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147.–COURT OF JAMES THE FIRST.
SIR JOHN HARRINGTON. [THERE is a very curious collection of original papers, written at various times, from the reign of Henry VIII. to that of James I., entitled, “Nugæ Antiquæ ;' and the most valuable of these miscellanies are the letters and tracts of Sir John Harrington. This very able courtier is principally known as the translator of Ariosto's
Orlando Furioso;' and the characteristic of his mind, which was that of a ready and genial wit, has been established by the custom of Queen Elizabeth to speak of him as “ that witty fellow, my godson,"
that merry poet, my godson.” The following extract from one of his letters exhibits his acute powers of observation, and his tendency to good-natured sarcasm. Certainly this picture of court manners shows the advance we have made in the decencies of life. Harrington was born in 1561; he died in 1612.]
In compliance with your asking, now shall you accept my poor ac.. count of rich doings : I came here a day or two before the Danish King came, and from the day he did come, until this hour, I have been well-nigh overwhelmed with carousals and sports of all kinds. The sports began each day in such manner and such sort, as well-nigh persuaded me of Mahomet's paradise. We had women, and indeed wine too, in such plenty, as would have astonished each sober beholder. Our feasts were magnificent, and the two royal guests did most lovingly embrace each other at table. I think the Dane hath strangely wrought on our good English nobles; for those, whom I never could get to taste good liquor, now follow the fashion, and wallow in beastly delights. The ladies abandon their sobriety, and seem to roll about in intoxication. In good sooth the parliament did kindly to provide his Majesty so seasonably with money, for there hath been no lack of good living; shows, sights, and banquetings, from morn to eve.
One day, a great feast was held, and, after dinner, the representa tion of Solomon, his Temple, and the coming of the Queen of Sheba was made, or (as I may better say) was meant to have been made, before their majesties, by device of the Earl of Salisbury and others.But, alas! as all earthly things do fail to poor mortals in enjoyment,
so did prove our presentment thereof. The lady who did play the queen's part, did carry most precious gifts to both their Majesties'; but, forgetting the steps arising to the canopy, overset her caskets into his Danish Majesty's lap, and fell at his feet, though I rather think it was in his face. Much was the hurry and confusion; cloths and napkins were at hand, to make all clean. His Majesty then got up and would dance with the Queen of Sheba; but he fell down and humbled himself before her, and was carried to an inner chamber and laid on a bed of state; which was not a little defiled with the presents of the queen, which had been bestowed upon his garments; such as wine, cream, jellies, beverage, cakes, spices, and other good matters. The entertainment and show went forward, and most of the presenters went backward, or fell down; wine did so occupy their
chambers. Now did appear, in rich dress, Hope, Faith and Charity: Hope did essay to speak, but wine rendered her endeavours so feeble that she withdrew, and hoped the king would excuse her brevity: Faith was then all alone, for I am certain she was not joined with good works, and left the court in a staggering condition: Charity came to the king's feet, and seemed to cover the multitude of sins her sisters had committed; in some sort she made obeisance and brought gifts; but said she would return home again, as there was no gift which Heaven had not already given his Majesty. She then returned to Hope and Faith, who were both in the lower hall. Next came Victory, in bright armour,
and presented a rich sword to the king, who did not accept it, but put it by with his hand; and, by a strange medley of versification, did endeavour to make suit to the king. But Victory did not triumph long; for, after much lamentable utterance, she was led away like a silly captive, and laid to sleep in the outer steps of the ante-chamber. Now did Peace make entry, and strive to get foremost to the king; but I grieve to tell how great wrath she did discover unto those of her attendants; and, much contrary to her semblance, most rudely made war with her olive branch, and laid on the pates of those who did oppose her coming
I have much marvelled at these strange pageantries, and they do bring to my remembrance what passed of this sort in our queen's days ; of which I was sometime an humble presenter and assistant: but I ne'er did see such lack of good order, discretion, and sobriety, as I have now done. I have passed much time in seeing the royal sports
of hunting and hawking, where the manners were such as made me devise the beasts were pursuing the sober creation, and not man in quest of exercise or food. I will now, in good sooth, declare to you, who will not blab, that the gunpowder fright is got out of all our heads, and we are going on, hereabouts, as if the devil was contriving every man should blow up himself, by wild riot, excess, and devastation of time and temperance. The great ladies do go well masked, and indeed it be the only show of their modesty to conceal their counte. nance; but, alack, they meet with such countenance to uphold their strange doings, that I marvel not at aught that happens. The lord of the mansion is overwhelmed in preparations at Theobalds, and doth marvellously please both kings, with good meat, good drink, and good speeches. I do often say (but not aloud), that the Danes have again conquered the Britons, for I see no man, or woman either, that can now command himself or herself. I wish I was at home :-( rus, quando te aspiciam?
148.-Examples of Spiritual Perfection.
BATES. [DR. WILLIAM BATES was one of the most eminent of the divines whose conscientious scruples removed them from the Church of Englạnd in 1662, under the Act of Uniformity. He had previously been one of the king's chaplains; had been offered the deanery of Lich field and Coventry; and at the time of his ejectment was vicar of St. Dunstan's in the West. There is something exceedingly touching in
passage in his farewell sermon to his parishioners: “It is neither fancy, faction, nor humour, that makes me not comply: but merely the fear of offending God. And if, after the best means used for my illumination (as prayer to God, discourse, and study) I am not able to be satisfied as to the lawfulness of what is required; if it be my unhappiness to be in error ; surely men will have no reason to be angry with me in this world, and I hope God will pardon me in the next." After his secession from the established Church, Dr. Bates became the minister of a congregation of Protestant Dissenters at Hackney, at which place he died in 1699, in his seventy-fourth year. His works were collected in 1700, in a folio volume, which has been several times reprinted.]
The gospel proposes the most animating examples of perfection.
We are commanded to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. There are some attributes of God, which are objects, not of our imitation, but of our highest veneration. Such are his eternity, immensity, omnipotence, immutability. There are other attributes, his moral perfections, which are imitable-holiness, goodness, justice, truth. These are fully declared in his law, and visibly in his providence. This command, , as was before explained, is to be understood, not of an equality, but of a resemblance. God is essentially, transcendently, and unchangeably. holy, the original of holiness in intelligent creatures. There is a greater disproportion between the holiness of God and that of angels, though it be unspotted, than between the celerity of the sun in the heavens and the slow motion of the shadow upon the dial regulated by it. It should be our utmost aim, our most earnest endeavour, to imitate the divine perfection. Then is the soul godlike, when its principal powers, the understanding and the will, are influenced by God.
The heathen deities were distinguished by their vices-intemperance, impurity, and cruelty; and under such patronage their idolaters sinned boldly. The true God commands us to “be holy, as he is holy; to be followers of Him as dear children.” Love produces desires and en. deavours of likeness.
The life of Christ is a globe of precepts, a model of perfection, set before us for our imitation. In some respects this is more proportionable to us; for in him were united the perfections of God with the infirmities of a man. He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." His purity was absolute, and every grace in the most divine degree was expressed in his actions. His life and death were a compounded miracle, of obedience to God and love to men. Whatever his Father ordered him to undertake, or undergo, he entirely consented to; he willingly took on him the form of a servant; it was not put upon him by compulsion. In his life, humility towards men, infinite descents below him, self-denial, zeal for the honour of God, ardent desires for the salvation and welfare of men, were as visible as the flame discovers fire. In his sufferings obedience and sacrifice were united. The willingness of his spirit was victorious over the repugnance of the natural will in the garden. “Not my will, but thine be done,” was his unalterable choice. His patience was insuperable to all injuries. He was betrayed by a disciple for a vile price, and a murderer was preferred before him. He was scorned as a false prophet, as a feigned king, and as a deceitful saviour. He was spit on, scourged, crowned with thorns, and crucified; and in the height of his sufferings never expressed a spark of anger against his enemies, nor the least degree of impatience. Now consider, it was one principal reason of his obedience to instruct and oblige us to conform to his pattern, the certain and constant rule of our duty. We may not securely follow the best saints, who sometimes, through ignorance and infirmity, deviate from the narrow way; but our Saviour is “the way, the truth, and the life.” What he said, after his washing the disciples' feet (an action wherein there was such an admirable mixture of humility and love, that it is not possible to conceive which excelled, for they were both in the highest perfection), “ I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so do ye,” is applicable to all the kinds of virtues and graces exhibited in his practice. He instructs us to do by his doings, and to suffer by his sufferings. “ He suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we may follow his steps.” He levels the way by going before us. Those duties that are very harsh to sensible nature, he instructs us in by his preaching and by his passion. How can we decline them, when performed by him in whom the glorious Deity was personally united to the tender humanity ? His life was a continual lecture of mortification. It is the observation of the natural historian, that the tender providence of nature is admirable, in preparing medicines for us in beautiful fragrant flowers; that we might not refuse the remedy, as more distaste. ful than our diseases. But how astonishing is the love of God, who sent his Son for our redemption from eternal death; and in his example has sweetened those remedies which are requisite for the cure of our distempered passions ! Taking up the cross, and submitting to poverty and persecution, are made tolerable, by considering that in enduring them we follow our Redeemer. Can
and encourage our obedience, than the persuasive pattern and commanding example of our Sovereign and Saviour ? Can we be averse from our duty, when our lawgiver teaches us obedience by his own practice ? Can any invitation be more attractive than to do that from love to him which he did for love to us and our salvation? We are his subjects by the dearest titles, and our own consent; we are dedicated to his honour; and, as the apostle tells the Galatians, “ If ye are circumcised, ye are debitors to keep the whole law;" by the same reason, if we are baptized, we are obliged to obey the law of faith, to order our lives