ページの画像
PDF
ePub

precious in his estimation than his own. In closing this short notice of his work we cannot but give expression to the hope that he may long enjoy the fame which he has so fairly earned as one of the most energetic and successful of African explorers.

WE

[ocr errors]

ART. VI.-1. The Life of Bishop Wilson. By the Rev. John

Keble. Parker, 1863. 2. The Manx Society Publications, 1858-1865. Douglas.

E have here two holy men, one the biographer of the

other, and in character not unlike him: twin Suns of the Church of whom the world has not often seen the equals, and is not likely soon to see again. It behoves us to approach them reverently, to weigh well our words, and suspect our verdict.

Like a familiar melody of our childhood, through how many a year of life's burdens

“ in this loud stunning tide

Of human care and crime has not the music of the Sweet Psalmist' of Hursley braced and soothed us! Alas! how hard to believe that the voice which uttered it is now hushed for ever. Nor is it a light thing for us to handle—we would say presume to handle—the life, and measure the character, of such a man as Bishop Wilson. Need were, we should ascend some aërial eminence, above the din and commonplace of our own age, and survey from thence all the children of men. Think of the long length

Think of the long length of his patriarchal age, and venerable sway, wholly and solely devoted to the service of his Lord ; think of the atmosphere of prayer in which he lived and moved,' and of the phylactery of holy thoughts which ever guarded him, and we shall apprehend the difficulty of our task.

The test of a righteous man lies in the spirit of his prayers. Wilson was emphatically a man of prayer: and therefore he could write good prayers. In the 'Sacra Privata,' the mariner embarking on his deep-sea fishings, and uncovering himself (as is still the custom in Man) in prayer for a successful draught, the convict languishing in the condemned cell — the bridegroom glorying in his bride—the husband and wife helping one another in the trial-journey of life—the husband leaning over the sick couch of his wife, and the widower in his agony -the parent invoking God's mercies on a child, and the child on a parent-are all provided for. The loyal subject zealous for his sovereign-the chaplain interceding for his patron, or the godfather for the godchild—the bishop preparing for his instal

lation,

lation, and the candidate for ordination—the physician hanging in hope and fear over his patient—the traveller beginning a long journey—the client anxious for his lawsuit, and the conscientious judge praying that he may administer justice-here find their wants anticipated in the most apt and devotional language.

When we meditate upon these wonderful effusions fitted for all occasions to the end of time, and of all but inspired excellence, we feel that we are holding communion with one who is immeasurably our superior, who was armed with a spiritual panoply that few men can put on, and who walked forth to the contests of life with an unassailable

power, Another, and we think most loveable, characteristic of Wilson's mind was his intense realization of the Divine presence on every occasion, and his recognition of all the common and special providences of life: witness the following devout and touching sentiment which Mr. Keble not unaptly places at the beginning of his work :-If Christians would but accustom themselves to render to God the glory of His mercies—to take notice of, and to give Him thanks for, the many favours, deliverances, visitations, or chastisements they every day meet with—they would most surely engage the Divine goodness and providence to multiply those blessings upon them, which they put a stop to by their ingratitude

Wilson was not a great man, yet his praise has gone out into all lands,' and his place will know him long after the memories of more distinguished men have passed entirely away. He was not, we think, in some respects a wise man, and yet he did more for the good of his fellow-men than most wise men have done. Like most courageous and unflinching men of principle, he was not popular in his generation, and yet as long as England is England, few names will be named, wheresoever the Gospel is preached in the whole world,' more revered. He took no pains to ingratiate himself with others-neither with the multitude nor the powers that be—quite the contrary. He took no part in English politics; he never filled his honorary place in the House of Lords, holding that a Bishop has no business with politics. He refused more than one offer of promotion; for Man has usually been a stepping-stone to other Sees, and might have been so in his case. He made a conscientious vow never to be a pluralist; he was in frequent collision with the civil powers; he seldom stirred from his home, which was in an inaccessible corner of the British isles. Whence then this power, this fame, and influence ? One answer seems to be, he went straight to his point without compromise, unmindful of personal consequences, and that point was with him always one of conscience.

Numerous

Numerous as have been the biographies of Wilson, we cannot say that we are satisfied with any one of them. The records of his childhood, and indeed of his early life generally, are, in all, disappointingly meagre; nor has Mr. Keble been able to adá to the scanty stock of information. Almost all we are told is that he was born at Burton in Cheshire, in 1663, of respectable though humble parents; that he was sent to school at Chester, and finished his education in the not very showy academical position of a sizar of Trinity College, Dublin; that in 1686 he was ordained deacon by the Bishop of Kildare; and the next year licensed to the curacy of Winwick, of which his uncle, Dr. Sherlock, was rector, Here he remained six years. Taking his priest's orders in 1689, he was appointed domestic chaplain to William, the ninth Earl of Derby, in 1692, and tutor to his son, Lord Strange, who died young. In 1697 he was appointed by the Earl to the Bishopric of Man, being then only thirty-four years of age; one of the youngest bishops on record. The following year he was married to his cousin, Mary Patten. All the rest of his long life he may

be said to have lived among his own people, his only absences being his twelve voyages on business which took him to England, and on which, by-the-bye, he frequently embarked on a Sunday-necessarily, as Mr. Keble says, as the chance vessels which alone then made the passage always preferred that day.

Yet how interesting it would have been to know something of the mould in which was cast a character so much in advance of his age, anticipating as it did by a century the higher clerical standard of our own; whether the gentle spirit which so distinguished him was, as is so often the case, the reflection of a mother's grace; and who instilled into him those sound views of practical religion and that love of primitive Christianity which characterized him through life. His friend Hewetson, the Archdeacon of Kildare, to whom we are indebted for directing his mind from medicine to Holy Orders, can hardly have been the man to effect this great impression; whilst as to Bishop Pearson, whose preaching he often heard when at school at Chester, and whose gratitude to God that he had been brought up in a household where family prayer was observed, he recollected in after life, Wilson was probably too young for his mind to have taken a permanent complexion from that casual influence. It seems likely that the example of Sherlock had most to do in forming his character. And this must make us look with additional respect upon that excellent divine. We know that he made his parish a pattern to all around, that he was singularly humble and devout, yet bold in rebuking vice, and exercised in extreme cases ecclesiastical discipline.

All

All these points we find afterwards in Wilson. It should also be remembered that Wilson found the old laws of church discipline already established, or at least extant, in the island, and a ready groundwork for that more detailed system of Church polity which became law as his Ecclesiastical Constitutions.

The Bishop of Sodor and Man was an important officer of State as well as of the Church. He was a member of the Governor's council, the Court of Chancery and Exchequer, and the sole Baron of the island. He held courts in his own name for his temporalities. If any of his tenants were tried for his life the Bishop might demand them from the Lord's court, and try them by a jury of his own, and on conviction the offender's lands became forfeited to the see.* In order therefore to understand the part which Wilson took in the conflicts with the temporal powers which form so prominent and painful a portion of his biography, it will be well to remind the reader very rapidly of the civil history of this miniature kingdom.

From the remains which are found on the island, though not in any abundance, the Romans appear to have been masters of it. Throughout the fifth century it fell to the Scots. It then passed under the sovereigns of North Wales as part of Powysland, Maëlgywn, its king, having wrested it from Scotland. From this time it was shuttlecocked from Wales to Scotland, and back again several times, until Harold Harfager, in the ninth century, added it to Norway, and Orry the Dane, in the beginning of the tenth century, reconquered it from Norway. In his line it continued till 1077, when Goddard Crovan, also of Danish extraction, defeated Goddard, the reigning king, and founded a dynasty of his own, which held it as a virtually independent kingdom, though nominally doing homage to Norway, till the reign of Magnus in 1266, in whose time, Alexander III. of Scotland having vanquished Haco Hakenson at the battle of Largs, it was again ceded to that country, together with the Isles.' It was, in all probability, during the Crovan dynasty that those splendid Runic monuments were reared, for which the island is so famous.

After the Norwegian disaster at Largs, we find England and Scotland alternately disposing of Man ad libitum, as each acquired local ascendancy over the other. In 1290 the insular

Mr. Train in his history says (vol. ii. p. 13):— The Bishop had the jurisdiction of life and limb with the right of erecting cross gibbet on his land for the execution of malefactors.'

Bishop Wilson on the other hand (Wilson's works (" Anglo Catholic Library"), vol. vii. p. 260) says :- In case of conviction of one of his own tenants the lands are forfeited to the Bishop; the goods and person are at the Lord's disposal.'

prepossessions

prepossessions seem to have been unmistakably in favour of England-(of this the knee of its coat-of-arms kicking at Scotland, spurning at Ireland, but kneeling to England is significant).-by the formal surrender which the inhabitants made of themselves to the protection of Edward I. Names familiar to English ears now rapidly succeed each other-miniature kings, who all held it as an English fief,—John of Balliol, the Bruce, the Earls of Salisbury, of Wiltshire, and Northumberland, on the service of carrying the sword of Lancaster at the English coronation; and Sir John Stanley in consideration of a cast of falcons; all of whom, as Mr. Sacheverell has proved, enjoyed the insignia of royalty, with the exception, perhaps, of the orb and sceptre, as truly as any of the feudatory continental sovereigns. From this period, the period of the thirteen Stanley kings, begins in real earnest the history of the island. Of these, three figure in that history as its chief legislators, Sir John, steward of the household of Henry VI., governor of Carnarvon castle, and one of the judges of the county of Chester, who first reduced the magistracy and law courts to a regular system ; James (known as the Great Earl), whose noble features will be remembered by those who have visited the National Portrait Exhibition at South Kensington—who shared with Charles II. the perils of the battle of Worcester, and was with him at the King's oak,' but afterwards falling into the Parliamentary army, was beheaded at Bolton; and James, the tenth earl, who was trained to war with his relation William of Orange, and embarked with him in the Admiral's ship from Helvoetsluys Bay, at the Revolution of 1688, in command of the Dutch guards. On his death without issue, the island fell to James, second Duke of Atholl, the grandson of a daughter of the Great Earl, and remained in that family till 1765, when the British government purchased it; the Duke reserving certain manorial and feudal rights, until the Crown acquired the whole of his remaining interest in 1829 for the additional price of 416,1141., of which 100,0001., was the purchase money for the Bishopric, and fourteen of the seventeen advowsons of the island.

The constitution, at the time we are speaking of, consisted of the Crown, that is the Derby king, the Council, and the House of Keys. The “Keys,' so called, according to Bishop Wilson, from their unlocking the difficulties of the law, but according to Mr. Train and others, from keesh,' the Manx for “tax '-were twenty-four in number. They answer to our Lower House; but the members are self-elected, the House nominating, on death or resignation, two as eligible, of whom the Governor

chooses

« 前へ次へ »