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Vol. XIII. PART I.
Art. I.— The Life and Acts of the Most Reverend Father in God,
John Whitgift, D.D., the third and last Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, who, under her Majesty, in that station
governed the Church of England for the space of twenty years. By John Strype, M.X. Folio. London. 1718.
Some writers, on account of the lightsome ease and elegance of their style, and their graceful transitions from one topic to another, have been compared to the bounding antelope; whilst a prototype has been found for the ponderous dullness of others, in the heavy and regular step of the elephant. Were we bound under penalty to point out an animal to which John Strype, M.A. may be fitly compared, we should flatter ourselves that we had fulfilled the conditions of the obligation into which we had entered, by likening him to a Jamaica land-crab, which, as naturalists inform us, whenever it sets out on a journey, goes on in a straight line, turning neither to the right hand nor to the left, and proceeds with such undeviating resolution, that if it encounters a house or any other building in its course, it never thinks of making a detour, but ascends the wall of the edifice which it encounters, marches across the roof, and comes down on the other side. Thus honest Strype moves right on in his narration, proceeding from year to year, and from fact to fact, without diverging into any general views of the political or religious circumstances of the times of which he treats, and without being once led astray into the labyrinth of philosophical
speculation. His style is homely and stiff, and utterly devoid of ornament; and so scanty, in particular, is his stock of epithets, that whether his hero be described as hanging a Puritan, or founding an hospital, he is invariably qualified as
Archbishop.” He has also contrived, but, we are convinced, not in bad faith, or with any sinister design, to lengthen his work by a practice of first reciting the substance of a document, and then, as the result of an after-thought, transcribing the document itself. These documents, however, which he collected with indefatigable industry, and which he has arranged with much judgment, are very precious, as affording a particular account of the controversies which agitated the passions of divines and politicians in the reign of Elizabeth, as revealing the secret springs of many important transactions which took place at that eventful period, and as giving a clear insight into the characters and views of individuals of eminence, and of influence in the affairs of Church and State.
The topics which are presented to the mind of the reader of this volume are, intrinsically, very momentous and extremely interesting. They comprehend a variety of particulars respecting the organization of our Established Church; the difficulties with which its early patrons and friends had to struggle, in contending against the Roman Catholics on the one hand, and the Puritans on the other; the disputes which disturbed the peace of the Universities; and all that train of events which resulted from the stern and unyielding exercise of power, as operating upon the stubbornness of conscientious dissent. We shall, therefore, for the benefit of our readers, proceed to make an abridgement of a work, which, however authentic as to its facts, is possessed by few, and read by still fewer, even of those who profess to have a taste for historical inquiry.
John Whitgift was born at Grimsby, in the year 1530. His father was a merchant, who seems not to have been very successful in business. For his early education he was indebted to his uncle, who was Abbot of Welhove, by whom, as Mr. Strype says, "he was trained up to some pretty skill in song: From this domestic tuition he was transferred to St. Anthony's school, in London, situate between Broad-street and Threadneedle-street, which at that time enjoyed considerable reputation. Whilst he was at this seminary, his bedfellow caught the plague, of which he died. During the progress of this disorder, young Whitgift drank some of the urine of the patient, mistaking it for beer, " and yet had no harm of infection, as though," says our author, " the divine providence, by this preservation, had intended to reserve him for some great services in the church afterwards.” In consequence of his having shewn a dislike of going to mass, his aunt, with whom he boarded, being a strict