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and desiring his son and daughter to place him in full view of the delightful river Coquet. This they do, and he says:
Now place my rod beside my hand-
I climb the steep, I move the deeps,
Wild whirls my reel, full grows my creel,
Oh, son! oh, loving daughter!
In maddest dream was ever stream
Could match with Coquet's water?
And so on. I know myself of an angler who still wears beneath the weight of eighty-five years a young man's heart and spirits, which he says is due to seventy years of angling. I assure my readers I have drawn from his valuable experience in the succeeding chapters. Will these facts recommend the uninitiated to angling ? for, like all true believers, I seek ever to proselytise.
The charm this species of amusement exerts over the angler must be powerful to afford such examples as those I have just quoted, and besides the general reason already given for this, there exists another hardly less considerable, and this may be sought for in a quality which most men possess, namely, a love of nature. This is splendidly explained in the oft-quoted passage from the Prioress of St. Albans, which I have rendered into modern English that the reader may the more readily read it, and which I beg leave to reproduce, it being, apart from its special reference to angling, a sweet pastoral prose poem. She says: "And yet at the least he hath his wholesome walk, and merry at his ease a sweet air of the sweet savour of the mead flowers, that maketh him hungry. He heareth the melodious harmony of fowls. He seeth the young swans, herons, ducks, coots, and many other fowls, with their broods, which to me seemeth better than all the noise of hounds, the blast of horns, and the cry of fowls, that hunters, falconers, and fowlers can make. And if the angler take fish surely there is no man merrier than he is in his spirit." Old Walton also teems with this love of natural music which so eloquently appeals to the angler's better nature, and which in the end becomes as familiar voices from whose soft fascination he cannot nor does he wish to break. Let my readers listen to a few words from him-Byron terms him a 66 quaint old cruel coxcomb," with his accustomed sneer-and, after thinking over what they mean, and what I have above said, say whether there is any method or not in the angler's madness. Thus: "Look! under that broad beech tree I sat down when I was last this way a fishing. And the birds in the adjoining grove seemed to me to have a friendly contention with an echo whose dead voice seemed to live in a hollow tree near the brow of that primrose hill. There I sat, viewing the silver streams glide silently
towards their centre, the tempestuous sea, yet sometimes opposed by rugged rocks and pebble stones which broke their waves and turned them into foam. And sometimes I beguiled time by viewing the harmless lambs, some leaping securely in the green shade, whilst others sported themselves in the cheerful sun. . . As I sat thus these and other sights had so fully possessed my soul with content that I thought, as the poet had happily expressed it :
I was for that time lifted above earth,
Was ever such a charming scene presented by poet or painter before or since? and to the sympathetic reader this quotation, of many others, unfolds the secret of the formation of the pleasant thraldom with which angling-not "pot hunting "-environs its disciples.
For, indeed, what can be more soothing to man's nature than the soft murmur of the breeze as it caresses the slender reeds or soughs gently through the rushes, kissing the slowly flowing stream and raising a smiling dimple of pleasure in the otherwise inanimate water? The artisan from the mill, though his hands be hard and horny, has a man's love of Nature; the tired business man, with his head hitherto full of shares, bonds, coupons, debentures, and what not; even the statesman, like Lucretius, "his mind half buried neath some weightier argument”—all are subdued by the tender force of unsophisticated Nature. But they must have had the angler's training to enjoy it. Who but an angler, having learned patience and accepted the gifts of contemplation-it is "the contemplative man's pastime ❞— could have written this passage anent the nightingale : "He that at midnight, when the very labourer sleeps securely, should hear, as I have very often, the clear airs, the sweet descents, the natural rising and falling, the doubling and redoubling of her voice, might well be lifted above earth and say, 'Lord, what music hast Thou provided for the souls in Heaven, when Thou affordest bad men such music on earth ?' '' Magnificent as is that ode on this bird-of one "whose name is writ in water," John Keats-no passage in it can compare to this simple piece of heart poesy. The charm of angling is not broken since this was written.
Now, it may be asked, what special qualifications ought a would-be angler to possess in order to enjoy the pleasures so enthusiastically enumerated ? I answer that, inasmuch as that all men cannot be appreciative of Nature and her works, in the same way that all men cannot be poets, painters, or writers, so is it that all men who handle a rod cannot be recipients of the superlative pleasures derivable from
the gentle craft. To be able to accept, and by an inward process to turn all natural examples of beneficence as furnished by our lakes and rivers and general natural scenery to the delectation of the intellectual and moral nature, in every case implies the true poetic faculty in its fullest fruition. Many are able to use it in its entirety. The best anglers I have ever met have been keen, intelligent men, of strong, sanguine, sensitive and eloquent natures, and possessed of that rare power of making the hand answer to the eye-intuitive judgment, and, chiefly, strong athletic bodies. This is my experience, and, as such, I think it will bear scrutiny. The gross picture of "Patience in a Punt," either under the broiling sun or bursting heavens, sans sport, sans cheerfulness, sans everything that makes life endurable, is the absolute opposite to the general truth. Under all circumstances the true angler is infinite in schemes and stratagems-" dodges" is the better term-is ever hopeful and watchful, spares no pains, and absorbs as a sponge does water the pleasaunce around him, his quick well balanced wrist and his clear eyesight can hook and play the fish and on the finest tackle land him. It is a miracle of fishing-to land a large fish on such a fragile thread that a half pound dead weight would break it. The Field reported the capture of a pike in its 'teens, brought to bank by an angler roach fishing with fine hair-this captor was an angler-hero.
" than I
To show, in conclusion of a somewhat longer "introduction at first intended, that there are large numbers of anglers who, in effect, feel and think as I have written, an interesting calculation has been made by Mr. Manley, in his book on "Fish and Fishing," on London angling, which I am sure he will allow me to reproduce. He says: "I gather that there are at the present time about eighty angling clubs or societies in the metropolitan districts, fifty-three of which are associated together under the name of the United London Anglers, and pay social visits in relation to the head centre. The fifty-three clubs have, in round numbers, 1700 members, and the other clubs 500, the very great majority of whom are small shopkeepers, mechanics, and working men. Of the same class there are at least 1000 regular anglers in the London districts who belong to no club. Further, it may be calculated that there are 500 more regular anglers who reside in the vicinity of the Thames and Lea. To these may be added 1000 at least of regular anglers of the upper classes, gentlemen, merchants, and large shopkeepers. These, added together, will give a grand total of 5000 persons who make angling their chief recreation in a moderately circumscribed area of which London is the centre." Now, these figures are certainly within the mark, and the estimate recently made in "The Country journal that there are 50,000 anglers properly so called in England and
Wales cannot, I think, be considered too high. The art is spreading more and more every day. The necessity for general legislation in its favour has at last made itself apparent. The humanising and peaceful recreation is esteemed by those who do not practise it, and everyone of thought or appreciation would acknowledge it as an "art," a category to which it was assigned by Walton 200 years ago.
The space, however, allotted to this most extravagant of "introductions” fails. I have endeavoured to impress upon readers the real significance of the art. Perhaps, as a sort of postscript to all I have said, the angler's song, entitled Invitation," the author however of which I do not know, will add a seal to my enthusiasm:
THE GENERAL HISTORY OF ANGLING, TACKLE,
WAS Adam an angler? Did he solace himself in the intervals of his delightful work in medio ligni paradisi—in the midst of the trees of the garden-with luring the beauties of the four rivers-Gihon, Pison, Hiddekel, and Euphrates ? or was angling a pleasure not then included in the plan of human happiness? It boots not to know the answers to these questions, and they may well be passed over, but it may be interesting to my readers to have a slight sketch before them of the general rise and progress of angling from early times, that when I come to an enumeration and consideration of the exigencies and appliances of the art in future chapters they may in some sort compare the ancient fishing with that of to-day.
It has been presumed, and certainly the presumption seems to hold good, that the ancient Egyptians were not only catchers of fish, but artistic anglers also. Certain figures on their monuments clearly exhibit their knowledge of the craft. The Greeks also appear to have had some knowledge of it also; witness a passage in Homer, in which he speaks
Of beetling rocks that overhang the flood,
Certainly the idea of throwing the fish over one's head does not represent the method of the angler to the best of advantage, but the reference is distinct enough. The Bible furnishes other undeniable references to angling, and, if I am not mistaken, in the Book of Job we find the first reference to the using of a hook : "Canst thou draw out the leviathan with an hook; canst thou bore his jaw through with a thorn?” Again, in Isaiah, chap. 19, v. 8: "And the fisher shall mourn and lament, and those that cast the hook into the river." The word hook is here, I am informed by a celebrated Hebrew scholar, properly