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Malaya, Siam, and China; with notices of numerous Mis-
sionary Stations, and a full account of the Burman Empire;
with Dissertations, Tables, &c. By HOWARD Malcom. 378
NOTICES AND INTELLIGENCE. - Mrs. Jameson's Winter Studies
and Summer Rambles in Canada. — The Moral Teacher.
- Parkman's Discourses. Monthly Miscellany, &c. - 405
THIRD SERIES - No. XXII.
Art. I. — The Life of the Learned and Pious Dr. Henry
More, late Fellow of Christ's College, in Cambridge. To which are annexed divers of his useful and excellent Letters. By RICHARD WARD, A. M., Rector of Ingolsby, in Lincolnshire. Lond. 1710. 8vo. pp. 362.
It has happened to Dr. More, as to many others, to be overpraised by his friends, and most sadly underrated by all out of that limited circle; to please the great public for a time, and then to be forgotten. At this day his writings are known only to the antiquary, or scholar by profession; and yet, in his own age, he stood high among the brilliant ones who, it was thought, would go down to posterity with their garlands on their heads, and their honors continually increasing. For twenty years after the Restoration his writings sold better than any others of that day; but now they are not to be found in the shops of ordinary booksellers, on the tables of general readers, nor even in the libraries of public institutions.* In less than thirty years his collected philosophical writings, making a thick folio, reached four editions, not to mention the Latin translation of all his works in three folios. As a testimony of the esteem in which they were held, a gentleman of the Inner Temple left £380 sterling, to procure a Latin translation of them, “ that they might do good in foreign parts.”
* We have sought in vain for several of them, at Cambridge, Boston, and Andover. VOL. XXVI. - 30 s. VOL, VIII. NO. I.
It is our design to do something to recall the attention of our readers to the life and writings of this truly learned, pious, and very remarkable man.
The work named at the head of this article is a singular production. It was composed in an age when good biographies were rare, and this is by no means the best of its age. It seldom tells you what you wish most of all to know. The author was a great admirer of Dr. More; he believes in his marvels, and venerates him as the chiefest of saints in those latter days. In his admiration he not only honors his mind, but even his body, and ascribes to it the fragrance of civet and rosemary. It is said a writer should always be in love with his theme; and, if this love were the only essential, our author would not fail to eclipse all preceding biographers, for never were love and veneration more absorbing.
Henry More was born at Grantham, in Lincolnshire, Oct. 12, 1614. He was the son of a man “ of excellent understanding, probity, and piety, and of a fair estate and standing in the world." He was educated at Eton and Cambridge, at which latter place he graduated M. A., in 1639. At school, when a boy, he was distinguished for his remarkable proficiency, and “his teacher would sometimes admire at the exercises which were done by him.” But this admiration gave little pleasure to the youthful author, for he always feared that he should never be able to do so well a second time. In his early years he was distinguished for that same variety and richness of thought which was so remarkable in after life. Piety, also, took early hold of him, and Reason and Religion stood side by side, and wove up the fabric of his tranquil life. His Christianity was of the same date with his Manhood. It is true, doubts sometimes troubled him. “But even in my first childhood," says he, “an inward sense of the Divine presence was so strong upon my mind, that I did then believe there could no deed, word, or thought, be hidden from Him. I think this was an innate sense, or notion, contrary to some witless and sordid philosophers of the present age.”
When a child, at Eaton, he could “not swallow down that hard doctrine of Fate; on the contrary," he continues, “I remember I did very stoutly and earnestly dispute against this fate, or predestination, as it is called.” His uncle, however, chid him very severely, and threatened a rod for his immature forwardness in philosophizing upon such high matters. But
Henry continued his philosophizing, and came to this conclusion:
“If I am one of those that are predestinated unto hell, where all things are full of nothing but cursing and blasphemy, yet will I behave myself there so patiently and submissively towards God, and if there be any one thing more than another that is acceptable to him, that will I set myself to do with a sincere heart, and to the utmost of my power, being certainly persuaded that if I thus demeaned myself, he would hardly keep me long in that place." - pp. 6, 7.
At college, his zeal for knowledge was almost excessive. It excited the notice of his tutor, a kind-hearted and religious man, who once asked his pupil why he was so, above measure, intent upon his studies ? suspecting there was, at bottom, some itch after vain glory.” But More answered, “I study, that I may know." But, young man,” pursued the tutor, “why do you so earnestly desire to know things?” To which he replied, “I desire to know, that I may know.” — He spent four years in this way, in the study of the old masters in philosophy; and though he found in them “some things wittily, and others solidly spoken,” yet they ended in nothing but skepticism. At this time he set down the state of his mind in a few verses, significantly called Emptiness. They are not the worst he ever wrote.
“Nor whence, nor who I am, poor wretch, know I,
Nor yet, oh madness! whither I must go;
And live, I think, by force tugged to and fro.
'Tis brave we mortals live, in clouds like thee.
This is my life, I nothing else do see.”—p. 11. Then he began to suspect the knowledge of things was not the supreme felicity of man; or, supposing it to be so, it was not to be acquired by the reading of authors, nor the contemplation of things, but rather by purging the mind of all sorts of vices. He was led to this by reading the Platonic writers, and especially the mystics, who often speak of the "purgative course, which is preparatory to the illuminative." "By their influence and his own natural inclination, for the Mystic is rather born than made, - he became a devoted mystic, in the best sense of the word. He was especially moved by a little
work, so highly commended by Luther, called “Theologia Germanica,” and particularly by that main idea of the writer, that we shall entirely extinguish our own will. — “That truly golden book did not then first implant it in my soul, but struck and roused it, as it were, out of sleep, in me; which it did, verily, as in a moment, or the twinkling of an eye.” So he conquered the “selfish principle, and the divine became triumphant. His “thirst for knowledge was extinguished," and he was solicitous about nothing so much as a more full union with “ that divine and celestial principle,- - the inward, flowing, well-spring of life eternal.”
But, when he attained this mystical union, he made a much more rapid advance in knowledge than ever before; so that, in few years,
he found himse in a much more lucid and delightful state of mind, and wrote a few more verses descriptive of his condition, which he called “Fulness."
“I am from heaven; am an immortal ray
Of God, oh joy! and back to God shall go.
I live, I'm sure, and joy this life to know.
We live, as thou, clad with eternal day.
This is true Life, all else, Death and Decay.” — p. 16. He then wrote a long poem, called Psychozoia, the Life of the Soul, which was published a few years later, at the request of his friends. The poem relates “ the experiences of his own soul,” but it is of such a character, that it has been said, none but a Platonic philosopher or a reviewer would ever read it. In these earliest flights
of poetic fancy, which are marked by all the obscurity and bad taste that so generally pervaded the poetry of those times, he sings of the Infinity of Worlds; the Preëxistence of Souls; the Highest Life; Virtue; Divine Joy; the First Good; Spiritual Beauty; the Platonic and Christian Triads; and the Perfect System of Optimism which everywhere prevails. His early visions of life, though caught through the windows of Christ's College, were bright and sunny. His thoughts on divine things were beautiful and deep. To him the world of matter was a collection of beautiful symbols, which fairly, or faintly shadowed forth the glories of the spirit world. The whole universe was to God what the body is to the soul, — its representative. Wisdom and holiness were to