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Being a Discourse of FISH and FISHING,
Not unworthy the perusal of most Anglers.
Simon Peter said, I go a fishing: and they said, We
also wil go with thee. John 21. 3. London, Printed by T. Maxey for Rich. MARRIOT , in
S. Dunftans Church-yard Fleet street, 1653.
THE EPISTLE TO THE READER
IN TIIE FIRST EDITION.
TO THE READER OF THIS DISCOURSE, BUT
ESPECIALLY TO THE HONEST ANGLER.
I THINK fit to tell thee these following truths; that I did not undertake to write, or to publish this Discourse of Fish and Fishing, to please myself, and that I wish it may not displease others; for I have confessed, there are many defects in it. And yet, I cannot doubt, but that by it, some Readers may receive so much profit or pleasure, as if they be not very busy men, may make it not unworthy the time of their perusal; and this is all the confidence that I can put on concerning the merit of this book.
And I wish the Reader also to take notice, that in writing of it, I have made a recreation of a recreation ; and that it might prove so to thee in the reading, and not to read dull, and tediously, I have in several places mixed some innocent 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 taken, but not given. And I am the willinger to justify this innocent mirth, because the whole Discourse is a kind of picture of my own disposition, at least of my disposition in such days and times as I allow myself, when honest Nat. and R. R. and I go a fishing together; and let me add this, that he that likes not the Discourse, should like the pictures of the Trout and other fish, which I may commend, because they concern not myself.1
And I am also to 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 think but that he may find exceptions in some of these; and therefore I must entreat him to know, or rather note, that several countries, and several rivers alter the time and manner of fishes breeding; and therefore if he bring not candour to the reading of this Discourse, he shall both injure me, and possibly himself too, by too many criticisms.
Now for the Art of catching fish; that is to say, how to make a man that was none, an Angler by a book : he that undertakes it, shall undertake a harder task than Hales, that in his printed book? undertook by it to teach the Art of Fencing, and was laughed at for his labour. Not but that something useful might be observed out of that book : but that Art was not to be taught by words; nor is the Art of Angling. And yet, I think, that most that love that game, may here learn something that may be worth their money, if they be not needy: and if they be, then my advice is, that they forbear; 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 thy view and censure; I wish thee as much in the perusal of it, and so might here take my leave; but I will stay thee a little longer by telling thee, that whereas it is said by many, that in fly-fishing for a Trout, the Angler must observe his twelve flies for every month, I say, if he observe that, he shall be as certain to catch fish, as they that make hay by the fair days in Almanacks, and be no surer: for doubtless, three or four flies rightly made, do serve for a trout all summer; and for winter-flies, all Anglers know, they are as useful as an Almanack out of date.
Sir John Hawkins supposes the Fish to have been engraved upon silver: that the conjecture is erroneous, is proved by the fact that the same title page and plates were used in five editions of this work, and also in five editions of Venables' “ Experienced Angler;" half the number of which impressions would have worn out a silver plate. It is probable they were engraved by Lombart, Faithorne, or Vaughan.
2 Called the Private School of Defence.