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although Law, in his books (A Christian Perfection and A Serious Call), put a very high ideal before men, he had, nevertheless, omitted to emphasize that the only means of attaining it was through the atonement of Christ'. This was largely the quarrel of Wesley, as, also, of the later methodists, with mysticism in general; 'under the term mysticism,' he writes from Georgia, 'I comprehend those and only those who slight any of the means of grace'.'

George Cheyne, fashionable doctor, vegetarian and mystic, was another of Law's friends at this time; but the most charming and most lovable of his followers was his devoted admirer, John Byrom. The relationship between these two men much resembles that of Johnson and Boswell, and we find the same outspoken brusqueness, concealing a very real affection, on the part of the mentor, with the same unswerving devotion and zealous record of details-even of the frequent snubs receivedon the part of the disciple. Byrom, in many ways, reminds us of Goldsmith; he possesses something of the artless simplicity, the rare and fragrant charm, which is the outcome of a sincere and tender nature; he has many forgivable foibles and weaknesses, a delightful, because completely natural, style in prose and a considerable variety of interests and pursuits. He travelled abroad and studied medicine, and, though he never took a medical degree, he was always called Doctor by his friends; he was an ardent Jacobite, a poet, a mystic and the inventor of a system of shorthand, by the teaching of which he increased his income until, in 1740, he succeeded to the family property near Manchester.

Byrom, though a contemporary of Law at Cambridge, evidently did not know him personally until 1729, and his first recorded meeting with his hero, as, also, the later ones, form some of the most attractive passages of an entirely delightful and too little known book, The Private Journal and Literary Remains of John Byrom. It is from this journal that we gather most of our information about Law at Putney, and from it that, incidentally, we get the fullest light on his character and personality.

On 15 February 1729, Byrom bought A Serious Call, and, on the following 4 March, he and a friend named Mildmay went down in the Fulham coach to Putney to interview the author. This was the beginning of an intimacy which lasted until Law's death, and

1 For a full account of the relations of Wesley and Law, and the text of their two famous letters, see Overton, pp. 80—92, and see, also, the account in Byrom's Journal, vol. II, part 1, pp. 268-70.

2 See Byrom's Journal, vol. 11, part 1, p. 181, and for later methodist views, The Life of the Rev. Charles Wesley, by Thomas Jackson, 1841, vol. 1, pp. 52, 53, 112, 113.

which was founded on a strong community of tastes in matters of mystical philosophy, and on the unswerving devotion of Byrom to his 'master'.' They met at Cambridge, where Byrom gave shorthand lessons, and Law shepherded his unsatisfactory pupil; at Putney, in Somerset gardens and, later, at King's Cliffe 2.

Byrom, though scarcely a poet, for he lacked imagination, had an unusual facility for turning everything into rime. He sometimes wrote in very pleasing and graceful vein3, and he had an undoubted gift of epigram'; but he was particularly fond of making verse paraphrases of prose writings, and especially of those of William Law. His two finest pieces of this kind are An Epistle to a Gentleman of the Temple (1749), which versifies Law's Spirit of Prayer; and the letter on Enthusiasm (1752), founded on the latter part of Law's Animadversions upon Dr Trapp's Reply. This last poem is written with admirable clearness and point; Law's defence of enthusiasm is one of the best things he wrote, and Byrom does full justice to it. 'Enthusiasm,' meaning, more especially 'a misconceit of inspiration",' the laying claim to peculiar divine guidance or 'inner light,' resulting in anything approaching fanaticism or even emotion, was a quality equally abhorred and feared in the eighteenth century by philosophers, divines and methodists, indeed, by everyone except mystics. The first care of every writer and thinker was to clear himself of any suspicion of this 'horrid thing.' Law's argument, which is to the effect that enthusiasm is but the kindling of the driving desire or will of every intelligent creature, is well summarized by Byrom:


'O how much better he from whom I draw
Though deep yet clear his system-"Master Law."
Master I call him . . .'

(Epistle to a Gentleman of the Temple.) 2 See, for an example of their conversations, which, in the variety of its topics, and distinctive character of its sentiments, throws much light on Law's thoughts and ideals, that of Saturday, 7 June 1735.

* Especially in his song 'Why prithee now' (Poems, 1, 115), or his early pastoral, 'My Time, O ye Muses.'

As in the famous lines upon Handel and Bononcini, often attributed to Swift (Poems, 1, 35), and the Pretender toast (Poems, 1, 572).

5 Henry More, Enthusiasmus Triumphatus, 1662, § 2.

Bishop Butler, when talking once to Wesley, exclaimed, 'Sir, the pretending to extraordinary revelation or gifts of the Holy Ghost is a horrid thing, a very horrid thing.' For an admirable account of 'Enthusiasm,' see The English Church in the 18th Century, by Abbey and Overton, vol. 1, chap. ix; also a note by Ward, A. W., in Byrom's Poems, vol. I, pt. 1, pp. 169-79; and a note by Hill, G. Birkbeck, in Gibbon's Memoirs, 1900, p. 22.

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Byrom hoped that, by turning them into verse, Law's later teachings might reach a larger public2, and, in this, Law evidently agreed with him, looking upon him as a valuable ally. Byrom's work certainly did not lack appreciation by his contemporaries; Warburton-who had no cause to love him-thought highly of it, and Wesley, who ascribes to him all the wit and humour of Swift, together with much more learning, says that in his poems are 'some of the noblest truths expressed with the utmost energy of language, and the strongest colours of poetry3.'

Henry Brooke was another writer who was deeply imbued with Boehme's thought, and his expression of it, imbedded in that curious book The Fool of Quality (1766-70), reached, probably, a larger public than did Law's mystical treatises". In many ways, Brooke must have been a charming character, original, tender-hearted, overflowing with sentiment, but entirely incapable of concentration or even continuity of thought. His book is a brave one, full of high ideals. It is an extraordinary mixture of schoolboy pranks, romantic adventures, stories-ancient and modern-ethical dialogues, dissertations on mystical philosophy, political economy, the British constitution, the relation of the sexes, the training of a gentleman and many other topics. MrMeekly and Mr Fenton (or Clinton) are Brooke's two exponents of a very general and diluted form of 'Behmenism.' The existence of the two wills, the formation of Christ within the soul, the reflection of God's image in matter as in a mirror, the nature of beauty, of man and of God, the fall of Lucifer and the angels, and of Adam—all these things are discussed and explained in mystical language, steeped in emotion and sentiment".

1 Byrom's Poems, 1, 1, pp. 190—1.

'Since different ways of telling may excite

In different minds Attention to what's right,

And men (I measure by myself) sometimes,

Averse to Reas'ning, may be taught by Rimes.' Poems, п, 1, 164.

3 Wesley's Journal, Monday, 12 July 1773.

• The uncle of the Henry Brooke of Dublin, who knew Law and greatly admired him.

5 Brooke also wrote a large number of plays and poems, two of the latter being full of mystical thought, Universal Beauty (1735—6) and Redemption (1772). As to Brooke's novels cf. vol. x, chapter ш, post.

• See The Fool of Quality, ed. Baker, E. A., 1906, pp. 30, 31, 33, 39, 133–6, 142, 258-60, 328-30, 336, 367-9, 394.

The Fool of Quality found favour with John Wesley, who reprinted it in 1781, under the title The History of Henry Earl of Moreland. In doing this, he reduced it from five volumes to two, omitting, as he says in his preface, 'a great part of the mystic Divinity, as it is more philosophical than Scriptural.' He goes on to speak of the book with the highest praise, 'I now venture to recommend the following Treatise as the most excellent in its kind of any that I have seen, either in the English, or any other language'; its greatest excellence being 'that it continually strikes at the heart... I know not who can survey it with tearless eyes, unless he has a heart of stone.' Launched thus, with the imprimatur of their great leader, it became favourite reading with generations of devout Wesleyans, and, in this form, passed through many editions1.

Mystics, unlike other thinkers, scientific or philosophical, have little chronological development, since mysticism can neither age nor die. They rarely found schools of thought in their own day. It is, therefore, not surprising that, in spite of various strains of a mystic tendency, the mysticism of Law and his small circle of followers had no marked influence on the main stream of eighteenth century thought. The atmosphere of the age was antagonistic to it, and it remained an undercurrent only, the impulse given by Law in this direction spending itself finally among little-known dreamers and eccentrics2.

Later, some of the root - ideas of Boehme returned to England by way of Hegel, Schelling, Jung-Stilling and Friedrich Schlegel, or through Boehme's French disciple, Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin. They influenced Coleridge3, and profoundly modified nineteenth century conceptions, thus preparing the way for the better understanding of mystical thought. Blake's prophetic books are only now, after a hundred years, beginning to find readers, and, undoubtedly, Law's Appeal, if it were more widely known, would, in the twentieth century, win the response for which it has long been waiting.

1 Wesley's alterations in wording are most instructive and interesting, for he has not hesitated to alter as well as to omit passages. Cf. Clinton's account of the nature of man and God in Wesley, ed. of 1781, vol. 11, pp. 286—7, with Brooke, 1 vol. ed. 1906, p. 367.

2 As, for instance, Francis Okely, or, later, J. P. Greaves and Christopher Walton. There remains, however, to be traced an influence which bore fruit in the nineteenth century. Thomas Erskine of Linlathen was indebted to both Law and Boehme, and he, in his turn, influenced F. D. Maurice and others.

* Coleridge also knew both Law and Boehme at first hand; for his appreciation of them see Biographia Literaria, chap. 1x, Aids to Reflexion, conclusion, and notes to Southey's Life of Wesley, 3rd ed., 1846, vol. 1, p. 476. For his projected work on Boehme, and in connection with his philosophy, see letter to Lady Beaumont, 1810, in Memorials of Coleorton, ed. Knight, W., 1887, vol. 11, pp. 105—7.




At the end of the seventeenth century, the history of scholarship is illuminated by the great name of Richard Bentley. From 1699, when his Dissertation on the Epistles of Phalaris was published, until the end of his long life in 1742, each successive work that came from his pen was expected with impatience and welcomed with enthusiasm by the learned all over Europe, who, by their common use of Latin, were able more easily than now to understand and to communicate with each other.

When Bentley was born in 1662, there were already men in England of great learning. But most of these busied themselves with theology, chronology and patristic study rather than with the classical authors. Five names may be mentioned here. The first of these is John Pearson, successively master of Trinity college, Cambridge, and bishop of Chester. The Exposition of the Creed and the Vindication of certain epistles attributed to Ignatius of Antioch, have been already treated in an earlier volume1. Bentley wrote of him as 'the most excellent Bishop Pearson, the very dust of whose writings is gold.' John Fell was successively dean of Christ Church and bishop of Oxford. His chief work is a critical edition of the works of Cyprian. The epigram by which his name is chiefly known at the present day was probably written by Tom Brown, while an undergraduate at Christ Church2. William Lloyd, bishop of St Asaph and, later, of Worcester, is famous as one of the seven bishops. He wrote chiefly on church history and is appealed to by Bentley as 'that incomparable historian and chronologer.' Henry Dodwell was elected Camden professor of history at Oxford in 1688. The most important of his very numerous works discussed ancient

1 See ante, vol. vi, p. 297.

As to Fell, cf. ante, vol. vII, p. 457.

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