RICHARD WARD, A.M., Rector of Ingoldsby, in Lincolnshire, has written the Life of our Worthy in a considerable volume. Of it the Rev. BENJAMIN STREET, B.A., now of Barnetby-le-Wold (Lincolnshire), in his Historical Notes on Grantham and Grantham Church, says—
"His [More's] Life is in the Vestry Library, written by a Rector of Ingoldsby, who achieved in it the difficult task of writing a Biography without giving any information respecting his hero" (p. 155). Unfortunately this drastically put verdict is ill-warranted by the Critic's own notices; for notwithstanding that from local advantages — as being resident in Grantham — he might have added to our information, he does not one iota, and blunders, e.g., he turns Alexander More into Sir Alexander More, Knt. (repeatedly), and our Dr. Henry More himself into Sir Henry More." More justly, but still too severely, has PRINCIPAL TULLOCH said of the quaint discursive old book "Ward's Life is interesting, but vague, uncritical, and digressive, after the manner of the time." I feel inclined to soften, or at least explain away, each adjective. The uneventfulness outwardly of the Life accounts for the few facts given, and so for a certain vague element. "Uncritical" betrays, I fear, hasty reading; for it is superabundant in its criticism, albeit perchance not very careful or sifting in its selection of points. Then as to its being "digressive," I for one am thankful, seeing that — as in De Quincey later — it is in the digressions the best bits are met with. No one who will leisurely and with becoming sympathy study Ward's Life will regret it. It is further to be remembered that the Biographer left behind him an additional Manuscript, wherein he discusses more fully, and with all his first enthusiasm of reverence, the manifold Works of More. Besides these, More has written a kind of Autobiography in the Prefatio Generalissima of his Opera Omnia (1679), and earlier in his Apology (1664), giving a General Account of the motif and purpose of his writings — the former as notable as Herbert of Cherbury's for its supreme self-estimate. The Biographia Britannica (1760) — those noble old folios, matterful and painstaking, and putting to shame the literary scambling of to-day — has also a Life of him; and elsewhere you come on notices that show the grip he took of his contemporaries, and especially his swift readiness to write "weighty and powerful" letters even when the inquirer who turned to him for counsel was of the oddest.
Some day — may it be soon — a capable son of Cambridge will address himself to reproducing worthily the collective Works of that remarkable group of Thinkers whereof HENRY MORE was the most potential. For it cannot be that the University Presses will reprint such empty and effete "Collective Works" as our shelves groan under, and continue to neglect them (except JOHN SMITH), — RALPH CUDWORTH, BENJAMIN WHICHCOT, RUST, GLANVILL, CRADOCK, PETER STERRY, JOHN NORRIS. PRINCIPAL TULLOCH'S most masterly and thorough Rational Theology and Christian Philosophy in England in the Seventeenth Century, like young ALFRED VAUGHAN'S Mystics, only exacerbates one's longing for accessible critical texts of the Works. When these Works are thus revived, it will be recognised that these Thinkers and noble Livers — each meet follower of Him, "the first true gentleman that ever breathed" — have shaped and coloured our highest and purest thought and feeling to an extent that your so-called Histories of Philosophy — whether home or foreign — only shallowly estimate.
My little task is a much humbler one. I have first of all to give the ascertained outward facts of my Worthy's Life; and thereafter examine suggestively, rather than exhaustively, his Poetry, as now for the first time brought together.
The earliest of the name — variously spelled earlier and later Moore and More — was a WILLIAM MOORE of Lichfield, co. Stafford (buried at Grantham 27th November 1587). His son RICHARD MOORE is found at Grantham, married to Goditha, a daughter of John Green of Uppingham, co. Rutland (she was buried at Grantham 26th September 1608). He was a justice of the Peace for the Parts of Kesteven in 1584: M.P. for Grantham in the Armada year, 1588: Receiver for co. Lincoln 1591-2. He died 10th, and was buried at Grantham 11th August 1595 (Will dated 29th March 1595, sealed 3d April, and proved 29th October 1595). The eldest son of this RICHARD MOORE was Alexander Moore of Grantham. He was aged 25 at his father's death. He married Anne, daughter of William Lacy of Deeping, co. Lincoln (marriage-settlement dated 1st March 1594-5).
These were the parents of our HENRY MORE. The father was Alderman of Grantham in 1594, and Mayor in 1617, and onward repeatedly. The mother's family, by intermarriages, linked on our Poet and Philosopher to many illustrious names and we must pause to note some of them. Besides his daughter Anne (our More's mother) William Lacy had two sons and three daughters. Two of these brought about the relation and associations I have intimated. First, Robert, one of the sons, who is described as of Washingborough (which is a parish close to the city of Lincoln and within its ancient Liberty), married Cassandra, daughter of Thomas Ogle of Pinchbeck, co. Lincoln. This lady's mother was Jane Welby, sister of Henry Welby the celebrated recluse; and her Grandmother Beatrice, the wife of Richard Ogle, was a sister of Sir Anthony Cooke of Gidea Hall in Essex, sometime Tutor of Edward the Sixth. Her father was thus first cousin to Mildred Cooke, who, as second wife to Lord Burghley, was mother to Robert, Earl of Salisbury. Robert Lacy died without issue, and his widow Cassandra married, secondly, Sir Francis Beaumont, who was uncle on the mother's side to George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, and Crashaw's friend and convert, Susan, Countess of Denbigh. Sir Francis Beaumont was buried at Washingborough in 1625, and his widow Cassandra in 1632, leaving no issue.
Secondly — Elizabeth, one of the daughters of William Lacy — and aunt of course to our Worthy — became the wife of Henry Cholmeley, founder of that branch of the family now residing, as baronets, at Easton, near Grantham. Henry Cholmeley was knighted and died in 1620, leaving a son and heir — our Poet's first cousin — of whose alliances we find the following account in Burke and the usual authorities: — "Henry Cholmeley succeeded to the estate of Easton, and died in 1632. He married Elizabeth Sondes, the daughter of Sir Richard Sondes of Throwley, and sister of George Sondes, who, in consideration of his loyalty to Kings Charles I. and II., was created by the latter monarch Earl of Feversham.... The mother of Elizabeth Sondes ... was Susan Montague, daughter of Sir Edward Montague, Baronet, by Elizabeth Harrington, daughter of Sir James Harrington of Exton, maternally descended from the Sydneys. Henry Cholmeley and Elizabeth Sondes had issue Montague Cholmeley of Easton, who died in 1652. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edward Hartopp, Bart., and maternal grand-daughter of Sir Erasmus Dryden, Bart., and therefore first cousin to "glorious John."
These details are somewhat of the Dr. Dry-as-dust school, some reader may exclaim. But an' it please him, others will be interested thus to connect the names of SYDNEY, SIR THOMAS MORE, HARRINGTON, DRYDEN, and our POET LAUREATE, with our HENRY MORE. Returning from this genealogical excursion, it thus appears that our More was the seventh son of Alexander More of Grantham, by his wife Anne, daughter of William Lacy. He was baptized at Grantham (in Lincolnshire) on October 10th, 1614 (not born 12th October, as Ward and all hitherto). He probably drew his Christian name from Henry Cholmeley (as supra.)
It was something for a Poet to have had for birthplace so renowned a spot. Every one knows that few small towns (speaking comparatively) have so venerable and lustrous a history to recount. Royalism must have interpenetrated its very atmosphere, though to-day — if we may subordinate Queens Editha, Maud, Eleanor — its most memorable historical incident is the victory of one "Colonel Cromwell" over far-outnumbering troops of the King (Charles I.). In Literature it must ever hold a place of honour; for besides Henry More, JOHN STILL (Bishop), author of that drollest and quaintest of our elder English Comedies, Gammer Gurton's Needle (1575), was also born in Grantham. Supremest of all, to its School — from neighbouring Woolsthorpe — came Isaac Newton, as earlier Sir William Cecil. Its great church is the cynosure of pilgrim-visitants from all lands.
I know of only a single allusion to his mother by More — that she, like his father, was a Calvinist. Of his father he has frequent notices. The Epistle-dedicatory of his Poems to his father (p. 4) may be at this point advantageously turned to. WARD — after characterising the son as "this Eximous [= eximious, excellent] Person," says of the father, that he was "one of excellent understanding, probity, and piety; and of a fair estate and fortune in the world, remembered yet with esteem in the place where he liv'd" (p. 22). The elder Mores were, like most of the Puritans, accepters of the theological system known as Calvinism — the Calvinism of the youthful Institutes rather than of the later Commentaries and Letters of John Calvin. In the outset, I fear the home-discipline and teaching were over-stern and exacting. Yet it is to be pleasantly remembered that the rigid family-training of these our forefathers was based on gravity born of an abiding sense of the presence of Almighty God everywhere and always; nor less so that evidence remains that there were breaks of humour and sparkles of wit and the warble of quiet laughter, among the staid and thoughtful men and women of the type of the Mores. I like to recall that it was to his father Master Henry owed his bookish tastes and his introduction to Spenser's Fairy Queen.
The Registers of the famous School of Grantham — founded by Bishop RICHARD Fox, founder of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and confirmed and enlarged by Edward vi. — have perished; but there can be no doubt that young More received his early education in it. I question if he were well-grounded in this School; for his Latin Prose is not of the purest, and his Latin and Greek Verse somewhat faulty. His School Exercises sorely exercised his Masters with admiration (= wonder). "And yet," observes his Biographer, "the Dr. hath been heard to say, that the wonder and pleasure with which he and others would sometimes read them, elated him not; but that he was rather troubled and asham'd; as not knowing whether he could do so well another time" (p. 22). I shall have occasion to return on this characteristic trait. His progress at Grantham School, "his anxious and thoughtful genius from his childhood" (ibid.) struck his paternal uncle; and he took him in charge. He was sent in his thirteenth or fourteenth year to Eton. Thither he certainly carried an old man's head on very young shoulders. For in his Prefatio (as before) he informs us that even thus early he had rebelled against the teaching (as he understood or misunderstood it) of his father on Predestination. His uncle threatened him with the birch if he did not acquiesce in the family orthodoxy. It is easy to cry out against the threat; but doubtless it was directed against the pertness and answering-back as much as against the impugnment of the specific opinion. Certes such matters were too high for the lad, and he had been a healthier man every way had he not so prematurely intermeddled with the metaphysic of this prodigious postulate, not of Calvinism or of the Bible merely, but of universal nature and human nature. Here is his own narrative, than which few more remarkable are to be read:—
"For the better Understanding of all this, we are to take (saith he) our Rise a little higher; and to premise some things which fell out in my Youth; if not also in my Childhood it self: To the End that it may more folly appear, that the things which I have written, are not any borrowed, or far-fetch'd Opinions, owing onto Education, and the Reading of Books; but the proper Sentiments of my own Mind, drawn and derived from my most intimate Nature; and that every Humane Soul is no abrasa tabula, or mere Blank Sheet; but hath innate Sensations and Notions in it, both of good and evil, just and unjust, true and false; and those very strong and vivid.
"Concerning which Matter, I am the more assur'd, in that the Sensations of my own Mind are so far from being owing to Education, that they are directly contrary to it; I being bred up, to the almost 14th Year of my Age, under Parents and a Master that were great Calvinists (but withal, very pious and good ones): At which Time, by the Order of my Parents, persuaded to it by my Uncle, I immediately went to Aeton School; not to learn any new Precepts or Institutes of Religion; but for the perfecting of the Greek and Latin Tongue. But neither there, nor yet any where else, could I ever swallow down that hard Doctrine concerning Fate. On the contrary, I remember, that upon those Words of Epictetus, [Greek characters], 'Lead me, O Jupiter and thou Fate,' I did (with my eldest Brother, who then, as it happened, had accompanied my Uncle thither) very stoutly, and earnestly for my Years, dispute against this Fate or Calvinistick Predestination, as it is usually call'd: And that my Uncle, when he came to know it, chid me severely; adding menaces withall of Correction, and a Rod for my immature Forwardness in Philosophizing concerning such Matters: Moreover, that I had such a deep Aversion in my Temper to this Opinion, and so firm and unshaken a Perswasion of the Divine Justice and Goodness; that on a certain Day, in a Ground belonging to Aeton College, where the Boys us'd to play, and exercise themselves, musing concerning these Things with my self, and recalling to my mind this Doctrine of Calvin, I did thus seriously and deliberately conclude within my self, viz. If I am one of those that are predestinated unto Hell, where all Things are full of nothing but Cursing and Blasphemy, yet will I behave my self there patiently and submissively towards God; and if there be any one Thing more than another, that is acceptable to him, that will I set my self to do with a sincere Heart, and to the utmost of my Power: Being certainly persuaded, that if I thus demeaned my self; he would hardly keep me long in that Place. Which Meditation of mine, is as firmly fix'd in my Memory, and the very place where I stood, as if the Thing had been transacted but a Day or two ago.
"And as to what concerns the Existence of GOD: Though in that Ground mentioned, walking, as my Manner was, slowly, and with my Head on one Side, and kicking now and then the Stones with my Feet, I was wont sometimes with a sort of Musical and Melancholick Murmur to repeat, or rather humm to my self; those Verses of Claudian:
Saepe mihi dubiam traxit sententia mentem;
Curarent Superi terras; an nullus inesset
Rector, & incerto fluerent Mortalia casu.
[Oft hath my anxious Mind divided stood;
Whether the Gods did mind this lower World;
Or whether no such Ruler (Wise and Good)
We had; and all things here by Chance were hurld.]
Yet that exceeding hail and entire Sense of GOD, which Nature her self had planted deeply in me, very easily silenced all such slight and Poetical Dubitations as these. Yea even in my first Childhood, an inward Sense of the Divine Presence was so strong upon my Mind; that I did then believe, there could no Deed, Word, or Thought be hidden from him: Nor was I by any others that were older than my self, to be otherwise persuaded. Which Thing since no distinct Reason, Philosophy, or Instruction taught it me at that Age; but only an internal Sensation urg'd it upon me; I think it is very evident, that this was an innate Sense or Notion in me, contrary to some witless and sordid Philosophasters of our present Age. And if these cunning Sophisters shall here reply; that I drew this Sense of mine ex Traduce, or by way of Propagation, as being born of Parents exceeding Pious and Religious; I demand, how it came to pass, that I drew not Calvinism also in along with it? For both my Father and Uncle, and so also my Mother, were all earnest followers of Calvin. But these Things I pass; since men Atheistically disposed cannot so receive them, as I from an inward Feeling speak them."
These and kindred revelations impress me with the awfulness — and I use the word deliberately — of the responsibility of the Head-master of a great School such as Eton, or indeed any School, in the knowledge that just such agitated young minds are constantly being placed under their supervision and influence.
Coincident with his rejection of the paternal Calvinism, "in re" predestination, was a like rejection of paternal plans for his life-occupation. Not only his opinions but his career he decided for himself. His father evidently wished him to enter on some active work-a-day profession, as a road to wealth and position. But the son answered — as we learn from the Epistle-dedicatory of his Poems—
"Your early Encomiums of Learning and Philosophie did so fire my credulous [= believing] Youth with the desire of the knowledge of things, that your After-advertisements, how contemptible Learning would prove without Riches, and what a piece of Unmannerlinesse and Incivility it would be held to seem wiser then them that are more wealthy and powerfull, could never yet restrain my mind from her first pursuit, nor quicken my attention to the affairs of this World. But this bookish disease, let it make me as much poor as it will, it shall never make me the lesse just." — (p. 4.)
His father evidently acquiesced; and, indeed later, when he visited his son at Christ's College and saw him surrounded with his books, he told him he was occupied in "an angelical way." Nor need there have been any shadow of fear of poverty. From the outset he was well-provided for, and onward inherited a considerable fortune. So that self-dedicated to high thinking and noble-living, as with Wordsworth in an after-generation, he found abundant and unexpected friends and means, without need of the greater Poet's Stamp-office drudgery, in person or by deputy. He never had — any more than Wordsworth — a doubt of the rightness of the mode of life he had chosen.
He remained three years at Eton. He then proceeded — in 1631 — in his seventeenth year, to Cambridge University. His admission-entry to Christ's College there, runs thus:—
"Decemb. 31st. 1631
Henricus More, filius Alexandri, natus Granthamias in agro Lincolinensi, literis institutus Etonae a Mro. Harrison, anno aetatis 17th. admissus est Pensionarius minor sub Mro. Gell."
The word "pensionarius" meant one who paid a pensio or rent for rooms in College, as distinguished from the higher noblemen and fellow-commoners, and the humbler sizars.
It is to be noted that JOHN MILTON was still in attendance at this College; so that a memorandum in one of More's Works, in the Vestry Library at Grantham, is doubtless true, that "he was acquainted with Milton."
His tutor was William Chappell — who had also the distinction of having acted in a like capacity to the great Hebraist, JOHN LIGHTFOOT, and others of after-repute.
We are again enabled to see him at this period from his Praefatio, as follows:—
"Endued as I was with these Principles, that is to say, a firm and unshaken Belief of the Existence of GOD, as also of his unspotted Righteousness and Perfect Goodness, that he is a God infinitely Good, as well as infinitely Great; (and what other would any Person, that is not doltish or superstitious, ever admit of) at the Command of my Uncle, to whose Care my Father had committed me, having spent about three Years at Eton, I went to Cambridge; recommended to the Care of a Person both learned and pious, and, what I was not a little sollicitous about, not at all a Calvinist; but a Tutour most skilful and vigilant: Who presently after the very first Salutation and Discourse with me, ask'd me, whether I had a Discernment of Things Good and Evil? To which, answering in somewhat a low Voice, I said; I hope I have: When at the same Time I was Conscious to my self; that I had, from my very Soul, a most strong Sense and savoury Discrimination, as to all those Matters. Notwithstanding, the mean while, a mighty and almost immoderate Thirst after Knowledge possess'd me throughout; especially for that which was Natural; and above all others, that which was said to dive into the deepest Cause of Things, and Aristotle calls the first and highest Philosophy, or Wisdom.
"After which when my prudent and pious Tutour observed my Mind to be inflam'd, and carried with so eager and vehement a Career; He ask'd me on a certain Time, why I was so above Measure intent upon my Studies; that is to say, for what End I was so? Suspecting, as I suppose, that there was only at the Bottom a certain Itch, or Hunt after Vain-glory; and to become, by this means, some Famous Philosopher amongst those of my own Standing. But I answered briefly, and that from my very Heart; That I may know. But, young Man, What is the Reason, saith he again, that you so earnestly desire to know Things? To which I instantly return'd; I desire, I say, so earnestly to know, That I may know. For even at that Time, the Knowledge of natural and divine Things, seem'd to me the highest Pleasure and Felicity imaginable.
"Thus then persuaded, and esteeming it what was highly Fit, I immerse my self over Head and Ears in the Study of Philosophy, promising a most wonderful Happiness to my self in it. Aristotle therefore, Carden, Julius Scaliger, and other Philosophers of the greatest Note, I very diligently perused. In which, the Truth is, though I met here and there with some things wittily and acutely, and sometimes also solidly spoken; yet the most seem'd to me either so false or uncertain, or else so obvious and trivial, that I look'd upon my self as having plainly lost my time in the Reading of such Authors. And to speak all in a Word, Those almost whole Four Years which I spent in Studies of this kind, as to what concern'd those Matters which I chiefly desired to be satisfied about, (for as to the Existence of a God, and the Duties of Morality, I never had the least Doubt) ended in nothing, in a manner, but mere Scepticism. Which made me that, as my manner was, (for I was wont to set down the present State of my Mind, or any Sense of it that was warmer or deeper than ordinary, in some short Notes, whether in Verse or Prose; and that also in English, Greek, or Latin) it made me, I say, that as a perpetual Record of the Thing, I compos'd of eight Verses, which is call'd [Greek characters] and is to be found inserted in the end of my Second Philosophical Volume, viz. [Greek characters] &c. [To this purpose, as translated admirably by the Author himself.]
Nor whence, nor who I am, poor Wretch! know I:
Nor yet, O Madness! Whither I must goe:
But in Grief's croaked Claws fast held I lie;
And live, I think, by force tugg'd to and fro.
Asleep or wake all one. O Father Jove,
'Tis brave, we Mortals live in Clouds like thee.
Lies, Night-dreams, empty Toys, Fear, fatal Love,
This is my Life. I nothing else do see.
"And these things happen'd to me before that I had taken any Degree in the University."
He took his degree of A.B. in 1635: proceeded A.M. in 1638: was chosen Fellow and Tutor — gaining pupils who later distinguished themselves: was ordained Deacon same year, and Priest in 1641. In 1642 he was instituted and inducted to the living of Ingoldsby in Lincolnshire — the living being the property of his father. His name occurs once — and I believe only once — in the Ingoldsby Register; so that he was nonresident. In his own stately way he admitted that whether from his "inward voice" or otherwise, he was not one for the Pulpit or to sway an audience lesser or larger by personal address. He returned from Ingoldsby almost immediately after his institution, to his College of Christ's and there undisturbed by the commotions of the Civil War, as uninterfered with by the Government of Cromwell, he serenely lived out his appointed term as a life-long student.
The dates and data furnished, cover nearly the entire Facts — apart from his successive books — of his Life, so much was he a recluse and meditator rather than actor.
Of his manner of life in training and disciplining himself we are once more informed in his Praefatio thus:—
"After taking my Degree, to pass over and omit abundance of things I designing not here the Draught of my own Life (though some, and those very Famous Men too, have done that before me; and Cardon hath given so exact an Account of his own Writings, that he hath not so much as omitted those that were spoiled by the Urine of a Cat) but only a brief Introduction for the better Understanding the Occasion of writing my First Book; It fell out truly very Happily for me, that I suffer'd so great a Disappointment in my Studies. For it made me seriously at last begin to think with my self; whether the Knowledge of things was really that Supreme Felicity of Man; or something Greater and more Divine was: Or, supposing it to be so, whether it was to be acquir'd by such an Eagerness and Intentness in the reading of Authors, and Contemplating of Things; or by the Purging of the Mind from all sorts of Vices whatsoever: Especially having begun to read now the Platonick Writers, Marsilius Ficinus, Plotinus himself, Mercurius Trismegistus; and the Mystical Divines; among whom there was frequent mention made of the Purification of the Soul; and of the Purgative Course that is previous to the Illuminative; as if the Person that expected to have his Mind illuminated of God, was to endeavour after the Highest Purity.
"But amongst all the Writings of this kind there was none, to speak the Truth, so pierced and affected me, as that Golden little Book, with which Luther is also said to have been wonderfully taken, viz. Thealogia Germanica: Though several Symptoms, even at that time, seem'd ever and anon to occur to me, of a certain deep Melancholy; as also no slight Errors in Matters of Philosophy. But that which he doth so mightily inculcate, viz. That we should thoroughly put of and extinguish our own proper Will; that being thus Dead to our selves, we may live alone unto God and do all things whatsoever by his Instinct or plenary Permission; was so Connatural, as it were, and agreeable to my most intimate Reason and Conscience, that I could not of any thing whatsoever be more clearly or certainly convinced. Which Sense yet (that no one may here use that dull and idle Expression, 'Quales legimus, Tales evadimus,' Such as we read, Such we are) that truly Golden Book did not then first implant in my Soul, but struck and rouz'd it, as it were, out of Sleep in me: Which it did verily as in a Moment, or the twinkling of an Eye. But after that the Sense and Consciousness of this great and plainly Divine Duty, was thus awaken'd in me; Good God what Struglings and Conflicts follow'd presently between this Divine Principle and the Animal Nature! For since I was most firmly perswaded, not only concerning the Existence of God, but also of His Absolute both Goodness and Power, and of His most real Will that we should be perfect, even as our Father which is in Heaven is perfect; there was no room left for any Tergiversation; but a necessity of immediately entring the Lists, and of using all possible Endeavours, that our own Will, by which we relish our selves, and what belongs to us, in things as well of the Soul as of the Body, might be oppos'd, destroy'd, annihilated; that so the Divine Will alone, with the New Birth, may revive and grow up in us. And, if I may here freely speak my Mind, before this Conflict between the Divine Will, and our own proper Will or Self-Love, there can no certain Signs appear to us of this New Birth at all. But this Conflict is the very Punctum saliens, or First Motion of the New Life or Birth begun in us. As to other Performances, whether of Morality or Religion, arising from mere Self-Love, let them be as Specious or Goodly as you please, they are at best but as Preparations, or the more refin'd Exercises of a sort of Theological Hobbianisme.
"But there is nothing that the Animal Man dreads so much as this Conflict: And he looks upon it as a piece of mere Folly and Madness, to attempt any thing that is not for his own Self-Interest; or that is not to be accomplish'd by his own proper Strength and Reason. And therefore the Old Man; while it doth but exercise, all this time, its own nature divers ways, and adjusts it self to outward multifarious Opinions and Practices in Religion, and bends and winds it self about this way and that way; is still a mere Serpent, the mere Old Man; as a Dunghil, turn it into what Shapes and Postures you will, still remains a Dunghil. The Divine Seed alone is that which is acceptable unto God; and the sole invincible Basis of all true Religion. The Revelation, through the Divine Grace, of which Heavenly and sincere Principle in my self, immediately occasion'd, that all my other Studies, in comparison of this, became vile and of no Account: And that insatiable Desire and Thirst of mine after the Knowledge of things was wholly almost extinguish'd in me; as being sollicitous now, about nothing so much as a more full Union with this Divine and Coelestial Principle, the inward flowing Well-spring of Life eternal: With the most fervent Prayers breathing often unto God, that he would be pleas'd thoroughly to set me free from the dark Chains, and this so sordid Captivity of my own Will.
"But here openly to declare the Thing as it was; When this inordinate Desire after the Knowledge of things was thus allay'd in me, and I aspir'd after nothing but this sole Purity and Simplicity of Mind, there shone in upon me daily a greater Assurance than ever I could have expected, even of those things which before I had the greatest Desire to know: Insomuch that within a few Years, I was got into a most Joyous and Lucid State of Mind; and such plainly as is ineffable; though, according to my Custom, I have endeavoured to express it, to my Power, in another Stanza of Eight Verses, both in Sense and Title answering in a way of direct Opposition unto the Former; Which is call'd (as that [Greek characters], Inviousness and Emptiness, so this) [Greek characters], Fulness and Perviousness."
It is impossible altogether to pass by this urgent and most sincere writing but none the less egregiously misdirected treatment of himself. So to denounce this body of ours — God's own temple — and so to deem it right and obligatory to "oppose, destroy, annihilate" our own Will — God's magnificent dower to man — was to err in fundamentals, whilst to thus calumniate even fallen human nature as "dunghill," and all the rest of his false-witness against himself; was to be led captive by mere theological (not Scriptural) figments. One marvels that whilst More resisted the error — as he regarded it — of his father's Predestination, he should have so abjectly accepted vulgar inferences (not exegeses) from misunderstood and mutilated texts. It is a sorrowful, a tragical spectacle altogether; and, nevertheless, so splendid was the aspiration and actual attainment that we cannot altogether condemn.
The flower of his finest, subtlest, most inner thought and emotion went into his Verse. His little Epigrams (so called) of [Greek characters] and [Greek characters] seem to have been written when he was in his teens. Among his Occasional Poems are contributions in 1632, 1633, 1635, 1637, 1638, 1640, 1641, to the University Collections. It is noteworthy that within a year, of his entry at Christ's College he contributed to the Anthologia in Regia Exanthema, and to Rex Redux the year after. Still more noteworthy that he was one of the verse-mourners for Edward King, the Lycidas of Milton. These were merely Occasional. But in 1640 he girded up himself for a great utterance of what was deepest in him, as he thus tells:—
"But to reach now at length the Scope I drive at; Not content with this short Epigram, I did afterwards, about the Beginning of the Year 1640, comprise the chief Speculations and Experiences I fell into, by persisting in the Enterprise before mention'd, in a pretty full Poem call'd Psychozoia, or the Life of the Soul: Stir'd up to it, I believe, by some Heavenly Impulse of Mind; since I did it at that time with no other Design, than that it should remain by me a private Record of the Sensations and Experiences of my own Soul."
His Biographer continues:
"This was the Occasion of his Writing that first Part of his Book of Poems. Which that it might lie the better conceal'd, he tells us next, how darkly and obscurely it was in several respects composed by him. And afterwards he gives an Account of his adding the rest, some at one time, and some at another; and then proceeds to a short List of all his Writings whatsoever, with the Times and Occasions of them. Which with the entire Preface would be highly worth the Knowledge of the English Reader, if proper to be given in this Place."
Somewhat excursive and discursive certainly is WARD'S further account — half-translating, half-supplying — yet to the sympathetic reader it has a fascinating interest. Accordingly I venture to give it in extenso:—
"I shall only advertise the Reader farther, That though this first Poem of the Life of the Soul was written in the Year 1640, when the Author was between 25 and 26 Years of Age; yet with some more that he added concerning the Immortality, and both against the Sleep and Unity of Souls, it came not out till 1642, and then he tells us, at the Instigation of some Learned and Pious Friends, to whom he had in private accidentally shew'd them. Nay, for that first Piece, he several times, it seems, thought of burning it, lest it should fall into the Hands of others. But Providence design'd not that such a jewel, with the rest that follow'd, should be lost to the World; and so ordered the Matter, as we have seen, otherwise. And these were to be the First-fruits, or Primordia of his Studies; and a Pledge of his future Performances.
"If any shall be here curious to enquire into the more particular extent of his intra paucos Annos, or those few Years wherein he arriv'd to so admirable a Degree both of Life and Knowledge, and such a Divine State of Joy consequent upon them; I can assure him on very good Grounds, or from the Author himself, that it was the Space of between 3 and 4 Years. This short time of Holy Discipline and Conflict, let him in, it seems, to wonderful Communications; and open'd, as it were, the Gates of Paradise to Him.
"Concerning which matter, it is not, I conceive, for any that have not had some very considerable Experiences of this kind to make a true Judgment: Nor will I my self pretend to a sufficient Knowledge or Experience of it. But it is not, I should think, difficult to apprehend; That a Man having once rescued himself from the Obliquity and Captivity of his own Self-will and Self-love, and got, so far as even this Life suffers, from the Bondage of Corruption, into the Glorious Liberty of the Children of God; into a high State of Virtue and Divine Purity, with a most Free, Noble, Intelligent, and Universal Love of God, and of the whole Creation: I say, it is not difficult to conceive, that the Life of such a Person, especially of a Person of the Doctor's Parts and Constitution, must needs be very highly Joyous and Blessed. A Heart loosed from it self, is like a Ship sailing in the midst of the Seas: And we having recovered our selves into the due Love of God and of one another, to a State of Freedom and Innocency; what remains, but to live in a most unspeakable Peace, Liberty and Felicity for evermore?
"Such will exult in GOD, in this Divine Life communicated to them, and in all Creatures: Whose Numbers, Orders, Happinesses, and Extent, with the Works of Providence in the Universe at large, are unspeakable and unknowable; but will be shrewdly guess'd at, and most magnificently conceiv'd of, by Men of this Character: And indeed even Philosophy it self doth present us with admirable and astonishing Prospects of them.
"This then was the Blissful and Glorious Issue of the Doctor's so sincere and Heroical Enterprise, in the freeing of his Soul from Sin and Self; it was excellent Wisdom; and that sudden, in a manner, and unexpected; a clear Ethereal sort of Temperament of Body and of Mind; a gladsome and even Enthusiastick Sense of Joy, in the Nature, Works and Providence of GOD; with a most stable Truth and Rectitude of Nature as to himself. Nor can any deny, but that all these are the noblest Fruits and Attainments of Religion; the highest and most perfect Exercises of it; and that, according to our powers, we are all of us oblig'd to aspire after this sincerity and Virtue.
"Let me only add now, with respect to that Poetical Description of his, touching the so high Conflict and Victory in Himself (which to its useful and pious Seriousness hath all the Art and Elegancy added, that an incomparable Piece of Divine Poetry, writ in that way, can be embelish'd or adorn'd with) what he speaks of that matter in another Place thus.
"But being well advis'd, both by the Dictates of my own Conscience, and clear Information of those Holy Oracles which we all deservedly reverence that God reserves his choicest Secrets for the purest Minds; and that it is Uncleanness of Spirit, not distance of Place, that dissevers us from the Deity; I was folly convinc'd, that true Holiness was the only safe Entrance into Divine Knowledge. And having an unshaken Belief of the Existence of God, and of his Will that we should be holy even as he is holy; Nothing that is truly Sinful, could appear to me unconquerable, assisted by such a Power: Which urged me therefore seriously to set my self to the Task. Of the Experiences and Events of which Enterprise my 2d and 3d Canto of the Life of the Soul is a real and faithful Record.
"So that this Great Person hath, we see, in a Measure, and in some of the most concerning Instances of it, presented his own Life and Picture to the World. Which though he hath done in little, or, as it were, in Miniature, and could not be prevail'd upon to enlarge; yet am I glad, for my part, that he hath drawn the Effigies so far as he hath. And we may perceive by his Laetissimum, Lucidissimumque Animae statum, & plane ineffabilem, his most lucid, joyous, and unspeakable State of Mind, with such other Intimations up and down in his Writings, that there was assuredly something not a little Extraordinary in His Character. For the rest; Whoever would obtain a more complete Draught of Dr. More, he must have it from his Works; as those that are the truest Pourtraicture of his Spirit. It was his own Expression indeed, that if any Man had written, his Works would best shew to all intelligent Readers what he was. And perhaps never Person wrote more the Sentiments of his own Mind, or hath more truly represented the free and absolute Results of his own Reason and Conscience to the World than He himself hath done.
"I have writ, saith he, after no Copy but the Eternal Characters of the Mind of Man, and the known Phaenomena of Nature. And again; I borrow'd them not from Books, but fetch'd them front the Nature of the thing it self, and indelible Ideas of the Soul of Man. And once more; In his Epistle Dedicatory before the Immortality of the Soul, he tells that noble Lord, that He can without vanity Profess, that what he offers to him, is the genuine Result of his own anxious end thoughtful Mind, no old Stuff purloin'd or borrow'd from other Writers."
Throughout I am reminded of a still greater man and poet of our own era; for nowhere so much as in HENRY MORE do we find that self-contained and almost preter-human sense of the grandeur of the human intellect as exemplified in himself, that exposed WILLIAM WORDSWORTH to misconstruction as though it were poor vanity or conceit. ELLIS YARNALL (of America) has put the thing admirably in his Reminiscences, where he describes the great Poet's reading Professor Reed's Introduction to his Selections from his Poems. "He made," he says, "but little comment on your notice of him. Occasionally he would say, as he came to a particular fact, 'That's quite correct;' or, after reading a quotation from his own works, he would add, 'That's from my writings.' These quotations he read in a way that much impressed me; it seemed almost as if he was AWED BY THE GREATNESS OF HIS OWN POWER, THE GIFTS WITH WHICH HE HAD BEEN ENDOWED." The same impression is inevitable in reading More, even in his casual sayings, and deepeningly as you ponder his Poetry. Of the former, take this from WARD with his own elucidatory words:—
"The Doctor in his Book of Ethicks speaks of some that, by a Divine Sort of Fate, are Virtuous and Good; and this is to a very great and Heroical Degree. And the same may seem by him to be intimated elsewhere, as coming into this World rather for the Good of others, and by a Divine force, than through their own proper fault or any necessary and immediate Congruity of their Natures. All which is agreeable to that Opinion of Plato: That some descend hither to declare the Being and Nature of the Gods; and for the greater Health, Purity, and Perfection of this Lower World.
"I will not say, that the Great Person I here write of, was of this sort: But this, I think, may notwithstanding be affirm'd; that he seem'd to act or appear as one of these. And it was once his own Expression (yet free and unaffected) of himself; That he had as a fiery Arrow been shot into the World; and he hoped, that he had hit the Mark. And certainly that noble Zeal and Activity which was in him, was not a little Extraordinary. He was truly in his time a burning and a shining Light: And there were not a few that did and do rejoice in it."
Be it noted that in the preceding, the rebel against his father's theological Predestination affirms an ethical predestination.
"The Dr. had always a great care to preserve His Body as a well-strung Instrument to His Soul, that so they might be both in Tune, and make due Musick and Harmony together. His Body, he said, seem'd built for a Hundred Years, if he did not over-debilitate it with his Studies. But with respect to these I have also heard him say, That it was almost a Wonder to him at times, that he had not long before then fired, (as he express'd it) his little World about him: And that he thought, there were not many that could have born that high Warmth and Activity of Thoughtfulness, and intense Writing, that he himself had done; Or to that purpose. And there was one Thing farther Observable, which he would sometimes speak of; That after all his Study, and Depth of Thought in the Day-time; when he came to sleep (more especially when Young) he had a strange sort of Narcotick Power (as his Word was) that drew him to it; and he was no sooner, in a manner, laid in his Bed, but the Falling of a House would scarce wake him: When yet early in the Morning he was wont to awake usually into an immediate unexpressible Life and Vigour; with all his Thoughts and Notions 'raying' (as I may so speak) about him, as Beams surrounding the Centre from whence they all Proceed."
"I say (breaks he out in a Place of it) that a Free, Divine, Universaliz'd Spirit is worth all. How lovely, how Magnificent a State is the Soul of Man in, when the Life of God inactuating her, shoots her along with himself through Heaven and Earth; makes her Unite with, and after a Sort feel her self animate the whole World, &c. This is to be become Dei-form, to be thus suspended, (not by Imagination, but by Union of Life; [Greek characters], joining Centres with God) and by a sensible Touch to be held up from the clotty dark Personality of this Compacted Body. Here is Love, here is Freedom, here is Justice and Equity in the Super-essential Causes of them. He that is here looks upon All things as One; and on himself, if he can then Mind himself, as a part of the Whole.
"And after much more both of Zeal and Triumph, he goes on thus;
"Nor am I out of my Wits, as some may fondly interpret me in this Divine Freedom. But the Love of God compell'd me. Nor am I at all, Philalethes, Enthusiastical. For God doth not ride me as a Horse, and guide me I know not whither my self; but converseth with me as a Friend; and speaks to me in such a Dialect as I understand fully, and can make others understand, that have not made Shipwrack of the Faculties that God hath given them, by Superstition or Sensuality: For with such I cannot converse, because they do not converse with God; but only pity them, or am angry with them, as I am Merry and Pleasant with Thee. For God hath permitted to me all these things; and I have it under the Broad Seal of Heaven. Who dare Charge me? God doth acquit me. For he hath made me full Lord of the Four Elements; and hath constituted me Emperour of the World. I am in the Fire of Choler, and am not burn'd; in the Water of Phlegm, and am not drown'd; in the Airy Sanguine, and yet not blown away with every blast of transient Pleasure, or vain Doctrines of Men; I descend also into the sad Earthly Melancholy, and yet am not buried from the Sight of my God. I am, Philalethes, (though I dare say thou takest me for no Bird of Paradise) Incola Coeli in Terra, an Inhabitant of Paradise and Heaven upon Earth. — I sport with the Beasts of the Earth; the Lion licks my Hand like a Spaniel; and the Serpent sleeps upon my Lap, and stings use not. I play with the Fowls of Heaven; and the Birds of the Air sit Singing on my Fist. — All these things are true in a Sober Sense. And the Dispensation I live in, is more floppiness above all measure, than if thou could'st call down the Moon so near thee, by thy Magick Charms, that thou mayst kiss her, as she is said to have kiss'd Endymeon; or couldst stop the Course of the Sun; or which is all one, with one Stamp of thy Foot stay the Motion of the Earth.
"I will conclude with a Passage he hath before.
"He that is come hither, God hath taken him to be his own Familiar Friend: And though he speaks to others aloof off, in Outward Religions and Parables; yet he leads this Man by the Hand, teaching him intelligible Documents upon all the Objects of his providence; speaks to him plainly in his own Language; sweetly insinuates himself, and possesseth all his Faculties, Understanding, Reason and Memory. This is the Darling of God; and a Prince amongst Men; far above the Dispensation of either Miracle or Prophesie."
"He had spent, he said to one, many Happy Days in his Chamber; And that his Labours were to him often in looking back upon them, as an Aromatick Field. So sweet and pleasing a Fruit did they yield to him; and so satisfied was his Mind in the Contemplation of them.
"And it is here worthy of special Remark, what He said likewise, upon another Occasion, of Himself; as I had it from those that were then present. When some in the Company were speaking with Regret of the Time they had lost, or how they would act if it was to be all pass'd over again; He replied, (and it was not many Years before he died) That if he was to live his whole time over again, he would do just, for the main, as he had done. Which is such an egregious Attestation to his Piety and Conduct; and such an Applause of Conscience to its own Actions, and that for a whole Life; as is not, I believe we shall all agree, to be easily met with.
"There were some, as he expressed it, amongst the Spiritualists, that would have had him, he thought, to go up upon a Stall, and from thence preach to the People. But in the telling of this, he broke out into this High and Extraordinary Expression; I have measured my self from the Height to the Depth; and know what I can do, and what I ought to do, and I do it. But the Air, the Person told me, and Gesture with which he said it, was so Noble and Unaffected; that he knew not which most to admire, the Thing it self, or the Manner of speaking it."
"It was not for nothing that Extraordinary Expression fell so Emphatically from his Pen, Enthus. Triumph. Numb. 53. I profess, I stand amaz'd, while I consider the ineffable Advantage of a Mind thus submitted to the Divine Will; how calm, how comprehensive, how quick and sensible she is, how free, how sagacious, of how tender a Touch and Judgment she is in all things."
"For Purity; Doubtless he had arrived to the Highest Measures and degrees of it. You may see his Description of this Virtue also in his Enthusiasmios Triumphatus, as well as in the Place of his Mystery of Godliness before referr'd to. Understanding by it a due Moderation and Rule over all the joys and Pleasures of the Flesh; bearing so strict an Hand, and having so watchful an Eye over their Subtil Enticements and Allurements, and that firm and loyal Affection to that Idea of Coelestial Beauty set up in our Minds, that neither the Pains of the Body, nor the Pleasures of the Animal Life, shall ever work us below our Spiritual Happiness, and all the competible Enjoyments of that Life that is truly Divine.
"And this undoubtedly was his own most true State, His Body was for its part not Unsuitable to his Mind, Temperance and Devotion, Charity and Humility, seem to have refined his Nature and inmost Spirits, to an Extraordinary Pitch of Sanctity and Purity. This, saith he to Eugenius, (speaking of the State of Virtue he was under) is that true Chymical Fire, that hath purged my Soul, and purified it; and hath Chrystaliz'd it into a bright Throne, and shining Habitation of the Divine Majesty."
Turning similarly to his Poetry, the most casual reader will be struck by touches of self-portraiture declarative of the same Wordsworthian consciousness of his largeness of soul and intellectual strength. Ad aperturam libri, — let these speak for themselves:—
The just and constant man, a multitude
Set upon mischief cannot him constrain
To do amisse by all their uprores rude;
Not for a tyrants threat will he ere stain
His inward honour. The rough Adrian
Tost with unquiet winds doth nothing move
His steddy heart. Much pleasure he doth gain
To see the glory of his Master Jove,
When his drad darts with hurrying light through all do rove.
If Heaven and Earth should rush with a great noise,
He fearlesse stands he knows whom he doth trust,
Is confident of his souls after joyes,
Though this vain bulk were grinded into dust.
Strange strength resideth in the soul that's just,
She feels her power how't commands the sprite
Of the low man, vigorously finds she must
Be independent of such feeble might,
Whose motions dare not 'pear before her awfull sight.
(p. 84, st. 12, 13.)
But sooth to say though my triumphant Muse
Seemeth to vaunt as in got victory,
And with puissant stroke the head to bruize
Of her stiffe foe, and daze his phantasie,
Captive his reason, dead each faculty:
Yet in her self so strong a force withstands
That of her self afraid, she'll not aby,
Nor keep the field. She'll fall by her own hand
As Ajax once laid Ajax dead upon the strand.
(p. 87, st. 39.)
Hence, hence unhallowed ears and hearts more hard
Then winter clods fast froze with Northern wind.
But most of all, foul tongue I thee discard
That blamest all that thy dark strait'ned mind,
Cannot conceive: But that no blame thou find
Whate're my pregnant Muse brings forth to light,
She'll not acknowledge to be of her kind,
Till Eagle-like she turn them to the sight
Of the eternall Word, all deckt with glory bright.
Strange sights do straggle in my restlesse thoughts,
And lively forms with orient colours clad
Walk in my boundlesse mind, as men ybrought
Into some spacious room, who when they've had
A turn or two, go out, although unbad.
All these I see and know, but entertain
None to my friend but who's most sober sad
Although, the time my roof doth them contain
Their presence doth possesse me till they out again.
(p. 91, st. 1, 2.)
Yet doth the soul of such like forms discourse,
And finden fault at this deficiency,
And rightly term this better and that worse
Wherefore the measure is our own Idee,
Which th' humane soul in her own self doth see.
And sooth to sayen when ever she doth strive
To find pure truth, her own profundity
She enters, in her self doth deeply dive;
From thence attempts each essence rightly to descrive.
(p. 111, st. 39.)
Thus realizing within himself the height and depth of the human soul — his own, the measure and type of both to himself — HENRY MORE combined withal a touching personal humility, and was eager to serve and to communicate. I think of him in Christ's College and in the University as a Knight of the Red-Cross shield, leading a pure white life unstained and unstainahle as the light. It is well that so many sat at his feet and welcomed his books; for if ever man has been a saint on earth and the incarnation of his own ideal, it was this Mystic and Christian-Platonist.
I do not attempt so much as an enumeration of his manifold PROSE Writings. That were out-of-place in an Introduction to his Verse. Suffice it that they grew out of two main things, (a) His Meditativeness on human nature — with himself in all the subtleties of a natively subtle intellect and emotional temperament, for text; (b) His omnivorous reading and learning — as miscellaneous and odd as ROBERT BURTON'S, and as varied and unexpected as THOMAS FULLER'S, though, sooth to say, without either's fusing and transfusing faculty. From the former — as I think — you have it is most fantastic speculations and inferences, substantive additions to high philosophical thought and darts of insight into intellectual and spiritual problems that are like intuition. From the latter, you have throughout, if not learning in the highest and exactest sense, extraordinary extent of reading and recollection. One must smile at his Cabbalistical-Hebraistic lore and credulous interpretation of prophecies and visions, as of the Apocalypse; but you will never read a book of his without coming on original thinking illustrated by recondite quotations. His much reading (or learning) was drawn on inevitably from his manifold attacks and opponents — as Descartes — Dr. Joseph Beaumont — John Butler, B.D. — Thomas Vaughan — H. Stubbe — Sir Matthew Hale — Richard Hayter. His Cabbalistical reveries (not to call them vagaries) sent him a-searching in wasteful places. Many a forgotten folio had the dust blown from it by this eager inquirer. Must it be owned that he saw through his spectacles in all such reading, rather than through his own "cleare eyen"?
That our Worthy sequestered himself so absolutely was of his own choice; for he had abundant opportunities of acquiring important and influential public positions. Ward tells us this garrulously yet with fine touches, as thus:—
"Truly what, if we consider it, was his Whole life spent in, but in a Course of Retirement and Contemplation; in the Viewing of the Works of God and Nature, and a rejoycing at the Happiness of the Creatures that have been made by Him; in doing Honour into God, and Good to Men; in Clearing up the Existence of God, and his Attributes; and shewing the Excellency and the Reasonableness both of Providence and of Religion; more especially in Asserting the Christian Religion, and Magnifying, after the justest manner, Him who is the Author and Finisher of it; in the Illustrating of our State Present and Future; and in a very particular Discovery of the two Grand Mysteries both of Godliness and Iniquity; in the Clearing op of Truth and Dissipating of Errour; and in a most diligent laying open the Visions and Prophesies of Holy Scripture; in a word, in a universal Promoting the Interests of Peace and Righteousness in the Earth; and giving in general an Example of Prudence and Piety, of Charity and Integrity amongst Men? It was sometimes his Expression amongst his Friends, That he should not have known what to have done in the World, if he could not have preach'd at his Fingers Ends. His Voice was somewhat inward; and so not fit for that of a Publick Orator.
"For the being Preferr'd to any Great Dignities; He was so far from Coveting, that he particularly Declin'd it: Making good here that Expression of a Father; 'Totus ei Mundus possessio est, qui toto eo quasi suo utitur.' The whole World is the large Possession of him that useth and enjoys the whole as his own.
"I have seen Letters from an Honourable Person to him, Courting him to accept of very great Preferments in Ireland; and assuring him, that the Interest was actually made, and the Way smooth'd to his Hands with the Lord Deputy. The Deanary of Christ-Church, said to be worth £900 per Annum, was one; and the Provostship of Dublin College with the Deanary of St. Patricks was another. And those were but by way of Preparation to something Greater: For there were withal two Bishopricks in view offer'd to his Choice; of which one was said to be valued at no loss than £1500 per Annum. And that Noble Person added this Piece of Pleasant and Friendly Instigation; Pray be not so Morose, or Humoursome, as to refuse all things you have not known so long as Christ-College.
"Nay farther, to shew his Temper in those Matters, I have been inform'd from such as had it from himself; that a vary good Bishoprick was procur'd for him once in this our own Kingdom; and that his Friends had got him on a Day as far as White-Hall, in order to the Kissing of the Royal Hand for it; But when he understood the Business, he was not upon any account to be perswaded to it.
"These things he refus'd not from any Supercilious Contempt; but from the pure Love of Contemplation, and Solitude; and because he thought that he could do the Church of God greater Service, as also better enjoy his own Proper Happiness, in a Private than in a Publick Station: Taking great Satisfaction, the mean while, in the Promotion of many Pious and Learned Men to those Places of Trust and Honour in the Church; (To whom he heartily congratulated such Dignities) and being exceeding Sensible of the Weight as wall as the Honour of them; and how Necessary it was to have them fill'd with Able and Worthy Persons.
"Once indeed, and that about 12 Years before he died, he accepted of a Prebend in the Church of Gloucester; given him by the Right Honourable the Earl of Nottingham, than Lord Chancellour of England: But he soon made a shift, (not without, I believe, such an original Intent) to resign it again; Procuring it at the same time for one of his Worthy Friends, now himself a Right Reverend Bishop of our Church: To whom, when he would have reimburs'd him his Charges, he pleasantly said, That if he would not accept it upon his own Terms, he might let it alone. And though he thus desir'd Nothing for himself; yet was he Happily instrumental in the doing Signal Services unto others: Nor was any one more ready to serve a Friend, or more Active therein, than He was, whenever there was a good Opportunity offer'd him."
And so he "liv'd and died a private Fellow of Christ's College in Cambridge;" having troops of friends and disciples, and such correspondents among others as DESCARTES and VAN HELMONT, but shrinking from the ostentation and noise of the world outside. Nevertheless he had quick and practical sympathies with the poor and the suffering. His Biographer tells us — "His very Chamber-Door was a Hospital to the Needy" (p. 85).
PRINCIPAL TULLOCH has well summed up his retired life — "Such a life as More's necessarily presents few points of contact with the great events of his time. 'He was so busy in his chamber with his pen and lines as not to mind much the bustles and affairs of the world without.' He did not occupy any party position, even in that indefinite sense in which Whichcote and Cudworth may be said to have done. He had no relations with the statesmen of the civil war and the Commonwealth, and never made, like his friends, any prominent public appearance. Educated in a Calvinistic although not a Puritan home[?], he turned aside very early from all that could have connected him with the religious parties dominant in his youth. His ideal was the Church of England as it existed before the times of disturbance — the Church of the Reformation and of Hooker" (II. pp. 335-6). The same Writer, with shrewd outlook and insight, reminds us of a modern parallel, as eloquently thus: — "If More's life as a student kept him retired from the world, it greatly stimulated his productivity as an author. Probably, also, it contributed in some degree to the endless prolixity and repetitions of his writings. We feel especially with him — as more or less with all the Cambridge school, except Whichcote — that we are conversing with a mind too little braced by active discipline, and the prompt, systematic, compact habits which come from large intercourse with men, and the affairs which stir men to powerful movement or great ambitions. The air of a school, which was after all confined to a narrow if influential sphere, is more pervading in his writings than in any of the others. Christ College, with its books, is never far out of sight; and all the sweetness and seclusion of Ragley, "the solemness of the place, its shady walks and hills and woods, where he lost sight of the world and the world of him (Ep. ded. to Immortality of the Soul) did not help to let the light of day or the breath of the common air into his choice Theories, however they may have assisted him in finding them out and elaborating them. In this respect we have been reminded more than once of an analogy betwixt him and the leaders of the modern High-Church school in its original development. Oxford and Hursely Parsonage may not inaptly be compared to Cambridge and Ragley; and the enervating force of a wilful seclusion from the world is certainly not less conspicuous in Keble and Newman — although in a different direction — than in our author. It may be pleasant to keep away from the "bustles and affairs of the world without," as it is pleasant to contemplate the peculiar beauty and serenity of character which ripens amidst such retirement, but, after all, no man can escape from his fellow-men, and the rough facts of ordinary human life, without spiritual and intellectual injury. The product may be finer that is grown in solitude, but it will neither be so useful, nor, in many respects, so true and good" (II. pp. 339, 340).
I must now leave WARD to give his account in his own lingering and loving and loveable way, with innumerable personal traits and characteristics, of the end:—
"I am brought now at length to give an Account of his Death and Last Illness: Which I shall do chiefly from one that was a faithful Attender on him in it; and who, as he ever honour'd him with a very Particular Honour, so did he signally shew it upon this Occasion. A very Great Person in our Church, and no less Friend to the Doctor, was pleas'd to say; That he never observ'd a greater Instance of Friendship in any Person, than in this Party at that Time. And to my Knowledge it was very Extraordinary; and no less Grateful and Serviceable to his Dear Friend the Doctor: Who would several times tell him; That He was a mighty Cordial and Refreshment to him. To my self he express'd how greatly he was oblig'd to him for his Company; and that he should not have known what almost to have done without him. From this Worthy and Reverend Person, my Honoured Friend Dr. John Davies, it is (I say) mainly, that I shall with all Faithfulness give the Reader an Account of that Cloud and Weakness, which after some time carried off the Doctor from this to a Better Life.
"He enjoy'd in the general (though Checquer'd with some Illnesses, and what he call'd, I remember, once a Valetudinarian State) an excellent Habit both of Body and of Mind; as may sufficiently be collected (amongst other things) from the Nature and Frequency of his Writings. But for some time before his Last Sickness, he found himself to be often pretty much out of Order; and had particularly many times every 3d or 4th Turn an intermitting Pulse; and once for Six Hours together (though he seem'd otherwise to be well, and went into the Hall) no Pulse at all. He was taken one Night after Supper very Ill in the Fellows Room, and swooned away; He complained afterwards, That his Distemper was Wind, but he hoped it would not carry him away in a Storm. This was about a Year before he died. And the Summer before this, for many Nights together, he felt himself in a perfect Fever: But it going off again after a few Hours, and he sleeping well the rest of the Night, and finding himself at Ease, and fit for Study in the Morning, with an Appetite for his Meat, Dinner and Supper, he took no farther notice of it.
"But it had been much Happier in all Probability (I say not for himself, but for the Church and Publick) if he had given some more heed to these Friendly Items of Nature. But immoderate Studies past (not to say, and present too) the Breakings and Weaknesses of Age, with some Trouble in Affairs more than Ordinary from without (which yet could never, I am perswaded, have made that Impression upon his Mind at any other Season) meeting altogether with an actual Indisposition, drew him at length into a sort of Sadness and Deficiency of Spirits: Insomuch that my Friend writing to me about that time, gave me this Account. He seems to labour under a Divine Melancholy; from whence notwithstanding he promiseth to himself a very great Advantage in the End. And in that same Letter again, speaking of the Decays of Strength he was under, he adds this upon it: But his Mind is Vigorous within; and breaths, beyond what I can express, after GOD and Virtue.
"This was in November before his Death: And much to the same purpose was that which he wrote the Month following; Our most Excellent Friend is still held in a Doubtful State, as to the Recovery of his Health: But he aspires, with an incredible Ardour of Mind, after that which is Best. And a while after he was pleas'd to send me the ensuing Relation; That he had been let Blood, and seem'd after it miuch better than before; yet it had a great deal of black Melancholy in it, though other Parts of it were very Florid and Sanguine: That though before the Writing of this Letter, at his sitting down to Dinner, he look'd dispirited, yet it was also with an Appearance of approaching Health; but before he had dined, and after Dinner, I never saw (saith he) more vigorous Emanations from him, nor the Air of his Face Stronger or Chearfuller.
"Yet after all this promising Appearance, the Sun began soon to be clouded afresh; and the dark sullen Vapours, as glad to take him at so great an Advantage, to be multiplied upon him; till weary with struggling, this envelop'd Star yielded at length to their Force and Power; and was carried away by them from its State here into another Region; yet in this Case not to lose, but to increase (as I said) his Lustre in that New World.
"As his Body had been out of Tune, for some time, so had his Mind in a sort, before his great Illness; I speak as to that deep and Plastick sense (to use his own term) he had been under usually in Divine Matters: Insomuch that he complained on a certain time to his Friend, That he had for a long Season been in as good a Way as he could almost wish; but he knew not, how he came to be whimm'd of from it (as his Expression was). And he noted again afterwards, how the Plastick went one way, and his Intellective another. If he was to live, he could fetch them both up together (he said) again; but for that, he left it wholly to the Will and good Providence of God. And perhaps his over-great Endeavours to do this, in the State he was in, prov'd still but the more Injurious to him. He was (if possible) for making all Vital and Unison anew (with respect, I mean, both to Body and Mind) and for the rendring of his Affections and Passions, as well as Reason and Understanding, Joyous and Divine. He took notice once, looking on his Hands, That his Body (as he express'd it) was strangely run out. His meaning, I conceive, was, Things were not so Compact and Spiritous in it as they had formerly been.
"Even this Wonderful Man (saith my Friend to me, in another of his Letters) repents him of several things that are past; and complains, that he hath not been in all things so closely united to the Will of God, as a Faithful and Perfect Servant of Christ ought to be. And he said to him another time; That Repentance was a sweet thing. And yet it is certainly True, what he spoke to this same Person many Years before, as we have above remark'd; That he did not remember of a long time, that he had done any thing that was really Evil. In all which, if rightly understood, there is nothing, as I conceive, either of vain Boast or of Contradiction: And there may be a Difference between the not doing things truly Sinful, and the not doing all the Good that was possible; or that might tend to a greater Perfection.
"He was twice (as I take it) after that first time let Blood again; and then there appear'd nothing of that black Melancholy in it: But yet still it avail'd not to a Recovery.
"In June I my self saw him; and twice waited on him. He was the first time much indispos'd; as much almost, my Friend told me, as he had seen him any time of his Illness. Weaker indeed he was afterwards; but little more disorder'd: The Calamity (he was pleas'd to tell me) of his Condition had been exceeding great; that for many Weeks together he had liv'd almost a perpetual Pervigilium (with little or no Sleep at all) So that it was a Wonder, and the great Mercy of God to him, that he had not been perfectly Distracted. Yet that Day he walked abroad; and Prudent, Pious, and even Pleasant things would come from him.
"He had a Melancholy, and some unruly Ferment of Nature about him. It was his own Reflection more than once to his Friend; That his Body was out of Order; but that as to his Mind, it was in its right Frame, and fix'd on God. He said, He thought he should have dyed Laughing; but was sensible now how much the Scene was chang'd with him, and repeated twice (as I remember) That he was as a Fish out of its Element, and that lay tumbling in the Dust of the Street. And at another time he said, That he was but the Remains of an Ordinary Man.
"He was very Sensible of the State he was in, and the Occasion it might give the World to discourse; and that some possibly might be prone to make an ill Use of it to the Prejudice of his Writings: But then he pleasantly observ'd upon it this; That he had read of a Person, an excellent Mathematician, that at last came to doat; but none (saith he) will say, that any of his former Demonstrations were ever the worse for all that. Than which I know not what could have been said more solidly or ingeniously by any person.
"The second time I saw him, he was in an extraordinary Calm and Easy temper. I was expressing my Hopes to see him perfectly recover'd. He replied, That GOD alone knew that; to whom, through our Lord Jesus Christ, he entirely resign'd all that concern'd him; and that there was his Anchorage, and his Rest: Not doubting of the Remission of all his Sins, through him that had dyed on the Cross for them. To which he added, That never any person thirsted more after his Meat and Drink, than He, if it pleas'd God, after a Release from the Body: Professing withal, that he had deserv'd greater Afflictions from the Hands of God, than those he had met with.
"I took an Occasion to say; That he might indeed be the willinger to die, because he seem'd to have done the great Work that God had sent him into the World for. His Answer was, That he hoped he had not spent his Time in Vain; and that his Writings would be of Use to the Church of God, and to Mankind. It was his Expression (it seems) some Years before this; That it was to him a very great Pleasure, to think that, when he was gone out of the World he should still converse with it by his Writings. As he added also farther at this time to my self; That it was a great Satisfaction to him, to consider that he was going to those, with whom he should be as well acquainted in a quarter of an Hour, as if he had Known them many Years. And this was the Last Time I had the Honour and Happiness to see him, being much Pleas'd to leave him so Easy and in so Hopeful a way, as I thought, of Recovery.
"But the Divine Foresight had not decreed his Stay here. His Weakness continued, and advanced upon him. Yet as a Wise Person, both living and dying, and to add now at last to all the rest of his Pious and Prudent Reflections, he said this to his Friend towards the End of his Sickness; 'It is the frequent Trick of some of the Romanists, when they speak of Men that have writ more than Ordinarily against them, to give out, that they alter'd their Minds before they died: Therefore do you tell all my Friends, that I have the same Sense of the Church of Rome, and of all the Great Points of Religion now, that I had when I wrote: And farther, if any one shall pretend, that he ever heard me speak any thing that is Contrary to my Publick Writings; assure them again, They are my true Sense; and that to them I stand.'
"He was not (as likewise most other Persons at that time) without a due Sense, and Sollicitous Foresight, of what seem'd so plainly coming on us in a late Reign. We had a very Prudent Power (he said) over us. Such was his own Prudent and Cautious Expression that he used to my self. And he added somewhat at that time; That he hoped, he should be ready for whatever it should please God to cut out for him. But to his Faithful Friend and Attender he said more particularly, and at large, thus; That if he were to be called out to a Stake, he could speak little to the People in that Condition: But this (saith he) I think, would be sufficient; to let them know, that my Sense, as to all Points in Controversy between us and the Church of Rome, was in my Publick Works; and that I was there come to seal it with my Blood. And certain it is, that a very small time before his Death, he seem'd with some Concern to express it; That he should not do that Service to the Truth, as to die or suffer in Testimony of it: But however, he having writ so very freely, and thereby having so much expos'd himself to it, and being ready in Mind, as he had often declared himself to be; it might not be without its Use.
"And this reminds me now of another Passage in the Doctor, which he likewise spake of (and I tell it here, on Condition it may not be mis-interpreted by any) viz. That some time before his Illness (on what Occasion I know not) he was making at a leisure time (by way of Diversion or Experiment) an Anagram of his Name, Henricus Morus Cantabrigiensis. It was falling otherwise at first; but not hitting thoroughly, it settled it self at length with these significant and exact Words; 'Insignis Heros curnam se curabit?' (Why should this Eximious Heros be Sollicitous for himself?) Which he soon naturally interpreted as a sort of gentle Reprehension from Providence for it: As it could not also, at the same time, but serve as greatly to fortifie his Mind under it. Certain it is, as well the Character as the Sense was very highly Applicable to both the Person and the Season.
"He profess'd with Tears in his Eyes; That he had with great Sincerity offer'd what he had written to the World; and added this afterwards, That he had spent all his Time in the State of those Words, 'Quid Verum sit, & quid Bonum, quaero, & rogo; & in hoc Omnis sum.' That what is good, and what is true, were the two great things that he had always sought and enquir'd after, and was wholly indeed taken up with them. Which is not much unlike that of Siracides, at large taken notice of in his Preface general; and which he there affirms to be the Bent and Scope of all his Writings whatsoever; and shews it by a particular Application to be so. 'Quid est Homo?' &c. What is man, and whereto serveth he? What is his Good, and what is his evil? And then he adds this; Whoso affects Niceties, or unprofitable Curiosities, let him seek them elsewhere: What Fruit, or Entertainment this my own Garden affords, I have sufficiently by this inform'd the Reader.
"This calls to my Remembrance a Saying of Lactantius; 'Primus Sapientiae Gradus, &c.' The first Degree of Wisdom is, to understand the things which are false; the second, those that are true; than which there can no greater Pleasure appertain to Man. As Tully again hath very Heroically asserted; That there was no better Gift ever yet given unto Mankind, No, nor ever shall be, than the Knowledge of Philosophy. Which, if it be understood of the Highest Wisdom and Philosophy indeed, both Natural and Reveal'd, is most True and Sacred according unto that of Philotheus in the Dialogues; For my Part, I look upon the Christian Religion rightly understood, to be the deepest and choicest Piece of Philosophy that is. And how much he undervalued all Other Philosophy in comparison of this, or when void of the Virtues and Graces of it, may at large be seen, Dial. 3. Numb. 3.
"Demosthenes is said to have griev'd at his Death, after having liv'd 107 Years, that he should go out of the World, When he was but just beginning to grow Wise. The Doctor, on the contrary, had been long acquainted both with Natural and Divine Wisdom; and died Contentedly in the full, and even antient Embraces and Possessions of them: And this to that Degree, that it puts me in mind of that Notable Saying of one of the Philosophers; 'Cum Homo copulatus fuerit Intellectui per Scientiam omnium Rerum complete, tunc est Deus in Humano Corpore hospitatus.' i.e. When a Man shall be joined to Intellect, or Understanding, by a sort of Complete Knowledge of all things, then a God (or, as I would interpret it, an extraordinary Heroe) may be said to sojourn in a Human Body.
"Let me conclude here with that of the Poet; and which, I confess, I take to be the Doctor's Character in a distinguishing manner.
Felix, qui potuit Rerum cognoscere Causas;
Atque Metus omnes, & inexorabile Fatum,
Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis avari!
To this Sense.
Happy the Man, that knows the Causes deep
Of Things; and all dread Fears can under keep;
Tread upon Death's inexorable Claws,
And slight the Roar of Acheron's rav'nous Jaws.
But here I have run out, I fear, unseasonably. To return to the Doctor, and to the Close of this Account I am giving of him; He broke out, but a short time before he Died, thus: Doctor (saith he) I have marvellous things to tell you. Sir, replied the other, You are full, I suppose, of Divine Joy. He answer'd with a most deep Sense, Full. It is Pity but that Reverend Person had ask'd him a little more particularly about it; namely, what those Marvellous Things were: But he saw him extreme Weak; and so it pass'd over.
"The Day before he died, his Nephew Gabriel More, Esq., came to him; being sent for out of the Country by a Messenger on Purpose; Whom though some things had pass'd that were far from being Grateful or Easy between them, (as the Publick since hath been sufficiently acquainted) he made his Sole Executor, and left a very large Addition of Estate to him; saluting him at his coming very affectionately, and saying, Nephew, You are kindly Welcome.
"He said particularly to a Party some time before his Death, that he was throughly reconciled to him: And when some admir'd at his Candour, He replied; There was something that drew a Man's Affections in such Cases almost whether he would or no.
"With respect to his being sent for, and the State the Doctor was then in, I had this Account. 'After this he was in a clammy Sweat, and his Pulse almost gone: Death seem'd to sit on his Countenance; and I thought he would have gone off. Asking him what I should say to his Nephew; He told me, that he was exceeding Weak, and must refer him to my own Informations; but, said he very affectionately and plainly, though also very weakly, my kind hearty Love to him. When I ask'd him positively afterwards, whether I should send for him, he seem'd unresolv'd; saying, that he was Melancholick and Suspicious, and might think that we play'd tricks with him, if he should continue thus at trot, and loll, and hang on.' This Person since is dead himself; and left the main of all that he had (as the Doctor had also once intended to do) to Charitable Uses.
"About 3 of the Clock the Day before he died, he called for a Glass of Sack; and seem'd somewhat reviv'd; his Face lost its Cloud, and his Pulse came a little better, but very Weak. As his Friend was speaking to him as a Dying Man should be spoken to, he express'd his Sense of Death in those first Words of that famous Sentence of Tully's; 'O Praeclarum illum Diem!' The whole is to this Purpose; O most Blessed Day! when I shall come to that Company of Divine Souls above, and shall depart from this Sink and Rout below.
"That last Night of all, his Passionate Friend and Lover, seeing him so extreme Weak, wish'd him a Good Night with a more than Ordinary Pathos and Affection: To whom he replied as deeply and affectionately; Good Night, Dear Doctor. And it was the last time he ever saw him alive: For the next Morning, between 4 and 5 of the Clock, being the First of September, 1687, and the 73d Year of his Age (his Body as well as Mind being now Fit for it) immediately before his Friend came into the Room, and while his Steps were heard upon the Stairs, the Doctor departed this Life; in so Easy a manner, and with so Calm a Passage, that the Nurse with him was not sensible of it."
There is added this:—
"He was Buried decently by his Executor, Sept. 3. and lies Interr'd in the Chapel of that College, to which he had been so long an Egregious Ornament. He died indeed a Present and Future Honour, not only to the College and University at large; but to the whole Church and Kingdom, the very Age he liv'd in, and to the Race of Mankind."
In accord with this in the College Chapel, within the altar rails, is a slab of marble, forming part of the floor, with the following inscription:—
Here lyeth ye Body of Dr. Ralph Cudworth late Master of Christ Colledge about 34 years Hebrew Professor, & Prebendary of Gloucester he died the 26th of June 1688 in the 71st year of his Age.
The Body of Dr. Henry Moore late fellow of this College he died the 1st of Sept. 1687 in the 73d year of his Age.
On the Eastern Wall of the Chapel is a small plain tablet, with a Latin inscription commemorative of DR. JOSEPH MEDE, MORE, and CUDWORTH.
We take this summary Description of his Person from Ward:—
"It remains now to give a brief Touch upon the Description of his Person. He was, for Stature inclining to Tallness; of a thin Body, but of a Serene and Vivacious Countenance; rather pale in his latter Years than florid of Complexion; yet was it Clear and Spirituous; and his Eye hazel, Vivid as an Eagle. One that knew him in his more middle Age, when he was somewhat swarthy, compared him to the Appearance of a duskish Diamond. He had an extraordinary Purity and Tenuity of Spirits (if it need to be repeated) which appear'd in the very Looks and Air of his Face; in which Seriousness and Pleasantness, Gravity and Benignity, seem'd to seat themselves by turns; or rather, in a sort, to reside together. His Temper was Sanguine; yet with a due Quantity of Noble Melancholy that was mix'd with it: As it was Aristotle's Observation, That all Persons eminent, whether in Philosophy, Politicks, Poetry, or any other Arts, do partake pretty much of the Melancholick Constitution. And the Reason seems evident; for that nothing of these can be Extraordinary, without a certain Weight and Depth of Thoughtfulness in the Frame and Complexion of Man. His Body was, in the general, well proportion'd; and his Person Fair and Agreeable. In short, Nature had not fitted amiss the Case to the Jewel, the Body to the Soul.... His Picture was twice drawn, and prefix'd to his Writings. The first of these Draughts, placed before the Theological Volume, was not happily perfected: It had not the true Air, or Spirit of his Countenance. The Motto's underneath it are a much truer Representation of him. The second (by Loggan) was more lucky and exact; and contains in a sufficient Measure the real Air and Visage of the Doctor: So that Posterity may be justly gratified with the outward as well as inward Pourtraicture of him."
It is the latter that has been reproduced for us; and of it PRINCIPAL TULLOCH writes penetratively, thus: — "There is indeed, as all who have seen his portrait by Loggan will admit, a singularly vivid elevation in his countenance — with some lines strongly drawn round the mouth, but with ineffable sweetness, light and dignity in the general expression. As he is the most poetic and transcendental, so he is upon the whole the most spiritual-looking of all the Cambridge divines." To me there are lines and shadows in the face that explain — with all his "sweetness and light" and tenderness — his egregious gibes and almost ribaldry in his controversy with Thomas Vaughan ("Eugenies Philalethes") twin-brother of Henry Vaughan the Silurist, and are declarative of an ultimate conquest indeed, yet of a hard struggle of the "spirit" with the "flesh," or of the "flesh" with the "spirit" as he himself puts it. It has been thus with many. Saintly PHINEAS FLETCHER and GEORGE HERBERT and RICHARD BAXTER and JOHN BUNYAN have admitted passionately — like St. Paul — that only by higher might and control than their own did they find themselves walking in obedience at once to their own conscience and to the One supreme Lord of conscience.