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OUR CHRISTIAN CLASSICS.
It is Oxford two hundred years ago_Oxford in the days of the Roundheads—and we ask leave to introduce the reader to the resident chief of the University. Tall, and in the prime of life, with cocked hat and powdered hair, with lawn tops to his morocco boots, and with ribbons luxuriant at his knee, there is nothing to mark the Puritan—whilst in his easy unembarrassed movements and kindly-assuring air, there is all which bespeaks the gentleman; but, were it not for the reverences of obsequious beadles and the recognitions of respectful students, you would scarcely surmise the academic dignitary. That old-fashioned divine_his square cap and ruff surmounting the doctor's gown—with whom he shakes hands so cordially, is a Royalist and Prelatist, but withal the Hebrew Professor, and the most famous Orientalist in England, Dr Edward Pocock. From his little parish of Childry, where he
no Latiner,” and is little prized, he has come up to deliver his Arabic lecture, and collate some Syriac manuscript, and watch the progress of the fig-trees and other rarities which he long since fetched from the Levant; and he feels not a little beholden to the Vice-Chancellor, who, when the Parliamentary triers had pronounced him incompetent, interfered
passes for “
and retained him in his living. Passing the gate of Wadham, he meets the upbreaking of a little conventicle. treason has been transacting, nor any dangerous doctrine propounded, the guardian of the University has ample assurance in the presence of his very good friends, Dr Wallis the Savilian Professor, and Dr Wilkins the Protector's brother-in-law. The latter has published a Dissertation on the Moon and its Inhabitants, with a Discourse concerning the possibility of a Passage Thither;" and the former, a mighty mathematician, during the recent war had displayed a terrible ingenuity in deciphering the intercepted letters of the Royalists. Their companion is the famous physician, Dr Willis, in whose house, opposite the Vice-Chancellor's own door, the Oxford Prelatists daily assemble to enjoy the forbidden Prayer-book; and the youth who follows, building castles in the air, is Christopher Wren. This evening they had met to witness some experiments which the tall sickly gentleman in the velvet cloak had promised to shew them. The tall sickly gentleman is the Honourable Robert Boyle, and the instrument with which he has been amusing his brother sages, in their embryo Royal Society, is the newly invented air-pump. Little versant in their pursuits, though respectful to their genius, after mutual salutations, the divine passes on and pays an evening visit to his illustrious neighbour, Dr Thomas Goodwin. In his embroidered night-cap, and deep in the recesses of his dusky study, he finds the recluse old President of Magdalene; and they sit and talk together, and they pray together, till it strikes the hour of nine; and from the great Tom Tower a summons begins to sound, calling to Christ Church cloisters the hundred and one students of the old foundation. And returning to the Deanery, which Mary's cheerful management has brightened into a pleasant home, albeit her own and her little daughter's weeds are suggestive of recent sorrows, the Doctor dives into his library.
For the old misers it was pleasant to go down into their bullion vaults, and feel that they were rich enough to buy up all the town with the proud Earl in his mortgaged castle. And to many people there is a peculiar satisfaction in the society of the great and learned; nor can they forget the time when they talked to the great poet, or had a moment's monopoly of royalty. But
" That place that doth contain
My books, the best companions, is to me
With kings and emperors, and weigh their counsels." Not only is there the pleasant sense of property—the rare editions, and the wonderful bargains, and the acquisitions of some memorable self-denial—but there are grateful memories and the feeling of a high companionship. When it first arrived, this volume kept its owner up all night, and its neighbour introduced him to realms more delightful and more strange than if he had taken Dr Wilkins' lunar journey. In this biography, as in a magician's mirror, he was awed and startled by foreshadowings of his own career; and, ever since he sat at the feet of yonder sacred sage, he walks through the world with a consciousness, blessed and not vain-glorious, that his being contains an element shared by few besides. And even those heretics inside the wires—like caged wolves or bottled vipers -their keeper has come to entertain a certain fondness for them, and whilst he detests the species, he would feel a pang in parting with his own exemplars.
Now that his evening lamp is lit, let us survey the Doctor's library. Like most of its coeval collections, its foundations are laid with massive folios. As yet there exist no Critici Sacri nor Poli Synopsis, nor has Brian Walton yet carried through the press his mighty undertaking; but these stately tomes are the Polyglotts of Antwerp and Paris. The colossal theologians who flank them are Augustine and Jerome, Anselm and Aquinas, Calvin and Episcopius, Bellarmine and Jansenius, Baronius and the Magdeburg Centuriators—natural enemies, here bound over to their good behaviour. These dark veterans are Jewish Rabbis–Kimchi, Abarbanel, and, like a row of rag-collectors, a whole Monmouth Street of rubbishbehold the entire Babylonian Talmud. These tall Socinians are the Polish brethren, and the dumpy vellums overhead are Dutch divines. The cupboard contains Greek and Latin manuscripts, the cherished collections of the late King's librarian, Patrick Young; and those spruce fashionables are Spenser, and Cowley, and Sir William Davenant. And the new books which crown the upper shelves, still uncut and fresh from the publisher, are the latest brochures of Mr Jeremy Taylor and Mr Richard Baxter. *
* In his elaborate " Memoirs of Dr Owen,” Mr Orme mentions that “his library was sold in May 1684, by Millington, one of the earliest of our book auctioneers ;” and adds, “ Considering the Doctor's taste as a reader, his age as a minister, and his circumstances as a man, his library, in all probability, would be both extensive and valuable." Then, in a footnote, he gives some interesting particulars as to the extent of the early Nonconformist libraries, viz., Dr Lazarus Seaman's, which sold for £700; Dr Jacomb's, which sold for £1300; Dr Bates's, which was bought for five or six hundred pounds by Dr Williams, in order to lay the foundation of Red Cross Street library; and Dr Evans's, which contained 10,000 volumes ; again subjoining, “It is probable Dr Owen's was not inferior to some of these.” It would have gratified the biographer had he known that a catalogue of Owen's library is still in existence. Bound up with other sale-catalogues in the Bodleian is the “ Bibliotheca Oweniana : sive catalogus librorum plurimis facultatibus insignium, instructissimæ Bibliothecæ Rev. Doct. Viri D. Joan. Oweni (quondam Vice-Cancellarii et Decani Ædis Christi in Academia Oxoniensi) nuperrime defuncti ; cum variis manuscriptis Græcis, Latinis, &c., propria manu Doct. Patricii Junii aliorumq. conscriptis : quorum auctio habebitur Londini apud domum auctionariam, adverso Nigri Cygni in Vico vulgo dicto Ave Mary Lane, prope Ludgate Street, vicesimo sexto die Maii, 1684. Per Eduardum Millington, Bibliopolam.” In the Preface, the auctioneer speaks of Dr Owen as “a person so generally known as a generous buyer and great
THE YOUNG STUDENT.
This night, however, the Doctor is intent on a new book nowise to his mind. It is the “Redemption Redeemed” of John Goodwin. Its hydra-headed errors have already drawn from the scabbard the sword of many an orthodox Hercules on either side of the Tweed; and now, after a conference with the other Goodwin, the Dean takes up a ream of manuscript and adds a finishing touch to his refutation.
At this period Dr Owen would be forty years of age, for he was born in 1616. His father was minister of a little parish in Oxfordshire, and his ancestors were princes in Wales ; indeed, the genealogists claimed for him a descent from King Caractacus. He himself was educated at Queen's College, and, under the impulse of an ardent ambition, the young student had fully availed himself of his academic privileges. For several years he took no more sleep than four hours a-night, and in his eagerness for future distinction he mastered all attainable knowledge, from mathematics to music. But about the time of his reaching majority, all his ambitious projects were suspended by a visitation of religious earnestness. In much ignorance of the divine specific, his conscience grew tender, and sin appeared exceeding sinful. It was at this conjuncture that Archbishop Laud imposed on Oxford a new code of statutes, which scared away from the University the now scrupulous scholar. Years of anxious thoughtfulness followed, partly filled up by his duties as chaplain successively to Sir Robert Dormer and Lord Lovelace, when about the year 1641 collector of the best books;" and after adverting to his copies of Fathers, Councils, Church Histories, and Rabbinical Authors, he adds, “ All which considered together, perhaps for their number are not to be paralleled, or upon any terms to be procured, when gentlemen are desirous of, or have a real occasion for the perusal of them.” The number of volumes is 2889. For the knowledge of the existence of this catalogue, and for a variety of curious particulars regarding it, we are indebted to a distinguished friend, whose bibliographical information is only exceeded by the obligingness with which he puts it at the command of others, the Rev. Dr Macbride, Principal of Magdalene Hall.