Certaine experiments concerning fish and fruite


Practised by JOHN TAVERNER Gentle-
man, and by him published for the
benefit of others.
Printed for William Ponsonby.

PUBLISHED FOR William Ponsonby


RIGHT Honorable my good Lord, it was my bap lately to light upon a Book dedicated unto your Lordship, by one M. George Churchey, intituled, A new booke of good husbandrie, and intreating of fishponds, and ordering of the same: which booke, as it should seeme, was first written in Latine by one Iames Dubravius, but translated into English by the industrie of the said Maister Churchey, wherin his good meaning and travell is greatly to be commended. I thereby gathering that your Lordship tooke some delight in that practise, & being before that time minded to put in writing certaine experiments, that my selfe had observed concerning those matters, did presently conclude[Page] with my selfe, humbly to crave that the same may passe under your L. protection: your vertues also deserving that I should make choise herein of your Lordship before others, as one unto whom the whole commonweale of this Realme in general is greatly bounden, for the great and painfull watchings, care and travell you take in administration of Justice in your place and calling: and therefore I in particular, find my selfe willing (if by any meanes I may) to move unto your Lordship any delight or liking, though never so litle. And if your Lordship have bene any practiser of these delights, I meane making of fishponds, or planting of fruite, I doubt not but you shal in this litle Treatise, find somewhat that you knew not before, and thereby your delight that way augmented, which, if it so happen to be, my expectation herein is most amplie satisfied: Beseeching the Almightie, to blesse, preserve and keepe you and all yours, with such felicitie, as your heart desireth.

This 22. of Jan. 1600. You Lordships in all humblenes,

To the Reader.

GOOD Reader, in seeking to shun that Monster Idlenes, and having a desire by all honest meanes possible, to benefit this my native countrie of England, and finding my abilitie otherwise insufficient to performe the same, I have thought good to set downe some experiments that my selfe have had concerning fish and fruite: of which two things, especially of fruite, although many authors have more learnedly written, yet many of them being strangers, inhabiting in Climates far differing from ours here in England, doe also for the most part teach how such fruite as their countries bring forth are to be used, of which kind of fruites here in England we have litle or no use. As also concerning fish, there are none that have written in our vulgar tong to anie purpose that ever I have seene, saving that one Maister Churchey hath procured to be translated into English a Treatise compiled by a stranger, a Moravian (as I take it.) Howbeit by reason the translator (as it should seeme) had no great experience in that matter, he therfore that shall practise, shall find great want in that booke to supplie his desires that way. Notwithstanding the good indevour of Maister Churchey is greatly to be commended, neither is my meaning herein to say what may be said in these matters, but onely what things my selfe have observed and practised. And if I should set downe by way of[Page] preface, the exceeding great benefit that might grow to this Realme, by practising to have aboundance of the two foresaid comodities, the preface would grow to a greater volume then now the whole booke containeth. And although I know that many men can say more then my self can do herein, yet I also beleeve that most men know not so much: for whose sake I have compiled this litle treatise, by which, if they take either profit or honest pleasure, I have my desire. Farewell.

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FIrst it is requisite to speake of ponds, I meane such as be necessarie, profitable, and convenient to be used with us here in England, not such in which the prodigall Romains used to spend their superfluous wealth and treasure, rather for vaine ostentation, then for any honest recreation of mind, or profite unto themselves, or the common wealth: whereunto I wold wish our countrey people in all their actions to have chiefe regard. It should seeme that many of the Romains imployed incredible wealth in making of ponds, in which with sea water, they kept diverse kind of sea fish, for delicacie and wantonnesse, rather then profit: for that such kind of ponds were onely made neare unto the sea side, wheras the like fish might more conveniently be taken in the sea it selfe. I would rather wish the greatest store of our ponds to be made farre up land in the inmost partes of the Realme, unto which places fish cannot well be brought from the sea, to be eaten fresh whilest it is good, and[Page 2] weete. The ponds I meane to speake of, shall be of two sorts: the one digged right downe into the ground by labour of man: the other made with a head in a valley betweene two hils, by swelling of the water over grassie ground, not in former times covered with water. Those that are digged right downe are for the most part but small, and serve indeed to little use, unlesse it be to keepe fish in for the winter time, to spend as need requireth, or to feede fish in: otherwise of themselves they are not able to sustaine any number of fish, in any good sort, to increase in grouth or goodnesse of meate, and therefore I meane not to speake much of such ponds. But the other kind of pond made with a head being rightly ordered, as hereafter is mentioned, will give great nourishment to fish without any feeding save of it selfe. It is therefore requisite for him that would have good fish, to have two such ponds with heads so made, as with their sluces he may lay them drie when he pleaseth, and againe to fill them with water when he shall thinke good, to the end that one of them may lie drie one yeare, & the other the next yeare. The greatnesse of his ponds may be according to the aptnes of the place where he maketh them, and to the cost he meaneth to bestow. And that valley that hath not any sudden descent but descendeth by little & little, having also some littell rill or brooke running through it, is fittest for this purpose: by reason that in such places a man shall with least charges in making the head overflow greatest quantitie of ground. The sayd[Page 3] ponds are to be made as followeth

2. The making of a pond for fish.

Having a place convenient, viz. a valley betweene two hilles, and some small brooke or rill running through the same, you are to dig a channell or pond as it were from the one hill to the other, overthwart the valley: and with the earth that you take out of the same to make your head. Alwayes making your head downe the streame from the channell, so that the channell shalbe the deepest place of your pond, and in no wise to dig any earth, or to make any channell on the backside of your head: for that will much weaken your head. You must also begin the foundation of your head not hard by the brim of your channell, but some eight or ten foote from the same, least the weight of the earth of the head cause your head to slide into the channell: and raise your head not upright, but slopewise for calving or slipping downe. And looke how high you meane to make your head, and so much it is requisite to be in breadth in the top thereof, & three times that breadth in the bottome: as for example: If you meane to make your head ten foot high, it had need to be ten foot broade in the top, and thirty foote broade in the bottome, otherwise it will hardly lye, but calve and slippe downe againe, unlesse you force it with timber. Howbeit such may be the nature of your earth, as a light sand, or onely chalke, that it will not stand without timber, otherwise a stiffe clay[Page 4] mingled with gravell, is best for such a head: if your soile be a light sand, or altogether a gravell, or chalke, it will hardly hold water. It is not good to put any timber in your head to beare it up, but rather only earth being broken very smal, and watered with water often times as you raise it: for that will cause it to bind closer and surer then any ramming or timber worke will do. I suppose the Spring time, & Autumne to be best for the making of such heads, especially if you water it well and breake the earth small, that it may drie againe and settle. In the making of the head, you are to lay your sluce in the head against the deepest place of your channell, being made of a whole peece of timber, or at least wise the forepart thereof being a whole peece, and the residue of one or two peeces more, being joyned very close, and stopped with haire and tarre in the joynts: for if therein be never so small a hole, it will spoyle your head at the sewing of your pond. Having made and hollowed your trough, hewen through at the tayle, but close at the end next to the pond, you are to naile thereon a strong boord or planke, very close in all places: or else which is better, a slab being before the hollowing of your trough, sawne from the same: then turne that side downeward, and then the upper side will be that which before was the bottom of the trough: at the end whereof next to the channell in the upper part thereof, you are to make the tampion hole square, and likewise make a square tampion to shut close in the same, with a steale, either[Page 5] of the same peece which is best, or else strongly mortised with a bovetaile mortice into the sayd tampion, and so reaching up as high as the top of your head, or at least to the uppermost part of the water. And the best fashion for the head of your sluse, is two strong planks, fastened on each side of the tampion hole, being in breadth somewhat broader then the square of your tampion, & grated boords nailed before & behind the same, some two or three foote from the bottome. But for the more speedy sewing out the water, you may make as it were a nose of grated boords before the tampion, at the bottome of the sluce, of some three or foure foote long, and a foote deepe. The residue of the sluce may be boorded up to the top with boords ungrated, and I thinke grated boords to be better for this purpose, being made with a hand saw, rather then holes made with piercer or augur. The trough of this sluce had need be layd so soone as you begin to make your head, because it may convey the water from you, which else will trouble you in making the channell.

The sluce made, and the channell digged, it may be you shall need more earth to be carried in dungcarts or barrowes which you are still to keepe mingled with water, and the earth broken smal: in frostie weather it is good working of any such head. Also take heede you put not in the sayd head, any dung or turfs of grasse, that will turne to dung: but onely good earth. When the head is raised, it is requisite to settle well before[Page 6] you fill the same with water, and therefore not good to fill it full the first yeare, but rather halfe full: and to store it with such fish as you meane to keepe therein, in January, February or March: after which time it is not good to carry or handle any fish all the sommer time, untill it be October or November. The colder the weather is when you handle your fish, the better: unlesse it be for such fish as you meane to spend presently. But storefish being taken or handled in hot weather, will be sicke, and not prosper long time after, and perhaps die thereof, although not presently.

And to speake of fish, I meane such as are usually kept in ponds or lakes, I will devide them into two sorts: those that live by ravening and devouring of other fish, and the others that live upon seedes, roots, weeds, corne, wormes, and such like: for as there are some beasts that do live chiefly and naturally by flesh of other beasts, and other some that live onely by corne, grasse, fruit, & such like, & will at no time taste of flesh: so there are fishes much like in nature. The fish that live upon ravening and devouring of other fish, are the Pike, the Trought, the Perch, & the Eele: and these kinds will not naturally feede upon corne, rootes, seeds, grasse, or such like. But the Carpe, the Breame, the Tench, and the Roch, live naturally upon corne, seedes, grasse, wormes, bodes, flies, and such like: & will not naturally feede upon any other fish, neither hath nature given them meanes so to do, for that [Page 7]the foresayd devouring fish have only dogteeth, or sharpe teeth, wherewith they bite and hold any other fish that they take: and when that by griping and biting it, they feele it dead, and cease to struggle or strive, then they swallow it downe whole. The other kind do not so: but having teeth only like unto man, broade and flat do grind and chew all their meate before they swallow it: and it is as unnaturall for the Carpe, Breame, Tench or Roch to eate another raw fish, as it is for a sheep or a cow to eate raw flesh. The sharpe and devouring teeth in the Pike, Perch, Trought & Eele, are easily seene and perceived, but so are not the flat grinding teeth in the other kind of fish. Howbeit if you search diligently the head of the Carpe, Breame, or any the other aforesayd of that nature, & of any bignesse, when it is sodden you shall find two neather iawes, having in each law a row of flat teeth, like to the eye teeth in a man, & apt to grind & chew withall, with which two neather lawes they grind their meate against a certaine flat bone in the roofe of their mouth, or upper part of their throte, which is commonly called the stone in the Carpes head, and is in steede of his upper law and teeth, and of many thought to be a remedy for excessive bleeding at the nose for man. The like is in the head of the Tench and Roch, although by reason of the smalnesse it is not easie to be found. Of the same nature also is the Barbill, Cheven, Dace, Bleke, and river Roch: although I have not seene them usually in any pond.

Howbeit they wil[Page 8] live and wex in a pond, especially the river Roch, but not spawne, unlesse it have great store of watea running through it continually, neither will the Trought spawne in any standing poole, but will live and grow very fat and good, if the pond be of any greatnesse, as some five or sixe acres of ground, or more, and that he may have good store of small fry to feede on, and will also be very fat and good all the winter long, by reason he doth not spawne as aforesayd.

The best fish in my opinion is Carpe, Breame, Tench, and Perch: howbeit if your pond be not above foure or five acres of ground, a Breame will be five or sixe yeares at the least, before it be of any bignesse to eate, as also they will overstore any pond with fry, which is a great hinderance to the growth of your bigger fish. Having stored your pond, as aforesayd, you shall find that the first yeare your fish will spawne exceedingly. Howbeit if any water run through your pond, your fry will very hardly be kept in: for that all the beginning of the sommer they will go away against the streame: and in the latter end of the sommer they will go away with the streame, if they be not with very good grates kept in, and herein you are to use very great diligence.

And therefore your pond being full of water, it is good to convey away the residue in some ditch, along hard by the one side of your pond, casting the banke of your ditch toward the pond: the level of the water will direct you where to make your ditch: so may your[Page 9] convey away your superfluous water. If any water runne through your pond, especially in the Sommer time, it will also make your fish leane with laboring against it, as it is their nature to do, and also in manner unpossible to keepe in your frie.

A pond being thus ordered, and your fish therein feeding all the Sommer time, it is requisite that about Hollantide next you sew your pond, taking out all your fish: the best, and such as you meane to spend that winter, to put into small ponds, or stewes, whereas with a dragge you may take them againe as you neede to spend them: the other storefish you may put into the like pond, as aforesayd, either new made, or one that hath lien dry all the Sommer before. Howbeit if you have any great number of frie, especially of Breame, it were better to preserve but part of them, and the residue to put into some stew or small pond with Pikes: so shall you alwayes have good Pikes, and also your Carpe, Breame, and Tench will be very fat and good. If your ponds be not overstored with fry, your pond being sewed, and your fish bestowed, it is good to let that pond you last sewed, to lie as drie as you can by any meanes all that winter, and the next sommer untill Michelmas: and then to fill it with water of the first floud that happeneth about that time: and sew your other pond betweene Michelmas and Hollantide, using the same as is before rehearsed.

As for[Page 10] having any fish to spend in the Sommer time, it is requisite to trust to your angle, a bownet, a tramell, or such like: by which meanes you shall seldome faile of some fish for your spending. If you should keepe any Carpe, Breame, or Tench in stewes in the Sommer time, they will wex leane, unlesse you do feede them with corne: as barly, sod pease, or oates, or any other kind of corne.

It may be heare expected I should set downe some proportion of number of fishes, having regard to the greatnesse of your pond, and the greatnesse of the fish. Surely as the fertility of some soyle will nourish double the number of cattle that some others will do, even so of pondes: if the soyle bee a fat clay, or other good ground, it will nourish double the number of fish, that a leane barren heath ground or drie sand will do. Howbeit the ordering of a pond in such sort as aforesayd, and to lie dry every other yeare, will much mend any ground every yeare, especially if in the Sommer time when it lyeth dry, cattell, and especially sheepe may feede and lie therein, as hereafter shall appeare by good reason. Howbeit in an indifferent soile, I suppose you may well keepe foure hundreth Carpe, Breame, or Tench, for every acre, supposing your fish to be eight or ten inches in length: and the greater your pond is, the greater number in proportion it will keepe: as for example: a pond of foure acres will much better keepe 1600. fish, then a pond of[Page 11] two acres will keepe eight hundreth of like fish: for every hundreth of such fish as aforesayd, you may keepe halfe a hundreth Perches in the same pond, after you are once sufficiently stored of frie, and not before: for that a Perch is a very great devourer of frie, especially of Carpe. I have seene in the belly of a small Perch sixteene or seventeene small Carpe frie at once: but having sufficient of frie, they do good in a pond, rather then otherwise: and will themselves be very fat and good.

The Pike is in no wise to be admitted into your great ponds, with your other fish, he is so great a devourer, and will grow so fast having his fill of feeding, that being but eight or ten inches in the beginning of Sommer, he may be eighteene or twentie inches before Hollantide, at what time he will eate more fish every day, then will suffise a man, and will feede onelie of Carpe before anie other fish, if there be Carpe frie in the pond. Howbeit having two such ponds as aforesaid, made with heads, you shall everie yeare have sufficient store of reffuse frie, to feede some good number of Pikes withall, wherewith they will be made verie thicke, sweete, and well growne, but not fatte, unlesse you have some store of small Eeles, wherewithall to feede them some moneth or sixe weekes before you take them to spend: for that only that feeding upon Eeles, being cut in peeces, so as they may stir in the water, and yet not be able to escape awaie, will[Page 12] make the Pikes verie fat.

The causes moving to have a pond lie but one yeare with water and fish, and the next yeare emptie and drie, do hereafter ensue.

First by that meanes you shall avoide superfluous number of frie, which greatly hinder the growth and goodnesse of your greater fish. Secondly, by that meanes you shall so proportion your pond, that it shall never be overstored. Thirdly, by that meanes your water shall alwayes be excellent sweete, by reason it overfloweth such ground as hath taken the sunne and ayre all the sommer before: wherein also if cattell do feede, or especially be fodered and lie, their dung and stale together with the naturall force of the Sunne at the next Spring overflowing with water, will breede an innumerable number of flies, and bodes of diverse kinds and sorts, which in a faire sunshine day in March or Aprill, you shall see in the water as thicke as motes in the Sunne, of which bodes and flies the fish do feede exceedingly. Also great store of seedes, of weedes, and grasse, shedding that sommer that it lieth drie, is a great feede to your fish the next Sommer after, when it is overflowne with water. The sayd bodes doe for the most part breede of the blowings and seede of diverse kinds of flies, and such like living creatures in the sommer, when your pond lieth drie, in the dung of cattell, and otherwise: and take life and being the ne[...]t Spring time by[Page 13] the naturall heate of the Suune, together with the moisture of the fat and pleasant water, as aforeiaid: for surely many and sundrie kinds of flies that flie about in the ayre in Sommer time, do take life in the water overflowing such ground where they have bene left by the blowings and feede of other flies.

And I have often observed and beheld in a sunshine day, in shallow waters, especially where any dung or fatte earth is therewith mingled: I say, I have seene a young flie swimme in the water too and fro, and in the end come to the upper crust of the water, and assay to flie up: howbeit not being perfitly ripe or fledge, hath twice or thrice fallen downe againe into the water: howbeit in the end receiving perfection by the heate of the sunne, and the pleasant fat water, hath in the ende within some halfe houre after taken her flight, and flied quite awaie into the ayre. And of such young flies before they are able to flie awaie, do fish feede exceedingly. Fourthlie, your fish shall everie yeare have feeding in proportion to their increasing in bignesse: for it standeth with reason, that Carpes or other fish of twelve inches long, will require more feeding then so many of si[...]e inches long will do: but chieflie by meanes aforesayd of sewing everie yeare, you shall have oportunitie to be rid of the great increase of frie, and your greater fish more sweete and fat then any other hath by farre.

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Fish will live in a manner in any pond, and without any feeding, or such other industrie as aforesayd: but then they are forced to live uppon the muddie earth and weedes that grow in such ponds, and being so fedde, they will eate and taste accordingly: and there is as great difference in taste betweene fish that is kept as aforesaid, and other fish that is kept in a standing pond without feeding or other industrie, as is betweene the flesh of a Larke, and the flesh of a Crow or Kite. And I suppose that that is the cause that most men are out of love with all pond fish, because they never tasted of any good or well ordered pond fish. That Sommer that your pond lieth drie, as aforesaid, if there happen to grow any sower or rancke weedes therein (as many times there will) it is good to cut them up, and being dried with the sunne, to burne them, so shall you have sweete grasse, or yong weeds come in their place, that cattell will feede on, and also the heate of the sunne shall much amend your ground. Also trench out the water, that it may lie as drie as may be possible: and if you can plough it, and have Sommer corne therein, as bucke or barley that Sommer that it lieth drie, I thinke it very good. I have heard the common people in the fenne countries affirme, and that very earnestly, that their fishes do feede of ashes, by reason that in a drie Sommer, when much of[Page 15] their fenne grounds lie drie, and are pastured with cattell, then towards the winter time such ranke grasse, sedge, reedes, or weedes, as the cattell do leave uneaten, they will burne them with fire, to the end that the next Sommer such old sedge, reedes, or weedes, may not annoy the comming up of young and better sedge, reedes, or grasse.

And the common people find by experience, that after such a drie Sommer, as aforesaid, all the next Winter the water overflowing those grounds, their fish will be exceeding fat and good: and therefore (say they) surely the fish do feede uppon the ashes of the weeds, and such like burnt as aforesaid. But the truth is, in such a drie Sommer as aforesaid, the cattell then feeding in such grounds as then lie drie, do bestow therein great quantitie of dung and stale, wherein is bred great abundance of such bodes, flies, and wormes, as aforesayd: as also the naturall and livelie heate of the Sunne piercing such grounds, doth make the same pleasant and fat, and to bring forth the next Sommer many hearbes and weedes, the seedes of which do yeeld unto fishes verie great foode and nourishment, and not the barren drie ashes, as afore is imagined.

He that cannot have such ponds as aforesaid, and having but some small mote or other horsepond in his ground, that standeth continuallie full of water, may often times have a dish of good fish, if he will bestow some[Page 16] feeding of corne, as sod barley or pease, cheesecurds, or bloud of beasts, to throw into his pond in the sommer time, for that fish being not of the ravening kind, do then onelie feede. But it behoveth to do it in such sort, as he may be assured that the fish do eate it, and that he be not beguiled with duckes, geesse, or such like. He may therefore make a square thing of some two foote broade, of Elme boords, with ledges some three or foure inches deepe, and therein sincke his corne with a line tied unto the foure corners thereof, so that he may pull it up and let it downe when he pleaseth, and after the fish have once found the use thereof, you shall well perceive they will haunt it.

Sweet graines in small proportion are also good, but if they be once sower or mustie, the fish will not feede on them, and also they will stench your pond. The Tench of all other fish will best like to be fed, as aforesaid, and will be very good, sweete, and fatte, and next unto him the Carpe. It is with fish as it is with other creatures, for like as one acre of ground, will hardly feede one ore throughout the yeare, to keepe him in good plight and fat, yet so much corne or hay you may lay in that acre, that you may feede therein ten or twentie oxen. And even so, although one acre of ground overflowed with water, will naturallie, and if it selfe keepe but 300. or foure hundreth Carpes, or other fsshes: yet so much feeding you may adde there[Page 17]unto, that it may keepe three thousand or foure thousand in as good plight as three hundreth or foure hundreth without such feeding. Of all creatures fish are the greatest increasers in number: and so great is the increase of them, that I do verily suppose the Sea it selfe and all fresh rivers likewise, would be overstored if they did not devour one another in very great quantity: yet have they many other enemies besides fish, that do continually pray and feede upon them: as, for pond fish, first the small Eeles, when the Carps, Breams, Tenches, or Roches do lay their spawne in egges in spawning time, you shall many times see sixe, ten, or more small Eeles follow them, and as the spawne falleth from them they eate it, as also Duckes will do the like. Afterward so sonne as it is quicke, the Eele, and especially the Perch, will devour it in great quantitie before it be able to swimme any thing fast. After that, it is foode for the Kings fisher, all kind of shelfoule, the Bitture, the Hearne, the Cormorant, and the Ospray.

And when it is at the greatest, as if it bee a Carpe of three foote long, the Otter will kill him: otherwise all ponds would quickly be overstored, if it also go not away with flouds, which is greatly to be foreseene. I remember myselfe did once put three spawning Carps into a pond that was some three acres of ground, and with them nine or ten milters about February, and in November next following I did sew the same pond, and of those breeders I had 9000. and upwards[Page 18] of Carpe frie, notwithstanding all the foresaid enemies: and surely a Breame will increase in number much more.

The ingendring and breeding of the like fish as aforesaid, I have noted to be in this manner, sometime in May, and sometime in June, as the season happeneth to fall out apt for generation, the water by Gods providence having then a naturall warmth to performe the same, the male fish by course of nature, will chase about the female, seeking copulation: and as in all other creatures, so in this the female seemeth to shun and flie from the male, so that you shall see three, foure, or five male fish chase one female, and so hold her in on everie side, that they will force her to swimme through weedes, grasse, rushes, straw, or any such like thing that is in the pond, wherein she being intangled and wearied with their chasing, they find oportunitie to joyne in copulation with her, mingling their milt with her spawne, sometime one of them, sometime another, at which time the spawne falleth from her like little egges, and sticketh fast to the sayd weedes: some eight, nine, or ten dayes after which time it quickneth, taketh life, and hath the proportion of a fish: yea two or three dayes before it quicken, if you take such an egge and breake it uppon your naile, you shall perceive the proportion of a fish therein.

After it is quicke it mooveth very little for some fortnight or three weekes, and then it[Page 19] gathereth together into sculles by the shore side, where the water is shallow: howbeit the Tench frie will lie scattering in the weedes, and not flote in sculles. And if there run any water from your pond, you shall not possible keepe Eeles out of the same, they will come into the same against the streame. Their manner of breeding is very uncertaine and unknowne, but undoubtedly they are bred in the brackish or sea water: and at the first full Moone in Maie they begin to come into all great rivers, and out of great rivers into lesser rivers, and out of those lesser rivers into all small brookes, rils, and running waters, continually against the streame all the beginning of Sommer: as likewise with the first floud that commeth about Michelmas, they covet to go downe the streame, and will not stay untill they come into the deepe and brackish waters, if they be not taken or letted by the way. I know that some hold opinion that they breede of the May deaw, for proofe whereof they say if you cut up two turfes of grassie in a May morning, and clap the grassie sides of those turfes together, and so lay them in a river, you shall the next day find small young Eeles betweene the sayd turfes: and so you shall indeeede, for the most part do.

Howbeit not therefore they do breede of the deaw, for if you likewise take a little bottle of sweete hay, straw, or weedes, that have had no May deaw [Page 20]fallen thereon, and sinke it in a river at that time of the yeare, and take it out suddenly the next morning, and you shall find likewise many small Eeles therein. The reason is, at that time of the yeare that river being full of such young Eeles, they will creepe into every thing that is sweete and pleasant. And for proofe that the sayd Eele frie doe come out of the brackish waters against the streame into all other Rivers, Rils, and Ponds, if in the beginning of the Sommer you do diligently observe at the taile of any water Mill, especially neare unto any great river, you shall see them in great numbers early in the morning, and late in the evening, in June or July at the chinckes and holes in the floudgates to labour exceedingly to get up against the streame, although they be often times driven backe with the violence of the water, yet cease they not still againe to labour untill they have gotten up against the streame. The like do Salmonds, Barbils, Troutes, Roch, Date, Chevin, Gogions, and other river fish at Weres and Dammes in great rivers, for that they covet to spawne in shallow waters, and not in the deepe: the which thing when they have performed, they then presently covet to go downe the streame untill they come unto the brackish or sea water. It may be here expected that I should set downe the baites to be used for all kind of pondfish, for all seasons of the yeare, but therein[Page 21] I have not had such exact knowledge to prescribe unto the diligent practiser any better then himselfe can find out.

I have found that the Carpe, Breame, and Tench, being used to feeding, will bite at the red worme, paste made of dough, or the grashopper, most part of the Sommer season. The Tench also is a fish very easilie taken in a Bownet, and whosoever hath of them in his ponds, it behooveth him to take great heede that he be not deceived by leud people.

The shallow or pond Roch with the red fins will spawne in most ponds. The river Roch and Dace will not spawne in any pond: howbeit if your pond be neare any river, and that there runne any water from it in the Sommer time, you shall find that they will come into the same against the streame, where you would thinke it unpossible: and so will Pickerell and Perch. And I have heard some affirme very constantly, that waterfowle do often times bring the spawne of such fish in their feathers into ponds. Others will affirme, that the heate of the Sunne may draw up such spawne of fish before it be quicke, and so the same taking life in the moist ayre, may afterward fall downe in a shower of raine into a pond: the reason that hath mooved many men so to thinke, is, because they have found such kind of fish in their ponds, where they are sure that they nor any other have ever put any such.

Howbeit surely the same have come into the sayd ponds against the streame, as[Page 22] aforesaid, in Sommer flouds, and not by any such other monstrous generation as is last afore mentioned. And somewhat to say of the growth of fish: as nature may be helped by art in other things, so likewise in fish very much: for that a Carpe may with feeding the first yeare be brought to be sixe inches long, and the next to twelve or foureteene inches, whereas in ordinary ponds without feeding, they will hardly be brought to be fourteene inches in five or sixe yeares.

I do not thinke that ground would yeeld unto the owner any other way so much benefite, as to be converted into such ponds with heads as is afore mentioned, if onely fish were spent uppon the dayes by law ordained for that purpose in this Realme: the which thing if it were observed, no doubt would turne this Realme to incredible benefite, many and sundry wayes. But now those that should spend such fish, will rather bestow their money in Rabbets, Capons, or such like. Howbeit I am perswaded that fish used as aforesayd, and dressed whilest it is new taken, is very wholsome for mans body, and also more delicate then most kinds of flesh.

A Breame will be very long in growing, before it come to any bignesse, as commonly five or sixe yeares before he be a foote long, but if your water be not very great, he will hardly be a foote long in ten yeares. The Tench will grow and prosper very well[Page 23]: howbeit will never be so great as some Carpes will be. I have seene a Carpe of xxxiii. inches betweene the eye and the forke of the taile, but never any Tench above two and twenty inches of like measure.

The Pike will grow exceedingly, if he may have his fill of other small fish: as, the first yeare to twelve or fourteene inches, the next to twenty or two and twenty inches. And whosoever hath ponds with heads as aforesayd, shall every yeare very conveniently feede some good number of Pikes in some ditch or small stew with refuse frie. If you have such ponds as aforesayd, often or twelve acres of ground or more, neare any river where Troughts are, you may get Troughts to put into such ponds with your other fish, so there be no Pikes amongst them. Howbeit when you come to sew your pond, and that the water commeth any thing neare the mud, your Troughts will then die: yet have I seene them grow exceedingly in such a pond in one yeare, and to be very fat and good: howbeit they must be very charily handled in the cariage, and a few of them caried in a great deale of faire and cleane water, and that in cold weather, and may not be handled with hands, but in a handnet very charily: and so likewise are all other fish to be used, especially such as you meane to keepe for store. If you have Carpes in small ditches, in the[Page 24] moneth of March, at what time Todes doe ingender, the Tode will many times covet to fasten himselfe uppon the head of the Carpe, and will thereby invenime the Carpe, in such sort that the Carpe will swell as great as he may hold, so that his seales will stand as it were on edge, and his eyes stand out of his head neare halfe an inch, in very ugly sort: and in the end will for the most part die thereof: and it is very dangerous for any person to eate of any such Carpe so invenimed.

It is not sufficient that fish be alive and swimme away when they are put into a pond, but if they be brused or take heate in the cariage, they will be long before they recover againe and fall to their feeding, and sometime never recover, but after long pining and sicknesse, do in the end die also. The Carpe of all pond fish will abide most hardnesse in cariage: next to him the Tench, then the Breame, Pike, and Perch. A Carpe in the winter time may be caried alive in wet hay or grasse that is sweete for the space of five or sixe houres.

If you cary any fish in water, let not the Tench or Eele be caried among them, because they cast great store of slime, which will choke and kill your other fish, especially Pike or Perch. A Pike will hardly feede of any thing except it stirre and be alive, but the Perch and Eele will feede of the small guts of sheepe being cut, or of any garbage of Chickens, Coneys, or such like,[Page 25] and of bloud of beasts. The Tench, Perch, and Eele, being used to be fed, will not lightly faile to bite at an angle anytime the Sommer halfe yeare. The feeding of frie the first yeare will make them quickly past many dangers, as of being past danger of eating of some other fishes and foules, as also past danger of going away at grates, or at the holes of water rats in bankes. Also they will be of a larger and greater growth then ever they will be not being fed: and it behooveth to feede them with such foode as they are able to feede on: as, the first moneth with otemeale, or some other meale sodden, and being cold may be like a gelly in thicknesse, a very little in quantity to be laid in shallow places, where onely the frie do haunt, and not the greater fish.

A Carpe frie will begin to feede when he is not above an inch long, at what time also they will begin to gather together in sculles after some fortnight or three weekes, you may then make their meate thicker, and increase in quantitie as your frie bee of abilitie to eate it, giving to everie kind of frie such feeding as his nature requireth. It is not good to handle any kinde of frie whilest it is very young and tender, or at least wise not in handes, but in some small mashed handnet, that is flatte and not deepe like a bagge or a sacke, and a few at once, that they rub not one upon another.

The second yeare you may feede your frie[Page 26] with sodden barley or mault steeped in water, and the third yeare with sodden pease: for like as any kind of beasts, especially such as chew not the cud, do take more nutriture out of sodden corne, then out of corne being raw: so fishes being of nature more cold then other creatures, take lesse nutriture of raw corne then any other creatures do. And if you feede your fish with raw corne, you shall find it come from them in their dung not halfe concocted, whereby a great part of the feeding thereof is lost and doth not good. It may be demaunded if it will quite the cost, to have fish in this sort fed. Surely if corne be not excessive deare, it will beare the charges very well: for that a small quantity of corne will suffice a great many of fish. Howbeit the other way before mentioned, with ponds with heads, and to lie drie every other yeare, is lesse troublesome, and will breede very excellent, good, sweete, and fat fish: so that they bee not overstored, although they have no feeding by hand. The more that a pond lieth open unto the Sunne, the ayre, and the winds, the better it is for your fish. The leaves of any kind of trees, but especially of oke, falling into any pond, is noysome to the fish, and so is the greene boughes of oke, or any other wood except willow.

The haunt of cattell unto any pond is[Page 27] verie good, and nourishing to the fish, especially of kine and oxen, and chiefly when such cattell do feede where corne hath bene newly mown or reaped, for that therewil then remaine in their dung much corne and seedes of grasse, which the fishes being not of the ravening kind do feede on. The fish that bee not of the ravening kind, do feede little or nothing in the winter time, but do lie either in holes in the bankes, or in weedes in the bottome of the ponds, to shun the extremitie of cold ayre. The ravening kind do feede in the winter season, although nothing so much as in the Sommer season.

Some will hold opinion that the Pike will not eate the Perch, because of his sharpe finnes, but I have often times seene two or three small Perches in the belly of a Pike, and likewise in the belly of an Eele. And I have likewise seene a Pike choked sometime with eating of a Perch, when as he hath swallowed the Perch with the taile foremost. But the Pike will not lightly meddle with the Perch if there be any store of other kind of feeding for him in the pond of other small fish. It is also requisite that the Pike be helped, so that he labour not over much in chasing of his pray before he take it, as to have the tailes of the small fish cut off, when you throw them into the stew or small pond unto your Pikes, to the[Page 28] end they may with the more ease take them, The Perch and Eele will feed of bloud of beasts as aforesayd, and likewise of the small garbage of sheepe and such like being cut small, and also of small frie of fish, either dead or alive.

[Page 29]


IF the benefite arising unto the commonwealth through the abundance of fruite were well weighed and pondered, there would be lawes established for the increase and maintenance therof throughout this Realme. Many countries as Gloccstershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, great part of Kent and Sussex are so replenished with fruite, that it serveth the poorer sort not onely for foode a great part of the yeare, but also for drinke the most part of the yeare. I have knowne in those countries many men that have 12 or twenty persons uprising and downe lying in their houses, that do not spend most yeares two quarters of malt for their drinke (but onely cider and perry) and also do yearely sell great quantitie. And there is no doubt but in most countries in England there might be the like, if men would generally plant fruite, and notwithstanding take as great commoditie in effect by pasturing or earing of their ground as they now do.

But in many places the short estate that men have in their holdings, and the discommoditie they find in stealers, do discourage them. Howbeit if men would generally plant in their hedgerowes,[Page 30] balkes and other places, it would be a very small matter to any one man, although poore folke did now & then take some part of the same. Howbeit it were very necessary that some law were established to punish such offenders, not so much in respect of the value of the thing, as in that it discourageth men to set & plant fruite, and that respect were had to Moses Law, viz. that so long as the same extendeth but to the filling of their bellies to expell hunger, it is the more to be borne withall: but if they shall also cary away to any value, there is no reason but that it should be severely punished.

I am also perswaded that cider and perry is very wholesome for the bodies of naturall English people, especially such as do labor and travell. It is also by experience found to be very good to furnish ships withall for long voyages by sea, for that a small quantity thereof will relish and give good taste unto a great deale of water: and very great commodity might arise to this Realme, if we were able to spare mault to serve the Low countries withall, or rather the same being made into beare, for that our Themes water doth for that purpose passe any other water whatsoever: which thing in time might be very commodious unto our Prince in respect of custom, & likewise to the whole Realme, in respect of maintenance of Navigation by transporting the same, besides other commodities not here to be spoken of.

[Page 31]


FOR planting of any great quantity of fruite it is necessarie first to sow in some bed (being before hand well trenched two foote deepe, and the earth broken small and layd light but not dunged) the kernels of apples, crabs, or pears. The kernels of apples may be gotten in some good quantitie of such as make apple pies to sell in markets or market townes. The kervels of crabs or peares, are to be picked out of crabs that are stamped for verivyce, or peares ground or stamped for perry: which kernels being sowne in such beds as aforesayd, being kept from cropping of cattell or Coneys, and also kept with weeding, will in two yeares be ready to remove and to be set in beds three foote asunder one way, and a foote the other other way, the body being cut off halfe a foote above the ground, in which beds having stood one yeare, they may then be grafted with what fruite you please,[Page 32]a handfull above the ground is best grafting, which beds being kept with weeding, you may also commodiously plant strawberies under your grafts.

Within three or foure yeares after the grafting, they will be ready to remove into an Orchard, where you may plant them to continue: but if you meane to plant them in your hedgerowes in your ground where cattle commeth, they had need to be of sixe yeares growth after the grafting, because you may then the more conveniently tie bushes about them, or other provision to keepe them from cattle: but the wild choke peare that is never grafted, will make very good perry.

Also one other way to plant an Orchard may be done by planting of small crabstockes in beds in some nurcery as aforesayd, three foote asunder one way, and one foote the other way, the ground in the sayd beds being first trenched two foote deepe, and the mould laid light, and the stocke cut off halfe a foote above ground: and the next yeare the same to be grafted close by the ground, or at the most foure inches above the ground, to the end that if the first grafting happen to faile, it may be againe grafted the second time.

Howbeit some also do use to graft five or sixe foote high, and uppon great olde stockes, the same is not greatly amisse: howbeit the other way is farre better as I take it, for that the siences so grafted five or sixe foote high, are many times broken downe with foules lighting on them, & many times broken downe with the[Page 33] wind in the joynt when they are 3. or 4. years old, which is a great displeasure unto the owner. Above all things you must foresee, that the ground of your nurcerie or orchard be not naturally over wet or moist. It cannot lightly be too drie, for that the rootes will naturally run downwards, untill they come unto sufficient moisture: but if the roote of anie plant be once set too deepe, he cannot helpe himselfe: it is against nature for the roote to grow upwards, but will rather grow mustie and die. The third way to plant an Orchard, is by setting of slips of trees of cider fruite, which is the speediest & readiest way in shortest time to have store of such fruite. But that kind of setting doth seldome prosper but onely in some few especiall kind of cider fruite. As also an Orchard so planted, will not continue above fortie, or at the most fiftie yeares, but it will decay againe.

In planting of an Orchard the greatest care is to be had, that the ground be not too wet: for that a tree planted in such ground cannot prosper: or if it grow, it will not beare other then spotted and cappard fruite, either apple, peare or plumme, neither will it shoote out or grow in anie good sort. If your ground be naturally wet, it must be holpen with making of trenches betweene everie row of trees, so as the water may draine away, at the least three foote deepe: and whereas the ground is inclined to moisture, you are to set your trees verie shallow, as halfe a foot deepe, and rather to raise a hillock of earth about[Page 34] your tree roote, then to set your tree too deepe near the water.

And here note, that every ground hath an upper crust of earth, which by the natural heate of the Sun, & pleasantnesse of the ayre piercing the same, is made more fruitfull then the residue of the earth is: which upper crust in some grounds is a foote, some two foote, and in some three foote deepe: also in some grounds not above halfe a foote deepe. And under the same upper crust is either a hote chalke, a drie sand, a barren gravell, or a cold lean clay, or lome, or such like. It is therefore requisite that you set your yong tree in such sort, as that the rootes thereof may run and spread in that upper crust, for that if you set him any deeper, you spoile all.

In many places in a chalke ground, where such crust as aforesayd is very shallow and not past halfe a foote deepe, you shall see most of the rootes of the Elmes Ashes, and other trees there growing, to runne naturally even three or foure inches above the earth: which thing they do to shun the extreame heate of the chalke. The like experience shall you also see in a wet or moorish ground, a great part of the roote of great trees to run also above the ground, for that they do naturally shunne the extreame wet and cold of such grounds. The fattest & fruitfullest ground is not best for fruite, for that the trees growing in such ground will be very subject to be eaten with cankers, as also the fruite will be much wormeaten.

I suppose the best ground for an Orchard is[Page 35] a wheate ground, or that which is as it were a mixture of clay and sand, but in no wise inclined to wet or springs of water. If you plant your trees twenty foote one way and thirty foote the other, you may then very conveniently either plough broade ridges, or mow your Orchard between every ranke of trees: and such plowing will also do good unto the roots of the trees, especially if you turne your ground upward unto the roots of your trees some three or four plowings together, making your forrow in the middest betweene every ranke of trees, especially whereas the ground is inclined to wet.

It is also requisite that the place where you set your tree, be digged wide and deepe, to the end that the rootes may have loose earth to run into: by which meanes the roote spreading and increasing, it will send out the more nourishment and strength into the top. Also when you plant your young trees in your Orchard, it is requisite to cut off all the top, otherwise he will be in danger to die the next Sommer, by reason the roote cannot the first yeare be able to give nourishment unto many boughes & branches.

Many covet to have their trees sixe or seven foote high before they branch out in top, but I have found very great inconvenience in so doing, for that when such trees come to beare fruite, the bodies will not be able to sustaine the tops, but that they will bend downe, and often times breake in sunder with the weight of fruite: but to braunch at some foure foote in height, I take to[Page 36] be the best, especially where commeth no cattell to crop them. In my opinion there were no fruite to be compared unto the Pippin, if it were not so subject unto the canker as it is.

There be manie kinds of good apples, howbeit will not beare past once in five or sixe yeares to anie purpose. Some other kinds will beare everie second yeare exceeding full. Of both which sorts I have divers kinds, howbeit cannot give proper names to everie of them. The good bearing fruite is fittest for cider, so it be also naturally moist and not drie. Howbeit the peare maketh the more delicate drinke then the apple will do: and I have seene some perrie of that strength, that it will warme the stomacke even like white wine, and tast as pleasantly. And I am verily perswaded, that a ground planted with wild peares otherwise called choke peares, would be verie beneficiall unto the owner: for that such kind of fruite is fittest for perrie, as also for the most part doth beare verie full everie yeare: and untill your trees be of some ten or twelve yeares growth, you may take commoditie by ploughing or mowing your ground, and grasing the same with horses, and afterward by mowing and grasing the same with any other cattell, especially if you set your trees twentie foote asunder one way, and thirtie foote another way, as aforesaid.

The Peare will prosper in a ground inclined to wet better then the apple will do.There is a disease in trees, which is called a[Page 37] canker, whereunto the pippin chiefly is greatly subject, and the same doth spoile manie trees. I know no better remedie for the same, then to cut it cleave out in the winter time, which oftentimes doth helpe the same, so that the barke will againe overgrow the sore, and do well: but if it have once gone more then halfe about the tree, it will hardly be ever recovered: and for the most part the best and most delicate fruite is most subject to this infirmitie.

It may be here expected I should treat of all kindes of grafting, as to graft in the cleft, in the leafe, in the noch, or otherwise: but surely for apples, peares, or most kind of plummes, I have found to graft in the clift some foure inches above the ground to be the best. Howbeit the Abricocke plumme, the vine, and such other as have great store of pith, they are fittest to be grafted in the leafe, or eie (as the call it.) The third way to graft in the noch, the cyent must be in effect as great as the stocke, and such grafts for the most part grow to be toppe heavie, and therefore that kind of grafting to no great purpose in my opinion. Some writers teach, that apples may be grafted upon the willow, the Elme, the Ash, Alder, and such others: but a man had better be without such fruitetrees in his Orchard then to have them, for that they will have a tast of the stocke that they are grafted on.

An apple is not good to be grafted, but upon the stocke of the wild apple or crab, as likewise the peare and warden upon the wild peare stocke.[Page 38] If you graft a Peare or a Warden uppon a white thorne, it will be finall, hard, cappard, and spotted. The Medler is good to be grafted upon the white thorne. The Quince is best to be planted of the wild siences that grow out of the root of other Quince trees, and so likewise the Philbard. The Chesnut and Walnut are to be set of Nuts: and besides the commodity of the fruite, do also become very good timber. The Chesnut timber will outlast the heart of oke, to lie either alwayes wet or alwayes drie, or sometime wet and sometime drie. The perry wil not last well above one yeare, but the cider will last good two or three yeares.


This is the full version of the original text


chickens, corn, fish, food, fruit, nature, nourish, travel, water, wealth

Source text

Title: CERTAINE EXPERIMENTS CONCERNING FISH AND FRUITE: Practised by JOHN TAVERNER Gentleman, and by him published for the benefit of others.

Author: John Taverner

Publication date: 1600

Edition: 2nd Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home Bibliographic name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 23708 Physical description: [8], 38, [2] p. Copy from: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery Reel position: STC / 359:04

Digital edition

Original author(s): John Taverner

Language: English

Selection used:

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Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: Britain > nonfiction prose > science

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