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The first edition of Walton's Complete Angler was published in the spring of 1653, with the title :
The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative Man's Recreation. Being a Discourse of Fish and Fishing, Not unworthy the perusal of most Anglers. Simon Peter said, I go a fishing: and they said, We also will
go with thee. John 21.3. London, Printed by T. Maxey for Rich. Marriot, in S. Dunstans Church
yard Fleet Street, 1653. In The Perfect Diurnall for May 9th-16th, Marriot advertised his venture as 'by Iz. Wa.' (a favourite signature of Walton's), and “of 18pence price.' It
It may be thought that a purchaser who directed that his copy should be kept unsoiled and in its original sheepskin jacket until 1891 or 1896 would have done well for his descendants, for such copies sold in the former year for £310 and in the latter for £415. But arithmetic tells us that at five per cent. compound interest the eighteen pence would have amounted to these sums in each case about seventy years earlier, and the book-lover is once more warned not to allege these triumphs of the auctionroom in defence of his hobby. It is more germane to quote the Complete Angler and the Lives as a justification for a particular form of collecting, the usually dull practice of acquiring numerous editions of the same work.
It is characteristic of Walton's capacity for finding pleasure and occupation in small things that the six little books or essays which represent his literary output during forty years were lovingly retouched in nearly every successive edition, and that in copies he gave away
he seems often to have made trivial corrections. In the case of the Complete Angler the chief changes were made in the second edition, published in 1655, in which the character of · Auceps' was added to the preliminary dialogue, and by other additions scattered through the book the number of pages was raised from 246 to 355. Other, though much slighter, changes were made in the third edition of 1661 (re-issued with a new title-page in 1664, and made scarcer than the second edition through the destruction of copies in the Great Fire), and in the fourth, issued in 1668; while of that of 1676, which, as the last published during the author's life, has been taken for our text, Walton writes: 'In this fifth impression there are many inlargements, gathered both by my own observation and the communication with friends.'1 With the 1676 edition two other books were issued between the same boards: “The Compleat Angler or Instructions how to angle for a trout or grayling in a clear stream,' by Walton's disciple, Charles Cotton; and the fourth edition of “The Experienced Angler or Angling improved,' by Colonel Venables. A general title-page, ‘The Universal Angler, made so by three books of fishing,' links the treatises together ; but while Cotton's is still frequently
As we have concerned ourselves with prices, it may be noted that in the Ash burnham Sale in 1898 a set of the five editions, all in the original bindings, fetched [800.
reprinted with Walton's, that by Venables seems to have been published only once since 1683.
At the time of the first publication of the Complete Angler, Walton was in his sixtieth year. His career as an author (putting aside what little he had written in verse) had begun in 1640, when, to use his own words, hearing that the Sermons of his friend Dr. Donne were to be printed and want the Author's life, indignation or grief transported him so far that he reviewed the notes which he had collected for the use of Sir Henry Wotton, and essayed the task himself. The memoir was reprinted separately in 1658, and with the Lives of Wotton, Hooker, and Herbert in 1670. This first collected edition of the four memoirs was republished in 1675, being then called 'the fourth edition,' two of the Lives having then been previously printed three times, one four times, and one twice. The Life of Wotton was written in 1651 for the Reliquiae Wottoniae, which were published in that year and reprinted in 1654 and 1672. The Life of Hooker was published by itself in 1666, and prefixed the next year to an edition of his Ecclesiastical Polity. That of Herbert appeared in 1670, being then published both with his Letters to his Mother and also with the three other Lives.
In 1678 Walton was called upon in some haste for a Life of Bishop Sanderson, and besought the reader's clemency in the following note:
POSTSCRIPT. If I had had time to have review'd this Relation, as I intended, before it went to the Press, I could have contracted some, and altered other parts of it; but 'twas hastened from me, and now too late for this impression. If there be a second (which the Printer hopes for) I shall both do that, and, upon information, mend any mistake, or supply what may seem wanting.
When he wrote this Walton was in his 85th year, and his modern editors, apparently thinking that it was unreasonable for him to look forward to a second edition, have unanimously taken their text from the 1678 edition, while, also with singular unanimity, suppressing the Postscript in which the old man expressed his hope. Nevertheless, a 'Second Impression ’exists, and may be found as a thin folio bound up with the 1681 edition of Sanderson's Thirty-five Sermons, with its own title-page and the imprint: ‘London, Printed for Benjamin Tooke at the Ship in St. Paul's Church-yard, and Thomas Sawbridge at the three Flower-de-luces in Little Britain, 1681. The preface has been partly re-written, but at 87 or 88 the larger revision the old man had gallantly intended may well have been beyond his powers, and the alterations in the text are of little importance. Such as they are, they will be found reproduced in this edition, apparently for the first time, the text of the other Lives being taken from the 'fourth edition of 1675.
ALFRED W. POLLARD.