Hawthorn Fly Fishing & Angling Collection

The angler's souvenir [Chatto, William Andrew, 1799-1864] 1880

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 f H £
Ly P. lister.
Angling—Pro and Con
An Evening at the Rye House
Angle-land   ....
The Salmon  .
Shade-fishing foe, Trout    .
The Mill       ....
An October Morning .
The Linn      .
An Angler's Holiday:
I. Home       ....
II. Up with the Lark .
III. The Portrait of an Angler
IV. On a Cottage Door.
V. Among the Carp
YI. Kitten-pishing
VII. The Meres
VIII. Coedyballt
IX. The Happy Valley
Angling Acquaintances (Animals,  Birds,
Waterside Plants
A Rustic Angler .
A Monster Pike   .
On some Odd Ways of Fishing
Carpe Diem   ....
A September Day .
Blank Days  ....
There are thre8 classes of men who read angling
books. First, and least numerous, are those who
care nothing for fishing, but are fond of the country,
and like to read those descriptions of country life
and scenes which abound in angling books more
than others; next come those who are fond of
fishing, and are so lucky as to have plenty of it.
These, although they cannot keep their hands off
a book on their favourite sport, if they see it, yet
look down upon it with some feeling of superiority
to it: they know more than it can teach them, and
all their lives are passed in the enjoyment to
satiety of what it describes as almost heavenly;
and last, there is the large class for which books
of this kind are chiefly written—the men who
are sportsmen at heart, and passionately devoted
to angling, yet have little time, and perhaps less
opportunity, to indulge in the pursuit of that
which would bring them happiness; These men
read with aviclity whatever is wrttten upon the
gentle art, and so make up in fancy for the loss of
the reality.     I confess that I am one of this last-
named body. My opportunities for fishing- are
abundant enough, but, between law and literature, I haven't the time to avail myself of them.
Therefore I read what others write, and I write
myself for the sake of others. Yet, as I write of
the days when I had the time and used it well, the
longing to be off and away once more to river and
lake comes with a painful force, and I strive to
snatch an hour or two for its gratification. But
a fisherman, if he is to be successful should be
able to piek his days, and if he cannot do so, the
chances are that the days on which he is compelled
to fish, if, he fishes at all, are unsuitable, and he
is unsuccessful. At least that is my experience.
Therefore I am again driven back to my books for
consolation.   Is this not the experience of many ?
All this is meant to show that a demand has
arisen and continues for angling-books, and that
there is ample excuse for adding more to their
already great number.
Some years ago there appeared an excellent book,
with very beautiful steel engravings, called " The
Angler's Souvenir," by "P. Fisher, Esq., assisted by
several eminent piscatory characters." The earlier
part of the present book consists of a portion of the
original Angler's Souvenir. The practical matter of
the Souvenir has been omitted, because the practice
of angling has materially improved since it was
written, and its instructions would be of no value
to  modern anglers.     The  descriptive part of it,
> H
f "
however, will not lose, but rather gain, by beiDg
old-fashioned, and should be received with the same
favour by the present generation of anglers as by
the past.
The concluding portion of this work is also a
part of a book which was published under the title-
of " Angling Idylls." The critics who then made the
author blush, in his exceeding modesty, at the too
generous nature of their criticisms, are responsible
for this mixture of the new wine with the old. The
last three sketches or articles are quite new, except
that Carpe Diem appeared in the pages of "London
Society." Critics like to .have a raison d'etH for the
production of a book now, although I don't see the
least reason why they should, and hope that I have
established a sufficient one for the existence of this
new edition of " The Angler's Souvenir."
  When fair Aurora rising early shewes
Her blushing face beyond the eastern hils,
And dyes the heavenly vault with purple rewes,
That far abroad the world with brightnesse flls ;
The meadows green are hoare with silver dewes,
That on the earth the sable night distils,
And chanting birds with merry notes bewray
The near approaching of the chearf ull day. ,
Then let him go to river, brook, or lake,
That loves the sport, where store of fish abound,
And through the pleasant fields his journey make,
Amidst sweet pastures, meadows fresh and sound,
Where he may best his choice of pastime take, ■
While swift Hyperion runs his circle ronnd;
And, as the place shall to his liking prove,
There still remain, or further else remove.
The Secrets of Angling, by John Dennys, Esq.   1613.
The true secret of the Angler's purest and most
lasting pleasure—whose remembrance is sweet, and
anticipation exhilarating,—is discovered in the
stanzas which we have prefixed as a befitting introduction to the present chapter. The practice of
Angling is closely and necessarily associated with
objects, the contemplation, nay, tn*e very beholding of which fails not to impart a pleasure to every
man whose soul is not insensible to the charms
presented by the natural combination of.
" Field and forest, flood and hill,.
Tower, abbey, chtrrch, and mill,"—
 such us our friend here will enjoy afl
landed the salmon, which has held hi
for this last hour and a half.
Though the love of angling is general];
in youth, yet it sometimes attacks persoi
mature age; conveys a maggot into t
and then they dream of gentles; tickles
with a Hny-tly, and straight they talk o
red and black, dmvents, grananis, coach
fessors, gnats, moths, March browns, an
hackles; shows them a salmon in a tN
shop, and then they think of landing an
pounder ; makes them dream, speak. an<
recollections of real, heartfelt, unalloyed pleasu
amongst which that of angling, with an episode
bathing or Hrd-nesting, is not the least d eli gh t
On a fine summer afternoon—when the new m<
hay smells sweet, when the trees are in full L
iappy are it*
iday; and fe\
present enjoym
S ■
of such an occasion. The kind master—masters
who occasionally give such an indulgence are always kind, good men—with a suppressed smile of
satisfaction announces the glad tidings, and immediately retires, that he may not witness the
somewhat indecorous haste with which books and
slates are laid aside, and hats and caps scrambled
for. Like a swarm of bees casting, they rush out
of school with a joyful hum, and then, spreading
themselves in groups upon the green, hold council
how they shall best dispose of the portion of golden
time which has been accorded to them per gratiam
domini—through the kindness of the master. One
party, is off to the meadpw, to plague the farmer by
3a5fe^^ tumbling among the hay, when they pretend to assist
J-jT him in tedding it ; another is gone to the wood and
the coppice, to cut sticks,- gather flowers, and seek
bird-nests ; and a third has-determined to try the
fishing, after taking a bathe in the Friar's Pool, as
they go up the burn. Those of the latter party
who have rods, now produce them, and a survey and
|i|g| fitting of tackle take place ; while such as are not
so well provided set out in search of brandling
worms and cad-bait; their reward for such service
being a cast now and then, with the honour of
carrying the fish home.
To attend our fishing-party : they have now had
their bathe in the Friar's Pool; the swimmers
boldly plunging in from the ledge of rocks at the
head, and the sinkers prudently confining them-
selves to dabbling about in the shallows at the
foot. Two young ones, who would not go overhead voluntarily, were, to prevent them taking
cold, thrice ducked nolens volens; and another, who
would not bathe, was gently bumped against a sod-
dyke. They now proceed to the serious business
of the afternoon,—fishing. The strongest, as a
matter of right, select such parts of the water as
appear to them best; the weaker fish where they
can ; and those who have neither rod nor line, wait
on such as have, or try to catch minnows and
loaches with their hands, or to spear eels with the
prongs of an old fork stuck in a broomstick.
Here is a chubby little fellow, in a pinafore, five
last birthday, making his first essay as an angler.
His rod is an untrimmed stick of hazel, which he
has picked up by the way; his line a couple of
yards of packthread ; his hook one of the four old,
beardless, rusty ones which be bought as a bargain
of a schoolfellow; and his bait the worms which
he dug in his grandmother's garden, breaking the
handle of her fire-shovel in turning up the earth.
But though rude his tackle and small his skill, ere
the sun set great was his reward. The water was
in prime order, and the fish bit freely. He caught
five minnows, and an eel twice as long as his middle
finger, and almost as thick ; and lost, as he affirmed
and verily believed, a trout about three pounds
weight, which dropped off just as he was whisking
him out.    This is the first step of the angler's pro-
gress ; and from this day forward, when time and
tide serve, will he fish by rapid stream and broad
river, by highland loch and lowland mere ; until,
{' sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything," he relapse into childhood again.
The boy who has thus auspiciously entered on
his novitiate proceeds gradually until he takes a
master's degree, an honour to which no one is
admitted before he has performed the qualifying
act of hooking and landing, without assistance, a
salmon not less than fourteen pounds weight; after
which he ought, on producing his testimonium, to
have the entree of every angling club throughout
Great Britain and Ireland. Should there be no
salmon-fishing in the waters where he exercises his
skill, then a jack of the same weight, also taken
without assistance, or a stone and a half of trout,
half a hundredweight of barbel, or a peck of dace,
roach, or perch, caught in a day's fair fishing, not
in dock or pond, may be allowed as a qualification,
speciali gratia, for the same degree. It is here to
be noted that bream may be allowed instead of
barbel, or be weighed with them, if taken in the
same day's fishing; and that carp and tench may
be weighed, with trout. Eels are not reckoned;
and gudgeon-fishers are always to*be considered in
a state of pupilage, and their ta&e not to be admitted in proof of angling skill, either by weight,
tale, or .measure. Gudgeon-fishing, as Michael
Angelo said of oil-painting, is only fit for women
and boys. To take a salmon in fresco—that is, in
a fresh or spate, as a north-country friend translates
it—is the perfection of the angler's art.
Though no person, however partial to angling,
and however fond of walking, in pursuit of his
sport, through pleasant meads and by rippling
streams, can be entitled to the character of a skilful
angler, unless he be capable of bringing home, by
the fair exercise of his rod and line, a tolerable
load of fish; yet it by no means follows that mere
fish-killers, whose practice had never extended
beyond the Docks at Blackwall, the Surrey and
Regent's Canals, or a mile from Islington, on the
New River, are entitled to the name* of anglers, in
the best sense of the word. Their hands are dabbled in blood—from the butcher's tub—and fouled
with the garbage with which they bait their ground ;
and there is the fragrance of no flowers to conceal
the loathsome smell. They hear not the murmur
of the stream, nor the song of birds ; they see not
the forest in the fulness of summer leaf, nor the
jneadow pranked with summer flowers. Confined,
in pairs, in a punt or boat, or singly to a strip of
ground some thirty feet long, the extent of their
rod and hne, they sit or stand for hours, the picture
of despondency—their eyes never raised from their
float, unless when roused by the coarse salute of a
sailor or bargeman, or by the sarcastic query of
" What success ?" from the passer-by. Such persons, if married men, are generally those who seek
relief from domestic annoyances, and who in the
words of one of their poets,
"bend their way
To streams, wbere far from care and strife,
From smoky house and scolding wife,
They snare the finny race."
Poor men ! they only resort to this melancholy
pastime in order to put their patience to the proof,
and fit them for severer trials; for if the fire be
not out and the wife not dead, on their return home,
desperate indeed must be their condition. Gentle
angler, l*ugh not at those persons who are thus
driven to the water-side, to seek so desperate a.
remedy for their woes : thou knowest not what
may hereafter be thy own fate. Pray that the
construction of their chimneys, and the temper of
their helpmates, may be amended; but if, after a
twelvemonth's absence, thou again mark an unhappy man on the same spot, for pity's sake put
the sufferer out of pain. Taking him by the collar
of his coat and the waistband of his small-clothes,
gently cast him into the water—he will have neither
strength nor inclination to resist—hold him down
with the butt of his rod for the space of twenty
minutes, and then leave him to his^beloved gudgeons. Though thou canst not thus exjpect to gain
the medal of the Humane Society, thou wilt have
the pleasing consciousness of having relieved a
fellow-man,—I almost said a brother angler, but,
with such, brother Bob is the word,—of his cares.
and of having  prevented him from committing
Elderly anglers, who feel weak in the legs after
a mile or two's walk, and who seat themselves on
the bare ground when fishing, ought to be made
acquainted with the danger which they incur in
thus incautiously resting themselves ; for " how-
over dry it may seem," says an-experienced bottom-
fisher, " many, from so doing, have experienced
violent cholics, inflammations in the bowels, etc."
To guard against such disorders, it appears, from
the authority above quoted, that "careful anglers
provide themselves with a piece of cork or board,
(which some cover with a piece of carpet). . . ,
The cork or board provided for a seat is usually
about eighteen inches long and twelve broad, which
may be kept and carried in a basket, with other
articles used by anglers." This contrivance, which
was good enough in its day—about ten years since
—has, in consequence of the late rapid strides of
science, as applied to the useful arts, been almost
wholly superseded by Macintosh's patent Caoutchouc Air-cushions, which, when not inflated, may
be conveniently stowed in the hat-crown, and,
when wanted, can in two minutes be blown out to
the size of a goodly pillow. But as it is desirable
that the angler should carry with him as few things
as possible beyond his necessary tackle, a further
simplification of this "life preserver" for the
sedentary angler, is here   suggested ;  being also
waterproof, it has all the general advantages of the
cushion, with, it is presumed, some Httle comforts
in*addition :—to be warm as well as dry, in the
part most exposed to cold and damp, is a great
desideratum with the angler who wishes to enjoy
" pleasure and ease
Together mixed,—sweet recreation."
The proposed improvement has also the advantage over the cushion in these points,—it is always
ready for use, and is much less liable to be lost. It
is rather surprising that an invention at once so
simple and obvious should have occurred to no
bottom-fisher before. It consists merely in seating
the inexpressibles of the sedentary angler with
caoutchouc, and lining them, according to size,
with two, three, or four bosom friends—prepared
rabbit-skins, so called,—which can be obtained at
any glover or hosier's shop.
. Though Sir Humphrey Davy, in his " Salmonia,"
speaks lightly of the angling of " cockney fishermen, who fish for roach and dace in the Thames,"
yet we strongly suspect that in this school he was
first initiated into the mysteries of the rod and line,
and that his love of fly-fishing for trout and salmon was rather a late one. He was President of
the Royal Society, and he was ambitions—sero sed
serio, late though earnestly—of ranking among the
first of fly-fishers. Vain hope ! No man who drives
out to Denham, "in a light carriage and pair of
horses," to enjoy trout-fishing in a preserved stream;
or who is carried into a boat on a Highlandman's
back, to fish for salmon on Loch Maree, need aspire
to such a distinction. Of fly-fishing, he may talk,
in season and out of season,
" About it. Goddess, and about it,"
with German Professors and French Members of
the Institute—but a genuine angler he never can be.
The advice to anglers respecting the state of their
bowels, the danger of palsy or apoplexy to be apprehended from wading, and the excess of drinking
a pint of wine, savour much of the precautions and
-/forebodings of a prudent bottom-fisher. Though
there are several passages of great beauty and
feeling in the " Salmonia," and many obervations
on natural history which are highly deserving of
attention, yet, notwithstanding that it has had an
extensive sale, it is not a,popular book. Many have
read it who would not otherwise have looked into such
a book from curiosity to see what the President of the
r   Royal Society, claiming to be one of the first scien-
; tific bodies in Europe, could say upon such a subject; and others, who are desirous of reading such
■^works, be the author who he may, have perused it
with greater avidity in consequence of the previous
reputation of the author. It is of little use as an
angling guide; and though the author appears to
have angled in the Scottish Highlands and in Stiria,
he scarcely appears to have seen any of the people
of these countries, for there is nothing like a characteristic sketch of popular manners in the book.
The notice of the " stout Highlander with a powerful tail, or, as we should call it in England, suite,"
is a poor affair ; and Mr. Ornither was right in not
saying a word about the Celt being " a pot-fisher, and
somewhat hungry," until his tail was turned, lest
he should have soused him in the pool. The sneer
from the Cockney (he could be nothing else), one
of a party who <rhave come nearly a thousand
miles for this amusement," at a Highlandman as a
pot-fisher, is really capital. Why, what does the
Highlandman feed on 1—Salmon, grouse, and red
deer ; and he might as well be laughed at as a
pantry sportsman, because he kills the latter for his
table, as sneered at because he takes his own fish.
We have known some trout and salmon fishers in
our day, and the best of them were pot-fishers ; not
men who fished for a living, but who walked far
and waded deep to bring home a prime salmon for
the kettle, or a creel full of trout for the frying-
pan. The author of " Salmonia," who is not disinclined to let us know that he enjoyed the acquaintance of a Prince of the Blood Royal, and had lived
with the great—cum magnis vixisse would form no
unapt motto for the book—is more at home at
Denham, within the sound of "the dressing-bell
which rings at half-past four," preparatory to dinner
at five, than on the banks of a Highlandjoch, where
the select party is annoyed by the sight of a powerful Highlandman with his tail on. Mountain lochs
and streams cannot be so strictly preserved as two
or three miles of stream in Buckinghamshire ; nor
gentlemen anglers in Ross-shire so well fenced in
from chance intruders as by the side of a brook
which skirts a gentleman's pleasure-grounds within
twenty miles of London.
Fly-fishing is most assuredly that branch of
angling which is the most exciting, and which
requires the greatest skill with the greatest personal exertion to ensure success. Fly-fishing
in a preserved water, where a gentleman, perchance in ball-room dress, alights from his carriage to take an hour or two's easy amusement,
is no more like fly-fishing in a mountain stream
—where the angler wanders free to seek his fish
where he will and take them where he can—than
slaughtering pheasants,, in a manner fed at the
barn-door, and almost as tame as the poultry which
are regularly bred in the yard, can be compared to
the active exertion of grouse-shooting. The angler
who lives in the neighbourhood of, or visits even
the best trout streams, has not unfrequently to walk
miles, if he wishes to bring home a well-filled creel,
before he finds it worth his while to make a cast.
When he has reached a place where trout are plentiful, and disposed to rise, his labours then only
commence. He now and then hooks a large trout,
which he has to keep in play for some time before
he can draw him to land. The fish has run all the
line out, and with strong effort is making up or
down the stream ; and the angler, being no longer.
.   .- "   ,- '{M^P    """
able to follow him on the shore—for a tree, a rock, or
a row of alders prevents him,—and knowing that
his tackle, which towards the hook is of the finest
gut, will not hold the trout, and rather than lose the
speckled beauty, three pounds weight at the least,
into the water he goes, up to his knees, and possibly
a yard above, the first step. And thus he continues
leading a sort of amphibious life, now on land, now
in the water, for nearly half a day, till he has killed
his creel-full, about the size of a fish-woman's pannier, with some three or four dozen besides, strung
on his garters and suspended over his rod. In this
guise, light-hearted—for he has reason to be proud
of his success—though heavily laden, he takes his
way homeward ; and then does he, for the first time,
note how rapidly the hours have fled. He came
out about two in the afternoon, just thinking to
try if the trout would rise, as there had been
a shower in the morning and the water was a
little coloured; and he now perceives that the
sun, which is shedding a flood of glory through
the rosy clouds that for half an hour before
partly obscured his rays, will in ten minutes sink
behind the western hill, although it be the 21st
of June. Involuntarily he stands for a while to
gaze upon the scene. Everything around him in
the solitude of the hills-—for there is no human
dwelling within five miles—appears quiet and composed, but not sad. The face of nature appears
with   a   chastened   loveliness,   induced   by   the
departing day; the winds are sleeping, and so are
the birds—lark and linnet, blackbird and thrush :
the leaves of the aspen are seen to move, but not
heard to rustle : the bubbling of the stream, as it
hurries on over rocks and pebbles, is only heard.
The angler's mind is filled with unutterable
thoughts—with wishes pure, and aspirations high.
From his heart he pours, as he turns towards home,
" Thanks to the glorious God of Heaven,
Which sent this summer day."
The exercise which the angler takes when flyfishing is no less conducive to the health of his
body, than the influence of pleasing objects contributes to a contented mind. He is up in the
summer morning with the first note of the lark ;
and ere he return at noon he has walked twenty
miles ;
By burn and flow'ry brae,
Meadow green and mountain grey,"
and has ate nothing since he despatched a hasty
breakfast of bread and milk about four in the
morning ; nor drank, except a glass of Cogniac or
Glenlivat, qualified with a dash of pure spring
water from the stone trough of a wayside well—see
it here—on his way home. When he goes to the
water-side, as it is more than likely that he will
have to wade, he puts on a pair of lambswool socks
and' an extra pair in his pocket. Should his feet
be wet when he leaves off fishing, he exchanges his
wet socks for a pair of dry ones, and walks home in
a state of exceeding great comfort; the glass which
he took at the well, just after changing his socks,
having sent the blood tingling to his toe-ends.
Delicate, nervous people—such fragile beings as,
in country phrase, are said to be " all egg-shells "
—who conceive, and very truly, from some delightful papers in Blackwood, by the "old man
eloquent," that fly-fishing must be a most fascinating amusement, and who think that straightway they can enjoy it in aH its charms, are for the
most part wofully disappointed when they come to
make the trial. Fly-fishing is indeed delightful,
but not to them. A poor whimsical thing—poor
in Heaven's best gift, mens sana in corpore sano,—
" Is everything by fits and nothing long,"
has persuaded himself that he would enjoy flyfishing, and is determined to try the Wharf e, which
he is informed affords good trout-fishing, the next
time he visits Harrogate. Previous to leaving
London, he provides himself with an excellent rod
and such lines, of hair and silk, as would make the
mouth of an old angler water, who spins his own
from no better material than the hairs of a cow's
tail. His flies, though showy and well enough
made, are not the kind for a trout, although laid
within an inch of his nose by ever so fine a hand.
He supplied himself at a tackle-maker's, who
knowing little of fly-fishing except for chub,
provided his customer with a choice and extensive
assortment of moths, cockchafers, and bees, with
various kinds of large flies, dressed on hooks large
enough to hold any salmon in Tweed.
Having thus supplied himself with the means
and qualified himself in the art of killing by a
diligent study of Walton, Venables, Barker,
Bowlker, Williamson, Mackintosh, Bainbridge,
Carrol, and others, who have treated of fly-fishing,
he arrives at Harrogate about the middle of
August, and in the course of a day or two proceeds
to the Wharf e, in the neighbourhood of Harewood,
to make his first essay. Not wishing to appear as
a novice, and thinking that his knowledge of the
science may fairly place him on a par with 'any
mere practical country fly-fisher, who has never
read a book on the subject in his life, he asks no
one's advice, but in the fulness of his owji wisdom
sets about putting his theory into practice—sometimes a rather difficult affair as well in fly-fishing
as in ploughing by steam. Having reached the
water, which happens to be small and fine, about
ten in the morning, the sun shining bright and the
sky clear, he very properly begins by adjusting his
tackle. He puts his rod together, screws on his
wheel, on which he winds the line in a very artistlike manner, leading the end of it through the rings
on the rod. He now draws forth his book of
flieB, and after selecting a foot-length to which three
likely flies are attached—to wit, for the stretcher
a good, heavy, red-ended bee to make the line carry
well out; for the lower dropper a cockchafer,
and for the upper, a very fine grey moth—
he loops it to his line. Being resolved not to
attempt throwing far at first, he only lets about
nine yards of line off, and waving his rod With a
graceful turn of the arm, he meditates a throw ;
and now, away the line goes !—No, not exactly
yet; for the bee has been so well counterfeited that
it appears to have been attracted by the flower of
the thistle to whose stalk it is sticking so fast. The
bee is now disengaged. from the thistle, but the
moth shows a partiality for broadcloth, andN
adheres most pertinaciously to the collar of the
gentleman's coat, which he is obliged to put off before he can free himself from the annoying insect.
But he has profited already from experience, and
discovered that the surest mode of throwing out
the line straight before you is first to lay it on the
ground straight behind, and then, taking your rod
in both hands, and holding it directly over your
right shoulder, deliver the flies right in front by a
sort of overhead stroke. After this fashion does
he make his first cast, and: swash go the flies into
the water as if a trio of wild ducks had stooped
there in full flight; and had there been a trout
near, he most surely would have been killed—with
fright. For an hour he continues his unsuccessful
practice ; but consoles himself with the thought
that he will have the more to take next day.
Next day comes, another- after that, but still ho
has caught no trout, though he has lost many flies.
On the fourth day it rains, and in the forlorn hope
of filling his basket while the water is rising, he
ventures, without umbrella, to brave a shower—
but still without success; he catches nothing but a
cold. The same night he has his feet put in warm
water, and takes a basin of gruel when he goes to
bed. How unlike the angler proper, who has the
same day been fishing in the Tweed, between Yair-
bridge and Melrose. He has caught four grilses;,
and as many dozen of trouts, from three in the
afternoon till seven; and about eight o'clock, to
save time and trouble; takes both dinner and supper
at once ; and afterwards enjoys, with Capt. Clutter-
buck, a bottle of wine, drinks three tumblers of
toddy, smokes two cigars, and retires to bed about
eleven, to rise, like a giant refreshed, at six the
next morning.
But to attend to the progress of our amateur
angler's disorder.—The next morning he finds that
the cold which he has caught when trying for trout
is not disposed to leave him ; so he takes his coffee
and reads the newspaper in bed. He gets up about
; rather hoarse, with a slight
ares not stir out, as a drizzling
towards evening he becomes
fidgety, and wants something to read ; and looking
into his trunk for a book, lays his hands on Walton,
which, in savage mood, he throws to the other side
of the room, wishing the good old man, and all
two in the arte
tickling cough,
rain   is   fallim
^k^^^^mj^^^^^ ■
writers on angling—whom he considers as the
authors of his disorder, by tempting him to try
fly-fishing—at a place where it is to be hoped no
honest angler ever will be found. At night his
gruel is repeated, but without any beneficial effect;
for the next morning he finds himself much worse,
with rather an alarming pain in his side and breast.
The doctor now is sent for, who thinks he perceives
inflammation of the lungs ; and should his prognostic be wrong, his practice is safe; for within three
hours after he of the golden-headed cane has
touched his fee, the patient has been cupped between the shoulders, had a blister placed upon his
chest, taken a bolus, and swallowed three draughts.
He has, however, received an assurance from the
doctor that he is in no danger, that is, provided he
takes regularly the medicine which is sent him, has
the blister renewed on the third day, and the cupping repeated at the same time. At the end of a
fortnight the doctor pronounced him convalescent;
and at the end of a month, declared that he might
venture, by easy stages, to return to London. Tho
access of inflammation abated his fit of fly-fishing,
and he has not since been visited with another
attack. Angling he now abominates, together with
all who follow or teach it; and, should*he ever be
so fortunate as to obtain a seat in Parliament, he
intends to bring in a bill to utterly abolish its
practice throughout the British empire. It is not
a mere wish, without experience and without perse-
verance, that will convert a person who has scarcely
seen a trout-stream in his life into an expert fly-
fisher. For the perfect enjoyment of angling, there
is still something required besides dexterity in the
management of the rod, skill in the choice of flies,
and acquaintance with the haunts of fish, and the
localities of the stream. In addition to these, there
must be a warm yet enduring love of angling, even
though the diligent pursuit of it be occasionally
attended with no reward. The mind of the angler
should be fully sensible of the beauties of the
scenery which are presented to him in his excursions by lake and stream ; and susceptible of the
heart-healing impressions which the splendour of
the rising or setting sun, the rugged grandeur of
rocks and craggy mountains, the milder charms
of corn-fields, meadows, and woody slopes, never
fail to convey to him whose better feelings are
not overlaid by the filthy lucre of Mammon, nor
corrupted by the principles of the modern school
of heartless, counterfeit philosophy, which assumes
to itself, par excellence, the title of " Utilitarian,"
and has discarded the old-fashioned virtues of
Faith, Hope, and Charity.
" For what availes to Brooke or lake to goe,
With handsome rods and hookes of every sort,
Well-twisted lines, arid many trinckets moe,
ind the fish within their wat'ry fort,
Lat the minds be not contented so,
its those gifts which should the rest support."
The author of "Salmonia," some six or seven
years ago, declared that the glory of fly-fishing had
departed from many of the streams of Scotland ;
but Christopher North, a much higher authority,
writing within this present year, gives to all anglers
a comfortable assurance that, though there is what
he, " Christopher, and a Scotchman," calls first-
rate angling, "in few, if any> of the dear English
lakes; " and though, with your own tackle, you
may angle in Crummock-water, "with amorous
ditties all a summer's day," and never get a rise ;
'tis never so in the lochs of Scotland. " But all
living creatures," he-thus • continues, "are in a
constant state of hunger in this favoured country ;
so bait your hook with anything edible—it matters
not what—snail, spider, fly—and angle for what
you may, you are sure to catch it—almost as
certainly as the accent or the itch." In addition
to this express testimony of' one so well qualified to
give an opinion on this subject, we shall just quote
an account of the Ettrick Shepherd's success, in
little more than a mere en-passant " whup" at a
couple of streams, the Meggat and the Fruid, when
journeying, on a pleasant April day, from his own
home on Yarrow to visit a few friends who had
pitched their tent, on'a gipsying excursion, in the
Fairy's Cleugh, on the south-eastern borders of
Lanarkshire. We shall not attempt to injure, by
translating, the Shepherd's delightful Doric, but
quote his own words. " I couldna ken how ye micht
be fennin' in the Tent for fish, so I thocht I might
as weel tak a whup at the Meggat. How they lap !
I filled ma creel afore the dew-melt; and as it's out o'
the poor o' ony man wi' a heart to gie owre fishin'
in the Meggat durin' a tak, I kent by the sun it was
nine-hours ; and by that time I had filled a' ma
pouches, the braid o' the tail o' some o' them wrap-
pin' again ma elbows." Having overridden his
horse, to make up for lost time, the poet is obliged
to wait till he gets second wind: and not to be idle,
in the meantime, he tries another stream. " I just
thocht I wad try the Fruid wi' the flee, and put en
a professor. The Fruid's fu' o' sma' troots, and I
sune had a string. I could na hae had about me,
at this time, ae way and ither, in ma several repositories, string and a', less than thretty dizzen o'
troots." Now this is angling indeed, and enough to
tempt an elderly Benedict, who manages to kill two
brace and a half in a week's constant angling in the
Colne, to desert hause and home for a month's
angling in the Meggat and the Fruid.
The effect produced on the mind of the angling
public by such papers, in Blackwood, as " Christopher at the Lakes," "Christopher in his Sporting
Jacket, Loch Awe," and many others, imbued with
a similar spirit, and bearing the impress of the same
master hand, is extremely questionable, so far as
the general interests of society are regarded. They r jpg;
have unsettled the minds of many.     By a kind of J^^K
fascination, they have allured the elderly gentleman \. ^fc^
whose annual summer trip never extended beyond 3rs\f
Margate, to venture on a long journey to attend v   ^
the Windermere Regatta, trace the course of the ^f^~i
Duddon, or ascend Skiddaw, instead of viewing l^p^
Doggett's coat and badge rowed for on the Thames, ^     ^
wandering by the Regent's   Canal,   Or climbing p
Primrose Hill, to see Mr. Sadler's balloon go up ; %\ -
and even lawyers may now be seen, during the long JvW?
vacation, angling for trout on Loch Awe, who for- 'ljlfl)?
merly confined themselves to trolling for pike— >W^
fresh-water attorneys—in the river Lea.      From !»%jr
Midsummer to Michaelmas the lakes are perfectly ^^#^|
swarming'with visitors,  while trout have, in the v.-^!^
same ratio, become scarce ; and beds are scarcely ^^$Pl|
to be had for love or money.    It is in vain that the W%^f
" contemplative man"  endeavours to   enjoy his ^sllll
meditations alone.    If he ascend Skiddaw, he over- |l£|f?it
takes and passes a slow-paced, short-winded com- Ifllf
pany toiling up the steep ; he  meets  a  second Wwts
coming down, who have a match against time, and mmU   ■
intend completing a tour of the lakes in four days;
and the first sight that greets him when he reaches
the top is a family party of thirteen, engaged in
ating a family dinner—legs of mutton and trim-
mings—which boots and the hostler have carried
up in a clothes-basket. Thinking to find something
like solitude in the desert, he takes the lonely road
to Buttermere up Borrowdale ; but still he cannot
escape the lakers, who cross him at every turn of
the dale. Three boats have just discharged their
living freight at the head of the lake as he passes
Lowdore; under the lee of the Bowder stone sits a
Cambridge youth, who is studying for honours,
with his tutor at his side, cramming him with
choice morsels from Vince and Wood's—alas ! how
unlike Kay's, of the Albion—dry and insipid,
though solid course. On the top, on a three-legged
portable stool, is seated an artist sketching * and
at the base is a member of the Geological "Society,
hammer in hand, chipping off specimens, which his
lady carefully gathers up and deposits in her reticule—the future foundations of another new theory
r of the earth. At Rosthwaite greater annoyance
awaits him ; for there does he behold, in that heretofore quiet and secluded spot, a party of young
s men and maidens quadrilling it to the melancholy
£_wailings of a pale-faced young gentleman's flute ;
and on arriving at Buttermere, tired, and out of
humour with himself, the lakes, and their visitors,
he finds that he can only be lodged in a double-
bedded room, where he is entertained all night with
a trombone solo, from the nose of a stout gentleman who occupies the other bed, and whose double-
bass quaver—which is a repeat, con strepito, every
half-hour—he vainly hopes is the effect of strangulation. Finding no delightful solitude out of doors,
nor rest in his bed, he returns to town by the 1st
of September ; and finds, in the deserted walks
and drives of Hyde Park, that freedom from intrusion which he in vain sought among the hills.
The evil of those papers is not confined to tempting sober, quiet people, who,
" Along the cool sequestered vale of life
Have kept the noiseless tenor of their way,"
—have walked in cork soles by the shady side of the
Strand or Fleet Street all their lives—to set out on
a wild-goose chase after the picturesque, the sublime, and the beautiful, among hills and lakes, and
then leaving them, as a Will o' the Wisp does his
followers, beguiled and laughed at. It extends to
others, recalling scenes which they can never again
visit, and exciting longings which can never be
gratified. The native of Cumberland or Westmoreland, the man of pleasant Teviotdale, or the child
of the mist from the Highlands,
" Absent long and distant far,1'
from the hills and streams which in boyhood he
loved, who has been immured for years in a Babel
of brick and mortar, is seized, on reading those
papers, with a species of calenture. Recollections
of the happy days of his boyhood come over his
5 where, in
the faithful picture is portrayed. The memory of
dear, departed days is recalled, and a full tide of
pleasure bursts upon his heart, to be succeeded,
when the enchanting vision has passed, by a corresponding depression, when he reflects how small
is the chance of his ever visiting his native place
again; but that,
<{ Getting and spending,"
he is doomed to wear out his life in a round which
affords little pleasure from reflection or from hope :
if/ //
] /      Having occasion to be in London, with a view
to forwarding the publication of the " Angler's
Souvenir," we went out to the Lea, about the 1st
of October last, to have a day's fishing, in company
"" | ^/      with two friends—Mr. William Simpson, of the firm
of Simpson and Co., a native of, and resident in,
the great city; and Mr. Alexander Tweddell, a far-
\ j*      away cousin of our own, who happened to be in
i—~\l London on a visit from the north.   After a tolerable
: ^ \        day's sport, we spent the evening at the Rye House,   ^|lw?
when the conversation, as might be supposed, was    J
^N I j     chiefly about angling.    As none of the party ex-
^iS< \      pected that the evening discourse would be made
frV\ I   public, each was unprepared to make a display;
l^s/ta     but just followed the ball of conversation as it was
bandied about, without detaining it until he had
delivered himself of a long-set speech, which possibly might have been in preparation for a month,
and found, on being held forth, to be both stale
and dry.   A gentleman of the press, who, like our-   $HJ| \
selves, had come out to have a day's fishing, at this  |Imi
dull time of the year, when Parliament is not sitting,   mffi/
and nothing interesting hatched either at home or   wm{ |iP
abroad, happened to occupy the small parlour—   f|y||r
which was only separated from that in which we
were seated by a wooden j>artition,—and heard the
whole of our conversation, which, as he had no
company, he carefully took down in shorthand, in
the regular way of business, intending to interweave
a few of his own graces, and show up the party in a
newspaper or magazine, just as he might feel himself in the humour to cut down or extend the article.
He left betimes in the morning, to save the seven
o'clock coach at Hoddesdon, after giving to the
waiter the following note, with orders to deliver it
at breakfast-time, addressed,
" To the Piscatory Trio, Bye House.
" Gentlemen,
" Happening last night to occupy the small
parlour adjoining that in which you held your
piscatory session, I was an auditor, woalgre ~moi,
of the whole of your conversation; of which, as I
was alone and had nothing better to do, I took
ample notes, in a professional way, with a view of
furnishing either a quizzical report for the 	
Newspaper,  or  a  sprightly article for  the 	
Magazine, as fancy might suggest on re-examination
of my materials.
"I do not, however, wish to act towards you
with incivility, more especially as the young Scotchman, when I met him at the water-side yesterday,
was so kind as to offer me a cigar from his box,
when, seeing that he had steel and tinder with him,
I only asked for a light—an instance of liberality
which, unless I had witnessed it myself, I should
scarcely have believed one of his nation would have
afforded. I therefore beg to make you the first
offer of a fair transcript of my notes for the sum
of five pounds, which is much less than I could
obtain for them after a few heightening touches of
my own—placing a cap and bells on each of your
heads, or putting a few good puns into your mouths
—and serving your conversation up to the public
through either of the channels aforesaid.
"Should I not hear from you by to-morrow
afternoon, I shall conclude that my offer is declined. " I am, etc., etc.,
" , Reporter.
" No. — Staples Inn."
As we chanced at this time to be in want of a
"night," whose shades might give relief to the day
of the "Angler's Souvenir," we determined, with
the free consent of our friends Simpson and
Tweddell, to accede to this modest proposal, with
a view to its insertion in our work then groaning
u under the press. On our return to town, we dispatched a note, the same evening, to Staples Inn,
|\^       stating that Mr.  's offer was accepted;   and
r*      desiring that the MS. might be sent, as soon as
^    convenient,  to Mr. Tilt, Fleet Street, where the
sum agreed on would be duly paid.   In two days
the subjoined report of our sitting was sent as
 i r—f
directed; and is here given without addition or
abridgment. The only corrections necessary were
in the names of the parties, in which the reporter
had committed a few venial errors : for instance,
designating Tweddell as "Mr. Saunders," from
having heard us once or twice familiarly address
him as "Sandy;" calling Simpson "Mr. Simons,"
and waggishly locating him as a slopseller, in
Houndsditch; and writing ourselves " The Old
Fisher," in consequence of mistaking our surname
for a mere agnomen, or professional designation.
The songs, which were a good deal mangled, are
restored, under the revision of Mr. Tweddell.
Report of the Evening Sitting of a Piscatory
Trio, at the King's Arms, Rye House.
The speakers—Simpson, Tweddell, and Fisher—
dined at four; and at five business commenced by
Simpson proposing a toast: "To the pious and
immortal memory of Izaak Walton."
(Bumpers—pints—of old Staffordshire ale, drank
in solemn silence.)
Fisher (after a deep sigh, to recover his breath).
—A toast worth drinking—in the "language of the
cabaret," as a great man called Shakspeare's phrase
—" pottle deep." A noble subject! and better ale
I scarcely ever drank,—colour of a beautiful amber,
clear as sherry, and fragrant as a handful of new-
picked hops—a perfect nosegay. Observe that
. wasp, whose wings are rather stiff with rheumatic
 pains—caught by being out late these chill October
evenings—how he is enjoying himself at the bottom
of my glass. There, the ale has warmed his heart,
and away he flies, brisk as a bee that keeps humming soft nonsense to the flowers in July. I will
thank you to give the toast again, Simpson.
Simpson.—I have no objection; but I beg to
decline drinking it again in ale.
Tweddell.—And so do I. I have'no objection
to drink it again in a tumbler of toddy, if there
be any good whisky to be had here.
Simpson.—Though you may praise this ale, Mr.
Fisher, I confess that I think it rather too old..
For the rest of this evening,
" I abandon all ale
And beer that is stale,"
and if no whisky is to be had, I shall be glad to
join you, Mr. Tweddell, in a bottle of black-strap.
Light dinner wines,—abominable compounds of
perry and eighteen-penny Cape—are my aversion.
I wonder how any person who drinks of them
escapes the cholera.
Tweddell.—I am willing.
Simpson.—Waiter, a bottle of your best port.
You know where to find it. Of the same that I
had last Thursday. A bottle of sherry at the
same time : I like a glass of sherry to a cigar.
Let me have one of your Havannahs, Tweddell.
Fisher.—I was only in jest when I proposed the
other pint, as I knew that you would both shy at
it. Good ale is now scarcely to be had, the more
is the pity; for most beneficial in former times
were its effects on the genius and morals of the
nation, as we learn from the old song :
" Give a scholar of Oxford a pot of sixteen,
And put him to prove that an ape has no tail,
And sixteen times better his wit will be seen
M you fetch him from Botley a pot of good ale.
Thus it helps speech and wit, and hurts not a whit,
But rather doth further'the virtues morale ;
Then think it not much if a little I touch
The good moral parts of a pot of good ale.
To the church and religion it is a good friend, ;
Or else our forefathers in wisdom did fail,
Who at every mile, next to the church stile,
Set a consecrate house to a pot of good ale."
Simpson.—Go on.
Fisher.—I cannot. The ale is out, and, as always
happens in such a case, my recollection gone. But
drink what you please,—toddy, brandy and water,
or black-strap,—I am willing to join you. Any of
the usual potations in this part of the country I
can bear, except gin. The real cream of the valley,
at threepence a quartern, should only be drank in
"the valley below."
Enter waiter, with a couple of decanters of wine.
Simpson.—Now fill, and I will again give you—
" The Memory of the I Sage benign.'"
Fisher.—Again, I drink it with pleasure. Deservedly does the honest angler call him " father,"
and happy are his sons who walk in the path of
their worthy parent. A spirit of cheerful piety
pervades his whole book; and, as he instructs us
how to angle, he interweaves his precepts with
descriptions and reflections which teach us how to
live happily and die well. His book is like one of
the delightful scenes which he describes with so
thorough a feeling of their quiet beauties. A
pleasant meadow, with a stream running past it,
bounded by low woody hills ; field-flowers blooming among the grass and perfuming the air ; with
boys and girls cropping cowslips, culkerkeyes, and
lilies, to make garlands to welcome in the merry
month of May. I could almost wish that I had
lived in those days, to have gone a-fishing with the
good old man, whose humour was '' to be free and
pleasant, and civilly merry ;" to have listened to
his reminiscences of learned and pious Dr. Nowell,
cheerful Sir Henry Wotton, holy Master George
Herbert, witty Dr. Donne, or reverend Bishop
Sanderson; to have eaten a piece of powdered
beef and a radish with him, to breakfast under a
sycamore tree; drank a cup of ale, and borne a
part in a catch with him in the evening at the
house of a cleanly, handsome, and civil hostess,
in" company with a downright witty companion,
who had come out purposely to be pleasant, and
eat a trout; and then, after bidding " Good night
to everybody," to have retired to bed, where the
snow-white sheets, of the landlady's own spinning',
smelt of lavender.—But,
" A change comes o'er the spirit of my dream."
The low woody hills have become mountains, and
the boys and girls are changed into a flock of black-
faced sheep, with a sun-freckled, red-haired lad, in
a blue bonnet, herding them; the broad meadow is
reduced to a narrow glen, through which a noisy
stream is careering like an untamed Highland
pony; and I fancy that I hear a voice addressing
the lark, which is hovering in full song above her
nest on the mountain side,—
" Bird of the wilderness, blithsome and cumberless,
0, to abide in the desert»with thee ! "
I wish that I were home again.
Simpson.—You are disposed, I think, to "pas-
toralize a little." However highly you may admire
Walton's book, it is not in much repute among the
anglers who fish in the Lea. It is not considered a
practical work; and I have known some who, in
consequence of hearing it much praised, have bought
a copy, and, after trying to read it through, have
thrown it aside with expressions of surprise that
any person—except a priest or a church-going old
maid—could admire it.
Fisher.—What can be expected from men who
'blow brains" and fish on a Sunday? Walton's
Angler used to be a very scarce book in the north.
Indeed until Major published his beautiful edition
in 1823, I never had been able to call a copy my
own.    The Society for promoting Christian Knowledge ought to print an edition of this book, in
order that copies might be given—together with
the Book of Common Prayer and the Whole Duty
of Man, as at present—to promising lads who have
a taste for anghng, on their leaving school.   Should       <JqR|l|.
it not improve them much in the "gentle art," it     4Jlll|lt|?
would at least afford them many useful lessons in    ^llllll^
the " art of being virtuous and happy."    Sheridan sjfclf^
was fond of reading Walton, as we learn from the *ll%3llPK
Introduction to Major's edition, and used to take
a copy with him, when he travelled, as a postchaise companion. I can scarcely conceive how
any person could enjoy Walton amidst the jolting
and rumbling of a post-chaise ; and for my own
part would as soon think of enjoying the "Pleasures
of Hope" in a bell-loft during a full peal. Walton
is best read in solitude; and he will bear reading
in all seasons. Read him in the house, in winter,
and you will enjoy summer in anticipation ; read
him in summer, in the open air—on a hill-side, by
the banks of a stream, under a tree, seated at ease
in the dess* of a haystack, or reclining in a clover
field,—and your heart will drink in the loveliness
of the season with increase of pleasure, and will
expand with gratitude towards that Power which
framed the goodly things of the earth for our
* The nook in a stack from which the hay has been cut.
enjoyment. " Live ever, sweet book, the silver
image of his gentle wit !"
"~ Simpson.—I highly admire Walton's work myself,
though I do not make it the text-book for a lay
sermon over a bottle of wine.
Fisher.—You have not much taste for sermons,
I believe, whether lay, extempore, and over a
bottle ; or clerical, savouring of the lamp, and over
a cushion. But to have done with sermonizing.
This is a tolerably pleasant place, Simpson, for a
bachelor like yourself to spend a few days at, and
basket a stone or two of roach, or half a dozen
brace of jack, since you have nothing better that is
comeatable near London at this time of year. Do
you ever fish fly for trout now ?
Simpson.—O yes, in the season. I subscribe to
two waters which afford trout, one at the Wandle,
and the other at the Colne ; and I sometimes get a
day's fishing in the preserved waters of two friends,
one of whom resides at Mitcham, and the other
near Rickmansworth.
Fisher.—And do you manage to catch many?
Simpson.—Why, as you, who count by dozens,
understand the word, I cannot say that I do. But
I have taken, I believe, in those streams in a season
more large trout than ever you caught in beck,
burn, or river, north of the Trent—always excepting sea-trout—in your life. In one season, from
the 1st of May to the 1st of September, I have
taken with the fly three trouts,  each   weighing
upwards of five pounds, besides two others which
weighed three pounds and a half each.
Fisher.—In this I must yield you the palm.
I never caught one real yellow-finned burn trout
weighing five pounds in my life. I once, however,
saw one caught with a niinnow, in the Eden, near
Salkeld, which was twenty-two inches long, and
weighed five pounds and a quarter; and I knew
a person who took one in the Tweed, with a net,
which weighed nearly seven pounds. The trout, in
such streams in the northern counties as I am acquainted with, are not so large as those caught in
the trout-streams within thirty miles of London.
But, to make amends, the fly-fisher there counts
his take by the dozen, while here he is fortunate
who in a day catches three " brace." I have frequently killed four dozen in a morning, between
daylight and nine o'clock, and as many in the
evening, between four and ten. During this last
season, on Monday, 21st July, after a heavy rain
on the preceding Saturday, a friend of mine caught
thirteen dozen, between five in the morning and
three in the afternoon. He had on three flies,
which he never changed during the whole, replacing
those which he lost with others of the same kind.
For his stretcher he had a grouse-hackle; for the
middle dropper, a fly with a brown body of bear's
fur, and " blea" or leaden-coloured wings; and for
his highest dropper, a red hackle.
Tweddell—-This is something like fishing; but
 almost any one, man or boy, who has the use of
his arms, and can throw five yards of line into the
water, without the instructions of a scientific
teacher, may catch trout by fishing well up a stream
after a spate or fresh, though not in such quantities
as a proficient in the art. The true secret of old
fly-fishers, who scarcely ever return with a light
creel, is only to go to the water when, from long
observation, they are almost certain that trouts will
rise. An old fly-fisher, who lived near Sanquhar,
and whom I have often fished with, up Spank and
down Crawick, in Ken, Scar, and Yeochan, once
told me, when I was questioning as to the secret of
his success, that for a gill of whisky he would tell
me how I might always succeed. It was a bargain.
"Ne'er fish but when trouts are hungry, and fish
aye where they're plenty." " But how am I to
know that?" '*In troth," replied he, "I canna
verra well tell ye. But yell no find mony within
twa miles o' where ye can see at ae gliff, a manse,
a mill, and a public, nor nigh a place where tinklers
often camp. Trouts dinna seem inclined to take
their meat for a fortnight after sheep-washin', nor
when the water's verra high or verra low. They
dinna feed freely outher on a warm bright day nor
on a cauld dark ane; and the feck o' them keep a
black fast in a' weathers, atween Michaelmas and
Easter." I have seen a lad sit down by the waterside, near the head of Yeochan, and, with a few
threads from his bonnet and the  feather   of   a
curlew, dress a fly on a common hook—not to a
length of gut clear as the thread of the gossamer
and almost as fine, but to a dingy link of five cow's
hairs, for he had no thought of playing with the
trouts—and then, with a rough hazel rod, about
nine feet long, and a Hne to match, begin fishing;
and in two hours catch as many trouts as some
cockney fly-fishers, whose rod, flies, and tackle may
have cost them ten pounds,, take in a whole season.
Simpson.—>What you say proves that in streams
where trouts are so plentiful not much skill is required to take them. May we not, then, conclude
that the best fly-fishers are to be found in London,
as they are confined to angle in waters where the
fish are scarce, and so shy as only to be caught with,
the finest tackle skilfully managed ?
Tweddell.—You may conclude so : and, upon
the same grounds, you may also infer that cockney
sportsmen, who range the fields within ten or fifteen
miles of London, where partridges are scarce and
shy, are the best shots.
Fisher.—I know that there are excellent fly-
fishers in London; but the best, I am inclined to
think, did not acquire their craft in the Colne or the
Wandle, though they may now and then occasionally basket a few heavy trout from those streams.
Chantrey can throw a long line cleverly, either for
trout or salmon ; but he was a proficient in the art,
having killed many a trout in Dovedale, before he
came to London, and I doubt if he be improved
much since he became an R.A. Sir Walter Scott
has mentioned, but where I forget, Chantrey's partiality to salmon-fishing; and, as I have the words
down in my pocket-book, I will read them. " We
have ourselves seen the first sculptor in Europe
when he had taken two salmon on the same morning, and can well believe that his 'sense of self-
importance exceeded twenty-fold that which he felt
on the production of any of the masterpieces which
have immortalized him."
Tweddell.—I think I have heard you say that
you did not acquire your own knowledge of flyfishing in London, Mr. Simpson ?
. Simpson.—True. When a boy, I was at school
near Cotherstone, in Yorkshire, and it was there, in
the Tees, and in a small stream which ran close to
our master's house, that I first commenced angler.
I did not commence fly-fisher at once, but regularly
advanced through a course of minnow-fishing, with
a line of packthread and a farthing hook; and I
well recollect my first trial for perch, with a new
rod and a fine hair line, when I caught fifteen, and
thought myself a first-rate angler; and certainly
felt myself one of the happiest of human beings.
After this successful commencement, with something like a regular angler's tackle, all my leisure
lours and holidays, when the weather allowed,
were spent in fishing ; and as I managed to take a
good many eels, perch, dace, and brandling trouts,
I.became a favourite with the master's wife, who
was a great economist, and regularly served up
my evening's take for dinner the next day, and I
frequently obtained, through her intercession, a
holiday, to go a-fishing. My lessons in fly-fishing
were taken under our drawing-master, as great a
proficient in the art as ever I met with, and in his
company I have fished in the Wear, in the neighbourhood of Stanhope and Wolsingham; in the
Greta ; in the Swale, near Catterick ; and at Richmond ; as well as in the Tees, from Piersbridge to
the Wheel or Weel, above Middleton. Trouts were
not plentiful in the Wear then, twenty-eight years
ago ; and I understand that they have since become
more scarce, nay almost extinct in the upper part
of the stream, in consequence of the water from the
lead mines. The Tees used to afford tolerably
good sport from Cotherstone upwards, though it
used to be sometimes netted by the miners about
Middleton. The "Weel," about ten miles above
Middleton, is a deep pool above two miles lono-
and containing excellent trout. The country is
the most wild and desolate that I ever beheld,—
and I have been at the head of Borrowdale, and
crossed Dartmoor,—but the Cauldron Snout, where
the stream dashes from the Weel over a succession
of falls, and the High Force, five miles above
Middleton, where the stream leaps, at one bound,
from a ledge of rocks sixty feet high, are well deserving of the attention of the tourist who happens
to be within twenty miles of the place.    Once,
during a vacation, when I did not return home,
I spent a week with our drawing-master, who was
residing with his friends at Richmond. We went
out together one day to an excellent trout-stream,
near Burton Constable, about seven miles to the
southward, and were following our sport io our
great satisfaction, for the trouts were large and
rose well, when a countryman came up, and attempted to take my companion's rod from him as
a trespasser who was fishing without leave. This,
of course, was resisted, and a struggle ensued, in
which the artist,—who was but weakly, while his
antagonist was a big, powerful fellow,—was likely to
come off only second-best, when I, a stout lad of
sixteen, joined as thirdsman in the fray, and turned
the scale. We soon got the countryman—a great
hen-hearted fellow—down, and without any regard
to what is called fair play, pummelled him well
when we had him down; but that was not long,
for he soon recovered his legs, and ran off; while
we, who were swifter of foot, gave chase, and belaboured "him with the butt-end of our rods right
across the field, till he escaped by dashing headforemost through a regular bullfinch hedge, like an
ox stung by hornets. We afterwards learnt that
the fellow had no right to interfere with us, and
had only wished to get a good rod at a cheap rate.
But for once the Yorkshireman was bit.
Fisher.—Youth is certainly the p3riod when a
love of the fine arts, including angling, is most
easily and most naturally inspired, and a practical
knowledge of them most readily attained. The
pliant fingers of youth,, from ten to sixteen, are
peculiarly adapted to tying delicate knots, whipping
on hooks, and dressing flies ; and he who first
begins to learn those minor branches of an angler's
art after his. hand is " set," seldom performs his
work with neatness, and -never with ease. And
then to see a gentleman who has arrived at years
of discretion taking lessons in managing the rod
and throwing gracefully a long line, is about as
good as a peep at Mr. Deputy Hopkins, who never
learned to dance till after he was married, practising,
a quadrille, for the Mansion House ball, with his
coat and wig off. Most of our practical books on
angling are written, not for the "instruction and
improvement of youth," but for the edification of
elderly gentlemen who are presumed never to have
had a rod in their hands before; and the dry-nurse
of a teacher " begins at the beginning " accordingly. -
I think it would be worth any professor's while to
open an Angling Academy at Peerless Pool, City
Road, when it is no longer used for bathing, to
teach grown gentlemen the use of the long rod,—
aPplymg a birch one, solito loco, when needful, to
dull or refractory pupils,—with examples of the art
of whipping without cracking off the fly. How did
you succeed in your trolling to-day, Tweddell ?
Tweddell.—Very badly.     I only caught  one
jack after a two hours' trial; and when I thought
to change my gorge hook for a snap, I was nearly
another hour before I could fix my bait as the book
directed, and then the best part of the day was
gone. I do not wonder at my not catching a
second one, for I must confess that, after I had
succeeded in fixing my hooks and sewing up the
gudgeon's mouth, it presented anything but a
tempting appearance. I had handled the bait
rather too roughly, and when all was ready for
a cast, it was not unlike a bruised sprat, bristling
with hooks, and more likely to deter than to allure.
No pike, however hungry, I felt assured, could
•behold it without aversion, if not terror, so I took
it off again. An old gentleman who came up, and
perceived that I was a novice at jack-fishing, invited
me to take a seat in his boat, which was then lying
just below the Tumbling Bay ; and with one of his
rods I caught two dozen of roach, whilst we smoked
our cigars, and talked of the comparative excellence
of Silvas and Woodvilles, of fishing and shooting in
the Highlands, and things in general. Next to flyfishing, I should prefer trolling for jack, but I have
never practised the latter branch of angling, and I
could scarcely expect much Sport in my first attempt.
I did not choose to follow in the wake of either of
you, and receive your instructions at the moderate
charge of being laughed at. But what success have
you two had ?
Simpson.—I caught three brace and a half of
jack, and Fisher three brace, all by trolling; and
Tweddell.—Very little. The streams are too
rapid there to afford much harbour for pike, or ged,
as they are frequently called in Dumfriesshire.
They are, however, caught in several streams in the
lower part of the county about Dumfries; and I
have known them frequently taken in lochs with
night-lines; but trolling is not much practised in
Scotland. I think I shall be tempted to try it in
the Lochar, as I return home. It contains plenty
of fine pike, but anglers there seldom try to catch
them except with night-lines.
Fisher.—We will now "basket the pikes, it you
please. Mr. Simpson, you are a regular bottle-
stopper — a perfect cork, — pass the wine ; and,
Tweddell, wet your whistle, and give us a song.
I wish I had brought my pipes to London with me.
How the fish would have-^pricked up their ears, I
was going to say—"vagged their little tails" to
a merry lilt on the  union pipes, played from a
>unt on the Thames or the Lea; while the per-
ormer had a cigar in his mouth, his eye on the
[oat, and his foot on his rod. Why, this would
lmost equal the performance of the travelling
lusician who plays on six intruments at once, or
aat of the notable servant-girl who could
" Whistle and knit,
And carrv +*a v;+
; I hear, by your hum, that you are in voice and
'-   Come, lay your cigar down, and off at score.
Tweddell.—Have a minute's patience, till I can
recollect the words, and I will give you a " Fisher's
Call." I am not sure that I can go through it
without breaking down, for 1 have never yet sung
it in company, though I have now and then crooned
over a few lines to myself. You know the writer
well, an old angling crony of yours ; but you cannot
have heard the song before, as mine is the only
copy that he has given to any one.
Old Winter is gone, and young Spring now comes tripping ;
Sweet flowers are springing wherever she treads ;
While the bee, hovering o'er them, keeps humming and
And birds sing her welcome in woodlands and meads.
The snow-wreath no more on the hillside is lying ;
The leaf-buds are bursting, bright green, on each tree '
Ho, anglers, arouse ye ! the streams are worth trying,
Fit your rods, and away to the fishing with me !
Haste away ! haste away ! for the south wind is blowing,
And rippling so gently the face of the stream,   .
Which neither too full nor too fine yet is flowing,
Now clouded, now bright with a sunshiny gleam.
At the foot of the fall, where the bright trouts are leaping,
In the stream where the current is rapid and strong,
Or just by the bank where the skeggers seem sleeping,
There throw your fly light, and you cannot throw wrong.
There's joy in the chase, over hedge and ditch flying ;
'Tis pleasant to bring down the grouse on the fell;
The partridge to bag, through the low stubble trying ;
The pheasant to shoot as he flies through the dell.
Bat what are such joys to the pleasure of straying
By the side of a stream, a long line throwing free,
The salmon and trout with a neat fly betraying ?—
Fit your rods, and away to the fishing with me I
To awaken the milkmaid, the cock is yet crowing,
She was out late last night, with young Hodge, at the
To be milked yet the cows in the loaning are lowing ;    -
We'll be at our sport ere young Nelly be there.
The weather is prime, and the stream in good order ;
Arouse ye, then, anglers, wherever you be,—
In Scotland, in Ireland, in Wales, on the Border,—
Fit your rods, and away to the fishing with me !
" In Scotland, in Ireland, in Wales, on the Border,—
Fit your rods, and away to the fishing with me ! *'
Some one has been conjuring with your song,
Tweddell, for three spirits have already appeared at
the invocation—an anonymous angler in Ireland,
Hansard in Wales, and Stephen Oliver on the
Border. But the spell has not been sufficiently
powerful to rouse that master-spirit in Scotland, to
whom every stream and loch is known in that
" Land of the mountain and the flood ;"
who at one time may be seen throwing his light
fly in the Tweed, by the "lovely levels of holy
Ashiestiel,"—consecrated as having been formerly
the residence of Sir Walter Scott,
\     *«
" For the lore
Of mighty minds doth hallow in the core
Of human hearts, the ruin of a wall
Where dwelt the wise and wondrous ;"
at another time wiling the bold trout, Salmo Ferox,
from the depths of Loch Awe; and anon, waking "
the echoes with a lofty strain, as he hails the morn,
amidst the wilds of Morven.
Simpson.—Four have answered the summons—
you forget Captain Medwin's "Angler in Wales."
Fisher.—He is a spirit of another class, who has
approached the circle unbidden.    The "Angler in
Wales " ! why I see not the least trace of the angler
I   throughout the two volumes.    He might as well
L   have  "unbuckled his mail"—stuffed with frag-
b   ments of " travellers' tales " and scraps from the
L    feast of languages—at Calcutta, and called his book
•j   the "Angler in Hindostan."    Independent of the
3    misnomer, it  is not written in  the  spirit of an
angler.    How could it % when the doer, whoever
he may be, probably never handled a rod, or felt
the inspiration of the art, in his life.    The calm
and cheerfuh spirit, which the love and practice of
I angling inspire, is not to be found in the book.
From his " scattering his water" on Byron's ashes,
it is not difficult to read his riddle.    The noble
bard should have dedicated one of his poems to
his friend—Heaven save us from such friends !—
and appointed him one of his executors.    Then,
perhaps, Rogers, Moore, and Hobhouse might have
been saved from the blunt, clumsy sabre of his
satire, which only mangles, but does not cut; and
Byron himself not have been shown up by his
friend as a petulant coxcomb and a flash blackguard. I cannot for a moment believe that Byron,
with all his faults, was the despicable Character that
Medwin, soi-disant Byron's friend, and Angler in
Wales, represent him.
Simpson.—Take a cigar, Fisher, or you will lose
your temper; and tell us calmly what scandal about
Lord Byron it is that moves your bile.
J% Fisher.—I might then tell you nearly all that is
said about him in the book. He is represented, on the
day that the author of the ' f Pleasures of Memory "
and of "Italy", was expected to call on him, ordering his bulldog and his monkey into the .billiard-
room, where he intended to receive his visitor, for
the purpose of annoying him. When Mr. Rogers
entered, it is said the dog rushed furiously at him,
and was encouraged by Byron, while, without noticing his visitor, he pretended to call the brute off.
At length he thought good to discover the cause of
the affray, to kick Tiger off, and press his " dear
friend" in his arms,—to the great entertainment,
I conclude, if the story be true, of the toadeaters
present, who flattered and encouraged the noble
poet in his wayward follies as the price of their
admission to his society; and who, when he was
in his grave, for the sake of dishonourable 'gain,
exposed and exaggerated his follies and his vices,
Vl\, vyp
and held him up to the contempt of the world. If
this story were true, Byron and his bulldog should
have been served in the same manner that Lieutenant
Bowling served Roderick Random's brutal cousin
and his quadruped auxiliaries. Tiger should have
been silenced with a blow from a shillelagh, and his
master floored by a right-handed hit between the
eyes, and afterwards kicked as he lay, ad putorem
usque, as a reward for his unmanly conduct. 1
think I know one living poet who would have
done it, had he been served so, and have made
the jackals grin on the wrong side of the face had
he observed them encouraging the fun by their
sardonic smiles, ad examplar regis, after the fashion
of the lion, upon whom they then fawned, when
living, but preyed, like unclean animals as they
were, upon his carcase when dead. It is no joke
to have a bulldog within a couple of yards of you,
watching an opportunity to rush in and seize you
by the throat. I know what the feeling is, and
therefore am disposed to think very indifferently of
the man who would wantonly place another in such
a situation. I was once passing over a lonely moor
in the north of England, when I came suddenly
upon a gipsy's encampment, and before I perceived
. any of the party, a long-backed, bow-legged, brindled
bulldog made towards me, showing his formidable
teeth, ahd eyes glaring with rage. I stood still the
moment I saw him, and he was just crouching preparatory to a spring, when his master, who had
observed him rush from under the cart, called him
off. " He is a savage-looking animal," said.I to the
man, as the dog skulked slowly to his resting-place.
" He is a savage," replied the man, " and we never
let him lowse but in places where we dinna expect
to meet strangers. It's weel for ye that I saw him
spring up, or he wad hae had your thropple out
afore ye could cry 'Jack Robison.'" I felt the
truth of this at the moment most forcibly, as I was
walking, in consequence of the heat of the day,
with no handkerchief on and my neck bare. I
afterwards learnt that the savage disposition of
this dog was purposely encouraged by his owner,—
who occasionally smuggled a Httle whisky from the
Scottish side into England,—for the purpose of
keeping excisemen at a distance.
Simpson.—I am not so sceptical as you are. I
can believe this of Byron.
Fisher.—Can you ? Then you entertain more
uncharitable feelings towards his memory than I
do, for what can you think of the man who could
be guilty of such an act of wanton cruelty and insult
to a friend, or acquaintance, if you please, who was
neither young nor strong ? To have placed a pailful
of water over the door, and thus practically have
given him a cool reception as he entered, would
have been a better joke, and more excusable.
Simpson.—I think it the act of a man whose.
better feelings had been brutalized by having little
or no social intercourse with those whose conduct,
 =3   V
or manly reproof, might repress or correct those
disgraceful freaks which a man of unsettled mind
and capricious temper is liable to indulge in, when
surrounded only by those who are far beneath him,
or whose only passport to his company is their
perfect compliance with, and applause of, everything that he says or does. I have more than once
seen a man of really good heart, in a moment when
he forgot himself, give pain to a long-tried, worthy
friend, to gratify a small knot of ephemeral acquaintances by whom he happened to be surrounded.—
Were you never caught yourself, scarcely compos,
by a grave old friend, leading the revels among a
graceless crew, whom, in your sober senses and in
" daylight, you would be ashamed to be seen with ?
and, as he left the room, more in sorrow than in
anger, have you not joined in the laugh which the
professed wit of the party raised at his expense 1
Fisher.—I am still sceptical. But even should
a person, not thoroughly insensible to every better
feeling, find himself in the last predicament, would
he not, on reflection, be ashamed of his conduct,
endeavour to make reparation to his friend, and
shun the company of the flatterers who corrupt
Simpson.—In such manner I believe Byron would
Fisher.—Byron's living with another man's wife,
the Countess Guicciola, is as well known as his
feat of swimming across the Hellespont.    She had
abandoned for him husband, home, and good name
—if there be such a thing as female reputation in
Italy;—and yet he is represented as speaking of
her in a most unfeeling manner to one of his   ,
s " friends," just after she had passed them on a
ride : "I loved her for three weeks,—what a red-
S> f     headed thing it is 1"   This " red-headed thing," at
~ :      the same time, living with him as a wife !   Believe
§- -*^-'    thi* °f Byron who likes, not I.    It is more likely
^     that the reporter "lies—under a mistake," as Byron
."-.',    himself writes, than that the author of "Childe
Harold " was so heartless a being.
A Simpson.—I am inclined to think   that these
sA vgk       anecdotes, which give so unfavourable an account
BaP .
I^E of Byron, have prejudiced you against the general
|||} ,.        merits of the book as a work on angling.
fs&i'V' Fisher.—Work on angling !—though you say
5§||£ /     you have looked it through, you cannot have read
tl!*^      **» or y°u wou^ never allude to it as a work on
i^KyT     angling.    Why, there is nothing in it but what
•JjjJO    Rammohun Roy, who never caught a trout in his
^$Jjf       life, might have written with the aid of a sixpenny
"Art of Anghng."   So far from entertaining any
t1   prejudice against the book, I read on past the--
scandalous anecdotes about Byron, till I was fairly
II^Si-I    brought up by a "Poem" at the end, about Julian
^lIliK    I:n<^ Grizele, the Pindarries, ZaKm, Spahees, Beils
/^|g|||^\   Ghebres, Goorkhas, Bringarries, etc., etc.    I then
*    fairly saw land.    The "thing" had been "done"
t   expressly for the   circulating libraries,  with the
chance of hooking an angler from the title. There
is a capital blunder in his first volume, where he
gives a quotation from Nemesian, as illustrative of
the instinct of a bitch. He must have picked the
passage up somewhere, ready cut and dry, for it is
evident he cannot have read the context. The
poet means that a bitch, when her whelps are surrounded by a circle of fire, will rescue the best first,
from an instinctive knowledge of its excellence.
The original passage,—
" rapit rictu primum, portatque cubili,
Mox alium, mox deinde alium.   Sic conscia mater
Segfegat egregiam sobolem virtutis amore,"—
he ignorantly renders :
" with opening jaws, first one,
And then another, to her hutch she bears ;
The mother, conscious of their danger, thus
With an instinctive fondness saves her young."
Conscious of their danger! What a wonderful
instance of instinct in the bitch, and of sagacity in
the plumeless biped—or unplumed rather, for he
appears to have been feathered once—who discovered such a meaning in the lines ! Send the
bottle round. Sandy, why are you looking so glum 1
Angler in Wales, whoever thou art, Yaleas !
Tweddell.—I am not looking glum, I am only
getting weary of your lengthy criticism on the
" Angler in Wales." I have read some very clever
extracts from it, and I think every author has a
right to prefix what title he pleases to his book.
Fisher.—Do you 1 Then if " Angling," " Angling"
Recollections," and so forth, prove taking titles, we
shall soon have Anglers in Italy, France, Holland,
Germany, Egypt, America, Africa, and New South
Wales;—that there are several pocket-anglers in the
latter colony, on public service, is well known; and
even ladies who keep a journal of their travels, and
produce twins—handsome foolscap octavos—every
twelvemonth, will be tempted to usher in the "hot-
pressed darlings" as the production of an " Angler,"
an appellation which may, in another sense, be
correct, as the word is Epicosne, should the fair
authoress bs a spinster.
Simpson.—Have you seen Hansard's " Trout and
Salmon Fishing in Wales" ?
Fisher.—Why need you ask, when you know
that I buy every new book on angling that appears ?
It is a perfect gazetteer of every lake and stream in
the Principality, at once so ample and so accurate
that I suspect the author must have been several
years engaged in the*Ordnance Survey. I see that
he has resumed in his book a considerable portion |
of the article " Angling," which he must have furnished to Brewster's Edinburgh Encyclopsedia^.-^o7
engler should go into Wales without taking Mr.
Hansard's book in his .pocket* The "Angler in
Ireland" appears to have had excellent sport; but I
really do not perceive the consistency of his making
so many half-apologies for saying so much about
angling, when, from the title of his book, we are
Mz> M
led to expect that anghng would form his principal
subject. One might suppose that his book was first
written as an account of a tour generally, and that
the portions which treat more expressly of angling
were afterwards dovetailed in. He, however,
writes like one who could make a long and clever
cast, and who has a heart to feel all the beauties
which he exposed to the honest cultivator of the
gentle art. His book will bear reading a second
time, even by one who may think him too partial
to the "orange-fly," and a leetle too ostentatious
of chronicling his punctual observance of the
"Sabbath." Were it not for his stating that he
goes to church, I should be sometimes inclined to
suspect him to be a hired distributor of tracts
to some sectarian " Society for Converting the
Heathen." Stephen Oliver, too, the Yorkshireman,
who makes the Border counties—Northumberland,
Cumberland, and Westmoreland—the scene of his
angling recollections, now and then gives us a touch
of the mock sublime, and writes as if he had just
been refreshing' his memory from Harvey's " Meditations in a Flower Garden." But fill up a bumper
—here's to them all, and success attend them : The
Angler in Ireland, Hansard, and Oliver,—light
hearts and well-filled creels, with a good account of
their next piscatory campaigns !
Simpson.—There is a clever little book, "Maxims
and Hints for an Angler," with illustrations by
Seymour, which you have not mentioned.
Fisher.—It is a clever little book, but not of
this year's brood ; and the hints and maxims of the
author, who modestly styles himself a " bungler," I
should think would do credit to any of the adepts
of the Houghton Club. I see, from the illustrations,
that the members are cased up to the fork in enormous boots, and that a smockfrocked or liveried
attendant, with a landing-net, is always in waiting
to do the honours in introducing the trout to a new
element. Where gentlemen "whip"—I wish the
author would discard the cockneyism next edition
—with kid gloves on, Jack I am inclined to think
will often be as good as his master in securing the
fish, and entitled to share the honours of the capture. The angling characters introduced in the
illustrations are portraits, 1 understand, of members
of the club. That of the stout gentleman slipping
off the bridge on a windy day, is said to be the
portrait of an eminent sculptor, and I have heard
that he furnished Seymour with the sketch from
which the design was made.
Simpson.—Have you ever seen any American
books on angling, Fisher ?
Fisher.—No. I do not think there are any
published. Brother Jonathan is not yet sufficiently
civilized to produce anything original on the gentle
art. There is good trout-fishing in America, and
the streams, which are all free, are much less fished
than in our island, " from the small number of
gentlemen," as an American writer says, "who are
at leisure to give their time' to it." We are further
assured, by the same authority, that ladies do ncjfc
so often partake of this amusement in the States as
in England.
Simpson.—Lady anglers—at least for fish—are far
from numerous in England, so far as my observation extends. I have not seen one for these last
three years, though I heard of one the other day
tumbling out of a punt, as she was angling for
gudgeons with her father in the Lea, near Bow.
She was soon fished up; and after being treated,
secundum artem,—according to the directions of
the Humane Society,—came to herself, and was
conveyed home in a cab, as she had lost one of
her shoes.
Fisher.—There is one mentioned in the "Angler
in Wales," who is in the habit of regularly fishing
fly, attended by her abigail. This lady appears,
from what is said of her, to be as well acquainted
with the turf as the stream ; and Chiffney or Scott
might take lessons from her in the art of training
and managing the race-horse. She is musical, too.
How delightful to hear the syren, familiar with th*e
beauties of Rossini, after her return from giving
her hunter a breathing,
"Whistle sweet a diuretic strain!"
I do not like to see ladies either angling or playing on the fiddle. These are not ladylike accomplishments, any more than smoothing the chins of
bristle-bearded coalheavers is a feminine employment. I cannot bear a female barber or a male
"chamber-maid." Do many ladies angle in Scotland, Tweddell 1
Tweddell.—Not to my knowledge. I have
known a lady once or twice try a few casts with a
gentleman's rod, and hook a trout too, but I cannot
say that I ever knew one who was a professional
fly-fisher. I, however, once saw a woman kill two
salmon, with a fly, in the Tweed, about a mile
above Kelso, in March 1832. She fished from a
boat, which was also managed by a female companion. I was out with a friend the same day, and
though we had several rises, we both failed in killing a single salmon.
Fisher.—Gedant braccae stolae,—" Fie, Sandy,
yield the breeks to Meg!"—What kind of sport
have you had in trout-fishing in your part of the
country this season 1
Tweddell.—Not very good, except in the early
part. In such a dry summer as this has been there
is not much sport after sheep-washing begins, unless
there be a good spate shortly after to purify the
streams. During sheep-washing, and for a fortnight or three weeks afterwards, trout are very shy
of rising, more especially if the water be low. I
haVe often spoken with old anglers about the cause
of this, and have heard different reasons assigned
for this shyness of the trout. One says that they
are sick, in  consequence of the water being im- -
pregnated with the tar and grease which is washed
from the fleeces of the sheep ; another, that it is as
much owing to the dung from their hind-quarters,
as the greasy tar is not incorporated with the water,
but floats, like a rainbow-coloured film, on the
surface ; and a third says they are gorged with
the ticks and vermin which are dislodged from tho
fleece in the washing. To this last opinion I am
inclined to give very Httle credit ; but I think the
trout may be disordered by the joint effects of the
greasy tar and dung, and alarmed by the disturbance in different parts of the stream. I have
seen the scum of the tar by the side of the stream,
in considerable quantity, ten days after the sheep-
washing was over. A good spate, however, seldom
fails to cure the trout and restore their appetite.
I saw an instance of sick trout this year, but not ,
in consequence of sheep-washing. It was in a
stream which was much swollen from a heavy rain
the day before, and the water was very much discoloured and thick, as if a newly-ploughed field
had been overflowed and the soil washed away, or
as if a bank of earth had fallen in. The water was
by no means so high as I have frequently seen it,
but in mid-channel it was almost black; and shoals
of small trout crowded to the sides, so weak and
helpless,—wabbling about as if they were fuddled,
—that you might take them out with your hands.
Simpson.—I do not think that this has been a
very good season for fly-fishing anywhere.   A friend
of mine in Herefordshire informs me that there
has been a deficiency of sport in that part of the
country, and he complains much of the rivers being
netted by poachers.
Fisher.—The same may be said of some of the
best trout streams in Yorkshire and Westmoreland. The Eure, the Ribble, the Lune, the Low-
ther, the Esk, and the Eamont, have not afforded-
average sport this season, as I can testify, both
from my own experience and that of others. Some
of them have been completely dragged with nets
for miles ; and I have seen the waters of more than
one of them of a chalky colour for several days,
and fish lying dead by their sides, from the more
destructive practice of liming. Should these practices be continued, fly-fishers will have no option
. but to emigrate, and leave the fair but troutless
streams of England for the rivers and lochs of
Connemara, or for the virgin waters of the middle
and northern States of America, where never yet
trout were deluded by the gay deceivers of
O'Shaughnessey, Chevalier, or Widow Phun. Ungrateful country ! thou wilt mourn the loss of thy
kindest children too late, when thou hearest of
them extending civilization, and \ introducing a
knowledge of the gentle art among the wild men of
Gal way, or the red man that dwell by Lake Huron,
when no longer the trout leaps in thy streams, and
when no more the angler's reel is heard sounding
on their banks.   The gigantic trout of Lake Huron,
(Salmo Amethystinus,) weighing one hundred and
forty pounds, has never yet been captured by a
native angler,—red man, or Yankee ;—and if ever
he be captured, it is a native of the British
skilled in all the mysteries of the art—who* can
neatly spin a minnow or troll, as well as lightly
throw a fly—who will achieve the glorious deed.
Simpson.—You are romancing now, when you
talk of a trout weighing one hundred and forty
Fisher.—I am not A gigantic species of trout,
said to attain that weight, from Lake Huron, is
actually described by Dr. Mitchell, a distinguished
American naturalist; and the specific name, Amethystinus, has been applied to it from the purplish
tinge of its teeth. For my own part, I have no
doubt of the fact; and should have no objection
to make one of a party to proceed to Lake Huron,
for the purpose of endeavouring to capture one of
those Leviathans ;—that is, provided the expenses
were defrayed by Government or by public subscription. And even should the expedition fail in
its object,—Captain Parry did not reach the North
Pole, nor Captain Ross discover the North-West
Passage,—yet would the public derive immense
gratification from a circumstantial report of our
sayings and doings ; for
" Quarter-day would see us back,
With each a volume in his pack."
There are also trouts weighing from twenty to sixty
pounds in Lake.Michigan ; and some of the weight
of ninety pounds are said to have been taken
in the straits of Michilimackinack—a name well
worthy of a ninety pounder—which connect Lake
Huron with Lake Michigan.
Simpson. —A gentleman of the name of "Vigne, a
member of Lincoln's Inn, took a trip to America,
about three years ago, during the long vacation,
and enjoyed a few days' fly-fishing in Pennsylvania.
He had some fair sport in the Juniata, one of the
tributaries- of the Susquehannah. The trout were
from half a pound to three pounds in weight; and
in little more than two hours' fishing he caught
about six dozen. He mentions the red-hackle as
the best fly that an angler can throw in Spring
Fisher.—The red-hackle is deadly on all waters,
though not at all times. It is one of my three
types for the colour of flies. The red, black, and
grouse hackle, are with me standards, and all the
trout-flies which I dress are only varieties of these,
with the addition of wings, and a difference of »
shade in the dubbing. Those,which I range under
the red type comprehend the various shades from
■ scarlet to lemon colour. The second extends from
positive black, through the various shades of the
martin's wing and leaden-coloured hackles, to the
bluish-grey feather of the tern. With the grouse
hackle are classed the various shades of brown,
from the chesnut of the pheasant to the grey-
brown of the partridge. With the last I also place
my flies with speckled wings, from the May-fly to
the grey drake and feathers of the Guinea-fowl.
In conformity with this arrangement, my fly-book
consists of three principal divisions, each of which
again consists of two compartments, one for hackles
proper, and the other for winged flies; and I can
turn to the colour and suit myself with a hook of
the size wanted with the greatest facility.
Tweddell.—I have known some gentlemen who
were seldom successful in taking many trout, though
their assortment of flies was most extensive. They
have wanted perseverance, and have wasted their
time and lost their patience in fiddle-faddling
and changing their flies, when they should have
jiept fishing on. I seldom change my flies after
beginning to fish, in a stream which I am well
acquainted with, though I may sometimes keep
walking and throwing for two or three hours, and
scarcely catching so many fish. I have, notwithstanding, continued using the same flies—because
I was satisfied I could put on none more likely—
till I found the fish in a humour to feed; and have
filled my creel, when others less persevering, but
who had perhaps tried a dozen different flies, walked
home with their creels toom. I do not think it a
good plan for an angler always to be adding flies
to a stock which he is not likely to use up for years.
In looking over a large book of flies, belonging to a
gentleman who prided himself on their number and
variety, I have found many moth-eaten and not fit
for use. An excellent fly-fisher of my acquaintance
generally carries his whole stock in the two pockets
of an old Scots' Almanack, with two or three links
of salmon-flies between the leaves. There is one
of the salmon-flies which he shows as a trophy. It
is rather a plain-looking one, with a yellowish-
brown coloured body, brown wings of a bittern's
feather, with a blood-red hackle for legs, and the
link of a pepper and salt mixture, formed of five
black and five white horse-hairs. With this fly he
killed, in one day, five salmon, the last of which
weighed twenty-five pounds, the largest that he
had ever taken with the fly. He landed this last
salmon after a severe contest of upwards of an
hour, during the whole of which the fish never
sulked, but kept continually dashing about the
pool where he was hooked, which was not more
than eighty yards long, and was too shallow at its
head to allow of his pushing up the stream; and
the angler managed to keep his station towards
the foot, to prevent his escape downwards. There
is nothing like keeping a fish in constant exercise
for speedily killing mrm I have seen many a good
fish lost by being trifled with—holding him lightly
or allowing him more line than you can manage—
when he contrives either to break the link or
entangle the line, and escape. I never allow a
salmon a slack line, and thus give him the benefit
of a run, when he is almost certain to carry all
away. Every good salmon-fisher has a tolerably
correct notion what strain his tackle will bear, and
holds his fish with a firm, though, when required,
not unyielding hand, and keeps him constantly
moving. The combined effect of fear and violent
exertion produces, I am inclined to think, a sort of
apoplexy, or fit of stupor, in the fish ; and whenever
he is suspected to be in such a state he ought to
be landed as soon as possible, before he recovers. I
have seen a large trout quite stupid and exhausted
when brought towards the shore, but, in consequence of not being quickly landed, recover his
strength, and break away. The moment that an
angler brings his fish towards the shore, he ought
to be prepared to land him.
r Fisher.—I quite agree with you that both
salmon and trout are seized, in consequence of
their struggles and their fright, with something
like a fit, which, for a t^me, renders them powerless. Perhaps when they are so hooked that the
mouth cannot be regularly closed when the line is
held tight, their free breathing may be interrupted,
and similar effects produced in a fish as in a human
subject when his cravat is tightly twisted in the
murderous gripe of a cowardly antagonist. Whenever you have brought a fish, in such a state, to the
shore, net him or gaff him directly. Have the
"click" into him wherever you best can, and do
not tickle him to his senses again by two or three
misdirected attempts at his gills, for fear of ripping
his side. One fish gaffed by the side is better than
a dozen missed by trying for his gills. Get him by
the gills, if you can, but get him however. Down
on your knees as you draw him to the bank, and
, quickly, quietly, and firmly fix the hook of the gaff
in him, and out with him, as a fisherman from
Robin Hood's Bay hauls a cod from the hold of
a five-man boat. Kill him directly with a few
smart blows on the head, with a life-preserver, if
you have one in your pocket; if not, with any stick
or cobble-stone heavy enough; slip through his
gills a cord, one end of which you "will fasten to
a bank-runner, or the stump of a tree, and throw
him into the water till you want him. He will eat
as firm again as he would do had you left him to
die on the shore by inches,—a dreadfully protracted
death to a salmon three feet long, or a human
being upwards of six feet high.
Simpson.—I never caught a salmon in my life,
though I have killed some trout which for size
might be considered such. I should, however, like
much to catch a few "brace" of salmon before I
hang up my rod as a votive offering to the water
nymphs. But it seems you cannot depend on
catching salmon with the rod, however skilful,
though you should fish for a month, unless you
go to the west of Ireland, or the extreme north
of Scotland. Sir Humphrey Davy has said
"fuit" of salmon-fishing in the southern counties
of Scotland; and the "Angler in Ireland" declares
that no good salmon-fishing is to be expected in
Fisher.—Then off with you next spring, either
to Connemara or Inverness-shire. "Hope deferred
maketh the heart sick;" so if you have conceived
an affection for salmon-fishing, let not your long-
deferred wishes steal away the roses from your
cheek,—you have now a colour like a peony,
Simpson,—and present you with wrinkled crow-
toes in exchange. As soon as the green leaves
begin to appear on the quickset hedge of your
garden, start by the first steamer for Aberdeen,
and thence find your way as you best can to the
Spey, the Ness, the Beauly, the Shinn, the Oykell,
the Ainag, the Cassly, or the Carron; and if you
have not sport to your satisfaction, between 10th
April and 10th May, cross the country to Port-
patrick, take the steamer to Donaghadee, and then
set off for Connemara as fast as you can hie, and
you will be there time enough to have a month's
good fishing in the Costello, the Spiddle, or
" The sweet flowing river of Ballinahinch."
I should like extremely to visit Connemara myself,
" the next parish to America," as the Angler in
Ireland says,—
" Sed fugit interea, fugit irreparabile tempos,
Singula dum capti circumvectamur amore."
" With angling enraptured, at ease sitting here,
While we talk of the scenes of our fishing next year,
How tha salmon we'll tempt with a neatly dressed fly
The time that will never return hastens by."
Whether fishing or talking about it,—recounting
past pleasures, or anticipating future,—pulling out
trouts as fast as we can throw in, or thinking time
slow when wearying for a rise,—in joy or in sorrow,
ia sickness or in health, getting or spending,—Old
Time, however we may fancy him moving, fast or
slow, still holds equably on his silent, stealthy pace;
" Let the day be ever so long,
At length it ringeth to evensong."
These candles, however, contrary to the usual
progress of things, are growing gradually shorter.
Tweddell, I wish you would give us another song,
before they reach the vanishing point. You never
sing now, I believe, Simpson,—the more's the
pity,—either at kirk or merry meeting.
Simpson.—That is because you never avail yourself of an opportunity of hearing me.    I am rather
\\ out of song—not of voice—at this time, remember-
I x      ing nothing but a few old ones, which were standards
JutVj    in the days of Incledon, but are now quite out of
IJffiO.Y    fashion, or I would give you a treat directly.
saV Fisher.—I can excuse you, for I have some in
OK distinct recollection of once hearing you bawling
5|rv out in the " Storm," and, in conjunction, though
NjKY not in concert, with another amateur, completely
W\/Tj reversing "Alls WelL" But come, Sandy, do
\BwQ    favour us, if you please, and, for to-night, this shall
positively be " the last time of asking." Something
fishy, if you have such a thing in the cupboard of
your memory.
Tweddell.—I have just been rummaging, and
I think I have hit upon the very thing; but I
expect that you will sing after me.
Fisher.—So I will, but not to-night. I will
chant matins, in the morning, in a style that will
enrapture you. If there be a lark within hearing,
he will make himself hoarse till May in feeble
emulation. Silence ! have done making that noise
with the stopper on the table, Simpson. You are
trying to recollect some of your old "composers,"
I perceive.    Get the start of him, Tweddell.
Tweddell.—Well then, since such is your wish,
you shall have another stave.
Sober, eve is approaching, the sun is now set,
Though his beams on the hill-top are lingering yet;
The west wind is still, and more clearly is heard
In meadow and forest the note of each bird:
The crows to their roost are now winging their way:
It is time to give over my fishing to-day.
I arose in the morn, ere the sun could prevail
To disperse the grey mist that hung low in the vale.
To the linn I went straight, distant ten miles or more,
Where the stream rushes down with a bound and a roar
In the black pool below I had scarce thrown my '.
Ere a trout seized the fly, and directly was mi
\    -
How they rose, and I hooked them, 'twere needless to tell.
I fished down the stream to the lone cradle-well,
Where I sat myself down on a stone that was nigh,
(For the sun now was bright, and the trouts getting shy;)
A flask of good whisky I had not failed to bring,
And I chasten'd its strength With a dash from the spring.
Refreshed then I rose, and ascended the hill,
To gaze on the landscape so lonely and still;
Where I met an old shepherd, and near him lay down,
At the back of a cairn, where the heather was brown ;
And we talked of old times, and he sang an old strain,
Till 'twas time to be gone to my fishing again.
Though my creel be so large, to the lid closely filled,
It will not hold the trouts which since morning I've killed;
I must string on a withy three dozen or more,—
I ne'er in a day caught so many before,—
But though heavy my creel, yet my heart is so light
That I'll sing a song of my fishing at night.
Simpson.—Now, a toast to conclude with
Tweddell.—" The gentle art of Angling !"
Fisher.—A charming toast; no ballroom belle .so
deserving of a bumper. " Her ways are the ways
of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
Simpson.—The best thing you have said to-night,
Fisher; and most cordially do I say, Ditto.
[Exeunt omnes.
Notwithstanding what learned antiquaries and
historians have said about the name of England,
or Angle-land, being derived from the Angles, an
obscure tribe from Jutland—which, by the way, is
never mentioned by our most ancient annalists as
forming a considerable body of the Saxon invaders
of Britain—it is not unlikely that they may all
have been hunting on a false scent. The most
obvious derivation' is from Anghng, the mystery of
catching fish with rod and line ; an elegant branch
of the fine arts, in which the people of this country
excel all other nations, and.the instinctive love of
which, becoming more intense in each succeeding
generation, they probably derive, from an illustrious race of angling ancestors, who flourished the
long rod during the Heptarchy; and from whom
the seven kingdoms, when united under one crown,
were called Aengle-land ; a name in which all would
cordially agree as peculiarly appropriate, since, from
St. Michael's Mount to the Frith of Forth—which
we believe was the extent of " Old" England—they
were anglers all. Hence, natio Anglia est; and till
the end of time may the love of her children towards
the gentle art, and their skill in its exercise, continue to render the name appropriate ;—for so all
^piscatory   authors,   booksellers,   publishers,   and
tackle-makers are in duty bound to pray.     The
conjecture that the name Anglia, or Aengle-land,
is derived from  "angling," will be considerably
strengthened when we   consider   that   the more       - ||
ancient name, Britannia, is most probably derived       c^^
from Britthyl, a trout, meaning the country abound-     «t|§§|
ing in trouts ;  a much more feasible etymology   jffSjfc
than that of Humphrey Lhuyd, who derives it from        s|||
Bryd and  Cam,  fertile  and fair:   a   far-fetched    ^1
etymology, for which Buchanan—a savage with the     ^jfS
rod, as the royal breech of James YI. could testify
—scourges him   soundly.    The change  of name,
from Land of Trouts to Land of Anglers, is at once
simple and natural, and exactly what a philosophical
etymologist would be most likely to infer.   Let any
person look at the map of England, including in
his survey Scotland, Ireland, and the Principality,
—that is, if he have not personally visited each
country, which every gentleman, at least, ought to   P
do before making the tour of Europe,—and from
the brooks, becks, and bums which he will see
rising in all directions, and winding through the
country, at last forming a noble river—capable of
bnaring on. its bosom the native oak which erst
shaded its banks,but now formed to bear Britannia's
thunders, and "to quell the depths below,"—and
he will directly perceive, from the very physical
constitution of the country, that England is peculiarly adapted to form a race of anglers. The very
climate, which certain foreigners decry as being
dull and cloudy, is decidedly in favour of the
angler; for, notwithstanding the number and excellence of our streams, had we the clear atmosphere
and cloudless skies of Italy, the fly-fisher's occupation would, in a great measure, be gone. Above
all other classes of Englishmen, the fly-fisher has
most reason to be satisfied with the climate of his
own country; and were a course of anghng to form
—as it ought—a branch of liberal education, we
should not have so many absentees misspending
their money and their time, and losing the freshness of honest English feeling in the enervating
climate and degraded society of Italy.
" 0 native Britain ! 0 my mother Isle !
How shouldst thou prove aught else but dear and
To me, who from thy lak*es and mountain hills,
Thy clouds, thy quiet dales, thy rocks, and seas,
Have drunk in all my intellectual life,
All sweet sensations, all ennobling thoughts,
All adoration of the God in nature,
All lovely and all honourable things,
Whatever makes this mortal spirit feel
The joy and greatness of its future being !" *
Under the term "Angling," Professor Rennie
includes all kinds of fishing with a hook, in salt
water as well as in fresh; and it must be admitted
* Coleridge, "Eears in Solitude."
-^-though the fact militates against our derivation
of Anglia from "Angling"—that the people of
Sussex, about 678, were so ignorant of the "gentle
art," that the only fish that they knew how to
catch were eels, which they probably managed to
capture after the primitive fashion of "bobbing"
with a pottle of hay. St. Wilfrid, however, taught
them the art of fishing with nets, and with hooks
and lines; and thus enabled them, at a period of
famine, to procure a supply of food from their own
rivers and bays. " This Bishop," says the Venerable
Bede, who records the event, i' gained the affections
of the people of Sussex to a wonderful degree by
teaching them this useful art; and they listened
the more willingly to his preaching from whom
they had received so great a benefit." St. Wilfrid
probably acquired his knowledge of sea-fishing at
Lindisfarn or Holy Island, where he was educated ;
anl as angling was allowed to ecclesiastics as a
recreation, it is not unlikely that the Saint may
have fished fly for salmon in the Tyne, when he
was Bishop of Hexham.
Sea-fishing, with hook and line, though comprehended by Professor Rennie under the general term
I Anghng," does not come within the scope of our
" Souvenir," otherwise we might here insert certain
" Recollections of Cod-fishing," which, perchance,
might prove more lengthy than interesting. We
will, however, do better; we will embellish this
portion of the volume with a few illustrations of
coast scenery, which can scarcely fail of exciting
most pleasing seaside reminiscences. Behold the
joint effect of Topham's pencil and Beckwith's
burin, and read the description of Crabbe :
" Turn to the watery world !—but who to thee   •
(A wonder yet unviewed) shall paint—the Sea ?
Various and vast, sublime in all its forms,
When lolled by zephyrs, or when roused by storms,
Its colours changing, when from clouds and sun
Shades after shades upon' the surface run ;
Embrowned and horrid now, and now serene,
In limpid blue and evanescent green ;
And oft the foggy banks on ocean lie,
Lift the far sail, and cheat th5 experienced eye
Be it the summer noon; a sandy space
The ebbing tide has left upon its place ;
Then just the hot and stony beach above
Light twinkhng streams in bright confusion move;
(Eor heated thus, the warmer ah ascends
And with the cooler in its fall contends.)
Then the broad bosom of the ocean keeps
An equal motion; swelling as it sleeps,
Then slowly sinking, curling to the strand,
JFaint lazy waves o'er creep the ridgy sand,
Or tap the tarry boat with gentle blow,
And back return in silence, smooth and slow.
Ships in the calm seem anchored; for they glide
On the still sea, urged solely by the tide."
The salmon, above all other fish, both from its
value and the sport afforded in its capture, is the
most worthy of the angler's attention ; and to hook
and kill a fine fresh-run lively fish of this species,
weighing from seven to seventeen pounds, requires
the exertion of all his patience and skill. Owing
to the scarcity of this fish in the south of England,
anghng for salmon, either with fly, worm, or minnow, is seldom practised south of the Tees. In the
northern counties, where they are more plentiful—
the Tyne, in Northumberland, and the Eden and
the Derwent, in Cumberland, are the rivers which
afford the best chance of success to the salmon
fisher. A good many salmon are caught with the
rod in the Tweed, during the season, between
Berwick and Peebles ; but he who wishes to enjoy
the sport in its greatest perfection must go farther
afield, and locate himself for a month beyond the
Tay, or in the wilds of Connemara. With respect
to sahnon-fishing. in Wales, two recent authors,
who both profess to speak from experience, disagree ; the one telling the angler that he must
expect no good salmon-fishing in the Principality,
while the other represents it as excellent in' more
streams than any angler—who commences salmon-
fishing when he comes of age, and hangs up his
rod when about seventy, devoting three months
in each year to the sport, and fishing each stream
thoroughly—can hope to get through in his lifetime.
" 'Tis really painful here to see
Experienced doctors disagree."
Fresh-run salmon—that is, clean fish from the
sea—begin, in small numbers, to enter most rivers
in the north of England and in the south of Scotland, about January, if the season be mild; their
numbers increasing during the spring months. In
severe winters, and when the streams are full from
the melting of the snow, their appearance is proportionately delayed, as the salmon has an aversion
to snow broth. In some rivers their appearance is
from a month to six weeks later than in others;
and there are streams which they never enter till
April, though they ascend others which discharge
themselves into, the same estuary in January.
The advance-guard of the main body of salmon
begin to asceria above the tideway about March
in early rivers, and enter the fresh water; and
during this and the three succeeding months of
April, May, and June is the best time for angling
for salmon within ten or twelve miles of the
highest point-of the river to which the tide flows.
About July they begin to push up towards the
higher part3 of the river, and now enter its smaller
subsidiary streams, gradually ascending towards
their sources, during the months of August, September, and October, as floods afford them opportunity of passing the falls, weirs, and shallows.
Should the weather be frosty, the early fish commonly begin spawning in November, though the
greater number spawn in December and January.
Grilse, the young of the salmon,—which descend
as smouts or salmon-fry from the spawning ground
to the sea in April and May,—return to the rivers
about the middle of June ; and again descend to
the sea in September. Grilse, which on their first
appearance weigh from two to four pounds, and
increase during their abode in fresh water to six
or seven, take a smaller kind of salmon-fly, dressed
on a hook, No. 4, 5, or 6, according to the state of
the water. They may also be angled for with lobworms, a minnow, or a par's tail.
Salmon, in ascending a river, mostly keep in the
middle of the stream, avoiding the shore, and
seldom making any stay in pools or weils which
are much shaded either with steep rocky banks
or trees. They are most likely to be found a
little below weirs and falls, and towards the'head
of large pools. As salmon never, or at least very
rarely, rise at the fly when the water is clear and
unruffled, the angler need not be apprehensive of
disturbing them by wading; for when the water
is in such a state as to afford him the greatest
chance of success, they will not be very likely to
notice him at the distance of twenty yards. When
the angler knows that salmon are in a pool, he
must not be content with making two or three
casts, as directed by mere book-makers, who probably may never have seen a salmon caught, but
fish the pool diligently again and again, making
his casts frequent; and should he not succeed
with one fly, try another of a different shade.
In dull weather, when uniformly dark hazy clouds
are impending, and the barometer points steadily
to rain, both salmon and trout generally decline
taking any kind of bait or flies, whatever may be
the state of the water. On such days, the angler
may save himself the trouble of going to the waterside—except for the sake of exercise—as he may
much more profitably employ himself at his inn,
if he be merely a temporary sojourner, in dressing
a few flies, looking over his tackle or his linen, or
writing to his male and female friends, cramming
the former with accounts of the loads of salmon
and trout which he has caught—in his dreams ; and
soothing the ladies—maids, wives, and widows, who
are disconsolately singing, from morning to night,
"Oh for him back again,"—with a touch of the
sentimental, either in verse or prose, accordingly
as he may be "i' the vein."
With a twenty-feet salmon rod—a twig which
requires two hands, and cannot be flourished about
as a gentleman switches h:s cane—an expert angler
will find no difficulty in casting twenty-five yards
of hne, if the banks of the river be clear of wood ;
and if the wind be direct in his favour, he will be
able to cast five yards more. It is generally the.
safest way to strike as soon as the salmon descends
aftar having seized the fly; for when he has once
taken it in his mouth and made a downward plunge
there is nothing to be gained by giving him time,
which only affords him an opportunity of blowing
it out again should he not have hooked himself.
In the "Encyclopaedia Metropolitana," article "Angling,"—which must have been written by a downright ignoramus, wholly unacquainted with the art
of which he pretends to treat, and, from the shameful literary errors which have been permitted to
pass uncorrected, revised by a careless editor—is
the following direction : "When you imagine that
the salmon has been struck, be cautious in giving
him time sufficient to enable him to pouch his bait,
that is, swallow it fairly or securely; after this
fix the hook in him by a gentle twitch." A passage
betraying greater ignorance of the art of angling
was never penned. The doer must have read that
pike, when trolled for with the dead gorge, are to
be allowed time to pouch the bait; and he sagely
directs that after the salmon has been "struck,"
he is to be allowed time to take the hook out of
his jaw, then swallow it fairly and securely—no
mumbling it like an old crust allowed ;—and when
the hook is thus comfortably lodged in his stomach,
& \
and the process of digestion is commenced, it is to
be fixed, for the second and last time, by a "gentle
The steadiness and self-possession required to
manage a salmon after he is hooked ; the. peculiar
tact with which the angler now yields to the rush
of the fish, now holds hard when he appears to be
growing weak, are only to be acquired by practice,
as they can no more be taught by mere precept
than the art of dancing on the tight-rope. To tell
a novice to be steady-when he has hooked a salmon
for the first time—now to give him hne, now to
hold him in—is like telling a young ensign, who
has never smelt powder but on field-days, to
cool and collected in his first battle ; or a cockney
not to be frightened when first a covey of partridges starts up before him,.within ten yards of
his nose. Favour us, gentle reader, with your
patience for five minutes, while we attempt to
give a sketch of salmon-fishing which will embody
all the practical information on the subject of
catching a salmon which we can convey; and to
secure your attention the better, you shall be the
hero of the tale.
You are staying at an inn, or at a friend's house,
on the banks of some river—say the Tweed, the
Tyne, the Spey, or the Costello—for the sake of
salmon-fishing. There has been a soaking rain of
eight hours' duration on the Tuesday, which has
brought the  salmon  up,  and  at   six  o'clock  on
Thursday morning—with a pleasant breeze from
the south-west, as much blue in the sky as will
make trousers for every man in the Royal Navy,
and a cloud occasionally shading the sun's face
—your fly is making his first circuit across the
berry-brown water of a pool in which you know
there are at least twenty salmon. For upwards of
an hour you flog that half mile of water till your
arms ache, but without success, the fish not yet
being disposed to take breakfast. As an excuse for
resting yourself, you sit down for twenty minutes,
and change your fly, putting on our No. 1, hare's
lug aiid bittern's wing. You return to the water
again, and ere the new fly has gone the circuit
thrice, he is served with a special retainer, in the
shape of a salmon, which, judging from his pull,
you estimate at thirty pounds, the largest and
strongest, as you verily believe, that you ever
hooked. With that headlong plunge, as if he
meant to bury his head in the gravelly bottom,
he has hooked himself. Your hook, which will
hold thirty pounds dead-weight, is buried in his
jaws to the bend, and now that he feels the barb,
he shoots up the stream with the swiftness of an
arrow, and fifty yards of your line are run off
before you dare venture to check him. Now his
speed is somewhat diminished, hold on a little,
and, as the river-side is clear of trees, follow up
after him, for it is bad policy to let out Hne to an
unmanageable length, when you can follow your
 K -
fish. There are some awkward rocks towards the
head of the pool which may cut your line; turn
him, therefore, as soon as you can. Now is the
time to show your tact, in putting your tackle to
the test without having it snapt by a sudden
spring. Hold gently—ease off a little—now hold
again—how beautifully the rod bends, true from top
to butt in one uniform curve !—He has a mouth,
though bitted for the first time. Bravo ! his nose
is down the water ! Lead him along.—Gently; he
grows restive, and is about again. Though his
course is still up the stream, he seems inclined to
tack. Now he shoots from bank to bank, like a
Berwick smack turning up Sea Reach in a gale of
wind. Watch him well in stays, lest he shoot
suddenly ahead, and carry all away. He is near-
ing the rocks—give him the butt and turn him
again.     He   comes   round—he cannot bear that
steady pull—what excellent tackle; lead him downwards ; he follows reluctantly, but he is beginning
to fag. Keep winding up your line as you lead
him along. He is inchned to take a rest at the
bottom, but, as you hope to land him, do not grant
him a moment. Throw in a large stone at him,
but have both your eyes open—one on your rod
and the other on the place where the fish lies—lest
he make a rush when you are stooping for a stone,
and break loose. Great, at this moment, is the
advantage of the angler who has a " cast" in his eye!
That stone has startled the fish—no rest for salmo
—and now he darts to the surface. "Up wi taily," .
what a leap ! it is well you humoured him by
dipping the top of your rod, or he would have gone
free. Again, and again ! These are the last efforts
of despair, and they have exhausted him. He is
seized with stupor, like a stout gentleman who has
suddenly exerted himself after dinner, or a boxer
who has just received a swinging blow on the
jugular. Draw him towards the shore,—he can
scarcely move a fin. Quick the gaff is in his gills,
and now you have him out; and as he lies stretched
on the pebbles, with his silver sides glancing in
the sun, you think you never caught a handsomer
fi3h in your life, though you perceive that you
have been wrong in you estimate of his weight
—thirty pounds—for it is evident that he does not
weigh more than thirteen. It was exactly half-past
seven when you hooked him, and when you look at
your watch after landing him, you perceive that it
wants a quarter to nine, so that he has kept you in
exercise exactly an hour and a quarter.
" Along the silver streams of Tweed
'Tis blythe the mimic fly to lead,
When to the hook the salmon springs,
And the line whistles through the rings
The boiling eddy see him try,
Then dashing from the current high,
Till watchful eye and cautious hand
Have led his wasted strength to land."
In anghng for salmon with a minnow—a small
  ed him.    He
trout or brandling may be used for the same purpose—it is necessary to use a long-shanked hook,
which is to be passed in at the mouth and brought
out between the vent and the tail; and, to prevent
the bait slipping down this hook, a small hook,
whipped on a piece of, fine gut about three inches
long, is to be attached to the link and passed
through the minnow's lips. To facilitate the spinning of the minnow, it is usual to employ two
swivels, one at the junction of your first and second
length of gut, and the other at the junction of the
second and third, with a shot, greater or smaller
according to the strength of the current, placed on
the gut, immediately above each swivel, to keep
the minnow down in the water. In spinning a
minnow, the foot-length, of gut, is generally about
three yards long. Some anglers use a conical piece
of lead, with a hole at the apex, for the gut to pass
through, which they slide down over the minnow's
nose ; but this method has not any advantage over
the simpler one of placing shot above the swivels.
The manner of using this bait is to cast it across
the stream, and, as you draw it towards you, to
keep it playing by a slight motion of the rod.
In fishing for salmon with lob-worms, two or
three, according to their size, ought to be placed
upon the hook, which ought to be cast up the
stream and worked gently down with the current,
according to the strength of which the line is to be
shotted.    When spinning a minnow, or fishing with
the worm for salmon, it is customary to use a
stiffer top-piece than in fishing fly. When a salmon
is hooked by either'of the former methods, he is to
be managed in the same manner as in fly-fishing.
There is no rod or tackle that we have ever seen
which will enable an angler to throw a salmon of
twenty pounds weight over his head, as he would
whisk out a trout when shade-fishing. The best
time of the day for salmon-fishing is from six in
the morning till eleven in the forenoon, and from
four in the afternoon till dusk ; but when the water
1 and weather are favourable, they may be angled
for at any hour between sunrise and sunset. The
angler who in one day has the skill and good fortune to land four salmon, each upwards of seven
pounds, though he may have toiled for them from
dawn till evening,, has no just cause to grumble,
and to represent the water as not worth fishing.
An amateur angler, who has thrice in the course of
ten years taken eight salmon in one day, is entitled
to give a minute detail of each day's proceedings,
and catch his salmon over again, in all companies,
social, philosophical, or literary. Before taking
leaye of the salmon, we beg to correct an error of'
the press in the second series of Mr. Jesse's interesting "Gleanings," of which, compared with the
" harvesting" of some others, it may be said that
1 \ the gleanings of the grapes of Ephraim are better
than the vintage of Abiezer." It is there stated,
page 305, that "the ovarium of a salmon will pro-
duce 20,000,000 ova." This requires correction, by
cutting off the three last ciphers, and making the
number 20,000 instead of 20,000,000. Twenty
millions of the ova of a salmon ready to spawn
would weigh about four hundred pounds. The
number of ova in salmon is, according to the size
of the fish, from fifteen to twenty-five thousand.
 An angler who wishes to obtain a dish of trouts
will not wait till they are inclined to take the
artificial fly, provided he can fairly hook them by
avaUmghimself of other means. In days when the
water is clear and smooth—not a breeze stirring to
curl its surface—and when there is not the slightest
chance of success with the artificial fly, the shade-
fisher will not unfrequently bring home a dozen or
two of good trouts. In shade-fishing, the angler
ought to use a stiff rod and a line strong enough to
lift out a trout the moment he is struck; and for
bait we know nothing better than gentles.^ The
best situations for practising this method of anghng'
are the banks of streams shaded by trees and bushes
that conceal the angler from the sight of the trouts
which are taking their ease in the pool below,
leisurely opening their mouths and plying their
gills as if between sleeping and waking. Having
put a couple of gentles on his hook, let the angler
warily make his way through the bushes, and project his rod as imperceptibly as the motion of the
shadow on the dial; and drop his hook as gently
as a caterpillar lowers himself from the branch of a
lime-tree to the ground. A fine portly-looking trout,
who would not spring at the most tempting fly, as
requiring too much exertion, skulls himself, with
two or three gentle strokes of his tail, towards the
dainty morsel, which he tips over as you, gentle
reader, would an oyster; and, just as he is descending, he feels a slight tickling in his throat ;
and before he can ascertain the cause, he finds
himself in another element, flying like a bird
through the alders that shade his native stream.
In clear water it is sometimes advantageous,
when there is a light breeze, to use two natural
flies, with a fine line, putting a small hook through
them, under the wings, so that they may lie with
their heads in opposite directions, and allowing
them to be lightly blown across the stream, or
carried down with the current. When using the
blowing hne, it is necessary to employ a reel.
Worms, either lob or brandling, are an excellent
bait for trout when the water is rather discoloured;
and even when it is clear trout will frequently take
the worm in streamy parts of a river or a burn,
when they will not take the fly. When worms are
used, the bait is to be thrown up the stream, and
worked gradually downwards to the extent of the
angler's hne.
In swift-running streams, the fresh-water or burn
trout seldom attains to the weight of five pounds;
and in such streams, hi the north of England and
in Scotland, by far the greater number of trouts
caught weigh less than half a pound each. In the
Thames, between Teddington and Windsor, very
large fresh-water trouts are sometimes caught.
Within the last twelve months three have been
caught, two with the net, and one with the rod
and fly, each of which weighed upwards of twelve
pounds. The beautiful engraving of a large trout,
given herein, from a painting by A. Cooper, R.A.f
is a " portrait" of a well-fed five-pounder, which
was caught by the artist himself, in the Wandle,
in May, 1834.
It is May-day, and the earth is dressed in a fair
new garment of green ; the copious showers of the
day before yesterday, followed by yesterday's
brilliant sunshine and warm south wind, have
made the leaves rush forth with a sudden bound
from buds which hitherto have been so jealously
closed. To-day the bright sunshine pours out of
a cloudless sky upon a green world, which m its
vividness of colour seems to be gifted with the
lustrous transparency of the sky itself.
On such a day it were a shame to stay indoors
and see nothing bluer than foolscap—nothing
greener than writing fluid ; besides, this morning
our rod fell from its bracket when no one was near.
The housemaid said it was a strong breeze through
the open window which dislodged it, but that is all
nonsense. It was the spirit of the spring which
moved it to protest against inaction on such a day.
We are not superstitious, but we dare not disregard
' such a warning; therefore let us take our trusty
rod in our hand, and wander forth to revel in the
sight of the blue sky and the green woods, so
delightful after the discomforts of a long and cruel
Whither shall we go? What need to ask?—there
is but one stream in the verdant valley, and
wherever we strike it our steps are sure to be
irresistibly led, upwards or downwards as the
case may be, to the mill, which for a century
has nestled among the great trees in the heart of
the valley, and has been so frequented by angling
visitors that it has earned the name of the Angler's
Our way lies over meadows yellow with the low-
flowered celandine, the taller and more kingly
buttercups, and scattered clumps of nodding cowslips. It is a field of cloth of gold, the whole of
this low ground; but in lieu of gaudily bedecked
knights and horses, there are only our sober selves
clad in homely grey, and red and white satin-
flanked cows, to view its loveliness.
The hedges look like the spray of a waterfall
turned into emeralds, and set with pearly foam of
the blossoming thorns. On the uppermost branch
of a tall hazel clump a thrush is singing with all
his heart, his fawn-coloured throat throbbing with
the music of his voice ; while not far off, his mate
is sitting on her blue eggs, and listening proudly to
his epithaiamium.
In the pauses of his song you can hear another
and a merrier one, dropping faintly down from
that speck in the dazzling blue, which you know to .
i lark.
first swallow skimming
over that still pool, on which the white ranunculus
flowers lie in such perfect purity; and hark ! was
that a cuckoo? or was it but a dove, whose voice
is so tremulous with the happiness of his recent
wedding that his coo-o is broken into two syllables?
How welcome is each sight and sound that indicates the advancing spring ; how impossible it is to
be sad on such a day !
There is the brook sparkling over gravelly fords,
and circling slowly in quiet pools, its foam-bells
sparkling in the sunshine. It has cleared so rapidly
after the rain that only in the deeps is it a pale amber
colour; elsewhere the water is bluej or golden, or
brown,, or black, as the shadows fall. The gravel
shines, and the blue sky is reflected; but everywhere there is white and sparkling foam in lines
and splashes.
Rigging up our rod and flies, we wade knee-deep
among the broad-leaved butterburs, and with a
wave of the rod the glistening line is despatched on
its deadly mission, and at the very first cast a trout
is hooked, and in another moment is breathing its
last among the daisies and silver seed-globes of the
yellow-flowered dandelions. Its struggles ere it is
seized shake out hundreds of the shuttlecock seeds,
and they float away on the south wind over the
So on we go up the brook, pulling up a trout
from this pool where the water swirls under the
overhanging roots of an oak, and a troutlet from
that merrily rippling shallow. Although the water
is just the right colour, the sun is too bright for
very good sport, but we like the bright sunshine,
and the additional pleasure it gives to our waterside
ramble more than atones for a lighter basket.
Now we enter a wood, where the oaks and the
alders crowd too thickly over the stream for us to
fish it. We stroll quietly along the mossy glades,
and mark the lady-fern unfolding its curled fronds
among the pale, sweet-smelling primrose clumps;
and the delicate white, purple-veined bell flowers
of the wood sorrel drooping over its triple, heart-
shaped leaves, Between the tree stems a white
butterfly flits ; squirrels frisk among the branches
overhead, and peer inquisitively at us; from clumps
of bracken—the tawny russet of the last year's
growth, and the tender green of this—a tiny rabbit,
who has come out of his mother's burrow for a first
tour of inspection, sits up on his haunches and
stares solemnly at us ; while the atmosphere of the
wood is thrilling and quivering with music, the
melodies of a hundred birds, and the hum of a
million insects, toned down into a sweet and all-
pervading harmony.
There is the mill, separated from the wood by a
meadow's breadth, and such a meadow !—a perfect
blaze of spring flowers; that part of it which maxgms
the brook white with nodding cardamines. The
stream itself is broad and shallow, and its quiet
current slides over trailing masses of weed that
wave in the water like a maiden's tresses in a
summer breeze.
' The mill is a large, grey, irregular building—a
farmhouse as well as a milL Its massive walls are
stained with age, and the ivy clothes them here and
there with a mantle of glossy green. The huge,
black, moss-stained wheel creaks slowly around.
It is an overshot wheel, and the water pours down
upon it from the sluice above in an iron-grey
column, broken and changed into silver as it
splashes and drips from the floats of the wheel.
To the left is a broad sloping weir of great height,
down which the water dashes with a thousand
sparkles, and boils and bubbles in the great pool
beneath, whence it is glad to slip quietly away over
the sleepily waving weeds.
From beneath the wheel, the water, having done
its work for the present, hurries away deep and
black along a narrow channel, overhung with water
docks and grasses, knotted rushes, and " water
scorpions " (which, when the blue flowers smile at
us we call forget-me-nots), until it rejoins its parent
stream a httle lower down. Here, experience has
taught us, there will be a great trout lurking, and
we take two of our flies off our cast, leaving only
one, that they may not catch in the rushes
and spoil our sport. Then creeping on hands
and knees through the cool meadow grasses, we
cautiously cast our fly upon the narrow torrent.
At the third cast there is a quiet circle in the
water—big trouts rise leisurely—and an electric
tug as we strike announces to us the pleasant fact
that we have hooked a nice fish. There is not
much room for him to fight, and in a few minutes
we have led him into' the shallow brook below, and
there at last he lies upon the yellow gravel, a silver-
bellied, red-spotted beauty of quite two pounds in.
" Ah, you rascal ! " cries a voice from an upper
window of the mill; "you have caught my best
trout. Now just take a cast over the pool below
the weir, and then come in and have some dinner.
It will be ready in ten minutes. Now, no excuses
—you must be hungry after catching such a fish."
That is the miller—a Tennysonian miller.
" I see the wealthy miller yet,
His double chin, his portly size,
And who that knew him could forget
The busy wrinkles round his eyes ?
The slow, wise smile that round about
His dusty forehead drily curled,
Seemed half within, and half without,
And full of dealings with the world."
A heavy dinner in the middle of the day does
not agree with us, but the miller would not be
pleased if we declined his invitation, and we are
hungry; so after landing another trout—a small
one this~time—we prop up our rod against the
porch, and enter the mill.
We have a pleasant family dinner in the low-
wat •
;he middle of the
ceUinged, oak-wainscoted dining-room, through
the open windows of which a pleasant fragrance
comes in from a large, old-fashioned flower garden.
At one end of the table the miller presides, jovial.
in appearance and talk. At the other end the
miller's wife is his exact prototype. We are a
great favourite of hers, for because the labour of
the brain gives us a somewhat pale and preoccupied
look, she imagines we are delicate, and what woman
can resist the pleasure of doctoring somebody?
Therefore, she supplies us with fresh eggs, beautiful
milk, almost solid cream, and such other country
dainties which she imagines, and rightly so, we
cannot get in perfection in the town. She gives
us also dandelion tea, and tea made of some other
herbs, notwithstanding our protestations that in
town we could get something equally nasty. But
in her eyes no good thing—always excepting
bonnets and dresses—can come out of the town;
and rarely do we pay her a visit but she insists
on our taking—in her presence, mark you, for she
will not accept our promise—a wineglassful of some
intensely bitter decoction. Bless her heart, though !
she is a dear old lady.
Then, there is the miller's eldest son, and his
wife, with three or four little ones, who have
already made a successful raid upon our pockets.
There is no maiden "miller's daughter" here, but
the youngest daughter, who was married a year
ago, has now come home with her babe to " make
her boast" to her delighted grandpapa and grandmamma. All at the table are jolly and merry and
happy, save one, the only one we have not yet
mentioned. He is the miller's youngest brother,
but to look at him he seems much older than the
miller. He was an artist, whose pictures were
beginning to sell. Then he met with a love disappointment, which upset his unstable nature. He
went utterly and irredeemably to the bad; and now,
half imbecile, and wearily waiting for the end, he
has accepted the shelter of his brother's home.
Miserable as he is, however, his artistic perceptions
have not altogether left him; and now he looks
more animated and happy, because he has been
sitting in the shadow-flecked orchard, between the
masses of white and sunlit blossoms, and has been
watching the play and dance of the water as it
sweeps over the weir; the thrush singing in the
apple tree, the lark in the blue sky, and the gay-
coloured chaffinch building its lichened nest in a
fork of the splendidly blooming cherry tree. The
gladness of the spring has permeated even him,
and to-day his presence is less like a cloud in the
sunshine of their home happiness.
Country people themselves seem to wake to a
new life and cheeriness with the spring, and their
cheeriness is infectious. We pity the man who has
no friends in the country whom he may~visit, and
from whom experience such a hearty welcome that
it makes him better pleased with himself.    He
thinks he must have some merit in himself to
evoke such heartiness from others.
Dinner is over, but the miller has some capital
port, which it would be a shame to leave untasted,
and he likes a chat with a guest from the town.
Then cigars, or, more fitted to the time and place,
long churchwardens, are produced; and the somnolent effect of the soothing weed disinclines us to
exertion. Hence it is that the afternoon slips
rapidly away, and we are in no hurry to resume
our fishing. At last, however, the spell is broken.
From one of the windows the long stretch of dead
water above the weir is visible. It is a famous
place for trout. On hot days you can see great
fellows of three and four pounds weight, lazily
floating about in the clear water. No angler leaves
the mill without trying to catch one, but most
anglers leave it without having caught one. The
banks are steep and thickly wooded, and fly-fishing
is impossible. The miller will not allow worms to
be used there. These big fish are his pets, and he
chuckles at the ineffectual attempts of anglers to
throw a fly over the spotted beauties, or, having
succeeded in throwing a fly, to induce them to
take it.
Now, about fifty yards above the weir, just
under an alder bush, a big fish has been rising at
intervals of a few minutes for the last hour. An
angler's patience can stand such a sight no longer,
and we knock the ashes out of our pipe, mark it in
pencil with our initials that it may be kept for our
use on a future occasion, lay it down reverently,
and sally forth to seize our rod, the miller following
with a sly smile on his ruddy face, ready to break
into a ponderous laugh at our approaching defeat.
But during the winter we have been plotting dark
deeds. We know full well that these huge trout
will not look at an ordinary fly, so we have constructed the image of a large green caterpillar,
curled up in the most natural manner. As we
attach it to our line the miller's face grows solemn,
and he shakes his head, but says nothing. We
twist the rod until the hne is rolled around the
top like thread on a reel; then creep cautiously
along the bank to just above the alder bush. Our
position is perilous. The bank is steep and slippery;
our foothold is scant—we are, alas ! obliged to crush
a tuft of primroses with our boot; and the water
below us is deep.
There is the trout. His weight can surely not
be less than four pounds and a half. He does
not see us. We quietly insert the point of the rod
through the bushes, and unroll the line so that the
caterpillar descends towards the water in exactly
the same manner that a real caterpillar does,
suspended by his silken thread. When it is about
sis^flaches from the water, we pause, and hold it so
for a few seconds, while the big trout is watching
it. Then we let it fall suddenly on the water. The
trout rises at once, and with a quick chop of his
big jaws, he has the bait, and—hurrah! he is
hooked. The miller's sympathies are now with the
angler who has performed so redoubtable a deed.
He shouts, " Hold him tight! don't let him have ,
his head." Very good advice this, but impossible
to follow, for the trout has got his head, and darts
off up-stream at a racing pace, leaving diverging
waves of water behind him. The line is rapidly
whisked off the reel. Our heavily-bending rod
tells us how futile would be the effort to check him
in his mad career. The situation is critical. Our
line is nearly run out. We cannot follow along
the bank ; the last inch is now off the reel.
"Throw your rod in after him." The advice
comes too late. There is a sharp struggle forty
yards up the stream; the gut gives way, and the
line flies back among the bushes in sticky folds.
Oh, horror!
H What to us remains of good ? "
Despair!   Tare and 'ouns!   Frantic gesticulations
and lamentations !   To hook him so cleverly, and
then to lose him !   Hath earth any sorrow like
.    this ?   The miller consoles us to the best of his
I   ability, and offers us a pipe.   His wife says a cup
I   of tea—not dandelion—will do us good.   We doubt
F   it — our feelings are too severely lacerated—but
we will try.   Bless these people, how they do eat
Breakfast at half-past seven;  lunch at half-past
ten ;  dinner at one ; tea at half-past four ;  and
supper at half-past eight. Why, at home, we only
have two meals in the course of the day—breakfast
and dinner, for a biscuit in the mid.dle of the day
cannot be called a meal.
Tea does console us; a pipe does also console us;
and after a romp with the children in the orchard,
we feel happy again, though still regretting the loss
of so fine a fish.
The busy murmur of the mill ceases. The
dappled cows come wading through the brook to
be milked; we catch a few more small trout; the
sun goes down in a sea of amber, crimson splashed
and spotted ; the white mists wreath around the
coppices of oak and fir ; the bats wheel and scream
in the still air, and—we go in to supper. Then
there comes a rubber or two of whist, a farewell
pipe, and a glass of grog ; and with a fair basketful
of trout, a bottle of dandelion tea in one pocket of
our coat, a spring chicken in another, and laden
with a posy of cowslips and primroses gathered
by the children for the dear partner of our joys
and purse, we shake hands with the miller and
his wife, and bid good-night to the dear old mill
and its inhabitants.
The white mists of an October morning rise quietly
and sluggishly, like a sleeper just awakened, from
the damp meadows, the green hue of which is.
strewn and dashed with the yellow and grey of the
long, dead bents and the faded summer grasses.
The soft mysterious mist rolls slowly away, flowing
down with glacial motion from the hollows of the
wood, where the dead leaves lie in wet masses of
tawny brown, and orange, and purply black. Down
a narrow path between the tall, though broken and
dying, bracken which hangs in drippin/
over the soft path, we step with loitering tread,
armed with our rod and creel. For what fish we
on such a cool, still morn? For pike or lordly
salmon? trout or dashing perch? No, the still
quietude of this windless autumn morn has seemed
to us to present a favourable opportunity for the
capture of some of the silver-sided roach that run
in the calmer reaches of the river, winding through
the valley below us; the valley that only a few
minutes ago was invisible from the higher ground
upon which we then stood, so enveloped was it in
its shroud of mist. The valley now presents a
patchwork appearance, for while the natural tints
 the Anglers souvenir.
of green and yellow are visible in in ray a place,
and the river shines with the dull gleam of frosted
silver between rows of 'shadowy willows, yet in
every dip and hollow the mist clings as loath to
part from its bride of the night.
We rest for a few minutes on the crooked and
lichened stile at the edge of the wood to gaze at the
scene below us. It is half repellent and half attractive, yet wholly beautiful with a chaste, cold
beauty. The vagueness and. uncertainty imparted
to the breadth of meadow by the changing mists ; k^
the indistinct outlines ; the strange weird mystery
of the still, white river with its curving reaches,
upon which the yellow leaves of the willows float
in increasing numbers, are sad and uncanny; and
the low bushes with their brown branches gleaming
wet with the mist, and hung with myriad water-
drops, look cold and cheerless. We hesitate to
leave the warmer shelter of the wood, and we look
back at it with the air of one who leaves a friend
for a long journey. There may be water-kelpies
and elves lurking in the river valley, among the
sedges and under the mantle of mist, while here in
the wood there is nothing but the faint, shy rustle
of the curled-up leaves as they crack from their
parent branches and flutter downward into the
brake and brambles, to form a thickening carpet
through which the red-coated squirrel bounds with
a quick patter, and the conies dash with a great
flurry and disturbance of matter.
To the eastward, beyond the wood and through
its sombre glades, the sky is of a pale and perfect
green, but low down against the crest of the hill
which shows dark and serrated upon it, it is
brightening with a white light. Presently there
13 the d.iZ3le of the sun above the horizon, and
wibh a sullan attack its rays shoot through the
woods, at first with a steely radiance, but quickly
brightening and strengthening until the brown of
the wood is turned into crimson, the yellow into
burning gold, and the green of the mosses and the
hardier ferns into a brilliant emerald. The wood
is now a mass of gorgeous colours.
As wine makes glad the heart of man, and drives
away for the time the pressing weight of care and
sorrow, so the magic wine of the sunlight gives the
radiance of health and life and beauty to the damp
and decay and sadness of this autumn wood.
And now a wren begins to sing shrilly in the
underwood; a robin on yonder gate flicks his tail
and expands his red breast, and with a derisive
cock of his eye at the sober-coated little wren in
the bramble bush below him, bursts into a clearer
and fuller song, and then stops, quite expecting that
he has overpowered and silenced mistress wren.
But Kitty is well satisfied with herself. She cares
not for any robin, though he is God's cock and she
is God's hen. She is an advocate of woman's rights,
and so she goes on with her contented and thankful .
twitter—very sweet it is if one listens properly—
and flits about with a keen eye for things eatable,
and heedless of the showers of wet she shakes upon
her little brown back from the purple-streaked
blackberry leaves.
And now we turn again towards the river, and,
lo ! the mists are fleeing hither and thither in dire
confusion, and melting away before the brightness
of the sun. The dewdrops look no longer cold and
cheerless, but are sparkling diamond-like under the
fairy wand of a sunbeam.
Now, let us delay no longer, but to our fishing !
so, with well-waterproofed boots on our feet, we
stride heedlessly through the soaked grass and
strike the river at a favourite spot. And while we
rig up our tackle—leisurely, for it is yet full early
to begin—let us discourse some little of the fish we
are to catch, in the manner of our honoured master
the rambler by the Lea, and, we hope, to the edification of his younger disciples.
First, let us give our quarry the honour of his
proper name, for in this eastern county, where the
rustics' wits are as slow as their rivers, the roach
suffers the indignity of being classed with the bream,
and called by the family name of " white fish."
Cyprinus rutilus, then, is its scientific name, but
we wonder how that fine fat fellow which has just
risen to the surface and smelt at a tiny leaflet to
see if it were digestible, would feel if he knew that
he bore such a grand name—ah, Mr. C. Rutilus,
we will show you such a dainty morsel by-and-by.
Walton says that the roach "is a fish of no great
reputation for his dainty taste, and his spawn is
accounted much better than any other part of him;
and you may take notice that, as the carp is
accounted, the water-fox for his cunning, so the
roach is accounted the water-sheep for his simplicity
or foolishness." This charge of "simplicity or
foolishness," however, is only partially true of the
roach. In waters where small ones abound, they
are greedy and silly enough, and the veriest tyro
may catch them. Also in semi-tidal waters where
the stream runs somewhat brackish and the mud
at the bottom is foul, such as the lower reaches of
the Yare, the big roach may be taken in great
numbers by any one who can hold a rod over the
side of the boat. Such fishing requires but little
skill (and what is anything without the exercise of
skill ?) and such roach-fishers rank a very long way
below the trout-fisher. But where the roach is at
his best—such places as this river on whose banks
we stand, whose deep, clear water slips gently over,
trailing weed, and rounds from the foot of a golden
and green-striped shallow into a slowly eddying
and blackly deep pool—it is fine work fishing for
him. With a pole one could leap over the river in
any place, yet that hole, a little lower down is fully
fourteen feet deep. It holds many an ancient roach
of portentous size, whose size protects it from the
ack which also inhabit it.
In fresh, clear water like this, the roach are shy-
biting creatures, and it needs considerable skill to
catch them. We have seen an angler who could
kill a fair basketful of trout on the brightest day at
Coquetside, fail to maintain his reputation when
roach-fishing in this stream. One's tackle must be
of the finest. Many anglers,. especially London
ones, who are great roach-anglers, use footlinks_a
single horsehair thick ; but we are inclined to think
this a refinement of luxury, for gut is now drawn
so fine as to be practically invisible in the clearest
water, and it is stronger than hair. The rod should
be long and light, and the baits, if natural ones or
paste, should be perfectly clean and fresh. Yet all
these things avail nothing if the angler's eye be not
quick, his attention unflagging, and his wrist supple
and dexterous in striking.
A clear river roach, his stomach and his strength
being unimpaired by gross feeding, fights well for
some time; and supposing he is over half a pound
in weight, and you are using fine tackle, a landing-
net will be found extremely useful. On the present
occasion we have one slung at our back, and it can
be unhooked in a moment when required for use.
There are many ways of fishing for this handsome
fish—for handsome he is, with his silver scales, his
red fins, and his yellow eyes. You may fish for
him in muddy water with worms. You may use
wasp grubs, or gentles, or pastes of various mixture.
On hot days you may dib for him with a natural
fly under the bushes which overhang the still deeps,
when you may catch some large ones. Or, better
still, you may fly-fish for him wherever he is, with
a "black gnat" on your casting-line, and the hook
tipped with a tiny bit of white kid glove. This is
a very lolling way when the fish are playing about
on the feed on summer evenings, but it needs a
quick eye to see and a quick hand to strike as soon
as a tiny circle is made upon the limpid stream.
Best of all, however—because the roach is then at
his best and strongest, and the big ones are more
inclined to take the angler's bait—it is to fish as we
are doing now, in chill October.
On a mild, still day, and (if the water is much
fished) soon after sunrise, when the fish have had
a night's rest to make them less suspicious, a good
basket ought to be made in fairly stocked waters.
And now let us delay no longer. The sun has
been long enough on the water to rouse the fish to
a knowledge that it must be breakfast-time.
Our float, you see, is a light porcupine quill, and
our hook is small and fine; six inches above it is
one tiny shot. Our bait is a piece of paste, the size
of a green pea, made of new white bread, carefully
kneaded with clean hands until it is tough and
sticky. Where we commence the water is about
five feet deep, and at the bottom long masses of
weed are swaying over smooth yellow gravel.
Peering downward, at first we see nothing but the
dark-green weeds; but as our eyes become accustomed to the deeper shade, we see, a foot above the
gravel, in the clear runs between the weeds, a dozen
or more fine roach, their heads up the stream, and
with gently swaying tails. They look dull-brown
objects as they now swim, but every now and then
there is a sudden gleam in the water as one of thei
darts aside to seize some speck of food, and shows
his shining flank. We approach the sedgy margin
silently and carefully, and, crouching down on one
knee, we throw our line lightly up-stream, and
watch the white bit of paste as it sinks slowly down,
until, supported by the float, it glides along, at the
right depth, towards the noses of the eagerly gazing
roach. The first one, who i& nearly two pounds in
weight, sails up to it, and then drops backward
down-stream, keeping his mouth just an inch below
the bait, and examining it suspiciously. It is a
moment of anxious suspense. Will he, or will he
not, take it ? No 1 he is too cautious. He does
not feel quite sure about it, and so he turns aside
and lets it pass. Then it floats right on to the nose
of a pounder, and he just sucks it nonchalantly in.
We strike, and he is hooked, and gamely struggling
to reach the weeds, but his fate is sealed, and we
lead him into our landing-net, when«e he is transferred into our basket.
When we next cast in, the big roach again goes
up to it, but this time he turns tail in great alarm,
and darts down-stream and into a bed of weeds.
But a half-pound fish lower down rushes in
where the wise roach feared to tread, and is duly
basketed. Then, for three or four swims, we get
no bites, for in such clear.water the fish are soon
alarmed, but after awhile we catch two more small
" Now we will leave this clear reach, and try that
deep pool below, where a few tiny circlets on the
surface show that some big roach are feeding—for
the bigger a roach is the more delicately does he
poke his nose out of his own element. We cannot
see the fish, for the water is too deep and black, so,
pushing ourselves into a bed of tall and crackling
reeds, we drop our line into the water at the head
of the pool, and watch the float slowly circling
round in the eddy. Presently it gives a sharp jerk
or two; that is the bite of a small one, and, on
striking, we find that our bait has disappeared. At
the next swim, just as our float reaches the tail of
the pool, it stops, and slowly sinks. The hook has
either caught in the bottom, or it is the bite of a
big fish. We strike, and find that we are fast in a
good one. It gives two or three vigorous dashes,
just like a trout, and then submits to be turned
shorewards. At the sight of the landing-net, however, it makes a further and prolonged effort,
which causes our slender rod to bend and spring
with great vivacity. With our fine tackle, and
hampered as we are by the reeds, the slightest
flurry might cause us to lose it, but we are cool
and patient, so in another minute the fish is safe
within the circle of the net.    His weight is within
of two pounds, therefore we may call hi
In the course of the next half-hour we catch
iree or four more, and all good ones. Then, as
e pull out a small one about six indies long, we
>e a shadow dart out from under the bank, and
f |    of them half a pound
That was a jack        «
imd evidently on        m If
3i our tackle, w
ig tackle.   Casting it
lose to the bank.    In        A
s ha I       1        1 ^ '
ws of Esox Lucius close
tug, our thin gut line
a the air in glistening
to his den—oh ! with
! repair our tackle and i |l
veiing tresses of 1
combed by the
over a pound each. Then they cease biting, and
after trying in vain for some time, we look round
to ascertain the cause. The eastern sky has grown
pale and cold, and there is a thin hne of dark,
hard-edged cloud resting athwart it. We also
become sensible of a keenness in the air, and we
find that the wind has gone round to the east.
The ripples already shimmering on the water tell
us that a strong easterly wind is springing up, and
so goodbye to our fishing.
We wander downward, just throwing in now and
then for form's sake, and note the few things the
autumn winds and rains have left us. Here is a
late tuft of the yellow loosestrife; there the green
blossoms of the ivy, which wreaths round that
slanting pollard. Yonder a bed of tall nettles,
covered with the fading yellow of the parasitic
dodder, and here the greenish spikes of the mercury
goose-foot,.or Good King Henry. On this marsh
the tall bulrushes bend their rich' brown heads to
the easterly air, and in this small, rush-fringed
lagoon the floating duckweed" is scattered by the
rising of a mallard.
On this mud-bank is the seal of an otter, and the
track of his broad foot, together with the tail part
of an eel off which he has breakfasted. Across the
river a water-rat swims under the water, its compressed fur gleaming with silvery air-bubbles, and
the ubiquitous water-hen flutters from the sedges.
All around are the glowing reds, and browns,
•and yellows of the sad, sweet autumn time.
Leaves, fragrant in decay, flutter against us;
starlings chatter in the reeds, and rise in a whirling cloud; and the rooks wheel and tumble in the
grey sky above us.
In our hearts there is a restful peace, tinged with
a pleasant melancholy; and so we walk on in full
content, and come to a tiny, straw-thatched and
moss-covered cottage, set in its little garden, close
by the water's edge. Here live an old couple, all
by themselves, cheered only by the occasional visit
of a child or grandchild. Old Morris was a farm
labourer; then, as he grew old, a stone-breaker;
and now he is too old and too rheumatic for that.
It is a wonder how the old couple live. They have
a plot of garden in which they grow a few potatoes,
but their crop has been bad this year; and we know
from one who sometimes befriends them that times
are hard with them, and that they have lived for a
week together on the fish caught by the old man,
who was a deft angler in his youth. There he is
now sitting on a stool by the waterside, and
patiently waiting for a bite, with greater interest,
we cannot but know, than we ever did; for his
dinner depends upon the anxiety of the fish to take
theirs. He is shivering with the cold, and looks
anything but comfortable. On the grass behind
him lies one small fish, and he is not likely now to
catch any more. He does not see us, and he is as
deaf as a post, so we turn out the contents of our
JU   ft
wi I
basket to add to his one fish—reserving, however,
a brace of the best for ourselves.
When old Morris discovers the addition to his
store, will he think, we wonder, that the miracle of
the loaves and fishes has been repeated ? and with
what additional fervour will his good wife thank
the Lord when she finds half-a-crown in the belly
of the biggest roach !
Very bright and pleasant are the pictures which
cross the mental view of the Angler in his hours
of rest. The hard-worked lawyer, politician, or
merchant may throw himself back in his easy-chair
after dinner, and escape from the cares of his
business to wander in green fields and by flowing
streams. To him there appear pictures so vivid
that he smiles to himself as he thinks of the deep
impression made upon his mind by the beauty he
saw in those bygone days of sport, and free, wild
wanderings. One picture may arise a hundred,
times, but it is none the less vivid for that, and
none the less welcome. He can live over again
that gloomy, windy day by the mountain tarn,
set amid the rugged rocks, when the trout rose
so freely, and the weight of his creel was almost
more than he could bear on his homeward journey.
Again he rambles through the feathery meadowsweet and luxuriant grass, full of daisies and
buttercups, by the side of a southern trout stream,
and sends the May-fly to yon eddy where the big
trout lies. Once more he sees the salmon surging
up-stream at the   end of   seventy yards of   lino'
and his frantic bound out of the brown water.
Once again he lies in dreamy contentment by the
side of a lilied pool, and watches his float slide
away with the bite of a carp, or duck briskly with
the dash of a perch.
And his helpmate, if she be spirit of his spirit,
as well as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh,
will rejoice to see the wrinkles on his forehead
grow smoother, the lines about his mouth relax
from their sternness, and quiver with the play
of a smile; and as his eyes close she will know
that he has fallen asleep on a mossy bank in a
woodland glade, and that the murmur of family
talk is to him the pleasant sound of a rippling
stream by which he has been wandering, and the
glare of the gas is transformed into the flicker
of the sunshine through the fluttering oak leaves,
or the ghtter and reflex from the intermingling
She is glad to see this, and she is not jealous
of his love—that to him is second nature—for
the angler's life and the angler's joys. She knows,
too, cunning woman, that when he wakes from
that refreshing dream and fancy, he will be
amiably disposed to grant her her heart's desire,
whether it be a new bonnet, or to take the children
to the pantomime. Those for whom we chiefly
.write will know this is no fancy picture, and they.
will know also that such reveries are refreshing
alike to the mind and the body
. Too often, alas ! the power of indulging in such
reveries is wanting. The nerves are so keenly
strung from the high pressure to which they have
been subjected, that they cannot relax and rest
even for a moment, and the brain has been so
busy that it cannot throw off the habit of work.
In such a case, involuntary reverie and thought
such as we have described are impossible ;- and
then, we who write, and many like us, we are
glad to say, step in to the rescue, and present
with friendly force to the rebellious brain the
soothing medicine of a picture in words. This is
our mission, to bring, back to jaded hearts the
time when
" The glad spring green grows luminous
With coming summer's golden glow,
And merry birds sing as they sang to us
In far-off seasons long ago."
Then away to the Linn with us, and hey for a
merry day ! and a breath of the freshest air, and
a ramble by the bonniest burnside in the North
There is the Linn, and at first sight there is
not much to see. A steep hillside, thickly covered
with heather, stretching up to the wild moorland
above, and broken into rocky ridges, is cleft by
a deep ravine, which appears to be filled to overflowing with trees and shrubs. From the foot of
the ravine and out of the dense underwood, a
stream steals rapidly away like a fox from a covert
when the hounds enter. This is the Linn. You
had better put your rod together outside, for there
is not overmuch space inside, and it is often a
' difficult matter to put it together where the trees
grow close, and the top joint will caftch in the
It may seem a strange kind of day fh&t We
have selected for an anghng 'ramble. There ;aS*e
many fishers who would laugh us to scorn for
sallying out with a rod this day, for it is a oriflianl;,
blazing summer's day, and the water in the lb-urn
Is as clear as crystal. '"No trout Would look at
a fly on such a day." ^o, friend, but they will
look at a clean red worm if it be handled as we
mean t® handle it. We intend to catch a fair
quantity of trout, clear >as the water is smd cloudless the sky. Therefore, if you would learn a
wrinkle, look at our tackle. Our rod is short
and rather stiff, not made for throwing a fly, but
excellently adapted for pitching .a worm into a
far-away eddy between rocks and roots, and the
very thing for holding a fish by the head without
giving him an inch of line, in places—and there
are many such in the Linn—where to give a fish
Hne would be to lose him. At the end of our hne
are six feet of fine gut, the last few links of gut
so fine that it is no thicker than horsehair. The
hook is of extremely fine and beautiful steel, and
sharper than any needle. Were the water a little
darker, we should use the Stewart tackle, which,
as an "all round" worm tackle, is better than
any pther.* It is made of three small hooks, tied
on the gut at interval of half an inch, and facing
opposite ways. To bait this, each hook is passed
right through the worm laterally, so that it hangs
in loops between them. The worm hangs in such
a tempting way that the trout takes no notice
whatever of the hooks, and with this tackle he
is hooked at once, and there is no delusive
nibbling. In all streams we consider this to be
the best worm tackle, except when the waiter is
so supernaturally bright and clear as it is to-day.
Now, our single hook of excessive fineness is the
best. Our worms are small, and of a clear red,
betokening that they have been well scoured in
Now we enter the Linn, and ere we have gone a
* In a review on the Academy, Mr. T. T. Stoddart took
objection to this recommendation of the Stewart tackle,
and says : " I have been a practical angler for more than
half a century, and lived on the most eligible portion of
Tweedside for forty years. During that long period,
worm-fishing in clear water, in the months of June and
July, has been my study and delight; and the conclusion
I have arrived at is in favour out and out of the single-
hook tackle. By it, in clear, still stretches of a river,
or from a lake, on the brightest of days, large trout may
be taken ; whereas the three-hooked tackle, recommended
by the late Mr. Stewart, will be found quite inefficacious.
In streamy water, also, under corresponding circumstances,
the single hook, with the shank bent back a little, I have
found to be more trustworthy than the other."
hundred yards its exceeding beauty grows upon us.
To say that it is indescribable would imply that it
is a folly to attempt to describe it; but as the very
object of our article is to describe the Linn, that
"the old place may bring the old time back," we
will not say that it is indescribable, and we will
select a pen made of the quill of a wild goose, shot
in its upper portion, to aid us in our task.
We have said that the Linn was a deep ravine,
through which there flowed a brawling burn. At
its entrance we passed into a larch wood, where the
air was laden with a sweet resinous odour, and the
light was mellowed by the "tender living light,"
the pure and perfect green, the delicate shining
emerald of the fresh larch foliage. In the early
spring every one of these larches hangs out a braver
show of buds of the palest, lightest green, just like
the spray of a fountain, so ethereal do they look,
quivering in the sunlight; but now the green is
fuller and deeper, but yet none the less bright and
fresh. Under foot there is httle vegetation, but
the foot sinks deep in a brown coating of firneedles. Down on the left the brook brawls and
sparkles, sending quivering shafts of light up to us
from its myriad reflecting surfaces. A green woodpecker stiffens its tail against the bark of a tree,
and taps violently and resoundingly against the
wood ; and then we can see the long narrow tongue
shooting out and in, picking off the insects disturbed by his " tapping at the door."
Out of the larch wood we reach the wilder part
of the ravine. A rude path leads by the stream,
and crosses* it every now and then by means of
a rude and picturesque wooden bridge. On the
other side the rocks rise in craggy ledges, cracked
and seamed and furrowed, as if nature had done
her utmost to rive the hill asunder in some fierce
throe of agony. Dwarf oaks grow wherever there
is a crevice large enough to hold their roots ; the
rowan trees strew their foliage of airiest lightness ;
and here and there the. "lady of the forest," the
1 silver birk," rears its graceful form—its white
and shining stem a fair Contrast to the rugged
rocks, and its drooping tresses to the sturdy
oaks. The underwood is thick and luxuriant.
Tall brackens rise boldly up through interlacing
brambles, and between the path and the burn is
a fringe of hazelsi, into which a squirrel has unwisely retreated, and in his haste to escape from
us executes wonderful feats among the too pliant
branches. The bed <of the brook is wide, as becomes a mountain brook which, after heavy rain,
is a raging torrent; but at present the water twists
and turns around boulders of every size, and every
hundred paces pours down in silvery cataracts over
high ledges of rocks into deep, bubbling pools
below. These rocks and boulders are piled and
strewn in the wildest confusion. Every now and
then the stream disappears, to reappear welling
from beneath  some   cavernous   rock.     Here the
brook is divided into a score of channels—like
black snakes writhing in shining folds; and there
it gathers in a deep frothing pool, underneath a
forest of broad, cool, harts-tongue ferns, and
washes the long, brown moss lazily up the slippery
We select a pool to commence with, and, lying
down on a slab of rock, we peer into it. Half a
dozen trout are visible in the clear water, with
their heads up-stream, and they are as yet unsuspicious of our presence. With a twitch of the
wrist we jerk our worm against the upper rock,
and it falls naturally on to the fringe of moss, and
s washed off into deep water by the ripple. There !
we have hooked a trout; he went at it furiously,
and now he is in our basket. The rest have disappeared under the stones, and we pass on to the
next pool. There ! that is the way to catch them.
Keep well out of sight; throw in at the top of the
pool, and let the worm float downward; and that it
may float the moret naturally, you should have no
shot on your line ; and the hotter and brighter the
weather is, the more trout you will catch, unless
rain should be imminent, when your chance of
sport will be very small indeed. You will only
catch one in each pool though, so pass on, and, to
. fish that next pool, crouch on your hands and
knees behind that boulder, and cast at a venture
into the still, deep water above, not allowing so
much as the point of your rod to appear above it,
for the trout seem floating in air, so clear is the
Is not every yard of ground a perfect study ?
Look at that large, sloping rock above you. On
it grow the greenest mosses, glossy harts-tongue
ferns, the black maidenhair spleenwort, and the
graceful green spleenwort. Its broad surface is
stained with many shades of grey, brown, and
green; and just" at its foot, a clump of forget-
me-nots laughs at us with its blue eyes. At the
summit, a monster lady-fern waves its handsome
fronds in the light summer breeze, while down
one side of it the water slides in a black current,
broken into silver by opposing points of rock ; and
at the foot of the waterfall, on a projecting spur,
sits a white-breasted water-Ouzel, flipping its tail,
and singing its robin-like song.
To-day we have little difficulty in picking up a
trout from each likely pool, and so we scramble on
over theuneven ground, getting used to the murmur
of the water, so that it "becomes a silence in which
we can hear the hum of that cloud of gnats, golden
in the sunlight, "which quivers above us.
And now the ravine grows narrower, and its sides
higher and more precipitous. The brambles and the
thorns are fewer, but the ferns are doubly luxuriant. Every crest and coign of vantage is crowded
with lady-ferns, and some on the edge of the rock,
which, from some cause or other, have met with a
premature -death, hang over in clustered tresses of
golden brown. The shield-fern vies with the lady-
ferns in luxuriance, but not in beauty, and the common bracken now gives place to his nobler congeners.
Then, with a sudden transition from the wildness
and the tropical luxuriance of the ferns, we come
upon a meadowy interspace, margined with oaks,
and flecked with sunshine and shadow, sleeping
quietly in a sunny haze and silence. Across this
there runs a tiny tributary stream, scarce six inches
wide in parts, but every few yards falling over a
stone into a Httle pool—a pool not much larger and
deeper than a good-sized saucepan. Yet watch.
We drop our worm on the top of a puny waterfall,
and it is carried souse into the pool below, a troutlet
darts at it from under the bank, and is hooked.
Each pool seems to hold just one trout, about six
inches long, and if one is caught its place is supplied
a day or two afterwards. In the space of twenty
yards we catch four small trout in this manner, and
each in its own Httle pool, where hitherto he was
monarch of all he surveyed.
Beyond the glade the ravine becomes still narrower, the rocks become barer, but are painted with
stripes of brilhant green, where runlets of water
trickle over cushiony moss. The waterfaHs increase
in height and grandeur, and the water is always
white with foam and sparkling with air-bells, each
of which seems to hold captive a bit of sunbeam.
We become sensible of a louder, roar, and then we
come to the end of the Linn, and its crowning
beauty bursts upon us. Far above our heads tower
the overhanging rocks, the foHage of the trees on
either side interniingHng in the middle. From a
height of fifty feet the burn flings itself over the
rock in a splendid cascade, and plunges with a
sullen roar into the boiling caldron beneath. From
thence it slips away between two huge fern-crowned
boulders, to be again hurled over a smaUer fall,
over which a slender plank and handrail serve as a
bridge. Seated on. a. rude seat we watch the foaming water, and seem to, lose our individuality in its
overpowering ego sum.
Hark! what, is that beH-like note which has,
sounded more than once down the stream \ It is
like^ the cry of an otter-houndL Ah, there, is, no
mistake about that splendid^ crash of music It is
a pack of hounds hunting an,otter, and every hound
is. johiing in. the, meUpw chorus, whiclfc. is answered
in sharp and quick excitement by the rocks around.
A dark object bounds over th$t rocjk ij#o the pool
above, It is the otter, and a fine fellow he is^
With sinewy a^d cat-like_. steps it advances towards
US, and, seeing us, stands, irresolute for a moment,
glaring savagely. Hunted to, death !. Poor beast!
we cannot hehp fueling som^pity for it. There can
be no escape now. A sheer wall of rock before, and
a baying pack behind. Now the hounds and. men
appear on the scene* toiling and panting. The-
otter plunges boldly- into the pool below the great
fall.    The downpour of water. catcheSiit,, anji whirls,
it over and over, driving it pitilessly from its last
hope—that dark hole in the rock behind the fall.
As it rises exhausted on the verge of the pool, the
hounds are upon it, and, after a short, brave struggle
for life, the otter is killed and the hunt is over. The
echoing shouts of the men and the belling of the
hounds die away from the crags, and the silence of
death hangs over the beautiful Linn.
We loiter slbwly homewards, enjoying the pleasant time, and knowing that, although our ramble
is ended, " the tender grace of a day that is dead "
will abide with us. while, life lasts.
If the reader wiH but agree with us in certain premises, we shall feel much more comfortable in our
mind with regard to his opinion of our book. First,
then, is it not true that the fiercer and intenser a
pleasure is, the sooner does it'' sate its novel force,"
the more quickly are we tired of it, and the less
wishful are we for its repetition? This much
granted, it follows that our quieter pleasures give
a greater sum of pleasure on the whole, and a more
healthy reHef from the labour of life. Then, there
are undoubtedly two kinds of pleasure, one which
ends as it begins—a pleasure alone ; and the other
which rests and recreates,^—gives health and energy,
and in its effects is almost never-ending. As an
example of the former class, we would instance the
pleasure we derive from the perusal of a book, the
listening to an opera, or the social gathering ; as
the best instance of the latter, the quiet idyllic
interest of country life, and the pursuits of the
angler and the naturalist. If you agree with us
thus far, we are quite satisfied, and we are content
to prose on about the poetry of the woods and fields
the lakes and streams, just as a grand-dad talks of
the feats of his youth, or the lover prates of the
charms of his mistress.
Confession is good for the soul, they say, and at
the risk of drawing down upon our heads some
strong indignation, we must confess that our earliest
love was for that which some people call nature ;
but as that term has become somewhat hackneyed
and indefinite in meaning, we prefer to call it the
out-of-doors. We never took well to confinement.
During our school-life the blue sky seen through
the barred windows, and the pigeons or the rooks
which circled under it, or the top branches of the
chesnuts tossing in the wind, were more frequently
our objects of contemplation than the pages of
our books. The unrest and the longing, which was
never satisfied save in the open air, by the glancing
stream or on the far-seeing hill-top, have followed
us through Hfe; and though through the dull
winter these feelings may be dormant, yet as the
fair spring grows into fairer summer/they arise
with a poewr not to be controlled, and away out of
doors we must go, and be once more blest in the
possession of that which contenteth us.
There are certain pleasant spots in England
which, from their own natural beauty and the
associations which boyish romance and youthful
friendships have endowed them with, have such a
charm that when a holiday-time comes round each
year, we are constrained to revisit them, and put
off for yet another year the pilgrimage to fresh
fields and pastures new which in the winter time
we have planned. As the race for pelf grows
swifter, the time for a holiday is more hardly
snatched, and yet more keenly longed for. With
us a habit has arisen of discussing on Sundays,
at dessert, the manner in which the next vacation shall be spent. It is pleasant to talk so,
although the fulfilment of these plans falls far
short, as a rule, of their conception. Whatever
we plan, though, as the time for starting grows
near, we feel that mere rest is the great desideratum, and so we dive at once into the stillness
and fragrance of a quiet, restful, country holiday.
What it is like we will try to show you, if you
will only care to read.
June blazed forth her hottest, and then strove
to quench her heat with many showers. After a
fortnight's rain the glass became more settled, and
it seemed to us that there was every prospect of
some continued fair weather. So as July grew
apace we resolved to visit the home we had not
seen for a twelvemonth, ere the June roses had
lost their glow. It was a long journey. Starting
in the afternoon, we stayed the night at a manufacturing town, and then we started westward,
through a country that steamed under a soft, warm
rain, to the pleasant house that nestled where the
border hills of Wales curtseyed to the rich Shropshire plain.    After the dwarf vegetation and hard-
looking woods of the north, it was delicious to see
the fat, green hedges panting under their load o
glistening rain-drops, the luxuriant grass fields, and
the massy woodlands. There was a sense of plenty
and cheerfulness that was very suggestive. Then
the hills rose blue and cloud-Hke ; streams, lakes,
woods, and farmhouses became well-remembered
landmarks. At the stations were faces that were
familiar to us even though, their owners' names
had escaped us. More real and pleasant grew our
)   L
" Of deep shadows on the grass,
Of meadows where we saw the cattle graze ;
Where, as the breezes pass,
The gleaming rushes bend a thousand ways ;
Of leaves that slumber in a cloudy mass ,
Or whiten in the wind ; of waters blue
That from the distance sparkle through
Borne woodland gap ; and of a sky above,
Where one white cloud like a stray lamb doth move."
Yonder the silver sheet of the mere—well remembered and much loved—shone Hke another sun
midst the bowery woods, and there was a quiet
gHding stream where many a grayling has fallen
victim to our skill. And there was the station
where we were to alight, and the waggonette in
waiting. In the centre of the platform was the
Pater waiting for us : his tall, sturdy form stemming the hurrying crowd of passengers as carelessly
and easily as a boulder in a stream.    Bless hinV!
his welcome of his "boy" is a keen one.    We will
sketch his portrait by-and-by.
We drove through the country lanes towards
Rosesbower as the rain-clouds Hfted, and the sun,
peeping saucily from behind his mask, drew out
the fragrance of a thousand flowers. In front of
us were three taU poplars, bowing lazily and
whitening creamily in the wind that had sprung
up to play with the sun and chase^ the rain. These
poplars were the landmark which showed the position of our home, but the lanes wound in and out
so much that they were now this side and now that,
and often behind us. One lane was deep and
high-hedged, so that we drove along through a
leafy tunnel, and here the honeysuckle lingered
yet in wonderful profusion, covering the hedges
with masses of white and yellow, blush-pink and
crimson, giving forth the sweetest and most grateful
incense. We drew full breaths again and again
with huge and childish delight, and great gratitude
to the Giver of Good. There came into our minds
a passage from a book which we always take with
us into the country, " The Flowering Plants of m\\'\
Great Britain," by Anne Pratt, which is so appreciative of the honeysuckle that we quote it:—
"When the honeysuckle first puts forth its leaves
the landscape is looking dreary. The thorns, with
bronzed stems, hang dripping with rain-drops ; the
dark leaves of the dark-leaved privet glisten near
the red twigs of the cornel; while perchance some
bough of the yellow osier seems like a golden rod,
or some catkin of willow or hazel gives a little
brightness to the scene. Brown leaves, with an
occasional yellow spray, hang on the youngling
oaks, and the rich crimson leaf or stem of the
bramble winds among them. But the honeysuckle
leaf has about it the hopes and associations of
spring-time. It is the herald of thousands of
green leaves which shall quiver on the stem and
resound to the pattering rain-drops of April, and
be brightened by April rainbows. Its spray is to
the foHage Hke the daisy to the flowers and the
robin to the birds—the first, and therefore the
fairest of its clan."
Not less welcome than its leaves in the spring
are the full ripe blossoms of its luxuriant summer
Then we entered upon a heavily-timbered lawn,
where the sleek red cattle stood rejoicing in the
damp coolness, scarce troubling themselves to move
off the gravel path out of our way.
As the trees opened out, we came in sight of
Rosesbower, and weU it deserved its name. Originally it had been an old farmhouse, and it had
been added to here and there by buildings of
. various styles of architecture, until it had assumed
a delightfully quaint and rambling look. Along
the two principal sides of the house ran a verandah
1 supported by wooden pillars, and along the top of
the verandah and these pillars roses red, roses
white, and roses yellow grew in the greatest profusion, and with the happiest effect of colour.
Near one part of the house a large wild cherry-
tree grew on the shaven lawn, the red fruit trembhng
multitudinous among the leaves. On the left part
of the house a lime-tree flung its sheltering branches
over one end of the croquet-lawn, and to the right
stretched the flower-gardens, resplendent in colour,
and behind all were dark firs that hid the outbuildings beyond. It was a fair scene, but its
greatest beauty was that it was home.
The home of one's childhood has a sacred charm
about it that is never wholly efiaoed, even by the
comforts of the new home a man forms when he
marries and settles down. Happy are they who
have thus two homes, and both of them pleasant
ones ; and pleasant is the time when the offshoot
can spare its tenants for a visit to the older home.
There in the doorway stood the mother, her
hands quivering with the tenderness of the welcome
she had ready for her first-born, who to her was a
boy still, notwithstanding he had married a wife
and had a household of his own. Father,- mother,
brothers, sisters, well it is when nothing occurs
during the many months of absence, and through
the hurry of the selfish turmoil of increasing cares,
to mar your loving welcome, or dim your fond and
admiring glances with aught but the mist of glad
tearlets. W ell may a man strive his utmost to deserve
the pride you feel in him and his achievements.
Well, we were at home, and maternal solicitude
suggested something to eat, and a most prolonged
and charming lunch it was, with much gossip and
laughter, while the rain-drops fell from the eaves
on to the carpet of rose-petals, which the showers
had scattered on the lawn, and the scent of Gloir
de Dijon and Marshal Niel tickled our nostrils
Then we wandered out and about, despite of the
wet under foot, visiting and -making friends with
the cattle, the horses, and the dogs, and pacing
the garden walks, duly admiring the gardener's
chefs-d'oeuvre, startling the cushat from the ivied
tree at the end of the kitchen-garden; getting
wet through with the sudden showers ; changing
twice, and getting a mighty appetite for dinner;
and afterwards enjoying a cosy chat in the Pater's
sanctum, a room that opened with glass doors on
to the verandah. So we looked out westward over
the undulating meadows and copses to the blue
border hiUs that now stood out sharp and clear,
and then receded and were blurred with a yellow
curtain of rain. The purple rain-clouds grew
ragged and golden at the edges, the gloaming crept
up from the weather-gleam, and the night fell
peaceful and soundless, save for the recurrent
grating cry of a corncrake in the 'long grass of
the hayfield, and the scream of the whirling
II.—Up with the Lark.
The window of our bedroom was left open, and
the cool night air, fresh from the rain-wet woods,
fiHed the chamber, so that our sleep was healthy,       *>■*£,
and therefore dreamless and light.    At four o'clock     C'^^VJ
the next morning we were broad awake,.and look-    &Jkn A
ing out westward over the fair country.    The fields    fy™ j/,
were silver-grey with innumerable raindrops, but       ffi^&m
the clouds had gone away to the northward, arid    W\#F
a grey-blue sky and hazy weather-gleam foretold
the coming of a hot day.    The breeze came in
gentle puffs,  bringing to  one's nostrils the fra--
grance of the roses, and the heavier and richer
odour of the meadow-sweet, which, in the meadow
yonder, shook its cream-white clusters over the
ripening hay.    The sparrows twittered and chirruped with great industry on the eaves, and the
starlings preened themselves on the dovecote.
About two hundred yards from the house was
a pool, smaU in size and shallow, but full of carp,
which were at all times most difficult to  catch.
One side of the pool was bounded by the lane,
and on the other was a field containing a savage
white bull, the terror of all trespassing anglers.     \ &tA
All day long the" country urchins sat on the lane       Jw§£   .
side of the pool and fished for small carp of two      Jkf<?',\'/
or three inches in length,   and their persistent
efforts effectually frightened the bigger fish, so that
none could be caught on ordinary occasions. The
previous evening a younger brother named Herbert,
a lad of seventeen, had arranged with us that we
should try for them early in the morning; and
hence it was that we dressed hastily and "anyhow" (oh, the delight of being able to dress
"anyhow"!), and left our room with the intention of waking Herbert. Our quarters were in a
portion of the house separated from the rest of
the inmates by a distinct staircase and doors ;
and when past these, we. had po clear idea where
his room lay, So we went prospecting, creeping
stealthily with stockinged feet, lest we should
rouse the house, and yet it seemed to us that
every oaken plank we stepped upon had a loud
and distinctive creak. Listening at one door, we
heard a dual sound of breathing '% at another, there
was no sound at aU. While standing uncertain,
a third door opened, and out came Master Herbert,
ready for the fray. Our first visit was to the
larder, for it is a golden rule never to, commence
the day upon an empty stomach,
We were soon at the pool, on the surface of
which thin wisps and veils of mist still slumbered.
A heron stood in the marginal weeds, and wa3 so
incredulous of visitors so early, that he bHnked
and bHnked his sleepy eyes at us in wonder, and
only arose when we were within ten yards of him.
Our hooks were baited with red-worms, and our
lines were dropped quietly into the water,  sup-
ported by the tiniest floats. While we waited and
watched for the first bite, we drew in huge draughts
of the exhilarating morning air, with an additional
zest, because we knew that the day would turn
out scorching hot. All around was very quiet and
still, and we noticed what a different nature
characterises the stillness of the morning and that
of the night. In both, the silence is equally profound away from the houses; but while at night
the quiet is in accordance with the dying day
and the darkness, in the morning it is in keen
contrast with the quivering brightness, the intoxicating freshness, and the vigour which impels to
A float moves a little, then dips slightly, and
then Hes still, as if no fish had touched the bait.
Patience ! he is at it still. Now it slides away
with quickening' pace, and then dips under water,
towards a tree-root. Strike, and hold him by the
head ! Give him the butt, for he is in dangerous
proximity to the sunken branches. Now lead him
into the rushes. He is landed, a fine carp of two
pounds weight.
So we went on, now one and then the other
hooking a fish, until ten fine carp lay on the bank.
The mists arose from the water, the pearls vanished
from the meadow-grasses, the insect hum grew
louder, and the thrushes sang in the poplars, the
sky brightened into its clearest blue—and the fish
ceased biting.    It was seven o'clock, and we had
not done badly, yet, like OHver, we asked for more
and were admonished. The tiny sprats of carp
commenced biting vigorously, and the frequent
dips of our floats inspired us with delusive hopes.
We had been fishing from the lane, but seeing
that the bull was feeding quietly in a far corner
of the field, with his head turned away from us,
we chmbed over the gate and went on with our
fishing. Presently we heard a tramp and a beUow,
and lo ! there was the bull close upon us and
charging vaHantly. One of us scrambled headlong
over the gate, just in time to dispense with the
bull's assistance; and the other, whose line was
fast in a root at this inopportune moment, jumped
waist-deep into the pool, wading out at the other
side. Our fishing was at an end, and, laughing
heartily, we gathered up our spoil and departed.
The Gipsy was still- sleeping the sleep of the
just, and when she was awakened she was very
incredulous of our early rising, seeing that in
the town we were always loath to, get up in the
/A   ■
IH.— The Portrait of an Angler.
Up and dqwn the avenue of laurels, and under
the shadow of the firs, where the blackbirds are
chuckling, and the doves cooing, he walks. His
hands are  clasped behind him, and  his head is
bent in meditation while he awaits the summons
to breakfast. He is tall and broad-shouldered,
and is gathering flesh, as becomes a man of his
years. His broad, high forehead bespeaks intellect ; his mouth and chin have the impress of
firmness, but in his eye there shine the kindness
of heart and liberality of judgment which have
made him valued as a friend, and sought for as
a counsellor, through the country-side. As an
angler he is one whom old Izaak would have loved,
for with him angling is an idylHc pastime, a contemplative man's recreation. He has no care for
the more exciting branches of the art. He cares
but little for the toils of salmon-fishing, or the
excitement of landing the savage pike. More to
his taste is the quiet ramble by the side of a trout-
stream, the seat in a punt, gudgeon-fishing, or a
still, ealm evening by a pool-side, angling for
tench. He himself would tell you that he is an
angler because of the opportunities it affords for.
pleasant and profitable reverie.
It was very little matter whether he caught fish
or not when he went a-fishing. '' Atte the leest
he hath his holsom walke, and merry at his ease,
a swete ayre of the swete savoure of the meede
floures that makyth him hungry; he heareth the
melodyous harmony of fowles ; he seeth the younge
swaunes, heerons, ducks, cotes, and many other
fowles and theyr brodes, whyche me seemyth
better than all the noyse of hounds, the blaste
of hornys, and the crye of fowlis that hunters,
fawkeners, and fowlers can make. And if he take
fysshe, surely there is then noe man merrier than
he is in his spyryte."
So the ramble in the country, its pleasant sights
and sounds, the chance meeting with a friend of
kindred tastes, and the conversations, rich and
rare, into which those who know him well are
irresistibly beguiled, make the days pass pleasantly
and happily. There is a certain old-fashioned
quaintness in his manner which he must have
caught from his favourite Spectator. His friends
call him Sir Roger de Coverley, and the name is
an apt description. Piscator says that " angling
is ..somewhat like poetry—men are to be born so;
I mean with inclinations to it, though both may
be heightened by discourse and practice; but he
that hopes to be a good angler must not only bring
an inquiring and observing wit, but he must bring
a large measure of hope and patience, and a love,
and propensity to the art itself; but having once
got and practised it, then doubt not but anghng
will prove to be so pleasant that it wiU prove to
be, like virtue, a reward to itself."
From what we have observed, we doubt that the
angler whose portrait we are sketching was born
to the art; we think he was rather led into its
exercise by the deHght he takes in its accessories;
therefore he is, as a rule, not a successful angler.
His pursuit of the fish themselves is not keen
enough for that, and he is too often led aside by
some extraneous object. His float may be carried
down, and the fish may entangle his Hne in the
weeds, the while he is unconsciously peering at the
petals of a flower through a magnifying-glass ; his
rod may lie on the bank of a stream while the
minnows are nibbling the feather off his flies; and
he will~ be absorbed in the study of gravel sections
or rock strata laid bare by the winter torrents.
When he returns to angling consciousness, he will
extricate his line from the weeds, or put fresh flies
upon his Hne, with a quiet smile, and without the
least impatience.
While, however, his fishing excursions bear but
, little immediate fruit, the ultimate result of them
and his quiet meditations are many steps in the
world of science, and clear, intelligent articles in
the Quarterlies, written in the study in which there
is such a collection of somewhat old-fashioned
The laurel avenue is his favourite walk in leisure
hours. At his heels sedately trots an old retriever;
the sparrows scarce trouble themselves to get out
of his way ; and a white cat springs upon his broad
shoulders from an overhanging bough, and sits
there in triumph as he continues his walk.
" God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling," and surely he never
made a better angler and man than he who now
obeys the sound of the breakfast-bell.
W^^^^^fk^S^^ : 3# w
i \
IV.—On a Cottage Door.
We will wager a pot of honey to a strawberry
that you never fished off a cottage door. Three of
us did so one day, and this is the way of it:—
We had planned an expedition to a pool which
wiU be no stranger to those whom we may number
among our unseen friends. It is a pool on the
summit of a Welsh hill, and full of carp. The
weather was so hot for several days that we could
not think of going there, for we knew that the carp
would not bite. So we waited patiently; and, in
the meantime, we fished up an old eel-spear, and
went eel-spearing in the canal, with very fair success ; or fly-fished for roach in the evenings, in
a slowly-moving stream which ran through the
meadows about a mile from the house. Then we
wandered about the lanes and the woods, and
gathered wild flowers, and dried and pressed them,
until the multitude of those which demanded attention, from their extreme beauty or singularity,
increased so that we grew confused, and eventuahy
gave up their individual study, and admired them in
the concrete. Yery pleasant pictures were afforded
by those broad and shady lanes. Many portions
were grassy all across ; aU had luxuriant tangles of
brambles, ferns, grasses, and flowers, over which
butterflies flitted on brilHant wings. They were
bordered  with   tall  thistles,  swaying  under  the
clinging, seed-eating goldfinches; briars, where
the yellowhammer sunned his golden coat; foxgloves, whose red-purple bells bent 'neath the
weight of a big bumble-bee ; dark beds of "nettles,
from whose uninviting depths that handsome butterfly, the red-admiral, rose, hour-old from the
chrysahs, and flashed his scarlet bands in the face
of the dull " meadow-brown;". clumps of wild
geraniums, purple and red, nodding and bowing
to feathery grasses ; and clusters of meadow-sweet,
white and intangible as summer cloudlets, and
lading the hot air with a cloying fragrance. Then
there were such magnificent hedges : slender hazel
rods, thickets of bronzed thorn, glossy-green hollies,
and tangHng briony, all so fuU of bird-life that the
Gipsy, who had led a town life, was astounded.
Criticising once a book we had written for boys,
she had said: " They find birds'-nests and butterflies so pat—-just as if they had been placed ready
for them to find. It is not likely or natural." To
which we had replied: " A country boy who has his
wits about him, and has a taste for natural history,
nows exactly where to look for what he wants,
and will, in all probabihty, find it; so that there
is nothing wonderful about it." But she was stiU
incredulous, and accused us of drawing'the longbow. Now we had our revenge ! After a pre-
Hminary investigation of the neighbourhood, we led
her out of doors, and commenced, first of all, with
the verandah itself.    In the roses, round the first
supporting pillar, was a wren's nest, from which
the young ones had flown ; on the next was a flycatcher's, with eggs in—a second laying; on the
third was another flycatcher's, with young ones
in; on the fourth, a chaffinch's; on the fifth, a
sparrow's; on the sixth, another flycatcher's, and
so on, nearly every pillar bearing a nest. The
shrubs in the garden and orchard were similarly
tenanted. Thrushes' and blackbirds' nests were
very common. On a ledge of the orchard wall
were five young flycatchers being fed by the parent
birds, and an interesting sight it was. The old
birds—graceful, grey creatures they are—flew each
to its own post—one the top of a stake, and the
other a spade standing in the ground near to
a gooseberry bush—and, after turning its head
quickly to this side and that, with eyes watchful
and twinkHng, would dart, swallow-like, at some
insect, often seizing it at the first dart, but sometimes twisting cleverly about for a few moments
hi pursuit; then it would bear its prey to the row
of fluttering winglets, and clamorous, wide-gaping
mouths on the ledge. It was a busy and pretty
sight, and the Gipsy dated her first liking for
natural history from it.
In the stack-yard, which was thickly carpeted
with the scarlet pimpernel, was a lark's nest between two stones, and a thrush's built on a cartwheel ; and in a hole in the bank of the lane was a
robin's nest—whereby hangs a tale.
The eggs had aU been taken except one, and the
robin hatched that one, and the pair of old birds
were very assiduous in their attentions to their
only child. One day we found the nest gone, and
shortly afterwards, passing that way, we saw one of
the old birds lying in the hole left by the removal
of the nest, dead. The body was quite warm, and
bore no marks of violenee; and the Gipsy said it
had died of a broken heart, on the place where its
home had been—and, i' faith, she may not have
been far wrong.
The heat increased, and as the heat increased so
did the flies, so that rambling about the lanes and
through the woods became almost unbearable. Yet
it was wrong to grumble, for the hay was ripening
fast, and was nearly ready to cut; and the corn
grew straight and high and strong in the ear, so
that the fields were as level as the sea in a calm,
and had as many Hghts and shadows, and opaHne
changes of colour, and - soft flushes of sunset. The
horizon narrowed and lay suffused in a blue shade ;
the hills melted into indistinct outlines; the colours
of the landscape grew richer and deeper; the hollows of the dark woods were lined with foxgloves ;
and. the fresh green of June was gone for a twelvemonth longer.
Then men waded knee-deep in the grass, and cut
long lanes for the reaping-machines to get to work.
The cheery clatter of the machines, and the swish
of the faUing hay, sounded over all the country-
side. Men grew swarthy red in the fierce heat,
and the harvest beer was issued out all day long
in amazing quantities. We worked in the hay
in the mornings with the men, racing with each
other to turn over our lines of cocks the quickest.
For the afternoons we had rigged up a hammock
under the limes, and there we swung and read, or
dozed to the music made by
" The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
And murmur of innumerable bees "
in the lime-trees overhead—trees which were full of
sound as an .ZEolian harp, from the multitudinous
insects which were attracted by their honey-wet
leaves.    And then
p By night we lingered on the lawn,
For under foot the herb was dry,
And genial warmth ; and o'er the sky
The silvery haze of summer drawn ;
And calm that let the tapers burn
Unwavering ; not a cricket chirr'd,
The brook alone far off was heard,
And on the board the fluttering urn ;
And bats went round in fragrant skies,
And wheel'd or lit, the filmy shapes
That haunt the dusk, with ermine capes
And woolly breasts and beaded eyes ;
While now we sang old songs that pealed
From knoll to knoll, where, couched at ease,
The white kine glimmered, and the trees
Laid their dark arms about the field."
But what of the cottage door 1 Ah! well, we
had forgotten aU about it : it shaU have another
chapter ah to itself.
Y.—Among the Carp.
The heat grew sultry and oppressive; the men
laboured mechanicaHy in the hay-fields, the flycatchers which had been industriously foraging from
their stations on the standard-roses, grew tired and
quiet. A small black cloud came from over the
Wrekin, the rounded crest of which stood out clear
and sunny beneath it. Speedily the heavens were
overcast, and a dark, eerie stillness reigned over
the landscape. The forked Hghtning flashed whitely
down to the earth, and redly back again to the
clouds; the heavens opened, and a deluge of rain
descended that drove us all indoors.
From the shelter of the verandah we watched
the storm, which awed the most careless of us by
its grandeur. The three tall poplars waved white
against the gloomy canopy, and trembled under
the peaHng and crashing of the thunder. The rain
beat savagely upon the 'plaining branches, and
sprang up again in angry jets from the pools. The
birds sat quailing in their nests, or skulked low
down in the hedges. The flycatcher sitting on her
nest in the verandah let us touch her without
moving; she was so fearful of the tempest that she
seemed to be glad of our company and protection.
Hay-making was suspended.- The hay already cut
had been gathered hastily into cocks, and would
not take much harm; but it was feared that the
wheat would be much beaten down by the weight
of the rain.
When the fierceness of the tempest had passed
away, a steady rain set in, hiding not only the   :*
hills, but the near woods in its " mournful fringe."
At night it grew finer, and we ventured out on
the lawn with a lantern to pick up the worms
which we imagined would, after rain, be crawhng   i
about in great numbers.     To our astonishment   }
there were none; the heavy rain had apparently
frightened them, so that they had sunk deeper in
the earth; for while gentle rain wiU bring them
out in great numbers, " heavy wet" does not agree
with them, but drives them deeper in.
We were rather puzzled to know how we should
obtain bait for the morrow, until we stumbled
against an old box in which the gardener had stored
some rich mould for his flower-pots. Upon emptying this we found great numbers of capital red-
worms. ' To make assurance doubly sure, we got
some gunpowder, and making a big " devil," salHed
forth and stormed a wasps' nest in an adjoining
The morning broke with a bright blue sky, across
which the clouds were being rapidly driven by a
strong breeze from the south-east.    It was not the
^^'P^&^   "  -    -W:
best of days for carp-fishing, but we started, driving
to the town, and then stoutly facing the five-mile
y walk up-hill to the pool.    Over meadow, through
i   f„ brake, through brier, over streams, and up crags,
I (Vi we pushed our way, passing weU-remembered spots
yL which had known no change, and brought back to
t/$V'lj) us  scenes  of  our happy boyhood with startling
|fW clearness.     The  jay flew chattering through the
vi X"1 wood as of old, the pheasant flustered, and the
\\ itf^ rabbit scuttled.    On the same bank grew the same
J; l thick.growth of Blechnum ferns, the redstart built
WJ in the same hole of the grey stone wall, and every-
1 r^ thing was so fresh and beautiful with the old fresh-
Mp& ness and beauty, that we began to believe that we
' fWl a^so na(^ no^ changed ; and by the time we reached
,/t\Ar\* *^e l°vely P°°l on *ne hill-top, we were prepared
v//\l ^° enl'°y ourselves with the old keenness, and it
vJ|n seemed just as if it were a Saturday half-hoHday
O years ago.
/tf\) There were three of us—the writer, his young
(*\\ Dr°ther Herbert, and one whom we will call the
4Jyk^ Senior—full of quips and cranks and merry jests,
I \N complaining loudly of the steepness and difficulty
iL of the way, and stopping very often to gather the
|^W wild strawberries which grew in remarkable pro-
/Jnf% fusion all the way, peeping with timid blushes from
$~s^S? their sheltering, half-conceaHng leaves.     Herbert
M/p was but seventeen—a tall, pleasant lad, clever and
S&*, \V/5^ thoughtful beyond his years, and with a most mad
\ jlL propensity for punning; and the worst of it was
that his puns were so apt, and uttered with such
quaint gravity, that one was compelled to laugh at
Before us lay the pool in its sheltered hollow,
reed surrounded, with inner belts of rushes and the
smooth water horse-tail; its surface intersected
with waterhens and coots, a heron in the shallows,
and wild-ducks playing on an iris-island. The very
water was greenish in colour, and then it had a background of alders, and willows, and black fir-forest.
Our rods were soon together; but an unforeseen
difficulty arose. The water of the pool was unusually high, and had flooded the belt of willows
around, covering the few standing-places there
ever had been. It was far too cold to wade, and it
reaHy seemed as if we could not get at the pool to
fish it. At the only open space it was too shallow.
At last we discovered a spot at the lee-side of the
pool, where, by breaking down the branches of
the dwarf willows, and placing a line of stepping-
stones, we could just make room for one to stand.
Even then there was not sufficient room to swing
the rod backwards for a throw-out, and the wind was
so strong that it was difficult to throw in its teeth.
Herbert had brought with him a salmon-rod, which
had been given to him, and which he had never
before used. Knowing the usual difficulty of reaching out, he had wisely brought it with him, and he
was able to commence fishing at once—his float
lying twenty feet beyond ours, which reposed un-
comfortably just outside the rushes. While we were
debating what we should do, Herbert's float moved
away through the dancing ripples with a most
■^decisive bite. He struck, and the carp, firmly
&. hooked, dashed out towards the centre of the pool,
v taking out line like a salmon, and making the
splendid rod bend and spring delightfuUy. After
taking out fuUy fifty yards of Hne, he allowed
himself to be turned, and came zigzagging back
with sullen resistance, until he was close into the
rushes, and then he proceeded to dash backwards
.and forwards, catching up both our Hnes, which
, were still in the water, and getting them into a
SjSg pretty tangle. Herbert played him very steadily,
though he was much excited, and at last he led
•him up a sort of drain, and we closed in behind
him and lifted him out—a splendid fish of six
pounds in weight. Leaving Herbert to re-bait, we
rushed about seeking some means of getting at the
pool. Not far off was a small cottage, which, upon
examination, we found to be uninhabited. The
garden presented a sad appearance, currant and
gooseberry bushes running wild, and the beds overgrown with weeds. The door of the cottage was
open, and we conceived and put into execution a
capital idea. We took the door off its hinges, and
coUected a quantity of loose bricks. Transporting
these to the pool, we speedily constructed a platform on which there was just room for the three of
us to stand.
We had no lack of bites. Barely five minutes
passed without one or other of us having a bite.
The pool, in all probability, had not been fished
for some years, and the carp were not shy.. But
we missed a great many. Our floats were necessarily very close together, as we were fishing in a
smaU bay ; and when the float began to sHde away
with the peculiar motion of the carp-bite, if we
struck too soon we missed the fish to a certainty,
and if we gave it the proper time it entangled us
with our neighbours' Hnes, and spoilt the chance
for a time. Herbert had the most bites, as his
bait was the farthest out, and he caught the most
fis 1. Then, whenever a fish was struck by one of
-us, the others had to " up stick " and away, to give
room for the carp to dash about in, and to aid in
their landing. It was excessively inconvenient, but
excellent fun, and a very novel position. For a
time we had very good sport, catching fish of two
to four pounds in weight, but none so big as the
first one. Then they ceased biting; and no wonder,
for the bay had been thoroughly disturbed, and the
writer began to speculate if he could not find fresh
fields and pastures new. At the windward side of
the pool it was far too shaUow to fish it from the
bank, but a line of rickety posts and rails ran out
into the pool, enclosing a space where the cattle
were allowed to drink and bathe. As this part of
the pool was sheltered from the wind by the trees
and hillside, it was'calm and smooth, and rippled
only by the back fins of the huge carp sailing about.
The writer thought he would scramble out upon
these rails, and he proceeded to do so. As he went
to the shore-end of the rails, he saw many large
carp with their noses to the bank, in only six inches
of water. They were grubbing away in the mud in
search of food, but when he placed his bait at their
very noses they took no notice of it, save to scurry
away with a huge wave and upheaval of mud.
It was very ticklish work scrambling along the
rotten rails, but at last he gained the farthest point,
and there, with some two feet of water and some
six feet of mud below him, he balanced himself on
a rail an inch wide and fished for carp. Grave
misgivings crossed his mind as to how he should
land the fish when he hooked them: but he was
spared the risk. Great carp of ten pounds weight
came wallowing at his very feet, gasping and sucking
with their round fleshy mouths, and turning away
from the worm which was all but put down their
very throats. It was very tantalising to see such
big f eUows utterly impervious to his blandishments,
and he could not forbear striking at one of them
with the butt-end of his rod, seriously endangering
thereby his seat upon the rail. Not a bite did he
get. He was out of the wind, and the sun blazed
hotly upon his back. The rail was cutting, very;
and he saw that his companions were again catching
fish.    So he crept back again and rejoined them.
During another lull in the biting we came off our
\    *
platform to get some lunch and stretch our legs a
little, laying ou£ rods down to fish for themselves,
Herbert being told off to keep an eye upon them.
Suddenly he rushed forward, exclaiming, " I have a
bite! " and we watched him take up his rod and
play a large fish. While he was doing so another
float had disappeared without our knowledge, and
a " seurr " of a reel and a splash in the water told
us that a rod had disappeared into the pool. It
dived clean out of sight, and the first we saw of it
again was its top bobbing up full sixty yards out.
The reel kept the butt-end under, and the top just
emerged now and then as the fish ceased to pull for
an instant. It was our rod—plague upon the pronouns !—not the plural " our," but the singular
"our" of the author (if we use "I," we may be
accused of egotism) ; so " we," not wishing to lose
a valuable rod, rapidly undressed and plunged into
the pool. We swam after the rod, and, after following it. full a hundred and fifty yards, we lost
sight of it. Just then the butt-end struck against
our legs, and, diving down, we seized it. There
were quite forty yards of line out, and the fish was
still on. Now commenced a most exciting struggle.
Holding the rod in the one hand, we swam with the
other, and, not without some trouble, we landed
ourselves, and eventually the fish, which was three
pounds in weight.
A goodly heap of fish lay side by side upon the
grass—seventeen in number, and all good-sized
ones. There were quite as many as we could carry,
so we left off fishing and rambled about gathering
wild strawberries, chasing conies, seeking for young
wood-pigeons wherewith to make a pie, and generally
behaving ourselves in a very siUy, boyish, yet happy
way. In truth, the youngest of us was by far the
sedatest, and looked down with calm superiority
upon our elderly frolics.
A great part of the wood had been cut down since
the old times, so that we could see away over a
forest of foxglove to the wild Welsh hiUs. Silent
and stiH they lay in the swift-chasing sunshine and
shadow. Their lower sides were green with irregularly mapped-out fields, and dotted with lonely
farm-houses, from which the smoke crept lazily--
upwards, or whirled downwards before a sudden
gust of wind. The sheep were so distant and small
that their motions were not observable, and they
gave no life to the view, so that far as the eye could
see aU was still and lonely. A tiny village, clustered
round an ancient church, seemed at that distance
dead and deserted.
The hill-tops arrested the flying clouds that broke
against them, and streamed up the glens Hke rivers
with an upward current. The rounded outlines of
the nearer hills changed in the distance to the
bluff crags and bold projections of the Snowdon
mountains. Over the valley the raven floated from
; his nest on the inaccessible cliff, and his shadow
feU on the sunny fields below.    The ordered con-
fusion, the sohdity and the grandeur of the many
hiHs, and the lovehness of their intersecting glens,
spoke of half-savage wildness and half-barbaric
freedom; yet the denizens of those sequestered
farms held themselves but as serfs in bondage to a
rich landowner. They claimed the independence
of the Cymri, yet bowed down slavishly to the wiU
of their landlord—and why 1 Because they must
live, and poverty faUs with the snow in these wild
hiH villages, and springs up with the stones in their
ploughed fields—and as poverty teaches so do they
learn. So that, to him who looks under the surface,
the fair freshness of the hill country is too often
but a painful foil to the narrow and straitened life
We had but to turn around, and there before us,
for mile on mile, stretched the greater portion of
four fine counties : rich plains, massy woods, silver^
winding streams, and landmark hills such as the
Wrekin, the Breidden, Hawkstone, Longmynd, and
others. There peace and plenty reigned ; and comfortable homesteads, with well-filled stackyards,
spoke to the gold that came from the bosom of tho
Around us the wind sighed loudly in the fir-trees,
and the ripples washed among the reeds. There
was no sound of man or domestic animal—nothing
save our own voices, and the croak of the coots,-
and cackle of wild-ducks, and noises in the wood
which were hard to assign to their natural causes.
The excitement of the sport being over, the place
seemed uncanny, and we quickly divided our spoil
into three bundles and started homewards. We
were heavily laden, and long ere the five miles
were passed we were thoroughly fagged. The
waggonette was waiting for us, and the Gipsy was
there too. "So you have caught some fish at last!;;
she cried; " I am glad to see that you can catch
them sometimes." She is very incredulous, is the
Gipsy, about our piscatory feats.
YI. —Kitten-fishing.
"Little things please little minds" is a proverb
which will perhaps explain the present doings of
three boy-men who are sitting under the verandah.
Possibly, also, the hot sun has turned their brains.
A few days ago we were all passing through the
farmyard, when Herbert ran in advance of us into
a building, and presently out of the holes in one of
those diamond-shaped places in the wall, where
alternate bricks are left out for the purpose of
ventilation, there peeped the heads of six kittens, gazing inquisitively down upon us. The
Gipsy uttered a cry of delight, and very soon
had gathered all six of them in the folds of
her dress. They were very pretty little kittens:
one a pure white with one spot, which was named
" Spot;"   two of  a golden  brown,  which were
always mistaken for each other, and were collectively named "Bronze;" a tabby, a black, and
a grey one of great beauty, caUed "Chin," from
its likeness to chinchilla fur. They were intended
to be brought up about the farm-buildings to keep
down the mice, and they had never been in the
house. The Gipsy took them under her especial
care while she remained at Rosesbower, and the
consequence was that they were always in the house,
curled up on the chairs one wished to sit down
upon, or chasing the croquet-balls, or climbing up
the standard-roses trying to catch the flycatchers.
The grey one was the Gipsy's especial favourite,
and Herbert got into her black books because he,
one day, floured it aU over, and took it to her as a
new kitten, and she began to pet it, and did not
discover the deception until her hands and dress
were all over flour.
Now, as we (the singular) He in the hammock
studying (weU, reading a novel!), the six kittens
are all on the lawn, wild for play, and there are
three men with fishing-rods on the verandah, and
to the ends of their lines are tied corks ; and with
these corks they are angling for the kittens, which
seize the bait, and tug away at it, and run out Hne
most bravely. Nor do they let go until they are
dragged in to the very feet of the anglers. It is a
very fair imitation of fishing, and it has this advantage—that the anglecs Hke it as well as the
anglers.    The Gipsy is present, and is looking
doubtfully at the sport. She thinks it hurts the
kittens' teeth, and is half disposed to interfere.
Dear me ! this is very pleasant. A Hght wind
has set the hammock a-swinging, the bees hum
drowsily in the limes, and—ah, yes; we are not
sleepy, but it is pleasant to close the eyes—the
translucent green of the leaves above us, and the"
flicker of the sunlight through them, is rather
" You've been asleep for an hour, and the dinner-
bell is ringing."
"Eh! what? Impossible! Who put all the
kittens in the hammock? There is one asleep across
our throat.    We were in fairyland, but
IA touch, a kiss —the charm was snapt;
There rose a noise of striking clocks,
And feet that ran, and doors that clapt,
And barking dogs, and crowing cocks.'
You call us from the shades Elysian to the clang of
the dinner-bell and a smell of roast mutton. Shame
upon you !"
YIL— The Meres.
We made two excursions to the Mere district, at
Ellesmere.    For the enlightenment of those who
are not acquainted with this lovely district, we
i   may mention that in the north of Shropshire, in
a prettily undulating and well-wooded country, are
seven lakes, or meres, of various sizes. The largest
is at EUesmere, and gives its name to a very quiet
and sleepy town on its banks. It is about 120 acres
in extent, and although it is a good deal fished, yet
it stiU abounds in alT kinds of fish that love still
waters. In our younger days the meres were our
favourite places of resort. In no other place was
there so much natural history to be done, so many
interesting facts to be observed, and so much sport
to be had. We boated on their waters ; we caught
large pike and perch out of their weedy depths ;
and in their tall marginal reeds the reedwren built
its purse-like nest, the coot and the wild-duck bred
there ; and the untidy, soaking-wet nests of the
great-crested grebe were not uncommon. Over the
adjoining woods the osprey and peregrine had been
known to seek their j>rey; the woodpecker and the
wryneck, the sparrow-hawk, the kestrel, and the jay
aU nested in the old trees; and the keepers were
indulgent to weU-behaved boys—such as, of course,
we were. Hence our visits to the meres were very
frequent; and whether we floated on their stiUy
bosoms on hot summer days, or skated around their
margins, watching the tracks of wild creatures on
the snow, we always came away having learnt something fresh and reaped some new enjoyment.
Hence a hoHday in their neighbourhood could
not be spent without again visiting them, for the
sake of auld-lang-syne. We wished, too, to show
the Gipsy the pleasant haunts of our boyhood, of
which she had so often heard us speak. So one
day we drove her there. We halted on the top of
a hill called the Brow, to show her the fairest view
she yet had seen. We were on the highest corn-
growing land in England, and it was a "far view"
that unfolded itseH to our gaze. The fair English
plain ; the bold bluffs of the Wrekin, the Briedden,
and the Caradocs ; the fringe of Welsh hiUs ; the
sheets of water shining out of the hearts of the
woods, showed themselves to the best advantage on
that still summer day. Then we drove down a
steep descent, and entered the old-fashioned little
town, which looked as if neither it nor its inhabitants had hurried themselves for many a century.
Encircled by woods, the lake lay calm and glassy,
and the swans "floated double, swan and shadow."
"There was not a quiver on the broad surface of the
lake, save that caused by the prow of our boat, as
we rudely broke into the calm. The Gipsy was
enchanted, and we were satisfied with the impressions our beloved Mere had produced.
We tried fishing, but, with the extraordinary ill-
luck that always accompanies us whenever we take
the Gipsy to watch us fishing, we had no sport, a"
perch of six inches long being our only capture.
The carp we had caught a day or two before had
nearly re-established our lost reputation as an
angler; but the failure this time, lost us that which
we gained by the carp, and the Gipsy spoke most
contemptuously of our capabiHties.    We said it
i ji
was too hot and still. She replied that we had last
told her, as an excuse, that the day had been too
cold and rough.    So we were silenced.
At our next visit we were more fortunate.   Three
of us went, all of the male sex, and for convenience
we will distinguish ourselves as Piscator, Yiator,
and Herbert.     A sailing-boat was placed at our
disposal, and as we embarked and proceeded to set
the canvas, we feared there would be no wind ; but
soon across the mere there shot a broad line of
light, and we knew that its surface was there gently
rippled by a shaft of wind that came down between   '
the gap in yonder wood.    Then, as we cast adrift
from the buoy, the surface of the water around us
was turned into curling ripples, as the first indications of the breeze caught the floating particles   |
and whisked them about, the. sails filled, and ere
long we were curtseying to a nice breeze, and the
mere seemed to contract in size as it was covered
with dancing wavelets.    Yiator steered, Herbert
managed the sheets, and Piscator put his pike-
rod together, and mounted one of those American
kill-devils—spoon-baits painted red one side, and
with a tuft of red wool dangling behind.    Such
baits  are  quite   as   kiUing  as  the   natural  bait
on EUesmere, provided there is a good breeze.
Piscator let some thirty yards of  line run out,
and then the bait trailed astern,—Yiator letting
the wind slide out of the sails, to prevent our
going too fast.
"I say," exclaimed Yiator, "what are we to do
if you hook a big pike ? "
"Bring the boat up into the wind as soon as
you can," replied Piscator, raising his rod so that
the bait might spin close to the top as we were
passing over the weeds.
We dodged in and out of the islands, admiring
the grand old church on its wooded hill, sailed
past the Oatley woods, which resounded with the
busy tapping of a woodpecker, past the terraces of
the HaU gardens, by the park where the drinking
deer stared at us, large-eyed, and a stoat was busy
hunting the rabbit burrows, and then we came to
a place where the weed—that pest the anacharis—
came to within a foot of the surface.
" Haul in your sheet !" cried Piscator, " and
take us quickly over this part." Yiator obeyed,
and we skimmed quickly over the green tresses of
weed that undulated beneath our keel. We could
see the spoon-bait spinning and guttering about
six inches below the surface, and every now and
then jumping out with a noisy skip. Just before
we came to where the boat-houses peep from the
shelter of the giant trees, the boat passed over a
clear space between the weeds, and immediately
there was such a rush and splash in the water
as startled us considerably. We could see the
mottled flank of a goodly pike as he seized the
spoon in his jaws, and turned again into the weeds,
which parted hastily before him.
"Let her luff!" shouted Piscator. We were
going before the wind, and going at a good pace,
but Yiator put the helm hard over, and, hauhng
in the sheet at the same time, he brought the
boat into the eye of the wind with astonishing
quickness, and at the very imminent risk of a
capsize. Then Piscator found himself in a
queer position. He was amidships, the pike
was well forward of the bows, and the line was
rasping against the taut luff of the foresail. He
rushed forward into the bows, and, holding
on by the jib as well as he could, he played his
fish very skilfully, considering that he had two
motions to fight against—that of the pike, which
poked hither and thither among the weeds, masses
of which hampered the line, and threatened to
break either it or the rod ; and the motion of tho
boat, which refused to " He to," and was kept working about in a series of short, uneasy tacks, now
heading over the Hne and then shooting away from
it, so that Piscator was kept constantly reeling in
or letting out Hne. It was important he should
keep a taut Hne, that it might cut through weeds,
and not "bag" under them, in which latter case
he would infalHbly lose his fish. At last he was in
despair, and said, " Hang it all, I will jump overboard ; it can't be more than shoulder deep, and
I can then play him properly." Herbert sounded
with an oar, and found it was more than seven
feet deep, so that idea was abandoned.   Just then
the pike came wallowing to the surface dead-beat,
with gaping jaws and glaring eyes. Yiator steered
right up to him, and Herbert caught him by the
giUs and hauled him on board. It was a weU-fed
fish of eight pounds in weight, which is a good
weight for EUesmere.
Piscator and Herbert insisted upon getting a
smaU boat, and rowing round the mere again and
again, hoping to catch more pike. Five times the
rod bent with the sudden rush of a fish, but three
only were boated. The others broke away. Those
that were caught were three, four, and five pounds
in weight respectively.
Yiator preferred sailing about alone, although
the boat was rather large for him to manage. He
coasted the beds of white and yeUow water-lilies,
whose large leaves heaved uneasily as the ripples
raised by the breeze caught them at a disadvantage.
Presently the wind dropped, and the pike left off
running. Yiator was becalmed in the middle of the
mere, as " idle as a painted ship upon a painted
ocean." The others joined him, and then we aU
bathed, diving in off the boat's side with great ease,
but clambering back again with infinite difficulty.
Then came dinner at the "Red Lion," and as the
landlord was accustomed to anglers' appetites, we
were not ashamed of ourselves.
After dinner we went to a brewery and bought a
bag of grains, and, taking our seats in a punt, we
rowed to certain mooring-stakes which projected
out of the water at the mouth of a quiet bay.
Emptying our bag of grains into the water to act as
ground-bait, we baited one Hne with paste, another
with worms, and rigged up a third with a large
float and Hve-bait tackle, upon which the first small
roach caught was impaled. The grains attracted
the roach, and the roach attracted the perch and
pike. With our rods projecting over the side, and
the smoke curling up from the pipes of peace, we
set ourselves to enjoy the quiet of the evening.
Behind us was the calm circle of the bay, fringed
with reeds and rushes, and decked with the yellow
flower of the flag and the white water-crowsfoot.
The water-HHes, white and yellow, the arrowheads,
and the pink fleshy spikes of the persicaria, fiUed up
the whole of the bay ; and in the clear interspaces
the water-hens, coots, and dabchicks swam, nodded,
and dived, with great disregard of our presence.
Before us lay the lake, placid and mirror-like, its
surface only disturbed by the water-fowl, or the
circles of the rising fish. A. little way off a shoal of
tench had come to the surface, and were splashing
and sucking with great clumsiness and much noise.
The swallows and martins wheeled and darted
a'bove us, or descended and dipped in the water
with delicate touch; and from the church-tower
the swifts darted with great rapidity, swept around
us with piercing scream, and were far away. Ever
and anon there came from the distance a sweU of
dance-music that filled the listening air with sweet
snatches of sound. We wondered whence it came,
and enjoyed it the more for its mystery.
Herbert was fishing with paste, and his float
began to show symptoms of HveHness, dipping with
the quick bites oi small roach. As the evening
advanced the roach that he caught were bigger,
and the perch came on the feed, so that Piscator
saw his float sink with their quick vigorous bite
more and more often, and wished that the Gipsy
were with him to see what fine sport he was enjoying. Yiator alone was dissatisfied. The pike-rod
had been assigned to him, and as yet he had had no
runs.   He began to grumble.
"It is all very well for you fellows to give me
this wretched rod. You knew that I should not
catch anything. It is just an instance of that selfishness which aU you fellows who caU yourselves
anglers always show. It's my belief that my float
frightens the fish.   Where is my float 1"
It was about two feet under water, sailing away
towards the lilies, and 'the point of the rod was
giving ominous twitches.
" Strike, you duffer ! " exclaimed Herbert.
Yiator took up the rod and gave such a tremendous strike, that if the line had not been free,
and run off the reel, fish and fisher would have
parted company. As it was he hooked him safe
enough, and after a nice little tussle, during which
Yiator meekly received much good advice, and some
vituperation, from Herbert and Piscator, the pike
was safely got on board. It was prime fun to see
Yiator. The man who professed to look down upon
fishing and fishers with supreme contempt, was
boyishly pleased with his capture. He turned it
over, tried its weight, poked it with his finger,
and stroked it again and again with great pride
and affection, to the amusement of the other two.
After that, too, he paid most assiduous attention
to his float, but it did not disappear again in like
fashion, and he had to be content with his one
The embracing woods grew dusk about the mere,
the reedwrens sang sweetly in the reeds, and as
the sun grew crimson in the west, the fuU moon
rose large and silvery over the eastern woods, and
oast a broad stream of light across the water. The
gloaming began to gather fast, and we left the mere
to seek the origin of the dance-music, which still
went on. Ascending the hill, on the summit of
which is the \ bowhng-green, and paying sixpence
each for admission, we found that we had Hghted
upon the annual festivity of the Ellesmere Ladies'
Club. And a very grand affair it was. Yigorous
dancing was going on upon the green, which was
resplendent with ladies in fuH dress, with the
single addition of hats or bonnets. The general
effect was marred by the appearance of the young
men, who, as a rule, wore taH black hats, blue or
red neckties, and frock-coats, the tails of which
flapped ungracefully as the wearers danced.
The three fishermen felt ashamed of their rough-
and-ready costume— straw hats and boating flannels ; but conquering their natural modesty, Yiator
and Herbert secured partners ; and Piscator, reflecting that the Gipsy could not see him, secured a
pretty girl, and was soon whirling about the smooth
lawn as madly as any of them.
We stood upon the summit of a cliff, and far
below us the sacred river Dee flowed, with a
current that from this height seemed to be tranquil and smooth, but we knew that the occasional
glitter and sparkle told of a rapid, and that the
patches of snow-white foam were boiling cascades.
Immediately below was the precipitous rock,
seamed by many crevices, and broken by many
crags, between which the dark yew trees grew and
the ivy climbed. Below the rock was a steep
descent, thickly wooded with oak, intermingled
with larch; and there beneath its fringe of trees
the river ran—the sacred Dee, by which all good
Cymri swear. From the mountain springs beyond
Llyn Tegid, or Bala lake, the river takes its rise.
It flows through the lake from one end to the
other, with a separate current they say, which
is abundantly proved by the supposed fact that
while salmon abound in the river, and gwyniad in
,nd was sooi
ily as any oi
  1   t-
the lake, yet never are any salmon found in the
lake out of the centre current, and never are the
gwyniad found in the current of the river. From
the mountain-guarded lake the "Deva, wizard-
haunted stream," hurries along, past Druid's stone
and ancient abbey, towering hills and level meads,
through the happy valley of which we shall speak
hereafter; and here it is under the wooded cliffs of
Coedyrallt, whence it shps away with broadening
current under the flying arches of the PontycysyUte
Aqueduct, past the old city of Chester, to the sea.
A vertical sun poured down a flood of light that
streamed downwards below us over the warm, grey
rocks, dashing from leaf to leaf of the glossy ivy, so
that the face of the cliff shone as if it were covered
with the silvery spray of a waterfall, and falHng
upon the tree-tops that in rounded masses stood
out from mysterious depths of shade, cool and
green, on the slope to the river. On the other
side of the stream, open meadows rose gradually to
the base of other hills; down the river vaUey to
the left, beyond the woods of Wynnstay, were the
inner Welsh hiUs, rising one beyond another with
faint blue outlines, while in the foreground the
steep conical hiU of Dinas Bran rose ruin-crowned
and boldly.
The sun was hot, and a south-west breeze scarcely
cooled the air ; the faint scent of the larches rose
up to us from the steaming wood ; the river
murmured with a sleepy murmur ; no white cloud
floated in the sky, no sound was heard save the
lowing of the cattle standing knee-deep in the
shallows ; it was noon on a hot summer's day, and
we sat on the top of a chff viewing a fair scene—
what wonder then that one of us, feeling within
himself the poetry of the scene, and unable to
express it in his own words, broke into the words
of another? Seated with his back against a rock,
and his eyes half closed, he repeated with soft-
syllabled voice, "The Lotos Eaters," and part of
it was very apt :—
" All round the coast the languid air did swoon,
Breathing like one that hath a weary dream ;
Pull-faced above the valley stood the moon,
And like a downward smoke the slender stream
Along the cliff to fall, and pause, and fall did seem.
A land of streams !   Some, like a downward smoke,
Slow-dropping veils of thinnest lawn, did go ;
And some thro' wavering lights and shadows broke,
Soiling a slumberous sheet of foam below.
They saw the gleaming river seaward flow
From the inner land : far off, three mountain-tops,
Three silent pinnacles of aged snow,
.Stood sunset-flush'd ; and dew'd with showery drops,
Upclomb the shadowy pine above the woven copse."
" Where is Herbert ? " cried the Gipsy, who was
of a more practical turn than any of us.
Yiator, who was spouting the poetry, looked disgusted at the interruption. Herbert's absence did
not warrant the spoiling of the display of his best
recitative powers, he thought.    But the Gipsy had
some reason for her question. The rustling of yew
branches and the shaking of ivy tendrils below us,
indicated the whereabouts of Herbert. He had
seen a stock-dove fly to a ledge below him, and from
her movements suspected that there was a nest
there ; so down he went, to the imminent risk of
his neck, and presently came up again, chnging to
the ivy like a cat, and with two nearly fuU-grown
stock-doves slung in his handkerchief.
" What are you going to do with those, you
naughty boy % " quoth the Gipsy.
"Eat them," rephed he laconically ; "I'll cook
them myself in the tool-house."
We sought a steep path that^ wound delicately
around and under a crag, and by its means we
reached the foot of the cliff, and plunged at once
into a bath of coolness and freshness.
" There were cool mosses deep,
And through the moss the ivies crept;"
and as we went down and down, scrambling and
.falling over stones and tree roots, passing through
a forest of the most luxuriant hartstongue ferns we
ever saw. From every little crag and mossy bank
they waved their long, graceful fronds, and looked
so green and damp and cool that it was a feast to
the eyes to dweU upon them. As we neared the
river, and the woods were more open, the glades
were covered with strawberries, and we picked and
ate them greedily.
Then we reached the river, and, as it was too hot
and bright to fish, the men left the ladies in a cool,
sequestered spot to rest themselves, and went down
the stream until they Came to a place where it was
possible to bathe, and, after that most refreshing
operation, they rejoined the ladies, and we ate our
lunch. Afterwards, Yiator, who was no fisherman,
elected to stay with the ladies and gather flowers
and ferns, while the other two, Piscator and Herbert, went up-stream and fished the streams turn
and turn about. Many clouds had now come over
the sky, and the fish were rising more freely. At
the first stream Herbert tried, he caught three
nice trout, all on the tail-fly, which was one of his
own make, and consisted merely of a dun-coloured
hackle, ribbed with yellow silk.
We were much bothered by the samlets, which
took our flies greedily, and it was a nuisance
pulling them out only to throw them in again.
The river is the beau-ideal of a trout stream.
Rapid and stream alternate with deep and eddying pools, and there is every variety of lying and
feeding ground for the trout.
All the fish we caught were but of a medium
size, except one, and over the taking of that a misadventure occurred. While Herbert was wading
in mid-stream, a man in a coracle—those queer
canvas boats used by the Welsh fishermen—came
floating down the stream, casting his line to right
and left, and  fishing every yard of the  stream^
■■ i
retarding his downward progress meanwhile by
working his paddle with one arm in a figure-of-
eight stroke, or resting it against the gravel.
Herbert unceremoniously stopped him, and, after
a Httle palaver, the man consented to Herbert's
taking his place in the coracle, while he waded.
No sooner was Herbert instaUed in the coracle
than he went floating down-stream at a great rate,
working wildly and vainly with his left arm to
retard his speed, and casting as wildly with his
right, while Piscator followed him along the bank
laughing heartily. At last Herbert stopped himself
a little by resting the blade of the paddle against
the stony bed of the river, and was enabled to
cast more scientifically. As his flies swept behind
a boulder, and over the surface of a small eddying
pool, there was a rise, and he found he had
hooked a big trout, which rushed off up-stream
at a great pace, Herbert lifted his left arm to clear
his line, which had fouled the reel. In doing so
he dropped the paddle- and released the coracle,
which careered down-stream as fast as the trout
went up. The Hne was nearly off the reel;
neither rod nor line could stand the double strain,
so only one course suggested itself, and that was
to step out of the coracle into the river, which
was there about knee-deep. Coracles, however,
are dangerous things; This one shot from under
him as he arose from his seat, and he floundered
headlong into the water.     Piscator,   seeing that
he rose to his feet aU right, ran on to intercept
the coracle, which was half full of water ; and
Herbert, looking about as handsome as a wet
cat, played and landed his trout without much
The afternoon passed pleasantly away, like all
trout-fishing afternoons should do. There were all
the elements of enjoyment: a sunny sky crossed
by soft clouds, a south-west wind that, blowing
down Bala lake, had raised the river to a fishable
height; the dipper flew from stone to stone, and
dived in the quick current; more than one kingfisher flashed its brilHant hues along the stream;
the ring-dove cooed in the wood, and flew down to
the river marge to drink; the sand-martins wheeled
in mazy evolutions over the pools ; the pert water-
wagtails ran over the sandbanks, and were as proud
of their tails as a peacock; and the river babbled
over flashing shallows, and moaned in dark pools
that slowly eddied under overhanging branches.
No pen can describe the fresh beauty of the scene ;
the blue of the distant reaches of the river was as
intense as that of the sky; the green of the shady
hoUows of the wood was ethereal in its vividness;
the flowers were like fixed butterflies, and the
butterflies like winged flowers. No one can better
know the poverty of language than he who attempts
to picture the exceeding beauty of a scene like that
and a day Hke that. His labour becomes but a
repetition of vain words, which cease to have any
meaning when we compare them with the things
they are meant to describe. The sky is blue, the
woods are green, the earth is fair—is all that he
can say; and although in each new scene, and each
time the old is viewed, there is a newness and
freshness which were never felt before, yet only
the same old words can be used, and the full heart
which pants for utterance, that it may show its
appreciation and gratitude for aU this loveliness,
is baffled and beaten back by the weakness of
We came unexpectedly upon the rest of the
party. The three ladies had perched themselves,
like fairies in a pantomime, in the crevices of a
heavily-foHaged crag; and there, among the long,
creeping plants and ferns, they comfortably nestled
at various altitudes, watching the efforts of Yiator„
who stood on a sloping rock in the river beneath
them. He had cut himself a long hazel rod, and
had rigged up a Hne from the materials we had left
in our baskets, which were in his charge. Procuring some worms by turning over the stones, he
had set himself to angle for eels in a sullen-looking
pool. His shoes and stockings were off, and the
bulging out of his coat pockets told where they
were. He stood up to his ankles in the water, in
a very insecure position, on the shppery, sloping
rock; and, upon Herbert thoughtlessly giving a
shout to startle him, his feet flew from under him,
and he sat down in the water and commenced
sliding down to the deep pool, till he was stopped
and unceremoniously dragged back by his coat
collar—first himself, then his rod and line, then
a small, active eel, which gave him a great deal of
trouble to unhook and secure.
It was long past our dinner hour, we had some
distance to drive, the coachman was plunging down
through the woods in search of us, and we were
reluctantly compelled to leave the river and the
cool shade.
" Well," said Yiator, " I don't care for fishing at
all, but such a day as this goes far to make one a
fisherman. It has been a perfect day—it is more
than a pleasure to live, it is an ecstasy—barring
wet coat-tail pockets—on such a day,"—and more
to the same effect, to which we Hstened indulgently.
IX.—The Happy Yalley.
It was somewhat singular that just as we sat
down to write this chapter, which concerns the
pleasant Yale of Llangollen, the post should
bring us a letter from an "old chum"—one who
spent his boyhood in that vaUey, and who is now
settled far from us, writing to us but seldom.
In his letter he says :—
'' I was at Llangollen again yesterday, and was
much reminded of our old haunts and walks.    The
Eglwyseg rocks seemed to hover like a cloud, ' so
near and yet so far ;' near, because I could see not
only the bold escarpment, but also \ by faith ' the
minute stones and bywalks and ledges in the crags;
far, because time always forbids my going up there.
The air of those old rocks, and the associations of
i 4^ the river Dee, have-had a great effect on my mental
(       ^        constitution."
'! '•' Four years of our boyhood were spent in the
' f-     i        happy valley; and in company with the writer of
i   J-        the letter, we had explored every nook and cranny
% 'Jr.,        of the hiUs and glens, and fished every yard of
^f'-£,;,    river and canal within the circle of mountains that
^=^.W-:    hem in the vale.    We made friends with the hill
' ]y3fcf    farmers, and were heartily welcomed by them when
^,.l|fj&r    our rambles led us to their homesteads.
And thus it was that we won the heart to love
and remember the beautiful valley. Our rambles
were such pleasant ones, we caught such store of
fish, obtained so many birds' eggs, climbed so often
above the clouds, dived into the deep pools of the
river, saw so many rare and lovely things in nature,
gained so much pleasant information, and enjoyed
such boisterous health during that time, that we
christened it the Happy Yalley. To us it. was no
misnomer, for it was a happy valley to us, and
through the rose-coloured spectacles of our youth
it seemed a happy place to those that dwelt there.
It was little matter to us whether we breathed the
delicious enjoyment and life of a bright June day,
or trudged over the moorland in face of a snowstorm ; our rude health and careless minds reHshed
each alike.
Like the meres, the Yale of LlangoUen was a
place that the Gipsy must see; and so, one sunny
day, a party of us drove in a waggonette, passing
on our way the massive structure of Chirk Castle,
and driving through avenues of mighty trees, which
cast their shadows upon a forest of bracken, where
the deer stood and gazed at us.
FoUowing the Dee upwards, we entered the
narrow gorge which gives entrance to the vale,
and has scarce room for the river, the railway,
canal, and a couple of roads to squeeze through.
On either side the hills rose steep and thickly
wooded, and some distance below us the river ran
between rocky, tree-covered banks. Before us the
village lay, picturesque and irregular. To the left
was the long, steep range of the Berwyns, with
the bold Geraint, or Barber's Hill, jutting out; to
the right was the sugarloaf of the " Castle Dinas
Bran" hiH, and beyond that the white limestone
terraces and the purple moorland of the Eglwyseg
rocks; and far in front were the mountains and
glens that were the fairyland of our boyhood.
We had a long summer's day before us, and we
"determined, after taking the ladies to the top of
Dinas Bran, otherwise Crow Castle, to leave them
to their own devices, and visit as many of our old
fishing haunts as possible.    Passing over the old
stone bridge, with its angular buttresses, whence
we used to " dip " for the large trout that Hved in
the deep, black pool below, known as Llyn Dhu,
we hired a couple of donkeys, and mounting the
two ladies thereon, we breasted the hill. A strong
wind blew, and when it caught us sideways it
seemed as if donkeys and all must be blown over,
so that we men had to lend our aid to prop up the
animals; and, speaking for ourselves, we can say
that at certain critical moments, when we were
rounding exposed corners, the Gipsy's grip upon
our coat coHar would not have disgraced a Cornish
wrestler. The summit gained, we sought a sheltered
corner under the lee of the ruins, whence we could
gaze on the valley of the Dee, spanned in the distance by the aerial flight of the aqueduct. Meadow,
wood, and stream in their most beautiful aspect
met our view, but our gaze lingered more on the
rocks to the left. On the opposite side of a valley,
three-quarters of a mile broad, rose the stupendous
terraced cHffs of the Eglwyseg rocks, rising in snow-
white steps, severed by green moss and greener
fern, reminding us of the old time when we used to
find the nests of the rock-dove and the.kestrel in'
the clefts of the crags, or in the dark yew bushes
that clung to the face of the cliff. The ring-ouzel
and the stonechat were also common there, and we
frequently found their nests. Then if we wandered
away over the wild moorland that stretches in one
unbroken mass of purple heather from the summit
of the highest cliff, we would find the broken shells
of eggs dropped by pigeon or crow in their flight,
or laid on the ground; and in the marshy spots the
nests of the lapwing and curlew.
The whirring of grouse, the laugh of the kestrel,
the croak of the raven which we startled from the
carcase of a dead sheep, the cry of the curlew, and
the plaint of the lapwing—these were the sounds
that met our ears and enchanted us in the days
of our youth, and ring in our ears in the night
watches now,* so that we long to be " off and away
to the muirs."
" Crawling up through burn and bracken, louping down
the screes;
Looking out frae craig and headland, drinking up the
simmer breeze.
Oh, the wafts o' heather honey, and the music o' the
brae I"
On these moors are lonely tarns, which'we were
satisfied held big fish, though we seldom caught
any; and piled-up cairns, redolent of ancient
story; so that there were all the elements of
romance ready to hand for us.
The hand of the spoiler is already at work upon
the fair face of the cHffs. The limestone quarries
rend and tear it in many a place where we have
striven in vain to climb the weather-beaten rock.
In one place—now vanished—was a sort of natural
stair, blocked at the top by a huge stone, underneath which was a' crevice wide enough for a slim
lad to crawl through. This place we named
" Mouse-hole," and on the top we erected a hut,
in which, on hoHday afternoons, we sat,^ like gods
at ease, watching the puny world below.
Nor, when we crossed over to the other side
of the ruins, and, facing the sturdy buffets of the
wind, looked over the assemblage of hills—green
in the foreground, and broken with iron-grey slate
quarries, and, in the distance, blue and uncertain
in outline—was the scene less suggestive.
But a truce to these memories, which, though
sweet to us, are of Httle interest to you. Behold
us, therefore, on the banks of the narrow, clear
canal, beginning, as we began in our pinafore
times, to angle for gudgeon. There were plenty
of caddis worms, or " corbets," as we called them
formerly, creeping about at the bottom of the
water, close to the margin; and, drawing one out
of its case, we put the plump, white grub on our
hook. The gudgeons were nosing about on the
gravel in companies of a dozen or two; and as
the bait floated by them, one darted aside at it
with a silvery flash, and was twitched out. In a
short time we had caught a dozen of all sizes,
from that of a minnow to six inches in length.
Having thus procured plenty of bait, we turned
our fly-rod into something more like a spinning-
rod, by substituting a stouter top joint, and then,
rigging up some spinning tackle, mounted on gut,
we baited with a gudgeon, and commenced to trail
the bait in the canal, walking slowly the while
along the bank. In this way we had formerly
taken many small jack, from two to four pounds
in weight, and ere long we found that we could
repeat the old performance. Cunningly guiding
the glittering bait along a lane of water between
two masses of weed, a jack darted out from under
one of them, and hooked himself fast. He was
three pounds in weight, and our fly-rod gave a
decent amount of play ere he was grassed, or, to
speak more correctly, graveUed. The next capture
was a little' larger, and came from beneath the
stonework of a bridge, and further on still a
smaUer one was brought to book. It was a pretty
sight to see the fish dart and rush in the air-clear
water, and dive under the green weeds.
In this manner we walked along the canal until
the scene grew very wild and picturesque. Closo
on the left the river foamed over its rocks and
its salmon weirs; on the right the canal became
narrower and deeper, and the rocks overhanging
it on the other side were fringed with ferns, laced
with brambles, and cushioned with moss. Beyond
the canal a long slope of green mountain arose,
thickly dotted with gracefully drooping birches.
Down that glen flows a capital trout brook, and,
i: you were to foUow it upwards, you would come
to the splendid ruins of Yalle Crucis Abbey, an
in a pool in a garden hard by you would see some
gigantic trout swimming about in pampered pride.
- A Httle further in front, the canal issues out)
of the river, where a semicircular weir of great
extent dams up the broad stream. It is worth
while to cross the rickety old structure known as
the chain-bridge, and to ascend to the Berwyn
Station to see the view up the river, which, with
its reaches of water seen between distant woods,
should be drawn by Birket Foster.
Below the chain-bridge are two gorges, through
which the whole river foams; although their
names, the Cow's Leap and the Robber's Leap,
indicate their narrowness. Below each of these
is a whirhng and eddying pool, where minnow-
spinning has often proved deadly to the trout.
We baited with the smallest of our gudgeons, and
in the lower pool, notwithstanding the brightness
of the day and the clearness of the water, we
hooked and landed a trout of a pound and a
quarter in weight, which is much above the
average weight of trout in the Dee. Then wo
mounted our flies, and carefully picking our way
over the uneven rocks, we fished the best of the
streams and pools down to the "Llan," arriving
at the town with a couple of dozen trout, all small
—a bag which was by no means a contemptible
one for the Dee, which in its open portions is
considerably overfished.
After dinner we again started, while the others
strobed in the garden of the "Royal," and threw
pebbles at the rising trout in the still pool above
the weir. We hastened on until we came to a
deep pool enshrouded with rocks and trees, and
after sitting for half an hour over a pipe to let
our dinner partly digest, we stripped and plunged
in the deep pool off the old diving-rock, while
the roach—of which fish there are too many in
the quiet parts of the river—darted away from
before us in all directions. An old feat was to
scramble to the top of a rapid above the pool,
and then to swim downwards in a rush of white
water through a narrow gorge into the eddying
pool. We did this once again, and thereupon
wondered how it was that we did it so often and
safely when we were boys. It struck us as being
an exemplification of the old proverb that "fools
rush in where wise men fear to tread."
There was but one thing more wanting to complete the old fishing round, arid that was soon
done. Wading through a shallow part of the
river, and carrying our clothes across, we dressed,
and clambering through a thicket reached the foot
of the canal embankment, and *were soon on its
banks. Close by was a "basin" or wider space
where the canal barges are turned. In this quiet,
weedy spot the roach were swimming in hundreds,
just the same as if years had not passed since we
fished for them before. With a black gnat and a
small " coch y bonddu," each tipped with a bit of
kid glove, we were soon doing execution among
the silver-scaled beauties.    They were rising gently
t2$jaBmfegtf%? c**i w
all over the still surface, and we threw our flies
before the biggest of them, and watched them sail
up to the bit of feather and open their mouths
just with the intention of tasting—no more; but
ah! a quick jerk of the wrist, and the steel goes
While the evening breeze sang quietly in the
tree-tops, and the sunset flush filled the fragrant
air, the sand-martins flew lower, the bats fluttered
above us, and followed with quick turns the wave
of our Hne; and the peace of the dying day was
only disturbed by the wind playing on its harp
of fir-trees,' the hurried twitter of the martins,
the shrih squeak of the bats, and the splash of a
captured roach.
Many other such days, and then, refreshed and
strengthened, we rush once more into the toil and
0      turmoil of Hfe.
It is not of the acquaintances which the angler has
among human kind that we write, although much
might be said upon such a topic, for anghng, like
poverty, makes us acquainted with strange companions. There is another class of acquaintances
of which the angler should know more than he
often does know—the beasts and the birds with
which his waterside rambles bring him into contact. The angler's friends among men are usually
pleasant feUows, for " birds of a feather flock
together," and, if he but knows them aright, the
birds and the animals are pleasant friends too.
Every angler should be a naturalist, or have, at
least, an inteUigent knowledge of the more interesting of the component parts of that great
thing called Nature, which makes anghng what
it is. It is astonishing how much the interest
of a ramble is increased by such a knowledge.
Depend upon it, the difference between " eyes and
no eyes" is greater than is at first apparent, and
to no man is this more important to be understood than the follower of the gentle craft.
Anghng   acquaintances,  then,  Of   the sort-of
 ■-'.., .j
which we write, may fairly be divided into two
classes: those which Hve upon fish, and are
anglers themselves, forming one ; and those whose
presence by the waterside is an attribute of it and
brings them constantly under the angler's notice'
forming the other. The birds are plenty, the
animals few. Of the latter, the only two that
come within the province of such an article as
this are the otter and the water-rat. Comparatively few are the anglers who, in the course of
their rambles, have met with the former. It
is only when the dusk faUs greyly over the river,
or the early dawn is breaking, that he whose
inclinations lead him to the river-side may hear
a light plunge, and see a dark body glancing off
a grey rock into the circHng water. The otter
is nocturnal in his habits, and few men linger
sufficiently late by the river-side, or rise sufficiently early, to keep him company in his fishing
rambles ; or even if they do so, they rarely move
along the bank with that quietness and caution
which is needful ere you may catch a gHmpse of
him on the bank. We believe the otter is much
less rare than is generally supposed. It* was our
practice in our younger days to be much at the
river-side in the early morning hours, and many
a time have we seen and heard otters when it
was believed that there were no such animals
in the river. They move with such exceeding
stealthiness that a keen observation is needful to
detect them, and it is well known that country
folk have but Httle keenness of observation where
country sights and sounds are concerned. On
many of the Welsh rivers they are tolerably
plentiful, and also in the wilder streams of the
north of England and Scotland.
According to Sfcoddart, the otter has much increased of late years on the Tweed; and so far
from the spread of cultivation having been any
check to it, it appears to have aided it in its increase, from the fact that the greater number of
drains and culverts have afforded it more and safer
places of refuge than formerly existed.
The long, lithe body and short legs of the otter
will indicate, even to him who looks upon it for
the first time, that the animal belongs to the group
comprising the ferret, the polecat,, and the weasel
—but while all its confreres live upon flesh, to
the otter aH days are Fridays, for it Hves almost
entirely upon fish. Indeed, our forefathers were
much in doubt as to whether the otter was not
a fish itself; and so little has their doubt been
resolved by certain of their descendants, that the,
Roman Cathohc Church still allows its flesh to
be eaten on Fridays and fast days.
In length the otter is, from its snout to the tip
of its tail, about three feet four inches, and its
tail takes up a third of its length. It weighs,
when full grown, from twenty to twenty-four
pounds, and  even more.    Pennant gives an in-
stance of one which weighed forty pounds. As
befits an animal which lives so constantly under
water, it is peculiarly constructed. Its head is
broad and flat, and it has a broad muzzle, with
a thick, overhanging upper Hp. Its body is long
and low, and much flattened horizontally. Its
tail is flat and broad, and acts like a rudder; and
its Hmbs are loosely jointed, so that the otter
can quickly turn in any direction .while it swims;
and its broad feet are webbed. In general colour
the otter is of a rich brown, but its body is
covered with two distinct and very different coatsN
of fur, "the shorter being extremely fine and soft,
of a lightish grey colour, and brown at the tips;
the longer are stiffer and thicker, very shining,
greyish at the. base, bright rich brown at the
points, especially at the upper parts, and tho
outer surface of the legs."
So much for the outer appearance of our shy
and retiring friend. During the night he wanders
boldly about the streams and rivers, " seeking his
prey from God ;" in the daytime he is " at home "■
in a deep burrow in the river's bank, in the interstices of a crag, or mid the tangled roots of a tree,
whence it would be hard for spade to oust him.
The mouth of the burrow is as near as may be
to the usual level of the river, but we do not
think it is actually below water, as some authorities
assert. In this snug abode, on a couch of leaves,
he sleeps comfortably until the sun goes down, and
here the female brings forth her Htter of four or
five when the land brightens with spring.
And now let us look at a summer's night and
day from the otter's point of view.
It is a deep, slow reach of river, running between
close-wooded banks, where the oak and ash are
seamed by the silvery birches, which look ghostlike in the coming twilight. The fire of sunset has
departed, leaving but a sullen red in the clouds,
which hang low in the west. The gloaming steals
darkly over the river, and faint wreaths of mist
rise from the quiet bays. The brown owl flits
between the stems of the oaks, the water-hens
come nodding from the thickly-herbaged banks,
the trout rise with noisy splashes, and the circles
sail down the smooth stream and mingle with
" The day has erided,
The night has descended."
How does the otter in his deep hole—where day
and night it must be pitch-dark—tell when the
day changes into night ? Yet, as the daylight
fades, he starts from his heavy sleep, and showing
his teeth as he yawns—and a capital set of teeth
they are—he uncoils himself from his bed of dried
leaves, and sets out on his evening stroll. As he
creeps through the marginal bushes, he comes
suddenly upon a water-hen, at which he makes a
" playful snap, tearing out some of her wing feathers.
He leaps down upon a mud-bank, and finds himself
face to face with a heron, standing solemnly upon
one leg, intently watching a shallow. The two
rival anglers watch each other with dubious looks.
The otter snarls at the bird, and the latter gives
a startled leap and a half-peck at the intruder.
The otter is inchned for hostilities, but he is
afraid of the sharp and threatening beak of the
bird. Just then, however, he catches sight of an
object which is of more interest to him at present
than a combat. It is the snout and neck of an eel
projecting from the muddy bank. The otter slips
into the water, and ere the eel can withdraw into
its fastness, it is in his cruel gripe, and is drawn
out of the mud and carried to the opposite bank,
where, as the beast is hungry, it is eaten up—head,
and tail, and bones, and all. The otter then takes
to the water, and, after cruising about a little, he
sees another eel swimming with slow and sinuous
motion. This he has no difficulty in seizing, but
instead of being despatched like the former, it is
carried to the bank and left there, where, if by any
chance he should return hungry, it wiU be ready
for him. A large trout next claims his attention,
and in that wide reach of water the fish is more
than a match for the beast, although the latter
carries on the chase with great perseverance,
swimming under water, and following the trout
in all its darts and windings with astonishing
rapidity, rising now and then to the surface to
breathe.    But he cannot corner the trout, which
is a cunning old stager, and will not poke its head
into a hole. The otter gives it up at last, and
seeing an unwary chub rising at a moth, he seizes
it, and carries it to a rock, where, after taking a
bite from its shoulder, he leaves it as he left the
eel. The otter longs for trout, and trout he will
have,- and he knows where to get them.
A good-sized burn runs into the river from out a
craggy, wild, and wooded dene, where it leaps over
a score of waterfalls, and eddies into a hundred
pools. Up this the otter takes his "way, pushing
through bramble and brier, and splashing over
stream and shallow in. a very businessHke way.
He comes to where the burn, fast sweeping over
a slanting rock, spreads out into a clear, deep
pool. The otter gazes into the pool with eyes
that in the dark glare luminously, and sees a
large trout poising itself midway in the clear
water. With an almost noiseless plunge the beast
dives into the pool, and, quick as thought, the
fish pops under a stone. The otter kicks the
stone away with his paw, snaps up poor trouty,
and in a few minutes has eaten a considerable
portion of it. So up the brook he goes—"the
dainty old thief of an otter"—capturing a fish
here and there, eating some, and leaving others
with barely a bite taken out of the shoulder.
The moon rises large and red over the hill, and
sends bright sheets of light between the oak trees.
The robber growls at the bright-faced moon, for
she sends strange shadows upon the earth, which
make him tremble with fright.
He at last begins to retrace his steps towards
the river, for it is close upon dawn, and daylight
must see him in his "hover," as otter-hunters call
his burrow. Hark ! what is that noise that is
borne upon the chill morning breeze ? He stops,
and Hstens intently. It is repeated. He knows
it too well; It is the twang of a horn, and close
upon it is the beUing of a hound. The otter-
hunters are afoot, and, as he stiU listens, the
loud chorus of hound-cries rings through the wood.
He knows that they have found his scent or
" drag," and have cut off his retreat from the
river. There is no place in the pool where he
can conceal himself, so he turns tail and bounds
through the wood, foUowing the stream "upwards,
fear lending speed to his feet, until he reaches the
open fields. Crossing these at a gallop, he strikes
the head of another burn, and tearing down this
he regains the river. Even as he does so he is
overtaken, and surrounded by his pursuers in the
shallow stream. An eager sportsman dashes up to
his waist in the water, and seizes the otter by his
tAil in the approved method, but he is not quick
enough. Ere he can swing the poor hunted beast
clear of the water, the latter has turned round and
made his teeth meet in the arm of his Would-be
captor, who lets him go. The otter slips past the
hounds and regains the deep water, and shortly
afterwards his home, where he gathers himself up
panting and weary, and whence the united efforts
of his enemies fail to dislodge him.
Otter-hunting is a sport which still flourishes in
the west and north of England, and very fine sport
it is. It is necessary to rise early, or the scent of
the otter will have disappeared. Hard running, and
plenty of it, jumping, wading, and even swimming,
combine to render it a laborious and healthy exercise.
The otter does not confine himself exclusively to
fish diet. When fish are scarce, he will travel far
inland, and, pressed by hunger, attack poultry,
and also lambs or sucking-pigs. But such instances are very rare, and as a general rule the
otter has no worse sin to answer for than that of
l ; and we think there are few anglers
so bigoted, and such poor naturalists, as to be
jealous of, and to wish to exterminate, this wild
and interesting species.
The otter may be tamed and taught to catch fish
for its master, and many instances of its doing this
have been recorded. It shows great attachment to
its young, and is very fierce in their defence, even
attacking and driving away those who have tried
to capture the young ones. OccasionaUy it will
make its way to the sea, and even swim a good
way out from land in pursuit of fish. Much more
mitten about the otter, but other a
Next in order on our Hst, but with a very wide
gap between it and the otter, comes the water-rat
or water-vole ; and as it is such a small animal, we
will add to its importance by giving it its proper
Latin name of Arvlcola amphibius. It is a little
creature, much prettier than the common rat; and
with its brown soft fur, and round snout, and
black beady eyes, it is not by any means an ugly
object. While walking by the water-side, one hears
a splash, and sees a train of bubbles dimphng the
surface, and one knows that it is either a water-
hen or a water-rat. If it be the latter, it will
come to the surface in about a minute to breathe.
Every rambler by the water-side knows the difference there is in the appearance of the water-vole
and the common rat, and he ought also to know
the great and important difference there is in their
habits. The common rat Hves upon fish, flesh, or
fowl, when it can get them. The water-rat Hves
entirely upon roots or sub-aquatic plants. They
often bear upon their shoulders the sins.of their
more rapacious brethren, but there is no reason
why they should be destroyed, save in those places
where their habit of burrowing in the banks might
be productive of damage.
In the "Journal of a NaturaHst" there is an
interesting anecdote of this little animal. The
writer says : " A large stagnant piece of water in
an inland county, with which I was intimately
acquainted, and which I very frequently visited
for many years of my Hfe, was one summer
suddenly infested with an astonishing number of
the short-tailed water-rats, none of which had
previously existed there. Its vegetation was the
common production of such places, excepting that
the larger portion of it was densely covered with
its usual crop, the smaU horsetail (equisetum limn^
sum). - This constituted the food of the creatures,
and the noise made by their champing it we could
distinctly hear in the evening at many«yards'
distance. They were shot by dozens daily, but
the survivors seemed quite regardless of the noise,
the smoke, the deaths around them. Before the
winter this great herd disappeared, and so entirely
evacuated the place that a few years after I could
not obtain a single specimen."
When capes and bays of rivers «re shady in the
gloaming, how often have we seen the heron slowly
winging its way down-stream, turning its head and
long neck this way and that, looking for a likely
spot to settle, its large, grey shape dimly reflected
in the misty water. A bird of weird and ghostlike aspect is the heron, but one which is a favourite
with the angler; for whether he comes suddenly
upon it by some lonely tarn-side, standing knee-
deep in the shaUows, with its neck drawn back,
and head resting on its breast, or watches its' slow
and laboured flight as it awkwardly takes wing
from the river-bank as he suddenly approaches, it
is an interesting and beautiful object.   It awakens
y :/,
memories of olden times when the heron was the
favourite quarry of the hawker. What an exciting
thing it must have been, to have seen the noble
falcon swoop upon the huge-winged heron, and to
see the bird turn over on its back, and with long,
sharp beak and talons fight savagely to the last.
When the heron is on the wing its flight is apparently slow. When you come upon it suddenly, it
has a very awkward and ugly way of taking wing,
stretching out its neck and hunching up its back
in an ungainly fashion. When it is fully on the
wing, its neck is stretched out before and its legs
behind; and when it alights, it brings its legs
forward with a peculiar "hoist." Although its
flight seems slow, the beats of its wings are far
quicker than one would imagine, inasmuch as they
average 120 a minute. How quick, then, must be
the vibrations of the wings of smaller birds !
The food of the heron is principally fish, and to
catch these it stands in some shallow portion of the
river or lake, where the water is tolerably quiet,
and thus it watches until its prey passes within
reach, when out darts its long neck, and the
ing trout or eel is caught between the long sharp
mandibles. If it be an eel, the heron has often
some difficulty in killing it, but it takes particular
care to do it effectuaUy by nipping it in the back,
for a live eel wriggling about in its inside would
be far from pleasant. Ln~ default of fish diet, the
heron will eat the young of water-fowl, mice, frogs,
etc. It has been known to seize a wounded snipe
which had fallen near it, and to swim Out for several
yarls to. seize the newly-hatched young from the
water-hens' nests.
Although, as a general rule, the heron is a
soHtary feeder, it has gregarious breeding habits,
nesting together in large companies like rooks.
There are several heronries in England, but they
are scattered far and wide ; and the heron flies
long distances night and morning in quest of food.
It builds on the extreme tops of the tallest trees,
and as near the end of the branch as possible^for
the size of the bird makes it inconvenient for it
to penetrate far amid the branches of the tree.
It lays its eggs, which are of a Hght bluish-green
colour, early in the spring. It is said that if it
accidentally drops the food it is carrying to its
young to the ground, it does not take the trouble
to pick it up again, but flies off for more. This
may arise from the difficulty it has in rising from
the ground in a confined space.
Some years ago there appeared in one of the
illustrated papers a birdseye view of a heronry
from above. The enterprising artist had climbed
to the summit of a tall tree overlooking the
heronry, and from thence made his sketch. It
was a very novel and interesting sight. The
herons were flying about in dire alarm, or swaying
uncomfortably on the pHant branches. Many of
the nests which were not tenanted by the hero
were occupied by squirrels, and by hawks, jackdaws, and other birds.
But we think the prettiest object of aU those
which greet the eye of the angler by the riverside is the kingfisher, whether it skims so swiftly
along the river, midway between the banks, that
it looks like one continuous line of blue, and
green, and orange; or, rarer and loveHer still,
when it hovers hawk-like over the water, and
then plunges down upon the fish below. No bird
is a greater favourite of ours than the kingfisher,
and we much regret that each year it is becoming
rarer, even on our most preserved streams. Its
beauty makes it sought after by every gunner,
who finds a ready market for its skin. Many are
the times we have stopped in our fishing to watch
it sitting on a bough projecting over the water,
its orange breast shining brightly against the fresh
green of the willows behind it. It sits motionless,
until the gleam of a minnow below attracts its
attention, and then it dives like a flash of coloured
Hght into the water, to reappear with a silvery
morsel in its beak. A toss and twist of its head,
and the fish is bolted, and the bird sits motionless
again. The kingfisher has been known to perch
upon the rod of an angler, when he has been
standing stiU and quiet on the bank.
The. kingfisher nests in holes in the bank. It
sometimes takes possession of the deserted, hole
of a sand-martin, but more often, we imagine, it
makes a hole for itself. The bank chosen is a
soft graveUy one, such as those which often overhang the outer curve of an eddying, pool. The
burrow is from two to three feet deep, and often
curved. At the end it is enlarged, so as to form
a sort of chamber, and on the floor of this are
laid six, or eight, round white eggs, of such
brilliant whiteness and transparency as to be excessively beautiful. The old birds show great
attachment to their home, and return to it year
after year. Even if their eggs are disturbed again
and again the same year, they will continue to
lay. In course of time the deposit of fish-bones
arising from the excrements of the birds accumulates in the nest; and as the eggs are laid on
these, it has been said that kingfishers purposely
make their nests of fish-bones; but this we do
not think is the case. Stevenson, in his " Birds of
Norfolk," gives such an interesting account of the
discovery and analysis of a kingfisher's nest, that
but little apology is necessary for our quoting it
here.    He says :—
" The drain or ' dyke,' as it is caUed in Norfolk,
was rather wide, and the hole, which I should
certainly have taken for a rat's, was about a foot
below the top of the bank, and the same distance
from the water. We first took the precaution to
introduce some paper into this aperture, spreading
it over the eggs, to prevent the soil from crumbhng
into the nest, and then dug carefully down upon
the paper, extracting a large circular piece of turf ;
but, in spite of all our precautions, the earth,
owing to a long-continued drought, was too friable
to be kept from partiaUy falhng in. Carefully
brushing this away and removing the paper, we
discovered the nest, for such with its raised sides
it might fairly be called, occupying a round
chamber at the upper end of the passage, which
sloped gradually upwards from the point of entrance. From the mouth of the hole to the circular
bed was about two feet, and the chamber containing the nest itself was about six or eight inches
in diameter, and completely filled with the remains
of fish, in every stage of decomposition. The eggs,
seven in number, exhibiting the usual pinky hue
of the yolk showing through their glossy shells,
were laid exactly in the centre, and reposed on a
strata of fragmentary fish-bones, pure white, and
by no means offensive; but a sHghtly raised wall
of similar substances, of a dirty-yellow tint, crumb-
Hng to the touch, and alive with maggots, was far
from pleasant; and I doubt not consisted of the
recent deposits of the old bird or birds whilst
sitting, the bleached-looking bones beneath the
eggs being evidently of older date, and dried, no
doubt, by the warmth 'of their bodies. On inserting a spade beneath the entire mass, in order
to carry away as much as possible, we found
apparent evidence of this hole having been tenanted
for more than one season, since below the white
bones forming the actual nest was at least an inch
in depth of former dejecta. This under layer was
also very dark in colour, and very lively, whilst
that portion nearest the walls of the chamber was
quite dry, and caked into the surrounding soil.
Amongst the half-digested portions of bone, I
particularly noticed the remains of beetle-cases,
and one large fragment of a water-beetle (notonecta),
with the claws complete ; but aU these substances
were confined exclusively to the nesting-chamber,
and were not scattered about the passage leading
thereto, nor was there a single atom of grass,
straw, or such-like material to be seen anywhere.
Wishing to preserve, not only the eggs, but the
strange bed on which they were placed, the whole
mass, on our reaching home, was turned into a
musHn bag, and by placing that in a colander,
and allowing water to run freely through it for
some time, all the earthy particles were soon disposed of; and the maggots were as effectively
destroyed by a single immersion in boiling water.
The bones, thus thoroughly cleansed and sifted,
were next turned out upon a sheet of blotting-
paper, and then laid on a wire sieve to strain and
dry, tiH in a few hours the entire heap looked as
white and free from all impurities as the portion
on which the eggs had been.first seen. On weighing
these bones, thus freed from all foreign particles,
I found they amounted to exactly 1,080 grains, or
two'ounces and a quarter and thirty grains."
During a severe frost the kingfisher has been
known to be frozen by the claws to his perch, by
the water dripping from it after a dive, and to
die.   What a sad end for the beautiful bird !
Next to the kingfisher, the greatest ornament to
our streams is the dipper. On some boulder that
stems the eddying current it rests, its white breast
facing you, arid its tail jerking like the robin's.
It dives into the water, and reappears a yard or
two off; then flies to another stone, repeating the
process ; and then, as you approach, it flies onward
with a straight flight like that of the kingfisher.
In a short time you again come up with it, and
you may so keep the same bird before you for a
couple of miles. The dipper is a lonely bird, frequenting sequestered and secluded spots, and more
than two are seldom seen together.
It nests very early in the year, and builds a
large, fine nest, after the pattern of the wren's,
domed, and with a small hole as entrance. It is
placed in a crevice of a rock, between the roots
of trees, that overhang the river, and oftentimes
in a hole in a wheel, or rock, in the very splash of
the waterfall. The eggs are five in number, pure
white, very pointed, and somewhat less in size
than those of ai. thrush. Like the kingfisher, the
dipper reappears year after year at the same nest;
and when one pair dies, another will take up the old
quarters. The dipper has a faint, sweet, piping song,
which sounds like the echo of a rivulet's music.
There are two vexed questions concerning the
dipper, which have caused a great amount of controversy. One is, What does the dipper eat ? and
the other is, Can it walk under water ? With
regard to the former, our observation has convinced us that the dipper Hves almost exclusively
upon insects. Now and then, it is possible he
may gobble up a few grains of spawn which have
escaped from their bed, but it is clear that if the
dipper did not eat them the fish would. Numbers
of dippers have been shot through the mistaken
idea that they are great devourers of spawn, and
they have much decreased in consequence. This
is a thousand pities, and we wish to say what we
can to stop useless and cruel massacre. Assertion
is no use without proof, and no one can prove that
the dipper eats £pawn, while abundant proof can
be adduced to the contrary. It will be sufficient
for ns now to quote the opinions of three weU-
known naturalists.
MacgilHvray says: "I have opened a great number
of individuals at all seasons of the year, but have
never found any other substances in the stomach
than lymnce, ancyli, coleoptera, and grains of gravel."
Gould says : " During my visit, in November,
1859, to Penoyre, the seat of Col. Watkyns, on the
rive* Usk, the water-ouzels were very plentiful, and
the keeper informed me that they were then feeding on the recently deposited roe of the trout and
salmon.   By the colonel's desire five specimens were
shot for the purpose of ascertaining by dissection
the truth of this assertion, but I found no trace
whatever of spawn in either of them. Their hard
gizzards were entirely fined with larvae of phryganea
and the water-beetle (hydrophilus).,,
Buckland says: "It may be observed that I do
not mention the water-ouzel as destructive to
spawn : this advisedly, as of late I have carefully
examined the gizzards of several of these beautiful
little birds, and have found only the remains of
water insects in them; write the water-ouzel the
friend, and not the enemy, of the fish spawn."
We think also that it is quite clear that dippers
can walk under water. There is no evidence against
it except the assertion of those who say it is impossible for a bird which is so much Hghter than
water to be able to walk under it. If they would
examine the foot of a dipper, they would see that
its claws are admirably formed to enable the bird
to cling to the stones at the bottom of the stream ;
and it is, in fact, by their aid that the dipper
manages to walk or scramble, not only under water,
but up-stream as weU. Our own observation of
these birds has been keen, and we are convinced
that the dipper can, and does, walk under water,
and that for three or four yards, and it is some
time picking up its insect-food from between the
stones. We may be permitted, however, to support our assertion by the following quotation from
a paper read some time ago by Dr. J. R. Kinahan,
before the Dublin Natural History Society, and
which we read in " Science Gossip" for 1866 :—
" During the years 1849 and 1850, having nearly
daily occasion to frequent that part of the river
Dodder which passes through the romantic mountain glens of Glemismaul and Castlekelly, the great
abundance of the water-ouzel, or, as the peasantry
there call it, kingfisher, induced me to study its
habits somewhat particularly.
" The general habits of the water-ouzel have been
so well and so often described that they need not
detain us ; but although it is now some years since
M. Herbert announced the fact that this bird is
possessed of the power of walking under water, on
the bottom of streams, and although the truth of
this observation has been strengthened by the evidence of such men as St. John, Dilwyn, Rennie,
WilHam Thompson, and MacgilHvray, yet stiU there
are found many—especially among the closet naturalists—who prefer to ignore the fact altogether, or
else assert that this bird's habits in this respect are
identical with those of other divers.
" My observations, made repeatedly during many
months, and having for their object the elucidation
of this very point, enable me to corroborate M.
Herbert's account in every particular, except that
the bird carries down a supply of air to the bottom,
enclosed within its wings, in which he most certainly
is in error, led away by a fancied analogy between
the bird and diving-beetles; as I have repeatedly
I   A
seen them rise to the surface to obtain air, which
they do exactly like a grebe, merely raising the tip
of the bill out of the water.
" The bird has several modes of diving : when
seeking food, it generally goes down—like most
divers—head-foremost, in an oblique direction, or
else walks deliberately in from the shaUow edge of
the pool, the head bent down, and the knees (tarsal
articulation) crouched. When seeking refuge, however, it sometimes sinks like a stone, exactly as the
great northern diver, C. glacialis, has been observed
to do ; that is, gradually, the top of the head the
last part submerged, without any apparent exertion ; sometimes in the midst of its most rapid
flight dropping down suddenly into the water like
a plummet. Its course is indifferently with or
across the stream, rarely against it.
"It often remains under water, totaUy submerged,
for fifty seconds or upwards, and during that time
will proceed from ten to twenty yards. When it
comes out, the water may be seen running rapidly
off its plumage. It swims with great rapidity, and
appears to rejoice in the water as its true element ;
hardly ever ahghting directly on a rock, but, even
after its longest flight, splashing slap into the water
at the base of a stone selected as a resting-place,
and then .scrambling to the summit of this. In
its motion in the water it more closely resembles
the jackass penguin of Cape Horn {Apt. chryso-
coma) than any other aquatic bird I have had an
opportunity of studying. Like that bird—especiaUy
in the breeding season—the ouzels may be seen
at times leaping right out of the water in their
" That the bird actuaUy does possess the power
of motion under water, the following notes on
a wounded bird, made , on the spot, abundantly
prove :—
"'November 29th, 1850. — Bohernabreena.—
Wounded a water-ouzel, which, as I observed them
all to do, immediately made for shore. On my
going to seize him, he darted into the water, running
slap in. Waded in after him. Under water he
looks quite glossy, but does not seem increased in
bulk, the glossiness probably arising from the oiled
state of the plumage, or else from its pecuhar
texture. When I first got up with the bird he was
perfectly stationary at the bottom, not using any
exertion to remain there (this remark applies to two
other birds wounded later in the day, which also
took to the water). The bird next got under a big
stone, and when I poked him out on one side he
ran to the other. After the lapse of a minute or
so he put his head out of the water to breathe,
always keeping the stone between him and me ; and
when I tried to catch him, he would dodge under
the water again, and come up on the other side.
" 'Finding that I was still chasing him, he took
to the stream, and went under water faster than I
could follow him.    He seemed to move entirely by
means of his feet, his wings hanging down behind
his tail; though his motions were so quick, it was
difficult to be positive as to the latter part of this
observation. At times he swam in mid-water, using
his wings, crossing the current several times, and
seeming but little incommoded by it.
" 'All at once he turned over on his back—still
possessing the power of continuing under water ;
struggling to regain his original position, he spun
round and round. It appeared as though the
wounded wing had suddenly failed him, and thus
prevented his preserving a due equilibrium in the
water. At length he came to the top, when he
immediately righted and swam as at other times.
Every time I tried to lay hold of him he again
ducked and dived down to the bottom, at first all
right, and then the tumbling began again. When
captured at length, I found him merely winged. I
was enabled to confirm these observations several
times that day, as I obtained seven specimens, five
of which necessitated a watery chase before I succeeded in catching them, and one got clear off.' "
Such testimony should settle the matter at last.
We hope it wiU be a very long time ere the dipper
is banished from our trout streams, for without it
a great part of their charm would be lost to us.
Every one knows the common water-hen. Where
rivers slowly sweep between rushy banks, where
the lake bends into quiet bays, and in the small
rushy "pits"" in fields, even close to houses, the
water-hen is to be seen making its way through the
weeds, or swimming across the tiny bays, jerking
its head and making as much fuss as if it were
swimming twice as fast as it really is doing. It
gives life and motion to many a lake that would
otherwise be dull and drear, and its appearance in
every small rushy pond adds great interest to the
country ramble. The nest of the water-hen is one
of the earliest prizes to the bird-nesting schoolboy.
The large, shallow structure, made of dry flags and
water-plants, is generally placed amid the rushes or
reeds on the margin of a pool, and is conspicuous
enough, but the bird sometimes departs from its
usual habits, and builds its nest above the water.
We have found one in the crown of an old poUard
wiHow, which slanted over a pool. Though, usuahy,
water-hens Hve entirely among the coarse herbage
by the waterside, and in the water itself, in severe
weather, when they are frozen out of their ordinary
haunts, they wiH perch in trees, notwithstanding
their webbed feet. We have seen more than a dozen \
in a smaU fir-tree by a pool's side. In such weather,
too, they will crowd to any spot which is unfrozen
in great numbers. While out shooting once we
came to a reach of the river Yyrnwy, which was
completely frozen over, except a small spot around
a wiHow bush which had fallen into the stream.
Noticing a peculiar motion of the water about this
spot, we went up to thebush, and lo ! at least a
score of water-hens flew out.    The flurry and con-
fusion was so great that, although we fired both
barrels, we kiHed nothing.
• When disturbed, the water-hen dives, or resorts
to the shelter of the herbage; but when hard
pressed, it takes to its wings with an ungainly
flight, its legs hanging down and neck outstretched.
When once fairly on the wing, they can fly for a
considerable distance, and at night their notes may
be heard in the summer-time, as they fly at a considerable height overhead. It is supposed that it
is chiefly the males which have this nocturnal
habit. The water-hen dives with great facility,
and can remain under water for a length of time.
It also seeks concealment by sinking in the water g5
until only its beak is visible above the surface, and
remains in that position, holding on by some weed
or branch, until the danger has passed.
Instances ha*ve been known of its feigning death,
after the manner of the corncrake, as a last chance
of escape.
If unmolested, the water-hen wiU become very
tame, and wiU come and feed with domestic fowls
in the farmyard. It rears two or three broods in
the year, and it has been observed that the brood
first hatched helps to feed and look after the young
of the second brood, but as soon as the third brood
is hatched the first is sent about its business. If
the nest is much exposed, the water-hen wiU sometimes cover it with the leaves of dried flags before
she leaves it, but it is not often that this is done,
and it can scarcely be called a distmguishing habit,
as it is in the case of the grebe.
Less common than the last-mentioned, the coot
is yet a weU-known bird, and, when swimming
in company with the water-hen, is easily distinguished from it by the white patch on its head.
In its habits it is like the water-hen, but is shyer
and more retiring. It is also stronger on the wing,
and takes long migrations from one part of the
kingdom to another. Its nest is also much more
substantially built, and often floats upon the surface of the water, held in its place only by the
reeds growing around it. A strong wind once
drove the nest of a coot from its moorings, and it
floated hither and thither on the surface of the
lake, according to the direction of the wind. Notwithstanding this, the old bird continued to sit, and
eventually brought off her brood.
The scenery of our larger lakes would not be
complete without the presence of the grebes. The
larger one, the great-crested grebe, is the rarer,
but we think it quite possible that it is the more
generaHy known to the majority of fishermen. Its
size and remarkable appearance ensure its being
observed ; and then it keeps so carefuUy out in the
open water, away from other birds, that it cannot
be overlooked when it is present on the mere. If
you row near it, it turns its head suspiciously from
side to side, and sinks low in the water, until only
its head and long neck are visible above the sur-
1 t
face then, if you approach nearer, it dives with the
quickness of Hghtning. It is quite impossible to
say where it will rise after its dive, for it'will swim
under water a lorig way, and twist and turn about
if foUowed. Its nest is simply a mass of black and
soaking weeds, almost level with the surface of the
water; and the eggs, which are white when laid,
soon become stained and darkened by the decaying
vegetable matter. When the old bird leaves the
nest she carefully covers the eggs with weeds, so
that a casual observer would be far from suspecting
that that iH-shaped mass of wet weed was a nest
containing eggs.
The smaller grebe or dabchick is common everywhere, where there are lakes, ponds, or quiet rivers.
In its breeding habits it is Hke its larger brother,
but it is not quite so shy; and if you wiU only
keep quite still, you may watch it at only a few
yards' distance ; but if you move but a finger it
dives instanter, with a very little splash, and a
kick of its legs. If it apprehend danger, it will
keep under water for an incredible length of time;
but if it be not much frightened, it will pop up
again Hke a cork, and shake the water off itself in
silvery drops. It is a very pretty sight to see a
pair of old birds feeding their young, in some clear
post between the floating vegetation. The young
ones are such Httle black dots, and the movements
of all of them are so quick and comical, that one
cannot help being interested and amused.
Mm' i
The pretty little snipe-like bird that skims with
graceful flight from the advancing angler, or runs
along the sandy bays of the stream, or Hghtly over
the Hly leaves on the placid pool, is the sandpiper, a bird not uncommon by most of our rivers.
It makes its nest in some sly hole in the bank, or
even dispenses with a nest altogether, and lays its
eggs in a hollow on the ground.
Such, then, are the chief among an angler's
acquaintances, but there are many others he would
not wilhngly pass. The sand-martins sweeping and
whirhng over the stream, dashing this way and that,
and altering their course with wonderful celerity,
in the pursuit of their insect prey, and drilhng the
gravel escarpment with the numerous holes of their
nesting-places ; the water-wagtail merrily wagging
its tail, and snapping up the insects at the margin
of the water; the gaudy dragon-flies hovering and
darting in the blazing sunhght; the shining water-
beetles gyrating, multitudinous, in the quiet pools
—these and many others come within the term of
the angler's acquaintances. And may they not be
the angler's friends too? Even those which are
avowedly destructive to fish, is it too great a stretch
of clemency to spare them from slaughter, and
show them at least negative friendship 1 Live and
let live is a good motto. There is enough and to
spare for all who are not greedy; and where the fish
are decreasing, it is not from the. depredations of
those whose cause we plead, but from the folly and
wastefulness of man himself. Drains and the refuse
of manufactories—these are the causes which lead
to the blank days of the angler.
" He prayeth best who loveth best
•  All things both great and small;
For the dear God that loveth us,
He made and loveth all."
It is a true saying, that half the beauty of a thing
is lost to those who do not know how to look for
its beauty. The man who " knows when a thing
pleases him and when it doesn't," is not the man
to appreciate a good picture. In like manner, the
man who has no more than a surface knowledge of
the natural things about him, loses more than half
the pleasure to be derived from a country ramble.
He sees a general dash of colour : a blue, or red,
or yellow flower, but nothing more :
| A primrose by the river's brim
A yellow primrose is to him,
And it is nothing more."
It is something, however, to know the names of
the primroses, daisies, and other common flowers.
The mere recognition of a score or so of flowers and
shrubs increases the charm of a stroll over the
meadows, and through the green lanes, and drives
away the monotony of a mere I constitutional."
It is astonishing how little most people know of
the lovely plants and flowers that meet their view
every day in the country. Even though a man may
be an exceUent general naturalist, practical botany
is, perhaps, the one study he has neglected.
Doubtless the dryness of the technical part of the
pursuit—the long names and the minute subdivisions—have something to do with it, but we think
the vastness of the study has more. What is the
use, one asks, of beginning when it is impossible
ever to get near the end ? There is a great deal in
this, and we must confess that our own study of
plants has been more with a view to understanding their artistic effect, as component parts of the
landscape, than from a love of the abstruse and
scientific part of the business. In that spirit, therefore, the following paper is written; and as our
book is chiefly intended for waterside wanderers,
we shaU confine ourselves to pointing out the more
striking of the shrubs and flowers which meet the
eye of the angler by lake or stream; and surely
the angler, of all men, should know what there is
to interest him when sport fails, and fish are not.
There are few streams whose waters do not
reflect the graceful wands of the wiUow. By
ornamental waters, the weeping willows droop their
pensile branches; by sluggish, tortuous streams,
the white wiUows, crowned with a pollard-top, or
grown into a more natural but somewhat ungainly
tree, diversify the level landscape, and mark the
course of the hidden river; in hedgerows, the
palms, whose yeUow clusters herald the grey foliage ; and in marshy spots, the common osiers grow
in fringed companies.     The wiHow, in these its
different species, is a weH-known and prominent
object. WeU known ! true ; but how many know
the number of species of willow that are more or
less common in this country?—Five or six, of
course. No, seventy, or thereabouts, be the same
more or less, as our legal friends say. Certainly
not less either, for the wiHow has a bewildering
way of striking out an apparently new species now
and then ; a freak which may be very amusing to
it, but gives no end of trouble to botanists.
The pollard-wiHow, with its stumpy, many-leaved
head, has often afforded us concealment, as from
its overhanging shelter we have fished for chub in
th i river reach below.
All the wiHows have a silvery-grey under-surface
to the leaves \ and as the breeze sweeps down the
river, the willows quiver and whiten as they proudly
shake out their garments, while hypocriticaUy bending away from the too-eagerly wooing wind.
Fairest of aU the many-faced Clan is the goat-
wiUow, round-leaved saHow, or palm. When the
" bleak winds of March make us shudder and
shiver," the long wands of the palm stand out stark
and bronze by the steel-blue pools. Then the rich
red-brown buds open, and with silver-silken lustre
the numerous catkins clothe the rods, so that the
bushes become Hke white and shining clouds dropped
upon the yeUow-green fields. Then, when the
primrose peeps, golden-eyed, from the old dead
leaves and wind-laid brambles, the silver, buds grow
and deepen into gold, and the clustered rods shine
brighter in the white spring sunhght than the
yeUowest hair of blue-eyed children.
The osier beds are great harbours of insect life,
and " wheresoever "the carcase is, there wiU the
eagles be gathered together," and so among the
osiers tits, warblers, and other birds congregate
and nest.
The dark-green fringe of the alder covers the
margin of many a pool and river ; sometimes, where
banks are narrow, giving a gloomy look to the
scene, but at times beautifying, with the richness
and picturesque solidity of its foliage, what would
otherwise be a flat and dreary plain ; but the
foliage is too heavy to wave much in the wind, and
this lack of motion gives it a sullen look at times.
A quiet curve and bay, with alders drooping over
it, and a wiHow in the corresponding promontory!
How often have we admired a scene formed of such
simple elements, while our loaded pike-bait clove
the deep water, or our roach-float calmly ghded
past. Many a river in our more level counties,
which is now picturesque and lovely, would, if
deprived of its willows and alders, be but a sluggish,
uninteresting canal. The glossy leaves of the alder
are not so pleasant to the touch as those of most
ther trees. They are harsh and sticky, and this
is a drawback where they are numerous and one
has to push through them. Alder-wood is one of
the best for making that " villanous saltpetre," and
it is good for wood-carving and turning. It has,
when cut, a pale, flesh-coloured tint, which takes
polish well. Under water, as piles, it is almost
The alder has another recommendation—it retains its foliage far on into the winter.
Wandering up the banks of a wooded burn, one
comes sometimes on an open marshy glade, where
the sunshine falls hot, and a delicious incense fills
the air. The grateful fragrance comes from that
sober-tinted shrub, two to three feet in height,
and with lanceolate, yeUow-green leaves, which
grows in abundance within a small space. It is the
sweet-gale, or bog-myrtle. Walk through it, crush
the scented essence out of the leaves, and mark
how strong the odour is.
Out of the marshy side of the mere, the king of
ferns, the Osmunda regalis, rears its stately head,
growing four or six feet high, and giving a tropical
richness to the marsh.   .
On those banks of gravel, which often form the
inner portion of a river curve, the butterbur has
its home. When the saUows are silver and golden,
you may see, projecting out of the ground, thick,
pink, fleshy spikes or stems. These are the flower-
clusters of the butterburs, which make their appearance long before the huge, rhubarb-shaped
leaves. In the summer the leaves (the largest of
all those of our native plants) crowd thickly together,
and it is difficult to push one's way through them,
for they are stiff and strong. They form an attractive feature in the landscape, hiding, as they do,
all the barren spots. Under the shelter of the roof
of its leaves, and between the pillars of its stems,
the water-fowl feed and take refuge. We are Very
fond of the butterbur, because of its size and sturdy
strength, and its picturesque effect in brook scenery.
Its roots extend rapidly, and send up shoots here
and there. Where it has seized upon some bit of
marshy meadow-ground, as it sometimes does, and
gains a headway, it is most difficult to eradicate.
The queen of the meadows, and not of the
meadows alone, but the woodland glades and the
shady lanes, is in our eyes the feathery, fragrant
meadowsweet. It is not by any means exclusively
a Waterside plant, but as it is most abundant in the
fertile "haughs" by the river-side, it may well be
included in this chapter. In July and August its
white blossoms, green-tinged and creamy, quiver in
j crowded clusters in the summer air. Amid the
crowd of gaudy blossoms which at this time burst
upon our ken, the meadowsweet looks pure and
ethereal—a lily among scarlet roses, sweet seventeen by the side of painted forty. Often the angler
wades knee-deep through it, as it spreads its summer
snow by the streamlet; and light as snow-flakes,
and as graceful in texture, are its tiny blossoms.
In the dew-wet night it gleams ghost-Hke in the
) margin of the wood, and loads the gloaming with
its   sweet yet  heavy odour.     It dances in the
morning breeze, and nods gaily at its distorted
reflection in the rippling lake, and the deer inhale
its almond scent as they come down to drink. It
is a tender and deHcate plant, and dies soon after
it is plucked; so, grasp it not, but pass your hand
Hghtly through its blossoms, and provoke it to a
greater fragrance.
In the spring the "wild marsh-marigold shines
Hke fire in swamps and hoUows grey ;" the water-
crowfoot lifts its white blossoms over every pool or
slow-moving stream; in the marshy meadows the
cardamine, or lady's-smock, makes its appearance
in abundance. Its pink-white flowers are so fresh
and pleasant, as they nod over the old-year's grass
and sprouting flags, that it is a great favourite of
ours, and we welcome its appearance Hke that of
the primrose and violet.
Every one knows the daffodil:—
r A host of golden daffodils
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze,
Continuous as the stars that shine
And tumble in the milky way,
They stretched, in never-ending line,
Along the margin of a bay ;
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance !
sings Wordsworth, and be sure his eyes rested with
pleasure on the golden carpet the daffodil spreads
in the marshy meadow hoHows\
Where mountain streams struggle through long
green moss, the smaU yeUow umbels of the golden
saxifrage, and its yeUow-green leaves, struggle
through the wet moss like a stream of gold, shining
in bright contrast to the vivid green of its mossy
In June and July the margin of our rivers is in
many places made most beautiful by the handsome
purple loose-strife—a plant with a long, narrow
leaf, and taH, tapering spikes, a foot long, of rich
purpEsh-red flowers, on a stem two to four feet
In most meadows the silver-weed presents to our
notice its large, yellow, velvety flowers, growing
close to the creeping stem and pinnated leaves,
which, in large masses, shine silvery with the silken
down on their under-surface.
The forget-me-not has fame enough for its
loveliness and its pretty name, and no flower
would be more missed than this were it never
more to gleam blue and bright from the lush
vegetation of the water-edges. It has, nevertheless, rivals by the waterside that run it hard,
and of its own colour and semblance. One of
these is the brookhme, a common plant, in flower
aU the summer, and bearing bright blue flowers
on a stout, juicy stem, about a foot high, with
thick, dark-green leaves. In the water, among the
roots of the iris and reeds, it does its best to rival
its more graceful neighbour the forget-me-not.
Where there are large marshes, many acres
are often covered with the snowy white cotton-
grasses. It seems a pity the silky globes cannot
be utilised for some purpose; but, in the meantime, we are well content to see the marsh flooded
with their silver overflow, and shining in the sunlight. Growing in the water, on the borders of
slow streams with gravelly bottoms, and in the
shallows of lakes, one often sees that singular
plant the mare's-tail. It has an erect and jointed
stem, growing ten or twelve inches above the
surface; its leaves are linear, or narrow and
grass-Hke, and grow in whorls at intervals up the
stem. It is easily puUed to pieces at the joints.
Besides its singularity and picturesqueness of
appearance, it is said to be of use in purifying
stagnant water, and absorbing the inflammable air.
Cats like the great wild valerian, if nobody else
does. Its powerful scent has a great attraction
for them, and they wiU roll in the leaves, and
smeU, and grow almost frantic with excitement;
and if any one were to put a small piece in his
pocket, the shyest pussy would court his company. ;
The valerian is one of the most conspicuous of the
plants which grow on the river borders, standing
as it does from three to four feet high, and with
large clusters of pale pink flowers. Its powerful
scent is decidedly unpleasant when close, and, in
its case, distance is certainly required to add enchantment to the smeU; but as an item of scenery
it is of value, and its presence enhvens many a
rushy-margined stream.
Watercress gatherers should beware not to
gather by mistake the marshwort, or fool's watercress. The general appearance of the plant is
similar to that of the watercress, from which,
however, its more pointed and serrated leaves,
its umbelliferous growth of small white flowers,
and the hoHow stem, serve to distinguish it. It
flowers during July and August.
In July and August, the pale lilac flowers of
the water capitate-mint cluster in shallow water
and fringe the islets. The flowers grow in dense
whorls at the summit of the stem, which rises
from egg-shaped leaves.
Of those weeds which grow in the water, the
anacharis has pushed itself to the chief place.
Plague upon it ! it is filling up aU our rivers,
canals, and lakes, spoiling our fishing and spoiling our tempers. We have not a good word to
say for it. We deny it any kind of beauty, and
we wish it far away. That thick green scum
which so often clothes piles and woodwork in the
water with its dark, clinging mass, is the crowsilk.
It is said to be a good bait for roach, but we
have never had sufficient faith to try it. The
duck-weeds and pond-weeds are known to every
one by sight, but it is not every one who knows
how interesting and singular a close examination
discovers them to be.
Now we come to a number of plants which are
noticeable chiefly for their size. In July and
August the aromatic odour of the hemp agrimony
greets us in moist woods, and by the river
margins. It is a tall and conspicuous plant, but
it certainly has no pretensions to good looks. Its
dense clusters of small flesh-coloured flowers are
supported on many-branched steins, three and
four feet high. The water-dropwort is common
enough in aU ditches. Its umbels of flowers are
greenish-white, its stems are hoUow, and it bears
angular fruits as large as marbles.
The. hemlock water-dropwort also forces itself
upon our attention by its size. It grows to three
and five feet in height, and on its much-branched
stem it bears large, broad, glossy leaflets, and large
umbels of white flowers, which appear in July.
It is very poisonous. Of a similar size is the
common comfrey, which has large, strongly-veined
leaves, and clusters of white, or greenish, or
pinkish, drooping bell-Hke flowers. Its stem and
foHage are thickly beset with bristles.
Every winter fisherman must have caught his
line in a certain tall bush, with rigid and dry
stems, which when broken are found to be quite
hollow. These are the dead plants of the water-
figwort, a large and ugly plant, with indented,
duU green leaves, and clusters of purphsh-brown
flowers. The great water-dock, with its long
leaves   drooping from   its  taU stem,  is not un-
V* 1
graceful   in   its   effect   among   the   sedges   and
What a bright bit of colour the yellow flower
of the iris, or yeUow water-flag, presents on the
summit of its sword-shaped, glossy green leaf-
stems ; while in the quiet pools beneath it, the
beautiful white and yellow water-HHes sleep away
the lazy day, and close their flowers and sink
under the surface of the water as the gloaming
deepens. A HHed bay of a large lake is a very
lovely sight, both when the HHes expand their
largest and shine their brightest on the mirror-like
water in the blaze of a summer's noonday sun, or
when they dance merrily on the wavelets, when
the north-west wind blows, and the large leaves
curl over and expose their grey under-sides.
The black coots and water-hens paddle about
through the snow-white HHes, and are capital
foils to their lovehness and simplicity. We are
very fond of the aroma of the water-lily, but wo
have met people who much dislike it. It is weU
to drop one's float in the spaces between the lily
leaves, for big fish often take shelter under the
broad leaves from the glare of the sun. Side by
side with the water-HHes is often seen a pretty
and showy plant with a dense egg-shaped spike
of pink flowers rising above the water, on which
the lanceolate leaves repose. This plant rejoices
in the long name of amphibious persicaria. It is
very common in the   Shropshire   meres.     Yery
rare, but very elegant, is a plant caHed the water
lobeUa, which grows in some mountain tarns and
in the Cumberland and Westmoreland lakes,
where the surface in places is closely carpeted
with its matted leaves. It has clusters of light
blue flowers, drooping from a stem a foot high.
Yery arrow-like must be the plant which bears
the English name of arrowhead and the Latin
name of Sagibtaria saglttifolia, and its leaves are
indeed very arrow-shaped. Quiet pools and bays
of rivers are often carpeted with the large, bright
leaves, from which in July and August rise whorls
of pretty white flowers on a stalk seven or eight
inches above the water.
Amid the rushes the water plantain grows tall
and large, with delicate, small, rose-coloured
flowers; and below, among the HHes, the kidney-
shaped leaves and white three-petalled flower of
the frogbit may often be seen.
These are but a few of the commoner flowers
and plants which meet the eye of the angler on
his waterside rambles; and they are pleasant pictures enough, severally and coHectively set as
they are in a framework of waving rushes of
many kinds, reeds brown and featheiy, bur-reeds
with clustered fruits, and reed mace and bulrush
with purple and substantial heads. Colour,
beauty, motion, Hghtness, elegance—these are
the elements of the picture of which these waterside plants are the canvas and the paints.
/   %
It is a land of deep rivers, flowing with quiet
current through miles of marsh, and by broad
lagoons whose banks are fringed with *eeds.
Three rivers, a score of shallow meres, locally
called "broads," and deep, slowly-moving dykes,
combine to make this eastern county a very attractive one for the angler and the naturalist. Those
who have been in Norfolk will not fail to recognise
the locale of the spot we describe. Twenty miles
and more inland from the coast stretches a wide,
flat tract of country, through which the rivers
Bure, Yare, and Waveney flow with sinuous courses
to unite at Breydon YVater, and debouch into the
sea by the quaint semi-Dutch town of Great Yarmouth ; the Yare, the Chiefest of the rivers,
carries the traffic of the ancient city of Norwich
to the sea; the "Waveney, the clearest of the
rivers, runs from the little town of Beccles on
the south of the Yare; and the Bure passes by
the pretty village of Wroxham, and the beautiful
" broad" of that ilk, and many others, on the
Along the course of these rivers, and generally
communicating with them by narrow reed-fringed
channels, are the sheets of water known as
" broads."
It may be imagined that such an extent of water
must harbour many fish, and the surmise would
be correct. The chief products are bream and
pike. The pike are getting scarcer, owing.to the
great prevalence of the practice of "liggering,"
as setting trimmers is caUed in Norfolk, and the
indiscriminate netting of under-sized fish. This
unwise mode of fishing has had another necessary,
though unfortunate, step; that is, the closing or
preserving of many of the "broads," so that the
vast expanses of water which were formerly alive
with fishermen, are now silent and lonely, save for
the clamour of the wild-fowl; and the middle-
class angler is bereft of his pleasure.*
The bream, on the contrary, are as numerous
as ever, and the Norfolk angler counts his catch,
not by the pound weight, but by the stone.
Fishing for bream may be said to be an institution
of Norfolk, and to judge by the numbers of London
riien who annually visit the Yare, at Reedham and
Coldham, its fame has spread wide.
It was our lot to go straight from a trout-fishing
county in the west to a residence for some time in
Norfolk; and while we fully appreciated the ad-
* An Act has just-been passed to protect and regulate
the fishing on the Norfolk broads and rivers, so that they
will soon regain their pristine fame.—Ed.
vantages of that county for those who were fond
of yachting in the summer and pike-fishing in the
autumn and winter, yet we looked with great contempt upon bream-fishing. We had never seen a
bream but once, and that was while we were perch-
fishing in Shropshire, and hooked a large, white,
beUows-like fish, which broke away, leaving us to
guess that it was a bream; and we disdained to
angle for fish that were reputed to be so shmy
that we had to take hold of them with a cloth
when captured, and so uneatable that they were
only fit for manure. We remember, too, that we
felt a repugnance to fishing in such sluggish waters,
after throwing a fly on the sparkling, dashing
rivers and streams of Wales. For weeks we went
about with a moping air, Hke a kitten in a strange
house, longing for the sound of rushing water and
the glint and dazzle of a cascade, so wearisome
was the smooth, oily flow of the level waters. But
at last, when the memory of the salmon pools and
the grayling fords began to fade, we grew more
content, and soon we discovered that there was a
singular beauty in the slow, wide rivers and the
flat far-reaching marshes. And it was a cruise we
had down the Yare and up the Bure, and a little
bream-fishing by the way, that completed our conversion*; and this is how it came about.
• Two of us hired a boat, a tiny large-sailed thing,
with a centre-board, and a fast sailer, although
somewhat ticklish to handle.    We provisioned her
well, particularly in the matter of bottled beer and
tobacco ; and we took care to have plenty of fishing
tackle with us. We started from Norwich with
a light breeze, which wafted us gently along at a
steady pace. With our large sail set we gHded
along with the ease of a dream, at first between
trees whose leaves danced merrily in the summer
wind, and then between drooping wiUows, shivering
and paling with the gentle violence of the zephyrs
even as the water below trembled and whitened
with the ripples. On we went with softest motion,
the bow of the boat parting the water tenderly,
and leaving two long wave-lines diverging and
retreating from our troubled wake. The yellow
iris flower shone in the long, green ranks of the
tall flags, the bulrush bowed its head of regal
purple, and the reedmace shook its plumes on
either side of us ; and then we were out upon the
marshes', which stretched as far as eye could reach,
yet it was not by any means a monotonous picture.
The marsh itself was beautiful. Here a tract of
white cotton-grass, there a patch of yeUow, all
around greys, and browns, and reds, and greens
mingled in wonderful harmony, and varying inconceivably in tint as the shadows of the cloudlets
floated over the luxuriant marsh grasses, and the
wind swayed them in billowy undulations. There
was light and motion everywhere ; not the jarring
motion of a crowd in a street, but the silent mystic
motion of the northern Hghts in a winter sky.   The
red and white cattle lay and stood in picturesque
groups, or waded knee-deep in the grass with bent-
down heads and lazily-switching tails. WindmiUs
whirled their great arms over the far-reaching
plain, and ever and anon we passed a clump of
trees, in the midst of which nestled a small farmhouse or inn, with a broad, flat ferry-boat lying by
the river bank.
All down here the river is banked up on either
side, so that the level of the river surface is
actually higher than the dykes which drain the
marsh into it. Hence at the end of each important
drain there is a smaU windmill, which works a
pump, and so lifts the water from the marsh into
the river.
The prettiest feature, however, in the whole
scene is the presence of numbers of yachts and
wherries. The former with their snow-white sails,
and the latter with their huge brown or black ones,
look very singular indeed in the distance, for, low
down as we are, the river is invisible, and the
vessels seem tacking and sailing about in the marsh
The day wore on, and at intervals we passed
smaU boats moored by the bank, the occupants of
which were fishing for bream and roach.
"By the shade of Walton I but they look very
happy and comfortable yonder; and they seem to
be taking some heavy fish. We must try bream-
fishing ourselves, for, after all, it doesn't seem such
bad fun ; but then, under such a sky and on such
a day, any kind of fishing is idyllic in its appearance."
-k Presently the breeze died out as the sunlight ,
softened into the evening shades, and we floated -
listlessly as far as Coldham Hall, a riverside inn,
surrounded by taU poplars. We landed here with
the intention of staying the night, and moored
our boat to the staith. Our curiosity was at once
aroused by the sight of a large pair of scales, suspended from a cross bar between two poplar trees.
Upon entering the inn, we found a supper ready '
laid, that betokened the expectation of many guests
and the satisfying of mighty appetites. We had
evidently fallen upon our feet, as the saying is,
and our stomachs rejoiced at the sight of such good
things. But, the reason, the reason 1 we inquired ;
and then we learned that there was a fishing match,
and that nearly thirty boats were out engaged in
competing for the prizes. Each boat was "allowed
three rods, and all of them were down the river,
a mile away. The match must be over now. Aye !
there they come; and looking down the long,
shining stretch of river, we saw them coming back
in a pretty compact body of black dots. In advance of them was a yacht, with all canvas set
and boomed out, gliding on like a ghost, impelled
by some faint lingerings of the breeze that caught
her lofty topsails. Out of the dull grey east she
came, with wings outspread, as if in haste to reach'
the sunset west; and behind her, withduH, material
motion, were the fishers' boats, Hghtening the grey
river with the flash of their oar-dips.
The yacht reached her anchorage in a Httle
lagoon off the river amid the poplars, through the
branches of which her red pennant fluttered. The
boats came up and the crews landed, each man with
a heavy load of silver-scaled roach and bream.
Then we saw the use of the big scales. Amid the
greatest interest and anxiety, and a vast amount
of talk and argument, the various takes were
weighed and noted. The winning boat had taken
more than ten stone weight, Ghiefly of bream,
and the largest fish was four pounds. The fish
were then spread out on the grass, and a goodly
show they made. We were permitted to join the
fishermen at the festive meal which afterwards
ensued, and we can safely say that we never before
or since heard such wonderful angling stories, or
met with such apparently skHful anglers. The
class of men who composed the assemblage rather
puzzled us. Many of them seemed to be small
tradesmen, but the majority were of a lower class;
but what their occupations might be when at home
we could not guess—artisans of some kind, with an
affectation of the sportsman in their dress, which
gave them a nondescript look. They were capital
feUows, though, and we spent a merry evening
with them, and imbibed no end of anghng lore.
What surprised us much was that they should
have such good sport, seeing that during the night
a terrific thunderstorm came on with torrents of
rain. Standing at the door, and gazing at the
brilHant light and the intense darkness which in
quick recurrence overspread the marsh, and Hsten-
ing to the savage crack and heavy roll of the
thunder, arid the hissing of the rain on the river,
we thought we had never seen such a storm. The
tide, which " backs " the water of the Yare as far
as Norwich, had risen to a favourable height for
bream^fishing, our informant told us, and for two
or three hours-the fish had bitten as fast as possible.
When* the tide is right, and-the big bream do come
on the feed, the catches are often almost incredible
in weight and number, and the largest fish appear
to* be caught where-the water is slightly brackish.
We fished ourselves* the whole of the next day ;
ano> although ifc was after rain, neither we nor any
of the other half-dozen boats out caught more than
a dozen small ones each.
A* few days afterwards we found ourselves sailing
up--the Bure, hastening to keep an appointment to
meet scone friends^ and^ have a- day's bream-fishing
near Ranworth Broad. We had hoped to reach
Ranworth that night, but the wind died away
towards evening, as it usnaUy does in the summer
time ; aru& long before we reached A-cle we had to
take to* our oarsl The darkness came'on too, and
we had rather a weary puU ere we reached Acle
Bridge,    While rowing along in the deep gloaming
w i
Jit* f&
we saw several floats of wood on the surface of the
water. We at once jumped to the conclusion that
some poacher had been at work setting night lines,
and with a laudable desire to frustrate his evil
designs, we attempted to haul the supposed lines
in. Fortunately for ourselves, we could not move
the weight at the bottom, for the pieces of wood
turned out to be the floats of the eel nets which are
nightly set in the river by persons who make a
regular trade of it, and whose take that night we
might have spoiled. We did not guess what the
floats were, however, until we came to a turn in
the river, where, on the bank, a mysterious framework rose from the rushes, and there loomed against
the oHve sky the large circles of the eel nets which
were hung up to dry.
The next day we sped before a pleasant breeze
swiftly up to Ranworth. We were to meet our
friends at an inn on the banks of the adjacent
Broad, and turning up a wide channel we ran
between lofty reeds, between the stems of which
the coots and water-hens swam and nodded their
heads, and the reed-wren suspended its purse-like
nest. We could see the Broad every now and then
through narrow openings on our left, and as we
seemed to be running paraUel to it we conceived
the idea of taking a short cut. Entering one of
the narrow channels, we steered boldly for the
open water, which appeared to be only a hundred
yards off.    The passage presently dwindled away,
and we found ourselves charging the reeds and
forcing a passage through them. With the way
we had on the boat, and the wind dead aft, it
seemed as if we should succeed in our endeavour;
and as we passed along, the reeds parted in front
of us, and bowed down right and left with a steady
rushing sound; but one of us was an ornithologist,
and as we passed a small hiHock, a bird like a
landrail, but smaller, flew up. The lover of birds
rushed franticaHy to the mast, and, loosing the
halyard, let the sail down with a run, careless
whether it went into the water, or the yard hit
us on the head.
"It was a water-rail," was his excuse; "andthere
is its nest."
Sure enough, there its nest was, like a water-
hen's in build, and containing four or five eggs,
smaller and lighter in colour than a landraH's.
" There, that is a prize. Never mind the wet
sail; and I'll push you out with the oars, if you
wiU hoist the sail."
That was all very well, but it took us a good
half-hour ere we reached the blue water of the
open Broad.
An hour afterwards we were moored in a bay of
the river. There were four of us, so there was not
much room for movement in the boat. We had a
sack of grains as ground-bait, and we threw plenty
of it in. Then we set to work, two of us with the
old-fashioned red-worm, and the other two with a
paste coloured red with Judson's dye. One seemed
to be as efficacious as the other, but a rather singular
circumstance happened to one of the paste fishers.
He was a very big, portly man, and he caught
nothing but the smallest fish. While the rest of
us were pulhng out fine feUows of two and three
pounds in weight, he continued catching tiny ones,
not six inches long. He lost his temper somewhat at last, and it certainly was rather trying,
especially as his companions were proficients in the
art of chaff. Not a minute elapsed without one or
other of us having a bite. And then, if it happened
to be a good-sized fish, it was held at the- top of the
water, while a landing-net was slipped under it.
Some of the larger ones gave a few vigorous dashes,
but as a rule they gaye but little play.
We had a cloth in which to hold the fish while
we took the hook out; but notwithstanding this
precaution, we were soon covered with the white,
sticky shme which covers the bream as with a
garment. We soon gave up counting the fish we
caught; and we should scarcely be beheved, out of
Norfolk, if we gave the estimated number and
weight we ultimately caught.
In itself, bream-fishing is the most unromantic
kind of sport, but the surroundings gave it an
adventitious charm. The river was broad and
clear, the green flags .and reeds bowed in the wind
with a pleasant sighing; the great red valerian grew
on the bank, and scented the air with its agreeable
odour; the snipe hung in the blue sky Hke a lark,
and the sound of its "drumming" or "bleating"
floated about us Hke the voice of a ventriloquist;
a hawk, probably a marsh-harrier, swept over us,
stalling the song of the reed-wrens and the twitter
of the bearded tits. Yachts gHded by with all
canvas set; wherries rushed past with the white
foam spurting up at their bows, and their great
sails flapped thunderously as they gybed or tacked
at each twist of the river.
With all these sights and sounds about us, the
fish biting merrily, the sun warm and the breeze
cool, we enjoyed our bream-fishing amazingly, and
felt sorry when the sun sank in the crimson west,
and the river grew black in the gloaming.
One word of caution to the bream-fisher : moor
your boat on the concave side of a bend, and not on
the convex. The wherries are often compelled to
" shave" the corners, or lose the wind, and tack ;
and it is a pity to give them the trouble and delay
of doing this, for as a rule they do aU they can to
obhge the angler.
The two great enemies of the angler are the east
wind and the drought, and the latter is the worse
of the two; for though the former makes the fish
shy of biting, yet that is not so bad as having no
water to fish in. When the rivers are low and
clear, the salmon-fisher is in despair, and as his
hoHday slips away with day after day of dry
weather, he begins to feel the most miserable man
in creation. He knows that numbers of salmon
are waiting in the estuary, or in the lower pools of
the river, for the water to come down in a spate, so
that they may make a straight run up to their
spawning grounds, but nothing larger than a small
parr can go up the fords, over which the water
trickles in decreasing volume. And those fish that
are in the pools, trout included, grow shy and
suspicious, as their Hberty is circumscribed by the
narrowing banks, and they are crowded against
their fellows.
The trout-fisher has this advantage over the
salmon-fisher : he can seek out some shaded burn,
and there practise the mode of fishing described in
our paper "The Linn," a method which, however
i-j*£-      -  ?-J   ^ ; jfV* \      J^_
Willing in small burns, is not so certain of success
in wide rivers.
A drought! What a picture the word represents
—a sky blue in the summit of its arc, and a duU
grey where it clasps the panting earth in its misty
girdle. There is no clear denned Hne in the
horizon; the woods lose themselves in haze; the
hills are less substantial than clouds; and when
out to seaward you look at a low, straight Hne,
taking it to be the limit of the visible sea, you are
astonished at seeing a vessel sailing along far above
it, apparently in the air. The sunshine is a blinding glare^ pervading every nook and corner of the
parched and dusty landscape. There is the maximum of sunshine and the minimum of shade ; the
grass is burned off the brown hiH-side, and even
the grasshoppers are too lazy to jump and too hot
to chirp. The foHage of the trees acquires a dull,
dead tint of green,- and the leaves droop and curl,
thereby letting wider sun-shafts strike the glades
below, that should be soft and moist, but are hard
and dry.
The river-Deds are great tracts of white stones,
simply darkened as with varnish where the water
trickles over them, but none the less visible, so
transparent is the stream. Like as a skater upon
clear ice, seeing the deep holes over which he
gHdes, and the masses of waving weeds below him,
deems the ice to be thinner than it really is, and is
more apprehensive of danger, so do the trout in
m 1
this preternaturally clear water see evil even where
none exists. They have the same feeling of insecurity as a sailor would have in a ship with a glass
bottom, or a nymph sleeping in a satyr-haunted
wood. If a rod be waved over the stream, the fish
dart away with the greatest expedition.
We remember one exception to this shyness of
the trout during a drought. A big trout had taken
up its position in a wide part of the canal which
runs through the charming vale of LlangoUen. Its
weight was over four pounds, and it was regularly
besieged by anglers, who tried for it with aU sorts
of bait; but it took no notice of them, and went on
feeding and swimming about in a circumscribed
spot without evincing the slightest fear of its many
visitors. A friend of ours, yclept Jones, was determined to catch this trout, and after many
failures he grew desperate, and resolved to fish for
it through the night, as a last chance of catching
it off its guard. The sun went down and the dark
came on; and minnow, worm, and fly had been
tried in vain. The night was a dark one, and
Jones mounted a huge white moth, and sent it to
where he imagined the fish to be, but he found
that he had got his Hne fast in the branches of the
bushes that grew on the opposite side of the canal.
He tugged and pulled, but he could not loosen it.
He did not wish to break his line, and he fancied
he could see his white moth dangling a short
distance above the water.   He sat down on the
brink to consider, and Ht his pipe. It was very
warm and still, and he fell into a doze, in a very
insecure position. His pipe feU into the water
and went out with a fizz, without arousing him ;
then he heard a loud splash, and no wonder, for he
had faUen into the water. He scrambled out again,
dripping wet, and missed his rod, which had lain
across his knees. As he was wet through, he
waded through the canal to unfasten his line, but
to his astonishment he found that had gone too.
Then he heard a sound some distance off which he
weU knew. It was the sound of the Hne being
rapidly run off a check reel. Running along the
bank, he was able to distinguish his rod moving
along the water at a good pace. He dashed in
and seized it, and after a long and arduous fight
he succeeded in landing the big trout, which
had sprung up at his fly as it dangled over the
Nor is it on running streams alone that the
drought has .^uch an effect. The lakes and pools
lower, and their muddy margins, emit unhealthy
vapours. The tench and the carp nose about the
surface of the water, gasping with their leathery
mouths. The pike hangs motionless, though you
work your gudgeon to his very nose; the perch
swim in scornful circles round your worm; and
the little roach jump and play around your float.
Only the leaves of the water-lilies and the arrowheads look cool and green, and the water rises in a
ledge around the edge of each, as if wishful, yet
afraid, to overflow it.
But this is aU about drought, not rain. True,
but we describe the subject of our paper by
antithesis. But do you wish for rain ? then, see,
the haze is lifting from the weather-gleam, the
distant woods assume a shape, the hills stand out
bold and clear, sound travels far, the flies are
doubly annoying, they seem to sting where they
alight upon your flesh. The gnats throng close to
the earth, and the swaHows foHow them; the dust
eddies in the roads, and the birds shake themselves
and twitter in the bushes. The clouds gather,—a
silence falls over all. Pat comes the first drop, and
then down it comes, the blessed rain. The leaves
of the trees expand and shake under its downpour,
the branches sway and bend under the beating
drops, and there is a sound through the woods as
of a mighty wind.
" How beautiful is the rain,
After the dust and heat ;
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain !
How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs ;
How it gushes and struggles out,
From the throat of the overflowing spout!
Across the window-pane
It pours and pours,
And swift and wide,
"With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter pours
The rain, the welcome raia !
The sick man from his chamber
Looks at the twisted brooks ;
He can feel the cool
Breath of each little pool;
His fevered brain
Grows calm again,
And he breathes a blessing on the rain.
In the country on every side,
Where far and wide,
Like a leopard's tawny and spotted hide,
Stretches the plain,
To the dry grass and the drier grain,
How welcome is the rain !"
The brooks rise and lose their transparency, and
presently rush down in a yeHow flood to the rivers,
which ere long renew their strength, and roH majes-
tieaHy between their receding banks. The country
springs at a bound from death to life. The fresh
greenness of the vegetation is a positive deHght.
The air is cool, and laden with the Hfe-giving
incense which arises from the steaming plants,
and all nature is grateful for the reHef brought
by the welcome rain..
Now, too, is the time when the rustic angler is
in his glory. His hazel bough and coarse Hne are
as effective in the muddy waters as the most
finished appliances of the wealthy angler.    A worm
dug out of a manure-heap is as kiUing as any bait
ever devised, and it will go hard with our rustic
angler if he catch not a fair dish of trout for his
supper. If the stream is unpreserved, every likely
hole has its visitor, and many are the trout who
have no reason to bless the oncoming of the rain.
Birds, beasts, fishes, and man welcome the rain
in summer, but in the colder months of the year,
ah ! it is altogether a different story. We write
now in the month of November, and we have had
four weeks of almost incessant rain. We have
tried to drill ourselves into a cheerful state of
mind, but as one swallow does not make a summer,
so all our writing has not persuaded us that this
present rain is of the same nature as summer rain.
I The day is cold, and dark, and dreary,
It rains, and the wind is never weary ;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary."
The art of anghng does not seem to flourish among
the lower classes in the country. Your true labouring man is not, as a rule, either a lover of nature
or a f oUower of the gentle craft. When labourers
are boys, they will fish in noisy companies by some
pool-side ; and sad it is to see them, for their
language is foul and their voices discordant. The
rustic youth is not, as a rule, by any means a fine
specimen of human nature. He has not the quickness and intelligence of the town boy, neither has
he any perception of the beautiful about him.
Hence, as the raw material is seldom the stuff of
which anglers are made, it is not wonderful that the
finished product should seldom pass his days'by
the river-side, and enjoy the "innocent and calm
recreation " which seems so peculiarly suitable for
a country life. Perhaps it is that the dull monotony of his daily labour so deadens his perceptive $gp
faculties that he cannot see pleasure in angling, but
sees a great deal in leaning on a gate, or drinking
bad beer in the pubHc-house. The case is somewhat
different with the corresponding class in our towns.
Town-lif e gives a greater activity of mind and in-
telHgence of purpose; and there is, by the law of
contrast, a greater stimulus to seek fresh air and
freedom in country rambles and fishing excursions*
When the rustic is an angler, however, he is
generaUy a character well worth knowing. He has
a store of practical wisdom, is full of old sayings,
quaint and pregnant with meaning; is weatherwise,
andj knows someiJiing of birds and beasts; perhaps
has studied botany, especially as connected with
the art of healing; and, finaUy, has a simple, quiet
way with him, which is very attractive.
It is easy to sketch his picture.
A thunder-cloud is creeping over the small village that nestles, red-roofed and picturesque, in
a typical Enghsh valley, blotting out the bright
blue sky, and shading the farmyard, so that the
frightened fowls run under the hayricks to be out
of danger.
The viHage street is deserted, save for two dogs
standing panting at opposite doorways. Look in
at one of the windows, in which are a few articles
that betoken that there resides the village cobbler.
By the open window the cobbler sits, with his
last upon his knee, and hammering away as if he
thought of nothing but business in the world. He
is a man of middle height, thin arid bent, not with
any great age, for he is only fifty, but through the
nature of his calling. His hair is grey, and somewhat straggling and curly. As he hammers away,
his brow is bent and his look troubled, as if the fate
of a great speculation hung in the balance. But
he is simply thinking whether he can get the boots
done by the evening, and if, when they are finished
and taken home to the old dame at the post-office,
he might ask for payment for them then ; for he is
short of cash at present, and his good wife has been
reminding, him of it. He has been dunned for a
sum of 3s. 10£dL, and threatened with a County
Court summons by a short-tempered tradesman,
and it is not convenient just at this time to pay it.
Business has been very slack—country boots and
shoes don't wear out in the summer; and if they
did,, they don't let in the wet and cold, simply
because there is no wet and cold to let in, and
children at least can go barefooted. Then, if he
asks his present customer for immediate payment,
he would lose her custom, for she would consider
that her credit was doubted. True, the cobbler
could find a friend to lend him the money, but then
he has a soul above borrowing, and is a proud man;
and so it is that he is distressed in mind, while the
thunder-cloud is blotting out the sunshine.
The shadow crosses his window-pane, and the
large drops patter on the dusty road. The cobbler
looks suddenly up from his work, and as he sees
the increasing downpour, the troubled expression
vanishes from off his face, and a cheery, kindly
smile iHumines it.
" Ha ! ha ! I said so last night. I saw the look
of the sky!" he exclaims, rubbing his hands with
satisfaction. " After this the fish wiU bite. There
has been a drought for the last three weeks, and
not a fish could I catch, but after this I will have
some fine sport."
He goes to the door and stands, with his legs
wide apart and his hands in his pockets, surveying
with increasing delight the leaden sky and the wide
read, which is now covered with rushing streams of
water. He is neglecting his work, and he knows
itj yet for the life of him he cannot help it. If his
wife saw him, she would scold him well for his idleness, for she is a thrifty soul, and has little sympathy
with her husband's recreation. He has no fear of
her now, for the flashing lightning and the crashing
thunder have driven her to the darkest corner of
the kitchen, where she sits with her apron over her
head, trembling mightily.
While her husband thinks of the angling to come,
he muses also on the angling that is past. Clearly
enough, though with a tender halo about them, the
scenes of his boyhood come before him. His father
was a labourer, strugghng hard to keep his large
family upon nine shillings a week. As a boy he
was more delicate and weakly than his companions,
but then he enjoyed himself more, because, while
they cared nothing for the country, and longed to
be in a distant town, he loved the country for its
own sake, and felt a pleasure he was unable to ,
analyse in the contact and companionship of the
trees and the birds and the beasts.   A canal ran
near where he Hved, and at a very early age he
angled in it, with a hazel-stick for a rod, and a
crooked pin for a hook, catehing occasionally a
gudgeon, a small roach, or a ruffe, and plenty of
minnows, which he was sometimes fortunate enough
to be able to seU for bait to the viUage doctor, who
was a fisherman, and who lent him his bait-can.
Then he set his heart upon a real rod and Hne,
such as the gentlemen fishermen used, but not so
expensive. His mother was willing to gratify his
wish, of course; and by dint of saving a penny now
and a penny then, and by going without a new
gown, which she sadly needed, she managed to buy
him. a cheap rod and line. From that time forward
he was an angler, and as his love for the pastime
grew, so did his knowledge of the true and the
Thenceforth he was above the grosser vices of his
coevals ; thenceforth he grew' up a man superior to
his feUows, and rose so much above them as to
become a tradesman in a small way on his own
It is fishing which has made Hfe happy for him.
He married young, and he was fond of his wife,
but she does not enter into or understand his tastes,
and so he leads a separate life,, as it were, into
which he retires when things go wrong, or his wife
is cross.
With his small wants and his unselfish nature,
the past has been a happy time in spite of its hard
ships and struggles; and as he thinks of it lovingly
and half regretfully, the rain ceases, the clouds
part, and show a more brilHant blue in their rifts
than there was before.    The cobbler seizes his rod
from the corner, and a bag of worms from a nail in
the back kitchen, and, paying a deaf ear to the
remonstrances of his wife, he saUies. forth to. his
favourite spot; and there behold him, as he sits on
^ ,•        a fallen log," watching his float twirl in the golden
|  \ eddies.    The spot he has chosen is a good one, and
||4£        is also prettily situated.    The river is a navigable
/% rf.       one, and its water is dammed up at intervals by
%\ • t       means of locks.    Just below one of these the fisher-
^ '       man  sits.     Above the lock the river flows wide
^g^j     and deep, and between banks heavily fringed with
^llfe      willows, which are green or silvery as the breeze
shakes  the upper or the under side of the long
narrow leaves into view.    Their branches trail in
the water, which is tinged yellow with the rain.
The river narrows suddenly to the lock, which is
an old massive structure, black and moss-stained.
Below the lock is a deep pool, and it is on the bank
of this that the rustic fisherman takes his seat, on
the yeUow-ringed stump of a sawn tree, close under
the lower gate of the lock. Through the crevices
of the gate the water spouts in jets, which, near
f?// *^e *°P> are Dright as mother-of-pearl, flashing in
the sun, and lower down are tinged with gold, which
shines in strong contrast to the jet of the dripping
From a subaqueous sluice the water pours and
bubbles in its haste to join the eddies which whirl
about the lower pool, widening and circHng more
slowly as the distance increases from the floodgate.
Behind the angler rises a sloping sward of green,
broken only by the soft grey trunks of numerous
beech trees, until it reaches the oak-crowned ridge
of the hill. In the autumn this beech slope presents a wonderful maze of colours. The bright
yellow and scarlet of the dying fohage above, and
the more sober red and brown of the beech-mast
on the ground, burn and glow like a stormy sunset.
It is no less beautiful now. The massive fohage of
the trees is fresh and green after the rain. Every
leaf holds a raindrop, and every raindrop holds
a morsel of Hght. The sun brightens the whole
mass, so that the myriad diamond and emerald
sparkles are toned down by quantity into a gleamy
and quivering lustre.
The river rushes on through the fair English
landscape, by bowery woods and coppiced hills, by
nestling villages and undulating parks ; but nowhere does it pass a happier or more contented
man than the cobbler, who sits watching his float
as it is carried this way and that way by the conflicting streams.
It is almost needless to say that his bait is a
worm. Rustic anglers rarely use any other. His
rod is a home-made one, for he cannot afford to
buy one equal to what he is now able to make.
The bottom piece is of ash, the second joint is of
hazel, arid the top is made of a piece of lance-
wood, which once formed part of a gig-shaft.
He sits and fishes patiently, but, to his astonishment, he catches no fish save one little perch.
After a while he guesses the cause. A pike must
be prowling about, and must be got rid of before
the smaUer fish will bite. He puts his hand into
his large pocket and pulls out a stout line, a large
float, and a wooden reel with a sharp peg attached.
He drives the peg into the ground, and lays the
hne down while he goes to a small pool in a
meadow a couple of hundred yards away, where
in a few minutes he succeeds in catching a small
roach. With this he baits a live-bait hook. Then,
throwing in this pike line, he goes patiently on with
his fishing, and in less than a quarter of an hour
the pike float disappears with a rush as a pike
seizes the bait. He gives him plenty of time to
gorge, for he has seen many a pike lost by striking
too soon, while none are lost by giving them
plenty of time. At last he lays down his pipe
and takes up the set line. He hauls in the slack,
and then, when he feels the Hne taut, he gives a
shght strike to make sure; and then, with little
ceremony—for he does not believe in giving the
fish too much play—he hauls in a pike of fully
six pounds in weight. This is a stroke of luck
which he did not expect, and he is pleased accord-
ingly. Now that the tyrant of a pike is removed,
the other fish begin to bite weU. Every now and
then the float gives a sharp dash with the bite
of a perch, wriggles away with the slow bite of
an eel, or shdes away under the seductive influence
of a chub or roach. If, in any interval between
the bites, his mind is troubled with the thought
of his present monetary embarrassments, the cloud
is dissipated by the next movement of his float.
Meanwhile, his good wife, when she discovers
where he has gone, and that his work is unfinished,
is growling and scolding at her husband in his
absence. But as evening approaches she remembers that he left without his dinner, so she
despatches the youngest of their children, a flaxen-
haired, blue-eyed Httle thing, and her father's
especial favourite, to him with bread and cheese
and a bottle of beer.
This adds to the angler's happiness, and with his
child by his side and a goodly pile of fish at his
feet, "he cares for nobody, no, not he."
The long evening draws on towards dusk. The
sun goes down, and the air is so clear that the blue
of the western sky is scarce hidden by the pale
pink of the sunset flush. The air is full of a sleepy
sound; the hum of insects—of myriads of tiny
wings vibrating in golden clouds ; the wood-pigeons
in the oak copse ; the cattle lowing in the meadows ;
■ the splash and gurgle of the river ; and the rustling
of the leaves in the wind which rose at sunset.
As he loiters slowly homeward through the.
glamour of the twilight he meets the clergyman
of the parish, a man who is himself an angler,
and is fond of doing a good deed in a quiet way.
He asks  the cobbler a few questions about his
sport, and then insists upon buying the pike and f •"'' •;>
& ^    a brace of the biggest perch of him for 5s. ; so the *£ffi
1 J   *"       cobbler goes home with a light heart, and a present yjt/ (.
\' which will appease his wife. *'"$£'
7    L. ^e confess t° having very great sympathies with \ *XfH*
j  J~      the rustic angler and his class, and we have drawn h/,Tr
\Y:^>       his portrait lovingly.   Let the rich see this moral : _ \1
,3fo   don't, by over-preserving, close your rivers to the S$\
jjp. poor fellow, and so deprive him of his pleasure, f^W^
ra)   and, what is of more importance, so valuable an H ^j&e&b1*
|?   aid to his moral well-being. %■%&
Yery few anglers are "all round" men—i.e.,
devote themselves to the pursuit of aU branches
of angling ahke. Most men cherish a liking for
some particular branch of their art until it grows
into a hobby. Thus we have the different classes
of fly-fishers, bottom-fishers, salmon-fishers and
trout-fishers, pike-fishers and roach-fishers, barbel-
fishers and gudgeon-fishers ; and each class stands
by its favourite pursuit, and declares it to be the
only true kind of angling. I can turn my hand
to all these branches on occasion, and enjoy them
all, but above all do I like pike-fishing. That is
my hobby, and in that do I glory. I would rather
have one day's pike-fishing than have a dozen days
of any other kind of fishing. The pike is such a
savage brute,—he rushes at your bait with such
vigour and ferocity, his jaws close so firmly upon
the fish which has lured him, he shakes his head
so fiercely, and. fights to the death with such
tenacity and pluck, that one feels great pride in
subduing him. The captive trout or salmon gives
more dashing play, no doubt; but then these
seem to be the struggles of mad terror,  and a
a i
frantic desire to escape.    The pike, on the other
hand, shows no terror; he fights you as an enemy
would, with a great pleasure in the fight; and if
he succeeds in breaking away from you, he will
even dash at your bait again, although his mouth
may be lacerated by the former struggle.   When he
k   dies, he dies not in pitiful terror, but in splendid
:x   rage.   One experiences no uncomfortable feelings
J   of compassion,  but   rather a   sense of weU-won
\   triumph.   Then there are so many ways of fishing
)   for him.   You may troU with a dead-gorge bait
in   weedy  pools   beset   with   sunken   roots   and
branches ; and then you have a dehcious f eeHng of
suspense for ten minutes or so while he gorges the
bait.    You may spin for him,  your bait sliding
over masses of tangled weed,  and from out the
*   lanes of clear water you will see his swift and
'    splendid rush that sends your heart leaping into
your mouth with excitement; you may fly-fish for
him with a huge fly, or trail a spoon-bait after
your   boat as  you  row round the mere during
an autumn gale ; and you may sit at ease in your
punt,   on a warm August day,   and watch  your
large float bob with the- movement of your Hve-
bait,   and   then   dive  down   suddenly with   the
"run" of a pike.   In aU and each of these ways
you wiU find much enjoyment and good sport.
The worst of it is that good pike-waters are
very hard of access nowadays. As a general rule
they are strictly preserved, and where they are not
so are overfished and poached, so that they are
scarcely worth a visit. Very often the best sport
is to be had in deep pools in trout rivers, where
the pike has made his home unnoticed, and where
nobody thinks of fishing for him.
In spite of a commandment against envying one's
neighbour's possessions, I always envy the man
who has a good pike pool or river all to himsejf
and his friends. For him there is no asking for
leave and incurring an obligation. He can go when
he pleases, and have his fill of sport, without having
to ask any man for permission. The summit of
my angling ambition is to possess a pike pool, or
a right of fishing in one when I please. Now
that I have made my wants known, perhaps some
kind friend will step forward and give me that
which I desire.
I have pike-fished in many waters, and have
caught my fair share of pike, but up to the time
of which I write I had never caught any really
large fish. I had caught plenty of good-^ized ones,
up to ten or twelve pounds or so, but none of your
monster fish of thirty, forty, and fifty pounds in
weight. I had seen a friend catch one thirty-three
pounds in weight, and that was the nearest I had
ever been to a big fish. Many a time I had gone
to noted pike waters expecting to do wonders, and
building very pleasing castles in the air, but the
same confounded mediocrity always attended my
I was on a visit some little time ago in one of
the western counties, and in the course of a picnic
excursion we came upon a lake embosomed in
woods, which at once took my fancy as the very
beau idial of a pike-pool. It was surrounded with
reeds and rushes. Its shores curved in many a
quiet bay margined with HHes, where the coot and
the water-hen swam with a tameness and sense of
security which showed that they were not often
disturbed. A Hght breeze was rippling the pool,
and every now and then a rush of smaU fish out
of the pool showed where the pike were chasing
them. The remembrance of that pool quite haunted
me for a long time to come, and the desire to fish
in it was fanned by the tales which our host told
me of the wondrously large pike which Were to
be caught there. It was strictly preserved, and
very seldom fished. Some time afterwards I accidentally made the acquaintance of its owner. We
became good friends—for the possession of this
pike-pool made him seem a very pleasant fellow
in my eyes. I cunningly led him up to the subject
of fishing, and to his pike-pool; and the end of
t was that he invited me to spend a short time
with him at his house, and to help to kill some
of its large pike; for he was an angler, only his
tastes ran upon salmon-fishing, and nothing pleased
him better than going to Norway.
A clear dry frosty night in January saw me with
my legs under my friend's mahogany.    We were
to fish the mere on the morrow, and everything
was prepared for our sport. The gamekeeper had
obtained a quantity of gudgeon from a neighbouring river, and they had been kept fresh and lively
in a tank sunk in the mere. Ere the coffee came
in I had heard many wonderful stories about the
immense fish that were to be caught in the mere,
and went to bed perfectly convinced that at last
I was to realise my dreams, and catch some monster pike ; and I slept uneasily.
We were up and about on our way to the lake.
It was a brilliantly bright morning—so dry and
frosty that the stiff north-east wind blew golden
clouds of dust along the roads. The sun, as he
climbed over the oak plantation, threw his level
beams across the undulating meadows, which were
barred with steps of deep, dark, and brilliant Hght
green; as they lay in sunlight or shadow.
We lost little time in embarking, and, selecting
good-sized gudgeons, we baited our spinning-tackle,
and proceeded to trail our baits round the mere.
The wavelets leaped cheerily against the side of
our boat, and the water-fowl swam lazily from
before us, or flew into the rustling reeds. The
sheltered corners of the bays were coated with ice ;
the reeds were laid and rotted by the frost; the
water was just the right colour, and it seemed a
perfect day both for enjoyment and for sport.
Our expectations were high, and it seemed as if
they were to be realised.    In the first round we
caught six pike, but what rather astonished me was
that they were all under five pounds in weight.
When we were halfway round a second time, just
off the mouth of a weedy bay, my rod gave a great
lunge, and was nearly torn out of my hand. I
struck, and it was evident that I was fast in a
mighty fish.
"Keep him away from the weeds," exclaimed
my companion ; "you have caught a whopper, and
no mistake."
There was no need for his caution to keep the
fish away from the weeds. The pike made straight
for the centre of the mere, running out my line
at a fearful rate. I let go the Hne grudgingly, for
I expected him to make a dash back for the weeds,
when my Hne would be doubled-up and I should
lose my fish. But the pike had no such intention.
He went straight ahead, without pausing in his
steady rush, until my Hne, which was eighty yards
long, wras nearly all out. I gave him the butt,
and held on until I thought my rod would have
broken, in the hope of turning him; but he still
went on, and then, as my rod was stanch and my
Hne was strong, our boat began to move after the
pike. •
"By Jove ! this is wonderful," said my friend.
" You have hooked a leviathan. Play him steadily
and skilfully, and don't get excited/'
Now that was very good advice if it could be
carried out; but as the speaker was already white
and trembling with excitement, and I was, if anything, Worse, his advice was not of much use.
WeU, I stood in the bows of the boat, and the
monster towed us with increasing swiftness, right
across the lake, which was about a quarter of a
mile broad at this part. When we came to the
weeds at the other side of the mere he turned
back again; and to prevent undue strain on the
rod in turning the boat, I ran to the other end
of it, and we were towed back again in precisely
the same way, and at a fair three miles an hour
pace. Our excitement was fast turning to awe
when, on reaching the other side of the mere, the
brute turned again, and began to make  a slow
tour of the lake, stopping every now and then
to sulk at the bottom, but never allowing us to
get back much of our Hne, or to catch a glimpse
of him.. In this way two hours passed away, and
the case began to assume a serious aspect.
" Don't get into a funk, old man. I have seen
salmon take very much longer to kiU ; and I have
heard of one being on nineteen hours at a stretch,
and when he was caught he was not a very big one,
"Aye, that is all very weU for a salmon, but a
pike does not fight so long. I saw a thirty-three
pounder kiUed in a quarter of an hour, so this
must be a veritable shark."
Well, matters went on in this way until four
hours had elapsed, and still we seemed no nearer
to the end. Then seventy yards away there was
a huge "boil" at the top of the water, and the
strain on the rod slackened.
" Hurrah ! there he is. He is beginning to give
in. It wiU only be a short time now."
. My friend was right. Little by Httle I wound
in my Hne, and nearer and nearer the monster
came. At last we could distinctly see him rushing
and waUowing about with widely-distended mouth,
in the clear water. In length he was about five
feet, and his weight, it is clear, must have been
eighty pounds. What a proud man I felt at that
moment! All my hopes were on the point of being
realised. I drew him slowly and carefully in, and
my friend struck the gaff into him, and then our
united efforts	
" Hallo ! what's that knocking for 1"
" Here's your hot water, sir, and breakfast will
be ready in half an hour."
"Oh, murder! where is the big pikel" I exclaimed, looking about.    Alas! it was only a dream.
I had very good sport that day and the following,
but not a fish was over ten pounds in weight, and my
big pike has yet to be caught.
The maxim that one half the world does not know
how the other half Hves, may, with but sHght
variation, be applied to the world of sportsmen.
The "sportsman" is not of any particular class.
The highest in the land and the lowest may rub
shoulders in. the broad field of sporL This is
pecuharly true as regards the gentle art. Wandering by the side of an unpreserved stream, you may
see my lord casting a fly over this shallow, and,
twenty yards farther down, Tinker Ben seated by
the side of a chub-hole watching his float circling
round in the eddy; and as the noble passes the
boor an honest angler's greeting may be exchanged,
and a light for the latter's pipe asked for and given.
It may be taken as a general rule that between
ahglers who pursue their sport by fair means there
is a 1 evening freemasonry of the craft which is as
pleasant as it is right.
Between the fair fisherman and the poacher there
is, however, a broad Hne of demarcation—a Hne
which bars the interchange of even the commonest
civihties on the mutual ground of pursuing the same
object.    The fair fisherman hates the man who
^. --.--7-f
captures the finny tribe by unfair or iUegal means
as strongly as a fox-hunter hates a fox-kiUer, or a
strict Sabbatarian hates a sinner who enjoys a
Sunday afternoon's walk and the gHmpses of nature
it may afford him. There is also a line drawn
between the man who fishes for amusement alone
and him who fishes for profit. The division.in the
latter instance may not be so broad as in the
former, but nevertheless it is wide enough to distinctly separate the two classes. Now we think
the fair and amateur angler is, in a great many
nstances, unaware of the shifts and dodges adopted
by the poacher and pot-hunter to fill their pockets,
and of the consequent hindrance to his own sport.
Therefore, by way of warning, of information, and
possible amusement, we have noted down a few of
the instances which have come under our own
observation. And as we do not expect any poacher
to read this book, our revelations will do no harm
by way of suggestion.
Let any one take a boat and row down the
sluggish Yare from the commission-haunted old
city of Norwich, as the shades of evening are
darkening the river, and he wiU see several uncouth, rough-looking boats being slowly impeUed
downstream by rougher-looking men. He will
notice that they have short, stout rods and long
poles in their boats ; and if he watches them, he
wiU presently see them take up their stations by
the margin of some reed-bed, or in a quiet bay of
the river. Driving the poles in the mud at the
stems and sterns of their boats, the men make them
fast, and taking their seats proceed to " bob" for
eels. A quantity of earthworms are strung on
worsted, and, after being weighted, are suspended
by a stout line from a short, thick rod. The solitary fisherman holds a rod in each hand, on either
side of the boat, just feeling the bottom with the
bait, and now and then pulhng it up, and shaking
the eels, whose teeth get entangled in the worsted,
into the boat. There he sits, silent and uncommunicative, the greater part of the night, and
in all weathers, for the sake, perhaps, of, on an
average, a shilling's worth of eels each night.
Altogether his berth must be a lonely one, and
no angler will grudge him his sport. His companions take up their positions too far off to hold
conversation with him, and the splash of a water-
rat among the reeds, or the flapping of the canvas
of a belated wherry, and the cheery good-night of
its steersman, are the only sounds to beguile the
tedium of his midnight watching.
Another mode of capturing eels is by "eel-
picking," in the lower waters of the Yare, near
Cantley. The man, armed with an eel-spear, takes
his stand in the bow of his craft, and, steahng
along by the edge of the reeds, plunges his spear
at random in the mud. He uses it also as
the means of propelling his tiny boat. We have
seen four or five such boats following each other
along the side of the river in a queer-looking procession.
Those centres of interest to the angler, the Norfolk broads, are, alas ! the strongholds of poaching.
Norfolk anglers plead their great expanse of water
as an excuse" for "Hggering," or setting trimmers,
to an enormous extent. Taking Norfolk anglers
as a class, if they can "Hgger" they wiU. The
amount of destruction thus occasioned is something wonderful. The only time we ever yielded
to the temptation of going with a friend " Hggering" we are thankful to say we caught nothing,
and we are not in a hurry to repeat the experiment.
YarreU gives an account of four days' " sport" (?)
at Heigham Sounds and Horsea, where, in 1834, in
the month of March, when the pike breed, his
informants caught in that space of time 256 pike,
weighing altogether 1135 pounds. What wonder
that it is now difficult to get really good sport at
these places with rod and Hne !
One of our favourite fish, the tench, has a bad
habit of basking on the surface of some of these
broads on hot summer days, in weedy bays, where
he deems himself perfectly secure. But the amphibious broadsman paddles' quietly up to him,
and actually scoops him out with his hand. You
may touch the fish's body with your hand, and he
will not move; but if you touch his tail, he darts
We have seen a somewhat similar thing in shaUow
pools in Shropshire. When the big carp come to
the side to spawn, their bodies are half out of the
water, and they may be approached and shovelled
out with a spade.
In the reeds adjoining the carp-pool we once
found a murderous instrument which was used by
a gang of sawyers at work in the adjacent wood for
destroying the basking carp. It consisted of a
large, flat piece of wood, in which were set long
nails, like the teeth of a garden rake. This was
attached to a long pole, and woe betide the unfortunate carp upon whose back it descended !
Grouping for trout in the shallow streams is a
well-known amusement of country boys ; but the
dastardly and cruel practice of liming a brook is
not now so often resorted to as it used to be. We
have seen it done in a mountain brook, when, on
account of our extreme youth, we were powerless
to prevent it; and a schoolboy notion of honour
prevented our peaching. A shovelful of quicklime is taken up the brook to some shallow ford,
and then thrown into the water and triturated,
so that the stream carries it in a milk-white stream
downwards. In a short time the poachers follow,
and pick up the trout, which are floating dead on
the surface, or swimming in circles on the top of ^ jj
the water, with •scorched and blinded eyeballs.
The lime penetrates into every crevice of the
stream-bed ; and if it does not kill every trout
within its range, it cruelly tortures all.    We still
 tht: anglers -souvenir.
\ IMfb
remember the sickening sense of shame that crept
over us as, unwilling participators in the outrage,
we crept over the mossy ground; when the noise
made by every water-ouzel that took wing, and
every sheep that leaped down the hillside, seemed
to herald the approach of a keeper^ with the awful
penalties of the law in his train.
Diverting the course of a brook, and emptying
the pools of their water, and afterwards of their
fish, is a long operation, and therefore not so
frequently resorted to; but that poaching instrument caUed the two-pole net we have known to
clear many a nice little pool in a stream of its
spotted denizens.
In Cardiganshire it is the practice for men to go
up the streams armed with a sledge-hammer, with
which they strike the big stones in the brook. The
concussion stuns the fish, and they are easily picked
up afterwards.
Do our readers know what a " cfeeching-net'
is 1 It is in effect a magnified landing-net at the
end of a long pole, with the lower part of the rim
straight. Its use is to "grab" fish from under
clumps of weed and overhanging banks. We once
had one made for the purpose of catching bait,
and a ludicrous accident occurred to a friend of
ours who used it. He plunged it in too far from
the side, where the water was deeper than he
imagined, and the consequence was that he fell
forward, his feet still on the bank, and his hands
resting on the top of the pole within a foot of
the water, into which he gradually subsided, in
spite of our efforts to puU him back by the slack
of his trousers.
. We have seen the cleeching-net used in a very
effective manner by bargees on canals. As their
vessel is towed along they put the net into the
water alongside the bows, and walk back to the
stern as the boat moves, so as to keep the net
in the same position. The rush of the water,
displaced by the passage of the barge, drives a
good many fish into the net; and we have even
known fair-sized pike to be captured in this way.
Once we were cruising down the Severn, and
had moored our canoe under some bushes in a
very secluded part of the river, to take our midday rest. Presently wO saw two men in coracles
coming down the river. They stopped just opposite us, and commenced to net the river with a'
smaU-meshed net. They payed the net out in a
semicircle, and then, beating the water with their
paddles, they closed, and completed the circle, and
with their coracles side by side hauled their net
in. It was a caution to see the fish they had
caught. Great chub of five, and one of nine
pounds in weight. Roach, pike, and dace—rin
half an hour they had caught a great number.
They looked frightened enough when we shot out
from our hiding-place and examined their sport
and their net.
Fishing for a dinner through a hole in the ice,
wiU also be deemed sufficiently odd, though it is
said that perch will bite well then.
Among other odd, or at least unorthodox, ways
of fishing, may be reckoned setting night-Hnes,
in which art the Norfolk yachtsmen are no mean
proficients, netting the smelts which crowd up. the
Yare at certain seasons of the year, in the heart
of the city, and by the Hght of flaring torches;—
netting the weedy pools in Cheshire with -a flue-
net ;—the catching tench in hoop-nets baited with
a bunch of flowers or an old brass candlestick,
which attract the too curious fish;—eel-bags and
weirs, and the large eel-nets set in the Bure
below Acle ;—leistering salmon and snaring pike ;
—snatching fish by casting a bundle of hooks
into the water and dragging it rapidly over the
fish;—the use of salmon-roe and other too deadly
means of compassing the destruction of the finny
tribe. We fancy, however, that we have said
enough to call to the angler's remembrance that
his rod and line have formidable rivals, and that
it behoves him to do all in his power to suppress
and punish illegal and unfair sport, yet, at the
same time, to aHow sufficient Hberty to all whose
subsistence depends upon the capture of fish.
As one gets ever such a Httle older, one gets very
much more ddsinchned to take much trouble, much
physical trouble that is, about hobbies which once
were ridden to death; A few years ago it was a
pleasure to get up at two o*clock in the morning,
and have six hours' fishing before it became necessary to get to work at Blackstone and Chitty, and
the endless writing of " common forms;" now I
prefer keeping within the sheets until breakfast-
time, and leaving fishing expeditions for legitimate hoHdays. i8o that, as hoHdays are not
very frequent, and often necessarily taken up in
other ways, and as fishing stations are distant, and
not easily accessible, my hand is in danger of forgetting its cunning in wielding a fishing-rod. I
do not so much miss my favourite sport until,
in an unfortunate hour, I get hold of a book of
angling reminiscences, of which there are plenty,
and reading in its pages vivid descriptions of days
by the river-side, such as I used' to experience
myself, my fancy sets to work, and, aided by
mamory, conjures up such delightful visions 'that
at last I cannot sit still; the room—ay, and the
town—seem to stifle me; and I long for a glorious
ramble, rod in hand, as much as I ever did.
FoHowing close upon the perusal of such a book,
and the feeHngs awakened by it, I was pleased
beyond measure to find myself possessed of a few
days of leisure, and once more in the border-land
of Wales. I took care to make the most of my
time, and seize the opportunity of renewing my
acquaintance with some of those charming spots
with which, as an angler and a writer, I had in
times past identified myself.
One day I spent in tracing, the wanderings of
the burn whence many a lusty trout had been
transferred to my panriier. Another afternoon I
set out for a carp-pool,^not the carp-pool par
excellence of our boyish days, but one nearly as
good, where I had caught some six-pounders years
ago. I walked to the place—it was two miles and
a half away—burdened with three rods and a huge
bagful of worms, intent upon slaughter. I neared
the field j I crossed the hedge. I stood stiU and
gazed in astonishment. I rubbed my eyes and
looked again. There was no pool there. I walked
round the field, and across the field, which was
strewn with clumps of rushes. A peewit had laid
four eggs on the very spot, as I calculated, where
I had hooked my biggest carp. A small boy hove
in sight. I seized him, and asked him where the
pool had gone. He answered, " Whoy, mun, it ha'
been drained dry these three years."   I sat upon
a gate and smoked four cigarettes; then walked
home, my rods feehng twice as heavy as when I
came that way.
I was to be recompensed, however, for my disappointment by a day at the carp-pool on the hill
at Craigyrhiw, Coed-y-gar, or Penycoed, for it
goes by all three names, the first being the most
proper. By accident I met an old friend from a
distance, who, when he heard where I was bound
to, offered to accompany me. I was glad of his
companionship for more than one reason. He had
affected to disbeheve my accounts of the big fish
to be caught there, and this was an opportunity of
vindicating myself from the charge of exaggeration.
He got his rods, and we started, pausing on the
way to get a couple of smaU Melton Mowbray pies
for lunch. My friend, whom I shaU call A., left the
commissariat department to me; and I, having
just had a good breakfast, did not contemplate
the possibility of becoming very hungry during the
day, so considered we should have quite sufficient
to recruit ourselves with. Leaving the town, we
passed under the beautiful avenue of limes in the
churchyard, musical with rooks and sweet with
spring fragrance, and so on to Oswald's Well.
Under a tree close by, King Oswald feU in battle,
and out of the ground afterward sprang water, said
to be endowed with heaHng power. The well is
neatly arched over with stone, and has the effigy
of King Oswald at the back ; but the latter offered
too good a mark for the stones of the grammar-
school lads to remain undefaced. Oswaldestree is
now corrupted into Oswestry, or more commonly,
among the country people, Hogestry, or Osistry.
Just above the well is the present battle-ground
where affairs of honour among the schoolboys are,
or used to be, settled by an appeal to fisticuffs.
Crossing Llanvorda Park, we enter Craigvorda
woods, at once the most beautiful and picturesque
of the many similar woods on the borders. The
ground is mossy underfoot, the trees meet overhead, glossy green ferns pave the noble corridors,
which have for pillars straight and sturdy firs and
larch, and for a roof the heavy foliage of interwoven sycamore and oak. At intervals the chesnut
too lifts its gigantic nosegay of pink and white
and yellow flower-spikes ; and near it, out of some
craggy knoU, the "lady of the forest,," the silver
birk, bends tenderly over the masses of blue
hyacinths below. "The shade is silent and dark,
and green, and the boughs so thickly are twined
across, that Httle blue sky is seen between;"
but there is no lack of blue underfoot, for the
hyacinths seemed to have claimed the wood as
their own property, and shine like a shimmering
sea of blue between the tree stems, quite putting
out of countenance with their blaze 'of colour the
modest violet, growing by the side of the runnels
leaping downward to join the noisy brook.
crossed the Morda, a purling trout stream,
out of which you may easily basket a score of trout
in the spring; up a lane, the banks of which were
crowded so thickly with spring flowers, starwort,
and other snow-white flowers, deep-blue germander
speedwells, red ragged-robins, and wild geraniums,
monkshood, daisies, dandelions, and buttercups,
that the green of the leaves and grasses was quite
absorbed and lost in the brighter hues; up and
up—until our legs began to ache; and at last we
came to the crest of the lull, in the hoUow a few
feet below which lay the tarn, gloomy enough, but
weirdly beautiful. The water itself looked green
from the prevailing colour of the rushes and flags,
and the deep belt of green alders, which grew half
in and half out of it all round.
"Look," I said, "there are two herons, a
couple of wild-ducks, with their young brood just
hatched, twenty or thirty coots and water-hens,
and some black leaves sticking up out of the water,
which are the things we are after."
" What do you mean ?" asked A.
1' They are the back fins of carp."
A.'s rods—he had two, as I had—were put together with remarkable quickness. I took it more
leisurely, and watched him searching about for a
place to cast his Hne in, with some amusement.
" I say, how are we to get at the water ?" he cried.
. "Wade."    But this he was averse to doing.    He
found a log of wood, and pushing it out beyond
the bushes, where it was very shallow, he took his
stand upon it, in a very wobbly state, with a rod
in either hand. I took up a position a short distance from him, and we waited patiently for half an
hour without a bite. Suddenly I heard a splash,
and, looking round, saw that A. had slipped off his
perch, and was halfway up to his knees in water,
with a broken rod and a most rueful expression on
his face.
" I have lostksuch a beauty ! "
" Serves you right. You can't pitch a big carp
out as you could a trout. This is the way—see."
I struck at a decided bite, and found that I was
fast in a good fish, which, after a lively bit of
splashing and dashing about (the water was only
knee-deep, yet so muddy that the fish could not
see us), I led into a Httle haven or pond where;
the inmates of a cottage in the wood came to get
their water, and lifted him out with my hands, a
tidy fish of three pounds in weight. In about a
quarter of an hour A.'s float moved shghtly. He
was all excitement directly. He had never caught
anything larger than a half-pound trout. Some
minutes elapsed before another movement took
place,    " He has left it," said A.
" No, he has not;—don't move ; you will get
him presently."
Then the float, or quill, gave a couple of dips,
then in a few seconds more moved off with increasing rapidity. "Now strike." A. did so, and*
soon landed a carp of two pounds.    From that
time we had steady sport throughout the day.
Every quarter of an hour one of us had a bite;
and although we missed a goOd many through
striking too soon, our respective heaps of golden-
brown fish (very few of the carp there are at all
white) grew rapidly in size.
As we were coming back from a small larch tree
where we had found a beautifully constructed
golden-crested wren's nest, suspended from the
under side of a branch, A. suddenly clasped- me
round the middle, and gave me a very neat back-
throw. " HuUo ! what's that for 1" I exclaimed,
considerably astonished as I sat on the ground.
"Your foot was just poised over that beggar,"
he said, pointing out to a big brown adder, which
was gliding away like an animated ash stick.
"Ah, thanks; there are too many of those
fellows here."
We had eaten the two pies, and as four o'clock
drew near we got mighty hungry again.
"Just hand me over another pie, old fellow.
Nature abhors a vacuum," said A.
"1 haven't got any more," I answered.
'' Not got any more 1 Oh, dear." After a pause,
"I am hungry." In a little while longer A.
started off saying, '»You mind my rod while I
am away. I am going foraging for food. Ill try
and catch a rabbit, and eat him alive. I've been
meditating upon those fish, but I don't like the
1     look of them." ;
He was gone for about half an hour, during
which tune I had landed three fish. When he
came back he had the countenance of a man who
had dined well.    He said to me,
" Go as straight as you can through the wood in
that direction, and you will come to a cottage
where there is plenty of hot tea, a loaf of bread,
and some butter awaiting you. I never dined
better in aU my life, and I forgive you for only
bringing two pies."
I obeyed his directions, and the tea certainly was
refreshing, although I could not get any sugar
with it.
It-was time to be going. We counted our fish:
I had eleven (my usual number at that pool, by the
way), and A. had ten, most from two to three
pounds each, but one or two heavier. We selected
the best and as many as we could conveniently ~
carry, and gave the rest to some cottagers.
From the shooting-box, which is. at the top of
the hill, and is, by the way, in a state of dilapidation, we had a most magnificent view, one well
worth the walk to see. It was a view which embraced Shropshire, Cheshire, Montgomeryshire,
Denbighshire, and Merionethshire. In the vividly
green vaUey below us the little village of LlansiHn
slumbered, scarcely noticeable were it not for the
dark and massy yew-trees in its churchyard.
From the rocks farther on we saw a pretty sight.
A fox was standing on a stone, and on a sloping
slab beneath her five cubs were sprawling and gambolling about like a lot of Newfoundland puppies.
Presently the vixen trotted off a little way and
lay down ; and while we were watching her, a
rabbit popped out of his burrow, and came several
yards towards Reynard without seeing her. With
one bound fox was upon bunny, and the pair rolled
over and over down the hiU. The captor then
slunk off with her captive,—not to her young ones,
but to a quiet hole in the chff, to have a gorge all
by her greedy self.
In a hollow tree in the cliff we found three jackdaws' nests, each with four eggs in ; and we were
amused at watching a woodpecker tapping away at
a tree. The noise produced was like that made
by drawing a stick very rapidly over some wooden
palings, and quite as loud, or even more like a
watchman's rattle worked rather slowly. A curious
spectacle was presented in the lane on going home.
It was a warm, damp night, and every dozen yards
or so a glowworm exhibited its eerie light, and
each successive one seemed to shine more whitely
and brightly than the last, m
The day was done, its pleasure seized, and—no,
not gone, for a pleasant memory remains wherewith to delight myself, and perchance please my
friends, among whom I would fain number all
angling readers.
Yorm true pike-fisher—the man who makes pike-
fishing his hobby—cares but Httle for fishing
during spring and summer. Trout-fishing ensnares
him not. Roach and gudgeon have no charms for
him, unless he catches a quantity to preserve in
spirits of wine, to do duty as spinning baits on cold
winter days when baits are not to be had. But
when the hot harvest days are passed by, and as
September wanes, as the nights grow colder, and
even the midday air has a touch of keenness in
it, then does the fever seize him, and henceforth
during the autumn and winter there is no peace
for him save at the waterside, with his trusty pike
rod in his hand, and a prospect at least of having
two or three good-sized pike to carry home.
And about the 15th of September he hath an
opening day, and he goeth, not to a grand preserve,
but to a small but pikey stream which floweth
through the meadows. It is just to see that his
rod and tackle are in order, and that he has not
lost the knack of casting a bait. This is the record
Is it any harm, I wonder, to look at one's rod on
a Sunday? There is such a temptation to do it.
One sits in one's snuggery in the afternoon ; a
favourite rod lies on a bracket close by. Is it
warped ? one wonders, after its long rest. What
more natural than to put it together; and if the
study is not large enough for its length, to push
it out of the window and try its spring? And
if people are passing on their way from afternoon
church, is there any particular reason why they
should look so extremely shocked ? If it is wrong,
then I am afraid the pike-fisher sinneth occasionally
as September goes on.
At seven in the morning he steps out of his
house and rings the gardener's beH. The gardener
comes, and is laden with a casting-net and a
"A fine morning, sir."
I' Yes, John. We ought to get some to-day.
The wind blows cool and the sky is cloudy. Bring
the garden rake with you." And they walk down
to the canal, where John rakes the bottom vigorously, until it is muddy for several yards around.
The master waits a few minutes, and leisurely
adjusts the casting-net ready for a cast; and then, ^ t
when he deems that there are sufficient gudgeons
assembled on the muddy spot on the search for
food, he swings the net; one, two, three, and the
net flows evenly off his arm, and falls in a perfect
circle on the water. He leisurely draws it in ; and
when John spreads out the tuck, they find twelve
gudgeons and two roach in its folds. These are
duly transferred to the bucket, as are also half a
dozen gudgeons secured by a second cast. Then
the master goes home to breakfast, while John kills
the bait and wraps them in a cloth, roUing them up
in the same manner as one sees a dentist's or
surgeon's tools roUed up sometimes in a leather
case, and so that only one bait at a time is exposed,
when required, and they are kept from rubbing
against each other.
About ten o'clock master and man are at the side
of a small river which flows with sinuous course
through rich meadows and yellow stubbles, forming
here a long shaUow, about a foot or two feet deep,
with a smooth current sliding over waving weeds,
and there a wide pool where the water moves very
slowly in a large eddy, and washes lazily about the
roots of tall flags and clumps of rushes.
He puts his rod together, and as the weeds are
somewhat too thick as yet for comfortable spinning,
he baits a gorge-hook and makes a cast from the
reel, and the bait descends head-foremost into a
deep pool close by a patch of lily leaves.
The master's tackle is somewhat peculiar, for he
has his fancies, as all true anglers have. He has
a Nottingham reel of a great diameter, and yet
he has a dressed line such as is not used in the
Nottingham style of fishing. The master says that
even with a dressed line he can throw a long way
off the reel if he so desires ; and where the ground
is scrubby that is a great advantage, as he is not
bothered by the line catching in the thistles and
grass. Then if he desires change, there is a thick
india-rubber ring on the butt of the rod, and this
he slips down to the reel, so that it catches the
circumference and acts as a brake, transforming
the reel instantly into an excellent check one.
Then he fishes with the line in coils at the feet,
or gathered in ringlets in his left hand, although
the latter method- is open to the objection that
both hands are engaged, which is occasionally
The bait is drawn to the top of the water, and
then shoots erratically downward^until every inch
of the pool has been systematicaHy fished. In the
next pool the master feels a sHght check to the
line. Is it a fish or a weed ? There is a tremulous
motion of the rod, and a slight movement of the
line through the rings. It must be a fish ; and the
master lowers the point of his rod, and suffers
the line to be drawn out without a check, and the
fish shall have ten good minutes to gorge. (Don't
those ten minutes always seem to be half an hour
at the least ?) The fish is uneasy. It moves about
a yard or two at a time. The master is in doubt
whether the bait has been pouched or not; nevertheless his patience cannot last more than ten
minutes, so he tightens his line. The pike is on,
and fights well, although it is only a small one—
say three pounds in weight.    It is conquered, and
is drawn in to the side, when—lo ! the bait comes
out of the water with a jerk, and the pike is free.
"Ah, I thought that fellow had not pouched.
He was simply holding on. The bait is not much
torn, so here it goes on again. He will probably
run at it again. Ah, there he is, and he has got
it between his great jaws."
At the bottom of the pool, which is not very
deep, you can see two small gleaming objects. «
They are the head and the tail of the gudgeon.
Its middle part is in the pike's mouth ; and with
those white specks as a starting-point you can trace
the long body of the jack, which would otherwise
be invisible. The master gives the jack ten more
minutes, and still it has not swaUowed the bait.
He loses patience at this, and says,
" We cannot waste aU the morning with this
little fellow, John, so I will try and swing him
So he gently draws the pike down-stream, and
within a foot of a low grassy bank, and then with
a mighty heave he tries to jerk the fish out by the
hold of its back-bent teeth upon the bait.
There is a sharp struggle on the top of the water,
and the pike escapes.
The master smiles grimly as he proceeds to
change his tackle to a spinning flight, for he will
not be played with again.
Twenty yards lower down he has another run,
■   and, striking hard, he finds that he has hooked
a fish of six or seven pounds, which gives him a
decent amount of play before John lifts it out with
the landing-net.
So he goes on down the river, getting a run here
and there as the day wears on, missing some and
basketing some.
A cool west wind sweeps the first of the dying
leaves off the trees, and carries to him the sound
of his friends' shooting in the stubbles ; the water-
hens rustle in the reeds, and fly out with a great
splutter; a weasel, foUowing a rabbit, crosses his
path, and when John shies a stone at it, coolly,
stops as if to ask, "What do you mean by that,
you impertinent fellow ?" and disturbed coveys
of partridges whirr over his head. The sky is
covered with opaHne clouds, and long rays of misty
sunshine stream down here and there. As he
pushes through a coppice, he stops to gather a
pocketful of nuts, and stains his fingers with the
blackberries. Presently master and man sit down
on a fallen tree, and eat their lunch with an excellent appetite.
When lunch and a pipe are finished, he puts on
a fresh bait, and spins it across a Hkely pool.
There is a swirl in the water, and as he strikes
he feels that he has hooked a good fish. After
a few minutes' play, it comes near to the surface,
and, to his astonishment, full seven feet behind
where the taut line is cutting the water, he sees
its tail above the water.   A pike seven feet long ! —
30 r
impossible ! Yet there is the head and there is the
tail. Who shall say what visions cross his brain
at that exulting moment ! But a shaft of sunlight
strikes the water, and renders it more transparent,
and lo ! the mystery is solved. There are two pike
of equal size. One is hooked, and the other is
following close in his wake as he swims about the
pool,—whether from wonder, affection, concern, or
the possible chance of a meal off a sick fish, one
cannot say. Presently, however, he catches sight
of John's extended net, and is off like a shot, while
the hooked fish is landed, and promises to turn the
scale at seven pounds.
And now they come to a Httle pool apart from
the river, but communicating with it by a narrow
channel. The pool is completely surrounded by a
tall and thick rampart of reeds, over which it is
certainly possible to cast, but which would effectually prevent the return of any spinning flight. It
looks such a pikey place, however, that the master
is determined to try it; so he puts on a gorge-
bait, which can be forcibly dragged back through
the reeds without much difficulty.
j At the third throw the bait is seized with such a
rush that the rod is nearly jerked out of the trailer's
" That is a big fish, John."
" It is, sir ; but I think you will not get it out."
After a considerable time, and much careful play,
the pike is tired out, and lies on its side at the
edge of the reeds, held there by main force. It
must weigh ten' pounds at the least. Not an inch
further can it be dragged. John takes off his shoes
and stockings, and attempts to wade to it; but as
he plunges up to his waist in soft mud, and has to
be helped out by his master, he is of no use in
landing the pike. At last, fearful of straining his
rod, the master takes hold of the line, and attempts
to lead the fish through the reeds, fervently hoping
that his tackle is sound and the hold of the hooks
secure. Wallop ! the gimp parts at the loop, and the
pike sinks back into the pool.
'' Never mind, John. We will have him in the
winter, when the weeds are down. We have done
pretty weU, and we may be satisfied. Turn them
out on the grass. Eight of them, I declare, from
two to seven pounds. They will be as much as you
can carry home, John."
So they go homeward through the autumn gloaming, slowly but well content.
This is fair and quite sufficient sport. A friend
of mine, during one day's live-baiting in a Norfolk
river, caught fourteen pike, from seven to fourteen
pounds in weight, with his own rod.
I should not care for such sport as that. It is
butchery. Well, perhaps, as you say, the grapes are
A friend of mine has just told me that he once
had a big pike on in a similarly awkward position,
with a fringe of bushes between him and the pike.
He tired it out, and then strung it up to a branch
while he went and got a gun, and, crossing the
river, shot the pike from the other side. It was a
cute idea certainly, but rather rough on the pike,
who had a right to complain of being taken in the
flank in such a way.
 A critic for whom I am compelled to profess very
,xeat reverence, particularly as she is good enough
to help .me very considerably with the correction of
proofs, that most abominable of necessities, sometimes says to me, " These articles of yours always
describe such excellent sport and such big fish.
Now I never see you get one or the other." To
which I reply, " Before I married you, my pearl of
women, I used to have very good luck indeed ; but
since that to me most happy event I have the most
d—well, no—the very worst luck imaginable in
fishing, just as I have at cards or any game of
chance." Then I am snubbed with the reply,
"That is all nonsense. There is no such thing
as luck.    It is your lack of skill in both cases."
Now I have a considerable amount of patience,
and experience ought to have given me some Httle
skill, yet I must say that I have been most awfully
unlucky of late, and I am ready to grumble to any
extent, and to humble myself, and gratify my critic,
by detailing some of my blank days.
ow every angler expects to meet with blank
now and again, when wind and weather have
been against him ; but I have had some fiendishly
blank days of late; and if I struck the average
between my expenses and the number of fish I
have caught, the average cost of each fish would
be something startling.
When 1877 just poked its nose into this wicked
world, I went aU the way to Shropshire from
Northumberland, for two days' pike-fishing in the
meres where formerly I had taken many a good
fish. The first day we started for Colemere. It
was a fine day, with a good breeze. We had
plenty of lively young carp for bait, and we
started in good time for a nine-miles drive. The
first thing we found out was that our steed much
preferred walking to trotting. He walked up the
banks, and he walked down them, and he walked
a long way along the levels to assure himself that
they reaUy were levels before he ventured to trot.
Persuasion was of no use, and our whip broke.
Then, in a sudden burst of activity, he smashed
one of the traces, and we had to mend it with
string. Then we lost our way in the endeavour
to find the keeper's cottage ; and, finally, it was
midday ere we were afloat on the mere.
The keeper rowed us around, and we found that
the pike were on the run. Before we were halfway
round we had had five pike on, and lost them all,—
in exactly the same way too. We struck hard,
played each a considerable time, and then when it
was drawn in sight we saw that its mouth was shut.
with the bait across it— a sure sign that it was not
hooked.- Then as the gaff was outstretched, it
opened its mouth, gave a wriggle, and was off. The
reader wiU say that we did not strike hard enough.
Now I had a powerful rod and a strong Hne, and I
struck as hard as I could—particularly after one
or two misses. I struck and held on, quite regardless of the state of the tackle; but stiU it was no
good. Those five fish escaped, and so did many
more in exactly the same way. I was using PenneH's
tackle; it was a suitable size for the baits ; and the
hooks were fairly sharp. In two hours we missed
twelve fish, and then a small one was caught by my
brother, and that without any striking at all, for
his top had given. One fair-sized pike which my
brother played for some time, and then lost, still
foUowed the bait; and while I examined it to see
if it had sustained damage, the pike came witJrin
a yard of the boat, waiting for the bait, with its
eyes glaring and fins quivering. I tried to throw
it to him, but the hooks caught in my sleeve, and
after & vain attempt to free them, I seized the gaff
and made a lunge at the pike, but missed him, and
we saw him no more.
In desperation I tried Hve-bait, which I strongly
object to, but the fish went suddenly off the feed,
and we caught nothing.
The next day we went to Whitemere, and there
it was the "same old game." We only caught
two where we should have caught many more.   I
had only Pennell's tackle with me, but I made up
my mind never to use it again.
Shortly after that, with a tackle of my own
making, I killed three nice fish in a three-quarters
of an hour's fishing .which I snatched before it got
dark ;. and believing in the efficacy of my tackle, I
did not strike ruinously hard. The tackle I used
is, I believe, not new, although I thought it was
when I made it. It consists of a piece of copper
wire with two triangles on one side, and one on the
other, and a sHding Hp-hook. The wire is thrust
down under the bait, and the bending it to any
desired curve gives the spinning. I was much
taken with the idea of " one large flying triangle "
at first, but I have come back to a greater number
bf smaUer triangles, the hooks of which are kept
very sharp.
Last summer I arranged for a fortnight's fishing
for trout, carp, and pike, having leave for preserved
waters for every day, with keepers in attendance
to show the best spots, plenty of good bait, and.
- apparently good weather. The first day we tried
for pike; and caught none. Then we had a speU of
trout-fishing, and caught yery few. Then another
day's pike-fishing, and caught none. Then we had
a day's pike-fishing in a lake which was full of pike,
and where I expected to catch at least twenty
between the two of us. The keeper showed us
the best water, and we spun, trolled, and live-baited
all the morning, and saw but  one fish, and that j
made a rush at the bait when it was dangHng close
by the side of the boat, and with the rod in an
upright position. Taken at such a disadvantage,
the rod snapped just below the top ferule, and the
pike got away. We walked two miles along a
dusty road and under a hot sun, and got the wood
taken out of the ferule and the rod roughly repaired at the village blacksmith's. Then, as the
breeze had fallen, and it was plaguey hot, we did
not go back to our fishing until the cool of the
evening, and then we fished until dusk without
seeing any further signs of fish. This was the
last straw that fairly broke my back. I was disgusted with fishing, and vowed that I never would
fish again. I abandoned all my 'leaves' for the next
week in disgust, and spent the time in grumbling
at my ill-luck.
A few days ago, having procured a new rod, I
was anxious to try it, so I went to a ]
lake, and what especial form do you think my ill-
luck took this time ? Why, the fish were dead
and dying by thousands, the result apparently of
poisoning by some scoundrelly poacher. I left
there, and walked four miles to a pond where there
were a goodly number of jack, and found it so
overgrown with weeds that it was unfishable even
with a gorge-bait. Then I went to the river, and
found it so heavy in spate that it was useless to
try in it.
The above are but specimens of my bkrak days
this year.    I am living in hope that the tide of
luck wiU take a turn for the better.
A friend of mine met an angler the other day,
and asked him,
"What sport ?"
"Oh, splendid sport."
" How many have you caught ? "
"Oh, I haven't caught any."
That fisherman was a philospher. Neither I nor
any true angler would grumble at an occasional
blank day ; but when it comes to a continuous run
of blank days, the angler is justified in tearing his ►
hair, and asking himself the reason why he was
Yet " hope springs eternal in the human breast,"
and now and then come " red-letter days " which
will bear describing and thinking over again and
again, one of which will make up for many blank
days. Perchance some still evening, when the
sunset is dying in the west, and the placid river
flows on monotonously, I shall catch the big fish
which is ever in my dreams.
But whether I am successful or unsuccessful, I
shall maintain that there is no recreation like
" Some youthful gallant here perhaps will say,
This is no pastime for a gentleman,
It were more fit at cards and dice to play,
To use both fence and dancing now and then,
Or walk the streets in nice and strange array,
Or with coy phrases court his mistris' fan ;
A poor delight, with toyl and painfull watch,
With losse of time a silly fish to catch.
Let them that list these pastimes then pursue,
And on their pleasingvfancies feed their fill ;
So I the fields and meadows green may view,
And by the rivers clear may walke at will,
Among the daisies and the violets blew,
Red hyacinth, and yellow daffodill,
Purple narcissus like the morning rayes,
Pale gandergras, and azure culverkayes.
I count it better pleasure to behold
The goodly compasse of the lofty skie,
And in the midst thereof, like burning gold,
The flaming chariot of the world's great eye ;
The wat'ry clouds that in the ayre uprolled
With sundry kinds of painted colours flie-;
And faire Aurora lifting up her head,
All blushing rise from old Tithonous' bed.
The lofty woods, the forrestsjaade and long,
Adorned with leaves and branches fresh and green
In whose cool bow'rs the birds with chaunting song
Do welcome with their quire the Summer's Queen.
All these, and many more, of His creation
That made, the Heavens, the angler oft doth see;
And takes therein no httle delectation
To think how strange and wonderfull they bee.
1 \i
I fe
Framing thereof an inward contemplation,
To set his thoughts on other fancies free ;
And whilst he looks on these with joyfull eye,
His mind is wrapt above the»starry skie."
Thus  singeth  John Dennys,   Esquire,   in   his
" Secrets of Anghng."
! V
 SH lj-39    C k-9    1880
University of British Columbia Library
'    Ja y$b
lUNl   1966
I     JUN 27 J966
1 juLi2R0nr
NUy i ** w«*-uu^


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