Internet Shakespeare Editions



Reproduced from Shakespeare's England.

[Fishing is] that pleasure which is most comely, most honest, and giveth the most liberty to Divine meditation, and that without all question is the Art of Angling, which having ever been most hurtlessly necessary, hath beene the sport or recreation of God's Saints, of most holy Fathers, and of many worthy and reverend Divines, both dead, and at this time breathing.

From Gervase Markham, Country Contentments (1615).

Markham also defines the complete angler* and describes how (and why) to make a fish pond.*


  1. Angling

    A skilful Angler ought to be a general scholar, and seen in all the Liberal Sciences, as a Grammarian, to know how either to write or discourse of his Art in true and fitting terms, either without affectation or rudeness. He should have sweetness of speech, to persuade and entice others to delight in an exercise so much laudable. He should have strength of arguments to defend and maintain his profession, against envy or slander.

    He should have knowledge in the sun, moon, and stars, that by their aspects he may guess the seasonableness, or unseasonableness of the weather, the breeding of storms, and from what coasts the windes are ever delivered.

    He would not be unskillful in Music, that whensoever either melancholy, heaviness of his thought, or the perturbations of his own fancies stirreth up sadness in him, he may remove the same with some godly hymn or anthem.

    From Gervase Markham, Country Contentments (1615).

  2. Fish ponds

    Great rivers do in general belong either to the King, or the particular Lords of several manors, and it is only the fish pond which belongeth to private persons.

    First, touching the making of them, you shall understand that the grounds most fit to be cast into fish ponds, are those which are either marsh, boggy, or full of springs, and indeed most unfit either for grazing, or any other use of better profit. And of these grounds, that which is full of clear springs will yield the best water: that which is marsh will feed fish best, and that which is boggy will best defend the fish from stealing.

    From Gervase Markham, Country Contentments (1615).