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Chapter 21. DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING OF A LINE, AND FOR THE COLORING OF BOTH ROD AND LINE
PISCATOR. Well, Scholar, I have held you too long about these cadis, and smaller fish, and rivers, and fish-ponds; and my spirits are almost spent, and so I doubt is your patience; but being we are now almost at Tottenham, where I first met you, and where we are to part, I will lose no time, but give you a little direction how to make and order your lines, and to color the hair of which you make your lines, for that is very needful to be known of an Angler; and also how to paint your rod, especially your top; for a right-grown top is a choice commodity, and should be preserved from the water soaking into it, which makes it in wet weather to be heavy, and fish ill-favoredly, and not true; and also it rots quickly for want of painting: and I think a good top is worth preserving, or I had not taken care to keep a top above twenty years.
But first for your line. First, note, that you are to take care that your hair be round and clear, and free from galls, or scabs, or frets; for a well-chosen, even, clear, round hair, of a kind of glass-color, will prove as strong as three uneven, scabby hairs, that are ill-chosen, and full of galls or unevenness. You shall seldom find a black hair but it is round, but many white are flat and uneven; therefore if you get a lock of right, round, clear, glass-color hair, make much of it.
And for making your line, observe this rile: first let your hair be clean washed ere you go about to twist it; and then choose not only the clearest hair for it, but hairs that be of an equal bigness, for such do usually stretch all together, and break all together, which hairs of an unequal bigness never do, but break singly, and so deceive the Angler that trusts to them.
When you have twisted your links, lay them in water for a quarter of an hour at least, and then twist them over again before you tie them into a line; for those that do not so, shall usually find their line to have a hair or two shrink, and be shorter than the rest at the first fishing with it; which is so much of the strength of the line lost for want of first watering it and then re-twisting it; and this is most visible in a seven-hair line, one of those which hath always a black hair in the middle.
And for dyeing of your hairs, do it thus. Take a pint of strong ale, half a pound of soot, and a little quantity of the juice of walnut-tree leaves, and an equal quantity of alum; put these together into a pot, pan, or pipkin, and boil them half an hour; and having so done, let it cool; and being cold, put your hair into it, and there let it lie: it will turn your hair to be a kind of water or glass-color, or greenish; and the longer you let it lie, the deeper colored it will be. You might be taught to make many other colors, but it is to little purpose; for doubtless the water-color or glass-colored hair is the most choice and most useful for an Angler; but let it not be too green.
But if you desire to color hair greener, then do it thus. Take a quart of small ale, half a pound of alum; then put these into a pan or pipkin, and your hair into it with them; then put it upon a fire, and let it boil softly for half an hour; and then take out your hair, and let it dry; and, having so done, then take a pottle of water, and put into it two handfuls of marigolds, and cover it with a tile, or what you think fit, and set it again on the fire, where it is to boil again softly for half an hour, about which time the scum will turn yellow; then put into it half a pound of copperas, beaten small, and with it the hair that you intend to color; then let the hair be boiled softly till half the liquor be wasted; and then let it cool three or four hours, with your hair in it: and you are to observe, that the more copperas you put into it, the greener it will be; but doubt less the pale green is best. But if you desire yellow hair, which is only good when the weeds rot, then put in the more marigolds; and abate most of the copperas, or leave it quite out, and take a little verdigris instead of it. This for coloring your hair.
And as for painting your rod, which must be in oil, You must first make a size with glue and water boiled together until the glue be dissolved, and the size of a lye-color; then strike your size upon the wood with a bristle, or a brush, or pencil, whilst it is hot. That being quite dry, take white lead, and a little red lead, and a little coal-black, so much as all together will make an ash-color; grind these all together with linseed oil; let it be thick, and lay it thin upon the wood with a brush or pencil: this do for the ground of any color to lie upon wood.
For a green: Take pink and verdigris, and grind them together in linseed-oil, as thin as you can well grind it; then lay it smoothly on with your brush, and drive it thin: once doing, for the most part, will serve, if you lay it well; and if twice, be sure your first color be thoroughly dry before you lay on a second.
Well, Scholar, having now taught you to paint your rod, and we having still a mile to Tottenham High-Cross, I will, as we walk towards it, in the cool shade of this sweet honeysuckle hedge, mention to you some of the thoughts and joys that have possessed my soul since we two met together. And these thoughts shall be told you, that you also may join with me in thankfulness, to "the Giver of every good and perfect gift," for our happiness. And, that our present happiness may appear to be the greater, and we the more thankful for it, I will beg you to consider with me, how many do, even at this very time, lie under the torment of the stone, the gout, and toothache; and this we are free from. And every misery that I miss is a new mercy; and therefore let us be thankful. There have been, since we met, others that have met disasters of broken limbs; some have been blasted, others thunder-strucken; and we have been freed from these, and all those many other miseries that threaten human nature: let us therefore rejoice and be thankful. Nay, which is a far greater mercy, we are free from the unsupportable burden of an accusing, tormenting conscience, — a misery that none can bear: and therefore let us praise Him for His preventing grace, and say, Every misery that I miss is a new mercy. Nay, let me tell you, there be many that have forty times our estates, that would give the greatest part of it to be healthful and cheerful like us; who, with the expense of a little money have eat and drank, and laughed, and angled, and sung, and slept securely; and rose next day, and cast away care, and sung, and laughed, and angled again; which are blessings rich men cannot purchase with all their money. Let me tell you Scholar, I have a rich neighbor, that is always so busy that he has no leisure to laugh: the whole business of his life is to get money, and more money, that he may still get more and more money; he is still drudging on, and says, that Solomon says, "The diligent hand maketh rich"; and it is true in deed: but he considers not that 'tis not in the power of riches to make a man happy; for it was wisely said, by a man of great observation, "That there be as many miseries beyond riches, as on this side them." And yet God deliver us from pinching poverty; and grant that, having a competency, we may be content and thankful. Let not us repine, or so much as think the gifts of God unequally dealt, if we see another abound with riches; when, as God knows, the cares that are the keys that keep those riches, hang often so heavily at the rich man's girdle, that they clog him with weary days, and restless nights, even when others sleep quietly. We see but the outside of the rich man's happiness: few consider him to be like the silkworm, that, when she seems to play, is, at the very same time, spinning her own bowels, and consuming herself. And this many rich men do; loading themselves with corroding cares, to keep what they have, probably, unconscionably got. Let us, therefore, be thankful for health and a competence, and above all, for a quiet conscience.
Let me tell you, Scholar, that Diogenes walked on a day, with his friend, to see a country-fair; where he saw ribbons, and looking-glasses, and nut-crackers, and fiddles, and hobby-horses, and many other gimcracks; and having observed them, and all the other finnimbruns that make a complete country-fair, he said to his friend, "Lord! How many things are there in this world, of which Diogenes hath no need!" And truly it is so, or might be so, with very many who vex and toil themselves to get what they have no need of. Can any man charge God, that he hath not given him enough to make his life happy? No, doubtless; for nature is content with a little. And yet you shall hardly meet with a man that complains not of some want; though he, indeed, wants nothing but his will, it may be, nothing but his will of his poor neighbor, for not worshipping, or not flattering him: and thus, when we might be happy and quiet, we create trouble to ourselves. I have heard of a man that was angry with himself because he was no taller; and of a woman that broke her looking-glass because it would not show her face to be as young and handsome as her next neighbor's was. And I knew another, to whom God had given health, and plenty; but a wife, that nature had made peevish, and her husband's riches had made purse-proud, and must, because she was rich, and for no other virtue, sit in the highest pew in the church; which being denied her, she engaged her husband into a contention for it; and, at last, into a lawsuit with a dogged neighbor, who was as rich as he, and had a wife as peevish and purse-proud as the other: and this lawsuit begot higher oppositions, and actionable words, and more vexations and lawsuits; for you must remember, that both were rich, and must therefore have their wills. Well, this wilful, purse-proud lawsuit lasted during the life of the first husband; after which his wife vexed and chid, and chid and vexed, till she also chid and vexed herself into her grave: and so the wealth of these poor rich people was curst into a punishment: because they wanted meek and thankful hearts; for those only can make us happy. I knew a man that had health and riches, and several houses, all beautiful and ready furnished, and would often trouble himself and family to be removing from one house to another; and being asked by a friend, why he removed so often from one house to another, replied, "It was to find content in some one of them." But his friend, knowing his temper, told him, "If he would find content in any of his houses, he must leave himself behind him; for con tent will never dwell but in a meek and quiet soul." And this may appear, if we read and consider what our Saviour says in St. Matthew's Gospel: for he there says, "Blessed be the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed be the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed be the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And, Blessed be the meek, for they shall possess the earth." Not that the meek shall not also obtain mercy, and see God, and be comforted, and at last come to the kingdom of heaven; but in the mean time he, and he only, possesses the earth as he goes toward that kingdom of heaven, by being humble and cheerful, and content with what his good God has allotted him. He has no turbulent, repining, vexatious thoughts, that he deserves better; nor is vexed when he sees others possessed of more honor, or more riches than his wise God has allotted for his share; but he possesses what he has with a meek and contented quietness; such a quietness as makes his very dreams pleasing both to God and himself.
My honest Scholar, all this is told to incline you to thankfulness; and to incline you the more, let me tell you, that though the prophet David was guilty of murder and adultery, and many other of the most deadly sins, yet he was said to be a man after God's own heart, because he abounded more with thankfulness than any other that is mentioned in Holy Scripture, as may appear in his book of Psalms; where there is such a commixture of his confessing of his sins and unworthiness, and such thankfulness for God's pardon and mercies, as did make him to be accounted, even by God himself, to be a man after his own heart: and let us in that, labor to be as like him as we can; let not the blessings we receive daily from God make us not to value, or not praise Him, because they be common: let not us forget to praise Him for the innocent mirth and pleasure we have met with since we met together. What would a blind man give to see the pleasant rivers, and meadows, and flowers, and fountains, that we have met with since we met together? I have been told, that if a man that was born blind could obtain to have his sight for but only one hour during his whole life, and should, at the first opening of his eyes, fix his sight upon the sun when it was in his full glory, either at the rising or setting of it, he would be so transported and amazed, and so admire the glory of it, that he would not willingly turn his eyes from that first ravishing object, to behold all the other various beauties this world could present to him. And this, and many other like blessings, we enjoy daily. And for most of them, because they be so common, most men forget to pay their praises; but let not us; because it is a sacrifice so pleasing to Him that made that sun, and us, and still protects us, and gives us flowers, and showers, and stomachs, and meat, and content, and leisure to go a-fishing.
Well, Scholar, I have almost tired myself, and, I fear, more than almost tired you. But I now see Tottenham High-Cross; and our short walk thither shall put a period to my too long discourse; in which my meaning was, and is, to plant that in your mind, with which I labor to possess my own soul, that is, a meek and thankful heart. And to that end I have showed you, that riches without them do not make any man happy. But let me tell you, that riches with them remove many fears and cares; and therefore my advice is, that you endeavor to be honestly rich, or contentedly poor; but be sure that your riches be justly got, or you spoil all. For it is well said by Caussin, "He that loses his conscience has nothing left that is worth keeping." Therefore be sure you look to that. And, in the next place, look to your health: and if you have it, praise God, and value it next to a good conscience; for health is the second blessing that we mortals are capable of; a blessing that money cannot buy. and therefore value it, and be thankful for it. As for money, which may be said to be the third blessing, neglect it not: but note, that there is no necessity of being rich; for, I told you, there be as many miseries beyond riches as on this side them: and, if you have a competence, enjoy it with a meek, cheerful, thankful heart. I will tell you, Scholar, I have heard a grave divine say, that God has two dwellings; one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart: which Almighty God grant to me, and to my honest Scholar! And so you are welcome to Tottenham High-Cross.
VEN. Well, Master, I thank you for all your good directions; but for none more than this last of thankfulness, which I hope I shall never forget. And pray now let's rest ourselves in this sweet shady arbor, which Nature herself has woven with her own fine fingers; 'tis such a contexture of woodbines, sweetbrier, jessamine, and myrtle, and so interwoven as will secure us both from the sun's violent heat, and from the approaching shower. And, being sat down, I will requite a part of your courtesies with a bottle of sack, milk, oranges, and sugar, which, all put together, make a drink like nectar; indeed, too good for anybody but us Anglers. And so, Master, here is a full glass to you of that liquor; and when you have pledged me, I will repeat the verses which I promised you. It is a copy printed amongst some of Sir Henry Wotton's, and doubtless made either by him or by a lover of Angling. Come, Master, now drink a glass to me, and then I will pledge you, and fall to my repetition; it is a description of such country recreations as I have enjoyed since I had the happiness to fall into your company.
Quivering fears, heart-tearing cares,
Anxious sighs, untimely tears,
Fly, fly to courts,
Fly to fond worldlings' sports,
Where strained sardonic smiles are glozing still,
And Grief is forced to laugh against her will:
Where mirth's but mummery,
And sorrows only real be.
Fly, from our country pastimes, fly,
Sad troops of human misery.
Come, serene looks,
Clear as the crystal brooks,
Or the pure azured heaven, that smiles to see
The rich attendance of our poverty:
Peace and a secure mind,
Which all men seek, we only find.
Abused mortals, did you know
Where joy, heart's-ease, and comforts grow,
You'd scorn proud towers,
And seek them in these bowers;
Where winds, sometimes, our woods perhaps may shake,
But blust'ring care could never tempest make;
Nor murmurs e'er come nigh us,
Saving of fountains that glide by us.
Here's no fantastic masque, nor dance,
But of our kids that frisk and prance;
Nor wars are seen,
Unless upon the green
Two harmless lambs are butting one the other,
Which done, both bleating run each to his mother:
And wounds are never found,
Save what the ploughshare gives the ground.
Here are no entrapping baits
To hasten too, too hasty fates,
Unless it be
The fond credulity
Of silly fish, which, worldling like, still look
Upon the bait, but never on the hook:
Nor envy, 'less among
The birds, for prize of their sweet song.
Go, let the diving negro seek
For gems hid in some forlorn creek:
We all pearls scorn,
Save what the dewy morn
Congeals upon each little spire of grass,
Which careless shepherds beat down as they pass:
And gold ne'er here appears,
Save what the yellow Ceres bears.
Blest silent groves! O may you be
Forever mirth's best nursery!
May pure contents
Forever pitch their tents
Upon these downs, these meads, these rocks, these mountains,
And peace still slumber by these purling fountains:
Which we may every year
Meet when we come a-fishing here.
PISC. Trust me, Scholar, I thank you heartily for these verses: they be choicely good, and doubtless made by a lover of Angling.
Come, now, drink a glass to me, and I will requite you with another very good copy: it is a Farewell to the Vanities of the World, and some say, written by Sir Harry Wotton, who I told you was an excellent Angler. But let them be writ by whom they will, he that writ them had a brave soul, and must needs be possessed with happy thoughts at the time of their composure.
Farewell, ye gilded follies, pleasing troubles!
Farewell, ye honored rags, ye glorious bubbles!
Fame's but a hollow echo; Gold, pure day;
Honor, the darling but of one short day;
Beauty, th' eye's idol, but a damasked skin;
State, but a golden prison, to live in
And torture free-born minds; embroidered trains,
Merely but pageants for proud swelling veins;
And blood allied to greatness is alone
Inherited, not purchased, nor our own.
Fame, Honor, Beauty, State, Train, Blood, and Birth
Are but the fading blossoms of the earth.
I would be great, — but that the sun doth still
Level his rays against the rising hill:
I would be high, — but see the proudest oak
Most subject to the rending thunder-stroke:
I would be rich, — but see men, too unkind,
Dig in the bowels of the richest mind:
I would be wise, — but that I often see
The fox suspected, whilst the ass goes free:
I would be fair, — but see the fair and proud,
Like the bright sun, oft setting in a cloud:
I would be poor, — but know the humble grass
Still trampled on by each unworthy ass:
Rich, hated; Wise, suspected; Scorned if poor;
Great, feared; Fair, tempted; High, still envied more:
I have wished all but now I wish for neither;
Great, High, Rich, Wise, nor Fair; Poor I'll be rather.
Would the World now adopt me for her heir,
Would Beauty's queen entitle me the fair, —
Fame speak me Fortune's minion; — could I vie
Angels with India; with a speaking eye
Command bare heads, bowed knees, strike justice dumb
As well as blind and lame; or give a tongue
To stones by epitaphs; be called great master
In the loose rhymes of every poetaster; —
Could I be more than any man that lives,
Great, fair, rich, wise, all in superlatives:
Yet I more freely would these gifts resign,
Than ever Fortune would have made them mine;
And hold one minute of this holy leisure
Beyond the riches of this empty pleasure.
Welcome, pure thoughts! Welcome, ye silent groves!
These guests, these courts, my soul most dearly loves.
Now the winged people of the sky shall sing
My cheerful anthems to the gladsome spring:
A prayer-book now shall be my looking-glass,
In which I will adore sweet Virtue's face.
Here dwell no hateful looks, no palace-cares,
No broken vows dwell here, nor pale-faced fears:
Then here I'll sit, and sigh my hot love's folly,
And learn t' affect an holy melancholy:
And if Contentment be a stranger, then
I'll ne'er look for it, but in heaven again.
VEN. Well, Master, these verses be worthy to keep a room in every man's memory. I thank you for them; and I thank you for your many instructions, which, God willing, I will not forget. And as St. Austin, in his Confessions, Book IV, Chap. 3, commemorates the kindness of his friend Verecundus, for lending him and his companion a country-house, because there they rested and enjoyed themselves free from the troubles of the world; so, having had the like advantage, both by your conversation and the Art you have taught me, I ought ever to do the like: for indeed, your company and discourse have been so useful and pleasant, that I may truly say, I have only lived since I enjoyed them and turned Angler, and not before. Nevertheless, here I must part with you, here in this now sad place, where I was so happy as first to meet you: but I shall long for the 9th of May, for then I hope again to enjoy your beloved company at the appointed time and place. And now I wish for some somniferous potion, that might force me to sleep away the intermitted time, which will pass away with me as tediously as it does with men in sorrow; nevertheless I will make it as short as I can, by my hopes and wishes. And my good Master, I will not forget the doctrine which you told me Socrates taught his scholars, that they should not think to be honored so much for being philosophers, as to honor philosophy by their virtuous lives. you advised me to the like concerning Angling, and I will endeavor to do so, and to live like those many worthy men, of which you made mention in the former part of your discourse. This is my firm resolution. And as a pious man advised his friend, that, to beget mortification, he should frequent churches, and view monuments, and charnel-houses, and then and there consider, how many dead bones Time had piled up at the gates of Death: so when I would beget content, and increase confidence in the power, and wisdom, and providence of Almighty God, I will walk the meadows by some gliding stream, and there contemplate the lilies that take no care, and those very many other various little living creatures, that are not only created, but fed, man knows not how, by the goodness of the God of nature, and therefore trust in him. This is my purpose; and so, "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord": and let the blessing of St. Peter's Master be with mine.
PISC. And upon all that are lovers of virtue, and dare trust in his providence, and be quiet, and go a-Angling.
STUDY TO BE QUIET. — I Thes. iv. II.