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MARQUIS SPINETO ON HIEROGLYPHICS,
CLOSE OF THE LONDON SEASON,
THE BACHELOR'S BEAT. No. IV. A DAY AT THE SEA-SIDE,
CASTLE OF TIME. A VISION. BY DELTA,
THE OLD SYSTEM OF TRADE and the New One,
WORKS PREPARING FOR PUBLICATION,
MONTHLY LIST OF NEW PUBLICATIONS,
APPOINTMENTS, PROMOTIONS, &c.
BIRTHS, MARRIAGES, AND Deaths,
WILLIAM BLACKWOOD, no. 17, prince's street, Edinburgh; AND T. CADELL, strand, LONDON;
To whom Communications (post paid) may be addressed.
SOLD ALSO BY ALL THE BOOKSELLERS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM.
PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND CO. EDINBURGH.
CHRISTOPHER IN HIS SPORTING JACKET.
WE delight, as all the world has long well known, in every kind of fishing, from the whale to the minnow; but we also delight, as all the world now well knows, in every kind of fowling, from the roc to the wren. Not that we ever killed either a roc or a wren; but what comes to the same thing, we have, on two occasions, by design brought down an eagle, and, on one occasion, accidentally le velled a tom-tit. In short, we are considerable shakes of a shot-and, should any one of our readers doubt the fact, his scepticism will probably be removed by a perusal of the following Article.
There is a fine and beautiful alliance between all pastimes pursued on flood and field and fell. The principles in human nature on which they are pursued, are in all the same; but those principles are subject to infinite modifications and varieties, according to the difference of individual and national character. All such pastimes, whether followed merely as pastimes, or as professions, or as the immediate means of sustaining life, require sense, sagacity, and knowledge of nature and nature's laws; nor less, patience, perseverance, courage even, and bodily strength or activity, while the spirit which animates and supports them is a spirit of anxiety, doubt, fear, hope, joy, exultation, and triumph,-in the VOL. XXIV.
heart of the young a fierce passion,
Now, seeing that these pastimes are
in number almost infinite, and infinite the varieties of human character, pray what is there at all surprising in your being madly fond of shooting-and your brother Tom just as foolish about fishing-and cousin Jack perfectly insane on fox-hunting-while the old gentleman your father, in spite of wind and weather, perennial gout and annual apoplexy, goes a-coursing of the white-hipped hare on the bleak Yorkshire wolds-and uncle Ben, as if just escaped from Bedlam or St Luke's, with Dr Haslam at his heels, or with a few hundred yards' start of Dr Warburton, is seen galloping, in a Welsh wig and strange apparel, in the rear of a pack of Lilliputian beagles, all barking as if they were as mad as their master, supposed to be in chase of an invisible animal that keeps eternally doubling in field and forest "still hoped for, never seen," and well christened by the name of Escape?
Phrenology sets the question for ever at rest. All people have thirtythree faculties. Now there are but twenty-four letters in the alphabet yet how many languages-some six thousand we believe, each of which is susceptible of many dialects!
No wonder then that you might as well try to count all the sands on the sea shore as all the species of sportsmen.
There is, therefore, nothing to prevent any man with a large and sound developement from excelling, at once, in rat-catching and deer-stalking from being in short a universal genius in sports and pastimes. Heaven has made us such a man.
Yet there seems to be a natural course or progress in pastimes. We do not speak now of marbles-or knuckling down at taw-or trundling a hoop-or pall-lall1-or pitch and toss or any other of the games of the school play-ground. We restrict ourselves to what, somewhat inaccurately perhaps, are called field-sports. Thus Angling seems the earliest of them all in the order of nature. There the new-breeched urchin stands on the low bridge of the little bit burnie! and with crooked pin, baited with one unwrithing ring of a dead worm, and attached to a yarn-thread, for he has not yet got into hair, and is years off gut, his rod of the mere willow or hazel wand, there will he stand during all his play-hours, as forgetful of his primer as if the weary art of printing
had never been invented, day after day, week after week, month after month, in mute, deep, earnest, passionate, heart-mind-and-soul-engrossing hope of some time or other catching a minnow or a beardie! A tug-a tug! with face ten times flushed and pale by turns ere you could count ten, he at last has strength, in the agitation of his fear and joy, to pull away at the monster-and there he lies in his beauty among the gowans on the greensward, for he has whapped him right over his head and far away, a fish a quarter of an ounce in weight, and, at the very least, two inches long! Off he flies, on wings of wind, to his father, mother, and sisters, and brothers, and cousins, and all the neighbourhood, holding the fish aloft in both hands, still fearful of its escape, and, like a genuine child of corruption, his eyes brighten at the first blush of cold blood on his small fishy-fumy fingers. He carries about with him, up stairs and down stairs, his prey upon a plate; he will not wash his hands before dinner, for he exults in the silver scales adhering to the thumbnail that scooped the pin out of the baggy's maw-and at night, " cabin'd, cribb'd, confined," he is overheard murmuring in his sleep, a thief, a robber, and a murderer, in his yet infant dreams!
From that hour Angling is no more a mere delightful day-dream, haunted by the dim hopes of imaginary minnows,
but a reality-an art-a science of which the flaxen-headed schoolboy feels himself to be master-a mystery in which he has been initiated; and off he goes now, all alone, in the power of successful passion, to the distant brook-brook a mile off —with fields, and hedges, and single trees, and little groves, and a huge forest of six acres, between and the house in which he is boarded or was born! There flows on the slender music of the shadowy shallows-there pours the deeper din of the birchtree'd waterfall. The scared waterpyet flits away from stone to stone, and dipping, disappears among the airy bubbles, to him a new sight of joy and wonder. And oh! how sweet the scent of the broom or furze, yellowing along the braes, where leap the lambs, less happy than he, on the knolls of sunshine! His grandfather has given him a half-crown rod in two
pieces-yes, his line is of hair twisted-platted by his own soon-instructed little fingers. By heavens, he is fishing with the fly! and the Fates, who, grim and grisly as they are painted to be by full-grown, ungrateful, lying poets, smile like angels upon the paid ler in the brook, winnowing the air with their wings into western breezes, while at the very first throw the yel low trout forsakes his fastness beneath the bog-wood, and with a lazy wallop, and then a sudden plunge, and then a race like lightning, changes at once the child into the boy, and shoots through his thrilling and aching heart the ecstasy of a new life expanding in that glorious pastime, even as a rainbow on a sudden brightens up the sky. Fortuna favet fortibus--and with one long pull and strong pull, and pull all together, Johnny lands a twelve-incher on the soft, smooth, silvery sand of the only bay in all the burn where such an exploit was possible, and dashing upon him like an Osprey, soars up with him in his talons to the bank, breaking his line as he hurries off to a spot of safety twenty yards from the pool, and then flinging him down on a heath-surrounded plat of sheep-nibbled verdure, lets him bounce about till he is tired, and lies gasping with unfrequent and feeble motions, bright and beautiful, and glorious with all his yellow light, and crimson lustre, spotted, speckled, and starred in his scaly splendour, beneath a sun that never shone before so dazzlingly; but now the radiance of the captive creature is dimmer and obscured, for the eye of day winks and seems almost shut behind that slow-sailing mass of clouds, composed in equal parts of air, rain, and sunshine.
Springs, summers, autumns, winters, each within itself longer, by many times longer than the whole year of grown-up life that slips at last through one's fingers like a knotless thread,-pass over the curled darling's brow; and look at him now, a straight and strengthy stripling, in the savage spirit of sport, springing over rock-ledge after rock-ledge, nor heeding aught as he plashes knee-deep, or waistband-high, through river-feeding torrents, to the glorious music of his running and ringing reel, after a tongue-hooked salmon, insanely seeking with the ebb of tide, but all in vain, the white breakers of the sea.
No hazel or willow wand, no halfcrown rod of ash framed by village wright, is now in his practised hands, of which the very left is dexterous; but a twenty-feet rod of Phin's, all ring-rustling, and a-glitter with the preserving varnish, limber as the attenuating line itself, and lithe to its topmost tenuity as the elephant's proboscis-the hiccory and the horn without twist, knot, or flaw, from butt to fly, a faultless taper, "fine by degrees and beautifully less," the beau ideal of a rod by the skill of a cunning craftsman to the senses materialised! A Fish—fat, fair, and forty!" She is a salmon, therefore to be woo'd-she is a salmon, therefore to be won"-but shy, timid, capricious, headstrong, now wrathful and now full of fear, like any other female whom the cruel artist has hooked by lip or heart, and, in spite of all her struggling, will bring to the gasp at last; and then with calm eyes behold her lying in the shade dead or worse than dead, fast-fading and to be reillumined no more the lustre of her beauty, insensible to sun or shower, even the most perishable of all perishable things in a world of perishing!-But the salmon has grown sulky, and must be made to spring to the plunging stone. There, suddenly, instinct with new passion, she shoots out of the foam, like a bar of silver bullion; and, relapsing into the flood, is in another moment at the very head of the waterfall! Give her the butt-give her the butt-or she is gone for ever with the thunder into ten fathom deep! Now comes the trial of your tackle-and when was Phin ever known to fail at the edge of cliff or cataract? Her snout is southwards -right up the middle of the main current of the hill-born river, as if she would seek its very course where she was spawned! She still swims swift, and strong, and deep-and the line goes, steady, boys, steady-stiff and steady as a Tory in the roar of Opposition. There is yet an hour's play in her dorsal fin-danger in the flap of her tail-and yet may her silver shoulder shatter the gut against a rock. Why, the river was yesterday in spate, and she is fresh run from the sea. All the lesser waterfalls are now level with the flood, and she meets with no impediment or obstructionthe course is clear-no tree-roots here --no floating branches--for during the