« PreviousContinue »
THE CONTEMPLATIVE MAN'S RECREATION;
A Conference between a Country-Gentleman a Proficient in Fly-fishing, and a Traveller.
PISCATOR JUNIOR, AND VIATOR.
PISC. You are happily overtaken, Sir: may a man be so bold as to inquire how far you travel this way?
VIAT. Yes sure, Sir, very freely; though it be a question I cannot very well resolve you, as not knowing myself how far it is to Ashborn, where I intend to-night to take up my inn.
PISC. Why then, Sir, seeing I perceive you to be a stranger in these parts, I shall take upon me to inform you, that from the town you last came through, called Brelsford, it is five miles; and you are not yet above half a mile on this side.*
VIAT. So much? I was told it was but ten miles from Derby; and, methinks, I have rode almost so far already.
Pisc. O, Sir, find no fault with large measure of good land, which Derbyshire abounds in, as much as most counties of England.
Brelsford, or Brailsford, as it is now called, is six miles from Ashbourn, and Ashbourn thirteen miles from Derby.
VIAT. It may be so; and good land, I confess, affords a pleasant prospect: but, by your good leave, Sir, large measure of foul way is not altogether so acceptable.
PISC. True, Sir; but the foul way serves to justify the fertility of the soil according to the proverb, "There is good land where there is foul way;" and is of good use to inform you of the riches of the country you are come into, and of its continual travel and traffic to the country town you came from; which is also very observable by the fulness of its road, and the loaden horses you meet everywhere upon the way.
VIAT. Well, Sir, I will be content to think as well of your country as you would desire; and I shall have a great deal of reason both to think and to speak very well of you, if I may obtain the happiness of your company to the forementioned place, provided your affairs lead you that way, and that they will permit you to slack your pace, out of complacency to a traveller utterly a stranger in these parts, and who am still to wander further out of my own knowledge.
Pisc. Sir, you invite me to my own advantage, and I am ready to attend you, my way lying through that town; but my business, that is, my home, some miles beyond it: however, I shall have time enough to lodge you in your quarters, and afterwards to perform my own journey. In the meantime, may I be so bold as to inquire the end of your journey?
VIAT. It is into Lancashire, Sir, and about some business of concern to a near relation of mine: for, I assure you, I do not use to take so long journeys, as from Essex, upon the single account of pleasure.
Pisc. From thence, Sir, I do not then wonder you should appear dissatisfied with the length of the miles and the foulness of the way; though I am sorry you should begin to quarrel with them so soon; for, believe me, Sir, you will find the miles much longer, and the way much worse, before you come to your journey's end.
VIAT. Why truly, Sir, for that I am prepared to expect the worst; but, methinks, the way is mended since I had the good fortune to fall into your good company.
Pisc. You are not obliged to my company for that, but because
you are already past the worst, and the greatest part of your way to your lodging.
VIAT. I am very glad to hear it, both for the ease of myself and my horse; but especially because I may then expect a freer enjoyment of your conversation; though the shortness of the way will, I fear, make me lose it the sooner.
PISC. That, Sir, is not worth your care; and I am sure you deserve much better for being content with so ill company: but we have talked away two miles of your journey; for, from the brook before us, that runs at the foot of this sandy hill, you have but three miles to Ashborn.*
VIAT. I meet everywhere in this country with these little brooks, and they look as if they were full of fish have they not trouts in them?
PISC. That is a question which is to be excused in a stranger, as you are; otherwise, give me leave to tell you, it would seem a kind of affront to our country, to make a doubt of what we pretend to be famous for, next, if not before, our malt, wool, lead, and coal for you are to understand, that we think we have as many fine rivers, rivulets, and brooks as any country whatever; and they are all full of trouts, and some of them the best, it is said, by many degrees, in England.
VIAT. I was first, Sir, in love with you; and now shall be so enamored of your country by this account you give me of it, as to wish myself a Derbyshire man, or at least that I might live in it for you must know I am a pretender to the angle, and, doubtless, a trout affords the most pleasure to an angler of any sort of fish whatever; and the best trouts must needs make the best sport but this brook, and some others I have met with upon this way, are too full of wood for that recreation.
Pisc. This, Sir! why this, and several others like it which you have passed, and some that you are like to pass, have scarce any name amongst us: but we can show you as fine rivers, and as clear from wood, or any other encumbrance to hinder an angler,
"The sandy hill and brook described by Cotton does not produce a subject (for a sketch) illustrative of the angler, though the scenery is beautiful." Journey to Beresford Hall, by W. Alexander, F. S. A. and L. S.-Am. Ed.
as any you ever saw; and for clear, beautiful streams, Hantshire itself, by Mr. Izaak Walton's good leave, can show none such; nor, I think, any country in Europe.
VIAT. You go far, Sir, in the praise of your country rivers, and, I perceive, have read Mr. Walton's Complete Angler, by your naming of Hantshire; and, I pray, what is your opinion of that book?
PISC. My opinion of Mr. Walton's book is the same with every man's that understands anything of the art of angling, that it is an excellent good one, and that the fore mentioned gentleman understands as much of fish and fishing as any man living; but I must tell you further, that I have the happiness to know his person, and to be intimately acquainted with him, and in him to know the worthiest man, and to enjoy the best and the truest friend any man ever had; nay, I shall yet acquaint you further, that he gives me leave to call him father, and I hope is not yet ashamed to own me for his adopted son.
VIAT. In earnest, Sir, I am ravished to meet with a friend of Mr. Izaak Walton's, and one that does him so much right in so good and true a character; for I must boast to you, that I have the good fortune to know him too, and came acquainted with him much after the same manner I do with you; that he was my master, who first taught me to love angling, and then to become an angler: and, to be plain with you, I am the very man deciphered in his book under the name of Venator; for I was wholly addicted to the chase, till he taught me as good, a more quiet, innocent, and less dangerous diversion.*
But if the breathless chase o'er hill and dale
When life was new,
Sportive and petulant, and charmed with toys,
In th' transparent eddies have I lav'd,
And traced with patient steps the fairy banks,