Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]

So sang the enthusiastic disciple of the 'Father of all Anglers,' the owner of Beresford Hall, who, on the river's flowing banks, had erected a fishing house for the reception and entertainment of his friend and master. It was aʻstone building, and the room inside a cube of fifteen feet; over the door, as you entered, was the inscription, ‘Piscatoribus Sacrum,'underneath which was a cipher, composed of the initials of Izaak and his friend. In the centre of the room, which was paved with black and white marble, there was a square table, also of black marble, and the wainscot was ornamented with carvings dividing each panel. In each panel was a picture. In the larger ones were scenes of the neighbouring country where people were represented fishing; and, in the lesser panels, the fishing rod and tackle, &c., had their proper places. The buffet, which stood on the right hand opposite to the fireplace on the left, opened with two folding doors, on which were painted portraits of “Honest Izaak,' in the fishing costume of the day, and Mr. Cotton, with a servant lad.

Figures of trout and grayling, well designed, ornamented the door of a little cupboard underneath the buffet, and everything in the place bore some appropriate evidence for what the little dwelling was intended; a pleasant retreat, after a good morning's work, where the fish might be cooked, eaten, and washed down by the hungry anglers with a cup of Canary Sack, or a pull at Brown Bess.'

Standing in a kind of peninsula, with a clear delicate river about it, this cosy fishing-house was a little paradise in the eyes of honest Izaak, and so loved he the scenery of the delicious neighbourhood in which it stood, that, to use his own words, the pleasantness of the river, mountains and meadows about it, cannot be described, unless. Sir. Philip Sidney or Mr. Cotton's father were again alive to do it.' It was a place too pleasant to be looked on but only on holidays.' And here, indeed, with angle in hand, in calm and thoughtful contemplation on the lilies that take no care, and those very many other various little living creatures that are not only created, but fed (man knows not how), by the goodness of the God of Nature,' in a cheerful, contented, peaceful spirit, did the happiest days of honest old Izaak's long life glide away.

The spirit of thoroughness' with which Walton had taken up, from an early period, his duties, as well as his diversions, led him to labour till the latest hour of his life. It is unnecessary here to enumerate all the works, biographical as well as practical, which issued from his busy pen, during a long well-spent life. But to the aphorism, that one is never too old to learn, Walton may be said practically to have added a second, and has shown us that one is never too old to work. He had entered his eighty-third year, when he undertook to write the Life of Dr. Robert Sanderson,' Bishop of Lincoln; which, with a sermon of Hooker's, and some of the Bishop's pieces, was published in 1677. Nor did Izaak deem this sufficient; for, although at eighty-two, he considered he had attained an age which might have procured him a writ of ease, and secured him from all further trouble in that kind,' at ninety years of age, he again took up his pen to write a preface, with a description of the author, to a poem, entitled

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Thealma and Clearchus,' by John Chalkhill, Esq., an acquaintance and friend of Edmund Spenser.'

He did not long survive this last labour of a busy brain; for, on the 15th of December, in the year 1683, he breathed his last at Winchester, at the house of his , son-in-law, Dr. William Hawkins. He left behind him two children, a son and daughter, who had had the happiness of ministering to the wants of his old age, and were spared the sorrow of seeing his mind, that perpetual fountain of cheerfulness,' diminished in its brightness, or deprived of its power. He retained his memory to the last, and died in peace with his Maker and his fellow-men, beloved and lamented by all.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Beloved he lived and died, o'ercharged with years,
Fuller of honours than of silver hairs,
And to sum up his virtues, this was he
Who was what all we should, but cannot be.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Born in London, on the 10th of December, 1745, the subject of our present memoir, Thomas Holcroft, was, like the gifted Gifford, of humble origin.

His father belonged to that numerous class who never persevere in any single thing they undertake. He began life as a small greengrocer at the city end of the metropolis, and to that calling he united selling oysters and fish. He afterwards became a shoe-maker, or, rather, a cobbler; and, finally, renouncing vegetables, fish, and shoe-making, this thriftless parent of one of the most persevering men that biography can hold up for our admiration and example, took to that invariable resource of idleness -horse-dealing. Horses then became the elder Holcroft's passion and hobby. He carried his love for equitation, however, a little too far, when he arrayed his little boy, at four years of age, in a pair of pantaloons; and, while mounting him on a high horse, began a course of instruction in riding, that resulted, happily, in no more serious accident to the tiny rider, than an occasional tumble off, and fall on to the soft straw of the stable yard. Fortunately for his little son, the elder Holcroft was a man who was always making experiments, yet but seldom carrying them fully out. His wife objected to the poor child's learning to mount on horseback, at an age when he scarcely knew how to walk; in short, the riding lessons were given up, and the juvenile Thomas permitted to reassume the proper garb of infancy.

Again-Holcroft Senior hears his little boy singing in infantine gladness, as he sits playing at soldiers on his nursery floor; positively convinced that his son is a great musical genius, and a prodigy, he summons a violin performer, and charges him to instruct his son in the use of that difficult instrument.

This absurdity succeeded no better than the riding lessons had done; and by the time he was seven years of age, the child could neither play a note, nor guide a horse. However, though Tom may have reflected but little credit on his father's system of education, there is no doubt but that other accomplishments would have been taught him, had not a series of reverses driven the whole family from London about this time, and turned the elder Holcroft's attention to different objects.

They went into the country, and finally settled in Berkshire; a movement which influenced Tommy's destiny, as he was now sent to a day-school. The little cockney was finely laughed at by all the country lads, his school-fellows, for his ignorance, as he knew nothing at all, and could not even spell the simplest words, nor put two and two together, nor write a pot-hook.

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »