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SPECIMEN OF TAYLOR'S STYLE.

189

ON PRAYER.

Anger is a perfect alienation of the mind from prayer, and therefore is contrary to that attention which presents our prayers in a right line to God. For so have I seen a lark rising from his bed of grass, and coaring upwards, singing as he rises, and hopes to get to heaven, and cliinb above the clouds; but the poor bird was beaten back with the loud sighings of an eastern wind, and his motion inade irregular and inconstant, descending more at every breath of the tempest than it could recover by the libration and frequent weighing of his wings, till the little creature was forced to sit down and pant, and stay till the storm was over; and then it made a prosperous flight, and did rise and sing, as if it had learned music and motion from an angel, as he passed sometimes through the air, about his ministries here below. So is the prayer of a good man: when his affairs have required business, and his business was matter of discipline, and his discipline was to pass upon a sinning person, or had a design of charity, his duty met with the infirmities of a man, and anger was its instrument; and the instrument became stronger than the prime agent, and raised a tempest, and overruled the man; and then his prayer was broken, and his thoughts were troubled, and his words went up towards a cloud ; and his thoughts pulled them back again, and made them without intention; and the good man sighs for his infirmity, but must be content to lose that prayer, and he must recover it when his anger is removed, and his spirit is becalmed, made even as the brow of jesus, and smooth like the heart of God; and then it ascends to heaven upon the wings of the holy dove, and dwells with God, till it returns, like the useful bee, loaden with a blessing and the dew of heaven.

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FORMING the door-posts of a stable-yard, attached to the Three Kings' Inn in Piccadilly, there stand, or stood a short time since, two old defaced Corinthian pillars, chipped, weather-stained, drabpainted, and bearing upon their faded acanthus crowns the signboard of the livery-stables. Ostlers lounge and smoke there; passersby give no heed to the poor relics of a dead grandeur; and the brown London mud bespatters them pitilessly from capital to base, as rattling wheels jolt past over the uneven pavement. These pillars are all that remain of a splendid palace, which was reared upon that site by the famous Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon and Lord High Chancellor of England. It was built at an unhappy time, when England could but ill spare the £50,000 sunk in its gorgeous stone-work, and when England's King and Chancellor were hated by the people with a bitter hatred. So it was nicknamed Dunkirk House, and Tangier Hall, and insulting couplets were chalked upon its gates by a howling rabble, who shivered its windows with stones, when the Dutch cannon were heard in the estuary of the Thames. Clarendon, who built it, was then near the day of his fall. Already he had seen heavy reverses.

When he left the pleasant lawns of Dinton in Wiltshire, where he was born in 1608, to study at Oxford for the Church, and afterwards to pore over ponderous law-books in the old chambers of the Middle Temple, he little foresaw either his splendid rise or his sad decline. Still less

CLARENDON MADE LORD CHANCELLOR.

191

did he dream, in those golden days of youth, that out of the dark days of his second exile would come a book, which should gild his name with even brighter lustre than statesmanship or devotion to his king could win for him. A chequered reputation on the page of history, and two old pillars in Piccadilly, might have been all that remained of the great lawyer's life-work, had not his brilliant pen raised a monument of eloquence, imperishable while the English language lives.

As member for Wootton Basset he began his political career in 1640, having previously, though enjoying a considerable private fortune, devoted himself so earnestly to the practice of the law as to win by it much renown and many friends. His rise to royal favour was very speedy. Having aided the King most materially by writing several important papers, he was knighted in 1643, and made Chancellor of the Exchequer. But in spite of all that the swords of the Cavaliers or the eloquence of Hyde could do, the cause of Charles declined, and it was judged right that the Prince of Wales should leave England. Hyde accompanied the 1646 royal boy to Jersey, where after some time he commenced A.D. his great History of the Rebellion. It would be out of place here to trace the wanderings of his first exile. At the Hague he heard of the Whitehall tragedy. At Paris he shared the poverty of the royal Stuart—sometimes with neither clothes nor fire to keep out the winter cold, and often with not a livre he could call his own. All that the unfortunate, lazy, dissipated, uncrowned, and kingdomless monarch could do to recompense the fidelity of this devoted servant, he did. He made him his Lord Chancellor - an empty name written on an empty purse, as things went then.

But soon came the Restoration with its pealing bells and scattered flowers. Hyde, created Earl of Clarendon, became a real Lord Chancellor, entitled to sit on the 1660 actual woolsack. Then for seven years he was the ruling spirit of English politics, and he shares in many of the dark stains, which lie upon the memory of King Charles II. The feeling of the nation grew strong against him. He lost the royal favour. In August 1667 he had to give up the Great Seal; and, with a trial

A.D.

192

CLARENDON AND MILTON.

was a

A.D.

for high treason hanging over his grey head, he fled down to the coast, and took ship at the pretty village of Erith for the French shore. Louis proved unfriendly to the fallen statesman. From place to place the old man wandered, finding solace only in his pen. Seven years passed wearily by, gout racking his feeble frame. A plaintive petition in his last days entreated his heartless master's leave to die at home. “ Seven years,” he wrote, time prescribed and limited by God himself for the expiration of some of his greatest judgments; and it is full that time since I have, with all possible humility, sustained the insupportable weight of the king's displeasure. Since it will be in nobody's power

long to prevent me from dying, methinks the desiring a 1674 place to die in should not be thought a great presumption."

No answer came; and when the year 1674 was near its

close, Clarendon breathed his last at Rouen. The great Cavalier-prince of historical portrait painters-outlived the great Puritan-prince of epic poets—but a few days. Born in the same year, Clarendon and Milton stood all their lives apart, towering in rival greatness above their fellows in the grand struggle of their century. The year of the Restoration, which brought wealth and splendour to the Cavalier, plunged the blind old Puritan in bitter poverty. But a few years more, and the great Earl, too, was stricken down from his lofty place, and sent a homeless wanderer to a stranger's land. To both, their sternest discipline was their greatest gain; for when the colours of hope and gladness had faded from the landscape of their lives, and nothing but a waste of splendourless days seemed to stretch in cheerless vista before them, they turned to the desk for solace, and found in the exercise of their literary skill, not peace alone, but fame. Milton wrote most of his great Poem in blindness and disgrace; Clarendon completed his great History during a painful exile.

Clarendon's “History of the Rebellion” (mark the Cavalier in the last word of this title) is not in all things a faithful picture of those terrible days, red with civil and with royal blood. Nor is this wonderful, for the writer was absent from his native land during a great part of the eventful strife, which he designates by so

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pointed a name. It is very unequally written, here adorned with a passage of most picturesque and glowing eloquence, and there marred by a “ravelled sleave” of sentences, tangled together in utter defiance of grammatical construction. Yet he is never, even in his most slovenly passages, obscure. It has been well remarked that his language is that of the speaker, not of the writer; and if we remember Hyde's training at the bar, we shall cease to wonder at his off-hand, careless style. When he sits down to paint the character of some celebrated man, his pencil seems dipt in the brightest hues, and, as touch after touch falls lovingly on the canvas, we feel that a master's hand is tracing the growing form. The History was not published until 1707 ; his Life and the Continuation of the History, not until 1759. Another remarkable work of Clarendon is his Essay on an Active and Contemplative Life.

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When there was any overture or hope of peace, he would be more erect and vigorous, and exceedingly solicitous to press anything which he thought might promote it; and sitting among his friends, often after a deep silence, and frequent sigbs, would, with a shrill and sad accent, ingeminate the word Peace, peace; and would passionately profess, “that the very agony of the war and the view of the calamities and desolation the kingdom did and must endure, took his sleep from him, and would shortly break his heart.” This made some think, or pretend to think, “that he was so much enamoured of peace, that he would have been glad the King should have bought it at any price ;” which was a most unreasonable calumny ;-as if a man that was himself the most punctual and precise in every circumstance, that might reflect upon conscience or honour, could have wished the King to have committed a trespass against either. ....

In the morning before the battle, as always upon action, he was very cheerful, and put himself into the first rank of the Lord Byron's regiment, then advancing upon the enemy, who had lined the hedges on both sides with musketeers; from whence he was shot with a musket in the lower part of the belly, and in the instant falling from his horse, his body was not found till the next morning; till when, there was some hope he might have been a prisoner, though his nearest friends, who knew his temper, received small comfort from that imagination. Thus fell that incomparable young man, in the four-and-thirtieth year of his age, having so much despatched the true business of life, that the eldest rarely attain to that immense knowledge, and the youngest enter not into the world with more innocency: whosoever leads such a life, needs be the less anxious upon how short warning it is taken from him.

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