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both weary and hungry; and now meat and rest will be pleasant.
Pet. And Coridon and I have had not an unpleasant day, and yet I have caught but five trouts: for indeed we went to a good honest ale-house, and there we played at shovelboard half the day; all the time that it rained we were there, and as merry as they that fished. And I am glad we are now with a dry house over our heads; for, hark! how it rains and blows. Come hostess, give us more ale, and our supper with what haste you may: and when we have supped let us have your song, Piscator, and the catch that your scholar promised us, or else Coridon will be dogged.
Pisc. Nay, I will not be worse than my word, you shall not want my song, and I hope I shall be perfect in it.
Ven. And I hope the like for my catch, which I have ready too and therefore let's go merrily to supper, and then have a gentle touch at singing and drinking; but the last with moderation.
Cor. Come, now for your song, for we have fed heartily. Come hostess, lay a few more sticks on the fire, and now sing when you will.
1 Variously called shovel-board, shuffle-board, shove-board, shove-groat, &c. Strutt says that in former times the mansions of the rich were not thought complete without a shovel-board-table, which was generally placed in the great hall; and we know that Henry VIII. used to play at and lose his money. Dr. Plott, in his History of Staffordshire, informs us that in the hall at Chartley, the shuffle-board-table, though ten yards one foot and an inch long, was made up of about two hundred and fifty pieces. Strutt (who describes the board minutely) says, that he saw a shuffle or shovel-board-table at a low public-house in Benjamin-street, near Clerkenwell-green, which was about three feet in breadth, and thirty-nine feet two inches in length. The game was played by pushing a smooth piece of money along the board to reach certain marks or divisions, which counted according to their nominal value, as in the "Royal Game of Goose." Groats were customarily used at this game, and hence it is found entitled "Shove Groat." Taylor, the water poet, says, Edward the Sixth's shillings were for the most part used; and thus laments the "beardless face," worn still "smooth and plaine :"
But had my stamp been bearded, as with haire,
Ven. Well sung, master! This day's fortune and pleasure, and this night's company and song, do all make me more and more in love with angling. Gentlemen, my master left me alone for an hour this day; and I verily believe he retired himself from talking with me, that he might be so perfect in this song; was it not, master?
Pisc. Yes, indeed, for it is many years since I learned it : and, having forgotten a part of it, I was forced to patch it up by the help of mine own invention, who am not excellent at poetry, as my part of the song may testify: but of that I will say no more, lest you should think I mean by discommending it to beg your commendations of it. And therefore, without replications, let's hear your catch, scholar; which I hope will be a good one, for you are both musical and have a good fancy to boot.
Ven. Marry, and that you shall; and as freely as I would
The name is affixed for the first time to the third edition. It appears from the statement of Piscator, which immediately follows, that though this song was chiefly written by Chalkhill, yet that Walton having forgotten some parts of it, had himself supplied the deficiencies; hence it affords another specimen of his poetical talents.-SIR H. NICOLAS.
have my honest master tell me some more secrets of fish and fishing as we walk and fish towards London to-morrow. But, master, first let me tell you that, that very hour which you were absent from me, I sat down under a willow-tree by the water-side, and considered what you had told me of the owner of that pleasant meadow in which you then left me: that he had a plentiful estate, and not a heart to think so; that he had at this time many law-suits depending, and that they both damped his mirth, and took up so much of his time and thoughts, that he himself had not leisure to take the sweet content that I, who pretended no title to them, took in his fields: for I could there sit quietly; and, looking on the water, see some fishes sport themselves in the silver streams, others leaping at flies of several shapes and colours; looking on the hills, I could behold them spotted with woods and groves; looking down the meadows, could see here a boy gathering lilies and lady-smocks, and there a girl cropping culverkeyes and cowslips, all to make garlands suitable to this present month of May. These, and many other field-flowers, so perfumed the air, that I thought that very meadow like that field in Sicily, of which Diodorus speaks, where the perfumes arising from the place make all dogs that hunt in it to fall off, and to lose their hottest scent. I say, as I thus sat, joying in my own happy condition, and pitying this poor rich man that owned this and many other pleasant groves and meadows about me, I did thankfully remember what my Saviour said, that the "Meek possess the earth;" or rather, they enjoy what the other possess and enjoy not: for anglers, and meek, quiet-spirited men are free from those high, those restless thoughts, which corrode the sweets of life; and they, and they only, can say as the poet has happily expressed it
1 There is so much fine and useful morality included in this sentiment, —that to let it pass would be inexcusable in one who pretends to illustrate the author's meaning, or display his excellencies. The precept which he, evidently, meant to inculcate, is that some of the greatest pleasures human nature is capable of, lie open, and in common, to the poor as well as the rich. It is not necessary, that a man should have the fee-simple of all the land, in prospect from Windsor terrace, or Richmond hill, to enjoy the beauty of those two delightful situations; nor can we imagine that no one, but lord Burlington, was ever delighted in the view of his most elegant villa at Chiswick.-H.
Hail! blest estate of lowliness!
By yielding make that blow but small,
There came also into my mind at that time, certain verses in praise of a mean estate and an humble mind: they were written by Phineas Fletcher,' an excellent divine, and an excellent angler, and the author of excellent "Piscatory Eclogues," in which you shall see the picture of this good man's mind; and I wish mine to be like it.
No empty hopes, no courtly fears him fright,
But sweet content exiles both misery and spite.
Is full of thousand sweets, and rich content;
His bed, more safe than soft, yields quiet sleeps,
While by his side his faithful spouse hath place;
The lively picture of his father's face.
His humble house or poor state ne'er torment him;
And when he dies, green turfs do for a tomb content him.
Gentlemen, these were a part of the thoughts that then possessed me. And I there made a conversion of a piece of an old catch, and added more to it, fitting them to be sung by us anglers. Come, master, you can sing well; you must sing a part of it as it is in this paper.
1 Phineas Fletcher was the son of Giles Fletcher, LL.D., and Ambassador from Queen Elizabeth to the Duke of Muscovy. He is said to have been born about 1584, was educated at Eton, and in 1600 became Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. He was author of "Piscatory Eclogues," and an allegorical poem of considerable merit, entitled "The Purple Island,' which, with other of his poems, were printed at Cambridge in 1633. He died about 1650.-ED.
2 The song here sung can in no sense of the word be termed a catch: It was probably set to music at the request of Walton, and is to be found [Continued at p. 268.]