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duces them to Coridon, “an honest countryman, a most downright, witty, merry companion, that met me here purposely to eat a trout, and to be pleasant."
They sup off the trout which Piscator had caught, with such other meat as the house afforded, moistening their cheer with “ some of the best barley wine, the good liquor that our good honest forefathers did use to drink of, which preserved their health and made them live so long, and to do so many good deeds."
During their conversation Peter thus eulogised Piscator, “On my word this trout is in perfect season. Come, I thank you, and here is a hearty draught to you, and to all the brothers of the Angle wheresoever they be, and to my young brother's good fortune to-morrow; I will furnish him with a rod, if you will furnish him with the rest of the tackling, we will set him up and make him a fisher; and I will tell him one thing for his encouragement, that his fortune hath made him happy to be a Scholar to such a Master ; a Master that knows as much both of the nature and breeding of fish as any man; and can also tell him as well how to catch and cook them, from the minnow to the salmon, as any that I ever met withal.” To which Piscator replied, “ Trust me, brother Peter, I find my Scholar to be so suitable to my own humour, which is to be free and pleasant, and civilly merry, that my resolution is to hide nothing that I know from him."
They then agree to sing several songs and catches, which Venator says, “shall give some addition of mirth to the company, for we will be merry," upon which Piscator observes, “'Tis a match, my masters ; let's even say grace, and turn to the fire, drink the other cup to wet our whistles, and so sing away all sad thoughts. Come on, my masters, who begins ? I think it is best to draw cuts, and avoid contention.” The lot falls to Coridon, who begins, for “he hates contention.” The song is much admired by Piscator, who says, “Well sung, Coridon, this song was sung with mettle and was choicely fitted to the occasion; I shall love you for it as long as I know you : I would you were a brother of the angle, for a companion that is cheerful, and freefrom swearing and scurrilous discourse, is worth gold. I love such mirth as does not make friends ashamed to look upon one another next morning ; nor men (that cannot well bear it) to repent the money they spend when they be warmed with drink : and take this for a rule, you may pick out such times and such companies, that you may make yourselves merrier for a little, than a great deal of money ; for 'tis the company and not the
charge makes the feast : and such a companion you prove, I thank you for it. But I will not compliment you out of the debt that I owe you, and therefore I will begin my song, and wish it may be as well liked."
Piscator is also rewarded by the applause of his companions for his song, and after the following dialogue they separate for the night :
“Coridon. Well sung, brother, you have paid your debt in good coin, we Anglers are all beholding to the good man that made this song. Come, hostess, give us more ale, and let's drink to him : and now let's every one go to bed, that we may rise early; but first let's pay our reckoning, for I will have nothing to hinder me in the morning, for my purpose is to prevent the sun-rising.
“PETER. A match : Come, Coridon, you are to be my bedfellow: I know, brother, you and your scholar will lie together ; but where shall we meet to-morrow night? for my friend Coridon and I will go up the water towards Ware.
“PISCATOR. And my scholar and I will go down towards Waltham.
“ CORIDON. Then let's meet here, for here are fresh sheets that smell of lavender; and I am sure we cannot expect better meat, or better usage in any place. “PETER. 'Tis a match. Good-night to everybody.”
The Fourth day is thus introduced : “Piscator. Good-morrow, good hostess, I see my brother Peter is still in bed. Come, give my scholar and me a morning-drink, and a bit of meat to breakfast, and be sure to get a dish of meat or two against supper, for we shall come home as hungry as hawks. Come, scholar, let's be going
" VENATOR. Well now, good master, as we walk towards the river, give me direction according to your promise, how I shall fish for a trout.
“PISCATOR. My honest scholar, I will take this very convenient opportunity to do it."
Then follow Piscator's directions on the subject, which occupy the time until past five o'clock, when their walk is stopped by the river, on the bank of which they sit, under a honeysuckle hedge, whilst Piscator finds a line to fit the rod which Peter had lent Venator. They agree to fish until nine, and then go to breakfast.
After fishing for some time they “ say grace and fall to breakfast," and Piscator asks, “ What say you, scholar, to the providence of an old angler ? Does not this meat taste well ? and was not this place well chosen to eat it; for this sycamore-tree will shade us from the sun's heat ?" Their meal suggests reflections on temperance in eating ; and Piscator proceeds with his instructions, but as a heavy shower falls they again take shelter under the sycamore-tree. When it had done raining, Piscator called his
scholar's attention to the appearance of the fields, and introduced Herbert's poem, which is scarcely exceeded in beauty and pathos by any similar composition in our language, commencing
“Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky,
For thou must die.'
Venator's praise of these verses induces him to repeat others by Christopher Harvie, on the Book of Common Prayer, which he -says his scholar will like the better because the author is a friend of mine, and I am sure no enemy to Angling. Their rods during this time are “left in the water to fish for themselves,” which, he says, is “like putting money to use, for they work for the owners when they do nothing but sleep, or eat, or rejoice.” “You know," he observes, “ that we have during this last hour, sat as quietly and as free from cares under this sycamore, as Virgil's Tityrus and his Melibæus did under their broad beech-tree : no life, my honest scholar, no life so happy and so pleasant, as the life of an well-governed angler ; for when the lawyer is swallowed up with business, and the statesman is preventing or contriving plots, we sit on cowslip banks, hear the birds sing, and possess ourselves in as much quietness as these silver streams which we now see glide by us."
Piscator then enlivens their conversation by relating an anecdote of some gipsies, and recites a song that was written about forty years before by Francis Davison, which he says he heard sung by one of the said gipsies, “ the youngest and veriest virgin of the company.” They afterwards go to their rods, and fish until the rain again drives them to the sycamore-tree; when Piscator continues his observations on his art, and adverts to the prevalentfashion of women placing patches on their faces, of which custom he does not seem to disapprove : he says that “when the trout or salmon is in season, they have at their first taking out of the water (which continues during life) their bodies adorned, the one with such red spots, and the other with such black or blackish spots, which gives them such an addition of natural beauty, as I (that am vet no enemy to it) think, was never given to any woman by the artificial paint or patches in which they so much pride themselves in this age."
After a protracted dissertation Piscator becomes somewhat exhausted, as " he had almost spent his spirits with talking so long ;” and apprehending that his discourse “grows both tedious
and tiresome,” asks his scholar if he has nothing to relieve it? “ Shall I," he demands, “have nothing from you that seem to have both a good memory and a cheerful spirit ?" Venator offers to repeat Dr Donne's verses, “ Come live with me and be my love :" and it is evident that Walton was aware of the general ruggedness and want of harmony of Donne's poems, for he makes Venator say, “I will speak you a copy of verses that were made by Dr Donne, and made to show the world that he could make soft and smooth verses, when he thought them fit and worth his labour ; and I love them the better because they allude to rivers, and fish, and fishing.”
As it “rains still,” and because the angles were, as Venator had remarked, “as money put to use, that thrive when we play," Piscator says he will requite his scholar for these verses by some observations on the eel, which are followed by others on the barbel. They then take up their rods, and Piscator proposes that they shall proceed “ towards their lodging, drink a draught of red cow's milk as they go, and give pretty Maudlin and her mother a brace of trouts for their supper.” After meeting the milk-women, Piscator describes the method of fishing for gudgeon ; but their conversation is interrupted by Peter and Coridon ; and Piscator promises that, as he and his scholar fish and walk the next day towards London, he will tell him anything which he might have forgotten. The party compare their success, but Peter says that
during the rain he and Coridon had taken shelter in an alehouse, >where they played at shovel-board half the day. The evening was
spent like the preceding ; and after supper they had what Venator calls “ a gentle touch at singing and drinking, but the last with moderation.” Piscator's song, beginning “Oh, the gallant fisher's life,” was, it appears, partly composed by Walton; for Venator says, “ Gentlemen, my master left me alone for an hour this day, and I verily believe he retired himself from talking with me, that he might be so perfect in this song; was it not, master ? ” to which Piscator replies, “ Yes, indeed, for it is many years since I learned it, and having forgotten a part of it, I was forced to patch it up by the help of my own invention, who am not excellent at poetry, as my part of the song may testify."
Venator's remarks on the blessing of a contented mind and on the beauties of nature are peculiarly pleasing, and are a faithful reflection of Walton's disposition : “But, Master, first let me tell you, that that very hour which you were absent from me, I sat down under a willow-tree by the water-side, and considered what you had told me of the owner of that pleasant meadow in which you then left me, that he had a plentiful estate, and not a heart to think so, that he had at this time many lawsuits depending, and that they both damped his mirth, and took up so much of his time and thoughts, that he himself had not leisure to take the sweet content that I, who pretended no title, took in his fields, for I could there sit quietly, and looking on the water, see fishes leaping at flies of several shapes and colours ; looking on the hills, could behold them spotted with woods and groves ; looking down the meadows, could see here a boy gathering lilies and ladysmocks, and there a girl cropping culverkeys and cowslips, all to make garlands suitable to this pleasant month of May; these and many other field-flowers so perfumed the air, that I thought this meadow like the field in Sicily (of which Diodorus speaks) where the perfumes arising from the place make all dogs that hunt in it, to fall off and to lose their hottest scent. I say, as I thus sat joying in mine own happy condition, and pitying the rich man's, that ought this, and many other pleasant groves and meadows about me, I did thankfully remember what my Saviour said, that the meek F possess the earth; for indeed they are free from those high, those restless thoughts and contentions which corrode the sweets of life.”
The party agree to sing over again a catch, which Venator says he had converted from “ a piece of an old catch, and added more to it fitting them to be sung by us Anglers ;” and he then says, “ Come, Master, you can sing well; you must sing a part of it as it is in this paper ;” whence it may, perhaps, be concluded that Walton had acquired some reputation by his vocal powers. Another cup concludes their festivities, and they retire to rest.
On the Fifth and last day the four friends rise carly, settle their hostess's moderate bill, “ drink a pot for their morning's draught," and separate. Peter goes with Coridon; and Venator accompanies Piscator on his return to London. During their walk Piscator continues his instructions; and on describing where the best tackling might be purchased, Venator proposes to meet him on the 9th of May at Charles Brandon's, near the Swan in Golden Lane, as it was nearest to his residence, for the purpose of equipping himself as an angler. When they reach Tottenham, “ they turn into an arbour," because it was a “clean and cool place," where Venator "requites a part of his master's courtesies with a bottle of sack, and milk, and oranges, and sugar, which all put together make,” he says, “ a drink like nectar; indeed too