B 3 SbM TDb
PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID
T:he COMPLETE ANGLER
All rights reserved
VV 0. 3 9
or the CONTEMPLiATlVE Mt^N'S
%ECREiJTlON : being a Discourse of
FISH and FISHING not unworthy the perusal
of most ^Anglers : by IZAAK WALTON.
A New Edition edited with an Introduction by
ANDREW LANG, and illustrated by
E. J. SULLIVAN
LONDON : Published by J. M. DENT
and Company, at ALDINE HOUSE . 1896
Edinburgh: T. 6^ A. Constable, Printers to Her Majesty
EDITOR S INTRODUCTION .....
THE EPISTLE DEDICATORY .....
THE EPISTLE TO THE READER ....
THE FIRST DAY
CHAPTER I. A CONFERENCE BETWIXT AN ANGLER, A FALCONER,
AND A HUNTER, EACH COMMENDING HIS RECREATION
THE SECOND DAY
CHAPTER II. ON THE OTTER AND THE CHUB
THE THIRD DAY
CHAPTER III. HOW TO FISH FOR, AND TO DRESS, THE CHAVENDER
OR CHUB ......
CHAPTER IV. ON THE NATURE AND BREEDING OF THE TROUT,
AND HOW TO FISH FOR HIM ....
CHAPTER V. ON THE TROUT
The COMPLETE ANGLER
THE FOURTH DAY
THE UMBER OR GRAYLING
ON THE LUCE OR PIKE
ON THE CARP
ON THE BREAM
ON THE TENCH
ON THE PERCH
OF THE EEL, AND OTHER
FISH THAT WANT
OF THE BARBEL
OF THE GUDGEON, THE RUFFE, AND THE BLEAK
IS OF NOTHING, OR OF NOTHING WORTH
THE FIFTH DAY
CHAPTER XVII. OF ROACH AND DACE
CHAPTER XVIII. OF THE MINNOW, OR PENK ; LOACH ; BULL-
HEAD, OR miller's THUMB : AND THE STICKLE-BAG
CHAPTER XIX. OF RIVERS, AND SOME OBSERVATIONS OF FISH
CHAPTER XX. OF FISH-PONDS ....
CHAPTER XXI. ......
IZAAK WALTON — Frotittsptece p^g^
MADELEY MANOR ..... 1
TAIL-PIECE TO EPISTLE DEDICATORY ... 3
TO ALL READERS OF THIS DISCOURSE . . 5
TAIL-PIECE TO THE EPISTLE TO THE READER . . 9
ENTRANCE TO THE TOWN OF WARE FROM AMWELL END
From an old Drawing . . . . 1 1
* YOU ARE WELL OVERTAKEN, GENTLEMEN ! ' . . 1 3
CONRAD GESNER . . . . . "39
DOCTOR NOWEL . .... 47
SIR HENRY WOTTON . . . . . 5I
TO ALL THE LOVERS OF ANGLING . . . .56
AMWELL HILL . . . . . .58
THE GLOVES OF AN OTTER . . . . 60
HEAD-PIECE : ON THE OTTER AND THE CHUB , . 6 1
' THE SUN IS JUST RISING ' . . . .62
THE COLLEGE OF CARTHUSIANS . . . .64
* THERE IS BRAVE HUNTING THIS WATER-DOG ' . . 6^
The COMPLETE ANGLER
' AN HONEST CLEANLY HOSTESS * .
THE anglers' inn, NEAR HODDESDON, HERTFORDSHIRE
* TWENTY BALLADS STUCK ABOUT THE WALL '
HEAD-PIECE : THE CHAVENDER OR CHUB .
* YONDER IS THE HOUSE ' ....
TAIL-PIECE TO CHAPTER III .
HEAD-PIECE : ON THE NATURE OF THE TROUT, ETC.
'l HAVE CAUGHT TWENTY OR FORTY AT A STANDING*
* I 'lL GIVE YOU A SYLLABUB ' .
THE MILK-MAId's SONG ....
CORIDOn's OATEN PIPE ....
tail-piece: 'here is a trout will fill six REASONABLE
HEAD-PIECE : ON THE TROUT
'l THINK IT IS BEST TO DRAW CUTS '
CORIDOn's SONG .....
* COME, CORIDON, you ARE TO BE MY BEDFELLOW '
* GOOD-MORROW, GOOD HOSTESS ' .
ULYSSES ALDROVANDUS ....
* COME, SCHOLAR, COME, LAY DOWN YOUR ROD '
A GANG OF GYPSIES ....
* BRIGHT SHINES THE SUN ; PLAY, BEGGARS, PLAY '
DRUMMING UP CARPS ....
SIR FRANCIS BACON ....
TAIL-PIECE TO CHAPTER V . . .
HEAD-PIECE : THE UMBER OR GRAYLING
TAIL-PIECE TO CHAPTER VI . . .
HEAD-PIECE : THE SALMON
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xi
TAIL-PIECE TO CHAPTER VII . . . . l8l
head-piece: on the luce or pike . . . l8z
* USE him as though you loved him ' . . .191
*TOO GOOD FOR ANY BUT ANGLERS, OR VERY HONEST MEN ' . 1 96
tail-piece to chapter VIII . .198
SIR RICHARD BAKER ..... 200
HEAD-PIECE : ON THE CARP .... 20I
TAIL-PIECE TO CHAPTER IX ... . 2O9
HEAD-PIECE : ON THE BREAM . . . . 2IO
' GO YOURSELF SO FAR FROM THE WATER-SIDE ' . . 21 5
'you MAY TAKE A PIPE OF TOBACCO* . . . 2I9
tail-piece to chapter x . . . .221
head-piece: on the tench .... 222
tail-piece to chapter xi . . . .224
head-piece : on the perch .... 225
tail-piece to chapter xii . . . • 229
head-piece: of the eel .... 230
du bartas, camden, gerard, and rondelet . . 232
snigling eels from a bridge . . . .237
tail-piece to chapter xiii .... 24i
head-piece : * they flock together like sheep ' . 242
tail-piece to chapter xiv .... 246
DR. GILBERT SHELDON . . . . . 247
head-piece : of the gudgeon, etc. . . . 248
tail-piece to chapter xv . . . . 25o
head-piece: * man's life is but vain ' . . . 251
* there a girl cropping culverkeys and cowslips ' . 257
the reckoning ...... 263
edmund waller ..... 265
The COMPLETE ANGLER
TAIL-PIECE TO CHAPTER XVI
HEAD-PIECE : OF ROACH AND DACE
* FOLLOW THE PLOUGH, AND YOU SHALL FIND A WHITE WORM '
MR. JOHN stubs' SHOP
MR. margrave's shop
TAIL-PIECE TO CHAPTER XVII
HEAD-PIECE : OF THE MINNOW, ETC.
HEAD-PIECE : OF RIVERS, ETC.
head-piece : of fish-ponds
tail-piece (pope or ruffe)
HEAD-PIECE (the FAREWELl)
* let's now rest ourselves in this sweet shady arbour'
The Illustrator would like to acknowledge his in-
debtedness to the beautifully engraved portraits in
Major's edition of 1824; and also to the courtesy of
Messrs. Farlow & Co., to whose wonderful flies only
scant justice can be done in black and white.
Hampstead, August 7, 1896.
NOTE AS TO TEXT
The text here reprinted is, in the main, that of Sir Harris
Nicolas, which was printed from Walton's Fifth Edition,
1676, the last that was revised by the author
To write on Walton is, indeed, to hold a candle to the
sun. The editor has been content to give a summary of
the chief, or rather the only known, events in Walton's
long life, adding a notice of his character as displayed in
his Biographies and in The Compleat Angler^ with com-
ments on the ancient and modern practice of fishing,
illustrated by passages from Walton's foregoers and con-
temporaries. Like all editors of Walton, he owes much to
his predecessors, Sir John Hawkins, Oldys, Major, and,
above all, to the learned Sir Harris Nicolas.
xvi The COMPLETE ANGLER
The few events in the long life of Izaak Walton have
been carefully investigated by Sir Harris Nicolas. All
that can be extricated from documents by the alchemy of
research has been selected, and I am unavi^are of any
important acquisitions since Sir Harris Nicolas*s second
edition of 1 860. Izaak w^as of an old family of Staffordshire
yeomen, probably descendants of George Walton of Yox-
hall, who died in 1571. Izaak's father was Jarvis Walton,
who died in February 1595-6; of Izaak's mother nothing
is known. Izaak himself was born at Stafford, on August
9, 1593, and was baptized on September 21. He died on
December 15, 1683, having lived in the reigns of Elizabeth,
James i., Charles i., under the Commonwealth, and under
Charles 11. The anxious and changeful age through which
he passed is in contrast with his very pacific character and
Of Walton's education nothing is known, except on the
evidence of his writings. He may have read Latin, but
most of the books he cites had English translations. Did he
learn his religion from ' his mother or his nurse ' ? It will be
seen that the free speculation of his age left him untouched :
perhaps his piety was awakened, from childhood, under
the instruction of a pious mother. Had he been orphaned
of both parents (as has been suggested) he might have been
less amenable to authority, and a less notable example of
the virtues which Anglicanism so vainly opposed to Puritan-
ism. His literary beginnings are obscure. There exists a
copy of a work, The Loves of Amos and Laura^ written by
S. P., published in 1613, and again in 1619. The edition
of 1 619 is dedicated to ' Iz. Wa.* : —
* Thou being cause it is as nonv it is ' j
the Dedication does not occur in the one imperfect known
copy of 1 61 3. Conceivably the words, 'as now it is ' refer
to the edition of 16 19, which might have been emended
by Walton's advice. But there are no emendations, hence
it is more probable that Walton revised the poem in 16 13,
when he was a man of twenty, or that he merely advised the
author to publish : —
* For, hadst thou held thy tongue, by silence might
These have been buried in oblivion's night.'
S. p. also remarks : —
*No ill thing can be clothed in thy verse 'j
hence Izaak was already a rhymer, and a harmless one,
under the Royal Prentice, gentle King Jamie.
By this time Walton was probably settled in London.
A deed in the possession of his biographer. Dr. Johnson's
friend. Sir John Hawkins, shows that, in 1614, Walton
held half of a shop on the north side of Fleet Street, two
doors west of Chancery Lane : the other occupant was a
hosier. Mr. Nicholl has discovered that Walton was
made free of the Ironmongers' Company on Nov. 12, 161 8.
xviii The COMPLETE ANGLER
He is styled an Ironmonger in his marriage licence. The
facts are given in Mr. Marston*s Life of Walton, pre-
fixed to his edition of The Compleat Angler (1888). It is
odd that a prentice ironmonger should have been a poet
and a critic of poetry. Dr. Donne, before 1614, v^as Vicar
of St. Dunstan's in the West, and in Walton had a parish-
ioner, a disciple, and a friend. Izaak greatly loved the
society of the clergy : he connected himself with Episcopal
families, and had a natural taste for a Bishop. Through
Donne, perhaps, or it may be in converse across the counter,
he made acquaintance with Hales of Eton, Dr. King, and
Sir Henry Wotton, himself an angler, and one who, like
Donne and Izaak, loved a ghost story, and had several in
his family. Drayton, the river-poet, author of the Polyolbion^
is also spoken of by Walton as ' my old deceased friend.'
On Dec. 27, 1626, Walton married, at Canterbury,
Rachel Floud, a niece, on the maternal side, by several
descents, of Cranmer, the famous Archbishop of Canter-
bury. The Cranmers were intimate with the family of
the judicious Hooker, and Walton was again connected
with kinsfolk of that celebrated divine. Donne died in
1 63 1, leaving to Walton, and to other friends, a bloodstone
engraved with Christ crucified on an anchor : the seal is
impressed on Walton's will. When Donne's poems were
published in ^633, Walton added commendatory verses : —
' As all lament
(Or should) this general cause of discontent.'
The parenthetic ' or should ' is much in Walton's
manner. ' Witness my mild pen, not used to upbraid the
world,' is also a pleasant and accurate piece of self-criticism.
' I am his convert,' Walton exclaims. In a citation from a
manuscript which cannot be found, and perhaps never
existed, Walton is spoken of as ' a very sweet poet in his
youth, and more than all in matters of love.' ^ Donne had
been in the same case : he, or Time, may have converted
Walton from amorous ditties. Walton, in an edition of
Donne's poems of 1635, writes of
* This book (dry emblem) which begins
With love J but ends with tears and sighs for sins.'
The preacher and his convert had probably a similar
history of the heart : as we shall see, Walton, like the
Cyclops, had known love. Early in 1639, Wotton wrote
to Walton about a proposed Life of Donne, to be written
by himself, and hoped ' to enjoy your own ever welcome
company in the approaching time of the Fly and the Cork.''
Wotton was a fly- fisher; the cork, or float, or 'trembling
quill,' marks Izaak for the bottom-fisher he was. Wotton
died in December 1639 5 Walton prefixed his own Life of
Donne to that divine's sermons in 1640. He says, in the
Dedication of the reprint of 1658, that 'it had the appro-
bation of our late learned and eloquent King,' the martyred
Charles i. Living in, or at the corner of. Chancery Lane,
Walton is known to have held parochial office : he was
even elected ' scavenger.' He had the misfortune to lose
^ The MS. was noticed in The Freebooter^ Oct. i8, 1823, but Sir Harris
Nicolas could not find it, where it was said to be, among the Lansdowne mss.
XX The COMPLETE ANGLER
seven children — of whom the last died in 1641 — his wife,
and his mother-in-law. In 1644 he left Chancery Lane,
and probably retired from trade. He was, of course, a
Royalist. Speaking of the entry of the Scots, who came,
as one of them said, ' for the goods, — and chattels of the
English,' he remarks, ' I saw and suffered by it.' ^ He also
mentions that he ' saw ' shops shut by their owners till Laud
should be put to death, in January 1645. In his Life of
Sanderson, Walton vouches for an anecdote of ' the know-
ing and conscientious King,' Charles, who, he says, meant
to do public penance for Strafford's death, and for the
abolishing of Episcopacy in Scotland. But the condition,
' peaceable possession of the Crown,' was not granted to
Charles, nor could have been granted to a prince who
wished to reintroduce Bishops in Scotland. Walton had
his information from Dr. Morley. On Nov. 25, 1645,
Walton probably wrote, though John Marriott signed, an
Address to the Reader, printed, in 1646, with Quarles's
Shepherd's Eclogues, The piece is a little idyll in prose, and
' angle, lines, and flies ' are not omitted in the description
of ' the fruitful month of May,' while Pan is implored to
restore Arcadian peace to Britannia, ' and grant that each
honest shepherd may again sit under his own vine and fig-
tree, and feed his own flock,' when the King comes, no
doubt. 'About' 1646 Walton married Anne, half-sister of
Bishop Ken, a lady ' of much Christian meeknesse.' Sir
^ The quip about ' goods and chattels ' was revived later, in the case of a
Harris Nicolas thinks that he only visited Stafford occasion-
ally, in these troubled years. He mentions fishing in
' Shawford brook ' 5 he was likely to fish wherever there
was water, and the brook flowed through land which, as
Mr. Marston shows, he acquired about 1656. In 1650 a
child was born to Walton in Clerkenwell ; it died, but
another, Isaac, was born in September 1651. In 1651
he published the Reliquiae Wottonianae^ with a Memoir of
Sir Henry Wotton. The knight had valued Walton's
company as a cure for ' those splenetic vapours that are
Worcester fight was on September 3, 1651 ; the king
was defeated, and fled, escaping, thanks to a stand made by
Wogan, and to the loyalty of Mistress Jane Lane, and of
many other faithful adherents. A jewel of Charles's, the
lesser George, was preserved by Colonel Blague, who in-
trusted it to Mr. Barlow of Blore Pipe House, in Stafford-
shire. Mr. Barlow gave it to Mr. Milward, a Royalist
prisoner in Stafford, and he, in turn, intrusted it to Walton,
who managed to convey it to Colonel Blague in the Tower.
The colonel escaped, and the George was given back to the
king. Ashmole, who tells the story, mentions Walton as
'well beloved of all good men.' This incident is, perhaps,
the only known adventure in the long life of old Izaak. The
peaceful angler, with a royal jewel in his pocket, must
have encountered many dangers on the highway. He was
a man of sixty when he published his Compleat Angler in
1653, ^^^ so secured immortality. The quiet beauties of
xxii The COMPLETE ANGLER
his manner in his various biographies would only have
made him known to a few students, who could never
have recognised Byron's 'quaint, old, cruel coxcomb' in
their author. ' The whole discourse is a kind of picture of
my own disposition, at least of my disposition in such days
and times as I allow myself when honest Nat. and R. R.
and I go a-fishing together.' Izaak speaks of the possibiHty
that his book may reach a second edition. There are now
editions more than a hundred ! Waltonians should read
Mr. Thomas Westwood's Preface to his Chronicle of the
Compleat Angler : it is reprinted in Mr. Marston's edition.
Mr. Westwood learned to admire Walton at the feet of
Charles Lamb : —
* No fisher,
But a well-wisher
To the game,'
as Scott describes himself.^
Lamb recommended Walton to Coleridge ; ' it breathes
the very spirit of innocence, purity, and simplicity of heart ;
... it would sweeten a man's temper at any time to read
it j it would Christianise every angry, discordant passion ;
pray make yourself acquainted with it.' (Oct. 28, 1796.)
According to Mr. Westwood, Lamb had ' an early copy,'
1 Sir Walter was fond of trout-fishing, and in his S^uarterly review of Davy's
Salmonia, describes his pleasure in wading Tweed, in 'Tom Fool's light' at the
end of a hot summer day. In salmon-fishing he was no expert, and said to
Lockhart that he must have Tom Purdie to aid him in his review of Salmonia.
The picturesqucness of salmon-spearing by torchlight seduced Scott from the
found in a repository of marine stores, but not, even then,
to be bought a bargain. Mr. Westwood fears that Lamb's
copy was only Hawkins's edition of 1760. The original
is extremely scarce. Mr. Locker had a fine copy ; there
is another in the library of Dorchester House : both are in
their primitive livery of brown sheep, or calf. The book
is one which only the wealthy collector can hope, with
luck, to call his own. A small octavo, sold at eighteen-
pence, The Compleat Angler was certain to be thumbed into
nothingness, after enduring much from May showers, July
suns, and fishy companionship. It is almost a wonder that
any examples of Walton's and Bunyan's first editions have
survived into our day. The little volume was meant to
find a place in the bulging pockets of anglers, and was well
adapted to that end. The work should be reprinted in a
sim.i\a.r format : quarto editions are out of place.
The fortunes of the book, the fata libelli^ have been traced
by Mr. Westwood. There are several misprints (later cor-
rected) in the earliest copies, as (p. 88) 'Fordig' for 'Fordidg,'
(p. 152) 'Pudoch' for 'Pudock.' The appearance of the
work was advertised in The Perfect Diurnal (May 9-16),
and in No. 154 of The Mercurius Politicus (May 19-26),
also in an almanack for 1654. Izaak, or his publisher
Marriott, cunningly brought out the book at a season when
men expect the Mayfly. Just a month before, Oliver
Cromwell had walked into the House of Commons, in a
plain suit of black clothes, with grey stockings. His
language, when he spoke, was reckoned unparliamentary
xxiv The COMPLETE ANGLER
(as it undeniably was), and he dissolved the Long Parlia-
ment. While Marriott was advertising Walton's work,
Cromwell was making a Parliament of Saints, 'faithful,
fearing God, and hating covetousness.' This is a good
description of Izaak, but he was not selected. In the
midst of revolutions came The Compleat Angler to the light,
a possession for ever. Its original purchasers are not likely
to have taken a hand in Royalist plots or saintly con-
venticles. They were peaceful men. A certain Crom-
wellian trooper, Richard Franck, was a better angler than
Walton, and he has left to us the only contemporary and
contemptuous criticism of his book : to this we shall
return, but anglers, as a rule, unlike Franck, must have
been for the king, and on Izaak's side in controversy.
Walton brought out a second edition in 1655. He
rewrote the book, adding more than a third, suppressing
Viator^ and introducing Venator. New plates were added,
and, after the manner of the time, commendatory verses.
A third edition appeared in 1661, a fourth (published by
Simon Gape, not by Marriott) came out in 1664, a fifth
in 1668 (counting Gape's of 1664 as a new edition), and
in 1676, the work, with treatises by Venables and Charles
Cotton, was given to the world as The Universal Angler,
Five editions in twelve years is not bad evidence of Walton's
popularity. But times now altered. Walton is really an
Elizabethan : he has the quaint freshness, the apparently
artless music of language of the great age. He is a friend
of ' country contents ' : no lover of the town, no keen
student of urban ways and mundane men. A new taste,
modelled on that of the wits of Louis xiv., had come in : we
are in the period of Dryden, and approaching that of Pope.
There was no new edition of Walton till Moses Browne
(by Johnson's desire) published him, with 'improvements,'
in 1750. Then came Hawkins's edition in 1760. John-
son said of Hawkins, 'Why, ma'am, I believe him to be
an honest man at the bottom ; but, to be sure, he is
penurious, and he is mean, and it must be owned he has
a degree of brutality, and a tendency to savageness, that
cannot easily be defended.'
This was hardly the editor for Izaak ! However,
Hawkins, probably by aid of Oldys the antiquary (as Mr.
Marston shows), laid a good foundation for a biography
of Walton. Errors he made, but Sir Harris Nicolas has
corrected them. Johnson himself reckoned Walton's
Lives as 'one of his most favourite books.' He preferred
the life of Donne, and justly complained that Walton's
story of Donne's vision of his absent wife had been left
out of a modern edition. He explained Walton's friend-
ship with persons of higher rank by his being 'a great
The eighteenth century, we see, came back to Walton,
as the nineteenth has done. He was precisely the author
to suit Charles Lamb. He was reprinted again and again,
and illustrated by Stoddart and others. Among his best
editors are Major (1839), 'Ephemera' (1853), Nicolas
(1836, i860), and Mr. Marston (1888).
xxvi The COMPLETE ANGLER
The only contemporary criticism known to me is that
of Richard Franck, who had served with Cromwell in
Scotland, and, not liking the aspect of changing times,
returned to the north, and fished from the Esk to Strath-
naver. In 1658 he wrote his Northern Memoirs^ an
itinerary of sport, heavily cumbered by dull reflections and
pedantic style. Franck, however, was a practical angler,
especially for salmon, a fish of which Walton knew
nothing : he also appreciated the character of the great
Montrose. He went to America, wrote a wild cosmogonic
work, and The Admirable and Indefatigable Adventures of
the Nine Pious Pilgrims (one pilgrim catches a trout!)
(London, 1708). The Northern Memoirs of 1658 were
not pubHshed till 1694. Sir Walter Scott edited a new
issue, in 1821, and defended Izaak from the strictures
of the salmon-fisher. Izaak, says Franck, ' lays the stress
of his arguments upon other men's observations, where-
with he stuffs his indigested octavo ; so brings himself
under the angler's censure and the common calamity of a
plagiary, to be pitied (poor man) for his loss of time, in
scribbling and transcribing other men's notions. ... I
remember in Stafford, I urged his own argument upon
him, that pickerel weed of itself breeds pickerel (pike).'
Franck proposed a rational theory, 'which my Compleat
Angler no sooner deliberated, but dropped his argument,
and leaves Gesner to defend it, so huffed away. . , .' 'So
note, the true character of an industrious angler more
deservedly falls upon Merrill and Faulkner, or rather Izaak
Ouldham, a man that fished salmon with but three hairs
at hook, whose collections and experiments were lost with
himself,' — a matter much to be regretted. It will be
observed, of course, that hair was then used, and gut is
first mentioned for angling purposes by Mr. Pepys. In-
deed, the flies which Scott was hunting for when he found
the lost MS. of the first part of Waverley are tied on
horse-hairs. They are in the possession of the descendants
of Scott's friend, Mr. William Laidlaw. The curious
angler, consulting Franck, will find that his salmon flies
are much Hke our own, but less variegated. Scott justly
remarks that, while Walton was habit and repute a
bait-fisher, even Cotton knows nothing of salmon. Scott
wished that Walton had made the northern tour, but
Izaak would have been sadly to seek, running after a fish
down a gorge of the Shin or the Brora, and the discomforts
of the north would have finished his career. In Scotland
he would not have found fresh sheets smelling of lavender.