ven. Not I, Sir: I remember you said that angling itself was of great antiquity, and a perfect art, and an art not
matist, found to his cost; for his uncle, a Papist, was so stung by these lines, that, in revenge, he disinherited him, and doomed him to extreme poverty the remainder of his life. Athen. Oron. Vol. I. 471. The Romanists have also taken their revenge on the book that contains them, by inserting it in their Index Expurgatorius. Ibid.
easily attained to and
have so won upon me in your former discourse, that I am very desirous to hear what you can say further concerning those particulars.
Pis. Sir, I did say so: and I doubt not but if you and I did converse together but a few hours, to leave you possessed with the same high and happy thoughts that now possess me of it; not only of the antiquity of angling, but that it deserves commendations; and that it is an art, and an art worthy the knowledge and practice of a wise man.
Ven. Pray, Sir, speak of them what you think fit, for we have yet five miles to the Thatch'd-house; during which walk, I dare promise you my patience and diligent attention shall not be wanting. And if you shall make that to appear which you have undertaken, first, that it is an art, and an art worth the learning, I shall beg thật I may attend
you a day or two a-fishing, and that I may become your scholar, and be instructed in the art itself which you so much magnify.
Pisc. 0, Sir, doubt not but that angling is an art; is it not an art to deceive a Trout with an artificial Fly? a Trout! that is more sharp-sighted than any Hawk you have named, and more watchful and timorous than your high-mettled Merlin is bold;' and yet, I doubt not to catch a brace or two to-morrow, for a friend's breakfast: doubt not, therefore, Sir, but that angling is an art, and an art worth your learning. The question is rather, whether you be capable of learning it? for angling is somewhat like poetry, men are to be born so: I mean, with inclinations to it, though both may be heightened by discourse and practice : but he that hopes to be a good angler, must not only bring an inquiring, searching, observing wit, but he must bring a large measure of hope and patience, and a
(1) This is a mistake : it was Auceps, and not Venator, that named the Hawks; and Auceps had before taken his leave of these his companions.