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Burnet, in that style of rude and flippant censure which is unhappily too common in his work, throws out a charge against Hickes and others who had adopted the same principles, of attachment to popery. This is one of those loose accusations which it is convenient to publish without investigation, because no man can investigate it without being convinced of its falsehood. Hickes was deeply read in the writers of the primitive church, and deeply versed in its doctrines and in its constitution. When any subject is brought forward and recommended on the ground of conformity to the practice of that church, a cry is raised that this is popery; when those who thus cry out do not reflect that they thereby pay a compliment to popery which it ill deserves, and give it an advantage which, if it could maintain, it would be insuperable. For “id verius quod prius ;” the nearer we approach the fountain head, the purer will be the stream ; and one of the heavy charges brought against the Romish church is, that it has departed from that authority which it professes to admire, and has palmed upon us the corruptions of a later age for the pure and apostolical doctrines and discipline of the earliest. We do not complain that popery is too old, but that it is not old enough. To quote the words of the able writer whose name has occasioned this digression, “ The protestant religion of the church of England is but another name for primitive
Christianity, and a protestant for a primitive Christian, who protests against all the corruptions of the gospel by popery."* This was written in the reign of Charles II. ; but his “ Letters to a Popish Priest,” at a much later period, show with how little reason Bishop Burnet accused him of approaching to that church. Such, indeed, were his acuteness, his steadiness of principle, his learning, and his acquaintance with writers of antiquity, that it will perhaps be difficult to find a person better qualified to detect the fallacies and resist the arguments of the Romanists. It is remarkable that in a letter in which he endeavours to dissuade Bishop Kenn from resigning his episcopal office, he urges this argument, that “it would be a great advantage to popery, and mightily gratify the papists, who (says he) hate us because we are the unblemished part of the church of England, and to my knowledge wish the destruction of our succession and communion.”
The habit of regularity which Mr. Bowdler had acquired in his youth, and his perfect acquaintance with matters of business, made his assistante invaluable to many persons; and it is pleasing to read the various acknowledgements made to him from different quarters, from relatives, friends, and strangers, for the advice which he had given, the pecuniary assistance which he had afforded, and
* Hickes's Sermons, vol. i. p. 277.
his friendly interference to reconcile differences and repair losses. Among those who looked up to him as a valuable friend and almost a father, were two persons with whose family a closer intimacy was afterwards formed, Sir Robert Cotton and his son, the former was son of Sir John Cotton, the donor of the Cottonian library, by his second wife, and received the title upon the death of his nephew. United to Mr. Bowdler by religious and political principles, and deriving, probably, considerable benefit from his advice, Sir Robert indulged towards him all the feelings of a warm and generous heart; his son looked up to his father's friend with filial reverence and affection, soliciting his advice, reposing with perfect confidence in his kindness and discretion, and " valuing nothing more than his approbation and esteem.” Thus a close intimacy grew up between the two families, which in the next generation was strengthened by the nearer tie of marriage.
Mr. Bowdler died in 1738 *, leaving two sons,
* The following honourable testimony to his memory is extracted from a newspaper of July in that year: “ Last night was buried, from his late dwelling-house in Queen's Square, the corpse of Thomas Bowdler Esq., who died in the 77th year of his age. This worthy person was blessed with a strong and clear judgment, accompanied with singular penetration and vivacity, whereby he was qualified to read men as well as books, both which he had done to so great advantage as to render his conversation on all occasions not less entertaining than instructive to all those who were so happy as to share in
the elder of whom was for some years a partner in one of the few banking-houses which were at that time in London ; but disliking the business, he retired on a small fortune, and in 1742 married Elizabeth Stuart, the second surviving daughter and coheiress of Sir John Cotton. The eldest son by this marriage was the subject of the present memoir, to whose life it is proper to bring the reader, especially as opportunities will occur hereafter of introducing some mention of his parents, who lived long enough to be remembered by many now alive, with respect for their talents and acquirements, and love of their virtues.
John Bowdler was born on the 18th of March 1746, a day which gave birth also to one of his oldest and most intimate friends, Joseph Cotton Esq., for many years deputy master of the Trinity House, and one of the directors of the East India Company. Their hearts were united by mutual affection, and a similarity of taste and principles, and their birth-day was sometimes celebrated with much innocent festivity, and at other times noticed
it: his heart too was so well practised in all acts of generosity and charity, that no one whatever knew better than he when and how to do them in the most acceptable manner. word, having discharged all the offices and relations of social life with equal capacity, diligence, and integrity, it may without flattery be said of him, that he justly merited the character of the best subject, the tenderest parent, and most disinterested friend."
with expressions of cordial regard. The year in which they were born was that which put an end to the last attempt made by the grandson of James II. to obtain the crown ; and Mr. Bowdler used frequently to express his gratitude for being permitted to live in a time of great prosperity for this country, when, instead of a disputed crown and a divided people, the title of the house of Hanover was universally acknowledged, and the hearts of all good subjects paid a willing homage to the best of kings.
The care of Mr. Bowdler's education, during his early years, was, like that of most children, chiefly committed to his mother, who was in every respect peculiarly qualified to perform the important task. It is, indeed, generally a fortunate circumstance when boys are subjected to much of maternal care. The gentleness of disposition, the delicacy of taste, and refinement of manners, which distinguish the female sex, are calculated to produce a very beneficial effect on the natural impetuosity of the boyish temper. At least it will be admitted to be highly important that a son should regard his mother not less with respect than with fond affection. Many a headstrong youth probably has been checked in the indulgence of evil propensities by a recollection of the tender charge which he had formerly received, and by a thought of the pain which his excesses would give to her who guided his infant steps. A mother is, moreover,