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may be, at one standing, all catched one after another; they being, as he says, like the wicked of the world, not afraid, though their fellows and companions perish in their sight. And you may observe, that they are not like the solitary Pike, but love to accompany one another, and march together in troops.
And the baits for this bold fish are not many: I mean, he will bite as well at some, or at any of these three, as at any or all others whatsoever; a worm, a minnow, or a little frog, of which you may find many in hay-time. And of worms; the dunghill worm called a brandling I take to be best, being well scoured in moss or fennel; or he will bite at a worm that lies under cowdung, with a bluish head. And if you rove for a Perch with a minnow, then it is best to be alive; you sticking your hook through his back fin; or a minnow with the hook in his upper lip, and letting him swim up and down, about mid-water, or a little lower, and you still keeping him to about that depth by a cork, which ought not to be a very little one: and the like way you are to fish for the Perch with a small frog, your hook being fastened through the skin of his leg, towards the upper part of it: and, lastly, I will give you but this advice, that you give the Perch time enough when he bites; for there was scarce ever any angler that has given him too much.* And now I think best to rest myself; for I have almost spent my spirits with talking so long.
Venator. Nay, good master, one fish more, for you see it /ains still: and you know our angles are like money put to usury; they may thrive, though we sit still, and do nothing but talk and enjoy one another. Come, come, the other fish, good master.
PlSCATOR. But, scholar, have you nothing to mix with this discourse, which now grows both tedious and tiresome? Shall I
* Although Perch, like Trout, delight in clear swift rivers, with pebbly, gravelly bottoms, they are often found in sandy, clayey soils: they love a moderately deep water, and frequent holes by the sides of or near little streams, and the hollows under banks.
The Perch spawns about the beginning of March : the best time of the year to angle for him is from the beginning of May till the end of June, yet you may continue to fish for him till the end of September: he is best taken in cloudy windy weather. Other baits for the Perch arc, loaches, miller's-thumbs, sticklebacks; lob, marsh, and red worms. When you rove for Perch with a minnow or other small fish, use a large cork float, and lead your line about nine inches from the bottom, otherwise the bait will come to the top of the water; but in the ordinary way of fishing, let your bait hang within about six inches from the ground.—H.
Pennant mentions a Perch that was taken in the Serpentine river, Hyde Park, that weighed nine pounds. He also mentions a very singular variety of the Perch ; the back quite hunched, and the lower part of the backbone, next the tail, strangely distorted, found in a lake called Llyn Raithlyn, in Merionethshire. "They are not peculiar to this water, for Linnaeus (he adds) takes notice of a similar variety found at Fahlun, in his own country. I have also heard that it is to be met with in the Thames, near Marlow." —E. Brit. Zoology, vol. iii. p. 224, edit. 1776.
have nothing from you, that seem to have both a good memory and a cheerful spirit?
Venator. Yes, master, I will speak you a copy of verses that were made by Doctor Donne, and made to show the world that he could make soft and smooth verses, when he thought smoothness worth his labour :8 and I love them the better, because they allude to Rivers, and Fish and Fishing. They be these : *—
Come, live with me, and be my love, And if mine eyes have leave to see,
And we will some new pleasures prove, I need not their light, having thee.
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks, T . e ... ..
Willi silken lines, and silver hooks. Ya^ !.h lgl"g
And cut their legs with shells and weecs
There will the river whisp'ring ran. Or treacherously poor fish beset
Warm'd by thy eyes more than the sun; With strangling snares or windowy ret;
R^i^7h^^^vSlvih,Sttay„'* Le> "arse bold hands, from slimv nest. Begging themselves they may betray. The be(Jded fish ;n outwreit.
When thou wilt swim in that live bath, Let curious traitors sleave silk rlies
Each fish, which every channel hath, To 'witch poor wand'ring fishes' eyes.£
M,.s^t amorously to thee will swim For thee, thou needst no such deceit.
Gladder to catch thee, than thou him. For (hou' [hysdf M QWn ^.
If thou, to be so seen, beest loath That fish that is not catcht thereby.
By sun or moon, thou dark'nest both; Is wiser far, alas, than l.c
PlSCATOR. Well remembered, honest scholar. I thank you for these choice verses; which I have heard formerly, but had quite forgot, till they were recovered by your happy memory. Well, being I have now rested myself a little, I will make you some requital, by telling you some observations of the Eel; for it rains still: and because, as you say, our angles are as money put to use, that thrives when we play, therefore we'll sit still, and enjoy ourselves a little longer under this honeysuckle-hedge.
PlSCATOR. It is agreed by most men, that the Eel is a most dainty fish :9 the Romans have esteemed her the Helena of their feasts; and some the queen of palatetn"AP Eel, 'andf pleasure. But most men differ about their breedwant Scales. 'hat m*>: some say l^ey breed by generation, as other fish do; and others, that they breed, as some worms do, of mud; as rats and mice, and many other living creatures, are bred in Egypt, by the sun's heat when it shines
8 when he thought them fit and worth his labour.—if/ edit.
9 that the Eel is both a good and a most dainty fish.—isi edit.
* As has been observed in a former note, this song is an imitation of the one by Marlowe, which the Milkmaid sung to Piscalor and Venator on the Third Day. See page 79. It is printed among Donne's Poems, ed. 1635, p. 39, with the following variations :—
a And there th' innamour'd fish will stay.
upon the overflowing of the river Nilus; or out of the putrefaction of the earth, and divers other ways. Those that deny them to breed by generation, as other fish do, ask, If any man ever saw an Eel to have a spawn or melt? And they are answered, That they may be as certain of their breeding as if they had seen spawn; for they say, that they are certain that Eels have all parts fit for generation, like other fish,* but so small as not to be easily discerned, by reason of their fatness; but that discerned they may be; and that the He and the She Eel may be distinguished by their fins. And Rondeletius says, he has seen Eels cling together like dew-worms.
And others say, that Eels, growing old, breed other Eels out of the corruption of their own age; which, Sir Francis Bacon says, exceeds not ten years. And others say, that as pearls are made of glutinous dewdrops, which are condensed by the sun's heat in those countries, so Eels are bred of a particular dew, falling in the months of May or June on the banks of some particular ponds or rivers, apted by nature for that end; which in a few days are, by the sun's heat, turned into Eels: and some of the Ancients have called the Eels that are thus bred, the offspring of Jove. I have seen, in the beginning of July, in a river not far from Canterbury, some parts of it covered over with young Eels, about the thickness of a straw; and these Eels did lie on the top of that water, as thick as motes are said to be in the sun: and I have heard the like of other rivers, as, namely, in Severn, where they are called Yelvers; and in a pond, or mere near unto Staffordshire, where, about a set time in summer, such small Eels abound so much, that many of the poorer sort of people that inhabit near to it, take such Eels out of this mere with sieves or sheets; and make a kind of Eel-cake of them, and eat it like as bread. And Gesner quotes venerable Bede,+ to say, that in England there is an island called Ely, by reason of the innumerable number of Eels that breed in it. But that Eels may be bred as some worms, and some kind of bees and wasps are, either of dew or out of the corruption of the earth, seems to be made probable by the barnacles and young goslings bred by the sun's
* That fishes arc furnished with parts fit for generation cannot be doubted, since it is a common practice to castrate them. See the method of doing it in Philos. Trans, vol. xlviii. part 11. for the year 1754, page 870.—H.
t The most universal scholar of his time: he was born at Durham about 67t, and bred under St John of Beverley. It is said that Pope Scrgius the First invited him to Rome ; though others say he never stirred out of his cell. He was a man of great virtue, and remarkable for a sweet and engaging disposition : he died in 734, and lies buried at Durham. His works make eight volumes in folio. See his Life in the Biographia Britamtica.—H,
heat and the rotten planks of an old ship, and hatched of trees; both which are related for truths by Du ISartas and Lobel,* and also by our learned Camden, and laborious Gerhard t in his Herbal.
It is said by Rondeletius, that those Eels that are bred in riven that relate to or be nearer to the sea, never return to the fresh waters, as the Salmon does always desire to do, when they have once tasted the salt water; and I do the more easily believe thi5. because I am certain that powdered beef is a most excellent bait to catch an Eel. And though Sir Francis Bacon will allow the Eel's life to be but ten years, yet he, in his " History of Life and Death,'' mentions a Lamprey, belonging to the Roman Emperor, to be made tame, and so kept for almost threescore years; and that such useful and pleasant observations were made of this Lamprey, that Crassus the orator, who kept her, lamented her death; anc we read in Doctor Hakewill, that Hortensius was seen to weep at the death of a Lamprey that he had kept long, and loved exceedingly.}:
It is granted by all, or most men, that Eels, for about six months, that is to say, the six cold months of the year, stir not up or down, neither in the rivers, nor in the pools in which they usually are, but get into the soft earth or mud; and there many of them together bed themselves, and live without feeding upon anything, as I have told you some swallows have been observed to do in hollow trees, for those six cold months. And this the Eel and Swallow do, as not being able to endure winter weather: for Gesner quotes Albcrtus to say, that in the year 1125, that year's winter being more cold than usually, Eels did, by nature's instinct, get out of the water into a stack of hay in a meadow upon dry
* Matthias ae Lobei, or L'Obel, an eminent physician and botanist of the sixteenth century, was .1 native of Lisle in Flanders. He was a disciple of Rondeletius; and being invited to London, by King James the First, published there his Historia Plantantm, and died in the year 1616. Vide Hoffmanni Lexicon Universale, art. "Matthias Lobelius." This work is entitled Plantanim seu Stirpium Historia, and was first published at Antwerp in 1576, and republished at London in 1605. He was author likewise of two other works; the former of which has for its title Balsami, Opobalsami, Carpsbalsanti, et Xylobalsami, cum sno cortice, Explanatio, Loud. 1593 ; and the latter. Stirpium lllustrationes. Lond. 1655,—H.
t The person here mentioned is yokn Gerard, one of the first of our English botanists' he was by profession a surgeon : and published, in 1597, an Herbal, in a large fo.'io, dedicated to the Lord-Treasurer Burleigh ; and, two years after, a Catalogue c' Plant;, Herbs, tVc, In the number of eleven hundred, raised and naturalised by himself in a Uri;e garden near his house in Holborn. The hitter is dedicated to Sir Waller Raleigh.—H.
J Waltun, page 119. has cited from Pliny an instance of the fondness of Antonia for a tame Lamprey. Cr. ssus was, for this his pusillanimity, reproached in the Senate of Rome by Domitius in these words: "Foolish Crassus ! you wept for your Murena" or Lamprey. "That is more," retorted Crassus, " than you did for your two wives." Lord Bacon's Apothegms.—H.
ground ; * and there bedded themselves: but yet, at last, a frost killed them.1 And our Camden relates, that, in Lancashire, fishes were digged out of the earth with spades, where no water was near to the placet I shall say little more of the Eel, but that, as it is observed he is impatient of cold, so it hath been observed, that in warm weather, an Eel has been known to live five days out of the water.
And lastly, let me tell you, that some curious searchers into the natures of fish observe, that there be several sorts or kinds of Eels; as the silver Eel, and green or greenish Eel, with which the river of Thames abounds, and those are called Grigs; and a blackish Eel, whose head is more flat and bigger than ordinary Eels; and also an Eel whose fins are reddish, and but seldom taken in this nation, and yet taken sometimes. These several kinds of Eels are, say some, diversely bred; as, namely, out of the corruption of the earth; and some by dew, and other ways, as I have said to you: and yet it is affirmed by some for a certain, that the silver Eel is bred by generation, but not by spawning as other fish do; but that her brood come alive from her, being then little live Eels no bigger nor longer than a pin; and I have had too many testimonies of this to doubt the truth of it myself; and if I thought it needful, I might prove it, but I think it is needless.
And this Eel, of which I have said so much to you, may be caught with divers kinds of baits: as, namely, with powdered beef; with a lob or garden worm; with a minnow; or gut of a hen, chicken, or the guts of any fish, or with almost anything, for he is a greedy fish. J But the Eel may be caught, especially, with a
Variation.] 1 but yet at last died there.—ist and id edit.
* Dr Plot, in his History of Staffordshire, page 342, mentions certain waters, and a pool, that were stocked by Eels that had from waters they liked not travelled in arido, or over dry land, to these other.—H. Other instances might be cited of Eels being found on land: but the fact is so well known, that it would be superfluous.
t Camden's relation is to this effect, viz.: "That at a place called Sefton. in the above county, upon turning up the turf, men find a black deadish water with small fishes therein."—Britannia, Lattcashire. Fuller, who also reports this strange fact, humorously says " that the men of this place go a-fishing with spades and mattocks: adding, that fishes are thus found in the country about Heraclea, and Tius, in Pontus." — Worthies, in Lancashire, 107.—H.
J To this truth I myself can bear witness. When I dwelt at Twickenham, a large canal adjoined to my house, which I stocked with fish. I had from time to time broods of ducks, which with their young ones took to the water. One dry summer, when the canal was very low, we missed many young ducks, but could not find out how they went. Resolving to make advantage of the lowness of the water to clean the canal, a work which had not been done for thirty years before, I drained and emptied it, and found in ihe mud a great number of large Eels. Some of them I reserved for the use of my family; which being opened by the cook, surprised us all ; for in the stomachs of several of them were found, undigested, the necks and heads of young ducks, which doubtless were those of the ducks we had missed.—H.