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them most of my pleasant hours, even as a shadow that passeth away and returns not.

And next let me add this, that he that likes not the book should like the excellent picture of the trout, and some of the other fish; which I may take a liberty to commend, because they concern not myself.

Next let me 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 know that a captious reader may find exceptions against something said of some of these; and therefore I must entreat him to consider, that experience teaches us to know that several countries alter the time, and I think almost the manner, of fishes' breeding, but doubtless of their being in season; as may appear by three rivers in Monmouthshire, namely, Severn, Wye, and Usk, where Camden (Brit. Fishes, 633) observes, that in the river Wye, salmon are in season from September to April; and we are certain that in Thames and Trent, and in most other rivers, they be in season the six hotter months.

Now for the art of catching fish, that is to say, how to make a man— that was none-to be an angler by a book; he that undertakes it, shall undertake a harder task than Mr. Hales, a most valiant and excellent fencer, who, in a printed book called "A Private School of Defence," undertook to teach that art or science, and was laughed at for his labour-not but that many useful things might be learnt by that book, but he was laughed at because that art was not to be taught by words, but practice; and so must angling. And note also, that in this Discourse I do not undertake to say all that is known, or may be said of it, but I undertake to acquaint the reader with many things that are not usually known to every angler; and I shall leave gleanings and observations, enough, to be made out of the experience of all that love and practise this recreation, to which I shall encourage them. For angling may be said to be so like the mathematics, that it can never be fully learnt; at least not so fully, but that there will still be more new experiments left for the trial of other men that succeed us.

But I think all that love this game may here learn something that may be worth their money, if they be not poor and needy men; and in case they be, I then wish them to forbear to buy it, for I write not to get money, but for pleasure, and this Discourse boasts of no more; for I hate to promise much, and deceive the reader.

And however it proves to him, yet I am sure I have found a high content in the search and conference of what is here offered to the reader's view and censure: I wish him as much in the perusal of it, and so I might here take my leave; but will stay a little and tell him, that whereas it is said by many that in fly-fishing for a trout the angler must observe his twelve several flies for the twelve months of the year: I say, he that follows that rule shall be as sure to catch fish, and be as wise, as he that makes hay by the fair days in an almanac, and no surer; for those very flies that use to appear about and on the water in one month of the year, may the following year come almost a month sooner or later, as the same year proves colder or hotter; and

yet, in the following Discourse, I have set down the twelve flies that are in reputation with many anglers, and they may serve to give him some observations concerning them. And he may note, that there are in Wales and other countries, peculiar flies, proper to the particular place or country; and doubtless, unless a man makes a fly to counterfeit that very fly in that place, he is like to lose his labour, or much of it; but for the generality, three or four flies, neat and rightly made, and not too big, serve for a trout in most rivers all the summer. And for winter fly-fishing-it is as useful as an almanac out of date! And of these, because as no man is born an artist, so no man is born an angler, I thought fit to give thee this notice.

When I have told the reader, that in this fifth impression there are many enlargements, gathered both by my own observation and the communication with friends, I shall stay him no longer than to wish him a rainy evening to read this following Discourse; and that, if he be an honest angler, the east wind may never blow when he goes a fishing.

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pray St, Accept this pore presant, by the as meane

For Do'. C. Bewmount.

hand that brings it from

Yr. affec. servant,

Izaak Walton.*

* Some little inscription similar to the foregoing, generally accompanied those copies of Walton's works which he gave to his friends; and when they have occurred at sales, they have produced several guineas above the value of the work itself. He also wrote his name in most of his own reading books, and Sir H. Nicolas has enumerated about twenty thus enriched, now preserved in the Cathedral Library, Salisbury.

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ERASMUS in his learned Colloquies
Has mixt some toys, that by varieties
He might entice all readers: for in him
Each child may wade, or tallest giant swim.
And such is this Discourse: there's none so low
Or highly learn'd, to whom hence may not flow
Pleasure and information; both which are
Taught us with so much art, that I might swear,
Safely, the choicest critic cannot tell

Whether your matchless judgment most excell
In angling or its praise: where commendation
First charms, then makes an art a recreation.

'Twas so to me: who saw the cheerful spring Pictur'd in every meadow, heard birds sing Sonnets in every grove, saw fishes play In the cool crystal springs, like lambs in May; And they may play, till anglers read this book; But after, 'tis a wise fish 'scapes a hook.




FIRST mark the title well: my friend that gave it
Has made it good; this book deserves to have it.
For he that views it with judicious looks,
Shall find it full of art, baits, lines, and hooks.
(The world the river is; both you and I,
And all mankind, are either fish or fry.)
If we pretend to reason, first or last

His baits will tempt us, and his hooks hold fast.
Pleasure or profit, either prose or rhyme,
If not at first, will doubtless take in time.
Here sits, in secret, blest theology,
Waited upon by grave philosophy
Both natural and moral; history,

Deck'd and adorn'd with flowers of poetry,
The matter and expression striving which
Shall most excell in worth, yet seem not rich.
There is no danger in his baits; that hook
Will prove the safest that is surest took.

Nor are we caught alone,-but, which is best,
We shall be wholesome, and be toothsome, drest
Drest to be fed, not to be fed upon :
And danger of a surfeit here is none.
The solid food of serious contemplation

Is sauc'd, here, with such harmless recreation,
That an ingenuous and religious mind
Cannot inquire, for more than it may find
Ready at once prepared, either t'excite
Or satisfy a curious appetite.

More praise is due for 'tis both positive
And truth-which, once, was interrogative,
And utter'd by the poet, then, in jest―
Et piscatorem piscis amare potest.


1 Supposed to be Christopher Harvie, for whom see Wood's "Athen. Oxon."




Down by this smooth stream's wand'ring side,

Adorn'd and perfum'd with the pride

Of Flora's wardrobe, where the shrill
Aërial choir express their skill-
First, in alternate melody;
And, then, in chorus all agree—
Whilst the charm'd fish, as extasy'd
With sounds, to his own throat deny'd,
Scorns his dull element, and springs
I' th' air, as if his fins were wings.

'Tis here that pleasures sweet and high
Prostrate to our embraces lie:

Such as to body, soul or fame,
Create no sickness, sin or shame :

Roses, not fenc'd with pricks, grow here;
No sting to th' honey-bag is near:
But, what's perhaps their prejudice,
They difficulty want and price.

An obvious rod, a twist of hair,
With hook hid in an insect,-are
Engines of sport would fit the wish
O' th' epicure, and fill his dish.

In this clear stream, let fall a grub;
And, straight, take up a dace or chub.
I' th' mud, your worm provokes a snig;1
Which being fast, if it prove big,
The Gotham folly 2 will be found
Discreet, ere ta'en she must be drown'd.
The tench, physician of the brook,
In yon dead hole expects your hook;

1 A small eel.

2 An allusion to a fanciful story of the "wise men of Gotham," told in a popular chap-book of the time. They cast a quantity of red herrings, sprats, and small fish into a pond, in the expectation that they would considerably multiply by the following Lent. When the time came, finding only a large eel, they took it for granted he had devoured all the fish, and therefore threw him into another pond to drown him.-ED.

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