« PreviousContinue »
HE extreme popularity of the Complete Angler has been
so fully proved by its numerous editions, that it can scarcely be necessary to solicit the favour of the public towards one more carefully edited, and more highly embellished, than any that has hitherto appeared.
Although much had been done to illustrate that beautiful Pastoral, it was still susceptible of pictorial embellishments of a superior character; and although great trouble had already been taken to discover information respecting Walton and Cotton, the subject was not exhausted.
The following observations will show the particular claims of these volumes to the patronage of the public.
Of the embellishments little need be said, because the merits or demerits of works of art speak for themselves. The scenery was painted on the spot by the late Thomas Stothard, Esq., R.A., by whose ingenious pencil all the other Illustrations,
except the Portraits and Fishes, were drawn. The Fishes were painted from nature by James Inskipp, Esq., who, to distinguished ability in his profession, unites the knowledge and ardour of a skilful angler. To his pencil the publisher is likewise indebted for the charming portraits of Walton and Cotton, “in their vocation ;” and Mr Inskipp's favours have been much enhanced by the cordiality and zeal with which he has executed this important department of the work.
To general readers, as well as to Anglers, the portrait of the venerable Walton, engraved by Mr Humphrys, after the original by Housman, in the possession of the Rev. Dr Hawes, Prebendary of Salisbury, will perhaps prove the most attractive illustration. From that picture all the engraved portraits are said to have been taken; but a single glance will show that in none of them have the real features been preserved. The present engraving is, however, no less faithful to the original than remarkable for its excellence as a work of art; and it may be said that a perfect resemblance of the patriarch of Anglers is now, for the first time, published.
With respect to the literary improvements which are presumed to have been made, and the plan which has been pursued, in this edition of the Complete Angler, it is to be observed that the text is that of the fifth edition, published in 1676, which was the last that was revised by the author; and the variations between it and the four previous editions are carefully indicated
at the foot of each page. These variations are often curious, : it being well known that Walton very considerably enlarged
the second and the fifth edition of his work. As, however, a full account of the different editions of the Complete Angler will be found in the Memoir of Walton, it is unnecessary to say more on the subject.
Many original notes have been added to a selection of the most valuable of those which had appeared in preceding editions; and though the former are chiefly on points of a literary nature, some new piscatory illustrations, from the pens of experienced Anglers, will be found among them.*
A striking feature in the arrangement of this edition ought to be mentioned. All the previous editions of the Complete Angler are divided into chapters only, without any reference to the chronological plan of the work. The dialogue of the First Part occupies five separate days, and the conclusion of the first four of them is distinctly marked by the parties separating for the night. Except in the original edition of 1653, in which what is termed a “space” occurs at those places, there is no apparent division of time; and the dialogue proceeds, without any pause, from the "good-night” of the preceding evening, to the greeting and sports of the ensuing day, whilst the break, caused by a new chapter, is often found in the middle of a conversation, without the slightest change in the situation of the parties, merely because a different subject, or rather a new branch of the same subject, is introduced.
The inconsistency of this arrangement of a work so dramatic in character as the Complete Angler is evident; and it is really surprising that the unities of the piece should have hitherto been so completely lost sight of.
In this edition, the dialogue naturally forms five divisions, marked " The First Day," “ The Second Day,” “The Third
* The following explanation of the initials of the authors affixed to them will identify the respective contributors :
H. indicates Sir John Hawkins, the editor of the edition published in 1760.
lished by Mr Major, 1823.
Day,” “ The Fourth Day,” and “The Fifth Day ;” and no other notice is taken of the chapters than by stating at the head of each day the chapters which it contains, and inserting, in the margin, the number and title of each of them as they occur in the fifth edition.
A similar plan has also been adopted with respect to the Second Part of the work, by Charles Cotton, the dialogue of which occupies three days.
The research which has been used in seeking for new materials for the Lives of Walton and Cotton has been rewarded with great success; and it is not a little remarkable, that the sources which have proved most fertile were as accessible to his former as to his present biographer.
The pretaces to Walton's Lives of Donne, Wotton, Hooker, Herbert, and Sanderson, as well as those memoirs themselves, abound in anecdotes or traits of character of their amiable author, which had been unaccountably neglected. Walton's other pieces were scarcely less valuable for this purpose; and the same remark applies to the various productions of Charles Cotton. To every other source of information diligent application has also been made ; and many new facts, especially as to family connections, have been brought to light. The plan upon which the Memoirs of Walton and Cotton have been written, was to introduce every word in which they have alluded to themselves, so as to render them, as far as was practicable, their own biographers. With this view, all their Letters which could be found, and the prefaces and dedications to their works, have been printed at length, whenever they, in any way, illustrated the character of the writers.
The pleasing duty remains of offering both the Publisher's and the Editor's thanks to those numerous persons from whom they have derived assistance. The list is long, and contains
some names distinguished in literature, forming strong evidence of the homage which, at the distance of nearly two centuries, is paid by genius to the worth of " HONEST Izaak.”
Among the individuals by whose contributions this edition has been enriched, the names of Sir Henry Ellis, K.H., the Principal Librarian of the British Museum ; the Rev. Dr Bliss, of the Bodleian Library; Charles George Young, Esq., York Herald; George Frederick Beltz, Esq., K.H., Lancaster Herald; the Rev. Joseph Hunter; Richard Thomson, Esq., of the London Institution ; Mr John Baker ; Sir Francis Sykes, Bart. ; Mr Cafe ; Thomas B. Chinn, Esq., of Lichfield; Edward Jesse, Esq., of Hampton Court; the late Joseph Haslewood, Esq.; B. H. Bright, Esq.; and Mr Hatcher, of Salisbury, are deserving of particular commemoration.
As the Editor was well aware of his incompetency to make any addition to the science of halieutics, he undertook with reluctance the task of superintending an edition of the Complete Angler. He felt that, on such matters, he might, like Alexander Brome, in his address to Walton, ask himself,
“What make I here, to write of that I'm unskill'd in, and talk I know not what?"
His reluctance was, however, but of short duration, for no one who daily witnessed the Publisher's enthusiasm could possibly withstand its influence. He relieved him from all his difficulties by selecting the notes which relate to the art; while his own attention was entirely bestowed on the literary and biographical parts of the work. It has been to his friend Mr Pickering literally a labour of love. Neither time nor expense was spared to produce an edition of the Complete Angler worthy of the state of the Arts at the present day, and of the importance which was, in his opinion, due to the subject;