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SOME ACCOUNT OF THE LIFE OF DR. BARROW. BY DR.
WALTER POPE, A.D. 1697.
It is not my design to write Dr. Barrows Life, and if it were, I am not furnished with sufficient materials for that undertaking. It is already done, tho with too much brevity, by a better hand, dedicated to the Reverend Dr. Tillotson, then Dean, and afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, by my worthy, learned, and ingenious friend, Abraham Hill, Esq; out of whose account I shall take what I before was ignorant of, concerning his birth and education, before he arrived to be so eminent at Cambridge, adding thereunto several particular accidents which happened during my intimate acquaintance with him.
Mr. Hilì fixes Dr. Barrows birth in the month of October, A. D. 1630. But I hope he will not be offended if I dissent from him, both as to the year and month, and produce reason for so doing ; tis this : I have often heard Dr. Barrow say, that he was born upon the twentyninth of February ; and if he said true, it could not be either in October, or in 1630, that not being a leap year. I would not have asserted this merely upon the credit of my memory, had it been any other day of any other month, it being told me so long since, had I not this remarkable circumstance to confirm it: He used to say, it is in one respect the best day in the year to be born upon, for it afforded me this advantage over my fellow collegiates, who used to keep feasts upon their birth-day ; I was treated by them once every year, and I entertained them once in four years, when February had nine and twenty days.
Dr. Barrow was born in London, and well descended ; his great grandfather was Fillip Barrow, who published a Method of Fysic, whose brother Isaac was a Doctor of Fysic, and a benefactor to Trinity College in Cambridge. His grandfather was Isaac Barrow Esquire, of Spiney-Abbey, in Cambridgeshire, a person of a good estate, and a Justice of Peace during the space of fourty years. His fathers name was Thomas, a reputable citizen of London, and linnen-draper to King Charles the First, to whose interests he adherd ; and after his execrable murder he went to his son, Charles the Second, then in exile, there with great patience expecting the Kings Restoration, which at last happened, when twas almost despaird of. This Thomas had a brother whose name was Isaac, afterwards Bishop of St. Asaf, whose consecration sermon, his nevew and namesake our Dr. Barrow, preached at Westminster-Abbey. His mother was Ann, daughter of William Buggins Esq. of North Cray in Kent. He was first put to the Charterhouse School, where he made little or no progress, there appearing in him an inclination rather to be a soldier than a scholar, his chief delight being in fighting himself, and encouraging his playfellows to it; and he was indeed of an undaunted courage, as we shall make evident in its place. His father finding no good was to be hopd for there, removd him to Felstead in Essex, where, contrary to
his expectation, and even beyond his hopes, his son on a sudden became so great a proficient in learning, and all other praise-worthy qualifications, that his master appointed him tutor to the Lord Viscount Fairfax, of Emely in Ireland, who was then his scholar. During his stay at Felstead, he was admitted into Peter-House, of which college his uncle the Bishop had formerly been a member. When he was fit for the University he went to Cambridge, and was admitted in Trinity in Febr. A. D. 1645. He was there kindly treated by Dr. Hill, whom the Parliament had put in to that mastership, in the place of Dr. Comber, ejected for adhering to the King. This Dr. Hill, I say, one day laying his hand upon young Isaaes head, “thou art a good lad," said he, "tis pity thou art a cavalier;" and afterwards, when he had made an oration upon the gunpowder treason, wherein he had so celebrated the former times as to reflect much on the present, some of the Fellows movd for his expulsion, but the Master silencd them with these words, " Barrow is a better man than any of us.'
In A. D. 1649, he was chosen Fellow of the College, carrying it merely by the dint of his merits. And when Doctor Duport resigned his Greek Lecture, he recommended his pupil Mr. Barrow for his successor, who justified his opinion of his fitness for that employment, by an excellent performance of the probation exercise ; but the governing party thinking him inclind to Arminianism, put him by it. This disappointment, the melancholy aspect of public affairs, together with a desire to see some of those places mentioned in Greek and Latin writers, made him resolve to travel ; which, that he might be better inabled to do, he converted his books into ready money. He began his travels A. D. 1654, and went first to Paris, to crave his fathers benediction, who was then in the English Court praying for, but scarce hoping, much less expecting, the Kings Restoration, to whom his pious son, out of his small stock, made a seasonable present. After some months stay there, he went to Italy, and remained some time at that most beautiful city of Florence, where he had the favour, and neglected it not, to peruse many books in the Grand Dukes library, and the Grand Duke invited Dr. Barrow to take upon him the charge and custody of that great treasure of antiquity. From Florence he went to Leghorn; thence he saild to Smyrna, afterwards to Constantinople. At Constantinople, the See of St. Chrysostom, he read all the works of that father, whom he much preferrd before the resti He remaind in Turkey more than a year, and then returnd to Venice, where he was no sooner landed, but the ship which brought him took fire, and was, with all its cargo, consumd to ashes, the men only savd. From Venice, in his way to England, he passd by through Germany and Holland, and has left a description of some parts of those countries in his poems.
In A. D. 1660, he was chosen without a competitor, Professor of the Greek tongue in Cambridge ; two years after, he was elected Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, in the place of Mr. Laurence Rooke.
In A.D. 1669, Mr. Lucas founded, and richly endowd a Mathematical Lecture in Cambridge, which his executors, Mr. Raworth and Mr. Buck, conferrd upon Dr. Barrow, enjoyning him to leave every year
ten lectures in writing to the University, the better to secure the end of so noble and useful a foundation. The lectures which are printed, and others of his, ready for the press, will give the best account how he behavd himself in that employment.
Dr. Barrow was endued with an undaunted courage; to prove which, I think these two instances following will be sufficient. In his passage from Leghorn to Constantinople, the ship he saild in was attackd by an Algerine pyrate; during the fight, he betook himself to his arms, staid upon the deck, chearfully and vigorously fighting, till the pyrate, perceiving the stout defence the ship made, steerd off and left her. I askd him, why he did not go down into the hold, and leave the defence of the ship to those to whom it did belong : he replied, It concernd no man more than my self; I would rather have lost my
life, than have faln into the hands of these merciless infidels. This engagement, and his own stout and intrepid behaviour in it, to defend his liberty, which he valued more than his life, as he asserts in that verse, “ Almaque libertas vitali charior Aura," he describes at large, in a copy of verses in the fourth volume of his works, printed by Brabazon Aylmer. To this I will add another accident, which befel him in England, it being of the like nature: He was at a gentlemans house in the country, if I mistake not in Cambridgeshire, where, as he was going into the garden very early, even before day, for, as I shall shew hereafter, he was sparing of sleep, and an early riser, a fierce mastiff, who used to be chaind up all day, and let loose late at night for the security of the house, perceiving a strange person in the garden at that unseasonable time, set upon him with great fury. The Dr. catchd him by the throat, threw him, and lay upon him, and whilst he kept him down, considered what he should do in that exigent; once he had a mind to kill him, but he quile alterd this resolution, judging it would be an unjust action, for the dog did his duty, and he himself was in fault for rambling out of his lodgings before twas light. At length he calld out so loud, that he was heard by some of the house, who came presently out, and freed both the Doctor and the dog, from the eminent danger they were both in.
As soon as Dr. Ward was made Bishop of Exeter, he procured for his old friend Dr. Wilkins, the rectory of St. Laurence-Jewry. He being minister there, and forcd by some indisposition to keep his chamber, desird Dr. Barrow to give him a sermon the next Sunday, which he readily consented to do. Accordingly, at the time appointed, he came, with an aspect pale and meagre, and unpromising, slovenly and carelesly dressed, his collar unbuttond, his hair uncombd, &c. Thus accoutred, he mounts the pulpit, begins his prayer, which, whether he did read or not, I cannot positively assert, or deny. Immediately all the congregation was in an uproar, as if the church were falling, and they scampering to save their lives, each shifting for himself with great precipitation; there was such a noise of pattens of serving-maids, and ordinary women, and of unlocking of pewes, and cracking of seats, causd by the younger sort hastily climbing over them, that I confess, I thought all the congregation were mad : But the good Doctor seeming not to take notice of this disturbance proceeds, names his text, and preachd his sermon, to two or three gathered, or rather left together, of which number, as it fortunately happened, Mr. Baxter, that eminent non-conformist, was one, who afterwards gave Dr. Wilkins a visit, and commended the sermon to that degree, that he said, he never heard a better discourse. There was also amongst those who staid out the sermon, a certain young man, who thus accosted Dr. Barrow as he came down from the pulpit, "Sir, be not dismayd, for I assure you, twas a good sermon.” By his age and dress, he seemed to be an apprentice, or at the best, a foreman of a shop, but we never heard more of him. I askd the Doctor what he thought, when he saw the congregation running away from him? “I thought," said he, “ they did not like me, or my sermon, and I have no reason to be angry with them for that.”
« But what was your opinion,” said I, "of the apprentice ?" "I take him," replied he,“ to be a very civil person, and if I could meet with him I'd present him with a bottle of wine." There were then in that parish a company of formal, grave, and wealthy citizens, who having been many years under famous ministers, as Dr. Wilkins, Bishop Ward, Bishop Reynolds, Mr. Vines, &c. had a great opinion of their skill in divinity, and their ability to judge of the goodness and badness of sermons. Many of these came in a body to Dr. Wilkins, to expostulate with him, why he sufferd such an ignorant, scandalous fellow, meaning Dr. Barrow, to have the use of his pulpit. I cannot precisely tell, whether it was the same day, or sometime after in that week, but I am certain it happened to be when Mr. Baxter was with Dr.Wilkins. They came, as I said before, in full cry, saying, they wonderd he should permit such a man to preach before them, who lookt like a starvd cavalier who had been long sequesterd, and out of his living for delinquency, and came up to London to beg, now the King was restord; and much more to this purpose. He let them run their selves out of breath, when they had done speaking, and expected an humble submissive answer, he replied to them in this manner, person you thus despise, I assure you, is a pious man, an eminent scholar, and an excellent preacher ; for the truth of the last, I appeal to Mr. Baxter here present, who heard the sermon you so vilifie. I am sure you believe Mr. Baxter is a competent judge, and will pronounce according to truth.” Then turning to him, “ Pray sir,” said he, “ do me the favour to declare your opinion concerning the sermon now in controversie, which you heard at our church the last Sunday.” Then did Mr. Baxter very candidly give the sermon the praise it deservd, nay more, he said, “ that Dr. Barrow preached so well, that he could willingly have been his auditor all day long." When they heard Mr. Baxter give him this high encomium, they were prickt in their hearts, and all of them became ashamd, confounded, and speechless ; for, tho they had a good opinion of their selves, yet they durst not pretend to be equal to Mr. Baxter ; but at length, after some pause, they all, one after another, confessd, “ they did not hear one word of the sermon, but were carried to mislike it by his unpromising garb, and mien, the reading of his prayer, and the going away of the congregation;" for they would not by any means have it thought, if they had heard the sermon, they should not have concurrd with the