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and heavenly-minded. Their cloysters were a retreat not merely, as is commonly supposed, for the idle and dissolute, but for the studious, the afflicted, the penitent, and the devout. They afforded support to all the neighbouring poor, and in those days of lawless violence, were extremely useful as places of refuge and security to the defenceless and the weak. In them too were deposited many of those precious remains of antiquity which we now peruse with so much delight, and which had it not been for the protection they found in religious houses, would, in all probability, have perished by the hands of those barbarians that spread ruin and desolation over Europe. In these peaceful sanctuaries, the leisure and tranquillity which the monks enjoyed, enabled them not only to record (however uncouthly) the transactions of their own times, but to transcribe the compositions of former and more valuable writers. Nor was this the only object of their attention. They found time to cultivate even some of the finer arts. Those sublime powers of harmony, which have been this very day so nobly and laudably exerted in the cause of the fatherless and the widow, owe their birth in this country to monastic diligence and ingenuity. Both the theory and the practice of music were first studied and taught here, and in other parts of Europe, by the regular clergy * ; and what is now the delight and amusement of all ranks of people, was originally the offspring of Religion, and appropriated solely to the purpose of animating devotion, and giving dignity and solemnity to the service of the church. The monks drew up a large number of treatises on this subject, which, notwithstanding the barbarism of the times, were written with great perspicuity, method, and precision ; and they had seminaries of young people under their care, whom they instructed in the rudiments of this science. Libraries were also formed in all the monasteries, and schools founded in them and near most of the cathedrals, for teaching the literature of the times. † And thus was learning kept alive at least, though in a very languid state, till the art of printing was found out. Even that most useful art itself was, according to the opinion of some learned men, which seems to be well founded, first brought into our island by the care and generosity of an English primate. * In the restoration of letters, which quickly followed, the Ecclesiastics took the lead, and contributed more than any other set of men to introduce a true taste for every branch of polite and useful learning into this country. From that period to the present, they have always made a distinguished figure in the whole circle of sciences and arts; their writings have ever ranked amongst the
* See Dr. Burney's Hist. of Music, vol. ii. p. 68. And Sir John Hawkins' Preliminary Disc. p. 48, to 53 : and vol. v. p. 112, 113.. .
+ Vide Moshemii Hist. Eccles. sec. vi. par. ii. c.i. p. 237.
* Archbishop Bourchier ; who persuaded Henry VI. to furnish one Mr. Robert Turnour with a thousand marks (towards which the archbishop contributed three hundred), and to send him privately to Haarlem, in company with Caxton, in order to fetch from thence the new-invented art of printing ; which he did accordingly, by bringing over to England Frederick Corsellis, one of the compositors at Haarlem. See Biograph. Britann, art. Bourchier. Dr. Middleton, indeed, and others, have endeavoured to disprove the truth of this story; but their most material objections to it have been well answered by Mr. Meerman, in his very curious and learned Work, intituled, Origines Typographicæ, vol.-ii.
purest of their times ; and let the occasion excuse me if I add (the proofs of what I say are before the world) that our profession is at this very day adorned by men, who, in genius, learning, judgment, taste, and elegance of composition, have few if any superiors.
Whoever, then, is a friend to literature and the fine arts, must be a friend to the English clergy, and will cheerfully contribute to the relief of that order which has so largely contributed to his information and amusement. But they have still more substantial services than these to plead. To them you stand principally indebted, not only for the restoration of letters, but the revival of true Religion. For although the first opposition made here to the usurpations of the Church of Rome took its rise from the passions of an impetuous prince, yet the work of reformation itself was undoubtedly begun, carried on, and completed by the hands of the English clergy. In this glorious cause they wrote with irresistible strength of argument, and suffered with invincible fortitude of mind. To their la
bours, their piety and learning, their judgment and moderation, you owe that pure mode of worship, and that excellent form of public prayer you now enjoy; the constant use of which in the Church of England has undoubtedly, in more respects than one, been of infinite service to the people of this kingdom. And when, at a subsequent period, our religious as well as civil liberties were in the most imminent danger of being destroyed by the intemperate zeal of a bigotted and despotic monarch, then again did the clergy courageously step forth in defence of both. From them originated one of the very first parliamentary checks to the violences of James II. * By their excellent discourses and writings against popery, the people were first roused to a just abhorrence of that dangerous supersti
* Henry Compton, bishop of London, in the name of his brethren, made a motion in the House of Lords to take into consideration King James's famous speech in the second session of parliament, in which he signified his intention of dispensing with the Test-acts. The bishop's motion was carried. Hume's Hist. vol. vi. p. 390. — I have referred to this historian all along, for no other reason, than because his testimony, when given in favour of the clergy (whom he sincerely hated) is unexceptionable.