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So saying, he “stops the breath" of a trout, by plucking him up into an element too thin to respire, with a hook and a tortured worm in his jaws.
Are but toys. If you ride, walk, or skate, or play at cricket, or at rackets, or enjoy á ball or a concert, it is “ to be lamented.” To put pleasure into the faces of half a dozen agreeable women, is a toy unworthy of the manliness of a worin-sticker. But to put a hook into the gills of a carp,--there you attain the end of a reasonable being; there you shew yourself truly a lord of the creation. To plant your feet occasionally in the mud, is also a pleasing step. So is cutting your ancles with weeds and stones.
Are but toys. The book of Isaac Walton upon angling is undoubtedly a delightful performance in some respects. It smells of the country air, and of the flowers in cottage windows. Its pictures of rural scenery, its simplicity, its snatches of old songs, are all good and refreshing; and his prodigious relish of a dressed fish would not be grudged him, if he had killed it a little more decently. He really seems to have a respect for a piece of salmon; to approach it, like the grace, with his hat off. But what are we to think of a man, who in the midst of his tortures of other animals, is always valuing himself on his wonderful harmlessness; and who actually follows up one of his most complacent passages of this kind with an injunction to impale a certain worm twice upon the hook, because it is lively, and might get off? All that can be said of such an extraordinary inconsistency is, that having been bred up in an opinion of the innocence of his amusement, and possessing a healthy power of exercising voluntary thoughts (as far as he had any), he must have dozed over the opposite side of the question, so as to become almost, perhaps quite insensible to it. And angling does indeed seem the next thing to dreaming. It dispenses with loco motion, reconciles contradictions, and renders the very countenance null and void.
A friend of ours, who is an admirer of Walton, was struck, just as we were, with the likeness of the old angler's face to a fish. It is hard, angular, and of no expression. It seems to have been “ subdued to what it worked in ;” to have become native to the watery element.
One might have said to Walton, Oh flesh, how art thou fishified !”. He looks like-a pike, dressed in broad cloth instead of butter.
The face of his pupil and follower, or as he fondly called himself, son, Charles Cotton, a poet and a man of wit, is more goodnatured and uneasy. *
Cotton's pleasures had not been confined to fishing. His sympathies indeed had been a little superabundant; and left him perhaps not so great a power of thinking as he pleased. Ac
* The reader may see both the portraits in the late editions of Walton.
cordingly, we find more symptoms of scrupulousness upon the subject of angling in his writings, than in those of his father.
Walton says, that an angler does no hurt but to fish; and this he counts as nothing. Cotton argues, that the slaughter of them is not to be 56
repented ;” and he says to his father (which looks as if the old gentleman sometimes thought upon the subject too)
There whilst behind some bush we wait
The scaly people to betray,
To make the preying trout our prey. This argument, and another about fish's being made for “ man's pleasure and diet,” are all that anglers have to say for the innocence of their sport. But they are both as rank sophistications as can be ; mere beggings of the question. To kill fish outright is a different matter. Death is common to all; and a trout, speedily killed by a man, may suffer no worse fate than from the jaws of a pike. It is the mode, the lingering cat-like cruelty of the angler's sport, that renders it unworthy. If fish were made to be so treated, then men were also made to be racked and throttled by Inquisitors. Indeed among other advantages of angling, Cotton reckons up a tame fish, like acquiescence to whatever the powerful chuse to inflict.
We scratch not our pates,
Aquiescing with hearty submission, &c. And this was no pastoral fiction. The anglers of those times, whose pastimes became famous from the celebrity of their names, chiefly in divinity, were great fallers in with passive obedience. They seemed to think (whatever they found it necessary to say now and then upon that point) that the great had as much right to prey upon men, as the small had upon fishes; only the men luckily had not hooks put into their jaws, and the sides of their cheeks torn to pieces. The two most famous anglers in history are Antony and Cleopatra. These extremes of the angling character are very eđifying.
We should like to know what these grave divines would have said to the heavenly maxim of “ Do as you would be done by.”, Let us imagine ourselves, for instance, a sort of human fish. Air is but a rarer fluid; and at present, in this November weather, a supernatural being who should look down upon us from a higher atmosphere, would have some reason to regard us as a kind of pedestrian carp. Now fancy a Genius fishing for us. Fancy him baiting a great hook
with pickled salmon, and twitching up old Isaac Walton from the banks of the river Lee, with the hook through his ear. How he would go up roaring and screaming, and thinking the devil had got him !
Are but toys. We repeat, that if fish were made to be so treated, then we were just as much made to be racked and suffocated; and a footpad mighthave argued that old Isaac was made to have his pocket picked, and then tumbled into the river. There is no end of these idle and selfish beggings of the question, which at last argue quite as much against us as for us. And granting them, for the sake of argument, it is still obvious, on the very same ground, that men were also made to be taught better. We do not say, that all anglers are of a cruel nature. Many of them, doubtless, are amiable men in other matters. They have only never thought perhaps on that side of the question, or been accustomed from childhood to blink it. But once thinking, their amiableness and their practice become incompatible; and if they should wish, on that account, never to have thought upon the subject, they would only show, that they cared for their own exemption from suffering, and not for its diminution in general.
CASTS FROM SCULPTURE AND GEMS.
There is a set of Italians now going about the streets who sell busts, vases, and other casts in plaister. Every body may not be aware, that some of these casts are after the antique. There is a head, for instance, of the Apollo Belvedere from the statue at Rome; another of Homer; another of Antinous'; another, we believe, of a Melpomiene, crowned with vine-leaves in allusion to the origin of tragedy; and a head of Sappho, which, if we are not mistaken, is from an ancient gem. They are more frequently seen with busts froni statues by Canova, such as a Paris and a Venus; whích latter, we confess, with its little scratches of curls in front, and its hair tied up behind like a lump of sausages, we cannot admire. But they will procure the antiques, if asked for. Some of the vases are from the antique ; some Florentine, which are fine, but not so good; some French, which are the least in merit. The casts of figures, though copied from the antique, are inferior to the busts. The latter are from good old casts; sometimes worn, but still retaining the general spirit of the original. The figures are from slight and hasty moulds ; feeble abridgments,--yet not without their worth either, as resembling the originals, however faintly. There is the Venus de Medici, the Gladiator, the Quoit-Player, the Antinous, the Piping Faun, the Apollo Belvederè, all after the antique; and there is a Couching Venus, after John of Bologna, the original of which must have been like Venus re-appearing from the antique world.
This you may
Fewer people are aware how cheaply these things are sold. The little statues are three or four shillings apiece, perhaps less; and a profit is got upon the head of Sappho at eighteen-pence. You may set a price upon Paris's head, and have the knave brought you at two shillings.
Impressions from ancient gems are now also to be had with singular cheapness, in consequence of an invention of Mr. Tassie's, of Leicester-square. He has found out a composition, which enables him to procure in a few days, for three-and-sixpence, an impression exactly resembling that of any gem you may select. either have set for your watch-chain, or keep in your desk or pocket; for the composition is very hard, and does not easily wear or chip off, even at the edges. In a seal or a desk, it might last, we should think, as long as the gem
itself. Mr. Tassie's collection of antiques appears to be very extensive. You may have your choice among all the gods and graces of the ancient world,- Jupiters, Apollos, Venuses, the Graces, the Muses, Lyres, Loves, Festivals, Pastorals, Patriots, Poets, and Philosophers.
It may be made an objection to the busts and other plaister casts, that being so white and of such a material, they will not keep clean. But they will keep as clean and as long too as the seals, if taken care of. You have only to wash them lightly but completely over with a brush dipped in linseed oil; and besides their taking a fine yellowish hue, much better than the cold white, the dust may be brushed off ever after as easily as from an oil painting. Paint will secure them in the same way; but it is apt to injure the marking and expression, by thickening the outline, and filling up the more delicate hollows.
Thus for eighteen-pence, a room may be adorned with a cast after the antique. And it must be a very fine picture, in our opinion, which can equal the effect even of a bust, much less of a large statue. There is a kind of presence in sculpture, which there is not in the flat surface and more obvious artifice of painting. It is more companionlike; or rather, it is more godlike, intellectual, and predominant. The very beauty of its shape becomes meditative. There is a look in its calm, sightless eyes, that seems to dispense with the common medium of vision ;--a perceiving thought, an undisturbable depth of intuition.
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There is a bird in the interior of Africa, whose habits would rather seem to belong to the interior of Fairy-land: but they have been well authenticated. It indicates to honey-hunters where the nests of wild bees are to be found. It calls them with a cheerful cry, which they answer; and on finding itself recognised, flies and hovers over a hollow tree containing the honey. While they are occupied in collecting it, the bird goes to a little distance, where he observes all that passes; and the hanters, when they have helped themselves, take care to leave him his portion of the food.--This is the CULCULUS INDICATOR of Linnæus, otherwise called the Moroc, Bee-Cuckoo, or Honey-Bird.
There he arriving round about doth fly,
No. VII.-WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 24th, 1819.
Men of wit sometimes like to pamper a favourite joke into exaggeration ;-into a certain corpulence of facetiousness. Their relish of the thing makes them wish it as large as possible: and the social enjoyment of it is doubled by its becoming more visible to the eyes of others. It is for this reason that jests in company are sometimes built up by one hand after another," three-piled hyperboles," till the over-done Babel topples and tumbles down amidst a merry confusion of tongues.
Falstaff was a great master of this art. He loved a joke as large as himself; witness his famous account of the men in buckram. Thus he tells the Lord Chief Justice, that he had lost his voice “ with singing of anthems ;" and he calls Bardolph's red nose “a perpetual triumph, an everlasting bonfire light;" and says it has saved him “ a thousand marks in links and torches,” walking with it " in the night betwixt tavern and tavern.". See how he goes heightening the account of his recruits at every step :-“You would think I had a hundred and fifty tattered prodigals, lately come from swine-keeping, from eating draff and husks.---Å mad fellow met me on the way, and told me, I had unloaded all the gibbets, and pressed the dead bodies.--No eye hath seen such scarecrows.-I'll not march through Coventry with them, that's flat.-Nay, and the villain's march wide betwixt the legs, as if they had gyves on; for indeed I had most of them out of prison. There's but a shirt and a half in all my company ;---and the half-shirt is two napkins, tacked together, and thrown over the shoulders like a herald's coat without sleeves.''
An old schoolfellow of ours, (who by the way, was more fond of quoting Falstaff than any other of Shakspeare's characters) used to be called upon for a story, with a view to a joke of this sort; it being an understood thing that he had a privilege of exaggeration, without committing his abstract love of truth. The reader knows