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THE FISHING-HOUSE OF SIR HENRY WOTTON.
The following description of the spot where Sir Henry Wotton and Izaak Walton used to angle, by that excellent troller and amiable disciple of Walton, Edward Jesse, of Hampton Court, Esq., author of "Gleanings in Natural History " and "An Angler's Rambles," forms an appropriate illustration in the preceding Memoir.
The life, conversation, and pursuits of the revered Izaak Walton, the purity of his moral character, and his tender sentiments of henevolence, peculiarly fitted him to be the friend and companion of the learned, witty, and cheerful Sir Henry Wotton, " one of the delights of mankind." We accordingly find that they "often fished and conversed" together, both of them being "most dear lovers and frequent practisers of the art of angling."
It is well known that when Sir Henry became Provost of Eton College, Master Izaak Walton frequently went to see him, giving him "his own ever-welcome company at the time of the Fly and the Cork" A spot is still pointed out, ahout half a mile from the venerable college of Eton, where these loving friends and companions pursued their innocent pleasures of the angle. Here we can fancy them seated quietly in a summer's evening "on a bank a-fishing," while the beauteous Thames glided calmly, and softly, and sweetly by them. Here also Sir Henry might have composed his pretty description of the spring, beginning
"This day Dame Nature seem'd in love"—
and in which he apostrophised his companion "our honest father: "—
"There stood my friend with patient skill.
The whole scenery of the spot in question appears suited to a lover of angling. A little green lawn slopes gently down to the river, and on the top of it a modest fishing-house is seen, just such a one as we may suppose the provost and his friend would retire to, either for shelter or to partake of a fisherman's fare. It might have had Piscatoribus Sacrum inscribed over its door. It stands on an ayte, round which the "delicate clear river" finds its way. To the left, the turrets of Windsor Castle are seen through a vista of magnificent elms - and to the right, the chapel and college of Eton, with their venerable and beautiful architecture, add to the charm of the scenery. A stand of eel-krails, which is let down to catch these wandering fish when the river is swollen by rains, is not without its interest, placed as it is between two clusters of graceful willows, amongst which the sedge-bird and the willowwren sing in concert day and night.
Such is the spot which we have endeavoured to delineate in the accompanying engravings, and which will always be viewed with interest by every admirer of Izaak Walton. The ayte is still the property of the Provost and Fellows of Eton College, and is rented of them by Mr Bacheldor of Windsor, a worthy and expert brother of the angle, who has done much to improve the spot, and to keep up the interest which is attached to it.
It is, indeed, almost impossible for an honest disciple of Izaak Walton to visit it without his imagination wandering to the times when the excellent Provost of Eton and his friend were seated together on that identical bank, holding sweet discourse, and thanking God for the very many blessings He had bestowed on them, and for the quiet and peaceable amusement they were enjoying. He will fancy that he sees them sometimes walking on the banks of their favourite river; and at others seated quietly on its side "trying to catch the other brace of trout." He may also picture to himself the "ever-memorable" Sir Henry Wotton, reclining with his head resting on his hand, and with his "curious pencil" addressing some such lines as the following to his companion :—
Good Izaak, let us stay, and rest us here;
Old friends when near
In silly rhyme.
There is a tree close by the river's side:
There let's abide,
Where all is sin;