網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

laborious; and of parts not to be imposed upon by the subtle or 'harp; and of a personal courage equal to his best parts: so that be was an enemy not to be wished, wherever he might have been made a friend; and as much to be apprehended where he was so, as any man could deserve to be. And therefore his death was Do less pleasing to the one party, than it was condoled in the other.

LORD FALKLAND.1

In this unhappy battle was slain the Lord Viscount Falkland; a person of such prodigious parts of learning and knowledge, of that inimitable sweetness and delight in conversation, of so flowing and obliging a humanity and goodness to mankind, and of that primitive simplicity and integrity of life, that if there were no other brand upon this odious and accursed civil war, than that single loss, it must be most infamous and execrable to all posterity.

He was a gjeat cherisher of wit, and fancy, and good parts, in any man; and if he found them clouded with poverty or want, a most liberal and bountiful patron towards them, even above his fortune; of which, in those administrations, he was such a dispenser, as, if he had been trusted with it to such uses, and if there had been the least of vice in his expense, he might have been thought too prodigal. He was constant and pertinacious in whatsoever he resolved to do, and not to be wearied by any pains that were necessary to that end. And, therefore, having once resolved not to see London, which he loved above all places, till he had perfectly learned the Greek tongue, he went to his own house in the country, and pursued it with that indefatigable industry, that it will not be believed in how short a time he was master of it, and accurately read all the Greek historians.

In this time, his house being within little more than ten miles of Oxford, he contracted familiarity and friendship with the most polite and accurate men of that university; who found such an immenseness of wit, and such a solidity of judgment in him, so infinite a fancy, bound in by a most logical ratiocination, such a vast knowledge, that he was not ignorant in any thing, yet such an excessive humility, as if he had known nothing, that they frequently resorted and dwelt with him, as in a college situated in a purer air; so that his house was a university in a less volume, whither they came not so much for repose as study; and to examine and refine those grosser propositions, which laziness and consent made current in vulgar conversation * * *

He was superior to all those passions and affections which attend vulgar minds, and was guilty of no other ambition than of knowledge, and to be reputed a lover of all good men; and that

[ocr errors]

made him too much a contemner of those arts, which must be indulged in the transactions of human affairs.

The great opinion he had of the uprightness and integrity of those persons who appeared most active, especially of Mr. Hampden, kept him longer from suspecting any design against the peace of the kingdom; and though he differed from them commonly in conclusion, he believed long their purposes were honest. When he grew better informed what was law, and discerned in them a desire to control that law by a vote of one or both houses, no man more opposed those attempts, and gave the adverse party more trouble by reason and argumentation; insomuch as he was, by degrees, looked upon as an advocate for the court; to which he contributed so little, that he declined those addresses, and even those invitations which he was obliged almost by civility to entertain. And he was so jealous of the least imagination that he should incline to preferment, that he affected even a moroseness to the court, and to the courtiers; and left nothing undone which might prevent and divert the king's or queen's favor towards him, but the deserving it. * * *

When there was any overture, or hope of peace, he would be more erect and vigorous, and exceedingly solicitous to press any thing which he thought might promote it; and sitting among his friends, often after a deep silence, and frequent sighs, 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 enamored 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 honor, 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 ;i 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 dispatched 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.

SIR MATTHEW HALE. 1609—1676.

Sik Matthew Hits, one of the most upright judges that ever sat upon ihe English bench, was born at Alderly, in the county of Gloucester, in 1009. His parents dying when he was quite young, he was educated by a Puritan clergyman, and entered Oxford at the age of seventeen. After leaving the university he applied himself to the study of the law with great assiduity, mid was called to the bar a few years previous to the commencement of tile civil war. In the subsequent contests that shook the nation, Hale preserved a perfect neutrality, which was certainly favorable to his interests as an advocate. But how far it is manly and right, in times of great political agitation, for a citizen to study his own individual quiet and interests, instead of throwing the whole weight of his influence upon that cause which he deems the most just is very questionable.

Hale received a commission from Charles I., and after the execution of that monarch, he was made, under Cromwell, one of the judges of the Common Bench, the duties of which office he discharged with consummate skill and the strictest impartiality. After the death of Cromwell he was a member of the parliament which recalled Charles II., and in the year of the Restoration he was knighted. In 1671 he was raised to the chief-justiceship of the King's Bench, where he presided with great honor to himself and advantage to the public till 1G75, when the state of his health obliged him to resign. He died from dropsy on Christmas day of the following year, 1676.

It is not necessary to speak more fully of his character here, as in a subsequent page will be found Baxter's admirable sketch of it.1 The only spot upon his judicial reputation, is his having condemned two old women for witchcraft. This he did with the most sincere belief diat he was doing right And how many other men, eminent for their piety, were also carried away by that delusion in the middle of the seventeenth century, not only in England, but in this country!2

1 Lord Ersklne, In an eloquent speech In the Court of the King's Bench, upon the trial of Williams, for publishing Palne's " Age of Reason," 1797, thus addresses the Jury:—"Gentlemen, in the place where we now bit to administer the JusUcc of this great country, above a century ago the never-.obo-forgotten Sir Malthew Hale presided; whose faith in Christianity Is an exalted commentary upon :ts truth and reason, and whose life was a glorious example of Ita fruits in man, administering numan Justice with a wisdom and purity drawn from the pure fountain of the Christian dlapensa'jun, whii-h has been, and will be In all ages, a subject of the highest reverence and admlraUon."

Cowper, «w, in the third book of the Task, thus beautifully speaks of him, as one

■ In whom

Our British rhemls gloried with just cause,

Immortal Hale I for deep discernment praised.

And sound Integrity not more, than famed

For sanctity of manners undenied." s The fact of witchcraft was admitted by Lord Bacon and Mr. Addison. Dr. Johnson more than Inclined to the same side of the question; and Sir William Blackstone quite frowns on opposers of tills doctrine. The severe charges, therefore, which have been brought against the people of Sulci's Ma*s.. lie equally luralnsl the most learned, pious, and eminent of mankind.

Sir Maithew Hale wrote a number of works of a legal character, but that by which he is best known is his " Contemplations, moral and divine, and( Letters to his Children." An edition of this, with his life, was published by Bishop Burnet, in three volumes. As a specimen of his style, we givo the following admirable letter of advice to his children

UPON REGULATING THEIR CONVERSATION.

Dear Children—I thank God I came well to Farrington this day, about five o'clock. And as I have some leisure time at my inn, 1 cannot spend it more to my own satisfaction and your benefit, than, by a letter, to give you some good counsel. The subject shall be concerning your speech; because much of the good or evil that befalls persons arises from the well or ill managing of their conversation. When I have leisure and opportunity, I shall give you my directions on other subjects.

Never speak any thing for a truth which you know or believe to be false. Lying is a great sin against God, who gave us a tongue to speak the truth, and not falsehood. It is a great offence against humanity itself; for, where there is no regard to truth, there can be no safe society between man and man. And it is an injury to the speaker; for, besides the disgrace which it brings upon him, it occasions so much baseness of mind, that he can scarcely tell truth, or avoid lying, even when he has no color of necessity for it; and, in time, he comes to such a pass, that as other people cannot believe he speaks truth, so he himself scarcely knows when he tells a falsehood.

As you must be careful not to lie, so you must avoid coming near it. You must not equivocate, nor speak any thing positively for which you have no authority but report, or conjecture, or opinion.

Let your words be few, especially when your superiors or strangers are present, lest you betray your own weakness, and rob yourselves of the opportunity which you might otherwise have had, to gain knowledge, wisdom, and experience, by hearing those whom you silence by your impertinent talking.

Be not too earnest, loud, or violent in your conversation. Silence your opponent with reason, not with noise.

Be careful not to interrupt another when he is speaking; hear him out, and you will understand him the better, and be able to give him the better answer.

Consider before you speak, especially when the business is of moment; weigh the sense of what you mean to utter, and the expressions you intend to use, that they may be significant, pertinent, and inoffensive. Inconsiderate persons do not think till they epeak; or they speak, and then think.

Some men excel in husbandry, some in gardening, some in mathematics. In conversation, learn, as near as you can, where the skill or excellence of any person lies; put him upon talking on that subject, observe what he says, keep it in your memory, or commit it to writing. By this means you will glean the worth and knowledge of everybody you converse with; and at an easy rate acquire what may be of use to you on many occasions.

When you are in company with light, vain, impertinent persons, let the observing of their failings make you the more cautious both in your conversation with them and in your general behavior, that you may avoid their errors.

If any one, whom you do not know to be a person of truth, sobriety, and weight, relates strange stories, be not too ready to believe or report them; and yet (unless he is one of your familiar acquaintances) be not too forward to contradict him. If the occasion requires you to declare your opinion, do it modestly and gently, not bluntly nor coirsely; by this means you will avoid giving offence, or being abused for too much credulity.

If a man, whose integrity you do not very well know, makes you great and extraordinary professions, do not give much credit to him. Probably you will find that he aims at something besides kindness to you, and that when he has served his turn, or been disappointed, his regard for you will grow cool.

Beware also of him who flatters you, and commends you to your face, or to one who he thinks will tell you of it; most probably he has either deceived and abused you, or means to do so. Remember the fable of the fox commending the singing of the crow, who had something in her mouth which the fox wanted.

Be careful that you do not commend yourselves. It is a sign that your reputation is small and sinking, if your own tongue must praise you; and it is fulsome and unpleasing to others to hear such commendations.

Speak well of the absent whenever you have a suitable opportunity. Never speak ill of them, or of anybody, unless you are sure they deserve it, and unless it is necessary for their amendment, or for the safety and benefit of others.

Avoid, in your ordinary communications, not only oaths, hut all imprecations and earnest protestations.

Forbear scoffing and jesting at the condition or natural defects of any person. Such offences leave a deep impression; and they often cost a man dear.

Be very careful that you give no reproachful, menacing, or spiteful words to any person. Good words make friends; bad words make enemies. It is great prudence to gain as many friends as we honestly can, especially when it may be done at so easy a rate as a good word; and it is great folly to make an enemy by ill words, which are of no advantage to the party who uses

« 上一頁繼續 »