« PreviousContinue »
To the Reader of The Compleat Angler.
First mark the title well; my friend that gave it
Has made it good; this book deserves to have it.
For he that views it with judicious looks,
Shall find it full of art, baits, lines, and hooks.
The world the river is; both you and I,
And all mankind, are either fish or fry:
If we pretend to reason, first or last
His baits will tempt us, and his hooks hold fast.
Pleasure or profit, either prose or rhyme,
If not at first, will doubtless take in time.
He sits in secret blest theology,
Waited upon by grave philosophy,
Both natural and moral; history,
Deck'd and adorn'd with flowers of poetry;
The matter and expression striving which
Shall most excel in worth, yet not seem rich.
There is no danger in his baits; that hook
Will prove the safest that is surest took.
Nor are we caught alone, but (which is best)
We shall wholesome, and be toothsome, drest:
Drest to be fed, not to be fed upon;
And danger of a surfeit here is none.
The solid food of serious contemplation
Is sauc'd, here, with such harmless recreation,
That an ingenuous and religious mind
Cannot enquire for more than it may find
Ready at once prepared either t' excite
Or satisfy a curious appetite.
More praise is due; for 'tis both positive
And truth, which once was interrogative,
And utter'd by the poet then in jest,
ET PISCATOREM PISCIS AMARE POTEST.
Ch. Harvie, Mr. of Arts.
To my dear friend, Mr. Iz. Walton, in praise of
Angling, which we both love.
Down by this smooth stream's wand'ring side,
Adorn'd and perfum'd with the pride
Of Flora's wardrobe, where the shrill
Aerial choir express their skill,
First in alternate melody,
And then in chorus all agree.
Whilst the charm'd fish, as extasy'd
With sounds, to his own throat deny'd,
Scorns his dull element, and springs
I' th' air, as if his fins were wings.
'Tis here that the pleasures sweet and high
Prostrate to our embraces lie.
Such as a body, soul, or frame
Create no sickness, sin, or shame.
Roses not fenc'd with pricks grow here,
No sting to th' honey-bag is near.
But (what's perhaps their prejudice)
The difficulty, want and price.
An obvious rod, a twist of hair,
With hook hid in an insect, are
Engines of sport, would fit the wish
O' th' epicure, and fill his dish.
In this clear stream let fall a grub;
And straight take up a dace or chub.
I' th' mud your worm provokes a snig,
Which being fast, if it prove big
The Gotham folly will be found
Discreet, ere ta'en she must be drown'd.
The tench (physician of the brook)
In yon dead hole expects your hook,
Which having first your pastime been,
Serves then for meat or medicine.
Ambush'd behind that root doth stay
A pike, to catch and be a prey.
The treacherous quill in this slow stream
Betrays the hunger of a bream.
And at that nimbler ford (no doubt)
Your false fly cheats a speckled trout.
When you these creatures wisely chuse
To practise on, which to your use
Owe their creation, and when
Fish from your arts do rescue men ;
To plot, delude, and circumvent,
Ensnare and spoil, is innocent.
Here by these crystal streams you may
Preserve a conscience clear as they ;
And when by sullen thoughts you find
Your harassed, not busied, mind
In sable melancholy clad,
Distemper'd, serious, turning sad;
Hence fetch your cure, cast in your bait,
All anxious thoughts and cares shall straight
Fly with such speed they'll seem to be
Possest with the hydrophobie.
The water's calmness in your breast,
And smoothness on your brow shall rest.
Away with sports of charge and noise,
And give me cheap and silent joys;
Such as Acteon's game pursue
Their fate oft make the tale seem true.
The sick or sullen hawk, to-day
Flies not; to-morrow, quite away.
Patience and purse to cards and dice
Too oft are made a sacrifice:
The daughter's dower, th' inheritance
O' th' son, depend on one mad chance.
The harms and mischiefs which the abuse
Of wine doth every day produce,
Make good the doctrine of the Turks,
That in each grape a devil lurks.
And by yon fading, sapless tree,
'Bout which the ivy twin'd you see,
His fate's foretold, who fondly places
His bliss in woman's soft embraces.
All pleasures, but the angler's, bring,
I' th' tail, repentance like a sting.
Then on these banks let me sit down,
Free from the toilsome sword and
And pity those that do affect
To conquer nations and protect.
My reed affords such true content,
Delights so sweet and innocent,
As seldom fall into the lot
Of sceptres, though they're justly got.
Tho. Weaver, Mr. of Arts.
To the Readers of my most ingenious Friend's book,
The Compleat Angler.
He that both knew and writ the lives of men,
Such as were once, but must not be again:
Witness is matchless Donne and Wotton, by
Whose aid he could their speculations try:
He that conversed with angels, such as were
Ouldsworth and Featley, each a shining star
Showing the way to Bethlem; each a saint;
(Compar'd to whom our zealots, now, but paint).
He that our pious and learn'd Morley knew,
And from him suck'd wit and devotion too:
He that from these such excellencies fetch'd,
That he could tell how high and far they reach'd;
What learning this, what graces th' other had;
And in what several dress each soul was clad.
Reader, this HE, this fisherman comes forth,
And in these fisher's weeds would shroud his worth.
Now his mute harp is on a willow hung,
With which when finely touch'd, and fitly strung,
He could friends' passions for these times allay;
Or chain his fellow-anglers from their prey.
But now the music of his pen is still,
And he sits by a brook watching a quill:
Where with a fixt eye, and a ready hand,
He studies first to hook, and then to land
Some trout, or perch, or pike; and having done,
Sits on a bank, and tells how this was won,
And that escap'd his hook, which with a wile
Did eat the bait, and fishermen beguile.
Thus whilst some vex they from their lands are thrown,
He joys to think the waters are his own,
And like the Dutch, he gladly can agree
To live at peace now, and have fishing free.