But I will tell you another reason. What do you mean to do with
“Do? Why, when I have finished my cigar, I mean to go down to the kitchen, and have a little talk with Anne and Sally.”
“I do not doubt you the least in the world; but even Anne and Sally cannot make love for a whole rainy day. Cigars, too, are delicious; but they have an end. Books are too heavy to be carried to the ends of the world, and you can get none in Ireland, for the natives do not read. My day to-day will be one of scientific and instructive amusement; I should like to know what yours will be?”
“A very pleasant one, I have no doubt; no one need be at a loss for amusement in an Irish kitchen. The chances are, I shall get up a fight or a dance before an hour is over; or, at all events, I can take a portrait of the pig, or sketch the cocks and hens. So here goes”, he said, proceeding down the stairs, but not very eagerly or rapidly, “like a knight-errant in search of adventures.”
“And from the very same cause”, said the Squire, as soon as he was out of
hearing, “an utter inability of occupying his mind in any more profitable
The Squire was just then sitting before the fire with both feet on the fender, and superintending, with the eye of a connoisseur, the workmanship of Johnny M’Gowan and Paddy Mooshlan, who, seated on the floor, were commencing a regular overhaul of all his books and tackle.
“In one respect, though”, he continued, “our worthy friend now departed is quite right. If a man has time, on passing through Liverpool, to go to Edmondson’s, in Church Street, he may have his choice from hundreds, not to say thousands, of flies, every one of which, properly handled, would kill a salmon, - aye, and get some valuable advice, too, into the bargain, if his journey lies northward: but Edmondson does not know a great deal about this country. And I will tell you what he may do, if he has plenty of money. He may go to Bowness’s,* (*Now Chevalier) in Bell Yard, and get anything made for him that he pleases, for any water, and ten times more neatly tied than anything he can do for himself.”
“Yes”, said the Parson, “I believe firmly, that if you ask for a dozen of dodo hackles with phoenix wings, you will have them; and if you are curious about a roc-s tail feather, Bowness will find some Sindbad to get it for you: but, for all that, you must have a good pattern, and a pretty competent knowledge of the art yourself, so as to give your own directions; for, though I would trust Bowness in the dark in the choice of trout-flies, his advice is worth nothing for salmon.”
“I do not think they have much originality there”, said the Squire. “In fact, I suspect his own personal experience does not incline much to salmon; but they copy like Chinamen.”
“But a man ought to have something more in his pocket than his half-pay”, said the Captain, “if he goes there. What do you think of the Dublin makers? I myself use no flies but my own; but I have seen some nice-looking things there, and, at all events, they are cheap enough.”
“My experience in the native manufacture,” said the Squire, “is not very extensive. I bought but a dozen or so, by way of specimens, as I always do wherever I go; and these were not cheap, for they whipped to pieces, and washed out. Bad material and careless workmanship are not cheap, whatever you pay for them.”*
“After all,” said the Parson, “the best thing that a man can do, wherever he goes, is to buy specimens of the flies of the river on the spot, and to improve upon them if he can. And supposing he cannot tie his own flies, or is too idle to do it, or prefers flirting with the Anne’s and Sally’s of the neighbourhood, all he has to do is to find out the fishing genius of the place, and to set him to work. I never knew a river yet, that had not some poaching disreputable rascal belonging to it, who could make flies ten times as well as I could, and use them, too, when they were made.”
“In fact, to do what we are doing now, minus the disreputable rascal part of the business,” said the Captain: “but in order to do this, you must necessarily carry your own materials.”
*The Author, correcting for the year 1850, has great pleasure in being able to record a decided improvement in the Dublin flies.