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VEN. Well sung, master: this day's fortune and pleasure, and this night's company and song, do all make me more and more in love with angling. Gentlemen, my master 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?
PISC. 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 us hear your catch, scholar, which I hope will be a good one; for you are both musical, and have a good fancy to boot.
VEN. 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, that very hour which you were absent from me, I sat down under a willow tree by the water-side, and considered what you had told me of the owner of that pleasant meadow in which you had then left me; that he had a plentiful estate, and not a heart to think so; that he had at this time many law-suits 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 sit there 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 lady-smocks, 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 Saviour said, that the
Can, like the reeds in roughest winds,
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.
No empty hopes, no courtly fears him fright;
His certain life, that never can deceive him,
Or the vexatious world, or lost in slothful ease;
Pleased and full bless'd he lives, when he his God can please.
His bed, more safe than soft, yields quiet sleeps,
While by his side his faithful spouse hath place;
His little son into his bosom creeps,
The lively picture of his father's face;
His humble house or poor state ne'er torment him—
And when he dies, green turfs do for a tomb content him.
Gentlemen, these were a part of the thoughts that then possessed And I there made a conversion of a piece of an old catch, and added more to it, fitting them to be sung by anglers. Come, master, you can sing well; you must sing a part of it as it is in this paper.
Man's life is but vain, for 'tis subject to pain
And sorrow, and short as a bubble ;
'Tis a hodgepodge of business, and money, and care,
And care, and money, and trouble.
But we'll take no care when the weather proves fair;
Nor will we vex now, though it rain;
We'll banish all sorrow, and sing till to-morrow
And angle, and angle again.
PETER. Ay, 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 speakest sense
With what ease might thy errors be excused,
Wert thou as truly loved as thou'rt abused!
But though dull souls neglect, ana some reprove thee,
I cannot hate thee 'cause the angels love thee.
VEN. And the repetition of these last verses of music has called to my memory what Mr. Ed. Waller (a lover of the angle) says of love and music.
Whilst I listen to thy voice,
Chloris, I feel my heart decay:
Peace, Chloris, peace, or singing die,
To heaven may go;
For all we know
Of what the blessed do above
Is-that they sing, and that they love.
PISC. 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.
PISC. Well now, good-night to everybody.
PETER. And so say I.
VEN. And so say I.
COR. Good-night to you all, and I thank you.
PISC. Good-morrow, brother Peter, and the like to you, honest Coridon come, my hostess says there is seven shillings to pay let us 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.