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[BISHOP BURNET wrote a History of the Reformation, Life of Sir Matthew Hale, and several other works. His principal performance however was that entitled The History of my own Times, which was not published till some time after his death. From it is taken the following character of Edward VI.]
Character of Edward VI.
Thus died King Edward VI., that incomparable young prince. He was then in the sixteenth year of his age, and was counted the wonder of that time. He was not only learned in the tongues, and other liberal sciences, but knew well the state of his kingdom. He kept a book, in which he writ the characters that were given him of all the chief men of the nation, all the judges, lord-lieutenants, and justices of the peace over England: in it he had marked down their way of living, and their zeal for religion. He had studied the matter of the mint, with the exchange and value of money; so that he understood it well, as appears by his journal. He also understood fortification, and designed well. He knew all the harbours and ports, both of his own dominions, and of France and Scotland; and how much water they had, and what was the way of coming into them. He had acquired great knowledge of foreign affairs; so that he talked with the ambassadors about them in such a
manner, that they filled all the world with the highest opinion of him that was possible; which appears in most of the histories of that age. He had great quickness of apprehension; and, being mistrustful of his memory, used to take notes of almost everything he heard; he writ these first in Greek characters that those about him might not understand them; and afterwards writ them out in his journal. He had a copy brought him of everything that passed in council, which he put in a chest, and kept the key of that always himself.
In a word, the natural and acquired perfections of his mind were wonderful; but his virtues and true piety were yet more extraordinary. He was tender and compassionate in a high measure; so that he was much against taking away the lives of heretics; and therefore said to Cranmer, when he persuaded him to sign the warrant for the burning of Joan of Kent, that he was not willing to do it, because he thought that was to send her quick to hell. He expressed great tenderness to the miseries of the poor in his sickness, as hath been already shown. He took particular care of the suits of all poor persons; and gave Dr. Cox special charge to see that their petitions were speedily answered, and used oft to consult with him how to get their matters set forward. He was an exact keeper of his word; and therefore, as appears by his journal, was most careful to pay his debts, and to keep his credit, knowing that to be the chief nerve of government; since a prince that breaks his faith, and loses his credit, has thrown up that which he can never recover, and made himself liable to perpetual distrusts and extreme contempt.
He had, above all things, a great regard to religion. He took notes of such things as he heard in sermons, which more especially concerned himself; and made his measures of all men by their zeal in that matter. All men who saw and observed these qualities in him, looked on him as one raised by God for most extraordinary ends; and when he died, concluded that the sins of England had been great, that had provoked God to take from them a prince, under whose government they were like to have seen such blessed times. He was so affable and sweet natured, that all had free access to him at all times; by which he came to be most universally beloved; and all the high things that could be devised were said by the people to express their esteem of him.
[JOHN LOCKE performed a service for intellectual science fully equal to that achieved for the physical sciences by the illustrious Bacon. The Essay on the Human Understanding has exerted a prodigious influence upon the aims and habits of philosophical inquirers, as well as upon the minds of educated men generally. Besides this, which was his great work, Locke wrote several other treatises, which were marked by liberal views both in government and religion, and exerted a highly beneficial influence not only in Great Britain, but throughout the civilized world. The titles of his other principal works are Letters on Toleration, Treatise on Civil Government, Thoughts on Education, The Reasonableness of Christianity, and The Conduct of the Understanding.]
Causes of Weakness in Men's Understandings.
There are three miscarriages that men are guilty of in reference to their reason, whereby this faculty is hindered in them from that service it might do and was designed for.
1. The first is of those who seldom reason at all, but do and think according to the examples of others, whether parents, neighbors, ministers, or who else they are pleased to make choice of to have an implicit faith in, for the saving of themselves the pains and trouble of thinking and examining for themselves.
2. The second is of those who put passion in the place of reason, and being resolved that shall govern their actions and arguments, neither use their own, nor hearken to other people's reason, any farther than it suits their humour, interest or party; and these, one may observe, commonly content themselves with words which have no distinct ideas to them, though, in other matters, that they come with an unbiassed indifferency to, they want not abilities to talk and hear reason, where they have no secret inclination that hinders them from being untractible to it.
3. The third sort is of those who readily and sincerely follow reason, but for want of having that which one may call large, sound, round-about sense, have not a full view of all that relates to the question, and may be of moment to decide it. We are all short-sighted, and very often see but one side of a matter; our views are not extended to all that has a connexion with it. From this defect, I think, no man is free. We see but in part, and we know but in part, and therefore it is no wonder we conclude not right from our partial
views. This might instruct the proudest esteemer of his own parts how useful it is to talk and consult with others, even such as came short with him in capacity, quickness, and penetration; for, since no one sees all, and we generally have different prospects of the same thing, according to our different, as I may say, positions to it, it is not incongruous to think, nor beneath any man to try, whether another may not have notions of things which have escaped him, and which his reason would make use of if they came into his mind. The faculty of reasoning seldom or never deceives those who trust to it; its consequences from what it builds on are evident and certain; but that which it oftenest, if not only, misleads us in, is that the principles from which we conclude, the grounds upon which we bottom our reasoning, are but a part; something is left out which should go into the reckoning to make it just and exact.
In this we may see the reason why some men of study and thought, that reason right, and are lovers of truth, do make no great advances in their discoveries of it. Error and truth are uncertainly blended in their minds, their decisions are lame and defective, and they are very often mistaken in their judgments. The reason whereof is, they converse but with one sort of men, they read but one sort of books, they will not come in the hearing but of one sort of notions; the truth is, they canton out to themselves a little Goshen in the intellectual world, where light shines, and, as they conclude, day blesses them; but the rest of that vast expanse they give up to night and darkness, and so avoid coming near it. They have a petty traffic with known correspondents in some little creek;