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"It little yields Of interesting act, to swell the page Of history or song ; yet much the soul Its sweet simplicity delights, and oft From noise of busy towns, to fields and groves The Muse's sons have fled to find repose. Fam'd Walton, erst, the ingenious fisher swain, Oft our fair haunts explored ; upon Lea's shore Beneath some green tree oft his angle l.iid. His sport suspending to admire their charms."—P. 80.
PISCATOR AND VENATOR.
VENATOR. My friend Piscator, you have kept time with my thoughts; for the sun is just rising, and I myself just now On the Otter come to this place, and the dogs have just now and the chub. put down an Otter. Look! down at the bottom of the hill there, in that meadow, chequered with water-lilies and lady-smocks; there you may see what work they make ; look ! look! you may see all busy; men and dogs: dogs and men; all busy.
Piscator. Sir, I am right glad to meet you, and glad to have so fair an entrance into this day's sport, and glad to see so many dogs, and more men, all in pursuit of the Otter. Let us compliment no longer, but join unto them. Come, honest Venator, let us be gone, let us make haste; I long to be doing; no reasonable hedge or ditch shall hold me.
VENATOR. Gentleman Huntsman, where found you this Otter? HUNTSMAN. Marry, Sir, we found her a mile from this place, a-fishing. She has this morning eaten the greatest part of this Trout; she has only left thus much of it as you see, and was fishing for more; when we came we found her just at it : but we were here very early, we were here an hour before sunrise, and have given her no rest since we came; sure she will hardly escape all these dogs and men. I am to have the skin if we kill her.
Venator. Why, Sir, what is the skin worth?
Huntsman. It is worth ten shillings to make gloves; the gloves of an Otter are the best fortification for your hands that can be thought on against wet weather.
Piscator. I pray, honest Huntsman, let me ask you a pleasant question: do you hunt a beast or a fish?
Huntsman. Sir, it is not in my power to resolve you; I leave it to be resolved by the college of Carthusians, who have made vows never to eat flesh. But, I have heard, the question hath been debated among many great clerks, and they seem to differ about it; yet most agree that her tail is fish: and if her body be fish too, then I may say that a fish will walk upon land: for an Otter does so sometimes, five or six or ten miles in a night, to catch for her young ones, or to glut herself with fish. And I can tell you that Pigeons will fly forty miles for a breakfast: but, Sir, I am sure the Otter devours much fish, and kills and spoils much more than he eats. And I can tell you that this dog-fisher, for so the Latins call him, can smell a fish in the water a hundred yards from him: Gesner says much farther: and that his stones are good against the falling sickness; and that there is an herb, Benione, which, being hung in a linen cloth near a fish-pond, or any haunt that he uses, makes him to avoid the place; which proves he smells both by water and land. And, I can tell you, there is brave hunting this water-dog in Cornwall ; * where there have been so many, that our learned Camden says there is a river called Ottersey, which was so named by reason of the abundance of Otters that bred and fed in it.
And thus much for my knowledge of the Otter; which you may now see above water at vent, and the dogs close with him; I now see he will not last long. Follow, therefore, my masters, follow; for Sweetlips was like to have him at this last vent.
Venator. Oh me! all the horse are got over the river, what shall we do now? shall we follow them over the water?
Huntsman. No, Sir, no; be not so eager; stay a little, and follow me; for both they and the dogs will be suddenly on this side again, I warrant you, and the Otter too, it may be. Now have at him with Kilbuck, for he vents again.
* In Devonshire. The River Ottersey is thus noticed in Cough's edition of Camden's Britannia: "More eastward the Otterey (q.d., the Otter's river) falls into the sea, passing by Honiton."—Vol. i. p. 29. Though pointed cut by Mr Moses Browne, the error is not noticed by subsequent editors.