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of the mighty power which thus clothes the earth with the subsistence of all its children overwhelms me with rapture unspeakable.
There is no part of England where these thoughts are more likely to be generated in their fulness than in this district. The soil is fertile in the highest degree; the skill of the husbandman is nowhere more visible. The thick foliage of the hawthorn hedges invest the prospect, if not with the same magnificence, yet with almost as noble a diversity as the woods which adorn richer counties, while the habitations are so equally scat. tered—the few mansions of the gentry bespeak a character so sound the houses of the farmers a tenantry so competent—the cottages wear an air of such neatness and comfort—the inclosures are so well stocked with herds and flocks--the exquisite perfection of the tillage, the excellence of the roads, and the very flatness of the surface, affording so much ease to the traveller,-all these things combine to fill the mind with that mixed sensation of liveliness and content which, for want of a better phrase, we must call pleasure. The eastern part of Norfolk is, perhaps, more than any other portion of England, divided amongst an opulent yeomanry-men occupying and farming their own estates. There are but few of the squirearchy, and none of the nobility amongst them, and even those few are by no means of the first class. Hence the distribution of the goods of life; and hence, too, the proofs of unceasing industry in the garden-cultivation of the soil, the careful appropriation of every inch of land, and the universal air of contentedness. Such a country in its mere aspect goes far to recommend the disannulling of primogeniture and entails.
Although these appearances cannot be said to end when the traveller (passing from west to east) arrives within ten miles of the sea-shore, a new prospect opens upon him. He enters upon the region of the marshes. Far as the sight can reach, one low, green, watery expanse stretches before him. Yet it is by no means the cheerless waste one might suppose. At this sultry season the green is refreshing, the water cool. A bold river sweeps along both to the right and the left. Its course is marked out by the lively motion of the vessels whose sails rise upon the view at intervals, by the mills for drainage, and by small distant villages and marsh-houses which dot the country. No place is more indebted to capital and industry than this. Fifty years ago the whole tract was little better than a morass; days and days have I traversed it when a boy after my sports of fishing and wild-fowl shooting. Oxen of forty stone are now ruminating at leisure, according to the old law-jargon
« levant et couchant," where, at that time of day, the bittern boomed and the snipe bored.
We soon turned off the high road, and wound along through lanes closed in by the compact fences, multiplied in proportion to the smallness of the fields, till we arrived at a village where our short sojourn was to be made. M numbers about a thousand inhabitants, and retains that ancient and picturesque feature" a green,” round which the houses are scattered, not arranged. The pride of this green appeared to be one of those nondescript residences between a cottage and a house—its white front, enriched with a profusion of ivy or some other creeper, so gay and so neat, that it assured the beholder of the taste and comfort of the owner. One or two brick dwellings, larger than such a site should seem to promise, standing prominently out from the humbler abodes of the labourers,
spoke also of that mediocrity of condition which ensures the " peace, health, and competence," that are the chief ingredients, if they do not bear out the belief of the superior happiness attributed to a middle condition. The irregular figure of this space, its verdure, the groups distributed over it, and even the animals proper to a scene which the bards of the town have represented to be the total of the visionary delights of rural existence
“Where nought's to be seen
But an ass on a common-a goose on a green," these, even these, in our excess of civilization, being old and rare, were amongst the notabilia.
Nor must we omit, for the very contrary reason, because now both new and common, a small congregation of Ranters; the dried-up area of what in wetter seasons is a pond, formed the place of assembly, wherein some two hundred auditors listened to the preaching of a young man dressed in black, whose attitudes seemed graceful and impressive--his words we could not hear in our short and not slow passing.
I shall not descant upon the heartiness of the welcome in the family of an English yeoman—a man of estate and substance—further than to say, that though the rooms were of no large dimensions, and though thatch covered our heads, there were wanting neither the solid comforts nor a sufficiency of the luxuries in furniture that are now almost become necessaries. There is indeed more of state, more of ease, more of grace in the manners of the affluent and great, but everything amongst them is matter of course and arrangement—feeling, if it be there, is never expressed-here it breaks out in everything, it extenuates everything, it endears everything. The amusement of our day was already planned. The peculiar feature of these solitudes is a succession of small lakes, locally known by the name of Broads, and an excursion to one or two of these, opening into each other, had been arranged. Our party included " the youth of both sexes," and fishing and sailing were to be our sports. It makes a part of the record that the Broads we visited were the property of Joseph Hume, Esq., whose name will survive in the annals of England, so long as the most, emphatically the most, persevering, laborious, and comprehensive research into the financial mysteries of the country with a view to public reforms, ever exercised by a Member of the British House of Commons, shall remain an object of historical record or popular gratitude. The bustle of preparation is in such cases no small part of the gratification, and our set out was by no means of an order visible in more polished communities. However shocking it may seem to civilized persons our purpose was to “ eat, drink, and be merry,” and we fulfilled the end. Carts loaded with nets, fishing tackle, and prog of various descriptions, a four-wheeled chaise and pony drag for the ladies of the party, while the men stoutly strutted their
* I beg pardon of my Norfolk friends for the use of this piece of affectation, but I could not avoid it; and this note is superadded only to mark my detestation of all anch high-born slang. Nevertheless, be it known to all who would cultivate the language suited to vars polite, that “a civilized person " must be the designation used for any one of his Majesty's liege subjects whom it is intended to speak of letween the degrees of " producible” and “ agreeable,” particularly if the said subject be not of the order.” The words “ man” and “woman” have been long since expunged for their vulgarity from the slang dictionary of " civilized ” society,
dames before, formed a cavalcade and escort, which (no disrespect to the habits or persons of the lads and lasses) might have passed for a colony, only one remove above a horde of gipsies, on the march to a new quarter in some of the “ sheltered nooks and hollow ways," wherein the poets tell us such wanderers delight to dwell. We made many joyous though disparaging comparisons, which are amongst the humours of such a day and such a frolic,—the rule of contraries prevails in these quips and quiddities. It runs thus : Not happy is he who escapes them. The laughter which peals around keeps all in good temper; and mirth is contagious, as it is easily provoked. What a choice experiment it is to cast away care, and leave ceremony behind us!
We arrived duly, and were safely stowed aboard two vessels ;-the one a cutter-rigged sailer, something less than twenty feet long; the other a small row-boat for fishing. Hurrah! Give way, lads! Up foresail and mainsail,—and now for the Broads !
The character of the surrounding country is peculiar,--an apparently trackless void of marshy ground, terminated on the one side by an horizon which mingles with the ocean, and bears almost its 'wavy, undulating outline, as well as its tint and reflection; the sails of some passing vessel, gleaming white in the radiance of the sun as she goes steadily on her course at not more than three or four miles distance, makes the gazer to feel the dreariness, though in a season so sultry it is not without the redeeming freshness which the cool green inspires. On the other, down to the water's edge, the magnificence of the abundant harvest glorifies the prospect; while the cattle, attracted by thirst, and goaded by swarms of insects, seek to allay the one and rid themselves of the other by laving in the shallow borders, sheltered by the tender reeds with which they are encompassed.
“ Huc ipsi potum venient per prata juvenci,
Hic viridis tenerâ prætexit arundine ripas
Mincius." To no scene, indeed, does this exquisitely-worded description of the Mantuan apply more perfectly. The reed is the “decus et tutamen" of the Broad; it adorns, refreshes, and, above all else, it solitudinizes, these little lagoons. Reed-bushes, about six feet in height, surround and inclose the dark blue waters on every side. They fan the air as they gracefully bend and bow before each stir of the breeze, and produce a gentle murmuring, only just sufficient to convince you feelingly of the otherwise unbroken silence ;—they form the frame of the picture. The whole country from Yarmouth to Wroxham, for more than ten miles inland, is intersected with these Broads, their area varying from twenty to some hundreds of acres; and they not only give a wild and peculiar character to the scenery, but they affect also that of the people, who become, as it were, amphibious. The opportunities of fishing and fowling they afford,--the necessity of water transport for the rushes and other marsh crops,-the very facile means they supply of passing in direct lines from place to place,-all seem to confirm the use and love of the water. Hence the pleasures of this district are like the business --half nautical. On these broads, during the season, a hundred boats assemble from miles around, to enjoy what is called “ a water frolic.” That of Wroxham is perhaps the sovereign. There, multitudes of yessels, rigged in all shapes, from the picturesque latteener to the pettiest
čanoe, course to and fro for the day to the sound of the lively music and the gay voices of the crews. Sailing-matches for prizes crown the pastime.
The. broads upon which we were embarked were of irregular figure, approaching an oval, and might perhaps extend from seventy to one hundred and twenty acres; for water is exceedingly deceptive as to its superficial extent, and it is difficult to compute the dimensions. The slightest wind keeps the expanse in gentle agitation, and it sparkles like diamonds in the light of the sun. Here once flowed the German Ocean; it was even now, as the crow flies, within a couple of miles of us, fenced out by artificial mounds, through which, but a few years ago, its waves burst, and threatened the whole level with destruction * Rising sbove this level, towards the south and west, were the dwellings of two scattered villages. These habitations, a church, and a mill or two, with a fore-ground of reed-bush, and the roof of a sequestered farm, made a sweet sketch, while they gave intimation of the thin inhabitation of the district. Corn-fields seen merging into the solitary waste of the marshes completed the circle of the view. But what is most impressive is the intense feeling of the solitude. • There came a thick darkness," saith the Scripture,
even a darkness that might be felt;' and never did I feel a sequestration so perfect as when moored in the midst of these waters. Nothing is seen, nothing heard, beyond the narrow confines : the stillness, in a day of calm and sunshine, is supreme. Ours was just such a one-brilliant as the blaze of summer could make it.
Our first employment was to heave out a trawl-net for bait (by which the uninitiated must understand small fish-roach and dace) for our supreme sport, liggering † for pike. This was undertaken by the rowboat, while we of the sailing-vessel scudded along, awaiting the success of the supply. An aquatic draughtsman would have enjoyed to sketch us all at our employments,-one of our active young friends and his sister in the boat at one end, and a youth wading above the knees of his trowsers as gradually inclining the other; while the finny drove filed towards the shore, beaming, rippling, and beading the surface of the water, in their vain efforts to escape the captivity that surrounded them. The draught of fish, though not miraculous, was ample; and to it we went in earnest. There was a small inlet at one end of the broad, famous as the haunt of the perch: there, on the bank, were deposited the anglers; while another division put out the liggers-small pieces of
* The reparation of these breaches afforded a singular demonstration of the fact that the strongest minds work by the simplest processes. Several engineers had surveyed them, and recommended piling and other expensive and probably inefficacious means, when William Smith, the geologist, and author of the “Map of the Strata," was applied to. He asked himself, after the example of Smeaton, how Nature operated in such cases ? By making an inclined plane gently to break the force of the sea. He did the same thing, and the might of ocean was repelled.
This is an East Anglian word. Walton says little of this species of fishing, which he calls ledger-bait. In many other counties the tackle is denominated trimming. By our praise of angling we do not intend to uphold the use of live bait, either as respects frogs, fish, or worms. The writer rarely indeed employs either. The most elegant and skilful practice is the fishing with artificial flies or paste-and to these, or trolling with a dead bait, he adheres. All the sports of the field must, however, be called cruel,
wood painted red or white, to be the more visible, furnished with lines and hooks baited with live roach and dace; and a third enjoyed the exhibition, passaging from end to end of the beautiful expanse in the lively little cutter. I was posted with the first brigade.
Of a truth, we poor anglers are a despised people, from the highest to the lowest, when the facetious Horace Smith can find it in his merry heart to describe the founder of the sect, and the no less sportive editor of “ Life in London," one of the least of the order, in the manner our motto sets forth ;-verily, we are a despised people. “There you are ! à 'fool at one end and a worm at the other!" shouts a passer-by. All manner of scurvy jests are broken upon us.
“ Still have we borne it with a patient shrug;
For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe." I, however, am disposed to bear it no longer in absolute silence, but to say a few words in defence of my recreation. Reader, I am not going to bore you with tedious narratives, but rather to allure you to do as angling hath taught me,—to find" books in the running brooks, and good in everything," which, after all, is the great pursuit no less than the great art of life. I rely, indeed, upon my old guardian and guide, Izaak Walton,'to impart to you a secret worth knowing. When care or sorrow afflict us, the cure lies in substituting soothing thoughts for those which harass us, and, to this end, association is a great help. I have not escaped the common lot of humanity, but have suffered under many and severe privations, losses, and injuries : fortunately, I was not backward to discover that the evil passions of others have no power over us but through the instrumentality of our own; and in quelling these my worst enemies, I have ever found it safest, easiest, best, to bring back my mind by some summary process to its duties and their end. life's morning march, when my bosom was young," when thought was freedom and action ecstasy, I was almost upon instinct an angler, and many a long hour have I beguiled in wandering by the sides of rivers and brooks, or gliding over broad waters, such as-remember, we are still navigating-listening to the precepts of old Izaak, delivered by the then tutor of my humanities, an elderly clergyman, who lived on week-days only to teach Greek and Latin, to fish and mend his tackle. It was during this period that I first fell
' upon a passage I am about to quote, gentle reader, for thy instruction and future comfort,—a passage so full of nature, truth, beauty, and feeling, piety and consolation, that I may truly say it has brought me to a happy issue out of many and deep afflictions, and has never failed, though I have read it over a hundred and a hundred times, to charm to something like rest my agitated spirit. Take it then, reader, for thine own use, when it shall seem good to Providence to chasten thee with any similar visitation.
“ That very hour which you were absent from me, I sat down under a willow tree by the water side, and considered what you had told meof the owner of that pleasant meadow in which you left me,--that he had a plentiful estate, and not a heart to think so; that he had, at this time, many law-suits depending; and that they both damped his mirth, and took up so much of his time and thoughts, that he himself had not leisure to take the sweet content that I, who pretended no title to