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PREFACE TO THE READER.
It will be necessary to observe, that a more full and particular account of several of our English divines and other eminent persons mentioned in this volume might easily have been introduced. But such a detail would have far exceeded the bounds of my plan, which was only to intersperse some traits of their characters, some short extracts from, or references to their works, sufficient to incite in the reader a desire of acquiring a more intimate knowledge of them, by a diligent examination of their writings, or a more enlarged inquiry into their lives.
I CANNOT excuse myself from declaring that I retain the most lively fentiments of gratitude for those many instances of kindness with which, in the prosecution of this work, I have been favoured by several gentlemen of distinguished character in the republic of letters.
The nave, transept or cross-ailes, with the chancel of the church of Leighton Bromeswold, when viewed in the year 1794, were in a state of decay, and great neglect. I am authorised, however, to say, that John Norris, Esq. of Magdalen College, in Oxford, lord of the manor of Leighton, and patron of the vicarage, intends, in concurrence with the parishioners, to restore the dilapidated parts of the fabric to their former strength and beauty.
CONCERNING THE NEW CHURCH DISCIPLINE, IN A LETTER FROM MR. GEORGE
CRANMER, TO MR. HOOKER
THE LIFE OF MR. ISAAC WALTON.
PRESENT not to the reader the history of a wise statesman, an adventurous
soldier, or a profound philosopher. Yet I trust, that he will experience no small degree of satisfaction from contemplating the virtues of a private citizen; who, though he arrogates not to himself the splendour of high descent, or the pride of superfluous wealth, deserves our approbation and regard. Ifaac, or as he usually wrote his name, Izaac Walton, adorned with a guileless fimplicity of manners, claims from every good man the tribute of applause. It was his ambition (and surely a more honourable ambition cannot be excited in the human breast) to commend to the reverence of posterity the merits of those excellent persons, whose comprehensive learning and exalted piety will ever endear them to our memories.
The important end of historical knowledge is a prudent application of it to ourselves, with a view to regulate and amend our own conduct. As the examples of men strictly and faithfully discharging their professional duties must obviously tend to invigorate our efforts to excel in moral worth, the virtuous characters, which are so happily delineated in the following pages, cannot fail, if considered with serious attention, of producing the most beneficial and lasting impressions on the mind.
The Life of the Author of this biographical collection was little diversified with events. He was born of a respectable family, on the ninth day of August, 1593, in the parish of St. Mary's, in the town of Stafford'. Of his father no particular tradition is extant. From his mother he derived an hereditary attachment to the Protestant religion, as professed in the Church B
a " September 1593. Baptiz. fuit Ifaac filius Jervis Walton, XX° die mensis et anni prae diet."-(Register of St. Mary's, in the town of Stafford.)