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The male swan, or cob, as he is called, takes his post at the edge of the ait, and attacks every creature that comes near. He is very strong, and by no means an opponent to be despised at such times. Some men sent a large dog out to the nest of the pair I have been speaking of, and he ad^ vanced boldly enough, but the swan met and seized him, and forced him under the water, at the same time spreading out his great wings he beat him violently with them. The dog yelled piteously, and the men went out in a boat, and with some difficulty succeeded in beating off the infuriated bird. But I must not gossip at this rate; I will only add about swans, that the City Companies make an excursion up the river to Marlow on the first Monday in August, for the purpose of taking up the cygnets and marking them, the marks being notches or nicks on the mandible. The mark of the Vintners' Company is two nicks, from which came the well-known sign of the Swan with two nicks (or, as corrupted, two necks). The annual excursion is called swan-upping, which has got to be commonly called swan-hopping.
After the aits, the next most noticeable things are the weirs. Our river has no falls, and these are the best substitutes the rambler will find. They are constructed chiefly for the navigation, but also for the mills, the water above the tide being often very scanty. As picturesque objects, much must not be said for most of them. But when the water is rushing over, there is always something pleasurable, and even exhilarating, both in the sight and sound. And some of the weirs are very picturesque when viewed in connexion with the surrounding scenery, to which they impart animation and interest. The locks are mostly formal and ungainly, but some of them are pleasing. By some of the locks and weirs there are rude thatched cottages with a variety of sheds and lean-tos stuck against them, and a bit of bright flower-garden on one side, and oars, eel-pots, and nets are hung about the walls and palings, making the place look as if altogether laid out for a sketcher. The barge navigation of the Thames has greatly fallen off, especially in the upper part, since the general adoption of the railway for the conveyance of goods.
The only other thing I shall notice is the fishing; and I shall say very little about that. "The scenery on the banks of the Thames is of unrivalled beauty, and few streams contain a greater variety of fish and fishing-stations," wrote *one* who had well worked the Thames, and who was as good a judge of both river-scenery and river-fishing, and had had as much experience in both, as most men. There is fly-fishing in the higher parts of the river; but trolling and bottom-fishing are the most usual kinds, and a punt is the most common station. Fly-fishing is a fine, healthy, wholesome sport; it is nonsense to call it dull work, or its practitioners blockheads. It is, on the contrary, from its exhilarating influence that it has been so great a favourite with the clever men. A dull man cannot make a good fly-fisher. He may hunt well, or shoot well, but to fish well is out of the question. Chantrey called fly-fishing the amusement of Genius, which is nearer the mark. It is curious, by the way, to notice the unusual honour that has been paid to it in our day. Men of eminence in almost every * Holland, 'Angler's Manual."
mental pursuit have published its praises. There is, as the representative of poetry and moral philosophy, Professor Wilson, whose glowing essays all will remember; in natural philosophy, Sir Humphry Davy, with his poetic descriptions and scientific explanations. Law has sent Chitty to give us a textbook; and painting, Hofland, with his professional knowledge and piscatorial enthusiasm; and music, Phillips, who has brought his art to set off his favourite sport. I do not remember whether medicine has contributed anything, but we know that Sir Charles Bell practised, if he did not write about the gentle craft: nor do I remember that theology has added to its literature, but certainly many of the most successful of the present race of fly-fishers are divines. Apart from the fish, the practice with the fly is infinitely preferable to any other mode. Hofland used to say that every landscape-painter ought to be a fly-fisher; not merely because, as Davy has so well said, it leads him into the more secluded and wilder scenery of nature, for there the landscapepainter would go without adventitious inducement —but because, whilst angling, somehow the scenery always appears so much fresher and brighter. And I think there is something in it. Sir Joshua Reynolds has mentioned in his Journey to the Flemish picture-galleries that he was greatly struck with the superior brilliancy of the colours on again looking at the pictures after he had stooped down to make some memorandums respecting them; and he attributes the effect to the contrast with the white paper on which his eyes had just been steadily fixed. But there is something more than that. Every one must have felt the weariness that arises from looking over a large collection of pictures, and the freshness and beauty there appears: to be, on revisiting the gallery, in some that in our previous visit we thought almost worthless or mediocre. The fact is, the eye becomes satiated, exhausted. And so with scenery. We go from one scene to another without respite or diversion, and both eye and mind become saturated and refuse to admit more. But in wandering from spot to spot, rod in hand, there is every minute a new interest excited, and then the eye returns refreshed to drink in greedily the loveliness before it.
In trolling there is something of this; in bottomfishing from a bank less: but the punt is horrible. To be nailed to the bottom of a chair—as is the Thames fashion—in the midst of a punt moored fore and aft, and there sit and dip and pull up, and dip and pull up again and again, without change or exercise for hours together, and all for the sake of a few roach or dace, is a thing so monstrously monotonous, that one cannot help wishing, when we see a punt-angler, the wish of one of old, that "joy may be given in proportion to the tediousness he has suffered." But punt-fishing is emphatically the Thames fishing, and the punts and their contents at least make pretty patient groups in the landscape, and are pleasant to sketch. Not very far from where we now are, there used some years ago to be one the very acme of a punt-angler. He was a comely, rotund, middle-aged gentleman, and used to dress in the height of neatness and good-fitting. His chair seemed contrived for ease. He had a livery servant beside him, to cast in ground-bait, put the gentle on the hook, and take the fish off—do every thing in fact but catch. Nor lacked he sherry-flask or sandwich-box, by which ever and anon he might repel the insidious approaches of weariness or vacuity, and recruit the inner man. And thus he might be seen to sit and watch the float, lift up his rod and put it down again, day after day,