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naturalised. It is said, they were brought hither by one Mr Mascal, a gentleman that then lived at Plumsted in Sussex, a county * that abounds more with this fish than any in this nation.
You may remember that I told you Gesncr says there are no Pikes in Spain; and doubtless there was a time, about a hundred or a few more years ago, when there were no Carps in England, as may seem to be affirmed by Sir Richard Baker, in whose Chronicle you may find these verses :—
Hops and turkies, carps and beer,
And doubtless, as of sea-fish the Herring dies soonest out of the water, and of fresh-water fish the Trout, so, except the Eel, the Carp endures most hardness, and lives longest out of its own proper element; and, therefore, the report of the Carp's being brought out of a foreign country into this nation, is the more probable.9
Carps and Loaches are observed to breed several months in one year, which Pikes and most other fish do not; and this is partly proved by tame and wild rabbits; as also by some ducks, which will lay eggs nine of the twelve months; and yet there be other ducks that lay not longer than ahout one month. And it is the rather to be believed, because you shall scarce or never take a
9 Considerable variations exist in the observations on the Carp as printed in the first and second editions of the "Complete Angler." In the former, the commencement of the chapter runs thus :—
Piscator. The Carp is a stately, a good, and a subtle fish, a fish that hath not, as it is said, been long in England, but said to be by one Mr Mascall, a gentleman then living at Plumsted in Sussex, brought into this nation : and for the better confirmation of this, you are to remember I told you that Gesncr says there is not a pike in Spain, and that except the eel, which lives longest out of the water, there is none that will endure more hardness or live longer than a carp will out of it, and so the report of his being brought out of a foreign nation into this is the more probable.
* For proof of this fact, we have the testimony of the author of the Booke of Fishing with Hooke and Line, ato, Lond. 16oo, who, though the initials only of his name are given in the title, appears to have been Leonard Mascal, the translator of a hook of Planting and Grafting, 4to, 1589, 159a, and the author of a hook On Cattei, ito, 1596. — H. In the Book of St Albans Carp are thus spoken of, which proves that they were known in England for more than a century before Mascal wrote: "The Carp is a deyntous fysshe: but there ben but fewe in Engfonde, And therfore I wryte the lasse of hym. He is an evyll fysshe to take, for he is too strong enarmyd in the mouthe, that there maye noo weke harnays hulde hym. And as touchyng his baytes I have but lytyll knowlege of it, and we were loth to wryte more than I knowe and have provyd. But well I wotc that the redd worme and the menow been good batys for hym at all tymes as I have hcrde saye of persones credyble and also founds wryten in hokes of credence." This writer is, however, decidedly wrong as to the "batys" which " been good for hym at all tymes." The " menow " he will not touch unless compelled by hunger, nor is the "redd worme " by any means so tempting bait as some others. In the Privy Purs* Expenses ofKin? Heary the Eighth, in 153a, various entries arc made of rewards to persons for bringing Car/es to the King, pp. 6a, 741 1oo, a67.
male Carp without a melt, or a female without a roe or spawn, and for the most part very much, and especially all the summer season; and it is observed, that they breed more naturally in ponds than in running waters, if they breed there at all; and that those that live in rivers are taken by men of the best palates to be much the better meat.
And it is observed that in some ponds Carps will not breed, especially in cold ponds; but where they will breed, they breed innumerably: Aristotle and Pliny say, six times in a year, if there be no Pikes nor Perch to devour their spawn, when it is cast upon grass or flags, or weeds, where it lies ten or twelve days before it be enlivened.
The Carp, if he have water-room and good feed,* will grow to a very great bigness and length; I have heard, to be much above a yard long.f It is said by Jovius,J who hath writ of fishes, that in the Lake Lurian in Italy, Carps have thriven to be more than fifty pounds weight : which is the more probable, for as the bear is conceived and horn suddenly, and being horn is but short lived; so, on the contrary, the elephant is said to be two years in his dam's belly, some think he is ten years in it, and being born, grows in bigness twenty years; and it is observed too, that he lives to the age of a hundred years. And 'tis also observed, that the crocodile is very long lived; and more than that, that all that long life he thrives in bigness; and so I think some Carps do, especially in some places, though I never saw one ahove twentythree inches, which was a great and goodly fish; but have been assured there are of a far greater size, and in England too.§
Now, as the increase of Carps is wonderful for their number, so there is not a reason found out, I think, by any, why they
* The following receipt for making a Carp fat in gravelly water is taken from Lord Burleigh's Papers, Lansd. MS. No. 1o1, art, g: "The carpc (which covetelh to lye in the mudde and will fat soonest in muddy or clave waters) so where the waters be gravillie would be placed in the smallest pondes and stewes and made fatt with chippins or graynes, or with the bloude of any slaughter beaste, or ncwe horse donnge hanged in basketts, or with a mixture of the said dunge and clay wroughte together in fashion of a longe salte stone with dyverse holes in the same, laied in the water for them to suckc on."
t The widow of the late David Garrick once told me, that in her native country, Italy, she had seen the head of a Carp served up at table, big enough to fill a large dish.—H.
t Paulus yovius, an Italian historian of very doubtful authority : he lived in the 16th century; and wrote a small tract De Romanis Piscibus. He died at Florence, 155a.—H.
§ The author of the Angler's Sure Guide says, that he has taken Carp ahove twentysix inches long in rivers; and adds that they are often seen in England ahove thirty inches long. The usual length is from ahout twelve to fifteen or sixteen inches.—H.
The largest Carp mentioned by Pennant did not exceed twenty pounds. In the park of Mr Ladbroke of Gatton, a brace were taken which weighed thirty-five pounds. In a piece of water at Stourhead, a Carp was caught in 1793, which was thirty mches long, upwards of twenty-two broad, and eighteen pounds in weight