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after a stroke of an apoplexy, and when he had the large revenue of the deanery of St. Paul's, and when the archiepiscopal promotion, he knew, would expose him to infinite abuse. But what I admire most was, his beneficence and generosity, and contempt of wealth. But see the imperfection of humanity. That moderation, coolness, and prudence (which you guessed right, is held in the highest admiration by the person you wot of— Tillotson is indeed his hero); this turn, I say, which made him so placable an enemy, made him but a cold or indifferent friend; as you may see, in part, by that exceeding simple narrative of Beardmore (1 use simple in the best sense), for so imperfect are we, as I say, that the human mind can with difficulty have that warmth of friendship kindled in it (which, after all, is what makes a two legged animal deserve the name of man), but the same heat will prove noxious to others. So that you see, if Tillotson was defective in this, I lay the blame not upon him, but upon corrupt humanity. As a preacher, I suppose his established fame is chiefly owing to his being the first city divine who talked rationally and wrote purely. I think the sermons published in his lifetime are fine moral discourses. They bear, indeed, the character of their author, simple, elegant, candid, clear, and rational. No orator, in the Greek and Roman sense of the word, like Taylor; nor a discourser in their sense, like Barrow; free from their irregularities, but not able to reach their heights. On which account I prefer them infinitely to him. You cannot sleep with Taylor; you cannot forbear thinking with
Barrow; but you may be much at your ease in the midst of a long lecture from Tillotson; clear, and rational, and equable as he is. Perhaps the last quality may account for it.
MR. WILLIAM LAW.
A Life of devotion and celibacy was the choice of my aunt, Mrs. Hester Gibbon, who, at the age of eighty-five, still resides in a hermitage at Cliffe, in Northamptonshire; having long survived her spiritual guide and faithful companion, Mr. William Law, who, at an advanced age, about the year 1761, died in her house. In our family he had left the reputation of a worthy and pious man, who believed all that he professed, and practised all that he enjoined. The character of a nonjuror, which he maintained to the last, is a sufficient evidence of his principles in church and state; and the sacrifice of interest to conscience will always be respectable. His theological writings, which our domestic connexion has tempted me to peruse, preserve an imperfect sort of life, and I can pronounce with more confidence and knowledge on the merits of the author. His last compositions are darkly tinctured by the incomprehensible visions of Jacob Behmen; and his discourse on the absolute unlawfulness of stage entertainments is sometimes quoted for a ridiculous intemperance of sentiment and language :—" The actors and spectators must all be damned: the playhouse is the porch of hell, the place of the devil's abode, where he holds his filthy court of evil spirits: a play is the devil's triumph, a sacrifice performed to his glory, as much as in the heathen temples of Bacchus and Venus," &c. &c. But these sallies of religious frenzy must not extinguish the praise which is due to Mr. William Law as a wit and a scholar. His argument on topics of less absurdity is specious and acute, his manner is lively, his style forcible and clear; and, had not his vigorous mind been clouded by enthusiasm, he might be ranked with the most agreeable and ingenious writers of the times. While the Bangorian controversy was a fashionable theme, he entered the lists on the subjects of Christ's kingdom, and the authority of the priesthood: against the plain account of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, he resumed the combat with Bishop Hoadley, the object of Whig idolatry and Tory abhorrence; and at every weapon of attack and defence the nonjuror, on the ground which is common to both, approves himself at least equal to the prelate. On the appearance of the Fable of the Bees, he drew his pen against the licentious doctrine that private vices are public benefits, and morality as well as religion must join in his applause. Mr. Law's master work, the Serious Call, is still read as a popular and powerful book of devotion. His precepts are rigid, but they are founded on the gospel: his satire is sharp, but it is drawn from the knowledge of human life; and many of his portraits are not unworthy of the pen of La Bruyere. If he finds a spark of piety in his reader's mind, he will soon kindle
it to a flame; and a philosopher must allow that he exposes, with equal severity and truth, the strange contradiction between the faith and practice of the Christian world. Under the names of Flavia and Miranda he has admirably described my two aunts—the Heathen and the Christian sister. Gibbon.
The bishop of Gloucester, amidst all his fooleries in criticism, and all his outrages in controversy, certainly united most vigorous and comprehensive intellect, with an open and a generous heart. As a friend, he was, what your lordship* experienced, zealous and constant; and, as an enemy, he properly describes himself to have been choleric, but not implacable. He, my lord, threw a cloud over no man's brighter prospects of prosperity or honour, by dark and portentous whispers in the ears of the powerful. He, in private company, blasted no man's good name, by shedding over it the cold and deadly mildews of insinuation. He was too magnanimous to undermine when his duty or his humour prompted him to overthrow. He was loo sincere to disguise the natural haughtiness and irritability of his temper, under the specious veil of humility and meekness. He never thought it expedient to save appearances, by shaking off the "shackles of consistency,"—to soften the hideous aspect of certain uncourtly opinions, by a calm and progressive * This is addressed to Dr. Hurd, bishop of Worcester.
apostacy,—to expiate the artless and animated effusions of his youth, by the example of temporizing an obsequious old age.
He began not his course, as others have done, with speculative republicanism; nor did he end it, as some persons are now doing, with practical Toryism. He was a churchman without bigotry; he was a politician without duplicity; he was a loyalist without servility. Dr. Parr.
As to Jortin, whether I look back to his verse, to his prose, to his critical, or to his theological works, there are few authors to whom I am so much indebted for rational entertainment, or for solid instruction. Learned he was, without pedantry: he was ingenious without the affectation of singularity: he was a lover of truth, without hovering over the gloomy abyss of scepticism; and a friend to free inquiry, without roving into the dreary and pathless wilds of latitudinarianism. He had a heart which never disgraced the powers of his understanding. With a lively imagination, an elegant taste, and a judgment most masculine and most correct, he united the artless and amiable negligence of a schoolboy. Wit without ill nature, and sense without effort, he could, at will, scatter upon every subject; and in every book the writer presents us with a near and distinct view of the real man.
Votivi pateat tanqaam descripta tabella
Vita senls. Hot. Sat. i. Lib. 2.