AN ANGLING LIBRARY AND SOME OF ITS TREASURES
By Daniel B. Fearing, Newport, R. I.
This library of books on angling, fishing, fisheries, and fish culture, now numbering over twelve thousand volumes and pamphlets in twenty different languages*, had its genesis in the year 1890 in the form of a scrapbook on trout and trout fishing. From that scrap-book began the collection of books entirely on trout and trout fishing, then were added books with chapters on those subjects and so on until the entire four heads mentioned above were gradually drawn in and the library began to grow.
It is, of course, an easy matter to obtain the commoner run of books on angling, that is to say, the popular books of the day. Most of them, it would seem from careful collation, are stolen goods taken from other and earlier writers of "pot boilers" on the same subject. As the date of publication goes further back, one would naturally suppose the value would correspondingly rise, but this is not so. There are many angling books with an imprint of before 1800, that are priced in English and Scotch second-hand bookseller's catalogs at less than one shilling and six pence or two shillings, and when sold at auction, are usually lumped in one lot of from half a dozen to a dozen and sold for perhaps half a crown the lot.
The foundation stone of an angling library is naturally the first five editions of Izaak Walton's, "The Compleat Angler," the editions that were printed before his death. Of these five, the first, printed in 1653, THE FIRST WALTON, stands at the head.
It is the most charming pastoral in the English tongue, of which Richard Le Gallienne speaks so feelingly, "To keep this in his little library he had under gone willingly many privations, cheerfully faced hunger and cold rather than let it pass from his hand ; * * * perhaps, after Robinson Crusoe, the most popular of the English Classics, * * * a pastoral, the freshness of which a hundred editions have left unexhausted, a book in which the grass is forever green and the shining brooks do indeed go on forever." Another lover of old Izaak has very cleverly adapted the remark of the celebrated Dr. Botteler of strawberry fame—"doubtless a better angling book there might have been, but such, doubtless there never has been yet." It is doubtful if there is another book in English save "The Holy Bible" that has gone into so many editions. At this date, 1915, there are over one hundred and seventy different editions of "The Compleat Angler" (this collection boasts of over one hundred and sixty). Though the expression "Waltoniana" properly means anecdotes and stories by or concerning Walton, it has come by common usage to be understood as applying in any way to the art piscatorial and one finds it so used in the majority of the catalogs of booksellers dealing in old and second-hand books.
The story of the "First Walton" reads like a fairy tale. The first that is known of the "Compleat Angler" is a small advertisement in an old London newspaper, "The Perfect Diurnal * * * From Munday, May 9, to Munday 16, 1652," reading as follows: " 'The Compleat Angler, or the Contemplative Man's Recreation,' being a Discourse of Fish and Fishing, not unworthy the perusal of most Anglers, of 18 pence price, written by Iz. Wa."The author's name does not appear on the title page until the fifth edition published in 1676. The commendatory verses in the second edition, published in 1655, are, however, inscribed to "Mr. Izaak Walton."
Probably, no book published in the last three hundred years has so increased in value. Published originally at the price of eighteen pence, in Dr. Bethune's time (1847) he values a perfect copy at twelve guineas. A copy in the original binding, but a little soiled, was offered to the owner of this library in London in 1889 for forty-five guineas. Unluckily for him he was not at that time interested in angling books. At the sale of the Von Antwerp Library in London in 1907 Quaritch paid £1,290 for a copy in the original binding and in perfect condition. This copy formerly belonged to Locker Lampson and has a poem written in pencil by him on one of the alba. That copy is now in the library of J. P. Morgan. So high a price may never be reached again, but since that date several copies have sold for over a thousand pounds each.
A small book, some 5 ¾ by 3 ¾ inches in pristine binding, no one knows how many of this edition of 1653 were issued. As a friend has pleasantly written concerning it: "Its descriptions of nature, its sage reflections on manners and customs and the everyday problems of life, and, beyond all else, the genial humanity which show through its every page won for it quick popularity. It was a book to pick up in a leisure half-hour and skim with the assurance of a quiet pleasure which few volumes of today can convey. So it happened that the 'Compleat Angler' met with a ready sale in its first edition.
"Perhaps it was because of the low price at which it was sold, that copies of this little book of 250 years ago have disappeared so amazingly. Some were left in stage coaches, derelicts whose mission was ended after they had beguiled the weary hours of a journey; some were lost in garrets and some burned in house fires; others doubtless ruined by immersion in the streams of which the author loved to write; until to-day nobody knows how many have outlived the passage of the years."
Acknowledged by all lovers of English literature today as one of the classics of the English language, its constantly increasing value is due more to the desire of collectors of "First Editions" of the English Classics to possess a copy, than to the generally "poor but honest angler."
This library contains three copies of "The First Walton," two perfect and one imperfect. The first copies that left the press are distinguishable by several misprints which do not exist in later impressions. One of the most sought for of these misprints is that using
"contention" instead of "contentment" in the last two lines of the verses by Sir Harry Wotton: "And, if Contentment be a stranger then I'll ne'er look for it, but in Heaven again."
The second of the copies of the "First Walton" in the library is a "contention" copy and has on its title pages the autograph of "J. Venables" in a contemporary hand. This is supposed to be the autograph of some member of the family of Col. Robert Venables, who wrote the third part of the fifth edition of "The Compleat Angler," of whom more anon.
This first edition was embellished by six very pretty engravings of the trout, pike, carp, tench, perch and barbel which were inserted in the text. The engraver to this day is unknown. They have been attributed to Pierre Lombart, a Frenchman and a noted engraver resident in England at that time and engaged in illustrating books. Faithorne and Vaughn have also been mentioned as possible candidates for the honor. The latter is known to have been employed by Marriot on other work.
It has always been the belief of collectors that these plates were engraved on silver, but that fact has never been proved and still remains a disputed fact in regard to this wonderful little book. The same plates were used for the first four editions and were re-engraved in reverse, by a less artistic hand, for the fifth edition. This fact has not been generally noted by bibliographers up to 1883, when it is mentioned by Thos. Westwood. Volumes could, indeed, have been written regarding this best loved of all angling books. Famous writers by the score have tried to bring new facts in regard to it before the eyes of a constantly increasing public.
The charm of Walton's honest writing never grows stale, one takes him up with as much pleasure in this twentieth century as in the days of his first appearance. As has been charmingly said of him, "The Companion of our boyhood, the delight of our mature years, when shall we look upon his like again? Fishers have increased and fishing books have multiplied, but where is the fisher blest with such a 'Heavenly memory' as our Izaak, and where is the fishing book so rich in honorand renown as his?"
The second edition, which appeared in 1655, was much enlarged, having been almost rewritten, and contained some one hundred and seventeen pages more, and four more plates, the bream, eel, loach and bull-head having been added. Commendatory verses by seven appreciative writers are given for the first time in this edition. Copies of this second edition, though not bringing as high a price as the first, are much more rarely met with. A little more than a hundred years after its appearance John Hawkins (afterwards Sir John) states in his "Life of Walton" in his edition of "The Compleat Angler," first issued in 1760, "The second I have never been able to see." This scarcity has continued to the present day and, while it is always possible for anyone to find a "First Walton" who is willing to pay the price for it, he would have to search for a considerable time to find a good copy of the second edition.
The third edition first appeared in 1661. This contained but few and unimportant changes. This edition again appeared in 1664 with a new title-page, and dated 1664. The latter date is much scarcer than that of 1661.
The fourth edition appeared in 1668. "It is a mere paginary reprint of the third, with the exception of the 'errata' which are here corrected in the work."
The fifth edition was issued in 1676 and was called "The Universal Angler, made so, by Three Books of Fishing. The first written by Mr. Izaak Walton; the second by Charles Cotton, Esq. ; the third by Col. Robert Venables." This is the fifth edition of Walton, the first of Cotton, and the fourth of Venables. Twenty pages were added to this edition and further improvements were introduced. This was the last edition published in the author's lifetime. "The union of Walton and Cotton has been perpetuated in all subsequent reprints, but Venable's treatise, which, though meritorious, be longs to another order of composition, has been excluded." Such is the History of "The First Five." The Angler's library that is built with these for a corner stone, is certainly founded upon one of the firmest rocks of English literature. Good copies of all five are in the library.
As previously stated the reprints of this famous book have been many, from absolutely facsimile copies of the "First Walton," of which there are several, two of them magnificent volumes in folio embellished with pictures by the greatest artists.
It would seem impossible for anything new in regard to such a well-known book to be discovered, yet it was the great good fortune of the owner of this library to find in 1910 in the catalog of a well-known book auctioneer in Boston, a small Walton and Cotton published by Septimus Prowett in London, in 1826. It is a small 32mo. in its original violet unlettered cloth binding. Printed on thin paper, this copy seems to be unique. Diligent inquiry both in this country and abroad has failed to find another copy or even the knowledge of its existence. It is not known or mentioned by any of the bibliographers of Walton, or to any of the collectors of Walton that the owner has been able to find. Bought
at auction in Boston, it came in a collection of trashy novels and other books of no value in a consignment from Maine and if it had not attracted the cataloger's eye by its size and the fact that it was printed on thin paper, it would have been put into a lot of "and ten others" and probably lost to sight forever. R. B. Marston, the editor of "The Fishing Gazette" of London, and undoubtedly the greatest living authority on Walton, has been most interested in this previously unknown edition, and in "The Fishing Gazette" of Dec. 30, 1911, he jokingly refers to it as follows: "So angling collectors, since you now know it, don't part with your copy of Walton by Prowett. Oh, Prowett! if you were now within hearing, you'd tell us, no doubt, you just made one for Fearing." This little volume, of course, after the "First Five" is one of the chief treasures of the library.
Scarce and interesting copies of Walton, some of which are indeed unique, are also to be found in the collection, a few of which have been mentioned on account of their rarity or interest as being unique copies. The copy of the first John Hawkins edition of 1760 is absolutely uncut and is in original or contemporary binding. It is the only copy in this condition of which the owner has seen or heard.
The first Major edition, London, 1823, is a large paper copy with the prints on India paper. This copy belonged to Bedford, the celebrated binder, was bound by him, and contains an autograph letter presenting it to him from John Major, the publisher.
Thomas Westwood in "Bibliotheca Piscatoria" speaking of this edition says: "The editor was Mr. A. Thomson, author of the 'Chronicles of London Bridge,' 1827, but the 'Introductory Essay,' a farrago of twaddle, was
written by Major himself."
In 1833 was published "The First Rennie Edition," edited by James Rennie, A. M. This edition was reprinted without change by some twenty-five different publishers at various dates from 1834 to 1857. All but eight of these reprints are in the collection
The year 1836 brought out the celebrated, so-called "Pickering Edition," two large 8vo, volumes printed by William Pickering, and edited by Sir Harry Nicholas. This was issued in two editions, one with plain plates, and one on large paper with the plates on India paper. The latter is the edition usually chosen by extra-illustrators for their labors. The library contains copies of both, also a copy extended to four volumes. The library is also the possessor of the full set of the actual drawings by Thomas Stothard, R. A., for this edition, done in color (with the exception of the "Front View" of the fishing house; in its place there is an unpublished drawing), and for which he made a special expedition to Dovedale.
One of the scarcest and most difficult Walton's to obtain is the German translation of "Ephemera's" Edition (Edward Fitz Gibbon), by I. F. Schumacher, published by P. Salomon & Co., Hamburg, 1859, the only translation of the "Compleat Angler" into a foreign language. Most of the copies of this German edition were destroyed by fire, and the book was never reprinted. The owner was over fifteen years in obtaining a copy, and in twenty-five years has seen but five copies offered at auction, and of these five one was the same copy appearing twice.
The one hundreth edition of the "Compleat Angler" is the Lea and Dove edition published in London in 1888. It is in two large volumes, folio, and is the largest Walton issued up to the present time. The editor is R.B. Marston, the proprietor and editor of the "Fishing Gazette of London." He has given us the most carefully edited and scholarly edition of Walton thus far published, and the reader will find in his notes all of interest that has been discovered concerning Walton up to the date of publication. Alongside of this, you will find for the sake of comparison, "The Compleat Angler," published by Henry Frowde in London (1900). It is known as the "thumb edition," being 2 x 1% inches in size. It
is the smallest Walton known and also the smallest book in the collection.
In special or unique copies of Walton, the library has several worthy of note, one, a copy of the large paper second Bagster edition, 1815, extended or two volumes by the insertion of over one hundred and seventy old
engravings, old portraits, colored views, sepia drawings, and colored drawings. The original drawings in sepia are of portraits unattainable otherwise and are all from authentic sources. They were done especially for this
copy by Mr. J. E. Wheeler, a celebrated "Punch" artist. The whole is a record of Izaak Walton, his haunts and friends. All his favorite authors are illustrated by contemporary and rare portraits. Most interesting is a copy of Elliot Stock's facsimile reprint of the first edition, London, 1896, with a preface by Richard Le Gallienne. This edition strangely enough is not mentioned in Wood's "Bibliography." The copy is unique, Le Gallienne's manuscript preface, with corrected proofs by Le Gallienne of the same, consisting of ten pages, being inserted and signed at the end; together with Le Gallienne's correspondence with Elliot Stock concerning this preface, eight highly interesting autograph letters,
making arrangements, stipulating as to his fee, etc.
One of the handsomest editions of Walton is the "Winchester" edition, published in London in 1902, in two quarto volumes. It is edited by George A. B. Dewar, and has an essay by Sir Edward Grey, with etchings by William Strang and D. Y. Cameron. This copy has been extended to four volumes with specially printed title-pages and illustrated by the addition of one hundred and fourteen extra illustrations. The illustrations consist of the complete series of thirty-one original pen and-ink drawings by Strang and Cameron which are reproduced in the book as head and tail pieces. (Drawings by these two artists are exceedingly rare, both being excellent etchers. Almost all their work has been
done direct on the copper, without preliminary drawings.) Also an extra set of the thirty full-page etchings, proofs signed by the artist (unpublished thus), and complete set in proof state on India paper of the beautiful plates and vignettes to Pickering's 1836 edition of the "Angler" mentioned above. It is most sumptuously bound in dark green levant morocco, very richly tooled after an original design, and inlaid on the sides with various colored morocco representing conventional river flowers, bulrushes, water lilies floating on the water, birds in the sky, etc., rich pictoral doubles inlaid in biscuit and other colored morocco showing scenes connected with Walton's life and "The Angler." Photographs of these doubles are inserted in each volume.
After the various editions of "The Angler" naturally come other books by Walton, or books concerning him and his works. A little 12mo. volume in original old brown calf, uncut, has on its title-page, the initials "I. W." and throughout the book are fifteen manuscript corrections and additions in the same precious autograph. It is a first edition of "The Life of Dr. Sanderson, by Izaak Walton, London, 1678," and was a presentation copy from him to "Jn. Merewether," whose autograph appears on the bottom margin of the title-page.
Walton wrote the preface to "Thelma and Clearchus,"a pastoral romance by John Chalkhill, London, 1683. A new edition was published in 1820 by C. Whittingham. Following the preface are the verses of Tho. Flatman "To my worthy friend Mr. Izaak Walton on the publication of this poem." At end, in place of "finis" is a delightful touch: "And here the author died and I hope the reader will be sorry."
The first bibliography of 'The Angler" was "The Chronicle of The Compleat Angler" by Thomas Westwood, London, 1864. The library owns two copies of this, one, the ordinary edition, the other, one of twenty-five copies printed on large paper. This was a presentation copy to Rev. H. N. Ellacombe, the author of "Shakespeare as an Angler," and has inserted two signed autograph letters to him from Westwood, a list of the various editions of Walton's "Lives," in his autograph, and a slip of "Errata."
A second edition of this was issued in 1883. Only two hundred copies were printed. It contained notes and additions by Thos. Satchell. This edition is very scarce though not generally known to be so. In a copy of "Twelve Sonnets and an Epilogue in memoriam, Izaak Walton, Obiit 15th, December, 1683," by T. Westwood (only twenty copies printed), presented to Elliot Stock, the publisher, is inserted an autograph letter from Westwood to Stock, saying: "I send you the Chronicle. It is a finished book in two senses, for a fire at the printer's has destroyed almost the whole stock."
Another scarce item is "The Tercentenary of Izaak Walton, by Andrew Lang, Printed for Private Circulation only, London, 1893." "A delightfully written appreciation of 'The Father of Angling' written by a master's hand." Only thirty copies were printed. "The Bibliography of Izaak Walton's 'Compleat Angler,' by Thomas Satchell (printed for presentation only), London, 1882." A limited number were printed with special title-pages. The library possesses No. 3, a presentation
copy to H. W. Bentley, and Thos. Satchel Ps own copy with his book plate. In 1900 Arnold Wood published a "Bibliography of 'The Compleat Angler' from the first edition in 1653 until the year 1900," beautifully gotten up, with eighty-six photoengraved reproductions of title pages. Eighteen copies were issued on Imperial Japan ese paper and one hundred and two on Van Gelder paper. Copies of each are in the collection.
Two very scarce pamphlets in the library are copies of the Catalog of Editions of "The Compleat Angler" exhibition at the Grolier Club in New York on the three hundredth anniversary of Walton's birth in 1893; and a "Finding list of an Exhibition of Waltoniana," at the Rowfant Club in Cleveland, in 1896.
Of equal scarcity is "A catalogue of an Exhibition of Waltoniana," given at the Club of Odd Volumes in Bos ton in 1912. Of this, only one hundred and thirty copies were printed from type at the Merrymount Press, Boston. This is entirely an exhibit of the treasures of this library.
Amongst the autographs in the collection the first place is easily held by a holograph document of Izaak Walton, eleven lines signed with his full signature, and dated, "Octo'r 23, 1676"; a beautiful example of Izaak Walton's handwriting and a very rare autograph, as he rarely signed his name in full. Another beautiful specimen is twenty-five lines in Walton's autograph signed "Iz. W.," being Sir Henry Wotton's ode to spring quoted in the "Compleat Angler." Charles Cotton is represented by three lines signed "C-C-Ton," a curious form of Cotton's signature.
Of much greater rarity than the above are seventeen lines signed "Robert Venables." The owner knows of no other example in a Waltonian Collection. Venables was the author of Part III of the fifth edition of "The Compleat Angler." Of great interest also in the original probate copy of Izaak Walton's will, dated August 9, 1683, beautifully written on a sheet of vellum, nearly three feet square and with the greater portion of the old seal still attached to it. This treasure mounted in a silver frame with glass front and back occupies a prominent place in the library. The owner had twenty-five facsimile copies made for distribution amongst friends; also twenty-five transcripts of the same in clear English print.
Many more examples of Waltoniana could be mentioned were there time and space to describe them.
The manuscript was the first portable form of transmission of men's thoughts, and in the library are manuscripts on pages of vellum containing perhaps the earliest mention of fish-ponds and the culture or raising of fish for food. The old monks who were often, if not the authors, most certainly the scribes of the manuscripts, had the liveliest kind of interest in fish and its culture, since on their many fast days, the church allowed them fish food. The earliest manuscript in the collection is undoubtedly a copy of the work of Bartholomaeus Glanville, "De proprietatibus rerum"—concerning the nature of things. It was written in 1300. This portly volume was formerly owned by the University of the Sorbonne in Paris, and was loaned to the students and scholars of Paris for a stipulated sum of money per day. This was quite on the principal of the modern circulating library. The work is in Latin and was the encyclopaedia of the middle ages. It contains one chapter on fish and fish ponds. This is the earliest material on the subject in the library.
Of almost equal date is the manuscript of Pietro de Crescenze, "Ruralium commodorum," "of rural affairs." This work was produced repeatedly by all the early printers, and indeed, the earliest printed book in the collection, is the First Edition of Crescentius, printed by Johan Schuszler in 1471. Another early edition of the same work in the library is one printed in 1474 by the celebrated John of Westphalia, at Louvain, the beautiful old seat of learning in Belgium, only recently destroyed. This work was very popular in the Middle Ages and was translated into Italian, French and German, and a copy of each is in the collection. Crescenze wrote on fish-ponds and on how to make small ponds and in
land lakes profitable. Books published before 1500 are known as "Incunabula," or "Books in their cradle." The library owns no less than fifteen of these specimens of the early bookmaker's art. First in value, naturally, comes the "Treatyse on the Art of Fysshing with an angle," from the "Book of St. Albans," by the legendary Dame Juliana Berners, and printed by the celebrated Wynkyn de Worde at Westminster, in 1496. This is the first book that treats of angling in the English language. The first printed book to contain an illustration of an angler using a float, was the "Dyalogus Creaturarum Moralizatus," printed at Gouda in 1480. The library contains copies of the 1482 and 1484 editions.
The earliest known treatise on fishing is a work in Flemish printed at Antwerp in 1492. A single copy only of this work is known to exist. It is in the library of Alfred Denison, who had a literal translation made of it and twenty-five copies printed for private distribution in 1872. The library possesses one of the twenty-five copies, also the original manuscript of the translation, together with the corrected proof sheets and revised proofs.
As regards fishing, probably the earliest mention of the subject in England occurs in "Magna Charta." The library owns a copy of this, published in 1556, which formerly belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots. It is in the original binding, showing the Tudor rose and crown. Books from Queen Mary's library are excessively rare, the late Queen Victoria even, never having been able to obtain one.
In 1651 was published a small volume called "The Art of Angling" by Thomas Barker. It is so scarce that this library does not own a copy. A reprint of it was published in 1820. Of this reprint 100 copies were issued, also four copies on straw colored paper and one on vellum. The library has one of the ordinary edition, two of the straw-colored copies, and the vellum one. Anentthis book and these copies, an interesting story, illustrating the smallness of the world, may be told. In one of the straw-colored copies, which belonged to Thomas Gosden, the celebrated English XIX Century sportsman, bibliophile and binder of angling books, and was bound by him, is a note in his autograph: "There is also one reprint on vellum, which I have. T. Gosden." Is it not strange that after one hundred years these two little volumes should come together on one shelf, never again to be separated? This Barker was a cook, who, devoted to fishing, wrote his experiences. In his second edition, published in 1653, in the epistle dedicatory, he boasts of his skill and declares he takes as much pleasure in the dressing of fish as in the taking of them, "and to show how I can perform it, to furnish any Lord's table, onely with trouts, as it is furnished with flesh, for 16 to 20 dishes. And I have a desire to preserve their health (with help of God) to go dry in their boots and shoes in angling, for age taketh the pleasure from me."
The subject of fish cookery was one that occupied a good deal of attention in the old days when the church ruled the state and the eating of fish was compulsory upon rich and poor alike. Books of many pages have been written on the various methods of cooking one fish, not to mention all fish and shell fish. One author, a Frenchman, describes 150 different methods of serving the sardine. Another, an American lady, has written five hundred pages on "how to cook fish," in which she gives "ninety-five ways to cook shad" alone. Two separate American authors or compilers have given us, "One hundred ways to prepare oysters." The lady mentioned above also wrote a book entitled, "How to cook
shell fish," in which she gives "215 ways to cook oysters," "130 ways to cook clams," "175 ways to cook lobsters," "85 ways to cook crabs," 40 ways to cook shrimps," besides numerous other shell fish. This author at the end of 303 pages of recipes for cooking shell fish, says in a note: "P. S. This is all we know about shell fish. If we should ever learn any more, it will appear in another book." There are over 100 books in the library on fish cookery, the oldest being a very scarce edition of "DeHonesta Voluptate" published in Bologna in 1499 which contains 13 pages on the "Cookery of Fish." The owner has made a collection of scrap books, now numbering over fifty, a single volume containing recipes for cooking one kind of fish. The volume on trout has been extended to two and contains over 300 different ways of serving trout, and is by no means finished yet !
Among these books on fish cookery in English, French, German and Italian, is one small curious volume entitled, "Fish for Cats, by Dog," It was published without place or date and is a collection of recipes from old cook books. The author, under the pseudonym of "Dog," says that he wishes to "alleviate, in the smallest measures, the agonies of Lent in 1868."
Perhaps a quotation from the introduction to "A Handbook of Fish Cookery," by Lucy H. Yates, London, 1897, may fitly end these remarks on fish cook books. "Ignorance * * * will generally be found to be the cause of the aversion which many housewives have to the cooking of fish * * * the poorer classes still regard fish as 'nothing to make a meal of * * *and many people who would really enjoy eating it are debarred from doing so by its being invariably badly cooked, or presented always in the same monotonous dress." The everlasting boil, broil, fry or bake, of the English and American cook, certainly makes one long for the delicate and tasty sauces and methods of preparing fish of our French and Italian cousins.
In 1758 there was published a book called "The Anglers." It was published anonymously, and consisted of eight dialogues in verse. This first edition is very scarce and even as far back as 1820 was so little known that the whole eight cantos were deliberately reprinted by Thos. 0. Lathy without any acknowledgment whatever and called "The Angler." "This book is one of the worst cases of literary plagiarism known. It was palmed off on Gosden, the sporting bookseller, whose portrait by A. Cooper, R. A., is prefixed. He paid £30 for the copyright and also printed a single copy on vellum, at an expense of £10 for the vellum alone, as he himself states in a manuscript note to a sales catalog." Besides this copy on vellum, twenty copies were printed in quarto, in addition to the ordinary edition. The library owns the single copy on vellum, most expensively bound by Gosden himself and with his book plate and manuscript notes; also a copy of the quarto edition and of the ordinary one; also a copy of the original work of 1758. The original edition of 1758 has by now been exclusively attributed to Dr. Thomas Scott, a dissenting minister of Ipswich. The preface, entitled "The Bookseller to the Reader," contains a curious justification of angling, perhaps worth repeating: "To a man of any compass of thought and experience in the world it is well known that angling is not a mere recreation, but a business, a business which employeth most orders, professions and occupations among men. For instance, we booksellers angle for authors, and authors angle for a dinner or for fame. Again, doth not the lawyer angle
for clients, the doctor for a fee, the divine for preferment, the statesman for secrets, the courtier for a pension, and the needy for a place? Further, what is he who offereth a bribe, but a fisher for another man's conscience? And what is he who taketh a bribe but the silly fish that is caught with the bait?"
In the 17th Century in England, men's minds were much more turned to religion than in the present, and many books were written on common every-day subjects that were really religious works. Of this class of book, the scarcest is "A Booke of Angling or Fishing," by Dr..Samuel Gardiner, published in London, in 1606. Of this book, only three copies are known to exist, one in the Bodleian Library, one formerly in the Huth collection, recently dispersed at auction, and its final purchaser not known, and the third is in this library. The history of this copy has been impossible to trace. It was discovered by the buyer for a London bookseller in the west of England. With others of its kind, the majority of which are very scarce, it may be called "Fishing Spiritualized."
The English poets contain much of interest to the angler, as many have written in praise or description of the sport. Among the earliest is Michael Drayton, from whom indeed Walton may have obtained his idea of the colloquial form of the "Compleat Angler." In Drayton's 6th "Nymphal," the subject is a discussion between a woodman, a fisherman and a shepherd, each holding to the superior merits of his own vocation. Drayton's other poems contain many allusions to fish and fishing.
William Browne in his "Britannia's pastorals" writes so charmingly of the angler that one feels he must have loved the art himself.
Our friend, Charles Cotton, of sainted memory, wrote "Poems on several occasions" in 1689, which are filled with his favorite subject and friend, angling and Walton. John Gay in his "Rural Sports," 1713, comes well into our list. Thomas Heyrick is another who wrote frequently on the subject and in one of his poems, "A Pindaresque ode in praise of angling," he not only praises angling, but abuses in vehement fashion those who do not angle.
"Windsor Forest," a poem by Alexander Pope, first published in 1713, contains the well-known lines begin ning "In genial spring * * *. The patient fisher takes his silent stand." James Thomson in his "The Seasons" has a passage of nearly fifty lines which shows the skill of the angler equally with that of the poet, Many were the lesser lights who burst forth into poetry in praise of angling, and there are also many Italian, a few French, a very few German, many Latin and a few Greek poems that bear directly on our subject.
The later and more modern classical authors have, many of them, been admirers of the art of angling and many also anglers themselves. The seventh part of Washington Irving's "Sketch Book" contains his delight ful appreciation of the art, called "The Angler." The library possesses a copy of the first edition in the original seven parts with the original paper covers bound in and an autograph letter of Irving inserted.
Sir Walter Scott in 1821 wrote a preface and notes for a new edition of Richard Franck's "Northern Memoirs," which first appeared in 1694. In the library, by the side of this edition, rests Scott's original manuscript.
Another interesting manuscript, is one of thirty-nine pages, entitled "My First Trout," written by Charles Dudley Warner and dated May 6, 1897. George Washington, himself, was a keen angler, and a little pamphlet by Dr. George H. Moore, entitled "Washington as an Angler," has been extra-illustrated for the library by the insertion of a manuscript inscription of presentation from the author, many portraits of Washington, and a fine autograph letter signed by
George Washington. Our good President Grover Cleveland was a keen angler and fisherman. He wrote a very clever little brochure entitled, "A Defense of Fishermen." A very few copies of this were privately printed for distribution among the author's friends (not over twenty at most were issued). The library has a copy, presented by the author, with a charming autograph letter to the owner, and signed by him, inserted. Other statesmen who were fishermen and who wrote on the subject were John Quincy Adams, De Witt Clinton and Daniel Webster. The latter was a noted trout fisherman, but his writings on the subject are entirely in the form of letters to various friends. The library owns the trout rod with which he was accustomed to whip the streams of Cape Cod in the latter years of his life. Andrew Lang, Weir Mitchell, and Dr. Van Dyke all loved the art, and presentation copies of the books they wrote are among the library's treasures.
The library is particularly rich in illustrated books, from what are probably the earliest known pictures of fish in the "Dyalogus," in 1480, mentioned above (the library has framed a woodcut, contemporaneously colored from a religious history of the world published several years earlier and said to be the earliest printed picture of fishing), to the most modern work of the illustrator and engraver of the 20th century. Among so many it is possible to mention but one or two. First, of course, would naturally come the water colors of Stothard mentioned above. Then perhaps comes Eleazar Albin's own copy of his work on "Esculent Fish," originally published in 1794, with 18 plates colored by hand. This copy has sixty full-page water color drawings by Albin. It was his evident intention, from the accompanying notes, to issue another volume, which, however, was never published, and these were the drawings he made for that purpose.
Mrs. Bowdich's "Fresh-water Fishes of Great Britain," London, 1828, a very rare and valuable work of which only fifty copies were issued, contains forty-seven plates of fish, drawn from life and colored by hand.
A copy of Elliot Stock's facsimile reprint of "Dame Barnes' Treatyse of Fysshing with an angle" belonged to Richard Doyle, and he began to illustrate it in color, but left it unfinished. The first few leaves have ten original, humorous and exceedingly clever illustrations in color by Richard Doyle and many other illustrations sketched out in pencil. This interesting book was bought by Thomas Satchell in 1885 at an exhibition of illustrators work in Bond St., London, and contains his book plate, a receipt for 50 guineas which he paid for it and an insurance receipt for the same amount on the book while on exhibition.
"The Fly Fishers Guide," by Geo. C. Bainbridge, London, 1816, is the author's own copy and contains his book-plate. It is one of ten copies in quarto cloth which were issued for presents and colored with greater care. Another work, of which the owner has never seen another copy, is "The Fishing Costume" of Hartlepool, London, 1819, a very scarce book with six most charmingly engraved and colored plates.
Speaking of "The Genteel Recreation or The Pleasure of Angling, a poem," by John Whitney, London, 1700, and reprinted in 1820, "Bibliotheca Piscatoria" says, "100 copies were reprinted, copies of it are rare. The original edition does not appear to have been published." The library owns a copy and there is another copy in the New York Public Library. The library owns a copy also of the 1820 reprint. At the sale of the Heckscher collection the only book that Bernard Quaritch, the famous bookseller of London, bid on, was: "Certaine experiments concerning fish and fruite: practiced by John Taverner, Gentleman," London, 1600. That copy is in the library and is the only one the owner knows of in this country.
Another volume that seems to have almost disappeared is the "Ichthyologia Ohiensis ; or, natural history of the fishes inhabiting the River Ohio, " Lexington, Kentucky, 1820. Of this book only eight copies are known to survive, one of which is in the library.
It would be possible to go on indefinitely, picking out books here and there that are unique or scarce, for it has been the policy of the library, whenever possible, to obtain a presentation copy of each book. Where that has not been possible, there have been inserted, when they could be found, autograph letters by each author, together with any interesting newspaper clippings such as notices of the book, obituary notices of the author, etc.
As regards the books published during the last six or seven years, many of the authors have been kind enough, knowing the library by reputation, to send complimentary autographed copies to it. Only one author has refused to put his autograph in his own book when requested by the owner of the library. The majority have done more and have added some sentiment or complimentary remark regarding the library. The kindly gentleman who refused hated Americans and wrote the gentleman who sent him the book to be autographed for the owner, "that he considered it a * * * piece of American impudence to ask such a favor." He little appreciated that as many, if not more, copies of his book
were being purchased by those * * * Americans, as by his own countrymen. In over twenty-five years of ardent collecting this is only the second case of churlish rudeness the owner has met with. The other, it is sad to state, was a fellow countryman from the middle West. Besides the books on the subjects of the library, there is a very large collection of books on whaling. In the early part of the nineteenth century New York lawyers argued long and earnestly on the subject, "Is the whale a fish?" Though we all know now that it is a mammal, the subject is so nearly allied, always being referred to as "The Whale Fishery," that a most interesting portion of the library is taken up with that subject. This comprises colored and plain prints, engravings and etchings, photographs and charts, besides several hundred volumes in different languages, together with a few manuscripts and many log books. Among the manuscripts may be
mentioned the original of "The Journal of a Voyage to the Northern Whale-Fishery * * * made in 1822 in the Ship Baffin of Liverpool, by William Scoresby, Jr.," and an appendix; with interlineations and erasures, bound up with the title-page and text of the first edition, published in 1823. Inserted, also, is a clipping concerning the manuscript from a Boston paper, of contemporary date. The old log books are of particular interest. They were usually written by the captain of the whaler, who used a wooden rubber stamp depicting a whale, and if said whale was killed, the stamp appears lengthwise on the page and in a blank space on his side was written in the number of barrels of oil he tried out; but if he escaped, a stamp showing only his tail was used perpendicularly.
In conjunction with this whaling collection, there is a complete collection of all the lances, spades, bombs and guns used in the capture and chase of the whale; also a very fine collection of scrimshaw, as the etched and carved work done by the whalers on whale teeth, is called. Many teeth are beautifully engraved with whaling scenes, battle scenes of the war of 1812, portraits, etc. Three very valuable ones, charming in design and color, are the work of Edward G. Malbone, the celebrated miniature painter, done in his youth. They represent the heathen gods and goddesses. The remainder of the set the owner has never been able to trace. Included amongst this scrimshaw is a fine collection of buskbones as worn by our ancestresses, made from whale bone and ivory and beautifully engraved; also a large collection of jiggers or pie crust cutters, also made from whale ivory by the whalers.
Another very interesting part of the collection consists of the prints, which number several thousand, all on the subject of angling or fishing, or containing persons angling or fishing. They date back from the earliest woodcuts to the latest work of the modern illustrator and engraver. There are many volumes of colored illustrations of fish alone, done by various artists in various lands, notably 246 examples done by a Chinese artist on rice paper and most artistically drawn and colored. The late Professor Agassiz told the owner he considered them the most beautiful examples of fish portraiture he had ever seen. As a companion to this is a book of Indian fishes drawn and colored by a native East
Indian, but in no way so fine and noticeable.
The library contains probably a greater number of English "Acts" and French "Arrets" on the subject of "fisheries," together with Danish, Dutch, German, Italian, Norwegian and Swedish government acts and laws, with a few Russian, than any other single library. The library contains one superb example of the Finnish laws, in folio, each page engraved, print and borders of fish and game, made in 1709, with an English translation in manuscript on each opposite page done in 1720.
It contains a virtually complete set of the publications of the U. S. Bureau of Fisheries up to 1912, and almost complete sets of all the various state publications on the subject up to the same date. One interesting part of the
library is the collection of illustrated post cards on angling, fishing, fisheries and fish, with many comic ones, amounting in all to nearly 5,000 examples, including a small volume of French ones, which play on the word
"peche" and the verb "pecher," but which are not kept for general sight. Enough has been said, however, to bear out the motto painted over the fireplace in the library:
"Whatever the wind, whatever the tide,
Here is good fishing by this fire-side."
This motto was suggested to the owner after reading Eugene Field's delightful little essay on "Fender Fishing," in the "Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac," and so, "To those who love quiet, virtue and angling—this for Farewell."
*Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, Flemish, French, German, Greek, Hindostanee, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Norwegian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish.