"Nothing like a Dame among scholars" by George Grant (Outdoors columnist)

Discussion in 'General Conversation' started by Cheryl, Feb 23, 2006.

  1. Cheryl

    Cheryl Well-Known Member

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    There is nothing like a Dame for getting a fight started, especially among scholars.

    Now, before you fire off angry letters to the editor and assemble a feminist firing squad, note that "Dame" is capitalized. It's not slang....it's a title denoting a minor degree of nobility. The Dame in question is Juliana Berners, a 15th-century nun...maybe.

    Dame Juliana was listed as the author of "The Treatise of Fishing with an Angle" when it was printed as part of a larger work known as "The Book of St. Albans" in 1496. Both the "Book" and the "Treatise" have the distinction of being among the first works printed on moveable type in the English Language. And, if she's real, Dame Juliana is the first woman to be published in print in the English Language. That's a nice distinction, too.

    The problem is that there are no contemporary records such as wills or deeds that confirm her existence. Biographical details for her only begin to appear in 1559 and at first they are sparse. Early scholars loved that sort of thing because it allowed them to discover new details, argue about the details that someone else had discovered, or even discover new aspects of the argument that 2 other scholars were having about the details that they'd discovered.

    These early "discoveries" and the resulting arguements eventually ended up producing the legend of Dame Juliana for fly fishers. It goes like this.

    She was the Prioress of Sopwell Abbey near the river Ver in England. She was a member of a noble family that had been in and out of King's favor (that's polite for some of them were beheaded). She was beautiful. She had become a nun because she was disappointed in love. She was an accomplished sportswoman, whose mastery and understanding of the field sports, hunting, hawking and fishing was unequalled.

    I like that set of "facts" Those are the ones that I'll keep regardless of any "discoveries" that scholars might make in the future. Why not, for anglers facts are, in the absence of photographs, whatever they want them to be and it's a well-known fact that there were no cameras in 1496.

    Therefore the legend of Dame Juliana must be true. Logic is triumphant in her defense.

    Judging from the content of the "Treatise", she knew what she was talking about because she covers all aspects of the sport. She gives detailed instructions on how to make and use all the tackle that you need, rods, hooks, flies, lines, and cork floats. She has only one flaw- she goes into great detail about what type of worm to use for each kind of fish.

    15th century anglers weren't purists about how they fished and the tackle they used worked with all methods. I gladly give her absolution.

    She makes up for all that bait stuff with a list of 12 flies for trout and salmon and for the first time gives a description of the materials used to tie each fly. She even relates them to specific times of the year when the insects that they represent are present on stream. The concept of matching the hatch has a very long history.

    There's one other concept in the "Treatise" that's still popular, conservation. She wrote, "Also you must not be too greedy in catching your said game as in taking too much at one time....That could easily be the occasion of destroying your own sport and other men's also."

    You can't argue with that. And you shouldn't because you'll never with an argument with a Dame.

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    Whether this article is fact or fancy, I thought it made a good read. Perhaps catbusster would know more about Dame Juliana. This was in our local newspaper today and I thought I would share it with the BOC. Give me your thoughts. Let me know if you have read any of the above mentioned items.
     
  2. Patmansc

    Patmansc Well-Known Member

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  3. Deltalover

    Deltalover New Member

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    I love reading the old fishing classics that go back as far as the 1400s! Back then they sure had a way with words. Alot of the stuff that was written back then is timeless, as the same advice, holds true today.
    This poem was written in the 1600s I believe.
    CArds, Dice, and Tables pick thy purse;
    Drinking and Drabbing bring a curse.
    Hawking and Hunting spend thy chink;
    Bowling and Shooting end in drink.
    The fighting-Cock, and the Horse-race
    Will sink a good Estate apace.
    Angling doth bodyes exercise.
    And maketh soules holy and wise:
    By blessed thoughts and meditation:
    This, this is Anglers recreation!
    Health, profit, pleasure, mixt together,
    All sport's to this not worth a feather.

    Nagrom Notpoh
    Armiger.
     
  4. Patmansc

    Patmansc Well-Known Member

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    Have we spend a little time reading, Mr Gaines?
     
  5. Deltalover

    Deltalover New Member

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    My mother, God Bless Her, was a librarian for 30 years. On the weekends as a kid, I would go in before it opened and had first pick! I read everything I could get my hands on from the Hardy boys to Emerson!
     
  6. Patmansc

    Patmansc Well-Known Member

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    When I was a child I lived 2 blocks from the library, spent many happy hours there :) Books are portals to wonderful, magnificent and magical places & times. From what you write of her, your mother was undoubtedly a very special person.
     
  7. Cheryl

    Cheryl Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to both of you for the links, that I will enjoy in the near future!
    Phillip, I loved the poem! Thanks for sharing that, too.
     
  8. Swampy

    Swampy New Member

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    Cheryl Great post. I've never read or heard anything about her,Thanks for posting it.
     
  9. olefin

    olefin New Member

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    Cheryl,

    That Dame was quite a gal!

    Interesting, thanks.