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his former hopes and his apostolic mission, abruptly told his juniors "I go a-fishing," with what guerdon we all know and why should the dignity of our years and the gradual greying of our heads keep us back, where this princely apostle leads the way? The sport of boys! you say. A worm at one end and a fool at the other! Waste of time! These are the flouts of pride, of inexperience and of a mere vulgarity which mistakes its own fussy dust-raising for productive labour. At the Day, when all days are truly known and accounted for, will you not rather wish to change some of your profit-mongering, excited, hot, shadowsnapping days for some of my cool ones, among the alders, where I woo the gentle shades that glide in that green glass into which I look; till the West grows grey, and it is time to say an Evensong in the gathered twilight?
But let us fish as becomes philosophers, devoting ourselves to what is real, that is to the pure idea; and not peevishly, and like corrupt Aristotelians, stickling stiffly for this or that embodiment of the Idea. He is no philosopher who aims only at salmon, or who frets because neither grayling nor trout
is to be found within his radius. Your unworldly angler laughs at such unsatiated lustings. Not that he disdains the large and lordly, if it comes his way; but because to him the idea is larger and more lordly even than the rushing, leaping king of fishes, and so if salmon are not to be had, he will be content with trout. If these are out of reach, are there not other fishes, nibbling roach, or little minnows?-creatures not to be despised because they are tiny, and, as we shall shew hereafter, not despised by our wiser fathers, and not now despised by those who know that even the best fishing is like the worst, a little vanity, a harmless vanity, an innocent vanity but still all the same, vanity and nothingness, a prison pastime, which we may play at till our execution time arrives, and we leave our little cell for ever. So too, though we strive for success, because it is part of the pure idea, we are content with a light basket, and envy not the absurd creature who refuses to count his spoil save by the stone; and we despise not our poor and thwarted brother, who has only the luck of Simple Simon, and is glad to fill his basket with mushrooms, or water-lilies, so that he shall, at all events, have some memento of
his gentle day. Is the angler a country lord or a soap-boiler bubbling over with expensive tools and tackle? Is he a school-boy, splashing in his penny float, or a thick-shod urchin with a cork and pea-stick? Is he a ripe scholar, cooling his brain, or a truant evading the Education Acts? He may be equally a lover of wisdom in his Art, equally single-eyed, equally above the supreme vanity of despising or envying any one concrete embodiment of the idea, or of confusing success with skill. Dear Platonic brother of the Craft, in whatever guise thou comest, I see thee as a blessed Spirit by the pure river of Life, or near the crystal Lake, wandering in the pied meads of sunny Paradise, or under the healing twelve-fruited trees, thy cheerful face sunny with God, and thy creel blest as with the plus, or the minus, of the miraculous manna. Thou, too, wilt sup with the Lamb, on a broiled fish, and an honeycomb, shall it be?
But here comes in a caveat. My worthy spinster aunt, a most venomously respectable person, who has spent her life plying the angle in matrimonial waters (without catch), and is now actively engaged in pouring lime, curari, and dynamite into the river of life,
objects that all field sports are cruel, and that angling is peculiarly barbaric; for whereas men are made to be taken, if possible, or, at any rate, to be destroyed, fishes and worms are hedged about with some precepts of Divine Love, and upon every scale and ring is written Noli me tangere and written by Religion herself, for Aunt Susan has read and deciphered the same; and she
most pertinacious missionary. She scares our angler friends, rather shy biters anyhow, from our frugal table, by asking them how they would like to be lifted on to mountains by meat-hooks stuck through their palates? How they would relish being drowned and impaled at one fetch? How they would regard some macrocosmic man, whose delight was to butcher anglers with batons and consume their sanguined flesh with melted butter? It is true that my worthy aunt does not disdain a fine dish of fishes, especially on Fridays, for she is a devout Churchwoman, but they must be caught by persons unknown, and by methods equally unknown to her. I have seen her, poising a fragment of pork flesh upon her fork, whose mute fibres cried like a brother's blood against her, wax almost prophetic in
her humane inconsistency. Poor lady! Perhaps she is rather too easy an opponent to afford much sport in the catching-though she is undeniably game. I have, spiritually speaking, gaffed her many times, by showing her that her arguments come round like boomerangs, come round and smite the very hand that throws them. Granted that we anglers cause death and pain, and find our very health, pleasure, and even life, in things shotted with these heavy weights, what then? Let him, or her, that is without reproach in these matters, by all means stone us. Aunt Susan does not disdain to ply her fork upon roast lamb: but even if I converted her to a vegetable diet, she would be no nearer to her goal of a life unsustained by sacrifice. She would be constantly robbing the worm and the weevil of their whole larder nay, for every draught of water that she took, she would still be butchering whole families and tribes of innocent aquatic creatures-to whom life is dear and delightful. She could not tread upon the lawny carpets of the earth or ply the broom upon her own Brussels without slaying quick and trembling organisms. Indeed it is improbable that she could even raise that