Some more about fishing.
Yesterday was Good Friday; but we are afraid many of our friends spent it on the banks of the river, instead of in Church.--The day was infinitely attractive.
It nibbled at the heart of the genuine fisherman, as a big chub nibbles at his hook when he happens to be in good luck.
That is to say, it did not nibble at all — it took hold, and swallowed at a gulp.
It carried him off to the stream incontinently, and there was no resisting the rush.
We saw a theory of some naturalist sometime ago, with regard to angling, which we hope may be true.
It is that the fish does not suffer pain from the hook, when it hangs him. We hope, we say, this may be so, for we should like to silence the clamor of sentimentalists on this subject, who are willing enough to eat the fish when caught, but object to fishing because it inflicts pain on the fish.
This is very much like the indignation of the Lowell
cotton spinners, at the holding of slaves who make the cotton.
It is like the East India Company, who shuddered at the robbery of the Begums, yet kept on writing to Hastings
to send them more money.
It resembles the professional "Fence," who d — ns the pickpocket, for a thief and a rascal.
It is like Master Joseph Surface
, whose morality made him hate everything connected with sin but the pleasure it afforded.
Now, we are like bluff old Sir Peter Teazle
, who d — d sentiment of every kind.--We say, if you pity the fish, don't eat them.
If you think the sport cruel, don't buy the fish.
You cannot expect sinners to repent, when the righteous pay them the wages of sin — by which we do not mean that last instalment mentioned by the Scriptures, which is death, but simply the reward of daily sin in hard cash.
The former cannot be paid until the books are balanced, and a final settlement takes place.
The theory in question, as far as we recollect it, maintains, that inasmuch as a man soon becomes insensible when drowning, so by analogy we may infer that a fish — on which the air may be supposed to act as the water does on man, air being our breathing element and water theirs — becomes insensible when drowning in our atmosphere.
All this may be so, for aught we know — but what becomes of the worms, and the roaches?
Do they suffer, or do they not?
Nay, what becomes of old Izaak Walton
's frogs, with which he used to fish for pike, as he tells us in this delectable passage:
"And thus use your frog, that he may continue long alive.
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 eating, but is sustained, none but He whose name is Wonderful knows how. I say put your hook, I mean the arming wire, through his mouth and out at his gills; and with a fine needle and silk sew the upper part of his leg, with only one stitch, to the arming wire of your hook; or tie the frog's leg above the upper Joint to the armed wire; and in so doing use him as though you loved him,
that is, harm him as little as possible, that he may live the longer."
In justice to our
fishermen, we must say that they practice no such elaborate cruelty as this, although we doubt whether any of them could discourse so finely on the duty of being thankful for worldly blessings.
It was this passage, doubtless, that induced Byron
to denounce angling, and Walton
, as the father of it, in the well known lines:
‘"And angling too, that solitary vice, Whatever Izaak Walton
sings or says: The quaint old cruel coxcomb in his gullet Should have a hook, and a small trout to pull it."’
And yet old Izaak will always be the delight of the genuine angler, let him be as humane as he may. His fresh, vivid descriptions breathe the very air of the country, and will always be attractive, as pictures of nature always are. The following passage, although an English picture, will be appreciated by every genuine lover of the sport even here.--He is supposed to be sitting under an elm by a bright stream, with his hooks in the water:
"At first the lark, when she means to rejoice, to cheer herself and those that hear her, she then quits the earth, and sings as she ascends higher into the air; and having ended her heavenly employment, grows then mute and sad, to think she must descend to the dull earth, which she would not touch but for necessity.
"How do the blackbird and throssel, (song thrush,) with their melodious voices, bid welcome to the cheerful spring, and in their fixed mouths warble forth such ditties as no art or instrument can reach!
"Nay, the smaller birds also do the like in their particular seasons, as, namely, the laverock, (sky-lark,) the tit-lark, the little linnet, and the honest robin, that loves mankind both alive and dead.
"But the nightingale, another of my airy creatures, breathes such sweet, loud music out of her little instrumental throat, that it might make mankind to think miracles are not ceased.
He that at midnight, when the very laborer sleeps securely, should hear, as I have very often, the clear airs, the sweet descants, the natural rising and falling, the doubling and redoubling of her voice, might well be lifted above the earth, and say ' Lord
, what music hast thou provided for the Saints in Heaven, when thou affordest bad men such music on earth?'"