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had just received the favor of another sprinkle. “Charming weather, ma'am!” “O, delightful!—It’s quite a pleasure to be out of doors. By the by, Mr. Chubb, I'm thinking of strolling—do you ever stroll, sir?” “Ever what?” asked the astounded Mr. Chubb, his blood suddenly boiling up to Fever Heat. “For jack and pike, sir—I’ve just been reading about it in the Complete Angler.” * “O, she means trolling,” thought Mr. Chubb, his blood as rapidly cooling down to temperate. “Why, no, ma'am — no. The truth is, – asking your pardon, — there are no jack or pike, I believe, in this water.” * “Indeed! That’s a pity. And yet, after all, I don’t think I could put the poor frog on the hook—and then sew up his mouth, – I’m sure I could n’t l” “Of course not, ma'am — of course not,” said the little Bachelor, with unusual warmth of manner, — “you have too much sensibility.” “Do you think, then, sir, that angling is cruel ?” “Why really, ma'am ”—but the poor man had entangled himself in a dilemma, and could get no further. “Some persons say it is,” continued the Lady, - “and really to think of the agonies of the poor worm on the hook— but for my part I always fish with paste.” “Yes — I know it,” thought Mr. Chubb, -“with a little hard dumpling.” “And then it is so much cleaner,” said the lady. “Certainly, ma'am, certainly,” replied Mr. Chubb, with a particular reference to a certain very white hand with long taper fingers. “Nothing like paste, ma'am — or a fly — if it was not a liberty, ma'am, I should think you would prefer an artificial fly.” “An artificial one — O, of all things in the world !” exclaimed the Lady with great animation. “That cannot feel ! — But then"—and she shook her beautiful head despondingly—“they are so hard to make. I have read the rules for artificial flies in the book, - and what with badger's hair, and cock's cackles (she meant hackles), and whipping your shanks (she meant the hook's), and then drubbing your fur (she meant dubbing with fur), O, I never could do it!”
Mr. Chubb was silent. He had artificial flies in his pocketbook, and yearned to offer one — but, deterred by certain recollections, he shrank from the task of affixing it to her line. And yet to oblige a lady — and such a fine woman too — and besides the light fall of a fly on the water would be so much better than the flopping of that abominable great green and white floatl — Yes, he would make the offer of it, and he did. It was graciously accepted, - the rod was handed over the hedge, and the little Bachelor, − at a safe distance, — took off, with secret satisfaction, the silk line, its great green and white float, its swanshot, the No. 1 hook and its little hard dumpling. He then substituted a fine fly-line, with a small black ant-fly, and when all was ready, presented the apparatus to the lovely Widow, who was profuse in her acknowledgments. “There never was such a beautiful fly,” she said, “but the difficulty was how to throw it. She was only a Tryo (she meant a Tyro), and as such must throw herself on his neighborly kindness, for a little instruction.”
This information, as well as he could by precept and example, with a hedge between, the little Bachelor contrived to give ; and then dismissed his fair pupil to whip for bleak; whilst with an internal “Thank Heaven l’” he resumed his own apparatus, and began to angle for perch, roach, dace, gudgeons, – or anything else. e
But his gratitude was premature — his float had barely completed two turns, when he heard himself hailed again from the privet hedge.
“Mr. Chubb | Mr. Chubb l’”
“At your service, ma'am.”
“Mr. Chubb, you will think me shockingly awkward, but I’ve switched off the fly, -your beautiful fly, - somewhere among the evergreens.”
Slowly the Angler pulled up his line — at the sacrifice of what seemed a very promising nibble — and carefully deposited his rod again across the arms of the elbow-chair.
“Bless my soul and body 1" muttered Mr. Chubb, as he selected another fly from his pocketbook, - “when shall I ever get any fishing !” s
Poor Mr. Chubb |
How little he dreamt – in all his twelve years dreaming, of ever retiring from trade into such a pretty business as that in which he found himself involved How little he thought, whilst studying the instructive dialogues of Wenator and Viator with Piscator, that he should ever have a pupil in petticoats hanging on his own lips for lessons in the gentle art! Nor was it seldom that she required his counsel or assistance. Scarcely had his own line settled in the water, when he was summoned by an irresistible voice to the evergreen fence, and requested to perform some trivial office for a fair Neophyte, with the prettiest white hand, the softest hazel eyes, and the silkiest auburn hair he had ever seen. Sometimes it was to put a bait on her hook — sometimes to take off a fish — now to rectify her float—and now to screw or unscrew her rod. Not a day passed but the little Bachelor found himself tete-àtête with the lovely Widow, across the privet hedge.
Little he thought, the while, that she was fishing for him, and that he was pouching the bait ! But so it was: — for exactly six weeks from the day when Mr. Chubb caught his first Bleak — Mrs. Hooker beheld at her feet her first Chubb |
What she did with him needs not to be told. Of course she did not give him away, like Venator's chub, to some poor body; or baste him, as Piscator recommends, with vinegar or verjuice. The probability is that she blushed, smiled, and gave him her hand; for if you walk, Gentle Reader to Enfield, and inquire concerning a certain row of snug little villas, with pleasure-grounds bounded by the New River, you will learn that two of the houses, and two of the gardens, and two of the proprietors have been “thrown into one.”
“And did they fish together, sir, after their marriage 2"
Never! Mr. Chubb, indeed, often angled from morning till night, but Mrs. C. never wetted a line from one year's end to another.
THE HAPPIEST MAN IN ENGLAND.
“It is the Soul that sees; the outward eyes
“A CHARMING morning, sir,” remarked my only fellowpassenger in the Comet, as soon as I had settled myself in the opposite corner of the coach. As a matter of course and courtesy I assented; though I had certainly seen better days. It did not rain; but the weather was gloomy, and the air felt raw, as it well might with a pale, dim sun overhead, that seemed to have lost all power of roasting. “Quite an Italian sky,” added the stranger, looking up at a sort of French gray coverlet that would have given a Neapolitan fancy the ague. However, I acquiesced again, but was obliged to protest against the letting down of both windows in order to admit what was called the “fresh, invigorating breeze from the Surrey Hills.” To atone for this objection, however, I agreed that the coach was the best, easiest, safest, and fastest in England, and the road the most picturesque out of London. Complaisance apart, we were passing between two vegetable screens, of a color converted by dust to a really “invisible green,” and so high that they excluded any prospect as effectually as if they had been Venetian blinds. The stranger, nevertheless, watched the monotonous fence with evident satisfaction. “No such hedges, sir, out of England.” “I believe not, sir!”
“No, sir, quite a national feature. They are peculiar to the enclosures of our highly cultivated island. You may travel from Calais to Constantinople without the eye reposing on a similar spectacle.” “So I have understood, sir.” “Fact, sir: they are unique. And yonder is another rural picture unparalleled, I may say, in Continental Europe, – a meadow of rich pasture, enamelled with the indigenous daisy and a multiplicity of buttercups l’’ The oddity of the phraseology made me look curiously at the speaker. A pastoral poet, thought I — but no—he was too plump and florid to belong to that famishing fraternity, and in his dress, as well as in his person, had every appearance of a man well to do in the world. He was more probably a gentleman farmer, an admirer of fine grazing-land, and perhaps delighted in a well-dressed paddock and genteel haystack of his own. But I did him injustice, or rather to his taste — which was far less exclusive — for the next scene to which he invited my attention was of a totally different character — a vast, bleak, scurfy-looking common, too barren to afford even a picking to any living creatures, except a few crows. The view, however, elicited a note of admiration from my companion : — “What an extensive prospect 1 Genuine, uncultivated nature — and studded with rooks l’” The stranger had now furnished me with a clew to his character; which he afterwards more amusingly unravelled. He was an Optimist; — one of those blessed beings (for they are blessed) who think that whatever is, is beautiful as well as right:—practical philosophers, who make the best of everything; imaginative painters, who draw each object en beau, and deal plentifully in couleur de rose. And they are right. To be good—in spite of all the old story-books, and all their old morals — is not to be happy. Still less does it result from Rank, Power, Learning, or Riches; from the single state or a double one, or even from good health or a clean conscience. The source of felicity, as the poet truly declares, is in the Mind—for like my fellow-traveller, the man who has a mind to be happy will be so, on the plainest commons that nature can set before him — with or without the rooks. The reader of Crabbe will remember how graphically he