And why not have "The Compleat Angler" instead -- as the source of many a SCA-like irritating alternate spelling? I guess excerpts from a book that says "Compleat" is too much of a tease. And I'd probably be complaining about how I don't know how to fish, either. (Teach a man to fish, of course, and he can read from the Harvard Classics forever, or so I've been told.)
What we get in our excerpt is the rise of the young George Herbert. Actually Walton seems more interested in his mom, and one can see why: she was widowed with 10 children and became good friends in middle age with John Donne. On the other hand, when her eldest went to Oxford, she moved in with him:
yet she continued there with him, and still kept him in a moderate awe of herself, and so much under her own eye, as to see and converse with him daily: but she managed this power over him without any such rigid sourness as might make her company a torment to her child; but with such a sweetness and compliance with the recreations and pleasures of youth, as did incline him willingly to spend much of his time in the company of his dear and careful mother; which was to her great content: for she would often say, “That as our bodies take a nourishment suitable to the meat on which we feed; so our souls do as insensibly take in vice by the example or conversation with wicked company:”Mo-om! Imagine how pleased she was when young Georgie, at seventeen, sends her a poem that ends
Why should I women's eyes for crystal take?Nowadays a parent would be worried about sentiments like these.
Such poor invention burns in their low mind
Whose fire is wild, and doth not upward go
To praise, and on thee, Lord, some ink bestow.
Open the bones, and you shall nothing find
In the best face but filth.
I was about to write, "just when his life gets interesting the excerpt ends," but in truth Herbert's life never got interesting -- he fell from favor at court, retired to a small parish, and died of TB. So, preferring the life to the work, let's end with his "Easter Wings":
Lord, Who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
O let me rise,
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day Thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.