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passions, a procurer of contentedness; and that it begat habits of peace and patience in those that professed and practised it.' Indeed, my friend, you will find Angling to be like the virtue of humility, which has a calmness of spirit, and a world of other blessings attending upon it.
Sir, this was the saying of that learned man. And I do easily believe, that peace, and patience, and a calm content, did cohabit in the cheerful heart of Sir Henry Wotton, because I know that when he was beyond seventy years of age, he made this description of a part of the present pleasure that possessed him, as he sat quietly, in a summer's evening, on a bank a-fishing. It is a description of the spring; which, because it glided as soft and sweetly from his pen, as that river does at this time, by which it was then made, I shall repeat it unto you:
This day dame Nature seem'd in love;
The jealous trout, that low did lie,
Rose at a well-dissembled fly;
There stood my Friend, with patient skill,
Attending of his trembling quill.
Already were the eaves possest
With the swift pilgrim's daubed nest;
In Philomel's triumphing voice:
The showers were short, the weather mild,
Where, for some sturdy foot-ball swain,
And now, though late, the modest rose
These were the thoughts that then possessed the undisturbed mind of Sir Henry Wotton. Will you hear the wish of another Angler, and the commendation of his happy life, which he also sings in verse: viz. Jo. Davors, Esq.?
Let me live harmlessly, and near the brink
Of Trent or Avon have a dwelling-place;
Whilst some men strive ill-gotten goods t' embrace;
Let them that list, these pastimes still pursue,
The stately compass of the lofty sky;
The hills and mountains raised from the plains,
The veins enclos'd with rivers running round;
The raging sea, beneath the vallies low,
The lofty woods, the forests wide and long,
Adorned with leaves and branches fresh and green,
Are intermixt, with verdant grass between ;
All these, and many more of his creation
To think how strange, how wonderful they be :
To set his heart from other fancies free;
His mind is rapt above the starry sky.
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.
VENATOR. Sir, you have angled me 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.
PISCATOR. Most gladly, Sir, and we'll drink a civil cup to all the Otter-hunters that are to meet you to-morrow. VENATOR. That we will, Sir, and to all the lovers of Angling too, 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.
PISCATOR. It is a match, Sir. I'll not fail you, God willing, to be at Amwell Hill to-morrow morning before sun-rising.
[THE SECOND DAY]
Observations of the Otter and Chub
VENATOR. 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 lady-smocks, there you may see what work they make; look! look! you may see all busy; men and dogs, dogs and men, all busy.
PISCATOR. 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's compliment no longer, but join unto them. Come, honest Venator, let's be gone, let us make haste; I long to be doing; no reasonable hedge or ditch shall hold me.
VENATOR. Gentleman Huntsman, where found you this Otter?
HUNTSMAN. 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 thus 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.
VENATOR. Why, Sir, what is the skin worth?
HUNTSMAN. It is 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.
PISCATOR. I pray, honest Huntsman, let me ask you a pleasant question: do you hunt a beast or a fish?
HUNTSMAN. Sir, it is not in my power to resolve you; I leave it to be resolved by the college of Carthusians, who have made 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 see he will not last long. Follow, therefore, my masters, follow; for Sweetlips was like to have
him at this last vent.
VENATOR. Oh me! all the horse are got over the river, what shall we do now? shall we follow them over the water?
HUNTSMAN. No, Sir, no; be not so eager; stay a little, and follow me; for both they and the dogs will be suddenly on this side again, I warrant you, and the Otter too, it may be. Now have at him with Kilbuck, for he vents again.
VENATOR. Marry! so he does; for, look! he vents in that corner. Now, now, Ringwood has him: now, he is gone again, and has bit the poor dog. Now Sweetlips has