Slike strani

value of his


over in favour of Tenison. He died at Westminster, and is buried in Worcester cathedral. He wrote excellent, cool-headed English, and enjoyed a prodigious reputation as a writer, which his Origines Sacræ (1662) maintains. Most of his books, however, are purely controversial, directed against Ephemeral heretics and nonjurors, and their interest and value are, on the whole, ephemeral. He wrote for his age, and not for all time. His chief controversy was with Locke, and began in a dispute over a book (1696) by the deist Toland, which was not likely to make any lasting impression on the age. This led to an attack upon Locke's rationalism, to which Locke replied, and, being perhaps the more acute reasoner of the two, as well as being in touch with public opinion, was considered to have the better of the argument. There is a legend to the effect that Stillingfleet died of mortification at this defeat.



THOMAS SPRAT was an eminently common-sense prelate. He was born at Beaminster in Dorset, and went to Wadham College, Oxford, of which he became a fellow in 1657. His first love was poetry, and, at Cromwell's death, SPRAT he wrote an ode in the Cowleio-Pindaric manner, which was published in the same volume with Dryden's well-known stanzas. Although he took Orders at the Restoration he never devoted himself to theological writing, save in the matter of sermons. He is said to have had a hand in The Rehearsal-he was chaplain to its chief author, the Duke of Buckingham. But his principal service to literature was his History of the Royal Society (1667). Like so many other churchmen of the period, he had actively co-operated in the founding of that body, and had himself been first and foremost in the advocacy of scientific study. His other works include his Life of Cowley (1668) and his History of the Rye House Plot (1685). He was one of Charles II's chaplains (1676); was given a canonry at Westminster in 1669, another at Windsor in 1681, and was consecrated Bishop of Rochester in 1684. He ruled his see wisely-if we may judge by his charges for more than twenty-eight years, and died at Rochester in 1713. He is buried in Westminster Abbey. Sprat had very definite views upon the matter of style, Sprat's views which he pronounced very clearly in his book on the upon style. Royal Society; and certainly if anyone attained to what he calls "a close, naked, natural way of speaking," or succeeded in reducing style to a mathematical plainness," it was himself. By totally avoiding quips and fancies he tutored his prose to a level regularity; and, combining with this terseness a certain vigour, he produced work whose quality is really very high, and has an individual interest of its own. In later years he received praise from Johnson, and, in more recent times, from Macaulay.


It would be a great mistake to omit from this array of



prelates the name of THOMAS KEN, although he shone as a bishop rather than as a writer. He was the son of a London lawyer, and was born at one or other of the Hertfordshire Berkhampsteads; but, his parents dying,.THOMAS he probably lived for some ume in the house of his brother-in-law, the famous Izaak Walton. He was a scholar of Winchester, and proceeded, in 1656, to Hart Hall, Oxford, until a vacancy at New College occurred. In 1661 he took his degree, and became tutor of his college, taking Holy Orders soon afterwards. He held numerous preferments between 1663 and 1679, when he went for a year to the Hague as chaplain to Princess Mary; but returned to his old home at Winchester, and was made a royal chaplain. He was chaplain to the fleet on Lord Dartmouth's expedition to Tangier. Charles II had marked him out for favour, owing to his refusal to lodge Nell Gwyn in his house at Winchester, the firm consistency of which had appealed to the king's better nature; and consequently, when the see of Bath and Wells fell vacant, Charles insisted on Ken's preferment to it. He was consecrated in 1685, and attended Charles on his deathbed not long afterwards. He also attended Monmouth on the scaffold after Sedgemoor. He was one of the seven bishops who were imprisoned in 1687 for their opposition to James II; but he refused to take the oaths at the Revolution, and was deprived in 1691. For the last twenty years of his life he lived, for the most part, at Lord Weymouth's house of Longleat, where he died in 1711, and was buried beneath the eastern wall of St. John's church at Frome Selwood. His piety and saintly life were the example of his age; but he produced very little that is really worth reading. But, if hymn-writing His hymns. is a department of literature, the hymns which he wrote for the scholars at Winchester are among the noblest in the language, and are familiar to all who have never heard of his prose, or even of himself. It is characteristic of Ken's earnest devotion that he applied his work to the immediate spiritual needs of those with whom he was most nearly in touch. His Manual of Prayers for the Use of the Winchester Scholars (1694) connects him with that city and school with which his life was so closely bound up, and his Prayers for the Use of all resorting to the Baths at Bath (1692) show the interest which he took in the chief town of his diocese.


South's controversy with WILLIAM SHERLOCK has already been mentioned. Sherlock was born in Southwark, was an Etonian, and went to Peterhouse, Cambridge. In 1669 he became rector of St. George's, Botolph WILLIAM Lane, and took an active part in controversy. His (1641?-1707). opposition to the faction obnoxious to the Ďuke of York procured him the mastership of the Temple, but, under James II, he was not so happy. At the Revolution he refused the oaths, was deprived, and in his retirement, wrote his famous

The Royal Society and the advance in physical

Practical Discourse concerning Death (1689). However, he turned his coat not long after, took the oaths of allegiance and abjuration, and accepted the deanery of St. Paul's, which Tillotson had just left for Canterbury. This stirred up strong feeling against him, and his publication, rather earlier, of a Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity (1690) against the Socinians, brought South about his ears. He lived through it all, however, and died in 1707. He had resigned his mastership of the Temple in 1704, in favour of his eldest son, who became even more famous than his father, and enjoyed still greater preferment. Whether the Discourse concerning Death is really a valuable work must be left to the judgment of the individual reader; but it is not by any means a work of genius. Of the group of authors of which we have just spoken, Sherlock is certainly the dullest and the least characteristic; but, as a controversialist, he handled his weapons boldly, if not skilfully. § 10. The connection of so many of these theologians with the Royal Society reminds us that, although the subject is not directly literary, we are nevertheless bound to take account of that tremendous and universal progress in natural science and physical research, which, with its positive theories, had to do as much as anything with the direction of contemporary thought and style. Moreover, although most of the scientific works of the day were composed in Latin, the universal medium of learned thought, many of our great scientists fortunately chose to write in their own tongue, or at least condescended to publish English versions of their discoveries, and may thus be added to the category of English authors. There are few more surprising episodes in the history of human knowledge than this outbreak of practical philosophy, and its advance towards the end of the seventeenth century. These phenomena were visible in Germany, in Holland, in France, and in England, and nowhere more than in the last country. It was only natural that the lively effect of Bacon's writings and methods should be peculiarly evident among his fellow-countrymen. The seventeenth century in England saw the rapid development of free institutions and open discussion, and from these, at its close, sprang, there is little doubt, a passion for unfettered research, a spirit of enquiry, and an open freedom of expression in doubtful cases of opinion.


A very prominent part in the cultivation and the spread of experimental research, in all branches of physics and natural history, was played by the Royal Society, which, meeting at first as a desultory club in the houses of a few learned and ingenious men, was incorporated in 1662 by Charles II. Since then the debt of the world to its illustrious labours has been immeasurable.

Among the founders of this corporation none was more active than JOHN WILKINS, Bishop of Chester, who was Master of

Trinity College, Cambridge, for rather less than a year (1659–60), having been previously warden of Wadham. Wilkins was a

most energetic and ingenious man, who, with the signal services that, by his writing and conversa- JOHN WILKINS tion, were rendered to the cause of science, com- (1614-1672). bined a vivacious and almost extravagant love

for inventions. He was essentially a projector, and, at a period when the first wonderful results of the experimental methods had helped to destroy the balance of the calmest minds and to obscure the distinction between the practical and the visionary, we can hardly wonder that his ardour should have carried him beyond the bounds of common-sense, and should have led him to propose seriously, among other Utopian schemes, a plan by which it would be possible to fly to the moon. Wilkins was a theological writer and preacher of high reputation, but his name is now chiefly associated with his projects and inventions, and in particular with the prominent part he took in the foundation of the Royal Society. He married the sister of Oliver Cromwell, and his stepdaughter was married to Tillotson. His chief works are the treatise called The Discovery of a World in the Moon (1638), which contains, appended to its third edition (1640), the chimerical plan we have already mentioned; and An Essay towards a real Character and a Philosophical Language, printed by order of the Royal Society in 1668.


§ 11. Even before the Royal Society, the progress of physical science had been very rapid. WILLIAM GILBERT had laid (1600) the foundations of magnetic research; WILLIAM HARVEY had made the immortal discovery of Earlier the circulation of the blood (1628). But to the WILLIAM institution of a great scientific corporation, with a GILBERT kind of central authority, is due the concentration (1540-1603): WILLIAM of the labours of several investigators upon one HARVEY special form of research. We may mention the con- (1578-1657). temporary, or nearly contemporary work of Newton Men of in optics, astronomy, and celestial mechanics; of science after the Flamsteed, Halley, and others, in the combined Restoration. departments of careful observation and the application of convenient mathematical formulas to the practical solution of problems in astronomy and navigation; of Boyle, in chemical and pneumatic science; of Ray, Derham, Willoughby, and Sydenham in physiology, natural history, and medicine. Most of these great men, independently of their scientific writings, most of which, like Newton's Principia, were, as we have said, in Latin, contributed in a greater or less proportion to the vernacular literature of their own country. Thus Newton left writings in English upon the prophecies and other subjects of a biblical nature, while Boyle enjoyed a high reputation for his moral and religious writings. And it is at once remarkable and pleasant to see the unanimous consent with which these

illustrious philosophers, all men of extraordinary acumen and caution, and all accustomed, from the nature of their pursuits, to take nothing for granted, but to weigh and balance evidence with the most severe exactness, agreed in the intensity of their religious convictions. Those habits of physical investigation, which are so often ignorantly accused as unfavourable to the habit of belief, and are certainly dangerous to its more dogmatic forms, seem to have led the most powerful and enquiring minds only the more irresistibly to a firm conviction of the truths of revealed religion.

§ 12. SIR ISAAC NEWTON was born of a respectable, but not wealthy family, at the hamlet of Woolsthorpe, by Grantham, and was educated at the Grantham grammar school. SIR ISAAC From his early boyhood he showed the greatest NEWTON (1642-1727). taste and aptitude for mechanical invention; and, entering at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1661, he made such rapid progress in mathematical studies that, in 1669, Barrow resigned the Lucasian professorship in his favour. The greater part of Newton's life was passed within the quiet walls of Trinity, where he formed the Mathematicentre of an illustrious group of mathematicians; cal society at Trinity. and to-day his name is accounted the chief glory of the college. It was in Trinity that he worked out those discoveries and demonstrations in mechanics, optics, and astronomy which have placed him in the very foremost rank of the benefactors of mankind. We ought not to forget that among his Cambridge friends was the precocious genius Roger Cotes (1682-1716), whose fame rests upon Newton's own words, "Had Cotes lived we might have known some


in public affairs.

thing!" Newton sat in more than one Parliament as member for his University; but he appears to have been of too reserved and retiring a character to take an active part in political discussion. In 1695 he was appointed master of the Mint, and presided over its fortunes at the critical period of Montagu's bold recall and re-issue of the specie. With remarkable simplicity and readiness he abandoned his sublime and unique researches and devoted all his energy and attention to the public duties committed to his charge. He even writes with an almost pettish querulousness to upbraid friends who had consulted him about "mathematical things," as he calls them, when he was entirely occupied with public business. In 1703 he was made President of the Royal Society, and, two years later, was knighted by Queen Anne. He lived in London during his later years and took no active part in the terrible quarrels which disturbed Trinity from the opening of Bentley's mastership onwards. He died in 1727. His character, which, as we have already seen in mentioning

Newton's character.

his relations with Locke, was marred by a coldness and suspiciousness of temper, was, in every other respect, the type of patriotic, scholarly, and

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