Page images
PDF
EPUB

M E MO I R, &c.

GEORGE

EORGE WHELER, an eminently learned and pious Divine in the seventeenth century, was the eldest son of George Wheler, Esquire, of Charing in the county of Kent, where he was born in 1650. His parents, with many English families distinguished for their loyalty, being under the necessity of leaving England, enjoyed at Breda an asylum from the calamities in which their country was involved: but his father, who had suffered severely in the civil war, on his return at the Restoration found his property greatly reduced. From the title of Colonel given to him by Antony Wood, it may be presumed that he had held a commission in the royal army. George, his eldest son, received the first rudiments of his education at the grammarschool annexed to the College of Wye in Kent * About the year 1668, he was admitted

* This Establishment was founded in the tenth year of Henry VI. by John Kemp, Archbishop of York, for the cele

bration

a gentleman-commoner of Lincoln College in the University of Oxford, under the care of Mr. George Hickes, at that time a Fellow of the College. In the preceding year, he had become the

possessor of several estates in Hampshire and the county of Wilts, and also of houses in St. Margaret's, Westminster, in Spital Fields, and in other parts of London, bequeathed to him by Sir William Wheler, Knight, of Datchet near Windsor *.

bration of divine service, and for the education of youth. Kemp, according to Leland, was a poor husbandman's son, and a native of the village of Wye. The parish-church was converted into a college, consisting of a proper number of chaplains and priests to administer daily in it; one of wliom, called the Master or Provost of the College of St. Gregory and St. Martin, exercised presidency over the others. A set of statutes was compiled, and the Institution was endowed with competent estates and revenues.

In 1545, Edward Bond, the last Provost, surrendered it with all it's possessions into the hands of Henry VIII. After a succession of different owners, it became the estate of Sir George Wheler, who by a codicil in his will gave “the scite and buildings of the College of Wye to the master of the grammar-school there, and to the master and mistress of the Lady Joanna Thornhill's charity-school there, and their successors for ever.”

(Hasted's History of Kent, III. 174.)

* Sir William, in conformity to the custom which then prevailed, leaves “ a jewel in a red velvet case to be presented to the King (Charles II.) as a token of loyalty; as also a picture of the Virgin and Child in water-colours, and a silver candlestick of Viana's workmanship.”

The

His studies in the University he pursued with exemplary diligence, and (what was of far greater consequence) he was there confirmed in those excellent principles of religion and virtue, which he had imbibed from his parents, and by which his ensuing life was uniformly regulated.

In October, 1673, Mr. Hickes being advised to leave Oxford for a short time on account of his health, began a voyage beyond the seas in the quality of tutor to a gentleman, whereby he improved himself as to the understanding of places, men, and manners. He spent eighteen months travelling to and fro in France and Switzerland.” This gentleman was Mr. George Wheler..

A more seasonable period for visiting foreign countries could scarcely have occurred. The blessings of peace and prosperity had been diffused over the whole of Europe: and a more enlarged intercourse between learned and ingenious men followed as a matter of course.

Among other accomplished scholars, with whom Mr. Hickes and his pupil associated themselves in France, they formed an intimate connexion

The wife of this gentleman, who lived in Channel-Row, Westminster, seems to have been the lady from whom Charles I. a few days before his death received a cabinet containing jewels, diamonds, &c. which had been formerly entrusted 'to her care. (Echard's History of England, 659.)

with Mr. Henry Justell, secretary and counsellor to Lewis XIV. and a zealous Protestant. From him they obtained the most authentic information of the resolution of the French Court to revoke the Edict of Nantes *. This perfidious and cruel purpose, which was not actually put in execution until some years afterward, was the result of a premeditated plan to extirpate the Protestant Faith. Mr. Justell consigned to the care of Mr. Hickes the original Greek manuscript of the · Canones Ecclesia Universalis, edited by his father t, with several

* The Edict of Nantes, originally granted by Henry III. for the security of the Protestants, had been confirmed in 1621, and again in 1625. Nothing tended more to preserve the internal tranquillity of France. By it religious and civil feuds were lulled asleep, all restrictions were removed, and a free admission to employments of profit and honour was conceded to those of the Reformed Faith. It's repeal, in 1685, by Lewis XIV, produced scenes of unprecedented devastation. “If you had no other reason,” says Martin Luther, “ to go out of the Roman Church, this alone would suffice; that you see, and hear, how contrary to the law of God they shed innocent blood. This single circumstance shall, God willing, ever separate me from the Papacy: and if I was now ubject to it, and could blame nothing in any of their doctrines, yet for this crime of cruelty I would fly from her community, as from a den of thieves and murtherers.”

+ Archbishop Usher undertook to compose a Digest of the Canons of the Ancient Church, as extant in this MS. See one of his Letters to Dr. Ward.

« PreviousContinue »