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left me alone for an hour this day; and I verily believe he retired himself from talking with me that he might be so perfect in this song : was it not, master ?
Piscator. Yes, indeed, for it is many years since I learned it; and having forgotten a part of it, I was forced to patch it up by the help of mine own invention, who am not excellent at poetry, as my part of the song may testify: but of that I will say no more, lest you should think I mean, by discommending it, to beg your commendations of it. And therefore, without replications, let's hear your catch, scholar ; which I hope will be a good one, for you are both musical, and have a good fancy to boot.
Venator. Marry, and that you shall; and as freely as I would have my honest master tell me some more secrets of fish and fishing, as we walk and fish towards London to-morrow. But, master, first let me tell you, that very hour which you were absent from me, I sat down under a willow tree by the waterside, and considered what you had told me of the owner of that pleasant meadow in which you then left me : that he had a plentiful estate, and not a heart to think so; that he had at this time many lawsuits depending; and that they both damped his mirth, and took up so much of his time and thoughts, that he himself had not leisure to take the sweet content that I, who pretended no title to them, took in his fields: for I could there sit quietly; and, looking on the water, see some fishes sport themselves in the silver streams, others leaping at flies of several shapes and colours ; looking on the hills, I could behold them spotted with woods and groves; looking down the meadows, could see, here a boy gathering lilies and ladysmocks, and there a girl cropping culverkeys and cowslips, all to make garlands suitable to this present month of May: these, and many other field flowers, so perfumed the air, that I thought that very meadow like that field in Sicily, of which Diodorus speaks, where the perfumes arising from the place make all dogs that hunt in it to fall off, and to lose their hottest scent. I say, as I thus sat, joying in my own happy condition, and pitying this poor rich man that owned this and many other pleasant groves and meadows about me, I did thankfully remember what my
We covet no wealth,
But the blessing of health,
Such devotion we bring
To our God and our King,
While we sit and fish,
We pray as we wish
Honest anglers then may,
Or they 've very foul play,
Saviour said, that the meek possess the earth ; or rather, they enjoy what the others possess and enjoy not: for anglers and meek, quiet-spirited men are free from those high, those restless thoughts, which corrode the sweets of life; and they, and they only, can say, as the poet has happily expressed it :
Hail! bless'd estate of lowliness!
Happy enjoyments of such minds
Can, like the reeds, in roughest winds,
At which proud oaks and cedars fall. There came also into my mind at that time, certain verses in praise of a mean estate and an humble mind : they were written by Phineas Fletcher, an excellent divine, and an excellent angler; and the author of excellent Piscatory Eclogues, in which you shall see the picture of this good man's mind; and I wish mine to be like it.
* Phineas Fletcher was fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and the author of a fine allegorical poem, entitled the Purple Islund, printed at Cambridge, with other of his poems, in 4t 1633.
The innocence of angling, the delightful scenes with which it is conversant, and its associated pleasures of ease, retirement, and meditation, have been a motive to the introduction of a new species of eclogue, where fishers are actors, as shepherds are in the pastoral.
Of those who have attempted this kind of poetry, the above mentioned Mr Fletcher is one; and in the same volume with the Purple Island are several poems, which he calls Piscatory Eclogues, from whence the following passage is extracted :
Ah! would thou knew'st how much it better were
To bide among the simple fisher swains !
Nor is our simple pleasure mix'd with pains :
I have a pipe which once thou lovedst well,
(Was never pipe that gave a better sound,)
Thetis, the queen of seas, attended round
Here, with sweet bays, the lovely myrtles grow,
Where the ocean's fair-cheek'd maidens oft repair ;
No other swain may come to note they're fair ;
Whom thou shalt hear, ne'er seen by any jealous eye. - Ec. I. And besides Mr Phineas Fletcher, a gentleman now living, (1784,) the Reverend Mr Moses Browne, has obliged the world with Piscatory Eclogues, which I would recommend to all lovers of poetry and angling; and I am much mistaken if the fifth of them, entitled Rennock's Despair, is not by far the best imitation of Milton's Lycidas that has ever yet appeared.
No empty hopes, no courtly fears him fright,
No begging wants his middle fortune bite,
Is full of thousand sweets and rich content;
With coolest shade, till noontide's heat be spent;
Or the vexatious world, or lost in slothful ease :
While by his side his faithful spouse hath place;
The lively picture of his father's face;
Less he could like, if less his God had lent him, And when he dies, green turfs do for a tomb content him. Gentlemen, these were a part of the thoughts that then possessed me. And I here made a conversion of a piece of an old catch,* and added more to it, fitting them to be sung by us anglers. Come, master, you can sing well : you must sing a part of it, as it is in this paper.
Peter. I marry, sir, this is music indeed : this has cheered my heart, and made me to remember six verses in praise of music, which I will speak to you instantly:
Music! miraculous rhetoric, that speak'st sense
* The song here sung can in no sense of the word be termed a catch. It was probably set to music at the request of Walton, and is to be found in a book, entitled Select Ayres and Dialogues for one, two, and three Voyces ; to the Theorbo-lute, and Basse Viol. By John Wilson and Charles Coleman, doctors of music, Henry Lawes, and others, fol. London, 1659. It occurs in the first edition of Walton's book, published in 1653.
At the time when Walton wrote, and long before, music was so gene. rally well understood, that a man who had any voice or ear, was always supposed to be able to sing his part in a madrigal or song, at sight. Peacham requires of his gentleman, only to be able as to sing his part sure, and at the first sight; and withal, to play the same on the viol or lute.”Compleat Gentleman, 100. And Philomathes, in Morley's excellent Introduction to Practical Music, in folio, London 1597, thus complains, (at the banquet of master Sophobulus,) " Supper being ended, and music books, according to custom, being brought to table, the mistress of the house presented me with a part, earnestly requesting me to sing. But when, after many excuses, I protested unféignedly that I could not, every one began to wonder; yea, some whispered to others, demanding how I was brought So that, upon shame of mine ignorance, I go nowe to seek out mine olde friend master Gnorimus, to make myself his scholar."
Venator. And the repetition of these last verses of music bas called to my memory what Mr Edward Waller, a lover of the angle,* says of love and music:
While I listen to thy voice,
That powerful noise
To heaven may go ;
For all we know
Is, that they sing, and that they love. Piscator. Well remembered, brother Peter : these verses came seasonably, and we thank you heartily. Come, we will all join together, my host and all, and sing my scholar's catch over again ; and then each man drink the other cup, and to bed; and thank God we have a dry house over our heads. - Well, now good night to every body.
Peter. And so say I.
Piscator. Good morrow, brother Peter ; and the like to you, honest Coridon. Come, my hostess says there is seven shillings
* As the author's concern for the honour of angling induced him to enumerate such persons of note as were lovers of that recreation, the reader will allow me to add Mr John Gay to the number. Any one who reads the first canto of his Georgic, entitled Rurul Sports, and observes how beautifully and accurately he treats the subject of fly-fishing, would conclude the author a proficient : but that it was his chief amusement, I have been assured by an intimate friend of mine, who has frequently fished with him in the river Kennet, at Amesbury, in Wilts, the seat of his grace the Duke of Queensbury. The reader
will excuse the following addition to this note, for the sake of a beautiful description of the materials used in fly-making, which is quoted from the above mentioned poem.
To frame the little animal, provide
to pay: let's each man drink a pot for his morning's draught, and lay down his two shillings, that so my hostess may not have occasion to repent herself of being so diligent, and using us so kindly.
Peter. The motion is liked by every body, and so, hostess, here's your money; we anglers are all beholden to you ; it will not be long ere I'll see you again. And now, brother Piscator, I wish you, and my brother, your scholar, a fair day and good fortune. Come, Coridon, this is our way.
OF ROACH AND DACE, AND HOW TO FISH FOR THEM: AND OF
Roach — Cyprinus Rutilus. — LINNÆUS. Venator. Good master, as we go now towards London, be still so courteous as to give me more instructions: for I have several boxes in my memory, in which I will keep them all very safe, there shall not one of them be lost.
Piscator. Well, scholar, that I will : and I will hide nothing from you that I'can remember, and can think may help you forward towards a perfection in this art. And because we have so much time, and I have said so little of Roach and Dace, I will give you some directions concerning them.
Some say the Roach is so called from rutilus, which they say signifies red fins. He is a fish of no great reputation for his dainty taste; and his spawn is accounted much better than any other part of him. And you may take notice, that as the Carp is