« AnteriorContinuar »
USHER, and WATERLAND. To these names others may be added, and some of these may, possibly, be dropped; but they are here mentioned as indicative of the general cast and tone of the "Library." The aim will be, to bring into one solid and comprehensive collection the theological wisdom of England in its elder period.
The reprints will be made from the latest and best English editions, and will be accompanied with concise yet full biographical memoirs, and copious indexes. The memoirs, so far as possible, will be selected from existing materials, and preference will in every instance be given to those biographers who from intimate personal acquaintance were in sympathy with the subject of the biography. It is proposed to publish only complete editions of an author. This is the preference of the publishers. But if, owing to very great voluminousness, and the lack of a popular demand, in any particular instance, this rule should be varied from, entire treatises will invariably be given. There will be no compilations, alterations, or mutilations; but each author, even in case he should not appear in all his works, will be represented by entire treatises in the exact form in which he has come down to us.
The prosecution of the enterprise to its completion must, of course, depend upon the public. Should the publishers find that they have presumed too much upon the popular demand, the publication of the first author in the series will disclose the fact, and put a stop to further advance. But should the success of the first be apparent, the second will follow, and the others in their course. Each author will be sold separately as well as collectively, so that all classes of buyers may suit their convenience or preferences.
MEMOIR OF DR. ROBERT SOUTH.
OBERT SOUTH was born at Hackney, in 1633. His father was an eminent London merchant, and his mother, whose maiden name was Berry, belonged to a good Kentish family. In 1647, after distinguishing himself by his progress in the preliminary studies, he was admitted a king's scholar at Westminster, where he remained for four years under the tuition of the celebrated Dr. Busby. Even so early as 1649 he gave a decided indication of that attachment to an established form of government in Church and State, for which he was conspicuous through life, by praying for Charles I. by name, while reading the Latin prayers in the school on the day of that monarch's execution.
In 1651, he was elected, at the same time with John Locke, a student of Christ Church, Oxford, where he soon attracted attention by his attainments. He took his degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1655, and in the same year published a panegyric in Latin verse, on Oliver Cromwell, on the occasion of his conclusion of the peace with the Dutch, a circumstance which did not escape the opponents of Dr. South in after years, who ascribed to unsteadiness of principle what perhaps was the mere exercise of scholarship upon a theme imposed by his superiors in the University, and as to which he had himself no choice. It was certainly the last compliment he ever paid to Cromwell. By his adherence to the liturgy and ritual of the Church of England, South appears to have given offense to the members of the dominant political party, who then held the control of the University, and Dr. John Owen, who was Vice-Chancellor at the time, opposed his obtaining the degree of Master of Arts; but fortunately for South, a majority of those with whom the power of conferring the degree lay was in his favor, and he received it in 1657. In 1658 he was admitted to holy orders by a deprived bishop.
The Restoration greatly improved his ecclesiastical position. In August, 1660, he was elected public orator to the University of Oxford, and some time after this he was appointed chaplain to the Chancellor Clarendon, whose attention had been directed to him by an oration delivered in his capacity of public orator, upon the
occasion of Clarendon's installation as Chancellor of the University. This opened the door for his advancement, and he was installed Prebendary of Saint Peter's, Westminster, on 30th March, 1663. He obtained his degree of Doctor of Divinity, in the October of that year, after some opposition on the ground of his being a Master of Arts of only six years' standing. This difficulty was overruled, doubtless, from a regard to the high attainments of South. These were universally recognized, and in 1670 he was installed a canon of Christ Church, Oxford.
In 1667 he committed to the press a Latin poem, written in 1655, entitled, "Musica Inconstans, sive Poema exprimens Musicæ vires, Juvenem in Insaniam adigentis, et Musici inde Periculum." This juvenile effusion was highly applauded at the time, says a contemporary biographer, "for the beauty of its language, and the quickness of its turns," a species of encomium, which seems to imply that it belonged to the metaphysical school of poetry. The work, which has now become extremely rare, has, no doubt, deservedly passed into oblivion. South himself regretted its publication "as a juvenile and momentary performance."
In June, 1677, South accompanied Mr. Lawrence Hyde, the son of the Earl of Clarendon, and afterwards Lord Rochester, to Poland, on an embassy with which that gentleman was intrusted, to congratulate John Sobieski on his election to the Crown of Poland, and to carry presents to his daughter, the Princess Teresa, afterwards Electress of Bavaria, to whom Charles II. had some time before stood godfather by proxy. Mr. Hyde, whose tutor Dr. South had been, in which capacity he had greatly endeared himself to him, proposed that he should accompany the embassy as chaplain, to which the doctor readily agreed. It is easy to imagine that he should have gladly embraced this opportunity of becoming personally acquainted with a country to which the eyes of all Europe were then earnestly directed, and of seeing Sobieski, who was certainly the most remarkable man of his time. Sobieski had, only two years before, upon the death of the feeble and worthless Michael Wiezsnowiezky, been elected king by the unanimous voice of the Polish diet, and he had, since that period, signalized himself by beating back, with comparatively a handful of men, the overwhelming armies of Mahomet IV., which threatened destruction to the faith and liberties of Europe. The decisive struggle, which was to crush forever the hopes of the Moslem, did not take place for seven years afterwards; but Sobieski's achievements had even then been such, as to be regarded by Europe more as miracles than as ordinary conquests, and to earn him, from the terrors of Turk and Tartar, the title of "The Wizard King."
South has recorded his observations during his visit to Poland in a long and elaborate letter from Dantzic, dated 16th December, 1677, to Dr. Edward Pococke, then Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford, and one of the Canons of Christ Church. This letter, which is distinguished by his usual shrewdness of observation, forms a very curious and interesting historical document.
Soon after South's return to England, he was presented by the Dean and Chapter of the Collegiate Church of Westminster, to the Rectory of Islip in Oxfordshire. It is recorded of him, that he applied the whole revenues of the benefice, which amounted to £200 per annum, after setting aside one half to his curate, in educating and apprenticing the poorer children of his parish. He repaired the chancel, which had fallen into disrepair, at his own cost, as appears from a Latin inscription over the entrance. The parsonage house having also fallen into decay, besides being unsuitable to a living of such importance, South purchased a piece of ground, and built a handsome mansion-house upon it, which he settled upon himself and his successors in the cure.
In 1685, Dr. South, who was by this time one of his majesty's chaplains in ordinary, preached his sermon entitled,-"All contingencies under the direction of God's providence," in presence of the king. Speaking of the train of mischievous consequences which often spring from trivial beginnings, and the unexpected advancement of persons of the lowest grade to fortune and power, South illustrates his argument by the following passage, which is little creditable to his temper or taste, considering the circumstances in which it was spoken,-"Who," he says, "that had beheld such a bankrupt, beggarly fellow as Cromwell, first entering the parliament - house with a threadbare torn cloak, and a greasy hat, (and perhaps neither of them paid for,) could have suspected that in the space of a few years, he should, by the murder of one king, and the banishment of another, ascend the throne, be invested in the royal robes, and want nothing of the state of a king, but the changing of his hat into a crown?” On hearing this, the king is said to have burst into a violent fit of laughter, and turning to Lord Rochester, to have exclaimed, "Ods fish, Lory, your chaplain must be a bishop; therefore put me in mind of him at the next death." It was from no sycophantish motive, however, that South indulged in such intemperate and misplaced railing at the protector and his party; for although a bishopric was repeatedly offered to him during the remaining part of Charles's reign, he uniformly declined these offers, saying, that he was amply provided with the means for maintaining the dignities which he * See Sermon VIII.
already held in the church, and for upholding the charities which he had already settled, or had in contemplation.
Similar offers were made to him during James's reign, and in like manner declined. South was a determined enemy to the Roman Catholic religion, and strongly disapproved of the measures adopted by James for its restoration. He is said to have assisted by his advice in a controversy conducted in presence of the king between Fathers Giffard and Tilden on the one side, and Drs. Jane and Patrick on the other, which ended in the defeat of the advocates of the Romish church, who were dismissed by the king with the remark, "that he could say more in behalf of his religion than they could ; and that he never heard a good cause managed so ill, nor a bad one so well." Dr. South had originally been proposed as the party to conduct this controversy on the part of the church of England along with Dr. Jane, but he was objected to by the king, to whom his invectives from the pulpit against the Papists had made him unacceptable.
Notwithstanding his opposition to the king in matters of religion, his loyalty, which was based upon extreme notions of the right divine of kings, remained unshaken. During Monmouth's rebellion, he professed himself ready, if occasion required, to change his black gown for a buff-coat; and when the archbishop of Canterbury, and the bishops who subscribed the invitation to the Prince of Orange to come over, applied to him for his signature, his answer was, that "his religion had taught him to bear all things; and howsoever it should please God that he should suffer, he would, by the divine assistance, continue to abide by his allegiance, and use no other weapons but his prayers and tears for the recovery of his sovereign from the wicked and unadvised counsels wherewith he was entangled."
It was some time before South gave in his adherence to the new government; but after the abdication of James, and the settlement of the crown on the Prince and Princess of Orange, he considered that James's desertion of his kingdom put an end to his claims upon the allegiance of his subjects. He therefore withdrew his opposition, and acknowledged the legality of the Revolution settlement. Offers were made to promote him to one of the episcopal sees vacated by the non-juring bishops, but these he declined, declaring with a noble spirit, “that notwithstanding he himself saw nothing contrary to the laws of God, and the common practice of all nations, to submit to princes in possession of the throne, yet others might have their reasons for a contrary opinion; and he blessed God, that he was neither so ambitious, nor in want of preferment, as, for the sake