Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

most said, that enraptured language which he adopts, whenever the subject occurs to him. It will be casily recollected, that Ken, his brother-in-law, whose morning, eyening, and midnight hymns, endear his memory to the devout Chriftian, began the duties of each day with sacred melody, And that between inen perfectly congenial in their sentiments and habits of virtue, a similarity of disposition in this instance should prevail, is far from being an unreasonable suggestion. That he had an inclination to postry, we may conclude from his early intimacy with Michael Drayton, “the Golden-mouthed Poet;" a man of an amiable disposition, of mild and modest manners, whose poems are much less read than they deserve to be. It is needless to remark that on the first publication of a work it was usual for the friends of the author to prefix to it recommendatory verses. Isaac Walton, whose circle of friends was very extensive indeed, often contributed his share of encomium on these occasions. To his productions of this kind no other commendations can be allowed, than that they were sincere memorials of his grateful and tender regard. It must however be added, that he never debased his talents by offering the incense of Adulation, at the shrine of Infamy and Guilt. The persons, whom he favoured with those marks of his attention, were not undeserving of praise. Such, for instance, was William Cartwright, who, though he died in the thirtieth year of his age, was the boast and ornament of the University of Oxford, as a divine, a philosopher, and a poet". Dr. Fell, Bishop of Oxford, declared him to be, “the utmost man can come to;” and Ben Jonson was wont to say of him, “My son Cartwright writes all like a man.” And here an opportunity presents itself of ascertaining the author of " The Synagogue, or the Shadow of the Temple,” a collection of sacred poems usually annexed to Mr. George Herbert's “ Temple.” Mr. Walton has addressed some encomiastic lines to him, as his friend; and in “ The Complete Angler,” having inserted from that collection, a little poem, entitled “The Book of Common Prayer,” he expressly assigns it, and of course the whole

work

See " Comedies, Tragi-comedies, with other Poems, by William Cartwright, late Student inf Christ Church in Oxford, and Proctor of the University, London, 1651."

work, to a reverend and learned divine, Mr. Christopher Harvie, that pro. felles to imitate Mr. Herbert, and bath indeed done so moft excellently; and of whom he adds pleasantly, “ you will like him the better, because he is a “ friend of mine, and I am sure no enemy to angling!”

Faithfully attached to the Church of England, he entertained the highest veneration for her discipline and doctrines. He had not been an inattentive fpectator of the rapid progress of the sectaries, hastening from one degree of injustice to another, until an universal anarchy consummated the ruin of our ecclesiastical constitution. In his Last Will he has announced an ingenuous and decided avowal of his religious principles, with a design, as it has been conjectured, to prevent any suspicions that might arise of his inclination to Popery, from his very long and very true friendship with some of the Roman Communion" But a full and explicit declaration of his Christian faith, and the motives which enforced his serious and regular attendance upon the service of that Church in which he was educated, are delivered, with great propriety and good sense, in his own words. For thus he writes in a letter to one of his friends. “I go so constantly to the

f 2

“ church

* See “ The Complete Angler," P. LXVIII. and p. 123, edit of 1773. We find the name of Christopher Harvie subscribed to “ Verses addressed to the Reader of the Complete Angler.” He is probably the same person, who was the author of “ The Right Rebel. London, 1661,” 8v0.-a treatise, discovering the true use of the name, by the nature of rebellion; with the properties and practices of rebels, applicable to all, both old and new fanaticks: by Christopher Harvey, Vicar of Clifton in Warwickshire. He was a minister's son, in Cheshire, and was educated in Braze-nose College, Oxford. See « Wood's Ath. Ox. . Vol. II. col. 263.

* A steady friendship subsisted between Mr. Walton and Mr. James Shirley, who, having been ordained a clergyman of the established Church, renounced his religion, for that of the Church of Rome. He is described by Phillips, in his “ Theatrum Poetarum," printed at London, in 1675, as “a just pretender to more than the meanest place among the English poets, but most especially for dramatic poesy; in which he hath written both very much, and, , for the most part, with that felicity, that by some he is accounted little inferior to Fletcher : himself.” See “ The Life of Mr. Herbert,” p. 390.

“church service to adore and worship my God, who hath made me of “nothing, and preserved me from being worse than nothing. And this “ worship and adoration I do pay him inwardly in my soul, and testifie it “outwardly by my behaviour; as namely, by my adoration, in my for“ bearing to cover my head in that place dedicated to God, and only to his “ service; and also, by standing up at profession of the Creed, which con“ tains the several articles that I and all true Christians profess and believe; “ and also my standing up at giving glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, and confessing them to be three persons, and but one -- God.

.“ And, secondly, I go to church to praise my God for my creation and “ redemption; and for his many deliverances of me fron “gers of my body, and more especially of my soul, in sending me redemp“tion by the death of his Son, my Saviour; and for the constant affift“ance of his holy spirit: a part of which praise I perform frequently in " the Psalms, which are daily read in the public congregation.

.“ And, thirdly, I go to church publicly to confess and bewail my sins, " and to beg pardon for them, for his merits who died to reconcile me and “ all mankind unto God, who is both his and my father; and, as for the “ words in which I beg this mercy, they be the Letany and Collects of “ the Church, composed by those learned and devout men, whom you and “ I have trusted to tell us which is and which is not the written word of “ God; and trusted also to translate those scriptures into English. And, in “ these Collects, you may note, that I pray absolutely for pardon of fin, “ and for grace to believe and serve God: But I pray for health, and peace, “ and plenty, conditionally; even so far as may tend to his glory, and the “ good of my soul, and not further. And this confessing my fins, and “ begging mercy and pardon for them, I do in my adoring my God, and “ by the humble posture of kneeling on my knees before him: And, in “ this manner, and by reverend fitting to hear some chosen parts of God's “ word read in the public assembly, I spend one hour of the Lord's day “ every forenoon, and half so much time every evening. And since this • uniform and devout custom of joyning together in public confession, and

praise

praise, and adoration of God, and in one manner, hath been neglected; “ the power of Christianity and humble piety is so much decayed, that it “ought not to be thought on but with sorrow and lamentation; and I “ think, especially by the Nonconformists."

The reasons which he has assigned for his uninterrupted attention to the discharge of another duty will afford satisfaction to every candid reader. “Now for preaching, I praise God, I understand my duty both to him and “ my neighbour the better, by hearing of sermons. And though I be defective in the performance of both (for which I beseech Almighty God to “ pardon me), yet I had been a much worse Christian, if I had not fre“ quented the blessed ordinance of preaching; which has convinced me of “ my many sins past, and begot such terrors of conscience, as have begot in “ me holy resolutions. This benefit, and many other like benefits, I and “ other Christians have had by preaching: And God forbid that we should “ ever use it so, or fo provoke him by our other fins as to withdraw this “ blessed ordinance from us, or turn it into a curse, by preaching herefie and fchism; which too many have done in the late time of rebellion, and indeed “ now do in many conventicles; and their auditors think such preaching is “ serving God, when God knows it is contrary.” Such were the rational grounds, on which he founded his faith and practice.

No excuse is pleaded for again noticing the opportunities of improvement, which he experienced from his appropriated intimacy with the most eminent divines of the Church of England. Genuine friendship exists but among the virtuous : A friend is emphatically styled “the medicine of “ life;" the sovereign remedy that softens the pangs of forrow, and alleviates the anguish of the heart. We cannot therefore fufficiently felicitate the condition of Isaac Walton, who imbibed the very spirit of friendship; and that with men renowned for their wisdom and learning; for the fanctity of their manners, and the unsullied purity of their lives. “ If,” to use the words of one of his biographers, “ we can entertain a doubt that Walton “ was one of the happiest of men, we shew ourselves ignorant of the nature “ of that felicity; to which it is possible even in this life for virtuous and “ good men, with the blessing of God, to arrive!.”

Thc

1 « Biographical Dictionary.” Ed. 1784.

The features of the countenance often enable us to form a judgment, not very fallible, of the disposition of the mind. In few portraits can this difcovery be more successfully pursued than in that of Isaac Walton. Lavater, the acute master of phyfiognomy, would, I think, instantly acknowledge in it the decisive traits of the original:-Mild complaisance, forbearance, mature consideration, calm activity, peace, found understanding, power of thought, discerning attention, and secretly active friendship. Happy in his unblemished integrity, happy in the approbation and esteem of others, he inwraps himself in his own virtue. The exultation of a good conscience eminently shines forth in the looks of this venerable person.

"CANDIDA SEMPER
“GAUDIA, ET IN VULTU CURARUM IGNARA VOLUPTAS.”

Hacket, Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, used this motto,“ SERVE GOD, AND BE CHEERFUL.” Our Biographer seems to have adhered to this golden maxim, during the whole tenor of his life. His innocence, and the inoffensive plainness of his manners, his love of truth, his piety, and the unbiassed rectitude of his conduct diffused over his mind a serenity and complacency, which never forsook him. Let no one, however elevated in rank or station, however accomplished with learning, or exalted in genius, esteem himself undervalued, when it shall be pronounced concerning him, that his religious and moral qualities are placed in the balance, or compared with those of ISAAC WALTON.

« AnteriorContinuar »