Page images

friends ; his supper, which was simple, he took at eight; he then smoked his pipe over a glass of water, and at nine retired to rest. Such was the

general distribution of the day with this great man, towards the close of his life, but when he was in a publick situation, this uniformity could not be preserved.

Of his literary character, we shall say nothing; for it comes not within the plan of our work; and if any reader shall think that, in the preceding sketch, Milton has been treated with severity, let him consider whether the facts exhibited do not justify the remarks that have been made. It creates indignation to see writers studying pane. gyric instead of truth; and from their high admiration of genius making its very errors the subjects of praise. Biography thus perverted becomes dangerous, as tending to give the sanction of authority to bad principles; and converting the just reverence entertained for the mental accomplishments of a man into an apology for the whole of his conduct.

[ocr errors]
[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors]


THIS country has produced few greater men, and none better than Sir Matthew Hale, whose whole conduct in public life as a judge, and in private as a Christian, separated from his literary character, will always render his name venerable, and his example of inestimable value.

He was born at Alderly, in Gloucestershire, in 1609. His grandfather was a wealthy clothier at Wotton-under-Edge, in that county, who left a large family of sons and daughters well provided for. The second son, the father of the judge, was a barrister of Lincoln's Inn, but of so scrupulous a conscience that he gave over practice because he could not, in conscience, give a colour in pleadings which he thought was telling a lie. This, with other reasons, induced him to quit the Inns of Court, and retire into the country, where he left, out of his small estate, twenty pounds a year to the poor of Wotton, which his son confirmed to them, with some addition, and with this regulation, that it should be distributed among such poor housekeepers as did not receive alms of the parish. This good man died when his son was only five years old, but the loss of the father was supplied by the care of his mother,



and the tenderness of a near relation, Anthony Kingscot, of Kingscot, Esq.

After a private education he was removed to Magdalen Hall, Oxford, under the noted puritan, Obadiah Sedgwick; but it seems he did not imbibe any of the fanatical principles of his tutor, for the stage-players visting Oxford, says his biographer, he was so much corrupted by seeing many plays, that he almost wholly forsook his studies.

“The corruption of a young man's mind in one particular,” continues the same writer, "generally draws on a great many more.

So he being now broken off from his studies, and from the gravity of deportment, which was formerly eminent in him, far beyond his years, set himself to many of the vanities incident to youth, but still he preserved a great probity of mind, he loved fine cloaths, aud delighted much in company; and being of a strong robust body, he was a great master of all those exercises which required much strength. He also learned to fence, in which he became so expert, that he worsted many of the masters of those arts ; but as he was exercising himself in them, an instance appeared that gave some hopes of better things. One of his inasters told him he could teach him no more, for he was now better at his own trade than himself. This Mr. Hale looked upon as flattery; so to make the master discover himself, he promised him the house he lived in, for he was his tenant, if he could hit him a blow on the head, and bade him


« PreviousContinue »