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may rather believe, if you consider that the little wren and titmouse will have twenty young ones at a time, when, usually, the noble hawk, or the musical thrassel or blackbird, exceed not four or five.
And now you shall see me try my skill to catch a Trout; and at my next walking, either this evening or to-morrow morning, I will give you direction how you yourself shall fish for him.
VENATOR. Trust me, master, I see now it is a harder matter to catch a Trout than a Chub; for I have put on patience, and followed you these two hours, and not seen a fish stir, neither at your minnow nor your worm.
PISCATOR. Well, scholar, you must endure worse luck sometime, or you will never make a good angler. But what say you now? there is a Trout now, and a good one too, if I can but hold him; and two or three turns more will tire him. Now you see he lies still, and the sleight is to land him: reach me that landing-net. So, Sir, now he is mine own: what say you now, is not this worth all my labour and your patience?
VENATOR. On my word, master, this is a gallant Trout; what shall we do with him?
PISCATOR. Marry, e'en eat him to supper: we'll go to my hostess from whence we came; she told me, as I was going out of door, that my brother Peter, a good angler and a cheerful companion, had sent word he would lodge there to-night, and bring a friend with him. My hostess has two beds, and I know you and I may have the best: we'll rejoice with my brother Peter and his friend, tell tales, or sing ballads, or make a catch, or find some harmless sport to content us, and pass away a little time without offence to God or man.
VENATOR. A match, good master, let's go to that house, for the linen looks white, and smells of lavender, and I long to lie in a pair of sheets that smell so. be going, good master, for I am hungry again with fishing.
PISCATOR. Nay, stay a little, good scholar. I caught my last Trout with a worm; now I will put on a minnow,
and try a quarter of an hour about yonder trees for another; and, so, walk towards our lodging. Look you, scholar, thereabout we shall have a bite presently, or not at all. Have with you, Sir: o' my word I have hold of him. Oh! it is a great logger-headed Chub; come, hang him upon that willow twig, and let's be going. But turn out of the way a little, good scholar! toward yonder high honeysuckle hedge; there we'll sit and sing, whilst this shower falls so gently upon the teeming earth, and gives yet a sweeter smell to the lovely flowers that adorn these verdant meadows.
Look! under that broad beech-tree I sat down, when I was last this way a-fishing; and the birds in the adjoining grove seemed to have a friendly contention with an echo, whose dead voice seemed to live in a hollow tree near to the brow of that primrose-hill. There I sat viewing the silver streams glide silently towards their centre, the tempestuous sea; yet sometimes opposed by rugged roots and pebble-stones, which broke their waves, and turned them into foam; and sometimes I beguiled time by viewing the harmless lambs; some leaping securely in the cool shade, whilst others sported themselves in the cheerful sun; and saw others craving comfort from the swollen udders of their bleating dams. As I thus sat, these and other sights had so fully possest my soul with content, that I thought, as the poet has happily exprest it,
I was for that time lifted above earth;
As I left this place, and entered into the next field, a second pleasure entertained me; 'twas a handsome milkmaid, that had not yet attained so much age and wisdom as to load her mind with any fears of many things that will never be, as too many men too often do; but she cast away all care, and sung like a nightingale. Her voice was good, and the ditty fitted for it; it was that smooth song which was made by Kit Marlow, now at least fifty years ago; and the milk-maid's mother sung an answer to it, which was made by Sir Walter Raleigh, in his younger
days. They were old-fashioned poetry, but choicely good; I think much better than the strong lines that are now in fashion in this critical age. Look yonder! on my word, yonder, they both be a-milking again. I will give her the Chub, and persuade them to sing those two songs
God speed you, good woman! I have been a-fishing; and am going to Bleak-Hall to my bed; and having caught more fish than will sup myself and my friend, I will bestow this upon you and your daughter, for I use to sell
MILK-WOMAN. Marry! God requite you, Sir, and we'll eat it cheerfully. And if you come this way a-fishing two months hence, a grace of God! I'll give you a syllabub of new verjuice, in a new-made haycock, for it. And my Maudlin shall sing you one of her best ballads; for she and I both love all anglers, they be such honest, civil, quiet men. In the meantime will you drink a draught of red cow's milk? you shall have it freely.
PISCATOR. NO, I thank you; but, I pray, do us a courtesy that shall stand you and your daughter in nothing, and yet we will think ourselves still something in your debt it is but to sing us a song that was sung by your daughter when I last passed over this meadow, about eight or nine days since.
MILK-WOMAN. What song was it, I pray? Was it, 'Come, Shepherds, deck your herds'? or, "As at noon Dulcina rested'? or, Phillida flouts me'? or, Chevy Chace'? or, Johnny Armstrong'? or, Troy Town'?
PISCATOR. No, it is none of those; it is a Song that your daughter sung the first part, and you sung the answer to it.
MILK-WOMAN. O, I know it now. I learned the first part in my golden age, when I was about the age of my poor daughter; and the latter part, which indeed fits me best now, but two or three years ago, when the cares of the world began to take hold of me: but you shall, God willing, hear them both; and sung as well as we can, for we both love anglers. Come, Maudlin, sing
the first part to the gentlemen, with a merry heart; and I'll sing the second when you have done.
VENATOR. Trust me, 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 milk-maid 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 milk-maid'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 MILK-MAID'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,
But could youth last, and love still breed;
MOTHER. Well! I have done my song.
honest anglers; for I will make Maudlin sing you one short song more. Maudlin! sing that song that you