Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

own appearing in it; and I have in both of theni observed niany things, and some of them curious and instructive, that do not occur elsewhere. The writers of them,' continues he,very often draw their own native characters without at all designing it, and generally touch, and sometimes dilate upon, a variety of things out of the cominon road.' Such are the very sentiments which a writer of autobiography ought to be inspired with from his youth, and our author seems to have derived, from his remarkable love of this study, that curious attention to the events of his time, and that careful remembrance of his own private thoughts and actions, which enabled him to become such a worthy imitator of his favourite writers. The introduction to the account of his life, is one of the most learned and ingenious treatises we have read, and contains an erudite view of all the most celebrated autobiographies which have been written, from the most ancient to his own times. The observations which he passes upon them, as he proceeds with his catalogue, are interesting for their terseness and good sense, and for that learned simplicity which often appears in the writings of men full to overflowing with information. In speaking of the Essays of Montaigne, he observes, that these admired introductions are a very peculiar rhapsody, full of an amazing variety of particulars, that are very whimsically put together, and strangely humoursome. He then quotes M. de Crouzas, who represents him in his Logique, “ As a complete humourist, full of fire, and that could bear no bounds or limits,” and again, that “ he runs on furiously, whatever subject he falls on, without regard to consequences, many times agreeing as little with himself as with other writers.” In another part of this work, M. de Crouzas further remarks, in speaking of this famous essayist, that as he had not truth much at heart, so it is no pain to him to overthrow in one line, what he has just been advancing in another. If you will believe him, he speaks that he may speak, rather than persuade, and yet, that he may obtain a thing, he demands more than he mentions, and makes use of expressions that say more than he thioks. Such a writer as this is wholly unaccountable. It must be owned he has some fine remarks, but they have neither head nor tail, and lie in the utmost disorder and confusion. It was an assertion of Bayle's, that he had so often read Montaigne, that if all the Essays were lost by any accident, he could retrieve them all from his memory. Calamy, however, who is not a little severe on the garrulous Frenchman, declares that this must be figuratively understood, for that there is not so much as a single chapter in the whole work, 'where the contents answer the title that stands at the head of it. Father Malebranche is another of the writers whose testiinony is brought to the same effect. He observes of Montaigne, that he has neither principles on which to establish his reasoning, nor any method to make deductions from his principles. That his Essays in fact are 'a contexture of scraps of history, little relations, good words, distichs, and apothegms.'

od yet, im, he spejust been .. pain rayist, the

[ocr errors]

Our author was born April 5, 1671, in Aldermanbury. He was the son of a non-conformist minister, who being ejected in 1662, from the good living of Moreton, in Essex, continued to preach privately, in his own house, to a few friends and followers, his father having been some years before the minister of the parish. From the narrative of the early period of his life, a good picture may be drawn of the troubled state of the nation. The following, respecting the Popish Plot, is curious :

• Though I was at that time but young, yet can I not forget how much I was affected with seeing several that were condemned for this plot, such as Pickering, Ireland, and Grove, &c. go to be executed at Tyburn ; and at the pageantry of the mock processions, on the 17th of November.* Roger L'Estrange, (who used to be called Oliver's fidler,) formerly in danger of being hanged for a spy, and about this time the admired buffoon of high church, called them “hobby-horsing processions."

. In one of them, in the midst of vast crowds of spectators, that made great acclamations, and showed abundance of satisfaction, there were carried in pageants upon men's shoulders through the chief streets of the city, the effigies of the Pope, with the representative of the Devil behind him, whispering in his ear, and wonderfully soothing and caressing him, (though he afterwards deserted him, and left him to shift for himself, before he was committed to the Hames,) together with the likeness of the dead body of Sir Edmund Bury Godfrey, carried before him by one that rode on horseback, designed to remind the people of his execrable murder. And a great number of dignitaries, in their copes, with crosses, monks, friars, and Jesuits, and Popish Bishops in their mitres, and with all their tripkets and appurtenances. Such things as these very discernibly heightened and inflamed the general aversion of the nation from Popery; but it is to be feared on the other hand, they put some people, by way of revulsion, upon such desperate experiments, as brought us even within an ace of ruin.'—pp. 84, 85.

Speaking of the oppressions to which the Dissenters were, about this time, subject, he says,

• Often was I (as young as I was) sent in those days to Newgate, New Prison, and other places of confinement, with small presents of money, to such dissenting ministers as were clapped up, such as Mr. Richard Stretton, Mr. Robert Franklin, &c. who used to talk freely with me, and give me some serious advice, and their blessing at parting, with thanks to their benefactors. My own father was never cast into prison, but often had warrants out against him, and was forced to disguise himself, and skulk in private holes and corners, ard frequently change bis lodgings. And he and Mr. Watson, and Mr. Cooper, and several other ministers, were put into the Crown Office, and kept there a good while together, which they found very chargeable.

I used at that time, I well remember, to think it very strange, that such men as prayed very heartily for the King and Government, and gave their neighbours no disturbance, could not be suffered to live in quiet. Often was I at their most private meetings for worship, and never did I

*" Queen Elizabeth's birth-day." These Processions were in 1679 and 1680. Chron. Hist. 215–218. ED.

hear them inveigh against those in power, though they were commonly run down as enemies of royalty. But I never was at a meeting, when disturbance was given by justices, informers, constables, and soldiers, more than twice. One time was at Mr. Jenkyn's, in Jewin-street, and the other at Mr. Franklin's, in Bunbill-fields; and in both places they were fierce and noisy, and made great havoc.

. When the meetings were shut up, I 'frequented the public churches, heard Dr. Horneck, Dr. Lucas, Dr. Meriton, &c. and wrote after them, and gave my father an account of their sermons. And being after in summer-time, at my grandfather Gearing's at Tooting, where there was at that time no meeting of Dissenters, the family went to the public church. And we were often visited by Mr. Bickley, the minister of the place, (brother to Sir Francis Bickley, of Norfolk,) who was as free at my grandfather's as at any house in his parish. While I was one summer there, I had a very threatening fever and lethargy, and my case was hazardous; but I was wonderfully preserved by the blessing of God on the prescriptions of Dr. Daniel Cox, who coming down there to his wife's relations, was an instrument in the hand of God in saving my life. And I most heartily wish that that life had been spent lo much better purpose.

• Should I ever so much endeavour it, I could not be able to forget the heats that were both in city and country, about the three last Parliaments of this reign of King Charles, which were called together and dissolved within the compass of two years ; the longest of which was not of eight months continuance, and the last of them (which met at Oxford) did not continue sitting above seven days. Petitions and abhorrences, which were very warm, came then from different quarters; people were not only amused with them, but enraged ; and things looked very generally as if the nation was running into a new Civil War.

• His Majesty published to the world his “ Reasons for dissolving the two last of these Parliaments,” in a Declaration, which gave matter of great grief and uneasiness, not only to the body of the Dissenters, but also to those of all denominations that were in the true interests of their country. The amazement that was occasioned by the dissolution of two Parliaments, within the space of three months, was not greater, than it caused to see the reasons with which such extraordinary proceedings were sought to be justified. It was observed as to this Declaration, that it was sooner known by M. Barillon, the French Ambassador, and by the Duchess of Mazarine, than by the King's own Council; and that it was evidenced to be of French extraction, by the Gallicisms in it; and withal it had no broad seal on it, and was only signed by a Clerk of the Council.

• It was no small additional grievance, that when this Declaration, that was published in 1981, passed at the Council Board, it was moved by Archbishop Sancroft, that an order might be added, requiring the Clergy to publish it in all the churches in England. “ This,” says Bishop Burnet, “ was looked on as a most pernicious precedent, by which the clergy were made the heralds to publish the King's Declarations, which, in some instances, might come to be not only indecent, but mischievous." And he afterwards takes notice of the bad effects and consequences of it.' pp. 88–91.

Having received the elements of his education in London, young Calamy was sent to a private academy, at Wickhambrook, in Suffolk, where he remained two years. On returning to town for

who filled, 1691, when he had derived at Utrecht

a short time, he was persuaded to go to Holland, then the great seat of learning for the Non-conformists. · Utrecht was his destination, and a good account is given in the narrative of his residence, of the state of the university there, and of the many distinguished men who filled the several professorships. He continued in Holland till the year 1691, when he returned to England, full of thankfulness for the advantages he had derived from his three years' residence on the continent. Having settled at Utrecht just at the period of the revolution, he was enabled to collect some anecdotes respecting the preparations made in Holland for that event. , • The measures taken in order to this were, at first, very secret; but the design was at length so generally known in Holland, and that a good while before the sailing of the forces, that it is really amazing, King James was not sooner certified about it, and better provided against it.

• But there was one thing relating to the matter, which at that time made a noise in Holland, which was the dream of a certain Quaker, that was published that year, a few months after my settlement amongst them. He said he dreamt that the Prince of Orange, with a good naral and land force, sailed from Holland towards England, and was shattered, and driven back by storm; and that, being in a little time refitted, he sailed again, landed in England, met with little opposition, was crowned King, and the nation flourished exceedingly under him. This printed dream being shown to the Prince, it was said, that he should reply that the man knew more than he; but, when the event proved answerable, great notice was taken of it.'—pp. 147, 148.

Calamy also witnessed, at Rotterdam, the embarkation of some of the forces which accompanied the Prince of Orange to England.

• I could not help being full of thoughts upon this occasion, and, among many others, went to Rotterdam, and saw some of the forces actually embark for England. And there was a great concern visible in the countenance of every one that was to be met with about their success. They had public prayers in all the churches in Holland every day, for a good while together, which was an unusual thing in that country; and I observed the ministers prayed for a north-east wind, by name, which would bring the forces from thence hither to the best advantage.

• There was an universal consternation when the Prince was driven back by the storm, though the damage done was soon repaired, it not being so great as it had at first been represented. But when they got out to sea again, with a fair wind, and especially when we had an account of their safe landing at Torbay, in England, the rejoicing and satisfaction that appeared all over Holland was beyond what words could express.'-pp.151,

152.

A great variety of amusing recollections of his college life at Utrecht are given by Calamy, and he seems to feel great gratitude to the professors, by whose learning and care he was greatly improved. Soon after his return to England he went for a year to Oxford, where his talents began to be known and appreciated. Several of the most respectable of the party to which he had joined himself, begged him to preach to their congregations. Among

these was Mr. Cornish, who had been Canon of Christ Church formerly, and a Mr. Brice, in both of whose congregations he was received with great fervour. His reputation, however, for learning, kept him on good terms with the principal members of the University, notwithstanding his dissent, and he observes that, both at St. Mary's, in the schools, and at the coffee-houses, he was treated with great respect. His plan was, for the present, only to preach occasionally, and pursue his studies till such a time as opportunity and his farther preparation should induce him regularly to enter upon his profession. He willingly, however, accepted the invitations which were sent him from different parishes, to supply the place of absent pastors; and, among others, went to Andover, where he preached to the great satisfaction, it seems, of his audience. The sequel to his discourse was not a little amusing, and we shall transcribe the account he has given of the affair, as excellently adapted to shew the state of feeling which existed at the time among some of the old Dissenters, and the shrewd good sense of Calamy himself.

* The meeting-house was, at that time, in Mr. Bradband's back yard, through which I passed upon my coming out of the pulpit, the people making a lane for me, and thanking me for my good sermon, as I moved along towards the parlour, which, to my no small surprise, I found when I came to it, to be full of men, women, and children. I was no sooner sat down, than I was, in the name of all the company, applied to by a grave old woman in a high-crowned hat, who, thanking me very civilly for my pains, told me, that she verily believed it was a special providence that sent me thither at that time, among a people that were unhappily destitute, but who thirsted for the Word of God, and were disposed, according to their ability, to be very kind to a minister that would settle with them, and break the bread of life among them, which she hoped I might be prevailed upon to do.'-pp. 304, 305.

Calamy offered some excuses, and the old lady replied,

«« That my character was known to them, and they had now had a taste of my ministerial gifts, and could trust God as to the rest." As for them she said, “it was well known they were a very serious, united, and harmonious people, and much inclined to love their ministers; and I might be very happy with them, as she believed they did not doubt but they might be with me." She said, “ that one argument she had to induce me to listen to the motion that she made, was this. They had a good number of promising young Christians in that town and about it, that were just in their bloom, who she verily believed would flourish in religion exceedingly, if they were but under the inspection and conduct of such an one as I was. There was, indeed, a sprinkling of old Christians among them, who it was to be hoped, had something in them that was good. But they were, many of them, sadly declined, and grown lukewarm, and religion had no great credit from them, nor could a minister reasonably promise himself much comfort in them."

• These young Christians she greatly applauded, and then expressed herself in this manner. “Sir, I perceive you have great prospects, and I

« ZurückWeiter »