Next morning was bright and pleasant. But, by ten
oclock, the air became close and sultry, great heavy clouds rolled
slowly gathering from the south and hung about the hills, and the
slight breeze died away. We were in for a storm; no doubt of it.
However, any weather should do for putting tackle in order; so when
breakfast was over, we soon had the large table littered from end to
end with casts, flies, thread, and cobblers wax.
By-and-by it became too dark for operations; a flash
of lightning, followed by the rumbling of distant thunder, told what
was coming. Nearer and nearer sounded heavens artillery, and the
storm was upon us, bursting overhead with torrents of rain.
Fred, are you frightened at thunder? I asked.
Not the least.
Then we might open the windows. A Highland
thunderstorm is worth looking at.
Yes, yes, was quickly replied.
And we threw the windows right open to witness a
truly grand sight. The torrents of rainthe gloomy, restless-looking
cloudsfrom which the pale forked lightning zigzagged among the
mountain-tops, while the thunder crashed overhead, and growled and
rumbled away in distant echoes through the clefts and corries of the
glen; but the storm passed quickly, and, although it continued to
rain for some time, there was now light enough to go on with the
"While Ward was overhauling my hook-book, he got hold
of an absurd Irish fly, with sea-green body, golden wings, and a
tail like a fan. This world of art he handed to me, declaring he
should use that one in particular.
Bah! I said, you will only frighten the fish.
Why, you agreed that these Irish flies often worked
"Then try it; it can do no good, however much harm.
You are sententious to-day, Abbott.
Do then forgive me, like a good fellow, and
translate my meaning into parliamentary language.
Ward laughed, and said that, instead of a curt do no
good, and may harm, would it not be more polite to have remarked,
Mr. Ward, the lure which you propose to use cannot, under the
circumstances of its unnatural brightness and your inexperience, be
productive of beneficial influences; but, on the contrary, may be
the cause of disaster and deleterious operation throughout the
length and breadth of our sporting river?
Ha, ha! What a park of wordy artillery to demolish a
Still, ridiculous as it seems, the sort of style is
often used in private, and it is absolutely necessary in public
speeches, in which people are used to having their parish pumps
compared with the pyramids; and rather like it, he sneeringly
Yet the men are not individually donkeys, although
they may applaud.
A peu de chose pres; but how do you fix these knots
so nicely on the casts?
Oh! thats the sailors knot; shall I teach you?
And Ward mastered the sailors knot, which afterwards
saved him some trouble, and, probably fish.
By two oclock the day had cleared up; but it wag too
late to fish the river, which, besides, would likely be discoloured
with the rain; so it was agreed that the Major and I should ride the
ponies to the loch, and help the launching of the new boat that was
to be sent on to-day. Ward and Fred resolved to fish the burn.
On crossing the hills to the loch we saw a good deal
of game, which was satisfactory as this is not one of the best
beats. Indeed, we had leased Ardenmohr rather for the fishing and
the wide range and wildness of the scenery than as a stocked moor,
which it is not; but the sport is always ample, and so strange and
varied that for good walkers it is infinitely to be preferred to an
ordinary grouse moor, where there is little variety from day to day
but the tameness or shyness of the birds.
At the loch we met the game-watcher and another man
waiting for the boat, which by-and-by arrived, mounted on old coach
wheels, and drawn by two stout horses, John Fraser superintending.
The concern, as John called it, had been twice bogged on the path
across the hill, and they had some trouble to get her clear.
The launching was well managed, and the big boat
floated even and lightly., Major Duncan and I had a pull at the
oars, and found she went famously through the water. The boat was
also supplied with the requisites for putting' up a small sail when
wanted, as I was anxious to try how a sail would work in trolling:
so far so well, and having examined the boathouse and fittings, &c.,
we went homewards. It began to rain heavily, and we dismounted
Shortly Ward and Fred arrived in like dismal plight,
but in great spirits, both having filled their creels with nice burn
trout. Fred, who had fished with bait, had the largest-sized trout,
but not so many as Ward.
Although early in August, the evening was chilly, and
it was pleasant, on coming in to dinner, to gather round a bright
fire. Foreigners are beginning to find the beauties of an open
fireplace, and though neither so economical nor perhaps so warm as a
stove, it is so jolly to look at; but the piles of faggots we" bum
on cool nights would be ruinous on the Continent.
After dinner, to make doubly safe against a chill, we
bad a brew of whisky toddy: and Ward, like a sensible fellow, took
quite kindly to a reeking tumbler, and might have taken two had his
head not warned him that it was not negus; and Freddy, inspired by a
small glass, toasted the girls of N- before he went off to prepare
for his next mornings lesson.
When Fred had gone out, I remarked to Ward how like
he is to his sisters;they having the same brusque and slightly
defiant manner, and yet so sweet-tempered.
Yes, said Ward, sweet tempered with pleasant
people, and so gentle with the shy or reserved; but they do bristle
up sometimes at pomposity or advice-giving.
Do they! said the Major. Then I might have their
sympathy. Why, just to-day, I have a letter from a wise friend, who
is pleased to advise me on a delicate matter: his maxims are
I detest maxims, said Ward, bumptious, onesided
dogmas seldom applying in individual cases. Why the deuce wont
people let others alone?
As the best judges, Hope?
Yes, of their own circumstances, and quite unlikely
to act on others views.
Yet counsel and sympathy are sought by many people
far from being fools.
Ay, sought, and from those they like or trust; but
not to be volunteered. A better authority than maxim-mongers says,
The heart knoweth its own bitterness, and a stranger intermeddleth
not with its joys.
A stranger, of course; but he does not say a
Surely nota friends counsel Bacon pronounces
doubly good; it halves evil and doubles joys. By a stranger I
understand one who has not ones confidence. Yet the meaning may lie
deeper, and point to those silent griefs and joys which even
friendship cannot touch.
You seem, Hope, to have thought this matter over
Hot very philosophically, Major; but there are some
lines, not poetry, in my scrap-book, suggested to me by Captain
Maurys statements about the perfect stillness of the sea in great
depths, and which bear in some degree on the subject. I need
scarcely say that they are poetry of a very mild type.
Ah! verse instead of a drawing of ocean depths: but
you could hardly sketch in a diving-bell. Let us look at the
Ward laughed, and handed the thing to Major Duncan,
who put down his pipe and read aloud
Tis false religion, false philosophy
To teach lifes ills are nought, lifes pleasures toys;
And wisest minds with simple natures vie
In frankly sharing common griefs and joys.
Yet doth the heart retain a hallowd spot,
A sacred fane, where many feelings lie
With which the stranger intermeddleth not
A minds retreat and Christians sanctuary.
Men of great heart and eke of judgment ripe
Have the broad living ocean as their type,
That open-armd receives earths tribute streams,
Spreading in bounteous rain those tributes won;
Changeful in mood, as childhoods face in dreams,
Frowns with each cloud, or glitters in the sun.
Oft fretful gales dispel the oceans rest,
Tornadoes fierce its throbbing bosom vex;
Then is upheaved the white and dreaded crost,
The trembling shore all strewn with piteous wrecks.
Yet, far below, in crystal depths profound,
Waves have no force, the shrieking wind no sound.
Deep, where rich spoils of many a foreign land,
Hid ever from mans grasping, slowly rot;
Down, where, till doomsday, rest on silver sands
Unshrouded dead, long shipwreckd, long forgot,
In gloom more hushd than dim Carthusian cell.
Such rest, that wind nor wave have never power
To move one fragile weed or tiny shell
Hid in the coral grottoes of the deep
A home of silence and unbroken sleep.
Prodigious! exclaimed the Major on finishing the
rhyme; and sentimental too, Hope; yet very reasonable rhyme and
reason: besides, it would be hard to deny a private room to your
friends who keep open house for public griefs and joys in their
Even should it, Major, be like the maisters room
you spoke of as being common in Scotch country houses, and
the worst-furnished room in the house, said Ward, laughing.
Exactly, moncher; for, analogous to your minds
private room, the masters retreat is sacred to quiet and fancy,
.and free from bothering advisers.
You dry Scotch quiz, you have no pity for
I suspect, I remarked, that delusions fill the
pleasantest corners in ones mind, and that Bums only half
considered when he wrote
Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
To see ourselves as others see us.
Individually, it would be far from a pleasing giftie;
but had Robbie written gie them, and not gie us, every one would
say, how proper ! I dont want my own fancies, mayhap delusions, to
NorI, said Ward. I wish to believe my friends to
be friendly; my tastes and whims good taste; and dont seek others
views thereon to disperse all my fancy blossoms. Time may quietly
pick them off one by one soon enough.
Ah! Hope, is this not pleasure verms dry wisdom?
said Major Duncan.
Hot entirely; no sane man will deny that in matters
of real moment truth is best, however bitter; but Lord Bacon, a
safer philosopher than your Bums, says that, c If you take from men
vain opinions, flattering hopes, and the like, it would leave the
minds of most of us poor shrunken things. Nor do I want people to
be poking pins through my wind-bags: they float me nicely down the
So, so, Hope, and you admire the great chancellor?
Not a bad sign of your taste.
Who does not? the finest of philosophical
intellects, and the most intensely sensible of men of the world;
yet he made some sad mulls, moral and mental. Not you, Fred, Ward
said, as the youngster came in, and was staring at his cousin being
so earnest; you never make mulls. .
Fred merely grinned.
Alas, Hope, for weak humanity, I said, that such
as King David, Solomon, and Bacon should stand for beacons as well
as stars! Consoling to us common people in the ruck, eh?
Yes ; and too many do console and please themselves
with the notion that they are better behaved than their betters,
and, perhaps, secretly wiser: the giftie might be useful there.
It might, if anything can mitigate the envy and sham
contempt of narrow minds for those of higher stamp. They pooh-pooh
everything: clever men are bores; the pleasant, deceitful; the
philosophic, free thinkers; and even sportsmen, to be pitied and
Even so, said the Major, laughing. Yet must we
continue in folly, and give the loch a thorough trial to-morrow;
this has been a sort of blank day. Oh no, Major, said Fred; Hope
and I had right good sport in the burn.
To he sure; but I supposed your grilse had made you
despise small fry, Fred?
No, Major, not at all; I forgot all about it when
the trout in the burn were taking so well.
And quite right, Freddy; never throw over old
friends for newer or bigger fish; besides, theres worse fun than
Wont the fishing be good for some time yet?
To be sure, boy; and you will take many a trout, and
some salmon, long after the 12th; and, you recollect, you and I go
together that day.
Thats famous! I can do nothing with Hope when he is
in a bumptious humour, which he is sure to be when he begins to miss
Suppose, said Ward, we have a bet, Frederick, that
you make three misses to my one; is that fair? What shall it be?
Will you stake your silver sandwich-box against half
an hours extra study on my part for a week?
Hem, yes ; agreed.
Ho you play whist, Fred? inquired Major Duncan.
Only a very little. I about know the moves. We
might have a rubber. Of course you fellows play! Fred, you will find
some packs in that corner drawer. You and I shall be partners
against the philosophers.
All the evening we waged tough battle, which ended by
Master Fred and the Major winning six shillings sterling from each
On going to bed, Fred stood on the stairs, and
called: I say, Hope.
Well, imp, what is it?
I have got some laudanum for toothache, if you find
the whist has made you restless. You may come to my room for it.
Ward made a dash at him, but Fred was holed like a
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