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Unformatted text preview: strange combinations of blues, reds, golds, of tinsel and worsted, of feathers and fur, are purely fantastic articles. They are like nothing in nature, and are multiplied for the fanciful amusement of anglers. Nobody knows why salmon rise at them; nobody knows why they will bite on one day and not on another, or rather, on many others. It is not even settled whether we should use a bright fly on a bright day, and a dark fly on a dark day, as Dr. Hamilton advises, or reverse the choice as others use. Muscles and patience, these, I repeat, are the only ingredients of ultimate success. However, one does do at Rome as the Romans do, and fishes for salmon in Tweed when the nets are off in October, when the yellowing leaves begin to fall, and when that beautiful reach of wooded valley from Elibank to the meeting of Tweed and Ettrick is in the height of its autumnal charm. Why has Yarrow been so much more besung than Tweed, in spite of the greater stream's far greater and more varied loveliness? The fatal duel in the Dowie Dens of Yarrow and the lamented drowning of Willie there have given the stream its 'pastoral melancholy,' and engaged Wordsworth in the renown of the water. For the poetry of Tweed we have chiefly, after Scott, to thank Mr. Stoddart, its loyal minstrel. "Dearer than all these to me," he says about our other valleys, "is sylvan Tweed." Let ither anglers choose their ain, And ither waters tak' the lead O' Hieland streams we covet nane, But gie to us the bonny Tweed; And gie to us the cheerfu' burn, That steals into its valley fair, The streamlets that, at ilka turn, Sae saftly meet and mingle there. He kept his promise, given in the following verse:
59 ANGLING SKETCHES And I, when to breathe is a labour, and joy Forgets me, and life is no longer the boy, On the labouring staff, and the tremorous knee, Will wander, bright river, to thee! Life is always "the boy" when one is beside the Tweed. Times change, and we change, for the worse. But the river changes little. Still he courses through the keen and narrow rocks beneath the bridge of Yair. Fr...
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