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while the character, kind, and weight of the various fish to be found at the many localities indicated, are gleaned from a long experience and the knowledge of others, who have been familiar with these places for many years.
We are proud to acknowledge our obligations to J. Hooper, Esq., of Hoddesdon ; C. W. Tyler, Esq., of Ware ; Mr. Baugh, the eminent photographer; Mr. Gant, of Paternoster-row; Mr. Pelton, the zealous and intelligent secretary of the River Lea Angling Protection Society ; Mr. Shilling, of the Amicable Brothers Society of Anglers, and others, who have all liberally rendered the experience of years for the one single and unselfish object of contributing to the instruction and pleasure of their brethren of the angle. Nor may we neglect to express our thanks to the directors, secretary, manager, and officers of the Great Eastern Railway Company, for the facilities afforded us for obtaining information from the station-masters and others, at the several places on the line. The latter have, in turn, been most courteous and obliging. Indeed, it is equally pleasurable to add that after travelling up and down for very many months, in search of the material of which this little work is composed, we have not heard of an act of incivility, a murmur from the humblest engaged, or the shadow of a complaint from a passenger on the line.
THE RAIL AND THE ROD.
THE GREAT EASTERN RAILWAY.
INTRODUCTION. OUR railway bookstalls possess almost every description of “ Guide ”—from the numerical complexity of Bradshaw,” to the special “ Time Tables” of each individual line. Their necessity having been generally recognised, public attention and patronage are accorded to them, and their permanence is secured. The man of pleasure seeking to shake off ennui, or the invalid or over-worked, in search of health by change of scene, is equally cared for by “ Murray ” and the swarm of hand-books to the sea-side and places of inland resort, which repose upon the stalls at our railway stations. But we look in vain for any reliable information regarding the character or contents of the streams, or a knowledge of the names of the owners of the fisheries, whether private, free, or “subscribed,” or the desirability or otherwise of that class of hostelrie near or upon the banks of the rivers which the permanent-way either crosses, coquets with, or directly follows. A few stereotyped words at the most, in reference to these matters, are all that meet the eye, and even local residents have the power to impart but little that is acceptable to the angler, and the true admirer of the picturesque.
An attempt is made in “ The Rail and the Rod,” free from guess-work, hearsay, or conjecture, to supply this want, by one who has fished or visited every spot alluded to; and if the
common-place predominates over poetic metaphor and wordpainting, it is hoped the reader will accept Truth without garniture,” rather than a banquet of sauce with an absence of viands.
The facts in reference to the fish to be met with near the respective lines of railway-say for about two miles on either side—and how to catch them (the experience of more than half a century) have been condensed into the smallest
consistent with perspicuity, and the information afforded with regard to public accommodation obtained direct from the actual charges in bills and memoranda in the author's possession, and other accredited channels.
How many persons are there, besides anglers, who, when a morning proves auspicious, would devote the day to a ramble within a moderate distance of the metropolis, yet are deterred from starting forth in quest of fresh air and rational enjoyment by the natural fear that their funds may fall short ere they return home, or the expense they may incur will not be warranted by their means; and thus the opportunity is often lost before they have made up their minds, or obtained—if it be possible to obtain —a guarantee that their expenses need not exceed a prudent outlay.
In “ The Rail and the Rod” will, however, be seen at a glance how one or more persons, desirous of a trip of thirty miles or less down the several railroads out of London, may effectively carry out their purpose, and it will, moreover, if upon a piscatorial excursion, tell them what to provide before starting, and afford them a most bounteous choice of places to which they may go, the nature of the streams or rambles in the neighbourhood, and what the whole will cost per diem or week. In this way each railroad will have its especial tourist and piscatorial guide, and
line does not present sufficient objects of interest to those for whose delectation the text is designed, two or three railways near or approximating to each other in the prescribed radius will be grouped in one part, and all the parts will be printed in a uniform style, so that they may be bound in one or more volumes.
The rivers minutely described within the pages of this series will of course include, wholly or in part, the Thames, the Lea and its tributaries, the Wey, the Mole, the Wandle, the Colne, the Brent, &c., together with most of the ponds or lakes, whether private or public, a description of the fish which inhabit the
waters, and the popular, as well as the most scientific, modes of their capture. Parks and pleasure-grounds removed somewhat from the precincts of London, whether open altogether to tourists, or occasionally and by tickets or private cards, will likewise be dwelt upon in a manner which will assist the visitor to seek for what is picturesque or worthy of notice ; and, indeed, nothing will be omitted that will tend to render the work one of a strictly sterling and permanent character. At the same time, as it is confidently anticipated that so desirable a contribution to a public want will necessarily pass through several editions, it is earnestly requested that should any errors or omissions be detected in the first or succeeding issues, a communication to that effect may be made to the editor—"Greville F., FIELD Office, 346, Strand the most apparently trivial of which will be gratefully acknowledged and accepted.
Much in the following pages will be recognised by the readers of the Field newspaper as having appeared week by week in the columns of that journal. But so far from this fact deducting from the merits of the book as a whole, it is humbly urged that, as the greater portion of our labours have been of a practical and statistical nature, the crucial test to which it has been subjected and so favourably passed will be now an additional recommendation to its issue in a cheap, portable, and concrete shape. It may be further stated, that in order to bring “ The Rail and the Rod as close to the day of its publication as possible, visits have been paid up to the last moment of going to press to the various places mentioned therein, to render its entire information as perfect as time and assiduity would permit.
GENERAL REMARKS. The advantages which the Great Eastern Railway present to the angler-tourist are manifold. The facilities it affords for viewing the country upon both sides are equal to any other permanent way. This arises from the total absence of tunnels; the course of its main lines and branches being invariably carried through valleys in which rivers naturally flow, and the consequent contiguity of the stations to the waters and quarters of which the fisherman is in quest. Thus the landscape can be seen from the carriage windows as uninterruptedly as was the case in the days of old coach travelling. The Great Eastern Railway, under the title of the Eastern Counties, acquired a name of no enviable kind, from the confusion and irregularity which arose from limited resources insufficient to cope with an unanticipated large amount of traffic; but, as far as the sacrifice of life is concerned, the charge of its being a dangerous line was grossly exaggerated, as all Parliamentary returns show a singular immunity from such casualties, and prove that it is as safe as any other railway in the kingdom. Indeed, whatever may have been its shortcomings in times past, it is generally admitted that there is now no railway in Great Britain on which the comfort and safety of passengers is more considered, or the officers in general are more civil and attentive to all, irrespective of classes (vide Measom's “Great Eastern Guide.”) The truth is, the east end of London has always held a prejudicial comparison with other approaches to the metropolis
, and, as a matter of course, the country and all around has come in for a portion of its contumely. Essex, for instance, has for years suffered under a proverbial imputation of being particularly unhealthy ; but this character can only apply with any force to a small part of it, as the middle and northern districts are justly noted for a fine dry soil, with a wholesome clear air. Essex, again, by those who know nothing of it, is reputed to be almost universally flat. Such a notion is preposterous, and can have arisen only from the reports of persons who have followed its marshy lands, and have never looked up from their toes to the hills everywhere around them. To tell such buzzards that there are hundreds of lofty sites, for miles and miles, from which the North Foreland, the coasts of Western Flanders and South Holland, seaward, are clearly visible on a fine day to the naked eye ; and that, inland, from some half-a-dozen elevations, three and four counties can be overlooked, would be an appeal to their credulity. Such, however, is the fact. Every landscape artist knows there are spots of extreme rustic beauty, and a large grasp of picturesque material in the greater portion of Essex ; but such is the prevailing notion that the county is as flat as those that believe the fact, he dare not append the locale from which his store of sweet Nature has been drawn, for fear of the charge of having taken more than a poetic licence with his subject. And Essex is as equally varied in its soil as it is in its undulatory phase. Messrs. Grigg, in their “General View of the Agriculture of Essex,” say : “ Almost every species of soil is to be found within the limits of the county, from the most stubborn to