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and most worthy friend, Mr. Izaak Walton, on his life of Dr. Donne, &c.” which contains so many allusions to Walton, and is so pleasing a composition, that it could not, with propriety, be either omitted or abridged.

TO MY OLD AND MOST worthy Friend Mr. Izaak Walton,

On his LIFE OF Dr. Donne, &c.

When, to a nation's loss, the virtuous die,
There's justly due, from every hand and eye,
That can or write, or weep, an elegy.
Which though it be the poorest, cheapest way,
The debt we owe, great merits to defray,
Yet it is almost all that most men pay.
And these are monuments of so short date,
That, with their birth, they oft receive their fate;
Dying with those whom they would celebrate.
And though to verse great reverence is due,
Yet what most poets write, proves so untrue,
It renders truth in verse suspected too.
Something more sacred then, or more entire,
The memories of virtuous men require,
Than what may with their funeral torch expire :
This History can give; to which alone
The privilege to mate oblivion
Is granted, when denied to brass and stone.
Wherein, my friend, you have a hand so sure,
Your truths so candid are, your style so pure,
That what


may envy's search endure.
Your pen, disdaining to be brib'd or prest,
Flows without vanity or interest ;
A virtue with which few good pens are blest,
How happy was my father, then, to see
Those men he lov'd, by him he lov'd, to be
Rescued from frailties and mortality.
Wotton and Donne, to whom his soul was knit :
Those twins of virtue, eloquence, and wit,
He saw in fame's eternal annals writ;
Where one has fortunately found a place,
More faithful to him than his marble was : 18
Which eating age, nor fire, shall e'er deface.


18 His monument in St. Paul's Church, before the late dreadful fire, 1665.



A monument, that, as it has, shall last,
And prove a monument to that defac'd ;
Itself, but with the world not to be raz’d.

And even in their flowery characters,
My father's grave part of your friendship shares;
For you have honour'd his in strewing theirs.

Thus, by an office, though particular,
Virtue's whole common weal obliged are ;
For in a virtuous act all good men share.
And by this act the world is taught to know,
That the true friendship we to merit owe
Is not discharg'd by compliment and show.
But your's is friendship of so pure a kind,
For all mean ends and interest so refined,
It ought to be a pattern to mankind :

For whereas most men's friendships here beneath,
Do perish with their friend's expiring breath,
Yours proves a friendship living after death;
By which the generous Wotton, reverend Donne,
Soft Herbert, and the Church's champion,
Hooker, are rescued from oblivion.

For though they each of them his time so spent,
As rais'd unto himself a monument,
With which ambition might rest well content ;

Yet their great works, though they can never die,
And are in truth superlatively high,
Are no just scale to take their virtues by;
Because they show not how the Almighty's grace,
By various and more admirable ways,
Brought them to be the organs of his praise.
But what their humble modesty would hide,
And was by any other means denied,
Is by your love and diligence supplied.

Wotton,-a nobler soul was never bred !-
You, by your narrative's most even thread,
Through all his labyrinths of life have led;
Through his degrees of honour, and of arts,
Brought him secure from envy's venom'd darts,
Which are still levell’d at the greatest parts ;
Through all the employments of his wit and spirit,
Whose great effects these kingdoms still inherit;
The trials then, now trophies of his merit.

Nay, through disgrace, which oft the worthiest have;
Through all state tempests, through each wind and wave,
And laid him in an honourable grave.
And yours, and the whole world's beloved Donne,
When he a long and wild career had run
To the meridian of his glorious sun;
And being then an object of much ruth,
Led on by vanities, error and youth,
Was long ere he did find the way of truth;

By the same clue, after his youthful swing,
To serve at his God's altar here you bring,
Where once a wanton muse doth anthems sing.
And though by God's most powerful grace alone
His heart was settled in religion :
Yet 'tis by you we know how it was done ;
And know, that having crucified vanities,
And fix'd his hope, he clos'd up

his own eyes, And then your friend a saint and preacher dies.


The meek and learned Hooker too, almost
In the Church's ruins overwhelmed and lost,
Is, by your pen, recover'd from the dust.
And Herbert ;-he whose education,
Manners, and parts, by high applauses blown,
Was deeply tainted with ambition;

And fitted for a court, made that his aim;
At last, without regard to birth or name,
For a poor country cure does all disclaim ;
Where, with a soul, composed of harmonies,
Like a sweet swan, he warbles as he dies,
His Maker's praise, and his own obsequies.
All this


with so good success,
That our oblig'd posterity shall profess
To have been your friend, was a great happiness.
And now, when many worthier would be proud
To appear before you, if they were allow'd,
I take up room enough to serve a crowd:
Where, to commend what you have choicely writ,
Both my poor testimony and my wit
Are equally invalid and unfit:
Yet this, and much more, is most justly due:
Where what I write as elegant as true,
To the best friend I now or ever knew.


But, my dear friend, 'tis so, that you and I,

By a condition of mortality,
With all this great, and more proud world, must die:

In which estate, I ask no more of fame,
Nor other monument of honour claim,
Than that of your true friend to advance my name.
And if your many merits shall have bred
An abler pen, to write your life when dead;
I think an honester can not be read.


Jan, 17, 1672.

One of these verses show that Cotton's father was also a friend of Walton's; and the feeling manner in which the author mentions his own friendship for him, by calling him “the best friend I now or ever knew,” is the more striking, from his having afterwards used nearly the same words in the second part of “The Complete Angler,' where he says,“ I have the happiness to know his person, and to be intimately acquainted with him; and in him to know the worthiest man, and to enjoy the best and the truest friend any man ever had.”

It is rather singular that Walton should no where allude to his only surviving son and daughter, during their childhood, for it might have been expected that he would have frequently spoken of their being with him, and of their education. His attachment to the Church of England, and the prospect of preferment which his intimacy with the bishop of Winchester and other prelates afforded, naturally induced him to destine his son for holy orders; and his veneration for the sacred profession, added to the personal esteem which he felt for Dr. William Hawkins, one of the prebends of Winchester, made him yield a ready assent to the marriage of his daughter Anne to that gentleman, which took place some time before the year 1678. Young Izaak Walton is supposed to have been educated by his maternal uncle Thomas Ken, 18 who obtained a stall in Winchester Cathedral, probably through the interest of his brother-in-law with Bishop Morley, in April, 1669. At a proper age the young Izaak was removed to Christ Church, of which his father's friend, Dr. Fell, was master;19 and in 1675, the year of the great Papal jubilee, Ken and his nephew visited Rome, Venice, and other parts of Italy; but the following passage in Cotton's treatise on fly-fishing shows that he returned early in the ensuing year.

18 Bowles's Life of Ken, I. 23.

When asked by Venator, “ if young Master Izaac Walton” had been at Beresford, Piscator replied, “ Aye, marry has he Sir! and that again and again too, and in France since, and at Rome, and at Venice, and I can't tell where; but I intend to ask him a great many hard questions so soon as I can see him, which will be, God willing, next month.” In March, 1675-6, young Walton proceeded M.A. at Christ Church; and though the date of his ordination is not stated, it probably took place about that time; and the pleasure with which his aged father saw him enter upon his holy office may readily be conceived.

Some account of Walton's plans in the year 1676 occur in the fifth edition of the “ Complete Angler,” which appeared in that year. Eight years had elapsed since the former impression; and during that time he had ample leisure to give to his work the improvements of which he considered it susceptible. It is, however, questionable when ther the additions which he then made to it have increased its interest. The garrulity and sentiments of an octogenarian are very apparent in some of the alterations; and the subdued colouring of religious feeling which prevails throughout the former editions, and forms one of the charms of the piece, is, in this impression, so much heightened, as to become almost obtrusive. For example, the interpolation in the last chapter, immediately after Venator's recipe for colouring rods 20 is, in fact, a religious essay, filled with trite reflections and scriptural quotations; whilst the digression on monsters,” and the introduction of the milkmaids' second song, 22 which contains the only objectionable allusion in the book, are not in Walton's usual good taste.

Thinking that the work was defective in one branch of the art, Walton applied to his friend Charles Cotton, whom he had known for a great many years, to furnish a treatise on fly-fishing. Cotton promised to comply with


19 Bowles's Life of Ken, I. 23.
20 Ibid. pp. 303–308.

21 Ibid.


61. 22 Ibid.



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