Abbildungen der Seite

violent increase of his disorder, which carried him off a few days after. In this excursion Mr. Berkeley employed four years; and, besides those places which fall within the grand tour, visited some that are less frequented. He travelled over Apulia (from which he wrote an account of the tarantula to Dr. Freind), Calabria, and the whole island of Sicily. This last country engaged his attention so strongly, that he had with great industry collected very considerable materials for a natural history of it, but unfortunately lost them in the passage to Naples. What in. jury the literary world has sustained by this mischance, may be collected from the specimen of his talents for observation and description, in a letter to Mr. Pope concerning the island of Inarime (now Ischia) dated October 22, 1717; and in another from the same city to Dr. Arbuthnot, giving an account of an eruption of Vesuvius. On his way homeward, he drew up at Lyons a curious tract“ De Motu,” which was inserted in the memoirs of the royal academy of sciences at Paris, who had proposed the subject. He arrived at London in 1721; and, being much affected with the miseries of the nation, occasioned by the South Sea scheme in 1720, published the same year “c An essay towards preventing the ruin of Great Britain ;" reprinted in his miscellaneous tracts..

His way was open now into the very first company. Mr. Pope introduced him to lord Burlington, and lord Burlington recommended him to the duke of Grafton ; who, being lord-lieutenant of Ireland, took him over as one of his cbaplains in 1721, and November this year he is said to have accumulated the degrees of bachelor and doctor in divinity ; but a writer in the Gent. Mag. 1776 asserts that he never went to Ireland as chaplain to any lieutenant, and that he was created D. D. by his college in 1717, when he was in Italy. The year following he had a very unexpected increase of fortune from Mrs. Vanhomrigh, the celebrated Vanessa, to whom he had been introduced by Swift : this lady had intended Swift for her heir, but, perceiving herself to be slighted by him, she left near 8000l. between her two executors, of whom Berkeley was one. In his life in the Biog. Brit. it is said that Swift had often taken him to dine at this lady's house, but Mrs. Berkeley, his widow, asserts that he never dined there but once, and that by chance. Dr. Berkeley, as executor, destroyed as much of Vanessa's correspondence as he could find. Mr.

le from had been heir, but soool.

Marshal, the other executor, published the “ Cadenus and Vanessa,” which, according to Dr. Delany, proved fatal to Stella. May 18, 1724, he was promoted to the deanery of Derry, worth 1100l. per annum, and resigned his fel. lowship.

In 1725 he publisbed, and it has since been re-printed in his miscellaneous tracts, “ A proposal for converting the savage Americans to Christianity, by a college to be erected in the Summer Islands, otherwise called the Isles of Bermuda :" a scheme which had employed his thoughts for three or four years past; and for which he was disposed to make many personal sacrifices. As what he deemed necessary steps he offered to resign all his preferment, and to dedicate the remainder of his life to instructing the American youth, on a stipend of 1001. yearly; he prevailed with three junior fellows of Trinity college, Dublin, to give up all their prospects at home, and to exchange their fellowships for a settlement in the Allantic ocean at 401. a year; he procured his plan to be laid before George I. who commanded sir Robert Walpole to lay it before the commons; and further granted him a charter for erecting a colo lege in Bermuda, to consist of a president and nine fellows, who were obliged to maintain and educate Indian scholars atlvl. a year each; he obtained a grant from the commons of a sum, to be determined by the king; and accordingly20,0001. was promised by the minister, for the purchase of lands, and erecting the college. Trusting to these promising appearances, he married the daughter of John Forster, esq. speaker of the Irish house of commons, the 1st of August 1728; and actually set sail in September following for Rhode Island, which lay nearest to Bermuda, taking with him his wife, a single lady, and two gentlemen of fortune. Yet the scheme entirely failed, and Berkeley was obliged to return, after residing near two years at Newport. The reason given is, that the minister never heartily embraced the project, and the money was turned into another channel. During his residence in America, when he was not employed as an itinerant preacher, which business could not be discharged in the winter, he preached every Sun. day at Newport, where was the nearest episcopal church, and to that church he gave an organ. When the season and his bealth permitted, he visited the continent, not only in its outward skirts, but penetrated far into its recesses. The same generous desire of advancing the best interests

of mankind which induced him to cross the Atlantic, uni. formly actuated him whilst America was the scene of his ministry. The missionaries from the English society, who resided within about a hundred miles of Rhode Island, agreed among themselves to hold a sort of synod at Dr. Berkeley's house there, twice in a year, in order to enjoy the advantages of his advice and exhortations. Four of these meetings were accordingly held. One of the principal points which the doctor then pressed upon his fellowJabourers, was the absolute necessity of conciliating, by all innocent means, the affection of their hearers, and also of their dissenting neighbours. His own exainple, indeed, very eminently enforced his precepts upon this head; for it is scarcely possible to conceive a conduct more uniformly kind, tender, beneficent, and liberal than his was. He seemed to have only one wish in his heart, which was to alleviate misery, and to diffuse happiness. Finding, at length, that the fear of offending the dissenters at home, and of inclining the colonies to assert independency, had determined the minister to make any use, rather than the best use, of the money destined for, and promised to St. Paul's college, the dean of Derry took a reluctant leave of a country, where the name of Berkeley was long and justly revered more than that of any European whatever. At his departure, he gave a farm of a hundred acres, which lay round bis house, and his house itself, as a benefaction to Yale and Harvard colleges : and the value of that land, then not insignificant because cultivated, became afterwards very cousiderable. He gave, of his own property, to one of these colleges, and to several missionaries, books to the amount of five hundred pounds. To the other college he made a large donation of books purchased by others, and trusted to bis disposal.

In 1732, he published “ The Minute Philosopher,” in 2 vois. 8vo. This masterly work is written in a series of dialogues on the model of Plato, a philosopher of whom he is said to have been very fond; and in it he pursues the freethinker through the various characters of atheist, libertine, enthusiast, scorner, critic, metaphysician, fatalist, and sceptịc.

We have already related by what means, and upon what occasion, Dr. Berkeley had first the honour of being known to queen Caroline. This princess delighted much in at. tending to philosophical conversations between learned and ingenious men; for which purpose she had, when princess of Wales, appointed a particular day in the week, when the most eminent for literary abilities at that time in England were invited to attend her royal highness in the evening : a practice which she continued after her accession to the throne. Of this company were doctors Clarke, Hoadly, Berkeley, and Sherlock. Clarke and Berkeley were generally considered as principals in the debates that arose upon those occasions; and Hoadly adhered to the former, as Sherlock did to the latter. Hoadly was no friend to our author: he affected to consider his philosophy and his Bermuda project as the reveries of a visionary. Sherlock (who was afterwards bishop of London) on the other hand warmly espoused his cause; and particularly, when the 66 Minute Philosopher” came out, he carried a copy of it to the queen, and left it to her majesty to determine, whether such a work could be the production of a disordered understanding. After dean Berkeley's return from Rhode Island, the queen often commanded his attendance to discourse with him on what he had observed worthy of notice in America. His agreeable and instructive conversation engaged that discerning princess so much in his favour, that the rich deanery of Down in Ireland falling vacant, he was at her desire named to it, and the king's letter actually came over for his appointment. But his friend lord Burlington having neglected to notify the royal intentions in proper time to the duke of Dorset, then lord lieutenant of Ireland, his excellency was so offended at this disposal of the richest deanery in Ireland, without his concurrence, that it was thought proper not to press the matter any farther. Her majesty upon this declared, that since they would not suffer Dr. Berkeley to be a dean in Ireland, he should be a bishop: and accordingly, in 1733, the bishopric of Cloyne becoming vacant, he was by letters patent, dated March 17, promoted to that see, and was consecrated at St. Paul's church in Dublin, on the 19th of May following, by Theophilus archbishop of Cashel, assisted by the bishops of Raphoe and Killaloe. His lordship repaired immediately to his manse-house at Cloyne, where he constantly resided (except one winter that he attended the business of parliament in Dublin) and applied himself with vigour to the faithful discharge of all episcopal duties. He revived in his diocese the useful office of rural dean, which had gone into disuse ; visited frequently parochially; and confirmed in several parts of his see.

About this time he engaged in a controversy with the matbematicians, which made a good deal of noise in the literary world; and the occasion of it is said to have been this : Mr. Addison had, many years before this, given him an account of their common friend Dr. Garth's behaviour in his last illness, which was equally unpleasing to both these advocates of revealed religion. For, when Addison went to see the doctor, and began to discourse with him seriously about another world, “ Surely, Addison,” replied he, “ I have good reason not to believe those trifles, since my friend Dr. Halley, who has dealt so much in demonstration, has assured me, that the doctrines of Christianity are incomprehensible, and the religion itself an imposture.” The bishop, therefore, addressed to him, as to an infidel mathematician, a discourse called the “ Analyst ;” with a view to show that mysteries in faith were unjustly objected to by mathematicians, who admitted much greater mysteries, and even falsehoods in science, of which he endeavoured to prove, that the doctrine of Ausions furnished a clear example. This attack gave occasion to a smart controversy upon the subject of fluxions; the principal answers to the “ Analyst were written by a person under the name of Philalethes Cantabrigiensis, generally supposed to be Dr. Jurin, who published a piece entitled « Geometry no friend to Infidelity,” 173.4. To this the bishop replied in “ A Defence of Freethinking in Mathematics,” 1735; which drew a second answer the same year from Philalethes, styled “The minute Mathematician, or the Freethinker no just thinker :" and here the controversy ended, and whatever fault mathematicians may find in this hostile attempt of our bishop, it must be acknowledged they have reaped no inconsiderable advantage from it, inasmuch as it gave rise to the Treatise of Fluxions by Maclaurin, in which the whole doctrine is delivered with more precision and fulness than ever was done before, or probably than ever would have been done, if no attack had been made upon it.

But the bishop, ever active and attentive to the public good, was continually sending forth something or other : in 1735, the “Querist;” in 1736, “ A Discourse addressed to Magistrates," occasioned by the enormous licence

« ZurückWeiter »