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LIFE AND WRITINGS
I PRESENT not to the reader the history of a wise statesman, an adventurous soldier, or a profound philosopher. Yet I trust, that he will experience no small degree of satisfaction from contemplating the virtues of a private citizen ; who, though he arrogates not to himself the splendor of high descent, or the pride of superfluous wealth, deserves our approbation and regard. Isaac, or, as he usually wrote his name, Izaak Walton adorned with a guileless simplicity of manners, claims from every good man the tribute of applause. It was his ambition (and surely a more honorable ambition cannot be excited in the human breast) to commend to the reverence of posterity the merits of those excellent persons,
* This is Zouch's Life, entire.
whose comprehensive learning and exalted piety will ever endear them to our memories.
The important end of historical knowledge is a prudent application of it to ourselves, with a view to regulate and amend our own conduct. As the examples of men strictly and faithfully discharging their professional duties, must obviously tend to invigorate our efforts to excel in moral worth, the virtuous characters, which are so happily delineated in the following pages, cannot fail, if considered with serious attention, of producing the most beneficial and lasting impressions on the mind.
The life of the author of this biographical collection was little diversified with events. He was born of a respectable family, on the ninth day of August, 1593, in the parish of St. Mary's, in the town of Stafford. Of his father no particular tradition is extant. From his mother he derived an hereditary attach-, ment to the Protestant religion, as professed in the church of England. She was the daughter of Edmund Cranmer, Archdeacon of Canterbury, sister to Mr. George Cranmer, the pupil and friend of Mr. Richard Hooker, and niece to that first and brightest ornament of the Reformation, Dr. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. No vestiges of the place or manner of his education have been discovered ; nor have we any authentic information concerning his first engagements in a mercantile life. It has indeed been suggested, that he was one of those industrious young men, whom the munificence of Sir Thomas Gresham, the founder of the Royal Exchange, had placed in the shops which were erected
in the upper buildings of his celebrated Burse. However this may be, he soon improved his fortune by his honesty, his frugality, and his diligence. His occupation, according to the tradition still preserved in his family, was that of a wholesale linen-draper, or Hamburgh merchant.
The writers of the Life of Milton have, with the most scrupulous attention, regularly marked out the different houses successively inhabited by the poet, as if it was an injury to neglect any place, that he honored by his presence.” The various parts of London, in which Izaak Walton resided, have been recorded with the same precision. It is sufficient to intimate, that he was for some years an inbabitant of St. Dunstan's in the West. With Dr. John Donne, then vicar of that parish, of whose sermons he was a constant hearer, he contracted a friendship, which remained uninterrupted to their separation by death. This his parishioner attended him in his last sickness, and was present at the time that he consigned his sermons and numerous papers to the care of Dr. Henry King, who was promoted to the see of Chichester in 1641.
He married Anne, the daughter of Thomas Ken, Esq. of Furnival's Inn; a gentleman, whose family, of an ancient extraction, was united by alliance with several noble houses, and had possessed a very plentiful fortune for many generations, having been known by the name of the Kens of Ken-Place, in Somersetshire. She was the sister of Thomas Ken, afterward the deprived Bishop of Bath and Wells. If there be a name to which I have been accus