Who Was Izaak Walton?
Izaak Walton (1593-1683)
Izaak Walton’s “The Compleat Angler,” published in 1653, is the third most published book in the English language, after the Bible and Shakespeare’s historic works. It is arguably the most important book in Old-English prose style. In addition to angling advice, the book expounds a philosophy for life which has as much value and relevance today as it did when Walton wrote the book, including this humorous ditty:
Man’s life is but vane, for ‘tis subject to pain
And sorrow and short as a bubble;
‘Tis a hodgepodge of business and money and care,
And care and money and trouble.
But we'll take no care when the weather proves fair;
Nor will we vex now, though it rain;
We’ll banish all sorrow and sing till tomorrow
And angle and angle again.
In addition to 38 poems, the book contains recipes on cooking fish and detailed advice on how to make “an angling rod” and other angling equipment and on the construction of a fish pond.
Walton’s younger friend and fishing partner was Charles Cotton of Beresford Hall, Hartington, Derbyshire. Cotton was author of the last section of “The Compleat Angler,” which is devoted (in the full sense of the word) to fly fishing, particularly on the River Dove. The Fishing Temple, built at Dovedale by Charles Cotton and still standing today, carries their intertwined monograms.
Excerpted from an article written by
members of the Izaak Walton League’s
Cottage Chapter in England.