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10 the tories, and seemed to follow the leadings of his own judgment. Churchmen acknowledge themselves under great obligations to this prelate, for his influence with Queen Anne, in procuring and arranging the · Bounty act. The idea had indeed originated with Dr Burnet, in the late reign, s but it was Dr Sharpe who got it carried into effect. His influence at court was likewise successfully exerted on behalf of the espiscopal clergy of Scotland, whose political partialities had exposed them to much severity of treatment at the hands of government. The Vaudois protestants also shared his sympathies, and obtained, through his intercession, the renewal of a pension, granted by King William and Queen Mary, which had been suspended for some years.
In private life the archbishop was courteous, hospitable, and condescending. His charity was extensive, and of his personal piety there seems no reason to doubt. He died on the 2d of February, 1713. His life and some of his papers have been recently given to the public, by the Rev. T. Newcome, rector of Shenly, in two volumes. octavo.
Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury.
BORN A. D. 1643.-DIED A, D. 1715
This celebrated prelate, the son of a Scotch civilian, was born in Edinburgh on the 18th of September, 1643. His father, the younger brother of an ancient Aberdeen family, was a respectable lawyer and moderate episcopalian, and became a lord of session after the restoration, by the title of Lord Crimond. His mother was the sister of Sir Archibald Johnston, commonly called Lord Wariston. Gilbert was the youngest son of the family. After having been instructed by his father in the Latin tongue, he was sent at the age of ten to the university of Aberdeen, where he obtained the degree of M. A. before he was fourteen years of age. He studied civil and feudal law for about a year, and then, to the great satisfaction of his father, abandoned it entirely for theological pursuits. He received ordination in his eighteenth year; and Sir Alexander Burnet, his cousin-german, offered him a good living, but he thought proper to decline it, modestly deeming himself too young for the charge. On the death of his father, in 1661, his friends advised him to resume his legal pursuits, with a view of practising at the Scotch bar; but he refused to abandon the study of divinity. In 1663 he visited Oxford and Cambridge, where he became acquainted with More, Fell, Pocock, Wallis, Tillotson, and most of the learned men of the day.
On his return to Scotland, Sir Robert Fletcher offered him the living of Saltoun in East Lothian; but Burnet, wishing to visit Holland, begged to decline it. Sir Robert, however, determined to keep the living vacant until Burnet's return from Holland, whither the latter proceeded in 1664. While residing at Amsterdam, he studied Hebrew under a learned Jewish rabbi, and made a very extensive acquaintance among the leading theologians in that country. He subsequently ro
' History, vol. v. p. 119.
moved to Paris, and thence to London, where he was made a fellow of the royal society. Returning to Scotland, he found the living of Saltoun still vacant, but could not be prevailed upon to take it, until, by preaching to the parishioners for some months, he had ascertained that his ministry was acceptable. In 1665 he was ordained priest, and, for five years, he performed the duties of bis sacred office at Saltoun in a most exemplary manner. One of his parishioners having fallen into difficulties, Burnet asked him how much would be sufficient to set him up again in business; the man named a certain sum, which Burnet immediately ordered his servant to fetch. “Sir," said the servant, “ it is all we have in the house." “Well, well," replied Burnet, “pay it to this poor man; you do not know the pleasure there is in making a man glad."
About this time he drew up a memorial of the abuses practised by the Scotch bishops, to each of whom he sent a copy of it, signed with his own hand. This bold proceeding, in so young a man, exposed him to the deep resentment of Archbishop Sharpe. In 1668, he was appointed professor of divinity at Glasgow, where he continued four years and a half, hated by the presbyterians, lest his moderation should lead to the establishment of episcopacy, and by the episcopalians, because he was for exempting the dissenters from their persecutions. Soon after bis election to the professorship, he published A Modest and Free Conference between a Conformist and à Nonconformist,' which procured him an increase of esteem among the friends of moderation. He next occupied himself in compiling his . Memoirs of the Duke of Hamilton,' relative to which he visited London, and while there he was offered, but refused, a Scotch bishopric. On his return to Glasgow, he married Lady Margaret Kennedy, daughter of the earl of Cassilis, “ Reputed,” says Sir George Mackenzie, "a wit, and the great patron of the presbyterians, in which persuasion she was very bigotted.” This lady was much admired by the duke of Lauderdale, and suspected-though Mackenzie thinks unjustly—of too great intimacy with that nobleman. A collection of her letters to the duke was published in 1828.
In 1672 he published • A Vindication of the Authority, Constitution, and Laws, of the Church and State of Scotland,' a work somewhat at variance with his previous opinions. It met with great approbation at court, and procured for him the offer of the next vacant Scotch archbishopric, which, however, he would not accept. In 1673 appeared his Mystery of Iniquity Unveiled. While in London, he was made chaplain to the king. There is a sermon of Burnet's extant, entitled “ The Royal Martyr lamented,' which he preached at the Savoy on the 30th of January, 1674, in which he enacts the part of royal chaplain tolerably well: speaking of the “ endless virtues" of the “ murdered prince," and offering “ divers passages drawn out of papers under his own royal pen, that will give some characters of his great soul.” But his court favour was of brief duration ; his name being struck out of the list of royal chaplains, soon after his return to Scotland, for opposing the measures of the unprincipled Lauderdale. He shortly afterwards found it necessary, as it is stated, for his personal security, to resign the professorship of divinity at Glasgow and remove to London.
He now printed his “Truth of Religion Examined; and, having refused the living of St Giles's, Cripplegate, which bad previously been
intended for his friend, Dr Fowler, he was appointed, in 1675, preacher at the Rolls, and soon afterwards lecturer at St Clement's. In 1676, he published his • Memoirs of the Duke of Hamilton,' and · An account of a Conference,' between himself, Coleman, and Dr Stillingfleet. The rapid progress of popery at this time induced him to undertake a · History of the Reformation, the first volume of which, after having remained a year in manuscript, to receive the corrections of his friends, was produced in 1679. It not only met with great approbation from the public, but procured for the author the thanks of both houses of parliament. In 1681, appeared a second volume of the work; and during the same year he printed · An account of the Life and Death of the Earl of Rochester. He had been sent for, it appears, by an unhappy woman who had been engaged in an amour with that profligate nobleman. The humanity with which the worthy clergyman treated the unfortunate female excited the esteem and gratitude of the earl, who solicited an interview with him, and afterwards spent one evening of the week, during a whole winter, in discussing the evidences of Christianity with the divine. The result of these conferences was the conversion of Rochester. In 1682, when the administration was changed in favour of the duke of York, Burnet, in order to avoid as much as possible being drawn into public life, built a laboratory, and for above a year sedulously pursued the experimental study of chemistry,
He soon afterwards published his • Life of Sir Matthew Hale,' "The History of the Regale,' • The Method of Conversion by the Clergy of France Examined, and. An Abridgment of the History of the Reformation.' It was about this time, that, having attended Mrs Roberts, one of Charles the Second's mistresses, in her dying moments, he addressed a letter to that monarch, in which he boldly censured his licentiousness. "I told the king," he says, " I hoped the reflection on what had befallen his father on the 30th of January, might move him to consider these things more carefully. The king read it twice over, and then threw it in the fire.” In 1683, appeared his . Translation of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia. He had now become so intimately connected with the party opposed to government, that, after having attended Lord Russell to the scaffold, he deemed it prudent to go to Paris; and while there, he was deprived of his lectureship by the king's mandate, and forbidden to preach again at the Rolls. In 1685 he published an admirable life of Bishop Bedell; and about the same period returned to England; but, on the accession of James II., he again fled to Paris, in order to avoid being inculpated with the conspirators in favour of Monmouth. From Paris he proceeded to Rome, where Pope Innocent XI. offered to give him a private audience in bed, to avoid the ceremony of kissing his holiness's slipper; Burnet, however, declined the proposal. He was treated with great consideration by the Cardinals Howard and D'Estrées, but became involved in some religious disputes, on account of which Prince Borghese recommended him to quit Rome. He then made a tour through Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and France, of which he afterwards published an account, in a series of letters addres. sed to Mr Bayle.
At the conclusion of his tour he repaired to the Hague, on the invi. tation of the prince and princess of Orange, in whose councils, with respect to England, he took so prominent a share, that James II. or.
dered a prosecution for high treason to be commenced against him, and demanded his person from the states-general, but without effect, as he had previously acquired the rights of naturalization, by forming a union_his first wife being dead—with a Dutch lady of large fortune named Scott. He took a particularly active part in the revolution of 1688, and accompanied the new monarch to England as chaplain. The king, soon afterwards, offered him the bishopric of Salisbury, which, however, he begged his majesty to bestow on his old friend, Dr Lloyd. “ I have another person in view,” replied the king, who, on the next day, nominated Burnet himself to the see, and subsequently conferred on him the chancellorship of the order of the garter.
On taking his seat in the house of lords, he declared himself an advocate for moderate measures towards nonjuring divines, and for the toleration of protestant dissenters. He acted as chairman of the conimittee to whom the bill for settling the succession was referred, and displayed so much zeal in favour of the house of Hanover, that the princess Sophia corresponded with him until within a very short period of her death. An • Account of the Constitution of England,' intended for the private use of the electress, bas been ascribed to Burnet, but without sufficient evidence. In 1692, he published a pastoral letter to the clergy of his diocese, which, on account of its containing a statement that the title of William and Mary to the crown might be grounded on the right of conquest, was, three years afterwards, during the ascendancy of Burnet's political enemies, ordered to be burned by the common hangman.
He published. Four Discourses to the Clergy,' in 1694 ; ' An Essay on the Character of Queen Mary,' in 1695; and ‘A Vindication of Archbishop Tillotson,' in 1696. In 1698, he became tutor to the young duke of Gloucester; and, during the same year—having lost his second wife-married Mrs Berkeley, the authoress of a pious work entitled, • A Method of Devotion.' In 1699, he produced his Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles ;' in 1710, his • Church Catechism Explained ; and, in 1715, the third and supplementary volume of his • History of the Reformation.' He died of a pleuritic fever on the 17th of March, in the last-mentioned year, leaving three sons, one of whom published the first volume of the deceased prelate's celebrated · History of his Own Time,' with an account of his life, in 1723-4. This work has a long maintained its place among the most important works which relate to the affairs of this country. It includes a survey of the events which preceded the author's entrance upon public life, commencing with the accession of the Stuarts to the crown of England; and is carried down to the year preceding the death of Queen Anne. Copious both in narration and remark, it is one of the original sources from which subsequent writers of history must derive their knowledge of the facts which they record, and of the persons whose characters they delineate. The credit, therefore, to which it is entitled, is a point which every reader who values correct information must be anxious to have deter
• The editor of the first edition of this valuable work suppressed several passages in the original manuscript, probably more from respect to the feelings of others, than, as has been insinuated, from any conviction of dishonest or unfair representations on the part of the author. The suppressed passages were restored in the recent Oxford edition, in 6 vols. 8vo.
mined. What then is the authority which the work may justly challenge? Is Burnet to be trusted as an historian on whose veracity we may depend ? No writer has been opposed with more pertinacity of zeal, nor have any memoirs been more frequently charged with being unfair and erroneous than his. His work has been criticised with unsparing severity, and the wish to detect in his accounts such misrepresentations as might support the charge of wilful deviation from truth, has not always been successfully attempted to be concealed. They who remember the manner in which the • Observations' of Mr Rose were examined and exposed by Serjeant Heywood, in his . Vindication of Fox's Historical Work,' cannot have forgotten how effectually the authority of Burnet was supported against a host of presumptive arguments, the materials for which had been hunted out with the utmost industry of research, and put together with so much art as apparently to force the conclusion which the writer wished to establish. Other instances have occurred, in which the truth of Burnet's narration has been confirmed by the production of evidence which was inaccessible to his earliest examiners; and facts which rested on his sole authority, have been established by other and independent testimony. We see, then, no reason for withholding from Burnet the credit due to a writer of memoirs and annals, whose design was more extensive than to describe only the transactions in which he was personally concerned. In some cases, his errors bave been successfully detected; but a supposed refutation of his opinions has often, with little propriety, been held out as a demonstration of his forgetfulness of truth. He appears to have been inquisitive, and not always discreet in his inquiries, nor always judicious in the selection of the information which his inquiries procured him. But his penetration, if not so profound as always to conduct him to the knowledge which would have enabled him to reach the excellence of a philosophical historian, was not so superficial as some of his adversaries have represented. To what extent he had charged his memory with the information which he had obtained, and what were the precautions which he used to secure the fidelity of his recollections, we are unable to ascertain; but, with the greatest attention to such varied and extensive materials as were requisite in the composition of his history, and which had been accumulating for many years, the avoidance of error was not in every instance practicable. His prejudices might sometimes mislead him, if not in the substantial parts of his relation, yet in respect to the minuter details which his accounts comprise. But, whatever might have been the strength and influence of his party-bias, there is unquestionable evidence, that he was uncontrolled by such a principle in some of the most important of his satements. No reader of his work can go through the accounts which he has given of the discoveries of Oates and the popish plot, without the conviction of his probity, nor finish his perusal of them without admiring the dignified character of his reflections. He could both censure his friends, where censure was incurred by them ; and bestow commendation where it was deserved, upon his opponents and others, for whom he could not be supposed to entertain affection. In times more critical and perilous to public men than any other in our national history, and when so many in the service of the sovereigns whom the Revolution had placed upon the throne, were in correspond