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Fisherman's Luck Henry van Dyke

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But these various seasonings did not disguise, they only enhanced, the delicate flavour of the dish which he served up to his readers. This was all of his own taking, and of a sweetness quite incomparable.

I like a writer who is original enough to water his garden with quotations, without fear of being drowned out. Such men are Charles Lamb and James Russell Lowell and John Burroughs.

Walton's book is as fresh as a handful of wild violets and sweet lavender. It breathes the odours of the green fields and the woods. It tastes of simple, homely, appetizing things like the "syllabub of new verjuice in a new-made haycock" which the milkwoman promised to give Piscator the next time he came that way. Its music plays the tune of A CONTENTED HEART over and over again without dulness, and charms us into harmony with

    "A noise like the sound of a hidden brook
    In the leafy month of June,
    That to the sleeping woods all night
    Singeth a quiet tune."

Walton has been quoted even more than any of the writers whom he quotes. It would be difficult, even if it were not ungrateful, to write about angling without referring to him. Some pretty saying, some wise reflection from his pages, suggests itself at almost every turn of the subject.

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And yet his book, though it be the best, is not the only readable one that his favourite recreation has begotten. The literature of angling is extensive, as any one may see who will look at the list of the collection presented by Mr. John Bartlett to Harvard University, or study the catalogue of the piscatorial library of Mr. Dean Sage, of Albany, who himself has contributed an admirable book on THE RISTIGOUCHE.

Nor is this literature altogether composed of dry and technical treatises, interesting only to the confirmed anglimaniac, or to the young novice ardent in pursuit of practical information. There is a good deal of juicy reading in it.

Books about angling should be divided (according to De Quincey's method) into two classes,--the literature of knowledge, and the literature of power.

The first class contains the handbooks on rods and tackle, the directions how to angle for different kinds of fish, and the guides to various fishing-resorts. The weakness of these books is that they soon fall out of date, as the manufacture of tackle is improved, the art of angling refined, and the fish in once-famous waters are educated or exterminated.

Alas, how transient is the fashion of this world, even in angling! The old manuals with their precise instruction for trimming and painting trout-rods eighteen feet long, and their painful description of "oyntments" made of nettle-juice, fish-hawk oil, camphor, cat's fat, or assafoedita, (supposed to allure the fish,) are altogether behind the age. Many of the flies described by Charles Cotton and Thomas Barker seem to have gone out of style among the trout. Perhaps familiarity has bred contempt. Generation after generation of fish have seen these same old feathered confections floating on the water, and learned by sharp experience that they do not taste good. The blase trout demand something new, something modern. It is for this reason, I suppose, that an altogether original fly, unheard of, startling, will often do great execution in an over-fished pool.

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Fisherman's Luck
Henry van Dyke

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