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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,
may envy's search endure.
18 His monument in St. Paul's Church, before the late dreadful fire, 1665.
A monument, that, as it has, shall last,
And even in their flowery characters,
Thus, by an office, though particular,
For though they each of them his time so spent,
Yet their great works, though they can never die,
Wotton,-a nobler soul was never bred !-
Nay, through disgrace, which oft the worthiest have;
By the same clue, after his youthful swing,
his own eyes, And then your friend a saint and preacher dies.
The meek and learned Hooker too, almost
And fitted for a court, made that his aim;
with so good success,
But, my dear friend, 'tis so, that you and I,
In which estate, I ask no more of fame,
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.
61. 22 Ibid.