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have physic good for the souls of his people. Upon that he admits them ; but when he finds by experience they both trouble him and his people, he will have no more to do with them. What is that to them, or any one else, if a king will not go to heaven?” The supremacy of the civil power has seldom been more uncompromisingly asserted ; but such an assertion of it was not more welcome to the leaders of the popular party than to High Churchmen themselves.
It must not be supposed, from the breadth of Selden's views on the vexed question of Church and State, that he was other than a man of earnest religious feeling. On this point the testimony of Sir Matthew Hale will satisfy everybody; and Baxter has preserved that testimony for us—“I think it meet to remember that because many Hobbists do report that Mr. Selden was at the heart an infidel, and inclined to the opinions of Hobbes, I desired him to tell me the truth herein ; and he oft professed to me that Mr. Selden was a resolved, serious Christian, and that he was a great adversary to Hobbes' errors, and that he had seen him openly oppose him so earnestly, as either to depart from him, or drive him out of the room.” Baxter adds, though the statement is contradicted by Aubrey, that Selden would not have his friend in his chamber, where he lay on his deathbed, exclaiming, “No atheists ! "
Whitelocke says of Selden, that “his mind was as great as his learning ; that he was as hospitable and generous as any man, and as good company to those whom he liked.” There is evidence of the liberal assistance he gave to Meric Casaubon. As a conversationalist he shone supreme. Over the walnuts and the wine he poured out profuse stores of wit and wisdom. Happily for posterity he had his
Boswell; so that we know the author of "Titles of Honour” under his brightest and most genial aspect. Is it the same person ? inquires James Hannay; one scarcely believes it. “Dry, grave, and almost crabbed in his writings, bis conversation is homely, humorous, shrewd, vivid, even delightful! He is still the great scholar and the tough Parliamentarian, but merry, playful, and witty. The åvýp.Ouov yen ao ma is on the sea of his vast intellect. He writes like the opponent of Grotius; he talks like the friend of Ben Jonson.”
Selden's “Table-Talk” was published by his amanuensis, Richard Milward, in 1689. Fortunate Milward, in having the opportunity to listen to such talk! Fortunate Selden, in having an admirer discriminating and industrious enough to record it! Dr. Johnson preferred this small but precious volume to all the French Ana. Coleridge found “more weighty hollow sense" in it “than in the same number of pages of any uninspired writer.” And as a matter of fact it does not contain one weak or worthless line. We find it a store of “good things,” wise or witty, or both witty and wise. It includes the happy illustration that libels and pasquils are like straws, which serve to show how the wind sets. And that forcible suggestion, so much admired by Coleridge, that “Transubstantiation is only rhetoric turned into logic.” His friends seem to have been much impressed by the care and spontaneity of his familiar analogies and comparisons. As in his remark on the necessary connection between faith and works :-“Though in my intellect I may divide them, just as in the candle I know there is both light and heat, but yet put out the candle and they are both gone ; one remains not without the other so 'tis betwixt faith and works." Here is another“ happy thought":—“We
measure the excellency of other men by some excellence we conceive to be in ourselves. Nash, a poet poor enough, as poets used to be, seeing an alderman with his gold chain upon his great horse, by way of scorn said to one of his companions, 'Do you see yon fellow, how goodly, how big he looks ? Why, that fellow cannot make a blank verse!'
To induce any of my readers who may unfortunately be ignorant of Selden's “ Table Talk” to make immediate acquaintance with it, I shall subjoin a brief selection of striking passages
“On Equality, and its Advocates. “This is the juggling trick of the parity; they would have nobody above them, but they do not tell you they would have nobody under them.”
[Borrowed by Dr. Johnson when he said to Boswell, “ Your levellers wish to level down as far as themselves; but they cannot bear levelling up to themselves. They would all have some people under them; why not then have some people above
"First, in your sermons use your logic, and then your rhetoric; rhetoric without logic is like a tree with leaves and blossoms, but no root.
"Nothing is true but what is spoken of in the Bible, and meant there for person and place; the rest is application, which a discreet man may do well; but 'tis his Scripture, not the Holy Ghost's.”
“Learning and Wisdom. “No man is wiser for his learning; it may administer matter to work in, or objects to work upon; but wit and wisdom are born with a man.
“ Oracles. “Oracles ceased presently after Christ, as soon as nobody believed them ; just as we have no fortune-tellers, nor wise men, when nobody cares for them. Sometimes you have a season for them, when people believe them; and neither of them, I conceive, wrought by the devil.”
“ Evil speaking. “Speak not ill of a great enemy, but rather give him good words, that he may use you the better if you chance to fall into his hands. The Spaniard did this when he was dying ; his confessor told him, to work him to repentance, how the devil tormented the wicked that went to hell; the Spaniard replying, called the devil ‘my lord'—'I hope my lord the devil is not so cruel.' His confessor reproved him. “Excuse me,' said the Don, for calling him so; I know not into what hands I may fall; and if I happen into his, I hope he will use me the better for giving
I him good words.'”
“ Ill Words. “A gallant man is above ill words. An example we have in the old Lord of Salisbury, who was a great wise man. Stone had called some lord about court ‘fool ;' the lord complains, and has Stone whipped ; Stone cries, 'I might have called my Lord of Salisbury fool often enough, before he would have had me whipped.'
“He that speaks ill of another, commonly before he is aware, makes himself such a one as he speaks against ; for if he had civility or brecding, he would forbear such kind of language.”
“ Humility. “ There is humilitas quâdam in vitio [a humility pushed to an excess, until it becomes a vice]. If a man does not take notice of that excellency and perfection that is in himself, how can he be thankful to God, who is the author of all excellency and perfection ? Nay, if a man hath too mean an opinion of himself, it will render him unserviceable both to God and man.
“ Pride. “Pride may be allowed to this or that degree, else a man cannot keep up his dignity. In gluttons there must be eating, in drunkenness there must be drinking; it is not the eating, nor it is not the drinking that is to blame, but the excess. So in pride."
Gentlemen. “ What a gentleman is, 'tis hard with us to define ; in other countries he is known by his privileges; in Westminster Hall he is one that is reputed one ; in the Court of Honour, he that hath arms.
The king cannot make a gentleman of blood, nor God Almighty, but he can make a gentleman by creation. If you ask which is the better of these two-civilly, the gentleman of blood ; morally, the gentleman by creation may be the better, for the other may be a debauched man, this a person of worth.”
“Patience is the chiefest fruit of study. A man that strives to make himself a different thing from other men by much reading, gains this chiefest good, that in all future he hath something to entertain and comfort himself withal.”
“Money makes a man laugh. A blind fiddler playing to a company, and playing but saucily, the company laughed at him; his boy that led him perceiving it, said, “Father let us begone, they do nothing but laugh at you.' 'Hold thy peace, boy,' said the fiddler, we shall have their money presently, and then we will laugh at them.'»
“ Difference of Men. “The difference of men is very great; you would scarce think them to be of the same species ; and yet it consists more in the affection than in the intellect. For as in the strength of body, two men shall be of an equal strength, yet one shall appear stronger than the other, because he exercises and puts out his strength,