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of the atmosphere I could see the stag and his pursuers 'scouring across the distant plain, like a pigmy pageant, long after I had lost the sound of the horns and the baying of the dogs. A man must have been abroad to form an idea of this lucidness and transparency, which confers upon him a new sense, or at least enlarges an old one by the additional tracts of country which it places within his visual grasp, and the heightened hues with which the wide horizon is invested by the crystal medium through which it is surveyed. I feel this extension of power with a more emphatic complacency, because it seems to impart a warmer zest to religious impressions ; though I suspect novelty contributes liberally to the result, as I do not by any means find a correspondent fervour in those who have passed their lives in this delightful climate.
In the unfavoured regions, where Heaven seems to look with a scowling eye upon the earth, and the hand of a tremendous Deity is perpetually stretched forth to wield the thunder and the storm, men not only learn to reverence the power on whose mercy they feel themselves to be hourly dependant, but instinctively turn from the hardships and privations of this world to the hope of more genial' skies and luxurious sensations in the next. The warmth of religion is frequently in proportion to the external cold ; the more the body shivers, the more the mind wraps itself up in ideal furs, and revels in imaginary sunshine ; and it is remarkable, that in every creed, climate forms an essential feature in the rewards or punishments of a future state. The Scandinavian hell was placed amid "chilling regions of thick-ribbed ice," while the attraction of the Mahometan Paradise is the coolness of its shady groves. By the lot of humanity, there is no proportion between the extremes of pleasure and pain. No enjoyment can be set off against an acute tooth-ache, much less against the amputation of . limb, or many permanent diseases; and our distributions of a fare state strikingly attest this inherent inequality. The torments are intelligible and distinct enough, and lack not a tangible conception; but the beatitudes are shadowy and indefinite, and, for want of some expezimental standard by which to estimate them, are little better than abstractions.
In the temperate and delicious climates of the earth, which ought to operate as perpetual stimulants to grateful piety, there is, I apprehend, too much enjoyment to leave room for any great portion of religious fervour. The inhabitants are too well satisfied with this world to look much beyond it. "I have no objection," said an English sailor, " to pray upon the occasion of a storm or a battle, but they make us say prayers on board our ship when it is the finest weather possible, and not an enemy's flag to be seen !" This is but a blind aggravation of a prevalent feeling among mankind, when the very blessings we enjoy, by attaching us to earth, render us almost indifferent to heaven. When they were comforting a King of France upon his death-bed with assurances of a perennial throne amid the regions of the blessed, he replied, with a melancholy air, that he was perfectly satisfied with the Thuilleries and France. I myself begin to feel the enervating effects of climate, for there has not been a single morning, in this country, in which I could have submitted, with reasonable good humour, to be hanged; while in England, I have experienced many days, in and out of November, when I could have gone through the operation with
stoical indifference; nay, have even felt an extraordinary respect for the Ordinary, and have requested Mr. Ketch to “ accept the assurances of my distinguished consideration” for taking the trouble off my own hands. I am capable of feeling now why the Neapolitans, in the late invasion, boggled about exchanging, upon a mere point of honour, their sunny skies, “ love-breathing woods and lute-resounding waves," and the sight of the dancing Mediterranean, for the silence and darkness of the cold blind tomb. Falstaffs in every thing, they “ like not such grinning honour as Sir Walter hath.” From the same cause, the luxurious Asiatics have always fallen an easy prey to the invader ; while the Arab has invariably been ready to fight for his burning sands, and the Scythian for his snows, not because they overvalued their country, but because its hardships had made them undervalue life. As many men cling to existence to perpetuate pleasures, so there are some who will even court death to procure them. Gibbon records what he terms the enthusiasm of a young Musulman, who threw himself upon the enemy's lances, singing religious hymns, proclaiming that he saw the black-eyed Houris of Paradise waiting with open arms to embrace him, and cheerfully sought destruction that he might revel in lasciviousness. This is not the fine courage of principle, nor the fervour of patriotism, but the drunkenness of sensuality. The cunning device of Mahomet, in offering a posthumous bonus to those who would have their throats cut for the furtherance of his ambition, was but an imitation of Odin and other northern butchers; and what is glory in its vulgar acceptation, stars, crosses, ribbons, titles, public funerals, and national monuments, but the blinding baubles with which more legitimate slaughterers lure on dupes and victims to their own destruction? These sceptred jugglers shall never coax a bayonet into my body, nor wheedle a bullet into my brain ; for I had rather go
without rest altogether, than sleep in the bed of honour. So far from understanding the ambition of being turned to dust, I hold with the old adage about the living dog and the dead lion. I am pigeon-livered, and lack gall to encounter the stern scythe-bearing skeleton. When I return to the land of fogs I may get courage to look him in the skull ; but it unnerves one to think of quitting such delicious skies, and rust-. ling copses, and thick-flowered meads, and Favonian gales as these which now surround me; and it is intolerable to reflect, that yonder blazing sun may shine upon my grave without imparting to me any portion of his cheerful warmth, or that the blackbird, whom I now hear warbling as if his heart were running over with joy, may perch upon my tombstone without my hearing a single note of his song.
As it is probable that the world existed many ages without any inhabitants whatever, was next subjected to the empire of brutes, and now constitutes the dominion of man, it would seem likely, that in its progressive advancement to higher destinies it may ultimately have lords of the creation much superior to ourselves, who may speak compassionately of the degradation it experienced under human possession, and congratulate themselves on the extinction of that pugnacious and mischievous biped called Man. The face of Nature is still young; it exhibits neither wrinkles nor decay; whether radiant with smiles or awfully beautiful in frowns, it is still enchanting, and not less fraught with spiritual than material attractions, if we do but know how to
moralize upon her features and presentments. To consider, for instance, this balmy air which is gently waving the branches of a chesnut-tree before my eyes — what a mysterious element it is ! Powerful enough to shipwreck navies, and tear up the deep-grappling oak, yet so subtle as to be invisible, and so delicate as not to wound the naked eye. Naturally imperishable, who can imagine all the various purposes to which the identical portion may have been applied, which I am at this instant inhaling? Perhaps at the creation it served to modulate into words the sublime command, “ Let there be light," when the blazing sun rolled itself together, and upheaved from chaos :-perhaps impelled by the jealous Zephyrus, it urged Apollo's quoit against the blue-veined forehead of Hyacinthus ;-it may perchance have filled the silken sails of Cleopatra's vessel, as she floated down the Cydnus; or have burst from the mouth of Cicero in the indignant exordium--" Quousque tandem, Catilina, abutêre patientiâ nostrâ ?" or his still more abrupt ex. clamation, "Absit-evasit-excessit--erupit!" It may have given breath to utter the noble dying speeches of Socrates in his prison, of Sir Philip Sidney on the plains of Zutphen, of Russell at the block. But the same inexhaustible element which would supply endless matter for my reflections, may perhaps pass into the mouth of the reader, and be vented in a peevish—“Psha! somewhat too much of this,”— and I shall therefore hasten to take my leave of him, claiming some share of credit, that when so ample a range was before me, my speculations should so soon, like the witches in Macbeth, have“ made themselves air, into which they vanished.”
What to the maid is left below,
When he is gone, she held most dear?
The sigh of anguish-sorrow's tear!
She oft has found delight before?-
Nay, things once pleasing charm no more,
To gain her bosom's former peace?-
'Tis fruitless—now she cannot cease
ON ANGLING; WITH REMARKS ON ISAAC WALTON'S WORK.
“ I mortally hate cruelty, both by nature and judgment, as the very extreme of all vices.”—Montaigne.
“ The savages do not so much offend me in roasting and eating the bodies of the dead, as they do who torment and persecute the living."-Ibid.
“ Nero is an ANGLER in the lake of darkness."-Shakspeare.
WALTON'S “Complete Angler" is a singular work, which has been singularly over-praised. It contains a few descriptive and sentimental passages of extreme beauty, on account of their entire simplicity and truth; and the poetry with which it is interspersed gives, to those who were previously unacquainted with it, a pleasant relief, which in part takes off from the puerile and tedious common-place of the narrative. · But, as a whole, the book is much more admired and talked of than read; and it is read more than it deserves.
But the reason which has induced me to ask the reader's attention to this work at present is, that it exhibits the most striking individual example I have ever met with of the power of habit and education in creating a second nature, which shall, under particular circumstances, put aside for a while, and take the place of, the first, without in any manner changing or deteriorating its general character, or even that particular department of it which has thus occasionally been usurped upon and rendered dormant. Isaac Walton was, generally speaking, the most good-hearted, and, in the very best sense of the term, the most honest of mankind: that is to say, the man who would, least of all others, feel justified in depriving his fellow-creatures of their natural right, merely to benefit himself. And yet Isaac Walton was the most devoted and enthusiastic of anglers! This is nothing less than a contradiction in terms; and yet so it was.
It is not my intention to offer any arguments shewing that angling, as a mere amusement, is not to be justified. I will, for the sake of human nature, suppose that no one will ever attempt to justify it. I even question if any one ever seriously set his wits to seek an excuse for it. It has been attempted, with a specious appearance of success, to palliate and excuse the various other field sports, as they are called, on the score of health, exercise, mental excitation, the sacrifice of the few to the many, the extirpation of noxious animals, &c.; but the sophistry of the most cold blooded of casuists never attempted to apply these arguments to angling. Still less does the angler himself think of bringing them forward. He is, generally speaking, disposed to think of nothing but the best means of accomplishing his object, and if you were to tell him that he is keeping one animal in lingering torments, in order to compass the death of another animal, on which he wantonly inflicts pain and death, he would either stare at you in blank amazement, or laugh in your face, and turn away to put another worm on his hook, and proceed in his sport. And if, when he returned home at the end of it, he should happen to find his little boy spinning a cockchafer, he would, perhaps, be very angry with him, and beat him for being so cruel.” Indeed, for the angler himself I can always find an excuse in Dean Swift's jest on the subject, which describes the whole process as consisting of
a stick and a string, with a fly at one end, and a fool at the other.” But this excuse of folly will not apply to some amateurs of angling, and least of all to Isaac Walton. He was not a fool ;" but,
on the contrary, a sensible and meditative man, and, in the main, an extremely kind-hearted one. He had also a deep and unaffected love for the beauties of external nature, and an eye quick to discriminate them, when they were placed before it-an eye not weakened or jaundiced even by his dwelling in that spring of all mental disease-a large and vicious city. What then shall we say to him ?
Let us first look into this celebrated work of his, and see of what it chiefly consists; and then, after having contrasted together the traits of its cruelty with what may by some be considered as its redeeming parts, let us inquire whether these latter do not aggravate the former
, instead of extenuating them. It makes us doubt the goodness of our common nature, and look with fear and suspicion on all around useven the best. The reader, who may not have previously thought on this subject, must abstain from accusing or suspecting me of expressing myself extravagantly, till he has seen what I have to lay before him in justification of my feelings. But if, when I shall have done this, he be not ready to confess that it is he, and not I, who has all along been practising a self-deceit, I may safely promise that I will, as the greatest and most appropriate penance that can be inflicted on my folly, turn angler myself.
The reader is to understand, that " The Complete Angler" is written in the form of dialogues, and chiefly consists of the conversations which are supposed to take place between an accomplished angler and his pupil, while they are out together on a fishing-excursion. In the course of these dialogues, the author, under the name of Piscator, lays before his young friend all the advantages and pleasures attendant on his favourite pursuit, and the rules and remarks necessary for him to attend to, if he would follow it with success.
That I may, as well on the reader's account as my own, get over the unpleasant part
task as soon as possible, I shall at once place before him a few of the directions which Walton gives relative to live baits, &c. · After telling his pupil that, if he cannot easily find a live grasshopper, "a black snail, with his belly slit to shew his white, will usually do as well,” or a beetle, with its legs and wings cut off,"he adds, more in detail, and with reference to the baits for another fish, “ First, for your live bait of a fish, a roach or dace is, I think, most tempting, and a pearch is longest-lived upon the hook ; and having cut off his fin on his back, which may be done without hurting him, you must take your knife, which cannot be too sharp, and betwixt the head and the fin on the back, cut or make an incision, or such a scar as you may put the arming wire of your hook into it, with as little bruising or hurting the fish as art and diligence will enable you to do; and so carrying your arming wire along his back, unto or near the tail of your fish, betwixt the skin and the body of it, draw out that wire or arming of your hook at another scar near his tail : then tie him about it with thread, but no harder than of necessity, to prevent hurting the fish; and the better to avoid hurting the fish, some have a kind of probe to open the way, for the more easy entrance and
your wire or arming."- Again, of frogs-" And thus use your frog, that he may continue long alire. Put your hook into his mouth, which you may easily do from the middle of April till August, and then the frog's mouth grows up, and he continues so for at least six months without