Page images

mended him) to come to the Hague, which he accepted. He was soon made acquainted with the secret of their counsels, and advised the fitting out of a fleet in Holland, sufficient to support their designs and encourage their friends. This, and the “ Account of his Travels," in which he endeavoured to blend tyranny and popery together, and represent them as inseparable, with some papers reflecting on the proceedings of England, that came out in single sheets, and were dispersed in several parts of England, most of which Mr. Burnet owned himself the author of, alarmed King James; and were the occasion of his writing twice against him to the Princess of Orange, and insisting by his ambassador, on his being forbid the court : which, after much importunity, was done, though he continued to be trusted and employed as before, the Dutch minister consulting him daily. To put an end to these frequent conferences with the minister,sa prosecution for high treason was set on foot against him, both in England and Scotland. But Burnet receiving the news thereof before it arrived at the States, he avoided the storm, by petitioning for and obtaining, without any difficulty, a bill of naturalization, in order to his intended marriage with Mary Scot, a Dutch lady of considerable fortune, who, with the advantages of birth, had those of a fine person and understanding.

After his marriage with this lady, being legally under the protection of Holland, when Mr. Burnet found King James plainly subverting the constitution, he omitted no method to support and promote the design the Prince of Orange had formed of delivering Great-Britain, and came over with him in quality of chaplain. He was soon advanced to the sea of Salisbury. He declared for moderate measures with regard to the clergy, who scrupled to take the oaths, and many were displeased with him for declaring for the toleration of nonconformists. His pastoral letter concerning the oaths of allegiance and supremacy to King William and Queen Mary, 1689, happened to touch upon the right of conquest; gave such offence to both houses of parliament, that it was ordered to be burnt by the hands of the common executioner. In 1698, he lost his wife by the small pox; and as he was almost immediately after appointed preceptor to the Duke of Gloucester, in whose education he look great care, this employment, and the tender age of his children, induced him the same year to supply her loss by a marriage with Mrs. Berkely, eldest daughter of Sir Richard Blake, knight. In 1699, he published his “Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles ;" which occasioned a representation against him in the lower house of Convocation, in the year 1701; but he was vindicated in the upper house.

His speech in the House of Lords, in 1704, against the bill to prevent occasional conformity, was se

verely attacked. He died in 1715, and was interred in the church of St. James, Clerkenwell, where he has a monument erected to him. He formed a scheme for augmenting the poor livings; which he pressed forward with such success, that it ended in an act of Parliament, passed in the second year of Queen Anne, " for the augmentation of the livings of the poor clergy.”.

The celebrating of the praises of the dead,

is an argument so worn out by long and frequent use, and now become so nauseous, by the flattery that usually attends it, that it is no wonder if funeral orations, or panegyrics, are more considered for the elegancy of style, and fineness of wit, than for the authority they carry with them, as to the truth of matters of fact. And yet I am not hereby deterred from med. ling with this kind of argument, nor from handling it with all the plainness I can : delivering only what I myself heard and saw, without any borrowed ornament.

í do easily foresee how many will be engaged for the support of their impious maxims and immoral practices, to disparage what I am to write. Others will censure it, because it eomes from one of my profession, too many supposing us to be induced to frame such discourses for carrying on what they are pleased to call Our Trade. Some will think I dress it up too artificially, and others, that I present it too plain and naked.

But being resolved to govern myself by the exact rules of truth, I shall be less concerned in the censures I may fall under. It may seem liable to great exception, that I should disclose so many things, that were discovered to me, if not under the seal of confession, yet under the confidence of friendship; but this noble lord himself not only released me from all obligations of this kind, when I waited on him in his last sickness, a few days before he died, but gave it me in charge, not to spare him in any thing which I thought might be of use to the living; and was not ill pleased to be laid open, as well in the worst as in the best and last part of his life ; being so sincere in his repentance, that he was not unwilling to take shame to himself, by suffering his faults to be exposed for the benefit of others.

I write with one great disadvantage--that I eannot reach his chief design, without mentioning some of his faults : but I have touched them as tenderly as occasion would Lear; and I am sure with much more softness than he desired, or would have consented to, had I told him how I intended to manage this part. I have rela ted nothing with personal reflections on any others concerned with him ; wishing rather they themselves, reflecting on the sense he had of his former disorders, may be thereby led to forsake their own, than that they should be any ways reproached by what I write ; and therefore, though he used very few reserves with me, as to his course of life, yet, since others had a share in most parts of it, I shall relate nothing but what more imme. diately concerned himself; and shall say ne


« PreviousContinue »