« PreviousContinue »
very different from those of most men, as to which they can feel so sure that it has been fairly earned, and which will come to them accompanied by so few drawbacks. The victories of mature life, in whatever sphere of action, are for the most part gained with effort, disputed while their novelty remains, and admitted only when with their novelty whatever enjoyment they could bring has passed off. It is not so with those whose success we recognise to-day. They may well feel glad, and perhaps a little proud of what they have done. But let them recollect as a caution, and let the losers also recollect by way of encouragement, that an early success, though it gives a lad a good start, gives him little else; that the race of life is a race which tests endurance more than speed; that some of the most hopeless failures in later years have been of the dashing, brilliant, clever young fellows who seemed at school and college to carry everything before them; and that the slow, plodding lad, who seems to have nothing in his favour except a dogged determination to go on, often comes out higher than either he himself or any of his friends expected.' (P. 123.)
Again, no man so strongly put the best of his brains into a thing as did Lord Derby:
'Talent is the edge of the knife that makes it [intellectual power] penetrate easily, but whether it penetrates deeply or not depends quite as much on the force applied to it as on the sharpness of the blade. What a man really takes a keen interest in he is seldom too dull to understand and to do well; and, conversely, when a man does not care to put the best of his brains into a thing, no amount of mere cleverness will enable him to do it well if it is a thing of any real difficulty, or unless it is one which he has trained himself to do easily by much previous practice, in which latter case he is really reaping, in present ease, the fruit of past exertion; living, so to speak, upon the capital which he has accumulated by early industry.' (P. 124.)
Lord Derby was neither a sportsman nor an athlete, hence his remarks on physical exercise are the more valuable because he had no special love for it. His expression that those who have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness, epigrammatically expresses a truth, the neglect of which has over and over again prematurely deprived the world of some of its best minds:
'It is important to notice how much depends on what students and young men are apt to despise as below their notice-I mean a perfectly sound physical condition. Take two men, if they could be found, exactly alike in mental and bodily aptitudes, and let the one go on carelessly and idly indulging his appetites, and generally leading a life of what is called pleasure, and let the other train himself by early hours, by temperate habits, and by giving to muscles and brain each their fair share of employment, and at the end of two or three years they will be as widely apart in their capacity for exertion as if they
had been born with wholly different constitutions. Without a normal healthy condition there can, as a rule, be no good work, and though that qualification cannot absolutely be secured or preserved by any rules, a little common sense and care will go a long way both in securing and preserving it. On that point I will just give these hints: First, that it is not mental labour that hurts any body unless the excess be very great, but rather fretting and fidgeting over the prospect of labour to be gone through, so that the man who can accustom himself to take things calmly, which is quite as much a matter of discipline as of nature, and who, by keeping well beforehand with what he has to do, avoids undue hurry and nervous excitement, has a great advantage over one who follows a different practice. Next, I would warn you that those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.' (P. 124.)
Quite a different note is that struck in regard to literary interests :
'I think all the hardest workers I have known in their business were men who had a very keen enjoyment of at least some one pursuit outside of their business; but I am certain that the latter course gives a larger return of general well-being. A great lawyer, or engineer, or architect, or medical man, or manufacturer, or merchant, is generally in some danger of getting to care for nothing beyond his profession. To my mind that is a mistake, and it is a mistake that brings its own punishMr. Mill, in a late work, mentions incidentally certain persons who, knowing nothing except political economy, necessarily, as he says, knew that but ill; and I believe the generalisation is a true one. But, apart from that, success is very well; but, when you have succeeded, what then? It is a poor choice, either to have to go on working without necessity or advantage, merely because you have no other taste or pleasure left in life, or else to make the hazardous experiment of passing from an existence intensely occupied to one of utter vacuity. Here it is that literary culture will be really of use. Put it at the lowest, a man who has the habit of reading, to whom his books are the best company, finds in them a distraction from anxiety, a comfort in petty troubles, a protection against weariness and ennui, a society which he can take up when he will and leave without giving offence, and above all, an escape from the vulgar interests and mean details of private life into the healthier air of thought and ideas which concern mankind in general. Isolation and indifference are impossible to us. We could not, if we were foolish enough to wish it, remain absolutely and exclusively absorbed in our own affairs; but we have the choice in our own power whether we will participate, even if only as lookers on, in the great intellectual movements which influence our race, or whether our interest in that which is external to ourselves shall be confined to the petty gossip of the parish or the town where we live. More than that, every age and every profession has its characteristic merits and defects, and what we read may be and ought to be a kind of preventive of the one-sidedness which grows upon us from what we have to do.' (P. 125.)
VOL. CLXXIX. NO. CCCLXVII.
ART. X.-1. Thirty-second Annual Report of the Inspectors of Fisheries (England and Wales) for 1892. London: 1893. 2. Dry Fly Fishing in Theory and Practice. By FREDERIC M. HALFORD. London: 1889.
3. North-Country Flies. By T. E. PRITT. London: 1886. 4. Angling Sketches. By ANDREW LANG. London: 1891. 5. The Riverside Naturalist. By EDWARD HAMILTON, M.D. London: 1890.
6. The History of Howietoun. By Sir J. RAMSAY GIBSON MAITLAND, Bart. 1887.
T is a marked and happy feature of the time that, with an immense growth of general knowledge, with a mental activity which spreads through all ranks of the people, and with a vast accumulation of persons in large cities, there has been an equally continuous growth in the popular interest in games and field sports. At some of our public schools and colleges pre-eminence in athletic amusements may, perhaps, be too highly regarded. But such an exaggeration is a necessary evil in connexion with any large and general interest either in field sports or in games; and, while it must be deprecated, it should not blind us to the value and importance of this national characteristic as a counterbalance to mental strain and urban life, which exercise so strong an influence on the present generation. And it is certain, if we look to the literature of angling, to the number of persons who follow this sport with enthusiasm, and to many facts in connexion with it, that interest in this pursuit is steadily on the increase. It might have been supposed that, with the introduction of new outdoor amusements, and with increased facilities for others, the interest in angling would have dwindled. But it has not; on the contrary, the passion for open-air life and amusement which is born in most Englishmen appears to spread as new avenues are opened to it. And there can be no doubt that the exercise of the art of angling is perhaps the most laudable form of this characteristically national love of bodily exertion; there belong to it nearly all the advantages and none of the disadvantages which may be regarded as attendant on most other forms of sport. Shooting trains body and eye; but the over-preservation of game is injurious to agriculture and an incentive to crime. It is theoretically true that the countryman should not take the rabbits which run into their burrows as he trudges home
ward from work; but rabbit-poaching will, to the crack of doom, never be regarded as a crime by the agricultural labourer, and it has been the beginning of a convict's life to many harmless men. But the angler may over-preserve his trout stream as much as he pleases--it hurts no one-the only result is that his fish deteriorate in size and condition, and he is regarded as a curmudgeon by his friends. The day-long tramp by the river-side, it may be among the meadowsweet and the delicate grasses which wave above the banks of the Test or the Itchen, or over the rough bed of the Wharfe or the Esk, produces all the physical benefit of a walk over a Scotch moor or an Essex stubble. It is useless also to deny that, valuable as are the effects of the hunting-field in steadying nerve and banishing care, fox-hunting is often an occasion for the display of plutocratic wealth rather than of sportsman-like enthusiasm for the chase, and that the millionnaire or the guardsman who rides for four or five days a week across country does damage which it is difficult to estimate. But who is the worse if the angler and half a dozen friends choose to whip a stream every day of the week, from sunrise to sunset? The only persons who suffer are the fishermen themselves. Thus, it is a matter for congratulation that angling, in every form, appears to be on the increase, so that the chief problem of the future is how to utilise to the utmost the streams which are to be found in every part of these islands. This has two forms: to enlarge the supply of fish in the water, both by the protection of fish which already inhabit it and by the addition of trout from artificial hatcheries. In respect of the former, nothing is more important than the prevention of pollution in its various ways. The Legislature has been by no means idle. In 1878 an Act was passed for the protection of fresh'water fish' and is known as the Freshwater Fisheries Act, 1878. It amplified the provisions of the Salmon Fishery Act, 1861, and practically gave a close time for trout or charr to the whole of England and Wales. In addition, it applied the provisions of the Salmon Fishery Acts of 1865 and 1873, which relate to the formation, alteration, combination, and dissolution of fishery districts, and to the appointment and powers of conservators to all waters in England and Wales frequented by trout or charr, and empowered these bodies to issue licences to fish for trout or charr. In one word, it put trout and charr in the same category as salmon, and gave power to any district to form a local body for the protection of the fisheries within its bounds. But the incentive
to the public to protect trout is considerably less than to safeguard salmon, for the latter have a commercial value which the ordinary trout is never likely to attain. But this statute was not confined to salmonidæ; it extended the protection of the law to humbler fishes, and enacted also a close time for all kinds of fish which live in fresh water (other than salmon, trout, charr, and pollan, which are separately dealt with) from the 15th of March to the 15th of June, with consequential regulations. There is no doubt that it was intended by these provisions to take a step towards enlarging the food supply of the people by increasing the stock of common freshwater fish. We are not, however, a nation of cooks, and the wife of the English labourer is not likely to be able to make a tempting dish of carp or perch, so that it is more than doubtful whether this part of the statute has had any perceptible effect on the supply of common freshwater fish in this country. But undoubtedly the Act did, in regard to trout, give powers which, if utilised, must largely improve the trout fisheries of England. This Act was followed in 1884 by one for the further protection of fish other than salmon in fresh waters, and it gave power to boards of conservators to regulate by bye-law the size of nets; but its most important provision was the prohibition of the use of poison and noxious substances for the destruction of fish which have over and over again ruined a river for a long time as a fishing place. A short Act passed in 1892 in regard to the marking of packages containing salmon, trout, or charr, so as to prevent a surreptitious trade, completes the chain of statute law. In regard to it one thing is very clear, that the time has arrived when the Salmon Fishery and Freshwater Fishery Acts should be consolidated in a single statute which should contain a clear and succinct statement of the statute law relating to fisheries. The task is an easy one, and should be undertaken without delay. So far, therefore, as the Legislature is concerned, it has done in the last quarter of a century about as much as could have been reasonably expected from it; but it is nevertheless an open question whether the Acts are not too permissive, and give too much latitude to a locality in regard to the protection of its fishing waters. On the other hand, so far as trout are concerned, the increasing demand for fishing, and the greater possibility of improving a water if once a lease of it can be obtained, have given a commercial value to every brook in England and Wales which can harbour a trout which encourages landowners and occupiers to preserve their water