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Full text of "An amateur angler's days in Dove Dale, or How I spent my three weeks' holdiay"

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AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S DAYS 
. IN DOVE DALE. 



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AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 
DAYS IN DOVE DALE, 

HOW I SPENT MY THREE 

weeks' holiday. 
(July 24— Aug. 14, 1884.) 



The statesman, lawyer, merchant, man of trade, 
PanUtorthe refuge of some rural shade, 
Where, all hit long anxieties forgot, 
Amid the charms of a uqiioter'd spot, 

He nuy pouch the joy* he thinks he no." 



LONDON: 
i LOW, MARSTON. SEARLE, & RIVtNOTO 



1884. 
{A It righto Twarvtd.) 



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" All the young fish seemed to know that I was one wl 
hud taken out God's certificate, and meant to ban 1 

than replenish the earth. For a cow might come and lt> 
into the water, and put her yellow lips down ; a kiagfiiht 
like a blue arrow, might shoot through the dark alleys or 
the channel, or sit on a dipping withy bough, with his be 

sunk into his breast feathers, and yet no pan 

would scire other fife as it does when a sample of sat 



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DEDICATORY LETTER 

TO MY DAUGHTER AND Sir GRANDDAUGHTER. 

jj^£g Twos with you, my ALICE, that t had 
ifiSfigf many a pleasant ramble in tie woods 
SJfflfij© and bver the rocks which encompass the 
^BBffi winding "Dove; " with you I climbed 
up steep Thorpe Cloud, and scrambled over Bunster; 
with you I caught glimpses of the sweetly flowing 
' ' Wye " at //addon Hall and Rowsley ; and it was 
with yon,, that together we explored its sources and 
encountered Us noxious fumes at Buxton; and as 
for you, my little Lorn a, this small book, tf it serves 
no other purpose, may serve to remind you, when 
you grow older, that once upon a time, when you 
were not yet three years old, you romped with your 
old grandfather and the good dog "Rattier" on the 
green grass under the apple trees ; rode with him on 
the donkeys; and fished with him in the riverl How 
you, like another amateur angler, were fully equipped 
with his •walking-stick for your rod, two yards 
of twine for your line, a pin for your hook, and a 
battered metal minnow for your fish I How you 
laughed and crowed as you throw your line into the 
water, and how gleefully you landed your little tin 
"tout!" To you, my daughter, who sympathized 
with my disasters and laughed at my adventures, 
and so encouraged me to write and print these 
letters; and to you, my smallest of piscatets, I 
dedicate this little volume, in remembrance of our 
pleasant holidays in Dove Dale. 

E.M. 

Sift. it,iK«. 

- K 



" To enjoy thE plenum of doing nothing, one m 
imething. Idle people know nothing of the pleui 



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PREFATORY NOTE 



i Bfif THINK fit to tell thee these follow- 
i &HUu ing truths, that I did neither under- 
JBLSJtl take, nor -write, nor publish, and 
muck less own, this discourse, to please myself; 
and having been too easily drawn to do all to 
please others, as I proposed not the gaining 
of credit by this undertaking, so J would not 
■willingly lose any part of that to which /had 
a Just title before I begun it, and do therefore 
desire and hope, if I deserve not commendation, 
yet I may obtain pardon . . . and I wish the 
reader also to take notice that in writing of 
it I have made myself a recreation of a re- 
creation? 

I, an amateur angler, a humble disciple, 



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vUi PREFATORY NOTE. 

venture to think I may, without too great 
presumption, adopt these words of the great 
master, as my apology for making a little 
book of these very slight sketches of my three 
weeks' experiences as an angler in Dove 
Dale. "If thou be a severe, sour-corn 
plexioned man," or if thou be "a grave and 
busy man," thou wilt not care to read them— 
but whether thou be grave or busy, gentle or 
sour, if thou be an honest angler, I will wish 
" the east wind may never blow when thou 
goest a-fishing." 

If thou, my critic, desirest to put thy hook 
into me, do it, I pray thee, as though thou 
lovest me — remembering how thy master 
taught thee to hook a live frog—harm me as 
little as thou canst, that I may live the 

E. M. 



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AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 
DAYS IN DOVB DALE. 

LETTER No. I. 




■ AM here to angle, not 
, letters about business. Though old 
n years, I am a young, and, there- 
fore, most enthusiastic disciple of Master 
Izaak Walton. You will have a faint idea of 
my enthusiasm when I tell you that I started 
this morning in a steady downpour, at a little 
after eight, to commence operations on the 
trout and the grayling of "Tbe Dove." 
I started equipped in tbe best style possible ; 



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9 AN AMATEUR ANGLERS 

I bad walked five miles yesterday to Ash- 
bourne to buy me a mackintosh. I bad a fly- 
book that Charles Cotton would have envied. 
Every fly that ever flew over the waters of "The 
Dove" is represented in that book. I have a 
rod of the newest pattern, and a crack reel, 
with patent self-acting machinery inside of it. 
I have a line so strong that nothing can break 
it, and yet so light and pliant that it is sup- 
posed to fall upon the water like the gentle 
zephyr, I have a landing net strong enough 
to land a 30 lb. salmon, and yet so light as 
to add no perceptible weight to my equip- 
ment. 

Thus equipped I started, commencing ope- 
rations at the lower end of my three miles of 
water— the southern entrance to the Dale. I 
had received verbal advice as to my method 
of procedure from one of the most deadly 
slayers of trout of modern days. 1 was told 
to fish with a dry ffy, and with a dry fly I com- 
menced. 

First, however, 1 examined the water with 
a critical eye, to see what sort of a fly the 
fish were taking ; but after long and patient 
watching I could discover neither fish nor fly, 
so I selected as a leader a blackish fly, with 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 3 

white wings, called, I believe, " The Coach- 
man," then two others, a dun and a brown, 
whose names 1 forget 

Before I had thrown a dozen times, a man 
in velveteens turned up, and asked for my 
license; having satisfied him, and rewarded 
him besides for his kindness in demanding 
my passport to "The Dove," he asked to 
see my flies. He pronounceij them splendid 
— deadly ; with such flies I may be sure of 
getting back to " The Izaak Walton " with a 
tine dish for dinner. 

Thus encouraged I started afresh, and not 
forgetting the injunction of my piscatorial 
Cromwell to keep my flies dry— wet fly fishing 
being exploded — I began to thrash " The 

How to keep your flies dry in a torrent of 
rain, and whilst throwing on the water, was a 
problem which puzzled me a good deal. The 
way to do it, I was told, was to swing the line 
backwards and forwards constantly, and then 
to drop your fly gently on the top of the water, 
and let him sail quietly down, looking as like 
nature as possible. 

Bearing these instructions in mind, I swung 
away splendidly, and got over half a mile 



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4 AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

of water in ten minutes, but not a rise could 

I get, not a fish could I see. 

By this time I thought it as well just to 
examine my flies to see if I had kept them 
dry or not. To my surprise, when I drew 
the line up pretty close to my eyes, which 
are by no means what they were, not a fly 
was there to be seen. I suppose I must have 
swung them all off ! 

I resolved to be more circumspect in future, 
and after half an hour, in the still pouring 
rain, spent in adjusting a new and splendid 
cast of flies, 1 threw again ; bat unluckily 
I had not considered the spreading branches 
of an oak behind me— my leader was firmly 
fixed in a lofty bough. There was nothing 
for it but to tug away, and chance it 

I had found, by previous experience, that 
sometimes the houghs gave way — sometimes 
the flies. Alas ! in this case my new cast 
was left floating to the breeze on the top of 
the oak, and I had to set to work once more, 
under the oak's friendly shelter, to construct 
a new cast. This feat being accomplished 
in course of time, again 1 commenced busi- 
ness. 

It was now twelve o'clock. I had been at 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 5 

work more than three hours already without 
so much as a single bite or rise to afford me the 
slightest encouragement, and yet 1 believe I 
had done everything that an angler could do to 
insure success. I had been told to keep my 
eyes steadily on the flies when I threw them 
into the water so as to strike in about the 
sixtieth part of a second after the fish had 
given the slightest indication of a desire to 
swallow my fly, but I never once saw such an 
inclination on the part of any fish ; in fact, I 
cannot honestly say that 1 did keep my eyes 
on my flies, for, although I tried my best, no 
sooner had I consigned them to the water than 
they disappeared from my ken altogether, so 
that whether or not any little fish ever came 
up to look at them 1 am quite unable to say. 
Now, if you will believe me, onmy first throw 
with my new cast my attention was distracted 
by a beautifutty-plumaged bird, which flew up 
the stream, and whilst following this charming 
specimen of the feathered tribe, instead of 
watching my flies, I felt a tremendous tug at 

" Here you are at last," thought 1, "perse- 
verance is being rewarded— I at one end of 
the line and a vigorous trout at the other ! 



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6 AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

That young fellow at 'The Izaak' who 
boasted to me this rooming that, with his 
young bride to help him, he had hooked two 
tremendous big ones (which, however, some- 
how managed to 'hook it 'from him), will no 
longer be able to crow over me." 

This, and many another exciting thought, 
rushed through my brain, at this supreme 
moment". Here I am with my trout fast 
enough ; but how am I to get him out? is 
now the problem which exercises me. I 
am quite aware that the landing net is the 
proper thing, but how am I to get it around 
him? 

How can 1 manage my rod, my line, and 
my fish with one hand, and pass my net under 
the fish with the other, and at the same time 
present myself from tumbling down a. steep 
bank into a deep hole ? 

This was a pnzzle. I had been told, and 
I well remembered it, always to keep the 
point of my rod up when landing a fish, hut 
how the deuce cooM I do all these things at 

How could I wind up, let out, play my fish, 
keep the rod up, have the net ready, and pro ' 
tect myself from slipping down the bank, the' 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 7 

rain coming down worse than ever? How 
could one pair of hands attend to all these 
things? 

Alas ! I found myself sliding ; down went 
the point of my rod, and when I lifted it again 
the line was no longer taut— my fish had 
broken his hold, and I was left disconsolate. 

If this were not an isolated fact I should 
have been inclined to argue from it that, in- 
stead of keeping your eyes oh the fly, it is 
better to keep them off it The fish evidently 
has his eye on you and the fly, and the 
moment your eye is off, dash he goes at your 
fly! 

I am sorry I have only this one fact to sup- 
port my new theory ; whilst against it 1 am 
bound to adduce the, perhaps, condemnatory 
fact that I tested my theory by subsequently 
perseveringly keeping my eyes off my flies ; 
but 1 am sorry to say the trout of to-day would 
not be done by that deep ruse. 

I should not have been a true disciple of 
Iiaakhad I given in. Hitherto I had fished 
and walked rapidly ; now I decided to con- 
fine myself to one spot and fish that tho- 
roughly. 

Away across the stream I saw a trout on 



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S AN AMATEUR ANGLERS 

the look-out ; the water was clear, and be was 
the first I had really seen on the feed. Now, 
thought I, for a battle royaL All the arts 
I have ever been taught and all the native 
skill I possess shall be brought to bear upon 
that trout First, I will throw a yard or two 
above htm and let the bait flow gently down 
into his mouth, as it were. 

1 threw, but somehow my three flies had 
got mixed up, and instead of reaching him, 
they fell in a heap far short of him. 

It look me nearly half an hour to disentangle 
those precious flies — the way they have of 
hooking on to each other, of catching hold of 
a knot, of doubling up on themselves, and 
when at last fairly disentangled, of getting 
hold of your hat, or your arms, or your trou- 
sers, is something really wonderful ; but using 
my most powerful glasses, I at last succeeded 
in fairly straightening them out, and got an- 
other throw at my friendly trout, who was 
still there waiting for me. 

This time 1 did get above him, and it was 
really curious to see bow he turned up his eye, 
winked it, in fact, wagged his tail, and allowed 
my tempting flies to pass on. 

I had been advised that it is an excellent 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 9 

plan sometimes, when the occasion serves, to 
cast your fly over to the opposite bank, and 
then humour it gently and innocently down 
off the bank, so that it may fall just like a 
natural fly softly on the water within a foot 
or two of your trout's nose — that is certain 
death; the wisest and most cautious old trout 
that ever was has been caught by such a 
stratagem as that 

Well, here the occasion did serve admirably. 
My trout was just a yard from a gently slop- 
ing bank, and all I had to do was to follow 
the above given advice. 

I^hrew accordingly, and with my usual 
luck caught fast in a sturdy thistle ! 1 did 
not wish to risk another cast by having a fight 
with the thistle and be worsted as 1 had been 
by the oak, so I took a quarter of a mile walk 
to some stepping stones, and when I got up 
to my thistle, 1 was not a little chagrined to 
find that he had already let go my fly, which 
was quietly dangling down the water waiting 
my return. 

1 am sorry to say that I could do nothing 
to allure that sarcastic trout, though I per- 
severed still for many anxious minutes. For 
the present, however, I have given him up, 



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id AN AMATEUR ANGLERS 

though I . hope on another occasion to have a 
try at him again. 

I must now give up. I have bad from five 
to six hours of angling in a pelting, continuous 
storm of rain, and I begin to think myself a 
worthy disciple of the great master, especially 
as my courage is not a whit abated ; but the 
inner man craves for what is not here. 

So absorbed have I been in my occupa- 
tion for the last fire hours, that it only now 
strikes me that nature and I are here alone 
together in the midst of her .most lovely 
scenery, with only two water wagtails to 
keep us company. * 



No habitation then is Hen ; but such 

With a few sheep, with rocks and stone 
That overhead are sailing in the sky. 



Here I could remain for hours were it not . 
for the pelting rain and that inward monitor 
already mentioned. 

So now I have reached "The Iiaak." 
Luncheon waiting me for hours. I could not 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. ir 

touch it. My feet as wet and sloppy as 
water could make them, my felt hat spoilt, 
myself shivering with cold, and with a feeling 
of collapse and congestion which entirely 
prevents my eating or doing anything but 
write these incoherent lines to you. 

It is all very well for poets to talk about 
" taking one's ease at one's inn ; " but it is 
not so easy a thing to feel comfortable even 
there, when therain is pouring and everything 
is so depressing, from the draggled hens and 
geese outside to the grumbling of our better 
halves inside for bringing them to such a 
place and calling it a holiday/ 

I have just received a letter from my friend 
H. M. Stanley, from which, as it bears on 
angling, I venture to quote : — 

" No, I never went > fly-fishing ; it is not in my line ! I 
thonld certainly feel my time was being squandered." (Fly. 
fishing— time squandered 1 what say ye to that, PiscntoreT) 
. . . " By the my, why don't you try the Congo country? 



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LETTER No. II. 

the woods, the plenum wood* in spring, 
L t round the tenpttU ring , 

banks, inhud with flowers. *t 

ATURDAY, July 26, the first of my 
angling experiences, was the wettest 
I have known for many a 'day. I 
have already told you how I fared on that, to 
me, very memorable occasion. It rained 
steadily from 8 a.m. on Saturday till 1 1 a.m. 
on Sunday without intermission. 

The Dale, you know, is a centre of attrac- 
tion for all the country round, and Saturday 
always brings a number of visitors. They 
came in four horse coaches, in "Derby 
dillies carrying six insides," in vans, and 
waggonettes, and traps, all soaked in rain, 
and in rain some of the most adventurous 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 13 

started off for the river ; but most remained 
under the friendly shelter of the hotel. 

Happy youths and maidens, what cared 
they for wind or weather ! They departed as 
they came, in a steady downpour, happy and 
joyous as if in the brightest sunshine. 

Yesterday afternoon, it being tolerably fine, 
I started off to survey, in sunshine, the scenes 
of my previous day's exploits in showers. 

I was accompanied only by my umbrella, 
and having as suddenly become a lover of 
nature as I had become a disciple of Izaak 
Walton, I revelled in the beauties of the ever- 
changing scenery through which I rambled ; 
but now a sad reflection was forced upon me. 
I have been a business man for nearly fifty 
years, alas! 



and during all that time nature and I have 
been for the most part strangers to each 
other ; and now that I meet her in her most 
enchanting beauty, I feel like a bashful lover, 
unable to find a single phrase wherewith to 
address her, or to express my admiration. 
I would advise all young people to study 



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14 AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

the language of nature in their youth, and in 
old age they will be able to hold intelligent 
converse with her. 

" Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, 

Old time is still allying ; 
And thb unt flower that smiles to-day, 

To-morrow may bo dying." 

Here am I, an old man, wandering through 
lovely scenes with a sort of childish delight ; 
but with a feeling of mournful regret that, 
withal, nature and I are strangers. 

How have I neglected her in my youthful 
days ! And how she laughs at me now in my 
old age ! 

" Nifh three store yens employ'd with cencless care 
In catching smoke, aad feeding upon air-" 

1 long to be a botanist,. an artist, a geologist, 
a fern collector, even a genuine piscator! 
1 want to seize nature by some one of her 
many glorious features, and be able to say, 
" Here, at least, thou art mine." 

' " Nature indeed looks prettily in rhyme, 
Streams tinkle sweetly in poetic chime." 

But she evades my grasp. 1 see around 
me green trees, and shrubs, and plants; at 
my feet, a limpid, rippling stream ; far away 
above my head, bare rocks and wood-clad 
heights—but what are these to me? 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 15 

Of ferns I could see none, and if I had 
seen them, how could I distinguish the rare 
from the common ? 

The prevailing plant on the water's margin 
was a large-leafed one — to my ignorant mind 
like rhubarb as one sees it in market gardens, 
and in Covent Garden. It must surely be 
wild rhubarb. 

Thus I wandered through the winding vale 
in childish admiration of the new pictures 
ever opening up before me. 

The most remarkable features of this won- 
derful valley seem to me to be the weird 
spires of grey rock, 

" Wlo»e Blent tagw pomu to Wren," 

every here and there standing up abruptly, 
some of them over a hundred feet above the 
green foliage which lines the hills on either 
side, it does not require much imagination 
to fancy these gigantic rocky pillars to be the 
ruins of some giant's fortress. 

Looking upward, I beheld a picture which 
reminded me of that terrible frontispiece to 
"The Whole Duty of Man," which has 
haunted me from my childhood — it looked so 
like the grim, wide open jaws of death ! 

The « 



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16 AN AMATEUR ANGLERS 

about one hundred and fifty feet almost per- 
pendicularly above me ; but like a trembling 
bird at the gaze of a serpent, I was fascinated. 
I felt bound to ascend that terrible height, 
and be swallowed up by that fearful, widely- 
gaping mouth. 

I scrambled up on my hands and knees, 
holding on now by tufts of grass, now by jut- 
ting rocks, until at length, breathless and 
exhausted, I tumbled headlong into that fear- 
ful monster's jaws ! 

After a lapse of time — 1 know not how 
long — I recovered my breath, and looking 
round, it did not seem to me so grim a place 
as my excited imagination had painted it 

I observed here and there the ends of 
smoked cigars, fragments of tobacco pipes, 
and other mundane things, which sufficiently 
assured me that I was not " the first that ever 
burst " into that silent cave. 

In my case, comparatively speaking, it had 
been "facilis arcensus Averm," but how to 
get down again " hoc opus, hie labor, est ! " 
That was really a trying time for ine, for 
remember I was alone. 

I felt it was an easy matter to break my 
bones in scrambling down those slippery 



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DA YS IN DOVE DALE. 17 

stones ; so I looked upwards and around, 
and at length I spied a side path which 
seemed to lead perpendicularly another hun- 
dred feet or so to the outside top or head of 
the giant's cave, 1 and as it presented jutting 
rocks, tufts of strong-looking grass, and here 
and there a tough young ash plant, I deter- 
mined to try the ascent to the top, in the hope 
of finding my way down the other side of the 
mountain, rather than " retrograde " the way 
I had climbed so far ; and accordingly I set 
to work, but I found this tougher work than 
the first ascent. 

1 had got nearly to the top when the terrible 
thought assailed me, " Suppose there is no 
outlet there 1" To descend the way I bad 
climbed, on looking down I felt to be quite 
beyond my powers. 

In ascending I had prided myself on my 
alpine, youthful agility, but now my poor old 
limbs trembled violently beneath me ; it was 
clear that I could not sleep on that little 
ledge, 1 scorned the idea of shouting for 
assistance, and if I had I do not quite see 

1 I »m fold thai in the guide books this rock is called 
"Reynard's Cave." but I make a point of never looking at 



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i8 AN AMATEUR ANGLERS 

how anybody could come to me ; so straining 
every nerve, I managed to reach a friendly 
young sapling at the very top of the precipice, 
and I landed clear above it on the mountain's 
brow, triumphant, but exhausted in wind and 

After a short interval of rest, I descended 
gradually to the margin of the gently-fl owing 
" Dove." In coming down I had heard some 
crashes in the woods on the opposite hills, and 
on reaching the bottom whom should I see on 
the other side but my old friend the keeper. 

1 "The Rev. Mr. Luigton, Dun of Clogher, in Ireland, 
proposed to ascend on horseback a very Keep precipice,* 
near Reynard's Hole, apparently between three and four 
hundred feet high ; and Miss La Roche, a young lady of 

horse. When they had climbed the rock to a considerable 

tuk imposed upon him, fell under his burden and rolled 



down the steep. 1 


"he dean was precipitated lo the bottom, 




up so bruised and mangled by the fall 




a few days after, and was buried in 


Ash borne church : 


but the young lady, whose descent bat 


been retarded by 


ler hair entangling in a bramble bush 






sensible, and continued » for two days. The horse, more 


fortunale than its 


riders, was but very slightly injured." -- 


William Skiphy' 


A rt ifFfy-FMini . 



* This was the route by which I descended tl 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. i 9 

" Well," said he, " I was surprised to see 
yoif up there !" 

There was just a little something in his 
tone not quite intelligible to me ; whether it 
meant sarcasm at my folly or admiration of 
my manly performance, I was uncertain. 

" How on earth did you get on top of that 
hill?" he added ; and when I told him I bad 
got there through the Ciant's Cave, he only 
said, " I. wouldn't a 1 done it for some- 
After this he waded across the stream, and 
we became quite friendly-like and confi- 
dential. He remarked that the river was in 
capital order, just a little discoloured, and the 
trout were rising famously. 

" It's a curious thing," he said, " but I have 
often noticed, and other people have said the 
same, that fish do rise better, on Sundays 
than on any other days. I suppose they 
get to know that peoplp don't fish on 
Sundays." 

This reminds me of what Master Iiaak 
Walton tells us on the authority of Josephus, 
" that learned Jew," that there is a river in 
Judea, "that runs swiftly all the six days 
of the week, and " (reversing the conduct 



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jo AN'AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

of the fishes) " stands still and rests all their 
Sabbath." • 

A pretty bird flew up and skimmed along 
the water. It was the same kind of bird as 
the one which on Saturday caused me to lose 
my only fish. 

" Is that a kingfisher?" said I. " No," he 
replied, " that's a water outel." 

I remarked that 1 had also seen a little 
bird, strange to me, ahout the size and colour 
of a lark, but with a white back, now skim- 
ming the water, and now pretending to pick 
up insects on the grass. 

" 1 don't know the proper name of that 
bird, but from your description I should think 
it must be what I call a ' dipper.' And I 
believe that both he and the water ouzel are 
about the worst fish poachers we have in 
these parts. People in other parts wouldn't 
believe that we had water ouzels here, and I 
remember some ypars ago a clergyman from 
Warwickshire sent a messenger specially to ■ 
me to get him a brace of water ouzels. I 
soon got him three, and he was so pleased 
that he made me a handsome present, but I 
have my ideas that it wasn't much to what he 
gut by those birds. I have heard that, not- 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 31 

withstanding his being a clergyman, he had 
made a bet of ten pounds with another man 
who declared there were no water ouzels on 
' The Dove,' and of course he won it" ' 

Thus we chatted along. I asked him if he 
could tell me how to get a good appetite, and 
he said that if I could not get a good appetite 
for dinner after such a climb as be had seen 
me perform, he could offer me no better pre- 
scription. For himself, he always did with 
one good meal a day ; "but then," says be, 
" I generally take from five to six pints of 
beer a day, and I find it does me good. I 
am on my feet about these hills and dales 
from daylight to dark, and I don't know as 
there is ever anything the matter with me." 

I should think not, indeed, for a more 
jolly, genial picture of good health I never 
came across in my life— a splendid example 

1 There treats [0 be * specially about the neck leathers of 
the real outel which mark its character i and these feathers 
are found on "The Dove " «mzei. Maunder identifies It 
with "The Dipper; "if so, the keeper was wrong as to that 
little white-hacked bird. The other kind, 1 find, b catted 

the Ring ttarl, of which "the breastof 

guished by a i 
thenc ' 



b, Google 



ta DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 

of what good air, good ale, and outdoor 
exercise can make of a man. How I envy 
htm ! For here am I, a poor valetudinarian 
(to say nothing of being a sexagenarian), who 
dare not touch a glass of ale ; and now after 
this six miles' walk and scramble over that 
awful cave without any appetite whatever. 

They seem to get all sorts of people at this 
hotel There are, I dare say, some like me, 
that "ha'e meat, an carina eat," and also some 
" as can eat " — like a company of ladies 
(mostly foreigners, judging by their names), 
under whose inscriptions in the visitor's book 
some wag has written : — 

" They at: » much, and they drank to much. 

And u little they cared to pay ; 
That it was well for this hotel 

When this lot went away." 

But I must be off. The trout are waiting for 
me with open mouths ; the water is in better 
"fettle" than ever, so perhaps I shall tell you 
of my success in another letter. 



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LETTER No. III. 

"North. You never beat nc at the fishing, air, an. 

1 killed that diiy-in hair the time-double the numb 

" StifpJtttd. But wecht, air — wecht, air — wecht— an 

wean kens that in fiahin for a wager, wecht wi 




THINK I told you in my last that 
the open-mouthed trout were wait- 
ingforme. Theywere! It had been 
a fine, bright morning ; but when I gat down 
to the water, the water came down on me, as 
usual, in torrents. 

1 started about three o'clock, well covered 
as to my back with my new mackintosh ; but 
my poor feet and legs were badly off, and 



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H AN AMATEUR ANGLERS 

were soon in a sloppy, floppy state ; but what 
cared I? I began down at the bridge, and 
worked up stream, casting three flies. I had 
a notion, derived, I believe, from such an ex- 
perienced Mentor as yourself, that it was the 
proper thing to do. 

Fish, you know, generally lie with their 
heads up stream ; so if you throw a good way 
up and let your flies float gendy down, they 
naturally fall into the. open-mouthed trout. 
Well, I tried that plan all yesterday after- 
noon ; this time I did not hurry along. I 
followed the great master's advice. Unlike 
Peveril of the Peak, I took heed to old Izaak 
Walton's recommendation to "Ash the 
streams inch by inch ;" but, nevertheless, 1 
gave preference to the spots "where the 
stream broke sparkling over a stone, or where, 
gliding away from a rippling current to a still 
eddy, it streamed under the projecting bank, 
or dashed from the pool of some low cas- 
cade." 

Ah! those "low cascades" — there are 
scores of them in the three miles winding of 
"The Dove;" how fondly I fished those 
" rippling currents." I was not in the least 
discouraged by getting no nibble— not the 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 35 

least indication on the part of the fish that 
they were conscious of the tempting flies I 
put before them. 

I had met a venerable old man with an 
immense fish basket, landing net, and all the 
other needful impedimenta. He might have 
been Izaak himself, so deftly did he handle 
his tools. He asked me how I fared, and I 
told him that I had caught nothing, but 1 
meant to persevere. He, too, had not been 
blessed with a nibble. 

Further on I encountered that young fellow 
and his charming bride. They had fished all 
the morning and were now returning trium- 
phant, having had four rises and two bites ! 
But this successful young angler rather de- 
spises trout fishing. 

" Salmon fishing is the sport I like," said 
he. " A thirty pounder at the end of your line, 
you know, that's the sort of thing for me ! " 

I felt encouraged, determined, in spite of 
pelting, rain, to persevere, and so I plodded 
on. I should tell you that my genial friend 
the keeper had put me up to a dodge. 

You will remember that just above the point 
where the stepping-stones are, and opposite 
to where the old woman keeps her donkeys, 



t,, Google 



a6 AN AMATEUR ANGLERS 

the left side of the river is fenced off by a 
strong iron gate, with notice-board warning 
intruders to go away ; but I had the right 
(useless without the Ley) to pass this barrier 
at any time. 

" The gate is not really locked," said he ; 
" it sticks in a peculiar way, and it can only be 
opened by a secret trick," which he imparted 
to me. Unluckily it happened that I had not 
quite learnt the trick. I thought he bad told 
me to lift the gate lightly off its hinges and so 
pass through, deftly dropping it on again. 

So I marched up to the gate and tried the 
little dodge ; but, alas I the gate is made of 
iron, and must weigh, at least, half a ton ! I 
lifted and strained with all my might, but not 
a bit wouldit move. 

I had imagined from the way the brawny 
keeper spoke of it that I had only to touch 
it with my little finger and up it would go 1 
But brawny and muscular as he is, I defy him 
and another man to boot to lift that gate off 
its binges ; and yet he could not have in- 
tended to deceive me. I must havemislearnt 
my lesson. 

Chagrined and disappointed, 1 had to re- 
turn to the stepping-stones and recross the 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 27 

stream. I was disappointed, because that 
left side is level and easy travelling, whilst 
the right is nigged, rocky, and unequal ; be- 
sides, on the left, the wind would have helped 
me to lay my flies just where I wanted them 
to go, whilst on the right it only baffled me. 
In my perplexity the donkey-boy came to 

" If you want to go to the other side, I can 
open the gate," said he. 

" Certainly I do," I replied. My donkey- 
.boy, without key or other appliance, had only 
to cry " open sesame," and open it flew. I re- 
warded him so handsomely that he voluntarily 
exclaimed, " I shall be gone before yon return, 
but I will leave it open for you," for which I 
thanked him, and went on my way. 

Above all others, " The Dove" certainly is 
" the brook" which everlastingly sings— 

" I chatter, chatter, as I flow 

For hicd may come and men may go, 
Butlflowonforever." 

Men do come here now as they did in 
Izaak's time, and as he himself came ; and, 
alas ! men do go, as he has gone. I, too, 
must leave soon ; but before I go let me pause 



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iS AN AMATEUR ANGLES' S 

for a moment to inform those of my readers 
who know not this lovely spot, that " The 
Dove " is not like other rivers. 1 

" It winds about, and in and out, 



And here and Lhere a grafting." 

It runs in a perfect zigzag — straight from 
each zag to each zig — then suddenly turning an 
abrupt corner straight on to another zag, and 
so on, each stretch running for two or three 
hundred yards, each side lined with limestone 
mossy rocks and steeple-like spires, or wood- 
clad hills coming sheer down to the water's 
edge, leaving only a narrow space varying 
from one to ten yards for Piscator's opera- 
tions. 

In each of these stretches are two or three 
cascades, which extend quite across the 
stream like natural mill-dams, forming pretty 
waterfalls of 3 ft or 4 ft deep. It is at the 
foot of these litde cataracts that the hopes of 
the experienced angler lie : here, if anywhere, 
will you catch your wary trout. 

1 Sir Oswald Matey, Sari., says " The Dove " was so 
it is so called from the swiftness of its current. 



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DA YS IN DOVE DALE. 29 

It was here, in one of these musical swirls, 
that I, the youngest disciple, hooked and 
landed my first trout. Ah! the excitement of 
that happy moment, when to my utter as- 
tonishment I felt a heavy tug at my rod ! 
" Pooh ! another weed," I cried. 

But it moves— it dashes down the stream — 
it dashes up again to the cascade — it shows 
now and again in the frothing water a lovely 
pink and yellow belly, 

It is not a weed, it is a splendid trout r 
Shade of Izaak ! what shall I do ? How am 
I to keep hold of him ? He dashes away here 
and there, now under the rock, now away off, 
and for a second or two he lies under some 
thick flowering weeds, then off again ! What 
ought I to do ? 

All my theoretical lessons have gone out 
of my head except this solitary one, " Keep 
the point of your rod up." I kept it up. I 
gradually wound up, but let out again as my 
fish displayed a disposition to come in or go 

I had, on a previous occasion, found -a 
landing net a quite unnecessary encumbrance, 
so now that I sorely needed it I had 
not brought it with me. By degrees my trout 



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30 AN AMATEUR ANGLERS 

seemed to become exhausted by the unequal 
struggle, and for a moment lay up on a tuft 
of grass nearly out of the water, apparently, 
to take breath, 

I thought it best not to give him time to re- 
gain his strength, so 1 gently lifted him 
straight up from his grassy bed and threw 
him on to another not quite so congenial to 
him ; but I had him safe. 

I had got him only by the skin of his teeth, 
for he fell on terra firma freed from the hook, 
and I was puzzled to know which of my 
doughty flies had performed the deadly deed. 
Thus encouraged — I may say, perhaps, un- 
duly elated — inch by inch I flogged that 
pretty pool, but with no more success, so on 
1 went to another cascade ; and there, to my 
perfect bewilderment, I hooked and landed 
another trout, under circumstances so exactly 
like the first that it would be waste of words 
to redescribe them. Need I say how proud 
1 was? I felt like Sir Francis Chantrey 
with his two salmon. 1 

1 Sir Walter Scott sayi that when Sir F. Chantreycaugrit 

exceeded twentyfold that which he felt an the production 
c( any of the masterpiece* which have immortalized him." 



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DA YS IN DOVE DALE. 31 

I saw a party of ladies coming along on 
the opposite side in mackintoshes and under 
umbrellas, (for rain does not keep ladies in- 
doors in these parts,) so with pardonable 
vanity I laid my brace of trout on a con- 
spicuous bank where they could easily see 
them, and no doubt remark, " See, there is a 
true Waltonian ; he knows how to do it ! " 

Well, now I perceive a wet and dripping 
angler coming down the other side. " What 
sport, my friend?" cried I. "I have toiled 
all day," he replied, "and have caught 
nothing. Not a rise, not a bite ! How fares 
it with you ? " 

" Oh," said I, " poorly, very poorly, only 
these two half-pounders. Nice little fish, are 
they not?" 

Then he asked the name of the fly I was 
using, and I at once told him, for I am not 
selfish in such matters, that my little " honey 
dun bumble " had done these deeds, and I 
advised him to go over to Foster's, of Ash- 
bourne, who would furnish him to his heart's 
content. 

And now I started homewards ; but — 
could one believe it .'—that rascally donkey- 
boy had net left the iron gate open ! What in 



t,, Google 



3» AN AMA TEUR ANGLERS 

the name of Izaak am I to do ? I cannot get 
over it, it is lined with spikes. I cannot get 
round it, there is a high stone wall, and the 
water is 6 ft. deep on one side, and the rock 
rises abruptly for a hundred feet on the other. 
I cannot get through it, for how am I, a weak 
old man, to lift a gate of half a ton ? Why did 
I not pay more attention to the keeper's in- 
struction ? Why did I not watch that donkey- 

1 must puzzle out the secret for myself; 
and 1 did, after endless exertion, find it out. 
It is very simple when you know how. But 
I don't intend to betray my friendly keeper's 

How I astonished my friends and my 

neighbours, and especially how 1 aroused 
the admiration— not to say,the envy— of that 
young fellow and his charming bride, when 
I dangled my beauties before tbeir eyes, I 
need not relate. Two hours after my trout 
had been disporting themselves in "The 
Dove " were they placed before me at dinner, 
cooked in the way they only know how at 
" The Izaak.? 

I have tasted trout from all parts many a 
time, but never before have I tasted anything 



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DA YS IN DO VB DALE. 33 

to equal the delicate, delicious flavour of these 
of my own catching. 1 I must say that the 
strangers in the hotel respected my prowess 
far more than did my own familiar friends ; 
even the wife of my bosom slyly inquired if 
I had caught them with a " silver hook." I 
rejected the imputation with scorn. 

1 The flavour of" Dure "Owl is noted far and wide, and 



the trait m the 


neie/hbourb]£ "Maui raid," which 


can dot be 


compared with 




latter hat 






.uise of that river. What taysoui 


old Friend 


Charles Cotton 






"Pile. And 






■DoveC 






" vutt. 1 th; 


11k it to be the ben trout rivet in 


England ; 


and am » far i> 






1 could lieep it 


to myself, I would not exchange 




for all the land 


it runs over, u be totally debarred from it. 




compliment tn the river speaks 




lover of the art 


of angling. . . . And now, sir, 1 


will dress 


y an this dish of fish for your dinner. . . . Now, 






a titrable cook, or no? 




" Vutt. So good a one that I did never eat so good fish in 


my life. Toil 


fob it infinitely better than any I . 




of the kind in 




{ than ont 



b, Google 



LETTER No. IV. 



CTTjgS AST night I had another (urn at the 
BBJjB river, but nothing came of it more 
w^^fcl remarkable than the usual good 
wetting. I started, it is true, with sanguine 
expectations, inspired partly by my grand 
success of the day before, and partly by the 
advice of an aristocratic friend whom I met 

On reaching the water where the wooden 
bridge crosses it, I saw a man leisurely re- 
clining on the rails, and seemingly in blissful 
contemplation of the lovely scenery around 
him. He quietly approached, and with that 
marked courtesy and civility which at once 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 35 

create good fellowship in all true disciples, he 
accosted me. 

My first glance assured me that he was a 
man of substance. He was clad in a band- 
some suit of Scottish tweed, his cheek was 
bronzed, and he looked the embodiment of 
good health and substantiality. 

" What sport f " said he v " As yet I have 
not wet my line," I replied. 

" May I, as an old sportsman, have a look 
at your Hies ? I am well acquainted with all 
the waters for many miles around here, and 
if you want a day's real sport I will gladly give 
you four miles of the very best water here- 
abouts." 

" Thank you, very much indeed," said J— 
and to myself I said, " I was right in my first 
impression: thisistrulyamanofbroadacres 
and generous impulses." 

He examined my flies with the look of a 
master. " Pooh," said he, " those flies are 
perfectly useless for this water, the gut is too 
coarse, and such flies as these are never seen 
here. You may fish till doomsday with such 
things and catch nothing." 

1 expressed my surprise with much humility 
that this should be so, seeing that tbey had 



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36 AN AMATEUR ANGLERS 

been supplied by the most celebrated maker 

in this neighbourhood. 

"Ah," said he, drawing out a targe pocket- 
book, " look at these, my friend. That's the 
fly for grayling in the early morning, this for 
trout in the evening, and this for all-day fish- 
ing for either trout or grayling. Nothing can 



" As I have remarked," said he, ** if you 
want a real good day I'll give you my card. 
You can write to me and 111 fix it for you. 
Would you care to try a cast of my flies ? " 
he continued. 

I thanked him heartilyjandsaid"! should." 

" There's my card ; and as 1 hope you will 
be a good customer another day, 1 will only 
charge you eigh teen-pence for this cast, and 
two shillings for a dozen of my choicest flies 
warranted to kill." 

1 looked at my friend's card, and then I 
discovered that my great landed proprietor 
" having made the gentle art his intense study 
for years," supplies the best of flies dressed 
from nature by himself at two shillings a 
dozen, &c. 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 37 

I was rather sold, but still had confidence 
in these nature-copied (lies, and I worked 
away with my new cast. 1 got two rises, and 
one 4 oz. trout, which I returned to his native 
element, and then I returned home with my 
usual wet feet ; and so my third day's angling 
was over. 

This morning I decided to give the trout a 
rest, devoting it instead to a quiet contempla- 
tive walk. I strolled over to the pretty village 
of 11am, and sauntering by the margin of the 
river " Manifold," I again, encountered my 
little friend the water ouzel ; this time he was 
not at all shy, he hopped along from stone to 
stone, now dipping his head into the water, 
now disappearing for a few seconds altogether, 
then emerging ' he would make me a few 
pretty curtsies, displaying his white bib and 
tucker just like a national school girl. What 
an industrious little chap he is — he works as 

1 Accordi n g to Maunder, Bewick saya this little hird 
" possesses the power of walking in quest of prey on the 
pebbly bottom of a river." Walerton, commenting on this 
statement, says that from the specific grairityof the bird this 
il ai impossible as that human beings should rise into the air. 
Be this as it may, 1 distinctly aver that I sax the bird dive 



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38 AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

hard and perseveringly as the starlings on 

my lawn «r in my mulberry tree ! 

I calculate that if every time he pecks the 
moss -covered rocks in the river, or dips his 
head in the water, he kills an insect or a fish, 
he must have swallowed no less than i,Soo 
articles of food, insect or fish, in the half hour 
he gave me the pleasure of his company. 

He not only went up the water with me 
from the point where the river touches the 
road up to the bridge — but he followed me 
back again to the same point, giving meevery 
now and then his jerky little curtsey, which 
said plainly enough " I'm pleased to see you, 
stranger, in these parts. Good bye '." and 
away be sailed, just skimming the water in 
his rapid flight. 

No sooner had I parted with my pretty little 
companion than I heard a strange humming 
in the air that sounded like distant music. 
Looking up, I found myself beneath a wide- 
spreading sycamore, and looking down I was 
surprised to see the ground covered with dead 
and dying bumble-bees. 

I wonder if any of my apiarian readers 
can explain to me the cause of this strange 
slaughter. Had they over-laden themselves 



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DA YS IN DOV£ DALE. 39 

with honey, or been surfeited or poisoned by 
it? Or, had some envious wasps or bees 
robbed them of their spoils, and then done 
them to death ? 

" Sic vos non vobismellificatis, apes" — not 
for yourselves do ye gather honey, O ye foolish 
bumble-bees ! Or 1 — when ye consume it your- 
selves it seems you become intoxicated, tum- 
ble helplessly on the flinty road, break your 
backs or necks, and so perish ! 

Vou see, I have lived so long in the great 
city that all such little things as these, which 
are beneath the notice of country people, are 
novel and curious to me. 

July 31. — Now is the winter of my discon- 
tent made glorious summer ; Jupiter Pluvius 
has given place to sunshine, and in the even- 
ing I ventured forth once more, rod in hand, to 

allure if possible some stray denizen of "The 

My record hitherto, as you know, has been, 
with one memorable exception, a record of 
utter failure. Again, 1 am sorry to say, it is 
not the story of success. I got one rise, that 
was all 

For a young and ardent disciple, my even- 



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40 AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

ing, I assure you, was not one to inspire en- 
thusiasm. Canst thou feel very amiable, oh, 
gentlest of readers, after being caught seven 
times in seven successive throws in bush or 
bramble, tree or root ? — and what if thy 
eighth throw lands thy "bumble" in the 
midst of a mass of young and stalwart nettles ? 

That fate and worse befell me in my even- 
ing's ramble. I have been told (indeed, it is 
an old axiom) to "grasp your nettle" if you 
would not be stung by it. As there seemed 
to be no other way of unhooking my unlucky 
hook, I did grasp my nettle with a vengeance, 
and never again will I believe in that old 
axiom ; my belief now and evermore will be 
that the harder you grasp it the more vilely 
will it sting. My tingling, smarting fingers 
for many hours after the event sufficiently 
attest the truth of this assertion. 

But another and far more trying adventure 
befell me on this singular excursion. 

"Why," I have been led to ask myself, 
"should things happen to me, a citizen of 
famous London town, in my rare country 
rambles, such as never in the lifetime of one 
in a hundred of country people happen to 
them?" Did you, my friend, ever, in your 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 41 

backward throw, hook your fly firmly into a 
tough twig on a wasp's nest ? 

By what strange fatality, then, is it that I 
of all piscators in the world should have come 
upon one in this strange way ? " Piscator ic- 
tus sapiet" I remember the sting of wasps 
from my schoolboy days. I may be very 
green and innocent in things rural and pisca- 
torial, but I do hope that not one of my 
readers has thought me such a fool as to walk 
up to that twig to release my hook. No ; I 
did what any other sane person would do : I 
threw down my rod and ignominously bolted 
across the meadow pursued by a dozen of 
these little winged beasts. 

One by one they dropped off, five, four, 
three, two ; the last pursued me to the bitter 
end. I threw off my hat, hoping he would 
think that was me; not a bit of it 

Fortunately, it is more than six weeks since 
my head underwent the operations of a bar- 
ber; consequently, my back hair is unusually 
long. I felt a fizzle-whizzle on the hollow 
which represents my bump of firmness ; with 
all my might I struck that bump and smashed 
the little wretch before he had time to un- 
sheath his horrid " beggonei." 



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4= A.V AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

But my difficulties are not yet over. How 
am I to regain my rod, my flies, and my net ? 
I slowly returned to the neighbourhood of the 
nest, dodging cautiously behind the bushes 
till I approached the handle of the rod. 1 
then noiselessly unwound a quantity of line, 
and then quietly withdrew the rod till I had 
got it full fifty feet from that horrid twig ; 
then 1 gave a sharp tug, fully determined to 
sacrifice anything and everything. I tugged 
and pulled, and the wasps became angry 
again ; neither twig nor fly, neither gut nor 
line would give way. I pulled again, a long 
pull and a strong pull, and then came away a 
part of the twig with my bumble sticking in it. 

I ought to have mentioned before, that on 
Wednesday evening, Piuator major arrived ; 
(ha has been so named to distinguish him 
from the humble minor who writes these 
lines). On Thursdayhe made his firstattack 
on "The Dove," and captured 2j brace of 
fine trout.- On Friday the major and I 
started, filled with grand expectations, to fish 
the highly- preserved waters of "The Mani- 
fold ; " but it is not wise 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 43 

We had been told that that river swarms with 
grayling and trout. Probably it does, but 
this happened to be a Friday, a fast day with 
fishes — it is their day for being eaten, not to 
eat ; at all events, they abstained from flies, 
and doubtless betook themselves to wonns. 

The major tried all the arts of which he is 
an easy master, he waded up and he waded 
down, but not a rise could he get — neither 
could I. It was rather tantalizing, for we 
could see fish in abundance, but, as I have 
said, they were on the fast. We returned in 
the evening somewhat crestfallen. 

Let me here mention a very curious inci- 
dent which happened to a brother angler, 
Piscator majority name. On his first expedi- 
tion he lost his" collar" in the branches of an 
ash overhanging a deep hole ; his second fly 
was hooked, and the leader was thus left 
hanging a few inches above the water. 

That dangling bait attracted the attention 
ofa wandering bat, and on revisiting the spot 
next morning, like Little Bo-Peep, "there we 
espied our bat all tied and hung in that tree 
to dry." We found him dead, suspended 
-'twist wind and water to that little hook. 

How that foolish little bat must have 



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44 DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 

struggled and splashed and dashed before he 
finally succumbed ! The gut is of the finest 
gossamer, and one would have thought be 
could easily have snapped it or the twig ; but 
perhaps his death will be better explained by 
the pliancy of the bough just on the top of 
the water. He probably met the unusual fate 
of being drowned as well as banged. 

Since this happened a similar incident came 
under the major's notice in his own lake. He 
had left a rod and line with flies in a boat 
house, and to one of the flies a rat somehow 
got himself hooked by a foot ; he managed 
to break the gut above the flies, and got away- 
trailing the flies after him. tn this way he 
scrambled over the side of a boat which was 
lying at the lakeside ; here one of the hooks 
caught in the side of the boat, and the poor 
rat was held suspended over the water,— he 
too must have been drowned as well as 
hanged. 



..Google 



LETTER No. V. 



ould gie > 



if ibi n 



pLeesur to sec turn playin' a pounder wi' a single hair. After 
the tint twa-three rushes are ower, he seems to wile them 

whare they Lie in the sunshine as if they were asjeep." — 



g ATURDAY, August 2, was an off 
" day with me as to angling. The 
major plied his arc alone, and 
brought home 6ve brace of fine trout For 
my part, as I have become so confidential, 
you may like to know what 1 do down here 
when I am not fishing. I will tell you. 

Saturday was a lovely day, so 1 and my 
daughter took a drive across country, and a 
pleasant drive it was. Buoyant and light- 
hearted we drove over hill and dale till we 
came to " The Peacock " at Rowsley, hoping 



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46 A.V AMATEUR ANGLERS 

there to take up our abode till Monday, and 
leisurely explore the region round about. 

Quaint old " Peacock," the paradise of 
anglers 1 but we were forbidden to rest in thy 
ancient chambers. 

" Full, quite full ! " was the somewhat stem 
repjy to our modest inquiry. In truth, I 
thought the good landlady regarded me with 
some degree of suspicion ; my personal ap- 
pearance, perhaps, was not quite up to the 
aristocratic standard of" The Peacock." 

Until that moment it had not occurred to 
me that my outer man was not attractive. 
You will remember how my felt hat was 
damaged, and my coat and trousers had a 
sort of moth-eaten appearance, from the 
numerous little circular holes out of which I 
had dug so many of my troublesome flies. I 
thought I had given my old hat an air of 
respectability by twisting a couple of fly casts 
round it ; but on the whole I am afraid ap- 
pearances were against me. 

However, my daughter's pleasant face 
seemed to reassure our good hostess ; that 
stern, firm look about the lips gave way to 
pleasant smiles. She said we would be certain 
to find rooms at the "Edensor Hotel," and 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 47 

kindly advised us to drive on at once to 
Chatswoith, which on Saturdays is closed to 
the public at one. It was then half-past 
twelve, and the distance four miles. So we 
started, and got to the entrance just-in time.- 

Whilst we explored that wonderful mansion 
and grounds, we sent our coachman oji to 
Edensor to engage apartments ; but it being 
so close upon Bank Holiday, the " Edensor 
Hotel " had suddenly filled to overflowing, so 
we drove back to the picturesque, ivy-clad 
" Peacock : '— a charming old hostelry, beloved 
by anglers, who make it their headquarters 
for fishing "The Wye" and- other streams ; it 
is also a pleasant resting-place for visitors to 
Haddon HalL 

And just such another hotel is "The Eden- 
sor " at Chatsworth, which, in- like manner, 
commands the patronage of" The Derwent" 
anglers and Chatsworth sight-seers. 

Of this inn Bosweli, in his Life of Dr. 
Johnson, writes : " I cannot omit a curious 
circumstance which occurred at Edensor Inn, 
close by Chatsworth, to survey the magnifi- 
cence of which I had gone considerably out 
of my road to Scotland. The inn was then 
kept by a very jolly landlord, whose name, I 



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48 AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

think-, was Malton. He happened to in 
that ' the celebrated Dr. Johnson had been 
in hb house.' I inquired who this Dr. John- 
son was. ' Sir,' said he, ' Johnson, the great 
writer ; Oddity, as they call him. He 's the 
greatest writer in England.' My friend . . . 
laughed a good deal at this representation of 
himself. 1 ' 

We lunched at "The Peacock," visited 
Haddon Hall, and of course were enchanted 
by that wonderful old mansion and its curious 
contents, and the lovely scenery with which 
it is surrounded. We had not time for a 
ramble by the beautiful "Wye," which there 
looked sweet and pellucid, as if nothing had 
happened to its head waters. (What a 
different impression did those head waters 
convey to us when the next day we en- 
countered them in the neighbourhood of 
Buxton !) 

We intended to take train for Matlock, 
but on reaching the station at a quarter to 
five we found the four-o'clock train for Buxton 
just starting with (as the exasperated pas- 
sengers said) its usual punctuality. So we 
went to Buxton instead of Matlock, and 
there we remained till Monday. Buxton 



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DAYS IN DOVE DA LM. 49 

is a delightful place — that is all I need say 
about it 

Being interested in the lovely river we 
had caught a glimpse of at Haddon Hall, we 
here explored the sources of " The Wye," the 
chief of which is in a remarkable cavern called 
Poole's Hole- These are three in number, 
called respectively /, Thou, He, and when 
this trinity becomes unity its singular names 
become the plural We, now changed to Wye. 
At least that is the origin of its name as given 
to me by a gossiping neighbour at the hotel. 
I cannot vouch for its accuracy. 

We observed in the peat- or iron-fed 
yellowish water of the stream, which, in pass- 
ing through the conservatory gardens, is made 
very ornamental, a goodly number of fish 
rising. Subsequently we took a southerly 
walk, following the river with the intention of 
visiting a romantic spot called "Ashwood 
Dale ;" but half a mile below the town we 
were stopped by the abominable stench which 
met us from the river. 

However healthy Buxton may be from its 
elevated position and the natural salubrity 
of its air, these natural qualities must most 
assuredly be modified by this horrible efflu- 



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SO AN AMATEUR ANGLERS 

vium, which seems to arise partly from the 
gas works, but, as it struck me, more from 
the town sewage. 

From a piscatorial point of view, the con- 
version of " The Wye " into an open sewer and 
receiver of gas emanations must be destruc- 
tive to the fish for many a mile. How far it 
counteracts the good effect of the mineral 
waters on human beings, I will leave the 
Buxton doctors to say. 

If the river below the gas works sends 
forth stinks normally like those of last Sun- 
day afternoon, the value of Buxton as a 
health resort must surely be greatly dimi- 
nished ; and invalids, unconscious of this 
disturbing element, may wonder why the 
Buxton air is not doing them as much good 
as its reputation may have led them to 
expect. 1 

1 T was not aware when this was written thai this awful 
stench was a matter of notoriety, and bad already been 
written about is " The Field " by Mr. Francis Francis, and 
elsewhere. My testimony may therefore carry additional 
weight from its spontaneity . 

With reference to these remarks Mr. Hague, the engineer 
of the works at Buxton, writes to" The Fishing Gazette": — 
" The Buxton Local Board are busily engaged upon the 
construction of sewage disposal works in Ashwood, and 
iu the course of six weeks we crust the sewage treatment 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 5 f 

(On reading this letter in "The Fishing 
Gaiette," Mr. Alan Bagot, Consulting En- 
gineer of the Trent Conservancy, sent me 
his official report on The Pollution Enquiry at 
Buxton, as regards " The Wye." That report 
is dated September 27, 1882, two years ago, 
and it offers several valuable suggestions to 
remedy the evil. My own impression, derived 
from half an hour's walk, is amply confirmed 
by this report From it I learn that one 
witness "ascribed her husband's death en- 
tirely to smell from the river;" another 
states that fish have been killed by the 
sewage, and are getting scarcer every day. 
Another witness says that he " does not think 
the smell of the river so bad as its state .'" 
Good heavens ! then what must its state be? 
It is very satisfactory to learn from a note 
from Mr. Bagot, that " the works to remove 
the sewage are very nearly completed." He 
also informs me that "gas water does not 
enter the river" Well, I had only my nose 
to guide me, and with that organ I did not 
attempt a close analysis of the various smells. 

will be is full operation. . . . I trust that if your com- 



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5* AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

I only assumed there must be a mixture of 
gas because the gas works are close to the 
river. To sewage alone, then, must be 
attributed the evils complained of.) 

On Monday afternoon we returned to " The 
Iiaak Walton," and I began to think it time 
I had caught another fish! I had become 
rather tired— not to say ashamed— of con- 
stantly replying to kind inquiries, such as 
"What sport?" "Ohl nothing, nothing ! 
Water too bright and low, you know ; fish 
not on the feed, &c. Caught a fine brace" 
(first it was " yesterday," then " two or three 
days ago "), but now that it is more than a 
week since I caught that precious couple, I 
think it is about time to let them drop. 

In the evening we again invaded "The 
Manifold " waters. The major captured two 
and a half brace of good fish. I hooked 
half a brace, and lost him. 

Yesterday we devoted to " The Dove," but 
instead of carrying my rod 1 armed myself 
with a walking-stick, determined to take a 
lesson in fly-casting by watching the action 
of the major. 

It was really a " pure pleesur " to see how 
tenderly he laid his flies on the water, in 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 53 

amongst the bushes and trees, between and 
over the mossystones and rocks— how daintily 
he handled his fish when he had firmly hooked 
him. He captured* fine grayling of 1 lb. 301. 
and a brace of trout after a morning of toil in 
the broiling sun. 

My waning ardour was revived by this 
piscatorial lesson, as I thought how 1 would 
do the same, so in the evening we again 
attacked "The Manifold;" but I am singu- 
larly unfortunate. At my first throw to wet 
my line, I somehow got into a hopeless tangle 
which took me a quarter of an hour to undo. 
I then made another throw, and was firmly 
fixed a good way up in an overhanging beech 
tree ; this was most unlucky just at a time 
when the trout were rising freely in front of 
me, and one of them I had intended to cover 
in that hapless throw. My gut gave way to 
the bough, so my fishing for the evening 
seemed to be over, for it was too dark to fix 
up again ; but " necessity is the mother of in- 
vention." I Invented a way of recovering flies 
suspended high up in an overhanging branch, 
and I give it for the benefit of my readers. 

I drew out my strong line to a little more 
than the length of my rod, and thus forming 



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54 AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

a loop of it, I swung the line over the bough, 
at the same time twisting it round the sus- 
pended flies. I felt sure that nothing worse 
could happen than the loss of my already lost 
flies, so I pulled vigorously, and down came 
the branch, and all my flies safe and sound. 

Once again, I set to work. By this time 
the full moon was shining brightly and most 
beautifully on the sparkling water. I threw 
and booked a fish. 

" My first trout by moonlight," I said to 
myself. He splashed about in the shallow 
water and amongst the rough stones, but I 
was fixed on the edge of a slanting rock, from 
which I could not move forward an inch 
without slipping into a hole, so I had to make 
the best of it 

1 assure you, my reader, it is no easy 
travelling over the rocky sides of some parts 
of this picturesque river. I had no wading 
boots, so I had to keep to the bank, and you 
know how deceptive things are in twilight, 
how easy it is to mistake a piece of soft mud 
for firm rock. But, as the saying is, " there's 
no fishing for trout in dry breeches." I might 
as well have waded as not, considering the 
many duckings 1 got off sliding stones and 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 55 

slippery banks, and all 1 can say as regards 
my trout is that I held on to him as long as 
I could under the difficult circumstances, but 
at last he broke away from me, and I fished 

The major meanwhile waded up the stream, 
and was rewarded with two brace of nice 
trout as the result of a good deal of hard 
work ; for if the sides of the river are rough, 
the shallow bed is abominable. 

Even yet, with all my misfortunes and 
mishaps, I am unwilling to believe that 1 am 
not just as ardent a disciple as I was when I 
entered on this new career a fortnight ago ; 
if one can catch no fish, there is genuine 
pleasure to be got in walking by the side of a 
lovely stream j and it is specially charming 
when the full moon is shining on the water, 
and in a spot where the pine woods crown 
the heights, and the beech, the elm, and the 
oak combine their undulating and many 
tinted foliage on the hill sides and cast their 
shadows on the moonlit river, as it runs deep 
and slow in a semi-circular sweep beneath' 
and around the beautiful hall of 1 lam and the 
old churchyard.' 

1 " Dr. Johnson obligingly proposed to carry me Eo see 



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56 AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

But I am now beginning to think I can 
enjoy all such pleasures as these without en- 
cumbering myself with a fishing-rod, basket, 
and net, and uselessly whipping the stream. 1 

When I first thought of fly-fishing as a 
holiday amusement, my imagination had 
pictured to myself a walk by the side of a 
sweetly-flowing stream on a lovely summer's 
evening, when one had only to cast one's flies 
over the water and draw out the simple trout 
and grayling till one's basket required the aid 
of a strong boy to carry it. That was the 
sort of thing I looked for in fly-fishing. 

How that pretty, imaginary picture has 
been dispelled by the reality ! how I have 
been soaked and sodden, torn and scratched, 
stung by nettles, pursued by wasps, bitten by 

Islam, a romantic scene, now belonging to a family of the 
name of Port, bill formerly the seat of the Cougreves. . . . 
t recollect a very fine amphitheatre, surrounded with hills, 
covered with woods, and walks neatly formed round the aide 
of a rocky steep, on the quarter next the house, wilh recessed 
under projections of rock, overshadowed with trees; in one 
of which recesses, we were told. Coqgnsw wrote hi) ' OH 
Bachelor. 1 "— Btawetti Li/t tfJolmtiM. 

country, the song of birds, the beauty of the day, the re- 
freshment of mind, and the calmness of thought which these 
brioi with them.-'— Jcxn't Kami/a. 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 57 

venomous insects, my fingers lacerated, and 
coat and trousers torn by my own hooks ! 
how, weary and footsore, with my angelic 
temper tried to the utmost, I have returned 
to my hotel ! All these things, friendly reader, 
thou already kaowest 

Recollections such as these, I am bound 
to admit, have a tendency to lessen the ardour 
which first inspired me. 

August a^Of Wednesday, the 6th, I have 
nothing to record beyond the fact that the 
major — Piscator major 1 mean — started alone 
after luncheon up the Dale, and returned in 
the evening with the finest basket that has 
been taken in the low and bright waters of 
" The Dove" for many a day — viz., six and 
n half brace of trout and grayling. I, piscator 
minor, took an evening stroll with my rod. 
I hooked one fish and lost him, and then I 
hooked my flies and lost them, and so re- 
turned home calm and resigned to my un- 
lucky fate, consoling myself with the Ettrick 
Shepherd's remark that : — 

week without seeJxT a snout— and sometimes a body hyucks 
a fish at the first thrau ! " 

Talking about " hooking " fish suggests to 



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58 DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 

me a reason why " The Dove " trout are so 
markedly shy. "A burnt child dreads the 
fire." Every sportsman one encounters says 
he has caught none, but " hooked ■ a lot 
Now, as this sort of thing is going on day 
after day, and week after week, I should 
think there can hardly be an adult trout in 
" The Dove ■ that has not some time or other 
been "hooked," and it can only be when his 
previous hooking has been so long ago that 
his piscine memory has forgotten it, that he 
again permits himself to be deluded, and for 
the last time, by some such "artful dodger" 
as our major. 1 

1 On Ihii point I note that [timed piscators are not 
agreed. Sir Hum pkrty Davy mjll *'Ifapricked trout ii 
chased fato another pool, he will, 1 believe, Boon again 
take the artificial fly;" whilst Dt. W. C Prime, an 
American authority, says : " It ift generally true that if a 
trout be pricked by a fly hook he will not rile to it agaiu." 



b, Google 



LETTER No. VI. 

" SktfhtnL Wna vod tiae expeckit a Ihunderstom on 
the eve o' sic * day T But the heavens in the thundery airt 
were like a dungeon- -and 1 saw the Lightning playing like 
meteors athwat the blackness, Bang before ony growl was in 
the gloom. Then a' at ance, like a wauken'd lion, the 
thunder rose up in his den, and shaldn 1 his mane o" brindled 
clouds, broke out into sic a roar, that the very sun shuddered 
in eclipse, and the grews (greyhounds) and collies that 
happened to be sitting beside me on a bit knowe, gaed 
whinin into the house, wi" their tails arween their legs, just 
n glance to the howling heavens." — Noctt* 



fflHURSDAY, August ?th, was a 
n pleasant day for us ; lovely and 
] bright as an August day can some- 
We, the major and I, drove over 
from « The Izaak Walton " to " The Charles 
Cotton " at Hartington, with the intention — 
which we carried out— of walking and fishing 
back through the Dales, a good ten miles or 
more the way we travelled. 




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6o AN AMATEUR ANGLERS 

Whilst luncheon was being prepared at 
"The Charles Cotton," not to lose time we 
started oh* to Hartington mill to commence 
operations. Arrived there, we found the road 
to the mill-dam entirely blocked by a row of 
old railway milk cans filled with "wash," 
and on getting over the side stile we 
were landed in a paradise of pigs. Half-a- 
dozen fat hogs were lolling against the stile, 
and stoutly disputed our right (in spite of our 
tickets) to pass over or through them. 

On the little triangular island formed by 
the mill, the mill-dam, and the stream, I 
counted forty full-grown, happy porkers, some 
huddled together in the sun, some lazily sleep- 
ing under the broad leaves of the wild rhu- 
barb, others wallowing and rollicking in the 
stream — it was, indeed, a scene of Arcadian, 
felicity ; surely never before had pigs such a 
jolly time of it ; but there was no fishing in 
this once noted spot The scent upon the 
island was not quite like the dew of Hermon ; 
still it was preferable, infinitely preferable, to 
" The Wye" below Buxton. 

We returned to our inn, and luncheon over, 
we sallied forth down Beresford Dale, a 
delightful walk in a very hot sun ; but the 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 61 

odour of that piggery haunted us for many a 
mile. 

We had only two faults to find with the 
worthy miller of Hartington, both of them of 
quite a personal and selfish character— for 
what right have we to complain if he manu- 
factures beautiful bacon where formerly was 
a bit of capital fishing ground ? And why 
should we grumble because just at the time 
we were sweltering down Beresford Dale, he 
had stopped his mill and turned the al- 
ready meagre water of "The Dove" into 
his exhausted mill pond ? The result to us, 
however, was that we had no water to fish in, 
and the fish had very little to swim in. 

If we got no fish, we did not the less enjoy 
that charming walk. We rested awhile out- 
side Cotton's fishing cottage. This cottage 
consists of one square room only, with win- 
dows on each side; it is built entirely of stone, 
is charmingly situated on a bend of the river ; 
it bears the date 1674, and although it is, 
therefore, over two hundred years old, time, 
the destroyer, has dealt very gently with it. 1 
Over the door we noticed the inscription, 
" Fisca tori bus sacrum." 

1 I find it has teen r*tull[ icon thao oqcc. 



b, Google 



(a AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

Here, many a time, bad Cotton and his 
venerable friend Izaak Walton rested from 
their labours, smoked their pipes, and fought 
their piscatorial battles o'er again. And here 
are we genuine piscatore excluded by lock 
and key from this sacred abode 1 ' 

Surely the executors and administrators of 
Charles Cotton are not carrying out his wishes 
in thus excluding true disciples ! 

The entrance to this sacred edifice is 
guarded by two lofty elms, beneath which are 
circular seats, and on these we sheltered from 
the burning sun, and thought how much more 
we should have respected the blessed memory 
of Charles Cotton had he left within that 
pretty asylum a constant stoupof" spicy nut- 



walk in, and there veil lit mil 


talk as long as you pleasc- 


"Viator. Stay, what's here. 






e 1 have some title here ; for 


I am one of them, though one 


or the worst. . . . Cut I am 




e house, of any thing I ever 


uw : it stands id a kiad of peninsula, too, with a delicate 


clear river shout it: 1 dare ha 


dly go in lest I should not 


like it so well within as witho 




. • ■ all exceeding neat, with a 


marble table and all in the 


"/■Jtartrr.. . .Come, hoy 


set two chain land whilst I 


am taking a pipe of tobacco, w 


rich is always my breakfast, 






pllle AKgbr. 





DA YS IN DOVE DALE. 63 

brown ale," and eke a cup of tea, for weary 
and thirsty piscators. 

Peering through tiie lattice windows, we 
could see a round table and six comfortable 
old armchairs ; surely a cool and pleasant 
resting-place, and made specially for such as 
■we J Why, oh I heartless successors of the 
genial Cotton, are we so ruthlessly shut out ? 

Why ? Because, as a notice-board informs 
us, stupid and unmannerly tourists will insist 
upon scratching their names on window panes 
and carving them upon doors and lintels, be- 
sides committing other nuisances. 

On leaving the cottage, we suddenly came 
upon as lovely a bit of the river as is to 
be found anywhere. Here nature has at 
some not very recent period been helped 
by art ; here are rustic stiles and seats, 
" For talking aga and whUperictg loveti made," 

and here and there beds of rhododendrons, 
lignum vita;, and other shrubs and plants 
tastefully arranged, though now neglected 

These artificial aids do but little to enhance 
the enchanting beauty of this little dell. Here 
one sees, standing right in the middle of the 
water, a very curious limestone moss-covered 



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64 AN AMATEUR ANGLEBTS 

spire, 1 which has given an ugly name to a 
lovely spot. It is called "Pike Pool," not 
because the stream contains pike, but from 
this remarkable column. 

Here, under overhanging branches, " The 
Dove " runs deep and slow from one cascade 
to another. Here it was that Cotton's Viator 
caught his first grayling. 

" 1 have him now," say* Viator, " but he 
is gone down towards the bottom. 1 cannot 
see what he is, yet be should be a good fish 
by his weight ; but he makes no great stir." 

Piscator: "Why, then, by what you say, 
I dare venture to assure you 'tis a grayling, 
who is one of the deadest-hearted fishes in the 
world, and the bigger he is the more easily 

Our Piscator major does not agree with 
Cotton's Piscator in (his defamation of the 
grayling. His game qualities vary in different 
streams and at different seasons ; but on the 



up in th 


middle 


of the 


rim 1 This is 


one of Ih 


oddest 
















Why. 




that Pike that yon if e standing up 


then di 


lam from the re- 


k, this is celled 


Pike Poo 






■hefalh 










Wntlm and Cottm'* CimfUU Angler. 







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DA YS IN DOVE DALE. 65 

whole, the major assures me, be will give as 
much sport as the trout, and the bigger he 
is the better he will fight 

Naturally, the major paid special attention 
to this classic spot. Near the end of the dell, 
I suddenly heard a heavy splash, and on 
nearing him, 1 found him struggling with a 
big fish, which he fairly landed ; but to my 
surprise, no sooner had he got his book out 
of him, than he threw him back into the water ! 
He was a grayling of over a pound, 

" What do you mean by such an insane act 
as that ? " I cried. 

" Foul hooked ; I caught him by the back 
fin," said he. 

"Well," said I, "what does it matter 
whether you caught him by that, or the head, 
or the tail, so- long as you had him in your 
net?" 

" Unsportsmanlike and illegal," he replied. 

I said no more. I only wondered if this 
superfine doctrine prevailed in Izaak Walton's 
days. I have my suspicion that that was the 
way in which the inexperienced "Viator" 
hooked his first grayling. I only know that 

if / had caught him but I am not going 

to encourage young anglers to break the law. 



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66 AN ASIA TEUR ANGLERS 

This grayling certainly fought splendidly, 
but perhaps one cannot fairly judge from this 
what he would have done had the hook been 
in his throat instead of his back fin. 

It was here I met again that little white- 
bibbed sister of mercy, my pretty water ouzeL 
She came and rested on a point of rock, and 
made me half-a-dozen of her prettiest curtsies. 
"Where are you going to, sir?'' she said. 
" I'm going a-fishing, my pretty maid." "Ill 
go with you, sir," said she, "and tell you 
where the fishes be." 

And so she hopped along from stone to 
stone to the end of the little dell, and then 
with a few graceful bends over her white bib 
and tucker, she bade me good-bye. 1 

Piscator major marched along regardless 
of these small matters. He was intent on 
fishing ; but I forgot to say in the beginning 
that I was not— I was only accompanied by 
my walking-stick. 1 wanted to gain expe- 
rience by watching the major's 



minded by P. D. tha 


my lint outel * 


u a Ht, 




r critical 


ritnd; but this 


one is a 


> il by her 


white lappets — and her lady 


like con- 






stuffing himself, 




brpol.it 


Hun 


Dtent only on showing me 


nine Dell 









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DA YS IN DOVE DALE. 67 

We plodded on, without fish and almost 
without water, till we came to "Load 
MilL" 

It was now nearly six o'clock, and we were 
very thirsty, so instead of pursuing the river 
down to Mill Dale, we took to the turnpike- 
road, and climbed a terribly tough hill for a 
very long mile till we came to " The George " 
at Alstonefield, where we refreshed ourselves 
with most grateful tea and bread and butter, 
and then wended our way back by another 
route past Alstonefield Church, and down a 
very steep and narrow pathway to Mill Dale. 
We there pursued the stream, passing the 
new fish-culture establishment just erected by 
Sir Henry Allsopp in the Dale. 

There we saw hundreds of young fry dis- 
porting in the well-built tanks ; but as the hot 
sun was streaming down upon these open 
tanks, it seemed rather desirable that the little 
fishes should have been protected by some 
covering above, or hollows underneath. Pro- 
bably at this season the young fry would be 
grayling— in which case a shading from above 
would be preferable. 

I may here remark that if during my pis- 
catorial holiday I have not caught many fish, 



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68 AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

I have at least learnt something of theirman- 
ners and customs in these streams. 

For example, in walking quietly along the 
banks of " The Dove " or " The Manifold," I 
have occasionally seen a solitary trout "on 
the feed" which would allow me (o approach 
within a yard and shake my stick at him 
without budging. 

" Surely," I have thought, " either that fish 
is paralyzed by fear, or else he is one of 
those rare ones which has never yet been 
pricked by the villainous hook which the 
deceitful fly conceals !" 

As a rule, you cannot approach within six 
or eight yards of a feeding trout in these 
bright waters but he is off like a shot, and 
conceals himself under bank or stone or 
grass; 

Glides swift, a lilver dart. 
And, safe beneath ihe shady [horn. 
Defies the angler's art." 

Burns. 
but this is not so with the grayling. 

Never have I seen a grayling rush away 
and hide himself like a trout under grass or 
rocks ; one generally finds them in little 
flocks, and when disturbed they scuttle about 



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DA YS IN DO VE DALE. 69 

up and down, and round and round, but never 
do they seem to be endowed with sufficient 
sense to hide themselves, or, metaphorically 
speaking, " to go in when it rains." 

That is why I have suggested that the 
young grayling fry should be protected from 
the sun by a covering from above rather than 
by overhanging banks or shady rocks under 
the water, which they have not the sense to 
avail themselves of. 

We now approached our own ground, the 
Dove Holes, three monstrous caverns, which 
may be regarded as the entrance to Dove 
Dale from the north, and just here we 
witnessed a curious instance of motherly 
affection. 

We saw a rat swimming down the stream 
with a young one nearly as big as herself in 
her mouth. I fancy she had been giving her 
son a lesson in swimming. How lovingly she 
carried him up the bank into her hole 1 

The major now began in earnest. Here he 
donned his wading boots, which had been 
brought up the Dale to meet us. 

It was now half-past seven, and, with the 
exception of the castaway grayling, only one 
fish had been taken. 



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TO AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

Piscator had long despaired of rivalling bis 
feat of the day before ; but he was not likely 
to give in. The trout came into the basket 
slowly, and at long intervals, as he toiled 
down the river, now wading in the stream, 
and now casting from rocky banks — past 
Pickering Tor and The Grey Maris Nest 
—past The Lion Rock and that terrible cavern 
described in an earlier letter and known as 
Reynard's Cave — past The Watch Box and 
Tissington Spires— until at length we reached 
the Sbarplow Cliff. 

There the major waded across to the 
Staffordshire side, whilst I was compelled to 
follow the path and climb over the cliff, and 
an ugly climb it is in the dark. 

It was now quite dark, and we could only 
guess at each other's whereabouts by cooeying 
after the Australian fashion, and whistling ; 
and when we emerged on the open green, 
called Sedgy Pool, we could not distinguish 
each other across the river, for although the 
full, round moon looked down upon us from 
the V-shaped opening to this pleasant glade 
(formed by the slanting sides of Thorpe Cloud 
on one side, and The Hazels on the other, the 
moon occupying the upper centre of the V), 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 71 

there was such a heavy mist surrounding us 
that our figures cast no shadows. 

Still the major Ashed on, and ever and anon 
I heard a loud flop and splash (for the fish 
seemed to rise with more noise and dash in 
the dark), and the words came across to me, 
"hooked him," "lost him \" or " hooked him," 
" got him t " till at last we met at the Step- 
ping Stones. 

We reached the pleasant old " Iiaak 
Walton " by a little after ten; and although 
the major counted out but three brace of trout 
—good heavy ones — still we felt we had not 
lost a day. 

Here I should like to offer a valuable hint 
to rod-makers : I noticed alike in the bright 
sunshine, in the evening twilight, r.nd when 
all else was dark, that I could distinguish the 
flashing of Piscator's bright rod at a very con- 
siderable distance. 

Now, if I could see this, 1 fancy the bright- 
eyed fishes would frequently be scared by it. 

Why, ye makers, do you not make plain, 
unvarnished rods ? There is a fortune in this 
hint for any rod-maker who will take it and 
make an " invisible rod." 

What is wanted in this wide-awake little 



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73 AN AMATEUR ANGLERS 

" Dove " is a visible fly attached to an invisible 
hook, on an invisible line, thrown with an in- 
visible rod by an invisible piscator. 

Had I been thus equipped, I am certain 
my tale would not have been, as in truth it has 
been, one of perpetual and disastrous failure. 
I should constantly have filled my basket. I 
have discovered the major's great secret, he 
has the power of making himself invisible ; 
but then his shining rod frequently betrays 
even him ! — Verbum sap. 



August ii. — Since the memorable walk on 
Thursday above recorded I have not much to 
report. I did not fish on Friday, but the 
major could not be restrained. He brought 
home in the evening one brace of grayling, 
weighing together 2 J lb., and three and a half 
brace of fine trout, thus upsetting my litde 
theory of fasting fish. 

Saturday morning was the most close and 
sultry time we have yet had In the afternoon 
the rumbling of distant thunder was heard, 
and in a short time the sky was black all 
round with heavy rain clouds. 

Presendy the surrounding hills resounded 



DAYS W DOVE DALE. 73 

with crashing peals ; but the rain only skirted 
our valley, and we did not get much of it. 

The manner of dogs in thunder is graphi- 
cally described by the Ettrick Shepktrd at the 
head of this chapter. 1 was curious to see 
how ducks really did behave in thunder 
weather. 

" Like a duck at thunder," is a vulgar 
expression for astonishment, which I wished 
to witness with my own eyes ; so I strolled 
round to the farmyard, where there were a 
score or so of waddlers, some sleeping con- 
tentedly on the bank with their heads tucked 
under their wings, others on the pool, some 
with their heads in the water and their tails 
in the air, and some swimming about and 
fighting for a nasty piece of offal 

Suddenly came a tremendous crash right* 
overhead, " sica roar " that it certainly startled 
me for a moment, and it was a comical sight 
to see how all their heads simultaneously shot 
out from under their wings, straight up, like 
the sudden spring of jack-in-the-box — how 
they all turned up their eyes with " a hafnin 
glance at the howling heavens," and then 
those on land dashed into the water, and those 
on the water scrambled in their awkward 



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74 AN AMATEUR ANGLES' S 

wobbling way to shore,— it was for me a novel 
and amusing sight. 

There is, I believe, a theory abroad that 
fish won't rise in a thunderstorm. We tested 
that theory with a very remarkable result. 

I once more donned my mackintosh and 
wading boots, and betook me to " The Dove." 

It looked ominous j not a rise could I see. 
I fished away for three hours, and 1 got but 
one solitary rise. I hooked my fish well, but 
he twisted himself round a bit of rock, and 
snapped off my most prom ism g fly — my usual 
luck. I returned to the hotel fully satisfied 
that fish do not bite in thunder weather ! 

Meanwhile, Piscator major went to " The 
Manifold," and returned shortly after me 
A with— ye powers ! more fish than bis usual 
*ag would hold. 1 That was filled, and a 
bundle tied up in his handkerchief as well I 
He counted out nineteen, trout, some of them 
more than a pound, and the whole lot, weighed 
together, nearly turned the scales at ten 
pounds, or more than an average of half -a- 
pound each ! 

1 The major during this broiling weather carries a light 
ably on the back. 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 75 

Now, what am I to think of this f 

Do fish bite in a thunderstorm, or do they 
not? 

Here, you see, is my own experience dead 
against it ; but, then, here is the experience 
of the major as dead in its favour. 

The only solution which occurs to me is, 
that they dotit bite in " The Dove," and they 
do bite in "The Manifold." 

I make no allowance for my want of skill 
and experience, for 1 maintain that in that 
perfectly calm weather I threw my flies very 
cleverly indeed. If the fish had been on the 
feed, I certainly musthave caught some ; but 
the fates were against me. 

Had I accompanied the major, as I at first 
thought of doing, I am sure I should have 
done almost as well as he. 

There are a good many other piscators here 
whose success about equals mine. 

What a display was this which our major 
spread out before them ! How they envied 
his skill, and venerated his prowess ! 



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LETTER NO. VII. 

" All pteamrts but the angler's bring 



And pity those that da affect 

My rod affords such true contej 
Delights so sweet and innocent, 
As seldom fall unto the lot 
Of sceptres, though they're just 



•+^!^^[Z'' , * *''•••• W"M nth. w.i» not ..n 
StljSvP^ uninteresting day for us. In the 
InTTrPr morning I walked down to the 
water with the major ; he piscarorially 
equipped ; I with my walking-stick. 

The sun was scorching, and the water bright 
and low and glistening ; and yet, with these 
things against him, the major captured three 
brace of fine trout before luncheon ; whilst 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 77 

the success of other piscators at " The Izaak " 
was thus querulously recorded by one of them 
in the visitors' book J— 



The afternoon we devoted to a small pic- 
nic in the woods on the Staffordshire side of 
the river, and I may mention here that as I 
was strolling through the wood, I saw a poor 
little field-mouse right in the middle of the 
grassy road, making the most curious contor- 
tions ; first it would stand up on its hind legs 
with the two forepaws resting on its breast, and 
its liny nose peering upwards and around ; one 
could almost fancy it was saying its prayers ; 
then suddenly it would twirl round like a 
whirligig, then fall down and roll over and 
over as if in agony ; it would then hide under 
the grass, perfectly quiet, as if dead. It did 
not seem to mind my presence at all. 

Oh, what a panic's in thy breutie ! " 

I fancied it must have been stung or in- 
jured in some way, so I took it up in my 
hand, where it seemed to be contented and 
easy for a time ; then it would resume those 



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yt AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

curious contortions, then rush up my sleeve, 
then lie perfectly still, with its little cheek 
huddled against the palm of my hand. 

I examined it as carefully and tenderly as 
1 could j hut I could discover no injury. I 
carried it in this way on the palm of my hand 
for a considerable distance, till 1 met the old 
donkey-woman, who told me it was called a 
shrew in those parts, that it gives out a musk- 
like smell, and that cats would not touch it ; ' 
but I still maintain that it was a field-mouse, 
for a shrew, I find, is insectivorous, which I 
toon discovered my mouse was not ! 

On stroking its fur once or twice the wrong 
way, with my best spectacles on, I think I 
discovered the cause of its misery ; the little 
wretch was swarming with an active little 
insect, the scientific name of which I believe 
is pulex irritnns, but it is more commonly 
known as the bed flea ! 

It is, perhaps, needless to say that my ten- 
der sympathy for my little mouse received a 
severe shock, and without more ado I hastily 

1 Cat* hue musk, bat they revel in mint, respecting which 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 79 

deposited it in the hedge-row out of harm's 
way from wheel or hoof. There,a1asj it may 
be still scratching ! and all for the want of a 
little Keating'! Powder! which I do not 
usually carry about me. 

I have heard of swallows being thus in- 
habited ; but until now I was quite unaware 
that this interesting insect is common alike 
to "mice and men." Doubtless this is an- 
other example of my crass ignorance ; a well- 
educated countryman would have passed 
him by on the other side for fear of the fleas .' 
but 



the man who would needlessly have set foot 
upon him. 

After dinner, I once again sallied forth with 
my rod, and I fished till it was too dark for 
me to fish any longer, but nothing happened ; 
and then I waited under the grey rocks the 
return of the major. 

About half-past eight I dimly discerned 
across the water, and descending " The Sharp- 
low Bank," a fisherman with rod, net, and 
basket " Here at last is the major," said I ; 
and I shouted, " Is that you, Piscatorf 



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Bo AN AMATEUR ANGLERS 

" No, sir," came the reply ; " my name is 
Taylor." 

" All right," said I. 

It grew darker and darker, and walking 
very slowly under the grey cliffs, my grey 
suit must have rendered me quite invisible 
across the water, where I could just discern 
two dark moving figures. 

" Probably night poachers," 1 said ; and 
when I shouted "Cooey! cooey!" with a 
hoarse and rather cracked tone of voice, my 
two friends took to their heels like madmen, 
and 1 could soon distinguish their dark figures 
'twixt sky and hill as they disappeared over 
the top. 1 guess them to have been a couple 
of cockney tourists scared by the unearthly 
sounds which reached them from across the 

1 1 had now become quite dark, and I began 
to feel anxious for tbe return of the adven- 
turous major, who would have to walk two or 
three miles after leaving off fishing at dusk. 

I sat upon a gate for half an hour or more, 
constantly whistling and cooeying, but no 
response came out of those weird and ghostly 
valleys. 

I had waited and whistled so long that at 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. %t 

last I had worked myself into a state of mor- 
bid terror lest some untoward accident should * 
have befallen him in those slippery, dark, and- 
most dangerous. places. 

At last, to my great relief, a responsive 
whistle came up out of the dark, and we soon 
reached home, when the major turned eleven 
fine trout out of bis bag, making, with the 
three brace caught in the morning, eight and 
a half brace as the result of his day's work. 

By the way, I wonder if there is a nunnery 
hereabout The river was invaded yesterday 
by a small army of nuns, or sisters of mercy, 
old and young — many of them very pretty ; 
and it was really quite amusing to see them 
paddling about with their naked feet in the 
water, not in the least abashed by the know- 
ledge that they were"the cynosures of neigh- 
b'ring eyes." 

Farther down the Dale I saw a troop of 
donkeys, all with side-saddles. Were they 
waiting the return of the nuns? If so, I 
should have liked to see them mounted. 
What a grotesque cavalcade it must have 
been ! We might have fancied ourselves in 
Spain, to see these stately dames in their 



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B» AJf AMATEUR ANGLERS 

closely-fitting hoods, white kerchiefs round 
their bonny cheeks, and flowing snowy lappets, 
ambling down the Dale, or scrambling in 
double file over the rocky banks. 

August 13. — Now our pleasant holiday is 
drawing to a close ; this is our last day. Alas! 
to-morrow must we quit these pleasant hills 
and lovely dales, and return to the land of 
Egypt and the house of bondage. 

I came here three weeks ago a dyspeptic 
old man ; I return considerably improved in 
health. But it just occurs to roe that to com- 
plete the cure 1 require another month at 
least! 

What if I call on the doctor in Ashbourne, 
and get his certificate to that effect? No, it 
cannot be ; men must work and women must 
weep, for there's work to do, and babies to 
keep! 

11 Can fuuey'i fairy hind; ns veil trejile 
To hide the amJ rcjliucsoriitc!" 

Before I go, let me sit under this wide- 
'spreading beech, on the banks of "The 
Manifold," and tell my friendly readers, if I 
can, what "The Iiaak Walton" is like. 

As " The Dove " is not like other rivers, so 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 83 

is "The Izaak "unlike all other hostelries. It 
does not stand by the roadside inviting 

" Each purine ttiajiger that can pay," 

If you wish to visit this hotel, you must 
leave the turnpike road, pass through a hand- 
some park-like gate with stone pillars, sur- 
mounted by an escutcheon bearing the Walton 
and Cotton monogram, and the date 1660, 
and follow an open coach drive for an eighth 
of a mile or so, which winds upwards through 
a pleasant green and hanky meadow ; and 
when you reach "The Izaak Walton" you 
will find little or nothing to indicate that 
it is an hotel ; it has more the look of a sub- 
stantial rose and clematis-clad farmhouse. 

It stands on a gentle eminence, backed up 
by the handsome hill called Bunster, and 
flanked on the left by green meadows leading 
down to " The Dove " and the entrance to 
the Dale, and beyond that, by the most 
conspicuous of all the hills, the well- 
known Thorpe Cloud, and on the right by 
more meadows and a spur or angle of the 
Bunster. 

Looking southward from the front is the 
green meadow already mentioned, at foot of 
which runs the road leading to the pretty 



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a, AN AMATEUR ANGLERS 

village of 11am, and beyond this. road at a 
meadow's breadth, and parallel with it, runs the 
river " Manifold ; " which curious river oozes 
from its many miles of subterr a n ea n travel- 
ling, a short distance higher tip in the grounds 
of beantifbl 11am HalL ' 

Pan of "The lawk Wahon " is as old as, 
or older than, its name, for there is a tradition 
that in this old farmhouse the great piscator 
himself used to take ttp his abode when be 
had fished down the dales from Beresford 
Hall with his friend Charles Cotton. My 
chief authority for this tradition is the chatty 

'The seat of R. Hi 
we are indebted for th 
Maaifold." 

rivers .burning bear each acker been the ro It, not from 

iauaediate taring*, but after having been Far many miles 
BDdergTOUDd. Phut, id his' History of Staffordshire,' gives 
an account of this curiosity i bat Johnson would lot believe 
it, though we had the attestation tl the gardener, who (aid 
he bad put iii corks where the nver " Manifold ■ sinks into 
Ihc ground, and had catched them in a net, placed before 
one of the opeaingiwber* the water banes OM."— AmwhS*' 
Lift, J ytimtn. 

The incident of the corks seems to have been quite for- 
gotten in the neighbourhood. 1 was told, as though it was 
-a new. discovery, that the underground cotine of "The 
Manifold " had been proved— only a lew years ago— by 
someone throwing chajf in its upper waters, which came out 
at 'lata. 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 85 

old woman, whom I have already mentioned, 
who used to keep the donkeys for tourists up 
the Dale, but who now politely opens the 
gate for all comers. 

The tradition is so probable that it may be 
taken for absolute truth, for where else could 
dear old Izaak Walton have more comfort- 
ably taken his ease and smoked his evening 
pipe than in that cosy old parlour, which still 
affords a Welcome resting-place to weary 
piscators ? 

When the old farmhouse was converted 
into an hotel, now many years ago, a new 
wing was added to it facing Thorpe Cloud, 
so that now the house forms a right angle 
with stables and farm buildings at the 

- I will only add that the inside of "The 
Izaak Walton" is as pleasant as its outside 
is unpretentious and picturesque. 

It is five miles from the nearest railway, 
and thus "far from the madding crowd's 
ignoble strife " may it long remain 1 

Here, on such a spot as this, one of those 
brand-new palatial hotels which seem always 
to spring up with railways, would be entirely 
out of character with the surrounding scenery; 



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B6 AN AMATEUR ANGLER'S 

here, if you have not the showy appearance 
of modern days, you have the comfortable 
realities. 

The house is presided over by a pleasant 
hostess, who, now in her eightieth year, rises 
early, and late takes rest, and looks well after 
the affairs of her household. 

She is an active, energetic, and very genial, 
bright old lady, and I hear that at the annual 
ball at the Hall she dances with the best of 
them. 

Then there are her good son and daughter- 
in-law, as popular as she, for they spare no 
pains to please, and give "the warmest 
welcome" to their numerous guests. 

You may suppose from its name that this 
hotel is chiefly the resort of anglers ; but this 
is not so. Here come alt sorts of people — 
young men and maidens, old men and chil- 
dren, artists, and lovers of the picturesque ; 
clergy and laity, field naturalists and butterfly- 
catchers, tutors and students. 

This is the very place for honeymoonists ; 
four sets of them have been here during our 
short stay, and how they did moon about and 
enjoy themselves 1 How they would pretend 
to fish, and catch nothing but sly kisses 



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DAYS IN DOVE DALE 87 

behind the bushes ! Happy young people ! 
It does one good to see you so bright, and so 
unconscious of the troubles to came. 

With Kite! allurements smitten,' 
I loved her late, I loved her moon, 

Whilst I am thus engaged in trying to bring 
"Thelzaak Walton "home to you, my brother 
angler, piscator major is bidding a last and 
lingering farewell to the trout and grayling of 
" The Dove." 

I must now add, as my final record, that 
yesterday he brought home nine brace of 
splendid trout. 

During our holiday we, the major and I, 
caught one hundred and ten well-fed trout 
and four grayling ; or, if I must needs be more 
explicit, the major caught one hundred and 
twelve fish in ten days, and I caught two in 
three weeks; but I no longer envy him. lam 
humbly content to be regarded as " an 



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88 DAYS IN DOVE DALE. 

amateur angler," as piscaior minor; or, if 

you please, no piscaior at all. 

" I have now discovered that angling is an 
art," as says Cot ton's Piscaior. " Is it not an 
art to deceive a trout with an artificial fly ? A 
trout I that is more sharp-sighted than any 
hawk you have named, and more watchful 
and timorous than your high-mettled merlin 
is bold ? And yet I doubt not to catch a brace 
or two to-morrow for a friend's breakfast ; 
doubt not, therefore, sir, but that angling is 
an art, an art worth your learning. The 
question is rather whether you be capable of 
learning it, for angling is somewhat like 
poetry, men are to be born so." 

I have had a pleasant time, and it has given 
me pleasure to record it If I have wearied 
thee, gentle reader, I regret it, and now 1 bid 
thee a hearty farewell. If thou be an honest 
angler, I will end as I began, by' wishing, in 
the words of thy master, " the east wind may 
never blow when thou goest a-fishing." 



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