active 19th century Novice.

The Anglican Friar, and the Fish which he Took by Hook and by Crook online

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A. NOVICE, A.F. & F.

_Dedicated to all Lovers of Angling._

[Illustration: THE FRIAR, A COMIC LEGEND.]

* * * * *

[Illustration: And up suddenly reared,
The head of Miss Puss in a very droll way.]

* * * * *





Printed by G. BARCLAY, Castle St. Leicester Sq.

* * * * *

_Arum Legenditis._

[Illustration: FRONTISPIECE.]


As a preface in verse
Is perhaps the reverse
Of the common and so vulgar way,
It is thus I intend
Introducing my friend,
Who would fain his respects to you pay.
Of the place of his birth,
Though some snug spot on earth,
I ne'er heard, so can't tell;
Though I guess that the rogue,
From his twang of the brogue,
Did in Old Erin dwell.
But if not, it was surely some queer Irishman
Who related the tale. I've tried all that I can
To gain further partic'lars, which p'raps might amuse,
But I naught could fish out - ev'ry bait proved no use.
Still I'll pause to explain
(It may p'rhaps entertain),
How at first I acquainted became
With the facts I relate,
Which, with truth I may state,
Occurred at some long bygone date.
You must know that I love,
All amusements above,
To arise ere the sun
Has his day's work begun,
And roam to some river,
Who'll kindly deliver
Up his subjects to fate
For a little ground bait.
Oh! how often my slumbering dreams have been broke
By the thought I'm too late, and I've suddenly woke
To discover 'twas dark, and have dozed off again;
But the dose to repeat, hope for rest being vain.

I in fancy have fished in most curious places -
Down a coal-hole, in areas, and off cellar bases;
Where the queerest of things you can name I have caught, or
As I dropt down my line, has retreated the water.

Now that angling's a passion to me appears plain,
Which amounts to disease if a tight hold it gain;
It may oft be relieved by right treatment, perhaps,
But then, sooner or later, there's sure a relapse.
Standing out a whole day, from its dawn until night,
In a good drenching rain, without even a bite,
Is a capital thing for just cooling the brain,
Though time still will revive - and it warms up again.
It is contagious, too, for a brother it caught,
As he slept in a room where my tackle was brought;
He was up with the lark, and my top joint had broke
Ere the 'larum had rung, which the family woke.

Let me see, it is now about five years ago,
When, admiring the Irish and blarney,
I packed up all my traps, and my tackle also,
And set sail for the banks of Killarney.
I had heard of the lovely and beautiful views
Which adorned the fair Emerald Isle;
So as long as I'd time I resolved to roam through,
And admire what had made Nature smile.

My feelings, as the sea I crossed,
Are distant from the tale;
Suffice it that I suffered loss -
'Twas not a pleasant sail.
My rising thoughts unable to control,
I drowned my sorrows in the waves that roll;
The sickly waves a tribute would demand,
Nor gave me rest till I obeyed command.

With much delight I traversed o'er
The land of Pats and praties,
And mourned to note from what I saw
That indolence their fate is.
A pipe stuck easy in their mouth
For mind and body food is;
Their dress, I must say, is uncouth,
For it next door to nude is....
I'm speaking of the lower sort,
Not so bad are their betters;
Though some, who wealth find ready wrought,
Rest in luxurious fetters.
And have they been for ever so?
Industrious, were they never?
Some things I've seen would p'rhaps say, "No,
As now they were not ever."
But think not, reader, I intend
To write on why and wherefore;
I know not what these folks will mend,
So cannot tell you therefore.
(Though industry in some to plant
I tried, and put in training;
But soon they cried, "O mend-i-cant!" -
So beggars are remaining.)
Nor is it now my wish to write
On Ireland's beauteous scenery;
Though filled with rapture and delight,
I'll spare you what I've seen; or I
Might fill a dozen pages quite,
Describing lakes and greenery.
No; such is not my present plan,
On angling turns my story:
The pleasures of a fisherman
I soon shall lay before ye.
By some mishap at Hull or Cork,
My tackle was mislaid;
So fate did inclination baulk,
And sport some days delayed.
I just had purchased, all quite new,
Of flies a complete set;
And though I had my rod, 'tis true,
I would not fresh ones get.
I'll wait, thinks I, and roam about,
Though some days it may cost.
I'll find the lucky places out,
So time will not be lost.
By telegraph's electric wire,
Or steam, I'll let them know
The place to which I'd fain desire
These luckless flies should go.

'Twas on a morn as bright as fair
As any time, or anywhere,
Mine eyes have ever seen;
For bright and cloudless was the sky,
And blue as any maiden's eye,
Where tears have seldom been.
It made my heart with pleasure beat;
A lightness seemed to raise my feet,
And bear them forth to roam,
Ere yet the morning meal was laid,
To ramble down a mossy glade
Some many miles from home.
Then climbed I up a dew-bathed steep,
Just on the other side to peep
And see what might be there.
By tangled branches grasped right close,
Above impediments I rose,
And, lo, a valley fair!
Where, 'midst the shade of drooping trees,
All quiv'ring in the morning breeze,
Appeared a glitt'ring stream,
Which ran for miles, than gold more bright;
Refulgent with the source of light,
The waves like diamonds gleam.
Impelled I rushed like some wild deer,
And bounding o'er each bramble near,
Like torrent's fearful course,
Was forced to run a whole field's length
Before expended was the strength
Of gravitation's force.

When at the water's side, I found
An aged man, who gazed around
Half terrified, to see
If some mad bull approached that way,
Or steam-engine had gone astray;
And stared surprised at me.
I bowed to him, and begged, polite,
His pardon for the sudden fright
Which I, unconscious, gave.
"It was the beauteous scene which made
Me scamper down so wild," I said;
"For which I pardon crave.
For, like yourself, I love the sport,
And 'twas this sparkling stream which brought
Out hitherward my feet.
What numbers, sir! what splendid trout!
You must have early sallied out:
Such sport I seldom meet!"
"A stranger, then, you are," said he;
"The fishes here bite mostly free,
They love the gaudy fly.
But scarce an hour I here have been,
And hooked the few that you have seen
For breakfast. By the bye,
I very nearly had forgot
That time for me will tarry not,
That hour is drawing nigh.
But, sir, with pleasure, if you love
The sport, I'll show you where they rove,
For often here am I;
And every nook and hole I know,
Which any time you please I'll show:
My house you yonder spy."
I, thanking, praised the old man's skill,
Though, as I viewed him nearer still,
I deemed him younger far
Than I at first beholding thought;
'Twas care, not age, had deeply wrought
The wrinkle-furrowed scar.
But though erect as poplar straight,
He bent not 'neath the crushing weight
Of Time's remorseless might.
Yet few and scanty were his locks,
Which were than Shetland's rill-bathed flocks
Longer and purer white.
A sudden int'rest in mine eyes,
Which unaccounted will arise
Ofttimes within the brain,
I felt tow'rds him, and longed to know
What circumstance had made him so -
If grief, or wearing pain.
He friendly seemed, and not averse
On fishing topics to converse;
At length I told my woe,
How that my flies and lines behind
Were left. Said he, "Oh, never mind;
If home with me you'll go,
With pleasure I will lend you all
You want; my stock's by no means small -
Not very modern though.
And, p'rhaps, if I, a stranger, may
Request a boon, as such a way
From home you've rambled out,
I should feel overjoyed if you
Would stay and let your palate too
Be tickled by my trout.
Except my housekeeper there's none,
And she will pardon what I've done,
So pray do not refuse."
I, pondering for a moment, thought,
When he a fresh inducement brought
Which drowned my frail excuse.
"And afterwards I'll take you out
Where you may catch as fine a trout
As ever bit at hook."
And, truly, I sharp hunger felt,
And as three miles from where I dwelt
I was, I gladly took
Him at his word, and pleased him quite
By thus accepting his invite.
He seized my hand and twice it shook,
And thanking me with cordial look,
He smiling said, "For you I feel
A friendship, sir, I'll not conceal.
You cause my fancies back to fly
To youth's bright days, when fearless I,
Like you, would dash through passes where
A slip had sent me past all care;
But now those joyous moments seem
Like wanderings in a pleasant dream,
And never will return, I fear.
But, see, my garden-gate is here."
He led the way, with fish in hand;
We neared the house, perhaps not grand
In point of size, yet truly there
Resided Elegance, and Care
Expended on each part had been:
No imperfections could be seen,
For Order reigned throughout the place,
Assisted by her sister Grace.
The walls were built of reddish brick,
And massive as a house were thick,
That meant to combat with old Time,
For still they seemed now in their prime.
Though cent'ries two past them had strayed
They scarce had an impression made.
A carved verandah ran before
The front, and arched above the door
Arose, where flowers twined around
Their sweetness, and a dwelling found.
"We're rather homely folks," said he,
"My housekeeper and I: we see
And hear but little of the news
And fashions which you moderns use,
But sure I am you will excuse
Our queerness, which may chance amuse."
With this we reached the hall, whose floor
Was paved with stone. He moved before,
And throwing wide an open door,
He bade me enter and wage war
With hunger a few moments more,
The while he after the fishes saw.

The house was large, and opened out
Upon a lawn, where roamed about
A gentle fawn, who darted through
The casement, but as quick withdrew, -
He missed the hand that used to feed,
So backward flew with rapid speed.

The floor of polished oak was made,
O'er which a carpet rich was laid.
The furniture was carved antique;
And had it been allowed to speak,
Might tales of stirring int'rest tell
Of what in ancient times befell:
But that which most attracted me
Seemed younger far than all to be,
The portrait of a lady fair
As ever breathed the vital air,
Or drove a lover to despair,
Or claimed in any mischief share; -
As beautiful a face was there
As poet's quill did e'er compare
With aught above the earth that grows;
Than even winter's drifting snows,
Her neck was white, while dark her eyes
As night when moonbeams shun the skies;
Her glossy locks down trickling,
Were blacker than the raven's wing,
While fresh-born pearls might even die with grief,
Out-rivalled by her more transparent teeth.
The rosy, tint-like blushes on her cheek,
Would puzzle Language, if he truth must speak.
In fact, I saw the portrait was not real, -
A painter's fancy, beautiful, ideal.
Yet still, enraptured, in a pensive mood,
Entranced I gazed, more pleased the more I viewed,
When, unperceived, beside me stood my host,
Who like myself in wand'ring thought seemed lost.
He sighed; I turned, and on his cheek beheld
A falling tear his mem'ry's grief impelled:
But soon above it rose a cheerful smile,
And Joy seemed anxious Sorrow to beguile.
"What form! what grace!" half questioning, said I,
"No mortal face such beauty could supply?"
"But yet a fairer one I've seen," said he.
"Then surely she th' original must be?"
"Not her, I mean; the grave has closed above
That beauteous form, which seeing was to love:
My housekeeper I meant, - you smile!" said he,
"I own that I may not impartial be;
But still I hope you will not seek her heart,
For it would kill me were we forced to part:
Come, promise me you will not fall in love,"
He joking said, and cast his eyes above.
I gave my word, though really I must own
On first beholding I was near o'erthrown,
And nigh had fallen into Cupid's snare,
For such a sight I did but half prepare.
A step approached, he left that toe to seek,
A smacking kiss salutes his aged cheek,
Then, whisp'ring low of me, I heard them speak,
And felt uncertain what I ought to do.
When not long after they both entered through
The half-closed door my back was turned unto.
"His housekeeper," thinks I: "I'll not look round
Until he speak, but seem in thought profound,
Still gazing on that face for charms renowned."
"My niece, my friend." I introduced am now,
And so, perforce, must turn me round and bow.
When, like Miss Lalla Rookh,
In Moore's delightful book
(Who found her husband was Young What's-his-name),
I with amazement found
(When I had gazed around)
The housekeeper and portrait were the same.
The night-dark orbs, which radiant smiles bedeck
(Like sunbeams dancing on the ruffled wave),
The pearly teeth, the snowy, swan-like neck,
The roseate hue which health unsparing gave,
The velvet cheek, and deepened on the lips
(Like double poppies whence the wise bee sips
Entrancing sweets), and ev'ry other charm
That tongue has told, or fancy could describe,
In both appeared - yea, which had won the palm
In beauty's flower-show (without a bribe)
I cannot tell, but let the living form
But speak a word, and ev'ry doubt is gone.

His niece, he said; his sister's child is she?
No wonder then their faces well agree.
But still I gave him a reproving look,
At which he smiled, while in his arm he took
The portrait's twin, and bid me follow where
The well-dressed trout for our repast prepare.

The meal concluded, out we went
With tackle which he kindly lent,
And reached a lonely spot,
Where, at the swarms of glittering flies,
The speckled trout enraptured rise,
Like lightning, or a shot;
And soon a splendid pair I caught,
As fine as I had seen, methought,
Though I've tried lots of places.
He calls: "What luck, my friend?" says he.
"A brace!" "The same have favoured me -
So that's a pair of braces;
And if the sun will but lie hid
The fleecy, flutt'ring clouds amid,
For two short hours more
(Unless your arm be wearied out),
We'll line the bank with sparkling trout,
In number twice a score."

I said before, I anxious felt to learn
The old man's history,
There seemed some mystery;
For he from grave to gay, and back, would turn
So very fast,
That scarcely past
The witty jest had flown, before a sigh
Burst forth, and buried deep he long would lie
In thought;
And nought
Would rouse him up, till some one near him spoke,
And then some anecdote or lively joke
Appeared the offspring of his lethargy.

In vain the fish, with wistful eye,
Might long to seize his tempting fly,
For rod and line unheeded lie
Quite harmless on the shore. -
At breakfast also, by the bye,
The trout got cold, or very nigh,
Before he asked if I would try
Another mouthful more.

I asked his name, and, as I thought,
My voice him to remembrance brought;
"The Doctor I am called," said he;
"Though years have passed since I a fee
Have taken for my skill.
My name is Hall, so - Doctor Hall
Will kill or cure all folks who call,
With bleeding, draught, or pill.
My niece the nasty stuff prepares,
And as she many visits shares,
As doctor's boy, she will
Oft roam with basket on her arm,
From hut to cot, from house to farm,
With med'cine all to fill;
While many a needy child displays
Her needlework, which snugly lays
Beneath the physics, while she strays,
Unseen her gifts to share.
It is not I her fame should blaze,
But still my tongue unbid will praise
A life she spends in seeking ways
To cure all human care."
My name then in return I gave,
And chanced to say at times
My business was for fame and gold
To dress my thoughts in rhymes.

"You don't say so!" with joy, said he.
"You're just the man I've longed to see
For many years, but never yet
Have one of your profession met.
I have at home a curious tale, -
A legend, which, I much bewail,
Has been by time or mice defaced,
So much that parts are scarcely traced:
My wish has been, a man to find
Whose taste to poetry inclined,
Who kindly would the remnants read
And fill in where the sense may need -
A few words here - a passage there -
While now and then a page may share,
Destruction's touch, and need much skill
The space with likesome rhymes to fill.
Though some expense th' improvements make,
If you the task will undertake
I care not, and with gladness will
Repay you for your time and skill.
Through circumstance unfortunate
Destroyed have been the name and date
(If any there have been),
Yet still I traces here and there,
Which seem upon the tale to bear,
In many parts have seen.
I have not quite decided yet,
Whether to print it, or to let
It still reside in ink.
But you shall first the tale peruse
(Unless the office you refuse);
I'll hear then what you think."
"With pleasure, sir, I will comply
With your request; but really I
Cannot with honesty deny
My fear lest I should not supply
The skill you need; but still will try,
For now I have much leisure time,
And love exploring ancient rhyme."

With many thanks, he begg'd I'd with him dine.
"Now do not, sir, from etiquette, decline,
For afterwards together we will read
The tale, and judge how it had best proceed.
There's none but my housekeeper shares
The meal with me, and she up-stairs
Shall have her meat and pudding sent,
If that robs me of your consent.
Of course it is quite right of you
To seek excuse, but make them few,
I pray you, sir, for greatly I
Prefer unformal courtesy.
For what is fashion but a chain to bind
The wretch called man with tortures of some kind, -
The small-toed shoe, to grind his very corns, -
The wasted waist, which age for ever mourns, -
The bulging sleeve, which dives in ev'ry dish,
And trailing dress to raise the dust? I wish
The world would wiser grow. But, what's more strange
To me, is, though their fancies ever change
(Which shows they never can perfection reach),
They still their youth in _copy slips_ will teach
That maxim immoral, you p'rhaps have heard them tell,
That 'to be out of fashion, one might just as well
Far out of the universe at a distance dwell.'

"But still, sir, fashions are of use
(Though I too smile at their abuse),
For shops are oft so overstocked
That trade would on the head be knocked,
If Fancy did not often range
And force his slaves their dress to change.
Some forms are also needful too,
In daily life; and strange, yet true,
You'll ever find when Form has flown
That Order soon will get o'erthrown,
And then how often rows arise
In thus disordered families.
The ladies, as 'tis merely form
To decorate at early morn,
Forget their tresses to unfurl
And paper-prisoned leave each curl.
In dressing-gown and sunk-heel'd shoe,
The master saunters into view
Long after breakfast has begun,
Whence stragglers leave as soon as done.
The infants, too, in disarray,
Tease till allowed to have their way,
As parents do not like, they say,
Formality in babes; while they,
Who will not nat'rally obey,
Think now, since taxes are so few,
The duty's off their parents too.
But open house and open heart,
Which would to all who need impart
Unbounded hospitality,
Has ever been the poet's song,
And shall continue so, as long
As they retain vitality."
"And gladly I your offer take
To dine, and hope your tale to make
Subject of immortality.
Then as in search of health I came,
Your skill the wand'rer shall reclaim
If he's in this locality."

A beggar here accosted him
And begged to drink his health.
I smiled to hear this Irish whim,
And pictured to myself
The tattered man, and host so trim,
As Poverty and Wealth.
But though he could not say him nay,
The honour did decline, -
"The wretch has drunk _his health_ away,
And now he would drink _mine_."

Methought a brighter smile bedecked
The maiden's cheek when back I came;
She certainly did not expect
That he would bring me there again.
But sometimes we ourselves deceive,
As what we wish we oft believe.

The dinner and the lady flown,
We chatted o'er the wine.
But though his glass he left alone,
He would replenish mine.
At length he told his history,
And thus cleared up the mystery,
Which clothed him like a spell.
'Twas sad and touching though to hear
The anguish past of many a year,
Yet pleased his grief to tell
He seemed, for cheerfully he spoke,
Though oft a deep-drawn sigh forth broke
From Sorrow's care-worn well.

"This house above our heads," said he;
"(Of late my uncle's property),
Has been the family estate
Longer than I can backward date.
The orphan of a brother, I
Resided here in days gone by,
His table and his heart to share.
Thus childhood passed without a care;
At college then his kindness placed,
And gladly my improvements traced.
When, as he left the choice to me,
A surgeon I resolved to be.

"The portrait of this worthy man
I'll sometime show, although I can
But briefly on his virtues dwell;
'Twould weary you were I to tell
Of all the kindness shown to me,
Since when an infant on his knee,
Beside my father's dying bed,
He promised to be mine instead.

"A tall and well-formed man was he,
Beloved for his humanity.
Yea, oft he would so gen'rous be
That some called it insanity.
Still happily together we,
Far from the empty vanity
Of public care and worldly strife,
Enjoyed a peaceful, quiet life,
Without a wish to share or mix
In gaiety or politics;
Which were, he said, so fraught with tricks,
Emoluments on self to fix.
It made his spirit boil to see
Their mercantile hypocrisy.
But though this may at times be true,
His must be a distorted view
Of legislative law; yet still,
How often proud Ambition will
Stoop down to acts remote from praise,
Himself above a foe to raise.

"If harsh at times my uncle might
By some be deemed, for what seemed right,
Whate'er the cost, he would uphold,
Though down his plans and wishes rolled
Like sand-banks 'fore the rushing tide,
When duty asked him to decide.
Residing in this lovely spot,
Our guests were few, yet cared we not,
For he, in calculations deep,
Would pass the day, and then would creep
Aloft at night to watch the stars
Revolving in their golden cars.
But though so much engaged was he,
To prove he ne'er neglected me,
He lessons gave in Latin, Greek,
And French, which he as well could speak,
And fast, as a Parisian guide,
For he had travelled far and wide.
Then sought he cheerful company,
More suitable than his could be,
Lest he should make a monk of me;
For sometimes he could sit for hours
A-pondering o'er the force and pow'rs
Of comets which had gone astray,
To find when they'd return that way.
The widow of a valued friend,
A helping hand would also lend
To guide me, where his skill might fail
(Her loss I much as his bewail).
Her cottage was in yonder glen,
Though much has altered been since then,
Where I would creep away from solid worth,
To enjoy the smiling cheerfulness and mirth
Of fair Rosina, then a beauteous child,
Light as the fawn, and oh! I fear as wild;
For we together o'er the hills would roam,
And through the woods, without a thought of home,

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Online Libraryactive 19th century NoviceThe Anglican Friar, and the Fish which he Took by Hook and by Crook → online text (page 1 of 9)