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Otter, I will dedicate the next two days to wait upon you; and we too will, for that time, do nothing but angle, and talk of fish and fishing.
PISCATOR. It is a match, Sir, I will not fail you, God willing, to be at
AMWELL HILL 7
NOTE.) 7 Now called Amwellbury. This beautiful village is the subject of a poem, by John Scott, Esq. 8vo. 1782, in which Walton is thus alluded to:
“It little yields
On the Otter
Venator. My friend Piscator, you have kept and the Chub. time with my thoughts; for the sun is just rising, and I myself just now come to this place, and the dogs have just now 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
VENATOR. Gentleman Huntsman, where found
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 sun-rise, 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
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
Note.] 1 In Devonshire. The River Ottersey is thus noticed in Gough'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 out by Mr. Moses Browne, the error is not noticed by subsequent editors.
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.
VENATOR. Marry! so he does; for, look! he vents in that corner. Now, now, Ringwood has him: now, he is gone again, and has bit the poor dog. Now Sweetlips has her; hold her, Sweetlips ! now all the dogs have her; some above and some under water: but, now, now she is tired, and past losing. Come bring her to me,
, Sweetlips. Look! it is a Bitch-otter, and she has lately whelp’d. Let's go to the place where she was put down; and, not far from it, you will find all her young ones, I dare warrant you, and kill them all too. HUNTSMAN. Come, Gentlemen! come, all! let's
go the place where we put down the Otter. Look you ! hereabout it was that she kennelled ; look you ! here it was indeed ; for here's her young ones, no less than five: come, let us kill them all.
PISCATOR. No: I pray, Sir, save me one, and I'll try if I can make her tame, as I know an ingenious gentleman in Leicestershire, Mr. Nich. Segrave,? has done ;
Note.) ? Charles Segrave of Scalford in Leicestershire, Esq. who was living in 1606, left issue, by Alice his wife, daughter of John Flower of Whitwell, in the County of Rutland, four sons, the fourth of which was named Nicholas, and who was probably the person mentioned in the text. Nichols' Leicestershire, Vol. II. Part I. p.