« EelmineJätka »
If this observation falls into the opposite extreme-seeing that it would, if rigidly interpreted, suppress field-sports, and many of the luxuries and amusements of life-we must admit that it is an excess more amiable than that into which Piscator was led by his attachment to angling. Towards the conclusion of his work, Walton indulges in the following strain of moral reflection and admonition, and is as philosophically just and wise in his counsels, as his language and imagery are chaste, beautiful and animated.
Thankfulness for Worldly Blessings.
Well, scholar, having now taught you to paint your rod, and we having still a mile to Tottenham High Cross, I will, as we walk towards it in the cool shade of this sweet honeysuckle-hedge, mention to you some of the thoughts and joys that have possessed my soul since we two met together. And these thoughts shall be told you, that you also may join with me in thankfulness to the Giver of every good and perfect gift for our happiness. And that our present happiness may appear to be the greater, and we the more thankful for it, I will beg you to consider with me how many do, even at this very time, lie under the torment of the stone, the gout. and 1oothache; and this we are free from. And every misery that I miss is a new mercy and therefore let us be thankful. There have been, since we met, others that have met disasters of broken limbs; some have been blasted, others thunderstrucken; and we have been freed from these and all those many other miseries that threaten human nature: let us therefore rejoice and be thankful. Nay, which is a far greater mercy, we are free from the unsupportable burden of an accusing, tormenting conscience-a misery that none can bear; and therefore let us praise Him for his preventing grace, and say, Every misery that I miss is a new mercy. Nay, let me tell you, there be many that have forty times our estates, that would give the greatest part of it to be healthful and cheerful like us, who, with the expense of a little money, have eat and drank, and laughed, and angled, and sung, and slept securely; and rose next day, and cast away care, and sung, and laughed, and angled again, which are blessings rich men cannot purchase with all their money. Let me tell you, scholar, I have a rich neighbour that is always so busy that he has no leisure to laugh; the whole business of his life is to get money, and more money, that he may still get more and more money; he is still drudging on, and says that Solomon says, "The hand of the diligent maketh rich;' and it is true indeed: but he considers, not that it is not in the power of riches to make a man happy: for it was wisely said by a man of great observation, 'that there be as many miseries beyond riches as on this side them.' And yet God deliver us from pinching poverty, and grant that, having a competency, we may be content and thankful! Let us not repine, or so much as think the gifts of God unequally dealt, if we see another abound with riches, when, as God knows, the cares that are the keys that keep those riches hang often so heavily at the rich man's girdle, that they clog him with weary days and restless nights, even when others sleep quietly. We see but the outside of the rich man's happiness; few consider him to be like the silkworm, that, when she seems to play, is at the very same time spinning her own bowels, and consuming herself; and this many rich men do, loading themselves with corroding cares, to keep what they have probably unconscionably got. Let us therefore be thankful for health and competence, and, above all, for a quiet conscience.
Let me tell you, scholar, that Diogenes walked on a day, with his friend, to see a country fair, where he saw ribbons, and looking-glasses, and nut-crackers, and fiddles, and hobby-horses, and many other gimcracks; and having observed them, and all the other finnimbruns that make a complete country fair, he said to his friend: Lord, how many things are there in this world of which Diogenes hath no need!' And truly it is so, or might be so, with very many who vex and toil themselves to get what they have no need of. Can any man charge God that he hath not given him enough to make his life happy? No, doubtless; for nature is content with a little. And yet you shall hardly meet with a man that complains not of some want, though he, indeed, wants nothing but his will; it may be, nothing but his will of his poor neighbor, for not worshipping or not flattering him: and thus, when we
might be happy and quiet, we create trouble to ourselves. I have heard of a man that was angry with himself because he was no taller; and of a woman that broke her looking-glass because it would not shew her face to be as young and handsome as her next neighbour's was. And I knew another to whom God had given health and plenty, but a wife that nature had made peevish, and her husband's riches had made purse-proud; and must, because she was rich, and for no other virtue, sit in the highest pew in the church; which being denied her, she engaged her husband into a contention for it, and at last into a lawsuit with a dogged neighbour, who was as rich as he, and had a wife as peevish and purse-proud as the other; and this lawsuit begot higher oppositions and actionable words, and more vexations and lawsuits; for you must remember that both were rich, and must therefore have their wills. Well, this wilful purse-proud lawsuit lasted during the life of the first husband, after which his wife vexed and chid, and chid and vexed, till she also chid and vexed herself into her grave; and so the wealth of these poor rich people was cursed into a punishment, because they wanted meek and thankful hearts, for those only can make us happy. I knew a man that had health and riches, and several houses, all beautiful and ready furnished, and would often trouble himself and family to be removing from one house to another; and being asked by a friend why he removed so often from one house to another, replied: 'It was to find content in some one of them.' But his friend knowing his temper, told him, if he would find content in any of his houses, he must leave himself behind him; for content will never dwell but in a meek and quiet soul.' And this may appear, if we read and consider what our Saviour says in St. Matthew's gospel, for he there says: Blessed be the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed be the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed be the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And blessed be the meek, for they shall possess the earth.' Not that the meek shall not also obtain mercy, and see God, and be comforted, and at last come to the kingdom of heaven; but, in the meantime, he, and he only, possesses the earth, as he goes toward that kingdom of heaven, by being humble and cheerful, and content with what his good God has allotted him. He has no turbulent, repining, vexatious thoughts that he deserves better; nor is vexed when he sees others possessed of more honour or more riches than his wise God has allotted for his share; but he possesses what he has with a meek and contented quietness, such a quietness as makes his very dreams pleasing, both to God and himself.
My honest scholar, all this is told to incline you to thankfulness; and, to incline you the more, let me tell you, that though the prophet David was guilty of murder and adultery, and many other of the most deadly sins, yet he was said to be a man after God's own heart, because he abounded more with thankfulness than any other that is mentioned in holy Scripture, as may appear in his book of Psalms, where there is such a commixture of his confessing of his sins and unworthiness, and such thankfulness for God's pardon and mercies, as did make him to be accounted, even by God himself, to be a man after his own heart; and let us, in that, labour to be as like him as we can let not the blessings we receive daily from God make us not to value, or not praise Him, because they be common: let not us forget to praise Him for the innocent mirth and pleasure we have met with since we met together. What would a blind man give to see the pleasant rivers and meadows, and flowers and fountains, that we have met with since we met together! I have been told, that if a man that was born blind could obtain to have his sight for but only one hour during his whole life, and should, at the first opening of his eyes, fix his sight upon the sun when it was in his full glory, either at the rising or setting of it, he would be so transported and amazed, and so admire the glory of it, that he would not willingly turn his eyes from that first ravishing object to behold all the other various beauties this world could present to him. And this and many other like blessings we enjoy daily. And for most of them, because they be so common, most men forget to pay their praises; but let not us, because it is a sacrifice so pleasing to Him that made that sun and us, and still protects us, and gives us flowers, and showers, and stomachs, and meat, and content, and leisure to go a-fishing.
Well, scholar. I have almost tired myself, and I fear, more than almost tired you. But I now see Tottenham High Cross, and our short walk thither will put a period to my too long discourse, in which my meaning was, and is, to plant that in your mind with which I labour to possess my own soul-that is. a meek and thankful heart. And to that end I have shewed you, that riches without them (meekness and
thankfulness) do not make any man happy. But let me tell you that riches with them remove many fears and cares. And therefore my advice is, that you endeavor to be honestly rich, or contentedly poor; but be sure that your riches be justly got, or you spoil all; for it is well said by Caussin: He that loses his conscience has nothing left that is worth keeping.' Therefore, be sure you look to that. And, in the next place, look to your health; and if you have it, praise God, and value it next to a good conscience; for health is the second blessing that we mortals are capable of-a blessing that money cannot buy-and therefore value it, and be thankful for it. As for money, which may be said to be the third blessing, neglect it not; but note, that there is no necessity of being rich: for I told you there be as many miseries beyond riches as on this side them; and if you have a competence, enjoy it with a meek, cheerful, thankful heart. I will tell you, scholar, I have heard a grave divine say that God has two dwellings, one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart; which Almighty God grant to me and to my honest scholar! And so you are welcome to Tottenham High Cross.
VENATOR. Well, master, I thank you for all your good directions, but for none more than this last, of thankfulness, which I hope I shall never forget.
To the fifth edition of the 'Complete Angler' was added a second part, by CHARLES COTTON, the poet, and translator of Montaigne. It consisted of instructions how to angle for a trout or grayling in a clear stream. Though the work was written in the short space of ten days, Cotton, who had long been familiar with fly-fishing, and was an adopted son of Izaak Walton, produced a treatise valuable for its technical knowledge and accuracy. Walton's form of conveying instruction in dialogues is also preserved, the author being Piscator junior, and his companion a traveller (Viator), who had paid a visit to the romantic scenery of Derbyshire, near which the residence of Cotton was situated. This traveller turns out to be the Venator of the first part, 'wholly addicted to the chase,' till Mr. Izaak Walton taught him as good, a more quiet, innocent, and less dangerous diversion. The friends embrace: Piscator conducts his new associate to his 'beloved river Dove,' extends to him the hospitalities of his mansion, and next morning shows him his fishing-house, inscribed 'Piscatoribus Sacrum,' with the prettily contrived' cipher including the first two letters of father Walton's name and those of his son Cotton. A delicate clear river flowed about the house, which stood on a little peninsula, with a bowling-green close by, and fair meadows and mountains in the neighbourhood. This building still remains, adding interest to the romantic and beautiful scenery on the banks of the river Dove, and recalling the memory of the venerable angler and his disciple, whose genuine love of nature, and moral and descriptive pages, have silently but powerfully influenced the taste and literature of their native country.
THOMAS ELLWOOD (1639-1713) was a humble but sincere Quakeranxious to do good, and diligent to acquire knowledge. His father was as averse to the new creed as Admiral Penn. He sometimes beat him with great severity, particularly when the son persisted in remaining covered in his presence. To prevent the recurrence of this offence, he successively took from Thomas all his hats; but there
remained another cause of offence; for, whenever I had occasion,' says Ellwood, to speak to my father, though I had no hat now to offend him, yet my language did as much; for I durst not say "you" to him, but "thou" or thee," as the occasion required, and then he would be sure to fall on me with his fists. At one of these times, I remember, when he had beaten me in that manner, he commanded me-as he commonly did at such times-to go to my chamber, which I did, and he followed me to the bottom of the stairs. Being come thither, he gave me a parting blow, and in a very angry tone said:
Sirral, if ever I hear you say thou or thee to me again, I'll strike your teeth down your throat." I was greatly grieved to hear him say say so, and feeling a word rise in my heart unto him, I turned again, and calmly said unto him: "Should it not be just if God should serve thee so, when thou sayest thou' or 'thee' to him." Though his hand was up, I saw it sink, and his countenance fall, and he turned away, and left me standing there.'
But what has given a peculiar interest to Ellwood is his having been a pupil of Milton, and one of those who read to the poet after the loss of his sight. The object of Ellwood in offering his services as a reader was, that he might, in return, obtain from Milton some assistance in his own studies. This was in 1662.
Ellwood's Intercourse with Milton.
He received me courteously, as well for the sake of Dr. Paget, who introduced me, as of Isaac Pennington, who recommended me, to both of whom he bore a good respect; and having inquired divers things of me, with respect to my former progressions in learning, he dismissed me, to provide myself of such accommodations as might be most suitable to my future studies.
I went, therefore, and took myself a lodging as near to his house--which was then in Jewin Street-as conveniently I could; and, from thenceforward, went every day, in the afternoon, except on the first day of the week; and sitting by him in his dining-room, read to him such books, in the Latin tongue, as he pleased to hear me read.
At my first sitting to read to him, observing that I used the English pronunciation, he told me if I would have the benefit of the Latin tongue-not only to read and understand Latin authors, but to converse with foreigners, either abroad or at home-I must learn the foreign pronunciation. To this I consenting, he instructed me how to sound the vowels, so different from the common pronunciation used by the English--who speak Anglice their Latin-that, with some few other variations in sounding some consonants, in particular cases-as C, before E or I, like Ch; Sc, before I, like Sh, &c.-the Latin thus spoken seemed as different from that which was delivered as the English generally speak it, as if it was another language.
I bad, before, during my retired life at my father's, by unwearied diligence and industry. so far recovered the rules cf grammar-in which I had once been very ready-that I could both read a Latin author, and after a sort, hammer out his meaning. But this change of pronunciation proved a new difficulty to me. It was now harder to me to read, than it was before to understand when read. But
'Labor omnia vincit improbus.'
Incessant pains the end obtains.
And so did I, which made my reading the more acceptable to my master. He, on the other hand, perceiving with what earnest desire I pursued learning, gave me not only all the encouragement, but all the help he could; for, having a curious ear, he understood, by my tone, when I understood what I read, and when I did not; and
accordingly would stop me, examine me, and open the most difficult passages to
Some little time before I went to Aylesbury prison, I was desired by my quondam master, Milton, to take a house for him in the neighbourhood where I dwelt, that he might get out of the city, for the safety of himself and his family, the pestilence then growing hot in London (1665). I took a pretty box for him in Giles Chalfont, a mile from me, of which I gave him notice, and intended to have waited on him, and scen him well settled in it, but was prevented by that imprisonment.
But now, being released, and returned home, I soon made a visit to him, to welcome him into the country.
After some common discourses had passed between us, he called for a manuscript of his, which, being brought, he delivered to me, bidding me to take it home with me, and read it at my leisure, and, when I had so done, return it to him, with my judg.nent thereupon.
When I came home, and had set myself to read it, I found it was that excellent poem which he entitled 'Paradise Lost.' After I had, with the utmost attention read it through, I made him another visit, and returned him his book, with due acknowledgment for the favour he had done me, in communicating it to me. He asked me how I liked it, and what I thought of it, which I modestly but freely told him; and after some further discourse about it, I pleasantly said to him: Thou hast said much here of Paradise lost; but what hast thou to say of Paradise found?' He made me no answer, but sat some time in a muse; then brake off that discourse, and fell upon another subject.
After the sickness was over, and the city well cleansed, and become safely habitable again, he returned thither; and when, afterwards, I went to wait on him there -which I seldom failed of doing, whenever my occasions drew me to London-he shewed me his second poem, called Paradise Regained,' and, in a pleasant tone, said to me: This is owing to you, for you put it into my head at Chalfont; which before I had not thought of.'
Elwool furnishes some interesting particulars concerning the London prisons, in which he and many of his brother Quakers were confined, and the manner in which they were treated both there and out of doors. Besides his Autobiography, he wrote numerous controversial treatises, the most prominent of which is The Foundation of Tithes Shaken,' published in 1682; also, Sacred Histories of the Old and New Testaments,' which appeared in 1705 and 1709.
DRYDEN, who contributed more than any other English author to improve the poetical diction of his native tongue, performed also essential service of the same kind to our prose. Throwing off, still more than Cowley had done, those inversions and other forms of Latin idiom which abound in the pages of his most distinguished predecessors, Dryden speaks in the language of polite and well-educated society. Strength, ease, c piousness. variety, and animation, are the predominant qualities of his style. He excels also in pointed epigram and antithesis. Nothing is cold or languid,' as Johnson remarks; he overflows with happy illustration; but the haste with which he composed, and his inherent dislike to the labour of correc tion, are visible in the negligence and roughness of some of his sentences. On the whole, however, to Dryden may be assigned the palm of superiority, in his own generation, for graceful, as well as forcible and idiomatic English.