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The stars his tire of light, and rings, obtained,
And when they asked what he would wear,
"He had new clothes a-making, here, below."
I write from memory; the lines have been my lesson, ever since 1845, of the noblesse of thought which makes the simplest word best.
And the Campo Santo of Pisa is absolutely the same in painting as these lines in word. Straight to its purpose, in the clearest and most eager way; the purpose, highest that can be; the expression, the best possible to the workman according to his knowledge. The several parts of the gospel of the Campo Santo are written by different persons; but all the original frescoes are by men of honest genius. No matter for their names; the contents of this wallscripture are these.
First, the Triumph of Death, as Homer, Virgil, and Horace thought of death. Having been within sight of it myself, since Oxford days; and looking back already over a little Campo Santo of my own people, I was ready for that part of the lesson.
Secondly, the story of the Patriarchs, and of their guidance by the ministries of visible angels; that is to say, the ideal of the life of man in its blessedness, before the coming of Christ.
Thirdly, the story of Job, in direct converse with God himself, the God of nature, and without any reference to the work of Christ except in its final surety, "Yet in my flesh I shall see God."
Fourthly, the life of St. Ranier of Pisa, and of the desert saints, showing the ideal of human life in its blessedness after the coming of Christ.
Lastly, the return of Christ in glory, and the Last Judgment.
Now this code of teaching is absolutely general for the whole Christian world. There is no papal doctrine, nor antipapal; nor any question of sect or schism whatsoever. Kings, bishops, knights, hermits, are there, because the painters saw them, and painted them, naturally, as we paint the nineteenth century product of common councilmen and engineers. But they did not conceive that a man must be entirely happy in this world and the
next because he wore a mitre or helmet, as we do because he has made a fortune or a tunnel.
Not only was I prepared at this time for the teaching of the Campo Santo, but it was precisely what at that time I needed.
It realized for me the patriarchal life, showed me what the earlier Bible meant to say; and put into direct and inevitable light the questions I had to deal with, alike in my thoughts and ways, under existing Christian tradition.
Questions clearly not to be all settled in that fortnight. Some, respecting the Last Judgment, such as would have occurred to Professor Huxley, as for instance, that if Christ came to judgment in St. James's Street, the people couldn't see him from Piccadilly,—had been dealt with by me before now; but there is one fact, and no question at all, concerning the Judgment, which was only at this time beginning to dawn on me, that men had been curiously judging themselves by always calling the day they expected, "Dies Iræ," instead of "Dies Amoris."
Meantime, my own first business was evidently to read what these Pisans had said of it, and take some record of the sayings; for at that time the old-fashioned ravages were going on, honestly and innocently. Nobody cared for the old plaster, and nobody pretended to. When any dignitary of Pisa was to be buried, they peeled off some Benozzo Gozzoli, or whatever else was in the way, and put up a nice new tablet to the new defunct; but what was left was still all Benozzo, (or repainting of old time, not last year's restoration). I cajoled the Abbé Rosini into letting me put up a scaffold level with the frescoes; set steadily to work with what faculty in outline I had; and being by this time practised in delicate curves, by having drawn trees and grass rightly, got far better results than I had hoped, and had an extremely happy fortnight of it! For as the Triumph of Death was no new thought to me, the life of hermits was no temptation; but the stories of Abraham, Job, and St. Ranier, well told, were like three new Scott's novels, I was going to say, and will say, for I don't see my way to anything nearer the fact, and the work on them was pure delight. I got an outline of Abraham's parting with the last of the three angels; of the sacrifice of Job; of the three beggars, and a
Hall, in the Parish of Ecclesfield, in the said County of York, Gentleman.
This Robert Sanderson, the father, was descended from a numerous, ancient, and honourable family of his own name: for the search of which truth, I refer my reader, that inclines to it, to Dr. Thoroton's History of the Antiquities of Nottinghamshire, and other records; not thinking it necessary here to engage him into a search for bare titles, which are noted to have in them nothing of reality: for titles not acquired, but derived only, do but show us who of our ancestors have, and how they have achieved that honour which their descendants claim, and may not be worthy to enjoy. For, if those titles descend to persons that degenerate into vice, and break off the continued line of learning, or valour, or that virtue that acquired them, they destroy the very foundation upon which that honour was built; and all the rubbish of their vices ought to fall heavy on such dishonourable heads; ought to fall so heavy as to degrade them of their titles, and blast their memories with reproach and shame.
But our Robert Sanderson lived worthy of his name and family: of which one testimony may be, that Gilbert, called the Great Earl of Shrewsbury, thought him not unworthy to be joined with him as a godfather to Gilbert Sheldon, the late Lord Archbishop of Canterbury; to whose merits and memory posterity- the clergy especially ought to pay a reverence.
But I return to my intended relation of Robert the son, who began in his youth to make the laws of God, and obedience to his parents, the rules of his life; seeming even then to dedicate himself, and all his studies, to piety and virtue.
And as he was inclined to this by that native goodness with which the wise Disposer of all hearts had endowed his, so this calm, this quiet and happy temper of mind - his being mild, and averse to oppositions made the whole course of his life easy and grateful both to himself and others: and this blessed temper was maintained and improved by his prudent father's good example; and by frequent conversing with him, and scattering short apophthegms and little pleasant stories, and making useful applications of them, his son was in his infancy taught to abhor vanity and vice as monsters, and to discern the loveliness of wisdom and virtue; and
by these means, and God's concurring grace, his knowledge was so augmented, and his native goodness so confirmed, that all became so habitual, as it was not easy to determine whether nature or education were his teachers.
And here let me tell the reader, that these early beginnings of virtue were, by God's assisting grace, blessed with what St. Paul seemed to beg for his Philippians;1 namely, "That he that had begun a good work in them would finish it." And Almighty God did: for his whole life was so regular and innocent, that he might have said at his death and with truth and comfort what the same St. Paul said after to the same Philippians, when he advised them to walk as they had him for an example.2
And this goodness of which I have spoken, seemed to increase as his years did; and with his goodness his learning, the foundation of which was laid in the grammar school of Rotherham — that being one of those three that were founded and liberally endowed by the said great and good Bishop of that name. And in this time of his being a scholar there he was observed to use an unwearied diligence to attain learning, and to have a seriousness beyond his age, and with it a more than common modesty; and to be of so calm and obliging a behaviour, that the master and whole number of scholars loved him as one man.
And in this love and amity he continued at that school till about the thirteenth year of his age; at which time his father designed to improve his grammar learning by removing him from Rotherham to one of the more noted schools of Eton or Westminster; and after a year's stay there, then to remove him thence to Oxford. But as he went with him, he called on an old friend, a minister of noted learning, and told him his intentions; and he, after many questions with his son, received such answers from him, that he assured his father, his son was so perfect a grammarian, that he had laid a good foundation to build any or all the arts upon; and therefore advised him to shorten his journey, and leave him at Oxford. And his father did so. His father left him there to the sole care and manage of Dr. Kilbie, who was then Rector of Lincoln College. And he, after
some time and trial of his manners and learning, thought fit to enter him of that college, and after to matriculate him in the university, which he did the first of July, 1603; but he was not chosen Fellow till the third of May, 1606; at which time he had taken his degree of Bachelor of Arts: at the taking of which degree his tutor told the rector, "That his pupil Sanderson had a metaphysical brain and a matchless memory; and that he thought he had improved or made the last so by an art of his own invention." And all the future employments of his life proved that his tutor was not mistaken. I must here stop my reader, and tell him that this Dr. Kilbie was a man of so great learning and wisdom, and was so excellent a critic in the Hebrew tongue, that he was made Professor of it in this university; and was also so perfect a Grecian, that he was by King James appointed to be one of the translators of the Bible; and that this Doctor and Mr. Sanderson had frequent discourses, and loved as father and
The Doctor was to ride a journey into Derbyshire, and took Mr. Sanderson to bear him company: and they going together on a Sunday with the Doctor's friend to that parish church where they then were, found the young preacher to have no more discretion than to waste a great part of the hour allotted for his sermon in exceptions against the late translation of several words, not expecting such a hearer as Dr. Kilbie, — and showed three reasons why a particular word should have been otherwise translated. When evening prayer was ended, the preacher was invited to the Doctor's friend's house; where after some other conference the Doctor told him, "He might have preached more useful doctrine, and not have filled his auditors' ears with needless exceptions against the late translation: and for that word for which he offered to that poor congregation three reasons why it ought to have been translated as he said, he and others had considered all them, and found thirteen more considerable reasons why it was translated as now printed;" and told him, "If his friend, then attending him, should prove guilty of such indiscretion, he should forfeit his favour." To which Mr. Sanderson said, "He hoped he should not." And the preacher was so ingenuous as to say, "He would not justify himself." And so I return to Oxford. In the year 1608, — July the 11th,—