Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

be rendered seasonable in the sense of being useful, would be, to accompany them with a severe comment to mark the various ways in which prejudice and bigotry can misrepresent without committing themselves in palpable and bulky falsehoods, and to illustrate some of the pernicious effects which have been the result of such partial alienation of understanding, or total contempt of principle, in the statements of party historians, on whatever side. Such a comment on the Life of Whitgift might very properly be extended from the spirit and trustworthiness of the biographer, to the merits of the subject; and it would never be otherwise than “seasonable” for a clergyman to evince the present liberality of his order, by disclaiming, in its name and his own, all principles allied to those by which the prelate in question was actuated. For, without going further than the facts alleged by Burleigh, Walsingham, and the rest of that memorable council, it may fairly be asserted, that Whitgift acted on the principle, that religion and morality, the appointments of the Almighty, are things exceedingly subordinate to the ecclesiastical establishment, a local appointment of man.

It appears from this testimony, which no man will have the folly to call in question, that the archbishop could easily tolerate his clergy in being ignorant; careless, and profligate, provided they punctiliously observed all the prescribed ceremonies; while he could applaud himself for directing the vengeance of the Star Chamber against the most learned, pious, and zealous preachers, that conscientiously declined some part of the ceremonial conformity. He chose rather that the people should not be instructed in religion at all, than be taught it by even the most excellent ministers, who could not acknowledge a particular gesture, or robe, or form of words, as an essential part of it. The censure of such a character, and the execration of such principles, are no matter of party; for it is not permitted to any party, pretending at all to religion, to approve them. But the condemnation comes with a peculiarly good grace from the clergy; and it might be expected they would lose no fair opportunity to express

it. It is difficult to comprehend why a liberal clergyman should have introduced into his compilation such an article as this life, but for the sake of giving himself such an opportunity, unless he acted under some superior authority, which prescribed to him the exact length and breadth of his task. In order, therefore, to preserve civility to the present editor, we must suppose him to be subjected to some much more illiberal supervision, than we believe it is usual for the trade to appoint over authors and editors. And as to the compilation itself, we consider it as much disgraced by the admission of this article. -As a slight sample of Sir George Paule and his most reverend patron, we may cite an illustration of their apostolic notions of the best means of giving dignity and effect to the Christian religion. “Every third

year he went into Kent (unless great occasions hindered him) where he was so honourably attended upon by his own train (consisting of two hundred persons) and with the gentlemen of the country, that he did sometimes ride into the city of Canterbury, and into other towns, with eight hundred or a thousand horse. And surely the entertainment which he gave them, and they him, was so great, that, as I am verily persuaded, no shire in England did, or could, give greater, or with more cheerful minds, unto each other. The fatherly care which he had of his clergy, (whom he never charged with visitation, but once in twenty years,) his affability amongst the gentlemen, and courteous usage of his tenants, gained him so great a love, that he might very far prevail with them; yea, they never denied him any request that he made unto them.

“At his first journey into Kent, he rode into Dover, being attended with a hundred of his own servants, at least, in livery, whereof there were forty gentlemen in chains of gold. The train of clergy and gentlemen in the country and their followers, was about five hundred horse. At his entrance into the town, there happily landed an intelligencer from Rome, of good parts, and account, who wondered to see an archbishop, or clergyman in England, so reverenced and attended. But seeing him upon the next sabbath-day in the cathedral church of Canterbury, attended upon by his gentlemen and servants (as is aforesaid), also by the dean, prebendaries, and preachers, in their surplices, and scarlet hoods, and heard the solemn music, with the voices, and organs, and cornets, and sackbuts, he was overtaken with admiration, and told an English gentleman of very good quality (who then accompanied him) 'that they were led in great blindness at Rome by our own nation, who made the people there believe that there was not in England either archbishop, or bishop, or cathedral, or any church, or ecclesiastical government; but that all was pulled down to the ground, and that the people heard their ministers in the woods and fields, among trees, and brute beasts; but, for his own part, he protested, that (unless it were in the pope's chapel), he never saw a more solemn sight, or heard a more heavenly sound.' Well, said the English gentleman, 'I am glad of this your so lucky and first sight; ere long you will be of another mind, and, I hope, work miracles and return to Rome, in making those that are led in blindness, to see and understand the truth.'”_Vol. IV. p. 387.

Now, considering in what manner the prelate valued himself and the institution of which he held the first dignity, on all this personal and ecclesiastical pomp, we would hope, for the sake of his complacency, that he might not have happened to have read Cavendish's most entertaining Life of Wolsey, then existing in manuscript at Lambeth, and now for the first time correctly printed in this work; for, in reading that record, he would have been almost strangled with envy at the description of a far superior magnificence displayed, a little more than half a century before him, by a dignitary of the church of Rome.

Having discharged the indispensable duty, in place of the editor, (who has not felt the jurisdiction of his office extending so far,) of reprobating the part of the compilation with is so flagrant with the brimstone of intolerance and persecution, it is with great pleasure we find ourselves at liberty to say, that on the whole the work is a very valuable service rendered both to the religious and the literary public. The parts compiled from Fox are judiciously extracted and disposed ; and as that huge work is for the most part reposing in undisturbed dust, and will never be consulted by so much as one in a thousand of our reading countrymen, we are glad that a considerable number of them will now be enabled to peruse, in Fox's own language, some of the most striking pieces of history contained within the whole records of the world. They may contemplate, in a narrative full of antique simplicity and animation, the actions and speeches of such men as Wickliffe, Latimer, Ridley, and a number more of the same order; characters of a strange and gigantic race that seems now extinct, and which holds, in the history of religion, a rank exactly parallel to that held by Plutarch's heroes in the history

Cavendish's very curious memoir, in its true original form, will be highly acceptable to the public. We are not less pleased with the original life of Sir Thomas More, and are sincerely grateful to Mr. W. for his laborious care to give it in a correct and complete state. It is now more ample and more animated, than any of the memoirs of him with which the public are familiar. The lives here given of Jewel, Gilpin, Hammond, Sir Matthew Hale, &c., are some of them but very little, and some of them not at all, within the acquaintance of the generality of readers; and we have many times observed with wonder, how few persons comparatively know any thing of the memorable character and history of Nicholas Ferrar, notwithstanding the memoirs, which are here in substance reprinted, were published so lately as the

of war.

year 1790.-It cannot be read without a very unusual mixture of admiring and indignant feeling: we can remember no other instance of being so much provoked with so pre-eminently excellent a man. He was in the fullest sense of the word a prodigy of early talents, acquirements, and piety; travelled almost before he had attained the age of manhood, over the greater part of Europe, commanding involuntarily the admiration and affection of the most learned men in the most learned universities and academies, passing through many adventures and perils with a heroism of too elevated a kind to be called romantic, the heroism of piety, and maintaining every where an immaculate character; on returning home (in the earlier part of the seventeenth century), he was almost compelled into important public employments, made a brilliant entrance in the House of Commons, waging ardent and successful war on the public delinquents that in those times, so unlike the present, infested that house ; and after he had done this, and when there was plenty more such work for him to do, he quitted public life, at little more than the age of thirty, in obedience to a religious fancy he had long entertained, and formed of his family and relations a sort of little half-popish convent, in which he passed the remainder of his life.

*

*

[June, 1810.]

Memoirs of the Life of Peter Daniel Huet, Bishop of Avranches: written

by Himself; and translated from the original Latin, with copious Notes, biographical and critical, by John AIKIN, M.D. 8vo., 2 vols.

Huer is the well-known name of an enormous magazine of learning, that existed in France during the greater part of the seventeenth, and the early part of the eighteenth centuries; a magazine to which it should appear, from these memoirs, that the greatest scholars of Europe were proud to be able to make any addition ; and to which none of them, great or small, thought it humiliating to have recourse for supplies. How it was possible for such a mass of literature to be stored within the capacity of one human being, by what method of study and distribution of time so much could be taken in, and by what contrivance for preventing or stopping the leaks of memory and the thefts of age it could be retained there, is not satisfactorily explained in these memoirs. It would have been very gratifying to be admitted completely into the sanctuary of his library ; to be told whether he made it a retreat inviolable during particular portions of time to all intrusion and interruption; whether he adopted any peculiar method of study; whether it was necessary for him to read books several times in order to have their contents at command; whether he tried the various artificial aids to memory, and which of them he preferred, or whether he invented any new one; what sort of common-place books, or indexes, he found most serviceable ; what were his principal difficulties in composition, and how they were overcome : to be informed, in short, of whatever was auxiliary to extraordinary aptitude and industry, in making and employing such prodigious acquisitions. The mere fact, however, that these acquisitions were made and put to use,

« ZurückWeiter »