Introduction to the Compleat Angler by Andrew Lang


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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Andrew Lang's Introduction to The Compleat
Angler, by Andrew Lang

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: Andrew Lang's Introduction to The Compleat Angler

Author: Andrew Lang

Release Date: April 22, 2005 [eBook #2422]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from the 1896 J. M. Dent edition by David Price, email


To write on Walton is, indeed, to hold a candle to the sun. The editor
has been content to give a summary of the chief or rather the only known,
events in Walton's long life, adding a notice of his character as
displayed in his Biographies and in _The Compleat Angler_, with comments
on the ancient and modern practice of fishing, illustrated by passages
from Walton's foregoers and contemporaries. Like all editors of Walton,
he owes much to his predecessors, Sir John Hawkins, Oldys, Major, and,
above all, to the learned Sir Harris Nicolas.


The few events in the long life of Izaak Walton have been carefully
investigated by Sir Harris Nicolas. All that can be extricated from
documents by the alchemy of research has been selected, and I am unaware
of any important acquisitions since Sir Harris Nicolas's second edition
of 1860. Izaak was of an old family of Staffordshire yeomen, probably
descendants of George Walton of Yoxhall, who died in 1571. Izaak's
father was Jarvis Walton, who died in February 1595-6; of Izaak's mother
nothing is known. Izaak himself was born at Stafford, on August 9, 1593,
and was baptized on September 21. He died on December 15, 1683, having
lived in the reigns of Elizabeth, James I., Charles I., under the
Commonwealth, and under Charles II. The anxious and changeful age
through which he passed is in contrast with his very pacific character
and tranquil pursuits.

Of Walton's education nothing is known, except on the evidence of his
writings. He may have read Latin, but most of the books he cites had
English translations. Did he learn his religion from 'his mother or his
nurse'? It will be seen that the free speculation of his age left him
untouched: perhaps his piety was awakened, from childhood, under the
instruction of a pious mother. Had he been orphaned of both parents (as
has been suggested) he might have been less amenable to authority, and a
less notable example of the virtues which Anglicanism so vainly opposed
to Puritanismism. His literary beginnings are obscure. There exists a
copy of a work, _The Loves of Amos and Laura_, written by S. P.,
published in 1613, and again in 1619. The edition of 1619 is dedicated
to 'Iz. Wa.':--

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