By 1887, Francis Cowley Burnand—whom we first met in the 1860s as the author of Happy Thoughts—was well established as the editor of Punch. Meanwhile, cartoonist and illustrator Harry Furniss (1854–1925) was in the exact middle of his 14-year association with Punch, making him a natural choice for The Incompleat Angler.
The 1653 first edition of Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler—most readily available in the 1897 re-edition by Richard LeGallienne—involved two characters, Piscator (Angler) and Viator (Traveler). Later editions split Viator into two speaking roles, Venator (Hunter) and Auceps (Hawker); these are the ones we see in The Incompleat Angler. All the secondary characters—The Hostess, Peter, Maudlin, her grandmother—were also present in the original.
Full Disclosure: This is a hopelessly silly book. But there is a time and a place for silliness, and this is a well-sustained parody. The printed book was designed to look like Walton’s original: catchwords on every page, copious sidenotes, italicized names. The editor goofed by italicizing titles—Mr., Sir—along with the proper names, but overall it’s a nice typographic spoof.
Page numbers in [brackets] represent full-page illustrations that have been moved to a nearby paragraph break.
Typographical errors are marked with and are listed again at the bottom of the page. The word “invisible” means that the letter or punctuation mark is missing, but there is an appropriately sized blank space.
F. C. BURNAND’s
Master IZAAK WALTON.
After Master IZAAK WALTON.
F. C. BURNAND,
Author of “Happy Thoughts,” &c.
BRADBURY, AGNEW, & CO., 8, 9, 10, BOUVERIE ST.
BRADBURY, AGNEW, & CO., PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS.
To the Author of “Happy Thoughts,” who, having kindly undertaken the Editing of this most useful Work, has executed his task with rare skill and ability, we beg, as Descendants of our illustrious Ancestor, to tender our most hearty compliments, and most sincere thanks, and subscribe ourselves
His most obliged servants,
|A Conference between an Angler, a Hunter, and a Hawker.—What came of it||1|
|How they settled Terms and went to catch a Chub||13|
|How the Master, without any cruelty, invented a new kind of Bait||26|
|How the Scholar caught a Pike||37|
|Piscator and Venator fall in with two Milk-maidens||49|
|At the Inn||62|
|ix CHAPTER VII.|
|Still at the Inn||72|
|CHAPTER THE LAST|
|Piscator, Venator, Maudlin, Grandmother, Shepherd||81|
|Piscator. “Well met, Brother Peter”||Frontispiece|
|Walton-on-the-Naze and Walton-on-||Preface|
|On the Road to Ware||1|
|“Marry, I had a Sister in a Circle”||3|
|“‘Heads,’ for ’tis ‘Tails,’ and you have lost”||7|
|“Master! I am in the ho . . . . O! O!”||23|
|Tour de Nail||35|
|x Ingenious Method||37|
|“Keeping his hand in”||41|
|The Venerable Bishop Stortford||46|
|A Milkmaid and a little pail!||47|
|“Good-morrow to you, Ladies!”||55|
|Chorus of Milkmaids||58|
|“Well sung, sweet Maudlin”||59|
|“Fork’s the word”||61|
|“We won’t go home till morning”||65|
|The mourning after||73|
|“They are pursuing me! . . . O! O! Master!”||80|
|Getting his “Coo de grass”||83|
|The Angler’s Dream||85, 86, 87|
|The Milkmaid’s Song||93|
The First Day.
Piscator. Venator. Auceps.
Piscator. You are well overtaken, 2 Gentlemen! A good morning to you both! I hope your business may occasion you towards Ware, whither I am going this fine May morning.
Auceps. My ware is the occasion of my business. I am a Hawker. You may know that from my pack.
Venator. And I, Sir, am a simple Hunter, though you could not come at that knowledge, seeing me without my pack.
Piscator. I am right glad to hear your answers. I am, Sir, a Brother of the Angle.
Auceps. Marry, I had a Sister in a Circle. She is now a Columbine.
Piscator. Nay, you mistake my 3 meaning. I am an honest fisherman, and I purpose taking my morning cup at the “Welsh Harp.”
Venator. Sir, I shall by your favour bear you company, for, in sooth, I do begin to mistrust the coming of a fox in my way, this 4 May morning; and, indeed, my horse and I having parted at the last privet hedge, he preferring to remain on one side while I came over on to the other, I doubt whether I shall come up with the hounds, which, if I am rightly informed, are appointed to meet some miles hence.
Piscator. Here is the “Bald-faced Stag.” Let us turn into it, and refresh ourselves with a cup of drink, and a rest.
Seated in an hostelrie.
Auceps. Most gladly. Sir. This is very excellent ale.
Piscator. I exchange courtesies with you both. A small glass of Geneva thrown into it, thus, leavens the whole, like a spice of Calvinism in the Thirty-Nine Articles.5
Auceps. Ay, and assists to settle it: like an arbitration.
Venator. Sirs, your discourse charms me to an attention.
Piscator. Why then, Sir, I will take a little liberty to propose to you that one should be at charges for the other.
Venator. Nay, Sir——
Piscator. I accept your courtesy. Hostess, take my young friend Master Venator’s proffered coin.
The coin tossed.
Auceps. Prithee stay your hand an instant. I will try chances with you, good Sir, to discover which of us two shall discharge the score of the three.
Venator. Nay, Sir, I cry you mercy——6
Auceps. Marry, you should have cried “Heads,” for ’tis “Tails,” and you have lost.
They quit the hostelrie.
Piscator. I am glad we are on the road once more. We shall soon come to where the river will stop our morning’s walk.
Venator. O me! I have lost my cigar-case.
Auceps. Nay, Sir, never look so downcast at this ill-stroke. I have in my pack two bundles of cigars from the Havannahs, all excellent good, which I am minded to let you have a rare bargain. See how brown and glossy is their appearance; tied about, too, with a yellow fillet. Marry there be those of high degree who should not deal with me 8 at one shilling a-piece. But, since your presence and fair conversation like me, you shall have them for sixpence each, and I protest this is, as it were, to bestow them with an open hand. Do you smoke, Mr. Piscator?
Venator stands aloof.
Piscator. I do, Sir, in good truth. Indeed I have a sufficiency of the herb, in my pouch, for my own wants. Were I not thus furnished, I would—while our very young friend Venator is counting his money, apart and out of hearing—I would, I say, take a liberty to inquire three things of you. Firstly, Of what colour is the grass? Secondly, Do you notice a reflection of that colour in either of my eyes? And, thirdly, Are you, as a sportsman, 9 sufficiently skilled in the art of approaching a weasel with so great caution that he shall not be disturbed by your footsteps, and therewith proceeding so skilfully to shave off his eyebrows, that the creature shall not discover your trick until he be awoke?
Auceps. Marry, Sir, I think I do perceive your meaning. Silence is silvern?
Silence is purchased.
Piscator. Ay, now, Sir, you talk like an artist. Nay, I am not to be put off with less than seven, and those, mark you, good.
Auceps. Give me your hand. There, Sir.
Venator. Honest Auceps, here are two pounds ten for one bundle.
Auceps. It is a match, Sir. 10 Marry here is one that strikes only on its own box. And now, Gentlemen, I must part with you at this park-wall, for which I am very sorry. But, I assure you, Mr. Piscator, that however fishy I may have hitherto considered your general conduct, yet I shall part with you full of good thoughts, not only of yourself, but your recreation. Heaven keep you both.
Piscator and Venator together
Piscator. Farewell. Now honest Auceps is gone, Mr. Venator, I will tell you all I know about angling.
Yearning for knowledge.
Venator. Sir, my patience and diligence shall not be wanting. But I would first ask you if you can teach me how to jerk a coin in the air so it fall this or that side uppermost, as you shall list.11
Piscator. O, Sir, doubt not, ’tis an art, whereof honest Auceps is a master. Favour me with half-a-crown, and I will show you how the feat may be suitably accomplished. Nay, this is an indifferent piece.
A doubt insinuated.
Venator. Marry, Sir, it was one given me in change by honest Auceps. But here is another.
Piscator. You shall put my skill to the trial when we have breakfasted.
Venator. I would I had breakfasted ere I had attempted that cup of ale and these cigars.
Welcomed at the Welsh Harp
Venator tucked up.
Piscator. Nay, Sir, you look pale. Here is the “Welsh Harp.” Hostess, how do you? I will myself see this poor young gentleman safely 12 bestowed in bed. Now, Hostess, a cup of your best, and breakfast at once.
Piscator tucks in.
Hostess. I will do it, Mr. Piscator, and with all the speed I can.13
The Second Day.
Venator. My friend, you have kept time with my thoughts.
Piscator. I am right glad to see you so fairly risen. I heard our 14 hostess herself bringing the soda-water to the chamber where you lay. You do not eat of this lovely trout.
Narratur de Tea
Venator. I cannot. But I will beg a courtesy of you, that you will give me another cup of your hottest.
Piscator. ’Tis said by Travellers that the boughs of the trees in China are all laden with Tea-leaves, overhanging the hot water streams into which they fall, while the cows and the cocoa-nuts afford a sufficient quantity of milk, and the stones of the sugar-plums serve for lump.
Venator. I could listen to your discourse for hours together. But, Sir, let us be stirring. You shall bear my charges for this past night, and I will bear yours to-morrow.15
A night charge sheet.
Piscator. Nay, we will settle the score between us, first, for last night’s diversion. This paper is in your hand, is it not?
Venator. Marry, Sir, I must acknowledge my own subscription.
Piscator. Why, then, Sir, you stand indebted to me in three pounds and six shillings, that you lost to me at our Angler’s Game of Blind Hookey, which I learnt from an ingenious gentleman in Cardiganshire.
Venator. A Welshman, Sir?
Piscator. A Welsher. I thank you; that is the amount exact to a penny piece. Now, do you discharge our hostess, and let us forth. I long to be doing.16
Venator pays again.
Venator. O, me! It is fortunate I brought my cheque-book with me. But, before we proceed farther, let me beg a courtesy of you: but it must not be denied me.
Piscator. What is it, I pray, Sir? You are so modest, so accomplished, so gentle, and so simple, that I may promise to grant it before it is asked.
Venator. Ay, Sir, but after?
Piscator. Well, Sir, by that time I shall be able to judge of the request itself, when perhaps my licence might be revoked on the merits. But what is it?
Master and Scholar.
Venator. Why, Sir, it is that, henceforth, you would allow me to call you Master, and that I may be your Scholar.17
Piscator. Give me your hand. I will be the Master, because I have the rod.
An obtuse Angler.
Venator. And shall I have it too?
An acute Angler.
Piscator. You shall. I will teach you as much of this art as I am able. Nay, more; and will, as you desire me, tell you somewhat of the nature of most of the fish that we are to angle for. I am sure I both can, and will, tell you more than any common Angler, being, as you will find me, a good fellow-traveller, full of witty conceits, tuneful songs, and honest mirth; such a companion, indeed, as must have his charges borne by his friend and scholar. But come, let us go and catch a Chub.18
Venator. Master, where will you commence to fish?
Piscator. In the river. Now I will give you some rules how to catch a Chub.
Venator. Is not a Chub to be caught——
Piscator. In a lock! I thought you would say that. It is an old conceit, as are all the known jokes about soles, plaice, John Dory, Jack, Pike, and minnow others—I mean many others—with which, I doubt not, you are well acquainted. To repeat any of these should be punishable by the rod.
The poor punster.
Venator. Master, I will not offend again.
Rules for Chub-fishing.
Piscator. Let there be a seasonable time for our jests, when, after 19 the labour of the day, we meet at Tittlebait Tower, where I hope to bring you in the evening. As to the Chub which we are now to catch, note that, as you catch a Chub to dress him afterwards, so you must first dress yourself to catch a Chub. You must, then, be attired in a sad-coloured suit, with a hat, shoes, and veil of the same hue, for a Chub is the fearfullest of fishes.
Venator. O Master, I begin to be afraid he will bite.
Piscator. Marry, I hope he will. But take heart, for he will bite the grasshopper that you shall presently put on your hook, and so be taken.
Venator. O Master, you have offered me as fair as I could wish. 20 I am to be daunted by no Chub that swims, nor grasshopper neither, for that matter.
Piscator. Go your way, and put a grasshopper on your hook.
Venator. O Master! O! O! O! The grasshopper has stung me, and the hook has pierced my forefinger.
Piscator. Marry, and I am glad of it: I am like to have a towardly Scholar of you. I now see, that, with advice and practice, you will make an angler in a short time. Have but a love to it; and I’ll warrant you.
Still in pain.
Venator. But, Master, if I cannot rid my finger of the hook?
Piscator. Then, I may tell you, that my pocket-knife will soon rid 21 the hook of your finger. Take heed lest you bend, blunt, or damage the hook, which I could not replace for twenty pounds.
“For this relief much thanks.”
Venator. Nay, Master, I am free now, but the grasshopper has escaped me.
Piscator. Then take a beetle, or a bob——
Venator. I have one in my purse with a hole in it.
The wriggler way.
Piscator. Rest you merry, Scholar; a “bob” is a youthful beetle. Take him, and make in him certain cunning slits, through which you may, with ease, pass the hook, whereon he will wriggle and twist in lively and right merry sort.
Venator. See, Master, ’tis as 22 you say. But doth this not cause the beetle some pain?
A right Angler.
Piscator. Nay, Scholar, few pleasures are so perfect as to be entirely free of inconvenience, yet these contortions are probably the honest creature’s best mode of expressing his extreme gratification and supreme enjoyment of the dignity thus thrust upon him above his fellows, as having been selected to share with Man the gentle science of Angling.
Venator. I thank you, good Master, for this observation. And though I be so far furnished for the sport, yet do I lack that dressing without which ’twere vain to attempt the capture of a Chub, and whereof you spake a while ago.
Tutor and his charge.
Piscator. You shall lack nothing. Take my rod; put another grasshopper or beetle on your hook: and for your disguise, I will provide you, from my own bag, with a long grey robe, green spectacles, with a fine false nose and moustache all in one, and such a wig as shall insure you against detection, even by the most wary and experienced Chub in this river. My charge for these is but a crown for the first hour, and three shillings for the second.
Venator. Trust me, Master——
Piscator. Nay, that I will not, Master Scholar. So—these are two good half-crowns.
Venator. See, Master, I have got on my Chub-dressing.
Piscator. Then go your way. 25 Perch yourself, secretly, on a bough, above the same hole in which I caught my Chub.
Falls into the river.
Venator. I’ll go, my loving Master, and observe your directions. . . . O me! O! O! O! the branch is snapping asunder, and I am just over the hole! . . . O, Master! I am in the ho . . . O! O!
The Same Day.
Piscator. So, Scholar, you are out of the water once more, and on the dry bank. You must endure worse luck sometime, or you will never make a good angler.
Venator. O Master, I am wet to the skin!27
Piscator. No further than that? Go your way pleasantly, and sit in the sunny meadow, and, while you dry what is moist, I will moisten what is dry.
Piscator drinks to Venator.
Venator. On my word. Master, that is a gallant flask.
Piscator. It is; and contains choice entertainment. And you are to note that it would be to your advantage were you to provide yourself with one more capacious than you see me carry. And you are to note also that there are several kinds of flasks, of which certain hold sufficient for the refreshment of two, or three, anglers. Furnish yourself with such a flask as I have described, for this carries cheer but for one alone.
Venator. Truly, my loving 28 Master, I will observe your directions. If I could take some comfort from your flask now, I think it would save me a chill.
Not sparing the rod.
Piscator. Nay, Master Scholar; do you disport yourself over the meadow, and when you are tired I will use my rod so dexterously, that you shall run no risk from the want of a quick circulation.
Venator is benefited.
Venator. O, Master! O! Marry, I am warm throughout.
Piscator. I warrant you. But look how it begins to rain. We will leave our lines in the river, our rods on the bank, and sit close under this 29 sycamore tree, where I design to eat the chicken sandwiches I have brought in my basket. Does not it do your heart good to see me enjoying this meat? And are not the place and time well chosen to eat it?
Venator. All excellent good, and my appetite excellent good too. So, Master, let me fall to. You do not deny me?
Forethought for one.
Piscator. Nay, indeed, I do not deny you, but it is a Christian 30 principle that you should deny yourself. And note, that it is my own forethought and prudence that have armed me with this sandwich, for no angler should come out unprovided.
Venator. That will I not again. But now——
Piscator. It is a beautiful sandwich, made from what epicures term the oysters of the plumpest fowls. You will find it mentioned in the reckoning which you discharged with mine Hostess ere we left this morning. So, it is finished. Now, while I smoke my pipe of tobacco, I will proceed to my promised directions as to baiting and angling. First, then, as to baiting a hook——
Venator. Master, is that another thing from baiting a bull?31
Illustration with rod.
Piscator. It is as different from it as would be baiting with a worm, and, what a Hibernian gentleman would term, bating with a stout oaken cudgel—as you shall soon perceive.
Venator. Nay, good Master, bear with me, and I will undertake your charges at the next Inn we come to; and, indeed, I would that this rain were finished so that we might be there now.
A piscatorial lecture.
Honorarium for Lecturer.
Piscator. Stay a little, and I will tell you somewhat about angling. And, first, as to the Perch. The length of the Perch is five and a half yards, as you may see by your tables. The best time for fishing for Perch is by moonlight. Ere I proceed further, I must tell you that 32 for my discourse on Perch fishing my charge is ten shillings, whether it lasts ten minutes, or as many hours.
Venator. I fear me I lost my purse in the water.
A simple arrangement.
Piscator. No; I have it here in my pocket, where I bestowed it for safety, when you were disguising yourself in order to catch the Chub. I will take, therefore, the sum due on each discourse as I proceed. Now for the manner of dealing with live bait. Catch me that choice beetle.
The Scholar and the beetle.
Venator. That black one with large claws, red feelers like those of a shrimp, and a sharp-pointed tail in which there is, I am told, a sting! O, Master, I am afraid. O, he is biting me! O!
Philosophically bearing others’ sufferings.
Piscator. You probably imagine 33 a pain which, I confess, I myself do not feel. Now nip his head partly off, and pull off one of his legs: now take your sharp knife, and betwixt the neck, and the first joint of his tail, make an incision, or such a scar as you may put the wire of your hook into it.
Venator. O, Master, the knife has entered my finger! O! O!
Piscator. There are few pleasures without some alloy. But you cannot possibly feel any hurt, as the learned Sir Thomas de Bedlam has shown that the sensation produced by running a knife into a finger, cannot cause any pain to the person who so uses the knife.
Venator. But, good Master, it is my own finger.34
Piscator. That is a detail which the learned Bethlehemite has not thought it worth his while to consider. Now draw the wire through the insect’s body, and bring it up again through the third joint of his tail.
Venator. He is stinging my hand with his tail! See—O—Master—see how my wrist is swollen.
Piscator. This beetle has no sting in his tail. Now pass this fine needle and silk through the upper part of his hind leg, and sew it to the arming wire of the hook; and in so doing use him as though you loved him—that is, harm him as little as possible, that he may live the longer, and afford you the more sport.35
Venator. O, Master, I have sewn the beetle to my finger, and I cannot rid me of him.
A true Angler ever ready.
Piscator. I can do so with my sharp knife. Yet as I would not perform such an operation hastily, 36 and as an honest angler, however experienced, should be ready to learn something new, do you go down to the river, and hold your hand, thus baited, in the water. Then we shall see if one of the more voracious sort bite at the morsel. Should he fulfil my expectation, you will at once be able to secure him without rod, line, or landing-net. Come, we will make the experiment. To the river.37
The Same Day.
iscator. So we are once more at the river. Now thrust your hand in, baited as it is with the hook and the red beetle, which you have so cunningly sewn to your 38 finger; lie close, keep yourself out of sight, and, surely, one of us will have sport.
Venator. O! O! Master, O! I have disturbed a red ant-hill! O!
Piscator. Nay, no wonder, my loving Scholar, since your crying is enough to disturb whole villages. I fear me you have not yet a spirit suitable to anglers. How sung the pious Sir Thomas de Bedlam?
Rare old ballade.
Though Wasps may sting me through my hose,
Though Ants and Beetles bite my toes,
Though swarming Bees hang from my nose,
Yet would I
Though Snakes should bite and Leeches suck,
Though Stags should jump at me and buck,39
Though me in air fierce Bulls should chuck,
Yet would I
Venator. I thank you, kind Master, for the sweet verses of the good Sir Thomas, and I do perceive that he did not introduce the “quiet lie” into his song without intention.
Piscator. True. But I pray you use this occasion, while you are silently awaiting a fish, to remember some catch, for to-night I will take you to the “Fisher’s Folly,” where my Hostess expects my brother Peter, a good angler, and a cheerful companion, who will bring a friend with him. There we’ll rejoice, tell tales, or sing ballads, and pass away a little time without offence.40
Happy state of Venator.
Venator. A match, good Master; let’s be going, for I am very hungry, my clothes are still wet, the red ants are wandering about me, and I would fain move the bait and hook from my finger.
Artfulness in sport.
Piscator. Nay, stay a little, good Scholar, for I would make you an artist. We shall have a bite presently. So do you lie, prone, with your hand in the river, as I bid you, while I consult my book of conceits and ballads, so that I may be even with brother Peter and his companion to-night.
An interval of two hours is supposed to elapse.
Venator. O, Sir, I see you have finished your study. I have lain here the while—these two hours—and not seen a fish stir. Oh me! O! O! Master! A fish! A fish! O! He 41 has caught me! O! He is biting my hand! O!
Piscator. Ay, marry, Sir, you may well be proud of being taken by the hand by such a monarch of fishes as he is. 42 He is an overgrown Pike, the biggest that ever I saw.
Venator. O, Master! O! Will he pull me in the water? O!
Piscator. If he have firm hold of you, and prove the stronger, ’tis more than probable he will. And I would have you to know that this fish is the mighty Luce or Pike, and is commonly called the Tyrant of the fresh water. So, do you keep a firm hold of the tree, and with dexterous jerk you may land this fresh-water wolf, as he is called by some writers.
Venator. O, Master, he is biting my arm! O! I feel as though he were becoming heavier every minute! O!
Piscator. He is only assisting at his own capture, as the more of your 43 arm he contrives to lay hold of with his teeth, the firmer grasp will you have of him when the moment for drawing him forth from his native element arrives, and the surer will be his taking. Nay, Scholar, you cannot be in pain, for the beetle, as I have told you, suffers not in the least, either when he conceitedly writhes on the hook, or when he is taken by the fish.
Venator. But O, Master, if he remain as he now is, will not this Pike that hath hold of me die? O!
Piscator. I will tell you, Scholar, that unless the hook be fast in his very gorge, ’tis more than probable he will live: and a little time, with the help of the water, will rust the hook, and so it will gently wear away. And now, while he hath hold of you 44 thus, I will sit down at ease, and tell you something more about the Pike. The learned Gosling observes, that a maid in Tartary was swallowed whole by a Pike, and was never heard of again. The poet Trombonius hath sung of him—
Translated from the Latin.
O’er dale and dyke,
O’er splint and spike,
To catch the Pike!
The Pike, the Pike,
The fish I like,
Is worth a dozen cheven,
In sooth I mean,
He’s worth thirteen,
But that would be uneven.
If upon a bank he lies
Sixty minutes, then he dies.
Mourn the Birds, and weeps the shrike,45
All the Fishes go on strike
At the death of Old King Pike.
Also my friend, Mr. Wagstaff, affirms that the gaiters of two Polonian gentlemen, who disappeared about the same time and place, were found near a pond on a high road, where formerly there used to be a well-known pike, which had been known to stop horses, cattle, carts, and everything that came in its way. The venerable Bishop Stortford relates how he used to catch these voracious monsters, after dark, by fastening himself to bladders and floating down the stream with a reading-lamp fixed to his girdle, and a spelling-book* in 46 his hand. Sometimes he carried bottles of hay, and the flags of the various countries, through which he floated. There are no pikes in Spain, and the roads are in a very bad state.
* The venerable ecclesiastic here mentioned would have taken a Spelling-Bee in hand had he lived when this peculiar kind of Bee was in vogue.
Venator. Would I were in Spain! Master! O!
The reward of self-sacrifice.
Piscator. So! Take him in his 47 leap!—You have him. I tell you, Scholar, fishing and catching are two separate arts.
The Pike is captured.
Venator. O me! I am content. Shall we eat him, Master?
They spy milkmaids.
Rod again applied.
Piscator. Nay, that we will not. Honest brother Peter and his companion will bring a fine salmon trout with them, so we shall 48 not want for fish. But see! there in the meadow are two simple milkmaids tending the sheep. We will speak them so fairly, that they shall be glad to give us a leg of young lamb in exchange for our Pike. So do you carry the fish, cans, nets, and tackle, while I hold the rod, and will presently address these maidens.
Venator. O, Master, the more buxom of the pair would be a fit helpmate for an angler!
Piscator. Why so?
Venator. She is so Chubby. O, Master! I will never again make so sorry a jest! O! O! O!
The Same Afternoon.
Venator. Piscator. Milk-woman. Maud. Hostess.
They discourse pleasantly.
Venator. O, Master, tell 50 me, as we walk along the meadows, is it true that, while one is fishing, the angler should never speak, and scarcely even breathe?
Piscator. Marry, Scholar, he should indeed be silent, and breathe lightly. For, you must know, that a proficient can catch as good a fish as swims, with a fine line from one of the poets, if he be but careful to let it fall with ’bated breath.
Venator. What books should a fisherman read?
Piscator. I would recommend for your study Bleak House, Dr. Newman’s Lectures on Angle-can Difficulties, The History of the Rod, Hook’s Remains, Hook’s Archbishops of Fishing-Can-terbury, The Gentle Life, 51 Line upon Line, and many others of a like nature.
Venator. Truly, my loving Master, I could listen to your learned discourse for ever. But resolve me this, which I have heard proposed as a difficulty to fishermen. When does a Trout exhibit fatigue?
Piscator. Well, Scholar, I should reply, when he sleeps.
The rod answers.
Venator. Nay, Master, were you to make such an answer you would err, for the right solution of my question is to this effect, that a Trout shows his fatigue when he stops to take a fly. * * O, Master, O! it hurts!
Piscator. Such is my intention, and this use of the rod is to impress, on your memory, the remark of the 52 venerable Alderman Güttler, that “he who would play a fish must not play the fool.”
They approach the maidens.
Venator. I thank you, Master. These words are worthy to keep a room in every brain where, as the Lawyers say, the memory of man runneth not to the contrary. But I think it is now milking time, and yonder they be at it.
Piscator. On my word, a handsome milk-maid that hath not yet attained so much age and wisdom as to know the distinction between a pike and the leg of a harmless lamb.
Venator. Ah, my kind Master, how beneficent is Nature who has made the lamb ’armless and not legless. * * * O, Master, O! * * I will never offend again.53
Piscator. Exchange is no theft: so, as we have no use for this pike, we will persuade her to give flesh for the fish. She is indeed a blooming rose.
Venator. This rose is near an elder, Master; for, look, she is in company of an old maid.
From the folio of 1562.
A fair encounter.
Piscator. An old milk-maid, but, as I think, her grandmother. Yet, for all her age, I warrant her as open to fair speaking, as is her comely daughter, or grand-daughter. And for a little confirmation of what I have said, I shall repeat the lines of De Barnacles: 54 Good morrow to you, Ladies. I have been a fishing, and am going to my supper at the “Fisher’s Folly.” We have caught more fish than we need, and I will bestow this pike on you and your sister, for I use to sell none, if you will do me a courtesy.
Not to be caught by the Anglers.
Meet and drink.
Milk-woman. Marry! we, that is me and my grand-daughter, Sir, and no sister, will eat it cheerfully. We both love anglers; they be such honest, civil, quiet men. And in the meantime, as we be a bit thirsty-like, what will your Honour give us to drink?
Piscator. What you will, if your grand-daughter will sing us a song.
Milk-woman. Come, Maudlin, 56 sing to the gentlemen with a merry heart.
Maud. Nay, Grandmother, never call me “Maudlin” before these gentlemen.
Milk-woman. Marry! young Coridon, the Shepherd, calls you so.
Maud. Nay. Your “Maudlin” has nothing to do with a Corri,* or a Don. You shall not call me “Maudlin”.
* Corri, a well-known singer of the period. Don. This is somewhat obscure. Several attempts have been made to elucidate the text, but none are of sufficient value to place before the reader. The most probable suggestion is, that a break occurred here occasioned by some amorous action on the part of one of the two strangers, which the maiden roughly repelled with the pettish exclamation “A-done!” We give the proposed emendation for what it is worth—or less.—[Ed.]57
Milk-woman. Well, if you will not be so called by Coridon, you harkened to your Colin’s voice, when he played on his pipe, and called you “Maudlin”.
Maud. You are wrong, Grandmother. Colin’s called me Magdalen, not Maudlin, and brought me out at the Olympic.* But for his playing on his pipe!—I never yet saw him with a pipe.
* This is, it may be fairly conjectured, an allusion to an old stage-play called the New Magdalen, by one Wilkie Collins. These antiquarian researches render the editing of this work highly interesting.—[Ed.]
Sing, Maiden! Sing.
Piscator. Save when he was puffing his Cavendish.* But sing! my honest, innocent, pretty Maudlin, sing!
* Reference, probably, to Miss Ada Cavendish, who was the heroine of the above-mentioned piece.—[Ed.]
Venator. Well sung, sweet Maudlin.
Fee for Singing.
Piscator hooks it.
Maud. Nay, Sir, you must pay me for my entertainment. And see, Grandmother, while you were sleeping, and I was singing, the other honest civil angler has run off with a lamb.
Venator. I will run after him.
Maud. Nay, that you shall not, 60 while I and my Grandmother are here, I give you warning.
Venator. I intend to call upon you again.
“Fork’s the word.”
Maud. Marry, that you shall, with all my heart; and though you pay me a five-pound note now, I will still be your debtor with a hay-fork when you come this way.
He comes up with Master.
Venator. Good night, good night, Maudlin. . . . O, Master! let’s lose no time—let’s move towards our lodging. Oh, I am sore all over.
At the hostelrie.
Piscator. That’s my good Scholar. You will be a sure angler for a fish before long, for you are always catching it. But yonder comes mine Hostess to bid us to supper. How now, Hostess; has my brother Peter come?61
Hostess. Yes, and a friend with him. They long to see you and to be at supper, for I would give them nothing till you came, and they be very hungry.
Piscator. Peter. Venator. Coridon. Hostess.
Piscator. Well met, brother Peter. I heard you and a friend would lodge here to-night, and that hath made me bring my friend to lodge here too. My friend hath been an angler but this day, and hath caught a Chub nineteen feet eleven inches and a half long.
Peter. Nay, honest Piscator, why not give him the other half inch? 63 Make him twenty feet, and there an end.
Value of truth.
The Scholar drinking.
Piscator. Trust me, brother Peter, I would not depart from the truth for so small a matter as one half-inch. But come, Hostess, give us some of your best, for we have met to be pleasant, and my honest Scholar will pay you in good coin.
Venator. But, my loving Master——
Peter. Nay, we will all bear our share.
Coridon. And the one that hath the best song shall pay the reckoning.
The Scholar a little “on.”
So Corid—on also.
Venator. A match! a match! for I know but one verse of a song, and that I cannot sing. This is the best liquor that ever I tasted.64
Coridon. This is a choice dinner, and rare wine.
Piscator. Trust me, brother Peter, I find my Scholar so suitable to my own humour, which is to be free and pleasant, and civilly merry.
Venator. Ay, my Mas’r—to be silivy merry. This is most excellent liquor.
Piscator. Now we have supped let’s turn to the fire. Hostess, the cups and the pipes. So. Come on, my masters. Who begins? Let’s avoid contention.
Coridon a trifle obscure.
Coridon. I will. I’ll shing a shong. Hate contem——Hate contenshum.
Ho! the Sweets
And the Treats
Of a Fisher’s life.
Hey, trollie, lollie,
Let us all be jolly,
All around the Holly,
Trollie, lollie, lo!
Trollie, lollie, lollie,
Let us all be jolly,
All round the holly,
Trollie, lollie, lo!
Ducks and Spinach,
In their dishes,
Then the Lamb on67
Bring a ’tater!
Ho! the Sweets and the Treats,
Swells and Ladies, take your seats.
Let’s be jolly,
All round the holly,
Trollie, lollie, lo!
And chor’s p’ease—
We won’t go home till Morning,
Till Daylight doth appear.
All. Hip, hip, hip, Hooray!
Piscator. Brother Peter, your friend Coridon hath well sung, and I commend so great modesty in one so young, in that he hath not waited to receive our compliments, but hath withdrawn himself underneath the table.68
Venator. I’ll shing shong.
A cloudy Wind
And a southerly Sky,
Summon our Hunting forces,
In a break of Day
In which we drive four Horses.
Tallyho! whoop! whoop! tallyho!
Gone away! Tallyho! full cry!
And Huntsman and Whips with silver tips,
Sing, this day a Fox must die!
Tallyho! O! O!
Yoicks! to “Ringleader!” yoicks away!
I know Old Tom, and he knows me,
And I know him wherever he be.
In the early Morn,
By the sound of his Horn,
By the sound of his Horn, the Wind blowing nor’ard.
Hey! Tallyho! yoicks! and Hi! For’ard!
I don’t know more. Go bed.
The party breaks up.
Piscator. Brother Peter, we anglers are much beholden to these 70 two excellent singers. Come, Hostess, another bowl, and let’s drink to them. Then to bed; for I will have nothing hinder me in the morning. My purpose is to be away by sunrise.
Hostess. Then, my honest, merry Gentlemen, first pay your reckoning overnight.
Peter. ’Twas a match that the best singer should be at charges for the company. But your Scholar is as good a singer as my friend; therefore, divide the score between them. For safety I have Coridon’s purse here, and will discharge his share.
Piscator. And here is my Scholar’s portion. Hostess, let them both be carried to bed. Good-night to everybody.71
Peter. And so say I.
Voices of the night.
Hostess. And so say I.
Coridon and Venator. An’-sho-sh’-all-of-ush.*
* The party retire all more or less the worse for liquor. Of what beverage they had principally partaken, is not absolutely clear.—[Ed.]72
The Next Day.
Piscator. Venator. Hostess.
Piscator. Good-morrow, good Hostess. My brother Peter and his friend are still in bed. Give me my breakfast, and my Scholar a bottle of soda water and a lemon.
Venator. O me! O Master! O my head!
Piscator. An excellent breakfast. Good Hostess, prithee go upstairs, and knock at brother Peter’s door, and give him this note, and bring me the answer down-stairs. So she is gone. Now, Scholar, we will not wait her return, but be going.73
Venator. But, my Master, you have not paid for your breakfast.
Piscator. It is brother Peter’s birthday, and the reckoning will be a little surprise for him when he comes down. The learned Doctor M. Bezzler has translated Martial’s 74 epigram, “Piscator, fuge!” thus: “O Angler! hook it!” So now we are well on our way——
Venator. Alas! I am not well on our way! . . . O, Master! O! O! I will not offend again.
Piscator. You are better now, my loving Scholar?
Venator. I am, my kind Master. And now, as we go towards the river, will you tell me how to make such a bait as shall catch a dace, or a roach?
Piscator. Take a handful of sour milk like as frumissy is boiled.
Venator. Good Master, what is frumissy?
Piscator. Frumissy, Scholar, the learned Bötteler explains, is ingeniously derived from the Latin Fruor, I enjoy, and misi, I have sent; and it is to be 75 understood that the scent is to be enjoyed.
Venator. I thank you, good Master. This truly is what I have heard called in the same learned language a funnimentum. . . . O, Master, O!
Piscator. Trust me, I will not fail you on such occasion, for where the rod hath been spared, child and fish have been alike spoiled. Boil this sour milk till it be hard; then fry it leisurely with gentles, sawdust, bluebottles of not more than three years of age, a handful of nettles, which, as you must learn for yourself, shall not have been before deprived of their sting, and half a pound of Cayenne pepper. Make this into a paste, paint it with three coatings of 76 blue colour, and you will find it a tempting bait for a cock-roach, which the pious Dutchman, Van Dunderbootzen, affirms to be the choicest fish that swims.
Venator. I thank you, my Master, and shall be yet more beholden to you if you will tell me what more you remember that is necessary to the taking of the cock-roach.
Piscator. Well, Scholar, I will stop here unless you satisfy my charges up to this time, whereof I will now give you the score.
Venator. Nay, Master, I have but three sovereigns left; but if you will not again use the rod—
Piscator. That is what no true angler can promise. So. They are good ones. I will now tell you what 77 remains to be done when you have provided yourself with such a bait as I have already taught you to make.
Venator. Proceed, good Master, to your promised direction. I will not fail with my bait; and see, here are the nettles at hand!
Phacetius, Vol. ii.
Piscator. Pluck them gently, but fearlessly, for they belong to no owner, and are bounty of Providence. The erudite Phacetius has said that they do not sting this month.
Venator. Do they not? Why then . . . O, Master, O!
Piscator. You have indeed a noble handful. And note, with gratitude, that your suffering is the cause of my happiness. For every misery that I miss, is a new mercy, and, therefore, as you should rejoice 78 with your friend, let us both be thankful. So. Put them in your pocket, and listen to what I have to say as to your line of conduct in fishing, and the use of hair, for my instructions draw to a close.
Venator. And, O Master, my money is well nigh gone.
Piscator. True happiness is not in riches. But for this line I was speaking of. You must dye your hair with a pint of strong ale, a pound of soot, a little quantity of the juice of walnut-tree leaves, boiled in a pipkin. Lay it on smoothly with your brush, and drive it in thin. It will turn your hair to a kind of greenish yellow. Once doing will serve if you lay it on well, for doubtless such coloured hair is most choice, 79 and the most useful for an angler; but let it not be too green. Now we are at the river, go to that hollow tree and throw your line.
Up a tree.
Venator. It is a beautiful seat in the hollow tree, and I have so craftily disposed my legs in a cleft of the trunk that I cannot be pulled out by the strongest pike. O, Master! . . . here is a wasp! . . . O!
Piscator. Wasps build their nests in hollow trees on the banks of a stream.* I will go on quickly to the next meadow.
* This is a valuable testimony to unchanged habits of the wasp. The information contained in these pages will be found most useful to the naturalist.—[Ed.]
A come down.
Venator. O, Master! . . . it is a swarm! . . . O! I cannot get out 80 of the tree! O! . . . O! . . . O! . . . I am free! . . . they are pursuing me! . . . O! O! Master! where are you?
Piscator. Venator. Maudlin. Shepherd. Grandmother.
Piscator. And now, my loving Scholar, as your purse hath come to an end, so must also my discourse. But before we part, I will remind you of the four ways of fishing which the learned Jakkas hath pronounced to be all most excellent; namely, to catch your fish by dabbling, dibbling, dopping, or daping. For the first two, the rule of silence must be strictly observed, for the same erudite writer hath said,—
When you Dabble
Do not Gabble.
When you Dape
So that to dabble should be an evening’s occupation, while the latter should be undertaken in the morning. As to the great virtue of dibbling, his contemporary, Muleius, has left us this sage advice,—
Fish will Nibble
When you Dibble,
If you angle in the Ribble.
After dining on a Chop
’Tis the time to go and Dop,
Dabble, Dibble, Dop, and Dape,
As you please.
Never will a Fish escape.
“Aches and pains.”
Venator. O, Master, I could listen to your discourse for hours, were I not still suffering from the stings of 84 the wasps, the biting of the jack, my fall into the river, the evening’s potations, which have induced me to be somewhat feverish, and the hurt that I received from that red cow in Maudlin’s field, whither I strayed to tell her of my affection for her and her mother.
“The Angler’s Dream.”
Piscator. Nay, Scholar, you will soon be quit of these disorders, and regard the time, so pleasantly spent in my company, with a grateful and a thankful heart. And, to this end, I will repeat you a copy of verses which Dr. Doobraivorus, a worthy Bishop in Belgravia, hath composed on the happiness and contentment of an Angler’s life. He has styled it, as also shall I, seeing no reason for differing from so good a man,—
Venator. My Master, your song was sung with mettle. And, my Master, the metal of which I have observed those to be most possessed who have the least voice is brass. O, Master, O! I vow I will not offend again. O, my loving Master, I am so stiff and sore I can scarcely move.
Piscator. Farewell, Scholar. We shall meet again when you have come into that fortune which your grandfather will leave you when he himself shall have no further use for it. But do not hanker after money, whether it be a shilling, a sovereign, or a crown.
Venator. I will not, my kind Master; and, though I should keep an hostelrie, yet will I have the sign painted as the “Hanker and the 89 Crown,” so that, even there, there shall not be a “Hanker” after a crown. . . . O, Master! O! O! Do not give me any more. I am content.
Piscator. And so am I. For the great philosopher, Harry Stottle, has said,—
When more than enough you’ve got,
Contented be with your lot.
And I am of his mind.
Venator. Well, Master, I thank you for all your good directions, for I may truly say that I have only begun to have a knowledge of life, since I enjoyed your company and conversation. And, indeed, I think I shall now be able to become Master to some Scholar less wise than myself, 90 on whom I can practise such arts as you yourself have taught me.
His last appearance.
A fresh hook.
Piscator. Once more farewell, Scholar. Be virtuous, and angle. Note this, that there be as fine fish in the rivers as have ever yet been drawn therefrom. But now we are near Shepherd’s Bush, and I see a Shepherd coming, in company with pretty Maudlin and her Grandmother, to whom I will leave you to make my excuses, and explain that the lambkin was honestly come by. Ay, you cannot move so easily as I, farewell.*
* Here it is evidently implied that, to use the quaint old Saxon phrase, “The Angler hooketh it,” and so, like Marlbrook, “il ne reviendra pas.”
Maudlin. Here, at last, I have one of these honest, merry, civil 91 anglers, who runs not so nimbly as his friend.
Maudlin’s Grandmother. My honest Maudlin hath a notable memory, and she thinks nothing can be too bad for him, since they be such rascally men.
Venator. Pretty Maudlin, I will promise you before this honest Shepherd of the bush——
Shepherd. Nay, that am I not, but an ingenious Constable in plain clothes. Come away with me.
Venator. O, Sir, I am right glad to meet you.
Shepherd. Let us compliment no longer, but be gone and make haste.
Venator. I pray, honest Constable, let me ask you a pleasant question. What will you take? Let’s to a 92 cheerful alehouse, and all of us rejoice together. Come, Maudlin! Come, Grandmother! I’ll bear your charges to-night.
Maudlin. Marry, Sir, and bear ours to-morrow before his Worship.
Venator. Nay then, my pretty Maudlin, I will beg a courtesy of you, and it must not be denied me.
Maudlin. What is it, I pray. Sir?
Venator. Give me your hand. So. I am myself caught at last in the marriage-lines. You can begone, honest Constable, for a wife is not evidence against her husband on a criminal charge; or, if you will, take Maudlin’s Grandmother, and we will all go to a cheerful alehouse and rejoice together.
Venator. ’Tis a match.
Maudlin’s Grandmother. It is. Come one, come all.
BRADBURY, AGNEW, & CO., PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS.ads 1
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Walton-on-the-Naze and Walton-on-the-Thames . . . Preface
hyphen in “the-Thames” missing or invisible
Piscator. You are well overtaken, Gentlemen!
[Just to show that this is no shallow parody, the original Compleat Angler opens:
PISCATOR. You are well overtaken, gentlemen, a good morning to you both; I have stretched my legs up Tottenham Hill to overtake you, hoping your business may occasion you towards Ware, whither I am going this fine, fresh May morning.]
Venator. O Master! O! O! O!
[By my count, Venator utters “O!” a total of ninety-two times in the course of the book.]
should be alway ready
As sung at a Cafe o’ Lay (or Caf Chantant.)
[Spacing suggests that there may be an invisible e: Cafe Chantant.]
[Sidenote] Happy thought.
[If he does say so himself. In case you missed it the first time, Happy Thoughts is right next door.]
Three songs are shown as illustrations in the main text. Yes, there are two separate Milkmaid’s Songs.
The Milk-maid ne’er is in the Dumps
While there is Water in the Pumps,
While she the Briny breezes sniffs
Seeing the Chalk of England’s cliffs.
The Milk-maids go,
Singing their roundelay,
The Milk-maid has a smiling Face,
She walks the Town with matchless grace,
She carries Cans, and those who pass,
If Scotchmen, cry “The canny Lass!”
The Milk-maids go,
Singing their roundelay,
Of her pet Cow she sings in Praise
A song, “The light of Udder days.”
The Milking-maids know, far and wide,
The tune whereof the old Cow died.
The Milk-maids go,
Singing their roundelay,
She loves the Sky and all that’s Blue,
And to her Colin she’ll be true.
O, if you’d lead a Happy life,
Go take a Milk-maid for your Wife.
The Milk-maids go,
Singing their roundelay,
Listen to the angler’s dream!—
He dreams that he is by a stream,
Talking to a lovely Bream;
By his side reclines a Carp,
Playing tunes upon a harp;
While a Dace
Dressed in lace
Sings the very deepest bass.
Through the trees he sees a perch
Kneeling in the village church,
Where the reverend mister Barbel,
In a pulpit made of marble,
Shows he can quotations garble.
Now, across the mead, the minnow,
Smiling sweetly, fresh and inno-
-Cent a maiden as you’d see
In the waters of the sea,
While the sly old trout and grayling
Watch her, looking through the paling.
Then the minnow meets a skeggar,
A repulsive-looking beggar,
And he says, “My little lass,
Pay me, or you cannot pass.”
“Let me go!” she cries, in dudgeon
When appears Policeman Gudgeon,
Felling Skeggar with a Bludgeon.
Now brave Gudgeon calls a coach
Driven by four strong-backed loach,
Takes the skeggar
Up before Chief Justice Roach.
Grubs and gentles
Leave their lentils,
Quit their villas,
And the Grubs
Come out of tubs,
All to see the cheat and legger
Who had only lived to poach,
Sentenced as a guilty skeggar
By the Lord Chief Justice Roach.
Sticklebacks are on the jury,
Counsel Pike is in a fury;
For the judge, who wants to dine,
Cries, “Bring hither rod and line!
And that angler by the stream,
Who is flirting with a bream.
With the skeggar, by our laws,
He must suffer! through his jaws
Pass the hook! suspend him now
With the skeggar. Teach him how——
Teach him as he should be taught——
Teach the Buffer
How we suffer
By what he considers sport.”
Pass the hook! A shooting pain—
And—he is awake again.
He has slept upon a bank
Where are weeds and mosses dank
And his face is very swollen:
Rod and can and bait all stolen.
“Oh!” he cries. “What joys are these!
I’ve rheumatics in my knees!
I’ve neuralgia in my cheeks,
And—he is laid up for weeks.
Come live with me and be my Spouse,
We’ll keep a Cottage, Pigs, and Cows;
And I will dress in Lace and Silk,
While you shall Pig, and Dig, and Milk.
There you will Work and Hoe all day,
While I Enjoy myself, Away.
If this you’ll do, we’ll have no Rows,
Come live with me and be my Spouse!
[Price One Shilling.
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Author of “Happy Thoughts,”
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The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.