Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

dressed not to the readers of the book, but “to my dear friend Mr. Iz. Walton, in praise of Angling, which we both love,” it admits of no inference as to the time when the treatise was written,

Some of the lines in the verses of the two Flouds are deserving of notice. The elder, John Floud, has well described the Complete Angler by saying that

« There's none so low
Or highly learn'd, to whom hence may not flow,
Pleasure and information : both which are
Taught us with so much art, that I might swear
Safely, the choicest critic cannot tell,
Whether your matchless judgment most excel
In Angling or its praise ; where commendation

First charms, then makes an art a recreation.” Robert Floud's remarks on the resemblance between Walton and his work, is the testimony of an intimate acquaintance to a fact, of which every reader of the book must be conscious; and which is corroborated by Walton's saying, that the “whole discourse is a kind of picture of my own disposition :" « This book is so like you,

and
you

like it,
For harmless mirth, expression, art, and wit,
That I protest ingenuously, 'tis true,

I love this mirth, art, wit, the book, and you." The Dialogue, which is extended by one hundred pages of new matter, is sustained by three, instead of two persons; namely, an angler, a falconer, and a hunter, under the names of Piscator, Venator, and Auceps, Viator,” who was the second individual of the dramatis persona of the first edition, disappears; and the conversation commences with remarks from each of the interlocutors in praise of his own pursuit. Tottenham Hill is still the place, and the morning of May-day the time of their meeting; and the following account of the plan of the work may be considered interesting, because the directions respecting Angling, and the numerous quotations and songs which are introduced, divert the reader's attention from the regular order of events.

Piscator, in ascending Tottenham Hill on a fishing excursion, overtakes Venator a huntsman, and Auceps a falconer, and after the usual compliments he expresses a hope that they were going towards Ware. Venator replies

8

that he is going to the Thatched House in Hoddesden, where he has appointed some friends to meet him ; and Auceps says he will accompany them as far as Theobalds, and there leave them, as he must then turn off to a friend's house, who mews a hawk for him, which he wishes to see. They agree to proceed together, and Venator observes, in answer to Piscator, that a little business and more pleasure was the occasion of his journey, for after devoting that day to the former, he intended to bestow another day or two in hunting an otter; on which Piscator remarks that “his fortune has answered his desires," as he wished also to employ a day or two in destroying “ those villanous vermin” the otters, which he “hated perfectly, because they loved fish so well ;” and adds, that in his opinion all men who “keep otter-dogs ought to have pensions from the Commonwealth,” which expression is changed in the third edition, printed after the Restoration, to “pensions from the King.” Venator slily replies, “ But what say you to the foxes of the Nation, would not you as willingły have them destroyed, for doubtless they do as much mischief as otters do?”—a political allusion, of which the whole point cannot now be understood; but Piscator waives the subject by rejoining, “ Oh, Sir, if they do, it is not so much to me and my fraternity as those vile vermin the otters do.” On the hunter's and falconer's speaking slightingly of Angling, Piscator observes with much justice, “You know, Gentlemen, 'tis an easy thing to scoff at any art or recreation; a little wit mixed with ill-nature, confidence, and malice, will do it, but though they often venture boldly, yet they are often caught even in their own trap.” This produces a challenge that each shall say what he can in favour of his own pursuit; and a dissertation accordingly follows upon Hunting, Hawking, and Angling. Piscator's observations are, as might be expected, the longest ; and his discourse is illustrated by passages from numerous authors ancient and modern, which, if not always entertaining, show a considerable extent of reading. He also introduced a poem written by Sir Henry Wotton when above seventy years of age, “ as he sat quietly in a summer's evening on a bank a fishing;" and Walton poetically observes, that it " glides as soft and sweetly from his pen, as that river does now by which it was then made."

Auceps leaves them at the park wall of Theobalds; and when Piscator and Venator arrive at the Thatched House, they refresh themselves with a “ civil cup to all the otter-hunters” whom Venator was to meet on the next day, and “to all lovers of Angling.” Venator then proposes that Piscator should meet him on the morrow, and spend that day in otter-hunting; upon which condition he would pass the two ensuing days with Piscator, and “ do nothing but angle and talk of fish and fishing.” Piscator readily agrees, and his promise to be at Amwell Hill before sun-rise the next morning terminates the proceedings of the First day.

Piscator and Venator meet at the appointed hour, on the 2nd of May, on Amwell Hill. They join the other huntsmen : the otter is caught; and a conversation ensues respecting those animals.

Piscator begs for a young otter for the purpose of taming it; and one of the huntsmen suggests that they shall “ go to an honest alehduse, where they may have a cup of good barley wine, sing" a well known song called “ Old Rose,' and all of them rejoice together.” Venator invites Piscator to accompany them ; and proposes that he shall

pay

his expenses for that night, and that Piscator shall pay his to-morrow, to which he consents; and the Second day closes.

On the next morning, the 3rd of May, the dialogue commences abruptly by Venator saying, “Well now, let's go to your sport of Angling :” Piscator conducts him to a proper place; and in reply to Venator's questions of “ How he liked their host and the company ? Was not their host a witty man?” says, “ And now to your question concerning your host, to speak truly he is not to me a good companion: for most of his conceits were either Scripture jests, or lascivious jests, for which I count no man witty; for the Devil will help a man that way inclined to the first, and his own corrupt nature (which he always carries with him) to the latter. But a companion that feasts the company with wit and mirth and leaves out the sin (which is usually mixt with them) he is the man; and indeed such a companion should have his charges borne, and to such a company I hope to bring you this night; for at Trout Hall, not far from this place, where I purpose to lodge to-night, there is usually an angler that proves good company. But for such discourse as we heard last night, it infects others, the very boys will learn to talk and swear as they heard mine host, and another of the company that shall be nameless; well, you know what example is able to do, and I know what the poet” says in the like case, which is worthy to be noted by all parents and people of civility :

Many a one
Owes to his country his religion :
And in another would as strongly grow,

Had but his nurse or mother taught him so. “This is reason put into verse, and worthy the consideration of a wise man, But of this no more, for though I love civility, yet I hate severe censures. I'll to my own art, and I doubt not but at yonder tree I shall catch a chub, and then we'll turn to an honest cleanly hostess that I know right well, rest ourselves there, and dress it for our dinner.”

Piscator catches a chub, and conducts Venator “ to an honest alehouse, where they would find a cleanly room, lavender in the windows, and twenty ballads stuck about the wall,” the hostess of which, who was “cleanly, and handsome, and civil,” altered from the first edition, where she is called “ both cleanly and conveniently handsome,' had drest many for him “after his fashion,” and he would “ warrant it good meat.” They dine, and inspired by their good cheer, Venator solicits permission, henceforth, to call Piscator“ Master,” and “ that really he may be his Scholar;" for he adds, “ you are such a companion, and have so quickly caught, and so excellently cooked this fish, as makes me ambitious to be your scholar.” Piscator replies, “Give me your hand, from this time forward I will be your Master, and teach you as much of this art as I am able; and will, as you desire me, tell you somewhat

37 The poet alluded to, from whom these lines are quoted, has not been discovered, but the following imitation of them by Dryden, has been pointed out by an intelligent correspondent to the Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. XCIX. part II. p. 112.

“By education most have been misled,
So they believe, because they were so bred ;
The priest continues what the nurse began,
And thus the child imposes on the man.”

[ocr errors]

of the nature of most of the fish that we are to angle for, and I am sure I both can and will tell you more than any common Angler yet knows."

They return to their amusement, when Piscator describes the manner of fishing for and dressing chubs; and desires Venator to take his rod whilst he sits down to mend his tackling. Venator succeeds in catching a chub, and is rewarded by his master's praises. The discourse then turns upon trout; and one being caught, they set out on their return to the house where they had dined, where they intend to sup and meet Piscator's “ brother Peter, a good angler and a cheerful companion,” as well as a friend whom he brought with him. It is evident that the word “brother” was merely used to denote a member of the fraternity of Anglers, as Piscator speaks of his friend's wishing to be a brother of the angle;" and Peter shortly afterwards drinks to his “young brother's good fortune" on the morrow.

A conversation ensues, in which the house and the manner they intend to spend the evening are described in very natural and pleasing language :

“VENATOR. On my word, Master, this is a gallant trout, what shall we do with him ?

“ Piscator. Marry, e'en eat him to supper: we'll go to my hostess, from whence we came; she told me as I was going out of door, that my brother Peter, a good angler, and a cheerful companion, had sent word he would lodge there to-night, and bring a friend with him. My hostess has two beds, and I know you and I may have the best; we'll rejoice with my brother Peter and his friend, tell tales, or sing ballads, or make a catch, or find some harmless sport to content us, and pass away a little time without offence to God or man. “ VENATOR.

A match, good Master, let's go to that house, for the linen looks white, and smells of lavender, and I long to lie in a pair of sheets that smell so : let's be going, good Master, for I am hungry again with fishing."

Before they return, Piscator catches another loggerheaded chub, which he hangs on a willow twig, and then indulges in the following observations, which are remarkable for their charming simplicity and, to use Sir Walter Scott's expression, for their « Arcadian language:” “ Let's be going. But turn out of the way a little, good Scholar,

« AnteriorContinuar »