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THE YOUNG ANGLERS.
I DELIGHT in all kinds of field-sports; I have ever done so ; the passion has grown with my growth, and strengthened with my strength. How could it be otherwise? At my birth I was delivered up to nature. The very parish in which I first drew the breath of life, was in itself a kingdom-an empire of nature. What a parish! Why, it was thirty miles long by twenty at the broadest, and five or six at the narrowest. There were in it long stretches of level pasture ground; there were springy and elastic togs; there were hundreds of hills, chained more or less closely together, some green to the summit as emerald, others craggy and frowning like the gateway of the thunder, and others again lost amid the capping mists of the North; there were woods that in a tamer country would be styled forests, in which you might wander from morning to night without any other living accompaniment than the cushat, the falcon, or the roe; and there were locks,—I know not how many, -thousands of burns, and some stately rivers, with magnificent torrents and cataracts, sentinelled here by gigantic trees, or mirroring the naked hills and promontories, and there feathered with the rich furniture of the fertile vales and bushy dells.
Was not that a kingdom for an apprenticeship to all fieldsports? No need of any human teacher. Nature was my instructor, first tempting my instincts, and afterwards my reason to put forth their wilfulness and strength. Such Auld Scotland was the nursery and the empire thou bestowedst upon me; and do I not love thee in return? Let me first trace with rapid strides how my nature was fed to take passionate delight in the Angler's "silent trade," and then say if I am ungrateful.
While only newly-breeched I would stand on the little wooden bridge that spanned the wimpling burn, that drove the rustic mill, and be tempted at the sight of the silver eel, the nibbling minnow, but above all at the sudden shoot of the yellow trout. To look at such beautiful and lively things, and not desire to capture them was impossible; natural desire and young fancy urged me to master them, to handle them, to call them mine. But oh! I was all unskilled in the cunning art. What weapons had I, what weapons could I use? Infantine pride, and infantine fear of refusal, at the same time prevented me from confiding my feelings to any but my little sister; and
therefore my own wit was put to the stretch. Accordingly the slender pin yielded to a crooking process, a piece of thread was easily attached, and a willow-wand added. There remained nothing but patience, and the dexterity which experience would contribute, excepting a bait, to enable me to imitate my seniors in the angling art. A dead worm was soon procured; and then, oh then! I stood day after day, for hours together, or stretched myself under the basking sun upon the green bank of the wimpling streamlet, in mute, deep, and heart-engrossing hope of some time or other hooking a tenant of the waters.
Sometimes a nibble, a nibble, would send the flood of expectation racing to my forehead. But trembling and uncertain, the moment for adroitly striking the petulant prey would escape, leaving me to chide my awkwardness and to wonder when an opportunity to do better would recur. A nibble again, and my sudden and mighty whap throws the monster over head some ten yards, among the waving grass,—the jerk and violent action breaking the thread and damaging the brittle rod. But no matter; I have accomplished a feat; it is but the first, and how many may follow before the last! It is a minnow, and not more than two inches long; but it is also a fish, which would never have been stretched upon the solid and dry land but for me.
Off I run with the precious spoil to astonish father and mother, and all who come within the reach of my confidence. The fish is held aloft, as flushed and panting I hasten up and down, that all may see it and marval at the achievement. plate is procured, for a tinge of blood is upon my fingers, and conscience half upbraids me; but the pin is in the slain one's mouth; it must be torn out now that my prey is dead; and a sterner resolve is begotten to do more execution and to strike at a nobler quarry.
Weeks, months, years passed over, during which my angler's progress, though it was slow, it was sure,-completing my initiation. I am now a flaxen-headed active school boy. To leap hedges, to scamper over fields, to seek a celebrated trout and salmon stream a mile or two distant, occasions no surprise, excites no fears, incurs no blame. Nay, my father is proud of my spirit, my daring, and my feats. My grandfather, too, has fashioned for me a likely rod of the tough ash-tree. He knows the business. I have been taught by him how to spin a line of hair,-gut is yet at a distance, and what is more I can busk a fly. I am off to the rippling shallows thus armed,to the little boiling caldrons at the foot of water-leaps. My
cheek is fanned by the fresh morning or evening breeze of May, the sweet scent of the broom gladdening the sense, and the gambols of the lambs reaching a higher order of associations, inspiring with unutterable feelings and careering anticipations.
There! there! the very first throw tells the skilled sheppard who eyes the urchin from a distant knoll, that damage will be done; but the Craig-burn has never been "preserved," there are no man-traps and spring-guns,-no "utmost rigour-oflaw" announcement on glaring boards, heard of in these regions. Dightly the rod is again made to perform its proper evolutions, regularly the gossamer line elongates itself over the stream; and noiselessly the deceptive fly drops upon the water. The full-grown trout is beguiled; he rises from his fastness, slowly, as if lazily he makes for the bait, and confidently takes it between his jaws. But sudden is the plunge; there is no deliberation now; away like lightening he darts, braving the current, determined to be free. But no, the boy steadily and yet delicately holds on: humours yet commands the captive, till at length gasping, exhausted, and unresisting the half-pound-weight lovely spotted creature is laid upon the pebbly bank, and a moment after transported to a more secure locality and away from the dying beauty's native element.
From the trouting school-boy's oft repeated exploits, the transition to the stripling's salmon-triumphs is natural. Sport now has in it something of glory, worthy of the ardour of manhood, and allied to the highest occupations of intellect and imagination. The manly exercises merely of the angler are now strong, his efforts adventurous, for his ambitions take a lofty course. He feels that his nature is fully developing itself, and he reasons relative to that development, although the occasion be a pastime; for whatever he does, it is done with all his might. The hero and the statesman, he knows, have often had their souls refreshed, expanded, and nurtured amid the grandeur of natural scenery, the excitement of magnificent sport.
There! there! in the depths of that mountain-fed river, near to the cataract, the tongue-hooked monarch of the Highland floods has almost expended during his frantic race my reel's complement, making it speed round as if the wheel were propelled by a model and mimic steam-engine. The fish is fresh-run from the sea, and is as confident of his strength, as he is shy and cunning. One moment he sinks to recruit himself, for the slender tackle can scarcely lift a pound weight, and has hardly any positive hold upon the royal prey. The
next instant a strike against the water-fall is made, a battle as if with the elements is waged, and leap after leap out of the foam, or a plunge some fathom deep, are among the varied efforts. But all in vain; steady is the hand, yielding is the limber tapered rod, faithful is the line, and, barring tree roots and other unseen impediments, the capture is certain. Nay, the feat is achieved. On the sand the beaming beauty, fast dimming lies, and my apprenticeship is finished.
Thus juvenile anglers reach the summit of field sports;
THEODORE BUCKLEY may be said to have been born a soldier, for not only had both his father and grandfather followed the profession of arms, but it was in a barracks that he first beheld the light, and in a barracks the greater part of his boyhood was spent. Theodore, however, was not born to wealth, his father having served in the ranks-never reaching a higher station; but what was denied in the shape of riches, was, in the eyes of many a fair one, more than compensated by his elegant and noble figure and his gallant spirit. You might have travelled far in "merry England" before meeting with his match for handsomeness and attractive looks, or with a person of more winning manners and kindlier disposition.
The martial spirit, along with the amiable and fascinating qualities just mentioned, grew strong as his years increased in Theodore; and those who knew him best predicted that though a lamb at the fireside he would be a lion in the field, should his king and country ever require his services in battle. Nor was