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CHAP. I-For the Defence, My Lud!
HERE is not any exercise more pleasing or more agreeable to a truly sober and ingenious man, than this of Angling; a moderate, innocent and salubrious, and delightful exercise: It wearieth not a man over much, unless the waters lie remote from home: it injureth no man, so that it be in an open large water he being esteemed a Beast rather than a Man that will oppose this exercise neither doth it in any way debauch him that useth it: The delight also of it rouzes up the Ingenious early in the Spring mornings, that they have the benefit of the sweet and pleasant Morning-Air, which many through sluggishness enjoy not; so that Health (the greatest Treasure that Mortals enjoy) and Pleasure go hand in hand in this exercise. What can be more said of it, than that the most Ingenious most use it?"
This extract is from Systema Agriculturæ. The mystery of husbandry discovered by J. W., Gent, whose proper name was John Worlidge, and who flourished in the enquiring days of Charles II.
Ingenious reader, or reader who would fain be numbered among the ingenious, I must confess to you that this excerpt revived in me the smouldering flames of an old forgone love, and raised again the memory of old haunts, ponds, brooks, piers, and abandoned lashers, where once I had lingered long in patient hope, and whence I had returned wet, late and triumphant, with some two or three, or at the most twenty, sardine-like silvery things, which elders received with scant gratitude, nay, often with contumely. But then alas! came the years and the world, study, business, (that "frivolous pretence of human lusts to shake off innocence,") and the foolish avocations of love, marriage, fatherhood, ambition, criticism, reform, and a host of such like, and I was weaned for a little space from this moderate, innocent and salubrious life, until this John Worlidge came to me in my dreams, and ground-baited all the streams of the world with his enticements. Sad Peter, missing