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Chapter 11. OBSERVATIONS OF THE TENCH, AND ADVICE HOW TO ANGLE FOR HIM
PISCATOR. The Tench, the physician of fishes, is observed to love ponds better than rivers, and to love pits better than either; yet Camden observes there is a river in Dorsetshire that abounds with Tenches, but doubtless they retire to the most deep and quiet places in it.
This fish hath very large fins, very small and smooth scales, a red circle about his eyes, which are big and of a gold color, and from either angle of his mouth there hangs down a little barb. In every Tench's head there are two little stones, which foreign physicians make great use of; but he is not commended for whole some meat, though there be very much use made of them, for outward applications. Rondeletius says, that at his being at Rome he saw a great cure done by applying a Tench to the feet of a very sick man. This, he says, was done after an unusual manner by certain Jews. And it is observed, that many of those people have many secrets, yet unknown to Christians; secrets that have never yet been written, but have been since the days of their Solomon, who knew the nature of all things, even from the cedar to the shrub, delivered by tradition from the father to the son, and so from generation to generation without writing; or, unless it were casually, without the least communicating them to any other nation or tribe: for to do that, they account a profanation. And yet it is thought that they, or some spirit worse than they, first told us, that lice swallowed alive were a certain cure for the yellow-jaundice. This and many other medicines were discovered by them, or by revelation, for doubtless we attained them not by study.
Well, this fish, besides his eating, is very useful, both dead and alive, for the good of mankind. But I will meddle no more with that; my honest humble art teaches no such boldness: there are too many foolish meddlers in physic and divinity, that think them selves fit to meddle with hidden secrets, and so bring destruction to their followers. But I'll not meddle with them, any farther than to wish them wiser; and shall tell you next, for I hope I may be so bold, that the Tench is the physician of fishes; for the Pike especially, and that the Pike, being either sick or hurt, is cured by the touch of the Tench. And it is observed, that the tyrant Pike will not be a wolf to his physician, but forbears to devour him though he be never so hungry.
This fish, that carries a natural balsam in him to cure both him self and others, loves yet to feed in very foul water, and amongst weeds. And yet I am sure he eats pleasantly, and doubtless you will think so too, if you taste him. And I shall therefore proceed to give you some few, and but a few, directions how to catch this Tench, of which I have given you these observations.
He will bite at a paste made of brown bread and honey, or at a marsh-worm, or a lob-Worm; he inclines very much to any paste with which tar is mixed, and he Will bite also at a smaller Worm, with his head nipped off, and a cod-Worm put on the hook before that worm; and I doubt not but that he Will also in the three hot months, for in the nine colder he stirs not much, bite at a flag-worm, or at a green gentle, but can positively say no more of the Tench, he being a fish that I have not often angled for, but I wish my honest Scholar may, and be ever fortunate When he fishes.