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him by the gift of a grandfather, without passing through his father or mother, who were then both alive, and not well enough contented to find themselves passed by in the descent. His education for some years had been in Ireland, where his father was lord-deputy ; so that when he returned into England to the possession of his fortune, he was unentangled with any acquaintance or friends, which usually grow up by the custom of conversation, and therefore was to make a pure election of his company, which he chose by other rules than were prescribed to the young nobility of that time. And it cannot be denied, though he admitted some few to his friendship for the agreeableness of their natures, and their undoubted affection to him, that his familiarity and friendship for the most part was with men of the most eminent and sublime parts, and of untouched reputation in point of integrity; and such men had a title to his bosom.
He was a great cherisher of wit, and fancy, and good parts in any man; and if he found them clouded with poverty or want, a most liberal and bountiful patron towards them, even above his fortune : of which, in those administrations, he was such a dispenser, as, if he had been trusted with it to such uses, and if there had been the least of vice in his expense, he might have been thought too prodigal. He was constant and pertinacious in whatsoever he resolved to do, and not to be wearied by any pains that were necessary to that end. And, therefore, having once resolved not to see London, which he loved above all places, till he had perfectly learned the Greek tongue, he went to his own house in the country, and pursued it with that indefatigable industry, that it will not be believed in how short a time he was master of it, and accurately read all the Greek historians.
In this time, his house being within little more than ten miles of Oxford, he contracted familiarity and friendship with the most polite and accurate men of that university, who found such an immenseness of wit, and such a solidity of judgment in him, so infinite a fancy, bound in by a most logical ratiocination, such a vast knowledge, that he was not ignorant in anything, yet such an excessive humility, as if he had known nothing, that they frequently resorted and dwelt with him, as in a college situated in a purer air ; so that his house was a university in a less volume, whither they came not so much for repose as study, and to examine and refine those grosser propositions which laziness and consent made current in vulgar conversation.
He had a courage of the most clear and keen temper, and so far from fear, that he seemed not without some appetite of danger ; and therefore, upon any occasion of action, he always engaged his person in those troops which he thought by the forwardness of the commanders to be most like to be farthest engaged ; and in all such encounters, he had about him an extraordinary cheerfulness, without at all affecting the execution that usually attended them ; in which he took no delight, but took pains to prevent it, where it was not by resistance made necessary; insomuch that at Edge-hill, when the enemy was routed, he was like to have incurred great peril, by interposing to save those who had thrown away their arms, and against whom, it may be, others were more fierce for their having thrown them away ; so that a man might think he came into the field chiefly out of curiosity to see the face of danger, and charity to prevent the shedding of blood. Yet in his natural inclination, he acknowledged he was addicted to the profession of a soldier; and shortly after he came to his fortune, before he was of age, he went into the Low Countries with a resolution of procuring command, and to give himself up to it; from which he was diverted by the complete inactivity of that summer; so he returned into England, and shortly after entered upon that vehement course of study we mentioned before, till the first alarm from the north ; then again he made ready for the field, and though he received some repulse in the command of a troop of horse, of which he had a promise, he went a volunteer with the Earl of Essex.
From the entrance into this unnatural war, his natural cheerfulness and vivacity grew clouded, and a kind of sadness and dejection of spirit stole upon him, which he had never been used to ; yet being one of those who believed that one battle would end all differences, and that there would be so great a victory on one side that the other would be compelled to submit to any conditions from the victor-which supposition and conclusion generally sunk into the minds of most men, and prevented the looking after many advantages that might then have been laid hold of–he resisted those indispositions. But after the king's return from Brentford, and the furious resolution of the two Houses not to admit any treaty for peace, those indispositions which had before touched him grew into a perfect habit of uncheerfulness; and he who had been so exactly easy and affable to all men, that his face and countenance was always present and vacant to his company, and held any cloudiness and less pleasantness of the visage a kind of rudeness or incivility, became on a sudden less communicable; and thence very sad, pale, and exceedingly affected with the spleen. In his clothes and habit, which he had minded before always with more neatness, and industry, and expense, than is usual to so great a soul, he was not now only incurious, but too negligent; and in his reception of suitors, and the necessary or casual addresses to his place, so quick, and sharp, and severe, that there wanted not some men-strangers to his nature and disposition—who believed him proud and imperious ; from which no mortal man was ever more free.
When there was any overture or hope of peace, he would be more erect and vigorous, and exceedingly solicitous to press anything which he thought might promote it; and sitting among his friends, often after a deep silence, and frequent sighs, would, with a shrill and sad accent, ingeminate the word Peace, Peace; and would passionately profess, that the very agony of the war, and the view of the calamities and desolation the kingdom did and must endure, took his sleep from him, and would shortly break his heart. This made some think, or pretend to think, that he was so much enamoured of peace, that he would have been glad the king should have bought it at any price;' which was a most unreasonable calumny. As if a man that was himself the most punctual and precise in every circumstance that might reflect upon conscience or honour could have wished the king to have committed a trespass against either.
In the morning before the battle, as always upon action, he was very cheerful, and put himself into the first rank of the Lord Byron's regiment, then advancing upon the enemy, who had lined the hedges on both sides with musketeers ; from whence he was shot with a musket in the lower part of the belly, and in the instant falling from his horse, his body was not found till the next morning ; till when, there was some hope he might have been a prisoner, though his nearest friends, who knew his temper, received small comfort from that imagination. Thus fell that incomparable young man, in the four-and-thirtieth year of his age, having so much despatched the true business of life, that the eldest rarely attain to that immense knowledge, and the youngest enter not into the world with more innocency; whosoever leads such a life, needs be the less anxious upon how short warning it is taken from him.
THOMAS FULLER: 1608-1661.
Fuller, a popular divine of the English Church, was the author of one of the
earliest biographical works of note in the language. It is entitled A History of the Worthies of England, and is a strange mixture of topography, biography, and popular antiquities. He also wrote a Church History, The Holy and Profane State, and several other works.
OF BOOKS. From The Holy and Profane State.
Solomon saith truly : 'Of making many books there is no end,' so insatiable is the thirst of men therein: as also endless is the desire of many in reading them. But we come to our rules.
l. It is a vanity to persuade the world one hath much learning by getting a great library. As soon shall I believe every one is valiant that hath a well-furnished armoury. I guess good housekeeping by the smoking, not the number of the tunnels, as knowing that many of them, built merely for uniformity, are without chimneys, and more without fires. Once a dunce, void of learning, but full of books, flouted a libraryless scholar with these words : ‘Hail, doctor without books !' But the next day, the scholar coming into the jeerer's study crowded with books, “Hail, books,' said he, without a doctor!'
2. Few books, well selected, are best.—Yet as a certain fool bought all the pictures that came out, because he might have his choice, such is the vain humour of many men in gathering of books. Yet, when they have done all, they miss their end ; it being in the editions of authors as in the fashions of clothes—when a man thinks he has gotten the latest and newest, presently another newer comes out.
3. Some books are only cursorily to be tasted of.-Namely, first, voluminous books, the task of a man's life to read them over ; secondly, auxiliary books, only to be repaired to on occasions ; thirdly, such as are mere pieces of formality, so that if you look on them, you look through them; and he that peeps through the casement of the index, sees as much as if he were in the house. But the laziness of those cannot be excused who perfunctorily pass over authors of consequence, and only trade in their tables and contents. These, like city-cheaters, having gotten the names of all country gentlemen, make silly people believe they have long lived in those
places where they never were, and flourish with skill in those authors they never seriously studied.
4. The genius of the author is commonly discovered in the dedicatory epistle.—Many place the purest grain in the mouth of the sack, for chapmen to handle or buy; and from the dedication one may probably guess at the work, saving some rare and peculiar exceptions. Thus, when once a gentleman admired how so pithy, learned, and witty a dedication was matched to a flat, dull, foolish book ; 'in truth,' said another, they may be well matched together, for I profess they be nothing akin.'
5. Proportion an hour's meditation to an hour's reading of a staple author.—This makes a man master of his learning, and dispirits 1 the book into the scholar.
ABRAHAM COWLEY: 1618-1667.
Cowley, perhaps the most popular English poet of his time, was more
successful even in prose than in verse. His prose works consist of Essays chiefly philosophical
OF OBSCURITY. From Essays.
What a brave privilege is it to be free from all contentions, from all envying or being envied, from receiving and from paying all kind of ceremonies ! It is, in my mind, a very delightful pastime for two good and agreeable friends to travel up and down together, in places where they are by nobody known, nor know anybody. It was the case of Æneas and his Achates, when they walked invisibly about the fields and streets of Carthage. Venus herself
A veil of thickened air around them cast,
The common story of Demosthenes' confession, that he had taken great pleasure in hearing of a tanker-woman say, as he passed :
This is that Demosthenes,' is wonderfully ridiculous from so solid an orator. I myself have often met with that temptation to vanity, if it were any; but am so far from finding it any pleasure, that it
1 Puts the spirit of.