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Izaak Walton was born at Stafford in 1593, and died
at Winchester in 1683. Most of his life, however, was passed in London, where he was for a time in trade. The Complete Angler appeared in 1653; the not less charming Lives at different periods earlier and later. All his work has the same quiet grace which seems to have distinguished his character.
CHARACTER OF NOWEL.
THE first is Doctor Nowel
, sometimes Dean of the Cathedral
Church of St. Paul's in London, where his monument stands yet undefaced : a man that in the Reformation of Queen Elizabeth, not that of Henry VIII., was so noted for his meek spirit, deep learning, prudence and piety, that the then Parliament and Convocation both, chose, enjoined, and trusted him to be the man to make a Catechism for public use, such a one as should stand as a rule for faith and manners to their posterity, And the good old man, though he was very learned, yet knowing that God leads us not to heaven by many nor by hard questions, like an honest angler, made that good, plain, unperplexed catechism which is printed with our good old Service-Book. I say, this good man was a dear lover, and constant practiser of angling, as any age can produce ; and his custom was to spend besides his fixed hour of prayer, those hours which by command of the Church were enjoined the Clergy and voluntarily dedicated to devotion by many primitive Christians : I say, besides those hours, this good man was observed to spend a tenth part of his time in angling ; and also, for I have conversed with those
which have conversed with him, to bestow a tenth part of his revenue, and usually all his fish, amongst the poor that inhabited near to those rivers in which it was caught : saying often, “ That charity gave life to religion :” and at his return to his house, would praise God he had spent that day free from worldly trouble; both harmlessly, and in a recreation that became a churchman. And this good man was well content, if not desirous, that posterity should know he was an angler, as may appear by his picture, now to be seen, and carefully kept in Brazen-nose College, to which he was a liberal benefactor ; in which picture he is drawn leaning on a desk with his Bible before him, and on one hand of him his lines, hooks, and other tackling lying in a round ; and on his other hand are his anglerods of several sorts : and by them this is written, “ That he died 13 Feb. 1601, being aged 95 years, 44 of which he had been Dean of St. Paul's Church ; and that his age had neither impaired his hearing, nor dimmed his eyes, nor weakened his memory, nor made any of the faculties of his mind weak or useless.” It is said that angling and temperance were great causes of these blessings ; and I wish the like to all that imitate him, and love the memory of so good a man.
P. 47, 1. 19. Temperance. But Nowel was not a total abstainer, and according to a story told by Fuller, and quoted by Southey in the Doctor, he accidentally invented bottled beer.
William Chillingworth was born at Oxford in 1602, and was the godson of Laud. While a member of Trinity College he was converted to Roman Catholicism, but reverted to the Anglican Church in 1631. His Religion of Protestants appeared in 1635. He took orders and received preferment. He died in 1644, having distinguished himself as a partisan of the Royal cause.
AGAINST THE PUNISHMENT OF DEATH.
MY fourth notion is, that they who by the rigour of the laws
are to suffer death, and especially thieves, may by the clemency of this present parliament be saved from death, and made public slaves. My reasons are, first, because the chief end of punishment being, that others may fear to offend, the punishment of public slavery, as it may be ordered, being a long and lasting punishment, is like to work more effectually to this end, than putting to death, which is despatched in a moment. Lasting pain and public shame, though in true account not so great a punishment as death, especially if we remember the danger that follows after, yet certainly to the generality of men is much more terrible than speedy death ; especially to Englishmen.
For the best observers of their natures and disposition have out of their experience assured us, that they are generally not so much afraid of death, as of pain and shame. So that we have reason to expect, that this punishment will be more available for achieving the end of all punishment, which is by fear to keep others from transgressing; and therefore, in policy, we should rather make use of it than the other.
Secondly, it seems better in order to justice; because this kind of punishment, besides the benefit of a more lasting and a more public example, leaves the criminal a possibility and power to make some kind of satisfaction for the injury done by him to his neighbour, by restitution, and to the commonwealth, by doing some service to the public; both which by capital punishments are quite taken away. Our commonwealth for want of public slaves wants many great advantages; as the use of galleys, the making or repairing of public ways, the opening the passages of all our great rivers, and making an intercourse between them ; which, and many other noble works of great benefit to the public, by the labour of public slaves might be obtained, and that without any prejudice or danger, if they be wisely ordered.
Thirdly, it is more agreeable to charity. For it is, I conceive, most evidently demonstrable out of the principles of charity, as a certain conclusion, that destructive punishments ought not to be used against any delinquents whatsoever, if in reason we may expect, that such as are medicinal and not destructive, will be as exemplary and as beneficial to the commonwealth, or rather much more. For certainly nothing can be more agreeable to charity, than all possible and lawful parsimony of the blood of Christians, nay even of the blood of men; nor anything more apparently repugnant to Christian charity, and the bowels of compassion, and even to humanity itself, than to hurt, much more to destroy any person, unless this severity be necessary, or may at least be useful for the public good : for that were to shed the blood of a man and of a Christian to no purpose.
Fourthly, capital punishments as they are now ordered, are ordinarily, if not necessarily, as we may well fear, joined with the eternal destruction of the delinquents' souls ; who are commonly turned out of the world without other preparation for their last account, than only some sad short recollections, and constrained sorrow for their sins and their calamities, with some stupifying comfort grounded thereupon, which is commonly, but grossly, mistaken to be true repentance. But repentance is not so ordinary a thing, nor of so easy dispatch, as most mistake it, who conceive it to be nothing more, but true sorrow for sin past,
with true intention to forsake it. Whereas it is a true and an habitual change of the soul and the whole man, an effectual forsaking of sin, and an effectual and constant practice of Christian holiness, and an universal obedience to the law of Christ. The scripture assures us expressly, that without the knowledge of God's will revealed to us by Jesus Christ, without effectual forsaking and mortifying our sins, and without the effectual practice of Christian virtues, such as may truly denominate us new creatures and holy men, without true mortification and sanctification, briefly,“ without holiness, no man shall see God.” This being so, it is easy to judge, that it is morally impossible for our miserable delinquents ordinarily to be so qualified with true repentance, as to be in the state of salvation, experience showing, that few of them are truly mortified and sanctified men. And indeed the course now taken, as it gives them not means, so it allows them not time between their imprisonment and execution necessary for the effecting of this great work in themselves, which yet God is willing to grant them; and therefore it cannot be excused from a most bloody and horrible uncharitableness, and a base esteem of men's souls, if we allow them not all possible means to effect this great work in themselves, and all that time and space, even to a minute, which God in his mercy is pleased to allow them. Whereas we take from them that time, and inflict on them a punishment, the consequents whereof, though we intend it not, are infinitely more grievous than the punishments which we inflict, too frequently destroying the delinquents, both body and soul.
P. 50, I. 2. Habitual change. That is to say, a change of the habit-the likes of the soul. Usage has somewhat obscured this.