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struggle; the subsequent exorbitances and outrages of the Antipopish spirit, as exemplified by the Puritans; the victory of that spirit, in ill-suited alliance with the principles of civil liberty, over loyalty and the Established Church, in the times of Charles the First; the wretched systems and practices of the Sectaries, during the Commonwealth, and the contests for establishment between the Presbyterians and Independents at the same period; the hasty return of the nation, weary and sick of the long reign of confusion, to the antient constitution of things, at the Restoration; the operation of those confusions, and of the ill-disciplined triumph of the adverse party upon the state of morals and religion, during the early part of the reign of the Second Charles; the endeavours of Charles and his brother to restore Popery, and introduce despotism; the noble exertions of the Clergy of the Church of England, at that interval, in behalf of natural and revealed Religion, and Protestantism, and civil liberty; the Revolution of 1688, together with the ascertainment of the distinct nature and rights of an established Church, and a religious toleration; and the principles of the Non-jurors.
A narrative of these grand particulars, together with many others of inferior moment, obtained in connexion with a description of the virtues, private life, and character of the agents principally concerned in them would, I thought, be considerably interesting and useful, and especially in regard to
those objects which I have above referred to, without descending to later times, less productive in some respects than the preceding, and more so indeed in others, but on both accounts the less fitted to constitute any part of this design. At the Revolution, a degree of stability was given both to our ecclesiastical and civil establishments, which they never before possessed; and hence a great part of the age which followed was less fertile, at least in historical interest : and from that æra, the growing abundance and extent of Biographical Memoirs, were felt, of themselves, as a discouragement against attempting the admission of any portion of thein into a collection like the present.
It was no part of my original plan to go in quest of any thing new, but merely to revive the old. Yet, when his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury generously gave me permission to avail myself of the stores contained in the Manuscripts in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth, I could not forbear, in justice to that liberality, to exert such a further portion of industry, as might seem best calculated to increase the value and usefulness of my publication. For this reason, and from this source, the Reader will find here a copious Life of Sir Thomas More, never before published; a new edition of Cavendish's Life of Cardinal Wolsey, so much surpassing in value those which have preceded it, as almost to deserve the name of a new work; and some large and interesting additions to the Memoirs of the Nicholas Ferrars; besides many occasional
; extracts inserted in the notes: for all which I desire in this place to return humble thanks to my most honoured Patron.
That which occasioned me the greatest labour and difficulty, with regard to the remainder of my materials, was the laying in the first stores, and afterwards making a selection out of them. The contents of these volumes are but a very small part of what I have gathered together, not without a considerable expence of time and pains. From the same heap, another man perhaps would have made now and then a different choice. But the principles upon which I proceeded will, I trust, be made sufficiently apparent to my readers in the course of this Preface : further I have nothing to say, but that, proceeding upon those which I judge the best principles, I made the selection the best I could.
It will be found, (for which, I imagine, no apology is necessary), that I have preferred the ancient and original authorities, where they could be procured, before modern compilations and abridgments; the narratives, for instance, of Fox and Carleton, before the more artificial compositions of Gilpin.
Neither do I think that it will require any excuse with the judicious reader, that in the early parts of the series, I have been at some pains to retain the ancient orthography. It was one advantage which I contemplated in projecting this compilation, that it would afford, by the way, some view of the progress of the English language, and of English composition. This benefit would have been greatly impaired by taking away the old spelling. But I have always thought that the far more solemn interests of reality and truth are also, in a degree, violated by that practice.
The reader is desired further to observe, that in many cases the Lives are republished from the originals, entire, and without alteration ; but in others, the method pursued has been different. Wherever the work before me seemed to possess a distinct character as such, either for the beauty of its composition, the conveniency of its size, its scarcity, or any other sufficient cause, I was desirous that my reader should have the satisfaction of possessing it compleat: but where these reasons did not exist, I have not scrupled occasionally to proceed otherwise : only, in regard to alterations, it is to be understood, that all which I have taken the liberty of making are confined solely to omissions. Thus, the Lives written by Isaac Walton, are given entire ; and I have inserted all that he published : but the accounts of Ferrar and Tillotson have been shortened.
Many of the Lives which are given from Fox's Acts and Monuments (a), and which the Editor looks upon as among the most valuable parts of his
(a) The edition followed is that of the year 1610.
volumes, are brought together and compiled from distant and disjointed parts of that very extensive work; a circumstance of which it is necessary that any one should be informed, who may wish to compare these narratives with the originals. It will be found also, that in many places much has been omitted; and that a liberty has not unfrequently been taken of leaving out clauses of particular sentènces, and single coarse and gross terms and expressions, especially such as occurred against Papists. But, here also, though he has not all Fox laid before him, yet the reader may be assured that all which he has is Fox.
In the Notes which I have added, my aim has heen occasionally to correct my Author; but much more frequently to enforce his positions, and illustrate hiin, and that especially in matters relating to doctrines, opinions, manners, language, and characters. Their number might easily have been increased, but I was unwilling to distract the Reader's eye from the object before him, except where I thought some salutary purpose might be answered. Where the notes are inserted between brackets (), it is to be understood, that they are not the Editor's, but are derived from the same source as the text.
Upon the whole then, my desire has been to bring forward in the way, and by the means which I have stated, a work which might deserve some humble station in the same ránk with those produc