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in 1629, of Bishop Carleton's life, in Latin, of Bernard Gilpin ; Sir George Paule's life of Archbishop Whitgift; Bishop Fell's life of Dr. Hammond; Burnet's life of Sir Matthew Hale; Matthew Henry's life of his father, Philip Henry ; and Burnet’s “ Passages of the Life and Death of the Earl of Rochester.” The “ Memoirs of Nicholas Ferrar,” by Dr. Peckard, published in 1790, are here reprinted, “but not without some omissions.”
The account of this most extraordinary man and his extraordinary nephew, is in this republication extended by the accession of some curious papers relating to them, found in Lambeth Library, though supposed by Dr. Peckard to have been lost. The life of Bishop Hall is
composed principally from a republication of two of his tracts," “ Observations of some specialties of Divine Providence,” and “ Hard Measure. The account of Baxter is composed of extracts from his “Life and Times.” The life of Tillotson is abridged from a memoir of him “bv F. H , M.A.,” published in 1717, which Mr. Wordsworth professes to hold in no very high esteem.
The work is inscribed, in profoundly reverential terms, to the Primate; and will not, we hope, have offended the modesty inseparable from the highest ecclesiastical dignity, by betraying to the public that his Grace's “ unceasing cares and labours” are directed to the "promotion of pure taste, good morals, and true religion.” It is affirmed, that his Grace's “ many acts of munificence for the increase of the literary treasures of his country, exalt his name to the same level with those of the most illustrious of his predecessors, Cranmer, and Parker, and Laud.” It may be doubted whether Archbishop Tillotson would have felt the attributed resemblance in this subordinate species of episcopal merit sufficiently flattering to atone for the associating of his name in any way with those of the “illustrious” Parker and Laud : and we presume our editor cannot have studied, so accurately as he ought, his patron's taste in ecclesiastical character and in language.
A sensible preface explains the compiler's motives to the undertaking. Every one will accord to his opinion,
as to the necessary and happy influence of the college and the archi-episcopal palace in kindling pure Christian zeal. He observes, “a protracted residence in either of our universities, and afterwards in that service which I have mentioned, it will easily be understood, was likely to engage any man in ardent wishes and desires for the general prosperity and welfare of sincere piety and true religion,” and to inspire him more particularly with an earnest concern “ that these most important interests should ever advance and flourish among our theological students and the clergy; and, through their means and labours, with the divine blessing, in every rank of society.” It was but in obedience, therefore, to the cogently evangelical influence which is always operating within the walls of an university, and in emulation of the active piety which he observed in every person who had resided there a considerable time, that Mr. Wordsworth projected, during a long-continued residence at Cambridge, a work of the nature of that now before us. The official situation which has since given him access to the Lambeth Library, must obviously have afforded him many facilities for the execution of the design ; and he has availed himself of them with a very laudable industry.
The editor assigns good reasons why the series should not commence earlier than the preparations towards a Reformation by the labours of Wickliffe and his followers,” nor be brought down lower than the Revolution.
The space so limited, formed in our island the grand military age of Christianity, during which the substance and the forms of that religion were put in a contest which exhausted the possibilities of human nature. The utmost that could be attained or executed by man, in point of piety, sanctity, courage, atrocity, and intellectual energy, was displayed during this warfare. The compiler justly thought that nothing could be more interesting than a fair exhibition, presented in the persons of the leading combatants, of the principles and the most signal facts of that great contest.
And this is very effectually done, as to that part of it which lay between the church of Rome and the protestants; but not so satisfactorily as to that part of it, which was maintained between the English establishment and the puritans.
The editor's preference of original authorities, and his forbearance to alter their expressions or even their orthography, will obtain the marked approbation, we should think, of every sensible reader. He says,
“It will be found, (for which, I imagine, no apology is necessary) that I have preferred the ancient and original authorities, where they could be procured, before modern compilations and abridgments; the narratives, for instance, of Fox and Carleton, before the more artificial compositions of Gilpin. -Neither do I think it will require any excuse with the judicious reader, that in the early parts of the series, I have been at some pains to retain the ancient orthography. It was one advantage which I contemplated in projecting this compilation, that it would afford, by the way, some view of the progress of the English language, and of English composition. This benefit would have been greatly impaired by taking away the old spelling. But I have always thought that the far more solemn interests of reality and truth are also, in a degree, violated by that practice.
“ The reader is desired further to observe, that in many cases the lives are republished from the originals, entire, and without alteration ; but in others the method pursued has been different. Wherever the wor before me seemed to possess a distinct character as such, either for the beauty of its composition, the conveniency of its size, its scarcity, or any other sufficient cause, I was desirous that my reader should have the satisfaction of possessing it complete: but where these reasons did not exist, I have not scrupled occasionally to proceed otherwise : only, in regard to alterations, it is to be understood, that all which I have taken the liberty of making are confined solely to omissions. Thus, the lives written by Isaak Walton are given entire, and I have inserted all that he published: but the accounts of Ferrar and Tillotson bave been shortened.
Many of the lives which are given from Fox's Acts and Monuments, and which the editor looks upon as among the most valuable parts of his volumes, are brought together and compiled from distant and disjoined parts of that very extensive work; a circumstance of which it is necessary that any one should be informed, who may wish to compare these narratives with the originals. It will be found also that in many places much has been omitted ; and that a liberty has not unfrequently been taken of leaving out clauses of particular sentences, and single coarse and gross terms and expressions, especially such as occurred against papists. But, though he has not all Fox laid before him, yet the reader may be assured that all which he has is Fox."
“ In the notes which I have added, my aim has been occasionally to correct my author ; but much more frequently to enforce his positions and illustrate him, and that especially in matters relating to doctrines opinions, manners, language, and characters. Their number might easily have been increased, but I was unwilling to distract the reader's eye from the object before him, except where I thought some salutary purpose might be answered.”—Preface, p. xiv.
After expressing his desire to promote by this work the interests of Christianity in general, he acknowledges it would not be a mistake, if any one should surmise that he wishes to promote it especially as professed within the pale of the Church of England,” being persuaded that its advancement under that specific modification will conduce most to the prosperity of the universal church. He adds,
“And yet, if he could any where have found Popery associated with greater piety and heavenly-mindedness than in Sir Thomas More, or nonconformity united with more Christian graces than in Philip Henry, those examples also should have obtained their station in this work." “ It has then been no part of my design to give occasion of offence to any.-If indeed occasion be taken where none was intended to be given ; if the errors and the evil practices of popery, the truths of protestantism, the sufferings of martyrs and confessors, and the intolerance and cruelty of persecutors; if the madness of fanatics, and the evils of civil and religious war, cannot be described and deplored without blame ; if the wisdom to be derived to present and future ages from the records of the past, cannot be obtained by ourselves, without exciting displeasure in other bosoms; there
be circumstances which shall call forth our concern and sorrow for the pain of a suffering fellow-creature ; but the consequences must be endured, as no part of our design, but only accidental to it; and the complainant may bear to be admonished, whether, instead of casting harsh imputations upon us, he would not be better employed in re-examining the grounds and principles of his own faith, and enquiring whether cause has not been afforded to him of rendering thanks and praise to the mercy of God, for giving him yet another call and summons to escape from error and forsake his sin.”—Preface, p. xviii.
There is something which we do not perfectly understand in this last paragraph. Why does Mr. Wordsworth expect to “excite displeasure" and incur “harsh imputations ?” In what character does he view himself, as connected with this publication ? If Messrs. Rivingtons, the publishers of the work, had chosen, without the intervention of any ostensible editor, to have a new edition printed of Ridley's Life of Ridley, Walton's Lives, Sir G. Paule's Life of Whitgift, &c. &c. they would never have dreamed of provoking displeasure, and having to endure harsh imputations; and why should Mr. Wordsworth ? Surely he is not making himself the responsible voucher for the truth and discretion of every thing in these six volumes, and pledging himself to the vindication of whatever in them may be of a nature to offend the popish and protestant nonconformists to the church of England. With respect, at least, to that large proportion of the work which is given as an accurate reprint of entire memoirs, it was quite needless for him to take on himself any responsibility, beyond the very small degree involved in choosing those particular memoirs in preference to memoirs of some of the same persons written by other authors. A somewhat different rule of accountableness, indeed, may be applied to those parts which consist of comparatively short extracts from large works, as in the articles compiled from Fox's book, and that concerning Baxter, composed of passages from his own history of his life and times; and also to those articles which are slightly abridged from the original memoirs merely by some omissions, as in the lives of Ferrar and Tillotson. In compiling articles in this manner, a certain, though not very definable measure of responsibility does attach to the editor; since, though he should engage that every sentence is in the precise words of the original authorities, he may have followed such a rule of selection and omission as will produce an unfair representation of the subjects or characters. With respect to this portion of the compilation, therefore, it would not have been amiss for Mr. Wordsworth to have briefly stated what may have been his leading rule of selection, especially in the article drawn from Baxter's history. In the construction of this article, indeed, the reader instantly perceives one rule to have been, to omit all record of Baxter's memorable campaigns against ecclesiastical intolerance. This rule of compilation might have been ingenuously avowed by Mr. Wordsworth; and it would have been taken in good part by the candid and considerate reader, who would have been very far from exacting of the archbishop of Canterbury'schaplain, an endeavour to give additional notoriety to the controversies and sufferings