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As a specimen of his worst Latinized English, we give the following from his "Vulgar Errors." He notices the custom of foretelling events by spots upon the nails in this curious manner:—
That temperamental dignotions, and conjecture of prevalent humors, may be collected from spots in our nails, we are not averse to concede. But yet not ready to admit sundry divinations, vulgarly raised upon them.
Of lower consideration is the common foretelling of strangers from the fungous parcel about the wicks of candles; which only signifieth a moist and pluvious ayr about them, hindering the avolation of the light and favillous particles.
IZAAK WALTON. 1593—1683.
Izaak Waltojc, the "Father of Angling," was born at Stafford, in 1593. Of his early education little is known; but having acquired a moderate competency in business in London, as a linen-draper, he retired from business in 1643, at the age of fifty, and lived forty years after, in uninterrupted leisure, dying in 1683, in the ninetieth year of his age, exhibiting a striking proof how much calm pursuits, with a mind pure and at ease, contribute to prolong the period of human existence.
Walton is celebrated as a biographer, and particularly as an angler. His first work was the "Life of Dr. John Donne," published in 1640. On the death of Sir Henry Wotton, he published a collection of his works, widi a life prefixed. His next life was that of Dr. Richard Hooker, author of the "Ecclesiastical Polity j" and soon after he wrote the life of George Herbert AU
weakness and ignorance T of how little has man, at his best estate, to boast r what tolly In him to (lory in his contracted powers, or to value himself upon his imperfect acquisitions I"
'* Well I" exclaimed a yonng lady, Just returned from school, "my education Is at last finished: Indeed It would be strange, 1C after five years' hard application, any thing were left incomplete. Happily that is all over now; and I have nothing to do but to exercise my various accomplishments.
"Let me sec I—as to French, I am mistress of that, and speak It, If possible, with more fluency Inan English. Italian I can read with ease, and pronounce very well; as well, at least, and better, than any of my friends; and that is all one need wish for in Italian. Music I have learn**! till I am perfectly sick of it But, now that we have a grand piano, it will be delightful to play when we have company. I must sUll continue to practise a little;—the only Uilng, I think, that I need now to improve myself in. And then there are my Italian songs 1 which everybody allows I sing with taste, and, us it is wlint so few people can pretend to, I am particularly glad that I can.
"My drawings are universally admired; especially the shells and flowers; which are beautiful certainly; besides this, I have a decided taste In all kinds of fancy ornaments.
"And then my dancing and waltzing I In which our master himself owned that ho could take me no further I—just the figure for It, certainly; It would be unpardonable if I did not excel.
"As to common things, geography, and history, and poetry, and philosophy, thank my stars, I have got trough them all I so that I may consider myself not only perfectly accomplished, but ahw thoroughly well informed.
Well, to be sure how much have I fagged through; the only wonder Is, that one head can contain It all I"
these were collected in 1670, and published in one volume.1 It was one of Dr. Johnson's most favorite books.
But the work by whicli he is most known is, "The Complete Angler, or Contemplative Man's Recreation,1' a work, which, to use the words of Sir Harris Nicolas, "whether considered as a treatise on the art of angling, or a beautiful pastoral, abounding in exquisite descriptions of rural scenery, in sentiments of the purest morality, and in unaffected love of the Creator and his works, has long been ranked among the most popular compositions in out language." In writing it, he says, he made a "recreation of a recreation," and, by mingling innocent mirth and pleasant scenes with the graver parts of his discourse, he designed it as a picture of his own disposition. The work is, indeed, essentially autobiographical in spirit and execution. It is in tho form of a dialogue; a Hunter and a Falconer are introduced as parties in it, but the whole interest of the piece centres in the venerable and complacent Piscator. The three meet accidentally near London, on a "fine fresh May" morning, and they agTee each to "commend his recreation" or favorite pursuit. Piscator allows the Falconer* to take the lead, who thus commends the sport of his choice:—
And first for the element that I use to trade in, which is the air; an element of more worth than weight, an element that doubtless exceeds both the earth and water: for though I sometimes deal in both, yet the air is most properly mine; I and my hawks use that, and it yields us most recreation: it stops not the high soaring of my noble, generous falcon: in it she ascends to such an height as the dull eyes of beasts and fish are not able to reach to; their bodies are too gross for such high elevations. In the air, my troops of hawks soar up on high, and when they are lost in the sight of men, then they attend upon and converse with the gods. Therefore I think my eagle is so justly styled Jove's servant in ordinary: and that very falcon, that I am now going to see, deserves no meaner a title, for she usually in her flight endangers herself, like the son of Daedalus, to have her wings scorched by
l "The Lives of Dr. John Donne; Sir Henry Wotton; Mr. Richard Hooker; Mr. George Herbert and Dr. Robert Sanderson, by Izaak Walton; with Notes and Uie Life of uie Author, by Thomas Zoueh, D. D." Best edition of a most admirable book.
- Falconry, or the art of training hawks so that they would catch other birds, was a favorite sport with the English down to the middle of the seventeenth century. During the reigns of Elizabeth and Jam*"* I., the rage for it was so universal, that no one could have the smallest pretensions to the character of n gentleman who kept not a "cast" of hawks; which term was applied to any num. ber of hawks kept by one person, and was no more definite than the term "pack" applied to hounds. It was a very expensive diversion, and frequently involved those who were not opulent In uttet ruin. For instance, in the reign of James I., a person gave one thousand pounds for a cast of hawks The training of hawks, as might well be supposed, was a work of great labor and difficulty, and la. who possessed great skill In the art was highly prized. They were taught to render perfect obe alence to the voice, and this was called "manning," or "luring;" and to fly after dlfll-rent birds, which was called "flying." When not flying at their game they were "hooded," having a lltUe ca|< drawn over their head. When taken upon the "flat," the terra used for carrying them in the hand, they had strips of leather, called "Jesses," put about their legs, to wlilch bells were also attached. To one of the "Jesses" was tied a long thread, by which the bird was drawn back, after being pernjiited to fly. which was called the " reclaiming" of the hawk. For a more full aocoun* of this diver sion, read Drake's "Sliakppearc and his Times," vol. I. p. US— ITS,
ihe sun's heat, she flies so near it; but her mettle makes her <_areless of danger; for then she heeds nothing, but makes her nimble pinions cut the fluid air, and so makes her highway over the steepest mountains and deepest rivers, and in her glorious career looks with contempt upon those high steeples and magnificent palaces which we adore and wonder at; from which height I can make her to descend by a word from my mouth, which she both knows and obeys, to accept of meat from my hand, to own me for her master, to go home with me, and be willing the next day to afford me the like recreation.
Nay more, the very birds of the air, those that be not hawks, are both so many, and so useful and pleasant to mankind, that I must not let them pass without some observations. * * * As first, the lark, when she means to rejoice; to cheer herself and those that hear her, she then quits the earth, and sings as she ascends higher into the air; and having ended her heavenly employment, grows then mute and sad to think she must descend to the dull earth, which she would not touch but from necessity.1
How do the blackbird and thrassel with their melodious voices bid welcome to the cheerful spring, and in their fixed months warble forth such ditties as no art or instrument can reach to!
Nay, the smaller birds also do the like in their particular seasons, as namely, the leverock, the tit-lark, the little linnet, and the honest robin, that loves mankind both alive and dead.
But the nightingale," another of my airy creatures, breathes such sweet loud music, out of her little instrumental throat, that it might make mankind to think miracles are not ceased. He that at midnight, when the very laborer sleeps securely, should hear as I have, very often, the clear airs, the sweet descants, the natural rising and falling, the doubling and redoubling of her voice, might well be lifted above earth, and say, Lord, what music hast thou provided for the saints in heaven, when thou affordest bad men such music on earth!
This for the birds of pleasure, of which very much more might be said. My next shall be of birds of political use: I think 'tis not to be doubted that swallows have been taught to carry letters between two armies. But it is certain, that when the Turks besieged Malta or Rhodes, I now remember not which it was,
1 11 What can be more delightful than this description of the lark! In all the ports there la nothing said of the lark or of the nightingale comparable to this exquisite passage of our pious author. The Ihtasscl is the song-thrush; leverock Is a name still used In Scotland for the skylark; and the fondness of the robin for churchyards Is well known."—American Editor of Walton.
* What a favorite the nightingale has been with the best poets, ancient and modern I Homer, Theocritus. Viriril. and Horace have sung its praises; Milton has shown his regard for It In numerous passages, and In a sonnet dedicated to It; Thomson, the poet of nature, has celebrated it; and Gray Ms remembered it in his ode to Spring. But which of these has any thing superior to this most beau tiful description of it by our author I
pigeons are then related to carry and recarry letters. And Mr. G. Sandys,1 in his travels, relates it to be done between Aleppo and Babylon. But if that be disbelieved, it is not to be doubted that the dove was sent out of the ark by Noah, to give him notice of land, when to him all appeared to be sea, and the dove proved a faithful and comfortable messenger. And for the sacrifices of the law, a pair of turtle-doves or young pigeons were as well accepted as costly bulls and rams. And when God would feed the prophet Elijah, after a kind of miraculous manner, he did it by ravens, who brought him meat morning and evening. Lastly, the Holy Ghost, when he descended visibly upon our Saviour, did it by assuming the shape of a dove.9 And to conclude this part of my discourse, pray remember these wonders were done by birds of the air, the element in which they and I take so much pleasure.
There is also a little contemptible winged creature, an inhabitant of my aerial element, namely, the laborious bee, of whose prudence, policy, and regular government of their own commonwealth, I might say much, as also of their several kinds, and how useful their honey and wax is, both for meat and medicines to mankind; but I will leave them to their sweet labor, without the least disturbance, believing them to be all very busy at this very time amongst the herbs and flowers that we see nature puts forth this May-morning.
Venator then takes his turn—discoursing largely upon the rich bounty of the earth on which he hunts, as "bringing forth herbs, flowers, arid fruits, both for physic and the pleasure of mankind," and concludes by "enlarging liimself in the commendation of hunting, and of the noble hound especially, as also of the docibleness of dogs in general/' After a few preliminary remarks, the u honest angler" thus breaks forth:—
And now for the water, the element that I trade in. The water is the eldest daughter of the creation, the element upon which the spirit of God did first move, the element which God commanded to bring forth living creatures abundantly; and without which, those that inhabit the land, even all creatures that have breath in their nostrils, must suddenly return to putrefaction. Moses, the great lawgiver, and chief philosopher, skilled in all the learning of the Egyptians, who was called the friend of God, and knew the mind of the Almighty, names this element the first in the creation; this is the element upon which the spirit of God did first move, and is the chief ingredient in the creation: many philosophers have made it to comprehend all the other elements, and must allow it the chiefest in the mixtion of all living creatures. The water is more productive than the earth. Nay, the earth
1 See a notice oT Sandys' Travels, p. ISO.
a The Evangelist doe* not mean that the Holy Qhoxt assumed the form of a dove, but 'Icwcndrd ttotennf. svntly fluttering litt a dove.
hath no fruitfulnes3 without showers or dews; for all the herbs, and flowers, and fruits are produced and thrive by the water. Then how advantageous is the sea for our daily traffic: without which we could not now subsist! How does it not only furnish us with food and physic for the bodies, but with such observations for the mind as ingenious persons would not want!
Piscator then discourses most interestingly upon the variety of the fish, and of its use to man; not forgetting, in speaking of the honesty of his calling, to mention that "the Apostles Peter, James, and John, were all fishers." So excellent and convincing is his discourse, that Venator is fairly won over, and says to him, "If you will but meet me to-morrow, at die time and place appointed, and bestow one day with me in hunting the otter, I will dedicate the next two days to wait upon you, and we two, for that time, will do nothing but angle, and talk offish and fishing." This is agreed to, and in the fourth dialogue or chapter, while they are engaged earnestly in angling for trout, Piscator thus speaks:—
Look! under that broad beech-tree I sat down, when I was last this way a-fishing, and the birds in the adjoining groves seemed to have a friendly contention with an echo, whose dead voice seemed to live in a hollow tree, near to the brow of that primrose hill: there I sat viewing the silver streams glide silently towards their centre, the tempestuous sea; yet sometimes opposed by rugged roots and pebble stones, which broke their waves and turned them into foam: and sometimes I beguiled time by viewing the harmless lambs, some leaping securely in the cool shade, whilst others sported themselves in the cheerful sun; and saw others craving comfort from the swollen udders of their bleating dams.1 As I thus sat, these and other sights had so fully possessed my soul with content, that I thought, as the poet has happily expressed it,
I was for that time lifted above earth;
And possess d joys not promised in my birth.
As I left this place and entered into the next field, a second pleasure entertained me; it was a handsome milk-maid, that had not yet attained so much age and wisdom as to load her mind with any fears of many things that will never be, as too many men too often do; but she cast away all care, and sung like a nightingale; her voice was good, and the ditty fitted for it: it was that smooth song, which was made by Kit Marlow,3 now at least fifty years ago; and the milk-maid's mother sung an answer to it, which was made by Sir Walter Raleigh,3 in his younger days.
They were old-fashioned poetry, but choicely good; I think much better than the strong lines that are now in fashion in this critical age. Look yonder! on my word, yonder they both be