Sermons Preached Upon Several Occasions. Vol. I. - Christian Classics Ethereal Library (2024)







WHEN men crowned with age and honour, and worn out with the exercise of the most adorable virtues, go down to the grave; when learning, piety, sincerity, and courage, with them, seem to be gathered to their fathers, and almost every one of them, without a due recognition of their bright examples who gave us their survey, must cease to be any more; it would be an act of the highest injustice not to set them in their fairest light, that posterity may look upon them with the same eyes of admiration which the present age has paid their regards with; and that it may not be in the power of the teeth of time to wear out the impressions that shall pass undefaced from one generation to another.

It is with this view, and only with this, that the author of these memoirs, who has long known the value of the subject he is writing upon, and from thence must be apprised of the difficulty of doing it as he ought, takes them in hand; being not without hopes, that he may in some measure prevent the many common biographers, who gather about a dead corpse, like ravens about their prey, and croak out insults against their memory, whilst they either praise them iifor actions they have not done, or load them with disgrace and infamy for what they never committed: insomuch that, in Procopius of Caesarea’s words, “their relations are nothing else but their interests, delivering down, not what they know, but what they are inclined to.”

The same author likewise very justly observes, “that as eloquence becomes an orator, and fables are proper for poets, so truth is that which an historian ought chiefly to follow, and have in regard;” therefore my readers are neither to expect embellishments of art, nor flourishes of rhetoric.

Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis
Tempus eget——

There is no need of such assistances to support me, while I go through with the character of a man that was arrived at the highest pitch of knowledge in the studies of all manner of divine and human literature: a man who, in the words of the Son of Sirach, gave his mind to the law of the most High, and was occupied in the meditation thereof : who sought out the wisdom of all the ancients, and who kept the sayings of the renowned men, and where subtle parables were, there was he also . A man, who sought out the secrets of grave sentences, who served among great men, and appeared before princes: who travelled throughout strange countries, for he had tried the good and the evil among men . In a word, a man that gave his heart to resort early to the Lord that made him, and prayed before the most High. Who was filled with the spirit of understanding, and poured out wise sentences : so that many shall commend his understanding: and so long as the world endureth, it shall not be blotted out .

May it suffice then that I account for the birth of this great man in the year 1633, when the artifices of wicked and designing sectarists against the established government in church and state, that broke out at last into the grand rebellion, made it necessary that so bright an assertor of both, as he proved afterwards, should arise. He was the son of Mr. South, an eminent merchant in London, and born at Hackney, of a mother whose maiden name was Berry, iiidescended from the family of the Berrys in Kent: so that by his extraction on the one side, which we trace down from the Souths of Kelstone, and Keilby in Lincolnshire, (whereof we find one sir Francis of that name to be the head,) and his origin on the other, much celebrated for the productions of many eminent men, (among whom sir John Berry, the late admiral in king Charles the IId’s reign, that commanded the Gloucester, wherein king James the IId, then duke of York, had like to have been ship wrecked, deserves a place,) he was sufficiently entitled to the name and quality of a gentleman.

In the year 1647, after he had gone through the first rudiments of learning previous thereunto with uncommon success, we find him entered one of the king’s scholars in the college at Westminster, where he made himself remarkable the following year, by reading the Latin prayers in the school, on the day of king Charles the first’s martyrdom, and praying for his majesty by name: so that he was under the care of Dr. Richard Busby, who cultivated and improved so promising a genius with such industry and encouragement for four years, that, after the expiration of that time, he was admitted, an. 1651, student of Christ Church in Oxford.

He was elected with the great Mr. John Locke, an equal ornament of polite and abstruse learning. His studentship, with an allowance of 30l. per ann. from his mother, and the countenance of his relation, Dr. John South, of New college, regius professor of the Greek tongue, chanter of Salisbury, and vicar of Writtle in Essex, enabled him to obtain those acquirements that made him the admiration and esteem of the whole university, and drew upon him the eyes of the best masters of humanity and other studies, by the quick progress he made through them.

He took the degree of bachelor of arts, which he completed by his determination, in Lent 1654-5. The same year he wrote a Latin copy of verses, published in the university book, set forth to congratulate the protector Oliver Cromwell upon the peace then concluded with the Dutch; upon which some people have made invidious reflections, as ivif contrary to the sentiments he afterwards espoused; but these are to be told, that such exercises are usually imposed by the governors of colleges upon bachelors of arts and undergraduates: I shall forbear to be particular in his, as being a forced compliment to the usurper.

Not but even those discover a certain unwillingness to act in favour of that monster, whom even the inimitable earl of Clarendon, in his History of the grand Rebellion, distinguishes by the name and title of a GLORIOUS VILLAIN.

After he had thus gained the applause of all his superiors, and by many lengths outstripped most of his contemporaries, by his well digested and well approved exercises preparatory thereunto, he proceeded to the degree of master of arts in June 1657, not without some opposition from Dr. John Owen, who supplied the place of dean of Christ Church, and officiated as head of that, royal foundation, with other sectaries called canons, during the deprivation and ejection of the legal and orthodox members of the said chapter. This man (if he deserves the name of one, that was guilty of a voluntary defection from the church established, after he had regularly received ordination at the hands of a protestant bishop, contrary to the oaths he had taken to his rightful and lawful prince, and his obedience that was due to the canons of the church) was one of the earliest of the clergy who joined with the rebels in parliament assembled, that dethroned their natural liege lord and king, and altered the form of government in matters ecclesiastical and civil, and in recompence of his zeal for that end, after the martyrdom of his royal sovereign, had been gifted with this undeserved promotion. In gratitude for which, if that word may be applied to creatures divested of all qualities that point towards the least symptoms of humanity, he thought himself obliged to bestir himself heartily for what was then called the good old cause, against all those who should swerve or deviate from it, especially such as should be found peccant against the orders of the Directory, and should be unwarrantably, according to pretended laws then in being, found in episcopal meetings, making use of the Common Prayer.


Among these was this our candidate for the degree of master of arts, being excited thereunto by the example of Mr. John Fell, of the same college with him, but of much longer standing, and ejected by the commissioners authorized thereunto from the council of state; and was caught in the very act of worshipping God after the manner and form of the church of England; whereupon Dr. Owen, who was then vice-chancellor, and had been invested with that character some years before, was pleased to express himself very severely, and after threatening him with expulsion, if he should be guilty of the like practices again, to tell him, that “He could do no less in gratitude to his highness the protector, and his other great friends who had thought him worthy of the dignities he then stood possessed of.” To which Mr. South made this grave, but very smart reply: “Gratitude among friends is like credit amongst tradesmen; it keeps business up, and maintains the correspondence: and we pay not so much out of a principle that we ought to discharge our debts, as to secure ourselves a place to be trusted another time:” and in answer to the doctor’s making use of the protector’s and his other great friends names, said, “Commonwealths put a value upon men, as well as money; and we are forced to take them both, not by weight, but according as they are pleased to stamp them, and at the current rate of the coin:” by which he exasperated him two different ways, and made him his enemy ever after; as he verified his own sayings, which were frequently applied by him to his fellow students, viz. “That few people have the wisdom to like reproofs that would do them good, better than praises that do them hurt.”

But though the doctor did what he could to shew his resentment by virtue of his office, the majority of those in whose power it was to give him the degree he had regularly waited the usual terms for, was an overmatch to all opposition; and he had it conferred on him. This enabled him some time after to pay the doctor in his own coin, and to let him know, that he likewise was not without via will to use means, when they were put into his hands, for requiting an injury; and notwithstanding he could readily forgive, could not forget an ill turn. For when this vice-chancellor took upon him to stand as candidate to serve in parliament for the university, and in order thereunto had renounced his holy orders, that he might the more easily gain his purpose, Mr. South so managed matters with the doctors, bachelors of divinity, and masters of arts, the electors, that he was very difficultly returned, and, after a few days sitting in the house, had his election declared null and void, because his renunciation was not reputed valid.

This puts me in mind of another story, which Dr. South told a friend of mine, concerning the said Owen; who, at his being soon after removed from his place of vice-chancellor by the chancellor Richard, son of Oliver Cromwell, and from the pulpit of St. Mary’s, which was cleansed of him and the rebel Goodwin, president of St. Mary Magdalen’s college, at one and the same time, cried out, “I have built seats at Mary’s; let the doctors find auditors, for I will preach at Peter’s:” thereby insinuating, that none but he could have full congregations. Though, whatever were his thoughts of the affections of those who were misled by his doctrines, the very selfsame opiniative man found himself very much out in his conjectures of abiding at Christ Church, or of preaching at St. Peter’s long; for he was ejected from his deanery at the latter end of the year 1659 by the government, that was then paving the way for the restoration of the king and royal family; and soon after succeeded by Dr. John Fell, who first was installed canon of Christ Church, in the room of Ralph Button, M. A. and formerly of Merton college, by the commissioners appointed by the king; Mr. South having the orator’s place of the university of Oxford, vacant by the dismission of the said Button.

This brings me to a second digression, which the reader’s patience, it is hoped, will forgive, for its brevity. Mr. Antony a Wood, the famous antiquary, in his Athenae Oxonienses, gives us to understand, that this Ralph Button, at viihis election into his fellowship of Merton college, which he gained solely by his merit, while others that were chosen with him obtained theirs by favour and the custom of seniority, gave occasion for a notable pun made by Dr. Prideaux, then rector of Exeter college, who said, “That all that were elected besides him were not worth a Button.” The said gentleman afterwards succeeded to a canonry of Christ Church, in the room of the learned and pious Dr. Henry Hammond, who was removed by the iniquity of the times; and at his own ejection afterwards by the commissioners appointed by the king, upon his majesty’s most happy restoration, while his goods were carrying out of possession, upon hearing the two bells ringing for canonical prayers in Christ Church, cried, “There now go the mass bells; and let those that are affected that way go to the church; for be sure I shall not.” He went from Oxford to Islington, near London, where he continued a dissenting teacher and a schoolmaster till the year 1680, when he died, and was buried with his son (who departed this life at the same time) in Islington church.

In 1659 Mr. South, after having been admitted into holy orders the year before, according to the rites and ceremonies of the church of England, (then abolished,) by a regular, though deprived bishop, was pitched upon to preach the assize sermon before the judges. For which end, he took his text from the tenth chapter of St. Matthew’s gospel, ver. 33. Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. This sermon was called by him, Interest deposed, and Truth restored, &c. and had this remarkable paragraph in it concerning the teachers of those days, viz. “When such men preach of self-denial and humility, I cannot but think of Seneca, who praised poverty, and that very safely, in the midst of his great riches and gardens, and even exhorted the world to throw away their gold, perhaps (as one well conjectures) that he might gather it up: so these desire men to be humble, that they may domineer without opposition. But it is an easy matter to commend patience, when there is viiino danger of any trials, to extol humility in the midst of honours, to begin a fast after dinner.”11Very credibly reported to have been done in an independent congregation at Oxon.

In the close of the said sermon, after having applied himself to the judges with proper exhortations, that bespoke his intrepidity of soul, he addressed himself to the audience in these words; “If ever it was seasonable to preach courage in the despised, abused cause of Christ, it is now, when his truths are reformed into nothing, when the hands and hearts of his faithful ministers are weakened, and even broke, and his worship extirpated in a mockery, that his honour may be advanced. Well, to establish our hearts in duty, let us beforehand propose to ourselves the worst “that can happen. Should God in his judgment suffer England to be transformed into a Munster; should the faithful be everywhere massacred; should the places of learning be demolished, and our colleges reduced not only (as one in his zeal would have it22Unton Croke, a colonel in the army, the perfidious cause of Penruddock’s death, and some time after high sheriff of Oxfordshire.) to three, but to none; yet, assuredly, hell is worse than all this, and is the portion of such as deny Christ: therefore let our discouragements be what they will, loss of places, loss of estates, loss of life and relations, yet still this sentence stands ratified in the decrees of Heaven, Cursed be that man that for any “of these shall desert the truth, and deny his Lord.”

To return to Mr. South: He was not made university orator till the tenth of August 1660, after he had preached a most excellent sermon to the king’s commissioners, on the 29th of July in the same year, called, The Scribe instructed, from Matth. xiii. ver. 52. Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old: for which he was highly applauded for many excellent and sarcastical expressions against the sectarists, late in power. Among other expressions, nothing can be more beautiful and to the purpose, ixthan when he speaks of the qualification of a scribe in these words:

“Qualification,” says he, “which is an habitual preparation by study, exercise, and due improvement of the same. Powers act but weakly and irregularly, till they are heightened and perfected by their habits. A well radicated habit, in a lively, vegete faculty, is like an apple of gold in a picture of silver; it is perfection upon perfection; it is a coat of mail upon our armour; and, in a word, it is the raising of the soul at least one story higher; for take off but the wheels, and the powers in all their operations will drive but heavily. Now it is not enough to have books, or for a man to have his divinity in his pocket, or upon the shelf, but he must have mastered his notions, till they even incorporate into his mind so as to be able to produce and wield them upon all occasions; and not, when a difficulty is proposed, and a performance enjoined, to say, that he will consult such and such authors. For this is not to be a divine, who is rather to be a walking library than a walking index. As, to go no farther than the similitude in the text, we should not account him a good and generous housekeeper, who should not have always something of standing provision by him, so as never to be surprised, but that he should still be found able to treat his friend at least, though perhaps not always presently to feast him. So the scribe here spoken of should “have an inward, lasting fulness and sufficiency, to support and bear him up, especially when present performance urges, and actual preparation can be but short. Thus it is not the oil in the wick, but in the vessel, which must feed the lamp. The former indeed may cause a present blaze, but it is the latter which must give a lasting light. It is not the spending-money a man has in his pocket, but his hoards in the chest or in the bank, which must make him rich. A dying man has his breath in his “nostrils, but to have it in the lungs is that which must preserve life. Nor will it suffice to have raked up a few notions here and there, or to rally all one’s little utmost xinto one discourse, which can constitute a divine, or give a man stock enough to set up with; any more than a soldier who had filled his snapsack should thereupon set up for keeping house. No, a man would then quickly be drained, his short stock would serve but for one meeting in ordinary converse, and he would be in danger of meeting with the same company twice. And therefore there must be store, plenty, and a treasure, lest he turn broker in divinity, and having run the round of a beaten, exhausted common-place, be forced to stand still, or go the same round over again; pretending to his auditors, that it is profitable for them to hear the same truths often inculcated to them; though I humbly conceive, that to inculcate the same truths is not of necessity to repeat the same words. And therefore, to avoid such beggarly pretences, there must be habitual preparation to the work we are now speaking of.”

Again, speaking of the malignants in the times of the same unnatural rebellion, he says, “There was no saving of life with those men, without purging away the estate.”

Then, describing the teachers of those days, he declares, that “first of all they seize upon some text; from whence they draw something, (which they call doctrine;) and well may it be said to be drawn from the words, forasmuch as it seldom naturally flows or results from them. In the next place, being thus provided, they branch it into several heads, perhaps twenty, or thirty, or upwards. Whereupon, for the prosecution of these, they repair to some trusty concordance, which never fails them, and, by the help of that, they range six or seven scriptures under each head: which scriptures they prosecute one by one; first amplifying and enlarging upon one for some considerable time, till they have spoiled it; and then, that being done, they pass to another, which in its turn suffers accordingly. And these impertinent and unpremeditated enlargements they look upon as the motions, effects, and breathings of the Spirit, and therefore much beyond those carnal ordinances of sense and reason, supported xiby industry and study; and this they call a saving way of preaching, as it must be confessed to be a way to save much labour, and nothing else, that I know of.” Ibid.

Some time after this, Edward earl of Clarendon, lord high chancellor of England, and chancellor of the university of Oxford, in consideration of a speech spoken by him, which you will find in the posthumous works hereunto annexed, at his investiture into the last high dignity , did him the honour of taking him for his domestic chaplain, whereby he was in the road to church preferments, and was installed prebendary of St. Peter’s, Westminster, March 30, 1663. He likewise, by virtue of a letter from, and the desire of the said earl, his patron, stood candidate for the degree of doctor in divinity, on the first of October in the same year; and obtained it by a majority of the convocation house, though strenuous opposition was made against the grant of that favour by the bachelors of divinity and masters of arts, who were against such a concession, by reason that he was a master of arts but of six years standing; after a scrutiny, it being accordingly pronounced granted by the senior proctor, Nathaniel Crew, M. A. fellow of Lincoln college, and now lord bishop of Durham: in consequence of which, by the double presentation of Dr. John Wallis, Savilian professor of geometry, he was instantly first admitted bachelor, then doctor in divinity.

Much about the same time, the doctor was made choice of to preach a sermon at the consecration of a chapel; in the preface to which are these remarkable expressions: “After the happy expiration of those times which had reformed so many churches to the ground, and in which men used to express their honour to God and their allegiance to their prince the same way, demolishing the palaces of the one, and the temples of the other; it is now our glory and felicity, that God has changed men’s tempers with the times, and made a spirit of building succeed a spirit of pulling down, by a miraculous revolution; reducing many from the head of a triumphant rebellion to their old condition of masons, smiths, and carpenters, that xiiin this capacity they might repair what, as colonels and captains, they had ruined and defaced.

“But still it is strange to see any ecclesiastical pile, not by ecclesiastical cost and influence rising above ground, especially in an age in which men’s mouths are open against the church, but their hands are shut towards it; an age in which, respecting the generality of men, we might as soon expect stones to be made bread, as to be made churches. But the more epidemical and prevailing this evil is, the more honourable are those who stand and shine as exceptions from the common practice: and may such places, built for the divine worship, derive an honour and a blessing upon the head of the builders, as great and lasting as the curse and infamy that never fails to rest upon the sacrilegious violators of them; and a greater, I am sure, I need not, I cannot wish.”

On the 29th of the month of December, 1670, the doctor was installed a canon of Christ Church in Oxford, being the fifth rightful incumbent of the third stall ever since the foundation in 1549, vacant by the death of Dr. Richard Gardiner, at the request of whose executors he wrote the following epitaph, which is to be seen in the dormitory on the north side of that cathedral church.

H. S. I.
Venerabilis Vir
Richardus Gardiner, S. T. P.
Ecclesiae hujus primum Alumnus,
Dein Canonicus;
Quo in munere,
Cum diu se magna cum laude exercuisset,
Majore eodem cessit:
Fanaticorum furoribus, fortunis omnibus exutus
Ut fidem quam Deo et Principi obligaverat,
Illibatam retineret.
Postliminio tandem restitutus,
Eadem Coustantia qua ereptas spreverat opes,
Contemnebat affluentes
Munificentia siquidem perenni,
Et Aquaeductus quem hic loci struxerat aemula,
Ecclesiam hauc,
Patriam suain Herefordiam,
Cumulatissime perfudit.
Meritis juxta atque annis plenus,
Viridi senecta, sensibusque integris,
Piam animam Deo reddidit;
Decembr. xx.
Ætat. suae LXXIX.

I should have observed, before this period of time, that the doctor caused a poem of his (entitled Musica Incantans, sive Poema exprimens Musicae Vires, Juvenem in Insaniam adigentis, et Musici inde Periculum) to be printed at the request of his very good friend Dr. John Fell, in the year 1667, though written in 1655, when he was bachelor of arts, and that this was highly applauded; as the work of an extraordinary genius and a very ready wit, for the beauty of its language, and the quickness of its turns; but the taste of the present age being contrary to what it was in those days, and less given to flourishes of that nature, I make it my choice not to be particular as to any quotations from it, since the doctor, to his dying day, has regretted the publication of it, as a juvenile and unmomentary performance. I should also have acquainted the reader, that the doctor was before this possessed of 75l. per ann. lands of inheritance, as of a copyhold estate of inheritance in the manor of Candors alias Cantlow, in Kentish Town, Middlesex, by the death of his father; but not being able to account for the year in which he died, must ask leave to insert it in this place.

John Sobieski, grand marshal of Poland, having been elected to fill the throne of that kingdom on account of his great merits, and notable achievements in war against the infidels and other enemies, on the death of king Michael Wiesnowiski, who was supposed to have been poisoned by a Frenchman at Zamoisk, his Britannic majesty, two years after the said choice, which was made in 1674, gave credentials to the honourable Lawrence Hyde, esq. son to the late xivlord chancellor Clarendon, to act as ambassador extraordinary to compliment that king thereupon, and to make presents to his new-born daughter the princess Teresa Cunegunda, (now electress of Bavaria,) to whom his majesty had some time before stood godfather by proxy. Accordingly Mr. Hyde, in pursuance of his commission, provided himself with a most sumptuous equipage; and out of his very great respect to Dr. South, who had endeared himself to that noble person by being his tutor, would needs take him with him in the quality of his chaplain; which the doctor very readily agreed to, being of a very curious and inquisitive temper, and desirous of being an eyewitness of the posture of affairs in other countries, as well as his own. What improvements he made by these inquiries may be best seen by an account of his, directed to Dr. Edward Poco*cke, then regius professor of Hebrew in Oxford, and one of the canons of Christ Church; who, though of much longer standing than the doctor, by his first entrance upon that dignity in the year 1648, took such a liking to his conversation, as to hold a most intimate friendship with him. The said narrative runs thus, and is copied from Dr. South’s original manuscript.

My best Friend, and most honoured Instructor,

TO keep my word with you, which I gave at Cornbury, when we last parted, I send herein some account of my voyage and travels, with a few observations on the country, inhabitants, manners, and customs of the kingdom, whereof I have been a cursory, and, I fear, but too curious an investigator; though I do it with hope, that you, who have so perfect a knowledge of the eastern world, by what you have communicated to me concerning the affairs of the Turkish court, Palestine, Sec. will pardon my falling infinitely short of you in my description of one of the northern kingdoms, whereof your avocations elsewhere may not have allowed you the attainment of so just a description.

My lord ambassador set sail from Portsmouth, on board the Tyger man of war, with the Swallow in company, and xvsome merchant ships under convoy, on the 11th of June last; and after having stayed some few days in the Sound, to despatch messages with compliments to the courts of Sweden and Denmark, cast anchor before Dantzick on the 11th of August, where he was received under a discharge of the artillery on the ramparts, and was the next day conducted to an audience of the queen of Poland, (who had made a journey thither, while the king her husband was in the field,) wherein he paid her majesty the usual devoirs in the name of his royal master, and presented the young princess her daughter with a very rich jewel, and a cross of diamonds of great value.

He afterwards, with a very magnificent retinue, set for ward for Poland, and was received by the king in his camp near Leopol in Russia, with demonstrations of respect and kindness suitable to his character and person, where his majesty did him the honour of sending some of his chief officers to shew him the army, and their way of encamping. Having mentioned Leopol, which is the metropolis of the palatinate of Russia, it may not be improper to tell you, that this city is large and well fortified, having two castles, one within the walls, and one without, on a rising ground, which commands the town; both which, together with the city, were founded by Leo duke of Russia, about the year 1289. The archbishop of this see is both spiritual and temporal lord of his diocese. Here also reside an Armenian archbishop, and a Russian bishop, depending on the patriarch of Constantinople, with several churches belonging to each bishopric. The Armenian Roman Catholics have in habited here time out of mind, and are governed wholly by their own prelate, enjoying very great privileges on account of the considerable commerce they maintain with the Persians and other eastern people. This city likewise gives great encouragement to learned men, who are very civilly received by their academy, which is supplied with professors from that of Cracow; though, from what I could find from those professors themselves, and the very bishops too, they had as little furniture that way in their own persons (except xvian insight into the Latin tongue) as some of the meanest of our Welsh clergy. The churches here are generally fair and well built, and abound with all kinds of costly ornaments.

The peace being happily concluded, to the advantage of Poland, between his majesty and the Turks and Tartars, whereof his excellency Mr. Hyde had no small share of the management, the king returned in November to Zolkiew, his own patrimony, which is a town in Russia, adorned and defended by a castle, and intermixed with several delightful gardens, with a fair church in the middle of it, built with various sorts of marble, and whither the ambassador waiting upon him, had his public audience there in a most solemn manner. He was first carried in the king’s coach, attended by six of his own, twenty-four pages and footmen in rich liveries, and sixty odd coaches of the chief nobility. When arrived at the court, he was received by the chief marshal (who is in the nature of a lord chamberlain) at the stairs’ foot of the palace, and conducted to his majesty, who received him standing under a canopy. Whereupon his excellency delivered his master’s compliments in a Latin speech,33This speech was written in English by Mr. Hyde, and turned into elegant Latin by Dr. South. in which he gave assurances of the king of Great Britain’s inviolable attachment to that prince’s interests, congratulated him upon the last treaty of peace brought to a happy conclusion with the infidels, and made overtures to enter into such alliances with the crown and republic of Poland, as should be judged most conducive to the honour and safety of both nations.

To this his Polish majesty gave a very agreeable and satisfactory answer in the same language, which he had readily ad unguem, and caused the ambassador afterwards to sit down at the same table with him, where he was attended by the chief officers of state standing; it being a custom in Poland to admit none to that honour but the princes of the blood.

This king is a very well spoken prince, very easy of access, xviiand extreme civil, having most of the qualities requisite to form a complete gentleman. He is not only well versed in all military affairs, but likewise, through the means of a French education, very opulently stored with all polite and scholastical learning. Besides his own tongue, the Sclavonian, he understands the Latin, French, Italian, German, and Turkish languages: he delights much in natural history, and in all the parts of physic; he is wont to reprimand the clergy for not admitting the modern philosophy, such as Le Grand’s and Cartesius’s, into the universities and schools, and loves to hear people discourse of those matters, and has a particular talent to set people about him very artfully by the ears, that by their disputes he might be directed, as it happened once or twice during this embassy, where he shewed a poignancy of wit on the subject of a dispute held between the bishop of Posen and father de la Motte, a Jesuit and his Majesty’s confessor, that gave me an extraordinary opinion of his parts.

As for what relates to his majesty’s person, he is a tall and corpulent prince, large faced, and full eyes, and goes always in the same dress with his subjects, with his hair cut round about his ears like a monk, and wears a fur cap, but extraordinary rich with diamonds and jewels, large whiskers, and no neckcloth. A long robe hangs down to his heels, in the fashion of a coat, and a waistcoat under that, of the same length, tied close about the waist with a girdle. He never wears any gloves; and this long coat is of strong scar let cloth, lined in the winter with rich fur, but in summer only with silk. Instead of shoes, he always wears, both abroad and at home, Turkey-leather boots, with very thin soles, and hollow deep heels, made of a blade of silver bent hoop-wise into the form of a half-moon. He carries always a large scimetar by his side, the sheath equally flat and broad from the handle to the bottom, and curiously set with diamonds.

His majesty married Mary de la Grange, daughter to the Marquis of Arquien, some time after his accession to the throne, made cardinal in complaisance to his majesty. This lady, who was but ten or twelve years old when she came xviiifrom France into this kingdom with Ladislaus king of Poland’s queen, was at first made maid of honour to her majesty, being very ingenious and beautiful, and married to prince Zamoiski, who soon left her a widow with a jointure of about 2000l. per annum. She was afterwards married, in Casimir’s reign, to this John Sobieski, then captain of the guards, who was not willing to take her in wedlock, until the king had promised that he would give him considerable places: which he accordingly, by the persuasion of his queen, did; for he made him great marshal and great general of Poland, which gave him authority and interest enough to make himself king, and her queen; so that this marriage was the occasion of his rise in the world; which he was so sensible of, that he refused to be divorced from her, as the diet would have persuaded him to do, soon after his election.

The queen is now about thirty-three years of age, though she appears not to be much above twenty: she is always attired after the French mode, as all the Polish ladies are, and speaks the Polish language full as well as her own natural tongue; which, with her sweet temper, refined sense, and majestic air, has, since her accession to the throne, gained her such affection with the Poles, such influence over the king, and such interest lately among the senators, that she manages all with a great deal of prudence, and that to the advantage of her native country France, who is very much indebted to her for the backwardness of the Poles in taking part with the emperor, and their forwardness in striking up the late peace with Turkey and its dependents.

Thus far by way of remark on the persons and accomplishments of their majesties, and the manner of our reception at court. I am in the next place to take a view of the most principal places in this kingdom, which my lord ambassador gave me an opportunity of surveying, by leaving me behind (at my own request) after his return into Eng land through Silesia, Austria, and the empire, and to give a succinct and faithful account of their economy in ecclesiastical as well as civil affairs.

I shall not enter upon a division of this great and wealthy xixkingdom, which is branched out into eight distinct provinces, and these into various palatinates; neither shall I extend my observations further than to such cities and towns whither my curiosity led me, as they are places of note, and resorted to as such by the most knowing and intelligent travellers. These are, Cracow, in Upper or Lesser Poland, its chief metropolis and university; and Vilna, in Lithuania, its sister university, (like our Oxford and Cambridge,) and also Posen, Gnesna, Lowitz, Warsaw, Thorn, Marienburgh, and Dantzick.

To begin with the first. Cracow is a famous city, seated in a spacious plain near the Weissel, by which merchandises are transported to Dantzick. It takes its name from Cracus, one of the first dukes of Poland; and considering the stateliness both of its public and private edifices, and the great plenty of all manner of necessaries, it is said to be equal to most towns of either Germany or Italy. It is encompassed with a very high wall, and flanked round with high towers, with a broad deep ditch walled round likewise, and a stately castle, about a mile in circumference, founded on a rock, near the banks of the river Vistula. It is a large stone building, consisting of two wings magnificently raised about a square court, having galleries supported with pillars, and paved with black and white marble. The king’s apartments, with some others, are adorned with divers curious paintings and statues; and the country round about affords one of the most delightful prospects in Europe. Here is a cathedral of St. Stanislaus, protector of Poland; in which a late bishop of Cracow, Martin Szyscovius, repaired and beautified his tomb, which before had been all of silver. This, Sigismund III. and his son Uladislaus VII. (as pompous inscriptions tell us) greatly augmented, bestowing on it many offerings of gold and silver vessels. Sigismund I. also, in honour of this saint, built a silver altar near his tomb, be stowing on it several golden crucifixes, and as many vestments richly bedecked with gems of all sorts. His daughter Anne, likewise wife to king Stephen, built another silver altar in the chapel of the Annunciation, whose roof is all xxgilded, and wherein the kings of Poland are wont to be interred.

This cathedral is principally to be noted for its chapter and treasury; and the bishop of it is lord over thirteen cities, and prince, that is, commander in chief, of the duchy of Severia. His chapter, which consists of about thirty canons, with several other inferior priests, having a proportional provision to his revenue, which is between 11 and 12,000l. sterling per annum; the very lowest salary of the meanest ecclesiastic there being 100l. yearly of our money. It was first erected into a metropolitan see, upon the first planting of the Christian religion in Poland, by Miecislaus I. but within an hundred years after degenerated into a bishopric under the archbishop of Gnesna, in regard that Lambert Pula could not be persuaded to receive his pall from the see of Rome; yet upon submission he was afterwards restored to that dignity, but which lasted only for his life, his successors having been ever since only bishops.

There are about fifty other churches, as well in the castle as the town; whereof the most celebrated is that of the Virgin Mary in the circle of Cracow, which is governed by an archpresbyter, and fronts ten large streets; having moreover on all sides four rows of magnificent structures.

A university was first begun here by Casimir the Great, who came to the throne in the year 1333, and reigned to the year 1370, and finished by Uladislaus Jagello, having its privileges confirmed soon after by pope Urban VI. However, as the rector, Mr. Siniawiski, brother to the palatine of that name, told me, the scholars forsook it in 1549, by reason that the magistrates would not do them justice on some persons that had murdered great numbers of them, and afterwards dispersed themselves into several parts of Germany, and be coming Protestants, spread the Lutheran religion through Poland, and gained a great number of proselytes; yet, not withstanding all this, they returned to the obedience of the see of Rome.

In this university are taught all sorts of learning, (though, as I take it, superficially,) and the Poles (but I dissent from xxithem) hold it to be as great an ornament to their country as Athens was formerly to Greece. It contains in all eleven colleges. Fourteen grammar schools are also scattered throughout the city, in which also sometimes university learning is taught.

All these colleges and schools are governed by a rector, or vice-chancellor, who takes care that orders may be duly observed, and functions rightly administered; which is so great an encouragement, that there is scarce any ecclesiastical or political dignity in the kingdom but is filled by persons that have received their education in this university.

In the monasteries also are taught both philosophy and divinity; but more especially in that of the Dominicans of the Trinity, where there are daily lectures kept, and several kinds of moral learning also promoted.

There are likewise several sorts of mendicant friars in this city, who, upon solemn feasts, according to the ancient custom, go in procession, clothed in divers colours, and are very merry devotionalists on those occasions; such as the mendicants of the Rosary, of the Mercy, of the Mantle, of the Passion, of the body of Christ, saint Sophia, saint Anne, saint Monica; names not very agreeable to their unmortified paunches.

2. Vilna, whose palatine is chief governor, is situated near the conflux of the rivers Wilia and Wiln, from whence it has its name, and is a large and populous city, capital of the great duchy of Lithuania, and well fortified with two castles; whereof one is built in a plain, and the other on a hill. Of these two castles, that on a hill is very ancient, and almost ruined; but the other is a pile of beautiful modern architecture. The churches here are all of stone, both those belonging to the Roman and Russian persuasions. The cathedral lies in the lower castle, wherein is deposited the body of St. Casimir, canonized by pope Leo X. in a large silver tomb of great value. Here also is a very large bell, like to one of the same bigness at Cracow, which requires above four and twenty strong men to ring it; and within this castle also the metropolitan of Russia holds his archiepiscopal see.


Among other public edifices, (most of the private being very mean ones, and built of wood, except some few belonging to the gentry and foreign merchants,) is the great duke’s palace, in which is a very celebrated guard chamber, furnished with all sorts of arms: and about two English miles from this city stands another ducal palace, named from its situation Rudnick, that is, near the water. This palace is entirely built of wood, but most deliciously beautified and set off with a pleasant park, agreeable gardens, and fruitful orchards.

As for the academy of this city, it was founded by king Stephen in the year 1579, and erected into an university by Pope Gregory XIII. at the request of Valerian, bishop of Vilna. In this university are six professors of divinity, five of philosophy, four of laws, and seven of humanity; which have each of them much greater salaries, besides other preferments in the church and state, than such bunglers in their respective arts and sciences deserve; since many of our servitors at Oxford are better read, and abler to fill those chairs, than any of them but the sieur Sfroski, who had acquired some knowledge in natural philosophy and the mathematics by his travels into foreign parts. However, I found myself under a necessity of extolling them for their profound knowledge, and of closing in with every opinion they at random gave vent to, for the sake of my own quiet: since their pride, if any ways mortified by contradictions from strangers, pushes them upon unforeseen extremities; and it is the best and surest way to be of the same mind with them, if any one takes a good liking for the security of his body.

As for other remarkable buildings and observations here, though there are several fair edifices, I find none more worthy of notice than a large beautiful storehouse, all of brick, erected by the Muscovite company for the repository of their furs, ermines, and other rich merchandises brought from Moscow; so that when I have said that it is famous for having guns of all sorts cast, and likewise divers other warlike instruments of excellent workmanship made in it, and the tribunal of all Lithuania is kept there, I have done xxiiiit more honour than all the scholars I have conversed with here, barring one or two exceptions from the general rule, can do it by their excellence in any one sort of academical erudition.

Having just parted with their two universities, that may, without impropriety of expression, be called sisters, from their affinity in ignorance, it is but natural to particularize in their studies, the chief of which is to speak good Latin; for as to all parts of polite learning, the Poles are not so curious as in other countries, yet have they a great many that will write tolerably good verses, for their genius is mightily bent that way; and besides, they are very apt to quote classic authors in their discourse; and this particularly when they get drunk, (a vice they are too frequently addicted to,) and are elevated up to a conceited pitch. Their poet Sarbievus Casimir is no small ornament to his country, who in his Odes has endeavoured to imitate Ho race; and the purity of his language is not contemptible.

I learned that Latin came so much in vogue with them from this accident. King Casimir the second and the king of Sweden had an interview at Dantzick, wherein the latter, with all his court, spoke that language fluently, but neither Casimir nor any of his attendants could do any thing like it, but were forced to make use of a poor monk, whom for that service his Polish majesty advanced to a bishopric, to explain their sentiments. Of which being heartily ashamed, the king caused great encouragement to be given to such as would make Latin their study, which began thenceforward to be much in practice: so that when king Sigismund sent the bishop of Varmia his ambassador to Vienna, his imperial majesty was surprised to hear the very Polish coachmen and postillions very dexterously and fluently explain themselves in that tongue, which was mightily encouraged also by king Stephen Bathori, who is reported often to have said to the sons of his attendants, Discite Latine, nam unum ex vobis aliquando faciam Moschi Pan, (a great lord;) which contributed very much to the increase of arts and sciences.

As for learned men, though the Poles have mightily degenerated xxivin this present age, they have had several Latin historians among them, such as Cromerus, Sturavolsius, &c. who have all written the annals and constitutions of their country. They have likewise been furnished with some historians who have written in their own language. They also have not wanted learned divines, great philosophers, famous astronomers, logicians, &c. And it is to be remembered to the honour of Poland, that the great astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus was a native of Thorn in Regal Prussia. And the reason why those learned men have not transmitted more of their works to posterity is, that while they lived, there was but little or no printing in this kingdom, that art having been but lately received here.

Yet though the Poles are so extremely expert in making and writing Latin, they are not curious in any of the oriental tongues. As to other languages, as the inhabitants of this country have the same origin with the Muscovites, Bohemians, Croatians, Moravians, Silesians, Cassabians, Bulgarians, Rascians, Servians, Illyrians, &c. so they have likewise the same language with them, notwithstanding they differ in dialects, and are scarce to be understood by each other. Their terms of mechanic arts are chiefly borrowed from the ancient Germans, who formerly had, as they still have, frequent intercourses with this country. Nay, there are at present whole towns and villages that make use of the German tongue; that nation having formerly planted several colonies in this kingdom. There are also several of the noble families here purely German, as may appear both by their names and their coats of arms.

The Polish language, as their chief historian Cromerus allows, is neither so copious nor so easy to pronounce, as those of other nations; but as the French, Italian, &c. consists chiefly of vowels, that of Poland is made up in great mea sure with consonants; insomuch that you shall sometimes meet with Polish words that have seven or eight consonants together, without any vowel, or at most but one or two interposed; an example of which, sir, you may have in the word Chrzeszes, (scaraibaeus, a gadfly:) this, with others in the xxvPolish tongue, scarce the natives themselves are able to pronounce; yet they have always a sort of lisping sound of vowels in their pronunciation, though they do not write them.

To return to the Latin tongue; it must not be under stood, how universally soever it is spoken here, that the Poles have it from their mothers, as the common people have in some parts of Hungary; for they take pains to learn it from masters, as other nations do. The chief reason why they generally affect it is, first, from their natural dispositions to learn it. Secondly, by reason of the syntax of their mother tongue, the Sclavonian, which has great affinity with that language; for they both decline their nouns, and conjugate their verbs, as the Romans did. Thirdly, because in all the villages throughout the nation they have school masters for that purpose, who are either rectors of parishes, or some other qualified persons appointed by them or by the bishop of the diocese. And fourthly, because in all towns of note the Jesuits have colleges set apart to instruct youth in that language.

As to the study of divinity in Poland, those of that profession make all their learning consist in adapting Aristotle’s logic and metaphysics to their school divinity; so that you may everywhere hear them talk much of entities, modes, quiddities, essences of things, and the like; for they value themselves more in the signification of logical terms than in the nature of things themselves which they reason about. Albertus Magnus is in great esteem here, and is perpetually quoted to attest the truth of any assertion, with as much vehemence as Aristotle by the Italians and Spaniards; though, as it has been said before, the natives of this kingdom have not less respect for this last philosopher than other nations have. Yet notwithstanding, they seldom take his meaning right, more especially in matters that are ambiguous; for they have published several large commentaries upon him, which besides contradicting each other, like our Dutch annotators, stand in need of explanations themselves. The Polish divines likewise are seldom well versed in practical xxvidivinity. They look very little into the Old and New Testament, and make few inquiries into the practice of primitive Christianity, having but a small insight into church history. In a word, they trouble their heads but seldom about convincing their reason of the sublimity and goodness of the Christian doctrine; implicit faith, and passive obedience to council and church decisions being entirely their guides. So that they will allow of nobody’s search into the reasonableness of things, as if they should imagine, that a law or a doctrine given by God should not be consistent with reason. They have also a more than ordinary respect for Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus; their principal erudition consisting in being well read in the school points controverted by those two great men, how ill soever they are understood.

I could instance in other arts and sciences; but those not being of so near a concern to your own studies, as that of divinity, I make it my choice to return to the description of the towns I have undertaken to give an account of. The next of which, in the third place, is Posen, situated on the river Varta. It lies in the midst of several hills, environed with a strong double wall and a very deep ditch. The city itself, it must be confessed, is but small, yet nevertheless exceeding beautiful, and well built, its edifices for the most part being of stone. Among the public structures, the most considerable is the castle, raised upon a small eminence between the rivers Varta and Prosna. It is generally provided with all sorts of ammunition, and wants for neither strength nor beauty. The rest of the public buildings may justly claim the like character, though the most stately lie on the other side of the river Varta in the suburbs, which are very large. The cathedral church, with a college of prebendaries, and the bishop’s palace, are situated among the marshes, and form a pile of buildings that is called Valilovia, and built so strong, that, like the town, it is able to withstand a siege. John Lubransius, a bishop of this see, founded a college here, to be visited by that of Cracow, and which was after wards very much augmented and beautified by Adam Conarius, xxviihis successor, and farther enriched by one Rosrasevius with several noble gifts. So that though the Jesuits have a college in the city, where several sorts of literature are taught with great encouragement, this also in the suburbs does not want for noble youth, who daily flock thither to be instructed by the lectures of mathematics and law. These suburbs are all surrounded by a morass and a great lake. They are frequently laid under water by the over flowing of the Varta, insomuch that sometimes, with the neighbouring villages for several miles together, the tops of the houses are only to be seen. This inundation likewise often extends to the town itself, notwithstanding its high walls, in such a manner that boats have been known to swim about the streets. But this lasts not long, for the waters commonly retire in two or three days at farthest.

The inhabitants of this city are generally Roman Catholics, though vast numbers of Jews live also among them, government is executed by a starost, chosen yearly out of the schipens, or aldermen, who, as long as this office lasts, enjoys also the title of general of Great Poland.

Seven miles from hence lies Gnesna, from the Sclavonian word gniazdo, which signifies a nest; which, in the fourth place, has its situation (as most of the towns in these parts have) amongst bogs and hills. It is an archbishop’s see, and gives title to the primate of all Poland. This was formerly the metropolis of the whole kingdom, having been built by Lechus, the first founder thereof. In the cathedral is reposited a great quantity of inestimable treasure, most of which is owing to the tomb of St. Adelbert, raised in the middle of the church, cased about with silver, by Sigismund III. and the gifts of Henry Firlesus, late archbishop of that diocese, who, among other rarities, gave his mitre, valued at 2000l. sterling. The gates opening to this church are all of Corinthian brass curiously wrought, which were first taken from the monastery of Corsuna in Taurica Chersonesus, afterwards removed to Kiow, and this brought hither by order of king Boleslaus II.

Amongst other things worthy of remark, I observed here, xxviiifor I never thought it a damnable sin (like our sectarists in England, who call themselves by the soft name of Protestant dissenters) to be acquainted with their ceremonies at saying mass, that, while any part of the gospel was reading, every man drew his sword half way out of its scabbard, to testify his forwardness to defend the Christian faith; which has been a custom put in practice throughout all Poland ever since the reign of king Miecislaus, who was the first of that character in this kingdom who embraced Christianity, in the year of our Lord 964, and was the first sovereign prince of it that renounced paganism.

The next city I promised you an account of is Lowitz, much more populous than the very capital of the palatinate of Rava. And this, in the fifth place, is famous for being the wonted residence of the archbishop of Gnesna and primate of Poland. His palace there is built among the marshes, yet nevertheless consists of several fair piles of building. The church also is a very beautiful structure, and enriched with several noble gifts. It has likewise a great many considerable monasteries, abbeys, &c. but nothing more worthy of notice than a very fair library, replete with books of all kinds, but very rarely turned over, (as I could perceive by the covers,) they being placed there rather for shew and ostentation than any real use or instruction. The keeper of this library is monsieur de St. Piere, a Frenchman, who was likewise cross-bearer to his eminence the cardinal primate, and a person every way qualified for that office. He shewed me several valuable books in all languages, that might have excited the curiosity of one that had not seen that magazine of all useful knowledge, the Bodleian library; but nothing pleased me more than a sight of an inscription on the monument of the last king of Poland but one, who voluntarily, in 1668, left his kingdom, and retiring into France, died afterwards at Nevers in 1671. It was written by the librarian’s correspondent, father Francis Delfault: which, for the excellency in its kind, I took a transcript of, after the following manner:


Æternae Memoriae
Post emensos Virtutis
Ac Gloriae Gradus omnes,
Quiescit nobili sui Parte,
Johannes Casimirus,
Ac Sueciae Rex;
Alto e Jagellonidum
Familiâ Vasatensi
Quia summus
Multarum Gentium Linguas
Addidicit, quo illas propensius
Sibi devinciret.
Septendecim Praeliis collatis
Cum Hoste Signis,
Totidem Uno minus vicit,
Moscovitas, Suecos, Brandeburgenses,
Tartaros, Germauos,
Cosacos, aliosque Rebelles
Gratiâ, ac Beneficiis
Victoriâ Regem eis se praebens,
Clementiâ Patrem.
Denique totis Viginti Imperil Annis
Fortunam Virtute vincens,
Aulam habuit in Castris,
Palatia in Tentoriis,
Spectacula in
Liberos ex legitimo Connubio
Suscepit, queis postea orbatus est,
Ne si Se majorem reliquisset,
Non esset Ipse maximus,
Sin minorem, Stirps degeneraret.
Par ei ad Fortitudinem
Religio fuit,
Nec segnius Caelo militavit,
Hinc extructa Monasteria, et
Nosocomia Varsaviae,
xxxCalvinianorum Fana in
Lithuania excisa:
Sociniani Regno pulsi
Ne Casimirum haberent Regem,
Qui Christum Deum non
Senatus a variis Sectis ad
Catholicae Fidei Communionem
Ut Ecclesiae Legibus
Qui Jura Populis dicerent.
Unde illi praeclarum
Ab Alexandro Septimo
Humanae denique Gloriae
Fastigium praetergressus,
Cum nihil praeclarius agere
Imperium Sponte abdicavit
Tum porro Lachrymae, quas
Nulli regnans excusserat,
Omnium Oculis manarunt,
Qui abeuntem Regem, non secus
Atque obeuntem Patrem
Vitae Reliquum in Pietatis
Officiis cum exegisset,
Tandem auditâ Kameciae
Expugnatione, ne tantae Cladi
XVII. Cal. Jan. M. D. C. LXXII.
Regium Cor Monachis hujus
Coenobii, cui Abbas praefuerat,
Amoris Pignus reliquit;
Quod illi istoc Tumulo
Moerentes condiderunt.


4. Warsaw is the metropolis of the province of Masovia, defended with a castle, wall, and ditch, seated in a plain in the very centre of the kingdom, and therefore pitched upon for convening of the diet. It is divided into four parts, viz. the old and new town, the suburbs of Cracow and Praag, and adorned with divers stately piles of buildings, particularly a stately palace, built in four squares by king Sigismund III. and much improved by his successor; whereof the present king John, by some foundations of apartments which he has caused to be laid, is not to be the last mentioned in history. Opposite to this, on the other side of the river, stands an other royal palace in the middle of delightful groves and gardens, erected by Uladislaus VII. and called by the name of Viasdow, where the states or diet of Poland formerly used to sit and debate the most important affairs of the kingdom. Here is moreover the palace of king John Casimir, a most exquisite piece of architecture; as likewise another, of the same beauty and magnitude, built by count Morstin, great treasurer of Poland: also, within a league of this city, king John Sobieski is now laying the foundations of a neat country palace, which is to be called Villa Nova. The other public edifices are no less remarkable; being the church of St. John Baptist, where secular canons officiate, the arsenal, castle, market-place. And divers kinds of merchandises are conveyed hither along a river from the neighbouring provinces, and from hence carried to Dantzick, to be transported into foreign countries. In the suburbs of Cracow is a small chapel, built on purpose for the burial of John Demetrius Suski, grand duke of Muscovy, who died prisoner in the castle of Gostinin, together with his two brothers. This city was taken by the Swedes in 1655, but recovered, with other acquisitions in war, by the Poles some time after.

5. Thorn, the second city of the second palatinate of Regal Prussia, is seated upon the banks of the Vistula, by which it is divided into two parts. It lies four Polish miles from Culm, the metropolis, (though of little note, because ruined in a manner by the Swedes) to the south, thirteen xxxiifrom Marienburgh, twenty-two from Dantzick, and twenty-nine from Warsaw. It was heretofore an imperial and free city, but afterwards exempted from the jurisdiction of the empire, and as yet enjoys many privileges. Its name seems to have been taken from the German word thor, signifying a gate, because built by the Teutonick order, as it were for a gate to let forces into Prussia whenever occasion served. Whence its arms are supposed to have been taken, being a castle and gate half open. This city does not stand in the same place where the old one did; that having been seated a mile westward from hence, where are now to be seen the ruins of an ancient castle, and some other monuments that have received great injury from time. However, it is at present the fairest and best built of any town in Royal Prussia; the streets being much broader, and houses more stately, than at Dantzick. It was very much beautified by one of its burgo-masters, Henry Stowband, in the year 1609, who founded a small university here, and endowed it with a considerable revenue. He likewise built an hospital, with a public library, wherein two of Cicero’s epistles are preserved, written upon tables of wax, (the greatest rarity that I saw in all this kingdom,) and a townhouse erected in the middle of the market-place. The inhabitants revolted from the knights of the Teutonick order in the year 1454, and put themselves under the protection of Poland. But this city is for nothing more famous than the birth of that great astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, whose name, without any other recommendation, would be sufficient to transmit it to posterity. John Albert, king of Poland, died here in 1501. It was taken by the Swedes in the year 1655, and regained by the Poles in 1658. Then the Swedes possessed themselves of it again, and the Poles retook it by surprise in the year 1665.

6. Marienburgh, built in the year 1310, as a place of residence for the master and knights of the Teutonick order, as may yet be seen by the several stalls in the chapel of the castle erected for them. It lies seated upon the river Nogat, a branch of the Vistula, about six miles from Dantzick, and is xxxiiidefended by strong walls and high towers, together with a very large castle, wherein the better sort of prisoners are kept in time of war.

Having mentioned the Teutonick order, it may not be unacceptable to give you its origin, and to trace it down, from its first settlement in this kingdom, to its expulsion out of it. It was first founded to reward and encourage great actions, and those particularly of the German nation, whence it came to have the title of Teutonick. For when the emperor Frederick Barbarossa had engaged in the crusade for the recovery of the Holy Land, a great number of German nobility and gentry joined his army as volunteers. Of this crusade were several other princes of Austria and Bavaria, Philip earl of Flanders, Plorant earl of Holland, &c. After this emperor’s death, the Germans, being before Aeon, or Ptolemais, which they then besieged, chose for their leaders Frederick duke of Suabia, second son to the aforesaid emperor, and Henry duke of Brabant. Under these generals they behaved themselves so well, both at the taking of Aeon, Jerusalem, and other places of the Holy Land, that Henry king of Jerusalem, the patriarch, and several other princes, thought themselves obliged to do some thing extraordinary in honour of the German nation. Here upon they immediately resolved to erect an order of knights of that nation, under the protection of St. George, but after wards they changed that saint for the Virgin Mary, by reason that she had an hospital already founded on mount Zion at Jerusalem, for the relief of German pilgrims; of the manner of building which, I am here told, that, in the time of the holy war, a wealthy gentleman of Germany, who dwelt at Jerusalem, commiserating the condition of his countrymen coming thither on devotion, and neither understanding the language of that place, nor knowing where to lodge, received them hospitably into his house, and gave them all manner of suitable entertainment. Afterwards obtaining leave of the patriarch, he erected a chapel for them, and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary; whence the knights that were established there afterwards came to have the title xxxivof equites Mariam. Other German gentlemen contributed largely to the maintaining and increasing this charitable work; insomuch that in a short time these knights became very numerous and wealthy, and gave themselves to military employments, and acts of piety and charity.

In the year 1190, they elected their first great master, Henry Walpot, and in the year following had their order confirmed, upon the request of the emperor Henry VI. by the bull of Pope Celestine III. under the title of Teutonick or High-German knights of the hospital of St. Mary the Virgin: vowing poverty, obedience, and chastity, and obliging themselves to receive none but Germans into their order.

After they had thus received confirmation from the papal see, some rich citizens of Bremen and Lubeck joining with them, and making large contributions, another hospital was erected for them in the city of Ancon, or Ptolemais, in Syria. But after that city, together with Jerusalem and all the Holy Land, had been taken by the Saracens under the command of Saladin, having been in possession of the Christians for more than eighty-seven years, one Hermannus, then great master, with the remaining knights, removed into Germany, on whom the emperor Frederick XL and pope Honorius III. (or, as some will have it, Conradus duke of Masovia, in 1220,) in the year 1229, bestowed the province of Prussia; where, having conquered that nation, and reduced it from paganism to Christianity, they built the city of Marienburgh, or Mary-town, and in the year 1340 fixed the residence of their great masters there.

This country they enjoyed till about the year 1525, when Albert marquis of Brandenburgh, the last great master of this order in those parts, by a solemn renunciation, became feudatory to king Sigismund of Poland, who raised Prussia to a dukedom, and made this marquis first duke thereof. But however, some of the knights, disliking this action, proceeded to elect another great master, which was Walter de Cronenburgh: and forthwith leaving Prussia, took their residence up in Germany, where they continue at this day, though xxxvin no great reputation, except that the younger sons of the German princes are commonly admitted into their order.

Their statutes were composed after the model of those of the knights Hospitallers and knights Templars, at this day the knights of Malta; but nevertheless, to distinguish them from these orders, their habit was ordained to be a white mantle, with a plain black cross on the breast. This cross they were also to have upon white banners, as likewise upon their shields in their coat of arms. They were moreover enjoined to live conformable to the orders and rules of St. Austin. Their first number was twenty-four lay brothers, and as many priests, though they are since increased to several hundreds. They both were allowed to wear armour and swords, and might celebrate mass in that habit. None of them shaved their beards, but by their order were obliged to let them grow, and to sleep upon sacks of straw. But however, this, with other mortifying injunctions, were soon of no manner of force.

This order being established after the manner which I have shewn before, all Christian princes endeavoured to give them encouragement; and among the rest, his holiness (as the people of this side of the world call the pope) and the emperor gave them particular proofs of their favour and liberality. Philip king of France also, being willing to do the like on his part, made them great presents, and more over granted their grand master a liberty to wear the fleur de lis on the four extremities of their mantles or robes.

Their power and force in war will appear by the efforts which Albert marquis of Brandenburgh, and their thirty-fourth and last great master, there made to keep his footing in Poland. He was nephew to Sigismund I. and elected in the time of Maximilian the emperor and pope Julius. The chapter of this order chose him, in hopes that, being so near a kinsman, he might prevail upon his uncle to restore to them what had been taken from them by the Poles. But this great master was so far from answering their expectation, that, having refused to swear allegiance to the king of Poland, he fortified all his towns for his defence, and gave xxxvioccasion to a war to break out between him and his uncle in the year 1519? whereupon some few places were taken and lost on both sides. But in 1529, Wolfang duke of Schonenburgh, general of the Teutonick army, which consisted of about twenty thousand foot and eight thousand horse, sat down before Dantzick, and from the bishop’s hill (vulgarly so called) threw away near four thousand bombs into the town, to little or no purpose, while the besiegers were very much incommoded by the cannon from the town; for a man durst scarce shew his head, but he had forty shot at him. This so discouraged the besiegers, that the major part of them soon discovered their inclinations to be gone, and for that purpose began to mutiny against their officers. Whilst they were thus wavering in their resolutions, and scarce doing any duty but by compulsion, the Polish army appeared, being twenty thousand horse, sent by the king to raise the siege. It was now high time for the besiegers to scamper; which they immediately set about with such precipitation, that the Poles found it no difficult matter to overtake them, and to kill and make prisoners great numbers of them.

After this, the king’s army took in Dirschow, Stargardie, and the strong castle of Choinicz, and proceeded in their conquests with such vigour and diligence, that most of the cities and castles of the order surrendered themselves. By these means the Teutonick knights were totally expelled Prussia; which their great master Albert perceiving, as likewise that he was no longer able to contend with so powerful a monarch as his Polish majesty, (though his predecessors had formerly done it for many years, when they were in a better condition than he was,) resolved to submit himself and his order to his uncle’s mercy; which he not long after did in the public market-place of Cracow.

A throne being erected for the king, much after the same nature of that wherein he is wont to take the oaths and homage of his subjects after his coronation, the marquis delivered up the ensigns of his order to the king, and swore all manner of allegiance to him. In consideration of which, xxxviihis majesty returned him the ensigns of Prussia, quartered with the Polish, and at the same time created him duke of that part of the country which from thenceforward has had the name of Ducal Prussia, and continued all along in his family to this day.

The Teutonick order being thus expelled Prussia, they transferred their chapter to Marienthal, where they continued to choose masters as the vacancies happened; he that is the chief of that order now being the forty-fifth master, and duke of Newburgh. The ceremony of creating one of these knights is after this manner. The person that is to be in vested with that dignity is to be conducted by the great master and knights, out of which three commissioners, who have been to inspect the titles of honour, are to make their report upon oath, that they have examined, and found his honour to be unquestionable. After which, he is to be sworn to chastity, poverty, and to go to the wars against the infidels, whenever occasion shall require. When they give him the white mantle with the black cross, which are the ensigns of this order, they pronounce these words according to custom: “We promise to give you, as long as you live, water, bread, and a habit of our order.”

The Teutonick order at present consists of twelve provinces, which are Alsace and Burgundy for one, Coblentz, Austria, and Etsch: these four still retain the name of provinces of the jurisdiction of Prussia, as the eight following do that of Germany, being the provinces of Franconia, Hesse, Bressen, Westphalia, Lorrain, Thuringen, Saxony, and Utrecht; although this last is now altogether under the dominion of the Hollanders. Every one of these provinces has its peculiar commanderies of the commendadors, of which the provincial is chief. These commendadors compose the chapter of the electors; amongst whom the great master has two voices, and a decisive one in case the numbers are equal. This great master’s place of residence is to be at Mariendal in Franconia, where these assemblies are held.

Having carried you out of Poland into the heart of Germany, and led you out of your way many leagues, give me xxxviiileave to put you into the road again, and to bring you back to Dantzick, which is the last place I undertook the description of, and which I shall be the more particular in, on account of my longer stay there than in any other place.

Dantzick (in Latin Dantiscum, or Gedanum) is the largest, strongest, and most wealthy city in all Royal Prussia, and is situated in one of the three islands (of which Regal Prussia consists) called by the Germans der Dantzicher Werder; this der Werder implying properly so many pieces of solid ground encompassed by fens and bogs.

By whom this city was first built, it remains as yet undetermined. Becanus will have the Danes to have been the founders of it, and from them to have been called Daneswick, i. e. Danes-town. But this derivation seems to have too much Dutch in it, and to be drawn in favour of a people that are not content with engrossing the trade of the world, but its very towns too; therefore it is more probable, that to the word Dan, Cdan, or Gdan, was added the Sclavonian term Scke, (signifying a town,) which made it Danscke, Cdanscke, or Gdanske, and which might very reasonably be supposed afterwards, for better pronunciation sake, to be changed into Dantzig, or Dantzick.

The town itself is watered by the rivers Rodawn and Motlaw, and divided by the former into two parts, the old and the new: on the southern and western side, it is surrounded by high mountains, and has been well fortified against the incursions of the Swedes and others, ever since the year 1656. It has a large and high wall, so broad, that coaches may easily go round the ramparts; and so large in compass, that it is three hours’ journey round, which I may very well compute at six English miles. At the entrance of the Rodawn, on the other side it, is a strong fort, wherein there is commonly a garrison of a thousand men; nor is it possible that this city should be bombarded from the sea, by reason of its distance from it; but from the neighbouring hills it may; and therefore some works are raised there, and always a certain number of soldiers, with store of can non and ammunition, placed in them for its greater security.


It is also at present a very famous mart, and one of the principal of the Hans towns, scarce inferior to Hamburgh, being altogether governed by its own laws, though under the protection of the crown of Poland, from which it has a castellan appointed over it: half of the suburbs belong to that crown, and the other half to the city; for in some parts the crown lands reach to the suburbs, but in others the city lands go several miles together into the country.

There are twenty parishes in the city and suburbs. The houses are generally of brick, and the streets most commonly very wide, and well paved, though somewhat dirty in winter, as most of the streets in Poland are. The chief part of the city is called by the inhabitants Die rechte Stadt, and was built by Conrad Wallenrodt, master of the Teutonick order, about the year 1388. There are no gardens in the city, but several very fine and large ones in the suburbs.

The inhabitants are for the most part Germans, and computed to be upwards of two hundred thousand souls; whereof the greatest part have adhered to the Ausburgh Confession ever since the year 1525; and the Lutherans alone are admitted to a share in the government: yet all other sects are tolerated, and allowed a free exercise of their religion.

The public buildings here are, first, the churches; whereof there are two very famous, viz. St. Mary’s and St. Peter’s: the former of which is by much the stateliest and most exquisite fabric in all Prussia, being very high-roofed, and having in it a most melodious and well wrought organ. Besides it has forty-eight altars, three thousand seven hundred and twenty-two windows, and a font, made at Antwerp, which cost twenty-four thousand rixdollars, i. e. five thousand four hundred pounds of English money.

In the second place, the townhouse, where the magistrates sit for the despatch of public business, is a most magnificent structure, with an exceeding high spire. It has abundance of noble inscriptions in several rooms, into which it is divided; and the court of judicature surpasses any that I ever yet saw, being built all with freestone, and curiously xladorned on the outside with embellishments of fretwork, &c. as it is inwardly with original pictures and hieroglyphics by the best masters.

Three large magazines of warlike stores, ammunition, and provision are likewise kept in this city, capable of equipping more than forty thousand men at few hours warning; and a prodigious amassment of naval stores to fit out shipping.

But though there is no university, the professors of all faculties reside here in a very noble college, which is endowed with most academical privileges but that of giving the degree of a doctor. The exchange for merchants may likewise pass for a famous pile of building, if compared to any other but ours in London, or the stadthouse at Amsterdam: nor are the palace of St. Dominick or the college of Jesuits here any ways inferior to many beautiful edifices.

The jurisdiction of Dantzick extends to above forty miles circumference, and it sends two deputies to the diet of Poland.

The absolute government of it is in the hands of thirty senators, elders, or magistrates; whereof the greatest part are persons of learning, though some few are merchants, but of no other trade. None of the clergy can be of this magistracy, though any foreigners may; yet none of any other religion but the Lutheran, except the Calvinist, whereof there must be always four in the whole senate.

The senators, when once created, continue for life; and the first and chief of them are the four burgomasters, or, as they call them, proconsuls; out of which a president is chosen every year. Under these there are thirteen consuls, who choose the aforesaid burgomasters out of their body, as often as vacancies happen by death, &c. They likewise have the election of all other officers belonging as well to the city as the suburbs.

There are twelve scabins or judges for all manner of processes; from whom there lies an appeal to the thirteen consuls and four burgomasters, and from thence to the court of Poland. The thirtieth senator is their syndic or orator, who xliis like a master of the ceremonies, to receive and compliment any foreign ministers or agents: he takes place of all the scabins, as the consuls and four burgomasters.

The king nominates every year, out of the consuls or burgomasters, a burgrave, to represent his person in the senate: and all sentences of death must be signed by him in the king’s name; for nobody can be executed here without such signing: and there is a very out of the way distinction in those executions; for natives must be always executed before Arlus-house, or the townhouse, and foreigners near one of the gates of the city, where the prison lies: all those that are executed in the city are beheaded; but all thieves and robbers (the others’ crimes being offences against the state) are to be hanged about two miles out of town, at a famous gallows supported by four pillars of brick.

To represent the grievances of the people, and to maintain their privileges, there are an hundred burghers chosen, for inspecting the conduct of the senate. They have likewise a vote in electing the clergy, in conjunction with the senate. Within this city and its jurisdiction there are no bishops, but only a college of the clergy, who have no power, except to examine such as are designed to be elected priests by the senate and the centum viri; the manner of whose election is this.

The candidate first makes his application to the clergy to examine him; which done, they give him a certificate, setting forth that they think him capable, and allow him a liberty to preach. After which, the people or congregation of some parish present him to the senate and centum viri, desiring he may be elected for their minister; when, by plurality of voices, he is elected accordingly, and thereupon sent back to the college of the clergy to be ordained, which is performed by imposition of hands, reading of prayers, and some other ceremonies.

In this city also there are four Roman Catholic churches; whereof one is the king’s chapel, and the rest are for monks. There are also two for Calvinists, where the senate has no power to nominate the clergy. I may here likewise observe a particular custom relating to marriage; which is, xliithat there is a Roman Catholic official, a priest, who by his power can oblige any person to marry a woman that he has but promised, or given any present to whatsoever, though the party never meant any such thing as courtship for such a contract; which occasions a great deal of confusion and disorder.

As for the king’s power in the city; he can save any body’s life that he pleases, though condemned to die by the magistrates. To him half the customs of the port come: and one mill brings him in every hour of the day and night twenty-four gold ducats. This mill is moved by the Rodawn, which runs through the city. It grinds such a great quantity of corn all the year round, that its revenue amounts to 4320l. sterling to the state and the king, besides the profit arising to the proprietors: and they are obliged to put the king’s effigies on one side of their coin, though they commonly have their own arms on the other; and also to treat his Polish majesty and his whole court for three days, when he comes thither: but, however, he can bring but a few of his guards into the city. They are likewise to have a secretary always at the court of Poland.

In relation to the city privileges; they can coin their own money without the king’s leave, choose their magistrates, make their own laws, and determine absolutely in matters of debt to the value of five hundred gilders; but where the action exceeds that sum, an appeal lies to the tribunal of Po land. Yet in such case the appellant is obliged to lay down a hundred gilders in the townhouse before he can proceed: and this is to deter people from making such appeals; for the Dantzickers do not much care that any of their money should get into Poland, but where they cannot help it.

This city has always above two thousand soldiers in service, and can easily maintain twenty thousand; but in cases of necessity has been known to have raised sixty thousand. As for ships, they have none that they call men of war, but abundance of merchantmen of three or four hundred tons each, and thirty or forty guns apiece, which never trade so far as the East or West Indies, but into the Straits, and all the other parts of Europe.


It was taken from the Danes by Sabislaus, grandson to Swentorohus, about the year 1186, and seized by the Poles some short time after. The knights of the Teutonick order made themselves masters of it in 1305, and walled it round in 1314. Casimir III. king of Poland, surnamed the Great, regained it in 1454, and granted very great privileges to the citizens, who afterwards declaring for the Ausburgh Confession, sided with Maximilian of Austria against king Stephen Bathori: insomuch that the latter proscribed, and even besieged them in 1577. But however, by the mediation of other princes, they were restored to their religion and liberties in 1 597.

In 1656, they vigorously repulsed the Swedes, and adhered to the interest of John Casimir, king of Poland; and at present they make one of the members of that state, having been admitted to a suffrage in the election of the Polish monarchs in the year 1632.

Having mentioned king Stephen Bathori just before, I cannot omit an elogy which I found in an ancient manuscript in the college of the clergy’s library here, relating to that prince. It runs thus:

In templo plusquam sacerdos.
In republica plusquam rex.
In sententia dicenda plusquam senator.
In judicio plusquam jurisconsultus.
In exercitu plusquam imperator.
In acie plusquam miles.
In adversis perferendis, injuriisque condonandis, plusquam vir.
In publica libertate tuenda plusquam civis.
In amicitia colenda plusquam amicus.
In convictu plusquam familiaris.
In venatione ferisque domandis, plusquam leo.
In tota reliqua vita plusquam philosophus.

Thus much concerning the description of the places in and about this ancient and renowned kingdom: I shall in the next place make good my word in relation to other particulars concerning their religion, customs, and manners.

Besides the Lutherans and Calvinists, which abound chiefly in Regal Prussia, there are many other religions tolerated in this kingdom, such as the Armenians, Jews, xlivand Tartars put in practice, who all enjoy their different persuasions without molestation, though the national church is entirely after the mode of the Roman. As for the Armenians, they inhabit chiefly in certain towns of Prussia and Podolia, and have their peculiar prelates, abbots, and priests. Their service is exercised in their own language. These, as in other countries, acknowledge the supremacy of the see of Rome, but differ from it in worship. The Jews are every where to be found in Poland, and enjoy their religion and privileges without interruption, only they are restrained from trading within twelve miles of Warsaw, by the constitutions. Their number is so great, that it is accounted to amount to two millions; and they are so privileged, that all this vast body pays not above one hundred and twenty thousand florins a year to the state, which amounts to no more than twenty thousand dollars. In the great duchy of Lithuania, there are above thirty thousand Tartars, with liberty of the Turkish religion. They have been there more than six hundred years; and, for the continuance of their privileges, they are obliged to send twelve hundred men yearly to the wars against the Turks and Tartars. There are likewise, as I am told, a great many idolaters on the frontiers of this kingdom, who still retain their ancient superstitions, whereof one is, that when any one dies, and though it be a year afterwards another dies likewise, they presently dig up the first body, and cut off its head, thereby to prevent, as they say, the death of any more of their family.

Yet, notwithstanding Poland admits of all these religions, the national churchmen, which are Roman Catholics, are so bigoted to their own persuasion, that they will admit of none into their senate, diet, or courts of judicature, (except in those of Prussia,) that hold not the same religious tenets. Also bishops always preside in the assembly of the states, that nothing may be transacted there in prejudice of that faith. The inferior clergy likewise, selected out of the several colleges and chapters of the kingdom, are appointed to have seats in the tribunals, and other courts of justice, for the same reason. In like manner, the great officers of the crown xlvare very frequently bishops; and the chief secretary of the whole kingdom has always been an ecclesiastic.

Here are sixteen ecclesiastical, and one hundred and twenty-eight lay senators. The first are either archbishops or bishops, and are the chief members of the senate, of which the archbishop of Gnesna is chief. He is primate of the kingdom, a title given him by the council of Constance, and moreover styles himself the pope’s legate born, by a grant of the council of Lateran. All ecclesiastical affairs that have been determined in the archbishop of Leopolds, or any of the other bishops court, may be reversed or confirmed by an appeal to him; and his power and authority is so exceeding great, it being next to the king’s, that it is death to draw a sword in his presence, or to quarrel in any manner whatsoever before him. When he goes to the king or the diet, there is always a golden cross carried before him; and when he sits, his chaplain holds it behind his chair. He has his marshal, who is a castellan, and senator of the kingdom. This person on horseback carries a golden batoon before his coach, but salutes none with it, except the king, when the archbishop and his majesty happen to meet. This marshal has likewise the honour to carry a staff of the same nature before the king, when the other marshals are absent. When the archbishop comes to wait on the king, the great chamberlain, or some other great officer, always receives him at the stairs, and the king comes afterwards out of his chamber, to meet him in the antechamber. He never pays any visits out of duty, but to the pope’s nuncio, and to him only but once; neither does he pay that compliment to the ambassadors of crowned heads, though they visit him first.

After the king’s death, he is the supreme regent of the kingdom till a new one is chosen; during which time, he may coin money in his own name; a privilege granted him by Boleslaus the Chaste, but which, nevertheless, has not been practised, no money having as yet been seen of any one of the primates coining. The revenues also of the crown belong to him in the interregnum; he convenes the xlvidiet, and dissolves it at pleasure; and in case there happens any thing extraordinary, the government assigns him several senators for his assistance. In short, he is tantum non rex; and he alone can proclaim the king, when elected, and crown him afterwards; which is so very considerable, that he is looked upon by the ambassadors and envoys of the candidates, as the only person upon whom the success of their negotiations depend; and therefore all of them do their utmost to make him their friend.

The reason why the republic intrusts this great authority to a clergyman is, lest, if it should devolve upon a secular senator, he might make use of it to advance himself to the throne.

These senators’ office is to serve faithfully the king and republic with their advice, to administer justice, by commission or otherwise, at home; and, with consent of the diet, to exercise foreign ministry abroad: and they value themselves for their dignities so highly, that they despise almost all other titles whatsoever. Therefore when Sigismund I. went, as has been before related, to Vienna, and his imperial majesty offered the title of prince of the empire to the several senators that came along with him, they absolutely refused them; giving for reason, “that being born gentlemen of Poland, and thereby having a right to treat either of peace or war with their king, they believed it an injury to their dignity to have a prince of the empire thought their superior.”

The regular clergy in Poland are generally more esteemed than the secular; for they can perform all the offices of parish priests, without having permission from the bishops; and friars mendicant are allowed to enter the most private part of any house, without so much as knocking at the door. All religious orders are likewise to be seen in this kingdom, but Carthusians and Minims.

Those regular clergy are generally very rich, but not less dissolute and immodest; for they frequently go into the cellars to drink, those being the tippling places in this country; and sometimes you shall see many of them so xlviidrunk in the streets, that they are scarce able to stand or go; and this, without either their superiors or the people taking notice of them.

On fast days, these religious persons, and all others of the Poles, abstain from milk, eggs, flesh, and boiled fish, at nights only: for provided they keep to these rules at that time, they may eat and drink what they please all the day; only Fridays and Saturdays they forbear butter, cheese, milk, and eggs, all the day long. Nor can they be inclined to eat butter or cheese on fast days, though they have permission from the church; for when the present archbishop of Gnesna obtained them that liberty from the see of Rome, they absolutely refused it, saying, “that his holiness the pope was an heretic.” This rigid custom they have observed ever since one of those Roman pontiffs enjoined them to fast for a hundred years together for some enormous crime; and which it may be they do not yet think sufficiently expiated. They also are so obstinate in their abstaining from flesh, that they will not eat any, notwithstanding they are sick, and advised thereunto by their doctors, and permitted by their priests.

As for the secular inferior clergy, they are either collegiate or parochial; and both are much after the same nature as with us. The canons are never almost present at the office; for they give the poor scholars to the value of two pence of our money per diem, to say their hours for them in the choir. And the parsons generally neglect their cures, by leaving most of their duty to the monks, or vicars, or curates. They also sing part of the service in the Polish language, and that especially in the parish churches at high mass.

The rosary is also repeated in the Dominican’s chapels, in which the men are seated, and join in the repetition on one side, and the women on the other; the former alone singing the Ave Maria, and the latter the Sancta Maria.

Plurality of benefices is here tolerated; for there are some of these secular clergy who have not only rights to canonships, but also two or more parsonages. But there are none that take any care to perform the duties of their function; xlviiithe bishops themselves being so careless of the episcopal charge, that they neglect correcting the inferior clergy when they do amiss.

At divine service the Poles seem always very devout, and bestow considerable gifts upon their churches; but they are neither liberal to the poor, nor careful of sick necessitous persons. They pray always aloud in the church, and at the elevation of the host at mass, they cuff themselves, and knock their heads against the pavement or the bench whereon they sit, that it commonly makes a great noise, and may be heard at a considerable distance.

Their ecclesiastical courts, as in other nations, are altogether in the hands of the bishops, who have each their chancellor, register, &c. from whom appeals may be made to the two archbishops, and even from the archbishop of Leopol to the archbishop of Gnesna. Nevertheless, from him appeals lie to the see of Rome. These judge according to the canons of the church; and the civil magistrates are obliged to be assisting to them in the execution of their sentences, as often as they shall be so required.

To the ecclesiastical courts belongs the court of nunciature, held by the pope’s nuncio, for that purpose always residing in Poland. However, before he can have any jurisdiction, he must have presented the king and the principal ministers of state with the apostolic brief of his nunciature.

The civil jurisdiction is divided among diverse sorts of judges, and belongs to the commonalty as well as gentry. Some of these determine causes exempt from appeals, and others cannot.

Those from whom there lies no appeal are the three high tribunals instituted by king Stephen Bathori, the judges whereof are all gentry. Two of these tribunals are for the kingdom, and one for the great duchy of Lithuania; and all of them consists of fixed numbers to be judges, both ecclesiastical and civil, chosen out of every palatinate; the former once in four years, and the latter once in two. These pronounce judgment by plurality of voices; but where xlixmatters are purely ecclesiastical, there ought to be as many of the clergy as the laity. The causes here are heard in order; for three days are allowed to enter all that come, and whatsoever are not booked in that time cannot be adjudged that session. So that a man who has a trial in these courts may be said to have all the nation for his judges, deputies both spiritual and temporal being sent thither for that end from all parts of the kingdom.

There is also a board of green cloth to determine affairs relating to the king’s household, (as with us,) two courts of exchequer, and likewise courts of the gentry and commonalty in every palatinate, which are neither exempt from appeals, nor by any means to have so much as one of the clergy among their judges, and determine in disputes about the limits of land, or in criminal cases.

The immediate appeal from these courts is to the vice-chamberlain of the palatinate, who, either by himself or his deputy, the chamberlain of that district, restores all to persons illegally dispossessed, and ascertains all bounds and limits of land. This is in a manner the sphere of his whole jurisdiction. But where there is any contest between the king and any of the gentry in this kind, then, at their request, commissioners are appointed out of the senate, to inspect the matter of the controversy, and to do justice therein. Likewise when a difference arises between the king and a clergy man, commissioners are ordered; but there the bishop of the diocese claims the nomination of one or more of them; and when any of the courts of land-judicature die, the king cannot name others, till the district to which they belonged have chosen four out of the housekeepers; but then he may pitch upon one for each election.

The other courts for the gentry are those that take cognizance of criminal cases; whereof there is only one in every starostaship, where the starosta himself, or his lieutenant, administers justice in his castle, or some other public place, at least every six weeks. He likewise determines in civil causes between such as have no lands, and such foreigners as come to trade here, and is to cause process to be served in criminal lcases a fornight, and in civil, a week before the court sits.

He is also the executive minister of all sentences pronounced, and likewise the sole conservator of the peace within his territories, being obliged, by himself or his officers, like our high sheriffs, to see all public executions performed.

As to the courts of commonalty, they are either held in cities or villages. In cities, justice is administered by the scabins, {officers belonging to the king,) the magistracy, or judge advocate. The scabins have cognizance of all capital offences and criminal matters; the magistracy, of all civil cases, to which likewise the gentry are subject; and the judge advocate, of offences committed by the soldiery. Civil matters of small moment are determined solely by the governor of the city; but from him there lies an appeal to the townhall or magistracy, and thence to the king.

In villages, the commonalty are subject to scabins, and to scultets, or peculiar lords; from which last there is no appeal. Here justice is almost arbitrary, except in criminal cases; the scultets being hereditary judges, and not to be dispossessed of their offices, but by death, and forfeiture of life by high treason, &c.

The officers and magistrates of the plebeian courts are some named by their peculiar lords, and some elected by their fellow citizens, except in Cracow only, where the palatine has a right of choosing the magistrates, though he has not the same power to displace them after they are once chosen; they being also to continue their offices for life, unless forfeited by infamy and inability, as aforesaid.

The profits of all offices in any of these courts are but very small, and uncertain; the Poles esteeming the honour of enjoying them sufficient recompence. Nevertheless, they have all salaries and perquisites, howsoever inconsiderable.

The military jurisdiction of Poland is altogether in the hands of the king or his generals, although the palatines and castellans, who generally accompany his majesty in the wars, retain their authority over their respective inferiors, liwhich is very despotical, (and like the chiefs over their vassals in Scotland;) but where those are refractory, a court-martial adjusts the difference.

As for the laws of Poland, it is on all hands agreed, that t had none till the time of Casimir the Great, and then but very few made by him: although it is certain, that the Poles had embraced Christianity long before, and were well enough versed in human learning; yet was there never any law or statute of any prince committed to writing, but the pie were contented to be governed by the customs and manners of their ancestors, handed down to them from father to son. Casimir III. therefore, (called the Great from his prudent administration,) observing the disadvantages his kingdom laboured under by the Germans, who then frequently came into Poland on account of trade, received the Saxon laws, (now called Magdeburg laws, from the city whence they were taken,) by which Poland is at this day principally governed; although the gentry have many peculiar customs, and some statutes which have been since made; and which, in the time of Sigismundus Augustus, being compiled into one volume by learned men, were entitled, The Statutes of the Kingdom; and since (some having been approved and augmented, and others changed and altered in several diets) have obtained the name of Constitutions of Poland; to which, nevertheless, all that kingdom is not subject, Lithuania and Volhinia observing its own laws. Prussia also, both Regal and Ducal, has a municipal law of its own, commonly styled, the law of Culm; from which, notwithstanding, three cities are exempt, viz. Elbing, Bransberg, and Fraumberg, all which make use of the laws of Lansberg.

The punishments in Poland are various, and differ only according to the quality of the crimes, and not of persons offending; for a thief is to be hanged, of what degree soever he be, and capital offenders, of all other kinds and qualities, are to be beheaded, (as has been observed in the description of Dantzick,) except in cases of the most flagrant and notorious villainies, when the criminal is commonly broken liiupon the wheel, or else tortured by cutting off two thongs or long pieces out of the skin of his back. A nobleman is sometimes punished by forfeiting half his estate to the king, and the rest to an informer, and sometimes by imprisonment only.

Masters also have a power of chastising their servants; which they do after this manner: If the servant they are about to punish be a Polish gentleman, then they make him lie down on his belly on a carpet spread on the ground, or upon a stool, when another gentleman servant lays him on unmercifully upon the back with a rope or stick, giving him as many blows or lashes, as the master, who is always present, orders. After which, he that is beaten embraces the knees of him that has commanded him to be beat, and salutes him with the goodnatured title of benefactor. Which discipline seems a little too severe, but, however, is necessary from the temper of these people. The servants of vulgar extraction are likewise punished after the same manner, only with this difference, that they have no carpet spread under them. Some of the former think it an honour to be so thrashed; which honour they always bestow liberally, as often as they deserve it.

Nor is this custom among the Poles, of punishing their gentlemen servants so rigorously, much to be wondered at, if it be considered that they may serve in the meanest offices, without derogating from the nobility of their birth, or incapacitating themselves for the highest preferments. For, says Hauteville, one of their most celebrated historians, “I have known some who, from being footmen to great lords, and drummers in a troop of dragoons, have been advanced to the dignity of senators;” there being nothing that debases nobility in this country, but a handicraft or mechanic employment.

I should here bestow some time on the manner of choosing their diet, and its session, for the promulgation of the laws just now spoken of; but the several particulars and customs observed therein requiring more time than the compass of a letter will allow of, and a writer better versed than myself liiiin the nature of constitutions, whereinto I have had but an imperfect insight; I shall say little more, than that the grand diet or parliament of Poland is an assembly of the king, senators, and nuncios, or deputies of every province, met together in any city or town of Poland or Lithuania, in order to deliberate upon state affairs, and the means to secure and preserve the kingdom, both in times of peace or war.

It is the king, or, during an interregnum, the primate, who has the sole power of convening them, as likewise to appoint the place where they shall sit; and by the constitutions of the kingdom, the king, as head of the republic, is obliged to call a diet every third year; and of every three successively, two are held in Poland most commonly, and the third in Lithuania, in the city of Grodno, in the palatinate of Troki, twenty leagues from Vilna, capital of that great duchy; so that every ninth year, the king, with all the senators and deputies of the kingdom, goes into Lithuania; and every third, the senators and deputies of Lithuania come into Poland. The reason of the diet’s being held thus in Lithuania, proceeds from the inhabitants of that duchy’s complaint, that it was very inconvenient for them to come so far as Poland, without having it in their turn to make themselves compensation, by enriching their country also by the presence of his majesty and the estates of the kingdom.

When the king is pleased to give out summons for this general meeting, he is, by the constitution in the year 1613, to issue forth circular letters six weeks before the time be appointed for its session, to all the palatines of the provinces, acquainting them with his design, together with the time he intends it shall meet at. He sends them likewise a list of all the affairs and articles which are to be treated of in that diet: whereupon every palatine, or his deputy, in his own respective government, forthwith despatches notice to all the castellans, starostas, and other gentry, to meet together at a certain time, in order to deliberate upon the articles and affairs proposed in the king’s letters, as also to livchoose a nuncio, or deputy, to represent their intentions in the great diet. These letters are proclaimed by a herald at arms, and afterwards posted upon all the town gates and church doors; and the assemblies in the provinces, preparatory to this general meeting of the states, are termed by them comitiola, or little diets. Though, in cases of extremity, six weeks notice need not be given, as appears by the constitutions of the year 1638.

The qualification for voting in these little diets is, that all sorts of gentlemen, both rich and poor, provided they have but three acres of land in their possession, which must be worth at least eight crowns sterling a year, (like our freeholders in the country,) have a right to come thither, where they have all equal authority and votes, none being suffered to be present there in that capacity, but who is well descended. But what is more particular, the electors must be unanimous here, or the choice is invalid; for I am informed, it has lain in the power of one of these diminutive gentry to hinder a person from being chosen chairman of one of these petty sessions, till the candidate had given him a Polish pair of boots, for he was before almost barefooted; after which he came in, and consented to the election.

Not but at these little diets the poorer sort of gentry for the most part accord with their seignior, and generally approve of what he says, without knowing sometime what the matter in hand is: an example whereof, Hauteville says, happened in his time at one of these assemblies in the province of Masovia, where some affairs of the province being in debate, and one of the gentry declaring against them, his party or mob, not knowing what the business was, cried out like madmen, “that such a proposal should not pass.” Whereupon, a witty fellow, observing their senseless rage, started up, and cried, “Brethren, you are fools to oppose this affair; for the question is only to abate the price of wheat and aqua vitae:” whereat they immediately consented to and approved of the matter, and said, that “their “seignior was a rogue that had betrayed them;” and moreover threatened him with their sabres.


Yet, notwithstanding every gentleman-freeholder can vote for whom he pleases, the election always falls upon some rich nobleman, who can treat high, and make a figure suitable to this honourable charge. Most commonly they choose two or three deputies for every palatinate; one of which is always an understanding man, and the rest young noblemen, who are sent up to the grand diet for honour’s sake, and that they may be trained up betimes in the service of their country.

When the deputies are chosen, they receive full instructions from the gentry of their province, of what they are to agree to, and dissent from, in the general diet; and when once they are intrusted with these instructions, they dare not for their lives transgress them; so that if but one deputy has orders contrary to the rest, it lies in his single power to break all their measures.

The number of all these nuncios amounts commonly to one hundred and seventy-four, excluding those of Prussia, which are uncertain, and which are sometimes seventy of themselves; and they cannot be chosen senators, being for the most part elected out of the common magistrates, excepting the judges of the high tribunals, assessors, collectors of the revenue, &c. Furthermore it is to be observed, that they have certain salaries assigned them by the constitutions in the year 1540.

When all the deputies of the provinces are assembled at the place appointed for the grand diet, they divide themselves into three nations, viz. the deputies of High and Low Poland, and Lithuania. Out of these three, they next proceed to the choice of a great mareschal, or speaker, who is the first time chosen out of the deputies of High Poland; the second, out of the deputies of Low Poland; and at the third diet, out of Lithuania; and they often spend several days in bloody contests, before they can agree about an election. Nay, it happens sometimes that they cannot agree at all; and that the senators and deputies, who make great preparations to appear in the utmost pomp and grandeur, (whereof some come above three hundred miles from their lvirespective homes,) are forced to return back again, for want of harmony among themselves in the choice of a mareschal, who, if he designs to get his election, must treat the gentry all the while, otherwise he would have few or no votes; it being their custom to prolong the election, that they may live the longer at the candidate’s charge.

The cause of this great stickling is, that the dignity of this mareschal is not only honourable, but exceeding beneficial; which occasions several noblemen among the deputies to raise cabals and intrigues to secure it to themselves. He has likewise a very great extent of authority, and can, by his eloquent and subtle speeches, turn affairs to what side al most he pleases; which is the reason that he is often bribed, either by the king, or foreign princes, or some great men of the kingdom.

When the mareschal or speaker is elected, he, with all the deputies of the provinces, goes to kiss the king’s hand in the diet chamber, where his majesty sits on a throne, with his chief officers of state about him, all standing. Then the chancellor proposes all the points to be debated in the diet, and desires the senators and the nobility to take them into consideration; which being done, the king immediately leaves them, lest his presence might be an awe upon them; and then the senators retiring into their apartments by themselves, and the nuncios into theirs, they forth with set about deliberating on the articles proposed.

Not that I can here pass by unremarked a pleasant reflection of Hauteville, whom I am obliged to consult more than once, to enable me to go through with my under taking. That historian, in his account of Poland, says, that the Poles employ more time in drinking and feasting, than in debating matters of state; for they never think of that work, till they begin to want money to buy Hungarian wine with.

After the chancellor has thus proposed to the diet, in the king’s name, all the articles they are to go upon, the mareschal of the nuncios likewise, on the part of the deputies, presents to the king what they desire of his majesty; which lviiis, first, to make void all intrenchments upon the state or the people; and secondly, to bestow all vacant offices upon persons of worth and merit.

The manner of proceeding in the nuncios house is, that nobody offers his opinion there, till leave for so doing is asked of the mareschal, who alone introduces all messengers from the king, senators, army, or foreign princes, and answers them all in the name of the house: if any differences also arise among the nuncios, or other tumults occasioned by the spectators, he causes silence immediately, by striking his staff against the ground.

The two bodies being thus separated, there are nevertheless frequent intercourses between them, as are between our two most honourable houses of parliament; and the nuncios have the same power as the commons are invested with in England, of impeaching all magistrates and officers in high stations for corrupt practices, and put the king in mind, as often as they think fit, of his coronation oath. Moreover, the nuncios’ power and authority appears the greater, in that no constitution or law is of any validity or force, that was not first begun in their house. Nay, their mareschal is to make the first motion for all laws; and when concluded upon, it is his office only to read them before the senate. For this reason, about nine years ago, in the year 1668, the mareschal protested against a certain law, because it was first concerted in the senate.

To confirm this authority, and for the further security of the nuncios, Sigismund I. in the year 1510, ordained that it should be high treason to injure any member of the diet, though he afterwards, in the year 1530, restrained this law to the royal person; but which, notwithstanding, John Casimir in some measure renewed in the year 1640.

As to their further privileges, if one of these nuncios commits any crime whatsoever, he is to be tried by his fellow members; which custom is in force a month before, and lasts as long after the breaking up of the diet.

Nor, whilst they are thus providing for the public good in their house, does the king and senate pass their time idly in lviiitheirs; for he, together with the senators, tries criminal causes for a while, and employs himself upon several other matters set apart for certain days, until the lower house brings up bills to be debated.

Near the conclusion of the diet, and before the senators and nuncios are joined, the mareschal of the lower house, in a set speech, gives thanks to the deputies for the honour and favour they have conferred upon him, and is answered by one of the nuncios in the name of the rest, who returns him their acknowledgments for the faithful execution of his office.

To establish a law or constitution in the diet, is for the deputies first to propose it by their mareschal, and then the king and senate are to approve of it. But however, before it can have any force, it must be reviewed by the great mareschal and two deputies, or by three senators and six deputies. Having been thus reviewed, it is read out in the diet by the nuncio mareschal; after which the chancellor demands with a low voice, if the king, senate, and deputies consent to apply the seal to it; which being answered in the affirmative, it is presently sealed and enrolled among the acts in the registry of Warsaw; and this by the care of the deputies’ mareschal, who is to see it done soon after the conclusion of the session. After this, one of the king’s secretaries is to get it printed and dispersed among the several little diets and tribunals all over the kingdom.

By the constitution of the kingdom, the diet ought never to sit above six weeks; and the gentry are so very exact in observing this privilege, that as soon as that time is expired, they send their mareschal to take leave of the king in their name, and to acquaint him, that they intend to wait on him and kiss his hand; and they are so obstinately bent upon abiding by this custom, that though the urgencies of state require never so short a continuance of the diet after the time prescribed, yet they always vigorously oppose it, as they did in the year 1649, when the Tartars and Cossacks had almost overrun the kingdom.

The reason, it is to be presumed, why the members of lixthe diet are so punctual in observing this constitution above any other is, because by that period of time their money is generally exhausted, and the provisions, which they bring in wagons from home, as beer, wine, meat, fowl, &c. are consumed by the great train of guards and other domestics, which they have with them. Besides, though no other person but the king, senate, and nuncios, can have any vote in the diet, vast numbers of other people every session flock thither; and most commonly foreign princes choose then to send their ambassadors with large retinues, according to the interest they have to support in the diet. At this time also the greatest part of the nobility, that have wherewithal to appear in any sort of grandeur, meet here, together with their wives and children, though they have no other business than to see and be seen. It is then their sons get acquainted with others of the young gentry, and often are married to some of the young ladies, that come in like manner to be observed, and to get husbands. In a word, the diet is a kind of general rendezvous of all the people of quality in the kingdom, as well men and women as children; so that what city soever the diet sits in, there are always forty thousand, and sometimes fifty thousand persons more than its wonted inhabitants.

At this time likewise there is always such a crowd of soldiers, heydukes, and footmen in the streets, that it is not safe to be abroad in the night, for fear of being robbed or stripped naked, as it happens very often: for the Polish gentry give so very short allowance to their guards and servants, (a dragoon having but fifteen pence of our money per week to maintain his horse and himself,) that they must be forced to rob, and be otherwise very industrious, to live.

Every member of the diet, after having obtained leave of the marshal, who can only stop their mouths, has a right to speak and harangue there as long as he pleases; nay, can say what he will; for they often abuse one another, and affront their king to his face, branding him with the infamous titles of “perjured, unjust,” &c. They very often likewise threaten both him and his children, upon the least grounds lxof complaint. The occasion of this generally is, that they come drunk into the diet, and consequently talk only, like our quakers, as the spirit moves, either good or bad. Nay, you shall have some of these fuddle-caps talk nonsense for two or three hours together, trespassing on the patience of the more sober sort, by a railing, carping, injurious, and ill-digested discourse, without any one’s ever daring to interrupt them, though they spin it out never so long; for if the marshal himself should then presume to bid them hold their tongues, they would infallibly dissolve the diet, by protesting against the proceedings thereof: so that the most prudent way is always to hear them out, and to shew no dislike to the impertinent speeches they make.

Hereupon there is nobody but sees the unhappy state of the government of Poland; that their constitutions and privileges are most pernicious; and that the unlimited and absolute liberty of each member makes all the republic slaves to the whimsy or factious obstinacy of one particular man. For can there be any thing more unreasonable, than, after the senators and deputies have come from most remote provinces with excessive expense to the diet, and laboured jointly with their sovereign to conclude matters for the common interest of the nation, it should be in the power of one disaffected or corrupted person, without giving any further reason than his own pleasure, to annul the proceedings of the rest, and to dissolve the diet, at a juncture especially, when there is the greatest necessity for their concurrence?

Thus, Sir, you may perceive that affairs of the greatest consequence depend not only on the prudent deliberations of sober men, but also on the capricious humours of the senseless and depraved; which excessive liberty of every private man shews, that both the nation and the diet have none at all.

Yet there is a policy in concluding matters by unanimous consent; since this constitution was established to deprive their kings of all means and opportunities of ever becoming absolute: for they imagined it to be morally impossible, (as it really is,) that whatever interest or authority the king lximight get in the country, he should ever prevail so far as to bring all the members of the diet (though he might have the majority) to consent to any clause or bill, which might any ways be injurious to the nation.

From what has been said, you may have just reason to admire how the Polish kingdom could subsist for above a thousand years with such bad constitutions, and still possess not only vast tracts of land, but also hitherto enjoy their freedom and liberties in their utmost force and extent. It is wonderful also, that far from losing or limiting any of their privileges, they rather enlarge and increase them, as often as they elect their kings. Nay, considering the power of their sovereign, the absolute prerogative every gentleman has in his own lands, in a manner above the laws, the turbulency of their diets, and the small obligation the officers think they lie under to perform their several duties, the Poles themselves have owned it to be no less than a miracle, that they should have subsisted as a kingdom and republic so long; I having heard them to say, “that their preservation was to be attributed to God alone, that protected them to be the invincible bulwark of Europe against the progress of the common enemies of Christendom, the Turks and Tartars.”

But here we have no need to have recourse to any peculiar providence bestowed by God upon the Poles, since, by our own ordinary recourse to all natural causes, we may easily infer that the Polish nation could not but subsist hitherto only, but likewise must, in all probability, last as long as any kingdom in Europe; and this for the following reasons.

First, Because, though the king’s power is limited by the law, his credit and authority nevertheless is so great, that he can dispose the affairs of the diet as he pleases, especially where they tend to the public good of the kingdom; for few, if any one at all, will venture to protest against any proceedings there, that are for the interest of the nation, unless they are supported by a good party of senators and deputies; and this, because it is not only infamous and lxiiscandalous to his person, but also prejudicial to his posterity, that breaks up a diet; and not a little dangerous to his life, by irritating and disobeying so powerful a body. For they are commonly very liberal, in their passion, of slashes and cuts with their scimitars on any ill-natured, corrupted member that opposes the interest of his country, though, in reality, he has the law on his side. It is certain, therefore, that when any person withstands the rest in the diet, it is either because the king has not sufficiently employed his authority to pacify him, or his policy to win him with some small present; or else, because he does not care they should agree; or lastly, in regard to a considerable number of senators and deputies, that support, or rather employ him to protest against an act which they do not think it for their interest to let pass.

Secondly, The order of the government, and their courage and resolution, does not so much contribute towards their preservation, as the envy and jealousies of their neighbours among themselves; for when the king of Sweden and the elector of Brandenburgh made war with Poland, the Tartars came to assist the Poles, and at the same time the king of Denmark made a diversion in Sweden: when the Tartars likewise declared war against Poland, most commonly either the emperor of Germany or the czar of Muscovy comes to its relief, or else make great diversions on their sides. For as it is the interest of the princes their neighbours not to let them grow to an exorbitance of power, so it is not at all for their benefit to let them perish; for whosoever could be able to conquer Poland, and unite it to his dominions, would quickly be too powerful to be put in balance with the rest.

Thirdly, The Poles, besides this, can the more easily conserve their dominions, by reason that they have very few strong forts or castles to shelter their enemies in, where they happen to make any progress in their country; yet I verily believe that an army of fifty thousand men well disciplined would at present conquer the whole kingdom of Poland, though at the same time I am of opinion that an hundred thousand could not be able to keep it. Carolus lxiiiGustavus, king of Sweden, with about forty thousand men, entirely subdued Poland in less than two years time; yet when he began to encroach too much upon their constitutions and liberties, the Polish gentry joined unanimously together, and soon drove the Swedes out of the kingdom. The Tartars, in numerous bodies, make frequent incursions into this open country; but still, as soon as they have loaded themselves with their booty, they make all possible haste away. The loss of Caminiec makes the Poles admire at their own policy in having no strong towns; for they say, had not that been so well fortified, it had not served for shelter to a strong garrison of Turks and Tartars at their doors. Insomuch that it may be observed, that forts and castles, which other nations account their greatest security, would inevitably be the ruin of Poland; they being neither well skilled in besieging towns, nor plentifully stored with good artillery, engineers, ammunition, or other necessaries, since they never were nor will be able to retake Caminiec, though it is a place of no extraordinary strength.

I come now to my last particular; which is a short view of their customs and manners, such as I have already given no account of; and must assure you, that both men and women are extravagant to the last degree, insomuch that some among them will have fifty suits of clothes at once, all as rich as possible. But what shews their prodigality much more is, that they will have their servants go almost as well clad as themselves; whereby they generally waste away their estates in a short time, and are reduced to great poverty and want. As to their dwellingplaces, they never live above stairs, and their houses are not united: the kitchen is on one side, the stable on another, the house on another, and the gate in the front; all which make a court, either square or round.

The inside of these houses is generally hung with tapestry or arras; and all the rest of their householdstuff proportionably suitable. Yet towards Tartary they have little or no rich furniture; and the gentry content themselves with a few small beds with taffeta curtains, just enough to lxivlodge their families; for if any go to lie at their houses, they for the most part carry their beds along with them. Though it be extreme cold in Poland, yet will almost every one of these gentry have a bagnio in his house, in which the women have their separate apartments. There are likewise public baths in every city and town for the use of the common people, which they frequent not only in summer, but also in winter; from the use of which, in all probability, it happens that the Polish children seldom break out in their head or face, and that not one of a thousand is distorted, crooked, or ill-shaped, as in other countries.

The Poles are generally so great admirers of splendour and shew, that their ladies scarce stir out of doors, though little further than cross the way, without a coach and six horses, either to church, or to visit a neighbour; but the men for the greatest part go on horseback, and rarely on foot, which they look upon as ignoble. When the gentry of either sex go abroad at night, they have twenty-four or more white wax flambeaux carried before their coach. Wo men of quality for the generality have their trains borne up by he or she dwarfs: they have also an old woman with them, which they call their governante, and an old gentleman usher, whose office it is to follow their coach on foot, and to help them out of it when they alight; though the reason of these two old peopled waiting on them does not proceed from any jealousy in their husbands, as in most of the eastern countries, since the Polish ladies are generally very modest, and do not at all abuse the great liberty that is allowed them.

As the Poles bear their own losses, and suffer all disasters, with a great deal of temper, so likewise they regard the miseries and misfortunes of others with the same indifference; for they will often stand and see a house burn, without offering in the least to lend a helping hand to quench the fire. Neither are they more indulgent to their children, or, on the contrary, the children to their parents; both of whom are reciprocally suffered to continue slaves to the Tartars, when but a small sum of money would purchase their redemption.


As to their marriages, it must first be observed, that the feasts of those gentry always last three days, be they that make them either poor or rich; wherefore they are necessarily exceeding expensive; since, if a lady give in matrimony any one of her waiting maids, she generally expends as much as for one of her daughters: an instance of which I saw at court, during my lord ambassador Hyde’s stay at Zolkiew, when the queen celebrated the nuptials of one of her maids of honour after this manner. The first and second day she gave a very magnificent feast; for which purpose a large hall was pitched upon, where three tables were placed. At the first sat the king and queen, in a manner that both faced the entrance into the hall. Next the queen sat the couple that were to be married; and next to the king, the pope’s nuncio and archbishop of Gnesna, with the foreign ambassadors. At the two other tables, extending the whole length of the hall, were placed all the ladies, senators, and officers, except only such as attended upon the king and queen, all ranked according to their respective precedence.

This feast began both days precisely at four in the after noon, and lasted to the same hour of the next morning; and it was observable that the senators eat very little, but drank Hungarian wine to an immoderate degree; nor did the bi shops themselves shew any great tokens of continence, they leaving their seats very often, to go up to the king’s table, and drink his majesty’s health on their knees. The ladies, out of modesty, only touched the tops of the glasses with their lips, and so sat them down before them, or poured them into their plates, in such a manner that abundance more wine was spilt than drank by them.

When they had sitten about five or six hours at table, the violins and a little sort of portable organ began to strike up, and then they spent the rest of the time in dancing. In this exercise every body joined; and even I myself, who have no manner of relish for such unedifying vagaries, had a Madonna put into my hand by the bishop of Plosko, lxviwhom I had the honour, as domestic chaplain to the ambassador from the king of Great Britain, to sit next to. Those that began this whimsical way of shaking the feet, were the most ancient senators and old ladies, who moved slowly about, like so many friars and nuns in procession; yet though the dance began with such gravity and formality, it was ended with a great deal of hurry and confusion.

On the second day, all the guests presented the bride with something new; and none gave less than a piece of plate: which presents were all made in the presence of the queen, it being the custom to perform this ceremony just before they sit down to table. These made a good part of the bride’s portion.

On the third day, the espousals were solemnized after this manner. All the guests accompanied the bridegroom and bride on horseback to church, as likewise in their return home. During all the time of their going and coming, the trumpets sounded from the balconies on each side of the way. When the bride had been conducted to her husband’s house, where a noble entertainment had been prepared, she, at the departure of the company after dinner was ended, fell a crying; it being the custom, it seems, in Poland, for maids to weep at that time, and to seem concerned, for fear they should be thought impudent and immodest.

The men and women that stand godfathers and god mothers together at christenings, are thenceforward deemed to be cousins and relations, though they were not so before, and consequently cannot be married to each other, without a dispensation from the bishop of the diocese.

The ceremonies of burial also in Poland are usually celebrated with so great pomp and magnificence, that one would rather take them for triumphs than interments. At these, the corpse having been put into a velvet coffin with large thick silver plates at each corner, is placed in a hearse or chariot with six horses all covered with black housings. The coffin has a large black velvet pall thrown over it, with a cross of red satin in the middle, and six long black lxviisilk tassels hanging down from it, which are borne by as many of the deceased’s domestics, all in close mourning. Before the chariot march several priests, monks, and a great number of people, each of them carrying a white wax torch lighted in his hand; next to whom, and immediately before the corpse, come three men on horse back, who carry the arms of the deceased, viz. his sword, his lance, and his dart. The procession thus set out moves very slowly, so that they always come late to church. After the burial-service is over, those that carried the arms enter the church on horseback, and furiously riding up to the coffin, break them thereupon; after which, the body is interred. Then they return to the house, where there is always a very sumptuous supper prepared; at which not only the lay guests drive away sorrow by swilling to excess, but force the clergy to do the like, by the same acts of intemperance.

I shall close all with the customs and manners of travel ling in Poland. As an introduction to which, you are to understand, that there are scarce any inns in that country, except those the natives call karczmas, where travellers are obliged to lodge with the cattle. These inns, or rather long stables, are all built up with boards, and covered with straw: within there is no furniture; neither are there any windows, but all the light comes in either at holes made by the weather, or the crevices of ill-joined boards. It is true, at the further end they have a little chamber with a fire-hearth; but to make an abatement for that, there is no lodging in it, because of the gnats, fleas, bugs, and especially the noisome smell that incommodes it. For if they happen to have a little window there, (which is a rarity if they do,) yet they never open it, though the weather be at its extremity of heat: so that strangers choose to lie in the aforesaid stable, where the gospodarz or innkeeper lodges himself and his family, than to be suffocated by the stink and smell of so close and small a room. In the long room there is also an intolerable smell, occasioned by a parcel of rotten cabbages, which those people always keep by them. lxviiiAnd this, though it may be agreeable enough to the natives, who are used to it, yet to strangers it must be very offensive.

In the inns or stables there are no tables or beds, except one of the last in the little room just mentioned, which no body cares to lie in, because they can have no sheets but what are as coarse as sackcloth, and have been often lain in before. Neither is the straw in the stable much better, be cause (even of that) every company cannot have fresh: for the gospodarz, after his guests are gone, generally gathers it up, and preserves it for new comers. Yet is it, in this condition, preferable to the bed, by reason that he most commonly airs it after it has been used.

By reason of this ill entertainment on the roads, all travellers in this country are obliged to have a calash with two horses, wherein they carry all their necessaries and provisions. Their beds, quilts, bolsters, sheets, and the like, are generally packed up in a large serge bag, which afterwards serves them instead of a seat in their leathern convenience. They must provide also for the belly, by a case of bottles, wherein to put the drink they make use of on the road, and a basket for their meat, bread, &c. Moreover, they must furnish themselves with every individual thing that they may have occasion for, and take care to renew what they have exhausted, whenever an opportunity shall offer: for he that expects any thing but the indifferent lodging which I have before spoken of, will be in a fair way of laying down in it supperless.

Thus you may perceive, sir, that one that travels in Po land must, as it were tortoise or Tartar like, carry his whole house with him, and besides undergo not a few incommodities to boot. However, when a man is provided as above, he may travel at a very inconsiderable expense; for lodging, as indeed it ought, costs but very little; and there is nothing to pay for any thing else, because it cannot be got: the reason, I suppose, being, that the gentry of the country never offer to pay for what they call for, since there is no way to force them to it; so that when they ask for any thing, the lxixgospodarz always puts them off with a Nie musz, i. e. I have nothing. Yet nevertheless, when they have any thing to spare, they will freely give part of it to strangers; though generally, there being but few travellers in that country, they provide only for their own families. Therefore when travellers happen to be in want of provisions, they are used to apply themselves to the devour, or lord of the village, who forthwith supplies them gratis.

Poland being for the most part a flat and champaign country, a calash and two horses will rid a great deal of ground there in a day. Some of the gentry are so provident as to drive their own calashes themselves; but of these there are but few, stateliness being more in vogue with them, than to suffer them to stoop to an employ fit for their meanest servants. When they come to the inn, they generally put their horses to grass, because the gospodarz will not be easily induced to trust them for hay. There are some likewise that travel on horseback, with a quilt for their bed, about a foot and half broad, laid under their saddle. They commonly employ the gospodarz to fetch them in beer, bread, and whatever else they have occasion for; and which service he is not to refuse at his peril.

He that travels in winter will find it a very hard thing to rest anights, especially on holydays, because then all the peasants of the village are gathered together to carouse and make merry in that long room where you are obliged to lodge for want of a fire elsewhere; for at that time there is no sleeping without; nay, as I said before, scarce with it, (though men are commonly weary when they come off a journey,) these men making such a continued din in your ears with their excessive singing and dancing about the room, which none perform more awkwardly, there being a custom of rewarding a hard drinker here in Poland, by presenting him with a shirt, frock, handkerchief, and the like.

Yet notwithstanding this vice, to which they are most unmercifully addicted, I may affirm, that, as to the character of the Poles in general, they exceed all the nations of Europe in vivacity of spirit, strength of body, and length of lxxlife; which cannot be occasioned by their climate, because the Swedes, Muscovites, and Germans live all under the same parallel, and yet enjoy not the like vigour and health; and therefore must proceed,

First, from their diet; which, as to meat, is generally fresh roasted flesh (for they scarce ever eat any boiled, or salt, which causes the scurvy) and fowl; which increases the volatile and hard salts, and gives being to their vigour of body and soul.

Secondly, from their drink, which is spirituous and strong; being chiefly Hungarian wine burnt, or anise seed water, both which they guzzle down in great quantities almost all day long; the poorer sort having a liquor distilled from wheat, oats, or barley, which the gentry rectify with anise seeds or aromatics.

Thirdly, from their living hardly, for they hate effeminacy; and a poor country cottage pleases them as well as a palace; and they frequently weave tapestry and arras as they travel along the road. Nay, many of them will sleep in time of frost and snow without any bed or other conveniency; and the little children, two months after they have been born, have been carried about stark naked in that season.

Fourthly, from hunting, which is very much in use with them; they being expert in horsemanship to the greatest perfection.

Fifthly, from other exercises; as dancing, leaping, vaulting, jumping. They are likewise exceedingly given to talking, wherewith they agree with the French.

Sixthly, their hard beds, fasting, and temperance in eating, very much contribute towards their long lives; for hard beds knit their joints, and temperance at meals revives their spirits. Their slaves among them have no beds, and the masters seldom use any thing but quilts.

Seventhly, their health, vigour, and long lives may reasonably receive an addition from their great freedom and privileges; for where a slavish dependance hebetates and blunts the mind, and consequently enervates the body, lxxiliberty exhilarates the one, and by that means strengthens the other.

Thus having acquitted myself of every particular I gave the promise of, I must, in discharge of the friendship you honour me with, put the last hand to this long tiresome let ter; which I cannot better do, than by my addresses to the great Preserver of mankind, to keep you in the same state of health which I left you in at my departure from Oxford shire; that I may at my return (which I more and more wish for, through the consideration of the great advantages I shall receive from it) be restored to the happiness of your conversation; than which nothing can be more improving to or desired by,

My best friend and most honoured instructor,

Your most faithful

and most obliged servant,


Dec. 16, 1677.

Soon after the doctor’s return from Poland, he was, by the dean and chapter of the collegiate church of Westminster, in consideration of his great abilities to discharge the pastoral office, made choice of to succeed Dr. Edward Hinton as rector of Islip in Oxfordshire, a living of 200l. per annum; 100l. of which, out of his generous temper, he allowed to the Rev. Mr. Penny, (student of Christ Church,) his curate; and the other he expended in the educating and apprenticing the poorer children of that place. After having been two years incumbent there, he caused the chancel, that had been suffered miserably to run to ruin by his predecessor, to be rebuilt, as appears from the following inscription over the entrance into the chancel:

In Ecclesiam hanc Parochialem
Inductus Anno 1678,
Propriis Sumptibus hanc
Cancellariam a Fundamentis
Instauravit extruxitque Anno Domini 1680.


He likewise having found the mansion-house belonging to the rector much too mean for the largeness of the stipend, and having heard of the honour done to that village by the birth of Edward the Confessor, (as that king himself declares in his charter, whereby he gives that village, and other lands thereunto adjacent, to St. Peter’s church in Westminster,) caused the shattered remains of it to be to tally pulled down, and an edifice erected in a more convenient part of the town. The land upon which he built it, with a handsome garden, he purchased as a perpetual mansion for himself and successors; which may now vie with most parsonage houses in England, as may be seen in Dr. White Kennet’s Parochial Antiquities, wherein he gives a view of it in a plate inscribed to Dr. South, whose coat of arms is engraved over it, with this inscription, Viro reverendo Roberto South, S. T. P. rectori ecclesiae de Islip, tabulam hanc, quae amplum et elegantem rectoriae mansum suis impensis constructum representat, D. D. White Kennet. Nos admiremur, imitentur posteri. Though in what year this house was built, I am not hitherto informed.

In the year 1681, the doctor, who was then one of his majesty’s chaplains in ordinary, being in waiting, preached before the king upon these words, The lot is cast into the lap, but the disposing of it is of the Lord. Wherein, having spoken of the various changes and dispensations of Providence, and the unaccountable accidents and particulars of life, he introduces these three examples of unexpected advancements after this manner:

“Who that had looked upon Agathocles first handling the clay, and making pots under his father, and afterwards turning robber, could have thought, that from such a condition he should come to be king of Sicily?

“Who that had seen Masinello, a poor fisherman, with his red cap and his angle, would have reckoned it possible to see such a pitiful thing, within a week after, shining in his cloth of gold, and with a word or a nod absolutely commanding the whole city of Naples?

“And who, that had beheld such a bankrupt, beggarly lxxiiifellow as Cromwell, first entering the parliament house with a threadbare torn cloak, greasy hat, (perhaps neither of them paid for,) could have suspected, that in the space of so few years, he should, by the murder of one king, and the banishment of another, ascend the throne?” At which the king fell into a violent fit of laughter, and turning to the lord Rochester, said, “Ods fish, Lory, your chaplain must be a bishop; therefore put me in mind of him at the next death!”

During the remaining part of king Charles the second’s reign, wherein he continued a strenuous assertor of the prerogatives of the crown against such as were industrious towards their diminution, what by the interest of his patron, who, at his return from his embassy, was made lord Hyde and viscount Wootton Basset, and what by his own merits, he had several offers of advancement into the hierarchy, which he modestly declined, as having wherewithal to sup port himself according to the dignities of the church he stood possessed of, and the distribution of charities he had already settled, and intended to lay schemes for.

In order to this, he made some purchases of houses on Ludgate-hill and Token-house Yard; which puts me in mind of a tenant of his, one Mr. Taylor, then living upon Ludgate-hill, a rigid Presbyterian, who, during the time of Oates’s sham plot, had nothing but the whor* of Babylon before his eyes, and dreamt of nothing but evidences, forty thousand Spanish pilgrims with long bills, butchers knives, gags, gridirons, and what not. This man, upon his coming to the doctor in order to pay his rent, could not but discover his fears of the introduction of popery, and the dismal circ*mstances of fire and fa*got, with many other terrible ideas of persecution and enslavement. At which the doctor smiling, bid him be of good cheer, and very briskly told him, that “churchmen indeed might have some grounds for such apprehensions, but that persons of his persuasion had nothing to fear on the account of religion, since they were too great hypocrites to die martyrs.”

On the accession of king James the second to the throne, lxxivnotwithstanding his patron was then earl of Rochester, and advanced to the dignity of lord high treasurer of England, and his lordship’s brother, the earl of Clarendon, was lord lieutenant of Ireland, made him an offer of an archbishopric of that kingdom, he continued fixed in his resolves of living privately; which even those two noble peers themselves were forced to do soon after, by their dismission from court: for that unhappy prince being fully bent upon a general toleration of all Christian dissenters from the church established, and pushed forwards upon extremities to obtain liberty for the exercise of the Romish religion, by taking off the test and penal laws, took upon him to closet the chief men about him, and either to bring them over to his will by persuasions or threats.

Among others, the earl of Rochester, who was his majesty’s brother-in-law, and therefore very dear to him, was examined concerning his opinion and sentiments relating to the king’s will and pleasure, which his majesty was fully bent to have obedience paid to by all about him on pain of removal. Hereupon the good earl, after having, like a faithful counsellor, pointed out the fatal consequences of his majesty’s impolitic resolves, and begged him to desist from an enterprise that would be found impracticable, very submissively and prudently made answer, that he had been bred up in the principles of a religion which taught him that obedience to his prince which he had hitherto never failed in; and that his duty to God, who was the King of kings, obliged him to continue in the practice of them. However, if his majesty should be so pleased, (so certain was he of the truth of the doctrines he had received from the primitive church,) he was willing to abide by the result of a dispute between two church of England divines and two of the church of Rome; being not fearful of venturing to say, that, to which side soever the victory should incline, his lordship would from that time abide by that which conquered. Hereunto the king very readily agreed, and immediately nominated the fathers Giffard and Tilden for his two champions, and appointed the rule of faith to be the lxxv subject-matter of the controversy. The persons at first proposed by the earl were Dr. Jane and Dr. South; but the latter was so unacceptable to his majesty by the bitter invectives he was said to make use of in the pulpit against the Papists and Presbyterians, who then joined in their endeavours for liberty of conscience, that he told his lordship he could not agree to the choice of Dr. South, who, instead of arguments, would bring railing accusations, and had not temperament of mind enough to go through a dispute that required the greatest attention and calmness. Hereupon the earl chose Dr. Patrick, then dean of Peterborough, and minister of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, a very able divine, in his room, but would needs have the assistance of Dr. South .in a consultation held the night before the conference was to commence; wherein were such irrefragable arguments, drawn up by him on the subject they were to discourse upon, as totally obtained a conquest over their two opponents, and made the king dismiss his two pretended advocates with this rebuke, “that he could say more in the behalf of his religion than they could; and that he never heard a good cause managed so ill, nor a bad one so well.” So that if Dr. South could not be said to be in the battle, he was a very great instrument of obtaining the victory: and Dr. Jane has often owned, (though a most excellent casuist himself,) that the auxiliary arguments contributed by Dr. South did more towards flinging their antagonists on their backs, than his or his colleague’s.

The residue of king James’s reign being taken up in acts of bigotry and violence, after he had quelled Monmouth’s rebellion, (towards the suppression of which the doctor openly professed, that if there should be occasion, he would change his black gown for a buff coat,) gives us no farther particulars of Dr. South, than that he spent the greatest part of his time at Islip and Oxford, and sometimes at his paternal estate at Caversham in Oxfordshire, near Reading, where he was busied in preparing most of those excellent sermons for the press, which have since seen the light, and exercised himself in devotions to deprecate the judgments that seemed to lxxvi hang over the national church. Though I must not forget one passage relating to him at the latter end of these times, which, notwithstanding it was too light for serious thoughts, gave occasion for mirth, and may serve to shew the spirit and vivacity of the man whom it owes its being to. Mr. Lob, a dissenting teacher, who was so much in favour at court, as to be admitted into that king’s most honourable privy council, being to preach one day while the doctor was obliged to be resident at Westminster, the latter had the curiosity, since fame had spoke so much of him, to be one of his auditors incognito. Accordingly he disguised himself, and took a seat in his conventicle, where the preacher being mounted up in the pulpit, and naming his text, made no thing of .splitting it into twenty-six divisions; upon which, separately, he very gravely undertook to expatiate in their order. Hereupon the doctor rose up, and jogging a friend who bore him company, said, “Let us go home and fetch our gowns and slippers, for I find this man will make night work of it.”

Yet, how ludicrous soever such expressions as these may seem, when applied to a man of his character, so inexhaustible and flowing was his wit, that it even broke through him in his most serious meditations; and it ought to be imputed to his zeal for the honour of the true religion, if he, in many of his discourses, is found harsh and acrimonious. Lukewarmness in devotion was what his soul abhorred, and he looked upon sectarists of all sorts as enemies, who, though different in persuasion, joined together in attempts for the destruction of the holy catholic church; and to thwart their measures, he was unwearied in his persuasions, wheresoever he went, and wheresoever he preached, to excite his audience to the most ardent and holy affections for the cause of God and his church. Not that he, as many others did, levelled his satires against the court, or would speak evil of those powers whom God in his wise dispensation had set over us; not that he uttered grievances from the pulpit, or sought the alteration of the government by bringing in texts of scripture in justification of resistance and taking lxxvii arms against the prince, to whose pernicious and traitorous ministers they were wholly to be imputed. But when the archbishop of Canterbury, and bishops that signed the invitation to the prince of Orange to come over and rescue our laws and liberties, would have had him to do the same, he very handsomely refused it, by telling them, “his religion had taught him to bear all things; and howsoever it should please God that he should suffer, he would, by the divine assistance, continue to abide by his allegiance, and use no other weapons but his prayers and tears for the recovery of his sovereign from the wicked and unadvised counsels wherewith he was entangled.”

However, when the revolution was happily brought about, and the king thought fit to abdicate his kingdom by flying into France; when the convention had settled the crown upon the prince and princess of Orange, and he saw himself deserted by that sovereign who should have continued to protect him; he, after many struggles with himself, and many conflicts with others, was convinced that obedience and protection were reciprocal terms; and that when the latter ceased to be of any use to him, the former was void also; though as to the time of his closing in with the government newly settled, I cannot be particular; notwithstanding I am perfectly well assured that he stood out for some time, and at last did not come in upon any temporal considerations: it having always been known to be his practice rather to slight riches, than to have an overweening desire after them; and to keep his conscience void of offence towards God and towards man, than to indulge any earthly appetite.

Yet though Dr. South complied so far with the necessity of the times, as to acknowledge the settlement to be legal, upon the foot of the revolution, when offers were made him by some great men at the helm, who had then the benefit of the royal ear, of procuring him a very great dignity in the church, upon the vacating several of the episcopal sees, for refusing the oaths of allegiance to their majesties king William and queen Mary, in the year 1691, he very handsomely lxxviiiexcused himself, by declaring, “that notwithstanding he himself saw nothing that was contrary to the laws of God and the common practice of all nations, to submit to princes in possession of the throne, yet others might have their reasons for a contrary opinion; and he blessed God that he was neither so ambitious, nor in want of preferment, as, for the sake of it, to build his rise upon the “ruins of any one father of the church, who for piety, good morals, and strictness of life, which every one of the deprived bishops were famed for, might be said not to have left their equal:” being afterwards followed in this by the great Dr. Beveridge, late bishop of St. Asaph, who likewise refused the bishopric of Bath and Wells, while the last incumbent, Dr. Kenn, was living. “These,” (speaking of the deprived bishops, says the author of the History of Faction,) “were the meek, pious, and learned Dr. Sancroft, lord archbishop of Canterbury; the seraphic Dr. Kenn, bishop of Bath and Wells; the evangelical Dr. Turner, bishop of Ely; the vigilant Dr. Lake, bishop of Chichester; the resolute and undaunted Dr. White, bishop of Peter” borough; the unchangeable Dr. Lloyd, bishop of Norwich; and the irreproachable Dr. Frampton, bishop of Gloucester.”

To return to Dr. South, who by no means liked the act of toleration for all Protestant dissenters, nor could well relish some proceedings at court, whereby he suspected (how justly I will not take upon me to determine) some persons to be countenanced, and in great power, who were enemies to the church established; he laid hold of all occasions to decry their measures, and baffle their designs. And as he had vigorously exerted himself with the commissioners appointed by the king in 1689, for an union with dissenting Protest ants, in behalf of our Liturgy and forms of prayer, and entreated them by no means to part with any of its ceremonies that might have endangered the loss of the whole; so he scarce ever preached, but he set before his auditors the mischiefs that would arise by admitting such vipers into the revenues of the church, that would eat their way through lxxixtheir adopted (not natural) mother’s bowels. This he chiefly undertook to do, by exposing their insufficiency for the great work of the ministry; by ridiculing their want of fit knowledge; and by setting them forth in such colours, as might at once give his audience ideas of pleasure and horror, in reflections upon their deliverance from the usurpations of such pretended gospel-mongers, and the unhappy circ*mstances they would be involved in, should the like wolves in sheeps’ clothing be again in power. And this he never did better or more effectually than in a sermon preached at the abbey church of Westminster, in the year 1692, upon 1 Cor. xii. 4. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit: wherein among other acute and biting sarcasms relating to the practices of dissenting teachers in the times of usurpation and rebellion, he thus speaks of them: “Amongst those of the late reforming age, all learning was utterly cried down; so that with them the best preachers were such as could not read, and the ablest divines such as could hardly spell the letter. To be blind was with them the proper qualification of a spiritual guide; and to be book-learned, as they called it, and to be irreligious, were convertible terms. None were thought fit for the ministry but tradesmen and mechanics, because none else were allowed to have the Spirit. Those only were accounted like St. Paul, who could work with their hands, and in a literal sense drive the nail home, and be able to make a pulpit before they preached in it.” In another place, branching out these gifts into various heads, and particularizing upon the gift of divers tongues; “It is certain,” says he, “that they scarce speak the same things for two days together. Though otherwise it must be confessed that they were none of the greatest linguists, their own mother tongue serving all their occasions, without ever so much as looking into the fathers, who always spoke the language of the beast, to such as could not understand them. Latin was with them a mortal crime; and Greek, instead of being owned for the language of lxxxthe Holy Ghost, (as in the New Testament it is,) was looked upon as the sin against it: so that, in a word, “hey had all the confusions of Babel amongst them, without the diversity of tongues.”

In the year 1693, the pestilent sect of the Socinians, by the countenance of the act of toleration, and the loose sentiments of some of our own divines, had gotten considerable ground in England since the revolution, and being favoured by the licentiousness of the press, they published many of their pamphlets, enough to provoke any Christian government. Hereupon, either to check their insolence, or aggrandize himself in the opinion of the world, Dr. Sherlock, then dean of St. Paul’s by his new conversion, undertook the vindication of that orthodox doctrine concerning the Trinity. But because mysteries of faith, being above reason, are not to be explained by reason, since they would thereby cease to be mysteries; it fared with the doctor, that while he made it his endeavour to prove three distinct Persons, he was very justly charged with proving three distinct Gods; having asserted that there were in the Godhead three minds, three beings, and three intelligences; which gave the Unitarians occasion to triumph, and made it necessary that one well-skilled champion should arise for the defence of the truth delivered down to us by the holy gospel.

Hereupon Dr. South, one whom his very antagonists al lowed to be a person every way qualified, engaged the bold Tritheist, and so handled him, that he had little else to have recourse to than superficial and trifling evasions; and the charge of Tritheism upon him was no supposed crime, but a most real, and, what is more, a premeditated offence. But it must be confessed, that it had been much more for the honour of them both, had they not been so severe upon the characters of each other, and had entered less into searches after those unfathomable depths which are imperceptible, and by the divine will are likewise ever to remain so, and therefore ought by all Christians to be revered as mysteries that surpass human understanding.


Dr. Sherlock entitled his book, A Vindication of the holy and ever blessed Trinity. And Dr. South published his reply (without his name) under the following title: Animadversions upon Dr. Sherlock’s Book, entitled, A Vindication of the holy and ever blessed Trinity, &c. Together with a more necessary Vindication of that sacred and prime Article of the Christian Faith from his new Notions and false Explications of it; humbly offered to his Admirers, and to himself the chief of them. By a Divine of the Church of England. The preface to which he begins thus, viz.

“To be impugned from without, and betrayed from within, is certainly the worst condition that either church or state can fall into; and the best of churches, the “church of England, has had experience of both. It had been to be wished, and (one would think) might very reasonably have been expected, that when Providence had took the work of destroying the church of England out of the Papists’ hands, some would have been contented with her preferments, without either attempting to give up her rights and liturgy, or deserting her doctrine. But it has proved much otherwise. And amongst those who are justly chargeable with the latter, I know none who has faced, the world and defied the church with so bold a front, as the author of two very heterodox books; the first entitled, A Discourse concerning the Knowledge of Jesus Christ, &c. published in the year 1674: and the other, A Vindication of the Doctrine of the holy and ever blessed Trinity, &c. and (as one would think) wrote purposely to let the world see, that the truth cannot be so much shaken by a direct opposition, as by a treacherous and false defence.”

“Really our author has shewn himself very communicative to the world: for as in the beginning of his book he has vouchsafed to instruct us how to judge of contradictions, so in the progress of his work he has condescended to teach us (if we will but learn) how to speak and write contradictions too. There remains therefore lxxxiionly one favour more, viz. that he would vouchsafe to teach us how to reconcile them also.” Page 26, book i. (alluding to a book written by Dr. Sherlock, in the year 1685, called, An Answer to the Protestant Reconciler.)

“It is indeed an amazing thing to consider, that any one man should presume to browbeat all the world at such a rate; and we may well wonder at the force of his confidence and self-conceit, that it should be able to raise any one to such a pitch. But naturalists have observed, that blindness in some animals is a very great help and instigation to boldness. And amongst men, as Ignorance is commonly said to be the mother of devotion, so, in account for the birth and descent of Confidence too, (whatsoever cause some may derive it from,) yet certainly he who makes Ignorance the mother of this also, reckons its pedigree by the surer side.” Chap. ii. p. 67.

“Our author not being satisfied with the account given of the mystery of the blessed Trinity by the schools, nor with those notions about it which have hitherto obtained in the world till he carne into it; (no doubt as a person peculiarly sent and qualified to rectify all those imperfect and improper notions which had been formerly received by divines;) he, I say, with a lofty, undertaking mind, and a reach beyond all before, and indeed beside him, and (as the issue is like to prove) as much above him too, undertakes to give the world a much better and more satisfactory explication of this great mystery; and that, by two new terms or notions (purely and solely) of his own invention, called self consciousness and mutual consciousness; which, though still joined together by our author, in his explication of the blessed Trinity, have yet very different effects.” Chap. iii. in princip.

“He exposes a poor, senseless, infant hypothesis to the wide world, and then very unmercifully leaves it to shift for itself.” In eodem cap. versus finem.

“I dismiss his two so much admired terms, (by himself, I mean,) as in no degree answering the expectation he lxxxiii raised of them. For I cannot find, that they have either heightened or strengthened men’s intellectual faculties, or cast a greater light and clearness upon that object which has so long exercised them; but that a Trinity in Unity is as mysterious as ever; and the mind of man as unable to grasp and comprehend it, as it hath been from the beginning to this day. In a word, self consciousness and mutual consciousness have rendered nothing about the Divine Nature and Persons plainer, easier, and more intelligible; nor indeed, after such a mighty stress so irrationally laid upon two slight, empty words, have they made any thing (but the author himself) better understood than it was before.” Chap. iv. page 115.

“And indeed I cannot but here further declare, that to me it seems one of the most preposterous and unreasonable things in nature, for any one first to assert three Gods, and, when he has so well furnished the world with deities, to expect that all mankind should fall down and worship them.” Chap. v. page 143.

“Certainly one would think, that the very shame of the world, and that common awe and regard of truth, which nature has imprinted on the minds of men, should keep any one from offering to impose upon men in so gross and shameless a manner, as to venture to call a notion or opinion the constant doctrine both of the fathers and schools; nay, and to profess to make it out, and shew it to be so; and while he is so doing, not to produce one father or schoolman; I say again, not so much as one of either, in behalf of that which he so confidently and expressly avows to be the joint sentiments of both. This surely is a way of proving, or rather of imposing, peculiar to himself. But we have seen how extremely fond he is of this new term and notion: and therefore, since he will needs have the reputation of being the sole father and begetter of the hopeful issue, there is no reason in the world that antiquity should find other fathers to maintain it.” Chap. vi. p. 168.

“The book called by him A Vindication of the Trinity, lxxxivis certainly like a kind of pot or vessel with handles quite round it; turn it which way you will, you are sure to find something to take hold of it by.” Page 358.

“I cannot see any new advantage he has got over the Socinians, unless it be that he thinks his three Gods will be too hard for their one. And perhaps it is upon presumption of this, that he discharges that clap of thunder at them in his preface, where he tells us, that having dipped his pen in the vindication of so glorious a cause, by the grace of God he will never desert it, while he can hold pen in hand. In which words methinks I see him ready armed and mounted, (with his face towards the west,) and brandishing his sword aloft, all reeking with Socinian blood, and with the very darts of his eyes looking his poor forgotten friends through and through. For in good earnest the words sound very terribly to these men; but most terribly of all to the article itself, (which is like to suffer most by his Vindication;) for thus to threaten that he will never leave off vexing it, as long as he can hold pen in hand, (which I dare say will be as long as he can tell money with it,) this, I say again, sounds very dreadfully.” P. 359.

In 1695, Dr. Sherlock published a Defence of himself against the animadverter; to which Dr. South replied (incog, as before) in a treatise, entitled, Tritheism charged upon Dr. Sherlock’s new Notion of the Trinity. And the Charge made good, in Answer to the Defence of the said Notion against the Animadversions, &c. This piece he thus addressed, To all Professors of Divinity in the two Universities of this Kingdom. “Our church’s enemies of late,” says he, “seem to have diverted their main attacks from her outworks in matters of discipline and ceremony; and now it is no less than her very capitol which they invade; her palladium (if I may allude to such expressions) which they would rob her of; even the prime, the grand, and distinguishing article of our Christianity, the article of the blessed Trinity itself; without the belief of which, I dare aver that a man can no more be a Christian, than he can, lxxxvwithout a rational soul, be a man. And this is now the point so fiercely laid at and assaulted, both by Socinianism on the one hand, and by Tritheism, or rather Paganism, on the other. For as the former would run it down by stripping the Godhead of a ternary of Persons, so the other would as effectually, but more scandalously overthrow it, by introducing a trinity of Gods; as they inevitably do, who assert the three Divine Persons to be three distinct infinite minds, or spirits; which, I positively affirm, is equivalent to the asserting the said three Persons to be three Gods. And I doubt not of your learned concurrence with me, and abetment of me in this affirmation.

If it must be the lot of the church of England to sit down, and see her most holy religion practised upon by such wretched innovations as can tend only to ridicule and expose the chief articles of it to the scorn of Arians and Socinians, and all this under pretence of explaining them; I can but say, God deliver our poor church from such explainers, and our creed from such explications. And as I heartily commiserate the unhappy state of that, so I really pity this bold man himself, that he should be thus suffered to go on venting his scandalous heterodoxies, without finding either friends to counsel, or superiors to control him.” Page 71.

“That the Holy Ghost is called προβολὴ, not by emanation, but by procession, is just as if one should say of Peter, that he is not a living creature, but a man. From all which it follows, that this author is grossly ignorant of the true philosophical sense of the term emanation; sometimes applying it to one thing, and sometimes denying it of another; but both at a venture, and just as people use to do at blindman’s buff.” Page 76.

“The soul of Socrates, vitally joined with a female body, would certainly make a woman; and yet, according to this author’s principle, (affirming that it is the soul, and the soul only, which makes the person,) Socrates, with such a change of body, would continue the same person, lxxxviand consequently the same Socrates still. And in like manner for Xantippe; the conjunction of her soul with another sex would certainly make the whole compound a man; and yet, nevertheless, Xantippe would continue the same person, and the same Xantippe still; save only, I confess, that, upon such an exchange of bodies with her husband Socrates, she would have more right to wear the breeches than she had before.” P. 129.

“If he proves, that three absolute entire beings can be three relative subsistences or modifications of one and the same infinite mind or being, then I will grant, that he has defended his assertion against the animadverter; and not only so, but that he has full power also (by a theological use of his own making) to alter the sense and signification of all words, in spite of the world, and by virtue of the same, (if he pleases,) may call the deanery of St. Paul’s the archbishopric of Canterbury, and behave himself accordingly.”” Pages 243, 244.

“He excepts against Bellarmine’s orthodoxy, (because forsooth he was a Papist,) like that profound dotard who reproved a young student for reading Clavius upon Euclid, telling him that he ought to read none but Protestant mathematics: surely the Romish writers are as orthodox about the article of the Trinity, as any Protestant writers whatsoever!” P. 256.

“When I look back upon that shrewd remark of his, with which he begins the said answer, viz. That logic is a very troublesome thing when men want sense, (p. 93. l. 7,) I must confess, that he here speaks like a man who understands himself; and that having so often shewn, how troublesome a thing logic is to him, by his being so angry with it, he now gives a very satisfactory reason why it is so: and therefore, in requital of it, I cannot but tell him, that if logic without sense be so troublesome, confidence, without either logic, or sense, or truth, or shame, or so much as conscience of what one says or denies, is intolerable.” P. 274.


“And so I take my leave of the dean’s three distinct, infinite minds, spirits, or substances, that is to say, of his three Gods; and having done this, methinks I see him go whimpering away, with his finger in his eye, and that complaint of Micah in his mouth, Judges xviii. 24. Ye have taken away my gods which I made; and what have I more? Though I must confess I cannot tell why he should be so fond of them, since I dare undertake, that he will never be able to bring the Christian world either to believe in, or to worship a trinity of Gods. Nor do I see what use they are likely to be of, even to himself, unless peradventure to swear by.” Page 281.

The result of this paper war gave the victory to Dr. South, and decided after a most extraordinary manner in his favour: for Mr. Bingham, fellow of University college in Oxford, having some time after taken upon him to fall in with Dr. Sherlock’s notions, and asserted, in a sermon before the university, “that there were three infinite distinct minds and substances in the Trinity; and also that the three Persons in the Trinity are three distinct minds or spirits, and three individual substances;” was censured by a solemn decree there in convocation: wherein, “they judge, declare, and determine the aforesaid words, lately delivered in the said sermon, to be false, impious, and heretical, disagreeing with, and contrary to the doctrine of the church of England publicly received.”

But this decree rather irritated the parties than composed the differences: whereupon the king interposed his royal authority, by directions to the archbishops and bishops, that no preacher whatsoever, in his sermon or lecture, should presume to deliver any other doctrine concerning the blessed Trinity, than what was contained in the holy scriptures, and was agreeable to the three Creeds and the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion; which put an end to the controversy, though not till after both the disputants (with Dr. Burnet, master of the Charter-house, who about the same time published his Archaeologia, whereby he impugned and weakened, as much as in him lay, the divine truths of the Old Testament) lxxxviiihad received a reprimand from a witty ballad, called, The Battle Royal; to the tune of A Soldier and a Sailor:

A dean and prebendary

Had once a new vagary,

And were at doubtful strife, sir,

Who led the better life, sir,

And was the better man,

And was the better man.

The dean he said, that truly,

Since Bluff was so unruly,

He’d prove it to his face, sir,

That he had the most grace, sir,

And so the fight began, &c.

When Preb replied like thunder,

And roar’d out, ’Twas no wonder,

Since Gods the dean had three, sir,

And more by two than he, sir,

For he had got but one, &c.

Now whilst these two were raging,

And in disputes engaging,

The master of the Charter

Said both had caught a Tartar,

For Gods, sir, there were none, &c.

That all the books of Moses

Were nothing but supposes;

That he deserv’d rebuke, sir,

Who wrote the Pentateuch, sir;

’Twas nothing but a sham, &c.

That as for father Adam,

With Mrs. Eve his madam,

And what the serpent spoke, sir,

’Twas nothing but a joke, sir,

And well-invented flam, &c.

Thus in this battle-royal,

As none would take denial,

The dame for which they strove, sir,

Could neither of them love, sir,

Since all had giv’n offence, &c.

She therefore slyly waiting,

Left all three fools a prating,

And being in a fright, sir,

Religion took her flight, sir,

And ne’er was heard of since,

And ne’er was heard of since.

Whether this ballad is worded with that decency that the subject of the dispute, or the very eminent and learned persons lxxxixconcerned in it, required, it is not in my sphere to decide; but the reception it met with in being translated into several languages, (particularly Latin, by a curious hand at the university of Cambridge,) and the presents made to the author by the nobility and gentry, made it evident that their sentiments were against having the mysteries of our holy religion discussed and canvassed after so ludicrous a manner. Not but that Dr. South’s zeal for the cause of God and the defence of the blessed Trinity may atone for those loose and unguarded expressions that fell from his pen; and it is of great use to his justification to say, that it had been a crime in him to have been lukewarm and indolent, when the presumption of man should dare to push him forward upon explanations of those sacred arcana, (which God, who alone is omniscient, had reserved to himself,) contrary to the dictates of the holy Spirit, and the received opinion of the councils and fathers.

Nor can I account for the manifest partiality of some great men in favour of Dr. Sherlock; especially of Dr. Stillingfleet, then bishop of Worcester, a person every way qualified for the high dignity he was invested with, and of a most excelling judgment in all points of human and divine literature; who though, in his preface to his Vindication of the Trinity, quotes this sentence against the manner of the treatment the two antagonists gave each other; viz. Oderit rixas et jurgia, praesertimque inter eruditos, ac turpe esse dicebat, viros indubitate doctos canina rabie famam vicissim suam rodere ac lacerare scriptis trucibus, tanquam vilissimos de plebe cerdones in angiportis sese luto ac stercore conspurcantes. Nic. Rigalt. Vit. P. Puteani, p. 48. i. e. “He ever hated broils and opprobrious language, especially among the learned; and said, it was a very odious and unseemly thing, for men, who were undoubtedly renowned for knowledge and understanding, to insult and tear to pieces each other’s reputations, in their inhuman writings, with a canine fury, not unfitly compared to cobblers sprung from the vilest dregs of the people, bespattering each other in lanes and xcnarrow passages with dirt and dung.” This inclines very much to the part of that author, (viz. Dr. Sherlock,) who, in Dr. South’s words, was not only the aggressor, but the transgressor too, as may be seen from a view of that book itself, who, howsoever learned, and seemingly intended against the Socinians, will appear to be a mere brutum fulmen in that respect, and to fall heaviest upon their very enemies.

This Dr. South was very accurately apprised of; and not withstanding his great deference for his lordship’s unquestionable skill in polemical and casuistical divinity, joined to his obedience to the royal mandate and the episcopal order, held his hands from entering the lists with him in a controversial way, he could not but have a fling at them both, in a dedication to Narcissus Boyle, archbishop of Dublin;44See vol. ii. p. 226. where, amongst other remarkable passages, are to be found what follow: “Surely,” says he, “it would be thought a very odd way of ridding a man of the plague by running him through with a sword; or of curing him of a lethargy by casting him into a calenture; a disease of a contrary nature indeed, but no less fatal to the patient; who equally dies, whether his sickness or his physic, the malignity of his distemper or the method of his cure, despatches him. And in like manner must it fare with a church, which, feeling itself struck with the poison of Socinianism, flies to Tritheism for an antidote.

“But at length happily steps in the royal authority to the church’s relief, with several healing injunctions in its hands, for the composing and ending the disputes about the Trinity then on foot; and those indeed so wisely framed, so seasonably timed, and (by the king, at least,) so graciously intended, that they must, in all likelihood, (without any other Irenicon,) have restored peace to the church, had it not been for the importunity and partiality of some, who having by the awe of these injunctions endeavoured to silence the opposite party, (which by their arguments they could not do,) and withal looking upon xcithemselves as privileged persons, and so above those ordinances which others were to be subject to, resolved not to be silent themselves; but renewing the contest, partly by throwing Muggleton and Rigaltius, with some other foul stuff, in their adversaries’ faces; and partly by a shameless reprinting (without the least reinforcing) the same exploded tritheistic notions again and again, they quite broke through the royal prohibitions, and soon after began to take as great a liberty in venting their innovations and invectives, as ever they had done before; so that he, who shall impartially consider the course taken by these men with reference to those engaged on the other side of this controversy about the Trinity, will find that their whole proceeding in it resembles nothing so much, as a thief’s binding the hands of an honest man with a cord, much fitter for his own neck.

“But, blessed be God, matters stand not so with you in Ireland; the climate there being not more impatient of poisonous animals, than the church of poisonous opinions: an universal concurrent orthodoxy shining all over it, from the superior clergy who preside, to the inferior placed under them: so that we never hear from thence of any presbyter, and much less of any dean, who dares innovate upon the faith received: and least of all (should such a wretch chance to start up among you) can I hear of any bishop likely to debase his style and character so low, as either to defend the man, or colour over his opinions. Nor, lastly, do we find that in the judgment of the clergy there, a man’s having wrote against one sort of heresy or heterodoxy, ought to justify or excuse him in writing for another, and much less for a worse.”

His character likewise of high and low churchmen, in the same dedication, highly deserve a place in these Memoirs; not only because they speak the sense and opinion of the author, but impress upon the minds of disinterested and impartial readers the same ideas which his was filled with: “Those of the ancienter members of her (viz. the church xciiof England’s) communion, who have all along owned and contended for a strict conformity to her rules and sanctions, as the surest course to establish her, have been of late represented, or rather reprobated, under the inodiating character of high churchmen, and thereby stand marked out for all the discouragement that spite and power together can pass upon them; while those of the contrary way and principle are distinguished, or rather sanctified, by the fashionable endearing name of low churchmen, not from their affecting, we may be sure, a lower condition in the church than others, (since none lie so low but they can look as high,) but from the low condition which the authors of this distinction would fain bring the church itself into, a work in which they have made no small progress already. And thus by these ungenerous, as well as unconscionable practices, a fatal rent and division is made amongst us: and, being so, I think those of the concision who made it, would do well to consider, whether that, which our Saviour assures us will destroy a kingdom, be the likeliest way to settle and support a church. But I question not but these dividers will very shortly receive thanks from the Papists for the good services they have done them; and in the mean time they may be sure of their scoffs.”

Much about this time, the doctor’s unwearied application to his studies brought upon him the bloody flux, which was followed by the strangury, that scarce left him, but for some transitory releases from it, to his last moments; yet, notwithstanding the uneasiness this must needs give him, he still kept up his sprightliness and vivacity of temper with the few friends he conversed with, which were always well chosen; and so far was he from deserving the character of a morose and reserved person by a certain author, (who said, that the sourness of his disposition, which made him unfit for conversation, made him a scholar,) that whosoever was once in his company, went off with such a relish of his wit and good humour, as to covet the coming into it, though xciiiat the expense of bearing a part in the subject of his raillery. So that what was said of Horace, might on as just grounds be worked into his character:

————ridentem Flaccus amicum
Tangit, et admissus circum praecordia ludit.

During the greatest part of the reign of queen Anne, he was in a state of inactivity; and the infirmities of old age growing fast upon him, he performed very little of the duties of the ministerial function, otherwise than, when his health would allow of his going to the abbey church at Westminster, to be present at divine service; though he would take a journey sometimes to his seat near Reading, having always two chairmen attending his coach to take him out, when he was uneasy through the means of his indisposition before mentioned, and carry him in the chair; for which service he was so bountiful, as constantly to allow them ten pounds for the journey.

Notwithstanding his ill state of health, he continued his wonted recourse to books, and the improvement of his mind, (which had a sufficient magazine of learning before,) almost to the day of his death; and it was with great difficulty that his surgeon, who had the cure of a sore leg two or three years since under hand, prevailed on him not to creep into his study too often; which yet he could not refrain.

Yet, notwithstanding all these impediments to activity and motion, none shewed a greater concern for the church, when he judged it to be in danger: he was unwearied in his application to many of the lords spiritual and temporal, to be mild and gentle in their sentence against Dr. Sacheverell, whose trial came on in 1710, and who is highly indebted to him for a very successful advocate.

Upon the change of the ministry, when Mr. Bromley, an illustrious and truly honest patriot, came to preside at helm, in the post of one of her late majesty’s principal secretaries of state, the Dr. was again solicited and courted to accept of higher dignities of the church, and to become one of the fathers of it, that had been so very dutiful a son; more xcivespecially when the see of Rochester and deanery of Westminster was vacant by the death of the learned and pious Dr. Sprat; but he returned for answer, “that such a chair would be too uneasy for an old, infirm man to sit in, and he held himself much better satisfied with living upon the eaves-droppings of the church, than to fare sumptuously, by being placed at the pinnacle of it:” (alluding to his house, that was adjoining to the abbey.) So that very worthy and hearty lover and assertor of the doctrines of the church of England, Dr. Francis Atterbury, then dean of Christ Church in Oxford, was pitched upon by her late most sacred majesty to fill those two stalls, as bishop and dean. In the month of June, 1713, which gave occasion to the doctor, though he had a great esteem for the new dean’s parts and person, when a gentleman asked him concerning the state of his health, to say, “Within an inch of the grave, no doubt; since I have lived to see a gentleman who was born the very year in which I was made one of the prebendaries of this church, appointed to be the dean of it.” This gave occasion to several persons, who were not acquainted with the doctor’s way of talk, to suggest, that Dr. South took the gift of preferments away from those views in disgust; but the truth is on the contrary side; for the doctor received visits from the bishop to his dying day, and made it amongst other requests, that at his burial my lord of Rochester might perform the last office.

On the death of queen Anne, of immortal and ever blessed memory, the doctor told a friend of his, that was wont to visit him once or twice a week, “that it was time for him to prepare for his journey to a blessed immortality; since all that was good and gracious, and the very breath of his nostrils, had made its departure to the regions of bliss and eternal happiness.”

Accordingly, he began thenceforward to set his house in order, and to provide for the further good of posterity, as will be seen by his generous benefactions.

In the year 1715, he published a fourth volume of excellent sermons, which he inscribed to Mr. Bromley in the xcv following remarkable manner: “To the right honourable William Bromley, esquire, some time speaker of the honourable house of commons, and after that, principal secretary of state to her majesty queen Anne, of ever blessed memory; in both stations great and eminent; but in nothing greater than in and from himself; Robert South, his most devoted servant, humbly offers and presents this fourth volume of his sermons, as the last and best testimony he can give of the high esteem and sincere affection which he, the author of them, bears, and ever must and shall bear, to that excellent person.”

The next thing he had to do, was to shew his zeal and gratitude for and to the family of the late duke of Ormond, (who had unhappily forfeited his title by a bill of attainder in parliament,) in causing himself to be brought in a chair to the election of a new high steward, vacant upon the forfeiture of his said late grace. The candidates were the duke of Newcastle and the earl of Arran, the late duke’s only brother, who had lost his election, had not Dr. South (who was in a manner bedridden) made the voices of the prebendaries equal, by saying very briskly, when he was asked whom he would vote for,

“Heart and hand for my lord Arran.”

So that the dean, who had the casting vote, determined the choice in his lordship’s favour.

This being the last time he went abroad, it is easy to imagine, that weakness, the attendant upon old age, made very quick advances towards his dissolution, which happened on Sunday the 8th day of July, 1716.

Four days after his decease, the corpse having for some time lain in a decent manner in the Jerusalem chamber, was brought into the college hall, where a Latin oration was spoken by Mr. John Barber, captain of the king’s scholars. Thence it was attended by the bishop of Rochester, with the prebendaries who were in town, the masters, the scholars, the whole choir, and all the servants belonging to that royal foundation, with many worthy members of the university and college of Christ Church in Oxford. Upon their entry into the xcviabbey, the choir performed the part of the funeral service till the body was placed in the area of the church; after which followed evening prayers, and an anthem suitable to the occasion, the same which was sung at the interment of her majesty, composed by Dr. William Croft. Prayers being ended, the corpse was attended in the same manner to the grave, near the steps of the altar, adjoining to the late Dr. Busby’s: where the choir performed the last part of the service; the right reverend the dean reading the Burial Office with such affection and devotion, as shewed his concern for the inestimable loss that church had sustained by the death of so valuable a person.

Having brought the remains of this great and good man with peace to the grave, we shall conclude these memoirs with giving his character, as drawn up by an eminent hand:55Tatler, No. 205. “This learned gentleman,” says he, speaking of Dr. South, “had a talent of making all his faculties bear to the great end of his hallowed profession. His charming discourses have in them whatever wit and wisdom can put together. Happy genius! He was the better man for being a wit.” His judgment (says another) was penetrating, and his knowledge extensive; he did honour to his age and country; I could almost say, to human nature it self. He possessed at once all those extraordinary talents that were divided amongst the greatest authors of antiquity; he had the sound, distinct, comprehensive knowledge of Aristotle, with all the beautiful lights, graces, and embellishments of Cicero. One does not know which to admire most in his writings, the strength of reason, force of style, or brightness of imagination. As to the latter part of his character, his actions: he was not only a son, but a father to the church of England; sincere and hearty to her friends, and ever bold and undaunted in the defence of truth and loyalty; wherein his arguments were so solid and nervous, that as few have come near him, so none have excelled him; insomuch, that while he was possessed of Tertullian’s oratory and force of persuasion, he was invested and clothed with xcviiSt. Cyprian’s devotion and humility. He was a true friend to monarchy, even when rebellion was successful, and faction meritorious. His charity to the poor was very liberal, and the greatest part of it industriously concealed; having our Saviour’s prohibition, of letting not his light shine before men, always in remembrance; whereby we may be assured, that he found greater satisfaction in the duty, than he could propose from the title of a generous benefactor. To describe him fully ought only to be attempted by a person that is blessed with such a share of wit and devotion as he enjoyed. A writer66Tatler, No. 205. above mentioned says, “that the best way to praise him, is to quote him.” In all his writings will be found the divine, the orator, the casuist, and the Christian: the latter shines nowhere more conspicuous than in that excellent description which he has given us in one of his sermons; wherein, having shewn the virtue of a good conscience in supporting a man under the greatest trials and difficulties of life, he concludes with representing its force and efficacy in the hour of death.

“The last instance,” says he, “in which, above all others, this confidence towards God does most eminently shew and exert itself, is at the time of death; which surely gives the grand opportunity of trying both the strength and worth of every principle. When a man shall be just about to quit the stage of this world, to put off his mortality, and to deliver up his last accounts to God; at which sad time, his memory shall serve him for little else, but to terrify him with a frightful review of his past life, and his former extravagances stripped of all their pleasure, but retaining their guilt: what is it then, that can promise him a fair passage into the other world, or a comfortable appearance before his dreadful Judge, when he is there? Not all the friends and interests, all the riches and honours under heaven, can speak so much as a word for him, or one word of comfort to him in that condition: they may possibly reproach, but they cannot relieve him.


“No; at this disconsolate time, when the busy tempter shall be more than usually apt to vex and trouble him, and the pains of a dying body to hinder and discompose him, and the settlement of worldly affairs to disturb and confound him; and, in a word, all things conspire to make his sick bed grievous and uneasy: nothing can then stand up against all these ruins, and speak life in the midst of death, but a clear conscience.

“And the testimony of that shall make the comforts of heaven descend upon his weary head, like a refreshing dew or shower upon a parched ground. It shall give him some lively earnests and secret anticipations of his approaching joy. It shall bid his soul go out of the body undauntedly, and lift up its head with confidence before saints and angels. Surely the comfort which it conveys at this season is something bigger than the capacities of mortality, mighty and unspeakable, and not to be understood, till it comes to be felt.

“And now, who would not quit all the pleasures, and trash, and trifles, which are apt to captivate the heart of man, and pursue the greatest rigours of piety, and austerities of a good life, to purchase to himself such a con” science, as, at the hour of death, when all the friendships of the world shall bid him adieu, and the whole creation turn its back upon him, shall dismiss the soul, and close his eyes with that blessed sentence, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord?77Vol. ii. p. 222, 223.


In the south aisle of Westminster-abbey, joining to Dr. Busby’s, is erected a very noble marble monument to the memory of Dr. South, with his effigies in a cumbent posture, containing the following inscription:

Ab hoc hand procul marmore,
Juxta Praeceptoris BUSBEII cineres, suos conquiescere voluit
Vir Eruditione, Pietate, Moribus antiquis,
Scholae Westmonasteriensis, deinde Ædis Christi Alumnus.
Et post restauratum CAROLUM, magno favente CLARENDONO,
Utriusque in quo sensim adoleverat Collegii Prebendarius,
Ecclesiae Anglicanae et florentis et afflictae Propugnator assiduus,
Fidei Christianae Vindex acerrimus.
In Concionibus novo quodam et plane suo,
Sed illustri, sed admirabili dicendi genere excellens;
Ut harum rerum peritis dubitandi sit locus,
Utrum ingenii acumine an argumentorum vi,
Utrum doctrinae ubertate, an splendore verborum et pondere praestaret:
Hisce certe omnibus simul instructus adjumentis
Animos audientium non tenuit tantum, sed percelluit, iuflammavit.

Erat ille humaniorum Literarum et primaevae Theologiae, cum paucis, sciens;
In Scholasticorum interim Scriptis idem versatissimus,
E quibus quod sanum est et succulentum expressit,
Idque a rerum futilium disquisitione et Vocabulorum involucris liberatum,
Luculenta oratione illustravit.
Si quando vel in rerum, vel in hominum, vitia acerbius est invectus,
Ne hoc aut partium studio, aut Naturae cuidam asperitati tribuatur,
Eam quippe is de rebus omnibus sententiam aperte protulit,
Quam ex maturo Animi sui Judicio amplexus est:
Et cum esset Ipse suae Integritatis conscius,
Quicquid in Vita turpe, quicquid in Religione fucatum fictumque viderat,
Illud omne liberrima indignatione commotus profligavit.

His intentus Studiis, haec animo semper agitans,
Hominum a consortio cum esset remotior, auxilio tamen non defuit.
Quam enim benignum, quam misericordem in calamitosos animum gesserit,
Largis Muneribus vivens moriensque testatus est.

Upon the Pedestal.

Apud ISLIPAM Ecclesiae Sacrarium et Rectoris Domum de integro extruxit,
Ibidem Scholam erudiendis pauperum liberis instituit et dotavit. Literis et
hic loci, et apud Ædem Christi promovendis, Ædificiis istius Collegii
instaurandis, libras millenas in numeratis pecuniis, ter centenas
circiter Annul reditus, ex Testamento reliquit. Pietatis erga Deum,
benevolentiae erga homines Monumenta in aeternum mansura.

Obiit Jul. 8. An. Dom. MDCCXVI. Æt. lxxxii.


1Very credibly reported to have been done in an independent congregation at Oxon.

2Unton Croke, a colonel in the army, the perfidious cause of Penruddock’s death, and some time after high sheriff of Oxfordshire.

3This speech was written in English by Mr. Hyde, and turned into elegant Latin by Dr. South.

4See vol. ii. p. 226.

5Tatler, No. 205.

6Tatler, No. 205.

7Vol. ii. p. 222, 223.

Sermons Preached Upon Several Occasions. Vol. I. -
        Christian Classics Ethereal Library (2024)
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