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Being a Difcourfe of

FISH and FlSHlNG,

Not unworthy the perufal of moft Aiiglers.

Simon Peter fiid, I go a fifliini;: ami tbcyfaid, We
alfo niil t(o n ith thee. .lobn 21.3.

FAC-SIMILE OF THE TITLE PAGE OF THE FIRST EDITION OF ThE COMPLEAT ANGLER. 1653

And I wish the Reader also to take notice, that in writing of it, I have made myself a recreation of a recreation; and that it might prove so to him, and not read dull and tediously, I have in several places mixed (not any scurrility, but) some innocent, harmless mirth, of which, if thou be a severe, sour-complexioned man, then I here disallow thee to be a competent judge; for divines say, there are offences given, and offences not given, but taken.

And I am the willinger to justify the pleasant part of it, because, though it is known I can be serious at seasonable times, yet the whole Discourse is a kind of picture of my own disposition in such days and times, as I allow to myself, when honest Nat and R. R. and I go a-fishing together.

And let me add this, that he that likes not the book, should like the picture of the Trout, and the other fish, which I dare commend, because they concern not myself.

Next, let me tell the Reader, that in that which is the more useful part of this Discourse; that is to say, the observations of the nature, and breeding, and seasons, and catching of fish, I am not so simple as not to know, but that a captious reader may find exceptions against something said of some of these; and therefore I must entreat him to consider, that experience teaches us to know, that several countries alter the time, and I think almost the manner, of fishes' breeding, but doubtless, of their being in season ; as may appear by three rivers in Monmouthshire, namely, Severn, Wye, and Usk, where Camden* observes, that in the river Wye, Salmon are in season from September to April, and we are certain, that in the other two, and in Thames and Trent, and in most other rivers, they be in season the six hotter months.

Now for the Art of catching fish, that is to say, how to make a man that was none, to be an Angler by a book; he that undertakes it shall undertake a harder task than Mr Hales, that in a printed book, called "The Private School of Defence," undertook to teach the science or art of fencing, and was laughed at for his labour. Not but that many useful things might be observed out of that book ; but that the art was not to be taught by words: nor is the Art of Angling; nor have I undertaken to leave out nothing that might be said of it, but to acquaint the Reader with many things that are not usually known to every Angler; and I shall leave gleanings and observations enough to be made out of the experience of all that love and practise this recreation, to which I shall encourage them. For Angling may be said to be like the Mathematies, that can never be fully learnt ; at least, not so fully, but that there will still be more new experiments left for the trial of other men that succeed us.

But I think all that love this game may here learn something that may be worth their money, if they be not poor and needy men; and in case they be, I then wish them to forbear to buy it; for I write not to get money, but for pleasure, and this Discourse boasts of no more; for I hate to promise much, and fail.

But pleasure I have found both in the search and conference about what is here offered to the Reader's view and censure; I wish him as much in the perusal of it, and so might here take my leave: but must stay a little

* Britannia, fol . 633, edition 1637, which is the one quoted by Walton throughout the work.

and tell him, that whereas it is said by many, that in fly-fishing for a Trout, the Angler must observe his twelve several flies for the twelve months of the year; I say, he that follows that rule, shall be as sure to catch fish, as he that makes hay by the fair days in an Almanae, and no surer; for those very flies that use to appear about and on the water in one month of the year, may the following year come almost a month sooner or later, as the same year proves colder or hotter; and yet in the following Discourse I have set down the twelve flies that are in reputation with many Anglers, and they may serve to give him some light concerning them. And he may note, that there is in Wales, and other countries, peculiar flies, proper to the particular place or country; and doubtless, unless a man makes a fly to counterfeit that very fly in that place, he is like to lose his labour: but for the generality, three or four flies neat and lightly made, and not too big, serve for a Trout in most rivers all the summer. And for winter flyfishing it is as useful as an Almanac out of date. And of these (because as no man is bora an artist, so no man is born an Angler) I thought fit to give thee this notice.

When I have told the Reader, that in this second impression there are many enlargements, gathered both by my own observation, and the communication of friends, I shall stay him no longer than to wish him a rainy evening to read this following Discourse; and that (if he be an Angler) the east wind may never blow when he goes a-fishing,

I. W.

THE EP1STLE TO THE READER 1N
THE F1FTH ED1T1ON.s

TO ALL READERS OF THIS DISCOURSE, BUT
ESPECIALLY TO THE HONEST ANGLER.

I ThINK fit to tell thee these following truths; that I did neither undertake, nor write, nor publish, and much less own, this Discourse to please myself: and, having been too easily drawn to do all 8 to please others, as I propose not the gaining of credit by this undertaking, so I would not willingly lose any part of that to which I had a just title before I began it; and do therefore desire and hope, if I deserve not commendations, yet I may obtain pardon.

Variation.] 6 to do nil.—Omitted in $d edit.

* The variations between this, and the third and fourth editions, are pointed out in the notes.

And though this Discourse may be liable to some exceptions, yet I cannot doubt but that most Readers may receive so much pleausre or profit by it, as may make it worthy the time of their perusal, if they be not too grave or too busy men.7 And this is all the confidence that I can put on, concerning the merit of what is here offered to their consideration and censure; and if the last prove too severe, as I have a liberty,8 so I am resolved to use it, and neglect all sour censures.

And I wish the Reader also to take notice, that in writing of it I have made myself a recreation of a recreation; and that it might prove so to him, and not read dull and tediously, I have in several places mixed, not any scurrility, but some innocent, harmless mirth, of which if thou be a severe, sour-complexioned man, then I here disallow thee to be a competent judge; for divines say, there are offences given, and offences not given but taken.

And I am the willinger to justify the pleasant part of it, because though it is known I can be serious at seasonable times, yet the whole Discourse is, or rather was, a picture of my own disposition, especially in such days and times as I have laid aside business, and gone a-fishing with honest Nat. and R. Roe ;* but they are gone, and with them most of my pleasant hours, even as a shadow that passeth away and returns not.

And next let me add this, that he that likes not the book, should like the excellent picture of the Trout, and some of the other fish, which I may take a liberty to commend, because they concern not myself.

Next, let me tell the Reader, that in that which is the more useful part of this Discourse, that is to say, the observations of the nature and breeding, and seasons, and catching of fish, I am not so simple as not to know, that a captious reader may find exceptions against something said of some of these; and therefore I must entreat him to consider, that experience teaches us to know that several countries alter the time, and I think, almost the manner, of fishes' breeding, but doubtless of their being in season; as may appear by three rivers in Monmouthshire, namely, Severn, Wye, and Usk, where Camden t observes, that in the river Wye, Salmon are in season from September to April ; and we are certain, that in Thames and Trent, and in most other rivers, they be in season the six hotter months.

Now for the Art of catching fish, that is to say, how to make a man that was none to be an Angler by a book, he that undertakes it shall undertake a harder task than Mr Hales, a most valiant and excellent fencer, who in a printed book, called " A Private School of Defence," undertook • to teach that art or science, and was laughed at for his labour. Not

VARIATIONS.

7 if they be not very busy men.—-$d edit.

9 too severe, I have a liberty, and am resolved to neglect it.—Ihid.
9 by h.—Ibid.

* It has not been ascertained who these persons were, but it may be presumed thlit they were related to Walton, for, in a presentation copy of his "Lives of Donne, Sir Henry Wotton. Hooker, and Herbert, there is written by the author on the frontispiece, "For my cousin Roe." In the first and second editions of the Angler, they are thus spoken of: "When honest Nat and R. R. and I go a-fishing together; " but in the third, and subsequent editions, they are mentioned as ahove, so that it is evident they were living in 1655, and died before 1664.

t Britannia, f. 633.

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