« ПредишнаНапред »
found it out at last, by chancing to read of a man who had several houses, and complained that though he was always changing from one to another in search of happiness, he could not obtain what he sought. Upon which a friend told him, that unless in these changes he left himself behind, he never could find what he wanted. The fault was in himself, not his houses. This hit my case. I have had country lodgings in five different counties ; I have been a recluse at the lakes, and they not being romantic enough, I suppose, I established myself on the Wye, but with no better
I at first took to fishing, for Walton's sake, and then shut myself up for Zimmerman’s; but I had not patience to watch three hours for a bite, nor food enough in my own mind for solitary meditation. In short, I was ready to hang myself without knowing why, till on reflection I found out the secret.”
“ I long to know it,” said I.
“Why, I discovered it was all owing to my thinking myself fit for a life of leisure when I was not. My whole time was on my hands, and my book-notions of its charms failing, I did not know what to do with myself.”
“ A good lesson for us all,” observed I.
“ Not for you,” returned he, “ for you have education, which I had not. For though I was fond of reading, it was not properly directed. I had much better have stuck to my ledger.”
“ You have, however, changed your habits it should seem. You have, at least, no signs of the blue devils
you talked of.”
“It is mainly owing,” returned he, “ to the daily
walk which I told you I take to Wallingford and back. I found that all the fine writing in the world was thrown away upon a man that was not a fit subject for it, and that perpetual study, and even laborious employment, is the only thing left for it, with one who has no profession to tie him to the world, nor resources in his thoughts to enable him to live out of it. I found, too, that I got better and more practical notions of mankind in the market-place and coffeeroom at Wallingford, than from Zimmerman ; to say nothing of news of the world, to which no man, not disgusted with it (say what he will), can be indifferent."
This pleased me, and I parted with my self-taught philosopher—who told me his name was Ryecroftwith something like regret. He took leave of me at the end of a lane leading to his house, to which, I must do him the justice to say, he invited me with sufficient earnestness; but as I had to dine on the road, and meant to get to Reading that evening, I declined the invitation.
MY ADVENTURES IN A FISHING-HOUSE ON THE RIVER
The pleasant'st angling is to see the fish
SHAKSPEARE.- Much Ado About Nothing.
THE two rencontres I have recorded, with two such opposite characters as I met with, engaged my reflections for many a mile afterwards, till I reached Thatcham, a pleasant village on the Lamburn, which runs into the Kennet, both famous for fishing. This was about one o'clock, when, having been out five hours from breakfast, something whispered me, in terms not to be mistaken, that I wanted my noontide repast. Luckily for me, the landlord of the 56 Jolly Angler” public-house had received the same warning, for he was just sitting down to dinner, with his wife and children, in the cleanest of kitchens, when I entered it with all the freedom and confidence of a traveller who, though a pedestrian, knew he could pay as well as call for what he liked.
The Jolly Angler was one of those rural, neat, and
pretty inns, which England alone presents to a traveller. It overhung the river ; and under the sign appeared inscribed, “ Excellent eels and trout all the season through ; good fishing-rods, baits, and nets, supplied by Christopher Chubb."
As I said, I boldly walked into the kitchen with my knapsack on my shoulders, and found a table spread with very savoury eggs, just out of the pan, and pickled pork, which, to my appetite, excelled all the ragoûts of an Apicius. To be sure, it was in the kitchen (and I had not yet dined in a kitchen), but the cloth and platters were perfectly clean, and I wistfully snuffed the steam of the viands.
The landlord having eyed my appearance,-not uncivilly, but with not much reverence,—did not choose to disburb himself from his dinner, upon which, though he had not walked ten miles, his senses seemed to fix as keenly as mine. He therefore, without rising from his wooden chair, which, as master of the house, had arms to it, asked me carelessly what I wanted, and whether I would not walk into the tap-room.
“ I would willingly,” said I, “ wait in one of your pretty parlours, that hang over the water, till you get me a chicken, and some trout for dinner ; but, to tell the truth, I am so famished, that, if you will give me leave, I would prefer taking a seat with you here, and afterwards, perhaps, you will give me some negus in your parlour.”
At the words chicken, trout, and negus, there was an evident change of looks, both in the landlord and his wife, and the latter, a sleek, buxom, cherry
cheeked dame, of perhaps five and thirty years, said with a smile,
“ I am sure the gentleman speaks very politely ; but, Lor bless me, he cannot surely demean himself to dine here with us.”
“ Deborah,” said the landlord, “the gentleman knows best what suits him ; and if he will take up with our dinner, being, as he says, very hungry, he is very welcome. I suppose, sir, you have come a-sporting to the Jolly Angler ? and well may it be, for it is known, I may say, to half the kingdom, and even to the folks at Lunnon, who come in swarms when the season is on. You have got your gear, I suppose, in
your knapsack ? Now that's the sign of a true sportsman ; that's what I like; and if the sun goes in, after your negus, I dare say I can shew you good entertaininent on the river, as well as in the parlour.”
Aye, sir,” added the dame," and possibly enough to keep you till over to-morrow; for you know, husband, the gentleman who has the white bed, does not come back till next day.”
Finding my reception so altered under the supposition that I was a sporting angler, and might be a permanent guest, I did not say any thing to undeceive them, but sat down, and fell to in good earnest, first ordering a tankard of foaming ale.
By what little shades of self-interest are we influenced in our conduct to one another! and yet are we all brothers of the same flesh and blood, made by the same hand.