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A FISHING excursion, a pic-nic, a pleasure-
sail,and a walk through Switzerland, are
delightful things to contemplate for a month
or two beforehand; but how to perform
them, to endure them, to enjoy themas
it is insultingly calledthat is a very different
affair. The fish won't bite; the pic-nic
is a deluge; the pleasure-sail is a storm;
and the Swiss pedestrianism a fatigue and a
humbug. No man ever was happy during
either his hopeless fishing, his wet luncheon,
his tumultuous voyage, or his wearisome
expedition. Yet ask whomsoever you will,
old or young, green with eighteen, or mouldy
with forty-five, you will never get a refusal.
"I shall have my fishing tackle all in order."
"I shall order my hamper at once." "I will
sport a pilot coat." "I will order my walking
boots." So we are not to wonder that
Vincent Willis accepted his uncle's invitation
to join the Hopeful Anglers last May with
the greatest delight: not that he had ever
caught a trout, or ever even hoped to delude
a minnow; not that he cared much for his
uncle's society, or had any expectation of
enjoyment from the other members of the
Clubbut the word was spoken; it was a
fishing excursion; and it was impossible to
refuse. Mr. Willis was a poet, in the same
way that some of Mendelssohn's pieces are
songs; being still without words. He was
also a painter (without a brush), and so he
composed sublime romances, and dashed off
surprisingly beautiful pictures without canvas
or paper, or desk or easel. He was five-and-
twenty, very good looking, and as strong as
an elephant; and, to complete his description,
he lived in the Albany, and was the most
miserable wretch alive. Rather a dull place,
the Albany, for a person subject to low spirits,
and with nothing whatever to do: rather a
weary life, I've heard it said, to read French
novels, and smoke cigars, and watch the slow
hands of the dingy clock on the mantelpiece
ticking their dismal career round the
uninteresting face, and seemingly determined
never to arrive at the dinner-hour. And
even the dinner-hour! What was the dinner-hour
to Vincent Willis? He knew very few
people, nobody in fact, but young men he
had become acquainted with at the Club, or
recognised as friends at college. Bachelor
meetings had lost their zest; theatres had no
attraction; for he was tired of upholsterer's
tragedies, grinning farce,—and where was he
to look for anything else? In taking his
solitary walk homeward from the Regent's
Park, when he heard a dinner-bell sounding
in Baker Street, he fancied the nice old
baldheaded father, the kind and stout old
mother, the three blooming and buxom
daughters, tripping down stairs with a cousin
or two from the country; and passed on
with a sigh, thinking how pleasant it would
be to drop in on the family party, and draw
in his chair, and drink wine with Susan, and
talk with Arabelle about Mario and Grisi.
But not in all London did he know a stock-
broker or sugar-baker, or merchant or official;
or any of the nobility, gentry and clergy, from
whom to expect an invitation.

Wasn't I right in saying he was the
most miserable wretch alive? Two thousand
a-year added nothing to his happiness. There
was a beautiful estate in Devonshire, which
his father had left him, unencumbered
either by debt or dowager. His guardians
during his minority had accumulated seven
thousand pounds for the building of a house
upon the land. The plans were all drawn
out, the estimates obtained, and it wanted
nothing but a word from the young Squire
to have a handsome mansion upon a site
evidently intended by nature for a manor-
house; and what then would be wanting
to the perfection of Barcombe Leas? But
Barcombe Leas was in Devonshire; a long
way from London. There could be no
gaiety in such a distant county. People
were buried who pretended to live so far
away from the capital. So the seven thousand
pounds lay in Coutts's hands. The
Architect's exquisite plan for a house lay
in a drawer. Barcombe Leas was without
a residence, and Mr. Vincent Willis occupied
rooms in the Albany for the sake of its
central situation, and led the brilliant life I
have told you of, with his book, and his clock,
and his cigar. He had made many attempts
to break in on the unvarying dulness of his
existence; and, all this time, his admiring
tenants and neighbours in the far west were
pitying him for the frightful fatigue he was
undergoing in dancing at Almack's from night