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erudite treatise on the Deities of the Ancient Syrians*, which he intended as a commentary on all the passages of the Old Testament relating to the idols of the heathens, and discussing therefore not only the Syrian, but the Arabian, Egyptian, Persian, African, and European idolatry.'

His History of Tithes' was published in 1618, in which he seemed to combat the divine right of the church to them, and consequently gave great offence to the clergy, and incurred the displeasure of king James. He was admitted, at the intercession of his friend Ben Jonson, to explain himself to the king in person, and seemed to have conciliated him, but in a very short time he was cited before the high commission court, his book was prohibited, he was enjoined to declare his contrition for having written it, and forbid to reply to any of those who might write against it, upon pain of imprisonment. The king pointed out to him many objectionable passages, particularly

* De Diis Syris, Syntagmata duo. London, 1617.


one which seemed to throw a doubt

upon the day of the birth of Christ; he therefore composed a short treatise upon that subject, and presented it to the king on Christmas



In the preface to his History of Tithes, he reproaches the clergy with ignorance and laziness, and upbraids them with having nothing to keep up their credit but beard, title, and habit; and that their studies reached no farther than the breviary, the 'postills, and 'polyanthea ;' this was enough to draw down their indignation upon him, and he was consequently vehemently attacked. Wood says, that 'the usage he met with sunk so deep into his stomach, that he did never after affect the bishops and clergy, or cordially approve their calling, though many

* This treatise does not appear to have been printed during Selden's life, but was published in 1661, ander the following title, “ EANOPSTOE; or, God made Man. Proving the Nativity of our Saviour to be ou the 25th of December. London: printed by J. G. for Nathaniel Brooks, at the Angel, in Cornhill, 1661," 8vo. with a wretched portrait of Selden prefixed, engraved by I. Chantry.

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ways were tried to gain him to the church's interest.' He had certainly a great contempt for the ignorant and fanatic among the clergy of his day, and did not scruple to express it openly; indeed it appears he was of opinion that the state should invariably keep a rein on the church, yet he was partial to the episcopal form of worship.

Though not orthodoxical in his opinions, he was "a resolved serious Christian,' as Sir Matthew Hale told Baxter, "a great enemy to Hobbes's Errors, and that he had seen him openly oppose Hobbes so earnestly as either to depart from him or drive him from the room.'.

In the year 1621, James asserted, in one of his speeches, that the privileges of parliament were original grants from the crown. Upon this occasion Selden was consulted both by the Lords and the Commons, and in the opinion which he delivered, though he wholly denied the point in question, yet with the strictest integrity he did ample justice to the prerogative of the crown. The protest made by the Commons on


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this occasion was attributed to him, and the vengeance

of the court followed. He was imprisoned by an order in council of the 16th of June, which directed, that no person should be suffered to speak with him; nor should word, message, or writing, be received by him; and that a gentleman of trust should be appointed to remain with him. The letter which he addressed to Sir George Calvert, one of the secretaries of state, upon this occasion, is remarkable for the cool firmness which it exhibits. After being kept in confinement for five weeks, he was liberated at the intercession of Lord Keeper Williams. It was during this imprisonment that he prepared for the press the curious historical work of Eadmer, a Saxon monkish writer, and illustrated it with very learned notes. Upon its publication he dedicated it in grateful terms to the Lord Keeper, thanking him for having been the cause of his liberation.

From this time he seems to have taken a more active part in the great political events of the period. In 1623 he was returned member for Lancaster, and in the first two years of the reign of Charles the First, for Great Bedwin, in Wiltshire. He was one of the committee for forming articles of impeachment against the Duke of Buckingham, and was appointed one of the managers at his proposed trial. He was one of the firmest and most distinguished opposers of the unconstitutional measure of levying money on the authority of the prerogative, and pleaded for Hampden, who had been imprisoned for refusing to pay the ship-money. It was now that his opposition to the corruptions of the government took a decided form; and, on all important discussions in parliament, he was looked up to, and listened to, with the greatest reverence. In

consequence of the weight of his opinion with the house, and the influence of his speeches on their decisions, the government found it expedient to take measures to prevent his attendance; and, in consequence, a charge of having uttered seditious expressions was preferred against him, and he was committed to the Tower in

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