Page images
PDF
EPUB

Finding how little Isaac profited at that school, he removed him to Felstead, in Essex, where his disposition took a more happy turn, and he made so quick a progress in learning, that his master appointed him a kind of tutor to Lord Viscount Fairfax, of Emely, in Ireland.

At the age of fourteen he became a pensioner of Peter House, in Cambridge, under his uncle, , Isaac Barrow, afterwards Bishop of St. Asaph, and then a fellow of that college. In 1645, he was admitted a pensioner of Trinity College, and two years afterwards, was chosen a scholar of that house, where he continued a staunch royalist, for which he narrowly escaped being expelled. Dr. Hill, the master of the college, was a rigid presbyterian and Calvinist, but such was the goodness of Barrow's disposition and character, that he became his friend, and one day, putting his hand upon his head, he said, “thou art a good lad, 'tis a pity thou art a cavalier,” and when, in an oration on the gunpowder treason, Mr. Barrow had so celebrated the former times, as to reflect much on the present, some of the fellows were provoked to move for his expulsion, the master silenced them with saying, “ Barrow is a better man than any of us.”

He never would take the Covenant,* and

* An abominable oath, by which those who took it bound themselves to extirpate prelacy, and to promote the Preshy. terian form of church government.

when

when the Engagement* was imposed he subscribed it, but upon second thoughts, repenting of what he had done, he went to the commissioners and had his name erazed, a noble instance of his integrity, at a time when he was very low in circumstances, and when such an act might have driven bim from his college, and from the university. So highly, however, was he esteemed for his virtues and talents, that in the very year when the king was murdered, he was elected Fellow of his College without a single friend to recommend him, he being of the opposite party. He studied natural philosophy, mathematics, and medicine, intending to make the last his profession, but was dissuaded from it by his uncle.

Being disappointed of the Greek Professorship, which he only lost on account of his being an Arminian, Mr. Barrow determined to go abroad. Accordingly he went to France, and from thence to Italy, where the straitness of his circumstances would have put an end to his travels, had he not been generously assisted by Mr. James Stock, an English merchant at Leghorn. There he embarked on board a ship for Smyrna,

An oath imposed by the rebels after the murder of Charles the first, by which all persons in office, ministers, and menibers of the Universities, were to bind then selves " to be true and faithful to the government established without King or House of Peers.

but in the voyage they were attacked by an Algerine Corsair. Mr. Barrow, during the engagement, kept upon deck, cheerfully and vigorously fighting, till the pirate perceiving the stout defence the ship made, sheered off and left her. When Dr. Pope asked him why he did not go down into the hold, and leave the defence of the ship to those to whom it did belong, he replied, " it concerned no man more than myselt; I would rather have lost my life than bave fallen into the hands of those merciless infidels.” Of this engagement, and the voyage, he gave an account in a Latin Poem, entitled, Iter maritimum a porte Ligustico ad Constantinopolim.

At Constantinople he read over the works of Chrysostom, once bishop of that see, and whom he preferred to all the other fathers, as may. be seen in the copious references to him in his

He returned to England a little before the restoration, an event most anxiously desired by him, but it brought him no preferment, on which he wrote the following epigram :

sermons.

Te inagis optavit rediturum, Carole, nemo,
Et nemo sensit tu rediisse minus.

Thy restoration, Royal Charles, I see,
By none more wish'd, by none less felt than me.

The same year he was chosen Greek Professor of the University of Cambridge, without any opposition. In 1662, he was elected Professor of Geometry in Gresham College, in which station

he

[ocr errors]

he not only discharged his own duty but also that of his facetious friend, Dr. Pope, the professor of Astronomy. The next year he became a fellow of the Royal Society, and was the first Professor of Mathematicks at Cambridge, on Mr. Lucas's foundation, on which he resigned the Gresham professorship He was appointed Master of Trinity College, in 1672, and the king was pleased to say upon that occasion that “he had given it to the best scholar in England.”

This great divine died of a fever, at London, May 4, 1677, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a handsome monument was erected to his memory by the contribution of his friends.

The particulars of his death, are thus given by Dr. Pope, in his Life of Bishop Ward.

“ The last time he was in London, whither he came, as it is customary, to the election of Westminster School, he went to Knightsbridge to give the Bishop of Salisbury a visit, and then made me engage my word to come to him at Trinity College, immediately after the Michaelmas ensuing. I cannot express the rapture of the joy I was in, having, as I thought, so near a prospect of his charming and instructive conversation ; I fancied it would be a heaven upon earth, for he was immensely rich in learning, and very liberal and communicative of it, delighting in nothing more than to impart to others, if they desired it, whatever he had obtained by much time and study;

but

but of a sudden all my hopes vanished, and were melted like snow before the sun.

Some few days after he came again to Knightsbridge, and sat down to dinner, but I observed he did not eat ; whereupon I asked him how it was with him ; he answered, that he had a slight indisposition hanging upon him, with which he had struggled two or three days, and that he hoped by fasting and opium to get it off, as he had removed another and more dangerous sickness, at Constantinople some years before. But these remedies availed him not; his malady proved, in the event, an inward, malignant, and insuperable fever, of which he died, May 4, Anno Dom. 1677, in the 47th year of his age, in mean lodgings, at a sadler's near Charing Cross; an old, low, illbuilt house, which he had used for several

years; for though his condition was much bettered by his obtaining the Mastership of Trinity College, yet that had no bad influence upon his morals; he still continued the same humble person, and could not be prevailed upon to take more reputable lodgings.” The same writer informs us that the Lord Keeper sent a message of condolence to Dr. Barrow's father, who had then some place under him, importing that he had but too great reason to grieve for the loss of so good a son, but that he should mitigate his sorrow upon that very consideration.

The intrepidity of Dr. Barrow has already been mentioned, but the same entertaining writer who

has

S 2

« PreviousContinue »