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in vain to turn over the pages even of poetical antiquaries to discover any information concerning a writer who has little deserved to fall into such oblivion. In the tenth volume of the Censura Literaria, a work in which so many long forgotten writers have been revived, there are just five lines devoted to our author. This little paragraph contains nothing that was not perfectly well known before. In old Izaac Walton's Complete Angler, two of Chalkhill's songs are introduced: Doctor John. son translated a part of one of these into Latin. The translation is preserved in Murphy's edition of Johnson's works. Neither Ellis, Warton, nor Headley make any allusion to Chalkhill. Ritson mentions him, but adds nothing, to our scanty knowledge, of the poet or his works. I am not certain whether any of the biographies of Spenser contain an allusion to his "acquaintant and friend." I suspect not. It is to be regretted that Spenser has devoted no generous line to the fame of his brother poet : a great and popular writer may preserve the literary life of his associates by a single potent word, and bid
Their little barks attendant sail,
Mrs. Cooper, in the Muses' Library, published in 1741, Dr. Drake, in his Shakespeare and his Times, and Mr. Campbell, in his Specimens of the British Poets, are the only authors who have made any quotations from Chalkhill. Mr. Campbell does not give a specimen in the body of his selections; but in the first volume (printed last), containing his Essay on English Poetry, he apologizes for the omission as an accidental oversight. I am almost uncharitable enough to suspect, that it was not an oversight, but an ignorance on the part of the compiler, subsequently enlightened, that was the real cause of our fine old pastoral writer having failed to obtain an admission into that long rank of poets, in which so many meaner men have an honorable and
conspicuous place. Neither Anderson nor Chalmers make any mention of him*. It is to honest Izaac Walton that the world is indebted for the preservation of the Poem of Thealma and Clearchus. Our poet formed a kind of personal link between the old angler and the author of The Faery Queen. Chalkhill shook hands with Spenser, and Walton with Chalkhill. It was in his ninetieth year (the last of his life), that Walton published the poem of his friend, to which he affixed an affectionate preface. The pastoral character of this work must have been highly congenial to the taste of one who wrote so fine a prose-poem of a rural nature, as the Complete Angler. Chalkhill's poem was published only three or four years after the author's death, but had been written long before. The only information that Walton gives us of his friend, is in the following paragraph, with which he concludes his preface :—
"I have this truth to say of the author, that he was in his time a man, generally known, and well beloved; for he was humble and obliging in his behaviour, a gentleman, a scholar, very innocent and prudent: and indeed his whole life was useful, quiet, and virtuous. God send the story may meet with, or make, all readers like him."
Chalkhill's two songs, given in the Complete Angler, are in praise of fishing; and it is probable that he shared with his old friend Walton, in the love and practice of an amusement that none but a patient and tranquil-minded man can thoroughly enjoy. Leigh Hunt, in his Indicator, is rather severe upon this sport; and though he does not exactly agree with the old joke, attributed sometimes to Swift and sometimes to Doctor Johnson, that it is
a stick and a string, with a fly at one end and a fool at the other," he insists upon it that it is a very cruel and censurable pleasure. He erroneously ascribes one of Chalkhill's songs to
* Since this article was written I have read a notice of Chalkhill in the Retrospective Review.
Walton, and ridicules and reproves the patriarch of anglers for the sentiment in one of the stanzas which concludes as follows:
Are but toys,
And to be lamented."
As it is
Leigh Hunt ought to have allowed for some little extravagance in a laudatory lyric upon the writer's favorite amusement. The name of John Chalkhill is affixed to the song, and yet a critic like Leigh Hunt gives the authorship to another :-this is fame. I had nearly forgotten to mention, that Mr. Singer is said to have given the public a reprint of Thealma and Clearchus, but I have never met with it, and perhaps the poem is, at this day, almost as good as manuscript. Walton's old edition of the book fell into my hands but a few days ago, and it is the first copy I ever saw. not very likely that many of my readers have been equally fortunate, I trust they will not be displeased to have some account of it, and a few characteristic extracts. It may be regarded as a remarkable indication of the obscurity of the author, that Mr. Singer in his reprint of the work, is said to have thrown out a conjecture, that, as Walton had been silent upon the life of his friend Chalkhill, he might be altogether a fictitious personage, and be only a pseudonyme for Walton himself*. Rennie, in his new edition of the Complete Angler, laughs at this conjecture; and, to convince us that it is quite unreasonable, informs us, that the tomb-stone of John Chalkhill is still to be seen in Winchester Cathedral, where Walton himself was buried. But the epitaph is given by Warton in his History of Winchester, and from this it appears, by a comparison of dates, that the John Chalkhill, who lies in his last sleep, in Winchester Cathedral, could not have been the "friend and acquaintant" of Spenser. The tomb-stone tells us, that it covers the remains of one who died in the year 1679, aged eighty years. He was therefore born in 1599,
The Critic in the Retrospective Review is of the same opinion.
the year after Spenser's death. This somewhat perplexes us in our speculations regarding the history of our author; but it is difficult to believe that honest Izaac Walton would have put forth a poem under a feigned name, and have attempted to deceive mankind in his venerable old age, when he was probably preparing himself for another world. There was too much simplicity and truth in his character, to have enabled him to reconcile his conscience to an act of this nature. The fervid commendation, moral and critical, which he has lavished on the author, he never could have bestowed upon himself. But the office of paying a tribute to the memory, and preserving the literary remains of a friend, was an occupation in exact keeping with his character. It was a sacred duty, and the manner in which he has performed it, adds considerably to our respect for the name of Walton. It is certainly, however, to be regretted that, while paying an ardent tribute to the character of the author, he was not a little more explicit in the details of his personal history.
The poem of Thealma and Clearchus, though left unfinished by the author, extends to considerably more than three thousand lines. Of the story, which is very intricate, I shall not take the trouble to offer a complete analysis. It will be necessary, however, to explain as much of it as will render the extracts intelligible. The scene is laid in Arcadia. The actors are princes and princesses, and other personages of distinction, who have been induced, by various circumstances, to conceal their real characters, and beguile their sorrows in a pastoral life. The design is sufficiently fantastic, but the execution is often exquisitely natural. The poem opens with Thealma, at once a princess and a shepherdess, leading forth her " tender ewes," early in the morning, just as the sun begins to gild the tops of the mountains. Her soul is darkened with melancholy thoughts, on account of the absent Clearchus, whom she supposes to be dead. The cheerfulness of morning sheds no light upon her despondent spirit. But let the
poet himself describe her state in his own harmonious num
The airy choir salute the welcome day,
And with new carols sing their cares away;
Yet move not her: she minds not what she hears:
Here follows a description of a river, on the banks of which she seated herself, to indulge, at leisure, her tender sadness:
Down in a valley 'twixt two rising hills,
From whence the dew in silver drops distils
Hight Cygnus, (as some think from Læda's Swan
In the following passage, the allusion to Collin is evidently a compliment to Spenser:
Close by the river, was a thick-leav'd grove,
At noon, her servant, Caretta, brings a pastoral refection of curds, creams, and cheesecake. The faithful and affectionate domestic tries very hard to persuade her mistress to partake of these dainties. For a long time, her arguments and entreaties are without effect. At last, the poor girl hits upon the right string, by pressing the attention of her mistress to the fact that the fate of Clearchus was not clearly ascertained, and that it