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VEN. Trust me, my master, it is a choice song, and sweetly sung by honest Maudlin. I now see it was not without cause that our good Queen Elizabeth did so often wish herself a milkmaid all the month of May, because they are not troubled with fears and cares, but sing sweetly all the day, and sleep securely all the night: and without doubt, honest, innocent, pretty Maudlin does so. I'll bestow Sir Thomas Overbury's milkmaid's wish upon her, "That she may die in the spring, and being dead, may have good store of flowers stuck round about her winding sheet.'
THE MILKMAID'S MOTHER'S ANSWER
If all the world and love were young,
But Time drives flocks from field to fold,
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
What should we talk of dainties, then,
These are but vain; that's only good
But could youth last and love still breed,
Then those delights my mind might move
MOTHER. Well! I have done my song. But stay, honest anglers; for I will make Maudlin to sing you one short song more. Maudlin! sing that song that you sung last night, when young Coridon the shepherd played so purely on his oaten pipe to you and your cousin Betty.
MAUD. I will, mother.
I married a wife of late,
And all her beauty did fail.
With those that go
Through frost and snow,
As all men know,
And carry the milking-pail.
PISC. Well sung, good woman; I thank you. I'll give you another dish of fish one of these days, and then beg another song of you. Come, scholar, let Maudlin alone; do not you offer to spoil her voice. Look, yonder comes mine hostess, to call us to supper. How now? Is my brother Peter come?
HOST. Yes, and a friend with him; they are both glad to hear that you are in these parts, and long to see you, and long to be at supper, for they be very hungry.
More Directions how to Fish for, and how to make for the Trout an Artificial Minnow and Flies; with some Merriment.
ISC. Well met, brother Peter: I heard you and a friend would lodge here to-night, and that hath made me to bring my friend to lodge here too. My friend is one that would fain be a brother of the angle; he hath been an angler but this day, and I have taught him how to catch a chub by dapping with a grasshopper, and the chub that he caught was a lusty one of nineteen inches long. But pray, brother Peter, who is your companion?
PETER. Brother Piscator, my friend is an honest countryman, and his name is Coridon, and he is a downright witty companion, that met me here purposely to be pleasant and eat a trout, and I have not yet wetted my line since we met together; but I hope to fit him with a trout for his breakfast, for I'll be early up.
Pisc. Nay, brother, you shall not stay so long? for, look you, here is a trout will fill six reasonable bellies. Come, hostess, dress it presently, and get us what other meat the house will afford, and give us some of your best barley-wine, the good liquor that our honest forefathers did use to drink of; the drink which preserved their health, and made them live so long, and do so many good deeds. PETER. O' my word, this trout is perfect in season. Come, I thank you, and here is a hearty draught to you, and to all the brothers of the angle wheresoever they be, and to my young brother's good fortune to-morrow. I will furnish him with a rod if you will furnish him with the rest of the tackling; we will set him up and make him a fisher.
And I will tell him one thing for his encouragement, that his fortune hath made him happy to be scholar to such a master; a master that knows as much, both of the nature and breeding of fish, as any man; and can also tell him as well how to catch and cook them, from the minnow to the salmon, as any that I ever met withal.
PISC. Trust me, brother Peter, I find my scholar to be so suitable to my own humour, which is, to be free and pleasant and civilly merry, that my resolution is to hide nothing that I know from him. Believe me, scholar, this is my resolution; and so here's to you a hearty draught, and to all that love us and the honest art of angling.
VEN. Trust me, good master, you shall not sow your seed in barren ground; for I hope to return you an increase answerable to your hopes: but, however, you shall find me obedient and thankful and serviceable to my best ability.
PISC. 'Tis enough, honest scholar! come, let's to supper. Come, my friend Coridon, this trout looks lovely; it was twenty-two inches when it was taken! and the belly of it looked, some part of it, as yellow as a marigold, and part of it as white as a lily; and yet, methinks, it looks better in this good sauce.
CORIDON. Indeed, honest friend, it looks well, and tastes well: I thank you for it, and so doth my friend Peter, or else he is to blame. PETER. Yes, and so do I, we all thank you; and when we have
supped, I will get my friend Coridon to sing you a song for requital.
COR. I will sing a song, if anybody will sing another; else, to be plain with you, I will sing none: I am none of those that sing for meat, but for company : I say, "'Tis merry in hall, when men sing all."
PISC. I'll promise you I'll sing a song that was lately made at my request by Mr. William Basse, one that hath made the choice songs of The Hunter in his Career, and of Tom of Bedlam, and many others of note; and this that I will sing is in praise of angling.
COR. And then mine shall be, the praise of a countryman's life: what will the rest sing of?
PETER. I will promise you, I will sing another song in praise of angling to-morrow night; for we will not part till then, but fish tomorrow, and sup together, and the next day every man leave fishing, and fall to his business.
VEN. 'Tis a match; and I will provide you a song or a catch against then too, which shall give some addition of mirth to the company; for we will be civil, and as merry as beggars.
Pisc. 'Tis a match, my masters; let's e'en say grace, and turn to the fire, drink the other cup to wet our whistles, and so sing away all sad thoughts.
Come on, my masters, who begins? I think it is best to draw cuts, and avoid contention.
PETER. It is a match. Look, the shortest cut falls to Coridon. COR. Well, then, I will begin, for I hate contention.
Oh, the sweet contentment
Then care away,
And wend along with me.