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Christian graces that accompany salvation, you may practise ei. ther publicly or privately, as much and as often as you think fit; and yet keep in the communion of that church, of which you were made a member by your baptism. These graces you may practise, and not be a busy-body in promoting schism and faction; as God knows your father's friends, Hugh Peters and John Lilbourn did, to the ruin of themselves and many of their disciples. Their turbulent lives and uncomfortable deaths are not, I hope, yet worn out of the memory
He that compares them with the holy life and happy death of Mr. George Herbert, as it is plainly, and, I hope, truly writ by Mr. Izaak Walton, may in it find a perfect pattern for an humble and devout Christian to imitate. And he that considers the restless lives and uncomfort. able deaths of the other two (who always lived, like the salamander, in the fire of contention), and considers the dismal consequences of schism and sedition, will (if prejudice and a malicious zeal have not so blinded him that he cannot see reason) be so convinced, as to beg of God to give him a meek and quiet spirit; and that he may, by his grace, be prevented from being a busy-body, in what concerns him not."
Such admonitions as these could only proceed from a heart overflowing with goodness; a heart, as was said concerning that of Sir Henry Wotton, “ in which peace, patience, and calm content did inhabit."
His intercourse with learned men, and the frequent and familiar conversations which he held with them, afforded him many opportunities of obtaining several valuable anecdotes relative to the history of his contemporaries. The following literary curiosity is preserved in the Ashmolean Museum, at Oxford :
“For your friend's queries this: “I only knew Ben Jonson ; but my lord of Winton knew him very well, and says he was in the sixth, that is, the uppermost form in Westminster school, at which time his father died, and his mother married a bricklayer, who made him (much against his will) help him in his trade; but in a short time, his school. master, Mr. Camden, got him a better employment, which was to attend or accompany a son of Sir Walter Raleigh's in his travels.
Within a short time after their return, they parted (I think not in cool blood) and with a love suitable to what they had in their travels (not to be commended). And then Ben began to set up for himself in the trade by which he got his subsistence and fame, of which I need not give any account. He got in time to have a hundred pounds a year from the king, also a pension from the city, and the like from many of the nobility and some of the gentry, which was well paid, for love or fear of his railing in verse or prose, or both. My lord told me, he told him he was (in his long retirement and sickness, when he saw him, which was often) much afflicted, that he had profaned the Scripture in his plays, and lamented it with horror; yet that, at that time of his long retirement, his pension (so much as came in) was given to a woman that governed him (with whom he lived and died near the Abbey in Westminster); and that neither he nor she took much care for next week; and would be sure not to want wine; of which he usually took too much before he went to bed, if not oftener and sooner. My lord tells me, he knows not, but thinks he was born in Westminster. The question may be put to Mr. Wood very easily upon what grounds he is positive as to his being born there; he is a friendly man, and will resolve it. So much for brave Ben. You will not think the rest so tedious as I do this.
“For your second and third queries of Mr. Hill, and Billingsley, I do neither know nor can learn any thing worth telling you.
“For your two remaining queries of Mr. Warner, and Mr. Harriott, this:
“ Mr. Warner did long and constantly lodge near the waterstairs, or market, in Woolstable. Woolstable is a place not far from Charing-Cross, and nearer to Northumberland-house. My lord of Winchester tells me, he knew him, and that he said, he first found out the circulation of the blood, and discovered it to Dr. Harvey (who said that it was he himself that found it), fri which he is so memorally famous. Warner had a pension of forty pounds a year from that Earl of Northumberland that lay so long a prisoner in the Tower, and some allowance from Sir Thomas Aylesbury, and with whom he usually spent his summer
in Windsor Park, and was welcome, for he was harmless and quiet. His winter was spent at the Woolstable, where he died in the time of the parliament of 1640, of which or whom he was no lover.
“Mr. Harriott, my lord tells me, he knew also ; that he was a more gentle man than Warner. That he had a hundred and twenty pounds a year pension from the said Earl (who was a lover of their studies), and his lodgings in Sion-house, where he thinks or believes he died.
“ This is all I know or can learn for your friend; which I wish may be worth the time and trouble of reading it. “ Nov. 22, '80.
J. W. “I forgot to tell, that I heard the sermon preached for the Lady Danvers, and have it; but thank your friend."
A life of temperance, sobriety, and cheerfulness, is not seldom rewarded with length of days, with a healthful, honourable, and happy old age. Izaak Walton retained to the last a constitution unbroken by disease, with the full possession of his mental powers. In a letter to Mr. Cotton, from London, April 29, 1676, he writes: “ Though I be more than a hundred miles from you, and in the eighty-third year of my age, yet I will forget both, and next month begin a pilgrimage to beg your pardon.” He had written the life of Dr. Sanderson, when he was in his eighty-fifth year.
We find him active with his pen, after this period, at a time when," silvered o'er with age,” he had a just claim to a writ of ease. On the ninetieth anniversary of his birth-day, he declares himself in his will to be of perfect memory. In the very year in which he died, he prefixed a Preface to a work edited by him: “ Thealma and Clearchus, a Pastoral History, in smooth and easy verse; written long since by John Chalkhill, Esq., an acquaintant and friend of Edmund Spenser." Flatman, who is known both as a poet and a painter, hath in ach true lours delineated the character of his much-esteemed friend, that it would be injurious not to transcribe the following lines :
“TO MY WORTHY FRIEND, MR. IZAAK WALTON,
ON THE PUBLICATION OF THIS POEM.
“ Long had the bright Thealma lay obscure ;
Her beauteous charms, that might the world allure,
shall for ever be secure,
The classic reader, when he recollects the story of Phidias, will easily acknowledge the propriety of the encomium passed on Mr. Walton, who secured immortal fame to himself, while he conferred it upon others. That divine artist, having finished his fa. mous statue of Minerva, with the most consummate exquisiteness of skill, afterward impressed his own image so deeply on her buckler, that it could not be effaced without destroying the whole work.
The beauties of “ Thealma and Clearchus,” and the character of the author, are not unaptly described in the editor's own language. He intimates in the Preface, that “the reader will find what the title declares, a Pastoral History, in smooth and easy
verse; and will in it find many hopes and fears finely painted and feelingly expressed. And he will find the first so often disappointed, when fullest of desire and expectation; and the latter so often, so strangely, and so unexpectedly relieved by an unfore. seen Providence, as may beget in him wonder and amazement. He adds, that “the reader must here also meet with passions heightened by easy and fit descriptions of joy and sorrow; and find also such various events and rewards of innocent truth and undissembled honesty, as is like to leave in him (if he be a good. natured reader) more sympathizing and virtuous impressions than ten times so much time spent in impertinent, critical, and needless disputes about religion.” Mr. Chalkhill died before he had perfected even the fable of his poem. He was a man generally known in his time, and as well beloved; for he was humble and obliging in his behaviour, a gentlernan, a scholar, very innocent and prudent; and indeed his whole life was useful, quiet, and virtuous. So amiable were the manners, so truly excellent the char. acter of all those, whom Izaak Walton honoured with his regard.
When Leoniceni, one of the most profound scholars in Italy, in the fifteenth century, was asked by what art he had, through a period of ninety years, preserved a sound memory, perfect senses, an upright body, and a vigorous health, he answered, “ by innocence, serenity of mind, and temperance." Izaak Walton, haying uniformly enjoyed that happy tranquillity, which is the natural concomitant of virtue, came to the
grave in a full
age, shock of corn cometh in his season.
6 like as a
“ So would I live, such gradual death to find,
Like timely fruit, not shaken by the wind,
He died during the time of the great frost, on the fifteenth day of December, 1683, at Winchester, in the prebendal house of Dr. William Hawkins, his son-in-law, whom he loved as his own son.