In early seventeenth-century England you couldn’t move for nymphs and shepherds. The brothers Henry and William Lawes, when not frequenting some local tavern, gave voice to every manner of Arcadian excess. Charles Burney did not approve, remarking that Henry’s music was ‘insipid for its simplicity’. Tastes change. Even Civil War and William’s death at the siege of Chester saw Henry (in his Pastoral Elegie to the memory of my deare Brother) exhorting ‘jolly shepherds’ to cease ‘their layes’.
Our guides into this world of escape—where fishing is the antidote to world-weariness—are Robin Blaze and Liz Kenny, acknowledged masters of the field.