Page images

him to the gratitude of his coevals, and that he has bequeathed to posterity little save an example to be shunned. There were about him some elements of a noble nature,-something that seemed,

“ Por dignity composed, and high exploit:” but so marred by vices, that his evil genius never lost its ascendancy. There was, however, something magnificent in the indomitable energy of his nature,—in the invincible spirit which supported him under long years of exile and disgrace,–in the vast aspirations after dominion over the wide fields of intellect and universal supremacy which tempts us to exclaim,

“ This should have been a noble creature! He

Hath all the energy which would have made
A goodly frame of glorious elements,
Had they been wisely mingled; as it is,
It is an awful chaos,-light and darkness, -
And wind and dust,--and passions and pure thoughts,
Mix'd and contending without end or order,
All dormant or destructive: he will perish.”

His works were published in 5 vols., 4to, by Mallet; London, 1755. Works, with his life, by Goldsmith, in 8 vols., 8vo.; London, 1809. His Letters and Correspondence, public and private, during the time of his secretaryship to Queen Anne, were published by G. Parke, in 2 vols., 4to; London, 1798.


Archbishop Tillotson.

BORN A. D. 1630.-DIED A.D. 1694.

This eminent divine, one of the brightest ornaments of the church of England, was descended from a family anciently of the name of Tilston, in Cheshire. His father was Robert Tillotson, a considerable clothier of Sowerby, in the parish of Halifax in Yorkshire. Both his parents were nonconformists.

After he had passed through the grammar-schools, and attained a skill in the learned languages superior to his years, young Tillotson was sent to Cambridge in 1647, and admitted a pensioner of Clare-hall. He commenced bachelor of arts in 1650, and master of arts in 1654 ; having been chosen fellow of this college in 1651. He left college in 1656 or 1657, according to Dr Hickes, who informs us that he was invited by Edmund Prideaux, Esq. of Ford-Abbey, in Devonshire, to instruct his son. This gentleman had been commissioner of the great seal under the long parliament, and was then attorney-general to Oliver Cromwell. How long Mr Tillotson lived with Mr Prideaux, or whether till that gentleman's death, which happened in 1659, does not appear. He was in London at the time of the protector's death.

The date of Tillotson's entering into holy orders, and by whom he was ordained, are facts unascertained; but his first published sermon was preached at the morning exercise at Cripplegate. At the time of preaching this sermon he was among the presbyterians, whose commissioners he attended—though as an auditor only—in the Savoy, in 1661 ; but he submitted to the act of uniformity on St Bartholomew's day in the year ensuing.

The first office in the episcopalian church in which we find him employed after the restoration, was that of curate at Cheshunt in Hertfordshire, in the years 1661 and 1662. In December, 1662, he was elected minister of the parish of St Mary, Aldermanbury, by the parishioners, in whom the right of choice is vested. He declined the acceptance of that living, but did not continue long without the offer of another benefice, which he accepted, being presented in June, 1663, to the rectory of Ketton, or Keddington, in the county of Suffolk. Shortly after, he was called to London by the society of Lincoln’s-inn, to be their preacher. The reputation which his preaching gained him in so conspicuous a station as that of Lincoln's-inn, recommended him, the year following, to the trustees of the Tuesday's lecture at St Lawrence, Jewry, founded by Elizabeth, Viscountess Camden. Here he was commonly attended by a numerous audience, and a great concourse of the clergy, who followed him for improvement. He particularly distinguished himself by opposing the growing evils of Charles the Seconds reign,—atheism and popery. In the year 1664, one Smith, having deserted the church of England for the Romish communion, published a book, called 'Sure Footing in Christianity; or Rational Discourses on the Rule of Faith.' This being extolled by the abettors of popery as an unanswerable performance, Tillotson refuted it in a piece intituled, * Rule of Faith,' which was printed in 1666, and inscribed to Dr Stillingfleet. Smith—who assumed the name of Sergeant as a disguise—replied to this; and in another piece, attacked a passage in Tillotson's sermon. On the wisdom of being religious,' which sernion, as well as his · Rule of Faith,' Tillotson defended in the preface to the first volume of his sermons, printed in 1671, in a manner which established his reputation as a controversial writer.

In 1666 he took the degree of D. D. Upon the promotion of Dr Peter Gunning to the bishopric of Chichester, in 1670, Tillotson was collated to the prebend of the second stall in the cathedral of Canterbury, which had been held by the new bishop. He kept this prebend till he was advanced to the deanery of that church in 1672. In 1675, he was presented to the prebend of Ealdland, in St Paul's, London, which he resigned for that of Oxgate, and a residentiarysbip in the same church in 1678. This last preferment was obtained for him by the interest of his friend, Dr Sharp, afterwards archbishop of York. Dean Tillotson had been for some years on the list of chaplains to King Charles II., but his majesty, according to Burnet, had little kindness for him. He therefore contented himself with his deanery, the duties of which he faithfully discharged; and upon several occasions he showed the moderation of his views, particularly in 1674, when he engaged in the revival of a scheme, which had miscarried in 1668, to comprehend the protestant dissenters within the pale of the church of England by concessions on both sides; but the violence of the high-church prelates rendered his good offices ineffectual.

The origin of Tillotson's interest with the prince and princess of Orange, with the consequences of it in his advancement to the see of Canterbury, has been ascribed to an incident which is supposed to have happened in the year 1677, and is thus represented by Eachard, in his History of England.' “ The match between that prince and princess being made upon political views, against the will of the duke of York, and not with the hearty liking of the king, the country-party, as they were then called, were exceedingly pleased and elated; and, after the lord-mayor's feast, a secret design was laid to invite the new married couple into the city, to a public and solemn entertainment to be made for them. To prevent this, the court hurried both the bride and bridegroom, as fast as they could, out of town, so that they departed with such precipitation that they had scarce time to make any provision for their journey. Their servants and baggage went by the way of Harwich, but the prince and princess by Canterbury road, where they were to stay till the wind was fair, and the yacht ready to sail with them. Being arrived at Canterbury, they repaired to an inn; and, no good care being taken in their haste to separate what was needful for their journey, they came very meanly provided thither. Monsieur Bentinck, who attended them, endeavoured to borrow some plate and money from the corporation for their accommodation ; but, upon grave deliberation, the mayor and body proved to be really afraid to lend them either. Dr Tillotson, dean of Canterbury, at that time in residence there, hearing of this, immediately got together all his own plate, and other that he borrowed, together with a good number of guineas, and all other necessaries for them, and went directly to the inn to Monsieur Bentinck, and offered him all that he had got, and withal complained that he did not come to the deanery, where the royal family used to lodge, and heartily invited them still to go thither, where they might be sure of a better accommodation. This last they declined, but the money, plate, and the rest were highly acceptable to them. Upon this the dean was carried to wait upon the prince and princess, and his great interest soon brought others to attend upon them. By this lucky accident, he began that acquaintance, and the correspondence with the prince and Monsieur Bentinck, which increased yearly till the Revolution, when Bentinck had great occasion for him and his friends, on his own account, as well as the prince himself, when he came to the crown. And this was the true secret ground on which the bishop of London -whose qualities and services seemed to entitle him without a rival to the archbishopric-was set aside, and Dr Tillotson advanced over his head.”

On the discovery of the popish plot, Tillotson was appointed to preach before the house of commons on the 5th of November. The discovery of the Rye-house plot, in 1683, opened a very melancholy scene, in which the dean had a large share of distress, on account both of his private friendships and his concern for the public weal. One of the principal objects of his solicitude and anxiety was Lord William Russell. After Lord Russell's condemnation, the dean and Dr Burnet were sent for by his lordship, and they both continued their attendance upon him till his death.

In 1685, when the persecution of the Huguenots, or protestant subjects in France, became so intolerant, by the impolitic revocation of the edict of Nantz, that thousands of families forsook their country, and fled for refuge to the protestant states of Europe, many of them came to Eng. land, and were encouraged by the dean to settle at Canterbury, where they amply repaid this country for the protection granted to them, by establishing the silk-weaving trade. The king having granted briefs to collect alıns for their relief, the dean exerted himself in procuring contributions from his friends. Dr Beveridge, one of the prebendaries of his cathedral, having refused to read the briefs, as being contrary to the rubric, the dean is reported to have said to him, “ Doctor, doctor, charity is above rubrics !”

During the debates in parliament concerning the settlement of the crown on King William for life, the dean was advised with on that point by the Princess Anne of Denmark, who had at first refused to give her consent to it as prejudicial to her own right. Upon the accession of William and Mary, the dean was admitted into a high degree of favour and confidence at court, and was appointed clerk of the closet to the king. The refusal of Archbishop Sancroft to acknowledge the government or to take the oaths of allegiance, having occasioned that dignitary's suspension soon after, his majesty fixed upon Tillotson for the primacy. His reluetance to accept this first dignity in the church of England will be best represented in the dean's own words, in his letter to Lady Russell upon that subject :-“ But now begins my trouble. After I had kissed the king's hand for the deanery of St Paul's, I gave his majesty my most humble thanks, and told him that now he had set me at ease for the remainder of my life. He replied, “No such matter, I assure you;' and spoke plainly about a great place, which I dread to think of, and said, “It was necessary for his service; and he must charge it upon my conscience.' Just as he had said this he was called to supper, and I had only time to say, • That when his majesty was at leisure I did believe I could satisfy him, that it would be most for his service that I should continue in the station in which he had now placed me. This hath brought me into a real difficulty; for, on the one hand, it is hard to decline his majesty's commands, and much harder yet to stand out against so much goodness as his majesty is pleased to use toward me. On the other, I can neither bring my inclination nor my judgment to it. This I owe to the bishop of Salisbury,Dr Burnet, one of the worst and best friends I know: best, for his singular good opinion of me; and the worst, for directing the king to this method, which I know he did, as if his lordship and I had concocted the matter, how to finish this foolish piece of dissimulation, in running away from a bishopric to catch an archbishopric. This fine device hath thrown me so far into the briers, that, without his majesty's great goodness, I shall never get off without a scratched face. And now I will tell your ladyship the bottom of my heart :- I have, of a long time, I thank God for it, devoted myself to the public service, without any regard for myself; and to that end have done the best I could, in the best manner I was able. Of late God hath been pleased, by a very severe

« PreviousContinue »