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For some years past I have been turning over in my mind the possibility, having been long clearly convinced of the necessity, of publishing, a new, a cheap, a pleasantly and profusely and profitably illustrated edition of the “ COMPLETE ANGLER,” with what I will call “ modernizing " notes and additions. I have ever found all things reasonable in desire, possible of execution : and happily, the thorough fulfilment of this last aspiration of mine has proved no exception to my experience.
Having been not altogether a silent observer of the successful progress through the reading world of the cheap series of books, old and new, published by Messrs. Ingram, Cooke & Co., under the general and appropriate title of “ The Illustrated National Library,” I resolved to try and add one more to the number. To the above firm, full of public spirit and intelligent energy, I communicated my intentions and projects. They were approved of; and the offer on my part to carry them into effect, under certain conditions and with aid specified, was as freely accepted and ratified by the gentlemen named, as it was conscientiously and hopefully proposed. Hence Walton and Cotton in a modern dress, ornamental and useful.
Reader, fear not. I have touched with no profaning pen the sacred text of those venerable writers. You have it here in its primitive purity-word after word, as it was printed in the fifth and last edition, published in the year 1676, under the eyes and hands of the authors. What more have I done ? A great deal—which I will briefly tell you.
The first edition of the “ COMPLETE ANGLER " appeared in 1653, exactly two hundred years ago, and though during Walton's lifetime four subsequent editions were published, with additions and improvements, original errors in the natural history of quadrupeds, birds, fishes, and insects, not only remained, but were augmented. Those errors must be imputed to the general ignorance of the time in which Walton wrote, in matters of natural history, and not to his specifically. The most glaring and dangerous of those errors I have cleared away by means of foot-notes.
candid reader of apprehensive mind will peruse the “ ComPLETE ANGLER ” he must agree with me that it lacks the instructive elementit amuses far more than it teaches—it talks more of fish and of catching them than it shows by detailed practical directions how to catch them. Occasionally directions are given ; but they are not always correct, and, except in a few instances, they are antiquated and not unfrequently erroneous. At least I think so ; and have endeavoured to apply a remedy. Wherever I have found the piscatorial directions of Walton and Cotton right I have said so, and not interfered. Where I have found them contrariwise, I have pointed it out and written new instructions, frequently at great length—more lengthened than the original chapters to which they stand appended.
I will not encroach upon the reader's time by stating minutely all that I have done. In a word, I will at once and fearlessly predicate that I have written, by means of foot-notes and complementary essays to chapters, a complete modern treatise on the different branches of angling—on bottom-fishing, spinning, and trolling, on fly-fishing with the artificial fly, and on daping or dibbing with the natural one. I have written succinctly the natural history of each of our river-fish--that of the salmon rather lengthily than succinctlyI have shown their habits, pointed out their haunts, named the best baits for them, and shown how they are to be used.
I have taught how the rod and line are to be handled, and how the artificial fly is to be thrown and worked in the water, as far as a long-practised pen can teach it. I have described the best sorts of angling gear ; and to Cotton's instructions for making artificial flies I have added my own, elucidated with drawings of the natural fly and of the artificial one in its finished state and in the incipient and progressive stages of its fabrication.
Of what I have done, enough. The book will tell its own tale -one I trust that will not dim, by even a passing shade, the reputation of him who, for more than fifteen years, has been the piscatory preacher of Bell's Life, who has written A Hand-book of Angling, and The Book of the Salmon, and more besides—in fine, reader, of your tutor, brother and friend, LONDON, March, 1853.
EPHEMERA. N.B.--The notes signed “H.” are from Sir John Hawkins's edition of Walton : those with " Ed." attached are original.
SKETCH OF WALTON'S LIFE.
The fame of Petrarch rests upon his Sonnets, and not upon his larger Italian poems, or upon his elaborate Latin ones, on which he relied for immortality. The fame of Walton—and wide and perennius ære is that fame-rests upon his simply written “Complete Angler," and not by any means on works which very likely he more prized, viz., “The Lives of Donne, Wotton, Hooker, Herbert, and Sanderson,” and poems that he wrote or edited. Why so ? Because the “Complete Angler" is so written, that it not only comes home to the “hearths and bosoms” of all anglers, but nearly of all men. It is an angling pastoral, babbling of all things that "are in the heavens above, the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth.” The immortal author of it was born at Stafford, in the month of August, 1593. We hear no more of him until he attained his 30th year, when he is found carrying on the business of a “sempster,” or man-milliner, in London. His first shop was a very small one, situate in “the Royal Burse,” Cornhill; that is to say, the Royal Exchange.
Yet here,” writes Sir John Hawkins,“ 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” (the house is now a goldsmith's, No. 128). Here he carried on the business of a linendraper, occupying only half a shop, the other half belonging to John Mason, a hosier.
Walton did not marry until he was about forty years of age, and then, in 1632, he removed to a house in Chancery-lane, then seven doors higher up than the corner house on the left hand, or western side. Here he resumed his old trade as a sempster, or milliner. His wife was the sister of Dr. Kenn, Bishop of Bath and Wells, one of the seven bishops sent to the Tower in the reign of James II. She was a prudent and pious woman, largely accomplished, and in her society Walton enjoyed content and happiness. He left business and London, 1643—at the age of fifty -on a fair competency, and lived sometimes at Stafford, and elsewhere; but mostly in the families of eminent English clergymen, by whom he was much beloved. His favourite recreation whilst in London was angling, in which art he was considered the greatest proficient of his day. The rivers he frequented, were the Lea and New River, and occasionally, in all probability, the Thames. The first edition of his “ Complete Angler,” appeared in 1653, when he was in his sixtieth year, and its popularity was so great, that it ran through four editions in the space of twentythree years. Walton, in the year 1676, and in the eighty-third year of his age, was preparing a fifth, with additions, for the press; when Mr. Cotton wrote the second part of the work. It seems Mr. Cotton submitted the manuscript to Walton's perusal, who returned it with his approbation, and a few marginal strictures : and in that year they came abroad together. Mr. Cotton's book had the title of the “ Complete Angler. Part II. : being Instructions how to angle for Trout or Gray-ling, in a clear Stream ;” and it has ever since been received as a Second. Part of Walton's book. In the title-page is a cipher composed of the initial letters of both their names ; which cipher, Mr. Cotton tells us, he had caused to be cut in stone, and set up over a fishing-house, that he had erected near his dwelling, on the bank of the lovely river Dove, which divides the counties of Stafford and Derby.
Mr. Cotton's book is a judicions supplement to Walton's; for it must not be concealed, that Walton, though he was so expert a bottom-angler, knew but little of fly-fishing; and indeed he is so ingenuous as to confess, that the greater part of what he said on that subject was communicated to him by Mr. Thomas Barker, * and not the result of his own experience. And of Cotton it must be said, that living in a country where fly-fishing was, and is, almost the only practice, he had not only the means of acquiring, but actually possessed more skill in the art, as also in the method of making flies, than most men of his time. His book is, in fact, a continuation of Walton's, not only as it teaches at large that branch of the art of angling which Walton had but slightly treated on, but as it takes up Venator, Walton's piscatory disciple, just where his master had left him; and this connexion between the two parts will be clearly seen, when it is remarked, that the traveller whom Cotton invites to his home and so hospitably entertains, and also instructs in the art of fly-fishing-we say this traveller-and Venator, the pupil of Walton, come out to be one and the same person. Not farther to anticipate what will be found in the Second Part, it shall here suffice to say, that there is great spirit in the dialogue; and that the same conversible, communicative temper appears in it, that so eminently distinguishes the piece it accompanies.
În 1662, Walton lost his wife. She was buried in the cathedral church of Worcester, and her monumental inscription tells, that she was “a woman of remarkable prudence, and of primitive piety; her great and general knowledge, with such true humility, and blest with such Christian meekness, as made her worthy of a more memorable monument." She left offspring, a son, called after his father, Izaak, a daughter, named Anne, after herself. The son entered into holy orders, and became chaplain to Dr. Seth Ward, bishop of Sarum, loy whose favour he attained to the dignity of a canon residentiary of that cathedral. He died at the age of sixty-nine, much respected, for his good temper, discretion, candour, and sincerity, by all the clergy of the diocese. The daughter married Dr. W. Hawkins, prebendary of Winchester.
In 1683, when he was ninety years old, Walton published, “ Thealmar and Clearchus, a pastoral history, in smooth and easy verse, written long
This gentleman published, in the year 1651, two years previously to the appearance of Walton's work, a book entitled “ The Art of Angling,” dedicated to Lord Montague. It was reprinted in 1653, and again in 1659, with the enlarged title of " Barker's Delight, or the Art of Angling." Though an earlier writer than Walton, the latter has been designated," the common father of all anglers."