« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
must have been other risks to which The Complete Angler was exposed, not much less fatal, though of far gentler origin, than the odium theologicum itself.
Such a volume as Walton's must have commended itself at once and infallibly to contemplative and religiously disposed persons, whether members or not of the gentle craft for whom, ostensibly, it was intended. This was a book, not to be placed in the safe companionship of worthy but unread books, but if the owner were a bond-fide Angler, to be pushed into corners of fishing baskets, crammed into well-filled pockets, hugged over running stream or deep and shady pool, thrown down anywhere in the excitement of a bite, and exposed to all the many perils by land and water known to beset the small properties of that class of men who "hate contentions, and love quietnesse, and vèrtue, and Angling.” If, on the other hand, as was probably the more frequent case, the original owner of a copy of the first edition shared only those mental characteristics of the proverbial angler which led him to “hate contentions, and love quietnesse, and vertue," he might be expected to have the book about with him constantly; and, the placid, nature-loving, contemplative mind being seldom associated with punctilious carefulness, his copy would do well if it lasted its owner's lifetime.
But whatever may be the reasons of this scarcity, such is, and is ever likely to be, the popularity of the book itself, and such the excellence of moral repose, contemplativeness, and genuine religious spirit presented by the mind of the author, that it is of real importance to know in what form the immortal Angler first offered his thoughts to the reading and angling public; and the hearty encouragement accorded to the undertaking of reprinting in fac-simile the first edition of The Pilgrim's Progress induces the publisher to issue also a fac-simile of this choice masterpiece of English literature. Here, as in the former case, it is to the kindness of R. S. Holford, Esq., that the publisher owes the opportunity of reproducing the extremely scarce original; and the present is a fitting opportunity for acknowledging the courtesy of that gentleman.
It is hardly necessary to call attention in detail to the many notable peculiarities of the book in the form now reproduced; but it may be worth while to point out the curious square notes in the music at pages 216 and
217, and to offer an explanation of what, at first sight, might appear to be a mischance in placing page 217.
That page, in the original as in the present reproduction, is upside down; but there can be but little doubt that it was so printed on purpose to enable two persons singing the air and second part to read the music with the book between them while standing face to face,-a practical reason highly probable in connection with what was evidently meant for a practically useful book.
Some of the types used in printing the first edition are altogether obsolete: to save all risk of departure from the exact form, these, as well as the sharp vigorous little cuts of fish, and the very tasteful title-page, have been reproduced by a photographic process which is simply infallible; and the publisher has not neglected any available mechanical means to secure an absolute fac-simile of the original book.