(London: John Major, 1824). 165 x 102 mm. (6 1/2 x 4"). lviii, 416 pp.With an introductory essay, the Linnæan arrangement of river fish, illustrative notes, and general index. Second Major Edition.
HANDSOME HONEY-BROWN CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT, BY BAYNTUN for C. E. Lauriat of Boston (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with square-lobed frame of four gilt rules, vignette centerpiece showing an angler and his dog, raised bands, spine compartments with geometric frame, gilt titling, gilt-framed turn-ins, morocco hinges, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. In a brown cloth slipcase. With 14 copper plates on India paper, with original tissue guards, and 77 woodcuts in the text. Oliver 23; Coigney 25. Isolated small marginal spots, other trivial imperfections, but AN EXTREMELY FINE COPY--clean, fresh, and bright internally, and the lustrous binding entirely unworn.
With its appealing binding, charming illustrations, extensive notes, and beautiful condition, this is an extremely desirable copy of Walton's beloved classic. Walton (1593-1683) lived in turbulent times, and he suffered personal tragedy (he endured the deaths of both his wives and eight of his nine children), but, largely because of the present work, he is forever identified with quietude and serenity. First published in 1653, his "Compleat Angler" is the classic work on the art of angling, infused with wise fish lore, written by an indomitable angler who knew every haunt of fresh water fish in the south of England. But, as Day says, "the love of angling is only the outward sign of a gentle inward grace, the soul of a thoroughly good man who loves peace and quiet meditation. If any one man created the idyll of the English countryside, it was Walton. The modern reader may shake his head at Walton's complete absence of 'social consciousness' and the perplexing conundrums of men and life; but the headshaking is ultimately stilled by the naïve genius who evokes with all the charm of an old woodcut an England of sweet streams, smiling fields, cheery taverns, and unshakable faith in God and His wonderful world." The present copy comes from an important edition, being the first issued by John Major (1782-1849). It includes "the notes of all previous editors carefully revised and amended" (Oliver) and was lavishly illustrated by some of the best artists of the day, including Huysman and Lely. The notes were ably edited by Richard Thomson (1794-1865), Librarian of the London Institution and respected scholar. The attractive binding captures the tranquility of the work beautifully, and the accomplished workmanship is characteristic of the Bayntun Bindery of Bath, founded in 1894 and now the last of the great Victorian trade binderies still in family ownership. (ST16369b)