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pleasing portraits of female excellence, in the mother and in the wife of Mr. George Herbert ? In the first were united all the personal and mental accomplishments of her sex. The enlightened piety of the latter, her native humility, her truly christian charity, exhibit her as a perfect model of every thing good and praiseworthy, while her marriage with Mr. Herbert, though attended with some unusual circumstances, proves incontestably, that an union, originating from “good sense, from inclination, and from an equality of age, of dignity, and of fortune,” can seldom fail of being attended with happiness.
It is said of Socrates, that all who knew him loved him; and that if any did not love him, it was because they did not know him. May we not affirm the same of that worthy person, who is the subject of this memoir ? Such was the sweetness of his temper, so affectionate was the regard which his friends professed for him, that, in their epistolary correspondence, though they were far superior to him in rank and condition of life, they usually ad. dressed him in the language of tenderness and soothing endearment, styling him, “Good Mr. Walton ;” “Honest Isaac;" “Worthy Friend ;"
;" “Dear Brother;" “ Most Ingenious Friend." No one better deserved these kind appellations. Let it always be recorded to his honour, that he never retracted any promise, when made in favour even of his meanest friend. Neal, in his “ History of the Puritans,” introduces an erroneous quotation from “ Walton's Life of Mr. Hooker.” Dr. Warburton, in his notes on that history (Warburton's Works, Vol. VII. p. 895,) commenting upon this quotation, speaks of "the quaint trash of a fantastical life-writer.” Is it possible to suppose that an epithet, more adapted to the asperity of fastidious censure, than to the cool and deliberate judgment of candid and equitable criticism, should be justly applied to a man of real merit, who strenuously exerted himself in promoting the cause of religion, as well by his writings as by his exemplary conduct?
The corporation of Stafford have publicly pronounced him their worthy and generous benefactor. Of his singular munificence to the poor inhabitants of this his native town, we find several instances in his life-time. And, at his death, he consigned some bequests of considerable value to be appropriated to their use.
In an ancient inscription yet extant, it is said of a Roman citi. zen, that he knew not how to speak injuriously,—“ Nescivit mal. edicere." We may observe of Izaak Walton, that he was ignorant how to write of any man with acrimony and harshness. This liberality of disposition will ever recommend him to his read
Whatever are the religious sentiments of the persons, whom he introduces to our notice, how widely soever they differ from his own; we discover not, in his remarks, the petulance of indiscriminate reproach, or the malignancy of rude invective. The mild spirit of moderation breathes almost in every page.
I can only lament one instance of severity, for which, however, several pleas of extenuation might readily be admitted.
He is known to have acquired a relish for the fine arts. Of paintings and prints he had formed a small, but valuable collection. And we may presume, that he had an attachment to and a knowledge of music. His affection for sacred music may be inferred from that animated, I had almost said, that enraptured language which he adopts, whenever the subject occurs to him.* It will be easy recollected, that Ken, his brother-in-law, whose morning, evening, and midnight hymns, endear his memory to the devout Christian, began the duties of each day with sacred melody. And that between men perfectly congenial in their sentiments and habits of virtue, a similarity of disposition in this instance should prevail, is far from being an unreasonable suggestion. That he had an inclination to poetry, we may conclude from his early intimacy with Michael Drayton, “ the golden-mouthed poet;" a man of an amiable disposition, of mild and modest manners, whose poems are much less read than they deserve to be. It is needless to remark, that on the first publication of a work it was usual for the friends of the author to prefix to it recommendatory verses. Izaak Walton, whose circle of friends was very extensive indeed, often contributed his share of encomium on these occasions. To
*“ He that at midnight, when the very labourer sleeps securely, should hear, as I have often done, the sweet descants, the natural rising and falling, the doubling and redoubling of the nightingale's voice, might well be lifted above earth, and say, Lord, what music hast thou provided for the saints in heaven, when thou asfordest bad men such music upon earth !”—(Complete Angler, P. I. Ch. I.)
his productions of this kind no other commendations can be allowed, than that they were sincere memorials of his grateful and tender regard. It must however be added, that he never debased his talents by offering the incense of adulation at the shrine of infamy and guilt. The persons, whom he favoured with these marks of his attention, were not undeserving of praise. Such, for instance, was William Cartwright, who, though he died in the thirtieth
year of his age, was the boast and ornament of the uni. versity of Oxford, as a divine, a philosopher, and a poet. Dr. Fell, Bishop of Oxford, declared him to be," the utmost man can come to ;” and Ben Jonson was wont to say of him, “My son Cartwright writes all like a man.” And here an opportunity presents itself of ascertaining the author of “ The Synagogue, or the Shadow of the Temple,” a collection of sacred poems, usually annexed to Mr. George Herbert's “Temple.” Mr. Walton has addressed some encomiastic lines to him, as his friend; and in “ The Complete Angler,” having inserted from that collection, a little poem, entitled “The Book of Common Prayer,” he expressly assigns it, and of course the whole work, to a reverend and learned divine, Mr. Christopher Harvey, " that professes to imitate Mr. Herbert, and hath indeed done so most excellently ;” and of whom he adds pleasantly, "you will like him the better, because he is a friend of mine, and I am sure no enemy to angling."
Faithfully attached to the church of England, he entertained the highest veneration for her discipline and doctrines. He had not been an inattentive spectator of the rapid progress of the sec. taries, hastening from one degree of injustice to another, until a universal anarchy consummated the ruin of our ecclesiastical constitution. In his last will he has announced an ingenious and decided avowal of his religious principles, with a design, as it has been conjectured, to prevent any suspicions that might arise of his inclination to Popery, from his very long and very true friendship with some of the Roman communion. But a full and explicit declaration of his Christian faith, and the motives which enforced his serious and regular attendance upon the service of that church in which he was educated, are delivered with great propriety and good sense, in his own words. For thus he writes in a letter to one of his friends. “I go so constantly to the church service to
adore and worship my God, who hath made me of nothing, and preserved me from being worse than nothing. And this worship and adoration I do pay him inwardly in my soul, and testify it outwardly by my behaviour; as, namely, by my adoration, in my forbearing to cover my head in that place dedicated to God, and only to his service; and also, by standing up at profession of the creed, which contains the several articles that I and all true Chris. tians profess and believe; and also my standing up at giving glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, and confessing them to be three persons, and but one God.
“ And, secondly, I go to church to praise my God for my creation and redemption ; and for his many deliverances of me from the many dangers of my body, and more especially of my soul, in sending me redemption by the death of his Son, my Saviour; and for the constant assistance of his holy spirit: a part of which praise I perform frequently in the Psalms, which are daily read in the public congregations.
“ And, thirdly, I go to church publicly to confess and bewail my sins, and to beg pardon for them, for his merits who died to reconcile me and all mankind unto God, who is both his and my Father; and, as for the words in which I beg this mercy, they be the litany and collects of the church, composed by those learned and devout
and I have trusted to tell us which is and which is not the written word of God, and trusted also to translate those Scriptures into English. And, in these collects, you may note, that I pray absolutely for pardon of sin, and for grace to believe and serve God. But I
for health and and plenty, conditionally ; even so far as may tend to his glory and the good of my soul, and not further. And this confessing my sins, and begging mercy and pardon for them, I do in my adoring my God, and by the humble posture of kneeling on my knees before him. And, in this manner, and by reverend sitting to hear some chosen parts of God's word read in the public assembly, I spend one hour of the Lord's day every forenoon, and half so much time every evening. And since this uniform and devout custom of joining together in public confession and praise and adoration of God, and in one manner, hath been neglected, the power of Christianity and humble piety is so much decayed,
that it ought not to be thought on but with sorrow and lamentation ; and I think, especially by the Nonconformists."
The reasons which he has assigned for his uninterrupted atten tion to the discharge of another duty will afford satisfaction to every candid reader.
“ Now for preaching, I praise God, I un. derstand my duty both to him and my neighbour the better, by hearing of sermons. And though I be defective in the performance of both (for which I beseech Almighty God to pardon me), yet I had been a much worse Christian, if I had not frequented the blessed ordinance of preaching; which has convinced me of my many sins past, and begot such terrors of conscience, as have begot in me holy resolutions. This benefit, and many other like benefits, I and other Christians have had by preaching; and God forbid that we should ever use it so, or so provoke him by our other sins, as to withdraw this blessed ordinance from us, or turn it into a curse, by preaching heresy and schism ; which too many have done in the late time of rebellion, and indeed now do in many conventicles; and their auditors think such preaching is serving God, when God knows it is contrary.” Such were the rational grounds on which he founded his faith and practice.
No excuse is pleaded for again noticing the opportunities of improvement, which he experienced from his appropriated intimacy with the most eminent divines of the church of England. Genuine friendship exists but among the virtuous. A friend is emphatically styled “the medicine of life," the sovereign remedy that softens the pangs of sorrow, and alleviates the anguish of the heart. We cannot therefore sufficiently felicitate the condition of Izaak Walton, who imbibed the very spirit of friendship, and that with men renowned for their wisdom and learning, for the sanctity of their manners, and the unsullied purity of their lives. “If,” to use the words of one of his biographers, tertain a doubt that Walton was one of the happiest of men, we show ourselves ignorant of the nature of that felicity, to which it is possible even in this life for virtuous and good men, with the blessing of God, to arrive."
The features of the countenance often enable us to form a judgment, not very fallible, of the disposition of the mind. In few portraits can this discovery be more successfully pursued
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