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intended for his friend, Dr Fowler, he was appointed, in 1675, preacher at the Rolls, and soon afterwards lecturer at St Clement's. In 1676, he published his 'Memoirs of the Duke of Hamilton,' and 'An account of a Conference,' between himself, Coleman, and Dr Stillingfleet. The rapid progress of popery at this time induced him to undertake a 'History of the Reformation,' the first volume of which, after having remained a year in manuscript, to receive the corrections of his friends, was produced in 1679. It not only met with great approbation from the public, but procured for the author the thanks of both houses of parliament. In 1681, appeared a second volume of the work; and during the same year he printed An account of the Life and Death of the Earl of Rochester.' He had been sent for, it appears, by an unhappy woman who had been engaged in an amour with that profligate nobleman. The humanity with which the worthy clergyman treated the unfortunate female excited the esteem and gratitude of the earl, who solicited an interview with him, and afterwards spent one evening of the week, during a whole winter, in discussing the evidences of Christianity with the divine. The result of these conferences was the conversion of Rochester. In 1682, when the administration was changed in favour of the duke of York, Burnet, in order to avoid as much as possible being drawn into public life, built a laboratory, and for above a year sedulously pursued the experimental study of chemistry.
He soon afterwards published his Life of Sir Matthew Hale,' 'The History of the Regale,' The Method of Conversion by the Clergy of France Examined,' and 'An Abridgment of the History of the Reformation.' It was about this time, that, having attended Mrs Roberts, one of Charles the Second's mistresses, in her dying moments, he addressed a letter to that monarch, in which he boldly censured his licentiousness. "I told the king," he says, "I hoped the reflection on what had befallen his father on the 30th of January, might move him to consider these things more carefully. The king read it twice over, and then threw it in the fire." In 1683, appeared his Translation of Sir Thomas More's Utopia.' He had now become so intimately connected with the party opposed to government, that, after having attended Lord Russell to the scaffold, he deemed it prudent to go to Paris; and while there, he was deprived of his lectureship by the king's mandate, and forbidden to preach again at the Rolls. In 1685 he published an admirable life of Bishop Bedell; and about the same period returned to England; but, on the accession of James II., he again fled to Paris, in order to avoid being inculpated with the conspirators in favour of Monmouth. From Paris he proceeded to Rome, where Pope Innocent XI. offered to give him a private audience in bed, to avoid the ceremony of kissing his holiness's slipper; Burnet, however, declined the proposal. He was treated with great consideration by the Cardinals Howard and D'Estrées, but became involved in some religious disputes, on account of which Prince Borghese recommended him to quit Rome. He then made a tour through Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and France, of which he afterwards published an account, in a series of letters addressed to Mr Bayle.
At the conclusion of his tour he repaired to the Hague, on the invitation of the prince and princess of Orange, in whose councils, with respect to England, he took so prominent a share, that James II. or
dered a prosecution for high treason to be commenced against him, and demanded his person from the states-general, but without effect, as he had previously acquired the rights of naturalization, by forming a union-his first wife being dead-with a Dutch lady of large fortune named Scott. He took a particularly active part in the revolution of 1688, and accompanied the new monarch to England as chaplain. The king, soon afterwards, offered him the bishopric of Salisbury, which, however, he begged his majesty to bestow on his old friend, Dr Lloyd. "I have another person in view," replied the king, who, on the next day, nominated Burnet himself to the see, and subsequently conferred on him the chancellorship of the order of the garter.
On taking his seat in the house of lords, he declared himself an advocate for moderate measures towards nonjuring divines, and for the toleration of protestant dissenters. He acted as chairman of the committee to whom the bill for settling the succession was referred, and displayed so much zeal in favour of the house of Hanover, that the princess Sophia corresponded with him until within a very short period of her death. An Account of the Constitution of England,' intended for the private use of the electress, has been ascribed to Burnet, but without sufficient evidence. In 1692, he published a pastoral letter to the clergy of his diocese, which, on account of its containing a statement that the title of William and Mary to the crown might be grounded on the right of conquest, was, three years afterwards, during the ascendancy of Burnet's political enemies, ordered to be burned by the common hangman.
He published 'Four Discourses to the Clergy,' in 1694; ' An Essay on the Character of Queen Mary,' in 1695; and A Vindication of Archbishop Tillotson,' in 1696. In 1698, he became tutor to the young duke of Gloucester; and, during the same year-having lost his second wife-married Mrs Berkeley, the authoress of a pious work entitled, A Method of Devotion.' In 1699, he produced his 'Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles;' in 1710, his Church Catechism Explained; and, in 1715, the third and supplementary volume of his "History of the Reformation.' He died of a pleuritic fever on the 17th of March, in the last-mentioned year, leaving three sons, one of whom published the first volume of the deceased prelate's celebrated' History of his Own Time,' with an account of his life, in 1723–4.' This work has "long maintained its place among the most important works which relate to the affairs of this country. It includes a survey of the events which preceded the author's entrance upon public life, commencing with the accession of the Stuarts to the crown of England; and is carried down to the year preceding the death of Queen Anne. Copious both in narration and remark, it is one of the original sources from which subsequent writers of history must derive their knowledge of the facts which they record, and of the persons whose characters they delineate. The credit, therefore, to which it is entitled, is a point which every reader who values correct information must be anxious to have deter
The editor of the first edition of this valuable work suppressed several passages in the original manuscript, probably more from respect to the feelings of others, than, as has been insinuated, from any conviction of dishonest or unfair representations on the part of the author. The suppressed passages were restored in the recent Oxford edition, in 6 vols. 8vo.
mined. What then is the authority which the work may justly challenge? Is Burnet to be trusted as an historian on whose veracity we may depend? No writer has been opposed with more pertinacity of zeal, nor have any memoirs been more frequently charged with being unfair and erroneous than his. His work has been criticised with unsparing severity, and the wish to detect in his accounts such misrepresentations as might support the charge of wilful deviation from truth, has not always been successfully attempted to be concealed. They who remember the manner in which the Observations' of Mr Rose were examined and exposed by Serjeant Heywood, in his ' Vindication of Fox's Historical Work,' cannot have forgotten how effectually the authority of Burnet was supported against a host of presumptive arguments, the materials for which had been hunted out with the utmost industry of research, and put together with so much art as apparently to force the conclusion which the writer wished to establish. Other instances have occurred, in which the truth of Burnet's narration has been confirmed by the production of evidence which was inaccessible to his earliest examiners; and facts which rested on his sole authority, have been established by other and independent testimony. We see, then, no reason for withholding from Burnet the credit due to a writer of memoirs and annals, whose design was more extensive than to describe only the transactions in which he was personally con. cerned. In some cases, his errors have been successfully detected; but a supposed refutation of his opinions has often, with little propriety, been held out as a demonstration of his forgetfulness of truth. He appears to have been inquisitive, and not always discreet in his inquiries, nor always judicious in the selection of the information which his inquiries procured him. But his penetration, if not so profound as always to conduct him to the knowledge which would have enabled him to reach the excellence of a philosophical historian, was not so superficial as some of his adversaries have represented. To what extent he had charged his memory with the information which he had obtained, and what were the precautions which he used to secure the fidelity of his recollections, we are unable to ascertain; but, with the greatest attention to such varied and extensive materials as were requisite in the composition of his history, and which had been accumulating for many years, the avoidance of error was not in every instance practicable. His prejudices might sometimes mislead him, if not in the substantial parts of his relation, yet in respect to the minuter details which his accounts comprise. But, whatever might have been the strength and influence of his party-bias, there is unquestionable evidence, that he was uncontrolled by such a principle in some of the most important of his satements. No reader of his work can go through the accounts which he has given of the discoveries of Oates and the popish plot, without the conviction of his probity, nor finish his perusal of them without admiring the dignified character of his reflections. He could both censure his friends, where censure was incurred by them; and bestow commendation where it was deserved, upon his opponents and others, for whom he could not be supposed to entertain affection. In times more critical and perilous to public men than any other in our national history, and when so many in the service of the sovereigns whom the Revolution had placed upon the throne, were in correspond
ence with the dethroned monarch, Burnet never compromised his allegiance. He was evidently sincere in his attachment to the new order of things, and his conviction of the truth and value of the great principles of public liberty was, we believe, not only honest, but carried him forward, with more activity, perhaps, than quite accorded with his clerical character and station, in the political agitations of the time." " He is described by Macky, his contemporary, as a large, strongmade, bold-looking man, and one of the greatest orators of his age." To his powers as a preacher, Speaker Onslow bears testimony. Burnet had preached a sermon against popery at the end of Charles's reign: "Sir John Jekyl," says the speaker, "told me that he was present at the sermon, (I think it was this,) and that when the author had preached out the hour-glass, he took it up and held it aloft in his hand, and then turned it up for another hour, upon which the audience-a very large one for the place-set up almost a shout for joy. I once heard him preach," Onslow continues, "at the Temple-church, on the subject of popery. It was on the fast day for the negotiations of peace at Utrecht. He set forth all the horrors of that religion with such force of speech and action, (for he had much of that in his preaching and action at all times,) that I have never seen an audience anywhere so much affected as we all were who were present at this discourse. He preached then, as he generally did, without notes. He was in his exterior, too, the finest figure I ever saw in a pulpit."
Some tory scribe, soon after his decease, proposed the following inscription for his monument:
"Here Sarum lies, of late so wise,
And learned as Tom Aquinas;
Lawn sleeves he wore, but was no more
A Christian than Socinus.
"Oaths, pro and con, he swallowed down;
Lov'd gold like any layman;
Wrote, preach'd, and pray'd; and yet betray'd
God's holy word for Mammon.
"Of every vice he had a spice,
And liv'd and died, if not belied,
"If such a soul to Heav'n should stroll,
And 'scape old Satan's clutches;
We then presume there may be room,
In the Jacobite Relics' there are several other songs directed against Burnet, and all as destitute of either poetry, truth, or wit, as the above. That he was betrayed, by the ardour of his temperament, into frequent improprieties, it would be rash to deny; neither does it appear that he was always so indisposed towards arbitrary principles of government as he became after he had accepted of place from a revolutionary sovereign; but his motives appear to have been always conscientious, and the general tenour of his conduct was certainly more worthy of
Eclectic Review, vol. xxii. pp. 486-488.
Norwich,‚—a seminary at that time in high repute under the able mastership of Mr Lovering. From this school he proceeded, about the year 1653, to Cambridge, where he was admitted a scholar of Benedict college, upon Parker's foundation. Here he took his degree of A. B. in 1656–7; and at first applied his attention to medicine; but, on the eve of the Restoration, he procured private ordination from Dr Duppa. In 1662 he became tutor, and, in 1665, was chosen one of the university-preachers, and presented to the cure of St Andrew the Great, in Cambridge. When the plague broke out in Cambridge, and all who could fled from the infected city, it is recorded of Tenison that he remained behind, with only two scholars and a few servants, during the whole of the calamity, conscientiously and regularly performing the duties of his cure. In token of their esteem and gratitude, his parishioners presented him with a valuable piece of plate, when he left them in 1667, on being presented to the rectory of Holywell in Huntingdonshire.
About this period he entered into the matrimonial state, with Anne, daughter of Dr Love, some time master of Benedict. In 1670 he appeared as an author, in a work entitled The Creed of Mr Hobbes examined.' It had been alleged of Tenison that he leaned to some of Hobbes's objectionable opinions; but the suspicion was fully refuted in this work. In 1674 he became first minister of St Peter's Manscroft, Norwich. In 1678 he published a Discourse of Idolatry,' and, the year following, some remains of Lord Bacon. In 1680 he took the degree of D. D., and towards the close of that year was presented by Charles II., who had already nominated him one of his chaplains, with the vicarage of St Martin's-in-the-Fields. In this living he exerted himself indefatigably for the spiritual and moral improvement of his parishioners, and in watching and checking the proceedings of the popish party. In 1681 he published A Sermon of Discretion in giving Alms,' which led him into a controversy with Pulton the Jesuit; and, in 1684 he published The difference between the Protestant and the Socinian Methodists,' in answer to a book written by one of his Jesuit antagonists, entitled The Protestant's plea for a Socinian.'
Dr Tenison attended the duke of Monmouth while in prison and on the scaffold; and we have Burnet's testimony that he acquitted himself conscientiously in his solemn duty to that unfortunate nobleman, yet with all mildness and becoming respect. In 1687 he held a conference with Pulton, in which the grounds and authorities of the protestant faith were largely debated. A report of this conference was soon afterwards published, and Dr Tenison followed up the debate with a number of controversial tracts written with ability and moderation, in so much so that even James II. acknowledged the amiable spirit of the Doctor, and made advances to him.
In the succeeding reign he laboured hard to effect a revision of the liturgy, and to conciliate the dissenters, to whom he exhibited a very tolerant spirit. The queen was so highly satisfied with his conduct, that she solicited for him, and obtained the bishopric of Lincoln, to which he was consecrated in January, 1692. It is said that Jersey, then master of the horse, strenuously opposed Tenison's elevation to
See Memoir of Beveridge.