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One rosy drop from David's seed,
Oh precious Ransom! which once paid
And said by him, that said no more,
Be to me now, on thee I call,
Soon after the fatal battle of Worcester, which was fought on the 3rd of September, 1651, Walton's loyalty caused him to be entrusted with a commission of some delicacy if not danger. In consequence of the sudden flight
. of the King, the baggage in his quarters at Worcester fell into Cromwell's hands. A Collar of SS, and a Garter which belonged to His Majesty, formed part of the spoil, and were brought to the Parliament a few days afterwards, by Major Corbet,29 who was dispatched by Cromwell with an account of his victory. The Sovereign's lesser George was, however, preserved by Colonel Blague ; who having taken shelter at Blore Pipe House, two miles from Eccleshall, in Staffordshire, then the residence of Mr. George Barlow, delivered the jewel into that gentleman's custody. In the ensuing week, Mr. Barlow carried it to Robert Milward, Esquire, who was at that time a prisoner in the garrison of Stafford, and Milward shortly afterwards gave it into “the trusty hands” of Mr. Izaak Walton, to convey to Colonel Blague, who was confined by the Parliament in the Tower of London. It is said that Blague, “considering it had already past so many dangers, was persuaded it could yet secure one hazardous attempt of his own;" and having made his escape from the Tower, he had the gratification of restoring the George to its royal owner. This anecdote is related by Ashmole in his “History of the Order of the Garter,">30 from the statement of Blague, Milward, and Walton themselves ; and he takes that opportunity of speaking of the latter, as “a man well known, and as well beloved of all good men, and will be better known to posterity by his ingenious pen in the lives of Dr. Donne, Sir Henry Wotton, Mr. Richard Hooker,
29 Commons' Journals. 30 P. 228. See also Plot's History of Staffordshire and Boscobel.
and Mr. George Herbert.”. Milward 81 was an intimate friend, if not a distant relation of Walton's; and the circumstance of his being a prisoner at Stafford, when he entrusted the George to him, makes it likely that Walton was in that town towards the end of 1651. He, however, appears to have been in London on the 9th of September in that year, when his son was born ; and if he went to Stafford soon afterwards, he must have returned to the metropolis before Blague made his escape from the Tower. Walton seems to have resided at Clerkenwell, from 1650 until after the return of Charles the Second, as “Mr. Walton” is recorded to have contributed to the Poor's Rate in November 1661, which is the last time the name occurs in the Books of that parish. 92
Some commendatory verses by Walton, were prefixed to his “worthy friend” Edward Sparke's “Scintillula Altaris, or a Pious Reflection on Primitive Devotion, as to the Feasts and Fasts of the Christian Church,” which was printed in 1652; but they are inferior to his other compositions of that description, and the only lines deserving of being quoted are:
“ Each Saint's day
Walton attained his sixtieth year in 1653, and then published the first edition of “ The Complete Angler,” a work to which he is more indebted for the admiration of
posterity, than to his Biographical labours. It cannot be necessary to enter into a critical disquisition on a work so universally known as “ The Complete Angler,” which, whether considered as a treatise upon the art of Angling, or as a beautiful pastoral, abounding in exquisite descriptions of rural scenery, in sentiments of the purest morality, and in an unaffected love of the Creator and his works, has long ranked amongst the most popular compositions in our language; but some observations upon
31 This gentleman was the cousin of Charles Cotton, and of Sir Aston Cokaine. Cokaine addressed several poems to him, which are printed in a collection of his works entitled “Small Poems of Divers Sorts, written bv Sir Aston Cokaine.” London, 12mo. 1658.
32 See the Appendix.
construction and merits will be submitted, when adverting to the second edition.
The first edition differs materially from all the others, as the dialogue is between two persons only, “ Piscator” and “ Viator," and the extracts from books are less frequent. Long before the appearance of “The Complete Angler,” numerous works had been published, in which the subjects of them were related in dialogue; and the plan appears to have been a favourite one with the writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As might be supposed, Walton framed his treatise upon one of those examples; and there is reason to believe, that he adopted as his model, “ A Treatise on the nature of God,” a small volume first printed in 1599, which not only commences in nearly the identical words of, but bears, in other places, *3 a great similarity to “ The Complete Angler;" and there is so much resemblance between many passages of Walton's work, and Heresbachius' Husbandry by Googe, which was first printed in 1577,34 as to render it probable that he was indebted to that work for some of his ideas. Though intended to be a practical Treatise on Angling, Walton seems to have been aware that the subject itself was not sufficiently interesting; and he therefore wisely introduced a variety of topics calculated to attract the general reader. He
he did not undertake the task to please himself; that in writing of it he“ had made a recreation of a recreation;" and that to prevent its reading “dull and tediously, he had in several places mixt some innocent mirth,” which "innocent mirth,” he adds, “I am the willinger to justify, because the whole discourse is a kind of picture of my own disposition, at least of my disposition in such days and times as I allow myself when honest Nat. and R. R. [Roe) and I go a fishing together.” Walton justly ridiculed the idea of making an angler by a book, but suggests that most of those who love Angling, “may here learn something that may be worth their money, if they be not needy: and if they be, then my
advice is that they forbear, for I write not to get money, but for
33 See “The Complete Angler," Note, page 1.
35 The price of the first edition of the Complete Angler was eighteen pence.
pleasure; and this discourse boasts of no more, for I hate to promise much, and fail.”
He dedicated the work to John Offey, of Madely Manor, in Staffordshire, Esquire, “his most honoured friend” who, there is some grounds for supposing, was remotely related to him. Mr. Offley was a very skilful angler, and Walton speaks of his “former favours” to him. Sir Henry Wotton told Walton “that his intentions were to write a discourse of the art, and in praise of Angling;” and he adds, “doubtless he had done so,35 if death had not prevented him ;" thus in “The Complete Angler,” as in the “Life of Donne," Walton accomplished an object which had been contemplated by Wotton; and it is extremely likely that in their many conversations whilst fishing, remarks were made by that accomplished person, of which he availed himself, a suggestion which the frequent allusions to him in the work render the more probable.
On the 18th of May, 1653, Walton proved the will of his father-in-law, Mr. Thomas Ken, who died on the 12th of June, 1651.36 That instrument was dated on the 12th of April, 1651, and it appears that Mrs. Walton received her share of her father's property on her marriage, as Ken bequeathed her only five shillings, because he had “heretofore bestowed a portion sufficient upon her.” Her sister Jane married a person of the name of John Symonds, from whom she was then separated, as her father states that he had maintained her “ with diet and lodging and other necessaries for the space of twelve years and above, , to my great charges, and for whose sake I have bestowed a place upon her husband in the circuit of South Wales, to the value of forty marks per annum or thereabouts, which I conceive to have been a greater portion for her than my estate could afford.” He, however, left her forty shillings, which were to be paid “whensoever her said husband shall take her away with him from London to live with him as it is fit.” The rest of his property he ordered to be equally divided among his four other children, Martha, the wife of James Beacham, Jon Ken, Jane Ken, and Thomas Ken, all of whom were the issue of his
35 See the Dedication of “The Complete Angler."
36 “ 1651, June 12, Mr. Thomas Ken, of Furnival's Inne, the sheriff's attorney accomptant, died." Vide Smith's Catalogue of persons deceased. Additional MS. 886, in the British Museum.
second marriage with Martha Chalkhill; and he appointed his sons-in-law, Izaak Walton and James Beacham, his executors.
In the ensuing year, 1654, the second edition of the “Reliquiæ Wottonianæ" was published, in which Walton made large additions: the apology for inaccuracies is omitted, and he had evidently reviewed the first impression with great care. His next publication was in 1655, when he printed the second edition of "The Complete Angler,” in which he made so many important alterations, that much of his time in the two preceding years must have been employed in revising that work.
In the title, the “ Discourse” was stated to include “Rivers and Fish-ponds,” as well as Fish and Fishing. Very slight variations occur in the Dedication; but several passages were added to the Address to the Reader, wherein he says, “ that in this second impression there are many enlargements, gathered both by my own observation and the communication of my friends.” The contributions of his friends were not, however, confined to the body of the work, for seven of them addressed complimentary verses to the author, which were prefixed to this edition. These verses were written by his two brothers-in-law, John and Robert Floud; the Rev. Christopher Harvie, author of “ The Synagogue;" the Rev. Thomas Weaver, author of “ Songs and Sonnets;" Edmund Powel, apparently a clergyman of Stafford ; Henry Bagley or Bailey, a clergyman; and Alexander Brome, who was a poet, and, like Walton's friend, Dr. Morley, one of Ben Jonson's twelve adopted sons. No date occurs to any of the verses; but it is remarkable that in the third and subsequent impressions of “ The Complete Angler,” Powel's lines “ To the readers of my most ingenious friend's book, the Complete Angler,” are dated on the “ 3rd of April, , 1650,” whence it may be inferred that the work was written and prepared for the press nearly three years before it was published. This circumstance may perhaps be attributed to the unsettled state of the times, the public mind being then too violently agitated by political affairs to feel interested in works unconnected with passing events, and least of all in a treatise on the tranquil amusement of Angling. In the fifth edition, the date of 1649 is appended to Weaver's verses; but, as they were ad