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upon them; or such spaniels as to lick the foot which ous, is to be knowing in their profession, unspotted in kicks them, or to thank the goodly great one for doing their lives, active and laborious in their charges, bold them all these back-favours. Now, these and the like and resolute in opposing seducers, and daring to look particulars are some of the chief instances of that ill. vice in the face, though never so potent and illustrinature which men are more properly said to be guilty ous. And, lastly, to be gentle, courteous, and comof towards their superiors.
passionate to all. These are our robes and our maces, But there is a sort of ill-nature, also, that uses to be our escutcheons and highest titles of honour. practised towards equals or inferiors, such as perhaps à man's refusing to lend money to such as he knows will [The Pleasures of Amusement and Industry Compared.] never repay him, and so to straiten and incommode
| Nor is that man less deceived that thinks to mainhimself, only to gratify a shark. Or possibly the man may prefer his duty and his business before company,
tain a constant tenure of pleasure by a continual and the bettering himself before the humouring of pursuit of sports and recreations. The most volupothers. Or he may not be willing to spend his time, tuous a
tuous and loose person breathing, were he but tied to his health, and his estate, upon a crew of idle, spung-11
follow his hawks and his hounds, his dice and his ing, ungrateful sots, and so to play the prodigal
courtships every day, would find it the greatest toramongst a herd of swine. With several other such
ment and calamity that could befall him ; he would unpardonable faults in conversation (as some will fly to the mines and galleys for his recreation, and to have them), for which the fore-mentioned cattle, find
the spade and the mattock for a diversion from the ing themselves disappointed, will be sure to go grum
misery of a continual unintermitted pleasure. But, bling and grunting away, and not fail to proclaim
on the contrary, the providence of God has so ordered
the course of things, that there is no action, the usehim a morose, ill-conditioned, ill-natured person, in all clubs and companies whatsoever; and so that
hat fulness of which has made it the matter of duty and man's work is done, and his name lies grovelling upon
of a profession, but a man may bear the continual the ground, in all the taverns, brandy-shops, and
pursuit of it without loathing and satiety. The same coffeehouses about the town.
shop and trade that employs a man in his youth, emAnd thus having given you some tolerable account
ploys him also in his age. Every morning he rises of what the world calls ill-nature, and that both to
fresh to his hammer and anvil ; he passes the day wards superiors and towards equals and inferiors (as
singing; custom has naturalised his labour to him ; it is easy and natural to know one contrary by the
his shop is his element, and he cannot with any enother), we may from hence take a true measure of what joyment of himself live out of it. the world is observed to mean by the contrary character of good-nature, as it is generally bestowed.
[Hypocritical Sanctimony.] And first, when great ones vouchsafe this endearing Bodily abstinence, joined with a demure, affected eulogy to those below them, a good-natured man gene-countenance, is often called and accounted piety and rally denotes some slavish, glavering, flattering para- mortification. Suppose a man infinitely ambitious, site, or hanger-on; one who is a mere tool or instru- and equally spiteful and malicious; one who poisons ment; a fellow fit to be sent upon any malicious the ears of great men by venomous whispers, and rises errand; a setter, or informer, made to creep into all by the fall of better men than himself ; yet if he steps companies ; a wretch employed under & pretence of forth with a Friday look and a lenten face, with a friendship or acquaintance, to fetch and carry, and to
blessed Jesu ! and a mournful ditty for the vices of come to men's tables to play the Judas there ; and, in
the times ; oh! then he is a saint upon earth : an a word, to do all those mean, vile, and degenerous
Ambrose or an Augustine (I mean not for that earthly offices which men of greatness and malice use to en trash of book-learning; for, alas ! such are above that, gage men of baseness and treachery in.
or at least that's above them), but for zeal and for But then, on the other hand, when this word passes fasting, for a devout elevation of the eyes, and a holy between equals, commonly by a good-natured man is rage against other men's sins. And happy those meant either some easy, soft-headed piece of simpli- ladies and religious dames characterised in the 2d of city, who suffers himself to be led by the nose, and Timothy, c. iii. 5, 6, who can have such self-denying, wiped of his conveniences by a company of sharping, thriving, able men for their confessors ! and thrice worthless sycophants, who will be sure to despise, happy those families where they vouchsafe to take laugh, and droll at him, as a weak empty fellow, for their Friday night's refreshments! thereby demonall his ill-placed cost and kindness. And the truth strate to the world what Christian abstinence, and is, if such vermin do not find him empty, it is odds
what primitive, self-mortifying vigour there is in forbut in a little time they will make him so. And this
bearing a dinner, that they may have the better stois one branch of that which some call good-nature mach to their supper. In fine, the whole world stands (and good-nature let it be); indeed so good, that ac- in admiration of them: fools are fond of them, and cording to the wise Italian proverb, it is even good for wise men are afraid of them ; they are talked of, they nothing.
are pointed out; and, as they order the matter, they Or, in the next place, by a good-natured man is draw the eyes of all men after them, and generally usually meant neither more nor less than a good fel- something else. low, a painful, able, and laborious soaker. But he who owes all his good nature to the pot and the pipe,
[Ignorance in Power.] to the jollity and compliances of merry company, may possibly go to bed with a wonderful stock of good
We know how great an absurdity our Saviour acnature over-night, but then he will sleep it all away counted it for the blind to lead the blind, and to put again before the morning.
him that cannot so much as see to discharge the
office of a watch. Nothing more exposes to contempt [The Glory of the Clergy.]
than ignorance. When Samson's eyes were out, of a
public magistrate he was made a public sport. And God is the fountain of honour, and the conduit by when Eli was blind, we know how well he governed which he conveys it to the sons of men are virtues his sons, and how well they governed the church under and generous practices. Some, indeed, may please him. But now the blindness of the understanding is and promise themselves high matters from full re- greater and more scandalous, especially in such a venues, stately palaces, court interests, and great de- seeing age as ours, in which the very knowledge of pendences. But that which makes the clergy glori- former times passes but for ignorance in a better
dress ; an age that flies at all learning, and inquires pleasure, that it bids nobody quit the enjoyment of into everything, but especially into faults and defects. any one thing that his reason can prove to him ought Ignorance, indeed, so far as it may be resolved into to be enjoyed. 'Tis confessed, when, through the cross natural inability, is, as to men at least, inculpable, circumstances of a man's temper or condition, the enand consequently not the object of scorn, but pity; joyment of a pleasure would certainly expose him to but in a governor, it cannot be without the conjunction a greater inconvenience, then religion bids him quit of the highest impudence ; for who bid such a one it; that is, it bids him prefer the endurance of a aspire to teach and to govern? A blind man sitting in lesser evil before a greater, and nature itself does no the chimney-corner is pardonable enough, but sitting less. Religion, therefore, entrenches upon none of our at the helm he is intolerable. If men will be ignorant privileges, invades none of our pleasures; it may, inand illiterate, let them be so in private, and to them- deed, sometimes command us to change, but never selves, and not set their defects in a high place, to totally to abjure them. make them visihle and conspicuous. If owls will not be hooted at, let them keep close within the tree, and [Labour overcomes Apparent Impossibilities.] not perch upon the upper boughs. Solomon built his temple with the tallest cedars ; and surely when God therefore no wonder if men fly from it ; which they do
Labour is confessedly a great part of the curse, and refused the defective and the maimed for sacrifice, we cannot think that he requires them for the priesthood. with so great an aversion, that few men know their
own strength for want of trying it, and upou that acWhen learning, abilities, and what is excellent in the world forsake the church, we may easily foretell its things which experience would convince them they
count think themselves really unable to do many ruin without the gift of prophecy. And when igno- have more ability to effect than they have will to atrance succeeds in the place of learning, weakness in tempt. It is idleness that creates impossibilities ; and the room of judgment, we may be sure heresy, and where men care not to do a thing, they shelter themconfusion will quickly come in the room of religion.
selves under a persuasion that it cannot be done. The
shortest and the surest way to prove a work possible, [Religion not Hostile to Pleasure.]
is strenuously to get about it; and no wonder if that That pleasure is man's chiefest good (because, in- proves it possible that for the most part makes it so. deed, it is the perception of good that is properly plca
[Ingratitude an Incurable Vice.] sure), is an assertion most certainly true, though, under the common acceptance of it, not only false, but As a man tolerably discreet ought by no means to odious. For, according to this, pleasure and sen- attempt the making of such an one his friend, 80 suality pass for terms equivalent; and therefore he neither is he, in the next place, to presume to think that takes it in this sense, alters the subject of the that he shall be able so much as to alter or meliorate discourse. Sensuality is indeed a part, or rather one the humour of an ungrateful person by any acts of kind of pleasure, such an one as it is. For pleasure, kindness, though never so frequent, never so obliging. in general, is the consequent apprehension of a suitable Philosophy will teach the learned, and experience object suitably applied to a rightly disposed faculty; may teach all, that it is a thing hardly feasible. For, and so must be conversant both about the faculties of love such an one, and he shall despise you. Commend the body and of the soul respectively, as being the re- him, and, as occasion serves, he shall revile you. Give sult of the fruitions belonging to both.
him, and he shall but laugh at your easiness. Save Now, amongst those many arguments used to press his life; but, when you have done, look to your own. upon men the exercise of religion, I know none that The greatest favours to such an one are but the are like to be so successful as those that answer and motion of a ship upon the waves ; they leave no remove the prejudices that generally possess and bar trace, no sign behind them; they neither soften nor up the hearts of men against it: amongst which there win upon him; they neither melt nor endear him, but is none so prevalent in truth, though so little owned | leave him as hard, as rugged, and as unconcerned as in pretence, as that it is an enemy to men's pleasures, ever. All kindnesses descend upon such a temper as that it bereaves them of all the sweets of converse, showers of rain or rivers of fresh water falling into the dooms them to an absurd and perpetual melancholy, main sea; the sea swallows them all, but is not at all designing to make the world nothing else but a great changed or sweetened by them. I may truly say of monastery; with which notion of religion nature the mind of an ungrateful person, that it is kindnessand reason seem to have great cause to be dissatisfied. proof. It is impenetrable, unconquerable ; unconquer. For since God never created any faculty, either in soul able by that which conquers all things else, even by or body, but withal prepared for it a suitable object, love itself. Flints may be melted—we see it dailyand that in order to its gratification, can we think but an ungrateful heart cannot; no, not by the that religion was designed only for a contradiction to strongest and the noblest flame. After all your atnature, and with the greatest and most irrational tempts, all your experiments, for anything that man tyranny in the world, to tantalise and tie men up can do, he that is ungrateful will be ungrateful still. from enjoyment, in the midst of all the opportunities and the reason is manifest; for you may remember of enjoyment ? to place men with the furious affec- that I told you that ingratitude sprang from a printions of hunger and thirst in the very hosom of plenty, ciple of ill nature : which being a thing founded in and then to tell them that the envy of Providence has such a certain constitution of blood and spirit, as, sealed up everything that is suitable under the cha- being born with a man into the world, and upon that racter of unlawful! For certainly, first to frame ap- account called nature, shall prevent all remedies that petites fit to receive pleasure, and then to interdict can be applied by education, and leaves such a bias them with a Touch not, taste not, can be nothing else upon the mind, as is beforehand with all instruction. than only to give them occasion to devour and prey So that you shall seldom or never meet with an upon themselves, and so to keep men under the per- ungrateful person, but, if you look backward, and trace petual torment of an unsatisfied desire; a thing him up to his original, you will find that he was born hugely contrary to the natural felicity of the creature, so; and if you could look forward enough, it is a and consequently to the wisdom and goodness of the thousand to one but you will find that he also dies so; great Creator.
for you shall never light upon an ill-natured man who He, therefore, that would persuade men to religion was not also an ill-natured child, and gave several both with art and efficacy, must found the persuasion testimonies of his being so to discerning persons, long of it upon this, that it interferes not with any rational | before the use of his reason.
The thread that nature spins is seldom broken off of Trinity college having been presented to him by anything but death. I do not by this limit the during the brief government of his wife's nephew, operation of God's grace, for that may do wonders : Richard. At the Restoration, he was ejected from but humanly speaking, and according to the method this office; but his politics being neither violent por of the world, and the little correctives supplied by art unaccommodating, the path of advancement did and discipline, it seldom fails but an ill principle has not long remain closed. Having gained the favour its course, and nature makes good its blow. And of the Duke of Buckingham, he was advanced in therefore, where ingratitude begins remarkably to 1668, after several intermediate steps, to the see of show itself, he surely judges most wisely who takes Chester. According to Bishop Burnet, Dr Wilkins alarm betimes, and, arguing the fountain from the was a man of as great mind, as true a judgment, as stream, concludes that there is ill-nature at the eminent virtues, and of as good a soul, as any I ever bottom; and so, reducing his judgment into practice, knew. Though he married Cromwell's sister, yet timely withdraws his frustraneous baffled kindnesses, he made no other use of that alliance but to do good and sees the folly of endeavouring to stroke a tiger into offices, and to cover the university of Oxford from a lamb, or to court an Ethiopian out of his colour. the sourness of Owen and Goodwin. At Cambridge,
he joined with those who studied to propagate better DR JOHN WILKINS.
thoughts, to take men off from being in parties, or
from narrow notions, from superstitious conceits and DR JOHN WILKINS, bishop of Chester (1614- fierceness about opinions. He was also a great ob1672 2), resembled Dr Barrow in the rare union of server and promoter of experimental philosophy, scientific with theological study. Having sided which was then a new thing, and much looked with the popular party during the civil war, he after. He was naturally ambitious; but was the received, when it proved victorious, the headship wisest clergyman I ever knew. He was a lover of of Wadham college, Oxford. While in that situa- | mankind, and had a delight in doing good.' Bishop tion, he was one of a small knot of university men Wilkins. like his friend and son-in-law Tillotson. who used to meet for the cultivation of experi and the other moderate churchmen of the day, was
tal philosophy as a diversion from the painful , an object of violent censure to the high-church thoughts excited by public calamities, and who, after party; but fortunately he possessed, as Burnet the Restoration, were incorporated by Charles II. farther informs us, "a courage which could stand under the title of the Royal Society. Of the against a current, and against all the reproaches object of those meetings, Dr Sprat, in his history with which ill-natured clergymen studied to load of the society, gives us the following account. “It him.' He wrote several theological and mathemawas some space after the end of the civil wars, at tical works; but his most noted performance is one Oxford, in Dr Wilkins his lodgings, in Wadham which he published in early life, entitled The Discollege, which was then the place of resort for covery of a New World; or a Discourse tending to virtuous and learned men, that the first meetings prove that it is probable there may be another Habitable were made, which laid the foundation of all this World in the Moon : with a Discourse concerning the that followed. The university had, at that time, Possibility of a Passage thither. In this ingenious many members of its own, who had begun a free way but fantastical treatise, he supports the sroposition, of reasoning; and was also frequented by some gen- That it is possible for some of our posterity to find tlemen of philosophical minds, whom the misfor- out a conveyance to this other world, and, if there tunes of the kingdom, and the security and ease of be inhabitants there, to have commerce with them.' a retirement amongst gown-men, had drawn thither. He admits, that to be sure this feat has in the preTheir first purpose was no more than only the satis- sent state of human knowledge an air of utter imfaction of breathing a freer air, and of conversing in possibility : yet from this, it is argued, no hostile quiet with one another, without being engaged in the inference ought to be drawn, seeing that many passions and madness of that dismal age. * * For things formerly supposed impossible have actually such a candid and unpassionate company as that been accomplished. If we do but consider,' says was, and for such a gloomy season, what could have he, .by what steps and leisure all arts do usually been a fitter subject to pitch upon than natural rise to their growth, we shall have no cause to doubt philosophy ? To have been always tossing about why this also may not hereafter be found out amongst some theological question, would have been to have other secrets. It hath constantly yet been the method made that their private diversion, the excess of of Providence not presently to show us all, but to which they themselves disliked in the public: to lead us on by degrees from the knowledge of one have been eternally musing on civil business, and thing to another. It was a great while ere the the distresses of their country, was too melancholy planets were distinguished from the fixed stars; and a reflection : it was nature alone which could plea- some time after that ere the morning and evening santly entertain them in that estate. The contem- stars were found to be the same. And in greater plation of that draws our minds off from the past space, I doubt not but this also, and other as exor present misfortunes, and makes them conquerors cellent mysteries, will be discovered.' Though it is over things in the greatest public unhappiness : evident that the possibility of any event whatsoever while the consideration of men, and human affairs, might be argued on the same grounds, they seem to may affect us with a thousand disquiets, that never have been quite satisfactory to Wilkins, who goes separates us into mortal factions; that gives us room on to discuss the difficulties in the way of accomto differ without animosity, and permits us to raise plishing the aërial journey. After disposing, by contrary imaginations upon it, without any danger means of a tissue of absurd hypotheses, of the obof a civil war.'*
stacles presented by the natural heaviness of a Having married a sister of Oliver Cromwell in man's body,' and 'the extreme coldness and thinness 1656. Dr Wilkins was enabled, by a dispensation of the ethereal air'--and having made it appear that from the Protector, to retain his office in Wadham even a swift journey to the moon would probably college, notwithstanding a rule which made celibacy occupy a period of six months—he naturally stumbles imperative on those who held it; but three years on the question, ' And how were it possible for any afterwards he removed to Cambridge, the headship to tarry so long without diet or sleep?" * Sprat's History of the Royal Society, pp. 53, 55. 1 1. For diet. I suzypose there could be no trusting to that fancy of Philo the Jew (mentioned before), who 2. If there be such a great ruck in Madagascar as thinks that the music of the spheres should supply the Marcus Polus, the Venetian, mentions, the feathers in strength of food.
whose wings are twelve feet long, which can soop up a Nor can we well conceive how a man should be able horse and his rider, or an elephant, as our kites do a to carry so much luggage with him as might serve for mouse ; why, then, it is but teaching one of these to his viaticum in so tedious a journey.
carry a man, and he may ride up thither, as Ganymede 2. But if he could. vet he must have some time to does upon an engle. rest and sleep in. And I believe he shall scarce find Or if neither of these ways will serve, yet I do any lodgings by the way. No inns to entertain pas- seriously, and upon good grounds, affirm it possible to vengers, nor any castles in the air (unless they be make a flying chariot, in which a man may sit, and enchanted ones) to receive poor pilgrims or errant give such a motion unto it, as shall convey him through knights. And so, consequently, he cannot have any the air. And this, perhaps, might be made large possible hopes of reaching thither.'
enough to carry divers men at the same time, together
with food for their riaticum, and commodities foi The difficulty as to sleep is removed by means of
traffic. It is not the bigness of anything in this kind the following ingenious supposition :-Seeing we do
that can hinder its motion, if the motive faculty be not then spend ourselves in any labour, we shall not,
answerable thereunto. We see a great ship swims as it may be, need the refreshment of sleep. But if we well as a small cork, and an eagle flies in the air as do, we cannot desire a softer bed than the air, where
softer bed than the air, where well as a little gnat. we may repose ourselves firmly and safely as in our
This engine may be contrived from the same princhambers. The necessary supply of food remains,
ciples by which Archytas made a wooden dove, and however, to be provided for; and on this subject the
Regiomontanus a wooden eagle author is abundantly amusing. We have room for
I conceive it were no difficult matter (if a man had only a few of his suggestions.
leisure) to show more particularly the means of com And here it is considerable, that since our bodies | posing it. will then be devoid of gravity, and other impediments of motion, we shall not at all spend ourselves in any
DR JOHN PEARSON. labour, and so, consequently, not much need the reparation of diet ; but may, perhaps, live altogether.
Dr Wilkins was succeeded in the see of Chester without it, as those creatures have done who, by
by another very learned and estimable divine, Dr reason of their sleeping for many days together, have
JOHN PEARSON (1613-1686), who had previously not spent any spirits, and so not wanted any food,
filled a divinity chair at Cambridge, and been maswhich is commonly related of serpents, crocodiles,
ter of Trinity college in that university. He pubbears, cuckoos, swallows, and such like. To this pur
lished, in 1659, An Exposition on the Creed, which pose Mendoca reckons up divers strange relations : as
Bishop Burnet pronounces to be among the best that of Epimenides, who is storied to have slept
books that our church has produced.' This work seventy-five years; and another of a rustic in Ger- has been much admired for the melody of its lanmany, who, being accidentally covered with a hay-rick, guage, and the clear and methodical way in which slept there for all the autumn and the winter fol- the subjects are treated. The author thus illuslowing without any nourishment.
trates Or, if this will not serve, yet why may not a Papist fast so long, as well as Ignatius or Xaverius ?
(The Resurrection. Or if there be such a strange efficacy in the bread of
Beside the principles of which we consist, and the the Eucharist, as their miraculous relations do attribute
actions which flow from us, the consideration of the to it, why, then, that may serve well enough for their
things without us, and the natural course of variaviaticum.
tions in the creature, will render the resurrection yet Or, if we must needs feed upon something else, why
more highly probable. Every space of twenty-four may not smells nourish us? Plutarch and Pliny, and
hours teacheth thus much, in which there is always a divers other ancients, tell us of a nation in India that
revolution amounting to a resurrection. The day dies lived only upon pleasing odours. And 'tis the common
into a night, and is buried in silence and in darkness; opinion of physicians, that these do strangely both
in the next morning it appeareth again and reviveth, strengthen and repair the spirits. Hence was it that I
opening the grave of darkness, rising from the dead of Democritus was able, for divers days together, to feed himself with the mere smell of hot bread.
night; this is a diurnal resurrection. As the day
dies into night, so doth the summer into winter : the Or if it be necessary that our stomachs must receive
sap is said to descend into the root, and there it lies the food, why, then, it is not impossible that the
buried in the ground; the earth is covered with snow, purity of the ethereal air, being not mixed with any
or crusted with frost, and becomes a general sepulchre; improper vapours, may be so agreeable to our bodies,
when the spring appeareth, all begin to rise; the plants as to yield us sufficient nourishment.'
and flowers peep out of their graves, revive, and grow, The greatest difficulty of all, however, is still un.
and flourish; this is the annual resurrection. The corn removed ; and that is, By what conveyance are we
by which we live, and for want of which we perish to get to the moon ? With what the author says on with famine, is notwithstanding cast upon the earth, this point, we shall conclude our extracts from his and buried in the ground, with a design that it may work.
corrupt, and being corrupted, may revive and mul
tiply: our bodies are fed by this constant experiment, [How a Man may Fly to the Moon.]
and we continue this present life by succession of resur
rections. Thus all things are repaired by corrupting, If it be here inquired, what means there may be are preserved by perishing, and revive by dying; conjectured for our ascending beyond the sphere of the and can we think that man, the lord of all these things, earth's magnetical vigour, I answer, 1. It is not which thus die and revive for him, should be detained perhaps impossible that a man may be able to fly, by in death as never to live again? Is it imaginable the application of wings to his own body; as angels that God should thus restore all things to man, and are pictured, as Mercury and Dædalus are feigned, and not restore man to himself? If there were no other as hath been attempted by divers, particularly by a consideration, but of the principles of human nature, Turk in Constantinople, as Busbequius relates of the liberty and remunerability of human actions, and of the natural revolutions and resurrections of besides a volume of Sermons, and one or two minor other creatures, it were abundantly sufficient to render productions. He published also some poems, which, the resurrection of our bodies highly probable.
being in the style of Cowley, have long since fallen We must not rest in this school of nature, nor into neglect, though still to be found in the early settle our persuasions upon likelihoods; but as we collections of English poetry. The qualities which passed from an apparent possibility into a high pre-deserve to be admired in his prose style are strength, sumption and probability, so must we pass from neatness, smoothness, and precision. It displays thence unto a full assurance of an infallible certainty. | but little of that splendour which the eulogy by And of this, indeed, we cannot be assured but by the Dr Johnson induces a reader to expect, though revelation of the will of God; upon his power we must we can by no means agree with Dr Brake in the conclude that we may, from his will that we shall, opinion that it is wanting in vigour. They who rise from the dead. Now, the power of God is known shall study his pages.' says that writer. 'will find unto all men, and therefore all men may infer from no richness, ardour, or strength in his diction; thence a possibility; but the will of God is not re- but, on the contrary, an air of feebleness, and a vealed unto all men, and therefore all have not species of imbecile spruceness, pervading all his an infallible certainty of the resurrection. For the
productions. They must acknowledge, however, grounding of which assurance I shall show that God much clearness in his construction, and will probath revealed the determination of his will to raise bably agree that his cadences are often peculiarly the dead, and that he hath not only delivered that well turned, especially those which terminate his intention in his Word, but hath also several ways paragraphs, and which sometimes possess a smartconfirmed the same.
ness which excites attention.'* In our opinion, it
would not be easy to find in any contemporary work DR THOMAS SPRAT.
| a better specimen of what is called the middle style, DR THOMAS SPRAT, bishop of Rochester (1636
than the first of the subjoined extracts, forming a 1713), is praised by Dr Johnson as an author whose
portion of Sprat's History of the Royal Society. It pregnancy of imagination and eloquence of language is difficult to account for the perversity of Lord have deservedly set him high in the ranks of litera
| Orrery, who, after remarking that, “among our ture ;'* and although the voice of the literary public
f the literary muhlin | English writers, few men have gained a greater has not confirmed so high a eulogium, yet the cele
character for elegance and correctness than Sprat,' brity of the bishop in his own times, added to the declares, that “ few men have deserved it less;' merits of his style, which, though not pre-eminent. that, "upon a review of Sprat's works, his lan. are unquestionably great, entitle him to be men- Iguage will sooner give you an idea of one of the tioned among the leading prose writers of this
| insignificant tottering boats upon the Thames, than period. At Oxford, where he received his academic of the smooth noble current of the river itself. I cal education, he studied mathematics under Dr
er Dr How far this is true, let the reader judge for him. Wilkins, at whose house the philosophical inquirers
self. who originated the Royal Society used at that time to meet. Sprat's intimacy with Wilkins led to his
[ View of the Divine Government afforded by election as a member of the society soon after its
Experimental Philosophy.] incorporation; and in 1667 he published the history | We are guilty of false interpretations of providences of that learned body, with the object of dissipating and wonders, when we either make those to be miracles the prejudice and suspicion with which it was re- that are none, or when we put a false sense on those garded by the public. “This,' says Dr Johnson, “is that are real; when we make general events to have one of the few books which selection of sentiment a private aspect, or particular accidents to have some and elegance of diction have been able to preserve, universal signification. Though both these may seem though written upon a subject flux and transitory. | at first to have the strictest appearance of religion, The history of the Royal Society is now read, not yet they are the greatest usurpations on the secrets of with the wish to know what they were then doing, the Almighty, and unpardonable presumptions on his but how their transactions are exhibited by Sprat.'t high prerogatives of punishment and reward. Previously to this time he had been appointed And now, if a moderating of these extravagances chaplain to the Duke of Buckingham, whom he is must be esteemed profaneness, I profess I cannot said to have aided in writing the Rehearsal. He absolve the experimental philosopher. It must be was made also chaplain to the king. In these cir- granted, that he will be very scrupulous in believing cumstances, ecclesiastical promotion could hardly all manner of commentaries on prophetical visions, in fail to ensue; and accordingly, after several advanc- giving liberty to new predictions, and in assigning ing steps, the see of Rochester was attained in 1684. | the causes and marking out the paths of God's judge Next year he served the government by publishing ments amongst his creatures. an account of the Ryehouse plot, written by the He cannot suddenly conclude all extraordinary command of King James. For this work he found events to be the immediate finger of God; because it convenient, after the Revolution, to print an apo- he familiarly beholds the inward workings of things, logy: and having submitted to the new government, and thence perceives that many effects, which use to he was allowed, notwithstanding his well-known affright the ignorant, are brought forth by the comattachment to the abdicated monarch, to remain mon instruments of nature. He cannot be suddenly unmolested in his bishopric. In 1692, however, he inclined to pass censure on men's eternal condition was brought into trouble by a false accusation of from any temporal judgments that may befall them; joining in a conspiracy for the restoration of James; because his long converse with all matters, times, and but after a confinement of eleven days, he clearly places, has taught him the truth of what the Scripture proved his innocence. So strong was the impression says, that all things happen alike to all.' He cannot made by this event upon his mind, that he ever blindly consent to all imaginations of devout men afterwards distinguished the anniversary of his de- about future contingencies, seeing he is so rigid in liverance as a day of thanksgiving. Besides the examining all particular matters of fact. He cannot works already mentioned, Sprat wrote a Life of Cowley (1668), prefixed to the works of that poet;
| * Essays Wustrative of the Tatler, &c. l. 69.
Orrery's Remarks on the Life and Writings of Swift, p * Johnson's Life of Cowley. | Life of Sprate 237. London: 1752.