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cellent preacher. At length, however, being weary of the world, he had entertained some thoughts of quitting his ecclesiastical preferments, and of retiring to a very handsome, though not over.pompous
habitation of his own erecting at EAST SHEENE, but falling into a consumption in a short time, he died before he actually accomplished that intention. He was buried in his own church of St. Paul, in a very humble sepulchre, which he had contrived for him-: self in an obscure angle of the church, some years before, with the inscription of his name only. However, notwithstanding this modest, this righteous man, despised all funeral pomp and folemnity; yet his friends were ambitious of Thewing how much they revered him, by erecting to his memory a very elegant mo
As illustrious examples are the most winning incitements to virtue; and as no one can poslibly come attended with such particular recommendations to the present assembly, as the pattern of that truly venerable person, to whose benevolence, in a great measure, we are indebted for all the literary blessings which we enjoy, give me leave to expatiate still a little farther on those shining virtues that complete his character, as being the most natural application of our text, and the strongest motive that can be thought of to induce every member of this particular society to have his name in everlasting remembrance.
As to his person, he is described by his intimate friend ERASMUS, to be both tall and graceful; and from a picture of him in the public library at Cambridge, it evidently appears, that his aspect had something in it peculiarly striking and delightful to the eye. He was a man, as to his natural disposition, of an exceeding high spirit ; one apt to resent the least indignity or affront; one much addicted likewise to every species of luxury; and had it not been for that more than common care which he took, to give a check to the violence of his passions, he had been better qualified for any other VOL. III.
course of life than that of a student or divine. He gave incontestable evidence, therefore, that true virtue does not confift in an inability to do evil, or any absolute and natural averfion to it; but in a voluntary restriction laid on the innate tendencies and strong efforts of Aesh and blood to vice and immorality. He first conquered, then commanded himself; and, in short, so far mortified his highspirit, as to make it subfervient to reason. His natural propensity to luxury he restrained by the practice of incessant abstinence, strict fobriety, and a close application to his studies; and above all, by moral and religious conversations.
Though he lived in those days when ignorance and superstition prevailed, yet by the strength of his genius, and his unwearied application to his studies, he attained to such a Thare of learning, as: is seldom to be met with in more enlightened ages. We find him, very young, like his blessed Redeemer, among the learned doctors, not only asking them questions, but instructing them likewise ; for without the least consideration or reward whatever, he read public lectures in the University of Oxford, by way of exposition on the Epistles of St. Paul ; and though he was not, at that juncture, of an age capable of receiving any degree, yet there was not a doctor or abbot, or other dignitary in the church, but lent an attentive ear to the doctrines he advanced; but whether this particular encomium of him was in reality owing to the fame he had acquired, or to the ingenuity of his hearers, who, in more honourable degrees
and years, were not alhamed to receive instruction from one younger than themselves, and in other respects their inferior, I Thall not take upon me to determine; but though the novelty of these public exercises might possibly at first procure him a crowded audience, yet nothing could have kept the number up, but the more than common abilities of the performer. Notwithstanding he was a very able disputant, yet he was very candid and ingenuous; and would; with all the courtesy imaginable, entreat his
antagonist to hear what he had to offer without heat or impatience ; for though like twe flints, he would frequently say, we are striking one against another, yet when any spark of light flies out, let us both catch at it with equal eagerness; we seek not for our own opinion, but for the truth; which, in this mutual conflict, may perhaps be extorted, like fire out of steel. He was fo fen (ible of the important advantages arising from all learning in general, that notwithstanding he lived in fo illiterate an age, that even at the universities nothing was known but the latin tongue, and that too in the most depraved style of the formal school-men; yet when William Lilly, who was the first Englishman that ever publicly taught Greek, made his first attempt thereat in St. Paul's School, our pious founder, conscious of the absolute necessity that there was of having some tolerable share of knowledge in that language, towards the better proceeding in his theological studies, spared no pains to encourage that judicious preceptor, nor thought himself too old to receive instruction in that important branch of literature.--Such instances of his thirst for knowledge, even in the decline of life, will, I hope, be a strong and alluring incitement to these young gentlemen to aim at iinprovement, who now in their youth, whilft their memories are strong, and their spirits active, have it in their power to take large draughts at that literary fountain, which with indefatigable industry, and at an immense charge, has been opened for their use.
When this our FOUNDER was arrived at a sufficient age to make choice of any particular profession, or to take up with the life of a gentleman, having a sufficient patrimony to suppoçt hiin, and a fair interest to recommend him at court, which would doubtless have been the choice of Sir HENRY COLET, his father, who in many public offices had been used to gaiety and splendor, and had gained a very particular interest in the King, by being a faithful, and truly loyal as well as serviceable subject; yet this his
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pious son, prompted by a true spirit of religion, was resolveď to enter into holy orders, and to renounce the temptations his birth and fortune laid before him. Notwithstanding he was educated in all the reigning superstitions of the age he lived in, yet he soon saw through their absurd and idolatrous proceedings, and for that reason was determined, at all adventures, to stem the torrent by frequent disputations; by expounding the scriptures, and by recommending the study of them to his numerous auditors; and this method he practised with such fervency and fuccess, that he raised himself so many enemies amongst certain bigotted enthusiasts, that many attempts were made, not only to ruin him in regard to his fortune, but to bring him to an open recantation of what they called his heretical tenets, through the menaces of the severest persecution.
His unaffected piety, purity of manners, and profound learning, endeared and recommended him to the favour and friendship of the most illustrious personages of the age he lived in; but more particularly to the learned Lord-chancellor Sir THOMAS MOORE, and the celebrated ERASMUS; the former of whom always spoke and wrote concerning him with the highest warmth of friendship: the latter with such an ardency of affection, as almost bordered on enthusiasm. Nothing, say “ he, in one of his epistles, can be more sweet, lovely and charm
ing, than the temper and conversation of Mr. COLET; I could « be content, with such a truly valuable friend and companion, to “ live in Scythia, or any of the most remote corners of the world.”
His benefactions were so extensive and boundless, that, noe withstanding his ample patrimony and large preferments, it was with the utmost difficulty that he raised a small sum requested of him from his most intimate friend Erasmus ; whose very eloquent epistle will best speak what I would be willing to say concerning that particular act of benevolence, which is the immediate object of this our annual assembly.
" My dear Colet, says he, I cannot but extremely commend
your singular and truly christian piety, who have hitherto directed “ all the labours of your life towards the promotion of the interest your
native country in general, but more particularly of that great and opulent city, in which you first drew your breath. “ And as one conspicuous instance of your most ardent endea
vours for that purpose, you founded a very beautiful and mag“ nificent seminary, where youth, even in their infancy, through “ the wholsome instructions of the ablest and most experienced
preceptors, might imbibe, not only the rudiments of human “ literature, but all, the more valuable fundamental doctrines of w their most holy faith. You, doubtless, very judiciously appre
hended, that the public, from the seeds there. so plentifully and “ so timely sown, might reap a harvest in some degree of proporw.tion; and that it would prove an infinite advantage to all man“ kind in general, be their station of life what it would, to have “ their minds well cultivated in their tenderest years. And in “ each of those particulars, who can refrain from loving, nay.
revering your greatness of soul? It is your ambition to act for “ the good of posterity, with such disinterestedness and sincerity, " that after so many elaborate discourses ; after such a number of
years spent in your laudable endeavours for the reformation of
a vicious world, you have added nothing to your original fortune. “ Must not every one stand astonished at that boundless liberality " which has sustained a charity at your own private expence, “ which might have been deemed at least a very cumbrous bur
den, if not an insupportable one, to the richest peer in the land? " When, in such public undertakings even whole societies have not « disdained to call in the aid and affistance of such as are bevevo
lently inclined, you have thought proper, rather to exhaust your
own patrimonial estate, to spend your additional incomes; nay, us what is still more, you have chose rather to part with your very