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The hills and mountains raised from the plains,
The veins enclos'd with rivers running round;
The lofty woods, the forests wide and long,
Adorn'd with leaves and branches fresh and green,
Do welcome with their choir the summer's queen ;
Are intermixed, with verdant grass between;
All these, and many more of His creation
That made the heavens, the angler oft doth see:
To think how strange, how wonderful they be!
To set his heart from other fancies free;
Sir, I am glad my memory has not lost these last verses, because they are somewhat more pleasant and more suitable to May-day than my harsh discourse. And I am glad your patience hath held out so long, as to hear them and me; for both together have brought us within the sight of the Thatched House and I must be your debtor (if you think it worth your attention) for the rest of my promised discourse, till some other opportunity, and a like time of leisure.
VEN. Sir, you have angled me on with much pleasure to the Thatched House; and I now find your words true, "that good company makes the way seem short;" for trust me, sir, I thought we had wanted three miles of this house, till you showed it to me. But
now we are at it, we'll turn into it, and refresh ourselves with a cup of drink, and a little rest.
PISC. Most gladly, sir, and we'll drink a civil cup to all the otter-hunters that are to meet you to-morrow.
VEN. That we will, sir, and to all the lovers of angling, of which number I am now willing to be one myself: for, by the help of your good discourse and company, I have put on new thoughts both of the art of angling, and of all that profess it; and if you will but meet me to-morrow, at the time and place appointed, and bestow one day with me and my friends in hunting the otter, I will dedicate the next two days to wait upon you, and we two will for that time do nothing but angle, and talk of fish and fishing.
PISC. 'Tis a match, sir; I'll not fail you, God willing, to be at Amwell Hill to-morrow morning before sun-rising.
Observations of the Otter and Chub.
EN. My friend Piscator, you have kept time with my thoughts, for the sun is just rising, and I myself just now come to this place, and the dogs have just now put down an otter. Look down at the bottom of the hill there in that meadow, chequered with water-lilies and ladysmocks; there you may see what work they make look! look! you may see all busy, men and dogs, dogs and men all busy.
PISC. Sir, I am right glad to meet you, and glad to have so fair an entrance into this day's sport, and glad to see so many dogs and more men all in pursuit of the otter. Let us compliment no longer, but join unto them. Come, honest Venator, let us be gone, let us make haste; I long to be doing; no reasonable hedge or ditch shall hold me.
VEN. Gentleman-huntsman, where found you this otter?
HUNT. Marry, sir, we found her a mile from this place, a-fishing. She has this morning eaten the greatest part of this trout; she has only left this much of it as you see, and was fishing for more; when we came we found her just at it; but we were here very early, we were here an hour before sunrise, and have given her no rest since we came ; sure, she will hardly escape all these dogs and men. I am to have the skin if we kill her.
VEN. Why, sir, what is the skin worth?
HUNT. 'Tis worth ten shillings to make gloves; the gloves of an otter are the best fortification for your hands that can be thought on against wet weather.
Pisc. I pray, honest huntsman, let me ask you a pleasant question: do you hunt a beast or a fish?
HUNT. Sir, it is not in my power to resolve you; I leave it to be resolved by the college of Carthusians, who have made their vows never to eat flesh. But I have heard the question hath been debated among many great clerks, and they seem to differ about it; yet most agree that her tail is fish; and if her body be fish too, then I may say that a fish will walk upon land; for an otter does so, sometimes, five or six or ten miles in a night, to catch for her young ones, or to glut herself with fish. And I can tell you that pigeons will fly forty miles for a breakfast; but, sir, I am sure the otter devours much fish, and kills and spoils much more than he eats. And I can tell you that this dog-fisher (for so the Latins call him) can smell a fish in the water a hundred yards from him: Gesner says much farther; and that his stones are good against the falling sickness; and that there is an herb, benione, which being hung in a linen cloth, near a fish pond, or any haunt that he uses, makes him to avoid the place; which proves he smells both by water and land; and I can tell you there is brave hunting this water-dog in Cornwall, where there have been so many, that our learned Camden says there is a river called Ottersey, which was so named by reason of the abundance of otters that bred and fed in it.
And thus much for my knowledge of the otter, which you may now see above water at vent, and the dogs close with him; I now