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of the champion of the nonconformists. Only it would have been justly insisted, that, while adopting such a rule of omission, he should forbear all claims to have his work received as containing the substance of the history of religion in England during the seventeenth century; this being no admissible pretension for a work, which exhibits at great length the public proceedings, the ecclesiastical maxims, and the most laboured eulogiums, of the distinguished high-churchmen, and reduces down to a diminutive sketch of personal character the ample story of the Hercules of nonconformity. Let this ill-judged pretension have been forborne, and a man in Mr. Wordsworth's double ecclesiastical capacity would have excited no very great "displeasure,” or “harsh imputations,” by omitting, in a memoir of Baxter, all Baxter's relations of the tions he suffered, of the silencing of two thousand conscientious ministers, and of the conference at the Savoy. Thus guarding against any heavy censure on his partial principle of selection in compiling the memoirs which were to be composed of a small extracted portion of large works, he might have exonerated himself in ten words from all responsibility on account of the lives reprinted entire and unaltered. He had only to say, that in their time they had obtained, in a greater or less degree, the public sanction, as the best or the most agreeably written memoirs of the persons they celebrate ; and that they are put to stand on the ground of their own merits just as much on this republication, as on their first appearance.
Readers, the most irritably fraught with sectarian captiousness, could easily be made to comprehend, that if several biographers of note in the seventeenth century assumed some principles which these readers believe to be false, or at least very questionable, and threw a partial colouring over the characters and transactions they described, it is no fault of Mr. Wordsworth; and that in rendering to the public what will be on all hands acknowledged an acceptable service, by republishing these noted, curious, and now scarce performances, he would have greatly injured the credit of
the new edition, if he had destroyed the integrity of the works by omitting or modifying a single paragraph for the purpose of correcting injustice or avoiding offence. So far, therefore, as the passage we have extracted can be construed to refer to the contest between the ecclesiastical establishment and the puritans and sectaries, we are quite at a loss for the meaning and object of that sort of solemn preparation of Christian fortitude, that air of resignation to the imperious dictates of conscience at all costs and hazards, which seems so oddly acting or mocking the character of a confessor. This would be intelligible, on the supposition of Mr. Wordsworth’s considering a person who furnishes notes to a new edition of a work, as necessarily personating the author, and avowing and warranting every thing advanced in the work, unless corrected in his notes. But it is impossible our editor can choose to make himself responsible, for instance, for the whole strain of representation in the lives by Walton ; a pleasing writer, certainly, but no more a historian, in the most respectable sense, than he was a mineralogist. From the moment he has pronounced the name of his subject, it seems absolutely put out of his power to recollect that his favourite was of the posterity of Adam, till it comes to be acknowledged, toward the last page, that the personage could not be exempted from Adam's penalty of decay and death. His ecclesiastics, especially, keep the reader in continual astonishment how wisdom and virtue of such ethereal quality could be so long retained from evaporating to the sky. To this earth they were hardly indebted, even to the amount of finding it a place to improve themselves in,-except in knowledge; for their moral endowments were complete from the first. Every thing that opposed them in any point was error and malice; and the author wonders how even error and malice themselves could have had such effrontery. And when these superhuman characters carried themselves with meekness and moderation, which indeed they did always, in the contests which arose from a criminal doubt of their infallibility, their doing so is celebrated as if they had possessed a power and a right to avenge themselves by bringing down fire from heaven. All institutions to which they adhered were necessarily of divine appointment, and authorized to impose themselves on all judgments and consciences, and to award punishments to recusants, for which it was no small perversity in them not to be thankful. Mr. Wordsworth cannot mean to have himself considered as saying all that is said by such a biographer. Still less as adopting all the dictates of ignorant bigotry in Sir George Paule's Life of Archbishop Whitgift, which intolerant prelate is there described as every thing reasonable, moderate, forbearing, forgiving, and “tender-hearted,” and all whose opponents and victims deserved to fall into incomparably worse hands.
With respect to this one article, indeed, we may perhaps be allowed to question whether it was perfectly consistent with liberality of spirit, even in the unresponsible office of republisher, or the very slightly responsible office of compiler, to admit such a thing into the series, and so make it an inseparable part of the purchase. It has no such excellence of workmanship as to render it, in spite of its moral qualities, worth possessing as a literary rarity; and as to those moral qualities, the editor knows that if all biography were written in the same manner, the best use of all biography would be to light fires. Every impartial examiner of the history of those times knows, that nothing less than either the most stupid bigotry, or flagrant dishonesty, could uniformly, throughout a long memoir, represent the proceedings on which Whitgift's fame is founded, as directed solely against faction, turbulence, and irreligion. Every one who has but glanced at that history knows, that he was the staunch and most willing minister and prompter of the bigotry of the half-popish Elizabeth ; that his proceedings were such, as to draw from the lord treasurer Burleigh (who is, notwithstanding, in this memoir, impudently affirmed to have been “always his firm and constant friend,") an indignant remonstrance, pronouncing one of his most celebrated measures more iniqnitous than those of the Spanish inquisition ; that he and his coadjutor, the bishop of London, received, and received without adopting any change of conduct in consequence, a letter from the lords of the council,* in which it was represented to these prelates, that the council had “of late heard of great numbers of zealous and learned preachers suspended from their cures in the county of Essex, and that there is no preaching, prayers, or sacraments, in most of the vacant places; that in some few of them persons neither of learning nor good name are appointed; and that in other places of the country, great numbers of the persons that occupy cures, are notoriously unfit; most for lack of learning; some chargeable with great and enormous faults, as drunkenness, filthiness of life, gaming at cards, haunting of ale-houses, &c., against whom they heard of
no proceedings, but that they were quietly suffered.” The letter was accompanied with a catalogue of names, one column of learned ministers deprived, a second of unlearned and vicious ones continued, and a third of pluralists and non-residents; on which the council observed, “against these latter we have heard of no inquisition ; but of great diligence and extreme usage against those that were known to be diligent preachers; we therefore pray your lordships to have some charitable consideration of their causes, that people may not be deprived of their diligent, learned, and zealous pastors, for a few points ceremonial which entangled their consciences.” It was owing to the relentless intolerance of the queen, who supported the prelates in all such proceedings, that such ministers as Burleigh and Walsingham were reduced to remonstrate in vain. Now if a bigoted retainer of the name of Sir George Paule, chose to write a life of such a prelate, celebrating his transcendent piety, equity, clemency, usefulness, and so forth, and applying all the terms of odium and contempt to whatever was opposed to him, we cannot comprehend what necessity on earth there could be for Mr. Wordsworth to give new currency to this piece of arrogance and misrepresentation. We will not entertain the suggestion, that such a necessity could arise from his official situation, such a surmise is too humiliating to be admitted for a moment. Whatever could have been the reason that determined its insertion, we should have thought, that, as Mr. Wordsworth has undertaken to correct, confirm, or illustrate all his authors by means of notes, the determination to introduce this article would have been accompanied by the strongest conviction of the duty of protesting against the violent bigotry of the writer, and cautioning the readers against forming, on so bad an authority, their estimate of the archbishop, and of the class of persons that he persecuted. We observe nothing of this kind, however, in the notes. The editor seems willing the piece should produce all the effect it can on the minds of his clerical brethren, for whose use his work is especially intended. And we are ashamed to see him willing that other pieces of misrepresentation, also, should produce their effect; for in one of the notes on this article, he recommends the lately reprinted account of the famous Hampton-Court conference drawn up by Dr. Barlow, which he says “is important, as exhibiting a view of the state of the controversy between the orthodox clergy and the puritans, and the perusal of which, in this place, is therefore recommended to the reader.” “It has appeared again, recently, in a valuable and seasonable Collection of Tracts, called the Churchman's Remembrancer.” Now Mr. Wordsworth knows that the puritan divines who attended that conference, and had quite as much right to be believed as Dr. Barlow, declared that account to be an utterly unfair report; and that their historians relate many instances of the insolence and violence of the prelates and the monarch, in that “meeting for the hearing and determining things pretended to be amiss in the church.” (See Neal's Hist., vol. I., p. 410.) It is therefore not obvious, in what sense the re-appearance of such a partial, and consequently, in effect, fallacious tract, can be called “seasonable.” The only mode in which the republication of such things as that tract, and this Life of Whitgift, could
* Burleigh, Warwick, Shrewsbury, Leicester, Lord Charles Howard, Sir James Crofts, Sir Christopher Hatton, and Sir Francis Walsingham.