Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

human character, pray what is there at all sure FYTTE FIRST.

prising in your being madly fond of shooting

and your brother Tom just as foolish about There is a fine and beautiful alliance between fishing—and cousin Jack perfectly insane on all pastimes pursued on flood, field, and fell. fox-hunting—while the old gentleman your fa. The principles in human nature on which they ther, in spite of wind and weather, perennial depeod, are in all the same; but those princi: gout, and annual apoplexy, goes a-coursing of ples are subject to infinite modifications and the white-hipped hare on the bleak Yorkshire varieties, according to the difference of indio wolds—and uncle Ben, as if just escaped from vidual and national character. All such pas. Bedlam or St. Luke's, with Dr. Haslam at his times, whether followed merely as pastimes, heels, or with a few hundred yards' start of or as professions, or as the immediate means Dr. Warburton, is seen galloping, in a Welsh of sustaining life, require sense, sagacity, and wig and strange apparel, in the rear of a pack knowledge of nature and nature's laws; nor of Lilliputian beagles, all barking as if they less, patience, perseverance, courage even, and were as mad as their master, supposed to be bodily strength or activity, while the spirit in chase of an invisible animal that keeps which animates and supports them is a spirit eternally doubling in field and forest—"still of anxiety, doubt, fear, hope, joy, exultation, hoped for, never seen,” and well christened and triumph—in the heart of the young a by the name of Escape ? fierce passion-in the heart of the old a Phrenology sets the question for ever at rest. passion still, but subdued and tamed down, All people have thirty-three faculties. Now without, however, being much dulled or dead, there are but twenty-four letters in the alphaened, by various experience of all the myste- bet; yet how many languages-some six-thouries of the calling, and by the gradual subsid-sand we believe, each of which is susceptible ing of all impetuous impulses in the frames of many dialects! No wonder, then, that you of all mortal men beyond perhaps threescore, might as well try to count all the sands on the when the blackest head will be becoming gray, sea-shore as all the species of sportsmen. the most nervous knee less firmly knit, the There is, therefore, nothing to prevent any most steely-springed instep less elastic, the man with a large and sound development keenest eye less of a far-keeker, and, above from excelling, at once, in rat-catching and all, the most boiling heart less like a caldron deer-stalking—from being, in short, a univeror a crater-yea, the whole man subject to sal genius in sports and pastimes. Heaven some dimness or decay, and, consequently, has made us such a man. the whole duty of man like the new edition Yet there seems to be a natural course or of a book, from which many passages that progress in pastimes. We do not now speak formed the chief glory of the editio princeps have of marbles-or knuckling down at taw-or been expunged-the whole character of the style trundling a hoop-or pall-lall-or pitch and corrected without being thereby improved—just toss—or any other of the games of the school jike the later editions of the Pleasures of Ima- playground. We restrict ourselves to what, gination, which were written by Akenside when somewhat inaccurately perhaps, are called he was about twenty-one, and altered by him field-sports. Thus angling seems the earliest at forty-to the exclusion or destruction of of them all in the order of nature. There the many most splendida vilia, by which process new-breeched urchin stands on the low bridge the poem, in our humble opinion, was shorn of the little bit burnie! and with crooked pin, of its brightest beams, and suffered disastrous baited with one unwrithing ring of a dead worm, twilight and eclipse-perplexing critics. and attached to a yarn-thread-for he has not

Now, seeing that such pastimes are in num- yet got into hair, and is years off gut-his rod ber almost infinite, and infinite the varieties of l of the mere willow or hazel wand, there will

he stand during all his play-hours, as forget- / was possible, and dashing upon him like an ful of his primer as if the weary art of print- osprey, soars up with him in his talons to the ing had never been invented, day after day, bank, breaking his life as he hurries off to a week after week, month after month, in mute, spot of safely twenty yards from the pool, and deep, earnest, passionate, heart-mind-and-soul- then iinging him down on a heath-surrounded engrossing hope of some time or other catch plat of sheep-nibbled verdure, lets him bounce ing a minnow or a beardie! A tug-a tug! about till he is tired, and lies gasping with unWith face ten times flushed and pale by turns frequent and feeble motions, bright and beautiere you could count ten, he at last has strength, ful, and glorious with all his yellow light and in the agitation of his fear and joy, to pull away crimson lustre, spotted, speckled, and starred at the monster—and there he lies in his beauty in his scaly splendour, beneath a sun that never among the gowans and the greensward, for he shone before so dazzingly: but now the rahas whapped him right over his head and far diance of the captive creature is dimmer and away, a fish a quarter of an ounce in weight, obscured, for the eye of day winks and seems and, at the very least, two inches long! Off he almost shut behind that slow-sailing mass of flies, on wings of wind, to his father, mother, clouds, composed in equal parts of air, rain, and sisters and brothers, and cousins, and all and sunshine. the neighbourhood, holding the fish aloft in Springs, summers, autumns, winters-each both hands, still fearful of its escape, and, like within itself longer, by many times longer than a genuine child of corruption, his eyes brighten the whole year of grown-up life, that slips at at the first blush of cold blood on his small last through one's fingers like a knotless thread fumy fingers. He carries about with him, up- -pass over the curled darling's brow; and stairs and down-stairs, his prey upon a plate; look at him now, a straight and strengthy striphe will not wash his hands before dinner, for ling, in the savage spirit of sport, springing he exults in the silver scales adhering to the over rock-ledge after rock-ledge, nor heeding thumb-nail that scooped the pin out of the aught as he plashes knee-deep, or waistbandbaggy's maw-and at night, “cabin'd, cribb’d, high, through river-feeding torrents, to the gloconfined,” he is overheard murmuring in his rious music of his running and ringing reel, sleep-a thief, a robber, and a murderer, in his after a tongue-hooked salmon, insanely seeking yet infant dreams!

with the ebb of tide, but all in vain, the white From that hour Angling is no more a mere breakers of the sea. No hazel or willow wand, delightful day-dream, haunted by the dim hopes no half-crown rod of ash framed by village of imaginary minnows, but a reality-an art-wright, is now in his practised hands, of which a science-of which the flaxen-headed school- the very left is dexterous; but a twenty-feet boy feels himself to be master-a mystery in rod of Phin's, all ring-rustling, and a-glitter which he has been initiated; and off he goes with the preserving varnish, limber as the atnow all alone, in the power of successful pas. tenuating line itself, and lithe to its topmost sion to the distant brook-brook a mile off - tenuity as the elephant's proboscis-the hiccory with fields, and hedges, and single trees, and and the horn without twist, knot, or flaw-from little groves, and a huge forest of six acres, be- butt to fly a faultless taper, “fine by degrees tween it and the house in which he is boarded and beautifully less," the beau-ideal of a rod or was born! There flows on the slender music by the skill of cunning craftsman to the senses of the shadowy shallows—there pours the materialized! A fish-fat, fair, and forty! “She deeper din of the birch-tree'd waterfall. The is a salmon, therefore to be woo'd-she is a scared water-pyet flits away from stone to stone, salmon, therefore to be won"—but shy, timid, and dipping, disappears among the airy bubbles, capricious, headstrong, now wrathful and now to him a new sight of joy and wonder. And oh ! full of fear, like any other female whom the how sweet the scent of the broom or furze, yel cruel artist has hooked by lip or heart, and, in lowing along the braes, where leap the lambs, spite of all her struggling, will bring to the less happy than he, on the knolls of sunshine! gasp at last; and then with calm eyes behold His grandfather has given him a half-crown rod her lying in the shade dead or worse than dead, in two pieces-yes, his line is of hair twisted-fast-fading, and to be re-illumined no more the plaited by his own soon-instructed little fingers. lustre of her beauty, insensible to sun or By Heavens, he is fishing with the fly! And shower, even the most perishable of all perishthe Fates, who, grim and grisly as they are able things in a world of perishing !-But the painted to be by full-grown, ungrateful, lying salmon has grown sulky, and must be made to poets, smile like angels upon the paidler in the spring to the plunging-stone. There, suddenly, brook, winnowing the air with their wings into instinct with new passion, she shoots out of western breezes, while at the very first throw the foam like a bar of silver bullion; and, rethe yellow trout forsakes his fastness beneath lasping into the flood, is in another moment at the bog-wood, and with a lazy wallop, and the very head of the water fall! Give her the then a sudden plunge, and then a race like butt-give her the butt-or she is gone for ever lightning, changes at once the child into the with the thunder into ten fathom deep!-Now bry, and shoots through his thrilling and aching comes the trial of your tackle--and when was heart the ecstasy of a new life expanding in Phin ever known to fail at the edge of cliff or that glorious pastime, even as a rainbow on a cataract? Her snout is southwards-right up sudden brightens up the sky. Fortuna favet the middle of the main current of the hill-born fortibus—and with one long pull, and strong river, as if she would seek its very course pull, and pull altogether, Johnny lands a twelve- where she was spawned! She still swims incher on the soft, smooth, silvery sand of the swist, and strong, and deep--and the line goes only bay in all the burn where such an exploit steady, boys, steady-stiff and steady as a Tory

in the roar of Opposition. There is yet in stem and round in head, visible and audible an hour's play in her dorsal fin--danger in too from afar the bee-resounding umbrage, the flap of her tail-and yet may her silver alike on stormy sea-coast and in sheltered inshoulder shatter the gut against a rock. land vale, still loving the roof of the fisherWhy the river was yesterday in spate, and she man's or peasant's cottage. is fresh run from the sea. All the lesser Then comes, perhaps, the city pop-gun, in waterfalls are now level with the flood, and shape like a very musket, such as soldiers she meets with no impediment or obstruction bear—a Christmas present from parent, once -the course is clear-no tree-roots here-no a colonel of volunteers-nor feeble to discharge floating branches-for during the night they the pea-bullet or barley-shot, formidable to face have all been swept down to the salt loch. and eyes; nor yet unfelt, at six paces, by hinIn medio tutissimas ibis—ay, now you feel she der-end of playmate, scornfully yet fearfully begins to fail-the butt tells now every time exposed. But the shooter soon tires of such you deliver your right. What! another mad ineffectual trigger-and his soul, as well as leap! yet another sullen plunge! She seems his bair, is set on fire by that extraordinary absolutely to have discovered, or rather to be compound-Gunpowder. He begins with burnan impersonation of, the Perpetual Motion. ing off his eyebrows on the King's birthday; Stand back out of the way, you son of a sea-squibs and crackers follow, and all the pleacook!-you in the tattered blue breeches, with sures of the pluff

. But he soon longs to let the tail of your shirt hanging out. Who the off a gun—"and follow to the field some wardevil sent you all here, ye vagabonds ?-Ha! like lord”-in hopes of being allowed to disWatty Ritchie, my man, is that you! God charge one of the double-barrels, after Ponto bless your honest laughing phiz! What Watty, has made his last point, and the half-hidden would you think of a Fish like that about chimneys of home are again seen smoking Peebles! Tam Grieve never gruppit sae heavy among the trees. This is his first practice in a ane since first he belanged to the Council. - fire arms, and from that hour he is-a Shooter. Curse that colley! Ay! well done, Watty ! Then there is in most rural parishes-and Stone him to Stobbo. Confound these stirks- of rural parishes alone do we condescend to if that white one, with caving horns, kicking speak-a pistol, a horse one, with a bit of silver heels, and straight-up tail, come bellowing by on the butt-perhaps one that originally served between us and the river, then, “Madam! all in the Scots Greys. It is bought, or borrowed, is lost, except honour!" If we lose this Fish by the young shooter, who begins firing first at six o'clock, then suicide at seven. Our will at barn-doors, then at trees, and then at living is made-ten thousand to the Foundling-ditto things—a strange cur, who, from his lolling to the Thames Tunnel-ha-ha-my Beauty! tongue may be supposed to have the hydrophobia Methinks we could fain and fond kiss thy silver -a cat that has purred herself asleep on the side, languidly lying afloat on the foam as if sunny churchyard wall, or is watching mice at all further resistance now were vain, and grace- their hole-mouths among the graves—a waterfully thou wert surrendering thyself to death! rat in the mill-lead-or weasel that, running to No faith in female-she trusts to the last trial his retreat in the wall, always turns round to look of her tail-sweetly workest thou, O Reel of at you-a goose wandered from his common Reels! and on thy smooth axle spinning in disappointed love-or brown duck, easily sleep'st, even, as Milion describes her, like our mistaken by the unscrupulous for a wild one, own worthy planet. Scrope-Bainbridge- in pond remote from human dwelling, or on Maule-princes among Anglers-oh! that you meadow by the river side, away from the clack were here! Where the devil is Sir Humphry? of the muter-mill

. The corby-crow, too, shoutAt his retort? By mysterious sympathy-far ed out of his nest on some tree lower than off at his own Trows, the Kerss feels that we usual, is a good flying mark to the more adare killing the noblest fish whose back ever vanced class : or morning magpie, a-chatter rippled the surface of deep or shallow in the at skreigh of day close to the cottage door Tweed. 'Tom Purdy stands like a seer, en- among the chickens; or a flock of pigeons tranced in glorious vision, beside turreted Ab- wheeling overhead on the stubble field, or sitbotsford. Shade of Sandy Govan! Alas! alas! ting so thick together, that every stock is blue L'oor Sandy-why on thy pale face that melan- with tempting plumage. choly smile!-Peter! The Gaff! The Gaff! But the pistol is discharged for a fowling Into the edily she sails, sick and slow, and al-piece-brown and rusty, with a slight crack most with a swirl—whitening as she nears the probably in the muzzle, and a lock out of all sand-here she has it-struck right into the proportion to the barrel. Then the young shoulder, fairer than that of Juno, Diana, Mi- shooter aspires at halfpennies thrown up into nerva, or Venus—and lies at last in all her glo- the air—and generally hit, for there is never rions length and breadth of beaming beauty, wanting an apparent dent in copper metal; fit prey for giant or demigod angling before and thence he mounts to the glancing and the Flood!

skimming swallow, a household bird, and there* The child is father of the man,

fore to be held sacred, but shot at on the excuse And I would wish my days to be

of its being next to impossible to hit him—an Bound each to each by natural piety!"

opinion strengthened into belief by several So much for the Angler. The Shooter, summers' practice. But the small brown and again, he begins with his pipe-gun, formed of white marten wheeling through below the the last year's growth of a branch of the plane- bridge, or along the many-holed red sand-bank, tree-the beautiful dark-green-leaved and fra- is admitted by all boys to be fair game-and grant-flowered plane-tree—that stands straight still more, the longed-winged legless black

« PredošláPokračovať »