A group of Franciscian friars who lived at Etampes (approximately 30 miles south of Paris, west of Fontainebleau) owned a Barbet whom they employed to catch crayfish. "Ce brave barbet faisait le mort dans l'eau, les écrevisses venaient pour le manger, s'embarrassaient dans son poil, et il revenait couvert de sa proie." (This brave Barbet pretended to be dead in the water [stood still as death?], the crayfish came to eat him, became tangled in his wool, whereupon he returned covered with his booty.) This dog was a great benefit to the monastery, because not only did he catch the crayfish, but he was also a lucrative tourist attraction: "il attirait beaucoup d'étrangers, curieux de le voir manoeuver, et qui laissaient des marques de leur générosité."
The dog drowned, and a monument was erected in his honour in the monastery garden; upon it, the following epitaph:
Vellera corripiunt contracto forcippe cancri,
Proedam quippe rati, stringuntque tenacibus ulnis;
Excutit ille jubas, vultumque in terga retortus
Tela timet, dextramque ululans implorat herilem.
Hic piscator, hic est cujus solertia nuper,
Aurea seraphicae renovarat secula genti;
Quem sors eripuit, postquam invida regnat egestas
Longum heu! regnatura nisi tu forte viator;
Pellis et auriferum supplet tua dextra catellum.
Here's a very rough translation (please, if you can provide an improved version, make haste!):
Crayfish caught his wool with tightened claws
Thought him in fact to be prey (spoils?) and held on with grasping arms (claws?)
(But?) he shook his hair and turning back his head
Feared blows (reprimands?) and called to the right authority (head? person in charge?) with howls
This fisherman, this is now his... (solertia = lot? solace? state?)
Who brings back the golden Age to angelic (i.e. Christian?) people
He whom Fortune snatched away
And envious Poverty ruled thereafter
For a long time, alas! And it will continue to rule unless you, perhaps, O traveller
Contribute your gifts for this good pup.
Elzéar Blaze, Histoire du Chien (Paris: 1846), pp. 431-2, taken from (see p. 432n): Canis piscator. In-8o, undated, Anonymous. Published by Claude Charles Hemard de Danjouen, of Etampes.
For an heroic-poem satiric ampliflication, written by the 24-years-old head of the monastery in Latin and in French, see: Claude-Charles Hémard de Danjouan, Le Chien Pêcheur 1714. See also Émile Bayard et Johann Ettling, Le Chien Pêcheur woodcut, 1868.
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