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who hath not only made her tame, but to catch fish,' and do many other things of much pleasure.
HUNTSMAN. Take one with all my heart; but let us kill the rest. And now let's go to an honest ale-house, where we may have a cup of good barley wine, and sing · Old Rose,'4 and all of us rejoice together.
VENATOR. Come, my friend Piscator, let me invite you along with us. I'll bear your charges this night, and you shall bear mine to-morrow; for my intention is to accompany you a day or two in fishing.
Piscator. Sir, your request is granted; and I shall be right glad both to exchange such a courtesy, and also to enjoy your company.
NOTE.] 3 Duncombe, in his translation of Vanier, says,
4 The song alluded to was the following. It was inserted in Dr. Harington's Collection from a publication temp. Charles I.
Now we're met like jovial fellows,
Let us do as wise men tell us,
When the jowl with claret glows,
And burn, burn, the bellows,
Venator. Well, now let's go to your sport of Angling. Piscator. Let's be going, with all my heart. God
“ keep you all, Gentlemen; and send you meet, this day, with another Bitch-otter, and kill her merrily, and all her young ones too.
VENATOR. Now, Piscator, where will you begin to fish ?
Piscator. We are not yet come to a likely place; I must walk a mile further yet before I begin.
VenATOR. Well then, I pray, as we walk, tell me freely, how do
like your lodging, and mine host' and the company? Is not mine host a witty man?
• Piscator. Sir, I will tell you, presently, what I think of your host: but, first, I will tell you, I am glad these Otters were killed ; and I am sorry there are no more
VARIATION.) - Well now let's be going.- 1st and 2nd Edit.
a b Tell me freely how do you like mine host. — till 5th Edit. c In the first edition Piscator's reply commences with:
Sir, to speak truly, he is not to me; for most of his conceits were either, &c. Note.] 1 Gay has thus alluded to the Otter :
“Would you preserve a num'rous finny race?
Otter-killers; for I know that the want of Otter-killers, and the not keeping the fence-months for the preservation of fish, will, in time, prove the destruction of all rivers. And those very few that are left, that make conscience of the laws of the nation, and of keeping days of abstinence, will be forced to eat flesh, or suffer more inconveniences than are yet foreseen.
Venator. Why, Sir, what be those that you call the fence-months ?
Piscator. Sir, they be principally three, namely, March, April, and May: for these be the usual months that Salmon come out of the sea to spawn in most fresh rivers. And their fry would, about a certain time, return back to the salt water, if they were not hindered by weirs and unlawful gins, which the greedy fishermen set, and so destroy them by thousands; as they would, being so taught by nature, change the fresh for salt water. He that shall view the wise Statutes made in the 13th of Edward the First,” and the like in Richard the Secondi may see
VARIATION.] d'I may tell you.- 1st and 2nd Edit.
. Note continued.]
Th' amphibious monster ranges all the shores,
And save from hostile jaws the scaly prey." 2 The statute of the 13th Edw. I. cap. 47. is as follows:-“It is provided, That the waters of Humber, Ouse, Trent, Dove, Arre, Derewent, Wherfe, Nid, Yare, Swale, Tese, and all other waters (wherein salmons be taken within the kingdom), shall be in defence for taking salmons from the Nativity of our Lady unto St. Martin's Day: and that likewise young salmons shall not be taken nor destroyed by nets, nor by other engine, at millpools, from the midst of April unto the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. And in places where such rivers be, there shall be assigned overseers of this statute, which being sworn, shall oftentimes see and enquire of the offenders; and for the first trespass, they shall be punished by burning of their nets and engines; and for the second time, they shall have imprisonment for a quarter of a year; and for the third trespass, they shall be imprisoned a whole year; and as their trespass increaseth, so shall the punishment."
3 The statute referred to was enacted in the 13th year of the reign of
several provisions made against the destruction of fish: and though I profess no knowledge of the law, yet I am sure the regulation of these defects might be easily mended. But I remember that a wise friend of mine did usually say, “that which is every body's business is nobody's business :' if it were otherwise, there could not be so many nets and fish, that are under the statute size,
Note continued.] Richard the Second, cap. 19. of which the following is a copy :“ Item, Whereas it is contained in the Statute of Westminster the Second, that young salmons shall not be taken nor destroyed by nets, nor by other engines, at milldams, from the midst of April till the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, upon a certain pain limited in the same statute ;” • it is accorded and assented, That the said statute be firmly holden and kept, joyning to the same, that young salmons shall not be taken, during the said time, at milldams, nor in other places upon the same pain. And that no fisher, or garth-man, nor any other, of what estate or condition that he be, shall from henceforth put in the waters of Thamise, Humber, Ouse, Trent, nor any other waters of the realm by the said time, nor in other time of the year, any nets called stalkers, nor other nets nor engines whatsoever they be, by which the fry or the breed of the salmons, lampreys, or any other fish, may in any wise be taken or destroyed, upon the pain aforesaid.' also where it is contained in the same statute, that all the waters in the which salmons be taken within the realm, shall be put in defence as to the taking of salmons, from the Day of the Nativity of our Lady, until St. Martin's Day;" it is ordained and assented, that the waters of Low, Wyre, Mersee, Rybbyl, and all other waters in the county of Lancaster, be put in defence, as to the taking of salmons, from Michaelmas Day to the Purification of our Lady, and in no other time of the year, because that salmons be not seasonable in the said waters in the time aforesaid. And in the parts where such rivers be, there shall be assigned and sworn good and sufficient conservators of this statute, as it is ordained in the said Statute of Westminster, and that they shall punish the offenders after the pain contained in the same statute, without
favour thereof to be showed.' By Statute 17 Rich. II. c. 9. all justices of the peace were constituted conservators of the stat. 13 Edw. I., with power to appoint under conservators; and the lord mayor was appointed conservator of that statute in the Thames. Various statutes have since been enacted for preserving the spawn and fry of fish. See Index to the Statutes at Large, articles “ Fish," " Salmon," and “Rivers."
In the 8 Rich. II. 1384, the Commons complained that in the Thames, Medway, and other great rivers, there was an abundance of
sold daily amongst us; and of which the conservators of the waters should be ashamed. 4
But, above all, the taking fish in spawning-time may be said to be against nature: it is like taking the dam on the nest when she hatches her young, a sin so against nature, that Almighty God hath in the Levitical law made a law against it.
But the poor fish have enemies enough besides such unnatural fishermen; as namely, the Otters that I spake of, the Cormorant, the Bittern, the Osprey, the Sea-gull, the Hern, the King-fisher, the Gorara, the Puet, the Swan, Goose, Duck, and the Craber, which some call the Waterrat: against all which any honest man may make a just quarrel, but I will not; I will leave them to be quarrelled
I with and killed by others, for I am not of a cruel nature, I love to kill nothing but fish.
And, now, to your question concerning your host. To speak truly, he is not to me a good companion, for most of his conceits were either scripture jests, or lascivious jests; for which I count no man witty: for the devil will help a
inclined, to the first; and his own corrupt nature, which he always carries with him, to the latter.
Note continued.] the fry of fish, that is to say, of “ Troutes, Samons, Pykes, Roches, Barbils," and other fish, which fry, if preserved, would produce great profit to the lords and commons of the land; but that diverse persons dwelling near those rivers, took the fry with their “subtils reetz," and other “subtils instruments,” and sold it as food for pigs for a penny a bushel, and sometimes for six eggs a bushel. They therefore prayed that no fish might be taken with any net unless the mesh was of the size ordained by the former statute. The king commanded that the said statute should be kept and put in due execution. Rot. Parl. vol. iii. p. 200.
4 See note to page 90.
5 The command alluded to occurs in Deuteronomy, chap. xxii. ver. 6 and 7. “If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon
thou shalt not take the dam with the young: but thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days."