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threescore years; and that such useful and pleasant observations were made of this Lamprey, that Crassus the orator, who kept her, lamented her death. And we read in Doctor Hakewill, that Hortensius was seen to weep at the death of a Lamprey that he had kept long, and loved exceedingly.
It is granted by all, or most men, that Eels, for about six months, that is to say, the six cold months of the year, stir not up and down, neither in the rivers, nor in the pools in which they usually are, but get into the soft earth or mud; and there many of them together bed themselves, and live without feeding upon any thing, as I have told you some swallows have been observed to do in hollow trees, for those six cold months. And this the Eel and Swallow do, as not being able to endure winter weather: for Gesner quotes Albertus to say, that in the year 1125, (that year's winter being more cold than usually,) Eels did, by nature's instinct, get out of the water into a stack of hay in a meadow upon dry ground;2 and there bedded themselves : but yet, at last, a frost killed them. And our Camden relates, that, in Lancashire, fishes were digged out of the earth with spades, where no water was near to the place. I shall say
(1) The Author, page 113, has cited from Priny an instance of the fondness of Antonia, a woman, for a tame Lamprey, which the tenderness of her sex miglit perhaps excuse; but the sagacity and cocility of these creatures seen less wohderful than the weakness of such men as Crassus and Hortensius, iu becoining mourners for the death of an Eel.
The former of these two persons was, for this his pusillanimits, reproached in the Senate of Rome by Domitius, in these words: “ Foolish Crassus ! you wept for your Murenu” (or Lamprey.) “ That is more," retorted Crassus, did for your two wives." Lord Bacon's Apophthegms.
(2) Dr. Plot, in his History of Staffordshire, page 212, nuentions certain waters, and a pool, that werr stocked by Eels that liad from waters they liked pot travelled in arido, or over dry land, to these other.
(3) Camden's relation is to this effect; viz. " That, at a place called Seiton, iu the above county, uron turning up the turf, men find a black deadish water with small fishes therein." Britannia Lancashire. Fuller, who also reports this strange fact, huinorously says, “ That the men of liis place yo a-fishing with spades and matíocks; adding, that fishes are thus found in the country about Heraclea aod Tius, in Pontus." Worthies, in Lancashire, 107.
more of the Eel, but that, as it is observed he is impatient of cold, so it hath been observed, that, in warm weather, an Eel has been known to live five days out of the water.
And lastly, let me tell you, that some curious searchers into the natures of fish observe, that there be several sorts or kinds of Eels; as the silver Eel, and green or greenish Eel, with which the river of Thames abounds, and those are called Grigs; and a blackish Eel, whose head is more flat and bigger than ordinary Eels ; and also an Eel whose fins are reddish, and but seldom taken in this nation, and yet taken sometimes. These several kind of Eels are, say some, diversely bred; as, namely, out of the corruption of the earth; and some by dew, and other ways, as I have said to you: and yet it is affirmed by some for a certain, that the silver Eel is bred by generation, but not by spawning as other fish do; but that her brood come alive from her, being then little live Eels no bigger nor longer than a pin; and I have had too many testimonies of this, to doubt the truth of it myself; and if I thought it needful I might prove it, but I think it is needless.
And this Eel, of which I have said so much to you, may be caught with divers kinds of baits: as namely, with powdered beef; with a lob or garden worm; with a minnow; or gut of a hen, chicken, or the guts of any fish; or with almost any thing, for he is a greedy fish.' But the Eel may be caught, especially, with a little, a
(1) To this truth, I myself can bear witness, When I dwelt at Twickenham, a large canal adjoined to my house, which I stocked with fish. I had from time to time broods of ducks, which, with their young ones, took to the water. One dry summer, when the canal was very low, we missed many young ducks, but could not find out how they went. Resolving to make advantage of the lowness of the water to cleau the canal, a work which had not been done for thirty years before, I drained and emptied it, and found in the niud a great number of large Eels. Some of them I reserved for the use of my family; which being opened by the cook, surprised us all; for in the stomachs of several of them were found, undigested, the necks and heads of young ducks, which doubtless were those of the ducks we had missed. Hawkins.
very little Lamprey, which some call a Pride, and may, in the hot months, be found many of them in the river Thames, and in many mud-heaps in other rivers; yea, almost as usually as one finds worms in a dunghill.
Next note, that the Eel seldom stirs in the day, but then hides himself; and therefore he is usually caught by night, with one of these baits of which I have spoken ; and may be then caught by laying hooks, which you are to fasten to the bank, or twigs of a tree; or by throwing a string cross the stream, with many, hooks at it, and those baited with the aforesaid baits; and a clod, or plummet, or stone, thrown into the river with this line, that so you may in the morning find it near to some fixed place; and then take it up with a drag-hook, or otherwise. But these things are, indeed, too common to be spoken of; and an hour's fishing with any angler will teach
you better, both for these and many other common things in the practical part of angling, than a week's discourse. I shall therefore conclude this direction for taking the Eel, by telling you, that, in a warm day in summer, I have taken many a good Eel by Snigling, and have been much pleased with that sport.
And because you, that are but a young angler, know not what Snigling is, I will now teach it to you. You remember, I told you, that Eels do not usually stir in the day time; for then they hide themselves under some covert; or under boards or planks about flood-gates, or weirs, or mills; or in holes on the river banks : so that
observing your time in a warm day, when the water is lowest, may take a strong small hook, tied to a strong line, or to a string about a yard long; and then into one of these holes, or between any boards about a mill, or under any great stone or plank, or any place where you
think Eel may
hide shelter herself, you may, with the help of a short stick, put in your bait, but leisurely, and as far
as you may conveniently; and it is scarce to be doubted, but if there be an Eel, within the sight of it, the Eel will bite instantly, and as certainly gorge it; and you need not doubt to have him if you pull him not out of the hole too quickly, but pull him out by degrees; for he, lying folded double in his hole, will, with the help of his tail, break all, unless you give him time to be wearied with pulling, and so get him out by degrees, not pulling too hard.
And to commute for your patient hearing this long direction, I shall next tell you how to make this Eel a most excellent dish of meat.
First, wash him in water and salt; then pull off his skin below his vent or navel, and not much further : having done that, take out his guts as clean as you can, but wash him not: then give him three or four scotches with a knife; and then put into his belly and those scotches, sweet herbs, an anchovy, and a little nutmeg grated or cut very small; and your herbs and anchovies must also be cut very small, and mixt with good butter and salt: having done this, then pull his skin over him, all but his head, which you are to cut off, to the end you may tie his skin about that part where his head grew, and it must be so tied as to keep all his moisture within his skin: and having done this, tie him with tape or packthread to a spit, and roast him leisurely; and baste him with water and salt till bis skin breaks, and then with butter; and having roasted him enough, let what was put into his belly, and what he drips, be his sauce.
S. F. When I go to dress an Eel thus, I wish he were as long and as big as that which was caught in Peterborough river, in the year 1667 ; which was a yard and three quarters long. If you will not believe me,
and see at one of the coffee-houses in King-street, in Westminster.
But now let me tell you, that though the Eel, thus
drest, be not only excellent good, but more harmless than any other way, yet it is certain that physicians account the Eel dangerous meat; I will advise you therefore, as Solomon
says of honey, Prov. xxv. “ Hast thou found it, eat no more than is sufficient, lest thou surfeit, for it is not good to eat much honey.” And let me add this, that the uncharitable Italian bids us “give Eels and no wine to our enemies."
And I will beg a little more of your attention, to tell you, that Aldrovandus, and divers physicians, commend the Eel very much for medicine, though not for meat. But let me tell you one observation, that the Eel is never out of season; as Trouts, and most other fish, are at set times ; at least, most Eels are not.'
(1) T'he haun!s of the Eel are, weeds, urder roots, stumps of trees, holes, and clefts of the earth, boih in the banks and at the bottom, and in the plain mud, where they lie with only their heads out, waiching for prey. They are also found under great stones, old timber, about food-gates, weirs, bridges, and old mills. They delight in still waters, and in those that are foul and muddy; though the smaller Eels are to be met with in all sorts of rivers and soils.
Although the manner in which Eels, and indeed all fish, are generated, is sufficiently settled, as appears by the foregoing notes; there yet remains a question undecided by naturalists; and that is, Whether the Eel be an oviparous or a viviparous fish? Walton inclines to the latter opinion. The following relation from Bowlker may go near to determine the question:
“ Being acquainted with an elderly woman, who bad been wife to a miller near fifty years, and much employed in dressing of Eels, I asked her whether she had ever found any spawn or eggs in those Eels she opened ? She said she had never observed any; but that she had sometimes found living Eels in them, about the biggess of a small needle; and particularly, that she once took out tep or twelve, and put them upon the table, and found them to be alive; which was confirmed to me by the rest of the family. The time of the year when this happened was, as they informed me, about a fortnight or three weeks after Michaelmas; which makes me of opinion that they go down to the sea, or saltwater, to prepare themselves for the work of propagating and producing their young. To this I must add another observation of the same nature, that was made by a gentleman of fortune not far from Ludlow, and in the commission of the peace for the county of Salop; who going to visit a gentleman, his friend, was shewn a very fine large Eel that was going lo be dressed, about whose sides and belly be observed a parcel of little creeping thiugs, which at first made him suspect it had been kept too long; but, upon nearer inspection, they were found to be perfect little Eels, or Elvers : upon this it was immediately opened in the siglit of several other gentlemen, and in the belly of it they found a lump about as big as a putmeg, consisting of an infinite number of those little creatures, closely wrapt up together, which, being put into a bason of water, soon separated, and swam about the bason. This he has often told to several gentlemen of