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1 am no scoffer, yet I have, I pray let me speak it without offence, always looked upon Anglers as more patient and more simple men, than I fear I shall find you to be.
Pise. Sir, I hope you will not judge my earnestness to be impatience: and for my simplicity, if by that you mean a harmlessness, or that simplicity which was usually found in the primitive Christians, who were, as most Anglers are, quiet men, and followers of peace; men that were so simplywise, as not to sell their consciences to buy riches, and with them vexation and a fear to die; if you mean such simple men as lived in those times when there were fewer Lawyers; when men might have had a Lordship safely conveyed to them in a piece of parchment no bigger than your hand, though several sheets will not do it safely in this wiser age, I say, Sir, if you take us Anglers to be such simple men as I have spoken of, then myself and those of my profession will be glad to be so understood: But if by simplicity you meant to express a general defect in those that profess and practise the excellent Art of Angling, I hope in time to disabuse you, and make the contrary appear so evidently, that if you will but have patience to hear me, I shall remove all the anticipations that discourse, or time, or prejudice have possessed you with against that laudable and ancient Art; for I know it is worthy the knowledge and practice of a wise man.
But, Gentlemen, though I be able to do this, I am not so unmannerly as to engross all the discourse to myself; and therefore, you two having declared yourselves, the one to be a lover of Hawks, the other of Hounds, I shall be most glad to hear what you can say in the commendation of that recreation which each of you love and practise; and having heard what you can say, I shall be glad to exercise your attention with what I can say concerning my own recreation and Art of Angling, and by this means, we shall make the way to seem the shorter: and if you like my motion, I would have Mr. Falconer to begin.
Are. Your motion is consented to with all my heart, and to testify it, I will begin as you have desired me.
And first, for the element that I used to trade in, which is the Air, an element of more worth than weight, an element that doubtless exceeds both the earth and water; for though I sometimes deal in both, yet the air is most properly mine, I and my Hawks use that most, and it yields us most recreation; it stops not the high soaring of my noble generous Falcon; in it she ascends to such an height, as the dull eyes of beasts and fish are not able to reach to; their bodies are too gross for such high elevations: in the air my troops of Hawks soar up on high, and when they are lost in the sight of men, then they attend upon and converse with the Gods; therefore 1 think my Eagle is so justly stiled Jove's servant in ordinary: and that very Falcon, that I am now going to see, deserves no meaner a title, for she usually in her flight endangers herself, like the son of Dtedalics, to have her wings scorched by the Sun's heat, she flies so near it, but her mettle makes her careless of danger; for she then heeds nothing, but makes her nimble pinions cut the fluid air, and so makes her high way over the steepest mountains and deepest rivers, and in her glorious career looks with contempt upon those high steeples and magnificent palaces which we adore and wonder at ; from which height I can make her to descend by a word from my mouth, (which she both knows and obeys), to accept of meat from my hand, to own me for her Master, to go home with me, and be willing the next day to afford me the like recreation.
And more; this element of air which I profess to trade in, the worth of it is such, and it is of such necessity, that no creature whatsoever, not only those numerous creatures that feed on the face of the earth, but those various creatures that have their dwelling within the waters, every creature that hath life in it's nostrils stands in need of my element. The waters cannot preserve the Fish without air, witness the not breaking of ice in an extreme frost; the reason is, for that if the inspiring and expiring organ of any animal be stopped, it suddenly yields to nature, and dies. Thus necessary is air to the existence both of Fish and Beasts, nay, even to Man himself; that air or breath of life with which God at first inspired mankind, Gen. ii. 7-> he, if he wants it, dies presently, becomes a sad object to all that loved and beheld him, and in an instant turns to putrefaction.
Nay more, the very birds of the air, those that be not Hawks, are both so many and so useful and pleasant to mankind, that I must not let them pass without some observations: they both feed and refresh him; feed him with their choice bodies, and refresh him with their heavenly voices. I will not undertake to mention the several kinds of fowl by which this is done; and his curious palate pleased by day, and.which with their very excrements afford him a soft lodging at night. These I will pass by, but not those little nimble musicians of the air, that warble forth their curious ditties, with which nature hath furnished them to the shame of art.
As first the Lark, when she means to rejoice, to cheer herself and those that hear her, she then quits the earth, and sings as she ascends higher into the air, and having ended her heavenly employment, grows then mute and sad to think she must descend to the dull earth, which she would not touch but for necessity.
How do the Black-bird and Thrassel with their melodious voices, bid welcome to the cheerful Spring, and in their fixed months warble forth such ditties as no art or instrument can reach to r
Nay, the smaller birds also do the like in their particular seasons, as namely the Leverock, the Titlark, the little Linnet, and the honest Robin, that loves mankind both alive and dead.
But the Nightingale, another of my airy creatures, breathes such sweet loud music out of her little instrumental throat, that it might make mankind to think miracles are not ceased. He that at midnight, when the very labourer sleeps securely, should hear, as I have very often, the clear airs, the sweet descants, the natural rising and falling, the doubling and redoubling of her voice, might well be lifted above earth, and say, Lord, what music hast thou provided for the Saints in Heaven, when thou affordest bad men such music on Earth!
And this makes me the less to wonder at the many Aviaries in Italy, or at the great charge of Varro his Aviary, the ruins of which are yet to be seen in Rome, and is still so famous there, that it is reckoned for one of those notables which men of foreign nations either record, or lay up in their memories when they return from travel.
This for the birds of pleasure, of which very much more might be said. My next shall be of birds of political use; I think 'tis not to be doubted that swallows have been taught to carry letters between two armies. But 'tis certain, that when the Turks besieged Malta or Rhodes, I now remember not which 'twas, Pigeons are then related to carry and recarry letters. And Mr. G. Sandys, in his Travels, relates it to be done betwixt Aleppo and Babylon. But if that be disbelieved, 'tis not to be doubted that the Dove was sent out of the Ark by Noah, to give him notice of land, when to him all appeared to be