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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 her; hold her, Sweetlips ! now all the dogs have her; some ahove and some under water: but, now, now she is tired, and past losing. Come bring her to me, Sweetlips. Look! it is a Bitch-otter, and she has lately whelp'd. Let's go to the place where she was put down; and not far from it, you will find all her young ones, I dare warrant you, and kill them all too.
Huntsman. Come, Gentlemen! come, all! let's go to the place where we put down the Otter. Look you ! hereabout it was that she kenneled; look you! here it was indeed; for here's her young ones, no less than five : come, let us kill them all.
PlSCATOR. No: I pray, Sir, save me one, and I'll try if I can make her tame, as I know an ingenious gentleman in Leicestershire, Mr Nich. Segrave,* has done; who hath not onlymade her tame, but to catch fish,t and do many other things of much pleasure.
Huntsman. Take one with all my heart; but let us kill the rest. And now let's go to an honest alehouse, where we may have a cup of good barley wine, and sing " Old Rose," J and all of us rejoice together.
Venator. Come, my friend Piscator, let me invite you along with us. I'll bear your charges this night, and you shall bear mine to-morrow; for my intention is to accompany you a day or two in fishing.
Piscator. Sir, your request is granted; and I shall be right glad hoth to exchange such a courtesy, and also to enjoy your company.
* Charles Segrave of Scalford in Leicestershire, Esq., who was living in 16o6, left issue, by Alice his wile, daughter of Jobn Flower of Whitwell, in the county of Rutland, four sons, the fourth of which was named Nicholas, and who was probably the person mentioned in the text. Nichols' Leicestershire, vol. ii. part i. p. 3t4
\ Duncombe, in his translation of Vanier, says—
If you should find the young ones, steal away,
In th' absence of the dam, the tender prey.
And by his youthful years yet pliant, breed
The gentle otter to the fishing trade;
For when suspended in the stream you place
Your flaxen snares, to catch the fumy race,
He will explore each cavern and retreat,
And rouse the fish, and hunt them to the net.—En. TT.
X The song alluded to was the following. It was inserted in Dr Harington's Collection from a publication temp. Charles I.
CHAPTER II. TO CHAPTER IV.
PISCATOR AND VENATOR.
VENATOR. Well, now let's go to your sport of Angling. PlSCATOR. Let's be going,1 with all my heart. God keep you all, Gentlemen; and send you meet, this day, with another Bitch-otter, and kill her merrily, and all her young ones too. Venator. Now, Piscator, where will you begin to fish? Piscator. We are not yet come to a likely place; I must walk a mile further yet before I begin.
Venator. Well then, I pray, as we walk, tell me freely, how do you like your lodging, and mine host2 and the company? Is not mine host a witty man?
3 PISCATOR. Sir, I will tell you, presently, what I think of your host: but, first, I will tell you, I am glad these Otters were killed; * and I am sorry there are no more Otter-killers; for
1 Well now let's be going.—ist and id edit.
8 Tell me freely how do you like mine host.—Till $tk edit.
8 In the first edition Piscator's reply commences with :—
Sir, to speak truly, he is not to me; for most of his conceits were eilher, &c.
* Gay has thus alluded to the Otter :—
"Would you preserve a num'rous finny race?
I know 4 that the want of Otter-killers, and the not keeping the fence-months for the preservation of fish, will, in time, prove the destruction of all rivers. And those very few that are left, that make conscience of the laws of the nation, and of keeping days of' abstinence, will be forced to eat flesh, or suffer more inconveniences than arc yet foreseen.
Venator. Why, Sir, what be those that you call the fencemonths?
Piscator. Sir, they be principally three, namely, March, April, and May : for these be the usual months that Salmon come out of the sea to spawn in most fresh rivers. And their fry would, ahout a certain time, return back to the salt water, if they were not hindered by weirs and unlawful gins, which the greedy fishermen set, and so destroy them by thousands; as they would, being so taught by nature, change the fresh for salt water. He that shall view the wise Statutes made in the 13th of Edward the First,* and the like in Richard the Second,t may see several
Variation.] * I may tell yon.—11/ and ad edit.
Th' amphibious monster ranges all the shores,
* The statute of the 13th Edw. I. cap. 47, is as follows: "It is provided, That the waters of Humber, Ouse, Trent, Dove, Arre, Derewent, Wherfe, Nid, Vare, Swale, Tese, and all other waters (wherein salmons be taken within the kingdom), shall be in defence for taking salmons from the Nativity of our Lady unto St Martin's Day : and that likewise young salmon shall not be taken nor destroyed by nets, nor by other engine, at millpools, from the midst of April unto the Nativity of St Jobn the Baptist. And in places where such rivers be, there shall be assigned overseers of this statute, which being sworn, shall oftentimes see and enquire of the offenders; and for the first trespass, they shall be punished by burning of their nets and engines; and for the second time, they shall have imprisonment for a quarter of a year; and for the third trespass, they shall be imprisoned a whole year ; and as their trespass increaseth, so shall the punishment."
t The statute referred to was enacted in the 13th year of the reign of Richard the Second, cap. 19, of which the following is a copy: "Item, Whereas it is contained in the Statute of Westminster the Second, that young salmons shall not be taken nor destroyed by nets, nor by other engines, at milldams, from the midst of April till the Nativity of St Jobn the Baptist, upon a certain pain limited in the same statute ;" 'it is accorded and assented. That the said statute be firmly holden and kept, joyning to the same, that young salmons shall not be taken, during the said time, at miildams, nor in other places upon the same pain. And that no fisher, or garth-man, nor any other, of what estate or condition that he be, shall from henceforth put in the waters of Thamise, Humber, Ouse, Trent, nor any other waters of the realm hy the said time, nor in other time of the year, any nets called stalkers nor other nets nor engines whatsoever they be, by which the fry or the breed of the salmons, lampreys, or any other fish, may in any wise be taken or destroyed, upon the pain aforesaid.' "And also where it is contained in the same statute, that all the waters in the which salmons be taken within the realm, shall be put in defence as to the taking of salmons, from the Day of the Nativity of our Lady, until St Martin's Day ;" 'it is ordained and assented, that the waters of Low, Wyre, Mersee, Rybbyl, and all other waters in the county of Lancaster, be put in defence, as to the taking of salmons, from Michaelmas Day to the Purification of our Lady, and in no other tune of the year, because that salmons be not seasonable in the provisions made against the destruction of fish: and though I profess no knowledge of the law, yet I am sure the regulation of these defects might be easily mended. But I remember that a wise friend of mine did usually say, "That which is everyhody's business is nohody's business :" if it were otherwise, there could not be so many nets and fish, that are under the statute size, sold daily amongst us; and of which the conservators of the waters should be ashamed.*
But, above all, the taking fish in spawning-time may be said to be against nature : it is like taking the dam on the nest when she hatches her young, a sin so against nature that Almighty God hath in the Levitical law made a law against it.f
But the poor fish have enemies enough besides such unnatural fishermen; as, namely, the Otters that I spake of, the Cormorant, the Bittern, the Osprey, the Seagull, the Hern, the King-fisher, the Gorara, the Puet, the Swan, Goose, Duck, and the Craber, which some call the Water-rat: against all which any honest man may make a just quarrel, but I will not; I will leave them to be quarrelled with and killed by others, for I am not of a cruel nature, I love to kill nothing but fish.
And, now, to your question concerning your host. To speak truly, he is not to me a good companion, for most of his conceits were either Scripture jests, or lascivious jests; for which I count no man witty: for the devil will help a man, that way inclined, to the first; and his own corrupt nature, which he always carries with him, to the latter. But a companion that feasts the company
said waters in the time aforesaid. And in the parts where such rivers be, there shall be assigned and sworn good and sufficient conservators of this statute, as it is ord.uned in the said Statute of Westminster, and that they shall punish the offenders after the pain contained in the same statute, without any favour thereof to be showed.'
By Statute 17 Rich. II. c. 9, all justices of the peace were constituted conservators of the Stat. 13 Edw. I., with power to appoint under-conservators ; and the lord mayor was appointed conservator of that statute in the Thames. Various statutes have since been enacted for preserving the spawn and fry of fish. See IntUx to the Statutes at Large\ articles " Fish," " Salmon," and " Rivers."
In the 8 Rich. II., 1384, the Commons complained that in the Thames, Medway, and other great rivers, there was an abundance of the fry of fish, that is to say, of " Troutes, Samons, Pykes, Roches, Barbils," and other fish, which fry, if preserved, would produce great profit to the lords and commons of the land ; but that diverse persons dwelling near those rivers, took the fry with their '' subtils reetz," and other " subtils infttn, ments," and sold it as food for pigs for a penny a bushel, and sometimes for six eggs a bushel. They therefore prayed that no fish might be taken with any net unless the mesh was of the size ordained by the former statute. The king commanded that the said statute should be kept and put in due execution. Rot, Pari. vol. iii. p. aoo.
* See note to page 63.
11 The command alluded to occurs in Deuteronomy, chap. xxii. ver. 6 and 7: "If a hird's nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young: but thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days."
with wit and mirth, and leaves out the sin which is usually mixed with them, he is the man; and indeed such a companion should have his charges borne; and to such company I hope to bring you this night; for at Trout-hall, not far from this place, where I purpose to lodge to-night,* there is usually an Angler that proves good company. (And let me tell you, good company and good discourse are the very sinews of virtue.) But for such discourse as we heard last night, it infects others: the very boys will learn to talk and swear, as they heard mine host, and another of the company that shall be nameless. I am sorry the other is a gentleman, for less religion will not save their souls than a beggar's: I think more will be required at the last great day. Well ! you know what example is able to do; and I know what the poet says in the like case, which is worthy to be noted by all parents and people of civility : s—
Many a one
This is reason put into verse, and worthy the consideration of a wise man. But of this no more; for though I love civility, yet I • hate severe censures. I'll to my own art; and I doubt not but at yonder tree I shall catch a Chub: and then we'll turn to an honest cleanly hostess, that I know right well; rest ourselves there; and dress it for our dinner.
Venator. Oh, Sir! a Chub is the worst fish that swims; I hoped for a Trout to my dinner.
PlSCATOR. Trust me, Sir, there is not a likely place for a Trout hereahout: and we stayed so long to take our leave of your hunts
0 But for such discourse as we heard last night, it infects others: the very hoys will learn to talk and swear as they heard mine host, and another of the company that shall be nameless, [''I am sorry the other is a gentleman"—"at the last great day"] well, you know what example is able to do, and I know what the poet says iu the like case, •which is worthy to be noted by all parents and people of civility.— Many a one, &c.
ist edit., the words in italic were added to the ad, and those in brackets to the zd edit.
* Trout-hall was probably a name given by Anglers to some little inn which they were in the habit of frequenting, and possibly the sign was a Trout. Piscator did not, however, fulfil his intention of sleeping at Trout-hall, because we find that his scholar and himself returned and slept at the alehouse where they dined, and which it would appcir from his conversation with the milkwoman, was called Bleai-halt. The cause of this alteration in his plan, Piscator seems to explain to Venator, in a subsequent page, where he says they would eat the trout he had caught for supper, and would go to his hostess from whence they came, [because] "on going out of the door, she told hint that his brother Peter and a cheerful companion had sent word they would lodge there that night."