The River of THAMES. 30

The River of THAMES.

Trade of Fishing in the same. And albeit, it seemeth from time to time to be, as it were, defrauded in sundry wise, of these her large Commodities, by the insatiable Avarice of Fishermen; yet this famous River complaineth commonly of no want; but the more it loseth at one time, the more it yieldeth at another. Only in Carps it seemeth to be scant, sith (not long since) that kind of Fish was brought over into England, and but of late (to speak of) into this Stream, by the violent Rage of Land Floods, that break open the Heads and Dams of divers Gentlemens Ponds, by which means it became somewhat Partaker also of this said Commodity, whereof, before, it had no Portion that I could ever hear.

The Spoil and Havock of covetous Fishermen.

Carps a Fish late brought into England, and later into the Thames.

Oh! that this worthy River might be spared but one Year from Nets, &c. but alas! then should many a poor Man be undone. In the mean time, it is lamentable to see, how it is and hath been choaked of late with Sands and Shelves, by the penning and wresting of the Course of the Water for Commodities sake. But as this is an Inconveniency easily remedied, if good Order were taken for the Redress thereof; so now the Fine or Pay set upon the Ballast, sometimes freely given to the Merchants by Patent, even to the Lands end, (jusques aupoinct) will be another Cause of Harm to this noble Stream; and all through the Advantage taken at the want of an ( i ) in the Word ponct; which grew through an Error committed by an English Notary, unskilful in the French Tongue, wherein that Patent was granted.

The River choaked up with Sands and Shelves in many Places, a Matter much pitied, and requiring Redress.

Furthermore, the said River floweth and filleth all her Channels twice in the Day and Night; that is, in every twelve Hours once; and this ebbing and flowing holdeth on for the Space of 70 Miles within the main Land, the Stream or Tide being always highest at London, when the Moon doth exactly touch the North East, and South or West Points of the Heavens [which yet by and by will be shewn to be erroneous] of which one is visible, the other under the Earth, and not in our Sight. These Tides also differ in their Times, each one coming later than other, by so many Minutes as pass; yet the Revolution and natural Course of the Heavens do reduce and bring about the said Planet to these her former Places, whereby the common difference between one Tide and another is found to consist of 24 Minutes, which wanteth but 12 of a whole Hour in 24, as experience doth confirm. In like sort, we see by daily Trial, that each Tide is not of equal height and greatness. For at the full and change of the Moon, we have the greatest Floods; and such is their extraordinary Course, that as they diminish from their Changes and Fulls unto the first and last Quarters; so afterwards they encrease again until they come to the Full and Change.

The River ebbeth and floweth every 12 Hours, for the Length of 70 Miles.

The Alteration and Difference of the Tides.

The just Distance between one Tide and another.

Sometimes also they rise so high, (if the Wind be at the North, or North-East, which bringeth in the Water with more Vehemency, because the Tide that filleth the Channel, cometh from Scotland-ward) that the Thames overfloweth her Banks near unto London; which happeneth especially in the Fulls and Changes of January and February, wherein the lower Grounds are (of Custom) soonest drowned. This Order of flowing in like sort is perpetual; so that when the Moon is on the South-West and North of Points, then is the Water at London at the highest. Neither do the Tides alter, except some rough Winds out of the West or South-West, do keep back and check the Stream in her Entrance; as the East and North-East do hasten the coming in thereof, or else some other extraordinary Occasion put by the ordinary Course of the Northern Seas, which do fill the said River by their natural Return and Flowing. And that both these do happen eftsoones among, I refer me to such as have not seldom observed it; as also the sensible chopping in of three or four Tides in one natural Day, whereof the unskilful do descant many things, according to their Minds.

The extraordinary Rising of the Tides: and how caused.

The Stream oftentimes check'd in her Entrance into the Land.

But howsoever these small Matters do fall out, and how often soever this Course of the Stream doth happen to be disturbed; yet at two several times of the Moon, the Waters return to their natural Course and Limits of Time exactly. Polydore saith, that this River is seldom encreased, or rather never overfloweth her Banks by Land Floods; but he is herein very much deceived, as it shall more apparently be seen hereafter. For the more that this River is put by of her right Course, the more the Water must of Necessity swell with the white Waters which run down from the Land; because the Passage cannot be so swift and ready in the winding, as in the straight Course.

Two several times of the Moon, the Waters find their true Course.

The Error of Pylydore Virgil.

The Land Floods also do greatly stain the Fineness of the Stream, insomuch that after a great Land Flood, you take up Haddocks with your Hands beneath the Bridge, as they float aloft on the Water; whose Eyes are so blinded with the Thickness of that Element, that they cannot see where to become, and make shift to save themselves, before Death take hold on them. Otherwise the Water, of it self, is very clear; and, in comparison, next unto that of the Sea, which is most subtle and pure of all other; as that of great Rivers is most excellent in comparison of small Brooks. Although Aristotle will have the Salt Water to be most gross, because a Ship will bear a greater Burden on the Sea, than on the fresh Water, and an Egg sinks in this, that swimmeth in the other. But he may easily be answered, by the Quantity of room, and abundance of Waters in the Sea, whereby it becometh of more force to sustain such Vessels as are committed to the same, and whereunto the greatest Rivers are nothing comparable.

Land-Floods do much stain the Streams Fineness.

Thames Water as clear as that of the Sea.

The Objection of Aristotle answered.

I would here make mention of sundry Bridges over this noble Stream; of which, that of London is most chiefly to be commended; for it is, in a manner, a continual Street, well replenished with large and stately Houses on both sides, and situate upon twenty Arches, whereof each one is made of excellent Free Stone, every of them being threescore Foot in height, and full twenty in Distance one from another, as I have often viewed. Of the Antiquity of this Bridge we shall take a Place to write of. In the like manner, I could treat of the infinite Number of Swans daily to be seen upon this River; and of two thousand Wherries and small Boats, whereby three thousand poor Watermen are maintained (as was said before) through the Carriage and Re-carriage of such Persons as pass or repass from time to time upon the same. Beside those huge Tide-boats, Tilt-boats, and Barges, which either carry Passengers, or bring necessary Provisions from all Quarters of Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedforshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Essex, Surrey, and Kent, unto the City of London.]

The Bridge over the Thames.


Two thousand Boats upon the Thames, and three thousand poor Men maintained by the same, whose Gains come in most, in the Term time.

Now concerning the Tides of this River, and its Overflowings of the Lands about it, there being several things remarkable, we shall tarry a little the longer upon them; and to what hath been said, add these Observations that follow.] And First,

The Tides.

J. S.

Of the Flux and Reflux: Or, of the Ebbing of the River of Thames.


It is a received Opinion, (but a vulgar Error) that it is High Water at London, when the Moon is either upon the South East, or North West Point

An Error as to the Time of High Water.

R. B.