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(Æons bethink you are my wages
Help virtue to a silver spoon,
Mr. Morant, in the above verses, might have enlarged upon this theme, and heard Patience complain, like a distressed kitchen wench, that she is called upon to do everybody else's duties; but I believe that his Muse ploughs a somewhat barren soil, poor man, and he has to work Madam Patience hard, and to pay her handsomely to get any crop at all.
Imagination is more needed than patience. The fishes are not so very unlike ourselves after all. They progress where resistance is least, or when necessity calls. Those who command will take up stations of command those who are much sought after will take vantage grounds of security. The slow will lie low in forests and caves; the swift will expose themselves to the light and snatch an opportunity from the jaws of death itself. Visitors are shyer than residents, victims than victimizers. The baits which are most popular are those which are
seen most and tasted least; or those, which are well-known but put out of season. These last have the romance of the first and last rose. People who will pass ten thousand lovelier buds in the heyday of ripe June, will stop to gather one pink bud in April, or an amber one in December. So fishes will fall upon an early worm or a belated chafer with a zest they never knew when these luxuries were cheap. Ground baiting is not a mere soup kitchen to attract the hungry shoals, to collect them as a convenient audience for the evangelical oratory of the sneckhook. It is even more an educational work. Balls of mud with bran, gentles or minced worm, are intended to make cereals or small flesh foods familiar to fishy palates, and so acceptable. Neither flour, meat, flies, nor lob worms grow of themselves in rivers. Many a catchworthy creature passes from fryhood to a covetable maturity without so much as realizing the delicacy of these flavours. Just as a musician will educate a public by spicing the higher harmonies in among the filthy tunes which it has hitherto hummed grovellingly with unabashed satisfaction; so we, too, elevate the taste of our public, also with the view of tasting in our
turn the flesh of those we educate. Ground bait is a kind of advertisement, and like other advertisements, of course, has to be paid for by the consumer, as heavily as can be exacted.
"Gum of Ivy dissolved in Oyl of Spike, or with Oyl of Ivy-berries, or the Oyl of Polypodie of the Oak mixed with Turpentine," it is said, "will be great enticements to Fish to bite." But this was set forth in the days before catgut came in, and when "hair lines of a Sorrel, Grey or Green colour," were looked upon as chic.
There is more modernity in the old command "that your Apparel be not of any bright or frightning colour." The soft greys, browns, and heather mixtures, are the right colours for anglers to wear. Khaki is not amiss in this warfare but the best stuff, both for comfort and skill, is a soft brown cloth made out of natural black wool, which has not been alkalied into dulness by any foolish chemicals. Let the angler have a manypouched panoply of this. It will, by virtue of its lanoline, keep out the rain. It will satisfy his art sense, and his self-respect, and it will last until his hand trembles with age, and he passes on his old rods and reels to his keen-eyed grandchildren.
CHAPTER VI—In Dispraise of the
ET us, in reason,
of Rome! The Latins were the hardest nuts old Time ever cracked. It is almost impossible to escape the clutch of them, dead as they are. We travel along their tracks. We are patient under their law. We go to Church-if we do go-and are dosed with their doctrine. Their speech dominates ours. Their very cookery preys upon our peptic systems. It is not merely that we have learnt their conjugations which causes this slavery, for the very hind at the cider press is imitating some defunct old Roman. So is the Gardener and the Master of the Mint and the Urban Councillor, and the Archbishop; and the very blackguard who scribbles filth on the walls writes low Latin in the low Roman mode. Roman cosmetics disfigure English faces. Latin vests keep out Saxon frosts. Whitechapel thieves
wrest Roman rings from English sots, upset by liquors made Latine. "Plague catch Justinian" the litigious Londoner would say if he knew whose hand dealt the sentence.
Hang St. Augustine," and half the difficulties of candidates for Holy Orders would disappear, for the Greeks would then be audible. It is rude anywhere, and in Belfast actionable, to say "to hell with the Pope," but really he ought to purge himself of his Cæsarian notions in a democratic church and age. It is a wonder that we are allowed a fraction of the calendar in English-the mere names of the days— for months and years, are all Latins. Who can tell what November was in our speech? and have we really no word for a rose?
These Latins, these business people, these highly practical, judicious, inevitable, organising capitalists had very small notions of sport, as such. If they wanted fishes they got them as directly as possible, with stout nets. They hunted to slay just as they fought to win. Cæsar's cavalry charge upon the fair-haired German women and their blue-eyed children, was hardly fair war. It was not to be expected that fishes should be regarded with a friendly eye, and caught in