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renness on the part of the wife, and even that of polygamy, in his resolution of two important cases of conscience. These were intended to pave the way for Charles divorcing his barren wife Catherine, or marrying another; and so raising a family of his own to succeed him, instead of the Duke of York. These opinions he formally retracted. Notwithstanding his zeal for liberty, his first work is said by Swift to have been written in defence of arbitrary power. Above all, his great intimacy with the Dukes of Hamilton and Lauderdale, the King and the Duke of York, the Pope and the Prince of Orange; in short, his having the address to attach himself for a time to almost every leading character, whom he had an opportunity of approaching, gives us room to suspect, that if Burnet did not change his opinions, he had at least the art of disguising such as could not be accommodated to those of his immediate patron. When the king demanded that Burnet should be delivered up by the States, he threatened, in return, to justify himself, by giving an account of the share he had in affairs for twenty years past; in which he intimated, he might be driven to mention some particulars, which would displease the king. This threat, as he had enjoyed a considerable share of his confidence when Duke of York, may seem, in some degree, to justify Dryden's heavy charge against him, of availing himself of past confidence to criminate former patrons. It is remarkable, also, that even while he was in the secret of all the intrigues of the Revolution, and must have considered it as a near attempt, he continued to assert the doctrine of passive obedience; and in his letter to Middleton, in vindication of his conduct against the charge of high treason, there is an affectation of excessive loyalty to the reigning monarch. Against these instances of dissimulation, forced upon him perhaps by circumstances, but still unworthy and degrading, we may oppose many others, in which, when his principles and interest were placed at issue, he refused to serve the latter at the expence of the former.
So touched, it turns a virtue to a vice.-P. 235. This applies to the sketches of characters introduced by Burnet in his controversial tracts. But long after the period when Dryden wrote, the publication of the History of his Own Times confirmed, to a certain extent, the censure here imposed. It is a general and just objection to the bishop's historical characters, that they are drawn up with too much severity, and that the keenness of party has induced him, in many cases, to impose upon the reader a caricature for a resemblance. Yet there appears to have been perfect good faith upon his own part; so that we may safely acquit him of any intention to exaggerate the faults, or conceal the virtues, of his political enemies. He seems himself to have been conscious of a disposition to look upon the dark side of humanity. “ I find,” says he, “ that the long experience I have had of the baseness, the malice, and the falsehood of mankind, has inclined me to be apt to think generally the worst of men, and of parties.” Burnet therefore candidly puts the reader upon his guard against this predominant foible, and expressly warns him to receive what he advances with some grains of allowance.
But whatever was Burnet's private opinion of the conduct of others, and however much he might be misled by prejudice in drawing their characters, it should not be forgotten, thats in the moments of triumph which succeeded the Revolution, he not only resisted every temptation to revenge for personal injuries, but employed all his influence to reconimend mild and conciliating conduct to the successful party. Some, who had suffered under the severity of James's reign, were extremely indignant at what seemed to them to argue too much feeling for their discomfited adversaries, and too little sympathy with their own past distresses, Samuel Johnson, in particular, reprobates the Scottish bishop's exhortations to forgiveness and forgetfulness of injuries. “ And, besides, we have Scotch doctors, to teach us the art of forgetfulness. Pray you have gude memories, gude memories; do not remember bad things, (meaning the murders and oppressions of the last reigns,) but keep your memories for gude things, have gude memories.” To this mimicry of the bishop's dialect, in which, however, he seems to have conveyed most wholesome and sound council, Johnson adds, that, during the sitting of King William's first parliament, while his complaints were before them, the bishop sent to him bis advice, “ Not to name persons.” “I gave, says he, an English reply to that message; · Let him mind his business, I will mind mine.' His bookseller, Mr Chiswell, by whom I had the message, seemed loth to carry him that blunt answer. Oh! said I, he has got the title of a Lord lately, I must qualify my answer: 'Let him please to mind his own business, I will mind mine.”—This was very natural for one smarting under sufferings, who complains, that " while a certain traveller," meaning Burnet, “ was making his court to the cardinals at Rome, he got such an almanack in his bones, (from scourging,) as to incapacitate him from learning this Scotch trick of a gude memory.” | But it is the very character
+ Notes on the Phænix Pastoral Letter, Johnson's Works, pp. 317, 318. VOL. X.
of moderate councils to be disgusting to those who have been hurried beyond their patience by oppression ; and Johnson's testimony, though given with a contrary view, is highly honourable to the bishop's prudence.
And offered to the Moloch of the times.-P. 235. In 1675, the House of Commons being resolved to assail the Duke of Lauderdale, and knowing that Burnet, in whom he had once reposed much confidence, could bear witness to some dangerous designs and expressions, appointed the doctor to attend and be examined. His own account of this delicate transaction is as follows :
• In April 1675, a session of parliament was held, as preparatory to one that was designed next winter, in which money was to be asked; but none was now asked, it being only called to heal all breaches, and to beget a good understanding between the king and his people. The House of Commons fell upon Duke Lauderdale; and those who knew what had passed between him and me, moved, that I should be examined before a committee. I was brought before them, I told them how I had been commanded out of town; but though that was illegal, yet since it had been let fall, it was not insisted on. I was next examined concerning his design of arming the Irish Papists. I said, I, as well as others, had heard him say, he wished the Presbyterians in Scotland would rebel, that he might bring over the Irish Papists to cut their throats. I was next examined concerning the design of bringing a Scottish army into England. I desired to be excused, as to what had passed in private discourse ; to which I thought I was not bound to answer, unless it were high treason. They pressed me long, and I would give them no other answer; so they all concluded, that I knew great matters; and reported this specially to the House. Upon that I was sent for, and brought before the House, I stood upon it as I had done at the committee, that I was not bound to answer; that nothing had passed that was high treason; and as to all other things, I did not think myself bound to discover them. I said farther, I knew the Duke Lauderdale was apt to say things in a heat, which he did not intend to do; and, since he had used myself so ill, I thought myself the more obliged not to say any thing that looked like revenge, for what I had met with from him. I was brought four times to the bar; at last I was told, the House thought they had a right to examine into every thing that concerned the safety of the nation, as well as into matters of treason; and they looked on me as bound to satisfy them, otherwise they would make me feel the weight of their heavy displeasure, as one that concealed what they thought was necessary to be known. Upon this I yielded, and gave an account of the discourse formerly mentioned. They laid great weight on this, and renewed their address against Duke Lauderdale.
“ I was much blamed for what I had done. Some, to make it look the worse, added, that I had been his chaplain, which was false; and that I had been much obliged to him, though I had never received any real obligation from him, but had done him great services, for which I had been very unworthily requited : Yet the thing had an ill appearance, as the disclosing of what had passed in confidence; though I make it a great question, how far even that ought to bind a man when the designs are very wicked, and the person continued still in the same post and capacity of executing them. I have told the matter as it was, and must leave myself to the censure of the reader. My love to my country, and my private friendship, carried me, perhaps, too far; especially since I had declared much against clergymen's meddling in secular affairs, and yet had run myself so deep in them."-History of his Own Times, Vol. I. p. 375.
The discourse to which Burnet refers was of the following dangerous tendency, and took place in September 1673.
" Duke. If the king should need an army from Scotland, to tame those in England, might the Scots be depended upon ?
" Burnet. Certainly not. The commons in the southern parts are all Presbyterians. The nobility thought they had been ill used, were generally discontented, and only waited for an opportunity to show it.
“ Duke. I am of another mind. The hope of the spoil of England will bring them all in.
“ Burnet. The king is ruined if he trusts to that; for even indifferent persons, who might otherwise have been ready enough to push their fortunes without any anxious enquiries into the grounds they went upon, will not now trust the king, since he has so lately said, he would stick to his declaration, t and yet has so soon given it up.
“ Duke. Hinc illo lacrymæ. The king was forsaken in that matter, and none sticks to him but Lord Clifford and myself.”--Ralph, with the Authorities he quotes, Vol. I. p. 275.
James II. afterwards revived the plan of maintaining a Scottish standing army, to bridle his English subjects.
† The Declaration of Indulgence. See Vol. IX. p. 447.
Note XXXII. And runs an Indian muck at all he meets.-P. 235. To run a-muck, is a phrase derived from a practice of the Malays. When one of this nation has lost his whole substance by gaming, or sustained any other great and insupportable calamity, he intoxicates himself with opium; and, having dishevelled his hair, rushes into the streets, crying Amocca, or Kill, and stabbing every one whom he meets with his creeze, until he is cut down, or shot, like a mad dog.
Note XXXIII. Such was, and is, the Captain of the Test.-P. 236. Burnet may have been thus denominated, from having written the following pamphlets, in the controversy respecting the Test, against Parker, the apostate bishop of Oxford :
“ An Enquiry into the Reasons for Abrogating the 'Test imposed on all Members of Parliament, offered by Dr Samuel Parker, Bishop of Oxford.”
“ A Second Part of the Enquiry into the Reasons offered by Doctor Samuel Parker, bishop of Oxford, for Abrogating the Test; or an Answer to his plea for Tranşubstantiation, and for Acquitting the Church of Rome of Idolatry.”
"A Continuation of the Second Part of the Enquiry into the Reasons offered by Dr Samuel Parker, Bishop of Oxford, for Abrogating the Test relating to the Idolatry of the Church of Rome.”
These two last pamphlets were afterwards thrown together in one tract, entitled, “A Discourse concerning Transubstantiation and Idolatry, being an Answer to the Bishop of Oxford's plea relating to these two points."
Burnet himself admits, that his papers, in this controversy with Parker, were written with an acrimony of style which nothing but such a time and such a man could excuse. His papers were so bitter, that nobody durst offer them to the bishop of Oxford, till the king himself sent them to him, in hopes to stimulate him to an answer.
Several of these pieces seem to have been published after “ The Hind and the Panther;" but it must have been generally known at the time, that Burnet had placed himself in the front of this controversy.
And much the Buzzard in their cause did stir,