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which have cloven hoofs and chew the cud, which I shall forbear to name, because I will not be so uncivil to Mr. Piscator, as not to allow him a time for the commendation of Angling, which he calls an Art; but doubtless 'tis an easy one: and, Mr. Auceps, I doubt we shall hear a watery discourse of it, but I hope 'twill not be a long one.
Aue. And I hope so too, though I fear it will.
Pise. Gentlemen, let not prejudice prepossess you. I confess my discourse is like to prove suitable to my recreation, calm, and quiet; we seldom take the name of God into our mouths, but it is either to praise him or pray to him; if others use it vainly in the midst of their recreations, so vainly as if they meant to conjure; I must tell you, it is neither our fault nor our custom; we protest against it. But, pray remember, I accuse nobody; for as I would not make a watery discourse, so I would not put too much vinegar into it; nor would I raise the reputation of my own art by the diminution or ruin of another's. And so much for the Prologue to what I mean to say.
And now for the Water, the element that I trade in. The water is the eldest daughter of the creation, the element upon which the Spirit of God did first move, Gen. i. 2. the element which God commanded to bring forth living creatures abundantly; and without which, those that inhabit the land, even all creatures that have breath in their nostrils, must suddenly return to putrefaction. Moses, the great Law-giver and chief philosopher, skilled in all the learning of the Egyptians, who was called the friend of God, and knew the mind of the Almighty, names this element the first in the creation; this is the element upon which the Spirit of God did first move, and is the chief ingredient in the creation: many Philosophers have made it to comprehend all the other elements, and most allow it the chiefest in the mixtion of all living creatures.
There be that profess to believe that all bodies are made of water, and may be reduced back again to water only: they endeavour to demonstrate it thus:
Take a Willow, or any like speedy growing plant, newly rooted in a box or barrel full of earth, weigh them all together exactly when the trees begin to grow, and then weigh all together after the tree is increased from it's first rooting to weigh an hundred pound weight more than when it was first rooted and weighed; and you shall find this augment of the tree to be without the diminution of one dram weight of the earth. Hence they infer this increase of wood to be from water of rain, or from dew, and not to be from any other element. And they affirm, they can reduce this wood back again to water; and they affirm also the same may be done in any animal or vegetable. And this I take to be a fair testimony of the excellency of my element of water.
The water is more productive than the earth. Nay, the earth hath no fruitfulness without showers or dews; for all the herbs, and flowers, and fruit are produced and thrive by the water; and the very minerals are fed by streams that run under ground, whose natural course carries them to the tops of many high mountains, as we see by several springs breaking forth on the tops of the highest hills; and this is also witnessed by the daily trial and testimony of several miners.
Nay, the increase of those creatures that are bred and fed in the water, are not only more and more miraculous, but more advantageous to man, not only for the lengthening of his life, but for the preventing of sickness; for 'tis observed by the most learned physicians, that the casting off of Lent and other fish-days,—which hath not only given the lie to so many learned, pious, wise founders of colleges, for which we should be ashamed,—hath doubtless been the chief cause of those many putrid, shaking, intermitting agues, unto which this nation of our's is now more subject than those wiser countries that feed on herbs, sallads, and plenty of fish; of which it is observed in story, that the greatest part of the world now do. And it may be fit to remember that Moses, Lev. xi. 9, Deut. xiv. 9, appointed fish to be the chief diet for the best common-wealth that ever yet was.
And it is observable, not only that there are fish, as namely, the Whale, three times as big as the mighty Elephant; that is so fierce in battle; but that the mightiest feasts have been of fish. The Romans in the height of their glory have made fish the mistress of all their entertainments; they have had music to usher in their Sturgeons, Lampreys, and Mullets, which they would purchase at rates rather to be wondered at than believed. He that shall view the writings of Macrobius, or Farro, may be confirmed and informed of this, and of the incredible value of their fish and fish-ponds.
But, Gentlemen, I have almost lost myself, which I confess I may easily do in this philosophical discourse; I met with most of it very lately, and, I hope, happily, in a conference with a most learned physician, Dr. Wharton, a dear friend; that loves both me and my art of Angling. But however, I will wade no deeper in these mysterious arguments, but pass to such observations as I can manage with more pleasure, and less fear of running into error. But I must not yet forsake the waters, by whose help we have so many known advantages.
And first, to pass by the miraculous cures of our known baths, how advantageous is the sea for our daily traffic; without which we could not now subsist? How does it not only furnish us with food and physic for the bodies, but with such observations for the mind as ingenious persons would not want?
How ignorant had we been of the beauty of Florence, of the monuments, urns, and rarities that yet remain in, and near unto old and new Rome, so many as it is said will take up a year's time to view, and afford to each of them but a convenient consideration; and therefore it is not to be wondered at, that so learned and devout a father as St. Jerome, after his wish to have seen Christ in the flesh, and to have heard St. Paul preach, makes his third wish, to have seen Rome in her glory; and that glory is not yet all lost, for what pleasure is it to see the monuments of Livy, the choicest of the Historians: of Tully, the best of Orators; and to see the bay-trees that now grow out of the very tomb of Virgil? These, to any that love learning, must be pleasing. But what pleasure is it to a devout Christian to see there the humble house in which St. Paul was content to dwell; and to view the many rich statues that are there made in honour of his memory? Nay, to see the very place in which St. Peter and he lie buried together? These are in and near to Rome. And how much more doth it please the pious curiosity of a Christian, to see that place on which the blessed Saviour of the world was pleased to humble himself, and to take our nature upon him, and to converse with men: to see Mount Sum, Jerusalem, and the very Sepulchre of our Lord Jesus? How may it beget and heighten the zeal of a Christian, to see the devotions that are daily paid to him at that place? Gentlemen, lest I forget myself I will stop here, and remember you, that but for my element of water, the inhabitants of this poor Island must remain ignorant that such things ever were, or that any of them have yet a being.