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good for anybody but us Anglers ; and so, master, here is a full glass to you of that liquor, and when you have pledged me, I will repeat some verses which I have promised you," and which were printed among Sir Henry Wotton's poems. A doubt seems to be expressed as to the authorship of these verses, as Venator observes. that they were “ doubtless made either by Wotton or by a lover of Angling,” which remark is repeated by Piscator, who in return repeats a poem written “some say by Dr Donne," called a “ Farewell to the Vanities of the World.” The Master and Scholar then take leave of each other with mutual expressions of esteem, and
promise to fulfil their engagement of meeting again four days + afterwards, at Charles Brandon's, in Golden Lane.
There cannot possibly be a doubt that Walton meant to identify himself with Piscator; for not only does that person express his feelings and opinions, but he adopts his personal acquaintances, and alludes to many circumstances in his own life. To some extent, therefore, Piscator's remarks, and the allusions which Venator and the other interlocutors make to Piscator's disposition and acquirements, may be considered as autobiographical sketches, which are of great value as illustrations of Walton's feelings, disposition, and character. It is also probable that “ Venator," “ brother Peter,” “the Scholar," and “ Coridon,” had an actual identity in the persons of some of his piscatory friends; but it is impossible to state whom they repre. sented. “ Brother Peter” may have been either Nat. or R. Roe, who, he says, generally accompanied him a-fishing ; and the residence of Venator is stated to have been near Golden Lane, which is not far from Clerkenwell. The sentiments and language attributed to them, are, however, so similar to those of Piscator, that it is, in fact, he alone who speaks throughout the whole dialogue; and it is, consequently, impossible to trace any of the others by those allusions to circumstances and individuals which so completely identify Piscator with Walton,
With one exception, Walton's treatise appears to have given universal satisfaction to his contemporaries. The hostile critic was Robert Franck, who wrote a curious work, entitled “Northern Memoirs ; calculated for the meridian of Scotland, wherein most or all of the cities, citadels, sea-ports, castles, forts, fortresses, rivers, and rivulets, are compendiously described ” in a dialogue between Theophilus and Arnoldus. Though written in 1658, the book was not published until 1694, and a new edition of it appeared in 1821, with a preface by Sir Walter Scott. Franck
appears to have been acquainted with Walton; and the passages in which he alludes to him are the following :
"ARNOLDUS. Indeed, the frequent exercise of fly-fishing, though painsul, yet it's delightful, more especially when managed by the methods of art, and the practical rules and mediums of artists. But the ground-bait was of old the general practice, and beyond dispute, brought considerable profit ; which happened in those days, when the curiosity of fly-fishing was intricate and unpracticable. However, Isaac Walton (late author of the "Compleat Angler') has imposed upon the world this monthly novelty, which he understood not himself; but stuffs his book with morals from Dubravius and others, not giving us one precedent of his own practical experiments, except otherwise where he prefers the trencher before the trolling-rod; who lays the stress of his arguments upon other men's observations, wherewith he stuffs his indigested octavo; so brings himself under the angler's censure, and the common calamity of a plagiary, to be pitied (poor man) for his loss of time, in scribbling and transcribing other men's notions. These are the drones that rob the hive, yet flatter the bees they bring them honey.
“ THEOPHILUS. I remember the book, but you inculcate his erratas; however, it may pass muster among common muddlers.
“ARNOLDUS. No, I think not; for I remember in Stafford, I urged his own argument upon him, that pickerel weed of itself breeds pickerel. Which question was no sooner stated, but he transmits himself to his authority, viz., Gesner, Dubravius, and Aldrovanus, which I readily opposed, and offered my reasons to prove the contrary ; asserting, that pickerels have been fished out of pools and ponds, where that weed (for aught I knew) never grew since the nonage of time, nor pickerel ever known to have shed their spawn there. This I propounded from a rational conjecture of the heronshaw, who to commode herself with the fry of fish, because in a great measure part of her maintenance, probably might lap some spawn about her legs, in regard adhering to the segs and bulrushes, near the shallows, where the fish shed their spawn, as myself and others without curiosity have observed. And this slimy substance adhering to her legs, &c., and she mounting the air for another station, in probability mounts with her. Where note, the next pond she happily arrives at, possibly she may leave the spawn behind her, which my Compleat Angler no sooner deliberated, but dropped his argument, and leaves Gesner to defend it ; so huffed away, which rendered him rather a formal opinionist, than a reformed and practical artist, because to celebrate such antiquated records, whereby to maintain such an improbable assertion.
“THEOPHILUS. This was to the point, I confess; pray go on.
“ARNOLDUS. In his book, intituled the Compleat Angler,' you may read there of various and diversified colours, as also the forms and proportions of flies. Where, poor man, he perplexes himself to rally and scrape together such a parcel of fragments, which he fancies arguments, convincing enough to instruct the adult and minority of youth, into the slender margin of his uncultivated art, never made practicable by himself I'm convinced. Where note, the true character of an industrious angler, more deservedly falls upon Merril and Faulkner, or rather Isaac Owldham, a man that
fished salmon but with three hairs at hook, whose collections and experiments were lost with himself.
“ Theophilus. That was pity."9.
From this splenetic attack, Walton has been generously defended by the greatest literary genius of the present age, whose remarks show his admiration both of “ The Complete Angler” and its author. “Probably no readers,” says Sir Walter Scott, “ while he reads the disparaging passages in which the venerable Izaac Walton is introduced, can forbear wishing that the good old man, who had so true an eye for Nature, so simple a taste for her most innocent pleasures, and withal, so sound a judgment, both concerning men and things, had made this northern tour instead of Franck; and had detailed in the beautiful simplicity of his Arcadian language, his observations on the scenery and manners of Scotland. Yet we must do our author the justice to state, that he is as much superior to the excellent patriarch Izaac Walton, in the mystery of fly-fishing, as inferior to him in taste, feeling, and common sense. Franck's contests with salmon are painted to the life, and his directions to the angler are generally given with great judgment. Walton's practice was entirely confined to bait-fishing, and even Cotton, his disciple and follower, though accustomed to fish trout in the Dove, with artificial fly, would have been puzzled by a fish (for so the salmon is called par excellence, in most parts of Scotland) of twenty pounds weight; both being alike strangers to that noble branch of the art, which exceeds all other uses of the angling. rod, as much as fox-hunting exceeds hare-hunting." if
Walton was certainly in London, and was probably still resident there, when the second edition of the Angler was published. In his Life of Bishop Sanderson he states, that about the time when that prelate first printed the “large, bold, and excellent ” preface to his twenty sermons, which, he says, was “in the dangerous year 1655," he met Sanderson in the metropolis. His account of the interview is told in his own peculiar manner, and with so much effect that it would be improper to relate it in any other words :
“About the time of his printing this excellent preface, I met him acci. dentally in London, in sad-coloured clothes, and, God knows, far from being costly. The place of our meeting was near to Little Britain, where he had been to buy a book which he then had in his hand. We had no inclination to part presently, and therefore turned to stand in a corner under a penthouse (for it began to rain), and immediately the wind rose, and the wind increased so much, that both became so inconvenient, as to force us into a cleanly house, where we had bread, cheese, ale, and a fire for our ready money. The rain and wind were so obliging to me, as to force our stay there for at least an hour, to my great content and advantage ; for in that time he made to me many useful observations of the present times with much clearness and conscientious freedom. I shall relate a part of them, in hope they may also turn to the advantage of my reader.” 2*
9 Ed. 1821, pp. 175-177.
1 Ibid. pp. v. vi.
The remainder of the narrative contains Sanderson's remarks upon various religious topics; and Walton observes, “ This was a part of the benefit I then had by that hour's conversation ; and I gladly remember and mention it as an argument of my happiness, and his great humility and condescension. I had also a like advantage by another happy conference with him ;" which was on similar subjects, and which he also relates. 8
Between 1655 and 1658 not a single trace of Walton has been found; but it was about that period that the following conversation occurred between Dr Fuller and himself. Not long after the publication of the " Church History” in 1655, Walton was asked by Fuller, who was aware of his being intimate with several bishops and other eminent clergymen, what he thought of that work himself, and what opinions he had heard his friends express of it? Walton replied “ he thought it should be acceptable to all tempers, because there were shades in it for the warm, and sunshine for those of a cold constitution, that with youthful readers, the facetious parts would be profitable to make the serious more palatable; while some reverend old readers might fancy themselves in his History of the Church, as in a flower-garden or one full of evergreens.” “And why not," said Fuller, “the Church History so decked, as well as the Church itself at a most Holy season, or the Tabernacle of old at the feast of boughs ?” “That was but for a season," said Walton; “in your feast of boughs, they may conceive we are so overshadowed throughout, that the parson is more seen than his congregation, and this, sometimes invisible to its own acquaintance, who may wander in the search, till they are lost in the labyrinth.” “Oh,” said Fuller, “the very children of our Israel may find their way out of this wilderness." “True,” replied Walton, “as, indeed, they have here such a Moses to conduct them." 4
The next circumstance which is known of Walton is that, in 1658, he published a second and improved edition of his Life of Dr Donne, which was the first time the memoir was printed as a distinct work. It was dedicated to Sir Robert Fiolt, of Aston, in Warwickshire, Baronet, whose mother was the daughter of John King, Bishop of London, and sister of Henry King, afterwards Bishop of Chichester, the intimate friend of Donne and Walton. There are such characteristic and pleasing passages in this dedication; it affords so many illustrations of the mind and life of the writer, and contains statements of so much interest, among which is the fact that the memoir of Donne had been honoured with the approbation of King Charles the First, that it is proper to insert it :
1 WJton's Lives, ed. Zouch, ii. 251, 252.
3 Ibid. p. 258. • Biographia Britannica, edit. 1750, art. Fuller.
“TO MY NOBLE AND HONOURED FRIEND, SIR ROBERT HOLT, OF
ASTON, IN THE COUNTY OF WARWICK, BART. “SIR,_When this relation of the life of Dr Donne was first made public, it had, besides the approbation of our late learned and eloquent King, a conjunction with the author's most excellent sermons to support it; and thus it lay some time fortified against prejudice, and those passions that are, by busy and malicious men, too freely vented against the dead. And yet, now, after almost twenty years, when though the memory of Dr Donne himself, must not, cannot die, so long as men speak English; yet when I thought time had made this relation of him so like myself, as to become useless to the world, and content to be forgotten, I find that a retreat into a desired privacy will not be afforded; for the printers will again expose it and me to public exceptions, and without those supports, which we first had and needed, and in an age too in which truth and innocence have not been able to defend themselves from worse than severe censures. This I foresaw, and nature teaching me self-preservation, and my long experience of your abilities assuring me that in you it may be found, to you, Sir, do I make mine addresses for an umbrage and protection; and I make it with so much humble boldness, as to say 'twere degenerous in you not to afford it. For, Sir, Dr Donne was so much a part of yourself, as to be incorporated into your family, by so noble a friendship, that I may say there was a marriage of souls betwixt him and your reverend grandfather, [John King, Bishop of London,) who in his life was an angel of our once glorious Church, and now no common star in heaven. And Dr Donne's love died not with him, but was doubled upon his heir, your beloved uncle, (Henry King,] the Bishop of Chichester, that lives in this froward generation, to be an ornament to his calling. And this affection to him was by Dr Donne so testified in his life, that he then trusted him with the very secrets of his soul; and at his death, with what was dearest to him, even his fame, estate, and children. And you have yet a further title to what was Dr Donne's, by that dear affection and friend. ship that was betwixt him and your parents, by which he entailed a love upon yourself, even in your infancy, which was increased by the early testimonies of your growing merits, and by them continued till Dr Donne put on immortality; and so this mortal was turned into a love that cannot die. And, Sir, 'twas pity he was lost to you in your minority, before you had attained a judgment to put a true value upon the living beauties and elegancies of his conversation ; and pity, too, that so much of them as were