Графични страници
PDF файл

attending his life must, in a great measure, come; and, as occasions offer, a proper use will be made of them; nevertheless a due regard will be paid to some traditional memoirs, which (besides that they contain nothing improbable) the authority of those to whom we stand indebted for them, will not allow us to question.

His first settlement in London, as a shop-keeper, was in the Royal Burse in Cornhill, built by Sir Thomas Gresham, and finished in 1567.1 In this situation he could scarcely be said to have had elbowroom; for the shops over the Burse were but seven feet and a half long, and five wide ;? yet here did he carry on his trade, till some time before the year 1624; when “ he dwelt on the north side of Fleet-street, in a house two doors west of the end of Chancery-lane, and abutting on a messuage known by the sign of the Harrow.” Now the old timber-house at the south-west corner of Chancery-lane, in Fleet-street, till within these few years, was known by that sign : it is therefore beyond doubt that Walton lived at the very next door. And in this house, he is—in the deed above referred to, which bear's date 1624_said to have followed the trade of a Linen draper. It further appears by that deed, that the house was in the joint occupation of Isaac Walton, and John Mason, hosier; whence we may conclude, that half a shop was sufficient for the business of Walton.

A citizen of this age would almost as much disdain to admit of a tenant for half his shop, as a knight would to ride double; though the brethren of one of the most ancient orders in the world were so little above this practice, that their common seal was the device of two riding on one horse. 4 A more than gradual deviation from that parsimonious character, of which this is a ludicrous instance, hastened the grandeur, and declension, of that fraternity; and it is rather to be wished than hoped, that the vast increase of trade of this country, and an aversion from the frugal manners of our forefathers, may not be productive of similar consequences to this nation in general

I conjecture, that about 1632 he married; for in that year I find him "living in a house in Chancery-lane, a few doors higher up, on the left hand, than the former, and described by the occupation of a sempster or milliner. The former of these might be his own proper trade ; and the latter, as being a feminine occupation, might probably be carried on by his wife : she, it appears, was Anne the daughter of Thomas Ken, of Furnival's Inn, and sister of Thomas, afterwards Dr. Ken, bishop of Bath and Wells, one of the seven that were sent to the Tower, and who at the Revolution was deprived, and died in retirement. Walton seems to have been as happy in the married state, as the society and friendship of a prudent and pious woman of great endowments could make him; and that Mrs. Walton was such a one, we may conclude from what will be said of her hereafter.

About 1643 he left London, and, with a fortune very far short of

(1) Ward's Life of Sir Thomas Gresham, p. 12. (2) Ibid. (3) Ex vet. chartâ penes me. (4) The Knights Templars. Ashmole's Instit. of the Order of the Garter,

See the seal at the end of Matt. Paris Hist. Anglicana, edit. 1640.

p. 55.

what would now be called a competency,' seems to have retired altogether from business; at which time (to use the words of Wood) “ finding it dangerous for honest men to be there, he left that city, and lived sometimes at Stafford, 2 and elsewhere; but mostly in the families of the eminent clergymen of England, of whom he was much beloved.” 3

While he continued in London, his favourite recreation was angling, in which he was the greatest proficient of his time; and indeed, so great were his skill and experience in that art, that there is scarce any writer on the subject since his time, who has not made the rules and practice of Walton his very foundation. It is therefore with the greatest propriety that Langbaine calls him “ the common father of all anglers.'' 4

The river that he seems mostly to have frequented for this purpose was the Lea, which has its source above Ware in Hertfordshire, and falls into the Thames a little below Black-Wall; 5 unless we will suppose that the vicinity of the New-River6 to the place of his habitation, might sometimes tempt him out with his friends, honest Nat. and R. Roe, whose loss he so pathetically mentions,7 to spend an afternoon there.

In the year 1662, he was by death deprived of the solace and comfort of a good wife, as appears by the following monumental inscription in the chapel of Our Lady, in the cathedral church of Worcester



M. S.

so much as could dye of
who was a Woman of remarkable Prudence,

and of the Primitive Piety ;
her great, and general Knowledge
being adorned with such true Humility,

and blest with so much Christian Meekness,
as made her worthy of a more memorable Monument.

She dyed (alas that she is dead !)
the 17th of April, 1662, Aged 52.

Study to be like her. Living, while in London, in the parish of St. Dunstan in the West, whereof Dr. John Donne, dean of St. Paul's, was vicar, he became of course a frequent hearer of that excellent preacher, and, at length, (as he himself expresses it,) 8 his convert. Upon his decease in

(1) See his Will, at the end of the Life.

(2) He lived upon small estate near the town of Stafford, where, ac. cording to his own account, he suffered during the time of the civil wars; having by his loyalty rendered himself obnoxious to the persons in power.

(3) Athen. Oxon. Vol. I. 305. (4) Lives of the English Dramatic Poets, art. Cha. Cotton, Esq. (5) See Chap. XIX, note, page 219. (6) That great work, the bringing water from Chadwell and Amwell, in Hertfordshire, to London, by means of the trench called the New River, was completed on Michaelmas day, 1613. Stow's Survey, fol. 1633. p. 12.

(7) Preface to Complete Angler.
(8) Verses of Walton at the end of Dr. Donne's Life.

1631, Sir Henry Wotton (of whom mention will be made hereafter) requested Walton to collect materials for a Life of the Doctor, which it seems Sir Henry had undertaken to write :1 but Sir Henry dying before he had completed the life, Walton undertook it himself; and in the year 1640 finished, and published it with a Collection of the Doctor's Sermons, in folio. As soon as the book came out, a complete copy was sent as a present to Walton, by Mr. John Donne, the doctor's son, afterwards doctor of laws; and one of the blank leaves contained his letter to Mr. Walton : the letter is yet extant, and in print, 2 and is a handsome and grateful acknowledgment of the honour done to the memory of his father.

Doctor King, afterwards bishop of Chichester, in a letter to the author, thus expresses himself concerning this Life: “I am glad that the general demonstration of his (Doctor Donne's] worth was so fairly preserved, and represented to the world, by your pen, in the history of his life; indeed so well, that, beside others, the best critic of our later time, Mr. John Hales, of Eaton, affirmed to me, he had not seen a life written with more advantage to the subject, or reputation to the writer, than that of Doctor Donne.” 3

Sir Henry Wotton dying in 1639, Walton was importuned by bishop King to undertake the writing his Life also ; and, as it should seem by a circumstance mentioned in the margin, it was finished about 1644.4 Notwithstanding which, the earliest copy I have yet been able to meet with is that prefixed to a Collection of Sir Henry's Remains, undoubtedly made by Walton himself, intitled Reliquiæ Wottonianæ, and by him, in 1651, dedicated to Lady Mary Wotton and her three daughters; though in a subsequent edition, in 1685, he has recommended them to the patronage of a more remote relation of the author, namely, Philip earl of Chesterfield.

The Precepts of Angling-meaning thereby the Rules and Directions for taking Fish with a Hook and Line—till Walton's time, having hardly ever been reduced to writing, were propagated from age to age chiefly by tradition : but Walton, whose benevolent and communicative temper appears in almost every line of his writings, unwilling to conceal from the world those assistances which his long practice and experience enabled him, perhaps the best of any man of his time, to give, in the year 1653 published, in a very elegant manner, his Complete Angler, or Contemplative Man's Recreation, in small duodecimo, adorned with exquisite cuts of most of the fish mentioned in it. The artist who engraved them has been so modest as to conceal his name: but there is great reason to suppose they are the

(1) See Reliquie Wottoniana, octavo, 1685. p. 360.

(2) In Peck's Desiderata Curiosa, Vol. I. lib. VI. p. 24. In the year 1714, the very book, with the original manuscript letter, was in the hands of the Rev. Mr. Borradale, rector of Market-Deeping, in the county of Lincoln.

(3) Bishop King's Letter to Walton before the Collection of the Lives, in 1670.

(4) It is certain that Hooker's Life was written about 1664 ; and Walton says, in his Epistle before the Lives, that “ there was an interval of “ i wenty years between the writing of Hooker's Life and Wotton's, which fixes the date of the latter to 1641."

work of Lombart, who is mentioned in the Sculptura of Mr. Evelyn; and also that the plates were of steel.

And let no man imagine, that a work on such a subject must necessarily be unentertaining, or trifling, or even uninstructive; for the contrary will most evidently appear, from a perusal of this excellent piece, which—whether we consider the elegant simplicity of the style, the ease and unaffected humour of the dialogue, the lovely scenes which it delineates, the enchanting pastoral poetry which it contains, or the fine morality it so sweetly inculcates--has hardly its fellow in any of the modern languages.

The truth is, that there are few subjects so barren as not to afford matter of delight, and even of instruction, if ingeniously treated: Montaigne has written an essay on Coaches, and another on Thumbs ; and our own nation has produced many men, who, from a peculiar felicity in their turn of thinking, and manner of writing, have adorned, and even dignified, themes the most dry and unpromising. Many would think that time ill employed, which was spent in composing a treatise on the art of shooting in the long bow; and how few lovers of horticulture would expect entertainment from a discourse of Sallads! and yet the Toxophilus of Roger Ascham, and the Acetaria of Mr. Evelyn, have been admired and commended by the best judges of literature.

But that the reader may determine for himself, how much our author has contributed to the improvement of piscatory science, and how far his work may be said to be an original, it will be necessary for him to take a view of the state of angling at the time when he wrote; and that he may be the better able to do this, he will consider, that, till the time of the Reformation, although the clergy, as well regular as secular—on account of their leisure, and because the canon law forbad them the use of the sanguinary recreations of hunting, hawking, and fowling—were the great proficients in angling, yet none of its precepts were committed to writing; and that, from the time of the introduction of printing into this kingdom, to that of the first publication of Walton's book, in 1653, an interval of more than one hundred and fifty years, only five books on this subject had been given to the world ; of the four latest, some mention is made in the margin ;1 but the first of that number, as well on account of its

(1) A Booke of fishing with hooke and line, and of all other instruments thereunto belonging. Another of sundrie engines and traps to take pole. cats, buzzards, rats, mice, and all other kinds of vermine and beasts whatsoever, most profitable for all warriners, and such as delight in this kind of sport and pastime, made by L. M. 4to. London, 1590, 1596, 1600.

It appears by a variety of evidence, that the person meant by these initials was one Leonard Mascall, an author who wrote on planting and grafting, and also on cattle. Vide infra, Chap. IX.

Approved Experiments touching Fish and Fruit, to be regarded by the Lovers of Angling, by Mr. John Taverner, in Quarto, 1600.

The Secrets of Angling, a poem, in three books, by J. D. Esq. Octavo, 1613. Mention is made of this book, in a note on a passage in the ensuing dialogues : and there is reason to think, that it is the foundation of a treatise, intitled, The whole Art of Angling, published in Quarto, 1656, hy the well-known Gervase Markham, as part of his Country Contentments, or Husbandman's Recreations, since he confesses, that the substance of

quaintness as antiquity, and because it is not little characteristic of the age when it was written, deserves to be particularly distinguished. This tract, intitled, The Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle, makes part of a book, like many others of that early time, without a title ; but which, by the colophon, appears to have been printed at Westminster, by Wynkyn de Worde, 1496, in a small folio, containing a treatise on hawking; another, on hunting, in verse,-the latter taken, as it seems, from a Tract, on that subject, written by old Sir Tristram, an ancient forester, cited in the Forest Laws of Manwood, chap. iv. in sundry places; a book wherein is determined the Lygnage of Cote Armures; the above-mentioned treatise of fishing; and the method of Blasynge of Armes.

The book printed by Wynkyn de Worde is, in truth, a re-publication of one known, to the curious, by the name of the “ Book of St. Alban’s,” it appearing by the colophon to have been printed there, in 1486, and, as it seems, with Caxton's letter. 1 Wynkyn de Worde’s impression has the addition of the treatise of fishing ; of which only it concerns us to speak.

The several tracts contained in the above-mentioned two impressions of the same book, were compiled by Dame Julyans (or Juliana) Berners, Bernes, or Barnes; prioress of the nunnery of Sopwell, near St. Alban's; a lady of a noble family—and celebrated, for her learning and accomplishments, by Leland, Bale, Pits, bishop Tanner, and others. And the reason for her publishing it, in the manner it appears in, she gives us in the following words : And for by cause that this present treatyse sholde not come to the hondys of eche ydle persone whyche wolde desire it, yf it were enprynted allone by itself and put in a lytyll plaunflet ; therefore I have compylyd it in a greter uolume, of dyuerse bokys concernynge to gentyll and noble men, to the entent that the forsayd ydle persones whyche sholde haue but lytyll mesure in the sayd dysporte of fysshynge, sholde not by this meane utterly dystroye it

. And as to the treatise itself, it must be deemed a great typographical curiosity, as well for the wooden sculpture which in the original immediately follows the title, as for the orthography and the character in which it is printed. And, with respect to the subject matter thereof, it begins-With a comparison of fishing with the diversions of hunting, hawking, and fowling,—which, the authoress shews, are attended with great inconveniences and disappointments; whereas in fishing, if his sport fail him, the Angler, says she, atte the leest, hath his holsom walke, and mery at his ease, a swete ayre of the swete sauoure of the meede floures, that makyth him hungry; he hereth the melodyous armony of fowles ; he seeth the yonge swannes, heerons,

his book was originally in rhyme. Of Markham's book, a specimen is given in a note on page 20.

Barker's Art of Angling, printed in 12mo. in 1651, and again in 4to. in 1653. A third edition was published in 1659, under the title of Barker's Delight, or the Art of Angling. For an Account of this book and its Author, vide infra. J. S. H.

(1) Vide Biographia Britannica, Art. Caxton, note L. wherein the author, Mr. Oldys, has given a copious account of the book, and a cha. racter of the lady who compiled it.

« ПредишнаНапред »