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These pages formed the occupation of the Author during many months of severe and dangerous illness, when he was wholly incapable of attending to more useful studies, or of following more serious pursuits. They formed his amusement in many hours, which otherwise would have been unoccupied and tedious; and they are published in the hope that they may possess an interest for those persons who derive pleasure from the simplest and most attainable kind of rural sports, and who practise the art, or patronize the
objects of contemplation, of the Philosophical Angler.
The conversational manner and discursive style were chosen as best suited to the state of health of the Author, who was incapable of considerable efforts and long-continued attention; and he could not but have in mind a model, which has fully proved the utility and popularity of this method of treating the subject— The Complete Angler, by Walton and Cotton.
The characters chosen to support these Conversations, are-HalieUS, who is supposed to be an accomplished fly fisher ; Ornither, who is to be regarded as a gentleman generally fond of the sports of the field, though not a finished master of the art
of angling; Poietes, who is to be considered as an enthusiastic lover of nature, and partially acquainted with the mysteries of fly fishing; and, Physicus, who is described as uninitiated as an angler, but as a person fond of inquiries in natural history and philosophy.
These characters are of course imaginary, though the sentiments attributed to them the Author may sometimes have gained from recollections of real conversations with friends, from whose society much of the happiness of his early life has been derived; and in the portrait of the mind of HALIEUS, given in the last dialogue, a likeness, he thinks, will not fail to be recognised to that of a most estimable Physician, ardently beloved by his friends, and esteemed and venerated by the public.
He has limited his description of fish to the varieties of the Salmo most usual in the fresh waters of Europe, and which may be defined as a genus having eight fins, the one above the tail fleshy, and without spines.
It is to be hoped M. Cuvier's new work on fishes will supply accurate information on this genus, which is still very imperfectly known.
LONDON: March 1, 1828.