« הקודםהמשך »
Lerture the Chirty-Fourth,
SIR GEORGE MACKENZIE-JOHN STRYPE-HUMPHREY PRIDEAUX-CHARLES LESLIE
-ANDREW FLETCHER-WILLIAM NICOLSON-MATTHEW TINDAL-WILLIAM LOWTH-RICHARD BENTLEY-FRANCIS ATTERBURY-WILLIAM WHISTON-JOHN ARBUTHNOT-DANIEL DEFOE.
URING the period which we are now contemplating, Scotland pro
duced many men, eminent for both genius and learning, but scarcely any who attempted to compose in the English language. The difference between the common speech of the two countries, had been widening ever since the days of Chaucer and James the First, but particularly since the acquisition of James the Sixth to the English throne—the Scotch language remaining stationary or declining, while the English was advancing in refinement, both in structure and pronunciation. Accordingly, except the works of William Drummond, who had studied and acquired the language of Jonson and Drayton, there appeared, in Scotland, no estimable specimen of vernacular prose or poetry, between the time of Maitland and Montgomery, and that of Sir George Mackenzie, Lord Advocate for Scotland, from the • Restoration to the Revolution.
GEORGE MACKENZIE, descended from an ancient and noble family, was the nephew of the Earl of Seaforth, and was born at Dundee, in the county of Angus, in 1636. He gave early proofs of remarkable genius, having made the necessary preparations, and entered the university of Aberdeen, before he had reached the tenth year of his age. Thence he passed to St. Andrews, where he finished his studies in his sixteenth year, immediately after which he turned his thoughts, with great application, to the study of the civil law; with a view to perfect himself in which, he travelled into France, and applied himself, in the university of Bourges, very closely to his studies, for about three years. On his return to Scotland he was immediately admitted as an advocate at the bar, though he had not yet attained the legal age. In the course of a few years he attained to such eminence as a pleader, that, in 1661, he was chosen to plead the cause of the Marquis of Argyle, who was beheaded at Edinburgh, for high-treason, on the twenty-seventh of May of the
same year. In pleading this case he allowed some unwary expressions in favor of his client to escape him, for which he was reprimanded; but he replied with great quickness, as well as boldness, that “it was impossible to plead for a traitor without speaking treason.'
Though Mackenzie made the law his profession and chief study, yet he did not suffer his abilities to be confined entirely to that province. He composed some poems, which, if they have no other merit, are, at least, written in pure English, and appear to have been fashioned after the best models of the time: he also wrote some moral essays, that possess the same merits. These are entitled, On Happiness ; The Religious Stoic; Solitude Preferred to Public Employment; Moral Gallantry; The Moral History of Frugality; and Reason. Mackenzie is one of the standard writers on the law of Scotland, and the author also of various political and antiquarian tracts. An important historical production of his pen, entitled Memoirs of the Affairs of Scotland from the Restoration of Charles II., lay undiscovered in manuscript till the present century, and was not printed until 1821.
Soon after the trial and condemnation of the Earl of Argyle, Mackenzie was raised to the office of a judge in the criminal court; and such was the credit and reputation with which he discharged the duties which that important station devolved upon him, that, in 1674, he was knighted by his majesty, made king's advocate, and one of the lords of the privy-council of Scotland. Though personally disposed to humanity and moderation, yet the severities which Sir George was instrumental in perpetrating against the covenanters, in his capacity of Lord Advocate under a tyrannical government, excited, against him, a degree of popular odium which has never entirely subsided. He is more honorably distinguished as the founder of the library of the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh, than as a judge. At the Revolution, he retired into England, and took up his residence in the university of Oxford, where he intended to pass the remainder of his days; but he died soon after, while on a visit to London, on the second of May, 1691.
The following extracts are taken from Sir George Mackenzie's moral essays :
AGAINST ENVY. We may cure envy in ourselves either by considering how useless or how ill these things were, for which we envy our neighbours; or else how we possess as much or as good things. If I envy his greatness, I consider that he wants my quiet: as also I consider that he possibly envies me as much as I do him; and that when I begun to examine exactly his perfections, and to balance them with my own, I found myself as happy as he was. And though many envy others, yet very few would change their condition even with those whom they envy all being considered. And I have oft admired why we have suffered ourselves to be so cheated by contradictory vices, as to contemn this day him whom we envied the last; or why we envy so many, since there are so few whom we think to deserve as much as we do. Another great help against envy is, that we ought to consider how much the thing envied
costs him whom we envy, and if we would take it at the price. Thus, when I envy a man for being learned, I consider how much of his health and time that learning consumes: if for being great, how he must flatter and serve for it; and if I would not pay his price, no reason I ought to have what he has got. Sometimes, also, I consider that there is no reason for my envy: he whom I envy deserves more than he has, and I less than I possess. And by thinking much of these, I repress their envy, which grows still from the contempt of our neighbour and the overrating ourselves. As also I consider that the perfections envied by me may be advantageous to me; and thus I check myself for envying a great pleader, but am rather glad that there is such a man, who may defend my innocence: or to envy a great soldier, because his valour may defend my estate or country. And when any of my countrymen begin to raise envy in me, I alter the scene, and begin to be glad that Scotland can boast of so fine a man; and I remember, that though now I am so angry at him when I compare him with myself, yet if I were discoursing of my nation abroad, I would be glad of that merit in him which now displeases me. Nothing is envied but what appears beautiful and charming; and it is strange that I should be troubled at the sight of what is pleasant. I endeavour also to make such my friends as deserves my envy; and no man is so base as to envy his friend. Thus, whilst others look on the angry side of merit, and thereby trouble themselves, I am pleased in admiring the beauties and charms which burn them as a fire, whilst they warm me as the sun.
AVARICE. The best plea that avarice can make, is, that it provides against those necessities which otherwise would have made us miserable; but the love of money deserves not the name of avarice, whilst it proceeds no farther. And it is then only to be abhorred, when it cheats and abuses us, by making us believe that our necessities are greater than they are, in which it treats us as fools, and makes us slaves. But it is indeed most ridiculous in this, that ofttimes, after it has persuaded men that a great estate is necessary, it does not allow them to make use of any suitable proportion of what they have gained ; and since nothing can be called necessary but what we need to use, all that is laid up can not be said to be laid up for necessity. And so this argument may have some weight when it is pressed by luxury, but it is ridiculous when it is alleged by avarice.
I have, therefore, ofttimes admired how a person that thought it luxury to spend two hundred pounds, toiled as a slave to get four hundred a year for his heir. Either he thought an honest and virtuous man should not exceed two hundred pounds in his expense, or not ; if he thought he should not, why did he bribe his heir to be luxurious, by leaving him more? If he thought his heir could not live upon so little, why should he who gained it defraud himself of the true use ?
I know some who preserve themselves against avarice, by arguing often with their own heart that they have twice as much as they expected, and more than others who they think live very contentedly, and who did bound their designs in the beginning with moderate hopes, and refuse obstinately to enlarge, lest they should thus launch ont into an ocean that has no shore.
To meditate much upon the folly of others who are remarkable for this vice, will help somewhat to limit it; and to rally him who is ridiculous for it, may influence him and others to contemn it. I must here beg rich and avaricious men's leave, to laugh as much at their folly as I could do at a shepherd who would weep and grieve because his master would give him no more beasts to herd, or at a steward, because his lord gave him no more servants to feed. Nor can I think a man, who, having gained a great estate, iş afraid to live comfortably upon it, less ridiculous than I would do him, who, having built a convenient, or it may be a stately house, should choose to walk in the rain, or expose himself to storms, lest he should defile and pro. fane the floor of his almost idolized rooms. They who think that they are obliged to live as well as others of the same rank, do not consider that every man is only obliged to live according to his present estate. * * And he who, having a paternal estate of a hundred pounds a year, will not be satisfied to live according to it; will meet with the same difficulty when he comes to an estate of ten thousand pounds; and, like the wounded deer, he flies not from the dart, but carries it along with him. We are but stewards, and the steward should not be angry that he has not more to manage; but should be careful to bestow what he has; and if he do so, neither his master nor the world can blame him.
From our brief excursion into Scotland, on a visit to Sir George Macken zie, we return again to our literary friends in England. Of these the first to be noticed are Strype, Prideaux, Leslie, Fletcher, Nicolson, and Tindal.
John STRYPE was the son of a German refugee who fled to England on account of his religion, and there followed the business of a silk merchant. The son was born in London, in 1643, and educated at Catherine Hall, Cambridge. At that university, and also at Oxford, he took his master's degree, in 1671. Entering into orders, he became successively curate of Theydon-Boys, in Essex, preacher in Low Leyton, rector of Terring, in Sussex, and lecturer at Hackney. He resigned his clerical charges in 1724, and from that time till his death, which occurred in 1737, he resided at Hackney, with an apothecary, who had married his grand-daughter.
Strype was an industrious and even laborious collector of literary antiquities. His works afford ample illustrations of ecclesiastical history and biography, at periods of deep national interest and importance, and they are now ranked among the most valuable of English standard memorials. His writings consist of a Life of Archbishop Cranmer ; a Life of Sir Thomas Smith; a Life of Bishop Alymer, a Life of Sir John Cheke ; Annals of the Reformation, in four volumes ; a Life of Archbishop Grindal ; Life and Letters of Archbishop Parker; Life of Archbishop Whitgift; and Ecclesiastical Memorials, in three volumes. He also edited Stow's Survey of London, and part Dr. Lightfoot's works. Faithful and impartial in his literary labors Strype was highly respected by the dignitaries of the church of England; but his works are not such as to require illustration by extract. A correct and elegant edition of his works has recently proceeded from the Clarendon press at Oxford.
HUMPHREY PRIDEAUX was born at Padstow, in Cornwall, on the third of May, 1648. After having passed some years at a private school in his native county, he was removed to Westminster, then under the care of the celebrated Dr. Busby, where he continued three years. Being a king's scholar, he entered, as a commoner, Christ's Church College, Oxford, in 1668, ..nd eight years after took his master's degree. In 1676, the year after he left the university, he published a commentary upon the inscriptions on the Arundelian marbles; and being ordered to present a copy of the work to the Lord Chancellor Finch, afterwards Earl of Nottingham, he was thus intro
duced to the patronage of that nobleman, who soon after placed a son under his instructions, and, in 1679, presented him to the rectory of St. Clements, near Oxford. In 1686, Prideaux was created doctor of divinity, and thenceforth his life was passed in parochial duties, and in literary pursuits. His death occurred on the first of November, 1724.
Dr. Prideaux, as a writer, is clear, strong, intelligent, and learned, rather than brilliant. Besides the work already alluded to, he was the author of & Life of Mahomet, Directions to Churchwardens, A Treatise on Titles, and the Connection of the History of the Old and New Testament. Prideaux's 'Connection,' is a work of great research, connecting the Old with the New Testament by a luminous historical summary. Few books have had a greater circulation than this, and to all students of divinity it is an invaluable aid. The author was, for a short time, Hebrew Lecturer at Christ Church, Oxford ; and his extensive library of oriental books has been preserved in Clare Hall, Cambridge, to which college it was presented by himself.
CHARLES LESLIE, the son of Bishop Leslie, of Clogher, in Ireland, was born in 1650. After having passed through Trinity College, Dublin, and taken his master's degree, he removed to London, and entered the Inner Temple as a student of law. In 1680, he, however, abandoned the legal profession, and took orders, and so rapid was his advancement in the church that, in 1687, he became chancellor of the cathedral church of Connor. Here he distinguished himself by several disputations with Catholic divines; and by the boldness with which he opposed the pro-popish designs of King James. Nevertheless, at the Revolution, he adopted a decisive tone in favor of Jacobitism, from which he never swerved through life. Removing to London, he was chiefly engaged for several years in writing controversial works against Quakers, Socinians, and Deists; of which, however, none are now remembered excepting A Short and Easy Method with the Deists, which is still popular. Leslie also wrote many occasional and periodical tracts in behalf of the house of Stuart, to whose cause his talents and celebrity certainly lend no small lustre. Being, for one of these publications, obliged to leave England, he repaired, in 1713, to the court of the Chevalier at Bar le Duc, and was well received. James allowed him to have a chapel fitted up for the English service, and was even expected to lend a favorable ear to his arguments against Popery; but this expectation proved vain. It was not possible for an earnest and bitter controversialist like Leslie to remain long at rest in such a situation, and he therefore returned to England in 1721, and died on the thirteenth of the following April, at his residence of Glaslough, in Ireland.
The works of Leslie were collected and published at Oxford, in 1832, in seven volumes; and it must be confessed that they place their author very high in the list of controversial writers, the ingenuity of the arguments being only equalled by the keenness and pertinacity with which they were on all