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Dumbarton is now reached, and here the travellers luckily stumble upon a friend, named Aquilla (a water-boy, of course). Arnoldus tells him, that they have deserted the beautiful tracts of Albion (why not flourishing ?) to trample the solitary fields of Scotland! (why not flourishing also?) The whole party fall a fishing as fast as their rods will carry them,—and separate to different parts of the stream, as all intense anglers invariably -do. Arnoldus and Aquilla first meet, and Aquilla has a brace of salmon:—Arnoldus has " two brace of trout, that would make a cockney's teeth stand a water and spring a leak, for no other purpose than to tap his mouth." Theophilus joins them, quite scenery-mad!
"O, Arnoldus, I was certainly enamoured to see how the shady trees hung dangling about me; whilst the murmuring streams, through the lungs of Zephyrus, made music to my fancy, though not to the pitch of the melodious Philomel, and the chorus of birds that beat the air with their mellifluous quires, which springs fresh thoughts of the non-age of time, when the constitution of the creation was a composition of harmony."
The journey is continued on to Bohannan — beautiful Bohannan!—" besieged with bogs, and barricadoed with birch trees." "Dull Dunkeeth" is apostrophized—and three more pages bring us to "Dirty Dumblaine"—but" the itch after Mockeny" will not permit our Scottish travellers to tarry at the latter place. Mockeny makes sad havock with Captain Franck!
"And here we cross the moor to Mockeny, whose limpid streams are pleasant beyond report, and her fords generally furnished with trout, as if nature had there designed to entertain the contemplative angler, in those liberal streams, where the artist in a storm may shelter himself under shady trees, elevated upon lofty mountains, over the melting amorous smiling banks; as if the boughs were barnacles, and ready to drop into the silent glittering streams, that glide softly along a delightful meadow; excepting here and there some small cataracts of water that tumble down a precipice of rocks, that encircles and surrounds great stones in the sandy foundation of this mystical Mockeny, whose glittering shoals are gently moved by the soft breathings of Zephyrus, that dash the smaller waves ashore, and discover to the angler the intricate angles of Mockeny, so that here we assume a poetic liberty, in some sort, to call Scotland Arcadia."
From Mockeny they pass to Dromon; and here " you shall see the majestic brow of a rock, and a castle inoculated to it." From Dromon they hasten to Tippermore, " where the Marquiss Montross routed his countrymen."
Arnoldus now relates a goodly story of a tailor being deceived into a belief, that he had found a stone which rendered the holder invisible. It is a traveller's story, quite as romantic as the style of the trooper! We next read of divers large fish—of a trout weighing upwards of a hundred pounds—and of another, so heavy that the author will not trust himself with its weight. A pike is also recorded by our author to have travelled fifteen miles in twenty-four hours!—This must also have been a Daniel Lambert with fins, or his singular speed is not otherwise to be accounted for. A long and dull witchstory follows, in which Captain Franck labours, brain and pen, to prove that Pitloil is haunted by witches, "if there be witches at all;" but in spite of two or three mysterious accidents, and of the sudden deaths of a spaniel and a greyhound bitch belonging to our trooper, we remain still in a state of very irreverent disbelief as to the supernatural inhabitants of the Lough of Pitloil.
The bridge of Dean calls for an extra flourish from the pen of the Captain.
"That's the place, near those glittering sands, and rocky foundations, where you may observe the trembling streams swiftly, yet sweetly, glide along; but not as cataracts to terrify the fish, by reason their fall is so gently moderated, amongst those knotty stumpy rocks. I call it a river enriched with inhabitants; where rocks are landlords, and trouts tenants. For here's not a stream but it is furnished with trouts; I have angled them over from stem to stern, and dragged them forth, brace after brace, with nothing but a hackle, or an artificial fly, adapted to the season, and proportioned to the life. Humour but the fish, and you have his life; and that's as much as you can promise yourself. O, the diversion I have had in these solitary streams! believe me, Theophilus, it surpasseth report. I remember on a time, when the clouds let fall some extravagant drops, which in a manner discoloured the surface of the water, then it was that amongst those stony cisterns, where you see the tops of the rocks make a visible discovery, a little above that trembling stream, if you mind it; there stands a stumpy craggy rock, peeping perceptibly out of the water. From thence, and above those slaty foundations, I have struck, and killed many-a brace of brave trouts; a reward beyond my labour and expense."
The conversation of the travellers now turning upon the art of angling, Arnoldus breaks out rather unmercifully upon the sweet and innocent master of the sport, worthy old Isaac Walton; of whom we must have leave to say a few words before we conclude these our remarks.
"Theoph. Ingenious instructions will signalize the art easy, and impregnate the artist. Let the luxurious surfeit with the sins of the age, I'll trace the angler's footsteps, and pursue this inoffensive life, and silver streams, to propagate and cultivate the art; so complete myself an artist in this mystical artillery: for I can raise my ambition no higher than the device, fashion, and form of flies; with advice also for their management, together with seasonable time and use.
"Am. That was my intention, had you never mentioned it; but were it to another, I should rather refer him to our modern assertors. For indeed the frequent exercise of fly-fishing, though painful, yet it is delightful, more especially when managed by the methods of art, and the practical rules and mediums of artists. But the ground-bait was of old the general practice, and beyond dispute brought considerable profit; which happened in those days, when the curiosity of flyfishing was intricate and unpracticable. However, Isaac Walton (late author of the Complete Angler) has imposed upon the world this monthly novelty, which he understood not himself; but stuffs his book with morals from Dubravius and others, not giving us one precedent of his own practical experiments, except otherwise where he prefers the trencher before the troling-rod; who lays the stress of his arguments upon other men's observations, wherewith he stuffs his indigested octavo; so brings himself under the angler's censure, and the common calamity of a plagiary, to be pitied (poor man) for his loss of time, in scribbling and transcribing other men's notions. These are the drones that rob the hive, yet flatter the bees they bring them honey.
"Theoph. 1 remember the book, but you inculcate his erratas; however, it may pass muster among common mudlers.
"Am. No, I think not; for I remember in Stafford, I urged his own argument upon him, that pickerel weed of itself breeds pickerel. Which question was no sooner stated, but he transmits himself to his authority, viz. Gesner, Dubravius, and Androvanus. Which I readily opposed, and offered my reasons to prove the contrary; asserting, that pickerels have been fished out of pools and ponds where that weed (for ought I knew) never grew since the non-age of time, nor pickerel ever known to have shed their spawn there. This I propounded from a rational conjecture of the heronshaw, who to commode herself with the fry of fish, because in a great measure part of her maintenance, probably might lap some spawn about her legs, in regard adhering to the segs and bull-rushes, near the shallows, where the fish shed their spawn, as myself and others without curiosity have observed. And this slimy substance adhering to her legs, &c. and she mounting the air for another station, in probability mounts with her. Where note, the next pond she happily arrives at, possibly she may leave the spawn behind her, which my Complete Angler no sooner deliberated, but dropped his argument, and leaves Gesner to defend it; so huffed away: which rendered him rather a formal opinionist, than a reformed and practical artist, because to celebrate such antiquated records, whereby to maintain such an improbable assertion.
"Theoph. This was to the point, I confess; pray, go on.
"Am. In his book, intituled the Complete Angler, you may read there of various and diversified colours, as also the forms and proportions of flies. Where, poor man, he perplexes himself to rally and scrape together such a parcel of fragments, which he fancies arguments convincing enough to instruct the adult and minority of youth, into the slender margin of his uncultivated art, never made practicable by himself I'm convinced. Where note, the true character of an industrious angler, more deservedly falls upon Merril and Faulkner, or rather upon Isaac Owldham, a man that fished salmon but with three hairs at hook, whose collections and experiments were lost with himself."
How characteristic of the two fishermen is this account of the "Argument" at Stafford, as Captain Franck denominates it!—The trooper propounds his opinion, as though he had Isaac at the broadsword.—But Isaac, the gentlest creature alive, no sooner "deliberates" the matter, but he "drops the argument," and leaves Gesner to defend it. Isaac is no warrior—no hardy champion for any particular mode of breeding pike. He simply states what he reads, and what he thinks, and finding that the Captain has a contrary opinion with that of Gesner, viz.—that pickerel weed breed pike in pools; he leaves the two to settle the question. Isaac is content to catch fish ; and, rather than cavil, we do not doubt but that he would at any time have believed that perch might have been bred out of old hen-roosts as easily as pike out of pickerel weed, so very amiable was he in his pursuit.
The sight of the town of Forfar calls to the recollection of Arnoldus a story of Billy Pringle's cow drinking a cooler of new ale,—which is told in the Captain's own elaborate and fanciful manner. The beer-robbery becomes a question first for the Provost's decision, and then for the court at Edinburgh. But let the author speak for himself at the conclusion of his story. He is very lively on the subject of new ale.
"Am. And now the guid wife arrests Billy Pringle, because that his cow drank off her ale. And he like a man to purge himself by law, traverses the action at the court at Edinburgh, where the case was opened, and pleadings on both sides. But the woman's counsel pleads hard for satisfaction; when an advocate for Billy Pringle solicits the Judge, that an award be allowed to his client Pringle: For, my lord, quo he, they produce no precedent; nor was it ever known in the kingdom of Scotland that a cow paid a plack for a standing-drink: nay, more than that, she never called for it, and Doll and Doris is the custom of our country; where note, a standing-drink was never yet paid for. With these and the like circumstances he made the court merry, because utterly to exceed and confound their practice; so that now every lawyer became a mute, and every auditor a silent admirer.
"During this silence there rushed into the court a crew of saucy surly fellows, that proffered to swear for the guid awd wife, that the cow drank the ale brewed for them to drink: and it's thought they would have sworn through a double deal-board, they seemed so enraged for the loss of their ale. This you must conceive warmed the woman's counsel, so that they moved the court for satisfaction, and prayed a more strict examination of the matter. Upon which the records of the court were called for, but no precedent was found to punish a cow for drinking of ale, sitting or standing. Besides, it was adjudged beyond the practice of the court to determine any thing wherein the laws were silent. Yet notwithstanding all this, and a great deal more, the woman's counsel moves again for satisfaction, which proposal was quashed by sentence of the court, almost as soon as it was propounded, because to refer it to the provost of Forfar.
"Theoph. Why so?
"Am. Can you think him a man of that capacity, to decide a controversy so foreign and intricate, that all the law in Scotland could not then determine?
"Theoph. Why so; was the nature of the thing so rare and difficult?
"Am. Was it not, think you, to take all the proofs, to swear all the witnesses; and as near as possible to ultimate the difference, with this proviso to both parties' satisfaction?
"Theoph. I confess it was intricate; but how did he behave himself?
"Am. Very well, I fancy, and the manner on't was thus. First, he calls a hall; but admits no man to speak a word save himself; and as his gravity directs him, puts a question to the woman, which in short was this. He demands to know of her how the cow took the liquor, whether she took it sitting, or if she took it standing? To which the brewster-wife, after a little pause, answered, by making this reply: In guid fa, sir, quo the wife, the cow took it standing. Then, quo the provost, your e'en words condemn ye, to seek satisfaction for a standing-drink. This annihilates the custom of doh and doris. For truly sike another ill precedent as this were enough to obliterate so famous a custom, as stark love and kindness for evermare. Where note, guid wife, ye have wronged Billy Pringle, for prosecuting the guid man contrary to law; and have done mickle damage to Puggy his cow, because to chastise her but for a standing-drink."
The travellers pass on to Loughness, and "Hero it over another Hellespont." The border of Southerland is trod—and Tayn in Ross is approached.—
"Am. The town of Tayn in Ross, that equalizeth Dornoch for beautiful buildings; and as exemplary as any place for justice, that never use gibbet nor halter to hang a man, but sacks all their malefactors, so swims them to their graves."
Ross is celebrated, says the Captain, not only for fine fabricks, but also for
"Eagles, signets, falcons, swans, geese, gossander, duck and malard, teal, smieth, widgeon, seapyes, sandelevericks, green and gray plover, snite, partridge, curlue, moorgame, and grows."
A few pages conduct us on to Aberdeen. Here the author is lavish of his powers of description. He dances on