Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Voices from the Past: Robert Page Lincoln (1918)

Bill Sonnett's nifty piece this past Saturday on Robert Page Lincoln got me thinking about this legendary outdoor writer. Growing up, there were only a handful of fishing writers my father felt were "worth their salt." They numbered Dixie Carroll, Ray Bergman, Jason Lucas, A.J. McClane, and Robert Page Lincoln. They did NOT number Bob Becker (for reasons I will one day relate).

What's not to like about Lincoln? He was knowledgable, prolific, and very funny. Perhaps this is why he's been featured so often on the blog, like here and here and here.

The following tongue-in-cheek piece was run in the August 1918 American Angler magazine, and shows off his sharp wit. It was featured in the same issue as a detailed article he wrote on black bass fishing, one of his favorite pursuits. It's a nice biographical wrap up of the first part of his writing career.

The Autobiography of an Angler


"ROBERT everybody knows you!"

Robert H. Davis, the great Waltonian sage, and Director-in-Chief of the Munsey publications, is the author of the above. He dedicated the line to Robert Page Lincoln, alias, myself. Elsewhere he has stated that: "Mr. Lincoln has a rare familiarity with everything that swims, and flies, and walks." I like the ring of that. It's tingling. Since "Bob" Davis wrote that I have read the Munsey publications vigorously, with the most reckless abandon, giving myself over freely to a determined perusal of the delightful and wholesome stories found within those gilded covers constructed at 280 Broadway, New York. I recommend the Munsey magazines cheerfully.

I have for a long time suspected that I am well known. I live, though, just the same. A fisherman living in the year 1960 will pick up his magazine on the news-stand and will turn to the most recent article by Robert Page Lincoln and will read about how to use the dry-fly on the carp; or, "Spinning for Bull-heads."

I write on angling, not to cause men to go out and butcher huge quantities of fish. It is the spirit of angling that I hold foremost. Let the joy of it permeate your blood; repress your cave-man emotions; catch a fish and surround it with a world of fascination and charm and you have found the key to the greatest pleasure that ever descended like manna from the heavens. (What manna is I refuse to know.)

I have fished variously all over the country. My home State is Minnesota, the Fisherman's Paradise. I know a lake in Minnesota where no one fishes. The muskies go to thirty-five pounds in that lake. I am going there again.

I have contributed for years to the outdoor press of the United States, Canada and England. I was with David Edley Allen on "Trapper's World" to begin with, in my 'teens. Since then 1 have spent most of my days writing on outdoor life; studying every nook and cranny of it.

My biggest trip will go into effect next spring the situation permitting—and when it is printed I will prove that for interest (as to locality and the wide variety of fishing and scenic splendor), it cannot be equalled. This trip, if written down in detail, as I hope, will be my second book. My first book appears next spring and I want everybody to buy it--Otherwise I will have to go back to my old trade with the shovel.

-- Dr. Todd

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