Page images
PDF
EPUB

their prayers and counsels towards the promotion of truth and peace. It is the prerogative of God, to know the junctures of the times and seasons: it is our part, to perform our duty, and to live or to die in good desires.”

I have quoted, in page 278, a passage in praise of the English Liturgy, which was written by Grotius only a few months prior to his decease; to the same period belongs the following unbiassed testimony to the excellence of the Church of Eng, land, to wbich the admirers of that great man will attach a proper value: “I have received letters from Corvinus : I am glad to find him steadfast in his reverence for antiquity. I think there are few like him among the Remonstrants ; if there were, I would persuade them to appoint some among themselves and elevate them to a higher degree of eminence as Bisand for the several accounts of things, which, from time to time, he had sent him thence; he told him, that he very well knew what that diligence,

together with an extraordinary piety and learning, deserved, from bim; • that he had firmly purposed to make a just acknowledgment of all, by some considerable preferment on his return; and that the impossibility of

doing it, which he was now reduced to, was such an addition to his other « afflictions as very sensibly touched him.'-Mr. Pocock, who could not but be much affected with so obliging a discourse, returned him thanks both for the favours he had already conferred on him, and for those which be had further desigped for him. And lamenting the unjust usage he bad met with, and the imprisonment he now suffered, he delivered to him a message relating to both, which Hugo Grotius had charged him with when he waited on him at Paris. It was the humble advice and request of that learned man, • that his Grace would find out some way, if possible, to escape out of the hands he was now in, and pass to some place beyond the seas, there to preserve himself for better times, at least to obtain some present security • from the malice of his bitter enemies and the rage of a deluded people. • This,' Mr. Pocock told him, that excellent person had earnestly pressed him to move his Grace to, as soon as he should be able to have access to him; and he hoped the thing would appear so reasonable to him, that he would neglect no means or opportunity that might be offered to put it in • execution.'

Though this was a course which had been lately followed by some other great men, particularly by the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, and by one of the principal secretaries of state,-the former having withdrawn 'himself into Holland, the latter into France,—the Archbishop, as soon as it was thus proposed to bim, declared his resolution against it. 'I am obliged," said he, to my good friend Hugo Grotius, for the care he has thus expressed of my safety; but I can by no means be persuaded to comply with

the counsel he hath given me. An escape, indeed, is feasible enough; yea, it is, I believe, the very thing which my enemies desire; for every day an opportunity for it is presented to me, a passage being left free, in all likelihood for this purpose, that I should endeavour to take the advantage of it. But they shall not be gratified by me, in what they appear to long for. I am almost seveuty years old, and shall I now go about to prolong a miserable life, by the trouble and shame of flying? And were I 6 willing to be gone, whither should I ly? Should I go into France, or any

Popish country, would be to give some seeming ground to that charge of • Popery they have eudeavoured, with so much industry and so little reason, to fasten upon me. But if I should get into Holland, I should expose myself to the insults of those Sectaries there to whom my character is odious, and have every. Anabaptist come and pull me by the beard. No, I am resolved not to think of Right; but, continuing where I am, patiently to expect and bear what a good and a wise Providence hath provided

of what kind soever it shall be,'"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* for me,

Ss

hops, and to receive imposition of hands from the Irish Archbishop who is now in Holland.* These Bishops, when thus consecrated, might afterwards ordain the rest of the pastors, and so commence their return to customs which are at once ancient

* Whenever I read such ardent and disinterested avowals as these in favour of British interests and of our ecclesiastical establishment, I lament that the proffered services of the great man from whom they proceeded were not accepted, at the period to wbich reference is made in page 598. In that grand crisis, the exemplary virtues, talents, and political experience of Grotius, might have been of the greatest benefit, not only to the cause of royalty, but likewise to that of coustitutioual liberty. Yet my decided conviction is, that his devotion to the affairs of Great Britain would, in the singularlyinflamed state of parties which then existed, have produced no felicitous results, unless he could have had influence sufficient to divert the popular torrent into a foreign channel; and his presence in the contest, like that of some of the enlightened and liberal ministers of King Charles, who were called into office in the decline of his atfairs, would only have served to grace the temporary triumph of anarchy and fanaticism. Indeed, a man could scarcely have been selected throughout Europe, whose elevation to official employment in the state would have afforded stronger grounds of dissatisfaction, than that of Grotius would have done, to the Puritanic faction both in Parliament and out of it; and the very natural and laudable aversion of the English to the encouragement of foreigners, would, in that morbid state of public feeling, bave augmented the national grievances, and might have alienated the minds of some of the staunchest friends to the monarchy. Archbishop Laud, in the height of his power, had found it difficult to maintain himself against the undue odium which had been excited against ARMINIANISM,—though he, and the great men with whom he acted, always and with much justice disclaimed the appropriation of the epithet to their religious sentiments, which they constantly proved to be obvious deductions from the public formularies of the Church of England. His difficulties therefore would have increased tenfold, had he brought into power a man who had from his youth defended the tenets of Arminius, and who considered them synonimous to “ those grand scriptural principles on which alone he could justify the ways of God to man !" Some ill-natured censors will perhaps object, that Laud would not have relished such a compeer in the government, on account of the strong attachment to public liberty and to that of his native country which Grotius had always professed, and for which he was then enduring a living martyrdom. This supposition, if correct, ought to excite poignant regret in every British heart, that considers thé importance of the moderate counsel which such a wise statesman would have given, and which under Providence might have saved the nation from those evils with wbich it was subsequently visited. I readily grant, that the views which Grotius entertained of the principles both of civil and religious liberty were more elevated and correct than those of the Archbishop, yet there are circumstances respecting the refusal conveyed through Vossius, that mark a proper national feeling on the part of Laud, which must extort applause from his very enemies.

That Grotius could not at that period have found an asylum in England, will not appear wonderful to any ope who reflects, that our king's own sister and her royal offspring were then in Holland, and principally supported by the bounty of the Prince of Orange, who had voted with the majority of the nobles for his removalout of the United Provinces. A marriage was likewise at that time in prospect between the young Prince of Orange who subsequently became William the Second, and the Princess Royal of England; and though the parties were then very young, yet the marriage was soon afterward consummated. It was not probable therefore, that King Charles would offend a government with which he was on terms of amity and strict alliance.-But Grotius had written early in life (1609) his treatise entitled Mare Liberum, the best eulogy on which is, that his majesty's present ministers (1823) have adopted several of the principles advanced by the author, in their recent modifications of what are generally called our Navigation Laws. This work had been published in favour of the right claimed by the Dutch,

änd salutary. Wherever those customs have been despised, the licence for framing new opinions has increased, and has created 'new churches; and what the articles of belief in such churches will be a few years hence, we cannot determine.” to fish for herrings on the coasts of Great Britain.-As early as 1626, King James the First had commanded our illustrious countryman, John Selden, to prepare collections for proving the right of the crown of England to the Dominion of the Seas; he commenced the undertaking, but had not finished it in 1629, the time when he and other members of the House of Commons were imprisoned by order of the Court. On this subject Dr. Heylin observes, “ stomaching the submission and acknowledgment which he was forced to make in the High Commission for publishing his book of tythes, and sensible of the smart which he had found from the pens of Tillesly, Montague, and Nettles, in their answers to him, he [Selden] did not only suppress the book which he had written in the king's defence, but carried an evil eye to the Court and Church for a long time after. But being a man of great parts, and eminent in the retired walks of learning, he was worth the gaining, which Canterbury takes upon him, and at last effecteth. By his persuasion be not only perfected, but published that laborious piece, which he dedicated to his majesty, whose cause he pleaded.” In Phillips's Continuation it is said: “ The merchants of London and other parts made great complaints at the end of the last year [1634] of the obstructions of trade, for want of good convoys to secure them against the Turks and other pirates that infested our coast; which made the king, very earnest in making preparations to make himself strong at sea, to which he was the more inclined for the vindication of his just authority of the sovereignty of the British Seas; which was not only actually usurped by the Hollanders, but the right itself disputed by a tract, written by Hugo Grotius, a learned man of that time, called Mare Liberum. But whilst the king by his power omitted not to maintain his right, our learned Selden by his pen encountered Grotius, in a learned book called 'Mare Clausum, wberein he did not only assert the sovereignty or dominion of the British Seas to the crown of Eögland, but clearly proved by constant and continual practice that the king of England used to levy money froin the subjects, for the providing of ships and other necessaries, to maintain that sovereignty which did of right belong unto them. But before the writing of this tract, the king had well advised how to enable himself with treasure, to support his authority, and defend the kingdoms by the industry of Noy, his Attorney-General, a most indefatigable inquisitor into our ancient records, who had found many precedents for levying a naval aid upon the subjects by the sole authority of the king, whenso. ever the safety aud preservation of the kingdom did require it of him and that such aid had been heretofore levied in the same year in which the kings that took it had received subsidies in the way of Parliament.”

Archdeacon Nicholson tells us, in his English Historical Library, “ It is very plain, that when the author [Selden] penned this book, he was not such an inveterate enemy to the prerogative-doctrine of ship-muney, as afterwards. For he professedly asserts, that, in the defence of their sovereignty at sea, our kings constantly practised the levying great sums on their subjects without the concurrence of their Parliaments. His authorities indeed are brought down no lower than the reign of Heury the Second. But even so, the service was reckoned of that valuable kind, as that, by an express order of the king and council, the book was delivered to the Baruns of the Court of Exchequer in open Court, to be by them laid up, as a most inestimable jewel, amongst the chief records which conceru the Crown." Dr. Heylin's concluding remarks are worth transcribing : “ The service was as grateful as the author acceptable ; from henceforth both a frequent and a welcome guest at Lambeth-house, where he was grown into such esteem with the Archbishop, that he might have chose his own preferment in the Court (as it was then generally believed) had he not undervalued all other employments in respect of his studies. But possibly there might be some other reason for his declining such employments as the Court might offer. He had not yet forgotten the affronts which were put upon him about his history of tythes, (for in the notion of affronts he beheld them always)

1

It was not to be expected, that a man, who thus exerted himself for obtaining christian unity, could escape censure: As early as 1628, one of the

chief public officers in the State of Holland, and a celebrated Dutch divine, united in depreciatand therefore did but make fair weatber for the time, till he could have an opportunity to revenge himself on the church and church-men, the king being taken into the reckoning. For no sooner did the Bishop begin to sink in power and credit under the first pressures of the late long Parliament, but he published a book in Greek and Latin hy the name Eutichyus, with some notes upon it. ln which he made it bis chief business to prove, that Bishops did no otherwise differ from the rest of the Presbyters thau doth a master of a College from the rest of the Fellows,-by consequents, that they differed only in degree not in order. And afterwards, when his majesty began to decline in the love of the Parliament, and that the beats grew strong between them, he was affirmed to have written the answer to his majesty's declaration about the Commission of Array : Which in effect proved a plain putting of the sword into the hands of the people. So hard it is for any one to discern the hearts of men by their outward actions, but the God that made them !" What a difference in these last particulars between the conduct of Grotius a foreign ambassador at another Court, and SELDEN a native Briton! The exertions of the former, in behalf of the just rights of the king and the church, when both were in peril from the attacks of Republican levellers, were of the most disinterested kind; while the temporizing bebaviour of Selden, when public affairs were brought to a crisis, was evidently in opposition to the convictions of his better judgment, and can be viewed as little more than the coyness of a pseudo-patriot who courted popular applause because it was agreeable to him and flattered his passions:

The important consequences involved in this affair, which was in reality the hinge on which the civil war turned, do not require to be pointed out to those who are acquainted with the instructive History of that æra. This fact will of itself account for Archbishop Laud's unwillingness to encourage the hopes of Grotius respecting an appointment at the Court of England; and his cautious manner of explaining himself to Vossius, (page 599) shews the reasons which prevailed with him, in declining Grotius's proffered services, to have been secrets of the king's council. But whether the employment of that illustrious foreigner would have proved personally gratifying or disagreeable to the Archbishop, it is certain that it could not have been very palatable to Selden and the party to which he was attached. I have often reflected upon a phrase employed by Mr. Evelyn in bis Diary, during the war with Holland in 1672, which, he said, was begun " for no provocation but that the Hollanders exceeded us in industry, and in all thing's but ENVY !” After all “ the love of country." which I feel, I cannot deny that there is much truth in the assertion. M. Chauvin tells us, “Some indeed are of opinion, that Selden wrote bis treatise De Jure Naturali et Gentium juxta disciplinam Ebræorum [in 1646] out of emulation to the work of Grotius De Jure Belli Pacisque.". If this be true, his failure in the attempt was remarkable; and such a paltry opposition to the increasing posthumous fame of his foreign rival, affords a striking contrast to the playfulness with which Grotius, in 1636, greeted the publication of Selden's Mare Clausum in a beautiful Latin Epigram, to which he prefixed the subjoined observations : “ Selden has assumed a famous sounding title for bis book, in wbich he combats my figurative expressions with serious objections. I am much obliged to that man of learning and politeness, for baving treated me in a manner that is at once learned and polite. Yet, I think, I have not injured the bond of friendship, which subsists between us, by the subjoined Epigram:

Ipsum compedibus qui vinxerat Ennosigæum,

Est Græca Xerxes multus in historia.
Lucullum Latii Xerxem dixere togatum:

Seldenus Xerxes ecce Britannus erit !"
The classical reader will not require to be told, that these lines contain the
germ of Dryden's elegant Epigram,

Three Poets, in three distant ages born,
Greece, Italy and Britain did adorn, &c.

ing the work of Grotius on the Truth of the Christian Religion, because it neither contained every thing which they wished, nor were all its arguments stated after their manner. Their objections might have had an air of probability, if the work had professed to be merely an appeal to the passions, which is a course not always to be neglected; but since it was more an argumentative than a hortatory production, their remarks were egregiously misapplied. In fact, it was a book unsuited to the region in which it was composed ; its object being to teach men how to live well, rather than how to be sublle disputants. In reference to such objections, Grotius said, “I do not heed the scandalous rumours disseminated by Heinsius and Thysius. There is not in Paris a single person, whether Papist or Protestant, that does not approve of the production. But perhaps Heinsius and Thysius are of the same opinion as Voetius, that to place the principal

part of religion in an observance of Christ's commands is RANK SOCINIANISM. But I perceive this was accounted the principal part of religion by the christians of the primitive ages; and their various assemblies, divines and martyrs taught, that the doctrines necessary to be known are

exceedingly few, but that God forms his estimate of us from (the purpose and intention of an obedient spirit, I am like

* I might quote numerous instances of the piety of Grotius, in explicitly acknowledging the hand of God in all his ways, and in submitting himself and his affairs

with upfeigned humility to the Divine disposal ; but I shall content myself with the following brief and characteristic notice.

In the folio edition of the Annotations on the Gospels, published by De Bleau, a beautiful portrait of Grotius is inserted at the close of the Preface. As the good Dutchmen knew, that books, even in those days of comparative innocence, were frequeutly despoiled of such a treasure, they provided against the evil by printing the conclusion of the preface on the reverse of the portrait-page; so that if any book embellisher felt an itching to commit a depredation, he was deterred through a fear of mutilating the Preface, the fraction in which would tell its own story if the Portrait were not present to auswer for itself. Under the portrait were displayed the following titles of honour, which had been bestowed on Grotius, « Privy Counsellor to the

Queen and the realm of Sweden, and their Ambassador to his Most Chris“ tian Majesty, formerly Pensionary of Rotterdam, and Deputy from the • same city to the States of Holland and West Friezland.” Beneath these official distinctions was engraved an elegant Latin epigram by Daniel Heinsius. When Grotius received the presentation copies from the binder, he was grieved to find such a superb image of himself, which, how tolerable soever it might be in a book of merely human lore, was, in his opinion, improperly prefixed to a book of Divine wisdom. On that occasion he expressed his feelings in the following strong manner to his brother : “ After the copies of my Annotations on the Gospels had been returned to me by the book binder, I was exceedingly grieved when I beheld a portrait of myself added to the back of the Preface with that invidious and boasting proclamation of titles, which I never wish to see appended to any work of mine, but, least of all, to this production which inculcates humility of spirit. For this reason I tore it out of my copies ; and I desire, above all things, that it may be removed from the remainder of the impression. I earnestly request you to perform this service for me, as an affair which greatly concerns my reputation. I should prefer the preface to remain, if the portrait can be abstracted from it without injury; but if that cannot be done, I wish the portrait to be reinored, even with the loss of the preface.”

« PreviousContinue »