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And to commute for your patient hearing this long direction, I shall next tell you how to make this Eel a most excellent dish of meat.
First, wash him in water and salt; then pull off his skin below his vent or navel, and not much further : having done that, take out his guts clean as you can, but wash him not: then give him three or four scotches, with a knive ; and then put into his belly and those scotches, sweet herbs, an anchovy, and a little nutmeg grated or cut very small ; and your herbs and anchovies must also be cut very small, and mixt with good butter and salt ;2 having done this, then pull his skin over him, all but his head, which you are to cut off, to the end you may tie his skin about that part where his head grew, and it must be so tied as to keep all his moisture within his skin: and having done this, tie him with tape or packthread to a spit, and roast him leisurely; and baste him with water and salt till his skin breaks, and then with butter; and having roasted him enough, let what was put into his belly, and what he drips, be his sauce.
S. F. When I go to dress an Eel thus, I wish he were as long and as big as that which was caught in Peterborough river, in the year 1667; which was a yard and three-quarters long. will not believe me, then go and see at one of the coffee-houses in King Street in Westminster.
But now let me tell you that though the Eel, thus drest, be not only excellent good, but more harmless than any other way, yet it is certain that physicians account the Eel dangerous meat; I will advise you therefore, as Solomon says of honey,t " Hast thou
VARIATION. 2 Neither the instructions for dressing the Eel, nor the observations on the Flounder, the Char, and the Guiniad, given in the text, occur in the first edition, which continues thus : “And thus much for this present time concerning the Eel: I will next tell you a little of the Barbel, and hope with a little discourse of him to have an end of this shower, and fall to fishing, for the weather clears up a little.'
ties them up in a bunch, and attaches them to the end of a cord about six feet in length, affixing on the same, immediately above the worms, a piece of lead weighing half a pound, more or less, according to the strength of the current. The whole is appended to a pole from five to six feet in length. Thus prepared, the fisherman stations himself in a boat and casts his tackle into the stream, taking care that the worms do not touch the bottom by about two inches. The Eels bite, their teeth get entangled in the worsted, and it is not unusual for three or more to be hauled into the boat at one jerk. -J. B.
* In the fourteenth century, Eels were cooked after the following recipe : “Elys in Gauncelye. Take Elys an die hem an sethe hem in water, an caste a lyiel salt thereto, than take brede y scaldyd and grynd it an temper it with the brothe an with ale, than take pepir, gyngere, an safroune, an grynde alle y fere, than neme onyonys an percely, an bryle it in a possenet. Wel then caste alle to gederys an seth y sere an serve forth." -Harleian MS, 279, f. 18.
| Prov. xxv.
found it, eat no more than is sufficient, lest thou surfeit, for it is not good to eat much honey." And let me add this, that the uncharitable Italian bids us “ give Eels and no wine to our enemies."
And I will beg a little more of your attention, to tell you that Aldrovandus, and divers physicians, commend the Eel very much for medicine, though not for meat. But let me tell you one observation, that the Eel is never out of season; as Trouts, and most other fish, are at set times; at least most Eels are not.*
* The haunts of the Eel are, weeds, under roots, stumps of trees, holes, and clefts of the earth, both in the banks and at the bottom, and in the plain mud, where they lie with only their heads out, watching for prey. They are also found under great stones, old timber, about floodgates, weirs, bridges, and old mills. They delight in still waters, and in those that are foul and muddy ; though the smaller Eels are to be met with in all sorts of rivers and streams,
Although the manner in which Eels, and indeed all fish, are generated, is sufficiently settled, as appears by the foregoing notes, there yet remains a question undecided by naturalists; and that is, whether the Eel be an oviparous or a viviparous fish? Walton inclines to the latter opinion. The following relation from Bowlker may go near to determine the question :
“ Being acquainted with an elderly woman, who had been wife to a miller near fifty years, and much employed in dressing of Eels, I asked her whether she had ever found any spawn or eggs in those Eels she opened ? She said she had never observed any; but that she had sometimes found living Eels in them, about the bigness of a small needle; and particularly, that she once took out ten or twelve, and put them upon the table, and found them to be alive ; which was confirmed to me by the rest of the family. The time of the year when this happened was, as they informed me, about a fortnight or three weeks after Michaelmas; which makes me of opinion that they go down to the sea, or salt water, to prepare themselves for the work of propagating and producing their young. To this I must add another observation of the same nature, that was made by a gentleman of fortune not far from Ludlow, and in the commission of the peace for the county of Salop; who, going to visit a gentleman, his friend, was shown a very fine large Eel that was going to be dressed, about whose sides and belly he observed a parcel of little creeping things, which at first made him suspect it had been kept too long; but, upon nearer inspection, they were found to be perfect little Eels or Elvers: upon this it was immediately opened in the sight of several other gentlemen, and in the belly, of it they found a lump about as big as a nutmeg, consisting of an infinite number of those little creatures, closely wrapped up together, which, being put into a basin of water, soon separated, and swam about the basin. This he has often told to several gentlemen of credit in his neighbourhood, from some of whom I first received this account: but I have lately had the satissaction of having it from his own mouth; and therefore I think this may serve to put the matter out of all doubt, and may be sufficient to prove that Eels are of the viviparous kind."
Taking it for granted then that Eels do not spawn, all we have to say in this place is, that though, as our author tells us, they are never out of season, yet, as some say, they are best in winter, and worst in May. And it is to be noted of Eels, that the longer they live the better they are.- Angler's Sure Guide, p. 164.
Of baits for the Eel, the best are, lob-worms, loach, minnows, gudgeons, bleak, or small frogs.
As the angling for Eels is usually attended with great trouble and risk of tackle, many, while they angle for other fish, lay lines for the Eel, which they tie to weeds, flags, &c., with marks to find them by; or take a long packthread line, with a leaden weight at the end, and hooks looped on at a yard distance from each other; and fastening one end, throw the lead out, and let the line lie some time. And in this way Pike may be taken.
The river Kennet in Berkshire, the Stour in Dorsetshire, Irk in Lancashire, and Ankham in Lincolnshire, are famed for producing excellent Eels: the latter to so great a degree, as to give rise to the following proverbial rhyme :
Ankham Eel, and Witham Pike,
In all England is none sike. But it is said, there are no Eels superior in goodness to those taken in the head of the New River near Islington.-H.
I might here speak of many other fish, whose shape and nature are much like the Eel, and frequent both the sea and fresh rivers ; as, namely, the Lamprel, the Lamprey, and the Lamperne : also of the mighty Conger, taken often in Severn, about Gloucester : and might also tell in what high esteem many of them are for the curiosity of their taste. But these are not so proper to be talked of by me, because they make us anglers no spcrt; therefore I will let them alone, as the Jews do, to whom they are forbidden by their law.
And, scholar, there is also a FLOUNDER,+ a sea-fish which will wander very far into fresh rivers, and there lose himself and dwell : and thrive to a hand's breadth, and almost twice so long : a fish without scales, and most excellent meat : and a fish that affords much sport to the angler, with any small worm, but especially a little bluish worm, gotten out of marsh.ground, or meadows, which should be well scoured. # But this, though it be most excellent meat, yet it wants scales, and is, as I told you, therefore an abomination to the Jews.
But, scholar, there is a fish that they in Lancashire boast very much of, called a CHAR; taken there, and I think there only, in a mere called Winander Mere ; § a mere, says Camden, that is
* Both the Lamperne and the Lamprey are taken in the Wye, the former during March and April, the latter in May, and June. "The Lamprey, which is highly esteemed as a delicacy, removes the pebbles from particular spots in the most rapid stream, and thus forms a very insecure retreat, which is provincially termed a bed : in these they are taken with a spear. The female is of a rounder form than the male, and contains a large quantity of spawn, which is fecundated after passing from
body of the fish. The Lamprey appears to possess an internal heat equal perhaps to terrestrial animals."-Duncombe's Collections towards the History, &c., of Herefordsh. P: 163:
† The “ Flounder," observes Mr Salter in the Angler's Guide, “is only found in rivers where the tide flows, or those which have connection with the sea, as it is properly a seafish, and only leaves it to spawn. In the creeks from Blackwall to Bromley, Stratford and Westham, also in the docks, and the canal at Limehouse, and in the other docks, &c., on the opposite side of the river, they are taken either with dead lines, or floated in the same manner as Eels : in fact, when you angle for Eels in this part, you angle for Flounders also, as they will both take the same baits, and at the same season."
| The author of “ Practical Observations on Angling in the River Trent," says : “I have in the Trent known ten pounds weight of Flounders taken by two anglers in one afternoon, and a much greater quantity in the same time, by flounder-lines. I have caught them by angling with lob-worms, nearly a pound weight each; and with a minnow I caught one, in 1799, that weighed twenty-three ounces."-E.
& Mr Pennant, in his British Zoology, vol. iii. p. 268, observes: “There are but few lakes in our island that produce this fish, and even those not in any abundance. It is found in Winander Mere in Westmoreland ; in Llyn Quellyn, near the foot of Snowdon; and before the discovery of the Copper Mines, in those of Llynberris, but the mineral streams have entirely destroyed the fish in the last lakes. Whether the waters in Ireland afford the Char, we are uncertain, but imagine not, except it has been overlooked by their writers on the Natural History of that kingdom. In Scotland it is found in Loch Inch, and other neighbouring lakes, and is said to go into the Spey to spawn.” Mr Daniel, in the second volume of “ Rural Sports,” p. 222, says, “In Ireland the Char is abundant in Lough Esk."--E. Char are also found in certain lakes in Merionethshire : as well as in Conningston Mere, in Lancashire. See Leigh's History of Lancashire, P.141.
the largest in this nation, being ten miles in length, and some say as smooth in the bottom as if it were paved with polished marble. This fish never exceeds fifteen or sixteen inches in length ; and is spotted like a Trout ; and has scarce a bone, but on the back. But this, though I do not know whether it make the angler sport, yet I would have you take notice of it, because it is a rarity, and of so high esteem with persons of great note.
Nor would I have you ignorant of a rare fish called a GUINIAD; of which I shall tell you what Camden and others speak. The river Dee, which runs by Chester, springs in Merionethshire ; and, as it runs toward Chester, it runs through Pemble Mere, which is a large water: and it is observed, that though the river Dee abounds with Salmon, and Pemble Mere with the Guiniad, yet there is never any Salmon caught in the mere, nor a Guiniad in the river. And now my next observation shall be of the Barbel.*
PISCATOR. The Barbel is so called, says Gesner, by reason of his barb or wattles at his mouth, which are under his nose or chaps. Chap. XIV. He is one of those leather-mouthed fishes that I
told you of, that does very seldom break his hold if he be once hooked : but he is so strong, that he will often break both rod and line, if he proves to be a big one.
But the Barbel,t though he be of a fine shape, and looks big, yet he is not accounted the best fish to eat, neither for his wholesomeness nor his taste ; but the male is reputed much better than
Of the Barbel.
* This fish is found, according to Pennant, in Lough Neagh in Ireland, where it is termed the Pollen, and in Lochmaben in Scotland, where it is called the Vangis. It is also a native of the Lakes of Cumberland, and of Pemble Mere in Merionethshire. In shape it is somewhat similar to the dace, but attains a much greater size, weighing sometimes three or four pounds. Schaffer, however, asserts that in the Alpine parts of Europe, it is caught of the weight of ten or twelve pounds. One peculiar mark by which it may be distinguished is, that its ventral fins are of a very deep blue, and the belly at most seasons marked with blue spots. It is gregarious, and during pring and summer approaches the shores of the lakes in such vast shoals that an instance is recorded of an Ulleswater fisherman taking at one draught between seven and eight thousand. They are never, according to some authorities, taken by any bait, but keep at the bottom of the lake feeding on shells and the leaves of the water gladiol.' A writer who styles himself "Piscator” in the Sporting Magazine for August 1829, observes, however: There is a fish in Bala Lake called 'gwyniad,' or whiting. It is the same fish that is called sewin in the north, and shows very tolerable sport. It is taken with any of the trout flies, and is very nimble in its movements. Sir Humphry Davy alludes to it in his 'Salmonia,' and mentions his having taken some in Bala Lake." The statement of Camden alluded to in the text, that the guiniad never wanders into the Dee, and that the salmon never ventures into Pemble Mere, is erroneous, inasmuch as the late Honourable Daines Barrington asserts that he had seen salmon taken in the lake, and had been “most authentically informed” that guiniad had been taken at Landrillo, six miles below the lake.
| The coat armour of the ancient Counts of Bar was azure semee of cross-crosslets, two Barbels addorsed or.