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The Compleat Angler
Or the Contemplative Man's Recreation

by Izaak Walton

Commendatory Verses

Chap. I. A Conference betwixt an Angler, a Faulkner, and a Hunter, each Commending his Recreation

Chap. II. Observations of the Otter and Chub

Chap. III. How to fish for, and to dresse the Chauender or Chub

Chap. IV. Observations of the nature and breeding of the Trout, and how to fish for him. And the Milk-maids Song

Chap. V. More directions how to fish for, and how to make the Trout an artificial Minnow and Fly, and some merriment

Chap. VI. Observations of the Umber or Grayling, and directions how to fish for them

Chap. VII. Observations of the Salmon, with directions how to fish for him

Chap. VIII. Observations of the Luce or Pike, with directions how to fish for him

Chap. IX. Observations of the Carp, with directions how to fish for him

Chap. X. Observations of the Bream, and directions to catch him

Chap. XI. Observations of the Tench, and advice how to angle for him

Chap. XII. Observations of the Pearch, and directions how to fish for him

Chap. XIII. Observations of the Eele, and other fish that want scales, and how to fish for them

Chap. XIV. Observations of the Barbel, and directions how to fish for him

Chap. XV. Observations of the Gudgion, the Ruff and the Bleak, and how to fish for them

Chap. XVI. Is of nothing

Chap. XVII. Of Roach and Dace, and how to fish for them. And of Cadis

Chap. XVIII. Of the Minnow or Penk, of the Loach, and of the Bull-head or Millers-thumb

Chap. XIX. Of several Rivers, and some Observations of Fish

Chap. XX. Of Fish-ponds, and how to order them

Chap. XXI. Directions for making of a Line, and for the colouring of both Rod and Line



Walton’s treatise on fishing was printed five times in the seventeenth century. It was first published in 1653 with an engraved title-page and engravings of six fishes in the text. The second edition of 1655 contains many alterations and additions to the text, the number of pages being increased from 246 to 355, and the number of chapters from 13 to 21. Seven commendatory poems were prefixed. Four engravings of fishes were added. The third edition was printed in 1661 and re-issued in 1664, with a new title-page. A commendatory poem by Brome previously printed is omitted, and there are a few alterations in the text. The most considerable additions are the "Postscript touching the Lawes of Angling" and the Index. The fourth edition was printed in 1668 and closely followed the third. The fifth edition, printed in 1676, introduced further changes. The text was revised and minor alterations made throughout. Considerable additions were also made, the length of the text being increased by 20 pages. The copper-plates were re-engraved. Further, the Second Part by Charles Cotton was added for the first time. Sometimes the sheets were bound up with a third work, the fourth edition of The Experience’d Angler by Colonel Robert Venables, a general title-page, The Universal Angler, being prefixed to the whole.

The Compleat Angler

was reprinted 10 times in the eighteenth century, about 117 times in the nineteenth century, and between 30 and 40 times in the twentieth century. Of a single edition published by Cassell & Co. in 1886, 80,000 copies had been sold by 1914. The text of the fifth edition, 1676, has usually been followed, and the principal editors have been Moses Browne (1750), Sir John Hawkins (1760), John Major (1823), Sir Harris Nicolas (1836), Bethune (1847), R. B. Marston (1888), and R. le Gallienne (1897).

In the present volume the text has been taken from the fourth edition of 1668.

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