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it in a condition that can hardly avoid it; those petty acquisitions and reputed perfections that advance and elevate the conceits of other men, add no feathers into mine. I have seen a grammarian tour and plume himself over a single line in Horace, and show more pride in the construction of one ode, than the author in the composure of the whole book. For my own part, besides the jargon and patois of several provinces, I understand no less than six languages; yet I protest I have no higher conceit of myself, than had our fathers before the confusion of Babel, when there was but one language in the world, and none to boast himself either linguist or critic. I have not only seen several countries, beheld the nature of their climes, the chorography of their provinces, topography of their cities, but understood their several laws, customs, and policies; yet cannot all this persuade the dulness of my spirit unto such an opinion of myself, as I behold in nimbler and conceited heads, that never looked a degree beyond their nests. I know the names, and somewhat more, of all the constellations in my horizon; yet I have seen a prating mariner that could only name the pointers and the North star, out-talk me, and conceit himself a whole sphere above me. I know most of the plants of my country, and of those about me; yet methinks I do not know so many as when I did but know a hundred, and had scarcely ever simpled further than Cheapside ; for indeed heads of capacity, and such as are not full with a handful, or easy measure of knowledge, think they know nothing till they know all; which being impossible, they fall upon the opinion of Socrates, and only know they know not any thing.
1 SOLILOQUIES OF THE OLD PHILOSOPHER AND THE YOUNG LADY.
“Alas !” exclaimed a silver-headed sage, “how narrow is the utmost extent of human knowledge! how circumscribed the sphere of intellectual exertion! I have spent my life in acquiring knowledge, but how little do I know! The farther I attempt to penetrate the secrets of nature, the more I am bewildered and benighted. Beyond a certain limit, all is but confusion or conjecture : so that the advantage of the learned over the ignorant consists greatly in having ascertained how little is to be known.
“It is true that I can measure the sun, and compute the distances of the planets; I can calculate their periodical movements; and even ascertain the laws by which they perform their sublime revolations: but with regard to their construction, to the beings which inhabit them, of their condition and circumstances, whether natural or moral, what do I know more than the clown?
"I remark that all bodies, unsupported, fall to the ground: and I am taught to account for this by the law of gravitation. But what have I gained here more than a term? Does it convey to my mind any idea of the nature of that mysterious and invisible chain which draws all things to a common centre? I observed the effect, I gave a name to the cause; but can I explain or comprehend it?
“Pursuing the tract of the naturalist, I have learned to distinguish the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms: and to divide them into their distinct tribes and families but can I tell, after alt this toil, whence a single blade of grass derives its vitality could the most minute researches enable me to discover the exquisite pencil that paints and fringes the flower of the field have I ever detected the secret that gives their brilliant dye to the ruby and the emerald, or the art that enamels the delicate shell ? Alaal then, what have I gained by my laborious researches but an humiliating conviction of my weakness and ignorance of how little has man, at his best estate, to boast? what folly in him to glory in his contracted powers, or to value himself upon his imperfect acquisitions pas
As a specimen of his worst Latinized English, we give the following from his « Vulgar Errors.” He notices the custom of foretelling events by spots upon the nails in this curious manner :
That temperamental dignotions, and conjecture of prevalent humors, may be collected from spots in our nails, we are not averse to concede. But yet not ready to admit sundry divinations, vulgarly raised upon them.
And again :
Of lower consideration is the common foretelling of strangers from the fungous parcel about the wicks of candles; which only signifieth a moist and pluvious ayr about them, hindering the avolation of the light and favillous particles.
IZAAK WALTON. 1593—1683.
IZAAK WALTON, the “Father of Angling," was born at Stafford, in 1593. Of his early education little is known; but having acquired a moderate competency in business in London, as a linen-draper, he retired from business in 1643, at the age of fifty, and lived forty years after, in uninterrupted leisure, dying in 1683, in the ninetieth year of his age, exhibiting a striking proof how much calm pursuits, with a mind pure and at ease, contribute to prolong the period of human existence.
Walton is celebrated as a biographer, and particularly as an angler. His first work was the “Life of Dr. John Donne,” published in 1640. On the death of Sir Henry Wotton, he published a collection of his works, with a life prefixed. His next life was that of Dr. Richard Hooker, author of the “Ecclesiastical Polity;" and soon after he wrote the life of George Herbert. All
“ Wellp" exclaimed a young lady, just returned from school, “my education is at last finished : indeed it would be strange, if, after five years' hard application, any thing were left incomplete. Happily that is all over now; and I have nothing to do but to exercise
“Let me see l-as to French, I am mistress of that, and speak it, if possible, with more fluency than English. Italian I can read with ease, and pronounce very well; as well, at least, and better, than any of my friends; and that is all one need wish for in Italian. Music I have learned till I am perfectly sick of it. But, now that we have a grand piano, it will be delightful to play when we have company. I must still continue to practise a little ;-the only thing, I think, that I need now to improve myself in. And then there are my Italian songs! which everybody allows I sing with taste,
is what so few people can pretend to, I am particularly glad that I can. “My drawings are universally admired; especially the shells and flowers; which are beautiful certainly; besides this, I have a decided taste in all kinds of fancy ornaments.
"And then my dancing and waltzing! in which our master himself owned that he could take me no further 1-just the figure for it, certainly; it would be unpardonable if I did not excel.
"As to common things, geography, and history, and poetry, and philosophy, thank my stars, I have got through them all! so that I may consider myself not only perfectly accomplished, but also thoroughly well informed.
“Well, to be sure how much have I fagged through; the only wonder is, that one head can contain it all
these were collected in 1670, and published in one volume. It was one of Dr. Johnson's most favorite books.
But the work by which he is most known is, « The Complete Angler, or Contemplative Man's Recreation," a work, which, to use the words of Sir Harris Nicolas, “whether considered as a treatise on the art of angling, or a beautiful pastoral, abounding in exquisite descriptions of rural scenery, in sentiments of the purest morality, and in unaffected love of the Creator and his works, has long been ranked among the most popular compositions in our language.” In writing it, he says, he made a "recreation of a recreation,” and, by mingling innocent mirth and pleasant scenes with the graver parts of his discourse, he designed it as a picture of his own disposition. The work is, indeed, essentially autobiographical in spirit and execution. It is in the form of a dialogue; a Hunter and a Falconer are introduced as parties in it, but the whole interest of the piece centres in the venerable and complacent Piscator. The three meet accidentally near London, on a “fine fresh May" morning, and they agree each to “commend his recreation” or favorite pursuit. Piscator allows the Falconer2 to take the lead, who thus commends the sport of his choice
And first for the element that I use to trade in, which is the air; an element of more worth than weight, an element that doubtless exceeds both the earth and water: for though I sometimes deal in both, yet the air is most properly mine; I and my hawks use that, and it yields us most recreation : it stops not the high soaring of my noble, generous falcon : in it she ascends to such an height as the dull eyes of beasts and fish are not able to reach to; their bodies are too gross for such high elevations. In the air, my troops of hawks soar up on high, and when they are lost in the sight of men, then they attend upon and converse with the gods. Therefore I think my eagle is so justly styled Jove's servant in ordinary: and that very falcon, that I am now going to see, deserves no meaner a title, for she usually in her flight endangers herself, like the son of Dedalus, to have her wings scorched by
the sun's heat, she flies so near it; but her mettle makes her careless of danger; for then she heeds nothing, but makes her nimble pinions cut the fluid air, and so makes her highway over the steepest mountains and deepest rivers, and in her glorious career looks with contempt upon those high steeples and magnificent palaces which we adore and wonder at; from which height I can make her to descend by a word from my mouth, which she both knows and obeys, to accept of meat from my hand, to own me for her master, to go home with me, and be willing the next day to afford me the like recreation.
Nay more, the very birds of the air, those that be not hawks, are both so many, and so useful and pleasant to mankind, that I must not let them pass without some observations. * As first, the lark, when she means to rejoice ; to cheer herself and those that.hear her, she then quits the earth, and sings as she ascends higher into the air; and having ended her heavenly employment, grows then mute and sad to think she must descend to the dull earth, which she would not touch but from necessity.1
How do the blackbird and thrassel with their melodious voices bid welcome to the cheerful spring, and in their fixed months warble forth such ditties as no art or instrument can reach to!
Nay, the smaller birds also do the like in their particular seasons, as namely, the leverock, the tit-lark, the little linnet, and the honest robin, that loves mankind both alive and dead..
But the nightingale, another of my airy creatures, breathes such sweet loud music, out of her little instrumental throat, that it might make mankind to think miracles are not ceased. He that at midnight, when the very laborer sleeps securely, should hear as I have, very often, the clear airs, the sweet descants, the natural rising and falling, the doubling and redoubling of her voice, might well be lifted above earth, and say, Lord, what music hast thou provided for the saints in heaven, when thou affordest bad men such music on earth!
This for the birds of pleasure, of which very much more might be said. My next shall be of birds of political use: I think 'tis not to be doubted that swallows have been taught to carry letters between two armies. But it is certain, that when the Turks besieged Malta or Rhodes, I now remember not which it was, pigeons are then related to carry and recarry letters. And Mr. G. Sandys,1 in his travels, relates it to be done between Aleppo and Babylon. But if that be disbelieved, it is not to be doubted that the dove was sent out of the ark by Noah, to give him notice of land, when to him all appeared to be sea, and the dove proved a faithful and comfortable messenger. And for the sacrifices of the law, a pair of turtle-doves or young pigeons were as well accepted as costly bulls and rams. And when God would feed the prophet Elijah, after a kind of miraculous manner, he did it by ravens, who brought him meat morning and evening. Lastly, the Holy Ghost, when he descended visibly upon our Saviour, did it by assuming the shape of a dove. And to conclude this part of my discourse, pray remember these wonders were done by birds of the air, the element in which they and I take so much pleasure.
1 “What can be more delightful than this description of the lark! In all the poets there is nothing said of the lark or of the nightingale comparable to this exquisite passage of our pious author. The thrassel is the song-thrush; leverock is a name still used in Scotland for the skylark; and the fond. ness of the robin for churchyards is well known."-American Editor of Walton.
2 What a favorite the nightingale has been with the best poets, ancient and modern! Homer, Theo. critus, Virgil, and Horace have sung its praises; Milton has shown his regard for it in numerous passages, and in a sonnet dedicated to it; Thomson, the poet of nature, has celebrated it; and Gray has remembered it in his ode to Spring. But which of these has any thing superior to this most beartiful description of it by our author ?
There is also a little contemptible winged creature, an inhabitant of my aerial element, namely, the laborious bee, of whose prudence, policy, and regular government of their own commonwealth, I might say much, as also of their several kinds, and how useful their honey and wax is, both for meat and medicines to mankind; but I will leave them to their sweet labor, without the least disturbance, believing them to be all very busy at this very time amongst the herbs and flowers that we see nature puts forth this May-morning.
Venator then takes his turn-discoursing largely upon the rich bounty of the earth on which he hunts, as “bringing forth herbs, flowers, and fruits, both for physic and the pleasure of mankind,” and concludes by " enlarging himself in the commendation of hunting, and of the noble hound especially, as also of the docibleness of dogs in general.” After a few preliminary remarks, the honest angler” thus breaks forth :
And now for the water, the element that I trade in. The water is the eldest daughter of the creation, the element upon which the spirit of God did first move, the element which God commanded to bring forth living creatures abundantly; and without which, those that inhabit the land, even all creatures that have breath in their nostrils, must suddenly return to putrefaction. Moses, the great lawgiver, and chief philosopher, skilled in all the learning of the Egyptians, who was called the friend of God, and knew the mind of the Almighty, names this element the first in the creation; this is the element upon which the spirit of God did first move, and is the chief ingredient in the creation : many philosophers have made it to comprehend all the other elements, and must allow it the chiefest in the mixtion of all living creatures. The water is more productive than the earth. Nay, the earth
1 See a notice of Sandys' Travels, p. 180.
2 The Evangelist does not mean that the Holy Ghost assumed the form of a dove, but descended hovering, gently fluttering üke a dove.