Thomas Jackson.

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ing sensibly weaker in body, he did, upon the
twenty-first day of February, 28 Car. II. anno
dom. 1675-6, go before a master of the chancery,
with a little parchment deed, drawn by himself,
and written all with his own hand, and there
sealed and delivered it, and acknowledged it to
be enrolled ; and afterward he brought the
original deed to the lord chancellor, and did
formally surrender his office.

He had the day before surrendered to the
king in person, who parted from him with great
grace, wishing him most heartily the return of


his health, and assuring him, that he would still
look upon him as one of his judges, and have
recourse to his advice when his health would
permit ; and in the meantime would continue
his pension during his life.

The good man thought this bounty too great,
and an ill precedent for the king ; and therefore
wrote a letter to the lord treasurer, earnestly de-
siring that his pension might be only during
pleasure. But the king would grant it for life,
and make it payable quarterly.

And yet, for a whole month together, he would
not sufler his servant to sue out his patent for
his pension ; and when the first payment was
received, he ordered a great partof itto charitable
uses ; and said, he intended most of it should be
so employed, as long as it was paid him.

At last he happened to die upon the quarter
day, which was Christmas day ; and though this
might have given some occasion to a dispute,
whether the pension for that quarter were re-
coverable, yet the king was pleased to decide
that matter against himself, and ordered the pen-
sion to be paid to his executors.


As soon as he was discharged from his great
place, he returned home with as nnich cheerful-
ness as his want of health could admit of; be-
inir Tiow eased of a burden he had been of late


groaning under, and so made more capable of
enjoying that which he had much wished for,
according to his elegant translation of, or rather
paraphrase upon, those excellent lines in Sene-
ca's Thyestes, act ii.

Stct quicunque volet patens
Aulge culmine lubrico :
Me dulcis saturet quies.
Obscuro positus loco,
Leni perfruar otio.
Nultis nota Quiritibus
- Etas per taciturn fluat.
Sic cum transierint me'
Nullo cum strepitu dies»
Plebeius moriar senex.
Illi mars gravis incubat^
Qui notus nimis omnibus,
Ignotus moritur sibi.

" Let him that will ascend the tottering seat
Of courtly grandeur, and become as great
As are his mounting wishes : as for me,
Let sweet repose and rest my portion be.
Give me some mean, obscure recess ; a sphere
Out of the road of business, or the fear
Of falling lower : where I sweetly may
Myself and dear retirement still enjoy.
Let not my life or name be known unto
The grandees of the time, tost to and fro
By censures or applause ; but let my age
Slide gently by ; not overthwart the stage
Of public action, unheard, unseen.
And unconcem'd, as if I ne^er had been.
And thus, while I shall pass niy silent day,
In shady privacy, free from the noise
And bustles of the mad world, then shall I
A good old innocent plebeian die.
Death is a mere surprise, a very snare
To him that makes it his life's greatest care

W W^:


To be a public pageant known to all,

But unacquainted with himself doth fall."

Having now attained to that privacy which
he had no less seriously than piously wished for,
he called all his servants that had belonged to
his office together, and told them he had now
laid down his place, and so their employments
were determined. Upon that, he advised them
to see for themselves, and gave to some of them
very considerable presents ; and to every one of
them a token ; and so dismissed all those that
were not his domestics. He was discharged
February 1.5th, 1675-6, and lived till the Christ-
mas following ; but all the while was in so ill a
state of health, that there was no hope of his re-
covery. He continued still to retire often, both
for his devotions and studies ; and, as long as
he could go, went constantly to his closet : and
when his infirmities increased on him, so that
he was not able to go thither himself, he made
his servants carr\'him thither in a chair. At last,
as the winter came on, he saw, with great joy,
his deliverance approaching : for, besides his
being we.iry of the world, and his longings for
the blessedness of another state, his pains in-
creased so on him, tbat no patience inferior to
his could have borne them without a great unea-
siness of mind; yet he expressed to the last
-uch submission to the will of God, and so equal
t temper under them, that it was visible then
what mighty eflecfs his philosophy and Chris-
tianity had on him, in supporting liim under such
a heavy load.


He could not lie down in bed above a year
before his death, by reason of the asthma ; but
sat rather than lay in it.

He was attended on in his sickness by a
pious and worthy divine, jNIr. Evan Griffith,
minister of the parish ; and it was observed, that
in all the extremities of his pain, whenever he
prayed by him, he forebore all complaints or
groans ; but with his hand and eyes lifted up,
was fixed in his devotions. Not long before
his death, the minister told him, there was to be
a sacrament next Sunday at church ; but he be-
lieved he could not come and partake with the
rest ; therefore he would give it to him in his
own house. But he answered, no ; his heaven-
ly Father had prepared a feast for him, and he
would go to his Father's house to partake of it.
So he made himself be carried thither in his
chair, where he received the sacrament on his
knees, with great devotion ; which it may be
supposed was the greater, because he appre-
hended it was to be his last, and so took it as
his viaticum, and provision for his journey. He
had some secret unaccountable presages of his
death"; for he said that if he did not die on such
a day, (which fell to be November 25th,) he be-
lieved he should live a month longer ; and he
died that very day month. He continued to en-
joy the free use of his reason and sense to the
last moment, which he had often and earnestly
prayed for during his sickness. And when his
voice was so sunk that he could not be heard,
they perceived, by the almost constant lifting up


of his eyes and hands, that he was still aspiring
toward that blessed state of which he was now
speedily to be possessed.

He had for many years a particular devotion
for Christmas day ; and after he had received
the sacrament, and been in the performance of
the public worship ofthat day, he commonly wrote
a copy of verses on the honour of his Saviour,
as a fit expression of the joy he felt in his soul
at the return of that glorious anniversary.
There are seventeen of those copies printed,
which he wrote on seventeen several Christmas
days, by which the world has a taste of his po-
etical genius ; in which, if he had thought it worth
his time to have excelled, he might have been
eminent, as well as in other things ; but he
wrote them rather to entertain himself, than to
merit the laurel.

1 shall here add one, which has not been yet
printed ; and it is not uidikely it was the last he
wrote. It is a paraphrase on Simeon's song. I
take it from his blotted copy, not at all finished ;
so the reader is to make allowance for any im-
perfection he may find in it.

" Blkssed Creator, who before the birth
Of lime, or ere the pillars of the earth
Were fix'd or foriird, didst lav that great design
Of man's redemption ; and didst define
In ihinc eternal counsels all the scene
Of that stupendous business, and when
It should appear: and thoimh the very day
Of its epiphany concealed lay
Within thy mind, yet thou wert pleased to show
Some crhmpses of it unto men below,


In visions, types, and prophecies ; as we

Things at a distance in perspective see.

But thou wert pleased to let thy servant know

That that bless'd hour, that seenn'd to move so slow

Through former ages, should at last attain

Its time, ere my few sands, that yet remain,

Are spent ; and that these aged eyes

Should see the day when Jacob's Star should rise.

And now thou hast fulfill'd it, blessed Lord,

Dismiss me now, according to thy word ;

And let my aged body now return

To rest, and dust, and drop into an urn :

For I have lived enough ; mine eyes have seen

Thy much-desired salvation, that hath been

So long, so dearly wish'd, the joy, the hope

Of all the ancient patriarchs, the scope

Of all the prophecies and mysteries,

Of all the types unveil'd, the histories

Of Jewish church unriddled, and the bright

And orient sun arisen to give light

To Gentiles, and the joy of Israel,

The world's Redeemer, bless'd Emmanuel.

Let this sight close mine eyes ; 'lis loss to see,

After this vision, any sight but thee."

Thus he used to sing on the former Christ-
mas days ; but now he was to be admitted to
bear his part in the new songs above : so that
day, which he had spent in so much spiritual
joy, proA'ed to be indeed the day of his jubilee
and deliverance ; for between two and three in
the afternoon he breathed out his righteous and
pious soul. His end was peace ; he had no
strugglings, nor seemed to be in any pangs in
his last moments. He was buried on January
4th, Mr. Griffith preaching the funeral sermon.
His text was Isaiah Ivii, 1, "The righteous
perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart ; and


merciful men are taken away, none considering
that the righteous are taken away from the evil
to come." Which, how fitly it was applicable
upon this occasion, all that consider the course
of his life will easily conclude. He was inter-
red in the church-yard of Alderley, among his
ancestors. He did not much approve of bury-
ing in churches ; and used to say the churches
were for the living, and the church-yards for the
dead. His monument was like himself, decent
and plain : the tombstone was black marble,
and the sides were black and white marble ;
upon which he himself had ordered this bare
and humble inscription to be made : —











Having thus given an account of the most re-
markable things of his life, I am now to pre-
sent the reader with such a character of him,
as the laying his several virtues together will
amount to : in which 1 know how difficult a
task I undertake ; for to write defectively of him
were to injure him, and lessen the memory of
one to whom I intend to do all the right that is


in my power. On the other hand, there is so
much here to be commended, and proposed for
the imitation of others, that I am afraid some
may imagine I am rather making a picture of
him, from an abstracted idea of great virtues and
perfections, than setting him out as he truly
was. But there is great encouragement in this,
that I write concerning a man so fresh in all
people's remembrance, that is so lately dead,
and Avas so much and so well known, that I
shall have many vouchers, who will be ready
to justify me in that all I am to relate, and to
add a great deal to what I can say.

It has appeared in the account of his various
learning how great his capacities were, and
how much they were improved by constant study.
He rose always early in the morning ; he loved
to walk much abroad ; not only for his health,
but he thought it opened his mind, and enlarged
his thoughts, to have the creation of God before
his eyes. When he set himself to any study,
he used to cast his design in a scheme, which
he did with a great exactness of method : he
took nothing on trust, but pursued his inquiries
as far as they could go ; and as he was humble
enough to confess his ignorance, and submit to
mysteries which he could not comprehend, so
he was not easily imposed on by any shows of
reason, or the bugbears of vulgar opinions. He
brought all his knowledge as much to scientifi-
cal principles as he possibly could, which made
him neglect the study of tongues : for the bent
of his mind lay. another way. Discoursing once


of this to some, they said they looked on the
common law as a study that could not be brought
into a scheme, nor formed into a rational science,
bv reason of the indigestedness of it, and the
multiplicity of the cases in it, which rendered
it very hard to be understood, or reduced into a
method. But he said, he was not of their mind ;
and so, quickly after, he drew with his own
hand a scheme of the whole order and parts of
it, in a large sheet of paper, to the great satis-
faction of those to whom he sent it. Upon this
hint, some pressed him to compile a body of
the English law : it could hardly ever be done
by a man who knew it better, and would with
more judgment and industry have put it into
method. But he said, as it was a great and
noble design, which would be of vast advantage
to the nation ; so it was too much for a private
man to undertake : it was not ^o be entered
upon, but by the command of a prince, and with
the communicated endeavours of some of the
most eminent of the profession.

He had great vivacity in his fancy, as may
appear by his inclination to poetry, and the
lively illustrations, and many tender strains in
his contemplations : but he looked on eloquence
and wit as things to be used very chastely in
serious matters, which should come under a se-
verer inquiry. Therefore he was, both when at
the bar and on the bench, a great enemy to all
elo(juence or rhetorick in pleading. He said,
if the judge or jury had a risjht understanding,
it signified nothing but a waste of time, and


loss of words ; and if they were weak, and
easily wrought on, it was a more decent way
of corrupting them by bribing their fancies, and
biassing their affections : and w^ondered much
at that affectation of the French lawyers, in
imitating the Roman orators in their pleadings ;
for the oratory of the Romans was occasioned
by their popular government, and the factions
of the city : so that those who intended to excel
in the pleading of causes were trained up in
the schools of the rhetors, till they became
ready and expert in that luscious way of dis-
course. It is true, the composures of such a
man as Tully was, who mixed an extraordinary
quickness, an exact judgment, and a just deco-
rum with his skill in rhetoric, do still entertain
the readers of them with great pleasure ; but at
the same time it must be acknowledged, that
there is not tkat chastity of style, that closeness
of reasoning, nor that justness of figures in his
orations, that are in his other writings ; so that
a great deal was said by him, rather because he
knew it would be acceptable to his auditors,
than that it was approved of by himself; and
all who read them will acknowledge, they are
better pleased w4th them as essays of wit and
style, than as pleadings, by which such a judge
as ours was would not be much wrought on.
And if there are such grounds to censure the
performances of the greatest master in elo-
quence, we may easily infer what nauseous
discourses the other orators made ; since in
oratory, as well as in poetry, none can do in-


diflerently. So our judge wondered to find the
French, that live under a monarchy, so fond of
imitating that which was an ill effect Oi the
popular government of Rome. He, therefore,
pleaded himself always in few words, and home
to the point. And when he was a judge, he
held those that pleaded before him to the main
hinge of the business, and cut them short when
they made excursions about circumstances of no
moment ; by which he saved much time, and
made the chief dithculties be well stated and

There was another custom among the Romans
which he as much admired as he despised their
rhetoric ; which was, that the jurisconsults were
the men of the highest quality, who were bred
to be capable of the chief employment in the
state, and became the great masters of their law.
These gave their opinions of all cases that
were put to them freely, judging it below them
to take any present for it ; and, indeed, they
only were the true lawyers among them, whose
resolutions were of that authority, that they
made one classis of those materials, out of which
'J'rebonian compiled the Digests under Justi-
nian ; for the orators, or causidici, that pleaded
causes, knew little of the law, and only employ-
ed their mercenary tongues to work on the
affections of the people and senate, or the prae-
tors. Even in most of Tully's orations there is
litth^ of law; and that little, which they might
sprinkle in their declamations, they had not
from their own knowledge, but the resolution


of some jurisconsult ; according to that famous
story of Servius Sulpitius, who was a celebrated
orator, and being to receive the resolution of one
of those that were learned in the law, was so
ignorant, that he could not understand it ; upon
which the jurisconsult reproached him, and said,
it was a shame for him, that was a nobleman, a
senator, and a pleader of causes, to be thus ig-
norant of the law. This touched him so sensi-
bly that he set about the study of it, and became
one of the most eminent jurisconsults that ever
were at Rome. Our judge thought it might
become the greatness of a prince to encourage
such a sort of men, and of studies ; in which
none in the age he lived in was equal to the
great Selden, who was truly in our English
law what the old Roman jurisconsults were in

But where a decent eloquence was allowable,
Judge Hale knew how to have excelled as much
as any, either in illustrating his reasonings by
proper and well-pursued similes, or by such
tender expressions as might work most on the
affections ; so that the present lord chancellor
has often said of him since his death, that he
was the greatest orator he had known ; for
though his words came not fluently from him,
yet when they were out, they were the most
significant and expressive that the matter could
bear. Of this sort there are many in his Con-
templations, made to quicken his own devotions ;
which have a life in them becoming him that
useth them, and a softness fit to melt even the


harshest tempers, accommodated to the gravity
of the subject, and apt to excite warm thoughts
in the readers ; that as they show his excellent
temper that brought them out, and appUed them
to himseh', so they are of great use to all who
would both inform and quicken their minds.
Of his illustrations of things by proper similes I
shall give a large instance, out of his book of
the " Origination of Mankind," designed to ex-
pose the several different hypotheses the philo-
sophers fell on concerning the eternity and ori-
ginal of the universe ; and to prefer the account
given by Moses to all their conjectures : in
which, if my taste does not misguide me, the
reader will find a nire and very agreeable mix-
ture both of fine wit and solid learning and

" That which may illustrate my meaning in
this preference of the revealed light of the holy
Scriptures, touching this matter, above the es-
says of a philosophical imagination, may be this.
Suppose that Greece, being unacquainted with
the curiosity of mechanical engines, though
known in some remote region of the world ; and
that an excellent artist had secretly brought,
and deposited in some field or forest some ex-
cellent watch or clock, which had been so
formed that the original of its motion were hid-
den, and involved in some close-contrived piece
of mechanism ; that this watch was so framed
that the motion thereof mii,dit have lasted a year,
or some such time as misiht give a reasonable
period for their philosophical descanting con-


cerning it ; and that in the plain table there had
been not only the description and indication
of hours, but the configurations and indications
of the various phases of the moon, the motion
and place of the sun in the ecliptic, and divers
other curious indications of celestial motions ;
and that the scholars of the several schools of
Epicurus, of Aristotle, of Plato, and the rest of
those philosophical sects, had casually in their
vi^alk found this admirable automaton ; what
kind of work would there have been made by
every sect, in giving an account of this pheno-
menon ? We should have had the Epicurean
sect have told the by-standers, according to their
preconceived hypothesis, that this was nothing
else but an accidental concretion of atoms, that
happily fallen together had made up the index,
the wheels, and the balance ; and that being
happily fallen into this posture, they were put
into motion. Then the Cartesian falls in with
him, as to the main of their supposition ; but
tells him that he does not sufficiently explicate
how the engine is put into motion ; and therefore,
to furnish this motion, there is a certain materia
siibtilis, that pervades this engine, and the
moveable parts, consisting of certain globular
atoms, apt for motion ; they are thereby, and by
the mobilit5' of the globular atoms, put into mo-
tion. A tliird finding fault with the two former,
because those motions are so regular, and do
express the various phenomena of the distribu-
tion of time, and of the heavenly motions ; there-
fore it seems to him, that this engine, and motion


also, SO analogical to the motions of the heavens,
was wrought by some admirable conjunction of
the heavenly bodies, which formed this instru-
ment, and its motions, in such an admiralile
correspondency to its own existence. A fourtb,
disliking the suppositions of the three former,
tells the rest, that he hath a more plain and
evident solution of the phenomenon, namely,
the universal soul of the world, or spirit of na-
ture, that formed so many sorts of insects with
so many organs, faculties, and such congruity
of their whole composition, and such curious
and various motions, as we may observe in
them, hath formed and set into motion this ad-
mirable automaton, and regulated and ordered it,
with all these congruities we see in it. Then
steps in an Aristotelian, and being dissatisfied
with all the former solutions, tells them, ' Gen-
tlemen, you are all mistaken ; your solutions are
inexplicable and unsatisfactory ; you have taken
up certain precarious hypotheses, and being
prepossessed with these creatures of your own
fancies, and in love with them, right or wrong,
you form all your conceptions of things accord-
ing to those fancied and preconceived imagina-
tions. The short of the business is, this ma-
chine is eternal, and so are all the motions of
it ; and inasmuch as a circular motion hath no
beginning or end, this motion that you see both
in the wheels and index, and the successive
indications of the celestial motions, is eternal,
and without beginning. And this is a ready
and expeditious way of solving the pheno-


mena, without so much ado as you have made
about it.'

" And while all the masters were thus con-
triving the solution of the phenomenon, in the
hearing of the artist that made it : and when
they had all spent their philosophizing upon it,
the artist that made this engine, and all this
while listened to their .admirable fancies, tells
them, ' Gentlemen, you have discovered very
much excellency of invention, touching this
piece of work that is before you ; but you are all
miserably mistaken ; for it was I that made this
watch, and brought it hither ; and I will show you
how I made it. First, I wrought the spring, and
the fusee, and the wheels, and the balance, and
the case and table ; I fitted them one to another,
and placed these several axes that are to direct
the motions, of the index to discover the hour
of the day, of the figure that discovers the
phases of the moon, and the other various mo-
tions that you see : and then I put it together
and wound up the spring, which hath given all
these motions that you see in this curious piece
of work ; and that you may be sure I tell you

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Online LibraryThomas JacksonChristian biography .. → online text (page 4 of 18)