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ἐγκέλυος· πνοιῇ δὲ περιστένεται μογέουσα
Sometimes we catch a glimpse of why the Romans crowned old Oppian. Surely he had the key to their hearts ! (iii 257).
“Hunger thou in-bred Fiend, whose stern Commands
Nor Brutes, nor lordly Man himself withstands,
Slave to the Sense, but Rebel to the Mind;
All Appetites to thee, all Passions yield,
Oppian is thus, as may be seen by these
two extracts, a practical man and a moralist. In both these characters he should be dear to us English. But he is also a retailer of romance, and one learns, not without shrinking, of the depraved appetites of fish. The Wrasse gives way to shocking paroxysms of jealousy. The Preke* has an olive habit, and will hug any part of Athene's tree with amorous dementia. But the Sargot is not contented with a vegetable love. (iv. 388).
"The Sargo scorns the natural Embrace,
When the goats come to bathe in the dogdays, the Sargo plies his suit and follows his hirsute love to the very brink of the sea, and leaves her with tears in his eyes. Thus Oppian muses, not without satire :
"Unhappy Lovers! You too soon will find
The fisher, dressed as a nanny, with a rod
[*I am as uncertain as to the Preke, as Mr. Micawber was about the gowans, and the pulling of them].
and goat's feet baits, catches the unnatural rascal.
If space allowed much might be added to this, particularly the account of the Dolphin in book V, and why it is an unforgiven sin to kill one.
CHAP. VII-A Charge of Pike.
T is a mournful fact that the Pike, who will devour most other fishes in the water, will, unless he is restrained, devour them in the hearts of anglers. Salmon, of course, are still more voracious, but salmon should be kept out of the mind if a common man wishes to angle with content. They are hall marked for the mighty, and need not disturb the calm of the weekly sabbatical angler. He is content to see them mongered, and on state occasions to poise fragments upon his fork-Salmon of course-but we forget about them, as of Mahseer, Tarpon, Sturgeon, and other rarities. But Pike-they are not so easily banished. One meets them in the roach holes. It is thanks to them that the dace play in the shallows. It is their doing that perches are so punctilious, so insistent upon being recognised at home and ashore.
Who taught the rest to be so coy? Who trained them from fryhood to clean run maturity to guard their interests so sed
ulously? Who keeps them from feeding upon the likely days? Who plays the Malthus and keeps down the population with sharp-toothed arguments? Who is responsible for snapping many a thread of hope, and of silkworm gut? Whose green gleam awakens the hope of the neophyte with a worm and keeps him rapturous and light for long unprofitable hours? Who forces the banksman to troll, and to spin in spite of himself? Who makes gudgeon catching tame? Who, in a word, rules the rivers and lakes, and the anglers in these? It is the deputy Lieutenant Governor, the Acting Magistrate, the man and fish compeller, the Pike. You may ignore him for a time, but sooner or later your rod will stiffen, your line thicken, and you will think of the lesser peoples but as flunkies or heralds, or at the best as introductory friends to the great man. For his sake you will be loaded up unmurmuringly like a Commissariat camel, or a Breton ass. You will forget your sedentary habits and develope calf and thigh muscles. You will study the unlit muddy treatises of hack tipsters and thumb the catalogues of deceitful vendors. Tyrant! whom I serve with scarcely a murmur. I buy thy