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runs quietly; and an easy angler, if he has found where they lie, may catch forty or fifty, or sometimes twice so many, at a standing

You must fish for him with a small red worm; and if you bait the ground with earth, it is excellent.


BLEAK — Cyprinus Alburnus. Linnæus. There is also a Bleak, or fresh water Sprat, a fish that is ever in motion, and therefore called by some the River Swallow; for just as you shall observe the swallow to be, most evenings in summer, ever in motion, making short and quick turns when he flies to catch Aies, in the air, by which he lives ; so does the Bleak at the top of the water. Ausonius would have him called Bleak, from his whitish colour ; his back is of a pleasant sad or sea-water green; his belly, white and shining as the mountain snow. And doubtless, though he have the fortune, which virtue has in poor people, to be neglected, yet the Bleak ought to be much valued, though we want Allamot salt, and the skill that the Italians have, to turn them into anchovies. This fish may be caught with a Pater-noster line ;* that is, six or eight very small hooks tied along the line, one half a foot above the other : I have seen five caught thus at one time, and the bait has been gentles, than which none is better.

Or this fish may be caught with a fine small artificial fly, which is to be of a very sad brown colour, and very small, and the hook answerable. There is no better sport than whipping for Bleaks in a boat, or on a bank, in the swift water, in a summer's evening, with a hazel top about five or six foot long, and a line twice the length of the rod. I have heard Sir Henry Wotton say, that there be many that in Italy will catch swallows so, or especially martins; † this bird-angler standing on the top of a steeple to do it, and with a line twice

* A rosary, or string of beads, is used by the Roman Catholic devotees, to assist them in numbering their pater-nosters, or prayers; a line with many hooks, at small distances from each other, though it little resembles a string of beads, is thence called a pater-noster line.

+ This is a common practice in England also.

so long as I have spoken of. And let me tell you, scholar, that both martins and Bleaks be most excellent meat.

And let me tell you, that I have known a Hern, that did constantly frequent one place, caught with a hook baited with a big Minnow or a small Gudgeon. The line and hook must be strong: and tied to some loose staff, so big as she cannot fly away with it: a line not exceeding two yards.



Piscator. My purpose was to give you some directions concerning Roach and Dace, and some other inferior fish which make the angler excellent sport; for you know there is more pleasure in hunting the hare than in eating her : but I will forbear, at this time, to say any more, because you see yonder come our brother Peter and honest Coridon. But I will promise you, that as you and I fish and walk to-morrow towards London, if I have now forgotten any thing that I can then remember, I will not keep it from you.

Well met, gentlemen ; this is lucky that we meet so just together at this very door. Come, hostess, where are you? is supper ready? Come, first give us drink ; and be as quick as you can, for I believe we are all very hungry. Well, brother Peter and Coridon, to you both! Come, drink; and then tell me what luck of fish : we two have caught but ten Trouts, of which my scholar caught three : look! here's eight ; and a brace we gave away.

We have had a most pleasant day for fishing and taiking, and are returned home both weary and hungry; and now meat and rest will be pleasant.

Peter. And Coridon and I have not had an unpleasant day : and yet I have caught but five Trouts ; for, indeed, we went to a good honest alehouse, and there we played at shovel-board half the day; all the time that it rained we were there, and as merry as they that fished. And I am glad we are now with a dry house over our heads; for, hark ! how it rains and blows. Come, hostess, give us more ale, and our supper with what haste you may : and when we have supped, let us have your song, Piscator; and the catch that your scholar promised us ; or else Coridon will be dogged.

Piscator. Nay, I will not be worse than my word ; you shall not want my song, and I hope I shall be perfect in it.

Venator. And I hope the like for my catch, which I have ready too : and therefore let's go merrily to supper, and then

have a gentle touch at singing and drinking; but the last with moderation.

Coridon. Come, now for your song; for we have fed heartily. Come, hostess, lay a few more sticks on the fire. And now, sing when you will.

Piscator. Well then, here's to you, Coridon ; and now for my song :

Only this

Oh, the gallant fisher's life,

It is the best of any;
'Tis full of pleasure, void of strife,
And 'tis beloved by many:

Other joys
Are but toys;
Lawful is;
For our skill

Breeds no ill,
But content and pleasure.
In a morning up we rise,

Ere Aurora 's peeping,
Drink a cup to wash our eyes,
Leave the sluggard sleeping:

Then we go
To and fro
With our knacks
At our backs,
To such streams

As the Thames,
If we have the leisure.
When we please to walk abroad

For our recreation,
In the fields is our abode,
Full of delectation :

Where, in a brook,
With a hook,
Or a lake,
Fish we take :
There we sit,

For a bit,
Till we fish entangle.
We have gentles in a horn,

We have paste and worms too;
We can watch both night and morn,
Suffer rain and storms too :

None do here
Use to swear :

Oaths do fray
Fish away:
We sit still,

And watch our quill;
Fishers must not wrangle.
If the sun's excessive heat

Make our bodies swelter,
To an osier hedge we get
For a friendly shelter ;

Where in a dike,
Perch or Pike,
Roach or Dace,
We do chase;
Bleak or Gudgeon,

Without grudging ;
We are still contented.

Or we sometimes pass an hour

Under a green willow,
That defends us from a shower,
Making earth our pillow :

Where we may
Think and pray
Before death
Stops our breath :
Other joys

Are but toys,
And to be lamented. *


* This, in its kind, is a good song. The following, taken from Cotton's Poems, 8vo. 1689, is to the same purpose, and well deserves a place here :

Away to the brook,

All your tackle out-look,
Here's a day that is worth a year's wishing.

See that all things be right,

For 'twould be a spite
To want tools when a man goes a-fishing.

Your rod with tops two,

For the same will not do,
If your manner of angling you vary;
And full well

may you think,
If you troll with a pink,
One too weak will be apt to miscarry.

Then basket, neat made

By a master in 's trade,
In a belt at your shoulders must dangle ;

For none e'er was so vain

To wear this to disdain
Who a true brother was of the angle.

Next pouch must not fail,

Stuff'd as full as a mail,
With wax, crewels, silks, hair, furs, and feathers,

To make several flies,

For the several skies,
That shall kill in despite of all weathers.


Venator. Well sung, master ! this day's fortune and pleasure, and this night's company and song, do all make me more more and more in love with angling. Gentlemen, my master

The boxes and books

For your lines and your hooks ;
And, though not for strict need notwithstanding,

Your scissars and hone

To adjust your points on,
With a net to be sure of your landing.

All these being on,

'Tis high time we were gone,
Down and upward, that all may have pleasure,

Till, here meeting at night,

We shall have the delight
To discourse of our fortunes at leisure.

The day's not too bright,

And the wind hits us right
And all nature does seem to invite us

We have all things at will

For to second our skill,
As they all did conspire to delight us.

On stream now, or still,

A large pannier we'll fill,
Trout and Grayling to rise are so willing :

I dare venture to say,

"Twill be a bloody day,
And we all shall be weary of killing.

Away, then, away,

We lose sport by delay;
But first, leave our sorrows behind us :

Íf Miss Fortune should come,

We are all gone from home,
And a-fishing she never can find us.

The angler is free

From the cares that degree
Finds itself with, so often, tormented ;

And although we should slay

Each a hundred a-day,
'Tis a slaughter needs ne'er be repented.

And though we display

All our arts to betray
What were made for man's pleasure and diet,

Yet both princes and states

May for all our quaint baits,
Rule themselves and their people in quiet.

We scratch not our pates,

Nor repine at the rates
Our superiors impose on our living ;

But do frankly submit,

Knowing they have more wit
In demanding than we have in giving.

While quiet we sit,

We conclude all things fit,
Acquiescing with hearty submission :

For, though simple, we know

That soft murmurs will grow
At the last, unto downright sedition.

We care not who says,

And intends it dispraise,
That an angler to a fool is next neighbour :

Let him prate-what care we?

We're as honest as he ;
And so let him take that for his labour

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