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A POPULAR DELUSION

VICTIMISED by a deceptive idea originating
in 'The Complete Angler,' and which has
been industriously perpetuated by a numerous
proprietary of punts and houses of public
entertainment and eel piesthe London
disciples of Izaak Walton usually seek for sport
in the upper regions of the Thames. They
resort to Shepperton, or Ditton, or Twickenham,
or Richmond. Chiefly, it would seem,
as a wholesome exercise of the greatest
Christian virtue, patience; for recent
experience proves that anglers who soar above
sticklebats, and are not content with occasional
nibbles from starving gudgeons, or the frequent
entanglements of writhing eels, mostly return
to their homes and families with their baskets
innocent of the vestige of a single scale.

Ifas may be safely assertedthe aim,
end, and purpose of all fishing is fish, the
tenacity with which this idea is clung to,
is astonishing; we may indeed say, amazing
when we reflect that there existsbelow
bridgea particular spot, more convenient,
more accessible, and affording quite as good
accommodation as any of the above-bridge
fishing stations, and which abounds at
particular states of the tide, at particular times
of the day, and at no particular seasons of
the year, but all the year round, in fish of
every sort, size, species, and condition, from
the cod down to the sprat; from a salmon
to a shrimp; from turbots to Thames
flounders. Neither is there a single member
of any one of these enormous families of
fishes that may not be captured with the
smallest possible expenditure of patience.
And although the bait necessary for that
purpose (a white bait manufactured of metal
at an establishment on that bank of the
Thames known as Tower Hill) is
unfortunately not always procurable by every
class of her Majesty's subjects; yet it is so
eagerly caught at, that, with a moderate
supply, the least expert may be sure of filling
his fish-basket very respectably.

In order to partake of all the advantages
offered by this famed spot, it is necessary to
rise betimes. The fishing excursion of which
we are now about to give a sketch, commenced
at about four o'clock on a Monday morning.
The rain which fell at the time did not much
matter, on account of the sheltered position of
that margin of the Thames to which we were
bound. With a small basket, and the waistcoat
pocket primed with a little of the proper sort
of bait; with no other rod than a walking stick,
and no fly whatever, (except one upon four
wheels procured from a neighbouring cab
stand,) we arrived at the great fish focus; which,
we may as well mention, to relieve suspense, is
situated on the Middlesex shore of the Thames
at a short distance below London Bridge, close
to the Custom House, opposite the Coal
Exchange, and has been known from time
immemorial as BILLINGSGATE.

When we arrived at the collection of sheds
and stallslike a dilapidated railway station
of which this celebrated place consists,
it was nearly five o'clock. Its ancient
reputation had prepared us for scenes of
confusion and for volubility of abuse, which have
since the times of the Tritons ever been
associated with those whose special business
is with fish. It was, therefore, with very
great surprise that we walked unmolested
through that portion of the precinct set aside
as the market. We went straight to the
river's edge, rod in hand, without having
had once occasion to use it as a weapon, and
without hearing one word that might not
have been uttered in the Queen's drawing-
room on a court day. No crowding, no
elbowing, no screaming, no fighting: no
ungenteel nick-names, no foul-mouthed
females hurling anathemas at their neighbours'
optics; no rude requests to despatch
ourself suddenly down to the uttermost depth
the human mind is capable of conceiving; no
wish expressed that we might be inflated very
tight indeed; no criticisms on the quality of
our hat; no impertinent questions as to our
present stock of soap; nothing whatever, in
short, calculated to sustain the ancient
reputation of Billingsgate.

With easy deliberation we sauntered down
to the dumb-barge which forms a temporary
landing-place while a better one is being built.
There we beheld a couple of clippers, quite as
trim as any revenue-cutter; over the sides of
which were being handed all sorts of fish; cod,
soles, whitings, plaice, John Dorys, mackerel;
some neatly packed in baskets. That
nothing should be wanting utterly to subvert
established notions of Billingsgate, the order,

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