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Till your kind hand unveiled her lovely face,
The classic reader, when he recollects the story of Phidias, will easily acknowledge the propriety of the encomium passed on Mr. Walton, who secured immortal fame to himself, while he conferred it upon others. That divine artist, having finished his famous statue of Minerva, with the most consummate exquisiteness of skill, afterward impressed his own image so deeply on her buckler, that it could not be effaced without destroying the whole work.
The beauties of “Thealma and Clearchus,” and the character of the author, are not unaptly described in the editor's own language. He intimates in the Preface, that “the reader will find what the title declares, a Pastoral History, in smooth and easy verse; and will in it find many hopes and fears finely painted and feelingly expressed. And he will find the first so often disappointed, when fullest of desire and expectation; and the latter so often, so strangely, and so unexpectedly relieved by an unforeseen Providence, as may beget in him wonder and amazement.” He adds, that “the reader must here also meet with passions heightened by easy and fit descriptions of joy and sorrow ; and find also such various events and rewards of innocent truth and undissembled honesty, as is like to leave in him (if he be a good-natured reader) more sympathizing and virtuous impressions than ten times so much time spent in impertinent, critical, and needless disputes about religion.” Mr. Chalkhill died before he had perfected even the fable of his poem. He was a man generally known in his time, and as 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. So amiable were the manners, so truly excellent the character of all those, whom Izaak Walton honored with his regard.
When Leoniceni, one of the most profound scholars in Italy, in the fifteenth century, was asked by what art he had, through a period of ninety years, preserved a sound memory, perfect senses, an upright body, and a vigorous health, he answered, “by innocence, serenity of mind, and temperance.” Izaak Walton, having uniformly enjoyed that happy tranquillity, which is the natural concomitant of virtue, came to the grave in a full age, “like as a shock of corn cometh in his season.”
“So would I live, such gradual death to find,
He died during the time of the great frost, on the fifteenth day of December, 1683, at Winchester, in the prebendal house of Dr. William Hawkins, his son-in-law, whom he loved as his own son. It was his express desire, that his burial might be near the place of his death, privately, and free from any ostentation or charge. On the stone which covers his remains within the cathedral of that city these lines are yet extant.
“Here resteth the body of
“Alas! he's gone before,
Our panting breasts aspire
votis MoDEstis sic FLERUNT LIBERI.”
He survived his wife many years. She died in 1662, and was buried in our Lady's Chapel, in the Cathedral of Worcester. In the north wall is placed a small oval monument of white marble, on which is the following inscription, written, no doubt, by her affectionate husband.
“Ex — — — terris
He had one son, Isaac, who never married, and a daughter Anne, the wife of Dr. William Hawkins, a prebendary in the church of Winchester, and rector of Droxford in Hampshire. Dr. William Hawkins left a son William, and a daughter Anne. The latter died unmarried. The son, who was a serjeant at law, and author of the well-known treatise of “The Pleas of the Crown,” lived and died in the Close of Sarum. He published a short account of the life of his great uncle in 1713, and also his works in 1721, under the title of “The Works of the right reverend, learned, and pious Thomas Ken, D. D., late Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells. 4 vols.” These works include only Ken's poetical compositions, which do not merit any great encomium, though they are written in a strain of real piety and devotion. This William Hawkins had a son and three daughters, the eldest of whom, Mrs. Hawes, relict of the Rev. Mr. Hawes, rector of Bemerton, is the only surviving person of that generation.
I have omitted to enumerate among the friends of our biographer, Dr. George Morley, Bishop of Winchester, and Dr. Seth Ward, Bishop of Salisbury. To be esteemed, to be caressed by men of such comprehensive learning and extraordinary abilities, is honorable indeed. They were his choicest and most confidential companions. After the Restoration, he and his daughter had apartments constantly reserved for them in the houses of these two prelates. Here he spent his time in that mutual reciprocation of benevolent offices, which constitutes the blessedness of virtuous friendship. He expe