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OXFORD AFTER THE PARLIAMENT-VISITATION IN 1647, TO 1652; DECLINE OF FANATICAL FEELINGS THROUGH THE NATION: CAUSES, &c. As this subject is of importance, I shall here first sketch the principal circumstances and characters of the scene at the time of this celebrated Visitation more distinctly, and afterwards point out some of the causes which led to a more sober spirit, both in the University and through the Nation. Before the visitation, particular preachers had been appointed to take possession of the pulpits, for the purpose of “enlightening” the University on the subject of their purification. After this, a deputation is nominated, with powers to decide and examine on the spot; and their characters may be conceived, when Cheynell and Prynne are enumerated. But the University being equally obdurate to the long sermons and authoritative citations, more decisive steps are necessary; and now comes the puissant Lord Pembroke—deputed by the Presbyterian Parkiament, against the sense of the University, which had before rejected him, Ch.ANCELLor—IN PERson. He is received at Merton gates, with an oration, by the illustrious Cheynell. The next morning, previously to citing the refractory Heads of Houses, the same generous chevalier who heroically spurned into the grave of the departed Chillingworth his great work, heads a troop of soldiers to dispossess, vi et armis, Mrs. Fell, the wife of the Dean of Christ-Church. They place her in the quadrangle—frustra linguá, manibus, pedibus, reclamante—whilst they valiantly occupy the evacuated premises | Cheynell succeeds Dr. Bailey, the ejected
head of St. John's. Reynolds, afterwards Presbyterian Bishop of Norwich, is nominated Dean of ChristChurch, the names of the former Dean, Canons, &c. being struck out. It is a singular coincidence, that Reynolds himself refusing to take the engagement to Cromwell, Mrs. Reynolds is dispossessed with the same courtesy as that to which she was indebted for possession. But a more important consideration presents itself, which, as far as I know, has never yet been explained. It is this. Every historian knows, that most of the great living lights of the University had been extinguished, by the expulsion of so many of her loyal and pious and learned sons, as “scandalous and malignant.” Now, in the short period of ten years, at the eve of Cromwell's life, Oxford again appeared the nurse of learning and science, and piety — piety far different from the illiterate fanaticism that characterized the spurious religion and distempered code of such minds as Cheynell, the Goliath of the Party. How shall we account for this From four especial causes: First, fanatic and illiterate Puritanism became of itself tired and worn out, when “surplices,” “squarecaps,” organs, Bishops, and Deans, no longer daily provoked its spleen and excited invidious irritation. The Nation had “leisure to be wise.” The examples of the uncomplaining and illustrious set of good men deprived and dispossessed, gave those of sense and judgment leisure to reflect, if not to appropriate the worth of many blameless characters whose lot had been so hard :
Virtutem incolume odimusm,
Secondly, Cromwell used the illiterate and insaner religionists, but never trusted or consulted them. He chose as his councillors, not merely men of academical education — Milton, Marlowe, Whitelock, Wilkins, Owen —but those whose learning and science were politically useful to him. Thirdly, the insaner pietists, on the “EN GAGEMENT to be faithful to the Protectorate” – being tendered, chose to suffer in their turns rather than comply; and thus Cheynell was ejected from the Headship of St. John's, as he had been appointed contrary to the Statutes, on the ejection of Dr. Baillie; and in the same manner Owen succeeded Reynolds as Dean of ChristChurch. Fourthly, which I consider the chief cause, the public chartered schools, Westminster, Eton, Winchester, Merchant-Taylors, St. Paul's, Charter-House, &c. stood like rocks amid the deluge that swept for a time sober piety and learning away. Cromwell intended at one time to smite to its foundations the school which nursed the virtues and piety of Ken. The stroke was providentially, and by a son of Wykeham, averted. I allude to the story of Colonel Fiennes, who, when the orders for destruction had issued, remembered the oath he had taken to do no injury to those walls, and by him (apparently accidentally, but surely we might say providentially,) the destruction was averted. From the time that Oxford mourned the loss of her loyal and pious, and eloquent and gifted sons, in 1647, the streams” from whence they themselves had imbibed their learning and piety were still silently pouring in their intellectual and moral supplies; and hence, not long after the University lost Chillingworth, it received
Locke from Westminster.” Not long after Hammond had turned his farewell look on his beloved ChristChurch, Wotton educated at Eton, and Ken from Winchester, succeeded. Wilkins's lodging at Wadham was, as we have said, the germ of the future Royal Society. A few scientific persons had indeed met first in London, before the storm, among whom was Wilkins; but their progress was interrupted by the growing fanaticism of the times. The amiable and philosophic Boyle lodged at Oxford in 1655, and settled on the deprived Dr. Sanderson of 50 annuity, 1657. Sanderson was one of the composers of the famous Polyglot Bible, edited by Bryan Walton, 1657, F of which, and the manly address to Cromwell, we have spoken. *
It is true the “Tryers” of Cromwell impeded this steady march, but they could not stop it, and the rest followed in train. I rather think the Tryers hastened the completion, for what contempt must have been excited when such Judges were about to dismiss the great and learned Pocock for ignorance! Selden died in 1654, and left his books to the Bodleian. This wonderful example of virtue and learning had taken the Covenant, but his works sufficiently
* I speak not of his philosophy, but the calm complexion of his studious, literary, and pious life.. t That most stupendous monument of piety and learning, by the ejected Clergy, has been spoken of . . ; It was his custom, when advanced in years, to mark passages in books by leaving his spectacles in the place. When his books, left to the Bodleian, were removed from his library (about 8,000 volumes), several pairs of spectacles were found between the leaves. What would an antiquary now give for
manifested his disdain of the Puritans. Skinner, the tutor of Chillingworth at Trinity, was one of those anti-christian Prelates whose life was threatened in the beginning of the Presbyterian Parliament, and still ordained in private. Hammond, in 1655, published his “PRACTICAL CATech is M,” which made a great impression, as the numerous editions attest. It called forth Cheynell as an ANTAGo N 1st ! but his own party pitied and derided the effort, though he had “his own Holy Ghost” to assist him in the cause, against the darkling Hammond.
Among the publications which must have made a still further impression amid the fierce contentions of disputatious faith, was the work to which we have so often referred, “The Contemplative Man's Recreation!” It was first published in 1642; another edition was called for in 1655, the year in which Hammond’s “Practical Catechism” was published. The motto from Scripture alone would have excited attention in that age: “Simon Peter said, I go a Fis HING.” This motto must have been striking, if Scripture had any weight with those to whom all recreation appeared as sin!
Izaak Walton's attachment to Episcopacy was well known from his Life of Donne, Dean of St. Paul's. . All Deans and all Bishops, therefore, could not be such Antichrists as they had been represented | What a contrast to the infuriated piety of the age did the “Contemplative Man's Recreation” present Walton never concealed his sincere attachment to the Church,”—and these sen
that identical pair (if in existence) which Barlow gave to Anthony à Wood, and which, he tells us, “he kept in memorie of Selden to his last day.”