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be, naturally enough, classed together in the same category (without any regard to their bearing on other subjects) as simply representing the pursuit of so many descriptions of animals; and the connexion of all three with the study of Natural History will be probably considered as equally remote and indirect.
Now, as to the two former, they may to a certain extent be right; an attempt to join either Hunting or Shooting with Natural History as Fishing is joined in the following Notes-might perhaps be fairly open to exception, as a union of two subjects not of themselves sufficiently connected.
But Fishing, to my mind, occupies in that respect an entirely different position from the other two, the affinity between it and the study of Natural History being so close and distinct, as to warrant their being thus coupled together, I submit, without the slightest violence to either.
As, however, the distinction to be drawn between the three sports would probably not
immediately suggest itself to those who take no interest in them (and I am anxious, as a Fisherman, to establish it, and to vindicate the appropriateness of my Title) I will briefly mention the points of difference which seem to me thus far to separate them.
Far be it from me in doing this to extol Fishing at the expense of Hunting or Shooting; I am much too fond of and grateful to them to have the least inclination to do so, even if it suited my purpose. It is merely to accident that Fishing is indebted for the auxiliary charm of this fellowship with Natural History: that Hunting and Shooting are in great measure destitute of it is not their fault but their misfortune.
In the first place, exactly as both season, and the circumstances under which their several pursuits are conducted tend to frustrate any attempt on the part of those who hunt or shoot1 to cultivate the study of Natural
1 It seems strange that whilst the language affords two words ("Angler," and "Fisherman") descriptive of the man who fishes, we should be driven to paraphrases for want of corresponding words with regard to Hunting and Shooting.
History; in the same proportion do they not only lead the Angler up to it, but actually almost force it upon him.
The former (for whose purposes a very limited knowledge of Natural History is generally sufficient, and whose sports are attended with a degree of noise and bustle, at once disturbing some objects which might otherwise attract their notice, and incompatible with a careful examination of others) take the field when the leaf is withering, and
As to the former, "Hunter" and "Huntsman," though both originally bearing that signification, have now lost it, the word "Hunter" being (in England) now generally transferred from the man to the horse, whilst “Huntsman" is exclusively applied to the person who manages the hounds. As to the latter (Shooting) we are, if possible, still worse off, for Shooter" can scarcely be considered to have been ever commonly adopted, "Shooting-man" is utterly inadmissible, and "Shot," if it ever conveys a similar meaning, certainly fails to do so without a qualifying adjective.
The French, German, Italian, and Spanish languages have, it may be remarked, no advantage over us in this respect. In each there is a word to designate the fisherman (“Pêcheur,” "Fischer," "Pescatore," and "Pescador"), yet when they come to Hunting and Shooting they are obliged to take refuge in generalities, combining the words "chasser”—“jagen”— "cacciare"-" cazar," &c., with others expressive of the particular sport.
the Swallows are already congregating for their southern flight; and retire from it (with rare exceptions) before they have again heralded the spring, or the earth has reawakened from her long winter-sleep. Such, it must be admitted, is not the season, nor are such the circumstances which can in any great degree tend to promote a love for, or conduce to, the study of Natural History.
But how different is the Angler's case! Not only is an accurate knowledge of some branches of Natural History essential to him who would excel in his art, but all the circumstances attending it—the genial character of the season which peculiarly calls him forth -the beauty of the scenery into which he is naturally led, with all its sweet accompaniments,
"Rivers to whose shallow falls
the soothing and thought-awakening influence of the water itself, "Nature's store-house, in which she locks up her wonders"-the num
1 Izaak Walton.
berless and varied forms of animal and vegetable life, which can hardly fail to arrest his attention and excite his interest, many of them, by reason of the silence and quiet necessary for his sport, being seen to especial advantage; all these things combine not only to present the works of Nature before him in their most attractive form, but at the same time peculiarly dispose his mind to meditate on the impressions they can scarcely fail to make on it. The Book of Nature is in fact opened before his eyes-nay, obtruded on his notice -written in such distinct and inviting characters, that he must indeed be blind of eye, and dull of apprehension, if he do not, to some extent at any rate, attain to a knowledge and a love of her language.
It is scarcely to be wondered then, that, springing from all these associations, there should insensibly arise in the Angler's mind a cordial sympathy with and appreciation of the delights and wonders of Nature, such as I am persuaded no other class of men (taken collectively) possesses.