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side of it is polluted with a horrible, sickening stench,' so that we
stand in dread of a new Plague, called the Cholera. And so it is all
about London for many miles, and if a man, at heavy charges, betake
himself to the fields, lo you, folk are grown so greedy that none will
suffer a stranger to fish in his water.

So poor anglers are in sore straits. Unless a man be rich and can
pay great rents, he may not fish, in England, and hence spring the
discontents of the times, for the angler is full of content, if he
do but take trout, but if he be driven from the waterside, he falls,
perchance, into evil company, and cries out to divide the property of
the gentle folk. As many now do, even among Parliament, men, whom you
loved not, Father Isaak, neither do I love them more than Reason and
Scripture bid each of us be kindly to his neighbour. But, behold, the
causes of the ill content are not yet all expressed, for even where a
man hath licence to fish, he will hardly take trout in our age, unless
he be all the more cunning. For the fish, harried this way and that by
so many of your disciples, is exceeding shy and artful, nor will he bite
at a fly unless it falleth lightly, just above his mouth, and floateth
dry over him, for all the world like the natural _ephemeris_. And we may
no longer angle with worm for him, nor with penk or minnow, nor with the
natural fly, as was your manner, but only with the artificial, for the
more difficulty the more diversion. For my part I may cry, like Viator
in your book, 'Master, I can neither catch with the first nor second
Angle: I have no fortune.'

So we fare in England, but somewhat better north of the Tweed, where
trout are less wary, but for the most part small, except in the extreme
rough north, among horrid hills and lakes. Thither, Master, as
methinks you may remember, went Richard Franck, that called himself
_Philanthropus_, and was, as it were, the Columbus of anglers,
discovering for them a new Hyperborean world. But Franck, doubtless, is
now an angler in the Lake of Darkness, with Nero and other tyrants, for
he followed after Cromwell, the man of blood, in the old riding days.
How wickedly doth Franck boast of that leader of the giddy multitude,
'when they raged, and became restless to find out misery for themselves
and others, and the rabble would herd themselves together,' as you said,
'and endeavour to govern and act in spite of authority.' So you wrote;
and what said Franck, that recreant angler? Doth he not praise
'Ireton, Vane, Nevill, and Martin, and the most renowned, valorous, and
victorious conqueror, Oliver Cromwell.' Natheless, with all his sins
on his head, this Franck discovered Scotland for anglers, and my heart
turns to him when he praises 'the glittering and resolute streams of
Tweed.'

In those wilds of Assynt and Loch Rannoch, Father, we, thy followers,
may yet take trout, and forget the evils of the times. But, to be done
with Franck, how harshly he speaks of thee and thy book. 'For you may
dedicate your opinion to what scribbling putationer you please; the
_Compleat Angler_ if you will, who tells you of a tedious fly story,
extravagantly collected from antiquated authors, such as Gesner and
Dubravius.' Again, he speaks of 'Isaac Walton, whose authority to
me seems alike authentick, as is the general opinion of the vulgar
prophet,' &c.

Certain I am that Franck, if a better angler than thou, was a worse
man, who, writing his 'Dialogues Piscatorial' or 'Northern Memoirs' five
years after the world welcomed thy 'Compleat Angler,' was jealous of
thy favour with the people, and, may be, hated thee for thy loyalty and
sound faith. But, Master, like a peaceful man avoiding contention, thou
didst never answer this blustering Franck, but wentest quietly about thy
quiet Lea, and left him his roaring Brora and windy Assynt. How could
this noisy man know thee - and know thee he did, having argued with thee
in Stafford - and not love Isaak Walton? A pedant angler, I call him,
a plaguy angler, so let him huff away, and turn we to thee and to thy
sweet charm in fishing for men.

How often, studying in thy book, have I hummed to myself that of
Horace -

Laudis amore tumes? Sunt certa piacula quae te
Ter pure lecto poterunt recreare libello.

So healing a book for the frenzy of fame is thy discourse on meadows,
and pure streams, and the country life. How peaceful, men say, and
blessed must have been the life of this old man, how lapped in content,
and hedged about by his own humility from the world! They forget, who
speak thus, that thy years, which were many, were also evil, or would
have seemed evil to divers that had tasted of thy fortunes. Thou wert
poor, but that, to thee, was no sorrow, for greed of money was thy
detestation. Thou wert of lowly rank, in an age when gentle blood was
alone held in regard; yet tiny virtues made thee hosts of friends, and
chiefly among religious men, bishops, and doctors of the Church. Thy
private life was not unacquainted with sorrow; thy first wife and all
her fair children were taken from thee like flowers in spring, though,
in thine age, new love and new offspring comforted thee like 'the
primrose of the later year.' Thy private griefs might have made thee
bitter, or melancholy, so might the sorrows of the State and of the
Church, which were deprived of their heads by cruel men, despoiled
of their wealth, the pious driven, like thee, from their homes; fear
everywhere, everywhere robbery and confusion: all this ruin might have
angered another temper. But thou, Father, didst bear all with so much
sweetness as perhaps neither natural temperament, nor a firm faith, nor
the love of angling could alone have displayed. For we see many anglers
(as witness Richard Franck aforesaid) who are angry men, and myself,
when I get my hooks entangled at every cast in a tree, have come nigh to
swear prophane.

Also we see religious men that are sour and fanatical, no rare thing
in the party that professes godliness. But neither private sorrow nor
public grief could abate thy natural kindliness, nor shake a religion
which was not untried, but had, indeed, passed through the furnace like
fine gold. For if we find not Faith at all times easy, because of the
oppositions of Science, and the searching curiosity of men's minds,
neither was Faith a matter of course in thy day. For the learned and
pious were greatly tossed about, like worthy Mr. Chillingworth, by
doubts wavering between the Church of Rome and the Reformed Church of
England. The humbler folk, also, were invited, now here, now there, by
the clamours of fanatical Nonconformists, who gave themselves out to be
somebody, while Atheism itself was not without many to witness to it.
Therefore, such a religion as thine was not, so to say, a mere innocence
of evil in the things of our Belief, but a reasonable and grounded
faith, strong in despite of oppositions. Happy was the man in whom
temper, and religion, and the love of the sweet country and an angler's
pastime so conveniently combined; happy the long life which held in its
hand that threefold clue through the labyrinth of human fortunes! Around
thee Church and State might fall in ruins, and might be rebuilded, and
thy tears would not be bitter, nor thy triumph cruel.

Thus, by God's blessing, it befell thee
Nec turpem senectam
Degere, nec cithara carentem.


I would, Father, that I could get at the verity about thy poems. Those
recommendatory verses with which thou didst grace the Lives of Dr. Donne
and others of thy friends, redound more to the praise of thy kind heart
than thy fancy. But what or whose was the pastoral poem of 'Thealma and
Clearchus,' which thou didst set about printing in 1678, and gavest to
the world in 1683? Thou gavest John Chalkhill for the author's name, and
a John Chalkhill of thy kindred died at Winchester, being eighty years
of his age, in 1679. Now thou speakest of John Chalkhill as 'a friend of
Edmund Spenser's,' and how could this be?

Are they right who hold that John Chalkhill was but a name of a friend,
borrowed by thee out of modesty, and used as a cloak to cover poetry of
thine own inditing? When Mr. Flatman writes of Chalkhill, 't is in words
well fitted to thine own merit:

Happy old man, whose worth all mankind knows
Except himself, who charitably shows
The ready road to virtue and to praise,
The road to many long and happy days.

However it be, in that road, by quiet streams and through green
pastures, thou didst walk all thine almost century of years, and we,
who stray into thy path out of the highway of life, we seem to hold thy
hand, and listen to thy cheerful voice. If our sport be worse, may our
content be equal, and our praise, therefore, none the less. Father, if
Master Stoddard, the great fisher of Tweed-side, be with thee, greet
him for me, and thank him for those songs of his, and perchance he will
troll thee a catch of our dear River.

Tweed! winding and wild! where the heart is unbound,
They know not, they dream not, who linger around,
How the saddened will smile, and the wasted rewin
From thee - the bliss withered within.

Or perhaps thou wilt better love,

The lanesome Tala and the Lyne,
And Mahon wi' its mountain rills,
An' Etterick, whose waters twine
Wi' Yarrow frae the forest hills;
An' Gala, too, and Teviot bright,
An' mony a stream o' playfu' speed,
Their kindred valleys a' unite
Amang the braes o' bonnie Tweed!

So, Master, may you sing against each other, you two good old anglers,
like Peter and Corydon, that sang in your golden age.



X. To M. Chapelain.



Monsieur, - You were a popular writer, and an honourable, over-educated,
upright gentleman. Of the latter character you can never be deprived,
and I doubt not it stands you in better stead where you are, than the
laurels which flourished so gaily, and faded so soon.

Laurel is green for a season, and Love is fair for a day,
But Love grows bitter with treason, and laurel out-lives not May.

I know not if Mr. Swinburne is correct in his botany, but _your_ laurel
certainly outlived not May, nor can we hope that you dwell where Orpheus
and where Homer are. Some other crown, some other Paradise, we cannot
doubt it, awaited _un si bon homme_. But the moral excellence that even
Boileau admitted, _ladfoi, l'honneur, la probiité,_ do not in Parnassus
avail the popular poet, and some luckless Musset or Théophile, Regnier
or Villars attains a kind of immortality denied to the man of many
contemporary editions, and of a great commercial success.

If ever, for the confusion of Horace, any Poet was Made, you, Sir,
should have been that fortunately manufactured article. You were, in
matters of the Muses, the child of many prayers. Never, since Adam's
day, have any parents but yours prayed for a poet-child. Then Destiny,
that mocks the desires of men in general, and fathers in particular,
heard the appeal, and presented M. Chapelain and Jeanne Corbiére his
wife with the future author of 'La Pucelle.' Oh futile hopes of men, _O
pectora caeca!_ All was done that education could do for a genius which,
among other qualities, 'especially lacked fire and imagination,' and an
ear for verse - sad defects these in a child of the Muses. Your training
in all the mechanics and metaphysics of criticism might have made you
exclaim, like Rasselas, 'Enough! Thou hast convinced me that no human
being can ever be a Poet.' Unhappily, you succeeded in convincing
Cardinal Richelieu that to be a Poet was well within your powers, you
received a pension of one thousand crowns, and were made Captain of
the Cardinal's minstrels, as M. de Tréville was Captain of the King's
Musketeers.

Ah, pleasant age to live in, when good intentions in poetry were more
richly endowed than ever is Research, even Research in Prehistoric
English, among us niggard moderns! How I wish I knew a Cardinal, or,
even as you did, a Prime Minister, who would praise and pension me; but
Envy be still! Your existence was more happy indeed; you constructed
odes, corrected sonnets, presided at the Ho'tel Rambouillet, while the
learned ladies were still young and fair, and you enjoyed a prodigious
celebrity on the score of your yet unpublished Epic. 'Who, indeed,' says
a sympathetic author, M. Théophile Gautier, 'who could expect less than
a miracle from a man so deeply learned in the laws of art - a perfect
Turk in the science of poetry, a person so well pensioned, and so
favoured by the great?' Bishops and politicians combined in perfect good
faith to advertise your merits. Hard must have been the heart that could
resist the testimonials of your skill as a poet offered by the Duc de
Montausier, and the learned Huet, Bishop of Avranches, and Monseigneur
Godeau, Bishop of Vence, or M. Colbert, who had such a genius for
finance.

If bishops and politicians and prime ministers skilled in finance, and
some critics, Ménage and Sarrazin and Vaugetas, if ladies of birth and
taste, if all the world in fact, combined to tell you that you were
a great poet, how can we blame you for taking yourself seriously, and
appraising yourself at the public estimate?

It was not in human nature to resist the evidence of the bishops
especially, and when every minor poet believes in himself on the
testimony of his own conceit, you may be acquitted of vanity if you
listened to the plaudits of your friends. Nay, you ventured to pronounce
judgment on contemporaries whom Posterity has preferred to your
perfections. 'Moliére,' said you, 'understands the nature of comedy, and
presents it in a natural style. The plot of his best pieces is borrowed,
but not without judgment; his _morale_ is fair, and he has only to avoid
scurrility.'

Excellent, unconscious, popular Chapelain!

Of yourself you observed, in a Report on contemporary literature, that
your 'courage and sincerity never allowed you to tolerate work
not absolutely good.' And yet you regarded 'La Pucellé with some
complacency.

On the 'Pucellé you were occupied during a generation of mortal men.
I marvel not at the length of your labours, as you received a yearly
pension till the Epic was finished, but your Muse was no Alcmena, and no
Hercules was the result of that prolonged night of creations. First you
gravely wrote out (it was the task of five years) all the compositions
in prose. Ah, why did you not leave it in that commonplace but
appropriate medium? What says the Précieuse about you in Boileau's
satire?

In Chapelain, for all his foes have said,
She finds but one defect, he can't be read;
Yet thinks the world might taste his maiden's woes,
If only he would turn his verse to prose!

The verse had been prose, and prose, perhaps, it should have remained.
Yet for this precious 'Pucelle,' in the age when 'Paradise Lost' was
sold for five pounds, you are believed to have received about four
thousand. Horace was wrong, mediocre poets may exist (now and then), and
he was a wise man who first spoke of _aurea mediocritas_. At length the
great work was achieved, a work thrice blessed in its theme, that
divine Maiden to whom France owes all, and whom you and Voltaire
have recompensed so strangely. In folio, in italics, with a score of
portraits and engravings, and _culs de lampe_, the great work was given
to the world, and had a success. Six editions in eighteen months are
figures which fill the poetic heart with envy and admiration. And then,
alas! the bubble burst. A great lady, Madame de Longveille, hearing the
'Pucellé read aloud, murmured that it was 'perfect indeed, but perfectly
wearisome.' Then the satires began, and the satirists never left you
till your poetic reputation was a rag, till the mildest Abbé at Ménagés
had his cheap sneer for Chapelain.

I make no doubt, Sir, that envy and jealousy had much to do with the
onslaught on your 'Pucelle.' These qualities, alas! are not strange to
literary minds; does not even Hesiod tell us 'potter hates potter, and
poet hates poet'? But contemporary spites do not harm true genius. Who
suffered more than Moliére from cabals? Yet neither the court nor the
town ever deserted him, and he is still the joy of the world. I admit
that his adversaries were weaker than yours. What were Boursault and Le
Boulanger, and Thomas Corneille and De Visé, what were they all compared
to your enemy, Boileau? Brossette tells a story which really makes a man
pity you. There was a M. de Puimorin who, to be in the fashion, laughed
at your once popular Epic. 'It is all very well for a man to laugh who
cannot even read.' Whereon M. de Puimorin replied: 'Qu'il n'avoit que
trop su' lire, depuis que Chapelain s'étoit avisé de faire imprimer.'
A new horror had been added to the accomplishment of reading since
Chapelain had published. This repartee was applauded, and M. de Puimorin
tried to turn it into an epigram. He did complete the last couplet,

Hélas! pour mes péchés, je n'ai su' que trop lire
Depuis que tu fais imprimer.

But by no labour would M. de Puimorin achieve the first two lines of his
epigram. Then you remember what great allies came to his assistance. I
almost blush to think that M. Despréaux, M. Racine, and M. de Moliére,
the three most renowned wits of the time, conspired to complete the poor
jest, and madden you. Well, bubble as your poetry was, you may be proud
that it needed all these sharpest of pens to prick the bubble. Other
poets, as popular as you, have been annihilated by an article. Macaulay
puts forth his hand, and 'Satan Montgomery' was no more. It did not need
a Macaulay, the laughter of a mob of little critics was enough to blow
into space; but you probably have met Montgomery, and of contemporary
failures or successes I do not speak.

I wonder, sometimes, whether the consensus of criticism ever made you
doubt for a moment whether, after all, you were not a false child of
Apollo? Was your complacency tortured, as the complacency of true poets
has occasionally been, by doubts? Did you expect posterity to reverse
the verdict of the satirists, and to do you justice? You answered your
earliest assailant, Liniére, and, by a few changes of words, turned his
epigrams into flattery. But I fancy, on the whole, you remained calm,
unmoved, wrapped up in admiration of yourself. According to M. de
Marivaux, who reviewed, as I am doing, the spirits of the mighty dead,
you 'conceived, on the strength of your reputation, a great and serious
veneration for yourself and your genius.' Probably you were protected by
this invulnerable armour of an honest vanity, probably you declared that
mere jealousy dictates the lines of Boileau, and that Chapelain's real
fault was his popularity, and his pecuniary success, Qu'il soit le mieux
renté de tous les beaux-esprits.

This, you would avow, was your offence, and perhaps you were not
altogether mistaken. Yet posterity declines to read a line of yours,
and, as we think of you, we are again set face to face with that eternal
problem, how far is popularity a test of poetry? Burns was a poet, and
popular. Byron was a popular poet, and the world agrees in the verdict
of their own generation. But Montgomery, though he sold so well, was no
poet, nor, Sir, I fear, was your verse made of the stuff of immortality.
Criticism cannot hurt what is truly great; the Cardinal and the Academy
left Chiméne as fair as ever, and as adorable. It is only pinchbeck that
perishes under the acids of satire: gold defies them. Yet I sometimes
ask myself, does the existence of popularity like yours justify the
malignity of satire, which blesses neither him who gives, nor him who
takes? Are poisoned arrows fair against a bad poet? I doubt it, Sir,
holding that, even unpricked, a poetic bubble must soon burst by its own
nature. Yet satire will assuredly be written so long as bad poets are
successful, and bad poets will assuredly reflect that their assailants
are merely envious, and, while their vogue lasts, that Prime Ministers
and the purchasing public are the only judges.

Monsieur,
Votre trés humble serviteur,
Andrew Lang.




XI. To Sir John Manndeville, Kt.

(Of the Ways Into Ynde.)


Sir John, - wit you well that men holden you but light, and some clepen
you a Liar. And they say that you never were born in Englond, in the
town of Seynt Albones, nor have seen and gone through manye diverse
Londes. And there goeth an old knight at arms, and one that connes
Latyn, and hath been beyond the sea, and hath seen Prester John's
country. And he hath been in an Yle that men clepen Burmah, and there
bin women bearded. Now men call him Colonel Henry Yule, and he hath writ
of thee in his great booke, Sir John, and he holds thee but lightly. For
he saith that ye did pill your tales out of Odoric his book, and that ye
never saw snails with shells as big as houses, nor never met no Devyls,
but part of that ye say, ye took it out of William of Boldensele
his book, yet ye took not his wisdom, withal, but put in thine own
foolishness. Nevertheless, Sir John, for the frailty of Mankynde, ye are
held a good fellow, and a merry; so now, come, I shall tell you of the
new ways into Ynde.

In that Lond they have a Queen that governeth all the Lond, and all they
ben obeyssant to her. And she is the Queen of Englond; for Englishmen
have taken all the Lond of Ynde. For they were right good werryoures of
old, and wyse, noble, and worthy. But of late hath risen a new sort of
Englishman very puny and fearful, and these men clepen Radicals. And
they go ever in fear, and they scream on high for dread in the streets
and the houses, and they fain would flee away from all that their
fathers gat them with the sword. And this sort men call Scuttleres, but
the mean folk and certain of the womenkind hear them gladly, and they
say ever that Englishmen should flee out of Ynde. Fro England men gon
to Ynde by many dyverse Contreyes. For Englishmen ben very stirring and
nymble. For they ben in the seventh climate, that is of the Moon. And
the Moon (ye have said it yourself, Sir John, natheless, is it true) is
of lightly moving, for to go diverse ways, and see strange things, and
other diversities of the Worlde. Wherefore Englishmen be lightly moving,
and far wandering. And they gon to Ynde by the great Sea Ocean. First
come they to Gibraltar, that was the point of Spain, and builded upon a
rock; and there ben apes, and it is so strong that no man may take it.
Natheless did Englishmen take it fro the Spanyard, and all to hold the
way to Ynde. For ye may sail all about Africa, and past the Cape men
clepen of Good Hope, but that way unto Ynde is long and the sea is
weary. Wherefore men rather go by the Midland sea, and Englishmen have
taken many Yles in that sea.

For first they have taken an Yle that is clept Malta; and therein built
they great castles, to hold it against them of Fraunce, and Italy, and
of Spain. And from this Ile of Malta Men gon to Cipre. And Cipre is
right a good Yle, and a fair, and a great, and it hath 4 principal
Cytees within him. And at Famagost is one of the principal Havens of the
sea that is in the world, and Englishmen have but a lytel while gone won
that Yle from the Sarazynes. Yet say that sort of Englishmen where of I
told you, that is puny and sore adread, that the Lond is poisonous and
barren and of no avail, for that Lond is much more hotter than it is
here. Yet the Englishmen that ben werryoures dwell there in tents, and
the skill is that they may ben the more fresh.

From Cypre, Men gon to the Lond of Egypte, and in a Day and a Night he
that hath a good wind may come to the Haven of Alessandrie. Now the Lond
of Egypt longeth to the Soudan, yet the Soudan longeth not to the Lond
of Egypt. And when I say this, I do jape with words, and may hap ye
understond me not. Now Englishmen went in shippes to Alessandrie, and
brent it, and over ran the Lond, and their soudyours warred agen the
Bedoynes, and all to hold the way to Ynde. For it is not long past since
Frenchmen let dig a dyke, through the narrow spit of lond, from the
Midland sea to the Red sea, wherein was Pharaoh drowned. So this is the
shortest way to Ynde there may be, to sail through that dyke, if men gon
by sea.

But all the Lond of Egypt is clepen the Vale enchaunted; for no man may
do his business well that goes thither, but always fares he evil, and
therefore clepen they Egypt the Vale perilous, and the sepulchre of
reputations. And men say there that is one of the entrees of Helle. In
that Vale is plentiful lack of Gold and Silver, for many misbelieving


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