Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]



the shore; and yet there stood, leaning against the men we know; he was loaded with gifts of all kinds; railing of the esplanade, a Hindoo, clad in the graceful hospitably entertained in the servants' hall, and finally and picturesque, but very insufficient garb of his native bade us farewell for ever, with the deepest shadow on land. He was a slight delicate-looking man of good his merry face that we had yet seen, leaving us with caste, judging by his complexion and features; his eyes the conviction, that wherever the remainder of his were fixed with a mild thoughtful expression on the pilgrimage might be cast, it would be cheered by a sea, and he held a few tracts in his hand. His presence contented spirit. reminded us forcibly of the brilliant east, towards But we must not close our sketch without giving which our thoughts had turned with vain regret a little instance of counting the sunny hours' in one several times that morning; and approaching him, we of our own nation ; albeit, our slow Anglo-Saxon asked if he did not miss the sunshine.' Ile replied: spirits are, we are bound to acknowledge, more prone •Sun shine here too sometimes, Ma'am Sahib, and to mark the shadow than the sunshine. to-day clouds very pretty!' The reply struck us. We There stood, in our village, an old-fashioned cottage, entered into conversation with the dark browed Asiatic, the property of a maiden lady named Markham, who and found that he was called John, having received was, however, universally called, by all who knew her, baptism from a Christian missionary. He had accom- Miss Sally'—a certain proof of her popularity with panied an English master to his native land, and her neighbours. We are of those who think that there married a very young and pretty English girl; but is a physiognomy in houses, and that the general effect unhappily, shortly afterwards, the gentleman died : his of their appearance helps the observer to some knowfamily, if he had any connections, did not care for or ledge of their occupants' characters. Now, Miss Sally's trouble themselves about his Hindoo attendant, and cottage was precisely the sort of dwelling that, if it the poor fellow, when his last paid wages were gone, had belonged to a miser or a dull fellow,' would have found himself wholly dependent on his wife's labour been a very temple of gloom. The rooms were low, for support; but she was burdened with the care of a with heavy beams across the ceilings; the windows child, and in very delicate health, so he had resolved bad deep seats, and being long and narrow, gave but on trying to get something himself by selling little little light; tall priin poplars shaded the front of the books. • People very kind,' he added; they buy house, and there had been, in former days of superstibooks, and I get bread and meat for the wife and baby, tion, a ghost-legend attached to it; nevertheless, Miss and rice for me. But you must be so cold.' 'No, Sally Markham managed to render it a cheerful home. not very; and then when the sun shine, he great deal Her old-fashioned furniture was always arranged to prettier, because he hide his face before. We grew in the best advantage, and with a certain degree of taste; a few days quite an intimate acquaintance of Jolin in winter, a blazing fire; in summer, a profusion of Commo; he confided to us all his little successes, but the gayest flowers enlivened her sombre parlour; never troubled us with complaints of his privations. and no ghost, we are quite certain-unless it were an One theme on which he loved to descant was the uncommonly happy sociable one-could have resisted : beauty of his young child. Its image appeared to the exorcism of her merry musical laugh : anything ! haunt his path, and, doubtless, thoughts of it beguiled evil or unhallowed must have fled from it. And the weary hours during which he stood patiently though she lived alone with only one old servant, waiting the charity of the passers-by, for he never and had but a very limited income, Miss Sally was begged of any one. Suddenly we lost sight of him, much sought after and even courted. There was not a and we fancied he had left the place, his old station house with children in it where her appearance was remained so long unoccupied; but at the end of about not hailed with glee; they understood and loved her, three weeks or a month, we saw him again standing and she was 'aunt' by adoption to half the parish. one Sunday near the church door. We went up and She never appeared to grow older-her blithe nature spoke to him immediately. He looked ill, and his retaining, far beyond the period of youth, its freshness bright sunshiny smile was gone. We asked him how of enjoyment and perception ; and yet village rumour he was. "Very well,' was the reply. And the baby?' said that she had had her cares-nay, had even been His dark eyes filled for a moment, and then he gave his crossed in love! but, if the latter tale were true, she own smile again, as he answered: 'Poor baby! gone had borne it much better and more wisely than Viola's where sun shines always.'

imaginary sister, for it had evidently not prored He had been ill, and had been obliged to go into detrimental either to her health or her complexion. the Union with his wife and child. The little family About the time we first became acquainted with were separated, and he never saw his boy again. Miss Markham, a new arrival had recently taken place * But,' he added, not all bad even there. The chap- in the village; the great house, par ercellence, had been ! lain of the house had been a missionary in the east; taken by a wealthy manufacturer, who proved to be could speak his language; had grown interested in a bachelor. It was astonishing what a sensation he him; and had promised to get him sent back to his created in the place! How the young ladies bonght | native land by the Missionary Society; and till that new bonnets, and how the mammas, as soon as they hoped-for time arrived, he resumed his former mode knew he was wifeless, ceased bewailing the extinction of life; looking, in the gloomiest and coldest weather of the good old family' of the ancient squire! The that visits us during our chilly spring, as if he always parish-church was as gay as a parterre of tulips the saw the sun behind the cloud. One morning he first time Mr Spicer occupied his new pew. Alunost stopped us—his face wearing an expression of more the only lady who had not grown smarter was Miss than ordinary pleasure-to offer a little gift as a token Sally Markham, who still wore the same straw-bonnet of his gratitude for the small services we had rendered and quiet shawl, and, moreover, the same sweet smile him. It was a wafer-stamp, manufactured from a she was ever wont to have on her happy face. bone he had picked up in the road! but carved with The next week, people called at the manor, and gave great skill, and quite an elegant little affair, consider- parties to its new lord. The little place became quite ing the coarseness of the material and tools used in gay, and Miss Markham was invited everywhere, fur its formation. It was a parting souvenir, as he was she was of great use in making a party go off well, about to be sent to his own land again. We bade her spirits being generally a strong stimulant to those him call on us at the house of our friend, in order to of others : moreover, she was not considered likely to receive some trifles in the way of clothing for his wife become a dangerous rival to the fair aspirants to the and her infant-another child born since he left the vacant place at the manor. People were pleased that Union. He came, and we introduced our happy she amused Mr Spicer, and that she rendered themvagrant to the notice of one of the most beneficent selves more amusing also, and they rather over

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

calculated the counter.charm of her plainness and bracelets of the precious metals, wear rings of glass her poverty.

upon their wrists, and the greater the number of these One morning, some three months afterwards, an rings, the better are they pleased. As they are necesastounding announcement electrified the village gossips : sarily drawn on over the hands, they fit loosely upon the Mr Spicer was going to be married ! and-alas for arms, and clank one on the other as the wearer moves. the matchmakers—to Miss Sally Markham ! The Rings of silver, pewter, or brass, in lieu of more costly report was at first too much for their faith ; but time fabrics, are worn upon the fingers and toes, and rings fully confirmed it: very shortly, the church-bells were or jewels hang from the tip and sides of the nose. ringing merry peals in honour of the marriage of The neck is encircled with strings of beads, or the lonely little lady of the cottage; and the vicar decorated with tassels and trinkets of various devices, related how Mr Spicer had told him, that from the suspended from a cord. The lobe of the ear is perfirst, he had resolved on proposing to Miss Sally ; forated, and through the aperture is introduced a coil requiring, to cheer his retirement from the excitement of painted paper or palm leaf, wound on itself like a and toil of the world, not a young lady who dressed watch-spring. By contrivances such as these, the well and sang Italian bravuras, but an amusing com- lobe is sometimes much elongated, and converted into panion, who looked on the bright side of things, and an open circle, larger in circumference than the whole would help him to count the sunny hours, and to forget remaining portion of the ear. Little children are the shadows.

decked with necklaces, bracelets, and rings, before they assume a particle of clothing. Among men, ear

jewels are frequent, and in a few may be observed the HINDOO EMIGRANTS.

pendent lobe. Some also wear finger and toe rings. The writer was one of twenty Englishmen engaged In the arrangement of their hair, these emigrants in conveying from east to west 260 natives of the exhibited a great diversity of taste, with much of what Carnatic. Forty of these were women; and thirty, some might call an absence of all taste. It was frechildren under ten years of age; the remainder, youths quent with the men to shave the head, except a tuft or adult men. Most of the males were strictly coolies on the crown and at the sides. The hair of the vertex or labourers, chiefly agricultural ; but some had is never cut, and is sometimes long enough to reach exercised specific arts or callings, as metal-workers, the waist. It is either plaited into a queue or tied into bricklayers, painters, basket-makers, cloth-weavers, a knot, or suffered to hang dishevelled. The hair is confectioners, barbers, milkmen, washermen, shoe- occasionally cut in the most fantastic shapes and makers. One had been employed in making garlands patterns, and at other times permitted to preserve its for native festivals and funerals. Many had been natural growth and appearance. The women leave it gardeners, drawers of toddy from the palmyra trees, as nature formed it, and in them it is often luxuriant bullock or bandy drivers, and a number had worked and beautiful. It is generally lank and soft—in a few in the paddy-fields. Several had been “boys' or palan- instances, thick and curling. In young children, it quin-bearers, some peons, policemen, or messengers ; may be brown ; in adults, always black, but soon others, domestic servants, cooks, or horsekeepers. One whitens with age. Most of the women had their arms had been a sepoy. Two biad been schoolmasters, of tattooed in blue, but there was nothing remarkable in whom one could read and write English imperfectly. the devices. The other prevalent adornments, if such About a dozen had been to the Mauritius as free they may be called, were the usual idolatrous symbols. emigrants, and had there acquired some knowledge of The Vishnuvites paint three yellow lines, diverging French. Fifteen of the party were Mussulmans, six upwards from the root of the nose; the Sivaites preor eight, Roman Catholics, and of the remaining, sent three parallel horizontal white lines across the about fifty were Parialis. Their ages varied, but by forehead, breast, and upper arms; and it is common far the greater number were in the prime of early with them to have a vertical blue line down the manhood.

centre of the forehead. It was the absence of these Their complexions were of all shades, from light marks that chiefly distinguished from the rest the bronze or yellow, through rich chestnut brown, to Mohammedans and Roman Catholics. dark olive, bordering on black. The children were the Both sexes were sadly inattentive to personal fairest, but among adults there was a wide range. cleanliness. Every morning, however, they might The younger men were especially handsome, with open have been seen in rows along the deck, washing their oval countenances, fine eyes and teeth, smooth soft mouths, and rubbing their teeth with pieces of stick, skins, and well-proportioned forms. Some were, of kept for the purpose. This was not neglected, even if course, of less graceful mould, but scarcely any were it included the whole ceremony of ablution. They misshapen, and a few were of peculiarly attractive were also in the habit of frequently pouring water on aspect. The women were inferior to the men in their feet. The principal occupation of the women personal appearance.

was that of destroying the vermin with which they Though amply supplied with clothing by the govern- were infested. ment emigration authorities at Madras, they made Their food was according to a dietary scale prelittle use of it on board, and dressed as they were scribed by government, and was more liberal than accustomed to do on shore. The men contented them their necessities or inclinations required. Rice was selves with a cloth round the loins; the garment of the staple article, to which the other ingredients, the the women was a long cotton cloth, wrapped and folded dholl-a species of pulse—the salt fish, the ghee or 80 as to conceal the trunk, and descending to the clarified butter, the tamarinds, and savoury herbs, knees, or a little below them. Simple as were the were rather regarded as accessories. Each day's first materials, there was much scope for elegance and duty was to serve out in one mass the requisite amount taste in the way in which this female drapery was of provisions for the whole. The subsequent appro

They invariably left the head uncovered; priation and preparation of this food were left to the the men sometimes did the same; but at other times emigrants themselves. It was for the most part coninvesting it with a turban or cap. In both sexes, the ducted by a certain few, who possessed more activity feet and legs were bare. Young children were quite than their neighbours, and sufficed to occupy them nude, but had a string round the middle, to which the all the morning. The rest were perfectly willing forecloth would afterwards be attached.

to be exempt from any trouble but that of eating. Unpretending, however, as was their costume, these The proper quantity of rice they estimated by a coolies were as profuse in ornaments as their means measure brought with them, which allotted to each would allow. The women, if unable to procure about twenty-four ounces a day; and having been


duly proportioned, it was set to boil in large pans. much indebted to the services of the professed interA cook-house was provided on either side of the preters ; but such lingual acquirements as passed ship, one for men of caste, the other for Pariahs and muster with the authorities at Madras, were far below Mussulmans. Mohammedans will not eat unless the standard that strangers like ourselves would have the cook be of the faith, but Pariahs are quite found it desirable to impose. One only of this official

ontent to take their food at Moorish hands. One class spoke fluent English. He was a smart young day, at the commencement of the voyage, the Moham- man, who had been servant to an officer, and could medan cook refused to act, in consequence of some converse with equal apparent ease in four of the offence he had received, and his place having been languages of India, but his character was by no means taken by a Pariah, the Mussulmans refused to eat. a model of propriety. The vernacular tongues of the They demanded a fresh supply, but with a view of people were the Tamil and Telugu, and the Mussulcorrecting such evils for the future, the request was mans among themselves used the Hindostani, which disregarded. One of the number, however, whose flesh they have derived from their migratory forefathers, was weak, although his name was Tippoo Saib, par- but it is not generally known to the heathen inhabittook of the accursed thing, and thereby provoked an ants of Southern India. The Telugu natives were indignant outbreak on the part of the true believers.' about a fourth of the entire number, but most of them The torrent of abuse poured forth, by one youth in could speak Tamil also, and many of Tamil extraction particular, was overwhelming and terrific.

Of exe

were acquainted with Telugu. A knowledge of the crations and expletives they have no lack, but the two languages would seem to prevail extensively ; but denouncement most in vogue is that of all kinds of while they have common affinities, they are very unlike defilement and dishonour to the female relatives of in details. The Telugu men who worship Vishnu the offender, past, present, and to come. A Hindoo, are the proper Hindoos. From fifteen to twenty on one morning, was detected eating meat that he had board were able to read and write with ease. Some obtained from the ship's cook, and had a sentence of denied that they could do either; but on trial, it was excommunication passed upon him by those of his found that they could form and pronounce the numerown caste, though with none of the violence of the ous alphabetical characters and combinations of their Mussulman proceedings. The Parials will eat any- native language. The number of these letters and thing. The greatest difficulty in provisioning the sounds is something formidable to an English student emigrants related to the article of water. At first, of the Tamil. Others said that they could read; yet, there was much grumbling about the scantiness of the when books were placed in their hands, they were supply, although the consumption exceeded the stipu- evidently at a loss. It seemed a common occurrence lated allowance of three quarts a head per day. So, one that they should know their alphabet, picked up, it morning the distribution was given up into their own may be, from their parents or playfellows, without hands, and as it was so managed that many did not possessing, under ordinary circumstances, an opporobtain any at all, we had in the evening a rather serious tunity for further acquirements. The information disturbance. After this, we had to watch it ourselves, thus gained would be almost mechanical, and of little but by degrees they learned to practise greater dis- practical utility. The inquiries made with a view cretion and equity, and a better understanding soon of testing their attainments, led to a great rage for prevailing among all classes, they could safely be cultivating the literary arts. Paper, pens, and ink intrusted with the management of their own affairs. were eagerly asked for, or else they were content In the cooler weather experienced in the latitude of with borrowing or contriving styles for engraving the the Cape of Good Hope, the allowance of water was palmyra-leaf. Some became teachers, others learners; more than they needed, and the only article of which and from morning to night, for several days, the ship the full prescribed amount was ever in demand was resounded with the accustomed din of a school-room. tobacco.

Each little world, like the larger one, has its fashions Smoking was their great solace, but they had and its toys, pursued intensely while they last, but some positive and defined amusements. A tumtum or easily changed and soon forgotten. But every ennative drum had been provided for them, and when couragement was given to the emigrants to favour first introduced, occasioned much merriment; but as, their efforts for improvement; and it is to be hoped in their music, noise is the chief element, the instru- that, during the voyage, all learned something which ment was soon disabled and laid aside. There was a may have contributed to their subsequent advantage. good deal of singing among them, and they had many Two births took place into our community. The rhyming tales or fables, but the sounds to which they attendant process, with Hindoo women, appears to rehearsed them scarcely deserved the name of tunes. involve little suffering or restraint. They had amongst Men would dance in circles to a measured step, clap- them a species of medical and surgical practice. In ping their hands or striking short sticks; but women local hurts and pains, they trusted much to local never joined in the exercise. The only sedentary applications, poultices of tamarind, or dholl, or anygame remarked was one played with counters upon a thing they could procure, chunam rubbed upon the diagram, like a draught-board, chalked on the deck for spot, frictions, and shampooing. For inward comthe purpose, and seemed to partake of chance and plaints, their great remedy was 'pepper-water,' a warm skill combined. Many of the youths amused them- infusion of aromatic herbs and spice, with onions and selves with athletic sports, and there was a general sugar. Castor-oil was the medicine with which they tendency to cheerfulness and mirth, with no deficiency were best acquainted, and with the use of opium they of resource as to pastimes. During the lovely weather were too familiar. To prevent or cure convulsions in we enjoyed while running through the south-east trade children, they were in the habit of scarring the body of the Atlantic, their fondness for grotesque dressing, with red-hot needles. This proceeding was chiefly mummery, and practical joking was pursued in a more regarded as a charm, though the counter-irritation systematic manner; and with the aid of some rude might have some effect. They would also fasten scenery, and a concerted plan, they got up a kind of strings round their limbs, both as amulets during theatrical entertainment. We Europeans were cere- disease and as votive tokens after recovery. These moniously, invited to witness the performance, in were called Sawmy, and supposed to have some sacred which, so far as we could comprehend it, there was character or consequence. This word was of the not much to admire, but as a means of harmless commonest application in reference to the creed of diversion to a native audience, it was not to be heathenism. entered into their most familiar despised.

patronymics, the equivalents of our Jones and Smith, On this, as on other occasions, we were necessarily ! as Ramasawmy, Veerasawmy, Venketasawmy, Mootoo

sawmy, Moonesawmy, Rungasawmy, Cundasawmy, native country, if he chose to demand it. On the Appasawmy, Chiunasawmy. Some man would occa- estates, they were to be accommodated with lodging sionally rant and rave, as if divinely or demoniacally and medical attendance, free of charge. For the first inspired, throw himself into paroxysms resembling fortnight or month, they were supplied with food in epilepsy, and then give vent to incoherent sayings, lieu of wages; they afterwards would earn according while the bystanders looked on with superstitious to their amount of labour, being paid in the same reverence and awe. This was explained as being the proportion as Africans or Madeirans. For hard toil, work of Sawmy-that is, of some good genius, whose they were not well suited; but what they undertook, influence had been invoked, or else of some evil genius they would execute with neatness; and there was whom there was a struggle to expel. Such an exhi- enough in the necessities of the colony to give them bition was several times presented, and it reminded all remunerative employment. us of the pythonesses of old, or of the possessed' of the Gospel narrative. To the dark and uncertain teachings of their

A REALLY GOOD DAY’S FISHING. heathenish creed may be traced their moral imbecility, I have a most unfeigned admiration of good old Izaak and especially their propensity to suicide. On two Walton, and all fishermen; I like to think of them occasions, when morning broke, alarm was given of a as contemplative men, who might be anything they comrade missing; and the only conclusion at which choose-statesmen, divines, poets-only that they prefer we could arrive was, that he had voluntarily drowned being fishermen-lovers of their kind, lovers of scenery, himself during the night. Both had been on the sick lovers of all living things, and possessing some good list, though not dangerously indisposed ; and no motive and unquestionable proof that the worm which they for the deed could be alleged but their general want thread alive upon their pitiless hook, and which, to of power to bear up against suffering of any kind. the ordinary eye certainly seems not to like it, does Threats, and even attempts at suicide took place, as not in reality suffer in the least. I confess I have the result of disputes and annoyances, and but for been many times upon the verge of calling Piscator, interference, would have been carried into execution. my uncle, from whom I have expectations which such The emigrants were sadly prone to regard trifles in the an appellation would ruin, a cruel and cold blooded worst light, and exalt them into affairs of serious old villain for the quiet way in which he will torture importance. They were deficient in moral energy to his live bait-never taking the poor creature off until resist physical evil, soon became depressed, and thus it has wriggled its last, and then instantly impaling were unable to raise their fallen spirits. This was a fresh victim-or selecting a lively minnow out of especially the case with bodily ailments and disasters; his green water-box, and throwing him into the those vexations and disturbances which so often pleasant river, his wished-for home, with a hook that arose among them, were found, when analysed, to he does not know of at first, poor thing, in his underoriginate in the most absurd and trivial causes. jaw. When he has done his duty even ever so well, Although so fond of quarrelling, they were not much and given warning of the approach of prey in the most addicted to fighting. They were lavish in the foulest sagacious manner by pulling at the float, and has been abuse, and indulged in menacing gestures, but they rescued alive, Jonalı-like, from the interior of some rather avoided than courted a close engagement, and enormous fish, Piscator will not yet suffer him to a few blows soon dismayed them. Tall stout men depart, but, confessing that he is a very good baitwould cry like children, if perchance the assault they as if that compliment could atone for these many received were more than verbal; and in all their indignities and pains--drops him again delicately into disputes, there was little danger of their doing one the stream; conduct only to be equalled by that of another much harm. They were frequently vexed the widowed lady in the legend, whose late husband's with the question, who among them should be body is discovered by her lover in the garden fishgreatest? Some pretended that before embarking pond, a receptacle for eels; upon which, ' Poor dear Sir they had been invested with a kind of authority or Thomas,' says the lady, ‘put him in again, perhaps he'll pre-eminence, and would occasionally appeal to the catch us some more.' Worse than all, to my taste, looks ship's officers for confirmation of their claims. From my revered uncle, when he is running after a May-fly, the extreme difficulty of ascertaining the truth, it in order to impale that: one can bear to see a boy in was generally advisable not to interfere ; but care was pursuit of a butterfly, because it is not so much always taken to correct any evident mistakes, and to cruelty that actuates him as curiosity; but an old prevent the exercise of improper liberties. They were gentleman, bald, pursy—which epithet reminds me treated with uniform kindness; and on the whole, their that I must not let Piscator peruse these remarksconduct was good. At no time had we to deal with and perspiring, striving to catch and put to death, positive disaffection or disrespect. Some who at first under circumstances of peculiar atrocity, a happy and occasioned a degree of trouble and anxiety, afterwards inoffensive insect, is a shameful sight. No; I confess became orderly, civil, and industrious. At the ter. I like to see fishermen use artificial flies; the mere mination of the voyage, there was in all a perceptible hooking of the fish-which, after all, are meant to be improvement in condition and demeanour.

eaten-through those horny, bloodless lips of theirs, I When the hour of parting had arrived, not women don't believe is very painful; and I regard these baits and children only, but men also, shewed evident signs with a clear conscience. A good fisherman's book is a of sorrow and reluctance. Much of this may have museum of unnatural science, and I like to examine it resulted from timidity or doubt as to their future lot, gratis upon some river-bank, with a cigar in my mouth, but much of it arose, we fully believe, from pure while Piscator fishes. He sets about this new creation regret, and grateful estimation of the care they had about October, and by April has finished quite a received. They were not landed direct in Georgetown, pocket-arkfull of these additions to nature. This but sent to estates up the river Demerara, or along scarlet fly, almost as big as a bird of paradise, must the coast, in small schooners belonging to the proprie. have taken him a good long time. It is a military tors. Our coolies were distributed among five different insect, and a most tremendous bait for the female,' estates, in gangs of fifty, formed by mutual arrange- says my uncle, who, I am thankful to say, is a conment, according to caste or family and social connec- firmed old bachelor; there is nothing in that fine tions, each party having an interpreter; and most of creature whatever except a little wood and wire; but them had to travel from twenty to thirty miles. Every he kills, Bob-he kills.' one was furnished with a passport, which, after five Why, by the by, do pursy old fellows after fifty, years' service, would procure him a free return to his almost without exception, repeat their words?

[ocr errors]

• It is a fine day,' observes Piscator, when I salute market-people are going and returning along the him in the morning-a very fine day-a very fine towing-path, too, to Camelot, or, as it is called at this day, indeed, Bob,' as though there was somebody particular time and place, to Cookham; pleasurecontradicting that assertion. And your mother is boats pass in the distance, filled with ladies, with brass well, is she, Bob? Your mother is well? Good, Bob, bands, with racing crews; the locksman sees them from good-very good.' I think they have some idea that his lofty post, and the huge gates slowly part to let this makes an ordinary sentence remarkable, and they them through : all this we watch afar off, and have no wish, perhaps, to give you an opportunity or two of part with the great stream of existence regarded setting it down in your note-book.

from its calmest of back-waters. As for the fishing “What is this liuge black and white fly, uncle,' I itself, that is very pleasant; I always look away when inquire, 'like an excellent imitation of a death’s-head the man puts on the gentle; and my friend and I' have moth?'

shilling bets upon which catches the next fish. We did Death's-head fiddlestick!' cries Piscator, in a fury; bet at least at one time, until I detected him in the "it's nothing of the kind, Bob-nothing of the kind. ingenious but fraudulent manæuvre of pulling the I call it the Popular Preacher, and it also is a good same perch up again and again, by which he not only bait for the female—the serious female, that is. I won half a sovereign of me, but gloried in his shame. bave killed a number of chub with that fly, sir-a I love the very dropping of the boat from 'pitch' to number of stout chub.'

'pitch ;' the careful fixing of it between its two bare There is a sort of box, also, attached to Piscator's poles ; the measuring with the plummet for length of book which contains even still more wonderful line; the chucking the bread and meal in for the effigies ; spinning minnows, twice as large as any in gratuitous entertainment of the fish; the grating of real life, and furnished with Archimedean screws; the iron rake in the pebbly bottom; and all the mice with machinery inside instead of intestines, and machinery which is set in motion to persuade me composite animals-half toad, half gergoyle-of which that I am doing something and not nothing. pike are supposed to become readily enamoured.

Better than all, perhaps, is the after-entertainment What a glorious ainusement must indeed be that of at the old-fashioned river inn, where jack is stuffed the Aiy-fisher, climbing up in his huge waterproof in some peculiarly fragrant manner, or there is an boots the bed of some rock-strewn stream, amid the especial patent for frying trout; where awful specimusic of a hundred falls, and under the branching mens of both those fish, with particularly protuberant shelter of the oak and mountain ash, through which eyes, are suspended in the low-roofed cosy diningthe sunbeams weave such fairy patterns upon his room, along with the portrait of some famous fisherwatery path! I never could throw a fly myself by man, and the rules of the local angling club. The reason of these same branches; I left my uncle's heroes of these places are not insolent and puffed up favourite killer-brown, with a yellow stripe--at the with knowledge, as hunters and shooters for the most top of an inaccessible alder, on our very last expedition part are, but freely and graciously impart intelligence together, just after we had taken a great deal of trouble, to the unlearned. I confess at once that I have caught too, in its extrication from the right calf of Piscator, but two perch all day; my friend, three perch; and where I had inadvertently hitched it. I am too clumsy Jones, the man, about eight dozen. * Ay, ay, and and near-sighted, and indeed much too impatient for the very well too,'observes the landlord; 'Jones is a good higher flights of fishing. Piscator starts in the dusk, rod; you should have tried Miller's Hole with the in order to be up at some mountain tarn by daylight, minnow ;' and so on. I have fished for bigger fish and comes back in the evening with half-a-dozen fine than perch. I once went out-went in, I should say – trout, well satisfied ; now I would much rather have to spear barbel : that is a very splendid and almost half-an-hour's good fishing for bleak in a ditch with warlike amusement. You see the leviathan reposing a landing-net. However, I do rise to gudgeon-fishing. upon the pebbles beneath; silently, softly, you seize

I know no pleasanter and more dream-like enjoy- a long barbed spear, and measure the distance between ment than that I have often experienced on the bank you and your prey exactly; you think it to be about of some ait (which some ingenious persons still spell four feet, whereas the real depth of water is six feet at eyot') in the bosom of old Father Thames; or, better the very least. Striking, under this impression, with still, on an arm-chair in a punt pitched in one of his all your force, you throw yourself into the river, arrive back-waters. Let a little beer be in the boat and some upon the very spot which the barbel recently occupied, tobacco, with perhaps a sympathising friend ; then and are lucky if you can swim as well as he. Whenwhat a scene it is! Before us, the great roomy eel- ever I attempt anything above my perch, indeed, I fail pots are hanging idle over the foamy lasher, in waiting miserably; 'the party' who occupied my seat in the for the night; their withy bands seem dry and rotten punt on the previous day has caught so many trout, enough in the sunshine, but they are good for many a he could not carry half of them away with him; and summer yet; beyond them lies the round island where | “the party' who comes the day afterwards, again, is the bending osiers dip their green heads into the flood equally successful ; but, for me, I might just as well till they be needed ; in its centre, is the large leafless have baited my hook with a pack of cards. Howerer, nest of her, born to be the only graceful shape of at the end of this last summer, I had one really good scorn,' the river swan; and around it grow those day's fishing, killing with my single rod carp and “ starry river buds,' the lilies ; on the right hand, stately | trout, of such magnitude and number as Piscator woods slope up from the very bank to the horizon; on himself would have been proud to tell of; and it came the left is the miller's garden, upon an island like to pass in this way. wise, with the high broad mill-stream running swistly The Marquis of B- whom I call ‘B.' in converon its eastern shore, alınost upon a level with the | sation with strangers, is a good friend of mine, who flowers ; clack, clack, goes the great clumsy wheel, has known me for many years. If he met me in the whose shining paddles we see disappear, one after market-place of our borough, his lordship would, I am one, under the low dark archway; and whir, whir, go sure, say: 'How d’ye do?'or, How are you?' and half a score of little wheels within the bowels of the thank me, perhaps, for the pains I took about the quaint old wooden house; along the main stream, return of his second son. I have dined more than once beyond the mill-race, and separated from it by another at the Hall, during election-time, and his lordship has island, ply the heavy-laden barges with half-a-dozen not failed to observe to me: 'A glass of wine with horses apiece, on one of which the lazy driver sits, you?' or, “Will you join us, my dear sir?' quite like a lady, sideways, with liis red wooilen cap droop- confidentially upon each occasion; the words may be ing upon one side, and his pipe scarcely kept alight; nothing indeed, but his lordship's manner is such that


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »