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more than others; so that though he met with concerned thereat, or suffering ‘no impeachment many rarities, he admired then not so much as of happinessNihil agis, dolor. others do.
“ His patience was founded upon the Chris“ He was never seen to be transported with 'tian philosophy, and a sound faith of God's promirth, or dejected with sadness; always cheer vidence, and a meek and holy submission thereful but rarely merry, at any sensible rate ; sel- unto, which he expressed in few words. I vidom heard to break a jest; and when he did, he sited him near his end, when he had not strength would be apt to blush at the levity of it: his to hear or speak much; the last words which 1 gravity was natural, without affectation. heard from him were, besides some expressions
“ His modesty was visible in a natural habi- of dearness, that he did freely submit to the will tual blush, which was increased upon the least of God, being without fear: he had often trioccasion, and oft discovered without any obser- umphed over the king of terrors in others, vable cause.
and given many repulses in the defence of “ They that knew no more of him than by the patients; but, when his own turn came, he briskness of his writings, found themselves de- submitted with a meek, rational, and religious ceived in their expectation, when they came in courage. his company, noting the gravity and sobriety “ He might have made good the old saying of of his aspect and conversation ; so free from lo- Dat Galenus opes, bad he lived in a place that quacity or mich talkativeness, that he was some- could have afforded it. But his indulgence and times difficult to be engaged in any discourse ; liberality to his children, especially in their trathough when he was so, it was always singular, vels, two of his sons in divers countries, and and never trite or vulgar. Parsimonious in no- two of his daughters in France, spent him more thing but his time, whereof he made as much than a little. He was liberal in his house-enimprovement, with as little loss as any man in tertainments and in his charity; he left a comit: when he had any to spare from his drudging fortable, but no great estate, both to his lady and practice, he was scarce patient of any diversion children, gained by his own industry. from his study; so impatient of sloth and idle- “Such was his sagacity and knowledge of all ness, that he would say he could not do nothing. history, ancient and modern, and his observa
“ Sir Thomas understood most of the Euro. tions thereupon so singular, that it hath been pean languages; viz. all that are in Hutter's said by them that knew him best, that if his Bible, which he made use of. The Latin and profession, and place of abode, would have suitGreek he understood critically; the Oriental ed his ability, he would have made an extraorlanguages, which never were vernacular in this dinary man for the privy council, not much inpart of the world, he thought the use of them ferior to the famous Padre Paulo, the late orawould not answer the time and pains of learn- cle of the Venetian state. ing them; yet had so great a veneration for the “ Though he were no prophet, nor son of a matrix of them, viz. the Hebrew, consecrated prophet, yet in that faculty whieh comes nearest to the oracles of God, that he was not content to it he excelled, i. e. the stochastic, wherein he be totally ignorant of it; though very little of was seldom mistaken as to future events, as his science is to be found in any books of that well public as private ; but not apt to discover primitive language. And though much is said any presages or superstition.” to be written in the derivative idioms of that It is observable, that be, who in his earlier tongue, especially the Arabic, yet he was satis- years had read all the books against religion, fied with the translations, wherein he found was in the latter part of his life averse from connothing admirable.
troversies. To play with important truths, to “ In his religion he continued in the same disturb the repose of established tenets, to mind which he had declared in his first book, , subtilize objections, and elude proof, is too often written when he was but thirty years old, his the sport of youthful vanity, of which maturer Religio Medici, wherein he fully assented to that experience commonly repents. There is a time of the church of England, preferring it before when every man is weary of raising difficulties any in the world, as did the learned Grotius. only to task himself with the solution, and de lle attended the public service very constantly, sires to enjoy truth without the labour or bawhen he was not withheld by his practice; zard of contest. There is, perhaps, no better never missed the sacrament in his parish, if he method of encountering these troublesome irrupwere in town ; read the best English sermons he tions of scepticism, with which inquisitive could hear of, with liberal applause; and de- minds are frequently harassed, than that which lighted not in controversies. In his last sick- Browne declares himself to have taken : “ If bess, wherein he continued about a week's time, there arise any doubts in my way I do forget enduring great pain of the colic, besides a con- them; or at least defer them, till my better settinual fever, with as much patience as hath been tled judgment, and more manly reason be able to seen in any man, without any pretence of Stoi- resolve them : for I perceive, every man's reason cal apathy, animosity, or vanity of not being is his best ædipis, and will, upon a reasonable truce, find a way to loose those bonds, wherewith of ideas, sometimes obstruct the tendency of his the subtilties of error have enchained our more reasoning and the clearness of his decisions; on flexible and tender judgments."
whatever subject he employed his mind, there The foregoing character may be confirmed started up immediately so many images before and enlarged by many passages in the “ Religio him, that he lost one by grasping another. His Medici ;” in which it appears, from Whitefoot's memory supplied him with so many illustratestimony, that the author, though no very tions, parallel or dependent notions, that he was sparing panegyrist of himself, had not exceeded always starting into collateral considerations : the truth, with respect to his attainments or but the spirit and vigour of his pursuit always visible qualities.
gives delight; and the reader follows him, withThere are, indeed, some interior and secret out reluctance, through his mazes, in themselves virtues, which a man may sometimes have with flowery and pleasing, and ending at the point out the knowledge of others; and may some- originally in view. times assume to himself, without sufficient rea- “ To have great excellences and great faults, sons for his opinion. It is charged upon magnæ virtules, nec minora vitia, is the poesy," Browne, by Dr. Watts, as an instance of arro
says our author, “ of the best natures." This gant temerity, that, after a long detail of his at- poesy may be properly applied to the style of tainments, be declares himself to have escaped Browne; it is vigorous, but rugged; it is « the first and father-sin of pride." A perusal learned, but pedantic; it is deep, but obscure ; of the “ Religio Medici” will not much contri- it strikes, but does not please; it commands, bute to produce a belief of the author's exemp- but does not allure: his tropes are harsh, and tion from this father-sin : pride is a vice, wbich his combinations uncouth. He fell into an age pride itself inclines every man to find in others, in which our language began to lose the stability and to overlook in himself.
which it had obtained in the time of Elizabeth; As easily may we be mistaken in estimating and was considered by every writer as a subject our own courage, as our own humility; and on which he might try his plastic skill, by therefore, when Browne shows himself per- moulding it according to his own fancy. Milton, svaded, that “ he could lose an arm without a in consequence of this encroaching license, betear, or with a few groans be quartered to gan to introduce the Latin idiom: and Browne, pieces,” I am not sure that he felt in himself though he gave less disturbance to our strucany uncommon powers of endurance; or, in- tures in phraseology, yet poured in a multitude deed, any thing more than a sudden efferves of exotic words; many, indeed, useful and sigcence of imagination, which, uncertain and in- niticant, which, if rejected, must be supplied by voluntary as it is, he mistook for settled reso- circumlocution, such as com mensalily for the lution.
state of many living at the same table ; but “ That there were not many extant, that in a many superfluvus, as a paralogical for an unreanoble way feared the face of death less than sonable doubt; and some so obscure, that they himself ;" he might likewise believe at a very conceal his meaning rather than explain it, as easy expense, while death was yet at a distance; arthritical analogies, for parts that serve some but the time will come to every human being, animals in the place of joints. when it must be known how well he can bear His style is, indeed, a tissue of many lanto die; and it has appeared that our author's guages; a mixture of heterogeneous words, fortitude did not desert bim in the great hour brought together from distant regions, with of trial.
terms originally appropriated to one art, and It was observed by some of the remarkers on drawn by violence into the service of another. the “ Religio Medici,” that “the author was He must, however, be confessed to have augyet alive, and might grow worse as well as bet- mented our pbilosophical diction : and in deter;" it is therefore happy, that this suspicion fence of his uncommon words and expressions, can be obviated by a testimony given to the con- we must consider, that he had uncommon sentinuance of his virtue, at a time when death timents, and was not content to express in many had set hiun free from danger of change, and words that idea for which any language could his panegyrist from temptation to flattery. supply a single term.
But it is not on the praises of others, but on But his innovations are sometimes pleasing, his own writings, that he is to depend for the es- and his temerities happy: he has many verba teem of posterity; of which he will not easily' ardentia, forcible expressions, which he would be deprived while learning shall bave any re- never have found but by venturing to the ut. verence among men; for there is no science in most verge of propriety; and fights which which he does not discover some skill; and would never have been reached, but by one who scarce any kind of knowledge, profane or sacred, had very little fear of the shame of falling. abstruse or elegant, which he does not appear Tbere remains yet an objection against the to have cultivated with success.
writings of Browne, more formidable than the His exuberance of knowledge, and plenitude animadversions of criticism. There are passager
from whico some bave taken occasion to rank sentials of Christianity; men may sometimes him among deists, and others among atheists. eagerly dispute, and yet not differ much from It would be difficult to guess how any such con- one another : the rigorous persecutors of error clusion should be formed, had not experience should, therefore, enlighten their zeal with shown that there are two sorts of men willing knowledge, and temper their orthodoxy with to enlarge the catalogue of infidels.
cbarity; that charity, without which orthodoxy It has been long observed, that an atheist has is vain; charity that “thinketh no evil," but no just reason for endeavouring conversions ; “ hopeth all things," and “endureth all things." and yet none harass those minds which they can Whether Browne has been numbered among influence, with more importunity of solicitation the contemners of religion, by the fury of its to adopt their opinions. In proportion as they friends, or the artifice of its enemies, it is no doubt the truth of their own doctrines, they are difficult task to replace him among the most desirous to gain the attestation of another under- zealous professors of Christianity. He may, standing: and industriously labour to win a perhaps, in the ardour of his imagination, have proselyte, and eagerly catch at the slightest hazarded an expression, which a mind intent pretence to dignify their sect with a celebrated upon faults may interpret into heresy, if con
sidered apart from the rest of his discourse; but The others become friends to infidelity only a phrase is not to be opposed to volumes; there by unskilful hostility; men of rigid orthodoxy, is scarcely a writer to be found, whose profession cautious conversation, and religious asperity. was not divinity, that has so frequently testified Among these, it is too frequently the practice, his belief of the sacred writings, has appealed to to make in their heat concessions to atheism, or them with such unlimited submission, or mendeism, which their most confident advocates tioned them with such unvaried reverence. had never dared to claim, or to hope. A sally It is, indeed, somewhat wonderful, that he of levity, an idle paradox, an indecent jest, an should be placed without the pale of Christianunreasonable objection, are sufficient, in the ity, who declares, “ that he assumes the bonopinion of these men, to efface a name from the ourable style of a Christian,” not because it is lists of Christianity, to exclude a soul from “ the religion of his country,” but because everlasting life. Such men are so watchful to having in bis riper years and confirmed judgcensure, that they have seldom much care to ment seen and examined all, he finds himself look for favourable interpretations of ambigui obliged, by the principles of grace, and the law ties, to set the general tenor of life against single of his own reason, to embrace no other namo failures, or to know how soon any slip of inad- but this :" who to specify his persuasion yet vertency has been expiated by sorrow and re- more, tells us, that “ he is of the Reformed retraction; but let fly their fulminations, without ligion ; of the same belief our Saviour taught, mercy or prudence, against slight offences or the apostles disseminated, the fathers authorised, casual temerities, against crimes never commit- and the martyrs confirmed ;” who, though ted, or immediately repented.
“ paradoxical in philosophy, loves in divinity to The infidel knows well what he is doing. He keep the beaten road; and pleases himself that is endeavouring to supply, by authority, the de- he bas no taint of heresy, schism, or error:" to ficiency of his arguments ; and to make his cause whom, “ where the Scripture is silent, the less invidious, by showing numbers on his side: Church is a text; where that speaks, 'tis but a he will, therefore, not change bis conduct, till' comment;" and who uses not “ the dictates of he reforms his principles. But the zealot should his own reason, but where there is a joint silence recollect, that he is labouring by this frequency' of both : who blesses himself, that he lived not of excommunication, against bis own cause, and in the days of miracles, when faith had been voluntarily adding strength to the enemies of thrust upon him; but enjoys that greater blesstruth. It must always be the condition of a ing, pronounced to all that believe and saw not." great part of mankind to reject and embrace He cannot surely be charged with a defect of tenets upon the authority of those whom they faith, who “ believes that our Saviour was dead, think wiser than themselves; and, therefore, and buried, and rose again, and desires to see the addition of every name to infidelity in some him in his glory :" and who affirms that “this degree invalidates that argument upon which is not much to believe ;" that “we have reason the religion of multitudes is pocessarily founded. to owe this faith unto history;" and that “they
Men may differ from each other in many re- only had the advantage of a bold and noble faith, ligious opinions, and yet all may retain the es- who lived before his coming; and upon obscuro The opinions of every man must be learned , apparently concur to prove that Browne was a from himself: concerning his practice, it is zealous adherent to the faith of Christ, that he safest to trust the evidence of others. Where lived in obedience to his laws, and died in confithese testimonies concur, no higher degree of dence of his mercy. historical certainty can be obtained ; and they
prophecies, and mystical types, could raise a
belief. Nor can contempt of the positive and • Therefore no heretics desire to spread Their wild opinions like these Epicures.
ritual parts of religion be iinputed to him, who For so their staggering thoughts are computed,
doubts, whether a good man would refuse a And other men's assent their doubt assures.
poisoned eucharist ; and “ who would violate DAVIES. his own arm, rather than a church.”
ASCH A M.*
Ir often happens to writers, that they are known committed his education, with that of his own only by their works ; the incidents of a literary sons, to the care of one Bond, a domestic tutor. life are seldom observed, and therefore seldom He very early discovered an unusual fondness recounted: but Ascham has escaped the com. for literature by an eager perusal of English mon fate by the friendship of Edward Graunt, books; and having passed happily through the the learned master of Westminster-school, who scholastic rudiments, was put in 1530, by his devoted an oration to his memory, and has patron Wingfield, to St. John's college in Cammarked the various vicissitudes of his fortune. bridge. Graunt either avoided the labour of minute in- Ascham entered Cambridge at a time when quiry, or thought domestic occurrences the last great revolution of the intellectual world worthy of his notice; or, preferring the charac. was filling every academical mind with ardour ter of an orator to that of an historian, selected or anxiety. The destruction of the Constantionly such particulars as he could best express or nopolitan empire had driven the Greeks with most happily embellish. His narrative is there their language into the interior parts of Europe. fore scanty, and I know not by what materials the art of printing had made the books easily atit can now be amplified.
tainable, and the Greek now began to be taught
in England. The doctrines of Luther had alRoger Ascham was born in the year 1515, at ready filled all the nations of the Romish comKirby Wiske, (or Kirby Wicke,) a village near munion with controversy and dissention. New Northallerton, in Yorkshire, of a family above studies of literature, and new tenets of religion, the vulgar. His father, John Ascham, was found employment for all who were desirous of housc-steward in the family of Scroop; and in truth, or ambitious of fame. Learning was at that age, when the different orders of men were that time prosecuted with that eagerness and at a greater distance from each other, and the perseverance which in this age of indifference manners of gentlemen were regularly formed and dissipation it is not easy to conceive. To by menial services in great houses, lived with a teach or to learn, was at once the business and very conspicuous reputation. Margaret As- the pleasure of the academical life; and an emucham, his wife, is said to have been allied to
lation of study was raised by Cheke and Smith, many considerable families, but her maiden to which even the present age perhaps owes name is not recorded. She had three sons of many advantages, without remembering or whom Roger was the youngest, and some knowing its benefactors. daughters; but who can hope, that of any pro- Ascham soon resolved to unite bimself to those geny more than one shall deserve to be men
who were enlarging the bounds of knowledge, tioned? They lived married sixty-seven years, and, immediately upon his admission into the and at last died together almost on the same college, applied himself to the study of Greek. hour of the same day.
Those who were zealous for the new learning, Roger, having passed his first years under the were often no great friends to the old religion ; care of his parents, was adopted into the family and Ascham, as he became a Grecian, became a of Antony Wingfield, who maintained him, and Protestant. The Reformation was not yet be
gun, disaffection to Popery was considered as a
crime justly punished by exclusion from favour • First printed before his Works, 4to. published by and preferment, and was not yet openly proBernet, 1763.-H.
fessed, though superstition was gradually losing
its hold upon the públic. The study of Greek His reputation still increased, and many rewas reputable enough, and Ascham pursued it sorted to his chamber to hear the Greek writers with diligence and success equally conspicuous. explained. He was likewise eminent for other He thought a language might be most easily accomplishments. By the advice of Pember, he learned by teaching it; and when he had ob. bad learned to play on musical instruments, and tained some proficiency in Greek, read lec- he was one of the few who excelled in the metures, while he was yet a boy, to other boys, chanical art of writing, which then began to be who were desirous of instruction. His industry cultivated among us, and in which we now sur. was much encouraged by Pember, a man of pass all other nations. He not only wrote his great eminence at that time, though I know not pages with neatness, but embellished them with that he has left any monuments behind him, elegant draughts and illuminations; an art at but what the gratitude of his friends and scho- that time so highly valued, that it contributed lars has bestowed. He was one of the great much both to his fame and his fortune. encouragers of Greek learning, and particularly He became master of arts in March, 1537, in applauded Ascham's lectures, assuring him in a his twenty-first year, and then, if not before, letter, of which Graunt has preserved an ex- commenced tutor, and publicly undertook the tract, that he would gain more knowledge by education of young men. A tutor of one-andexplaining one of Æsop's fables to a boy, than twenty, however accomplished with learning, by hearing one of Homer's poems explained by bowever exalted by genius, would now gain little another.
reverence or obedience ; but in those days of Ascham took his bachelor's degree in 1534, discipline and regularity, the authority of the February 18, in the eighteenth year of his age: statutes easily supplied that of the teacher ; all a time of life at which it is more common now power that was lawful was reverenced. Beto enter the universities than to take degrees, sides, young tutors had still younger pupils. but which, according to the modes of education Ascham is said to have courted his scholars to then in use, had nothing of remarkable prema- study by every incitement, to have treated them turity. On the 23d of March following, he with great kindness, and to have taken care at was chosen fellow of the college, which election once to instil learning and piety, to enlighten he considered as a second birth. Dr. Metcalf, their minds, and to form their manners. Many the master of the college, a man as Ascham tells of his scholars rose to great eminence; and us, “meanly learned himself, but no mean encou- among them William Grindal was so much disrager of learning in others," clandestinely pro- tinguished, that, by Cheke's recommendation, moted his election, though he openly seemed he was called to court as a proper master of lanfirst to oppose it, and afterwards to censure it, guages for the Lady Elizabeth. because Ascham was known to favour the new There was yet no established lecturer of opinions ; and the master himself was accused Greek; the university therefore appointed Asof giving an unjust preference to the Northern cham to read in the open schools, and paid him men, one of the factions into which this nation
out of the public purse an honorary stipend, was divided, before we could find any niore im- such as was then reckoned sufficiently liberal. portant reason of dissention, than that some A lecture was afterwards founded by King were born on the Northern and some on the Henry, and he then quitted the schools, but Southern side of Trent. Any cause is suffi- continued to explain Greek authors in his own cient for a quarrel ; and the zealots of the North college. and South lived long in such animosity, that it He was at first an opponent of the new prowas thought necessary at Oxford to keep them nunciation introduced, or rather of the ancient quiet by choosing one proctor every year from restored, about this time by Cheke and Smith, each.
and made some cautious struggles for the comHe seems to have been hitherto supported by mon practice, which the credit and dignity of the bounty of Wingfield, which his attainment his antagonists did not permit him to defend of a fellowship now freed him from the neces. very publicly, or with much vehemence : por sity of receiving. Dependance, though in those were they long his antagonists: for either his days it was more common, and less irksome, affection for their merit, or his conviction of the than in the present state of things, can never cogency of their arguments, soon changed his have been free from discontent; and therefore opinion and his practice, and he adhered ever be that was released from it must always have after to their method of utterance. rejoiced. The danger is, lest the joy of escaping Of this controversy it is not necessary to give from the patron may not leave sufficient me- a circumstantial account; something of it may mory of the benefactor. Of this forgetfulness be found in Strype's Life of Smith, and someAscbam cannot be accused; for he is recorded to thing in Baker's Reflections upon Learning; it have preserved the most grateful and affectionate is sufficient to remark here, that Cheke's proreverence for Wingfield, and to have never nunciation was that which now prevails in the grown weary of recounting his benefits.
schools of England. Disquisitions not only