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Title: Salmonia - Days of Fly Fishing
Author: Davy, Humphrey
Language: English
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                           Transcriber’s Note

When italics were used in the original book, the corresponding text has
been surrounded by _underscores_. Some corrections have been made to the
printed text. These are listed in a second transcriber’s note at the end
of the text.


                          DAYS OF FLY FISHING.


                       A SERIES OF CONVERSATIONS.


                          TO THE GENUS SALMO.

                             BY AN ANGLER.

          ——“Equidem credo quia sit divinitus illis Ingenium.”


                     CAREY AND LEA—CHESNUT STREET.

                      E. MERRIAM AND CO. PRINTERS,
                           Brookfield, Mass.


                           WILLIAM BABINGTON,

                              M.D. F.R.S.


                             IN REMEMBRANCE



                            AND IN GRATITUDE



                         QUARTER OF A CENTURY.


THESE pages formed the occupation of the Author during some months of
severe and dangerous illness, when he was wholly incapable of attending
to more useful studies, or of following more serious pursuits. They
constituted his amusement in many hours, which otherwise would have been
unoccupied and tedious; and they are published in the hope, that they
may possess an interest for those persons, who derive pleasure from the
simplest and most attainable kind of rural sports, and who practice the
art, or patronize the objects of contemplation, of the Philosophical

The conversational manner and discursive style were chosen as best
suited to the state of health of the Author, who was incapable of
considerable efforts and long-continued attention; and he could not but
have in mind a model, which has fully proved the utility and popularity
of this method of treating the subject—_The Complete Angler_, by Walton
and Cotton.

The characters, chosen to support these Conversations, are—HALIEUS, who
is supposed to be an accomplished fly fisher; ORNITHER, who is to be
regarded as a gentleman generally fond of the sports of the field,
though not a finished master of the art of angling; POIETES, who is to
be considered as an enthusiastic lover of nature, and partially
acquainted with the mysteries of fly fishing; and PHYSICUS, who is
described uninitiated as an angler, but as a person fond of inquiries in
natural history and philosophy.

These personages are of course imaginary, though the sentiments
attributed to them, the Author may sometimes have gained from
recollections of real conversations with friends, from whose society
much of the happiness of his early life has been derived; and in the
portrait of the character of HALIEUS, given in the last dialogue, a
likeness, he thinks, will not fail to be recognized to that of the
character of a most estimable Physician, ardently beloved by his
friends, and esteemed and venerated by the public.

He has limited his description of fish to the varieties of the Salmo
most usual in the fresh waters of Europe, and which may be defined as a
genus having eight fins, the one above the tail fleshy, and without

It is to be hoped M. Cuvier’s new work on fishes will supply accurate
information on this genus, which is still very imperfectly known.

    _Laybach, Illyria,
      Sep. 30, 1828._


                               FIRST DAY.

Vindication of fly-fishing—Poem in praise of Walton—Distinguished
  anglers—Fishing, a natural, philosophical, and scientific
  pursuit—Scenery—Fish possessed of little sensibility—Praise of
  fly-fishing—Field-sports related to natural history—Proposed fishing
  excursion—Comparison of a river to human life

                                                              Page 13-29

                              SECOND DAY.

Trout fishing—Flies—May-fly and gray drake—Alder fly—Object of
  fishing—Escape of a fish after being hooked—Sense of smelling in
  fish—Baits—The natural fly—Pricked trout—Local habits of animals—Trout
  of the Colne—Throwing the fly—Trout described—Spots on
  trout—Perch—Anecdote—Haunts of trout—Evening fishing—Management of a
  fish when hooked—Flies of different seasons—Fishing season—Difference
  of the gillaroo from trout—Diminution of flies in some rivers—Gillaroo
  trout found only in Ireland—Par or samlet—Other varieties of trout—Dr.
  Darwin—Experiment on trout by Mr. Tonkin of Polgaron—Cause of the
  varieties of trout—Mule fish—Crossing the breed—Impregnation of the
  ova of fish—Experiment of Mr. Jacobi on this point—Causes that hasten
  or retard the maturity of the ova—Why fish approach shallows to
  spawn—Admiration of the designs of Providence


                               THIRD DAY.

Morning fishing—Effect of shadows in fishing—Anecdotes illustrating the
  effect of sunshine—Swallows


                              FOURTH DAY.

Scenery—Loch Maree—Eagles—The inn—The river Ewe—Sea trout—Poaching
  highlander—Salmon—Cause of fish being drowned—Salmon—Death by
  suffocation—Nature of pain—Instances of death without pain—Sea
  trout—Crimping—The dinner—The double snipe—Value of temperance in
  eating and drinking—Wading in boots a bad practice—Salmon and trout
  compared—Varieties of salmon


                               FIFTH DAY.

Salmon fishing—Produce of a morning’s sport—Rivers of Norway and
  Sweden—English rivers—Salmon rivers—Scotch rivers—Irish rivers—The
  Sabbath day—Instincts—Instincts to animals what revelation is to man


                               SIXTH DAY.

Flies—Hooks—Salmon of the Ewe—Sense of smelling in animals—Salmon
  fishing with pars—Food of Salmon—Indications of rainy weather—Omens


                              SEVENTH DAY.

Grayling—Anatomy of the grayling—Grayling fishing—Scenery—Habits of the
  grayling—Grayling rivers—Baits for grayling—Generation of
  eels—Migration of eels—The conger eel


                              EIGHTH DAY.

Scenery—Natural history—Origin of the common house fly—Bees and ants—The
  libellula—Ephemeræ—Michaelmas daisy—Humble bee—Thoughts on death,
  suggested by this insect


                               NINTH DAY.

Fishing for hucho—Hereditary instinct—Causes of variety in trout—Salmo
  hucho—Taking a salmo hucho—Resemblance of the hucho to trout—Interior
  of the hucho examined—Habits of the hucho—Pleasure of
  angling—Cockney fishermen—Lame boy and his boats—Amusements—Sea
  serpent—Kraken—Mermaid—Austrian method of conveying fish—Education—The
  press—Effect of continuous fishing—Difference of rivers—Angling
  for frogs—Water ouzel—Umbla—Laveret—Organization of the
  hucho—Craniology—Fat and flesh of the hucho—Naturalization of fish—The
  Traun—Colour of water—Colour of the ocean—Waterfalls—Reflections—The
  late Mr. B. West


                           ADDITIONAL NOTES.

Estimable mention of Dr. Wollaston—On the supposed cross breed of the
  par—On the scolopax




                          DAYS OF FLY FISHING.

                               FIRST DAY.



                            _Scene, London._

PHYS.—HALIEUS, I dare say you know where this excellent trout was
caught: I never ate a better fish of the kind.

HAL.—I ought to know, as it was this morning in the waters of the
Wandle, not ten miles from the place where we sit, and it is through my
means that you see it at table.

PHYS.—Of your own catching?

HAL.—Yes, with the artificial fly.

PHYS.—I admire the fish, but I cannot admire the art by which it was
taken; and I wonder how a man of your active mind and enthusiastic
character can enjoy what appears to me a stupid and melancholy

HAL.—I might as well wonder in my turn, that a man of your discursive
imagination and disposition to contemplation should not admire this
occupation, and that you should venture to call it either stupid or

PHYS.—I have at least the authority of a great moralist, Johnson, for
its folly.

HAL.—I will allow no man, however great a philosopher, or moralist, to
abuse an occupation he has not tried; and as well as I remember, this
same illustrious person praised the book and the character of the great
Patriarch of Anglers, Isaac Walton.

PHYS.—There is another celebrated man, however, who has abused this your
patriarch, Lord Byron, and that in terms not very qualified. He calls
him, as well as I can recollect, “A quaint old cruel coxcomb.”[1] I must
say, a practice of this great fisherman, where he recommends you to pass
the hook through the body of a frog with care, as though you loved him,
in order to keep him alive longer, cannot but be considered as cruel.

HAL.—I do not justify either the expression or the practice of Walton in
this instance; but remember, _I_ fish only with inanimate baits, or
imitations of them, and I will not exhume or expose the ashes of the
dead, nor vindicate the memory of Walton, at the expense of Byron, who,
like Johnson, was no fisherman: but the moral and religious habits of
Walton, his simplicity of manners, and his well-spent life, exonerate
him from the charge of cruelty; and the book of a coxcomb would not have
been so great a favourite with most persons of refined taste. A noble
lady, long distinguished at court for pre-eminent beauty and grace, and
whose mind possesses undying charms, has written some lines in my copy
of Walton, which, if you will allow me, I will repeat to you.

              Albeit, gentle Angler, I
                Delight not in thy trade,
              Yet in thy pages there doth lie
              So much of quaint simplicity,
                  So much of mind,
                  Of such good kind,
                That none need be afraid,
              Caught by thy cunning bait, this book,
              To be ensnared on thy hook.

              Gladly from thee, I’m lured to bear
                With things that seem’d most vile before,
              For thou didst on poor subjects rear
              Matter the wisest sage might hear.
                  And with a grace,
                  That doth efface
                More labour’d works, thy simple lore
              Can teach us that thy skilful _lines_,
              More than the scaly brood _confines_.

              Our hearts and senses, too, we see,
                Rise quickly at thy master hand,
              And, ready to be caught by thee,
              Are lured to virtue willingly.
                  Content and peace,
                  With health and ease,
                Walk by thy side. At thy command
              We bid adieu to worldly care,
              And joy in gifts that all may share.

              Gladly, with thee, I pace along,
                And of sweet fancies dream;
              Waiting till some inspired song,
              Within my memory cherish’d long,
                  Comes fairer forth,
                  With more of worth;
                Because that time upon its stream
              Feathers and chaff will bear away,
              But give to gems a brighter ray.

                                                             C. C. 1812.

And though the charming and intellectual author of this poem is not an
angler herself, yet I can quote the example of her lovely daughters to
vindicate fly fishing from the charge of cruelty, and to prove that the
most delicate and refined minds can take pleasure in this innocent
amusement. One of these young ladies, I am told, is a most accomplished
and skilful salmon fisher. And if you require a poetical authority
against that of Lord Byron, I mention the philosophical and powerful
poet of the lakes, and the author of

                    “An Orphic tale indeed,
            A tale divine, of high and passionate thoughts,
            To their own music chanted;”[2]

who is a lover both of fly fishing and fly fishermen. Gay’s poem you
know, and his passionate fondness for the amusement, which was his
principal occupation in the summer at Amesbury; and the late excellent
John Tobin, author of the Honey Moon, was an ardent angler.

PHYS.—I am satisfied with your poetical authorities.

HAL.—Nay, I can find authorities of all kinds, statesmen, heroes, and
philosophers; I can go back to Trajan, who was fond of angling. Nelson
was[3] a good fly fisher, and as a proof of his passion for it,
continued the pursuit even with his left hand. Dr. Paley was ardently
attached to this amusement; so much so, that when the Bishop of Durham
inquired of him, when one of his most important works would be finished,
he said, with great simplicity and good humour, “My Lord, I shall work
steadily at it when the fly fishing season is over,” as if this were a
business of his life. And I am rather reserved in introducing living
characters, or I could give a list of the highest names of Britain,
belonging to modern times, in science, letters, arts, and arms, who are
ornaments of this fraternity, to use the expression borrowed from the
freemasonry of our forefathers.

PHYS.—I do not find much difficulty in understanding why warriors, and
even statesmen, fishers of men, many of whom I have known particularly
fond of hunting and shooting, should likewise be attached to angling;
but I own, I am at a loss to find reasons for a love of this pursuit
amongst philosophers and poets.

HAL.—The search after food is an instinct belonging to our nature; and
from the savage in his rudest and most primitive state, who destroys a
piece of game, or a fish, with a club or spear, to man in the most
cultivated state of society, who employs artifice, machinery, and the
resources of various other animals, to secure his object, the origin of
the pleasure is similar, and its object the same: but that kind of it
requiring most art may be said to characterize man in his highest or
intellectual state; and the fisher for salmon and trout with the fly
employs not only machinery to assist his physical powers, but applies
sagacity to conquer difficulties; and the pleasure derived from
ingenious resources and devices, as well as from active pursuit, belongs
to this amusement. Then as to its philosophical tendency, it is a
pursuit of moral discipline, requiring patience, forbearance, and
command of temper. As connected with natural science, it may be vaunted
as demanding a knowledge of the habits of a considerable tribe of
created beings—fishes, and the animals that they prey upon, and an
acquaintance with the signs and tokens of the weather and its changes,
the nature of waters, and of the atmosphere. As to its poetical
relations, it carries us into the most wild and beautiful scenery of
nature; amongst the mountain lakes, and the clear and lovely streams
that gush from the higher ranges of elevated hills, or that make their
way through the cavities of calcareous strata. How delightful in the
early spring, after the dull and tedious time of winter, when the frosts
disappear and the sunshine warms the earth and waters, to wander forth
by some clear stream, to see the leaf bursting from the purple bud, to
scent the odours of the bank perfumed by the violet, and enamelled, as
it were, with the primrose and the daisy; to wander upon the fresh turf
below the shade of trees, whose bright blossoms are filled with the
music of the bee; and on the surface of the waters to view the gaudy
flies sparkling like animated gems in the sunbeams, whilst the bright
and beautiful trout is watching them from below; to hear the twittering
of the water-birds, who, alarmed at your approach, rapidly hide
themselves beneath the flowers and leaves of the water-lily; and as the
season advances, to find all these objects changed for others of the
same kind, but better and brighter, till the swallow and the trout
contend as it were for the gaudy May fly, and till in pursuing your
amusement in the calm and balmy evening, you are serenaded by the songs
of the cheerful thrush and melodious nightingale, performing the offices
of paternal love, in thickets ornamented with the rose and woodbine.

PHYS.—All these enjoyments might be obtained without the necessity of
torturing and destroying an unfortunate animal, that the true lover of
nature would wish to see happy in a scene of loveliness.

HAL.—If all men were Pythagoreans and professed the Brahmin’s creed, it
would undoubtedly be cruel to destroy any form of animated life; but if
fish are to be eaten, I see no more harm in capturing them by skill and
ingenuity with an artificial fly, than in pulling them out of the water
by main force with the net; and in general, when taken by the common
fishermen, fish are permitted to die slowly, and to suffer in the air,
from the want of their natural element; whereas, every good angler, as
soon as his fish is landed, either destroys his life immediately, if he
is wanted for food, or returns him into the water.

PHYS.—But do you think nothing of the torture of the hook, and the fear
of capture, and the misery of struggling against the powerful rod?

HAL.—I have already admitted the danger of analysing, too closely, the
moral character of any of our field sports; yet I think it cannot be
doubted that the nervous system of fish, and cold-blooded animals in
general, is less sensitive than that of warm-blooded animals. The hook
usually is fixed in the cartilaginous part of the mouth, where there are
no nerves; and a proof that the sufferings of a hooked fish cannot be
great is found in the circumstance, that though a trout has been hooked
and played for some minutes, he will often, after his escape with the
artificial fly in his mouth, take the natural fly, and feed as if
nothing had happened; having apparently learnt only from the experiment,
that the artificial fly is not proper food. And I have caught pikes with
four or five hooks in their mouths, and tackle which they had broken
only a few minutes before; and the hooks seemed to have had no other
effect than that of serving as a sort of _sauce piquante_, urging them
to seize another morsel of the same kind.

PHYS.—Fishes are mute, and cannot plead, even in the way that birds and
quadrupeds do, their own cause; yet the instances you quote only prove
the intense character of their appetites, which seem not so moderate as
Whiston imagined, in his strange philosophical romance on the Deluge; in
which he supposes, that in the antediluvian world the heat was much
greater than in this, and that all terrestrial and aerial animals had
their passions so exalted by this high temperature, that they were lost
in sin, and destroyed for their crimes; but that fish, living in a
cooler element, were more correct in their lives, and were therefore
spared from the destruction of the primitive world. You have proved, by
your examples, the intensity of the appetite of hunger in fishes;
Spalanzani has given us another proof of the violence of a different
appetite, or instinct, in a cold-blooded animal, that has most of the
habits of the genus—the frog; which, in the breeding season, remains
attached to the female, though a limb, or even his head, is removed from
the body.

HAL.—This is likewise in favour of my argument, that the sensibility of
this class of animals to physical pain is comparatively small.

PHYS.—The advocates for a favourite pursuit never want sophisms to
defend it. I have even heard it asserted, that a hare enjoys being
hunted. Yet I will allow that fly-fishing, after your vindication,
appears amongst the least cruel of field-sports;—I can go no farther; as
I have never thought of trying it, I can say nothing of its
agreeableness as an amusement, compared with hunting and shooting.

HAL.—I wish that you would allow me to convince you, that for a
contemplative man, as you are, and a lover of nature, it is far
superior, more tranquil, more philosophical, and, after the period of
early youth, more fitted for a moderately active body and mind,
requiring less violent exertion; and, pursued with discretion, affording
an exercise conducive to health. There is a river, only a few miles off,
where I am sure I could obtain permission for you, and our friend
Poietes, to fish.

PHYS.—I am open to conviction on all subjects, and have no objection to
spend one May-day with you in this idle occupation; premising, that you
take at least one other companion, who really loves fishing.

HAL.—You, who are so fond of natural history, even should you not be
amused by fishing, will, I am sure, find objects of interest on the
banks of the river.

PHYS.—I fear I am not entomologist enough to follow the life of the
May-fly, but I shall willingly have my attention directed to its habits.
Indeed, I have often regretted that sportsmen were not fonder of
zoology; they have so many opportunities, which other persons do not
possess, of illustrating the origin and qualities of some of the most
curious forms of animated nature; the causes and character of the
migrations of animals; their relations to each other, and their place
and order in the general scheme of the universe. It has always appeared
to me, that the two great sources of change of place of animals, was the
providing of food for themselves, and resting-places and food for their
young. The great supposed migrations of herrings from the poles to the
temperate zone have appeared to me to be only the approach of successive
shoals from deep to shallow water, for the purpose of spawning. The
migrations of salmon and trout are evidently for the purpose of
depositing their ova, or of finding food after they have spawned.
Swallows, and bee-eaters, decidedly pursue flies over half the globe;
the scolopax or snipe tribe, in like manner, search for worms and
larvæ,—flying from those countries where either frost or dryness
prevents them from boring,—making generally small flights at a time, and
resting on their travels where they find food. And a journey from
England to Africa is no more for an animal that can fly, with the wind,
one hundred miles in an hour, than a journey for a Londoner to his seat
in a distant province. And the migrations of smaller fishes or birds
always occasion the migration of larger ones, that prey on them. Thus,
the seal follows the salmon, in summer, to the mouths of rivers; the
hake follows the herring and pilchard; hawks are seen in great
quantities, in the month of May, coming into the east of Europe, after
quails and land-rails; and locusts are followed by numerous birds, that,
fortunately for the agriculturist, make them their prey.

HAL.—It is not possible to follow the amusement of angling, without
having your attention often directed to the modes of life of fishes,
insects, and birds, and many curious and interesting facts, as it were,
forced upon your observation. I consider you (_Physicus_), as pledged to
make one of our fishing party; and I hope, in a few days, to give you an
invitation to meet a few worthy friends on the banks of the Colne. And
you (_Poietes_), who, I know, are an initiated disciple of Walton’s
school, will, I trust, join us. We will endeavour to secure a fine day;
two hours, in a light carriage with good horses, will carry us to our
ground; and I think I can promise you green meadows, shady trees, the
song of the nightingale, and a full and clear river.

POIET.—This last is, in my opinion, the most poetical object in nature.
I will not fail to obey your summons. Pliny has, as well as I recollect,
compared a river to human life. I have never read the passage in his
works, but I have been a hundred times struck with the analogy,
particularly amidst mountain scenery. The river, small and clear in its
origin, gushes forth from rocks, falls into deep glens, and wantons and
meanders through a wild and picturesque country, nourishing only the
uncultivated tree or flower by its dew or spray. In this, its state of
infancy and youth, it may be compared to the human mind in which fancy
and strength of imagination are predominant—it is more beautiful than
useful. When the different rills or torrents join, and descend into the
plain, it becomes slow and stately in its motions; it is applied to move
machinery, to irrigate meadows, and to bear upon its bosom the stately
barge;—in this mature state, it is deep, strong, and useful. As it flows
on towards the sea, it loses its force and its motion, and at last, as
it were, becomes lost, and mingled with the mighty abyss of waters.

HAL.—One might pursue the metaphor still further, and say, that in its
origin—its thundering and foam, when it carries down clay from the bank,
and becomes impure, it resembles the youthful mind, affected by
dangerous passions. And the influence of a lake, in calming and clearing
the turbid water, may be compared to the effect of reason in more mature
life, when the tranquil, deep, cool and unimpassioned mind is freed from
its fever, its troubles, bubbles, noise and foam. And, above all, the
sources of a river—which may be considered as belonging to the
atmosphere—and its termination in the ocean, may be regarded as imaging
the divine origin of the human mind, and its being ultimately returned
to, and lost in, the Infinite and Eternal Intelligence from which it
originally sprung.

                              SECOND DAY.


                   TROUT FISHING, DENHAM.—MAY, 1810.


HAL.—I AM delighted to see you, my worthy friends, on the banks of the
Colne; and am happy to be able to say, that my excellent host has not
only made you free of the river for this day’s angling, but insists upon
your dining with him,—wishes you to try the evening fishing, and the
fishing to-morrow morning,—and proposes to you, in short, to give up
twenty-four hours to the delights of an angler’s May-day.

POIET.—We are deeply indebted to him; and I hardly know how we can
accept his offer, without laying ourselves under too great an

HAL.—Fear not: he is as noble minded a man as ever delighted in good
offices; and so benevolent, that I am sure he will be almost as happy in
knowing you are amused, as you can be in your sport; and he hopes for an
additional satisfaction in the pleasure of your conversation.

POIET.—So let it be.

HAL.—I will take you to the house; you shall make your bow, and then you
will be all free to follow your own fancies. Remember, the dinner hour
is five; the dressing bell rings at half-past four; be punctual to this
engagement, from which you will be free at seven.

POIET.—This is really a very charming villa scene, I may almost say, a
pastoral scene. The meadows have the verdure which even the Londoners
enjoy as a peculiar feature of the English landscape. The river is
clear, and has all the beauties of a trout stream, of the larger
size,—there rapid, and here still, and there tumbling in foam and fury
over abrupt dams upon clean gravel, as if pursuing a natural course. And
that island with its poplars and willows, and the flies making it their
summer paradise, and its little fishing-house, are all in character; and
if not extremely picturesque, it is at least a very pleasant scene, from
its verdure and pure waters, for the lovers of our innocent amusement.

HAL.-It is ten o’clock: you may put up your rods, or take rods from the
hall, for so hospitable is the master of this mansion, that every thing
is supplied to our hands. And Physicus, as you are the only one of our
party ignorant of the art of fly fishing, I will fit you with a rod and
flies; and let me advise you to begin with a line shorter than your rod,
and throw at first slowly and without effort, and imitate us as well as
you can. As for precepts, they are of little value; practice and
imitation will make you an angler.

POIET.—I shall put together my rod, and fish with my own flies. It may
be fancy, but I always think I do best with tackle with which I am used
to fish.

HAL.—You are right; for fancy is always something: and when we believe
that we can do things better in a particular way, we really do, by the
influence of imagination, perform them both better and with less effort.
I agree with moralists, that the standard of virtue should be placed
higher than any one can reach; for in trying to rise, man will attain a
more excellent state of being than if no effort were made. But to our
business. As far as the perfection of the material for the angler is
concerned, the flies you find on this table are as good as can be made,
and for this season of the year, there is no great variety on this
river. We have had lately some warm days, and though it is but the 18th
of May, yet I know the May-fly has been out for three or four days, and
this is the best period of this destructive season for the fisherman.
There are, I observe, many male flies on the high trees, and some
females on the alders.

PHYS.—But I see flies already on the water, which seem of various
colors,—brown and gray, and some very pale,—and the trout appear to rise
at them eagerly.

HAL.—The fly you see is called by fishermen the alder fly, and appears
generally in large quantities before the May-fly. Imitations of this
fly, and of the green and the gray drake of different shades, are the
only ones you will need this morning, though I doubt if the last can be
much used, as the gray drake is not yet on the water in any quantity.

PHYS.—Pray can you give us any account of these curious little animals?

HAL.—We ought to draw upon your stores of science for information on
these subjects.

PHYS.—I really know nothing of Entomology, but I am desirous of
acquiring knowledge.

HAL.—I have made few observations on flies as a philosophical
naturalist. What I know I will state at another time. But see, the green
drake is descending upon the water, and some are leaving the alders to
sport in the sunshine, and to enjoy the pleasures of their brilliant,
though short existence; and their life, naturally ephemeral, is made one
of scarcely a moment, by the fishes and birds: that which the swallow or
the duck spares is caught by the fish. The fly is new, and in the
imitation, I recommend the olive tint, or what the Irish call the green
monkey. That is, an artificial fly, with a wing of dyed yellow drake’s
feather, a body of yellow monkey’s fur, and a small quantity of olive
mohair for legs. For myself, I shall fish for some time with a large red
alder fly, and I dare say, with as much success. That is, with a fly
with a dark peacock’s harle for body, a red hackle for legs, and wings
of the land-rail below, and starling above.

POIET.—The water is quite in motion, what noble fish I see on the feed!
I never beheld a finer sight, though I have often seen the May-fly on
well-stocked waters.

HAL.—This river is most strictly preserved; not a fish has been killed
here since last August, and this is the moment when the large fish come
to the surface, and leave their cad bait search and minnow hunting. But
I have hardly time to talk; I have hold of a good fish: they take either
alder or May-fly, and having never been fished for this year, they make
no distinction, and greedily seize any small object in motion on the
water. You see the alder-fly is quite as successful as the May-fly; but
there is a fish which has refused it, and because he has been feeding,
glutton-like, on the May-fly: that is the fifth he has swallowed in a
minute. Now I shall throw the drake a foot above him. It floats down,
and he has taken it. A fine fish; I think at least 4lbs. This is the
largest fish we have yet seen, but in the deep water still lower down,
there are still greater fish. One of 5lbs. I have known taken here, and
once a fish a little short only of 6lbs.

POIET.—I have just landed a fish which I suppose you will consider as a
small one; yet I am tempted to kill him.

HAL.—He is not a fish to kill, throw him back, he is much under 2lbs.,
and, as I ought to have told you before, we are not allowed to kill any
fish of less size; and I am sure we shall all have more than we ought to
carry away even of this size. Pray put him into the well, or rather give
him to the fisherman to turn back into the water.

POIET.—I cannot say I approve of this manner of fishing: I lose my

HAL.—As the object of your fishing, I hope, is innocent amusement, you
can enjoy this, and show your skill in catching the animal; and if every
fish that took the May-fly were to be killed, there would be an end to
the sport in the river, for none would remain for next year.

PHYS.—The number of flies seems to increase as the day advances, and I
never saw a more animated water scene: all nature seems alive; even the
water-wagtails have joined the attack upon these helpless and lovely
creations from the waters.

HAL.—It is now one o’clock; and between twelve and three is the time
when the May-fly rises with most vigour. It is a very warm day, and with
such a quantity of fly, every fish in the river will probably be soon
feeding. See, below the wear, there are two or three large trout lately
come out; and from the quiet way in which they swallow their prey, and
from the size of the tranquil undulation that follows their rise, I
suspect they are the giants of this river. Try if you cannot reach them:
one is near the bank in a convenient place for a throw, for the water is
sufficiently rough to hide the deception, and these large fish do not
take the fly well in calm water, though with natural flies on the hook
they might all be raised.

POIET.—I have him! Alas! he has broken me, and carried away half my
bottom line. He must have been a fish of 7 or 8lbs. What a dash he made!
He carried off my fly by main force.

HAL.—You should have allowed your reel to play and your line to run: you
held him too tight.

POIET.—He was too powerful a fish for my tackle; and even if I had done
so, would probably have broken me by running amongst the weeds.

HAL.—Let me tell you, my friend, you should never allow a fish to run to
the weeds, or to strike across the stream; you should carry him always
down stream, keeping his head high, and in the current. If in a weedy
river you allow a large fish to run up stream, you are almost sure to
lose him. There, I have hooked the companion of your lost fish on the
other side of the stream,—a powerful creature: he tries, you see, to
make way to the weeds, but I hold him tight.

POIET.—I see you are obliged to run with him, and have carried him
safely through the weeds.

HAL.—I have him now in the rapids on the shallow, and I have no fear of
losing him, unless he strikes the hook out of his mouth.

POIET.—He springs again and again.

HAL.—He is off; in one of these somersets he detached the steel, and he
now leaps to celebrate his escape. We will leave this place, where there
are more great fish, and return to it after a while, when the alarm
produced by our operations has subsided.

PHYS.—That fish take the artificial fly at all is rather surprising to
me, for in its most perfect form it is but a rude imitation of nature;
and from the greedy manner in which it is seized, fish, I think, cannot
possess a refined sense of smell, or any nervous system corresponding to
the nasal one in animals that breathe air: no scent can be given to
water by an artificial fly, or, at least, none like that of the natural

HAL.—The principal use of the nostrils in fishes, I believe, is to
assist in the propulsion of water through the gills for performing the
office of respiration, but I think there are some nerves in these organs
which give fishes a sense of the qualities of the water, or of
substances dissolved in, or diffused through it, similar to our sense of
smell, or, perhaps, rather our sense of taste, for there can be no doubt
that fishes are attracted by scented pastes and scented worms, which are
sometimes used by anglers that employ ground-baits; and in old
angling-books there are usually receipts for attracting fish in this
manner, and though the absurdity of many of these prescriptions is
manifest, yet I do not think this proves that they are entirely useless,
for, upon such principles, all the remedies for diseases in the old
pharmacopœias would be null.

With respect to the fly, as it usually touches the stream by a very
small surface, that of the air-bubbles on the fringes on its legs, it
can scarcely affect the water so as to give it any power of
communicating smell. And as you have seen a ripple or motion on the
water is necessary to deceive fishes; and as they look at the fly from
below, they see distinctly only the legs and body, which, when the
colours are like those of the natural fly, may easily deceive them; the
wings, which are the worst imitated parts of the artificial fly, seldom
appear to them, except through the different refractive power of the
moving water and the atmosphere, and when immersed, they form masses not
unlike the wings of a drowned fly, or one wetted in rising.

                  *       *       *       *       *

It is now a quarter of an hour since we left the large pool: let us
return to it; I see the fish are again rising.

POIET.—I am astonished! It appears to me that the very same fish are
again feeding. There are two fish rising nearly in the same spot where
they rose before: can they be the same fish?

HAL.—It is very possible. It is not likely that three other fish of that
size should occupy the same haunts.

POIET.—But I thought after a fish had been hooked, he remained sick and
sulky for some time, feeling his wounds uncomfortable.

HAL.—The fish that I hooked is not rising in the same place, and
therefore, probably, was hurt by the hook; but one of these fish seems
to be the same that carried off your fly, and it is probable that the
hook only struck him in a part of the mouth where there are no nerves;
and that he suffered little at the moment, and does not now feel his

POIET.—I have seen him take four or five flies: I shall throw over him.
There, he rose, but refused the fly. He has at least learnt, from the
experiment he has made, to distinguish the natural from the artificial

HAL.—This, I think, always happens after a fish has been hooked with an
artificial fly. He becomes cautious, and is seldom caught that year, at
least with the same means in the same pool: but I dare say that fish
might be taken with a natural fly; or, what is better, two upon the

POIET.—Pray try him.

HAL.—I am no artist at this kind of angling, but Ornither I know has
fished in June with the clubs at Stockbridge, where this method of
fishing is usual. Pray let him try his fortune, though it is hardly fair
play; and it is rather to endeavour to recover your tackle, than for the
sake of the fish, that I encourage him to make the essay.

POIET.—Pray make no apologies for the trial. Such a fish—certainly a
monster for this river—should be caught by fair means, if possible, but
caught by any means.

ORN.—You lost that fish, and you overrate his size, as you will see, if
I have good luck. I put my live flies on the hook with some regret and
some disgust. I will not employ another person to be my minister of
cruelty, as I remember a lady of fashion once did, who was very fond of
fishing for perch, and who employed her daughter, a little girl of nine
years of age, to pass the hook through the body of the worm! Now there
is a good wind, and the fish has just taken a natural fly. I shall drop
the flies, if possible, within a few inches of his nose. He has risen.
He is caught! I must carry him down stream to avoid the bed of weeds
above. I now have him on fair ground, and he fights with vigour.
Fortunately, my silk worm gut is very strong, for he is not a fish to be
trifled with. He begins to be tired; prepare the net. We have him safe,
and see your link hangs to his lower jaw: the hook had struck the
cartilage on the outside of the bone, and the fly, probably, was
scarcely felt by him.

PHYS.—I am surprised! That fish evidently had discovered that the
artificial fly was a dangerous bait, yet he took the natural fly which
was on a hook, and when the silk-worm gut must have been visible.

HAL.—I do not think he saw either the gut or the hook. In very bright
weather and water, I have known very shy fish refuse even a hook baited
with the natural fly, scared probably by some appearance of hook or gut.
The vision of fishes when the surface is not ruffled is sufficiently
keen. I have seen them rise at gnats so small as to be scarcely visible
to my eye.

PHYS.—You just now said, that a fish pricked by the hook of an
artificial fly would not usually take it again that season.

HAL.—I cannot be exact on that point: I have known a fish that I have
pricked retain his station in the river, and refuse the artificial fly,
day after day, for weeks together; but his memory may have been kept
awake by this practice, and the recollection seems local and associated
with surrounding objects; and if a pricked trout is chased into another
pool, he will, I believe, soon again take the artificial fly. Or if the
objects around him are changed, as in Autumn, by the decay of weeds, or
by their being cut, the same thing happens; and a flood, or a rough
wind, I believe, assists the fly-fisher, not merely by obscuring the
vision of the fish, but, in a river much fished, by changing the
appearance of their haunts: large trouts almost always occupy particular
stations, under, or close to, a large stone or tree; and, probably, most
of their recollected sensations are connected with this dwelling.

PHYS.—I think I understand you, that the memory of the danger and pain
does not last long, unless there is a permanent sensation with which it
can remain associated,—such as the station of the trout; and that the
recollection of the mere form of the artificial fly, without this
association, is evanescent.

ORN.—You are diving into metaphysics; yet I think, in fowling, I have
observed that the memory of birds is local. A woodcock, that has been
much shot at and scared in a particular wood, runs to the side where he
has usually escaped, the moment he hears the dogs; but if driven into a
new wood, he seems to lose his acquired habits of caution, and becomes

POIET.—This great fish, that Ornither has just caught, must be nearly of
the weight I assigned to him.

HAL.—O no! he is, I think, above 5lbs., but not 6lbs.; but we can form a
more correct opinion by measuring him, which I can easily do, the but of
my rod being a measure. He measures, from nose to fork, a very little
less than twenty-four inches, and, consequently, upon the scale which is
appropriate to well-fed trouts, should weigh 5lbs. 10oz.—which, within
an ounce, I doubt not, is his weight.

PHYS.—O! I see you take the mathematical law, that similar solids are to
each other in the triplicate ratio of one of their dimensions.

HAL.—You are right.

PHYS.—But I think you are below the mark, for this appears to me an
extraordinarily thick fish.

HAL.—He is a well-fed fish, but, in proportion, not so thick as my
model, which was a fish of 17 inches by 9 inches, and weighed 2lbs.;
this is my standard solid. We will try him. Ho! Mrs. B.!—bring your
scales, and weigh this fish. There, you see, he weighs 5lbs. 10½oz.

PHYS.—Well, I am pleased to see this fish, and amused with your sport;
but though I have been imitating you in throwing the fly, as well as I
can, yet not a trout has taken notice of my fly, and they seem scared by
my appearance.

HAL.—Let me see you perform. There are two good trout taking flies
opposite that bank, which you can reach. You threw too much line into
the water, and scared them both; but I will take you to the rapid of the
Tumbling Bay, where the river falls; there the quickness of the stream
will prevent your line from falling deep, and the foam will conceal your
person from the view of the fish. And let me advise you to fish only in
the rapids till you have gained some experience in throwing the fly.
There are several fish rising in that stream.

PHYS.—I have raised one, but he refused my fly.

HAL.—Now you have a fish.

PHYS.—I am delighted;—but he is a small one.

HAL.—Unluckily it is a _dace_.

PHYS.—I have now a larger fish, which has pulled my line out.

HAL.—Give him time. That is a good trout. Now wind up; he is tired, and
your own. I will land him. He is a fish to keep, being above 2lbs.

PHYS.—I am well pleased.

HAL.—There are many larger trouts here: go on fishing and you will hook
some of them. And when you are tired of this rapid, you will find
another a quarter of a mile below. And continue to fish with a short
line, and drop your fly, or let it be carried by the wind on the water,
as lightly as possible. Well, Poietes, what success?

POIET.—I have been fishing in the stream above; but the flies are so
abundant, that the large fish will not take my artificial fly, and I
have caught only three fish, all of which the fisherman has thrown into
the water, though I am sure one of them was more than 2lbs.

HAL.—You may trust his knowledge: with a new angler, our keeper would be
apt rather to favour the fisherman than the fish. But we will have all
fish you wish to be killed, and above 2lbs., put into the well of the
boat, where they can be examined, and, if you desire, weighed and
measured, and such kept as are worth keeping. No good angler should kill
a fish, if possible, till he is needed to be crimped; for the sooner he
is dressed after this operation the better;—and I assure you, a well-fed
trout of the Colne, crimped and cooled ten minutes before he is wanted
for the kettle or the gridiron, is a fish little inferior to the best
salmon of the best rivers. It is now nearly two o’clock, and there is a
cloud over the sun; the fly is becoming less abundant; you are now
likely, Poietes, to have better sport. Try in that deep pool, below the
Tumbling Bay; I see two or three good fish rising there, and there is a
lively breeze. The largest fish refuses your fly again and again; try
the others. There, you have hooked him; now carry him down stream, and
keep his head high, out of the weeds. He plunges and fights with great
force;—he is the best-fed fish I have yet seen at the end of the line,
and will weigh more in proportion to his length. I will land him for
you. There he is,—and measures 19 inches; and I dare say his weight is
not much short of 3lbs. We will preserve him in the well.

POIET.—He has hardly any spots, and is silvery all over; and the whole
of the lower part of his body is beautifully clean.

HAL.—He is likewise broad-backed; and you may observe his few spots are
black, and these are very small. I have always remarked, in this river,
that the nearer the fish approach to perfection, the colour of the body
becomes more uniform,—pale olive above, and bright silver below; and
these qualities are always connected with a small head,—or rather, an
oval body, and deep-red flesh.

POIET.—May not the red spots be marks of disease—a hectic kind of
beauty? For I observed in a very thin and poor fish, and great-headed,
that I caught an hour ago, which had leeches sticking to it, a number of
red spots, and a long black back, and black or bluish marks even on the

HAL.—I do not think red spots a symptom of disease; for I have seen fish
in other rivers, and even small fish in this river, in perfectly good
season, with red spots; but the colours of fish are very capricious, and
depend upon causes which cannot be easily defined. The colouring matter
is not in the scales, but in the surface of the skin immediately beneath
them, and is probably a secretion easily affected by the health of the
animal. I have known fish, from some lakes in Ireland, mottled in a most
singular way,—their colour being like that of the tortoise: the nature
of the water, exposure to the light, and probably the kind of food,
produce these effects. I think it possible, when trout feed much on hard
substances, such as larvæ and their cases, and the ova of other fish,
they have more red spots, and redder fins. This is the case with the
gillaroo and the char, who feed on analogous substances: and the trout,
that have similar habits, might be expected to resemble them. When trout
feed most on small fish, as minnows, and on flies, they have more
tendency to become spotted with small black spots, and are generally
more silvery. The Colne trout are, in their advanced state, of this
kind; and so are the trout called in Ireland buddocks and dolochans,
found in Loch Neah. Particular character becomes hereditary, and the
effects of a peculiar food influence the appearance of the next
generation. I hope, Ornither, you have had good sport.

ORN.—Excellent! Since you left me, below the wear, I have hooked at
least fifteen or twenty good fish, and landed and saved eight above
2lbs.; but I have taken no fish like the great one which I caught by
poaching with the natural flies. The trout rose wonderfully well within
the last quarter of an hour, but they are now all still; and the river,
which was in such active motion, is now perfectly quiet, and seems
asleep and almost dead.

HAL.—It is past four o’clock, and some dark, heavy clouds are come
on,—the fly is off. It is almost the hour for the signal of the dressing
bell; and there is nothing more to be done now till evening. But see!
our host is come to examine our fish in the well, and to enquire about
our sport; and, I dare say, will order some of our fish to be dressed
for the table.

HOST.—I hope, gentlemen, you have been amused?

HAL.—Most highly, sir. As a proof of it, there are in the fish-well
eighteen good trout,—and one not much short of 6lbs.; three above 4lbs.,
and four above 3lbs. in weight. I hope you will order that great fish
for your dinner.

HOST.—We will see. He is a fine fish, and fit for a present, even for a
prince—and you shall take him to a prince. Here is a fish, and there
another, of the two next sizes, which I am sure will cut red. Prepare
them, fisherman. And, Halieus, you shall catch two or three perch, for
another dish; I know there are some good ones below the piles of the
wear; I saw them hunting small fish there yesterday morning. Some
minnows, ho!—and the perch rods!

HAL.—I am tired, sir, and would willingly avoid minnow fishing after
such a morning’s sport.

HOST.—Come, then, I will be a fisher for the table. I have one—and
another, that will weigh nearly a pound apiece. Now, there is a cunning
perch that has stolen my minnow; I know he is a large one. He has robbed
me again and again; and if I fish on in this way, with the hook through
the upper lip, will, I dare say, carry away all the minnows in the
kettle. I shall put on a strong small hook, on a stout, though fine,
gut, with slender wire round the top, and pass the hook through the back
fin of the minnow, and try my sagacity against his. Lo! I have him!—and
a very strong fish he is, and gone to the bottom; but even though the
greatest perch in the river, he cannot bite the gut,—he will soon be
tired and taken. He now comes up, and is landed. He must be above
3lbs.—a magnificent perch! Kill him and crimp him, fisherman; take our
two trout, and the three perch, to the kitchen, and let them be dressed
as usual. You shall have a good dish of fish, worthy of such determined
anglers. But I see one of your party coming up by the side of the river,
who seems tired and out of spirits.

HAL.—It is Physicus, who has this day commenced his career as a fly
fisher; and who, I dare say, has been as successful as the uninitiated
generally are. I hope you have followed my advice, and been fortunate?

PHYS.—I caught two trout in the rapid where you left me; but they were
small, and the fisherman threw them in. Below the wear, in the quick
stream, I caught two dace, and what astonished me very much, a perch,
which you see here, and which I thought never took the fly.

HAL.—O yes, sometimes; and particularly when it is below the surface:
and what more?

PHYS.—By creeping on my knees, and dropping my fly over the bank, I
hooked a very large fish which I saw rising, and which was like a
salmon; but he was too strong for my tackle, ran out all my line, and at
last broke off by entangling my link in a post in the river. I have been
very unlucky! I am sure that fish was larger than the great one Ornither
took with the natural fly.

HAL.—Come, you have been initiated, and I see begin to take an interest
in the sport, and I do not despair of your becoming a distinguished

PHYS.—With time and some patience: but I am sorry I tortured that
enormous fish without taking him.

HAL.—I dare say he was a large fish; but I have known very correct, and
even cool, reasoners in error on a point of this kind. You are
acquainted with Chemicus; he is not an ardent fisherman, and certainly
not addicted to romance; I will tell you an anecdote respecting him. He
accompanied me to this very spot last year, on a visit to our host, and
preferred angling for pike to fly fishing. After the amusement of a
morning, he brought back with him to the house one pike, and with some
degree of disappointment complained that he had hooked another of an
enormous size, which carried off his tackle by main force, and which he
was sure must have been above 10lbs. At dinner, on the table, there were
two pikes; one the fish that Chemicus had caught, and another a little
larger, somewhat more than 3lbs. We put some questions as to who had
caught this second pike, which we found had been taken by our host, who
smiling, and with some kind of mystery, asked Chemicus if he thought it
weighed 10lbs. Chemicus refused to acknowledge an identity between such
a fish and the monster he had hooked; when my friend took out of his
pocket a paper containing some hooks and tackle carefully wrapped up,
and asked Chemicus if he had ever seen such an apparatus. Chemicus owned
they were the hooks and tackle the great fish had carried away. “And I
found them,” said our friend, “in the mouth of that very _little_ fish
which you see on the table, and which I caught half an hour ago.”

HOST.—I answer for the correctness of this anecdote, but I do not
sanction its application to the case of our novitiate in angling. I have
seen a fish under that bank where he was so unfortunate, which I am sure
was above four pounds, and which I dare say was the subject of his
unsuccessful experiment.

POIET.—From what our host has just said, I conclude, Halieus, that fish
do not usually change their stations.

HAL.—Large trouts unquestionably do not;—they always hide themselves
under the same bank, stone, stock, or weed, as I said this morning
before, and come out from their permanent habitations to feed; and when
they have fled to their haunt, they may be taken there by the hand; and
on this circumstance the practice of tickling trout is founded. A
favourite place for a large trout in rivers is an eddy behind a rock or
stone, where flies and small fishes are carried by the force of the
current: and such haunts are rarely unoccupied; for if a fish is taken
out of one of them, his place is soon supplied by another, who quits for
it a less convenient situation.

PHYS.—So much knowledge and practice is required to become a proficient,
that I am afraid it is too late in life for me to begin to learn a new

HAL.—Do not despair. There was—alas! that I must say there was—an
illustrious philosopher, who was nearly of the age of fifty before he
made angling a pursuit, yet he became a distinguished fly-fisher, and
the amusement occupied many of his leisure hours during the last twelve
years of his life. He, indeed, applied his pre-eminent acuteness, his
science, and his philosophy to aid the resources, and exalt the
pleasures of this amusement. I remember to have seen Dr. Wollaston, a
few days after he had become a fly-fisher, carrying at his buttonhole a
piece of caoutchouc, or Indian rubber, when, by passing his silk-worm
link through a fissure in the middle, he rendered it straight and fit
for immediate use. Many other anglers will remember other ingenious
devices of my admirable and ever-to-be lamented friend.

(_They go to dinner._)

                  *       *       *       *       *

(_They return from the house._)


HAL.—You have, I am sure, gentlemen, dined well; no one ever dined
otherwise in this house. It is a beautiful calm evening, and many fish
might be caught where we fished in the morning; but I will take you to
another part of the river; you shall each catch a fish, and then we will
give over; for the evening’s sport should be kept till a late
season,—July or August,—when there is little fly on in the day-time: and
it would be spoiling the diversion of our host, to catch or prick all
the fish in the upper water; and with a gentleman so truly liberal, and
so profuse of his means of giving pleasure to others, no improper
liberties should be taken. I shall not fish myself, but shall have my
pleasure in witnessing your sport. It must be in a boat, and you must
steal slowly up the calm water, and glide like aerial beings on the
surface, making no motion in the water, and showing no shadow. Your fly
must be an orange or brown palmer with a yellow body; for the gray drake
is not yet on the water. The fish here are large, and the river weedy,
so you must take care of your fish and your tackle.

POIET.—We have at least passed over half-a-mile of water, and have seen
no fish rise; yet there is a yellowish or reddish fly in the air, which
moves like a drake; and there are clouds of pale brown flies encircling
the alders. Now I think I see a large trout rise below that alder.

HAL.—That is not a trout, for he rises in a different place now, and is
probably a large roach or chub; do not waste your time upon him. You may
always know a large trout when feeding in the evening. He rises
continuously, or at small intervals,—in a still water almost always in
the same place,—and makes little noise,—barely elevating his mouth to
suck in the fly, and sometimes showing his back-fin and tail. A large
circle spreads around him, but there are seldom many bubbles when he
breaks the water, which usually indicate the coarser fish: we will wait
a few minutes; I know there must be trout here, and the sun is setting,
and the yellow fly, or dun cut, coming on the water. See, beneath that
alder is a trout rising, and now there is another thirty yards higher
up. Take care, get your line out in another part of the water, and in
order, for reaching the fish, and do not throw till you are sure you can
reach the spot, and throw at least half-a-yard above the fish.

ORN.—He rose, I suppose, at a natural fly, the moment before my fly
touched the water.

HAL.—Try again. You have hooked him, and you have done well not to
strike when he rose. Now hold him tight, wind up your line, and carry
him down the stream. Push the boat down stream, fisherman. Keep your
fish’s head up. He begins to tire,—and there is landed. A fine well-fed
fish, not much less than 4lbs. Throw him into the well. Now, Poietes,
try that fish rising above,—and there are two more.

POIET.—I have him!

HAL.—Take care. He has turned you, and you have suffered him to run out
your line, and he is gone into the weeds under the willow: let him fall
down stream.

POIET.—I cannot get him out.

HAL.—Then wind up. I fear he is lost, yet we will try to recover him by
taking the boat up. The line is loose: he has left the link entangled in
the weeds, and carried your fly with him. He must have been a large
fish, or he could not have disentangled himself from so strong a gut.
Try again, there are fish now rising above and below; where the water is
in motion, opposite that willow, there are two fish rising.

POIET.—I have one of them.

HAL.—Now you are doing well. Down with the boat, and drag your fish
downwards. Continue to do so, as there are weeds all round you. You can
master him now; keep him high, and he is your own. Put the net under
him, and bring him into the boat; he is a well-fed fish, but not of the
proper size for a victim: about 2lbs. Now, Physicus, try your fortune
with the fish above that rises so merrily still. You have him! Now use
him as Poietes did the last. Very well; I see he is a large fish,—take
your time. He is landed; a fish nearly of 3lbs., and in excellent

PHYS.—Anche Io son Pescatore—I am too a fisherman—a triumph.

HAL.—Now we have finished our fishing, and must return to the light
supper of our host. It would be easy now, and between this hour and ten,
to take half-a-dozen large fish in this part of the water; but for the
reason I have already stated, it would be improper.

POIET.—Pray would not this be a good part of the water for day-fishing?

HAL.—Undoubtedly, a skilful angler might take fish here in the day; but
the bank is shaded by trees, there is seldom any sensible wind on the
water, and the apparatus and the boat in motion are easily perceived in
the daylight; and the water is so deep, that a great quantity of fly is
necessary to call up the fish; and in general there is a larger quantity
of fly in hot summer evenings, than even in the brightest sunshine.

PHYS.—The fly appears to me like a moth that is now on the water.

HAL.—It is.

POIET.—What flies come on late in the season here?

HAL.—Flies of the same species; some darker, and some with a deeper
shade of red; and there are likewise the true moths, the brown and
white, which, in June and July, are seized with avidity by the fish; and
being large flies, take large fish.

ORN.—Surely the May-fly season is not the only season for day-fishing in
this river?

HAL.—Certainly not. There are as many fish to be taken perhaps in the
Spring fishing; but in this deep river they are seldom in good season
till the May-fly has been on, and a fortnight hence they will be still
better than even now. In September there may be good fish taken here;
but the autumnal flies are less plentiful in this river than the spring

PHYS.—Pray tell me what are the species of fly which take in these two

HAL.—You know that trout spawn or deposit their ova and seminal fluid in
the end of the autumn or beginning of winter, from the middle of
November till the beginning of January, their maturity depending upon
the temperature of the season, their quantity of food, &c. For some time
(a month or six weeks) before they are prepared for the sexual function,
or that of re-production, they become less fat, particularly the
females; the large quantity of eggs and their size probably affecting
the health of the animal, and compressing generally the vital organs in
the abdomen. They are at least six weeks or two months after they have
spawned before they recover their flesh: and the time when these fish
are at the worst is likewise the worst time for fly-fishing, both on
account of the cold weather and because there are fewer flies on the
water than at any other season. Even in December and January there are a
few small gnats or water-flies on the water in the middle of the day, in
bright days, or when there is sunshine. These are generally black, and
they escape the influence of the frost by the effects of light on their
black bodies, and probably by the extreme rapidity of the motions of
their fluids, and generally of their organs. They are found only at the
surface of the water, where the temperature must be above the freezing
point. In February a few double-winged water-flies which swim down the
stream are usually found in the middle of the day,—such as the
willow-fly; and the cow-dung-fly is sometimes carried on the water by
winds. In March there are several flies found on most rivers. The
grannam or green-tail-fly, with a wing like a moth, comes on generally
morning and evening, from five till eight o’clock, A. M. in mild weather
in the end of March and through April. Then there are the blue and the
brown, both Ephemeræ, which come on, the first in dark days, the second
in bright days; these flies, when well imitated, are very destructive to
fish. The first is a small fly with a palish-yellow body, and slender
beautiful wings, which rest on the back as it floats down the water. The
second, called the cob in Wales, is three or four times as large, and
has brown wings, which likewise protrude from the back, and its wings
are shaded like those of a partridge, brown and yellow brown. These
three kinds of flies lay their eggs in the water, which produce larvæ
that remain in the state of worms, feeding and breathing in the water
till they are prepared for their metamorphosis and quit the bottoms of
the rivers, and the mud and stones, for the surface, and the light and
air. The brown fly usually disappears before the end of April, likewise
the grannam; but of the blue dun, there is a succession of different
tints, or species, or varieties, which appear in the middle of the day
all the summer and autumn long. These are the principal flies on the
Wandle—the best and clearest stream near London. In early spring these
flies have dark olive bodies; in the end of April and the beginning of
May they are found yellow; and in the summer they become
cinnamon-coloured; and again, as the winter approaches, gain a darker
hue. I do not, however, mean to say that they are the same flies, but
more probably successive generations of Ephemeræ of the same species.

The excess of heat seems equally unfavourable, as the excess of cold, to
the existence of the smaller species of water-insects, which, during the
intensity of sunshine, seldom appear in summer, but rise morning and
evening only. The blue dun has in June and July a yellow body, and there
is a water-fly which in the evening is generally found before the moths
appear, called the red-spinner. Towards the end of August, the Ephemeræ
appear again in the middle of the day: a very pale small Ephemera, which
is of the same colour as that which is seen in some rivers in the
beginning of July. In September and October this kind of fly is found
with an olive body, and it becomes darker in October, and paler in
November. There are two other flies which appear in the end of
September, and continue during October if the weather be mild: a large
yellow fly with a fleshy body and wings like a moth; and a small fly
with four wings, with a dark or claret-coloured body, that when it falls
on the water has its wings like the great yellow fly, flat on its back.
This, or a claret-bodied fly, very similar in character, may be likewise
found in March or April, on some waters. In this river I have often
caught many large trout in April and the beginning of May, with the blue
dun, having the yellow body; and in the upper part of the stream below
St. Albans, and between that and Watford, I have sometimes, even as
early as April, caught fish in good condition: but the _true_ season for
the Colne is the season of the May-fly. The same may be said of most of
the large English rivers containing large trouts, and abounding in
May-fly;—such as the Test and the Kennet; the one running by
Stockbridge, the other by Hungerford. But in the Wandle at Carshalton
and Beddington, the May-fly is not found; and the little blues are the
constant, and when well imitated, killing flies on this water; to which
may be joined a dark alder-fly, and a red evening fly. In the Avon, at
Ringwood and Fordingbridge, the May-fly is likewise a killing fly; but
as this is a grayling river, the other flies, particularly the grannam
and blue and brown, are good in spring, and the alder-fly or pale blue
later, and the blue dun in September and October, and even November. In
the streams in the mountainous parts of Britain, the spring and autumnal
flies are by far the most killing. The Usk was formerly a very
productive trout stream, and the fish being well-fed by the worms washed
down by the winter floods, were often in good season, cutting red, in
March, and the beginning of April: and at this season the blues and
browns, particularly when the water was a little stained after a small
flood, afforded the angler good sport. In Herefordshire and Derbyshire,
where trout and grayling are often found together, the same periods are
generally best for angling; but in the Dove, Lathkill, and Wye, with the
natural May-fly, many fish may be taken; and in old times, in peculiarly
windy days, or high and troubled water, even the artificial May-fly,
according to Cotton, was very killing.

POIET.—I have heard various accounts of the excellent fishing in some of
the great lakes in Ireland. Can you tell us any thing on the subject,
and if the same flies may be used in that island?

HAL.—I have been several times in Ireland, but never at this season,
which is considered as best for lake-fishing. I have heard that in some
of the lakes in Westmeath, very large trout, and great quantities may be
taken in the beginning of June, with the very flies we have been using
this day. Wind is necessary; and a good angler sometimes takes in a day,
or rather formerly took, from ten to twelve fish, which weighed from 3
to 10lbs., and which occasionally were even larger. In the summer after
June, and in the autumn, the only seasons when I have fished in Ireland,
I have seldom taken any large trout; but in the river Boyle, late in
October, after a flood, I once had some sport with these fish, that were
running up the river from Lock Key to spawn. I caught one day two above
3lbs. that took a large reddish-brown fly of the same kind as a salmon
fly; and I saw some taken that weighed 5lbs., and heard of one that
equalled 9lbs. These fish were in good season, even at this late period,
and had no spots, but were coloured red and brown—mottled like
tortoise-shell, only with smaller bars. I have in July, likewise, fished
in Loch Con, near Ballina, and Loch Melvin, near Ballyshannon. In Loch
Con, the party caught many small good trout, that cut red; and in the
other I caught a very few trout only, but as many of them were gillaroo
or gizzard trout as common trout.

POIET.—This must have been an interesting kind of fishing. In what does
the gillaroo differ from the trout?

HAL.—In appearance very little, except that they have more red spots,
and a yellow or golden-coloured belly and fins, and are generally a
broader and thicker fish; but internally they have a different
organization, possessing a large thick muscular stomach, which has been
improperly compared to a fowl’s, and which generally contains a quantity
of small shell-fish of three or four kinds: and though in those I caught
the stomachs were full of these shell-fish, yet they rose greedily at
the fly.

POIET.—Are they not common trout which have gained the habit of feeding
on shell-fish?

HAL.—If so, they have been altered in a succession of generations. The
common trouts of this lake have stomachs like other trouts, which never,
as far as my experience has gone, contain shell-fish; but of the
gillaroo trout, I have caught with a fly some not longer than my finger,
which have had as perfect a hard stomach as the larger ones, with the
coats as thick in proportion, and the same shells within; so that this
animal is at least _now_ a distinct species, and is a sort of link
between the trout and char, which has a stomach of the same kind with
the gillaroo, but not quite so thick, and which feeds at the bottom in
the same way. I have often looked in the lakes abroad for gillaroo
trout, and never found one. In a small lake at the foot of the Crest of
the Brenner, above 4000 feet above the level of the sea, I once caught
some trout, which, from their thickness and red spots, I suspected were
gillaroo, but on opening the stomach I found I was mistaken; it had no
particular thickness, and was filled with grasshoppers: but there were
_char_, which fed on _shell-fish_, in the same lake.

POIET.—Are water-flies found on all rivers?

HAL.—This is a question which I find it impossible to answer; yet from
my own experience I should suppose, that in all the habitable parts of
the globe certain water-flies exist wherever there is running water.
Even in the most ardent temperature, gnats and musquitoes are found,
which lay their congeries of eggs on the water, which, when hatched,
become first worms, afterwards small shrimp-like aurelia, and lastly
flies. There are a great number of the largest species of these flies on
stagnant waters and lakes, which form a part of the food of various
fishes, principally of the carp kind: but the true fisherman’s
flies,—those which are imitated in our art, principally belong to the
northern, or at least temperate part of Europe, and I believe are
nowhere more abundant than in England. It appears to me, that since I
have been a fisherman, which is now the best part of half a century, I
have observed in some rivers where I have been accustomed to fish
habitually, a diminution of the numbers of flies. There were always some
seasons in which the temperature was favourable to a quantity of fly;
for instance, fine warm days in spring for the grannam, or brown fly;
and like days in May and June for the alder-fly, May-fly, and stone-fly;
but I should say that within these last twenty years I have observed a
general diminution of the spring and autumnal flies, except in those
rivers which are fed from sources that run from chalk, and which are
perennial—such as the Wandle, and the Hampshire and Buckinghamshire
rivers; in these streams the temperature is more uniform, and the
quantity of water does not vary much. I attribute the change of the
quantity of flies in the rivers to the cultivation of the country. Most
of the bogs or marshes which fed many considerable streams are drained;
and the consequence is, that they are more likely to be affected by
severe droughts and great floods—the first killing, and the second
washing away the larvæ and aurelias. May-flies thirty years ago were
abundant in the upper part of the Teme river in Herefordshire, where it
receives the Clun: they are now rarely seen. Most of the rivers of that
part of England, as well as of the west, with the exception of those
that rise in the still uncultivated parts of Dartmoor and Exmoor, are
rapid and unfordable torrents after rain, and in dry summers little more
than scanty rills; and Exmoor and Dartmoor, almost the only considerable
remains of those moist, spongy, or peaty soils, which once covered the
greatest part of the high lands of England, are becoming cultivated, and
their sources will gradually gain the same character as those of our
midland and highly-improved counties. I cannot give you an idea of the
effects of peat mosses and grassy marshes on the water thrown down from
the atmosphere, better, than by comparing their effects to those of
roofs of houses of thatched straw, as contrasted with roofs of slate, on
a shower of rain. The slate begins to drop immediately, and sends down
what it receives in a rapid torrent, and is dry soon after the shower is
over. From the sponge-like roof of thatch, on the contrary, it is long
before the water drops; but it continues dropping and wet for hours
after the shower is over and the slate dry.

POIET.—You spoke just now of the gillaroo trout, as belonging only to
Ireland. I can, however, hardly bring myself to believe, that such a
fish is not to be found elsewhere. For lakes with shell-fish and char
are common in various parts of Europe, and as the gillaroo trout is
congenerous, it ought to exist both in Scotland and the Alpine

HAL.—It is not possible from analogies of this kind to draw certain
inferences. Subterraneous cavities and subterranean waters are common in
various countries, yet the Proteus Anguinus is only found in two places
in Carniola—at Adelsburg and Sittich. As I mentioned before, I have
never yet met with a gillaroo trout except in Ireland. It is true, it is
only lately that I have had my attention directed to this subject, and
other fishermen or naturalists may be more fortunate.

POIET.—Have you ever observed any other varieties of the trout kind,
which may be considered as, like the gillaroo, forming a distinct

HAL.—I think the par, samlet, or brandling, common to most of our
rivers, which communicate with the sea, has a claim to be considered a
distinct species; yet the history of this fish is so obscure, and so
little understood, that, perhaps, I ought not to venture to give an
account of it. But in doing so, you will consider me as rather asking
for new information, than as attempting a satisfactory view of this
little animal.

ORN.—I have seen this fish in the rivers of Wales and Herefordshire, and
have heard it asserted, on what appeared to me good authority, that it
was a mule,—the offspring of a trout and a salmon.

HAL.—This opinion, I know, has been supported by the fact, that it is
found only in streams, which are occasionally visited by salmon; yet I
know no direct evidence in favour of the opinion, and I should think it
much more probable, if it be a mixed race, that it is produced by the
sea trout and common trout. In a small river, which runs into the Moy,
near Ballina in Ireland, I once caught in October a great number of
small sea trout, which were generally about half-a-pound in weight, and
were all _males_; and unless it be supposed, that the females were in
the river likewise, and would not take the fly, these fish, in which the
spermatic system was fully developed, could only have impregnated the
ova of the common river trout. The sea trout and river trout are,
indeed, so like each other in character, that such a mixture seems
exceedingly probable; but I know no reason why such mules should always
continue small, except that it may be a mark of imperfection. The only
difference between the par and common small trout is in the colours, and
its possessing one or two spines more in the pectoral fin. The par has
large blue or olive bluish marks on the sides, as if they had been made
by the impression of the fingers of a hand; and hence the fish is called
in some places _fingerling_. The river and sea trout seem capable of
changing permanently their places of residence; and sea trout appear
often to become river trout. In this case they lose their silvery
colour, and gain more spots; and in their offspring these changes are
more distinct. Fish, likewise, which are ill-fed remain small; and pars
are exceedingly numerous in those rivers where they are found, which are
never separated from the sea by impassable falls; from which I think it
possible that they are produced by a cross between sea and river trout.
The varieties of the common trout are almost infinite; from the great
lake trout, which weighs above 60 or 70lbs., to the trouts of the little
mountain brook or small mountain lake, or tarn, which is scarcely larger
than the finger. The smallest trout spawn nearly at the same time with
the larger ones, and their ova are of the same size; but in the large
trout there are tens of thousands, and in the small one rarely as many
as forty,—often from ten to forty. So that in the physical constitution
of these animals, their production is diminished as their food is small
in quantity; and it is remarkable, that the ova of the large and
beautiful species which exist in certain lakes, and which seem always to
associate together, appear to produce offspring, which, in colour, form,
and power of growth and reproduction, resemble the parent fishes; and
they generally choose the same river for their spawning. Thus, in the
lake of Guarda, the Benacus of the ancients, the magnificent trout, or
_Salmo fario_, which in colour and appearance is like a fresh run
salmon, spawns in the river at Riva, beginning to run up for that
purpose in June, and continuing to do so all the summer; and this river
is fed by streams from snow and glaciers in the Tyrol, and is generally
foul: whilst the small spotted common trouts, which are likewise found
in this lake, go into the small brooks, which have their sources not far
off, and in which, it is probable, they were originally bred. I have
seen taken in the same net small fish of both these varieties which were
as marked as possible in their characters:—one silvery, like a young
salmon, blue on the back, and with small black spots only; the other,
with yellow belly and red spots, and an olive-coloured back. I have made
similar observations in other lakes, particularly in that of the Tarun
near Gmunden, and likewise at Loch Neah in Ireland. Indeed, considering
the sea trout as the type of the species _trout_, I think all the other
true trouts may not improperly be considered as varieties, where the
differences of food and of habits have occasioned, in a long course of
ages, differences of shape and colours, transmitted to offspring in the
same manner as in the variety of dogs, which may all be referred to one
primitive type.[4]

PHYS.—I am somewhat amused at your idea of the change produced in the
species of trout by the formation of particular characters by particular
accidents, and their hereditary transmission. It reminds me of the
ingenious but somewhat unsound views of Darwin on the same subject.

HAL.—I will not allow you to assimilate my views to those of an author,
who, however ingenious, is far too speculative; whose poetry has always
appeared to me weak philosophy, and his philosophy indifferent poetry:
and to whom I have been often accustomed to apply Blumenbach’s saying,
that there were many things new and many things true in his doctrines;
but that what was new was not true, and what was true was not new.

POIET.—I think Halieus is quite in the right to be a little angry at
your observation, Physicus, in making him a disciple of a writer, who,
as well as I can recollect, has deduced the _genesis_ of the human
being, by a succession of changes dependant upon irritabilities,
sensibilities, and appetencies, from the _fish_; blending the wild
fancies of Buffon with the profound ideas of Hartly, and thus
endeavouring to give currency to an absurd romance, by mixing with it
some philosophical truths. I hope your parallel will induce him to do us
the favour to state his own notions more at large.

HAL.—Physicus has mistaken me; and I will explain. What I mentioned of
the varieties of dogs as sprung from one type, he will, I am sure, allow
me to apply, with some modifications, to all our cultivated breeds of
animals, whether horses, oxen, sheep, hogs, geese, ducks, turkies, or
pigeons; and he will allow, that certain characters gained by accidents,
either from peculiar food, air, water, or domestic treatment, are
transmitted to, and often strengthened in the next generation; the
qualities being, as it were, doubled when belonging to both parents, and
retained in spite of counteracting causes. It will be sufficient for me
to mention only a few cases. The blood-horse of Arabia, is become the
favourite of the north of Europe, and the colts possess all the superior
qualities of their parents, even in the polar circle. The offspring of
the Merino sheep retain the fineness of their wool in England and
Saxony. Poultry, bantams, tumbling and carrier pigeons, geese, ducks,
turkies, &c., all afford instances of the same kind; and in the goose
and duck, not only is the colour of the feathers changed, but the form
of the muscles of the legs and wings; those of the wings, being little
employed, become weak and slender; those of the legs, on the contrary,
being much used, are strong and fleshy; and it is well to know this, as,
in the young birds, the muscles of the legs and thighs are the best
parts for the epicure, a large quantity of flesh being developed there,
but not yet hardened or rendered tough by exercise. These facts are of
the same kind and depend on the same principles, as the peculiarity of
the breeds or races in trouts. Fish in a clear cool river, that feed
much on larvæ, and that swallow their hard cases, become yellower, and
the red spots increase so as to outnumber the black ones; and these
qualities become fixed in the young fishes, and establish a particular
variety. If trout from a lake, or another river of a different variety,
were introduced into this river, they would not at once change their
characters; but the change would take place gradually. Thus I have known
trout from a lake in Scotland, remarkable for their deep red flesh,
introduced into another lake, where the trout had only white flesh, and
they retained the peculiar redness of their flesh for many years. At
first they all associated together in spawning in the brook which fed
the lake, but those newly introduced were easily known from their darker
backs and brighter sides. By degrees, however, from the influence of
food and other causes, they became changed; the young trout of the
introduced variety had flesh less red than their parents; and in about
twenty years the variety was entirely lost, and all the fish were in
their original white state. A very speculative reasoner might certainly
defend the hypothesis, of the change of _species_ in a long course of
ages, from the establishment of particular characters as hereditary. It
might be said, that trout, after having thickened their stomachs by
feeding on larvæ with hard cases, gained the power of eating shell-fish,
and were gradually changed to gillaroos and to char; their red spots and
the yellow colour of their belly and fins increasing. In the same manner
it might be said, that the large trout which feed almost entirely on
small fishes, gained more spines in the pectoral fins, and became a new
species; but _I_ shall not go so far, and I know no facts of this kind.
The gillaroo and the char appear always with the same characters: and I
have never seen any fish that seemed in a state of transition from a
trout to gillaroo or a char; which I think, must have been the case if
such changes took place. I hope, after this explanation, Physicus will
not find any analogy between my ideas and those of a school, to which I
am not ambitious of being thought to belong; and that he will allow my
views to be sound, or at least founded upon correct analogies.

POIET.—Do you know any facts of a similar kind in confirmation of your
idea that the par is a mule?

HAL.—I have heard of similar instances, but I cannot say I have myself
witnessed them. The common carp and the cruscian are said to produce a
mixed race, and likewise the rud and the roach; but I have never paid
much attention to varieties of the carp kind. A friend of mine informed
me, that in a branch of the Test, into which graylings had recently been
introduced, his fisherman caught a fish, which appeared to be from a
cross between the trout and grayling, having the high back fin of the
grayling, and the head and spots of the trout: this is the more
remarkable, if correct, as the grayling spawns in the late spring, and
the trout in the late autumn or winter: yet I _do_ recollect that I once
took a grayling in the end of November, in which the ova were so large,
as nearly to be ready for protrusion. The fisherman of the Gründtl See,
in Styria, informed me, that he had seen a fish which he believed to be
a mule between the trout and char, the fins of which resembled those of
a trout, though the body was in other respects like that of a char. The
seasons at which these two species spawn approach nearer to each other;
but the char spawns in still and the trout in running water. In general
the trout are mature before the char, yet I have seen in the
Leopoldstein See, in Styria, a female char, of which the eggs were
almost fully developed as early as June: the fisherman of the Gründtl
See said, that these peculiar fish were very rare, and that he caught
only one in about 500 char. It is not, I think, impossible, that it may
be an umbla, a fish that might be expected to be found in that deep,
cold, Alpine lake, a peculiar species and not a mixed variety. It is a
fertile and very curious subject for new experiments, that of crossing
the breeds of fishes, and offers a very interesting and untouched field
of investigation, which I hope will soon be taken up by some enlightened
country gentleman, who in this way might make not only curious but
useful discoveries.

POIET.—So much science would be required to make these experiments with
success, and there would be so many difficulties in the way of
preserving fishes at the time they are proper for reproduction, that I
fear very few country gentlemen would be capable of prosecuting the

HAL.—The science required for this object is easily attained, and the
difficulties are quite imaginary. The impregnation of the ova of fishes
is performed out of the body, and it is only necessary to pour the
seminal liquor from the melt upon the ova in water. Mr. Jacobi, a German
gentleman, who made many years ago experiments on the increase of trout
and salmon, informs us, that the ova and melt of mature fish, recently
dead, will produce living offspring. His plan of raising trout from the
egg was a very simple one. He had a box made with a small wire grating
at one end in the cover, for admitting water from a fresh source or
stream, and at the other end of the side of the box there were a number
of holes to permit the exit of the water: the bottom of the box was
filled with pebbles and gravel of different sizes, which were kept
covered with water that was always in motion. In November or the
beginning of December, when the trout were in full maturity for
spawning, and collected in the rivers for this purpose upon beds of
gravel, he caught males and females in a net, and by the pressure of his
hands, received the ova in a basin of water, and suffered the melt or
seminal fluid to pass into the basin; and after they had remained a few
minutes together, he introduced them upon the gravel in the box, which
was placed under a source of fresh, cool, and pure water. In a few weeks
the eggs burst, and the box was filled with an immense number of young
trout, which had a small bag attached to the lower part of their body
containing a part of the yolk of the egg, which was still their
nourishment. In this state they were easily carried from place to place
in confined portions of fresh water for some days, requiring apparently
no food; but, after about a week, the nourishment in their bag being
exhausted, they began to seek their food in the water, and rapidly
increased in size. As I have said before, Mr. Jacobi assures us, that
the experiment succeeded as well with mature fish, that had been killed
for the purpose of procuring the roe and melt, these having been mixed
together in cold water immediately after they were taken out of the
body. I have had this experiment tried twice, and with perfect success,
and it offers a very good mode of increasing to any extent the quantity
of trout in rivers or lakes, for the young ones are preserved from the
attacks of fishes, and other voracious animals or insects, at the time
when they are most easily destroyed, and perfectly helpless. The same
plan, I have no doubt, would answer equally well with grayling or other
varieties of the salmo genus. But in all experiments of this kind, the
great principle is, to have a constant current of fresh and aerated
water running over the eggs. The uniform supply of air to the fœtus in
the egg is essential for its life and growth, and such eggs as are not
supplied with water saturated with air are unproductive. The
experimenter must be guided exactly by the instinct of the parent
fishes, who take care to deposit the impregnated eggs, that are to
produce their offspring, only in sources continually abounding in fresh
and aerated water.

PHYS.—But as every species of fish has a particular and usually
different time for spawning, I do not see how it could be contrived to
cross their breeds, or how the ova of a trout, which spawns in December,
could be impregnated by the seminal fluid of the grayling, which spawns
in May; for I conclude it would be impossible to preserve the eggs of a
fish out of the body in a state in which they could retain or recover
their vitality.

HAL.—I believe I mentioned before, that I had found instances, in which
the ova of fish were developed at a different period from their natural
one; and I have no doubt, that a little inquiry respecting the habits of
fishes would enable us to acquire a knowledge of the circumstances,
which either hasten or retard their maturity. Plenty of food and a
genial season hasten the period of their reproduction, which is delayed
by want of proper nourishment, and by unfavourable weather. Males and
females likewise, confined from each other, have their generative powers
impeded; and trout, grayling, and salmon, will not deposit their ova
except in running water; so that by keeping them in tanks, the period of
their maturity might be considerably altered. I have seen char even,
which had been kept in confined water from September till July; and so
slow had been the progress of the ova, that they appeared to be about
this time fit for exclusion, though, in the natural course of things,
they would have been ripe in the end of October of the year before. By
attending to and controlling all these circumstances, I have no doubt
many interesting experiments might be made, as to the possibility of
modifying the varieties of the salmo, by impregnating the ova of one
species with the seminal fluid of another. With fishes of other genera
the task would be still more easy. Carp, perch, and pike, deposit their
ova in still water in spring and summer, when it is supplied with air by
the growth of vegetables: and it is to the leaves of plants, which
afford a continual supply of oxygen to the water, that the impregnated
eggs usually adhere; so that researches of this kind might be conducted
within doors in close vessels, filled with plants, exposed to the sun. I
have myself kept minnows and sticklebacks alive for many months in the
same confined quantity of water, containing a few confervæ; and their
ova and melt increased in the same manner, as if they had been in their
natural situation.

ORN.—I conclude from your statements, Halieus, that nothing more is
required for the production of fishes from impregnated eggs, than a
constant supply of water of a certain temperature furnished with air;
and of course the same principles will apply to fishes of the sea.

HAL.—There can be no doubt of it: and fishes in spawning time always
approach great shallows, or shores covered with weeds, that, in the
process of their growth, under the influence of the sunshine, constantly
supply pure air to the water in contact with them.

POIET.—In every thing belonging to the economy of nature, I find new
reasons for wondering at the designs of Providence,—at the infinite
intelligence by which so many complicated effects are produced by the
most simple causes. The precipitation of water from the atmosphere, its
rapid motion in rivers, and its falls in cataracts, not only preserve
this element pure, but give it its vitality, and render it subservient
even to the embryo life of the fish; and the storms which agitate the
ocean, and mingle it with the atmosphere, supply at once food to marine
plants, and afford a principle of life to the fishes which inhabit its
depths. So that the perturbation and motion of the winds and waves
possess a use, and ought to impress us with a beauty higher and more
delightful even than that of the peaceful and glorious calm.

                               THIRD DAY.




HAL.—YOU will soon take your leave, gentlemen, of this agreeable villa,
but we must catch at least two brace of trout, to carry with us to
London as a present for two worthy patrons of the angle. For though I
know our liberal host will have a basket of fish packed up for each of
our party, yet fish taken this morning will be imagined a more
acceptable present than those caught yesterday. The May-fly is already
upon the water, though not in great quantity, and it will consequently
be more easy to catch the fish, which I see are rising with great
activity. I advise you to go to the deep water below, where you will
find the largest fish, and I will soon follow you.

POIET.—I hope I shall catch a large fish,—a companion to that which
Ornither took yesterday with a natural fly.

[_Halieus leaves them fishing, and returns to the house; but soon comes
back and joins his companions, whom he finds fishing below in the

HAL.—Well, gentlemen, what sport?

POIET.—The fish are rising every where; but though we have been throwing
over them with all our skill for a quarter of an hour, yet not a single
one will take, and I am afraid we shall return to breakfast without our

HAL.—I will try; but I shall go to the other side, where I see a very
large fish rising. There!—I have him at the very first throw. Land this
fish, and put him into the well. Now I have another; and I have no doubt
I could take half a dozen in this very place, where you have been so
long fishing without success.

PHYS.—You must have a different fly; or have you some unguent or charm
to tempt the fish?

HAL.—No such thing. If any of you will give me your rod and fly, I will
answer for it, I shall have the same success. I take your rod,
Physicus.—And lo! I have a fish!

PHYS.—What can be the reason of this? It is perfectly inexplicable to
me. Yet Poietes seems to throw as light as you do, and as well as he did

HAL.—I am surprised, that you, who are a philosopher, cannot discover
the reason of this. Think a little.

ALL.—We cannot.

HAL.—As you are my scholars, I believe I must teach you. The sun is
bright, and you have been, naturally enough, fishing with your backs to
the sun, which, not being very high, has thrown the shadows of your rods
and yourselves upon the water, and you have alarmed the fish, whenever
you have thrown a fly. You see I have fished with my face towards the
sun, and though inconvenienced by the light, have given no alarm. Follow
my example, and you will soon have sport, as there is a breeze playing
on the water.

PHYS.—Your sagacity puts me in mind of an anecdote which I remember to
have heard respecting the late eloquent statesman, Charles James Fox;
who, walking up Bond-street from one of the club-houses with an
illustrious personage, laid him a wager, that he would see more cats
than the Prince in his walk, and that he might take which side of the
street he liked. When they got to the top, it was found, that Mr. Fox
had seen thirteen cats, and the Prince not one. The royal personage
asked for an explanation of this apparent miracle, and Mr. Fox said,
“Your Royal Highness took, of course, the shady side of the way, as most
agreeable; I knew that the sunny side would be left to me, and cats
always prefer the sunshine.”

HAL.—There! Poietes, by following my advice you have immediately hooked
a fish; and while you are catching a brace, I will tell you an anecdote,
which as much relates to fly-fishing as that of Physicus, and affords an
elucidation of a particular effect of light.

A manufacturer of carmine, who was aware of the superiority of the
French colour, went to Lyons for the purpose of improving his process,
and bargained with the most celebrated manufacturer in that capital for
the acquisition of his secret, for which he was to pay a thousand
pounds. He was shown all the processes, and saw a beautiful colour
produced, yet he found not the least difference in the French mode of
fabrication and that which he had constantly adopted. He appealed to the
manufacturer, and insisted that he must have concealed something. The
manufacturer assured him that he had not, and invited him to see the
process a second time. He minutely examined the water and the materials,
which were the same as his own, and, very much surprised, said, “I have
lost my labour and my money, for the air of England does not permit us
to make good carmine.” “Stay,” says the Frenchman, “do not deceive
yourself: what kind of weather is it now?” “A bright sunny day,” said
the Englishman. “And such are the days,” said the Frenchman, “on which I
make my colour. Were I to attempt to manufacture it on a dark or cloudy
day, my result would be the same as yours. Let me advise you, my friend,
always to make carmine on bright and sunny days.” “I will,” says the
Englishman; “but I fear I shall make very little in London.”

POIET.—Your anecdote is as much to the purpose as Physicus’s; yet I am
much obliged to you for the hint respecting the effect of shadow, for I
have several times in May and June had to complain of too clear a sky,
and wished, with Cotton, for

                   A day with not too bright a beam;
                   A warm, but not a scorching, sun.

HAL.—Whilst we have been conversing, the May-flies, which were in such
quantities, have become much fewer; and I believe the reason is, that
they have been greatly diminished by the flocks of swallows, which every
where pursue them: I have seen a single swallow take four, in less than
a quarter of a minute, that were descending to the water.

POIET.—I delight in this living landscape! The swallow is one of my
favourite birds, and a rival of the nightingale; for he cheers my sense
of seeing as much as the other does my sense of hearing. He is the glad
prophet of the year—the harbinger of the best season: he lives a life of
enjoyment amongst the loveliest forms of nature: winter is unknown to
him; and he leaves the green meadows of England in autumn, for the
myrtle and orange groves of Italy, and for the palms of Africa:—he has
always objects of pursuit, and his success is secure. Even the beings
selected for his prey are poetical, beautiful, and transient. The
ephemeræ are saved by his means from a slow and lingering death in the
evening, and killed in a moment, when they have known nothing of life
but pleasure. He is the constant destroyer of insects,—the friend of
man; and, with the stork and the ibis, may be regarded as a sacred bird.
His instinct, which gives him his appointed seasons, and teaches him
always when and where to move, may be regarded as flowing from a Divine
Source; and he belongs to the Oracles of Nature, which speak the awful
and intelligible language of a present Deity.

                              FOURTH DAY.



            _Scene—Loch Maree, West of Rosshire, Scotland._

                         _Time—Middle of July._

POIET.—I BEGIN to be tired. This is really a long day’s journey; and
these last ten miles through bogs, with no other view than that of
mountains half hid in mists, and brown waters that can hardly be called
lakes, and with no other trees than a few stunted birches, that look so
little alive, that they might be supposed immediately descended from the
bog-wood, every where scattered beneath our feet, have rendered it
extremely tedious. This is the most barren part of one of the most
desolate countries I have ever passed through in Europe; and though the
inn at Strathgarve is tolerable, that of Auchnasheen is certainly the
worst I have ever seen,—and I hope the worst I shall ever see. We ought
to have good amusement at Pool Ewe, to compensate us for this
uncomfortable day’s journey.

HAL.—I trust we shall have sport, as far as salmon and sea trout can
furnish sport. But the difficulties of our journey are almost over. See,
Loch Maree is stretched at our feet, and a good boat with four oars will
carry us in four or five hours to our fishing ground; a time that will
not be misspent, for this lake is not devoid of beautiful, and even
grand scenery.

POIET.—The scenery begins to improve; and that cloud-breasted mountain
on the left is of the best character of Scotch mountains: these woods,
likewise, are respectable for this northern country. I think I see
islands also in the distance: and the quantity of cloud always gives
effect to this kind of view; and perhaps, without such assistance to the
imagination, there would be nothing even approaching to the sublime in
these countries; but cloud and mist, by creating obscurity and offering
a substitute for greatness and distance, give something of an alpine and
majestic character to this region.

ORN.—As we are now fixed in our places in the boat, you will surely put
out a rod or two with a set of flies, or try the tail of the par for a
large trout or salmon: our fishing will not hinder our progress.

HAL.—In most other lakes I should do so; here I have often tried the
experiment, but never with success. This lake is extremely deep, and
there are very few fish which haunt it generally except char; and salmon
seldom rest but in particular parts along the shore, which we shall not
touch. Our voyage will be a picturesque, rather than an angling one. I
see we shall have little occasion for the oars, for a strong breeze is
rising, and blowing directly down the lake; we shall be in it in a
minute. Hoist the sails; On we go!—we shall make our voyage in half the
number of hours I had calculated upon; and I hope to catch a salmon in
time for dinner.

POIET.—The scenery improves as we advance nearer the lower parts of the
lake. The mountains become higher, and that small island or peninsula
presents a bold, craggy outline; and the birch wood below it, and the
pines above, form a scene somewhat Alpine in character. But what is that
large bird soaring above the pointed rock, towards the end of the lake?
Surely it is an eagle!

HAL.—Your are right, it is an eagle, and of a rare and peculiar
species—the gray or silver eagle, a noble bird! From the size of the
animal, in must be the female; and her aery is in that high rock. I dare
say the male is not far off.

PHYS.—I think I see another bird, of a smaller size, perched on the rock
below, which is similar in form.

HAL.—You do: it is the consort of that beautiful and powerful bird; and
I have no doubt their young ones are near at hand.

POIET.—Look at the bird! How she dashes into the water, falling like a
rock, and raising a colume of spray: she has dropped from a great
height. And now she rises again into the air: what an extraordinary

HAL.—She is pursuing her prey, and is one of our fraternity,—a catcher
of fish. She has missed her quarry this time, and has soared further
down towards the river, to fall again from a great height. There! You
see her rise with a fish in her talons.

POIET.—She gives an interest to this scene, which I hardly expected to
have found. Pray are there many of these animals in this country?

HAL.—Of this species, I have seen but these two, and I believe the young
ones migrate as soon as they can provide for themselves; for this
solitary bird requires a large space to move and feed in, and does not
allow its offspring to partake its reign, or to live near it. Of other
species of the eagle, there are some in different parts of the
mountains, particularly of the Osprey, and of the great fishing or brown
eagle. I once saw a very fine and interesting sight above one of the
Crags of Ben Weevis, near Strathgarve, as I was going, on the 20th of
August, in pursuit of black game. Two parent eagles were teaching their
offspring—two young birds, the manœuvres of flight. They began by rising
from the top of a mountain in the eye of the sun (it was about midday,
and bright for this climate). They at first made small circles, and the
young birds imitated them; they paused on their wings, waiting till they
had made their first flight, and then took a second and larger
gyration,—always rising towards the sun, and enlarging their circle of
flight so as to make a gradually extending spiral. The young ones still
slowly followed, apparently flying better as they mounted; and they
continued this sublime kind of exercise, always rising, till they became
mere points in the air, and the young ones were lost, and afterwards
their parents, to our aching sight. But we have touched the shore, and
the lake has terminated: you are now on the river Ewe.

POIET.—Are we to fish here? It is a broad clear stream, but I see no
fish, and cannot think it a good angling river.

HAL.—We are nearly a mile above our fishing station, and we must first
see our quarters and provide for our lodging, before we begin our
fishing: to the inn we have only a short walk.

POIET.—Why this inn is a second edition of Auchnasheen.

HAL.—The interior is better than the exterior, thanks to the Laird of
Brahan: we shall find one tolerable room and bed; and we must put up our
cots and provide our food. What is our store, Mr. Purveyor?

PHYS.—I know we have good bread, tea, and sugar. Then there is the
quarter of roe-buck presented to us at Gordon Castle; and Ornither has
furnished us with a brace of wild ducks, three leash of snipes, and a
brace of golden plovers, by his mountain expedition of yesterday; and
for fish we depend on you. Yet our host says there are fresh herrings to
be had, and small cod-fish, and salmon and trout in any quantity, and
the claret and the Ferintosh are safe.

HAL.—Why we shall fare sumptuously. As it is not time yet for shooting
grouse, we must divide our spoil for the few days we shall stay here.
Yet there are young snipes and plovers on the mountains above, and I
have no doubt we might obtain the Laird’s permission to kill a roe-buck
in the woods or a hart on the mountains; but this is always an uncertain
event, and I advise you, Ornither, to become a fisherman.

ORN.—I shall wait till I see the results of your skill. At all events,
in this country I can never want amusement, and I dare say there are
plenty of seals at the mouth of the river, and killing them is more
useful to other fishermen than catching fish.

HAL.—Let there be a kettle of water with salt ready boiling in an hour,
mine host, for the fish we catch or buy; and see that the potatoes are
well dressed: the servants will look to the rest of our fare. Now for
our rods.

POIET.—This is a fine river; clear, full, but not too large: with the
two handed rod it may be commanded in most parts.

HAL.—It is larger than usual. The strong wind which brought us so
quickly down has made it fuller; and it is not in such good order for
fishing as it was before the wind rose.

POIET.—I thought the river was always the better for a flood, when

HAL.—Better after a flood from rain; for this brings the fish up, who
know when rain is coming, and likewise brings down food and makes the
fish feed. But when the water is raised by a strong wind, the fish never
run, as they are sure to find no increase in the spring heads, which are
their objects in running.

POIET.—You give the fish credit for great sagacity.

HAL.—Call it instinct rather; for if they _reasoned_, they would run
with every large water, whether from wind or rain. What the feeling or
power is, which makes them travel with rain, I will not pretend to
define. But now for our sport.

POIET.—The fish are beginning to rise; I have seen two here already, and
there is a third, and a fourth—scarcely a quarter of a minute elapses
without a fish rising in some parts of the pool.

HAL.—As the day is dark, I shall use a bright and rather a large fly
with jay’s hackle, kingfisher’s feather under the wing, and golden
pheasant’s tail, and wing of mixed grouse and argus pheasant’s tail. I
shall throw over these fish: I ought to raise one.

POIET.—Either you are not skilful, or the fish know their danger: they
will not rise.

HAL.—I will try another and a smaller fly.

POIET.—You do nothing.

HAL.—I have changed my fly a third time, yet no fish rises. I cannot
understand this. The water is not in good order, or I should certainly
have raised a fish or two. Now I will wager ten to one, that this pool
has been fished before to-day.

ORN.—By whom?

HAL.—I know not; but take my wager and we will ascertain.

ORN.—I shall ascertain without the wager if possible. See, a man
connected with the fishery advances, let us ask him.—There you see; it
has been fished once or twice by one, who claims without charter the
right of angling.

HAL.—I told you so. Now I know this, I shall put on another kind of fly,
such as I am sure they have not seen this day.

POIET.—It is very small and very gaudy, I believe made with humming
bird’s feathers.

HAL.—No. The brightest Java dove’s hackle; kingfisher’s blue, and golden
pheasant’s feathers, and the red feathers of the paroquet. There was a
fish that rose and missed the fly—a sea trout. There, he has taken it, a
fresh run fish, from his white belly and blue back.

POIET.—How he springs out of the water! He must be 6 or 7lbs.

HAL.—Under five, I am sure; he will soon be tired. He fights with less
spirit: put the net under him. There, he is a fine fed sea trout,
between 4 and 5lbs. But our intrusive brother angler (as I must call
him) is coming down the river to take his evening cast. A stout
Highlander, with a powerful tail,—or, as we should call it in England,
suite. He is resolved not to be driven off, and I am not sure that the
Laird himself could divert him from his purpose, except by a stronger
tail, and force of arms; but I will try my eloquence upon him. “Sir, we
hope you will excuse us for fishing in this pool, where it seems you
were going to take your cast; but the Laird has desired us to stand in
his shoes for a few days, and has given up angling while we are here;
and as we come nearly a thousand miles for this amusement, we are sure
you are too much of a gentleman to spoil our sport; and we will take
care to supply your fish kettle while we are here, morning and evening,
and we shall send you, as we hope, a salmon before night.”

POIET.—He grumbles good sport to us, and is off with his tail: you have
hit him in the right place. He is a pot fisher, I am sure, and somewhat
hungry, and, provided he gets the salmon, does not care who catches it!

HAL.—You are severe on the Highland gentleman, and I think extremely
unjust. Nothing could be more ready than his assent, and a keen
fisherman must not be expected to be in the best possible humour, when
he finds sport which he believes he has a right to, and which perhaps he
generally enjoys without interruption, taken away from him by entire
strangers. There is, I know, a disputed point about fishing with the
rod, between him and the Laird; and it would have been too much to have
anticipated a courteous greeting from one, who considers us as the
representatives of an enemy. But I see there is a large fish which has
just risen at the tail of the pool. I think he is fresh run from the
sea, for the tide is coming in. My fly and tackle are almost too fine
for so large a fish, and I will put on my first fly with a very strong
single gut link and a stretcher of triple gut. He has taken my fly, and
I hold him—a powerful fish: he must be between 10 and 15lbs. He fights
well, and tries to get up the rapid at the top of the pool. I must try
my strength with him, to keep him off that rock, or he will break me. I
have turned him, and he is now in a good part of the pool: such a fish
cannot be tired in a minute or two, but requires from ten to twenty,
depending upon his activity and strength, and the rapidity of the stream
he moves against. He is now playing against the strongest rapid in the
river, and will soon give in, should he keep his present place.

POIET.—You have tired him.

HAL.—He seems fairly tired: I shall bring him in to shore. Now gaff him;
strike as near the tail as you can. He is safe; we must prepare him for
the pot.—Give him a stunning blow on the head to deprive him of
sensation, and then make a transverse cut just below the gills, and
crimp him, by cutting to the bone on each side, so as almost to divide
him into slices: and now hold him by the tail that he may bleed. There
is a small spring, I see, close under that bank, which I dare say has
the mean temperature of the atmosphere in this climate, and is much
under 50°—place him there, and let him remain for ten minutes; then
carry him to the pot, and before you put in a slice let the water and
salt boil furiously, and give time to the water to recover its heat
before you throw in another; and so proceed with the whole fish: leave
the head out, and throw in the thickest pieces first.

PHYS.—Why did you not crimp your trout?

HAL.—We will have him fried. Our poacher prevented me from attending to
the preparation; but for frying he is better not crimped, as he is not
large enough to give good transverse slices.

POIET.—This salmon is a good fish, and fresh as you said from the sea.
You see the salt-water louse adheres to his sides, and he is bright and
silvery, and a thick fish; I dare say his weight is not less than
14lbs., and I know of no better fish for the table than one of that

PHYS.—It appears to me that so powerful a fish ought to have struggled
much longer: yet, without great exertions on your part, in ten minutes
he appeared quite exhausted, and lay on his side as if dying: this
induces me to suppose, that there must be some truth in the vulgar
opinion of anglers, that fish are, as it were, drowned by the play of
the rod and reel.

HAL.—The vulgar opinion of anglers on this subject I believe to be
perfectly correct: though, to apply the word drowning to an animal that
lives in the water is not quite a fit use of language. Fish, as you
ought to know, respire by passing water, which always holds common air
in solution, through their gills or bronchial membrane, by the use of a
system of muscles surrounding the fauces, which occasion constant
contractions and expansions, or openings and closings of this membrane,
and the life of the fish is dependant on the process in the same manner
as that of a quadruped is on inspiring and expiring air. When a fish is
hooked in the upper part of the mouth by the strength of the rod applied
as a lever to the line, it is scarcely possible for him to open the
gills as long as this force is exerted, particularly when he is moving
in a rapid stream; and when he is hooked in the lower jaw, his mouth is
kept closed by the same application of the strength of the rod, so that
no aerated water can be inspired. Under these circumstances he is
quickly deprived of his vital forces, particularly when he exhausts his
strength by moving in a rapid stream. A fish, hooked in a part of the
mouth where the force of the rod will render his efforts to respire
unavailing, is much in the same state as that of a deer caught round the
neck by the lasso of a South American peon, who gallops forwards,
dragging his victim after him, which is killed by strangulation in a
very short time. When fishes are hooked foul, that is, on the outside of
the body, as in the fins or tail, they will often fight for many hours,
and in such cases very large salmon are seldom caught, as they retain
their powers of breathing unimpaired; and if they do not exhaust
themselves by violent muscular efforts, they may bid defiance to the
temper and the skill of the fisherman. A large salmon, hooked in the
upper part of the mouth in the cartilage or bone, will sometimes
likewise fight for a long while, particularly if he keep in the deep and
still parts of the river: for he is able to prevent the force of the
hook, applied by the rod, from interfering with his respiration, and by
a powerful effort, can maintain his place, and continue to breathe in
spite of the exertions of the angler. A fish, in such case, is said to
be sulky, and his instinct, or his sagacity, generally enables him to
conquer his enemy. It is, however, rarely that fishes hooked in the
mouth are capable of using freely the muscles subservient to
respiration; and their powers are generally, sooner or later, destroyed
by suffocation.

POIET.—The explanation that you have just been giving us of the effects
of playing fish, I confess alarms me, and makes me more afraid than I
was before, that we are pursuing a very cruel amusement; for death by
strangling, I conceive, must be very laborious, slow, and painful.

PHYS.—I think as I did before I was an angler, as to the merciless
character of field-sports; but I doubt if this part of the process of
the fly-fisher ought so strongly to alarm your feelings. As far as
analogies from warm-blooded animals can apply to the case, the death
that follows obstructed respiration is quick, and preceded by
insensibility. There are many instances of persons who have recovered
from the apparent death produced by drowning, and had no recollection of
any violent or intense agony; indeed, the alarm or passion of fear
generally absorbs all the sensibility, and the physical suffering is
lost in the mental agitation. I can answer from my own experience, that
there is no pain which precedes the insensibility occasioned by
breathing gasses unfitted for supporting life, but oftener a pleasurable
feeling, as in the case of the respiration of nitrous oxide. And in the
suffocation produced by the gradual abstraction of air in a close room
where charcoal is burning, we have the record of the son of a celebrated
chymist, that the sensation which precedes the deep sleep that ends in
death is agreeable. There is far more pain in recovering from the
insensibility produced by the abstraction of air than in undergoing it,
as I can answer from my own feelings; and it is, I believe, quite true,
what has been asserted, that the pain of being born, which is acquiring
the power of respiration, is greater than that of dying, which is losing
the power.

ORN.—I have heard, that persons, who have been recovered from the
insensibility produced by hanging, have never any recollection of the
sufferings which preceded it; and as the blood is immediately determined
to the head in this operation, probably apoplectic insensibility is
almost instantaneous.

There is on record a very remarkable trial respecting the death of an
Italian, who was for many years in the habit of being hanged for the
purpose of producing the temporary excitement of organs that had lost
their power, and who ultimately fell a victim to this depraved and
dangerous practice; but I will not dwell upon this case, which is well
authenticated, and which is equally revolting to good feelings and

HAL.—The laws of nature are all directed by Divine Wisdom for the
purpose of preserving life and increasing happiness. Pain seems in all
cases to precede the mutilation or destruction of those organs which are
essential to vitality, and for _the end_ of preserving them; but the
mere process of dying seems to be the falling into a deep slumber; and
in animals, who have no fear of death dependent upon imagination, it can
hardly be accompanied by very intense suffering. In the human being,
moral and intellectual motives constantly operate in enhancing the fear
of death, which, without these motives in a reasoning being, would
probably become null, and the love of life be lost upon every slight
occasion of pain or disgust; but imagination is creative with respect to
both these passions, which, if they exist in animals, exist independent
of reason, or as instincts. Pain seems intended by an all-wise
Providence to prevent the _dissolution_ of organs, and cannot follow
their _destruction_. I know several instances in which the process of
death has been observed, even to its termination, by good philosophers;
and the instances are worth repeating: Dr. Cullen, when dying, is said
to have faintly articulated to one of his intimates, “I wish I had the
power of writing or speaking, for then I would describe to you how
pleasant a thing it is to die.” Dr. Black, worn out by age and a
disposition to pulmonary hemorrhage, which obliged him to live very low,
whilst eating his customary meal of bread and milk, fell asleep, and
died in so tranquil a manner, that he had not even spilt the contents of
the spoon which he held in his hand. And the late Sir Charles Blagden,
whilst at a social meal with his friends, Mons. and Mad. Berthollet and
Gay-Lussac, died in his chair so quietly, that not a drop of the coffee
in the cup which he held in his hand was spilt.

POIET.—Give us no more such instances, for I do not think it wise to
diminish the love of life, or to destroy the fear of death.

HAL.—There is no danger of this. These passions are founded on immutable
laws of our nature, which philosophy cannot change; and it would be good
if we could give the same security of duration to the love of virtue and
the fear of vice or shame, which are connected with immutable interests,
and which ought to occupy far more the consideration of beings destined
for immortality.—But to our business.

Now we have fish for dinner, my task is finished: Physicus and Poietes,
try your skill. I have not fished over the best parts of this pool: you
may catch a brace of fish here before dinner is ready.

PHYS.—It is too late, and I shall go and see that all is right.

POIET.—I will take one or two casts; but give me your fly: I like always
to be sure that the tackle is taking.

HAL.—Try at first the very top of the pool,—though I fear you will get
nothing there; but here is a cast which I think the Highlander can
hardly have commanded from the other side, and which is rarely without a
good fish. There, he rose: a large trout of 10lbs., or a salmon. Now
wait a few minutes. When a fish has missed the fly, he will not rise
again till after a pause—particularly if he has been for some time in
the fresh water. Now try him again. He has risen, but he is a dark fish
that has been some time in the water, and he tries to drown the fly with
a blow of his tail. I fear you will not hook him except foul, when most
likely he would break you. Try the bottom of the pool, below where I
caught my fish.

POIET.—I have tried all the casts, and nothing rises.

HAL.—Come, we will change the fly for that which I used.

POIET.—Now I have one: he has taken the fly under water, and I cannot
see him.

HAL.—Straighten your line, and we shall soon see him. He is a sea trout,
but not a large one.

POIET.—But he fights like a salmon, and must be near 5lbs.

HAL.—Under 3lbs.; but these fish are always strong and active, and
sometimes give more sport than larger fish. Shorten your line, or he
will carry you over the stones and cut the link gut. He is there
already: you have allowed him to carry out too much line; wind up as
quick as you can, and keep a tight hand upon him. He is now back to a
good place, and in a few minutes more will be spent. I have the net.
There, he is a sea trout of nearly 3lbs. This will be a good addition to
our dinner: I will crimp him, that you may compare boiled sea trout with
broiled, and with salmon. Now, if you please, we will cool this fish at
the spring, and then go to our inn.

POIET.—If you like. I am endeavouring to find a reason for the effect of
crimping and cold in preserving the curd of fish. Have you ever thought
on this subject?

HAL.—Yes: I conclude that the fat of salmon between the flakes of the
muscles is mixed with much albumen and gelatine, and is extremely liable
to decompose, and by keeping it cool, the decomposition is retarded; and
by the boiling salt and water, which is of a higher temperature than
that of common boiling water, the albumen is coagulated, and the
curdiness preserved. The crimping, by preventing the irritability of the
fibre from being gradually exhausted, seems to preserve it so hard and
crisp, that it breaks under the teeth; and a fresh fish not crimped is
generally tough. A friend of mine, an excellent angler, has made some
experiments on the fat of fish; and he considers the red colour of
trout, salmon, and char, as owing to a peculiar coloured oil, which may
be extracted by alcohol; and this accounts for the want of it in fish
that have fed ill, and after spawning. In general, the depth of the red
colour and the quantity of curd are proportional.

POIET.—Would not the fish be still better, or at least possess more
curd, if caught in a net and killed immediately? In the operation of
tiring by the reel there must be considerable muscular exertion, and I
should suppose expenditure of oily matter.

HAL.—There can be no doubt but the fish would be in a more perfect state
for the table from the nets; yet a fish in high season does not lose so
much fat during the short time he is on the hook, as to make much
difference; and I am not sure, that the action of crimping after does
not give a better sort of crispness to the fibre. This, however, may be
fancy; we will discuss the matter again at table. See! our companion on
the lake, the eagle, is coming down the river, and has pounced upon a
fish in the pool near the sea.

PHYS.—I fear he will interfere with our sport: let us request Ornither
to shoot him. I wish to see him nearer, and to preserve him as a
specimen for the Zoological Society.

HAL.—O! no. He will not spoil our sport; and I think it would be a pity
to deprive this spot of one of its poetical ornaments. Besides, the pool
where he is now fishing contains scarcely any thing but trout; it is too
shallow for salmon, who run into the cruives.

POIET.—I am of your opinion, and shall use my eloquence to prevent
Ornither from attempting the life of so beautiful a bird; so majestic in
its form, so well suited to the scenery, and so picturesque in all its

THE INNKEEPER.—Gentlemen, dinner is ready.

                              THE DINNER.

HAL.—Now take your places. What think you of our fish?

PHYS.—I never ate better; but I want the Harvey or Reading sauce.

HAL.—Pray let me intreat you to use no other sauce than the water in
which he was boiled. I assure you this is the true Epicurean way of
eating fresh salmon: and for the trout, use only a little vinegar and
mustard,—a sauce _à la Tartare_, without the onions.

POIET.—Well, nothing can be better; and I do not think fresh net-caught
fish can be superior to these.

HAL.—And these snipes are excellent. Either my journey has given me an
appetite, or I think they are the best I ever tasted.

ORN.—They are good, but I have tasted better.


ORN.—On the continent; where the common snipe, that rests during its
migration from the north to the south in the marshes of Italy and
Carniola, and the double or solitary snipe, become so fat, as to
resemble that bird, which was formerly fattened in Lincolnshire, the
ruff; and they have, I think, a better flavour from being fed on their
natural food.

HAL.—At what time have you eaten them?

ORN.—I have eaten them both in spring and autumn; but the autumnal birds
are the best, and are like the ortolan of Italy.

HAL.—Where does the double snipe winter?

ORN.—I believe in Africa and Asia Minor. They are rarely seen in
England, except driven by an east wind in the spring, or a strong north
wind in the autumn. Their natural progress is to and from Finland and
Siberia, through the continent of Europe, to and from the east and
south.[5] In autumn they pass more east, both because they are aided by
west winds, and because the marshes in the east of Europe are wetter in
that season; and in spring they return, but the larger proportion
through Italy, where they are carried by the _Sirocco_, and which at
that time is _extremely wet_. Come, let us have another bottle of
claret: a pint per man is not too much after such a day’s fatigue.

HAL.—You have made me president for these four days, and I forbid it. A
half pint of wine for young men in perfect health is enough, and you
will be able to take your exercise better, and feel better for this
abstinence. How few people calculate upon the effects of constantly
renewed fever, in our luxurious system of living in England! The heart
is made to act too powerfully, the blood is thrown upon the nobler
parts, and, with the system of wading adopted by some sportsmen, whether
in shooting or fishing, is delivered either to the hemorrhoidal veins,
or, what is worse, to the head. I have known several free livers, who
have terminated their lives by apoplexy, or have been rendered miserable
by palsy, in consequence of the joint effects of cold feet and too
stimulating a diet; that is to say, as much animal food as they could
eat, with a pint or perhaps a bottle of wine per day. Be guided by me,
my friends, and neither drink nor wade. I know there are old men who
have done both, and have enjoyed perfect health; but these are _devil’s
decoys_ to the unwary, and ten suffer for one that escapes. I could
quote to you an instance from this very county, in one of the strongest
men I have ever known. He was not intemperate, but he lived luxuriously,
and waded as a salmon fisher for many years in this very river; but
before he was fifty, palsy deprived him of the use of his limbs, and he
is still a living example of the danger of the system which you are
ambitious of adopting.

ORN.—Well, I give up the wine, but I intend to wade in Hancock’s boots

HAL.—Wear them, but do not wade in them. The feet must become cold in a
stream of water constantly passing over the caoutchouc and leather,
notwithstanding the thick stockings. They are good for keeping the feet
warm, and I think where there is exercise, as in snipe shooting, they
may be used without any bad effects. But I advise no one to stand still
(which an angler must do sometimes) in the water, even with these
ingenious water-proof inventions. All anglers should remember old
Boerhaave’s maxims of health, and act upon them: “Keep the feet warm,
the head cool, and the body open.”

PHYS.—I am sorry we did not examine more minutely the weight and size of
the fish we caught, and compare the anatomy of the salmon and the sea
trout; but we were in too great a hurry to see them on the table, and
our philosophy yielded to our hunger.

HAL.—We shall have plenty of opportunities for this examination; and we
can now walk down to the fishing-house and see probably half a hundred
fish of different sizes, that have been taken in the cruives, this
evening, and examine them at our leisure.

ALL.—Let us go!

PHYS.—I never saw so many fish of this kind before; and I conclude that
heap of smaller fish is composed of trout.

HAL.—Certainly. Let us compare one of the largest trout with a salmon. I
have selected two fresh run fish, which, from their curved lower jaws,
are, I conclude, both males. The salmon you see is broader, has a tail
rather more forked, and the teeth in proportion are rather smaller. The
trout, likewise, has larger and more black brown spots on the body; and
the head of the trout is a little larger in proportion. The salmon has
14 spines in the pectoral fins, 10 in each of the ventral, 13 in the
anal, 21 in the caudal, and 15 in the dorsal. The salmon measures 38½
inches in length and 21 inches in girth, and his weight, as you see, is
22¼lbs. The trout has one spine less in the pectoral, and two less in
the anal fin, and measures 30¼ inches in length, and 16 inches in girth,
and his weight is 11lbs. We will now open them. The stomach of the
salmon, you perceive, contains nothing but a little yellow fluid, and,
though the salmon is twice as large, does not exceed much in size that
of the trout. The stomach of the trout, unlike that of the salmon, will
be found full of food: we will open it. See, there are half digested
sand eels which come out of it.

PHYS.—But surely the stomachs of salmon must sometimes, when opened,
contain food?

HAL.—I have opened ten or twelve, and never found any thing in their
stomachs but tape-worms, bred there, and some yellow fluid; but, I
believe, this is generally owing to their being caught at the time of
migration, when they are travelling from the sea upwards, and do not
willingly load themselves with food. Their digestion appears to be very
quick, and their habits seem to show, that after having taken a bait in
the river they do not usually seek another, till the work of digestion
is nearly performed: but when they are taken at sea, and in rivers in
the winter, food, I am told, is sometimes found in their stomachs. The
sea trout is a much more voracious fish, and, like the land trout, is
not willingly found with an empty stomach.

PHYS.—I presume the sea trout is the fish called by Linnæus, in his
Fauna, _Salmo Eriox_?

HAL.—I know not: but I should rather think that fish a variety of the
common salmon.

PHYS.—But there are surely other species of salmon, that live in the sea
and come into our rivers: I have heard of fish called _grays_, _bull
trout_, _scurfs_, _morts_, _peales_, and _whitlings_.

HAL.—I have never been able to identify more than the _salmo salar_, or
salmon, and _salmo trutta_, or sea trout, in the rivers of Britain and
Ireland. The whitlings I believe to be the young of the sea trout. A sea
trout which I saw in Ireland, called a bull trout, was of the same kind
as these you see here, but fresh water trout are sometimes carried in
floods to the sea, and come back larger and altered in colour and form,
and are then mistaken for new species: and as each river possesses a
peculiar variety belonging to it, this, with differences depending upon
food and size, will, I think, account for the peculiarities of
particular fish, without the necessity of supposing them distinct
species. I remember many years ago, the first time I ever fished for
salmon in spring in the Tweed, I caught with the fly, one fine morning
in March, two fish nearly of the same length: one was a male of the last
season, that had lost its melt; the other a female fresh from the sea.
They were so unlike, that they did not appear of the same species: the
spent or kipper salmon was long and lean, showing an immense head,
spotted all over with black and brown spots, and the belly almost black;
the other bright and silvery, without spots, and the head small. Even
the pectoral and anal fins had more spines in the newly run fish, some
of the smaller ones having been probably rubbed off in spawning by the
other. I would not for some time, till assured by an experienced
fisherman, believe, that the spent fish was a salmon; and when their
flesh was compared on the table, one was white, flabby, and bad, and
without curd; the other of the brightest pink, and full of dense curd.
Then, though of the same length, one weighed only 4lbs., the other
9½lbs. When it is recollected, that different salmon and sea trout spawn
at different times in the same river, and that fish of the same year,
being born at different seasons, from Christmas to Lady-day,—and having
migrated to the sea in spring—run up the rivers of all sizes in summer
and autumn—the young salmon from 2 to 10lbs. in weight, the young sea
trout from ½ to 3lbs. in weight—it is not difficult to account for the
variety of names given by casual observers to individuals of these two
species. But I must not forget my promise of sending a fish to the
Highlander, with whose sport we have interfered. There is a good salmon,
which shall be taken to him immediately, and for which I shall pay the
taxman his usual price of 5_d._ per pound.

                               FIFTH DAY.



HAL.—WELL, is your tackle all ready? It is a fine fresh and cloudy
morning, with a gentle breeze—a day made for salmon fishing.

[_They proceed to the river_.]

HAL.—Now, my friends, I give up the two best pools to you till one
o’clock; and I shall amuse myself above and below—probably with trout
fishing. As there is a promise of a mixed day, with—what is rare in this
country—a good deal of sunshine, I will examine your flies a little, and
point out those I think likely to be useful; or rather, I will show you
my flies, and, as you all have duplicates of them, you can each select
the fly which I point out, and place in it a part of the book where it
may easily be found. First: when the cloud is on, I advise the use of
one of these three golden twisted flies, with silk bodies, orange, red
and pale blue, with red, orange, and gray hackle, golden pheasant’s
hackle for tail, and kingfisher’s blue and golden pheasant’s brown
hackle under the wing; beginning with the brightest fly, and changing to
the darker one. Should the clouds disappear, and it become bright,
change your flies for darker ones, of which I will point out three:—a
fly with a brown body and a red cock’s hackle, one with a dun body and
black hackle and light wing, and one with a black body, a hackle of the
same colour, and a brown mallard’s wing. All these flies have, you see,
silver twist round their bodies, and all kingfisher’s feather under the
wing, and golden pheasant’s feather for the tail. For the size of your
flies, I recommend the medium size, as the water is small to-day; but
trying all sizes, from the butterfly size of a hook of half an inch in
width, to one of a quarter. Now, Physicus, cast your orange fly into
that rapid at the top of the pool; I saw a large fish run there this
moment. You fish well, were common trout your object; but, in salmon
fishing, you must alter your manner of moving the fly. It must not float
quietly down the water; you must allow it to sink a little, and then
pull it back by a gentle jerk—not raising it out of the water,—and then
let it sink again, till it has been shown in motion, a little below the
surface, in every part of your cast. That is right,—he has risen.

PHYS.—I hold him. He is a noble fish!

HAL.—He is a large grilse, I see by his play; or a young salmon, of the
earliest born this spring. Hold him tight; he will fight hard.

PHYS.—There! he springs out of the water! Once, twice, thrice, four
times! He is a merry one!

HAL.—He runs against the stream, and will soon be tired,—but do not
hurry him. Pull hard now, to prevent him from running round that stone.
He comes in. I will gaff him for you. I have him! A goodly fish of this
tide. But see, Poietes has a larger fish at the bottom of the great
pool, and is carried down by him almost to the sea.

POIET.—I cannot hold him! He has run out all my line.

HAL.—I see him: he is hooked foul, and I fear we shall never recover
him, for he is going out to sea. Give me the rod,—I will try and turn
him; and do you run down to the entrance of the pool, and throw stones,
to make him, if possible, run back. Ay! that stone has done good
service; he is now running up into the pool again. Now call the
fisherman, and tell him to bring a long pole, to keep him if possible
from the sea. You have a good assistant, and I will leave you, for
tiring this fish will be at least a work of two hours. He is not much
less than 20lbs. and is hooked under the gills, so that you cannot
suffocate him by a straight line. I wish you good fortune; but should he
turn sulky, you must not allow him to rest, but make the fisherman move
him with the pole again; your chance of killing him depends upon his
being kept incessantly in action, so that he may exhaust himself by
exercise. I shall go and catch you some river trout for your dinner;—but
I am glad to see, before I take my leave of you, that Ornither has
likewise hold of a fish,—and, from his activity, a lusty sea trout.

[_He goes, and returns in the afternoon_.]

HAL.—Well, Poietes, I hope to see your fish of 20lbs.

POIET.—Alas! he broke me,—turned sulky, and went to the bottom; and when
he was roused again, my line came back without the fly; so that I
conclude he had cut my links by rubbing them against some sharp stone.
But I have caught two grilses and a sea trout since, and lost two
others, salmons or grilses, that fairly got the hooks out of their

HAL.—And, Ornither, what have you done? Well, I see,—a salmon, a grilse,
and a sea trout. And Physicus?

PHYS.—I have lost three fish; one of which broke me, at the top of the
pool, by running amongst the rocks; and I have only one small sea trout.

HAL.—Your fortune will come another day. Why, you have not a single
crimped fish for dinner, and it is now nearly two o’clock; and you have
been catching for the picklers, for those fish may all go to the
boiling-house. I must again be your purveyor. Can you point out to me
any part of this pool where you have not fished?


HAL.—Then I have little chance.

PHYS.—O yes! you have a charm for catching fish.

HAL.—Let me know what flies you have tried, and I may perhaps tell you
if I have a chance. With my small bright humming bird, as you call it, I
will make an essay.

POIET.—But this fishery is really very limited; and two pools for four
persons a small allowance.

HAL.—If you could have seen this river twenty years ago, when the
cruives were a mile higher up, then you might have enjoyed fishing.
There were eight or ten pools, of the finest character possible for
angling, where a fisherman of my acquaintance has hooked thirty fish in
a morning. The river was then perfect, and it might easily be brought
again into the same state; but even as it is now, with this single good
pool and this second tolerable one, I know no place where I could, in
the summer months, be so secure of sport as here—certainly no where in
Great Britain.

POIET.—I have often heard the Tay and the Tweed vaunted as salmon

HAL.—They were good salmon rivers, and are still very good, as far as
the profit of the proprietor is concerned; but, for angling, they are
very much deteriorated. The net fishing, which is constantly going on,
except on Sundays and in close time, suffers very few fish to escape;
and a Sunday’s flood offers the sole chance of a good day’s sport, and
this only in particular parts of these rivers. I remember the Tweed and
the Tay in a far better state. The Tweed, in the late Lord Somerville’s
time, always contained taking-fish after every flood in the summer. In
the Tay, only ten years ago, at Mickleure, I was myself one of two
anglers who took eight fine fish,—three of them large salmon,—in a short
morning’s fishing: but now, except in spring fishing, when the fish are
little worth taking, there is no certainty of sport in these rivers; and
one, two, or three fish (which last is of rare occurrence,) are all even
an experienced angler can hope to take in a day’s skilful and constant

POIET.—You have fished in most of the salmon rivers of the north of
Europe,—give us some idea of the kind of sport they afford.

HAL.—I have fished in some, but perhaps not in the best; for this it is
necessary to go into barbarous countries—Lapland, or the extreme north
of Norway; and I have generally loved too much the comforts of life to
make any greater sacrifices than such as are made in our present
expedition. I have heard the river at Drontheim boasted of as an
excellent salmon river,—and I know two worthy anglers who have tried it;
but I do not think they took more fish in a day than I have sometimes
taken in Scotland and Ireland. All the Norwegian rivers that I tried
(and they were in the south of Norway) contained salmon. I fished in the
Glommen, one of the largest rivers in Europe; in the Mandals, which
appeared to me the best fitted for taking salmon; the Arendal and the
Torrisdale;—but, though I saw salmon rise in all these rivers, I never
took a fish larger than a sea trout; of these I always caught many—and
even in the _fiords_, or small inland salt-water bays; but I think never
any one more than a pound in weight. It is true, I was in Norway in the
beginning of July, in exceedingly bright weather, and when there was no
night; for even at twelve o’clock the sky was so bright, that I read the
smallest print in the columns of a newspaper. I was in Sweden later—in
August: I fished in the magnificent Gotha, below that grand fall
Trolhetta, which to see is worth a voyage from England: but I never
raised there any fish worth taking: yet a gentleman from Gothenburg told
me he had formerly taken large trout there. I caught, in this noble
stream, a little trout about as long as my hand; and the only fish I got
to eat at Trolhetta was bream. The Falkenstein, a darker water, very
like a second-rate Scotch river—say the Don—abounds in salmon; and there
I had a very good day’s fishing. I took six fish, which gave me great
sport; they were grilses, under 6lbs; but I lost a salmon, which I think
was above 10lbs. This river, I conceive, must be, generally, excellent;
it is not covered with saw-mills, like most of the Norwegian rivers; its
colour is good, and it is not so clear as the rivers of the south of

PHYS.—Do you think the saw-mills hurt the fishing?

HAL.—I do not doubt it. The immense quantity of sawdust which floats in
the water, and which forms almost hills along the banks, must be
poisonous to the fish, by sometimes choking their gills, and interfering
with their respiration. I have never fished for salmon in Germany. The
Elbe and the Weser, when I have seen them, were too foul for fly
fishing; and in the Rhine, in Switzerland, and its tributary streams, I
have never seen a salmon rise. I once hooked a fish, under the fall at
Schaffausen, which in my youthful ardour I thought was a salmon, but it
turned out to be an immense chub—a villanous and provoking substitute.
And our islands, as far as I know, may claim the superiority over all
other lands for this species of amusement. In England it is, however, a
little difficult to get a day’s salmon fishing. The best river I know of
is the Derwent, that flows from the beautiful lake of Keswick; and I
caught once, in October, a very large salmon there, and raised another;
but it is only late in the autumn, that there is any chance of sport,
though I have heard the spring salmon fishing boasted of. At Whitwell,
in the Hodder, I have heard of salmon and sea trout being taken—but I
have never fished in that river. The late Lord Bolinbroke caught many
salmon at Christchurch; but a fish a week is as much as can be expected
in that beautiful, but scantily stocked, river. Small salmon and sea
trout, or sewens, as they are called in the country, may be caught,
after the autumnal floods, I believe, in most of the considerable Welsh,
Devonshire, and Cornish streams; but I have fished in many of them
without success. The Conway I may except: this river, in the end of
October, will sometimes, after a great flood, furnish a good day’s
sport, and, if the net fishers could be set aside, several days’ sport.
I have known two salmon, one above 20lbs., taken here in a day; and I
have taken myself fine sea trout, or _sewens_,—which, in an autumnal
flood in Wales, are found in most of the streams near the sea.

POIET.—I have heard a Northumberland man boast of the rivers of that
county, as affording good salmon fishing.

HAL.—I have no doubt that salmon are sometimes caught in the Tyne, the
Coquet, and the Till; but, in the present state of these rivers, this is
a rare occurrence. I was once, for a week, on a good run of the North
Tyne; I fished sometimes, but I never saw a salmon rise; and the only
place in this river, where, from my own knowledge, I can assert salmon
have been caught with the artificial fly, was at Mounsey, very high up
the river. There, in 1820, two grilses were caught, in the end of
August. I have recorded this as a sort of historical occurrence; and I
dare say most of the counties of England, in which there are salmon
rivers, would, upon a minute inquiry, furnish such instances, if they
contained salmon fishers. Yorkshire, Devonshire, and Cornwall, with the
sea on both sides, ought to furnish a greater number.

PHYS.—Give us some little account of the Scotch and Irish rivers.

HAL.—I fear I shall tire you by attempting any details on this subject,
for they are so many, that I ought to take a map in my hands; but I will
say a few words on those in which I have had good sport. First, the
Tweed:—of this, as you will understand from what I mentioned before, I
fear I must now say “_fuit_.” Yet still, for spring salmon fishing, it
must be a good river. The last great sport I had in that river was in
1817, in the beginning of April. I caught, in two or three hours, at
Merton, four or five large salmon, and as many in the evening at
Kelso—and one of them weighed 25lbs. But this kind of fishing cannot be
compared to the summer fishing: the fish play with much less energy, and
in general are in bad season; and the fly used for fishing is almost
like a bird—four or five times larger than the summer fly, and the
coarsest tackle may be employed. I have heard, that Lord Home has
sometimes taken thirty fish in a day, in spring fishing. About, and
above Melrose, I have taken, in a morning in July, two or three grilses;
and in September the same number. I have known eighteen taken earlier,
by an excellent salmon fisher, at Merton; and the late Lord Somerville
often took six or seven fish in a day’s angling. The same “_fuit_” I
must apply to most of the Scotch rivers. Of the Tay I have already
spoken. In the Dee I have never caught salmon, though I have fished in
two parts of it, but it was in bad seasons. In the Don I have seen
salmon rise, and hooked one, but never killed a fish. In the Spey I
enjoyed one of the best days’ sport (perhaps the very best) I ever had
in my life: it was in the beginning of September, in close time; the
water was low, and as net fishing had been given over for some days, the
lower pools were full of fish. By a privilege, which I owed to the late
Duke of Gordon, I fished at this forbidden time, and hooked twelve or
thirteen fish in one day. One was above 30lbs., but it broke me by the
derangement of my reel. I landed seven or eight,—one above 20lbs., which
gave me great play in the rapids above the bridge. I returned to this
same spot in 1813, the year after: the river was in excellent order, and
it was the same time of the year, but just after a flood,—I caught
nothing; the fish had all run up the river; the pools, where I had such
sport the year before, were empty. I have fished there since, with a
like result,—but this was before the 12th of August, the close day. In
the Sutherland and Caithness rivers, many salmon, I have no doubt, may
still be caught. The Brora, Sutherland, in 1813 and 1814, was an
admirable river: I have often rode from the mansion of the princely and
hospitable lord and lady of that county, after breakfast, and returned
at two or three o’clock, having taken from three to eight salmon—several
times eight. There were five pools below the wears of the Brora, which
always contained fish; and at the top of one pool, which from its size
was almost inexhaustible, I have taken three or four salmon the same
day. Another pool, nearer the sea, was almost equal to it; and at that
time I should have placed the Brora above the Ewe for certainty of
sport. When I fished there last, in 1817, the case was altered, and I
caught only two or three fish in the very places where I had six years
before been so successful. In the Helmsdale there are some good pools,
and I have caught fine fish there when the river has been high. I have
fished in the river at Thurso, but without success—it was always foul
when I made my attempt. I have heard of a good salmon river in Lord
Reay’s county, the Laxford; its name, of Norwegian origin, would seem to
be characteristic.[6] Along the coast of Scotland, most of the streams,
if taken at the right time, afford sport. In this county the Beauly is a
good river, and I have caught salmon in that very beautiful spot below
the falls of Kilmarnock. The Ness, at Inverness, and the Awe and Lochy,
I have fished in, but without success. I may say the same of the Ayr,
and of the rivers which empty themselves into the Solway Frith. A little
preserved stream, at Ardgowan, was formerly excellent, after a flood in
September, for sea trout, and later for salmon: I have had good sport
there, and some of my friends have had better.

In Ireland there are some excellent rivers; and, what you will hardly
believe possible, comparing the characters of the two nations, some of
them are taken better care of than the Scotch river; which arises a good
deal from the influence of the Catholic priests, when they are concerned
in the interests of the proprietors, on the Catholic peasantry. I should
place the Erne, at Ballyshannon, as now the first river, for salmon
fishing from the banks with a rod, in the British dominions; and the
excellent proprietor of it, Dr. Shiel, is liberal and courteous to all
gentlemen fly fishers. The Moy, at Ballina, is likewise an admirable
salmon river; and sport, I believe, may almost always be secured there
in every state of the waters; but the best fishing can only be commanded
by the use of a boat. I have taken in the Erne two or three large salmon
in the morning; and in the Moy, three or four grilses, or, as they are
called in Ireland, _grauls_; and this was in a very bad season for
salmon fishing. The Bann, near Coleraine, abounds in salmon: but, in
this river, except in close time, when it is unlawful to fish there,
there are few good casts. In the Bush, a small river about seven miles
to the east of the Bann, there is admirable salmon fishing, always after
great floods; but in fine and dry weather it is of little use to try. I
have hooked twenty fish in a day, after the first August floods, in this
river; and, should sport fail, the celebrated Giant’s Causeway is within
a mile of its mouth, and furnishes to the lovers of natural beauty, or
of geological research, almost inexhaustible sources of interest. The
Blackwater, at Lismore, is a very good salmon river: and the Shannon,
above Limerick and at Castle Connel, whenever the water is tolerably
high, offers many good casts to the fly fisher; but they can only be
commanded by boats. But there is no considerable river along the
northern or western coast,—with the exception of the Avoca, which has
been spoiled by the copper mines,—that does not afford salmon, and if
taken at the proper time, offer sport to the salmon fisher.—But it is
time for us to return to our inn.

                                THE INN.

POIET.—Should it be a fine day to-morrow, I think we shall have good
sport: the high tide will bring up fish, and the rain and wind of
yesterday will have enlarged the river.

HAL.—To-morrow we must not fish: it is the Lord’s day, and a day of
rest. It ought likewise to be a day of worship and thanksgiving to the
Great Cause of all the benefits and blessings we enjoy in this life, for
which we can never sufficiently express our gratitude.

POIET.—I cannot see what harm there can be in pursuing an amusement on a
Sunday, which you yourself have called innocent, and which is apostolic:
nor do I know a more appropriate way of returning thanks to the Almighty
Cause of all being, than in examining and wondering at his works in that
great temple of nature, whose canopy is the sky; and where all the
beings and elements around us are as it were proclaiming the power and
wisdom of Deity.

HAL.—I cannot see how the exercise of fishing can add to your devotional
feelings; but, independent of this, you employ a servant to carry your
net and gaff, and he, at least, has a right to rest on this one day. But
even if you could perfectly satisfy yourself as to the abstracted
correctness of the practice, the habits of the country in which we now
are, form an insurmountable obstacle to the pursuit of the amusement: by
indulging in it, you would excite the indignation of the Highland
peasants, and might perhaps expiate the offence by a compulsory ablution
in the river.

POIET.—I give up the point: I make it a rule never to shock the
prejudices of any person, even when they appear to me ridiculous; and I
shall still less do so in a case where your authority is against me; and
I have no taste for undergoing persecution, when the cause is a better
one. I now remember, that I have often heard of the extreme severity
with which the sabbath discipline is kept in Scotland. Can you give us
the reason of this?

HAL.—I am not sufficiently read in the Church History of Scotland to
give the cause historically; but I think it can hardly be doubted, that
it is connected with the intense feelings of the early Covenanters, and
their hatred with respect to all the forms and institutes of the church
of Rome, the ritual of which makes the Sunday more a day of innocent
recreation than severe discipline.

PHYS.—Yet the disciples of Calvin, at Geneva, who, I suppose, must have
hated the pope as much as their brethren of Scotland, do not so rigidly
observe the Sunday; and I remember having been invited by a very
religious and respectable Genevese to a shooting party on that day.

HAL.—I think climate and the imitative nature of man modify this cause
abroad. Geneva is a little state, in a brighter climate than Scotland,
almost surrounded by Catholics, and the habits of the French and
Savoyards must influence the people. The Scotch, with more severity and
simplicity of manners, have no such examples of bad neighbours, for the
people of the north of England keep the Sunday much in the same way.

POIET.—Nay, Halieus, call them not bad neighbours; recollect my creed,
and respect at least, what, if error, was the error of the western
Christian world for 1000 years. The rigid observance of the seventh day
appears to me rather a part of the Mosaic, than of the Christian
dispensation. The Protestants of this country consider the Catholics
bigots, because they enjoin to themselves and perform certain penances
for their sins; and surely the Catholics may see a little still more
resembling that spirit, in the interference of the Scotch in innocent
amusements, on a day celebrated as a festive day, that on which our
Saviour rose to immortal life, and secured the everlasting hopes of the
Christian. I see no reason why this day should not be celebrated with
singing, dancing, and triumphal processions, and all innocent signs of
gladness and joy. I see no reason why it should be given up to severe
and solitary prayers, or to solemn and dull walks; or why, as in
Scotland, whistling even should be considered as a crime on Sunday, and
humming a tune, however sacred, out of doors, as a reason for violent
anger and persecution.

ORN.—I agree with Poietes, in his views of the subject. I have suffered
from the peculiar habits of the Scotch church, and therefore may
complain. Once in the north of Ireland, when a very young man, I
ventured after the time of divine service to put together my rods, as I
had been used to do in the Catholic districts of Ireland, and fish for
sea trout in the river at Rathmelton, in pure innocence of heart,
unconscious of wrong, when I found a crowd collect round me—at first I
thought from mere curiosity, but I soon discovered I was mistaken; anger
was their motive, and vengeance their object. A man soon came up,
exceedingly drunk, and began to abuse me by various indecent terms: such
as a Sabbath breaking papist, &c. It was in vain I assured him I was no
papist, and no intentional Sabbath breaker; he seized my rod and carried
it off with imprecations; and it was only with great difficulty, and in
exciting by my eloquence the pity of some women who were present, and
who thought I was an ill-used stranger, that I recovered my property.
Another time I was walking on Arthur’s Seat, with some of the most
distinguished professors of Edinburgh attached to the geological
opinions of the late Dr. Hutton; a discussion took place upon the
phenomena presented by the rocks under our feet, and, to exemplify a
principle, Professor Playfair broke some stones, in which I assisted the
venerable and amiable philosopher. We had hardly examined the fragments,
when a man from a crowd, who had been assisting at a field preaching,
came up to us and warned us off, saying, “Ye think ye are only stane
breakers; but I ken ye are Sabbath breakers, and ye deserve to be staned
with your ain stanes!”

HAL.—Zeal of every kind is sometimes troublesome, yet I generally
suspect the persons, who are _very_ tolerant, of scepticism. Those who
firmly believe, that a particular plan of conduct is essential to the
eternal welfare of man, may be pardoned if they show even _anger_, when
this conduct is not pursued. The severe observance of the Sabbath is
connected with the vital creed of these rigid presbyterians; it is not
therefore extraordinary, that they should enforce it even with a
perseverance that goes beyond the bounds of good manners and courtesy.
They may quote the example of our Saviour, who expelled the traders from
the temple even by violence.

PHYS.—I envy no quality of the mind or intellect in others; be it
genius, power, wit, or fancy: but if I could choose what would be most
delightful, and I believe most useful to me, I should prefer a firm
religious belief to every other blessing; for it makes life a discipline
of goodness; creates new hopes, when all earthly hopes vanish; and
throws over the decay, the destruction of existence, the most gorgeous
of all lights; awakens life even in death, and from corruption and decay
calls up beauty and divinity; makes an instrument of torture and of
shame the ladder of ascent to paradise: and, far above all combinations
of earthly hopes, calls up the most delightful visions of palms and
amaranths, the gardens of the blest, the security of everlasting joys,
where the sensualist and the sceptic view only gloom, decay,
annihilation, and despair!

POIET.—You transiently referred, Halieus, yesterday, to that instinct of
salmons which induces them to run up rivers from the sea on the approach
of rain. You have had so many opportunities of attending to the
instincts of the inferior animals, that I should be very glad to hear
your opinion on that very curious subject, the nature and developement
of instincts in general.

HAL.—You must remember, that, in the conversation to which you allude, I
avoided even to pretend to define the nature of instinct; but I shall
willingly discuss the subject; and I expect from yourself, Ornither and
Physicus, more light thrown upon it than I can hope to bestow.

ORN.—I believe we have each a peculiar view on this matter. In
discussion we may enlighten and correct each other. For myself, I
consider instincts merely as results of organization, a part of the
machinery of organized forms. Man is so constituted, that his muscles
acquire their power by habit; their motions are at first automatic, and
become voluntary by associations, so that a child must learn to walk as
he learns to swim or write; but in the colt or chicken, the limbs are
formed with the powers of motion; and these animals walk as soon as they
have quitted the womb or the egg.

PHYS.—I believe it possible, that they may have acquired these powers of
motion in the embryo state; and I think I have observed, that birds
learn to fly, and acquire the use of their wings, by continued efforts,
in the same manner as a child does that of his limbs.

ORN.—I cannot agree with you: the legs of the fœtus are folded up in the
womb of the mare; and neither the colt nor the chicken can ever have
performed, in the embryo state, any motions of their legs similar to
those which they have perfectly at their command when born. Young birds
cannot fly as soon as they are hatched, because they have no wing
feathers; but as soon as these are developed, and even before they are
perfectly strong, they use their wings, fly, and quit their nests
without any education from their parents. Compare a young quail, when a
few days old, with a child of as many months: he flies, runs, seeks his
food, avoids danger, and obeys the call of his mother; whilst a child is
perfectly helpless, and can perform few voluntary motions: has barely
learnt to grasp, and can neither stand nor walk. But to see the most
perfect instance of instinct, as contrasted with acquired knowledge,
look at common domestic poultry, as soon as they are excluded from the
egg: they run round their mother, nestle in her feathers, and obey her
call, without education: she leads them to some spot where there is soft
earth or dung, and instantly begins scratching with her feet; the
chickens watch her motions with the utmost attention; if an earthworm or
larva is turned up, they instantly seize and devour it, but they avoid
eating sticks, grass, or straws; and though the hen shows them the
example of picking up grain, they do not imitate her in this respect,
but for some days prefer ants, or the larvæ of ants, to a barley corn.
They may have heard the cluck of their mother in the egg, and having
felt the warmth of her feathers agreeable, you may consider, Physicus,
their collecting under her wings, and obeying her call, as an acquired
habit. But I will mention another circumstance where habit or education
is entirely out of the question. Does the mother see the shadow of a
kite on the ground, or hear his scream in the air, she instantly utters
a shrill suppressed cry; the chickens, though born that day, and
searching round her with glee and animation for the food which her feet
were providing for them, instantly appear as if thunder struck; those
close to her crouch down and hide themselves in the straw; those further
off, without moving from the place, remain prostrate; the hen looks
upward with a watchful eye; nor do they resume their feeding till they
have been called again by the cluck of their mother, and warned that the
danger is over.

PHYS.—I certainly cannot explain the acquaintance of the little animals
with the note of alarm of the mother, except upon the principle you have
adopted; and I fairly own, that their selection of animal food appears
likewise instinctive: yet it is possible, that this selection may depend
upon some analogy between the smell of these animal matters and the
yolk, which was for a long time their food in the egg.

ORN.—I find I must multiply examples. Examine young ducks which have
been hatched under a hen; they no sooner quit the shell, than they fly
to their natural element, the water, in spite of the great anxiety and
terror of their foster-parent, who in vain repeats that sound to which
her natural children are so obedient. Being in the water, they seize
insects of every kind, which they can only know from their instincts to
be good for food; and when they are hatched in the May-fly season, they
pursue these large ephemeræ with the greatest avidity, and make them
their favourite food. It is impossible, I think, to explain these facts,
except by supposing, that they depend upon feelings or desires in the
animals developed with their organs, which are not acquired, and which
are absolutely instinctive. I will mention another instance. A friend of
mine was travelling in the interior of Ceylon; on the banks of a lake he
saw some fragments of shells of the eggs of the alligator, and heard a
subterraneous sound: his curiosity was excited, and he was induced to
search beneath the surface of the sand: besides two or three young
animals lately come from the shell, he found several eggs which were
still entire: he broke the shell of one of them, when a young alligator
came forth, apparently perfect in all its functions and motions; and
when my friend touched it with a stick, it assumed a threatning aspect,
and bit the stick with violence. It made towards the water, which
(though born by the influence of the sunbeams on the burning sand) it
seemed to know was its natural and hereditary domain. Here is an animal
which, deserted by its parents, and entirely submitted to the mercy of
nature and the elements, must die if it had to acquire its knowledge;
but all its powers are given, all its wants supplied; and even its means
of offence and defence implanted by strong and perfect instincts. I will
mention one fact more. Swallows, quails, and many other birds, migrate
in large flocks when their usual food becomes scarce; and in these cases
it may be said (I anticipate a remark of Physicus), that the phenomenon
depends upon imitation, and that the young birds follow the old ones who
have before made the same flight. But I will select the young cuckoo for
an unexceptionable example of the instinctive nature of this quality. He
is produced from an egg deposited by his mother in the nest of another
bird, generally the hedge sparrow. He destroys all the other young ones
hatched in the same nest, and is supplied with food by his
foster-parent, after he has deprived her of all her natural offspring.
Quite solitary, he is no sooner able to fly than he quits the country of
his birth, and finds his way, with no other guide than his instinct, to
a land where his parents had gone many weeks before him; and he is not
pressed to make this migration by want of food, for the insects and
grains on which he feeds are still abundant. The whole history of the
origin, education, and migration of this singular animal, is a history
of a succession of instincts, the more remarkable, because in many
respects contrary to the usual order of nature.

PHYS.—I have been accustomed to refer many of the supposed instincts of
animals, such as migrations, building nests, and selection of food, to
imitation; but, I confess, I cannot explain the last fact you have
brought forward on this principle. Pray, Ornither, let me state your
view, as I understand it, that we may not differ as to the meaning of
language. I conclude you adopt Hartley’s view of association, that the
motions of the muscles in man are first automatic, and become voluntary
by association; and that reason is the application of voluntary motions
for a particular end. For instance: a child is not afraid of fire, but,
bringing its hand near the fire, it is burnt, and the convulsions of the
muscles produced by the pain ends in removing the hand from the source
of pain. These motions by association are made voluntary; and after this
experiment he avoids the fire by _reason_, and takes care always to
perform those motions which remove his limbs from this destructive
agent. But in contrasting instinct with this slow process, you would
say, most animals, without having felt the effects of fire, have an
innate dread of it; and in the same way, without having been taught, or
experienced pleasure or pain from the object, young ducks seek the
water, young chickens avoid it: their organs have a fitness or unfitness
for certain functions, and they use them for these functions without
education. In short, the instinctive application of the organ is
independent of experience, and forms part of a train of pure sensations.

ORN.—I have no objection to the statement you make of my view of the
subject; but I certainly should give to it a little more refinement and
generality. In all the results of reason, ideas are concerned but never
in those of instinct. Without memory there can be no reason; but in
instinct nothing can be traced but pure sensation.

POIET.—Though in the animal world no ideas seem connected with
instincts, yet they are all intended for specific and intelligent ends.
Thus the swallow travels to a country where flies are found; the salmon
migrates from the sea to the sources of fresh rivers, where its eggs may
receive a supply of aerated water, and without this migration the race
would be extinct: and in this way all the instincts of animals may be
referred to intelligence, which, though not belonging to the animal,
must be attributed to the Divine Mind. Is it not then reasonable to
refer instinct to the immediate impulse of the Author of Nature upon his
creatures? His omnipresence and omnipotence cannot be doubted, and to
the infinite mind the past, the present, and the future are alike; and
creative and conservative power must equally belong to it.

HAL.—That instincts depend upon impulses immediately derived from the
Deity is an opinion which, though it perhaps cannot be confuted, yet
does not please me so much as to believe them dependent upon the
formation of organs, and the result of the general laws which govern the
system of the universe; and it is in favour of this opinion that they
are susceptible of modifications. Thus, in domesticated animals they are
always changed; the turkey and the duck lose their habits of
constructing nests, and the goose does not migrate. In supposing them
the result of organization and hereditary, they might be expected to be
changed by circumstances, as they are actually found to be. Without
referring the instincts of animals to the immediate impulse of the
Deity, they appear to me to offer the most irresistible and convincing
argument that can be brought forward against atheism. They demonstrate
combinations, the result of the most refined intelligence, which can
only be considered as infinite. Take any one of the lowest class of
animals, insects for instance, not only is their organization fitted to
all their wants; but their association in society is provided for, and
the laws of a perfect social community, as it were, are adopted by
beings, that we are sure cannot reason. In the hive bee, for instance,
the instinct of the workers leads them to adopt and obey a queen; and if
she is taken away from them, or dies, they have the power of raising
another from offspring in the cells by an almost miraculous process:
they work under her government for a common object, allow males only to
exist for the purpose of impregnating females, who preserve the society,
and under whose government they send forth swarms, which readily place
themselves under the protection of man. In the geometrical construction
of their cells, the secretion of wax from their bodies, the collecting
their food, and the care of the brood, there is a series of results
which it requires a strong reason to follow, and which are the
consequences of invariable instincts. Bees, since they have been noticed
by naturalists, have the same habits, and, as it is probable that there
have been many thousand of generations since the creation, it is
evident, that the instincts of the first bees have been hereditary and
invariable in their offspring; and it cannot be doubted, that they do
now, as they did four thousand years ago, make some cells in combs
larger than others for the purpose of containing the eggs and future
grubs of drones, that are to be produced by a grub, which they are
educating for a queen bee; and that these cells are connected with the
common cells by a series, in which the most exact geometrical laws of
transition are observed. An eminent philosopher has deduced an argument
in favour of the existence of Deity from the analogy of the universe to
a piece of mechanism, which could only be the work of an intelligent
mind; but there is this difference: in all the productions of nature,
the principle, not only of perfection, but likewise of conservation, is
found, marking a species of intelligence and power which can be compared
to nothing human. The first created swarm of bees contained beings
provided with all the instincts necessary for the perpetual continuance
of the species; and some of these instincts can scarcely be understood
by man, requiring the most profound geometrical knowledge, even to
calculate their results; and _other instincts_ involve what in human
society would be the most singular state of policy, combining contrasted
moral causes and contradictory interests. It is impossible not to be
lost in awe at the contemplation of this chain of facts; the human mind
cannot fail to acknowledge in them the strongest proofs of their being
produced by infinite wisdom and unbounded power; and the devout
philosopher can scarcely avoid considering with respect a little insect,
endowed with faculties producing combinations, which human reason vainly
attempts to imitate, and can scarcely understand.

PHYS.—I agree with you, that if instinct be supposed the result of
organization, and that the first animal types were so created as to
transmit their instincts invariably, generation after generation, it
does offer a most triumphant and incontrovertible argument for the
existence of an all-powerful intelligent Cause.—Even in the instance
which led to this conversation, the instinct which carries salmon from
the sea to the sources of rivers, it is only lately philosophers have
discovered, that the impregnated eggs cannot produce young fishes
independent of the influence of air; and thus an animal goes many
hundred miles under the direction of an instinct, the use of which human
reason has at length developed, and man is supplied with an abundant
food by the result of a combination, in consequence of which a species
is preserved.

POIET.—I do not understand, Halieus, your objections to the view I have
adopted, which is sanctioned by the authority of a good ethic
philosopher, Addison. Allowing the omnipresence and constant power of
Deity, I do not see how you can avoid admitting his actual interference
in all the phenomena of living nature.

HAL.—As I said before, I cannot _confute_ your view; but, upon this
principle, gravitation and the motion of the planets round the sun, and
all the other physical phenomena of the universe, would be owing to the
immediate action of the Divinity. I prefer the view, which refers them
to motion and properties, the results of general laws impressed on
matter by Omnipotence. This view is, I think, simpler; but it is
difficult to form any distinct opinion on so high and incomprehensible a
subject, on which, perhaps, after all, it is wiser to confess our entire
ignorance, and to bow down in humble adoration to the one
incomprehensible Cause of all being.

POIET.—I agree with you in your last sentence, but I still adhere to my
own view, and I hope you will not object to a favourite opinion of mine,
that instincts are to animals what revelation is to man, intended to
supply wants in their physical constitution, which in man are provided
for by reason; and that revelation is to him as an instinct, teaching
him what reason cannot—his religious duties, the undying nature of his
intellectual part, and the relations of his conduct to eternal happiness
and misery.

HAL.—“Davus sum, non Œdipus.” I will not attempt to discuss this view of
yours, Poietes; but I think I may say, that all the instincts of animals
seem to be connected with pleasure; and in man the feeling of love and
the gratifying the appetites, which approach nearest to instincts, are
likewise highly delightful, and perhaps there is no more pleasurable
state of the human mind than when, with intense belief, it looks forward
to another world and to a better state of existence, or is absorbed in
the adoration of the supreme and eternal intelligence.

                               SIXTH DAY.



HAL.—WELL met, my friends! It is a fine warm morning, there is a fresh
breeze, the river is in excellent order for fishing, and I trust our
good behaviour yesterday will ensure us sport to-day. There must be a
great many fresh run fish in the pool; and after twenty-four hours’
rest, some of those that were indisposed to take on Saturday evening,
may have acquired appetite. Prepare your tackle, and begin: but whilst
you are preparing, I will mention a circumstance which every
accomplished fly fisher ought to know. You changed your flies on
Saturday with the change of weather, putting the dark flies on for the
bright gleams of the sun, and the gaudy flies when the dark clouds
appeared: now, I will tell you of another principle, which it is as
necessary to know as the change of flies for change of weather; I allude
to the different kinds of fly to be used in particular pools, and even
for particular parts of pools. You have fished in this deep pool; and if
you were to change it for a shallower one, such as that above, it would
be proper to use smaller flies of the same colour; and in a pool still
deeper, larger flies; likewise in the rough rapid at the top, a larger
fly may be used than below at the tail of the water: and in the Tweed or
Tay, I have often changed my fly thrice in the same pool, and sometimes
with success—using three different flies for the top, middle, and
bottom. I remember, that when I first saw Lord Somerville adopt this
fashion, I thought there was fancy in it; but experience soon proved to
me how accomplished a salmon fisher was my excellent and lamented
friend, and I adopted the lesson he taught me, and with good results, in
all bright waters.

POIET.—I will try the correctness of your principle. Look at the fly now
on my line; where would you recommend me to cast it?

HAL.—It is a large gaudy fly, and is fit for no part of this pool,
except the extremely rough head of the torrent: there I dare say it will
take in _this_ state of the waters.

POIET.—Good, I hooked a large fish, but alas! he is off: Yet I thought
he was fairly caught.

HAL.—The hook, I think, turned round at the moment you struck, and
carried off some scales from the outside of his mouth.

POIET.—You are right: see, the scales are on the hook. I cannot raise
another fish: I have tried almost all over the pool. I thought I saw a
fish rise at the tail of the rapid.

HAL.—You did: he refused the fly. Now put on a fly one third of the size
and of the same colour, and I think you will hook that fish.

POIET.—I have done so—and he is fast; and a fine fish; I think a salmon.

HAL.—It is a salmon, and one above 10lbs. Play him with care, and do not
let him run into the rough part of the stream, where the large stones

POIET.—It is, I think, the most active fish I have yet played with. See
how high he leaps! He is making for the sea.

HAL.—Hold him tight, or you will lose him.

POIET.—Fear me not. I trust, in spite of his strength, I shall turn him.
You see, I show him the but of the rod, and his force is counterpoised
by a very long lever.

HAL.—You do well. But he has made a violent spring, and, I fear, is off.

POIET.—He is!—but not, I think, by any fault of mine: he has carried off

HAL.—You played that fish so well, that I am angry at his loss: either
the hook, link, or line, failed you.

POIET.—It is the hook, which you see is broken, and not merely at the
barb, but likewise in the shank. What a fool I was ever to use one of
these London or Birmingham made hooks.

HAL.—The thing has happened to me often. I now never use any hooks for
salmon fishing, except those which I am sure have been made by
O’Shaughnessy, of Limerick; for even those made in Dublin, though they
seldom break, yet they now and then bend; and the English hooks, made of
cast steel in imitation of Irish ones, are the worst of all. _There_ is
a fly nearly of the same colour as that which is destroyed; and I can
tell you, that I saw it made at Limerick by O’Shaughnessy himself, and
tied on one of his own hooks. Should you catch with it a fish even of
30lbs. I will answer for its strength and temper: it will neither break
nor bend.

POIET.—Whilst I am attaching your present, so kindly made, to my line,
pray tell me how these hooks are made, for I know you interested
yourself in this subject when at Limerick.

HAL.—Most willingly. I have even made a hook, which, though a little
inferior in form, in other respects, I think, I could boast as equal to
the Limerick ones. The first requisite in hook-making is to find good
malleable iron of the softest and purest kind—such as is procured from
the nails of old horse-shoes. This must be converted by cementation with
charcoal into good soft steel, and that into bars or wires of different
thickness for different sized hooks, and then annealed. For the larger
hooks, the bars must be made in such a form as to admit of cutting the
barbs; and each piece, which serves for two hooks, is larger at the
ends, so that the bar appears in the form of a double pointed spear,
three, four, or five inches long: the bars for the finer hooks are
somewhat flattened. The artist works with two files, one finer than the
other for giving the point and polishing the hook, and he begins by
making the barb, taking care not to cut too deep, and filing on a piece
of hard wood, such as box wood, with a dent to receive the bar, made by
the edge of the file. The barb being made, the shank is thinned and
flattened, and the polishing file applied to it; and by a turn of the
wrist round a circular pincers, the necessary degree of curvature is
given to it. The hook is then cut from the bar, heated red hot, by being
kept for a moment in a charcoal fire; then plunged, while hot, into cold
water; then tempered, by being put on iron, that has been heated in the
same fire till it becomes a bright blue, and, whilst still hot, it is
immersed in candle-grease, where it gains a black colour; it is then

PHYS.—Nothing seems simpler than this process. Surely London might
furnish manufacturers for so easy a manipulation; and I should think one
of our friends, who is so admirable a cutler, might even improve upon
the Irish process; at least the tempering might be more scientifically
arranged; for instance, by the thermometer, and a bath of fusible metal,
the temperature at which steel becomes blue being 580° Fahrenheit, might
be constantly preserved.

HAL.—Habit teaches our Irish artists this point with sufficient
precision. We should have such hooks in England, but the object of the
fishing tackle makers is to obtain them cheap, and most of their hooks
are made to sell, and good hooks cannot be sold but at a good price.

POIET.—I have heard formerly a good angler complain, that the Limerick
hooks were too heavy and clumsy. He preferred hooks made at Kendal in

HAL.—I saw, twenty years ago, hooks far too heavy made at Limerick; but
this O’Shaughnessy is, I think, a better maker than his father was, and
the curve and the general form of the hook is improved. It has now, I
think, nearly the best form of a curve for catching and holding, the
point protruding a little. The Kendal hook holds well, but is not so
readily fixed by the pull in the mouth of the fish. The early Fellows of
the Royal Society, who attended to all the useful and common arts, even
improved fish hooks; and Prince Rupert, an active member of that
illustrious body, taught the art of tempering hooks to a person of the
name of Kirby; under whose name, for more than a century, very good
hooks were sold. I shall take a walk towards the lake to enjoy a view of
its cloud-capped mountains, and I hope to find, on my return, that you
have all had your satisfaction in a good day’s salmon fishing.

PHYS.—We shall crimp and cool a salmon, if we catch a good one, for our

HAL.—Do so.

ORN.—But before you leave us, I wish you would be good enough to inform
us why the salmon here are so different from those I have seen
elsewhere: for instance, some caught in the Alness, in Rosshire, which
we saw in passing round the south coast of Ross. These appear to me
thicker and brighter fish, and one that I measured was 30 inches long,
and 17 in circumference.

HAL.—I think I have seen broader fish than even those of this river; but
the salmon which you happen to remember for comparison, belonged to a
small stream, which, I think, in general, are thinner and longer than
those in great rivers; and what I mentioned on a former occasion with
respect to trout holds good likewise with regard to salmon; each river
has a distinct kind. It is scarcely possible to doubt, that the
varieties of the salmon, which haunt the sea, come to the same rivers to
breed in which they were born, or where they have spawned before. And
this could hardly happen unless they confined their migrations to a
certain space in the sea, the boundaries of which may be regarded as the
shore and probably deep water, which may be considered as effectual a
limit almost as land; for fish do not willingly haunt _very_ deep water,
which even in summer is of low temperature, approaching to 40°, and
contains little or no vegetable food or insects, which the smaller
fishes search for, and the larger fishes follow the smaller. It is
however possible, that in winter, all fish fond of heat will seek water
rather deeper than in summer; and char and umbla in lakes are usually
found in the deepest parts, being fond of _cool_ water, and they come to
spawn whenever the shallow water of the lakes becomes cool, in October
or November. We cannot judge of the senses of animals that breathe
water,—that separate air from water by their gills; but it seems
probable, that, as the quality of the water is connected with their life
and health, they must be exquisitely sensible to changes in water, and
must have similar relations to it, that an animal with the most delicate
nasal organs has to air. A vulture or a dog scents not only particular
food and particular game at great distances, but even makes of the smell
a kind of language; and I doubt not, that when dogs, that have been
blindfolded and carried away from their home, return to it, it is by the
sense of smelling: to them each town, lane, or field, must have a
particular scent. And I have seen even a blind horse, an animal in which
the sense of smelling is less acute, evidently find his way by it to his
master’s house and stable, which was, indeed, near a tan-yard. The state
of parts of water, in the sea or great lakes, produced by the
impregnations carried down by particular streams, is much more permanent
than a _like state_ in air: so that though the knowledge given by the
nasal organs may be more easily communicated at a distance by winds, yet
_that_ produced by streams on the bronchiæ of fishes is more invariable,
and a migratory fish is less likely to be deceived. Yet in great floods,
often connected with storms, or violent motion in the waters near the
shore, salmon sometimes mistake their river. I remember in this way,
owing to a tremendous flood, catching with the fly a large salmon, that
had mistaken his river, having come into the Bush, near the Giant’s
Causeway, instead of the Bann. No fish can be more distinct in the same
species than the fish of these two rivers, their length to their girth
being nearly in a ratio of 20:9 and 20:13.—I am going; good sport to


HAL.—I am sure I may congratulate you on your sport, for I see on the
bank a fine salmon, three grauls or grilses, and three large sea trout.

ORN.—You have not seen all, for we have crimped two fish—one a large
salmon, and the other a trout almost a yard long, and both in excellent
season. We have had great sport, and sport even of a kind which you will
not guess at; for, when the tide was falling, the fish ceased to rise at
the fly, and I thought of trying them with a bait; so we sent for our
swivel tackle, and put par or samlet on our hooks, as we bait for
pike—cutting off one ventral fin on one side, and one pectoral fin on
the other; and making the par spin in the most rapid streams, we had
several runs from fish, and it was in this way that Poietes caught this
large sea trout, which gave excellent sport.

HAL.—This kind of fishing is not uncommon. I have often caught salmon in
the Tay, fishing with pars; but though the fish ran at the bait, when
they would not rise at the fly while the tide was ebbing, they would
have taken the par better still while it was flowing.

PHYS.—From my experience to-day, I conclude the salmon has habits
different from the trout; for I think the fish which broke my hook rose
again at the artificial fly in the same place.

HAL.—I think you are mistaken. Salmon are usually shyer even than trout,
and I never knew one in this season, that had been pricked even
slightly, rise again at the artificial fly in the same pool. I should
say, that their habits were precisely the same, but with more sagacity
on the side of the salmon. It must have been another fish that rose at
your fly in the same place. After such severe discipline, I do not think
a fish would rise for many hours, even at a natural bait.

POIET.—Your experience is so great, that I dare say I was mistaken, yet
it seemed a fish of the same size.

HAL.—Salmon often in this season haunt the streams in pairs; but so far
from rising again after being pricked, they appear to me to learn, when
they have been some time in the river, that the artificial fly is not
food, even without having been touched by the hook. In the river at
Galway, in Ireland, I have seen above the bridge some hundreds of salmon
lying in rapid streams, and from five to ten fishermen tempting them
with every variety of fly, but in vain. After a fish had been thrown
over a few times, and risen once or twice and refused the fly, he rarely
ever took any notice of it again in that place. It was generally nearest
the tide that fish were taken, and the place next the sea was the most
successful stand, and the most coveted; and when the water is low and
clear in this river, the Galway fishermen resort to the practice of
fishing with a naked hook, endeavouring to entangle it in the bodies of
the fish; a most unartistlike practice. In spring fishing, I have known
a hungry, half-starved salmon rise at the artificial fly a second time,
after having been very slightly touched by it; but even this rarely
happens, and when I have seen it, the water has been coloured.

PHYS.—Can you tell us why the fish rise better at the fly when the tide
is flowing, than when it is ebbing? There seems no reason why flies
should be sought for by the fish at one of these seasons, rather than at
the other.

HAL.—The turn of the salt water brings up aquatic insects, and perhaps
small fish; and I suppose salmon know this, and search for food at a
time when it is likely to be found. I cannot think, that in these pools
they can be on the look-out for flies, for there are never any on the
surface of the water; and I imagine they take the gaudy fly, with its
blue kingfisher and golden pheasant’s feathers, for a small fish.

ORN.—I have always supposed that they took it for a libella, or
dragon-fly; for I have often seen these brilliant flies haunting the

HAL.—I never saw a dragon-fly drop on the water, or taken by a fish; and
salmon sometimes rise even in the salt water, where dragon-flies are
never found. There is no difficulty in explaining why salmon in inland
rivers should take flies, where natural flies are abundant; but fish,
when they have lain long in pools in the river and fed on natural flies,
will no longer take these bright flies, and then even a trout-fly is
often most successful. I have sometimes thought that the rising of
salmon and sea trout at these bright flies, as soon as they come from
the sea into rivers, might depend upon a sort of imperfect memory of
their early food and habits; for flies form a great part of the food of
the salmon fry, which, for a month or two after they are hatched, feed
like young trouts—and in March and April the spring flies are their
principal nourishment. In going back to fresh water, they may perhaps
have their habits of feeding recalled to them, and naturally search for
their food at the surface.

POIET.—This appears to me very probable.—But it is late, and we must
return and compare the crimped trout and salmon; and I hope we shall
have another good day to-morrow, for the clouds are red in the west.

PHYS.—I have no doubt of it, for the red has a tint of purple.

HAL.—Do you know why this tint portends fine weather?

PHYS.—The air, when dry, I believe, refracts more red, or heat-making,
rays; and as dry air is not perfectly transparent, they are again
reflected in the horizon. I have generally observed a coppery or yellow
sunset to foretel rain; but, as an indication of wet weather
approaching, nothing is more certain than a halo round the moon, which
is produced by the precipitated water; and the larger the circle, the
nearer the clouds, and consequently the more ready to fall.

HAL.—I have often observed, that the old proverb is correct—

          A rainbow in the morning is the shepherd’s warning:
          A rainbow at night is the shepherd’s delight.

Can you explain this omen?

PHYS.—A rainbow can only occur when the clouds containing, or
depositing, the rain are opposite to the sun,—and in the evening the
rainbow is in the east, and in the morning in the west; and as our heavy
rains, in this climate, are usually brought by the westerly wind, a
rainbow in the west indicates, that the bad weather is on the road, by
the wind, to us; whereas the rainbow in the east proves, that the rain
in these clouds is passing from us.

POIET.—I have often observed, that when the swallows fly high, fine
weather is to be expected or continued; but when they fly low, and close
to the ground, rain is almost surely approaching. Can you account for

HAL.—Swallows follow the flies and gnats, and flies and gnats usually
delight in warm strata of air; and as warm air is lighter, and usually
moister, than cold air, when the warm strata of air are high, there is
less chance of moisture being thrown down from them by the mixture with
cold air; but when the warm and moist air is close to the surface, it is
almost certain, that, as the cold air flows down into it, a deposition
of water will take place.

POIET.—I have often seen sea-gulls assemble on the land, and have almost
always observed, that very stormy and rainy weather was approaching. I
conclude, that these animals, sensible of a current of air approaching
from the ocean, retire to the land to shelter themselves from the storm.

ORN.—No such thing. The storm is their element; and the little petrel
enjoys the heaviest gale, because, living on the smaller sea insects, he
is sure to find his food in the spray of a heavy wave—and you may see
him flitting above the edge of the highest surge. I believe, that the
reason of this migration of seagulls, and other sea birds, to the land,
is their security of finding food. They may be observed, at this time,
feeding greedily on the earth worms and larvæ, driven out of the ground
by severe floods; and the fish, on which they prey in fine weather in
the sea, leave the surface, when storms prevail and go deeper. The
search after food, as we agreed on a former occasion, is the principal
cause why animals change their places. The different tribes of the
wading birds always migrate when rain is about to take place; and I
remember once, in Italy, having been long waiting, in the end of March,
for the arrival of the double snipe in the Campagna of Rome,—a great
flight appeared on the 3d of April, and the day after heavy rain set in,
which greatly interfered with my sport. The vulture, upon the same
principle, follows armies; and I have no doubt, that the augury of the
ancients was a good deal founded upon the observation of the instincts
of birds. There are many superstitions of the vulgar owing to the same
source. For anglers, in spring, it is always unlucky to see single
magpies,—but _two_ may be always regarded as a favourable omen; and the
reason is, that in cold and stormy weather one magpie alone leaves the
nest in search of food, the other remaining sitting upon the eggs or the
young ones; but when two go out together, the weather is warm and mild,
and thus favourable for fishing.

POIET.—The singular connexions of causes and effects, to which you have
just referred, make superstition less to be wondered at, particularly
amongst the vulgar; and when two facts, naturally unconnected, have been
accidentally coincident, it is not singular that this coincidence should
have been observed and registered, and that omens of the most absurd
kind should be trusted in. In the west of England, half a century ago, a
particular hollow noise on the sea coast was referred to a spirit or
goblin, called Bucca, and was supposed to foretel a shipwreck: the
philosopher knows, that sound travels much faster than currents in the
air—and the sound always foretold the approach of a very heavy storm,
which seldom takes place on that wild and rocky coast, surrounded as it
is by the Atlantic, without a shipwreck on some part of its extensive

PHYS.—All the instances of omens you have mentioned are founded on
reason; but how can you explain such absurdities as Friday being an
unlucky day, the terror of spilling salt, or meeting an old woman? I
knew a man, of very high dignity, who was exceedingly moved by these
omens, and who never went out shooting without a bittern’s claw fastened
to his buttonhole by a ribband—which he thought ensured him good luck.

POIET.—These, as well as the omens of death watches, dreams, &c., are
for the most part founded upon some accidental coincidences; but
spilling of salt, on an uncommon occasion, may, as I have known it,
arise from a disposition to apoplexy, shown by an incipient numbness in
the hand, and may be a fatal symptom; and persons, dispirited by bad
omens, sometimes prepare the way for evil fortune; for confidence in
success is a great means of ensuring it. The dream of Brutus, before the
field of Philippi, probably produced a species of irresolution and
despondency, which was the principal cause of his losing the battle: and
I have heard, that the illustrious sportsman, to whom you referred just
now, was always observed to shoot ill, because he shot carelessly, after
one of his dispiriting omens.

HAL.—I have in life met with a few things, which I found it impossible
to explain, either by chance coincidences or by natural connexions; and
I have known minds of a very superior class affected by them,—persons in
the habit of reasoning deeply and profoundly.

PHYS.—In my opinion, profound minds are the most likely to think lightly
of the resources of human reason: it is the pert, superficial thinker
who is generally strongest in every kind of unbelief. The deep
philosopher sees chains of causes and effects so wonderfully and
strangely linked together, that he is usually the last person to decide
upon the impossibility of any two series of events being independent of
each other; and in science, so many natural miracles, as it were, have
been brought to light,—such as the fall of stones from meteors in the
atmosphere, the disarming a thunder cloud by a metallic point, the
production of fire from ice by a metal white as silver, and referring
certain laws of motion of the sea to the moon,—that the physical
inquirer is seldom disposed to assert, confidently, on any abstruse
subjects belonging to the order of natural things, and still less so on
those relating to the more mysterious relations of moral events and
intellectual natures.

                              SEVENTH DAY.


                           GRAYLING FISHING.

                   _Scene—Leintwardine, near Ludlow._
                      _Time—Beginning of October._

HAL.—YOU have reached your quarters. Here is your home—a rural,
peaceable, and unassuming inn, with as worthy a host and hostess as may
be found in this part of the country. The river glides at the bottom of
the garden, and there is no stream in England more productive of
grayling. The surrounding scenery is not devoid of interest, and the
grounds in the distance are covered with stately woods, and laid out (or
rather their natural beauties developed) by the hand of a master, whose
liberal and enlightened mind even condescended to regard the amusements
of the angler; and he could hardly have contributed in a more effectual
manner to their comforts, than by placing the good people, who were once
his servants, in this comfortable inn.

PHYS.—Are we to fish according to any rule, as to quantity or size of

HAL.—You are at perfect liberty to fish as you like; but as it is
possible you may catch grayling only of this year, and which are not
longer than the hand, I conclude you will return such pigmies to the
river, as a matter of propriety, though not of necessity.

POIET.—This river seems formed of two other streams, which join above
our inn. What are the names of its sources?

HAL.—The small river to the left is called the Teme, or Little Teme, and
though the least stream, it gives name to the river: the other, and more
copious stream, is called the Clun. The Little Teme contains principally
trout; the Clun, both trout and grayling: but the fish are more abundant
in the meadows, between this place and Downton, than in other parts of
the river; for above, the stream is too rapid and shallow to be
favourable to their increase; and below, it is joined by other streams,
and becomes too abundant in coarse fish.

POIET.—I cannot understand why the grayling should be so scarce a fish
in England. It is abundant in many districts on the continent; but in
this island it is found, I believe, only in a few rivers, and does not
exist, I think, either in Ireland or Scotland. Yet, being an Alpine
fish, and naturally fond of cool water, it might have been expected
among the Highlands.

HAL.—I formerly used to account for this, by supposing it an _imported_
fish, and not indigenous; but, in some of my continental excursions, I
have seen it living only under such peculiar circumstances, that I doubt
the correctness of this my early opinion.

POIET.—Which was, I conclude, that it was introduced by the monks, in
the time when England was under the See of Rome. As a favourite fish of
St. Ambrose it was worth cultivating, as well as for its own sake; and I
think you have done wrong to relinquish this idea, for, as far as my
recollection serves me, the rivers that contain it are near the ruins of
great monasteries. The Avon, near Salisbury; the Ure, near Fountain’s
Abbey; the Wye, near the great Abbey of Tintern; and, if I am not
mistaken, in the lower part of this valley there are the remains of an
extensive establishment of friars.

HAL.—But there are rivers near the ruins of some of the most magnificent
establishments of this kind in Europe, and those nearest the continent,
where the grayling is not found; for instance, in the Stour, at
Canterbury. And if the grayling _be_ an imported fish, it is wonderful,
that it should not be found in the rivers in Kent, and along the
south-west coast of England, as in Dorsetshire, Devonshire, and
Cornwall, where the monastic establishments were numerous; and why it
should be found in some rivers in the mountainous parts of Wales, as in
that near Llan-wrted and the Dee; not near Val Crusis Abbey, but fifteen
miles higher up, between Corwen and Bala.

POIET.—It may have been a fish imported from the continent, and carried
to a number of rivers, only a few of which may have suited its habits,
and has remained there and multiplied.

HAL.—There may be truth in what you are now imagining, for the grayling
requires a number of circumstances in a river to enable it to increase.

POIET.—What circumstances are these?

HAL.—A temperature in the water which must be moderate—neither too high
nor too low. Grayling are never found in streams that run from
glaciers—at least near their source; and they are killed by cold or
heat. I once put some grayling from the Teme, in September, with some
trout, into a confined water, rising from a spring in the yard at
Downton; the grayling all died, but the trout lived. And in the hot
summer of 1825, great numbers of large grayling died in the Avon, below
Ringwood, without doubt killed by the heat in July.

POIET.—But I have heard of grayling being common in Lapland—at least so
says Linnæus.

HAL.—I think it must be another species of the same genus; the same as
Back’s grayling found by Captain Franklin and his companions in North
America, and distinguished by a much larger back fin. Having travelled
with the fishing-rod in my hand through most of the Alpine valleys in
the south and east of Europe, and some of those in Norway and Sweden, I
have always found the char in the coldest and highest waters; the trout,
in the brooks rising in the highest and coldest mountains; and the
grayling always lower, where the temperature was milder: and if in hot
countries, only at the foot of mountains, not far from sources which had
the mean temperature of the atmosphere,—as in the Vipacco, near
Goritzia, and in the streams which gush forth from the limestone caverns
of the Nordic Alps. Besides temperature, grayling require a peculiar
character in the disposition of the water of rivers. They do not dwell,
like trout, in rapid shallow torrents; nor, like char or chub, in deep
pools or lakes. They require a combination of stream and pool; they like
a deep still pool for rest, and a rapid stream above, and a gradually
declining shallow below, and a bottom where marl or loam is mixed with
gravel; and they are not found abundant except in rivers that have these
characters. It is impossible to have a more perfect specimen of a
grayling river than that now running before us, in this part of its
course. You see a succession of deep still pools under shady banks of
marl, with gentle rapids above, and a long shelving tail, where the fish
sport and feed. Should there be no such pools in a river, grayling would
remain, provided the water was clear, and would breed; but they cannot
stem rapid streams, and they are gradually carried down lower and lower,
and at last disappear. You know the Test, one of the finest trout
streams in Hampshire, and of course in England; when I first knew this
stream, twenty years ago, there were no grayling in it. A gentleman
brought some from the Avon, and introduced them into the river at
Longstock, above Stockbridge. They were for two or three years very
abundant in that part of the river; but they gradually descended, and
though they multiplied greatly, there are now scarcely any above
Stockbridge. There were, four years ago, many in the river just below;
but this year there are very few there, and the great proportion that
remains is found below Houghton. I ought to mention, that the water is
particularly fitted for them, and they become larger in this river than
in their native place, the Avon,—some of them weighing between 3 and
4lbs. The trout, in all its habits of migration, runs upward, seeking
the fresh and cool waters of mountain sources to spawn in: the grayling,
I believe, has never the same habit of running up stream; I never saw
one leaping at a fall, where trout are so often seen. Their large back
fin seems intended to enable them to rise and sink rapidly in deep
pools; and the slender nature of the body, towards the tail, renders
them much more unfit for leaping cataracts than trout and salmon. The
temperature of the water, and its character as to still and stream, seem
of more importance than clearness; for I have seen grayling taken in
streams, that are almost constantly turbid,—as in the Inn and the Salza
in the Tyrol. This fish appears to require food of a particular kind,
feeding much upon flies and their larvæ, and not usually preying upon
small fish, as the trout. It has a very strong stomach, in texture like
that of the gillaroo trout, and is exceedingly fond of those larvæ which
inhabit cases, and are usually covered with sand or gravel. I once
caught a grayling in the Wochain Save, that weighed about a pound and a
half, the stomach of which equalled in size a very large walnut, and
contained some small shells, and two or three white round pebbles as
large as small beans. In accordance with their general habits of
feeding, grasshoppers are amongst their usual food in the end of summer
and autumn; and at all seasons, maggots, upon fine tackle and a small
hook, offer a secure mode of taking them,—the pool having been
previously baited for the purpose of angling, by throwing in a handful
or two a few minutes before.

POIET.—You just now said, that you thought the Lapland fish, considered
by Linnæus as grayling, was the same as Back’s grayling; but I find, in
the Appendix to Captain Franklin’s narration, two graylings described as
belonging to the northern regions,—one the Coregonus Signifer, and
another, which appears to differ very little from it, except being small
in size. This seems to agree as nearly as possible with our grayling,
with a difference of at most one spine in the back fin. May not this in
fact be the same fish as the grayling of the Alps, only rendered in a
succession of generations fit for a colder climate?

HAL.—This is certainly possible: there is no doubt, that, in many
successive generations, animals may be fitted to bear changes, which
would have destroyed their progenitors. It is said by Bloch, that
graylings are found in the Caspian Sea, and in the Baltic,—masses of
saline water; though, as I have proved, the grayling of England will not
bear even a brackish water, without dying. And notwithstanding the
severity of the winter in high northern latitudes, streams under the ice
may retain a temperature not much lower than some of the Alpine rivers.
I have seen grayling in Carniola, in a source at the hottest season not
quite 50°; and as, in large bodies of water, the deepest part, in frost,
is generally the warmest—about 40°, the degree at which water is
heaviest—I see no reason why grayling may not be habituated to such a
temperature—coolness being generally favourable to their existence. But
see, the fog which had filled the valley and hid the mountains from our
sight is clearing away, and I fear it will be a hot day. Before the sun
becomes too bright is the best time for fishing, in such a day as this.
As soon as the fog is fairly off, the water-flies will begin to appear,
and fish to sport.

PHYS.—I see the fog has already disappeared from the deep water in the
meadow, where I suppose the warmth of the air from the considerable mass
of the water, is greater; and which is further removed from the hills
sending down currents of cold air, from the mixture of which with the
moist warm air above the river this phenomenon is produced. I see some
yellow flies beginning to come out; they have already felt the influence
of the warm air: and look! a fish has just risen opposite that bank, and
he rises again: let us prepare our tackle.

POIET.—What flies shall we employ?

HAL.—I recommend at least three; for the grayling lies deeper and is not
so shy a fish as the trout; and, provided your link is fine, is not apt
to be scared by the cast of flies on the water. The fineness of the
link, and of the guts to which your flies are attached, is a most
essential point, and the clearer the stream the finer should be the
tackle. I have known good fishermen foiled by using a gut of ordinary
thickness, though their fly was of the right size and colour. Very
slender transparent gut of the colour of the water is one of the most
important causes of success in grayling fishing. Let me see your book: I
will select a fine stretcher. Now, for the lowest fly, use a
yellow-bodied fly, with red hackle for legs, and landrail’s wing: for
the second, a blue dun, with dun body; and for the highest, the claret
coloured body, with blue wings; and let your first dropper fly be about
three feet from the stretcher and from the other dropper, and let the
hanging link which attaches them be 3½ inches long.

PHYS.—There are several fish rising: I shall throw at that opposite—he
appears large.

HAL.—It is a trout and not a grayling.

PHYS.—How do you know?

HAL.—By his mode of rising. He is lying at the top of the water, taking
the flies as they sail down by him, which a grayling scarcely ever does.
_He_ rises rapidly from the bottom or middle of the water, on the
contrary—darting upwards, and, having seized his fly, returns to his
station. There! a grayling has risen. I do not mean, however, that this
habit is invariable; I have sometimes seen trout feed like grayling, and
grayling like trout, but neither of these fish emits bubbles of air in
rising, as dace and chub do.

PHYS.—I have one! He has taken my blue dun, and must be a small one, for
he plays with no vigour.

HAL.—He is about ¾lb.—a fish of two years and a half old—very good for
the table. I will land him if possible.

PHYS.—There! He is off!

HAL.—This happens often with grayling: their mouths are tender, and
unless the hook catches in the upper lip, which is rather thick, it is
more than an equal chance that the fish escapes you.

PHYS.—Here, I have another, that has taken the stretcher, and as it is a
larger hook, I hope he may be held. He is likewise a larger fish—but how
oddly he spins! This, I suppose, must be owing to his large back fin, by
which the stream carries him round. There he is: he has quite twisted my
link; it would not be amiss to have swivels for this kind of fishing.

HAL.—It is a fish in good season,—dark above, fair below, and weighs, I
should suppose, about 1¼lb.

PHYS.—As this is the first grayling I have seen of my own taking, I must
measure, weigh, and examine him.

HAL.—We can do this hereafter. See, our fish barrel; he can be kept
alive till a more convenient time of the day.

PHYS.—I am disposed to gratify my curiosity immediately: for to acquire
information is at least as interesting to me as catching fish. I shall
kill him by a blow on the head. He is not, I suppose, worth crimping

HAL.—Certainly not, at this time; and it is not necessary with a fish of
this size, which ought to be fried; but if we catch a large grayling,
approaching to 2lbs., he shall be killed, crimped, and boiled, like our
Denham trout; you will then find him excellent, and not inferior, in my
opinion, to the best perch—more like the most exquisitely tasted of all
our fish, the red mullet.

PHYS.—Out of the water, this is a handsome fish, broader round the
middle, and more hog-backed than the trout, but gracefully tapering
towards the tail. The belly, I see, is silvery with yellow; and the
pectoral, ventral, and anal fins are almost gold-coloured; the back gray
with small black spots, and the back fin of a beautiful bright purple,
with black and blue spots. It has likewise an agreeable odour; so that
both from its colour and smell it does not seem undeserving the title
given it by St. Ambrose, of _the flower of fishes_. It measures, I find,
14 inches in length; in girth 7½. It weighs 17 ounces. It has 10 spines
in the pectoral fin, 23 in the dorsal, 16 in the ventral, 14 in the
anal, and 18 in the caudal.

HAL.—Now for its anatomy. Its stomach is very thick, not unlike that of
a char or gillaroo trout, and contains flies, gravel, and larvæ, with
their cases. The liver and bowels do not differ much from those of a
trout; and the ovaria or roe, with eggs as large as mustard seed, are on
each side the air bladder. Though a thicker fish, the grayling does not
weigh much more than the trout in proportion to his length: the greater
breadth of back is compensated by the more rapid tapering of tail, and a
trout in very high season will sometimes equal in weight a grayling of
the same length. The ova in this fish, and in the species generally, are
very small at this time of the year; but in the beginning of April, the
season of their spawning, they become nearly as large as the ova of the
trout—of the size of pepper-corns. But I see, Poietes, your rod is in
order, and there are many fish rising in this deep pool, some of which
are large grayling. The blue dun is on in quantity, and we have both
cloud and wind, which half an hour ago we had no right to expect. Let me
advise you to use three flies of different shades of the dun: the
stretcher, a pale blue with yellow body; the first dropper, a winged fly
with dun body; and the third, a similar fly with dark body. There, you
see; he rose and refused your stretcher—and again he has a second time
refused it. I think the colour of the dubbing is too bright: try a
winged fly for the stretcher with a greenish body. Good—he has taken it,
and ought to be a large fish. Now we have him: he is at least sixteen
inches long, and in good season. Ornither, I advise you to use the same
kind of fly, and to put up your tackle precisely in the same way as
Poietes has done.

POIET.—How well they rise! At that moment I had two on my line: one of
them is gone, but I hope I shall land the other.

HAL.—Fish with activity while the cloud lasts. I fear the sun is coming
out, when it will be more difficult to take fish. I shall try the next
pool, and I advise you to follow me and fish by turns,—passing each
other, and taking different pools below, and so wend your way downwards,
fishing wherever you see fish sporting. There is no better part of the
river than that pool below you, and you cannot take a wrong direction.
Immediately beyond Burrington Bridge you will find two excellent pools,
and I advise you to go no farther down to-day. If you take a fish
approaching 2lbs., keep him alive in the fish barrel for crimping; the
smaller fish you can kill, and carry with some rushes in your basket; we
shall at least be able to send a dish of grayling to the patron of our
sport at Downton.


HAL.—Well, gentlemen, I hope you have been successful.

POIET.—We have had good sport; but I have been for some time reposing on
this bank, and admiring the scene below. How fine are these woods! How
beautiful these banks! the hills in the distance approach to the
character of mountains; and the precipitous cliff, which forms the
summit of that distant elevation, looks like a diluvian monument, and as
if it had been bared and torn by a deluge, which it had stemmed.

HAL.—It is one of the Clee hills, and its termination is basaltic, and
such rocks usually assume such forms. But though this spot is beautiful,
to-morrow, I hope to show you a more exquisite landscape,—cliffs and
woods, and gushing waters, of a character still more romantic. We will
return to our inn by a shorter road; but tell me, have you caught a
large fish amongst you, and preserved him for crimping?

POIET.—We have preserved two fishes in the barrel, but I fear they are
much below your proposed size.

HAL.—They are good fish, and of the average size of the large grayling
in this stream—16 inches long, and about 1½lb.; they will make a good
variety boiled and placed in the middle of the fried fish. And how many
have you caught altogether?

POIET.—I have basketed (to coin a word) three trout and six grayling.

PHYS.—And I have taken seven grayling. I caught trout likewise, but, not
considering them in proper season, I returned them to the river: but
Ornither has been the most successful—he has killed ten grayling.

HAL.—The trout is rarely good in this river—at least I never saw one
that cut red, and yet I have taken them in July, when their external
appearance was perfect and beautiful; but they have, to my taste, always
a flabby and soft character of flesh, and at all seasons here are
inferior for the table to grayling; yet they often attain a considerable
size. There are few small fish in these streams, and I suppose the
grayling, which are most numerous, deprive the trout of their proper
share of the food, depending upon larvæ and flies.

PHYS.—As we are walking through these meadows, pray give us some
information as to the habits of the grayling, and its localities in
England: I have been so much pleased with my sport, that I shall become,
with St. Ambrose, a patron of the fish.

HAL.—The habits of the grayling, like those of most other fish, are very
simple. He is, I believe, to a certain extent, gregarious—more so than
the trout, and less so than the perch, and the usual varieties of the
carp species known in England. His form and appearance you have seen. He
is as yet scarcely in his highest or most perfect season, which is in
the end of November or beginning of December, when his back is very
dark, almost black, and his belly and lower fins are nearly
gold-coloured; but his brightness, like that of most other fishes,
depends a good deal upon the nature of the water: and on the continent I
have seen fishes far more brilliantly coloured than in England—the lower
part almost a bright orange, and the back fin approaching to the colour
of the damask rose, or rather of an anemone. The grayling spawns in
April, and sometimes as late as the beginning of May: the female is
generally then followed by two or three males. She deposits her ova in
the tales of sharp streams, and the males, rubbing against her, shed
upon the ova the melt or semi-fluid. I do not know how long a time is
required for the exclusion of the young ones; but in the end of July, or
beginning of August, they are of the size of sprats, four or five inches
long, and already sport merrily at a fly. Though I have often taken
grayling in bad season, yet I have rarely observed upon them the same
kind of leech,[7] or louse, which is so often found upon the trout; from
which I infer, that they seldom hide themselves, or become torpid in the
mud. The grayling hatched in May or June, I conclude, become the same
year, in September or October, nine or ten inches long, and weigh from
_five ounces_ to _half a pound_; and the year after they are from twelve
to fifteen inches long, and weigh from three-quarters to a pound; and
these two sizes, as you have seen, are the fish that most usually rise
at the fly. The first size in this river is called _shote_, which is a
Celtic word, I believe, applied likewise in the west of England to small
trout. Of their growth after the second year I cannot speak; this must
depend much on their food and place of residence. Marsigli says, they do
not grow after the third year, and at this age, in Austria, they are
sometimes a cubit long; but though I have fished much in that country, I
never saw any so long. If they are taken into new and comparatively
still water recently made, and where food is plenty, they grow very
fast: under these circumstances, I have seen them above 3lbs. In the
Test, where, as I mentioned before, the grayling has been only recently
introduced, they have sometimes been caught between 3 and 4lbs.—in this
river I never took one above 2lbs. but I have heard of one being taken
of 2½lbs. The grayling is a rare fish in England, and has never been
found in Scotland and Ireland (as Poietes observed before;) and there
are few rivers containing all the conditions necessary for their
increase. I know of no grayling river farther west than the Avon, in
Hampshire: they are found in some of the tributary streams of this river
which rise in Wiltshire. I know of no river containing them on the north
coast west of the Severn: there are very few only in the upper part of
this river, and in the streams which form it in North Wales. There are a
few in the Wye and its tributary streams. In the Lug, which flows
through the next valley, in Herefordshire, many grayling are found. In
the Dee, as I have said before, they are found, but are not common. In
Derbyshire and Staffordshire, the Dove, the Wye, the Trent, and the
Blithe, afford grayling; in Yorkshire, on the north coast, some of the
tributary streams of the Ribble,—and in the south, the Ure, the Wharfe,
the Humber, the Derwent, and the streams that form it, particularly the
Rye. There may be some other localities of this fish unknown to me; but
as I have fished much, and enquired much respecting the places where it
is found, I think my information tolerably correct and complete.

PHYS.—Is this fish to be fished for in spring?

HAL.—He is to be fished for at all times, for he is rarely so much out
of season as to be a bad fish; and when there are flies on the water, he
will generally take them: but as the trout may be considered as a spring
and summer fish, so the grayling may be considered as a winter and
autumnal fish.

PHYS.—Of course the grayling is taken in spring with the same imitation
of flies as the trout?

HAL.—The same. As far as flies are concerned, these two species feed
alike; though I may say, generally, that the grayling prefers smaller
flies, and the varieties of the ephemeræ or phryganeæ, of the smallest
size, form their favourite food. Yet grayling do not refuse large flies;
and in the Avon and Test, May flies, and even moths, are greedily taken
in the summer by large grayling. Flies, likewise, that do not inhabit
the water, but are blown from the land, are good baits for grayling.
There is no method more killing, for large grayling, than applying a
grasshopper to the point of a leaded hook, the lead and shank of which
are covered with green and yellow silk, to imitate the body of the
animal. This mode of fishing is called sinking and drawing. I have seen
it practised in this river with as much success as maggot fishing; and
the fish taken were all of the largest size; the method being most
successful in deep holes, where the bottom was not visible, which are
the natural haunts of such fish. In the winter, grayling rise for an
hour or two, in bright and tolerably warm weather; and, at this time,
the smallest imitations of black or pale gnats that can be made, on the
smallest sized hook, succeed best in taking them. In March, the
dark-bodied willow fly may be regarded as the earliest fly; the
imitation of which is made by a dark claret dubbing and a dun hackle, or
four small starling’s wing feathers. The blue dun comes on in the middle
of the day in this month, and is imitated by dun hackles for wings and
legs, and an olive dubbing for body. In milder weather, in morning and
evening in this month, and through April, the green tail, or grannom,
comes on in great quantities, and is well imitated by a hen pheasant’s
wing feather, a gray or red hackle for legs, and a dark peacock’s harle,
or dark hare’s ear fur, for the body. The same kind of fly, of a larger
size, with paler wings, kills well in the evening, through May or June.
The imitation of a water insect called the spider fly, with a
lead-coloured body and woodcock’s wings, is said to be a killing bait,
on this and other rivers, in the end of April and beginning of May; but
I never happened to see it on the water. The dark alder fly, in May and
June, is taken greedily by the fish: it is imitated by a dark-shaded
pheasant’s wing, black hackle for legs, and a peacock’s harle, ribbed
with red silk, for the body. At this season, and in July, imitations of
the black and red palmer worms, which I believe are taken for black or
brown, or red beetles or cockchaffers, kill well; and, in dark weather,
there are usually very light duns on the water. In August, imitations of
the house fly and blue bottle, and the red and black ant fly, are taken,
and are particularly killing after floods in autumn, when great
quantities of the fly are destroyed and washed down the river. In this
month, in cloudy days, pale-blue duns often appear; and they are still
more common in September. Throughout the summer and autumn, in fine calm
evenings, a large dun fly, with a pale yellow body, is greedily taken by
grayling after sunset; and the imitation of it is very killing. In the
end of October, and through November, there is no fly fishing but in the
middle of the day, when imitations of the smaller duns may be used with
great success; and I have often seen the fish sport most, and fly
fishing pursued with the greatest success, in bright sunshine, from
twelve till half-past two o’clock, after severe frosts in the morning;
and I once caught, under these circumstances, a very fine dish of fish
on the 7th of November. It was in the year 1816; the summer and autumn
had been peculiarly cold and wet, and, probably in consequence of this,
the flies were in smaller quantity at their usual season, and there was
a greater proportion later in the year.

Grayling, if you take your station by the side of a river, will rise
nearer to you than trout, for they lie deeper, and therefore are not so
much scared by an object on the bank; but they are more delicate in the
choice of their flies than trout, and will much oftener rise and refuse
the fly. Trout, from lying nearer the surface, are generally taken
before grayling, where the water is slightly coloured, or after a flood:
and in rain, trout usually rise better than grayling, though it
sometimes happens, when great quantities of flies come out in rain,
grayling, as well as trout, are taken with more certainty than at any
other time;—the artificial fly, in such cases, looks like a wet fly, and
allures even the grayling, which generally is more difficult to deceive
than trout in the same river.

PHYS.—As I was looking into a ditch coming down the river, which is
connected with it, I saw a very large eel at the bottom, that appeared
to me to be feeding on a small grayling:—are there many of this fish in
the Teme, and do they breed here?

HAL.—There are many of this fish in the river; but to your question, do
they breed here? I must answer in the negative. The problem of their
generation is the most abstruse, and one of the most curious, in natural
history; and though it occupied the attention of Aristotle, and has been
taken up by most distinguished naturalists since his time, it is still

PHYS.—I thought there was no doubt on the subject. Lacepede, whose book
is the only scientific one on fishes I have read with attention,
asserts, in the most unqualified way, that they are viviparous.

HAL.—I remember his assertion, but I looked in vain for proofs.

PHYS.—I do not remember any _facts_ brought forward on the subject; but
tell us what you think upon it.

HAL.—I will tell you all I know, which is not much. This is certain,
that there are two migrations of eels,—one up and one down rivers, one
_from_ and the other _to_ the sea; the first in spring and summer, the
second in autumn or early winter. The first, of very small eels, which
are sometimes not more than two or two and a half inches long; the
second, of large eels, which sometimes are three or four feet long, and
weigh from 10 to 15, or even 20lbs. There is great reason to believe,
that all eels found in fresh water are the results of the first
migration: they appear in millions in April and May, and sometimes
continue to rise as late even as July and the beginning of August. I
remember this was the case in Ireland, in 1823. It had been a cold
backward summer, and when I was at Ballyshannon, about the end of July,
the mouth of the river, which had been in flood all this month, under
the fall, was blackened by millions of little eels, about as long as the
finger, which were constantly urging their way up the moist rocks by the
side of the fall. Thousands died, but their bodies remaining moist,
served as the ladder for others to make their way; and I saw some
ascending even perpendicular stones, making their road through wet moss,
or adhering to some eels, that had died in the attempt. Such is the
energy of these little animals, that they continue to find their way, in
immense numbers, to Loch Erne. The same thing happens at the fall of the
Bann, and Loch Neagh is thus peopled by them: even the mighty Fall of
Shaffhausen does not prevent them from making their way to the Lake of
Constance, where I have seen many very large eels.

PHYS.—You have shown, that some eels come from the sea, but I do not
think the facts prove, that all eels are derived from that source.

HAL.—Pardon me—I have not concluded. There are eels in the Lake of
Neufchatel, which communicates by a stream with the Rhine; but there are
none in the Leman Lake, because the Rhone makes a subterraneous fall
below Geneva; and though small eels can pass by moss or mount rocks,
they cannot penetrate limestone, or move against a rapid descending
current of water, passing, as it were, through a pipe. Again: no eels
mount the Danube from the Black Sea; and there are none found in the
great extent of lakes, swamps, and rivers communicating with the
Danube,—though some of these lakes and morasses are wonderfully fitted
for them, and though they are found abundantly in the same countries, in
lakes and rivers connected with the ocean and the Mediterranean. Yet,
when brought into confined water in the Danube, they fatten and thrive
there. As to the instinct, which leads young eels to seek fresh water,
it is difficult to reason;—probably they prefer warmth, and, swimming at
the surface in the early summer, find the lighter water warmer, and
likewise containing more insects, and so pursue the courses of fresh
water, as the waters from the land, at this season, become warmer than
those of the sea. Mr. J. Couch (Lin. Trans. T. xiv. p. 70) says, that
the little eels, according to his observation, are produced within reach
of the tide, and climb round falls to reach fresh water from the sea. I
have sometimes seen them, in spring, swimming in immense shoals in the
Atlantic, in Mount Bay, making their way to the mouths of small brooks
and rivers. When the cold water from the autumnal floods begins to swell
the rivers, this fish tries to return to the sea; but numbers of the
smaller ones hide themselves during the winter in the mud, and many of
them form, as it were, masses together. Various authors have recorded
the migration of eels in a singular way,—such as Dr. Plot, who, in his
History of Staffordshire, says, that they pass in the night, across
meadows, from one pond to another: and Mr. Arderon (in Trans. Royal
Soc.) gives a distinct account of small eels rising up the flood-gates
and posts of the water-works of the city of Norwich; and they made their
way to the water above, though the boards were smooth planed, and five
or six feet perpendicular. He says, when they first rose out of the
water upon the dry board, they rested a little—which seemed to be till
their slime was thrown out, and sufficiently glutinous—and then they
rose up the perpendicular ascent with the same facility as if they had
been moving on a plane surface.—(Trans. Abr. vol. ix. p. 311.) There
can, I think, be no doubt, that they are assisted by their small scales,
which, placed like those of serpents, must facilitate their progressive
motion: these scales have been microscopically observed by
Lewenhoeck.—(Phil. Trans. vol. iv.) Eels migrate from the salt water of
different sizes, but I believe never when they are above a foot long—and
the great mass of them are only from two and a half to four inches. They
feed, grow, and fatten in fresh water. In small rivers they are seldom
very large; but in large deep lakes they become as thick as a man’s arm,
or even leg; and all those of a considerable size attempt to return to
the sea in October or November, probably when they experience the cold
of the first autumnal rains. Those that are not of the largest size, as
I said before, pass the winter in the deepest parts of the mud of rivers
and lakes, and do not seem to eat much, and remain, I believe, almost
torpid. Their increase is not certainly known in any given time, but
must depend upon the quantity of their food: but it is probable they do
not become of the largest size, from the smallest, in one or even two
seasons; but this, as well as many other particulars, can only be
ascertained by new observations and experiments. Blotch states, that
they grow slowly, and mentions, that some had been kept in the same pond
for fifteen years. As very large eels, after having migrated, never
return to the river again, they must (for it cannot be supposed that
they all die immediately in the sea) remain in salt water; and there is
great probability, that they are then confounded with the conger, which
is found of different colours and sizes—from the smallest to the
largest—from a few ounces to one hundred pounds in weight. The colour of
the conger is generally paler than that of the eel; but, in the
Atlantic, it is said, that pale congers are found on one side of the
Wolf Rock, and dark ones on the other. The conger has breathing tubes,
which are said not to be found in the other eel; but to determine this
would require a more minute examination than has yet been made. Both the
conger and common eel have fringes along the air bladder, which are
probably the ovaria; and Sir E. Home thinks them hermaphrodite, and that
the seminal vessels are close to the kidneys. I hope this great
comparative anatomist will be able to confirm his views by new
dissections, and some chemical researches upon the nature of the fringes
and the supposed melt. If viviparous, and the fringes contain the ova,
one mother must produce tens of thousands, the ova being remarkably
small; but it appears more probable, that they are oviparous, and that
they deposit their ova in parts of the sea near deep basins, which
remain warm in winter. This might be ascertained by experiment,
particularly on the coasts of the Mediterranean. I cannot find, that
they haunt the Arctic ocean, which is probably of too low a temperature
to suit their feelings or habits; and the Caspian and the Black Sea are
probably without them, from their not being found in the Volga or
Danube; these, being shallow seas, are perhaps too cold for them in
winter. From the time (April) that small eels begin to migrate, it is
probable that they are generated in winter; and the pregnant eels ought
to be looked for in November, December, and January. I opened one in
December, in which the fringes were abundant, but I did not examine them
under the microscope, or chemically. I trust this curious problem will
not remain much longer unsolved.

                              EIGHTH DAY.



POIET.—THIS is a beautiful day, and, I think, for fishing, as well as
for the enjoyment of the scenery, finer than yesterday. The wind blows
from the south, and is balmy; and though a few clouds are collecting,
they are not sufficiently dense to exclude the warmth of the sun; and,
as lovers of the angle, we ought prefer his warmth to his light.

HAL.—I do not think, as the day advances, there will be any deficiency
of light; and I shall not be sorry for this, as it will enable you to
see the grounds of Downton, and the distances in the landscape, to more
advantage: nor will light interfere much with our sport in this valley,
where, as you see, there is no want of shade.

POIET.—This spot is really very fine. The fall of water, the picturesque
mill, the abrupt cliff, and the bank, covered with noble oaks, above the
river, compose a scene such as I have rarely beheld in this island.

HAL.—We will wander a little longer through the walks. There you will
enter a subterraneous passage in the rock beyond the mossy grotto.
Behold, the castle, or mansion-house, clothed in beautiful vegetables,
of which the red creeper is most distinct, rises above on the hill!
After we have finished our walk and our fishing, I will, if you please,
take you to the house, and introduce you to its worthy master, whom to
know is to love, to whom all good anglers should be grateful, and who
has a strong claim to a more extensive gratitude—that of his country and
of society—by his scientific researches on vegetable nature, which are
not merely curious, but useful, and which have already led to great
improvements in our fruits and plants, and generally extended the
popularity of horticulture.

PHYS.—We shall be much obliged to you for the favour—provided always,
you know it will not be an intrusion.

HAL.—Trust this to me. And now, as all circumstances are favourable,
begin your fishing. I recommend to you that fine pool below the bridge;
there are always grayling to be caught there—and already I see some

PHYS.—With what imitation of flies shall we fish?

HAL.—As yesterday; a yellow fly for your stretcher, and two duns for the
droppers. There, you have a good fish. And now another—both grayling.

PHYS.—I shall try the rapid at the top of this long large pool; I see
several fish rising there.

HAL.—Do so. You will catch fish there—trout, but I fear no grayling.

PHYS.—Why not?

HAL.—In that part of the stream the water is too rough for grayling, and
they like to be nearer the deep water. Lower down, in the same pool,
there are large grayling to be caught.

PHYS.—You are in the right; the fish I have is a large trout—at least he
is not much less than 2lbs. I have landed him; shall I keep him?

HAL.—As you please: he is as good as he ever was, or ever will be in
this water.

PHYS.—There are now more yellow flies out than I have seen before this
season. They have appeared suddenly, as if sprung from that large alder.
Though you gave us in a former conversation some account of the flies
used in fishing, yet I hope you have not forgot your promise, to favour
us with some more details on this subject, which, both as connected with
angling, and with a curious part of natural history, is very

HAL.—I wish it was in my power to give you information from my own
experience, but, I am sorry to say, this has been very limited; and
though the English are peculiarly the fly fishing nation, yet our
philosophical anglers have not contributed much to this department of
science, and what has been done is principally by foreigners, amongst
whom Swammerdam, Reaumur, and above all De Geer, are pre-eminent. To
attempt to collect and apply the knowledge accumulated by these
celebrated men, would carry us far beyond the limits of a day’s
conversation; and as a great proportion of the insects that fly, walk,
or crawl, are the food of fishes, a dissertation, or discourse on this
subject, would be almost a general view of natural history. You know
that frogs, crawfish, snails, earthworms, spiders, larvæ of every kind,
millipedes, beetles, squillæ, moths, water flies, and land flies, are
all eaten by trout; and I once heard the late Sir Joseph Banks say, that
he found a large toad stuck in the throat of a trout; but as the skin of
this animal is furnished with an exceedingly acrid secretion, it
probably had been disgorged after being swallowed by a fish exceedingly
hungry. But though I have found most of the insect tribes, and many
small fishes, even of the most ravenous kind, as pike, in the stomachs
of trout, it never happened to me to see a toad there. I might give you
an account of the birth and life of frogs, which, with respect to their
generation, resemble fish, and which, when first excluded from the egg,
may be considered in the tadpole state as fish; and you would not find
their singular metamorphosis without interest. Or I could detail to you
the true histories which naturalists have given of the habits of snails
and earthworms, and of the sexual relations of these apparently
contemptible animals;—but this is too delicate a subject to dwell on.
Even the renewing or change of shell in the crawfish, when it falls in
its soft state an easy prey to fish, is a curious inquiry not only for
the physiologist, but likewise for the chemist. On these points, I must
request you to refer to writers in Natural History: yet I shall perform
my promise, and say a few words on winged insects, which, in their
origin and metamorphosis, offer the most extraordinary known miracles
perhaps of terrestrial natures. You must be acquainted with the origin
of our common house flies?

PHYS.—We know, that they spring from maggots, and that both the common
and blue bottle fly deposit their ova in putrid animal matter, were the
eggs are hatched and produce maggots, that, after feeding upon the
decomposing animal material, gradually change, gain a hard or horny
coat, seem as if entombed, and wait in a kind of apparent death or
slumber, till they are mature for a new birth, when they burst their
coatings and appear in the character of novel beings—fitted to inhabit
another element.

HAL.—The history of the birth and metamorphosis of all other winged
insects is very similar, but with peculiarities dependent upon their
organs, wants, and habits. You know the curious details with which we
have been furnished by natural historians of bees and ants, which live
in a kind of society. The ant flies, of which, as I mentioned to you,
imitations are sometimes used by fishermen, were originally maggots, and
became furnished with wings—not, however, passing through the aurelia
state for this last transformation.

POIET.—I beg your pardon, but, having lately read an account of these
animals in the very interesting book, called “An Introduction to
Entomology,” I think I can correct you in one particular; which is, that
the maggot of the ant _does_ assume the form of a chrysalis or pupa,
before it becomes a winged animal.

HAL.—It is true, that the _immediate_ transition of the maggot is into a
pupa, _then_ into an ant, which is furnished with a kind of case, from
which the wings emerge for their perfect transformation into the fly or
imago state. The males die soon after the sexual intercourse; the
females, when impregnated, lose their wings, and either voluntarily or
by force enter into society with neuter or working ants, for the purpose
of raising a new generation.

POIET.—You are perfectly right; and though it would be irrelevant to our
present object, I could almost wish, for the sake of amusing our
friends, that you would detail to us some other parts of the marvellous
history of these wonderful animals, which, if not so well authenticated,
might be supposed a philosophical romance. Such as the neuter or working
ants feeding each other and the offspring; the manner in which they
make, defend, and repair their dwellings, provide their food, watch and
attend to the female, and take care of her eggs; their extraordinary
mode of acquiring and defending the aphides and cocci, which bear to
them the same relation that cattle do to man, which are fed by them with
so much care, and the milk of which forms so important a part of their
food; the predatory excursions of a particular species to carry off
pupa, which they bring up as slaves.

HAL.—To enter into any of the details of the history of insects in
society, would carry us into an interminable, though interesting
subject, that would soon lose all relation to fly fishing; and I fear
what I have to say, even on the winged insects connected with this
amusement, will occupy too much of your time, for we have not more than
an hour to devote to this object.

POIET.—Tell us what you please; we are attentive.

[Illustration: PHRYGANEÆ,

_With their Imitations._

_Frederick Sc._]

[Illustration: EPHEMERÆ

_With their Imitations or Hooks_

_Frederick Sc._]

[Illustration: EPHEMERÆ,

_With their Imitations or Hooks_

_Frederick Sc._]

HAL.—The various individuals of the _gryllus_, or grasshopper tribe,
spring from larvæ, that do not differ much from the perfect insect,
except in possessing no wings. The eggs are deposited in our meadows,
and many species of this animal are gregarious, and their immigrations
in swarms are well known. The butterfly and moths, as you know, lay eggs
which produce caterpillars, and these caterpillars, after feeding upon
vegetable food, spin themselves or frame houses or beds, cocoons, in
which they are transformed into aurelias, and from which they burst
forth as perfect winged insects. The _libellula_, or dragon fly, the
most voracious of the winged insect tribe, deposits her eggs in such a
manner, that the larvæ fall into the water, and, after destroying and
feeding upon almost all the aquatic insects found in this element, and
changing their skins at various times, they emerge in their winged form
the tyrants of the insect generations in the air. The gnats and tipulæ
have a similar existence. The gnat, the female of which only is said by
De Geer to bite man, or suck human blood, in Sweden, lays her egg in a
kind of little boat or cocoon of her own spinning. These eggs are
hatched on the surface of the water, and produce the larvæ, which
undergo another change into peculiar nymphæ, that still retain the power
of swimming and moving, from which the perfect insect is produced during
the summer heat. The flies, which I mentioned to you in a former
conversation, under the name of the grannom, or green tail, (_see fig._
2,) are of the class _phryganeæ_, which includes all those water flies
that have long antennæ, and wings something like those of moths, but
usually veined and without powder. The yellow flies, which you saw a
short time since sporting on the banks of the river, are of this kind.
The phryganeæ (_see fig._ 1, 2, 3, and 4,) have four wings, which, when
closed, lie flat on their backs, the two upper ones being folded over
the lower ones: the flies called by anglers the willow fly, the alder
fly, (_see fig._ 4,) and the dun cut, are of this kind. The phryganeæ
lay their eggs on the leaves of willows, or other trees, that overhang
the water; they are fastened by a sort of gluten to the surface of the
leaf: when hatched, they produce small hexapode larvæ, which fall into
the water, and by a curious economy of nature collect round themselves,
some, parts of plants, or small sticks; some, gravel; and some, even
shell fish. They spin themselves a sort of case of silk from their
bodies, and by a gluten, that exudes from this case, cement their
materials together. They feed upon aquatic plants, and sometimes upon
insects, protruding only their head and legs from the case. When about
to undergo transmutation, they quit their cases, rise to the surface,
and wait for this process of nature in the air; but some species fix
themselves on plants or stones: they burst the skin of the larvæ, and
appear perfect animals, male and female, fitted for the office of
reproduction. In the early spring, the species which are called green
tails, from the colour of the bags of eggs in the female, appear in the
warm gleams of sunshine that happen in cloudy days, and they then cover
the face of the water, and are greedily seized on by the fish. As the
season advances they appear principally in the morning and evening. In
the heat of summer the phryganeæ are almost nocturnal flies, and seem to
have the habits of moths: at this season, _now_, I should say, the few
flies that appear are generally seen in the day-time. The _ephemeræ_,
another class of flies peculiarly interesting to the fisherman, differ
from the phryganeæ in carrying their wings perpendicularly on their
backs, and in having long filaments or hairs in their tails. The March
brown, (_see fig._ 8,) the various shades of duns, (_see fig._ 5, 6, and
7,) which I described to you on a former occasion; the green (_see fig._
9 and 10,) and white May fly, the red spinner, (_see fig._ 11,) are all
of the class ephemeræ. These flies are produced from larvæ which inhabit
the water, which can both crawl and swim, and which generally live in
holes they make in the bottom. They change their coats several times
before they become nymphæ. They quit their skin on the surface of the
water, but even after they are flies, they have another transformation
to undergo before they are perfect animals fitted for generation. They
make use of their wings only to fly to some dry bank, or trunk of a
tree, where they gradually disencumber themselves of the whole of the
outward habiliment they brought from the water, including their wings.
They become lighter, more beautiful in colour, and then begin their
sports in the sunshine—appearing like what might be imagined of spirits
freed from the weight of their terrestrial covering. This last
transmutation has been observed and fully described by some celebrated
naturalists, in the case of the May flies, and one or two other species,
and it probably will be found a general circumstance attached to the
class: I have often observed what appeared to me to be the cast-off
skins of the small species of ephemeræ on the banks of rivers and
floating in the water. The green ephemera, or May fly, lays her eggs
sitting on the water, which instantly sink to the bottom: and most of
the duns, or small slender-winged flies, do the same. The gray or
glossy-winged May fly, commonly called the gray drake, performs regular
motions in the air above the water, rising and falling, and sitting, as
it were, for a moment on the surface, and rising again, at which time
she is said to deposit her eggs. To attempt to describe all the variety
of ephemeræ, that sport on the surface of the water at different times
of the day, throughout the year, would be quite an endless labour. Some
of them appear to live only a few hours, and none of them, I believe,
have their existence protracted to more than a few days. In spring and
autumn a new variety of these flies sometimes appears every day, or even
in different parts of the same day. Of the beetle, or colyoptera genus,
there are many varieties fed on by fishes. These insects, which are
distinguished, as you know, by four wings, two husky-like shells above,
and two slender and finer ones below, are bred from eggs, which they
deposit in the ground, or in the excrement of animals, and which,
producing larvæ in the usual way, are converted into beetles, and these
larvæ themselves are good bait for fish. The brown beetle, or
cockchaffer, the fern fly, and the gray beetle, which are abundant in
the meadows in the summer, are often blown into the water, and are the
most common insects of this kind eaten by fishes. Whether the ditisci
and hydrophili, the water beetles, are ever eaten by trout, I know not,
but it is most probable. These singular animals are most commonly found
in stagnant waters; fitted for flying, swimming, diving, and walking,
they are omnivorous, and usually fly from pool to pool in the evening.
They deposit their eggs in the water, where their larvæ live, but which,
to undergo transmutation into the beetle, migrate to the land. But there
is hardly any insect that flies, including the wasp, the hornet, the
bee, and the butterfly, that does not become at some time the prey of
fishes. I have not, however, the knowledge, or if I had, have not the
time, to go through the lists of these interesting little animals; but
of the family of one of them I must speak—the ichneumons, that deposit
their eggs in caterpillars, or the larvæ of other flies, and which feed
on the unfortunate animal in which they are hatched, and come out of its
interior when dead, as if it had been their parent. To enter into the
philosophy of this subject, and to study the organs and faculties of
these various insect tribes, in their functions of respiration,
nutrition, and reproduction, would be sufficient for the labour of a
life. To know what has already been done would demand the close and
studious application of a comprehensive mind; and to complete this
branch of science in all its parts is probably almost above human
powers: but much might be done if enlightened persons would follow the
example of De Geer, Reaumur, and Huber, and study minutely the habits of
particular tribes; and it is probable, that physiology might be much
advanced by minutely investigating the simplest forms of living beings;
and that particularly with respect to the functions of generation a
minute study of the modifications of which the forms of animals seems
susceptible, particularly in the hymenopterous, or bee tribe, might lead
to very important results.

POIET.—Even in a moral point of view, I think the analogies derived from
the transformation of insects admit of some beautiful applications, that
have not been neglected by pious entomologists. The three states—of the
caterpillar, pupa, or aurelia, and butterfly—have, since the time of the
Greek poets, been applied to typify the human being—its terrestrial
form, apparent death, and ultimate celestial destination; and it seems
more extraordinary that a sordid and crawling worm should become a
beautiful and active fly—that an inhabitant of the dark and fœtid
dunghill should in an instant entirely change its form, rise into the
blue air, and enjoy the sunbeams,—than that a being, whose pursuits here
have been after an undying name, and whose purest happiness has been
derived from the acquisition of intellectual power and finite knowledge,
should rise hereafter into a state of being, where immortality is no
longer a name, and ascend to the source of Unbounded Power and Infinite

PHYS.—I have been listening, Halieus, to your account of water-flies
with attention, and I only regret, that your details were not more
copious; let me now call your attention to that Michaelmas daisy. A few
minutes ago, before the sun sunk behind the hill, its flowers were
covered with varieties of bees, and some wasps, all busy in feeding on
its sweets. I never saw a more animated scene of insect enjoyment. The
bees were most of them humble bees, but many of them some new varieties
to me, and the wasps appeared different from any I have seen before.

HAL.—I believe this is one of the last autumnal flowers that insects of
this kind haunt. In sunny days it is their constant point of resort, and
it would afford a good opportunity to the entomologist to make a
collection of British bees.

POIET.—I neither hear the hum of the bee, nor can I see any on its
flowers. They are now deserted.

PHYS.—Since the sun has disappeared, the cool of the evening has, I
suppose, driven the little winged plunderers to their homes; but see,
there are two or three humble bees which seem languid with the cold, and
yet they have their tongues still in the fountain of honey. I believe
one of them is actually dead, yet his mouth is still attached to the
flower. He has fallen asleep, and probably died whilst making his last
meal of ambrosia.

ORN.—What an enviable destiny, quitting life in the moment of enjoyment,
following an instinct, the gratification of which has been always
pleasurable! so beneficent are all the laws of Divine Wisdom.

PHYS.—Like Ornither, I consider the destiny of this insect as desirable,
and I cannot help regarding the end of human life as most happy, when
terminated under the impulse of some strong energetic feeling, similar
in its nature to an instinct. I should not wish to die like Attila in a
moment of gross sensual enjoyment: but the death of Epaminondas or
Nelson in the arms of victory, their whole attention absorbed in the
love of glory and of their country, I think really enviable.

POIET.—I consider the death of the martyr or the saint as far more
enviable; for in this case, what may be considered as a divine instinct
of our nature, is called into exertion, and pain is subdued, or
destroyed, by a secure faith in the power and mercy of the Divinity. In
such cases man rises above mortality, and shows his true intellectual
superiority. By intellectual superiority I mean that of his spiritual
nature, for I do not consider the results of reason as capable of being
compared with those of faith. Reason is often a dead weight in life,
destroying feeling, and substituting, for principle, calculation and
caution; and, in the hour of death, it often produces fear or
despondency, and is rather a bitter draught than nectar or ambrosia in
the last meal of life.

HAL.—I agree with Poietes. The higher and more intense the feeling,
under which death takes place, the happier it may be esteemed; and I
think even Physicus will be of our opinion, when I recollect the
conclusion of a conversation in Scotland. The immortal being never can
quit life with so much pleasure as with the feeling of immortality
secure, and the vision of celestial glory filling the mind, affected by
no other passion than the pure and intense love of God.

                               NINTH DAY.


                           FISHING FOR HUCHO.

              _Scene—The Fall of the Traun, Upper Austria.

POIET.—THIS is a glorious scene! And the fall of this great and clear
river, with its accompaniments of wood, rock, and snow-clad mountain,
would alone furnish matter for discussion and conversation for many
days. This place is quite the paradise of a poetical angler; the only
danger is that of satiety with regard to sport; for these great grayling
and trout are so little used to the artificial fly, that they take
almost any thing moving on the top of the water. You see I have put on a
salmon fly, and still they rise at it, though they never can have seen
any thing like it before—and it is, in fact, not like any thing in

HAL.—You are right, they never have seen any thing like it before; but,
in its motion, it is like a large fly, and this is the season for large
flies. The stone fly and the May fly, you see, occasionally drop upon
the water, and the colour of your large fly is not unlike that of the
stone fly; but if, instead of being here in the beginning of July, you
had visited this spot, as I once did, in the beginning of June, you
would have found more difficulty in catching grayling here, though not
so much as in our English rivers—in the Test, the Derwent, or the Dove.

POIET.—How could this be?

HAL.—At this season the large flies had not yet appeared; the small blue
dun was on the water, and I was obliged to use a fly the same as that
which suits our spring and late autumnal fishing. The fish refused all
large flies, but took greedily small ones; and, as usually happens when
small flies are used, more fish escaped after being hooked than were
taken; and these I found, the next day, were become as sagacious as our
Dove or Test fish, and refused the artificial fly, though they greedily
took the natural fly.

PHYS.—These fish, then, have the same habits as our English salmons and

HAL.—The principle to which I have referred in two former conversations
must be general, though it has seemed to me, that they lost this memory
sooner than the fish of our English rivers, where fly fishing is common.
This, however, may be fancy, yet I have referred it to a kind of
hereditary disposition, which has been formed and transmitted from their

PHYS.—However strange it may appear, I can believe this. When the early
voyagers discovered new islands, the birds upon them were quite tame,
and easily killed by sticks and stones, being fearless of man; but they
soon learned to know their enemy, and this newly acquired sagacity was
possessed by their offspring, who had never seen a man. Wild and
domesticated ducks are, in fact, from the same original type: it is only
necessary to compare them, when hatched together under a hen, to be
convinced of the principle of the hereditary transmission of habits,—the
wild young ones instantly fly from man, the tame ones are indifferent to
his presence.

POIET.—No one can be less disposed than I am to limit the powers of
living nature, or to doubt the capabilities of organized structures; but
it does appear to me quite a dream, to suppose that a fish, pricked by
the hook of the artificial fly, should transmit a dread of it to its
offspring, though he does not even long retain the memory of it himself.

HAL.—There are instances quite as extraordinary—but I will not dwell
upon them, as I am not quite sure of the fact which we are discussing; I
have made a guess only, and we must observe more minutely to establish
it; it may be even as you suppose—a mere dream.

POIET.—I shall go and look at the fall: I am really satiated with sport;
this is the twentieth fish I have taken in an hour, and it is a grayling
of at least fifteen inches long; and there is a trout of eighteen, and
several salmon trout, which look as if they had run from the sea.

HAL.—These salmon trout have run from a sea, but not from a salt sea;
they are fish of the Traun See, as it is called by the Germans, or Traun
Lake, which is emptied by this river.

PHYS.—Tell us why they are so different from the river trout, or why
there should be two species or varieties in the same water.

HAL.—Your question is a difficult one, and it has already been referred
to in a former conversation; but I shall repeat what I stated
before,—that qualities occasioned by food, peculiarities of water, &c.
are transmitted to the offspring, and produce varieties which retain
their characters as long as they are exposed to the same circumstances,
and only slowly lose them. Plenty of good food gives a silvery colour
and round form to fish, and the offspring retain these characters.
Feeding much on larvæ and on shell-fish thickens the stomach, and gives
a brighter yellow to the belly and fins, which become hereditary
characters. Even these smallest salmon trout have green backs, _only_
black spots, and silvery bellies; from which it is evident, that they
are the offspring of lake trout, or _lachs forelle_, as it is called by
the Germans; whilst the river trout, even when 4 or 5lbs., as we see in
one of these fish, though in excellent season, have red spots.—But why
that exclamation?

POIET.—What an immense fish! There he is!

HAL.—I see nothing.

POET.—At the edge of the pool, below the fall, I saw a fish, at least
two or three feet long, rising with great violence in the water, as if
in the pursuit of small fish; and at the same time I saw two or three
minnows or bleaks jump out of the water. What fish is it?—a trout? It
appeared to me too long and too slender for a trout, and had more the
character of a pike;—yet it followed, and did not, like a pike, make a
single dart.

HAL.—I see him: it is neither a pike nor a trout, but a fish which I
have been some time hoping and expecting to see here, below the fall—a
_salmo hucho_, or _huchen_. I am delighted, that you have an opportunity
of seeing this curious fish, and of observing his habits. I hope we
shall catch him.

POIET.—Catch him! we have no tackle strong enough.

HAL.—I am surprised to hear a salmon fisher talk so: yet he _is_ too
large to take a fly, and must be trolled for. We must spin a bleak for
him, or small fish, as we do for the trout of the Thames or the salmon
of the Tay. Ornither, you understand the arrangement of this kind of
tackle—look out in my book the strongest set of spinning hooks you can
find, and supply them with a bleak; and whilst I am changing the reel, I
will give you all the information (which, I am sorry to say, is not
much) that I have been able to collect respecting this fish from my own
observation or the experience of others. The hucho is the most predatory
fish of the salmo genus, and is made like an ill-fed trout, but longer
and thicker. He has larger teeth, more spines in the pectoral fin, a
thicker skin, a silvery belly, and dark spots only on the back and
sides—I have never seen any on the fins. The ratio of his length to his
girth is as 8 to 18, or, in well fed fish, as 9 to 20; and a fish, 18
inches long by 8 in girth, weighed 16,215 grains. Another, 2 feet long,
11 inches in girth, and 3 inches thick, weighed 4lbs. 2¼oz. Another, 26
inches long, weighed 5lbs. 5oz. Of the spines in the fins, the anal has
9, the caudal 20, the ventral 9, the dorsal 12, the pectoral 17: having
numbered the spines in many, I give this as correct. The fleshy fin
belonging to the genus is, I think, larger in this species than in any I
have seen. Bloch, in his work on fishes, states that there are black
spots on all the fins, with the exception of the anal, as a character of
this fish: and Professor Wagner informs me he has seen huchos with this
peculiarity; but, as I said before, I never saw any fish with spotted
fins—yet I have examined those of the Danube, Save, Drave, Mur, and
Izar: perhaps this is peculiar to some stream in Bavaria—yet the huchos
in the collection at Munich have it not. The hucho is found in most
rivers tributary to the Danube—in the Save and Laybach rivers always;
yet the general opinion is, that they run from the Danube twice a year,
in spring and autumn. I can answer for their migration in spring, having
caught several in April, in streams connected with the Save and Laybach
rivers, which had evidently come from the still dead water into the
clear running streams, for they had the winter leech, or louse of the
trout upon them: and I have seen them of all sizes, in April, in the
market at Laybach, from six inches to two feet long; but they are found
much larger, and reach 30, or even 40, pounds. It is the opinion of some
naturalists, that it is _only_ a fresh water fish; yet this I doubt,
because it is never found beyond certain falls—as in the Traun, the
Drave, and the Save; and, there can be no doubt, comes into these rivers
from the Danube; and probably, in its larger state, is a fish of the
Black Sea. Yet it can winter in fresh water; and does not seem, like the
salmon, obliged to haunt the sea, but falls back into the warmer waters
of the great rivers, from which it migrates in spring, to seek a cooler
temperature and to breed. The fishermen at Gratz say they spawn in the
Mur, between March and May. In those I have caught at Laybach, which,
however, were small ones, the ova were not sufficiently developed to
admit of their spawning that spring. Marsigli says, that they spawn in
the Danube in June. You have seen how violently they pursue their prey:
I have never taken one without fish in his stomach; yet, when small,
they will take a fly. In the Kleingraben, which is a feeder to the
Laybach river, and where they are found of all sizes—from 20lbs.
downwards—the little ones take a fly, but the large ones are too
ravenous to care about so insignificant a morsel, and prey like the
largest trout, often hunting in company, and chasing the small fish into
the narrow and shallow streams, and then devouring them.—But I see your
tackle is ready. As a more experienced angler in this kind of fishing,
you will allow me to try my fortune with this fish. I still see him
feeding; but I must keep out of sight, for he has all the timidity
peculiar to the salmo genus, and, if he catch sight of me, will
certainly not run at the bait.

ORN.—You spin the bleak for him, I see, as for a great trout. O! there!
he has run at it—and you have missed him. What a fish! You surely were
too quick, for he sprung out of the water at the bleak.

HAL.—I was not too quick; but he rose just as the bleak was on the
surface, and saw me.

POIET.—I think I see him moving in another part of the pool.

HAL.—You are right; he has run again at the bleak, but only as it shone
on the surface. He has taken it.

ORN.—He fights well, and runs towards the side where the rock is.

HAL.—Take the net and frighten him from that place, which is the only
one where there is danger of loosing him. He is clear now, and begins to
tire, and in a few minutes more he will be exhausted.—Now land him.

POIET.—A noble fish! But how like a trout—exactly like a sea trout in
whiteness, and I think in spots.

HAL.—He is much narrower, or less broad, as you would immediately
discover, if you had a sea trout here. But now we must try another pool,
or the tail of this; that fish was not alone, and at the moment he took
the bait, I think I saw the water move from the stir of another. Take
your rod and fit your own tackle, Ornither; half the glory of catching
this fish is yours, as you prepared the hooks. I see you are in earnest;
the blood mounts in your face. Oh! oh! Ornither! you have pulled with
too much violence, and broken your tackle. Alas! alas! the fish you
hooked was the consort of mine: he will not take again.

ORN.—The gut was bad, for I do not think I struck too violently. What a
loss! How hard, to let the first fish of the kind I ever angled for
escape me!

HAL.—There are probably more: try again.

ORN.—Behold! the loss was more owing to the imperfection of the tackle
than to my ardour; for the two end hooks only are gone, and you may see
the gut worn.

HAL.—The thing is done, and is not worth comment. If you can, let the
next fish that rises hook himself. When we are ardent, we are bad judges
of the effort we make; and an angler, who could be cool with a new
species of salmo, I should not envy. Now all is right again: try that
pool. There is a fish—ay! and another, that runs at your bait; but they
are small ones, not much more than twice as large as the bleak; yet they
show their spirit, and though they cannot swallow it, they have torn it.
Put on another bleak. There! you have another run.

ORN.—Ay, it is a small fish, not much more than a foot long; yet he
fights well.

HAL.—You have him, and I will land him. I do not think such a fish a bad
initiation into this kind of sport. He does not agitate so much as a
larger one, and yet gratifies curiosity. There, we have him. A very
beautiful fish; yet he has the leech, or louse, though his belly is
quite white.

ORN.—This fish is so like a trout, that, had I caught him when alone, I
should hardly have remarked his peculiarities; and I am not convinced,
that it is not a variety of the common trout, altered, in many
generations, by the predatory habits of his ancestors.

HAL.—How far the principle of change of character and transmission of
such character to the offspring will apply, I shall not attempt to
determine, and whether all the varieties of the salmo with teeth in
their mouth may not have been produced from one original; yet this fish
is _now_ as distinct from the trout, as the _char_ or the _umbla_ is;
and in Europe, it exists only below great falls in streams connected
with the Danube, and is never found in rivers of the same districts
connected with the Rhine, Elbe, or which empty themselves into the
Mediterranean; though trout are common in all these streams, and salmon
and sea trout in those connected with the ocean. According to the
descriptions of Pallas, it occurs in the rivers of Siberia, and probably
exists in those that run into the Caspian; and it is remarkable, that it
is not found where the eel is usual—at least this applies to all the
tributary streams of the Danube, and, it is said, to the rivers of
Siberia. Wherever I have seen it, there have been always coarse fish—as
chub, white fish, bleak, &c., and rivers containing such fish are its
natural haunts, for it requires abundance of food, and serves to convert
these indifferent poor fish into a better kind of nourishment for man.
We will now examine the interior of these fish. You see the stomach is
larger than that of a trout, and the stomachs of both are full of small
fish. In the larger one there is a chub, a grayling, a bleak, and two or
three small carp. The skin you see is thick; the scales are smaller than
those of a trout; it has no teeth on the palate, and the pectoral fin
has four spines more, which, I think, enables it to turn with more
rapidity. You will find at dinner, that, fried or roasted, he is a good
fish. His flesh is white, but not devoid of curd; and though rather
softer than that of a trout, I have never observed in it that
_muddiness_, or peculiar flavour, which sometimes occurs in trout, even
when in perfect season.

I shall say a few words more on the habits of this fish. The hucho, as
you have seen, preys with great violence, and pursues his object as a
foxhound or a greyhound does. I have seen them in repose: they lie like
pikes, perfectly still, and I have watched one for many minutes, that
never moved at all. In this respect their habits resemble those of most
carnivorous and predatory animals. It is probably in consequence of
these habits, that they are so much infested by lice, or leeches, which
I have seen so numerous in spring as almost to fill their gills, and
interfere with their respiration, in which case they seek the most rapid
and turbulent streams to free themselves from these enemies. They are
very shy, and after being hooked avoid the baited line. I once saw a
hucho, for which I was fishing, follow the small fish, and then the lead
of the tackle; it seemed as if _this_ had fixed his attention, and he
never offered at the bait afterwards. I think a hucho, that has been
pricked by the hook, becomes particularly cautious, and possesses, in
this respect, the same character as the salmon. In summer, when they are
found in the roughest and most violent currents, their fins
(particularly the caudal fin) often appear worn and broken; at this
season they are usually in constant motion against the stream, and are
stopped by no cataract or dam, unless it be many feet in height, and
quite inaccessible. In the middle of September I have caught huchos
perfectly clean in rapid cool streams, tributary to the Laybach and the
Sava rivers; and, from the small developement of their generative system
at this time, I have no doubt that they spawn in spring. On the 13th of
September, 1828, I caught, by spinning the dead small fish, three
huchos, that had not a single leech upon their bodies, and they were the
first fish of the kind I ever saw free from these parasites.

ORN.—I am so much pleased with my good fortune in catching this fish,
that I shall try all day to-morrow with the bait, for more of the same

HAL.—You may do so; but many of these fish cannot be caught; they
migrate generally when the water is foul, and, except in the spring and
autumn, do not so readily run at the bait. I was once nearly a month
seeking for one in rivers in which they are found, between the end of
June and that of July, without being able to succeed in even _seeing_
one alive; and as far as my information goes, the two places where there
is most probability of taking them, are at Laybach and Ratisbon, in the
tributary streams to the Sava, and in the Danube; and the best time, in
the first of these situations, is in March and April, and in the second,
in May. I am told, likewise, that the Izar, which runs by Munich, is a
stream where they may be caught, when the water is clear: but I have
never fished in this stream—it having been foul, either from rain, or
the melting of the snows, whenever I have been at Munich; but I have
seen in the fish-market at Munich very large huchos. Late in the autumn,
or in early spring, this river must be an interesting one to fish in, as
the _schill_, or _perca lucio perca_, and three other species of _perca_
are found in it—the zingel, the apron, and the _perca_ schratz—all fish
of prey, and excellent food. I have eaten them, but never taken them;
they are rare in European rivers, though not, like the hucho, peculiar
to the tributary streams of the Danube. The schill is found likewise in
the Sprey and in the Hungarian lakes, and, according to Bloch, the
zingel in the Rhone.

POIET.—I should like extremely to fish in the Izar: it is, I think, a
new kind of pleasure to take a new kind of fish, even though it is not
unknown to Natural Historians. But the most exquisite kind of angling,
in my opinion, would be that of angling in a river never fished in by
Europeans before; and I can scarcely imagine sport of a higher kind than
that which involves a triple source of pleasure—catching a fish,
procuring good food for the table, and making a discovery in Natural
History, at the same time. Sir Joseph Banks, who was always a great
amateur of angling, had often this kind of gratification. And to Captain
Franklin and Dr. Richardson, in their expedition to the Arctic Ocean,
when they were almost starving, what a delightful circumstance it must
have been, to have taken with a fly those large grayling, which they
mention, of a new species, equally beautiful in their appearance, and
good for the table!

HAL.—When a boy, I have felt an interest in sea fishing, for this
reason—that there was a variety of fish; but the want of skill in the
amusement—sinking a bait with a lead and pulling up a fish by main
force, soon made me tired of it. Since I have been a fly-fisher, I have
rarely fished in the sea, and then only with a reel and fine tackle from
the rocks, which is at least as interesting an amusement as that of the
Cockney fishermen, who fish for roach and dace in the Thames, which I
have tried twice in my life, but shall never try again.

PHYS.—You are severe on Cockney fishermen, and, I suppose, would apply
to _them only_, the observation of Dr. Johnson, which on a former
occasion you would not allow to be just: “Angling is an amusement with a
stick and a string; a worm at one end, and a fool at the other.” And to
yourself you would apply it with this change: “a fly at one end, and a
philosopher at the other.” Yet the pleasure of the Cockney Angler
appears to me of much the same kind, and perhaps more continuous than
yours; and he has the happiness of constant occupation and perpetual
pursuit in as high a degree as you have; and if we were to look at the
real foundations of your pleasure, we should find them, like most of the
foundations of human happiness—vanity or folly. I shall never forget the
impression made upon me some years ago, when I was standing on the pier
at Donegal, watching the flowing of the tide: I saw a lame boy of
fourteen or fifteen years old, very slightly clad, that some persons
were attempting to stop in his progress along the pier; but he resisted
them with his crutches, and, halting along, threw himself from an
elevation of five or six feet, with his crutches, and a little parcel of
wooden boats, that he carried under his arm, on the sand of the beach.
He had to scramble or halt at least 100 yards, over hard rocks, before
he reached the water, and he several times fell down and cut his naked
limbs on the bare stones. Being in the water, he seemed in an ecstacy,
and immediately put his boats in sailing order, and was perfectly
inattentive to the counsel and warning of the spectators, who shouted to
him, that he would be drowned. His whole attention was absorbed by his
boats. He had formed an idea, that one should outsail the rest, and when
this boat was foremost he was in delight; but if any one of the others
got beyond it he howled with grief; and once I saw him throw his crutch
at one of the unfavoured boats. The tide came in rapidly—he lost his
crutches, and would have been drowned, but for the care of some of the
spectators: he was however wholly inattentive to any thing save his
boats. He is said to be quite insane and perfectly ungovernable, and
will not live in a house, or wear any clothes, and his whole life is
spent in this one business—making and managing a fleet of wooden boats,
of which he is sole admiral. How near this mad youth is to a genius, a
hero, or to an angler, who injures his health and risks his life by
going into the water as high as his middle, in the hope of catching a
fish which he sees rise, though he already has a pannier full.

HAL.—Or a statesman, working by all means, fair and foul, to obtain a
blue ribband. Or a fox-hunter, risking his neck to see the hounds
destroy an animal, which he preserves to be destroyed, and which is good
for nothing. Or an aged, licentious voluptuary, using all the powers of
a high and cultivated intellect to destroy the innocence of a beautiful
virgin—for a transient gratification to render her miserable, and by
making a flaw in an inestimable and brilliant gem, utterly to destroy
its value.

PHYS.—You might go on and cite almost all the objects of pursuit of
rational beings, as, by distinction, they are called. But to return to
your favourite amusement. I wonder, that, with such a passion for
angling, you have never made an expedition in one of our whalers—with
Captain Scoresby for instance: you would then have enjoyed sport of a
new kind.

HAL.—I should like much to see a whale taken, but I do not think the
sight worth the dangers and privations of such a voyage. It would only
be an amusing spectacle and not an enterprise, unless indeed I employed
myself the harpoon; and after all it must be a tedious operation, that
of watching the sinking and rising of a fish obedient to a natural
instinct, which, in this instance, is the cause of his death.


HAL.—The whale, having no air bladder, can sink to the lowest depths of
the ocean, and, mistaking the harpoon for the teeth of a sword fish or a
shark, he instantly descends, this being his manner of freeing himself
from these enemies, who cannot bear the pressure of a deep ocean, and
from ascending and descending in small space, he puts himself in the
power of the whaler; where as, if he knew his force, and were to swim on
the surface in a straight line, he would break or destroy the machinery
by which he is arrested, as easily as a salmon breaks the single gut of
a fisher when his reel is entangled.

POIET.—My amusement in such a voyage would be to look for the kraken and
the sea snake.

HAL.—You have a vivid imagination, and might see them.

POIET.—Then you do not believe in the existence of these wonderful

HAL.—No more than I do in that of the merman, or mermaid.

POIET.—Yet we have histories, which seem authentic, of the appearance of
these monsters, and there are not wanting persons who assert, that they
have seen the mermaid even in these islands.

HAL.—I disbelieve the authenticity of these stories. I do not mean to
deny the existence of large marine animals having analogies to the
serpent; the conger we know is such an animal: I have seen one nearly
ten feet long, and there may be longer ones, but such animals do not
come to the surface. The only sea snake, that has been examined by
naturalists, turned out to be a putrid species of shark—the _squalus
maximus_. Yet all the newspapers gave accounts of this as a real animal,
and endowed it with feet, which do not belong to serpents. And the sea
snakes, seen by American and Norwegian captains, have, I think,
generally been a company of porpoises, the rising and sinking of which
in lines would give somewhat the appearance of the coils of a snake. The
kraken, or island fish, is still more imaginary. I have myself seen
immense numbers of enormous _urticæ marinæ_, or blubbers, in the north
seas, and in some of the Norwegian _fiords_, or inland bays, and often
these beautiful creatures give colour to the water; but it is
exceedingly improbable, that an animal of this genus should ever be of
the size, even of the whale; its soft materials are little fitted for
locomotion, and would be easily destroyed by every kind of fish. Hands
and a finny tail are entirely contrary to the analogy of nature, and I
disbelieve the mermaid upon philosophical principles. The dugong and
manatee are the only animals combining the functions of the mammalia
with some of the characters of fishes, that can be imagined, even as a
link, this part of the order of nature. Many of these stories have been
founded upon the long-haired seal seen at a distance, others on the
appearance of the common seal under particular circumstances of light
and shade, and some on still more singular circumstances. A worthy
baronet, remarkable for his benevolent views and active spirit, has
propagated a story of this kind, and he seems to claim for his native
country the honour of possessing this extraordinary animal; but the
mermaid of Caithness was certainly a _gentleman_, who happened to be
travelling on that wild shore, and who was seen bathing by some young
ladies at so great a distance, that not only _genus_ but gender was
mistaken. I am acquainted with him, and have had the story from his own
mouth. He is a young man, fond of geological pursuits, and one day in
the middle of August, having fatigued and heated himself by climbing a
rock to examine a particular appearance of a granite, he gave his
clothes to his Highland guide, who was taking care of his pony, and
descended to the sea. The sun was just setting, and he amused himself
for some time by swimming from rock to rock, and having unclipped hair
and no cap, he sometimes threw aside his locks, and wrung the water from
them on the rocks. He happened the year after to be at Harrowgate, and
was sitting at table with two young ladies from Caithness, who were
relating to a wondering audience the story of the mermaid they had seen,
which had already been published in the newspapers: they described her,
as she usually is described by poets, as a beautiful animal, with
remarkably fair skin, and long green hair. The young gentleman took the
liberty, as most of the rest of the company did, to put a few questions
to the elder of the two ladies—such as, on what day and precisely where
this singular phenomenon had appeared. She had noted down, not merely
the day, but the hour and minute, and produced a map of the place. Our
bather referred to his journal, and showed, that a human animal was
swimming in the very spot at that very time, who had some of the
characters ascribed to the mermaid, but who laid no claim to others,
particularly the green hair and fish’s tail; but being rather sallow in
the face, was glad to have such testimony to the colour of his body
beneath his garments.

POIET.—But I do not understand upon what philosophical principles you
deny the existence of the mermaid. We are not necessarily acquainted
with all the animals that inhabit the bottom of the sea; and I cannot
help thinking there must have been some foundation for the fable of the
Tritons and Nereids.

HAL.—Ay; and of the ocean divinities, Neptune and Amphitrite!

POIET.—Now I think you are prejudiced.

HAL.—I remember the worthy baronet, whom I just now mentioned, on some
one praising the late Sir Joseph Banks very highly, said, “Sir Joseph
was an excellent man—but he had his prejudices.” What were they? said my
friend. “Why, he did not believe in the mermaid.” Pray still consider me
as the baronet did Sir Joseph—prejudiced on this subject.

ORN.—But give us some reasons for the impossibility of the existence of
this animal.

HAL.—Nay, I did not say impossibility; I am too much of the school of
Isaac Walton to talk of impossibility. It doubtless might please God to
make a mermaid; but I do not believe God ever did make one.

ORN.—And why?

HAL.—Because wisdom and order are found in all his works, and the parts
of animals are always in harmony with each other, and always adapted to
certain ends consistent with the analogy of nature; and a human head,
human hands, and human mammæ, are wholly inconsistent with a fish’s
tail. The human head is adapted for an erect posture, and in such a
posture an animal with a fish’s tail could not swim; and a creature with
lungs must be on the surface several times in a day—and the sea is an
inconvenient breathing place; and hands are instruments of
manufacture—and the depths of the ocean are little fitted for
fabricating that mirror which our old prints gave to the mermaid. Such
an animal, if created, could not long exist; and, with scarcely any
locomotive powers, would be the prey of other fishes, formed in a manner
more suited to their element. I have seen a most absurd fabrication of a
mermaid, exposed as a show in London, said to have been found in the
Chinese seas, and bought for a large sum of money. The head and bust of
two different apes were fastened to the lower part of a kipper salmon,
which had the fleshy fin, and all the distinct characters, of the _salmo

ORN.—And yet there were people who believed this to be a real animal.

HAL.—It was insisted on, to prove the truth of the Caithness story. But
what is there which people will not believe?

POIET.—In listening to your conversation we have forgotten our angling,
and have lost some moments of fine cloudy weather.

HAL.—I thought you were tired of catching trouts and graylings, and I
therefore did not urge you to continue your fly-fishing; and this part
of the river does not contain so many grayling as the pools above—but
there are good trout, and it is possible there may be huchos. Let me
recommend to you to put on minnow tackle—that tackle with the five small
hooks; and, as we have minnows and bleaks, you may perhaps hook trout,
or even huchos; and in half an hour our fish dinner at the inn will be
ready. I shall return there, to see that all is right, and shall expect
you when you have finished your fishing.

[_They all meet in the dining-room of the inn._]

HAL.—Well, what sort of sport have you had since I left you?

POIET.—We have each caught a trout and two large chubs, and have had two
or three runs besides—but we saw no huchos; and though several large
grayling rose in one of the streams, and we tried to catch them by
spinning the minnow in every possible way, yet they took no notice of
our bait.

HAL.—This is usually the case. I have heard of anglers who have taken
grayling with minnows, but it is a rare occurrence, and never happened
to me. Your dinner, I dare say, is now ready; and you know it is a
dinner entirely of the _genus salmo_, with vegetables and fruit. You
have hucho from the Traun, and char from Aussee, and trout from the
Traun See, that were brought alive to the inn, and have only just been
killed and crimped, and are now boiling in salt and water; and you have
likewise grayling and laverets from the Traun See, which are equally
fresh, and will be fried.

PHYS.—I think, in this part of the continent, the art of carrying and
keeping fish is better understood than in England. Every inn has a box
containing grayling, trout, carp, or char, into which water from a
spring runs; and no one thinks of carrying or sending _dead_ fish for a
dinner. A fish barrel full of cool water, which is replenished at every
fresh source amongst these mountains, is carried on the shoulders of the
fisherman. And the fish, when confined in wells, are fed with bullock’s
liver, cut into fine pieces, so that they are often in better season in
the tank or stew than when they were taken. I have seen trout, grayling,
and char even, feed voraciously, and take their food almost from the
hand. These methods of carrying and preserving fish have, I believe,
been adopted from the monastic establishments. At Admondt, in Styria,
attached to the magnificent monastery of that name, are abundant ponds
and reservoirs for every species of fresh water fish; and the char,
grayling, and trout are preserved in different waters—covered, enclosed,
and under lock and key.

POIET.—I admire in this country not only the mode of preserving,
carrying, and dressing fish, but I am delighted, generally, with the
habits of life of the peasants, and with their manners. It is a country
in which I should like to live; the scenery is so beautiful, the people
so amiable and good-natured, and their attentions to strangers so marked
by courtesy and disinterestedness.

PHYS.—They appear to me very amiable and good; but all classes seem to
be little instructed.

POIET.—There are few philosophers amongst them, certainly; but they
appear very happy, and

            Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.

We have neither seen nor heard of any instances of crime since we have
been here. They fear their God, love their sovereign, are obedient to
the laws, and seem perfectly contented. I know you would contrast them
with the active and educated peasantry of the manufacturing districts of
England; but I believe they are much happier, and I am sure they are
generally better.

PHYS.—I doubt this: the sphere of enjoyment, as well as of benevolence,
is enlarged by education.

POIET.—I am sorry to say I think the system carried too far in England.
God forbid, that any useful light should be extinguished! Let persons
who wish for education receive it; but it appears to me, that, in the
great cities in England, it is, as it were, forced upon the population;
and that sciences, which the lower classes can only very superficially
acquire, are presented to them; in consequence of which they often
become idle and conceited, and above their usual laborious occupations.
The unripe fruit of the tree of knowledge is, I believe, always bitter
or sour; and scepticism and discontent—sicknesses of the mind—are often
the results of devouring it.

HAL.—Surely you cannot have a more religious, more moral, or more
improved population than that of Scotland?

POIET.—Precisely so. In Scotland, education is not forced upon the
people—it is sought for, and is connected with their forms of faith,
acquired in the bosoms of their families, and generally pursued with a
distinct object of prudence or interest: nor is that kind of education
wanting in this country.

PHYS.—Where a book is rarely seen, a newspaper never.

POIET.—Pardon me—there is not a cottage without a prayer book; and I am
not sorry, that these innocent and happy men are not made active and
tumultuous subjects of _King Press_, whom I consider as the most
capricious, depraved, and unprincipled tyrant, that ever existed in
England. Depraved—for it is to be bought by great wealth;
capricious—because it sometimes follows, and sometimes forms, the voice
of the lowest mob; and unprincipled—because, when its interests are
concerned, it sets at defiance private feeling and private character,
and neither regards their virtue, dignity, nor purity.

HAL.—My friends, you are growing warm. I know you differ essentially on
this subject; but surely you will allow that the full liberty of the
press, even though it sometimes degenerates into licentiousness, and
though it may sometimes be improperly used by the influence of wealth,
power, or private favour, is yet highly advantageous, and even essential
to the existence of a free country; and, useful as it may be to the
population, it is still more useful to the government, to whom, as
expressing the voice of the people, though not always _vox Dei_, it may
be regarded as oracular or prophetic.—But let us change our
conversation, which is neither in time nor place.

POIET.—This river must be inexhaustible for sport: I have nowhere seen
so many fish.

HAL.—However full a river may be of trout and grayling, there is a
certain limit to the sport of the angler, if continuous fishing be
adopted in the same pools. Every fish is in its turn made acquainted by
diurnal habit with the artificial fly, and either taken or rendered
cautious; so that, in a river fished much by one or two good anglers,
many fish cannot be caught, except under peculiar circumstances of very
windy, rainy, or cloudy weather, when many flies come on; or at night,
or at the time the water is slightly coloured by a flood, or when fish
change their haunts in consequence of a great inundation. In the Usk, in
Monmouthshire, when it was very full of fish in the best fishing time,
when the spring brown and dun flies were on the water, it was not usual
for some excellent anglers, who composed a party of nine, and who fished
in this river for ten continuous days, to catch more than two or three
fish each person. But one day, when the water was coloured by a flood,
in which case the artificial fly could not be distinguished by the fish
from the natural fly, I caught twelve or fourteen of the same fish, that
had been in the habit of refusing my flies for many days successively.
This was in the end of March, 1809, when the flies always came on the
water with great regularity; the blues in dark days, the browns in
bright days, between twelve and two o’clock in the middle of the day. In
rivers where the artificial fly has never been used, I believe all the
fish will mistake good imitations for natural flies, and in their turn,
to use an angler’s phrase, “taste the steel;” but even very imperfect
imitations and coarse tackle, which are only successful at night or in
turbid water, are sufficient to render fish cautious. This I am
convinced of, by observing the difference of the habits of fish in
strictly preserved streams, and in streams where even peasants have
fished with the coarsest tackle. I might quote the Traun at Ischl, where
the native fisherman used three or four of the coarsest flies on the
coarsest hair links made of four or five or six hairs, and the Traun at
Gmunden, where they are not allowed to fish. The fish that rose took
with much more certainty at Gmunden than at Ischl.

At a time when many flies are on, particularly large ones, a few days of
continuous fishing, even with a single rod, will soon make the sport
indifferent in the best rivers; but the larger and the deeper the river
the longer it continues, because fish change their stations
occasionally, and pricked fish sometimes leave their haunts, which are
occupied by others; and graylings are more disposed to change their
places than trouts.

As instances of the difference in this respect between large and small
rivers, I may quote the Vockla and the Agger in Upper Austria. The first
of these rivers, when I fished in it in 1818, was full of trout and
grayling, and I believe I was the first person, for at least many years,
that had ever thrown an artificial fly upon it. It is a small stream,
from eight to fifteen yards wide, and can every where be commanded by
the double-handed rod, and is generally shallow. The first day that I
fished in this stream, which was in the beginning of August, at every
throw I hooked a fish, and I took out and restored again to their
element in the course of a few hours more than one hundred and fifty
trout and grayling. The next day I fished in the same places, but with a
very different result: I caught only half a dozen large fish: the third
morning, going over the same ground, I had great difficulty even to get
a brace of fish for my dinner, and those, as well as I recollect, I
caught by throwing in places which had not been fished before. I ought
to mention, that the space of water where this experiment was made did
not exceed half a mile in length. I shall now speak of the Agger, which
is a much larger and deeper river than the Vockla, and cannot be
commanded in any part by a double-handed rod, being at least from forty
to sixty yards across. The first time I fished this river, I had the
same kind of sport as in the Vockla; the second day, under the same
favourable circumstances, there were fewer rises than on the first day,
but still sufficient to give good sport; and it was the fourth day
before it became difficult to catch a good dish of fish, and necessary
to seek new water. The greater depth of the water, and the change of
place of the fish, particularly the grayling, explain this, to say
nothing of the greater number of fish which the larger river contained.
I am, of course, speaking of one of the best periods of fly-fishing,
when many large flies, of which imitations are easily found, have been
on the water. In spring (a bad season for fly-fishing in high Alpine
countries) I have thrown great varieties of flies on these two highly
stocked streams, and have found it difficult to get a brace of fish for
the table, as the trout and grayling were all lying at the bottom, not
expecting any _winged food_ at this season.

A river that runs into a large lake affords, at its junction with the
lake, by far the best place for continuous angling, particularly for
trout in autumn. The fish are constantly running up the river for the
purpose of spawning, and every day offers a succession of new shoals, of
which many will take the fly; I say _many_, because at this season some
of the fish, particularly the females, are capricious, and refuse a
bait, of which, under other circumstances they are greedy. I may say the
same with respect to the exit of a river from a lake, to which
successions of fishes resort, and though trout are found abundantly in
such places, yet they are often still better places for grayling when
these fish exist in the lake, the tendency of grayling being rather, as
I said on another occasion, to descend than to ascend waters, whilst
that of the trout is the contrary. The same principles apply to salmon
and sea-trout fishing, which run up rivers from basins of the sea: the
best situations for continuous angling are those parts of the river
where there is a succession of fishes from the tide.

POIET.—You spoke just now of peasants fishing with the fly in Austria: I
thought this art was entirely English; and though I have travelled much,
I do not recollect ever to have seen fly-fishing practised by native
anglers abroad.

HAL.—I assure you there are fishers with the artificial fly in different
parts of Switzerland, Germany, and Illyria, though always with rude
tackle, and usually upon rapid streams. Besides the Traun I can mention
the Rhine, the Rhone, and the Drave, as rivers where I have seen fish
caught with rude imitations of flies used by native anglers. In Italy,
where trout and grayling are very rare, and only found amongst the
highest mountain chains, I have never seen any fly-fishers, but near
Ravenna I have sometimes seen anglers for frogs, who threw their bait
exactly as we throw a fly, and caught great numbers of these animals:
and the nature of their apparatus surprised me more than their method of
using it. Instead of a hook and bait they employed a small dry frog,
tied to a long piece of twine, the fore legs of which projected like two
hooks, and this they threw at a distance, by means of a long rod. The
frogs rose like fish and gorged the small dry frog, by the legs of which
they were pulled out of the water. I was informed by one of these
fishermen, that he sometimes took 200 frogs in this way in a morning,
and that the frogs never swallowed any bait when still or apparently
dead, but caught at whatever was moving or appeared alive on the surface
of the water; so that this amphibia feeds like a nobler animal, the
eagle, only on living prey.

POIET.—You say trout are rare in Italy, yet on Ash-wednesday, a great
day for the consumption of fish in Rome, I remember to have seen some
large trout, which, I was told, were from the Velino, above the falls of

HAL.—I once went almost to the source of this river, above Rieti, in the
hopes of catching trout, but I was unsuccessful. I saw some taken by
nets, but the fish were too few, and the river too foul, from the
deposition of calcareous matter, to render it a good stream for the
angler. In this journey I saw some trout in brooks in the Sabine
country, that I dare say might have been taken by the fly, but they were
small, and like the brook trout of England. In these streams, as well as
in the Velino and other torrents, I found the water-ouzel, which, as far
as my knowledge extends, is always a companion of the trout, and I
believe feeds much upon the same larvæ or water-flies.

ORN.—These singular little birds, as I have witnessed, walk under water.
I have often watched them running beneath the surface of the sides of
streams, and passing between stones. I conclude they were then in the
act of searching for, or feeding upon larvæ.

HAL.—I suppose so, and I hope Ornither will shoot one to give us an
opportunity of examining the contents of their stomachs, and of knowing
with certainty the nature of their food.

PHYS.—The char[8] is a most beautiful and excellent fish, and is, of
course, a fish of prey. Is he not an object of sport to the angler?

HAL.—They generally haunt deep cool lakes, and are seldom found at the
surface till late in the autumn. When they are at the surface, however,
they will take either fly or minnow. I have known some caught in both
these ways; and have myself taken a char, even in summer, in one of
those beautiful, small, deep lakes in the Upper Tyrol, near Nazereit;
but it was where a cool stream entered from the mountain; and the fish
did not rise, but swallowed the artificial fly under water. The char is
always in its colour a very brilliant fish, but in different countries
there are many varieties in the tint. I do not remember ever to have
seen more beautiful fish than those of Aussee, which, when in perfect
season, have the lower fins and the belly of the brightest vermilion,
with a white line on the outside of the pectoral, ventral, anal, and
lower part of the caudal fin, and with vermilion spots, surrounded by
the bright olive shade of the sides and back: the dorsal fin in the char
has 11 spines, the pectoral 14, the ventral 9, the anal 10, and the
caudal 20. I have fished for them in many lakes, without success, both
in England and Scotland, and also amongst the Alps; and I am told the
only sure way of taking them is by sinking a line with a bullet, and a
hook having a live minnow attached to it, in the deep water which they
usually haunt; and in this way, likewise, I have no doubt the _umbla_,
or _ombre chevalier_, might be taken.

POIET.—I have never happened to see this fish.

HAL.—It is very like char in form, but is without spots, and has a white
and silvery belly. On the table, its flesh cuts white or cream-colour,
and it is exceedingly like char in flavour. Feb. 11, 1827, one was
brought me from the lake of Bourget, in Savoy; it was said to be small
for this fish; it was 15 inches long, and 7½ in circumference. In the
dorsal fin there were 12 spines, in the pectoral 9, in the ventral 8, in
the anal 11, and in the caudal 24.

POIET.—Is it found in this country?

HAL.—From some descriptions I have heard of certain species of the salmo
found in the Maun See, Traun See, and Leopoldstadt See, I think it is.
Bloch says, that it is peculiar to the lakes of Geneva and Neufchatel;
but what I have just said must convince you of the inaccuracy of this
statement, as I dare say the fish exists in other deep waters of a like
character amongst the Alps. It is a fish closely allied to the char, and
congenerous both in form and habits.

PHYS.—You mentioned, among the fish for dinner, the laveret: I never
heard of this fish before.

HAL.—It is a fish known in England by the name of _shelley_, or fresh
water herring; in Wales, by that of _guinead_; in Ireland, by that of
_pollan_; and in Scotland, by that of _vengis_. In colour it is most
like a grayling, but with broader and larger scales: it is common in the
large lakes of most Alpine countries, and is known at Geneva by the name
of _ferra_; and I believe that the _salmo ceruleus_, or _wartmann_ of
Bloch, or the _gang-fisch_ of the lake of Constante, from a comparison
that I made of it with the _ferra_, is a variety of the same fish. It
sometimes is as large as 2lbs.; and when quite fresh, and well fried or
boiled, is an exceedingly good fish, and calvers like a grayling. The
laveret of different lakes has appeared to me to vary in the number of
the spines in the fins. One, brought me from the lake of Zurich, 13
inches long, and 8 inches in girth, had 12 spines in the dorsal fin, 15
in the pectoral fins, 11 in the ventral, 13 in the anal, and 18 in the
caudal. The gang-fisch, from the lake of Constanz, which was of a bluer
colour, but, I think decidedly, only a variety of the same fish, was 7¾
inches long, and 4 in girth, had 12 spines in the dorsal fin, 15 in the
pectoral, 11 in the ventral, 12 in the anal, and 18 in the caudal. A
laveret, from the Traun See, had 12 spines in the dorsal fin, 17 in the
pectoral, 13 in the ventral fin, 12 in the anal fin, and 24 in the
caudal fin. One from the Hallstadt See was a larger and broader fish,
but did not differ from the laveret, of the Traun See, except in having
two spines less in the tail.

POIET.—Is this fish ever taken with the line?

HAL.—I believe only with nets. It feeds on vegetables; and in the
stomachs of those I have opened, I have never found either flies or
small fishes.

                               AT TABLE.

ORN.—Now the hucho is dressed, and on the same table with other species
of the salmo, I perceive his peculiarities more distinctly; and, in
addition to those you have mentioned, he appears to me to have a
stronger upper jaw, and a larger projection of bone below the orbit of
the eye.

HAL.—He has; and you will find a similar character in the pike and
perch, and, I believe, in most fishes of prey; and the use of it seems
to be, to strengthen the fulcrum of the lever on which the lower jaw
moves, so as to afford the means of greater strength to the whole
muscular apparatus, by means of which the fish seizes his prey.

POIET.—These fishes, then, are analogous to the predatory animals of the
feline genus, which have this part of the head exceedingly strong; and
it is here that the craniologists or phrenologists fix the organ of
courage: does not this extensive chain of analogies offer an argument in
favour of this long agitated and generally unpopular doctrine?

PHYS.—In my opinion, it offers, like most of the facts which have been
brought forward to prove the truths of the view of Gall and Spurzheim,
an argument rather unfavourable, when thoroughly and minutely examined.


PHYS.—In these rapacious and predatory animals, the organization of the
head must be connected with the functions of the jaws, as the
construction of the shoulder-blade must be related to the use of the
fore leg, which, being intended to strike and seize by talons, must have
a powerful support and a strong bony apparatus in the shoulder, which
might as well be called the organ of courage as the projection below the
frontal bone: but these animals have no more what is called courage in
man, than they have what is called reason: they face danger when they
are hungry, but almost always fly when their appetite is satisfied: a
hen, in defending her chickens against a powerful dog, or the game cock,
in fighting for the female, or the timid stag, at the time of the sexual
intercourse, shows quite as much of this quality as the most ferocious
royal tiger. Courage is the result of strong passions or strong motives;
and in man it usually results from the love of glory or the fear of
shame; and it appears to me a perfectly absurd idea, that of connecting
it with an organ, which is merely intended to assist the predatory
habits and the mastication of a carnivorous animal.

HAL.—I agree with Physicus in this view of the subject. I once heard a
physiologist of some reputation deducing an argument in favour of
craniology from the form of the skull of the beaver, which he called a
constructive animal, and contended, that there was something of the same
character in the skulls of distinguished architects: now, the skull of
the beaver is so formed, that he is able to use his jaws for cutting
down the trees with which he makes his dam; and if this analogy were
correct, the architect ought unquestionably to employ his teeth for the
same purpose; and though I have known distinguished men, who have been
in the habit of using knives for cutting furniture with a sort of
nervous restlessness of hand, I do not recollect to have heard of the
teeth being employed in the same way; and I think it would be quite as
correct, to find the architectural or constructive organ in the opposite
part of the body, the tail, as the beaver makes a more ingenious use of
this part than even of his mouth. Pray, have you ever observed, Poietes,
any particular protuberance in the nether parts of any of our
distinguished architects?

POIET.—I am not a craniologist; but I would have the doctrine overturned
by facts, and not by ridicule; and I have certainly seen some remarkable
instances, which were favourable to the system.

HAL.—My experience is entirely on the opposite side; and I once saw a
distinguished craniologist in error on a point, which he considered as
the most decided. He was shown two children, one of whom was possessed
of great mathematical acquirements, the other of extraordinary musical
taste. With the utmost confidence he pronounced judgment, and was
mistaken. It appeared to me, that, whilst he was examining the two
heads, he hummed an air, which, being out of tune, was not responded to
by the musical child; but somehow struck the fancy of the mathematical

ORN.—This hucho is a very good fish, and, indeed, I can praise all the
varieties of the salmon on the table that I have yet tasted.

PHYS.—Amongst them, I prefer the char, which, I think, is even better
than the best fresh salmon I ever tasted.

POIET.—This char is surprisingly red and full of curd; I wonder at its
fat: It comes from the Grundtl See, which is a high Alpine lake, covered
with ice more than half the year: what food can the fish find in so pure
and cold a water?

HAL.—Minnows and small chubs are found in this lake; and the flies which
haunt it in summer have been aquatic larvæ in the autumn, winter, and
spring; and there are usually great quantities of small shell fish,
which live in the deeper parts of this water; so that char may find food
even in winter; and cold, or the repose to which it leads, seems
favourable to the development or conservation of fat. Most of the polar
animals (the whale, moose, seal, and white bear, for instance) are
loaded with this substance; and the salmon of the Arctic Ocean are
remarkable for their quantity of curd: those that run up the rivers in
Russia from the White Sea are said to be fatter and better, than those
caught in the streams which run into the Baltic.

ORN.—I agree with Physicus in his praise of the char: we are indebted to
you for an excellent entertainment.

HAL.—At Lintz, on the Danube, I could have given you a fish dinner of a
different description, which you might have liked as a variety. The four
kinds of perch, the _spiegel carpfen_, and the _siluris glanis_; all
good fish, and which I am sorry we have not in England, where I doubt
not they might be easily naturalized, and they would form an admirable
addition to the table in inland counties. Since England has become
Protestant, the cultivation of fresh water fish has been much neglected.
The _burbot_, or lotte, which already exists in some of the streams
tributary to the Trent, and which is a most admirable fish, might be
diffused without much difficulty; and nothing could be more easy than to
naturalize the _spiegel carpfen_ and _siluris_; and I see no reason why
the _perca lucio perca_ and _zingel_ should not succeed in some of our
clear lakes and ponds, which abound in coarse fish. The new Zoölogical
Society, I hope, will attempt something of this kind; and it will be a
better object than introducing birds and beast of prey—though I have no
objection to any source of rational amusement or philosophical

POIET.—A fish dinner such as you have just described, combined with one
such as we have enjoyed to-day, might, I think, be made an interesting
experimental lecture on natural history. The analogies of the different
species and genera of fishes, so distinct in the form of their organs,
are likewise marked in the appearance and taste of their flesh. The
salmon and the char may be regarded as the generic types of the salmo.
By trout, which have sometimes red and sometimes white flesh, they are
connected with the grayling and hucho. By the grayling the trout is
connected with the laveret, and by the laveret the genus salmo is
connected with the carp genus. The char is immediately connected with
the grayling, and laveret by the umbula. By the sea trout the salmon is
connected with the trout; and by the hucho, with the pike and perch

HAL.—We will arrange a dinner of this kind in England, and by means of
it follow the analogies of salt and fresh water fishes. But the time for
our parting is almost arrived.—Let us drink a glass each of this old
wine of the Danube to our next happy meeting, and go and take a last
look of the Fall of Traun, whilst our carriages are preparing.

[_They walk to the rock above the Fall of the Traun._]

HAL.—See, the cataract is now in great beauty; the river above is
coloured by the setting sun, and the glow of the rosy light on the upper
stream is beautifully and wonderfully contrasted with the tints of the
cataract below. Have you ever seen any thing so fine?

POIET.—The lights are beautiful; but I have certainly seen a finer
combination of features in the Fall of the Velino, at Terni, though that
water is not clear; but, even with this defect, it is certainly the most
perfect of European falls. This cascade of the Traun, though not so
elevated as that of Terni, and not so large as that of Schaffhausen,
yet, from its perfect clearness, and the harmony of the surrounding
objects, ranks high, as to picturesque effect, amongst the waterfalls of
Europe; and the wonderful transparency of its pale-green water gives it
a peculiar charm in my eyes, enhanced as it is now by the light of the
glowing western sky; and the tints of the quadrant iris on its spray are
not brighter than those of its stream and foam.

ORN.—We have now followed this water at least thirty miles, and wherever
we have seen it, it has always displayed the same characters of
clearness and rapidity—of green stream and white foam; and we have
traced it from the snowy mountains of Styria to the plains of Upper
Austria, where it serves to purify the darker Danube. How is it, that it
has preserved its transparency, though so many of its tributary streams
have been foul, either from the thunder storm, or from the sudden
melting of snows?

HAL.—The three small lakes and the two larger ones, which are in fact
its reservoirs, are the cause of this. The Gründtl See furnishes its
principal stream, and this lake is fed by two others—Töplitz See and
Lahngen See; and the tributary streams, which unite at Aussee, from
Alten Aussee and Oden See, though one is blue and the other yellow, yet
combine to give a tint, which is nearly the same as that from the stream
of the Gründtl See, and which the river retains throughout its course
Yet I have seen even this river very foul, but only in a part of its
course, below Ischel. I was once at that place, when the thunder storm
of a night having washed the dust of the roads into the river, it was
extremely turbid from Ischel to the Traun See. It rendered the upper
part of this large lake coloured; but, notwithstanding this, the river
came from the lower part of it perfectly clear, and I caught fish in it
there with a fly, which, at its entrance into the lake was quite

POIET.—You, Halieus, must certainly have considered the _causes_ which
produce the colours of waters. The streams of our own island are of a
very different colour from these mountain rivers, and why should the
same element or substance assume such a variety of tints?

HAL.—I certainly have often thought upon the subject, and I have made
some observations and _one_ experiment in relation to it. I will give
you my opinion with pleasure, and, as far as I know, they have not been
brought forward in any of the works on the properties of water, or on
its consideration as a chemical element. The purest water with which we
are acquainted is undoubtedly that which falls from the atmosphere.
Having touched air alone, it can contain nothing but what it gains from
the atmosphere, and it is distilled without the chance of those
impurities, which may exist in the vessels used in an artificial
operation. We cannot well examine the water precipitated from the
atmosphere, as rain, without collecting it in vessels, and all
artificial contact gives more or less of contamination; but in snow,
melted by the sunbeams, that has fallen on glaciers, themselves formed
from frozen snow, water may be regarded as in its state of greatest
purity. Congelation expels both salts and air from water, whether
existing below, or formed in, the atmosphere; and in the high and
uninhabited regions of glaciers, there can scarcely be any substances to
contaminate. Removed from animal and vegetable life, they are even above
the mineral kingdom; and though there are instances in which the rudest
kind of vegetation (of the fungus or mucor kind) is even found upon
snows, yet this is a rare occurrence; and red snow, which is occasioned
by it, is an extraordinary and not a common phenomenon towards the pole,
and on the highest mountains of the globe. Having examined the water
formed from melted snow on glaciers in different parts of the Alps, and
having always found it of the same quality, I shall consider it as pure
water, and describe its characters. Its colour, when it has any depth,
or when a mass of it is seen through, is bright blue; and, according to
its greater or less depth of substance, it has more or less of this
colour: as its insipidity, and its other physical qualities, are not at
this moment objects of your inquiry, I shall not dwell upon them. In
general, in examining lakes and masses of water in high mountains, their
colour is of the same bright azure. And Captain Parry states, that the
water on the Polar ice has the like beautiful tint. When vegetables grow
in lakes, the colour becomes nearer the sea green, and as the quantity
of impregnation from their decay increases—greener, yellowish green, and
at length, when the vegetable extract is large in quantity—as in
countries where peat is found—yellow, and even brown. To mention
instances, the Lake of Geneva, fed from sources (particularly the higher
Rhone) formed from melting snow, is blue; and the Rhone pours from it,
dyed of the deepest azure, and retains partially this colour till it is
joined by the Soane, which gives to it a greener hue. The Lake of Morat,
on the contrary, which is fed from a lower country, and from less pure
sources, is grass green. And there is an illustrative instance in some
small lakes fed from the same source, in the road from Inspruck to
Stutgard, which I observed in 1815 (as well as I recollect) between
Nazareit and Reiti. The highest lake fed by melted snows in March, when
I saw it, was bright blue. It discharged itself by a small stream into
another, into which a number of large pines had been blown by a winter
storm, or fallen from some other cause: in this lake its colour was blue
green. In a third lake, in which there were not only pines and their
branches, but likewise other decaying vegetable matter, it had a tint of
faded grass green; and these changes had occurred in a space not much
more than a mile in length. These observations I made in 1815: on
returning to the same spot twelve years after, in August and September,
I found the character of the lakes entirely changed. The pine wood
washed into the second lake had disappeared; a large quantity of stones
and gravel, washed down by torrents, or detached by an avalanche,
supplied their place: there was no perceptible difference of tint in the
two upper lakes; but the lower one, where there was still some vegetable
matter, seemed to possess a greener hue. The same principle will apply
to the Scotch and Irish rivers, which, when they rise or issue from pure
rocky sources, are blue, or bluish green; and when fed from peat bogs,
or alluvial countries, yellow, or amber-coloured, or brown—even after
they have deposited a part of their impurities in great lakes.
Sometimes, though rarely, mineral impregnations give colour to water:
small streams are sometimes green or yellow from ferruginous
depositions. Calcareous matters seldom affect their colour, but often
their transparency, when deposited, as is the case with the Velino at
Terni, and the Anio at Trivoli; but I doubt if pure saline matters,
which are in themselves white, ever change the tint of water.

ORN.—On what then does the tint of the ocean depend, which has itself
given name to a colour?

HAL.—I think probably on vegetable matter, and, perhaps, partially, on
two elementary principles, iodine and brome, which it certainly
contains, though these are possibly the results of decayed marine
vegetables. These give a yellow tint, when dissolved in minute portions
in water, and this, mixed with the blue of pure water, would occasion
sea green. I made, many years ago, being on the _Mer de Glace_, an
experiment on this subject. I threw a small quantity of iodine, a
substance then recently discovered, into one of those deep blue basins
of water, which are so frequent on that glacier, and, diffusing it as it
dissolved with a stick, I saw the water change first to sea green in
colour, then to grass green, and lastly to yellowish green: I do not,
however, give this as a proof, but only as a fact favourable to my

POIET.—It appears to me to confirm your view of the subject, that snow
and ice, which are merely pure crystallized water, are always blue, when
seen by transmitted light. I have often admired the deep azure in
crevices in masses of snow in severe winters, and the same colour in the
glaciers of Switzerland, particularly at the arch where the Arve issues,
in the Valley of Chamouni. We thank you for your illustration.

HAL.—In return, I ask you for some further remarks on this grand
waterfall. You said just now, you preferred the fall of the Velino for
picturesque effect to any other waterfall you have seen; yet it is a
small river compared even with the Traun, and nothing compared with the
Gotha, the Rhine, or, above all, the Glommen.

POIET.—Size is merely comparative: I prefer the fall of the Velino,
because its parts are in harmony. It displays all the force and power of
the element, in its rapid and precipitous descent, and you feel, that
even man would be nothing in its waves, and would be dashed to pieces by
its force. The whole scene is embraced at once by the eye, and the
effect is almost as sublime as that of the Glommen, where the river is
at least one hundred times as large; for the Glommen falls, as it were,
from a whole valley upon a mountain of granite, and unless where you see
the giant pines of Norway, fifty or sixty feet in height, carried down
by it and swimming in its whirlpools like straws, you have no idea of
its magnitude and power: yet still, I think, considering it in all its
relations, this is the most awful fall of water I have seen, as that of
Velino is the most perfect and beautiful. I am not sure, that I ought
not to place the fall of the Gotha above that of the Rhine, both for
variety of effect and beauty; and the river, in my opinion, is quite as
large, and the colour of the water quite as beautiful.

HAL.—But our horses are ready, and the time of separation arrives. I
trust we shall all have a happy meeting in England in the winter. I have
made you idlers at home and abroad, but I hope to some purpose; and, I
trust, you will confess the time bestowed upon angling has not been
thrown away. The most important principle perhaps in life is to have a
pursuit—a useful one if possible, and at all events an innocent one. And
the scenes you have enjoyed—the contemplations to which they have led,
and the exercise in which we have indulged, have, I am sure, been very
salutary to the body, and, I hope, to the mind. I have always found a
peculiar effect from this kind of life; it has appeared to bring me back
to early times and feelings, and to create again the hopes and happiness
of youthful days.

PHYS.—I felt something like what you described, and were I convinced
that in the cultivation of the amusement, these feelings would increase,
I would devote myself to it with passion; but, I fear, in my case this
is impossible. Ah! could I recover any thing like that freshness of
mind, which I possessed at twenty-five, and which, like the dew of the
dawning morning, covered all objects and nourished all things that grew,
and in which they were more beautiful even than in mid-day
sunshine,—what would I not give!—All that I have gained in an active and
not unprofitable life. How well I remember that delightful season, when,
full of power, I sought for power in others; and power was sympathy, and
sympathy power;—when the dead and the unknown, the great of other ages
and of distant places, were made, by the force of the imagination, my
companions and friends;—when every voice seemed one of praise and love;
when every flower had the bloom and odour of the rose; and every spray
or plant seemed either the poet’s laurel, or the civic oak—which
appeared to offer themselves as wreaths to adorn my throbbing brow. But,
alas! this cannot be; and even you cannot have _two springs_ in
life—though I have no doubt you have fishing days, in which the feelings
of youth return, and that your autumn has a more _vernal_ character than

POIET.—I do not think Halieus had ever any season, except a perpetual
and gentle spring; for the tones of his mind have been always so quiet,
it has been so little scorched by sunshine, and so little shaken by
winds, that, I think, it may be compared to that sempivernal climate
fabled of the Hesperides, where the same trees produced at once buds,
leaves, blossoms, and fruits.

HAL.—Nay, my friends! spare me a little, spare my gray hairs. I have not
perhaps abused my youth so much as some of my friends, but all things
that you have known, I have known; and if I have not been so much
scorched by the passions from which so many of my acquaintances have
suffered, I owe it rather to the constant employment of a laborious
profession, and to the exertions called for by the hopes, wants, and
wishes of a rising family, than to any merits of my own, either moral or
constitutional. For my health, I may thank my ancestors, after my God,
and I have not squandered what was so bountifully given; and though I do
not expect, like our arch-patriarch, Walton, to number ninety years and
upwards, yet, I hope, as long as I can enjoy in a vernal day the warmth
and light of the sunbeams, still to haunt the streams—following the
example of our late venerable friend, the President of the Royal
academy,[9] in company with whom, when he was an octogenarian, I have
thrown the fly, caught trout, and enjoyed a delightful day of angling
and social amusement, in the shady green meadows by the bright clear
streams of the Wandle.

                           ADDITIONAL NOTES.

                        (_On the par, page 75._)

The author, in supposing that the par may be produced from a cross
between the river trout and the sea trout, does not mean to attach any
importance to this idea. The fish differs so little from the common
trout, that it may be questioned, whether it is not more entitled to the
character of a variety than of a species. In many rivers on the
continent, the author has seen small trout with olive or brown marks,
like those of the British par; and a friend informs him, that he has
caught fish of the same kind in the streams connected with the Lake of
Geneva. In rivers, flowing into the Danube, these small fish are very
common; but, as well as he remembers, their marks are pale, or
yellowish-brown, or olive, and not dark or blue like those of our par.
The salmon does not belong to any of these localities, but the hucho
haunts the tributary streams of the Danube. The smelts, or young of the
salmo hucho, and sea trout, and lake trout, are all distinguished by the
_uniform_ dark colour of the back, and the silvery whiteness of the
belly. He does not remember to have seen any of the streaked, or par
varieties of trout in rivers, in which there was only _one_ species, or
variety of large salmo. The mottled colour of the skin is, he thinks,
the strongest argument in favour of this little fish, being from a cross
of two varieties, or races, which may be the case, and yet the fish be
capable of breeding, and gaining this character of a peculiar variety;
and he supposes different kinds of pars may be produced by crosses of
the sea trout, the hucho, the lake trout, with the river trouts, or
perhaps of the salmon, and this would account for their great numbers,
and the various tints of the marks on their _sides_. If the hucho, as he
believes, generally spawns late in the winter, it may sometimes meet
with trout spawning at the same time. He has seen salmon and trout in
the Tweed in a similar state of maturity at the same period; and, in
1816, he remembers, that he took large female salmon, that had the
period of parturition protracted as late as March.

                    (_On the scolaphax, page 124._)

I shall say a few words on the congeners of this bird (the solitary
snipe,) and on the three varieties so much better known in Europe. The
woodcock feeds indiscriminately upon earthworms, small beetles, and
various kinds of larvæ, and its stomach sometimes contains seeds, which
I suspect have been taken up in boring amongst the excrements of cattle;
yet the stomach of this bird has something of the gizzard character,
though not so much as that of the land-rail, which I have found half
filled with seeds of grasses, and even containing corn, mixed with
may-bugs, earth-worms, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. The woodcock, I
believe, breeds habitually only in high northern latitudes, yet there
are woods in England, particularly one in Sussex, near the borders of
Hampshire, in which one or two couple of these birds, it is said, may
always be found in summer. I suspect these woodcocks are from the
offspring of birds which had paired for their passage, but being
detained by an accident happening to one of them, staid and raised a
young brood in England, and the young ones probably had their instincts
altered by the accidents of their being born in England, and being in a
place well supplied with food. It is not improbable, that they likewise
raised young ones, and that the habit of staying has become hereditary.
There can be no doubt, that woodcocks are very constant to their local
attachments; woodcocks, that have been preserved in a particular wood
for a winter, always return to it, if possible, the next season. Many
woodcocks breed in Norway and Sweden in the great, extensive, and moist
pine woods, filled with bogs and morasses, which cover these wild
countries, but probably a still greater number breed further north, in
Lapland, Finland, Russia, and Siberia. It is I believe a fable, that
they ever raise their young habitually in the high Alpine or mountainous
countries of the central or southern parts of Europe. These countries
indeed in summer are very little fitted for their feeding; they cannot
bore where it is either dry or frosty, and the glacier, as well as the
arid sand or rock, are equally unfitted for their haunts. They leave the
north with the first frost, and travel slowly south till they come to
their accustomed winter quarters; they do not usually make a quick
voyage, but fly from wood to wood, reposing and feeding on their
journey: they prefer for their haunts, woods near marshes or morasses;
they hide themselves under thick bushes in the day, and fly abroad to
feed in the dusk of the evening. A laurel, or a holly-bush, is a
favourite place for their repose: the thick and varnished leaves of
these trees prevents the radiation of heat from the soil, and they are
less affected by the refrigerating influence of a clear sky, so that
they afford a warm seat for the woodcock. Woodcocks usually begin to fly
north on the first approach of spring, and their flights are generally
longer, and their rests fewer, at this season than in the autumn.

In the autumn they are driven from the north to the south by the want of
food, and they stop wherever they can find food. In the spring, there is
the influence of another powerful instinct added to this, the sexual
feeling. They migrate in pairs, and pass as speedily as possible to the
place where they are likely to find food, and to raise their young, and
of which the old birds have already had the experience of former years.
Scarcely any woodcocks winter in any part of Germany. In France there
are a few found, particularly in the southern provinces, and in Normandy
and Brittany. The woods of England, especially of the west and south,
contain always a certain quantity of woodcocks, but there are far more
in the moist soil and warmer climate of Ireland; but in the woods of
southern Italy and Greece, near marshes, they are far more abundant; and
they extend in quantities over the Greek Islands, Asia Minor, and
northern Africa.

The snipe is one of the most generally distributed birds belonging to
Europe. It feeds upon almost every kind of worm, or larvæ, and, as I
have said before, its stomach sometimes contains seeds and rice; it
prefers a country cold in the summer to breed in; but wherever there is
much fluid water, and great morasses, this bird is almost certain to be
found. Its nest is very inartificial, its eggs large, and the young ones
soon become of an enormous size, being, often before they can fly,
larger than their parents. Two young ones are usually the number in a
nest, but I have seen three. The old birds are exceedingly attached to
their offspring, and if any one approach near the nest they make a loud
and drumming noise above the head, as if to divert the attention of the
intruder. A few snipes always breed in the marshes of England and
Scotland, but a far greater number retire for this purpose to the
Hebrides and the Orkneys. In the heather surrounding a small lake in the
Island of Hoy, in the Orkneys, I found in the month of August, in 1817,
the nests of ten or twelve couple of snipes. I was grouse-shooting, and
my dog continually pointed them, and, as there were sometimes three
young ones and two old ones in the nest, the scent was very powerful.
From accident of the season these snipes were very late in being
hatched, for they usually fly before the middle of July; but this year,
even as late as the 15th of August, there were many young snipes that
had not yet their wing feathers. Snipes are usually fattest in frosty
weather, which, I believe, is owing to this, that in such weather they
haunt only warm springs, where worms are abundant, and they do not
willingly quit these places, so that they have plenty of nourishment and
rest, both circumstances favourable to fat. In wet, open weather they
are often obliged to make long flights, and their food is more
distributed. The jack-snipe feeds upon smaller insects than the snipe:
small white larvæ, such as are found in black bogs, are its favourite
food, but I have generally found seeds in its stomach, once hemp-seeds,
and always gravel. I know not where the jack-snipe breeds, but I suspect
far north. I never saw their nest or young ones in Germany, France,
Hungary, Illyria, or the British Islands. The common snipe breeds in
great quantities in the extensive marshes of Hungary and Illyria; but I
do not think the jack-snipe breeds there, for, even in July and August,
with the first very dry weather, many snipes, with ducks and teal, come
into the marshes in the south of Illyria, but the jack-snipe is always
later in its passage, later even than the double-snipe, or the woodcock.
In 1828, in the drains about Laybach, in Illyria, common snipes were
seen in the middle of July. The first double snipes appeared the first
week in September, when likewise woodcocks were seen; the first
jack-snipe did not appear till three weeks later than the 29th of
September. I was informed at Copenhagen, that the jack-snipe certainly
breeds in Zealand, and I saw a nest with its eggs, said to be from the
island of Sandholm, opposite Copenhagen, and I have no doubt that this
bird and the double-snipe sometimes make their nests in the marshes of
Holstein and Hanover. An excellent sportsman and good observer informs
me, that, in the great royal decoy, or marsh-preserve, near Hanover, he
has had ocular proofs of double-snipes being raised from the nest there;
but these birds require solitude and perfect quiet, and, as their food
is peculiar, they demand a great extent of marshy meadow. Their stomach
is the thinnest amongst birds of the scolopax tribe, and, as I have said
before, their food seems to be entirely the larvæ of the tibulæ, or
_congenerous_ flies.


Footnote 1:

  From Don Juan, Canto XII. Stanza CVI.

            “And Angling, too, that solitary vice,
              Whatever Isaac Walton sings or says:
            The quaint old cruel coxcomb in his gullet
            Should have a hook and a small trout to pull it.”

Footnote 2:

  The Friend, page 303, by S. T. Coleridge.

Footnote 3:

  I have known a person who fished with him at Merton, in the Wandle. I
  hope this circumstance will be mentioned in the next edition of that
  most exquisite and touching Life of our Hero, by the Laureate, an
  immortal monument raised by Genius to Valour.

Footnote 4:

  I have known the number of spines in the pectoral fins different, in
  different varieties of trout; I have seen them 12, 13, and 14: but the
  anal fin always, I believe, contains 11 spines, the dorsal 12 or 13,
  the ventral 9, and the caudal 21. The smallest brook trout, when well
  and copiously fed, will increase in stews to four or five pounds in
  weight, but never attains the size or characters of lake trout.

  Mr. Tonkin of Polgaron put some small river trout, 2½ inches in
  length, into a newly-made pond. He took some of these out the second
  year, and they were above 12 inches in length; the third year, he took
  one out that was 16 inches; and the fourth year, one of 25 inches:
  this was in 1734. (_Carew’s Survey of Cornwall_, p. 87. Lord de
  Dunstanville’s edition.)

Footnote 5:

  From the food, and the remains of food, found in the stomach of the
  double snipe, I think I have ascertained, that it requires a kind of
  worm, which is not found in winter even in the temperate climes of
  Europe; and that it feeds differently from the snipe. There are
  certainly none found after the end of October in either Illyria or
  Italy; and I believe the same may be said of the end of May, as to
  their summer migration, or their breeding migration. I have opened the
  stomachs of at least a dozen of these birds, and their contents were
  always of the same kind, long slender white hexapode larvæ, or their
  skins, of different sizes, from that of the maggot of the horse-fly to
  one thrice as long. I believe all these insects were the larvæ of
  tibulæ of different species. In the stomach of the common snipe, which
  is stronger and larger, I have generally found earth-worms, and often
  seeds, and rice, and gravel. I conjecture, that, in the temperate
  climates of Europe, most of the aquatic larvæ on which the solitary
  snipe feeds are converted into flies in the late spring and autumn,
  which probably limits the period of their migration. In 1827 the
  solitary snipe passed through Italy and Illyria between the 15th of
  March and the 6th of May. I heard of the first at Ravenna the 17th of
  March, and I shot two near Laybach on the 5th of May; but though I was
  continually searching for them for a fortnight after, I found no more.
  This year they returned from the north early; and I saw some in the
  marshes of Illyria on the 19th of August. In 1828 they were later in
  their vernal passage, and likewise in their return. I found them in
  Illyria through May, as late as the 17th, on which day I shot three,
  and they did not re-appear till the beginning of September. I found
  one on the 3d, and three on the 4th, and twenty were shot on the 7th.

  As this bird is rarely seen in England, I shall mention its
  peculiarities. It is more than one-third larger than the common snipe,
  and has a breast spotted with gray feathers. Its beak is shorter than
  that of the snipe; the old ones have feathers almost pure white in
  their tails, and as they spread them when rising, they are easily
  distinguished by this character from the snipe; but in the young birds
  that I have seen in August, this character was wanting. They are
  usually very fat, particularly the young birds; their weight varies
  from six to nine ounces; but even the fattest ones are rarely above
  seven ounces and a half; and though I have killed more than a hundred,
  I can speak of half-a-dozen only that weighed above eight ounces and a
  half. In spring they are usually found in pairs, the female being
  rather larger, and having a paler breast: in autumn they are solitary.
  They prefer wet meadows to bogs, or large, deep marshes. They usually
  lie closer than snipes, and seldom fly far. Their flight is straight,
  like that of a jack snipe, and they are easily shot.

  Attention to the migrations of birds might, I have no doubt, lead to
  important indications respecting the character and changes of the
  weather and the seasons. The late migration of the solitary snipe this
  year (1828) seems to have been an indication of a wet and backward
  summer in the north of Europe. But to form opinions upon facts of this
  kind requires much knowledge and caution. The perfection of the larvæ
  of the tibulæ on which this snipe feeds depends upon a number of
  circumstances: the temperature of the last year; the period when the
  eggs were laid; the heat of the water when they were deposited, and
  the quantity of rain since. The migration of the solitary snipe is
  only one link in a great chain of causes and effects, all connected,
  and extending from Africa to Siberia.

Footnote 6:

  _Lax_ is the Teutonic word for salmon.

Footnote 7:

  I may mention one remarkable instance as an exception, which has
  recently occurred to me, the 21st of May, 1828. I was fishing in the
  Save, between Wochain and Veldes, in some deep, clear, bright, green
  pools. I caught five or six grayling between 15 and 17 inches long,
  that had all leeches near the tail; they were beautifully coloured,
  and had probably got these parasitic animals after their spawning,
  when they reposed. Of course this was the time when they were in their
  worst season, as they were just beginning to recover from the work of
  generation. At this time they often rose at and refused the fly, but
  there were as yet no large flies on the water. The leech was a small
  greenish dark worm, about an inch or an inch and a half long, like a
  common leech in form and colour.

Footnote 8:

  Sälmling of the Germans.

Footnote 9:

  Benjamin West.

                          Transcriber’s Notes

Some presumed printer’s errors have been corrected, including
normalizing punctuation and capitalization. Inconsistent spelling and
hyphenation has been left as printed unless specifically noted below. In
the original book, some fractions were printed in the form 1 1-2 and
others in the form 1½. These have all been normalized to the form 1½. An
incorrect page number in the Table of Contents has been changed. Further
corrections are listed below.

     p. x hy -> by
     p. 33 he May-fly -> the May-fly
     p. 35 this river it -> this river is
     p. 43 knats -> gnats
     p. 62 autumual -> autumnal
     p. 63 antumn -> autumn
     p. 63 tepemrature -> temperature
     p. 65 Wandel -> Wandle
     p. 80 as it mere -> as it were
     p. 135 lttle -> little
     p. 137 thar -> that
     p. 147 Kilmornack -> Kilmarnock
     p. 150 youself -> yourself
     p. 161 Phyicus -> Physicus
     p. 162 orign -> origin
     p. 168 eggs cannot produced -> eggs cannot produce
     p. 173 I thing -> I think
     p. 185 porends -> portends
     p. 187 sea-guls -> sea-gulls
     p. 192 comfort’s -> comforts
     p. 193 seemes -> seems
     p. 196 graying -> grayling
     p. 197 Noric -> Nordic
     p. 218 abtruse -> abstruse
     p. 226 the all of water -> the fall of water
     p. 231 accquainted -> acquainted
     p. 231 were the eggs are hatched -> where the eggs are hatched
     p. 232 purpose of of -> purpose of
     p. 253 pursue their pray -> pursue their prey
     p. 253 Kliengraben -> Kleingraben
     p. 258 carniverous -> carnivorous
     p. 260 Daunbe -> Danube
     p. 262 pply -> apply
     p. 267 immagined -> imagined
     p. 272 flyfishing -> fly-fishing
     p. 279 coarest -> coarsest
     p. 286 vermillion -> vermilion
     p. 293 morse -> moose
     p. 303 picturesqe -> picturesque
     p. 307 consitutional -> constitutional
     p. 310 wood cocks -> woodcocks

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