Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

thoughts; for the sun is just rising, and I myself just now On the Otter come to this place, and the dogs have just now and the Chub.

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 hold me.

VENATOR. Gentleman Huntsman, where found you 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 sunrise, 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 can tell you 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 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.

* 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) talls into the sea, passing by Honiton." -Vol. i. p. 29. Though pointed cut by Mr Moses Browne, the error is not noticed by subsequent editors.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

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 to the place where we put down the Otter. Look you ! hereabout it was that she kenneled ; 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 ich. Segrave,* ha done ; who hath not only made her tame, but to catch fish,t 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 alehouse, where we may have a cup of good barley wine, and sing “ Old Rose," # and all of us rejoice together, VENATOR. Come, my friend Piscator, let me invite you along

I'll bear your charges this night, and you shall bear mine tomorrow; 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.

* 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 men

Nichols' Leicestershire, vol. ii. part i. p. 374. | Duncombe, in his translation of Vanier, says

If you should find the young ones, steal away,
In th' absence of the dam, the tender prey,
And by his youthful years yet pliant, breed
The gentle otier to the fishing trade;
For when suspended in the stream you place
Your flaxen snares, to catch the funny race,
He will explore each cavern and retreat,

And rouse the fish, and hunt them to the net.--Eu. H.
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,

When the jowl with claret glows,
Let us do as wise men tell us,

And wisdom shines upon ihe nose,
Sing Old Rose and burn the bellows; O then is the time to sing 0.d Rose,
Let us do as wise men tell us,

And burn, burn, the bellows,
Sing, &c.

The bellows, and burn, burn, the bellows,

the bellows.

with us.

tioned in the text.

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

VENAT
ENATOR. 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 you like your lodging, and mine host ? and the company? Is not mine host a witty man?

3 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 Otter-killers; for

[ocr errors]

VARIATIONS.

1 Well now let's be going: -1st and 2d edit.
? Tell me freely how do you like mine host.— Till sth edit.
3 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. * Gay has thus alluded to the Otter :

Would you preserve a num'rous finny race ?

Let your fierce dogs the rav'nous Otter chase,

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 fencemonths ?

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 Second,+ may see several

[blocks in formation]

* 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 salmon 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."

† The statute referred to was enacted in the 13th year of the reign of 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 ; accorded and assented, That the said statute be firmly ho!den 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 sime, 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 salinons, lampreys, or any other fish, may in any wise be taken or destroyed, upon the pain aforesaid.' " And 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 desence, 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

" it is

« ZurückWeiter »