« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
history of the church in particular, in some places, the ridiculous air of fable and romance.
Fuller was a most singular and surprising character. His memory was tenacious and extraordinary. He could repeat five hundred unconnected words after hearing them only twice, and could preach a sermon verbatim, which he had heard only once. In passing to and fro, from Temple-bar to the furthest end of Cheapside, he once undertook to tell at his return every sign as it stood in order, on both sides the way, repeating them either backwards or forwards; and performed it exactly:-No wonder also he was quaint ! “That which was most strange and very rare in him, was his way of writing, which, something like the Chinese, was from the top of the page to the bottom; the
thus : he would write near the margin the first words of every line down to the foot of the paper; then would, by beginning at the head again, fill up every one of these lines, which, without any interlineations or spaces, but with the full and equal length, would so adjust the sense and matter, and so aptly connex and conjoin the ends and
beginnings of the said lines, that he could not do it better (as he hath said) if he had writ it all out in a continuation.” [Life of Dr. Thomas Fuller, 1661.]
The biography of Milton is so familiar to every reader, that I need only observe in this place, that he was born in 1608, and died in 1674. His prose wbrks are numerous, occupying tivo folio volumes. I shall enumerate them in the order in which they appeared.
1. Of Reformation in England, and the Causes that have hitherto hindered it; in two Books; written to a Friend ; 1641.
2. Of Prelatical Episcopacy; and whether it may be deduced from the apostolical times, by virtue of those testimonies which are alledged to that purpose in some late treatises ; one whereof goes under the name of James, archbishop of Armagh; 1641.
3. The Reason of Church Government urged against Prelacy; in two Books ; 1642.From this piece I select the following admirable passage. It forms the latter part of the introduction to the second book; and is particularly remarkable, as it seems to give a prophetic assurance of the “ Paradise Lost,” the proudest monument of his fame.
Concerning this wayward subject against prelacy, the touching whereof is so distasteful and disquietous to a number of men; as, by what hath been said, I may deserve of charitable readers to be credited, that neither envy nor gall hath entered me on this controversy ; but the enforcement of conscience only, and a preventive fear, lest the omitting of this duty should be against me, when I would store up to myself the good provision of peaceable hours. So, lest it should still be imputed to me, as I have found it bath been, that some self-pleasing humour of vain glory hath incited me to contest with men of high estimation, now while green years are upon my head-from this needless surmisal I shall hope to. dissuade the intelligent and equal auditor, if I can but say successfully that which in this exigent behoves me; although I would be heard only, if it might be, by the elegant and learned reader, to whom principally for a while I shall beg leave I may address myself. To him it will be no new thing, though I tell him that if I hunted after praise, by the ostentation of wit and learning, I should not write thus out of
mine own season, when I have neither yet completed to my mind the full circle of my private studies ; although I complain not of any insufficiency to the matter in hand; or were I ready to my wishes, it were a folly to commit any thing elaborately composed to the careless and interrupted listening of these tumultuous times. Next, if I were wise only to my own ends, I would certainly take such a subject as of itself might catch applause ; whenas this hath all the disadvantages on the contrary, and such a subject as the publishing whereof might be delayed at pleasure, and time enough to pencil it over with all the curious touches of art, even to the perfection of a faultless picture; whenas in this argument, the not deferring is of great moment to the good speeding, that if solidity have leisure to do her office, art cannot have much. Lastly, I should not choose this manner of writing, wherein knowing myself inferior to myself, led by the genial power of nature to another task, I have the use, as I may account it, but of my left hand; and I shall be foolish in saying more to this purpose; yet since it will be such a folly as wisest men go about to commit, have only confessed and so committed, I may trust with more reason, because with more folly, to have courteous pardon. For although a poet, soaring in the high region of his fancies, with his garland and singing robes about him, might, without apology, speak