By the way, she
never lays down the proper length of a line. I suppose it varied with the
individual fisherman: as far as you can cast and a little bit over.
of her book shows a typical angler. He is sensibly and plainly dressed, though
he has neither pockets, wallet nor purse; he must have carried all his gear in
the tub shown in the background. He wields his great rod with one hand. It must
have been very hard work.
There may never
have been a Juliana Berners. Perhaps her name was invented to lend tone to a
miscellany of sporting pieces. I myself believe she was a real person and
author of the Book of St. Albans
, for reasons I have given at the beginning of
this essay. I like to think of the elderly prioress casting her flies in the
convent garden, while through her mind run memories of the great hunts she had
seen as a young girl at the court of King Henry. When she has finished her book
of weighty instructions on hawking, hunting and heraldry, she thinks it might
be amusing to add an appendix, something about the placid angling which
occupies her old age. Five hundred years later the stately hunting "at
force" which she described has long vanished and, save for a few rare
enthusiasts, no sportsman mans a hawk. But the little afterpiece on the least
important of her many pastimes is a living book today.