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T has been the reproach of all ages, that modest merit seldom finds reward in its own generation; less surprise, therefore, will be excited that the author of the

Complete Angler, or Contemplative Man's Recreation ;" and other admired works;

He who both knew and writ the lives

of men,

Such as once were, but scarce shall be again;*

should himself have passed through the oblivion of a century, before any collected record of his worth excited the enthusiasm of a biographer; when the materials, scant and few, rather furnished the groundwork for a speculation on probabilities than supplied a narrative of facts. Strange! that the resources of information that exist should have been so little sought; and that the materials at hand, scant and few as they are, should have been so sparingly applied!


Edward Powell, M. D. Lines addressed to the author of the Complete Angler," 1650.

In the limited space allotted to this Introduction, it is not contemplated to aspire to the dignity of a Life of the Author; but custom, and the natural desire to know a favorite actor behind the scenes, or an approved author in his undress, renders it desirable that the ordinary course of an Introductory Memoir should not be wholly departed from.

IZAAK WALTON was born at Stafford, the 9th of August, 1593; but beyond the fact (which appears by a baptismal register), that he had a father, one Jervis Walton, and is assumed to have had a mother, nothing whatever is known of his parentage, or of his early life to the age of manhood. Sir Harris Nicholas, indeed, has conjectured for him, not without probability, a grandfather, one George Walton, "late bailie of Yoxall;"* but as to any contemporary relatives, nothing has been suggested that may be of dependence. Walton himself has left no memorial of his parentage, nor any intimation by which a connecting link may be supplied. Among the many friends enumerated in his will, in terms of respect or endearment, the only person of his name mentioned, other than his son, is "Mr. Richard Walton," without any other terms of identification, very unusual with him, supposing there to have been any tie of blood as descended from a common ancestor, that might have been described by a term of affinity. It is only conjectural, therefore, that he "might have been" the son of a first cousin, grandson of his

Yoxall, distant about 15 miles from Stafford. George Walton died in 1570-1. In his will, a son, Jervis, is mentioned, who might have been the father of Izaak.-Compl. Angler, 1836.

father's brother; and if so, the bequest of a ring in such terms, betokens rather a distant acknowledgment than any very close intimacy of regard.

In this state of the family pedigree, it is not without surprise, that we find the learned genealogian referred to, discovering a "probability," that Walton was apprenticed, "when very young, to a distant relation, by name Henry Walton,† a Haberdasher, in Whitechapel;" but here again disappointment

* The following table of descent explains the supposed connection:George Walton,

"late bailie of Yoxall,"

died 1570-1.

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+ Not the slightest evidence has been produced, to show how, or that they were in any way related. The sinuous deduction of Sir H. Nicholas is to the effect, that one Samuel Walton, of St. Mary Cray, Kent, gentleman, by his will, in 1631, among many bequests to relations (none of which recognized Izaak Walton, or any of his known connexions), left a legacy to a "cousin," whom he described "Henry Walton, of Whitechapel, citizen and Haberdasher;" and a like remembrance to an "uncle, John Walton, of Mathfield, co. Stafford, yeoman;" who, Sir H. Nicholas proposes, might have been father to the said Henry Walton; and might also have been somehow related to the "late bailie of Yoxall;" which, supposing that official person to have been grandfather of Izaak, would in that case have brought about a distant relationship. But, alas! the learned genealogian's arguments

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and leave us mystified in the density of the fog his zealous propensity had generated.

was the result of an enquiry, which, from circumstances it seems probable would lead to no other result.

The records of the Haberdashers' Company, are said, after diligent examination, to have afforded no mention either of the apprentice or the supposed master: the latter circumstance, indeed, might involve a question, since a person so named is found described in a will of that period,* "citizen and Haberdasher;" which by usage among citizens must be taken to imply the associated craft of which he was free, though it might not necessarily describe the trade or occupation that he followed; for although the citizens of London were inducted as members of some one of the incorporated gilds, the gilds had then ceased to be composed entirely of members following the craft they originally represented; so that while "citizen and Haberdasher" would have been the usual description of a citizen of that gild, it did not involve the necessity that he should have been likewise of that trade.†

Whitechapel, also, a rural suburb of London, at the period in question, might possibly have been the residence of a "citizen and Haberdasher," as of that gild; but hardly the local habitation of a trader following the occupation named; so that while

* See note, page preceding.

+ As example is better than precept, the position may be illus trated by a monument in the old church of Walton's parish-St. Dunstan, West, to the memory of the wife of "Mr. Nathaniel Turner, citizen and Skinner of London, and of this parish, linen draper."-Stow.

It must not be forgotten that long afterwards, namely, in 1665, Whitechapel was then so suburban as to have been selected one

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