Page images
PDF
EPUB

for the early prevalence and remote antiquity of sacrifices, naturally leads to an examination of all those conjectures which, by affecting the antiquity of the book, proportionably diminish the force of the argument; and in refuting the various and contradictory theories which have been started on thesubject, D. M. establishes, on the most satisractory induction of proofs, the ancient date of the book itself, and the antiquity of the venerable patriarch, whose character it has recorded. The remaining dissertations of the class we have mentioned, are No. liii. on the date of the permission of animal food to man ; and Nu. liv. on the divine origin of language. In this latter number, Dr. Magee opposes, with his usual success, the absurd notions of Kames, Monboddo and others, on the primitive condition of man; and illustrates on this, as well as on other topics, the accordance of revelation and its leading principles, with the purest dictates of reason and philosophy.

The Appendix contains an account of the Socinian scheme as described by Mr. Belsham, in his review of Mr. Wilberforce's treatise. A more complete exposure of the radical deficiencies, and injurious tendencies of that 'scheme, has seldom been presented to the world. . The reader will be at no loss to ascertain the estimate we have formed of the volumes now under our notice, distinguished as they are by comprehensive intelligence, acute disquisition, matured reasoning, and forcible eloquence. The impress of a superior mind is every where visible; à mind enlarged by science, strengthened by discipline, and embellished by literature. Our faith it is true, rests not in the wisdom of men: but wheu intellectual opulence devotes her choicest stores to the service of the sanctuary, we cannot but congratulate the Christian cause on the accession of influence and talents, which its most formidable adversaries would be proud to possess. The powers of this writer are pot employed on an indifferent iheme, on a point of momentary interest, or of mere sectarian jinportance. He contends for that immensely important truth, from which all our consolations are drawn in the prospect of an eternal world; that truth which has given to martyrs triumphant confidence, which has sustained the patience of the sufferer, -stimulated the actvity of the benevolent, and supported the hopes of the dying, in every age. Deprived of this characteristic sentiment, the grand magnificence of the Christian system is ruined, its glory departed. While prophets directed to this sublime truth their loftiest strains, and apostles gloried in the cross of Christ, shall we forget its preeminent value, or behold with indifference the seducttve

and imposing arts by which deceivers attempt to mislead the uowary, and reduce to unmeaning nothingness the solemn declarations of scripture? God forbid! We rejoice that so able an advocate is raised up for the defence and confirmation of the gospel; and shall be happy if our feeble efforts have in any measure promoted the interests of that cause, which demands and rewards the consecration of every talent employed in its service.

Art. VI. The Life of William Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, Lord

High Chancellor of England in the Reign of Henry VI., and Founder of Magdalen College. Oxford: collected from Records, Registers, Manuscripts, and other authentic Evidences. By Richard Chandler, D.D. formerly Fellow of that College. Royal 8vo. pp. 440. Price

188. White and Cochrane. 1811. THIS posthumous work has been lying in manuscript twen

ty years; and its appearance would have been an object of some impatience, perhaps, to a considerable number of inquisitive persons of antiquarian taste, if they could have seen in what manner Dr. Horne, the late Bishop of Norwich, had expressed himself concerning it, in a letter to the author, dated Feb. 1791. " Dear Sir, I perused at Bath your valuable M.S. My friend Jones accompanied me in the perusal, and was inexpressibly delighted with being carried, in a style so perspicuous and elegant, through scenes so very curious and interesting.” The cause of its not having been published soon after that time, bas baffled, it seems, all inquiry and conjecture, and there is now too much reason to fear it ever will. It must have been, or at at least ought to have been, grave and compulsory ; since it was a "lamented defect' that was designed to be remedied, as we are informed in an unfinished preface by the author. The time was at last to come for converting the lamentation into gladness; and the public will acknowledge a benefactor in the editor, who signs Charles Lambert, of the Inner Temple. - The life of a prelate of the fifteenth century, who was not a leading agent in its events, nor an innovator on its superstitions, and that life to be collected, in great part, from records and registers,' did not appear to us a particularly hopeful concern : but yet, recollecting that the author was a man of some literary note, and finding that other noted literary men had read his work with inexpressible delight,' we did

promise ourselves we should find some striking pictures of the , manners, or stories of the transactions, of a turbulent and barbarous age, the period of the wars between the houses of York and Lancaster. . It was obvious from the multitude of references, perceived at the first glance, that great research had been made among antique repositories; and it might be presumed that some few at least of the documents which re. corded the acts of the Bishop's life, would also relate various circumstances tending, if we may so express it, to give such a breadth to his history as to include some of the strongest illustrations of the contemporary state of society. We were not, therefore, prepared to espect, in this elegant and costly volunie, one of the very driest, dullest performances on which antiquarian industry was ever wasted. To a few of the inhabitants of the city which contains the Bishop's monument, to the very few individuals in England who are intent on general ecclesiastical topography, and to as many persons as may feel an interest, on any account, in the history of Magdalen Cole lege; Oxford, the book may recommend itself by such minute local and chronicled facts as they alone will know how to appreciate; and it is the most reasonable to suppose it was intended for them exclusively, since it could hardly be possible for even the author to fancy such a detail of local popish cares and institutions, as a great part of the work consists of, could baye the smallest interest for general readers.

It begins with the utmost gravity of antiquarian labour concerning the name and the rank in life of the Bishop's father,--the great and controverted question of which of the colleges of Oxford he wept to, -and the period of his changing his name from Patten, or Barbour, to Waynflete, the name of his native town in Lincolnshire. This town itself is brought in afterwards for its proper quantum of description; and the stone figures on the tomb there of Richard Patten, the Bishop's father, are minutely investigated, exhibited in an engraving, and subjected to a disquisition relative to the indications af. forded, in the dress of the principal figure, of the quality of the said Richard Patten. Was he a merchant or a gentleman? He is adjudged to have been the latter. The rings, the girdle, purse, and knife, bespeak not a vulgar person.' And here a rather curious case of legislative interference is mentioned; and in the tone of censure, perhaps from forgetting that lawmakers must naturally estimate the utility of their office by the fulness of the statute-book. * It had been usual for shoes or boots to end in pikes, designed to be tied at the knee with laces of silk, or with chains of silver sometimes gilded : which foppery lasted in England from 1382 to the third of Ed. ward the Fourth, when it was ordained by statute that no person under a Jord should have them exceeding two inches in length. It seems that Richard Patten survived this reform; his shoes witnessing in their pikes a restriction, which, as productive of no public utility, has been pronounced oppressive, and an infringement on personal liberty. p. 247.

Having made laudable attainments in polite literature, phito. sophy and divinity, such as they were, (for, as Dr Chandler justly asks, what were these before the Reformation ?') the young scholar entered into the holy orders of the Romish church; and the biographer has traced him, in the ' episcopal register of Lincoln, from the year 1420 to 1426, in the progress of aco. lyte, sub-deacon, and presbyter.

The first considerable step in the ascent towards the high station he ultimately attained, was his appointment as Master of Winchester school, which had been founded by Bishop Wykebam. This office, which combined great labour, diga nity, and responsibility, had an assigned rate of emolument, which gives a curious view of the learned founder's speculations on the future maximum price of corn, (for such, accord ing to modern notions, it would have been, even if the value of money had not fallen, of his intentions as to the philosophic moderation of the successive occupants of the office, and of that grave petty regulation of triling circumstanțials, which is so characteristic of superstitious nations and ages. , , ,

• He' (Wykehạm) has allowed the master weekly commoną, the same 48 the fellows and chaplains; to wit, twelve pence in plentiful years, an increase to thirteen, fourteen, and sixteen pence, when wheat shall happen to be at the high price of two shillings a bushel, and no further : alsqni every Christmas, eight yards of cloth, about one shilling and nine pence the yard, the price limited for the warden, fellows, and chaplains; the colour not to be white or black, russet or green ; and this he is to have made into a decent robe, reaching to his heels, with a hood, the robe to be trimmed with fur, for which he is allotted three shillings and four pence. They are all inhibited from selling, pawning, or giving away their livery within five years from the time of their receiving it. The stipend for teaching is ten pounds.' p. 14.

His worthy and efficient conduct for eleven years, in this situation, was made known to King Henry VI., who was projecting a seminary of learning at Eton, and determined to give the chief direction of it to Waynflete, who, after a few years, was promoted from the capacity of master to that of provost, with a stipend of thirty pounds per annum. The account of the ceremonies attending this promotion is followed by a most learned controversial history of the additions then made by him, and afterwards, religiously retained, in his armorial bearing. There is something so venerable and imposing in the very diction of this subject, that we are rather reluctant to pro, fane it by quoting even so much as the first sentence of the important statement, as follows:

.. The arms of the family of Patten, alias Barbour, were a field fusily ermine.and sable ; Waynflete, as provost, inserted on a chief of the second, three lilies slipped argent; being the arms of the college.'

• From his first entering on the brighter stage of his fortunes, he had never ceased to be the object of the royal attention ; and if such a thing could at that time be secured by learning, integrity, and exemplary wisdom and industry in discharging the duties of an important office, there appears no ground for suspecting that 'Master Williamı,' as royal familiarity, it is reported, would sometimes call him, made primary use of any other means. The consequence, however, was such, as it would, in modern estimation, be worth while to employ all conducive means to obtain; for he was appointed, with an eager baste in the process, on the king's part, though with due reluctance on his own, to the see of Winchester, left vacant by the famous Cardinal Beaufort, who died miserably in his palace in that city, the 11th of April, 1447, at a great age, and immensely rich.' Waynflete's unanimous election by the ecclesiastics of Winchester was speedily announced to him by two of them, deputed to wait on him at Eton ; and they must have been exceedingly affected and instructed by the manner in which he received the news..

- He protested often, and with tears, and could not be prevailed on to undertake the important office to which he was called, until they found him, about sun-set, in the church of St. Mary; when he consented, saying, he'would no longer resist the divine will . We think that on the strength of this account, taken from an old record of unquestionable authority, Dr. Chandler should have boldly contradicted Dr. Badden, a laudatory and declamatory biographer of Waynflete at the beginning of the seventeenth century, who allows, it seems, with respect to this preferment, that Wayntlete did not perhaps entirely abstain from availing himself of the power of illustrious persons;'whereas it is most evident from the testimony here quoted, that, so far from doing this, he would have protested at the slightest reference to any such subject. :

Winchester was retained by him throughout the remainder of his long life; and it is justly noticed as a very remarkable fact, that three prelates in succession held the same bishop. ric a hundred and nineteen years, the time between the consecration of Wykebanı and the death of Waynflete. The last had it thirty-eight years and twelve days, one year less than Wykeham, and three than Beaufort.' It was a station of quite sufficient dignity to support a man's pretensions at court, and to give full scope for the effect of his talents. He obtained, however, the still prouder situation of High-chancellor in 1456, but resigned it in 1460, in order to be less dangerously involved in the dreadful contest that was then rising to its utmost fury. The duration of his episcopal life comprehended nearly the wbole of

« PreviousContinue »