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conclude, in another number, with a view of his style and manner, and the character which he has impressed upon his work; a view which necessarily embraces his particular beauties and defects.
ART. IX. Northern Memoirs, calculated for the Meridian of Scotland: wherein most or all of the Cities, Citadels, Seaports, Castles, Forts, Fortresses, Rivers, and Rivulets, are compendiously described. Together with choice Collections of various Discoveries, Remarkable Observations, Theological Notions, Political Axioms, National Intrigues, Polemick Inferences, Contemplations, Speculations, and several curious and industrious Inspections, lineally drawn from Antiquaries, and other noted and intelligible persons of honour and eminency. To which is added, The Contemplative and Practical Angler, by way of Diversion. With a Narrative of that dextrous and mysterious Art, experimented in England, and perfected in more remote and solitary Parts of Scotland. By way of Dialogue, Writ in the year 1658, but not till now made publick, by Richard Franck, Philanthropus.
London, Printed for the Author. To be sold by Henry Mortclock, at the Phenix, in St. Paul's Church-yard. 1694.
Captain Richard Franck, a Cromwellian trooper, and a gentle brother of the angle, drew the sword and flourished the rod about the latter end of the seventeenth century. He lived, as he himself gives out, a short time at Cambridge, but to very little mental profit if we may give credence to the many complaints of want of education murmured throughout his book. He does not tell us how his thirst remained unquenched at the spring-head. After this he is supposed to have resided for a considerable time at Nottingham, but whether as a soldier, a fisherman, or a merchant, we are at a loss to determine. Certain it is, he spent much of this time by the side of the silver silent Trent," for he speaks of it with the enthusiasm of a true haunter of its marge, and celebrates it manfully in fifty different places. It may be gathered from his pages, that he at one time served in the parliament cavalry during the Scottish wars, but whether before or after his residence at Nottingham it is impossible to say.-The few incidents of his life, indeed, which we are able to detect, are so distanced by
Time, that it is vain to attempt to place them however, is pretty well settled-for our fighting and fishing captain after writing two books-the one entitled Rabbi Moses, and stated to be " writ in America, in a time of solitude;" the other, Northern Memoirs-the flowery, fantastic work now before us-died somewhere about 1694 of a good old age, a complaint of which we verily believe most honest and gentle anglers commonly perish!
This scanty account of Captain Richard Franck is taken from a shrewd and pithy preface prefixed to a republication of the Northern Memoirs, lately printed in Edinburgh. The book is so flowery in its pictures of Scotland, that we only wonder it has escaped a reprint so long: the Scotch love to read of Scotland, and the Northern Memoirs surely offer a goodly profit, if only pulled off for exportation. The preface to this reprint is clearly of Scottish extraction (indeed we have heard it confidently attributed to the pen of Sir Walter Scott)-if no other proof were to be found, the following passage would make out its origin.
"Franck's contests with salmon are painted to the life, and his directions to the angler are generally given with great judgement. Walton's practice was entirely confined to bait-fishing, and even Cotton, his disciple and follower, though accustomed to fish trout in the Dove, with artificial fly, would have been puzzled by a fish (for so the salmon is called, par excellence, in most parts of Scotland), of twenty pounds weight; both being alike strangers to that noble branch of the art, which exceeds all other uses of the angling rod, as much as fox-hunting excels hare-hunting."
We have more than once met with this boasted Scottish monopoly of salmon-fishing. In an early number of a northern magazine, one of its contributors, in its accustomed extravagance of style, vaunted of the toil of salmon-fishing in his country, and of the utter inability of poor weak Southrons to compass the sport. How! Does the salmon only leap in the north countrie? Is that fish sacred to Scottish waters, and Scottish rods and lines? Is the Severn emptied of salmons? Is the Thames only a brook for dace? We have seen menaye, good men and anglers-standing in the rapid waters above Shrewsbury Town toiling in the true salmon line-aye, marry, and we have heard of English fishermen braving fatigue and mastering a fish of twenty pounds, with as untiring a spirit and as steady a wrist, as ever wrestled with fish by northern river. We know not how the preface writer comes to assert of Cotton and Walton, that" both were alike strangers to that noble branch of the art," (salmon-fishing). Walton, in his chapter on this "branch of the art," speaks of going out
fishing with Oliver Henley, now with God, and after observing upon a way Master Oliver had of making his lob-worm a dainty relish, he says: "he has been observed, both by others and myself, to catch more fish than I or any other body that has ever gone a fishing could do, and especially salmons." At any rate, Master Henley, with his worms scented with oil of ivy-berries, would have taken the river with the pen-fisherman in the north, and have pulled in, with an angler's ease, a fish as big as a bonassus. It is really laughable to hear a person hectoring about a salmon of twenty pounds, when it is by no means an uncommon thing to take a pike of that size.
Nevertheless, the introductory remarks of the editor are plainly and unaffectedly written, and we seldom remember to have seen a book which more required a master of the ceremonies to introduce it to the reader. It is writ in a wild bombastic style, and treats of angling, politics, and religion, now alternately-and " now, altogether," as Mr. Puff describes his martial prayer. At the end of every six or eight pages, the author breaks out into a fit of stark prose madness about fragrant banks, golden stars, enamelled dells, and verdant coverings; and not until he has raved himself clear of his extremely saffron mornings and extra gilt evenings, and not until his flowers have yielded him a rich double-distilled description, can he betake himself soberly to his rod and line, or pursue his more orderly course from Carlisle to Glasgow, or thence on to "dirty Dumblain." The book professes to give an account of the cities, towns, and rivers of Scotland, mixed up with choice collections of various discoveries, remarkable observations, theological notions, polemic inferences, &c. &c. together with instructions to the contemplative angler. Captain Franck pledges himself to this extent in his title-page; and the anxiety to redeem this liberal pledge, is doubtless the cause of an occasional rich confusion in parts of the book,-where the line becomes entangled in the weeds of theology, and remarkable observations get disordered by polemic inferences; and political axioms break in among fishing contemplations; and where, in short, Oliver Cromwell's stiff old angler stands lost and confounded amidst his own multifarious and distracting speculations. As his subjects thicken upon him, his language swells to the task of competing with them all, and hence we may account for the occasional superfine style, to which the Captain often ascends, and the utter break down which so frequently happens to his poor, crazy, overloaded prose. If authors were often to resemble Franck in his style, it would be found necessary to licence the English language not to carry more than four subjects inside, and six out; and even this limit would not insure a very secure journey. We rather think
that the author who rides in a sulky, is the most likely to get on with his business: Mercantile houses so send their travellers out, and it is found the most safe, unincumbered, and expeditious mode.
The Northern Memoirs, in order, we presume, to match with the bouquet of subjects which the body of the work contains, is enriched with four dedications, three author's prefaces, ("more first words of Mr. Baxter')—and four separate bunches of recommendatory verses. The first dedication is "To Mr. J. W. merchant of London," and in it the writer is for a time tolerably reasonable in his account of himself, and of his motives for writing the book; but, in speaking of Scotland, he rather suddenly forgets himself, and rushes into the following rhapsody :
"For you are to consider, sir, that the whole tract of Scotland is but one single series of admirable delights, notwithstanding the prejudicate reports of some men that represent it otherwise. For if eye-sight be argument convincing enough to confirm a truth, it enervates my pen to describe Scotland's curiosities, which properly ought to fall under a more elegant stile to range them in order for a better discovery. For Scotland is not Europe's umbra, as fictitiously imagined by some extravagant wits: No, it's rather a legible fair draught of the beautiful creation, drest up with polished rocks, pleasant savanas, flourishing dales, deep and torpid lakes, with shady fir-woods, immerged with rivers and gliding rivulets; where every fountain overflows a valley, and every ford super-abounds with fish. Where also the swelling mountains are covered with sheep, and the marish grounds strewed with cattle, whilst every field is filled with corn, and every swamp swarms with fowl. This, in my opinion, proclaims a plenty, and presents Scotland a kingdom of prodigies and products too, to allure foreigners, and entertain travellers."
The second Dedication "To the Virtuosos of the Rod in the British metropolis, the famous City of London," is "high fantastical." In truth the pen of Captain Richard Franck throws a long line!
The third Dedication is "To the Academicks in Cambridge, the place of my Nativity." And here Captain Francks, conscious of the erudite persons he is addressing, takes an opportunity of advancing upon the style of his merchant's and his virtuoso's dedications; and tropes, figures, and metaphors, become "as plenty as noun-substantives."
The last Dedication-(by the way it is a perfect puzzle to us to conjecture what portion of the book Captain Richard can possibly have remaining to give away)—is "To the Gentlemen Piscatorians inhabiting in or near the sweet situations of Nottingham, North of Trent." And herein the author does not
quite dress himself up in his usual May-day finery. The fol lowing passage is pleasant and reasonable.
"In those florid fields, near the fords of Trent, I frequently wandered up and down to crop the buds of experience; yet I plundered no man's orchard to enrich my arbory, nor borrowed I other men's labours to adorn my discoveries: the bounty of heaven, that always blest me with benevolent success, restrained me from rifling the records of my ancestors; when to put a rod in my hand, and place a river before me; so that I should offer violence to reason and art, if now to consult the authority of others, when such a large and legible folio to write by, as the great and stupendous volume of the creation; which to contemplate, interprets the divine practice of solitudes, and becomes not only contributary to the present, but the future generations."
The three Prefaces come next; one in poetical prose, and two in prosaic poetry. The first of them, under the pretence of "manuducting you through the slender margin of this uncultivated book," treats, amongst many other subjects, of religion, Dubravius, the Trent, Isaac Owldham, and honest Master Isaac Walton, (the last of whom meets with but rough usage in the hands of our florid old trooper.) The second Preface is called, by the writer, an Address to his Book. And the third is "a booing" return to one of the poets, who "boo" to the author of the Northern Memoirs. The captain has thus, as our readers will have seen, fired off at least half a dozen morning guns before the piece opens, doubly out-doing that brace of noisy prefaces in The Critic, of which Mr. Puff so angrily complains; and our trooper's guns have not the merit which attaches to Mr. Puff's contrivances, which, it may be remembered, "saved a description of the rising sun, and a great deal about gilding the eastern hemisphere.
And now for "a brief description of the cities, citadels, &c. of Scotland, with the Contemplative Angler," extending over nearly four hundred pages; and which, from the idea our author seems to have of a brief, we should have set down as the work of some Gentleman, one, &c. had we not seen with our own eyes the name of "RICHARD FRANCK, PHILANTHROPUS," set down in the title page. The work is composed in dialogue, like Isaac Walton's wholesome book, and a gentleman, of the name of Theophilus, pursues his studies under the directions of Arnoldus, (Captain Franck,) seemingly well fitted to answer his master's flowery observations. The conversation thus commences, or dawns, as the Captain would have it.
Theophilus. It was in April, when every bough looked big with blessings, and the florid fields and fragrant meadows, (adorned with