The Angler

An Angler played a fish nibbling at bait but missed setting the hook. By accident he hooked a larger fish. Lucky Angler.

Sometimes you don’t get what you want but are given a larger portion.


JN Fable 088

Sketch: James Northcote; Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: J. Dodd (1828)

An Angler at his pastime, had the pleasure to perceive a fish nibbling at his bait, when with joy, too hastily catching up his rod and line in order to hook his prey with the more security, he missed the fish; but by the sudden pull of the hook through the water, it was his chance to fix it in the gills of another fish that happened to be in its way, and drew it safely out of the river. “Ah,” said the Angler, “that which I thought was my own I have lost; and that which I could not hope for is fallen into my hands.”


It often happens in the occurrences of human life, that those things on which we had fixed our hope, and concluded to have been decidedly our own, as much as if we had them in possession, have, to our amazement and mortification, dropped from our grasp and been lost, while in their place we have gained those things which we thought we had not the most distant chance of acquiring.

The enthusiastic Alchemist, who being led by false hopes, has believed the discovery of the philosopher’s stone so nearly his own, that it seemed to him the same as if he actually had possessed it, yet has found himself deluded in the search: but in its place has brought secrets in chemistry to light of much more utility to mankind than could have been hoped for by producing gold. We have often found that a mistaken ardour has hurried a man forward; and although he may have missed his aim, he has, nevertheless, obtained some collateral good, and performed something useful to mankind and honorable to himself. J. N.

JN Fable 088a

Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: S. Slader (1828)