Imágenes de página

Algernon Sidney created the language of politics; his "Discourses upon Government" have grown obsolete.

The revolution of 1688 arose from the scaffold of Sidney, with the steam of the blood of the holocaust! This bloody dew is now falling, and the England of 1688 is disappearing.-CHATEAUBRIAND, FRANÇOIS RENÉ, VICOMTE DE, 1837, Sketches of English Literature, vol. II, pp. 197, 198.

In all the discourse of Algernon Sidney upon Government we see constant indications of a rooted dislike to monarchy and ardent love of Democracy; but not a sentence can we find that shows the illustrious author to have regarded the manner in which the people were represented as of any importance.-BROUGHAM, HENRY LORD, 1840-44, Political Philosophy, pt. iii, chap. xii.

Both in his diplomatic mission, and in his labours on the legislative council, he soon became enrolled among the intellectual minority who lead instead of follow, and organize instead of assent. When he placed pen to paper and logically thought out his speculations, his style, though somewhat heavy, was clear, solid, and vigorous-all he wrote bore the impress of a well-read mind, a mind that was as much accustomed to profound reflection as to practical action.-EWALD, ALEXANDER CHARLES, 1873, The Life and Times of Hon. Algernon Sydney, vol. II, pp. 334, 335.

More than any other among the distinguished historical personages of the seventeenth century, Algernon Sidney, in point of character and conduct, will continue to have his detractors and admirers. The published letters in the different editions of the Sidney papers serve only to confirm his partisans in their admiration of his consistency of principle as an enemy of monarchical government-even to the extent of deprecating the personal rule of Cromwell-and his enemies in their reprehension of the factious leader who could waste his splendid energies in caballing with France and Holland for the establishment of a republic in England. The most able and eminent of the knot of revolutionary patriots to which he belonged, he was also the most uncompromising and most provokingly obstinate.SCOONES, W. BAPTISTE, 1880, Four Centuries of English Letters, p. 118.

His writings are "Discourses concerning Government," written at Frascati in 1663, but first published in 1698, and letters and memoirs respectively printed in 1742 and 1751. In 1884 a treatise on "Love" was first published from Algernon Sydney's manuscript. Sydney is very diffuse; but the alteration which had come over prose may well be noted by comparing his republican discourses with the totally unreadable reams the same subject which Harrington had produced in the preceding generation. -GOSSE, EDMUND, 1888, A History of Eighteenth Century Literature, 1660-1780, p. 81.


The style precisely corresponds to the author's character, haughty, fiery, and arrogant; but thrilling with conviction, and meriting the highest praise as a specimen of masculine, nervous, and at the same time polished English. Much additional zest is imparted to the author's argument by his continual strokes at the political abuses and the unworthy characters of his own day, from Charles II. downwards. He had the advantage of writing under the stimulus of fiery indignation kindled and maintained by the actual existence of a tyranny. He is thus never tame, and depicts himself as one of that remarkable class of men of whom Alfieri is perhaps the most characteristic type-aristocrats by temperament, champions of democracy by intellectual conviction. Although the controversy in which he engaged now belongs entirely to the past, he is often modern in sentiment as well as in style; sometimes we are reminded of Shelley, at other times, and more frequently, of Landor.—GARNETT, RICHARD, 1895, The Age of Dryden, p. 171.

Sidney's chief work, the "Discourses concerning Government," was first printed by Toland or Littlebury in 1698. This is an answer to Filmer's "Patriarcha," which was first published in 1680; and the few allusions to contemporary politics in Sidney's book show that a great part of it was written about that year. Though tedious from its extreme length and from following too closely in Filmer's footsteps, it contains much vigorous writing, and shows wide reading.-FIRTH, C. H., 1899, Dictionary of National Biography, vol. LII, p. 209.

Roger Williams


A famous clergyman, minister at Salem, Massachusetts, but banished from the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1635 on account of his views upon religious liberty. In 1636 he founded the city of Providence, and was the chief citizen of the Rhode Island colony until his death. He was the first upholder of the doctrine of liberty of conscience in its entirety, and actively sustained his theories in many controversial works. "Key Into the Languages of America;" "The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience;" "The Bloudy Tenent Yet More Bloudy by Mr. Cotton's Endeavour to wash it white in the Bloud of the Lambe;" "Mr. Cotton's Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Answered;" "George Fox Digg'd Out of his Burrowes," include his principal works. ADAMS, OSCAR FAY, 1897, A Dictionary of American Authors, p. 426.


His history belongs to America rather than England; but we must not even thus casually mention his name, without an expression of respect and reverence, for he was one of the best men who ever set foot upon the new world, -a man of genius and of virtue, in whom enthusiasm took the happiest direction, and produced the best fruits. . . . If ever a Welsh Fuller should write the Worthies of Wales, Roger Williams will deserve, if not the first place, a place among the first, for he began the first civil government upon earth that gave equal liberty of conscience -SOUTHEY, ROBERT, 1813, Quarterly Review, vol. 10, pp. 107, 113.

Roger Williams asserted the great doctrine of intellectual liberty. . . It became his glory to found a State upon that principle, and to stamp himself upon its rising institutions, in characters so deep that the impres has remained to the present day, and can never be erased without the total destruction of the work. . . . He was the first person in modern Christendom to establish civil government on the doctrine of the liberty of conscience, the equality of opinions before the law; and in its defence he was the harbinger of Milton, the precursor and the superior of Jeremy Taylor.-BANCROFT, GEORGE, 1834-74, History of the United States, vol. 1.

We must not rehearse in detail the sequel of the story;-how, instead of a strict enforcement of the sentence, he was permitted in consideration of his health to remain in Salem through the winter, under an injunction "not to go about to draw others to his opinions;" how, as soon as he was well enough, he renewed his work of agitation;-how the court of magistrates, finding their authority defied and their clemency (or what

they thought was clemency) abused, attempted to put him on shipboard, that he might try what liberty there was for such agitation in England; how he escaped out of their hands, and went beyond their jurisdiction into the land of Narragansett, where he builded a city and devoutly named it Providence; how, notwithstanding the contempt with which Puritan statesmen in the other colonies regarded his experiment in the science of government, or as they thought no-government, the relations between him and them were always friendly;-how he grew wiser and gentler, though hardly less crotchetty, as he grew older;-how he kept company with the wild men of the woods, winning their confidence and love;-how his old age was honored; how he died and was buried, leaving a name not unworthy of grateful and perpetual remembrance wherever there is perfect liberty for men to think, to speak their thoughts, and to worship in spirit and in truth.—BACON, LEONARD, 1877, As to Roger Williams, The New Englander, vol. 36, p. 23.

Rodger Williams, never in anything addicted to concealments, has put himself without reserve into his writings. There he still remains. There if anywhere we may get well acquainted with him. Searching for him along the two thousand printed pages upon which he has stamped his own portrait, we seem to see a very human and fallible man, with a large head, a warm heart, a healthy body, an eloquent and imprudent tongue; not a symmetrical person, poised, cool, accurate, circumspect; a man very anxious to be genuine and to get at the truth, but impatient of slow methods, trusting gallantly to his own institutions, easily deluded by his own hopes; an imaginative, sympathetic, affluent, impulsive man; an

optimist; his master-passion benevolence; his mind clarifying itself slowly; never quite settled on all subjects in the universe; at almost every moment on the watch for some new idea about that time expected to heave in sight; never able by the ordinary means of intellectual stagnation to win for himself in his life-time the bastard glory of doctrinal consistency; professing many things by turn and nothing long, until at last, even in mid-life, he reached the moral altitude of being able to call himself only a Seeker-in which not ignoble creed he continued for the remainder of his days on earth. It must be confessed that there is even yet in the fame of Rodger Williams a singular vitality. While living in this world, it was his fate to be much talked about, as well as to disturb much the serenity of many excellent people; and the rumour of him still agitates and divides men. There are, in fact, some signs that his fame is now about to take out a new lease, and to build for itself a larger habitation. At any rate, the world, having at last nearly caught up with him, seems ready to vote-though with a peculiarly respectable minority in opposition -that Rodger Williams was after all a great man, one of the true heroes, seers, world-movers, of these latter ages. TYLER, MOSES COIT, 1878, A History of American Literature, vol. I, p. 241.


His industry in every enterprise which he undertook was indefatigable. He placed the highest estimate upon the value of time. "One grain of its inestimable sand," says he, "is worth a golden


His knowledge, especially in history and theology, appears to have been extensive, and his scholarship in the classic languages unusually varied and exact. As a writer, he had little time, and, it may be, little taste for the elegances of language.-GAMMELL, WILLIAM, 1844, Life of Roger Williams, ch. xv.

The "Bloody Tenent" is a noble work, full of brave heart and tenderness; a book of learning and piety, the composition of a true, gentle nature.-DUYCKINCK, EVERT A. AND GEORGE L., 185565-75, Cyclopædia of American Literature, ed. Simons, vol. I, p. 39.

Of his mental powers we have no means

of judging, except the respect and interest he awakened in those with whom he dwelt, and the writings he left. These are chiefly of a controversial nature, and on questions which have, in a great measure, lost their significance. The style, too, is involved, quaint, and often pedantic. The views, however, advocated even in his polemic discussions, are often in advance of his time, and the sentiments he professes are noble and progressive. Thus, "The Bloody Tenent" is an earnest plea with the clergy for toleration; and "A Hireling Ministry" presents bold and just arguments in just arguments in support of free churches, and against an arbitrary system of tithes. In the Redwood Library, at Newport, is a copy of "George Fox digged out of his Burrows," a characteristic specimen of the theological hardihood of Williams, as exhibited in his controversy with the Quakers. But it is from his original force of character, and his loyalty to a great principle, that Roger Williams derives his claim to our admiration. His shades of opinion are comparatively unimportant; but the spirit in which he worked, suffered, and triumphed, enrols his name among the moral heroes and benefactors of the world.-TUCKERMAN, HENRY T., 1857, Essays, Biographical and Critical, p. 189.

Williams was an able, earnest, and successful pioneer in that great movement towards religious freedom which has characterized the history of the United States. But in justice to the Puritans it should be said that he was sometimes hasty, indiscreet, sensational; and that he lacked the self-control which should be shown by a great reformer, as well as the solid learning of the Puritan leaders.-RICHARDSON, CHARLES F., 1887, American Literature, 1607-1885, vol. 1, p. 122.

Milton spoke of Williams as an extraordinary man and a noble confessor of religious liberty, who sought and found a safe refuge for the sacred ark of conscience. His associates in the new world described him in terms less exalted. Bradford calls him a man godly and zealous, having many precious parts, but very unsettled in judgment. Cotton Mather spoke of his having a windmill in his head; Sir William Martin and Hubbard both praised his zeal, but thought it overheated. Southey held his memory in "veneration,"

[ocr errors]

which seems hardly the word to apply to a man so profoundly contentious as Williams was. Lowell is substantially just to him when he writes, "He does not show himself a strong or a very wise man, though "charity and tolerance flow so noticeably from his pen that it is plain they were in his heart." Williams's place as a religious leader has perhaps been exaggerated by his eulogists. His views were not in advance of those of many of his contemporaries, his cardinal doctrine that "there is no other prudent Christian way of preserving peace in the world but by

permission of different consciences" being scarcely more than a reaffirmation of John Smith's dictum of 1611 to the effect that Christ being the lawgiver of the conscience, the magistrates were not entitled to meddle with religious opinions. His mind had none of the roominess of Fuller's, or of the elevation of Milton's; but he certainly had a firm grip of the necessity of a principle of toleration, and he was one of the very first to make a serious effort to put that principle into practice. -SECCOMBE, THOMAS, 1900, Dictionary of National Biography, vol. XLI, p. 449.

Robert Leighton


Leighton (Robert), D.D., son of Alexander, b. in Edinburgh in 1611; grad. at the univ. of that city (1631), of which he became prin. in 1653; appointed bp. of Dunblane in 1661, in pursuit of the plan of Charles II. to Anglicize the Ch. of Scot.; appealed twice to the king to adopt milder measures in the attempted reform (1665 and 1669); accepted the archbishopric of Glasgow in 1670 upon conditions which were not fulfilled, and he resigned in 1673. Wrote "Sermons," "Prelectiones Theologicæ," "Commentary on the First Epistle of Peter," and "Posthumous Tracts," etc. D. June 26, 1684.-BARNARD AND GUYOT, eds., 1885, Johnson's New General Cyclopaedia, vol. 1, p. 765.


He had great quickness of parts, a lively apprehension, with a charming vivacity of thought and expression. He had the greatest command of the purest Latin that ever I knew in any man. He was a master both of Greek and Hebrew, and of the whole compass of theological learning, chiefly in the study of the Scriptures. But that which excelled all the rest was. he was possessed with the highest and noblest sense of divine things that I ever saw in any man. He had so subdued the natural heat of his temper, that in a great variety of accidents, and in the course of twenty-two years' intimate conversation with him, I never observed the least sign of passion but upon one single occasion. There was a visible tendency in all he said to raise his own mind, and those he conversed with, to serious reflections. He seemed to be in a perpetual meditation. His preaching had a sublimity both of thought and expression in it. The grace and gravity of his pronunciation was such, that few heard him without a very sensible emotion: I am sure I never did.-BURNET, GILBERT, 1715-34, History of my Own Time

This excellent person is represented by Bishop Burnet as one of the most perfect characters of his own, or any other age. He was learned, eloquent, and devout; but his piety was the most unaffected in the world. His charity was comprehensive with respect to speculative opinions; but he could never overlook flagrant vices and corruptions in the professors of any religion. He was, for his singular merit, preferred to the bishopric of Dumblain, and afterward to the archbishopric of Glasgow. He had many enemies among the rigid Episcopalians, as he was strongly inclined to make some concessions to the Presbyterians, in order to an accommodation.-GRANGER, JAMES, 1769-1824, Biographical History of England, vol. III, p. 346.

He was, indeed, a man whom either church might be glad to claim. But the peculiarity of his position was, that he combined a sanctity equal to that of the strictest Covenanter or the strictest Episcopalian, with a liberality in his innermost thoughts equal to that of the widest Latitudinarian of the school of Jeremy Taylor or of Hoadley. Let us look at both these points more minutely. They both appear far more strongly in the records of his life and conversation

than could be inferred from his published writings. There are few men whose character gives the impression of a more complete elevation both above the cares and the prejudice of the world-of a more entire detachment from earth.—STANLEY, ARTHUR PENRHYN, 1872, Lectures on the History of the Church of Scotland, p. 121.

As saint, author, and peacemaker, Leighton presents a combination of qualities which has called forth almost unrivalled tributes of admiration. Thomas à Kempis was one of his favourite books, and the "imitation of Christ," whose darling virtues he said were humility, meekness, and charity, was the business of his life. He shrank from every approach to ostentation, and so far from courting the riches and honours of the world he looked upon them with something of holy contempt. On accepting the bishopric he said, "One benefit at least will rise from it. I shall break that little idol of estimation my friends have for me, and which I have been so long sick of." Burnet never saw his temper ruffled but once during twenty-two years of close intimacy, and could not recollect having heard him say one idle word. When re

minded of his former zeal for the national covenant, he replied, "When I was a child I spoke as a child," and when charged with apostatising from his father's principles, he meekly answered that a man was not bound to be of his father's opinions. He was habitually abstemious, kept frequent fasts, and often shut himself up in his room for prolonged periods of private devotion. Everything that he could spare was given to pious purposes. and he employed others as the agents of his charity that he might not get the credit of it.-SPROTT, THE REV. G. W., 1893, Dictionary of National Biography, vol. xxxIII, p. 6.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

As a

That very remarkable work [on First Peter] teaches a singularly pure and complete theology-a theclogy thoroughly evangelical, in the true sense of that often abused epithet, being equally free from Legalism on the one hand and Antinomianism on the other; in a spirit of enlightened and affectionate devotion, love to the brotherhood, and charity to all men, and in a style which, though very unequal, indicates in its general structure a familiarity with the classic models of antiquity; and in occasional expressions is in the highest degree felicitous and beautiful. Biblical expositor, Leighton was above his own age, and as a theologian and practical writer few have equalled, still fewer surpassed him, either before or since his time. Laboring under more than the ordinary disadvantages of posthumous publications, through the extreme slovenliness with which they, with few exceptions, were in the first instance edited, his works are eminently fitted to form the student of theology to sound views. and a right spirit, and to minister to the instruction and delight of the private Christian possessing in large measure and rare union those qualities which must endear them to every Christian mind, however uncultured, and those which are fitted to afford high gratification to them in whom the knowledge and love of evangelical truth are connected with literary

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »