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What safety, privacy, what true delight,
In th' artificial night,
Your gloomy entrails make,
Have I taken, do I take!
How oft when grief has made me fly
To hide me from society,
Ev'n of my dearest friends, have I
In your recesses friendly shade,
All my sorrows open laid,
And my most secret woes, entrusted to your privacy!
Lord! would men let me alone;
What an over-happy one
Should I think myself to be,
Might I, in this desert place,
Which most men in discourse disgrace,
Would I, maugre Winter's cold,
And the Summer's worst excess,
Try to live out to sixty full years old!
Without an envious eye
On any thriving under Fortune's smile,
Contented live, and then-contented die.
But, notwithstanding the purity of sentiment contained in these verses, we are compelled to add that the virtuous aspirations of the poet were rendered vain, by a general want of economy in his affairs thus forming a striking contrast to those of the practica. moralist, whom, we cannot help
wishing, he had been able to imitate in a degree more consistent with his truly creditable admiration. Nevertheless, their connexion was highly honourable to them both; it is beautiful to fancy the cheerful sage relaxing to accommodate himself to the comparatively dissipated man of fashion, who, on the other hand, seems to have held himself, as it were in a course of reformation, in compliment to his indulgent friend nothing can be finer than his carrying this temper to the length of making his acceptableness to Walton the test of his general worthiness. See Part 11. chap. 1. "My father Walton will be seen twice in no man's company he does not like, and likes none but such as he believes to be very honest men; which is one of the best arguments, or at least one of the best testimonies I have, that I either am, or that he thinks me one of those, seeing I have not yet found him weary of me."
Yet, here we cannot refrain from the remark, that Walton triumphs over his coadjutor as much in the true aims of genius as in moral worth; having immortalized himself by a work which he produced by mere accident!- whilst Cotton, though almost an author by profession, having chosen disgusting topics for many of his original compositions, now lives chiefly in connexion with the name of his venerable friend: - or, to say the least, the benign influence of a virtuous association was never more strikingly illustrated, since his devoted attachment to
Walton forms the best evidence we have of his naturally amiable disposition, and a more honourable, if not a more certain immortality, is, on his part, the issue of this ever-memorable friendship-and yet it has been recently and justly observed, that a judicious selection of his poems would stamp him as first rate with the present age; though his capacity to vie with the most licentious wits of his own times, injured his performances, taken as a whole-his muse was truly "fond to inspire" if sometimes "ashamed to avow". he flew to his pen upon all occasions, and was so ready at it, that he could disclose all his troubles, and his own noble, generous, jovial, and even thankful temper in half a score lines, as in the following part of an epistle to his friend Sir Clifford Clifton.
"He's good fellow enough to do every one right,
And never was first that ask'd, what time of night;
He fain would be just, but sometimes he cannot,
Yet among all these vices, to give him his due,
He has virtue to be a true lover of you;
But how much he loves you, he says you may guess it, Since nor prose nor yet metre, he swears can express it!" Right pithily, also, has honest Charles anticipated as full a reply as will ever be necessary, to all revilers of his favourite recreation
"We care not who says,
And intends it dispraise,
That an angler to a fool is next neighbour;
We're as honest as he,
And so let him take that for his labour !"
But to return to Walton, who must have often lamented the misfortunes of his adopted son.
The precise situation in life in which Walton was placed, has unfortunately never reached posterity; and with due deference to his earliest biographers, we cannot help thinking it has been fixed in too humble a sphere.
Sir John Hawkins speaks of a deed dated 1624, by which it appears that his house in Fleet-street was in the joint occupation of Izaak Walton and John Mason, Hosier; "whence," says Sir John, "we may conclude, that half a shop was sufficient for the business of Walton: ". now to this deduction we by no means agree, but in unison with the tradition in his family, that he was "A wholesale Linen-draper or Hamburgh Merchant," would much rather infer that Izaak Walton, (it is to be observed that his name
* As for that morbid sensibility which rails at angling on the score of cruelty, let us rely on the defence of the invincibly reasoning Armstrong - it was neither made on behalf of Walton or Cotton, but in justice to God and for all mankind!
"There are who think these pastimes scarce humane,
Yet in my mind (and not relentless I)
His life is pure that wears no fouler stains."
is mentioned first in the said deed), had let a part of his house to the said John Mason, his own business not requiring the public exposure of his goods.
Be this as it might, we have the pleasure of presenting the reader, with a genuine view of the house rendered so truly interesting as the dwelling of our author; the curious in London topography will recognise the corner house, in the print annexed to this Essay, as the south-west end of Chancery-lane, Fleetstreet, as it appeared till within about the last 16 years. The third west from the corner is considered as the identical house of Walton, whilst the view, at the same time, contains a glance of the curious old houses up Chancery-lane, in one of which he also resided about ten years after the above date. It is probably the only correct delineation extant, having been drawn on the spot by the late Mr. Smith of the British Museum, whose superiority in topographical delineation is particularly well known.
Again, we find some of our author's biographers full of wonder, at the extent and high respectability of his connexions, particularly among the superior clergy of his time; - it is true that this distinction is ascribed to the most honourable sources, integrity of character, and amiableness of disposition; we are also apprised of the undoubted fact, that he was brother-in-law to the amiable Bishop Ken; whilst his direct consanguinity with Archbishop Cranmer himself is (although erroneously) insisted on:-by extraordinary ingenuity, therefore, mystery has been