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THE LIFE

OF

JAMES USSHER, D. D.,

ARCHBISHOP OF ARMAGH.

JAMES USSHER was born in the parish of St. Nicholas, in the city of Dublin, on the 4th day of January, 1580-1. His father, Arnold Ussher, was one of the Six Clerks in the Court of Chancery, and was descended from an English family of the name of Neville. The first of this family who settled in Ireland was usher to King John, and, coming over with that prince, changed the name of his family for that of his office, a practice not unusual at that period. His mother was Margaret, daughter of James Stanihurst, one of the Masters in Chancery, Recorder of Dublin, and Speaker of the Irish House of Commons in three successive Parliaments.

Of the early life of James Ussher only a few anecdotes have been transmitted. It is not a little remarkable that he was taught to read by two aunts who had been blind from their infancy. Of these relatives he always spoke with the greatest affection and respect, and from them he appears to have imbibed his first religious impressions.

From this circumstance most writers spell the name of the Archbishop, Usher; but he appears himself always to have written it Ussher. In the Appendix will be found a genealogy written by the Archbishop himself; and another more detailed one, for which I am indebted to the kindness of Sir William Betham, Ulster King of Arms.

VOL. I.

B

His aunts had most tenacious memories; they remembered whatever was read to them, and could repeat by heart a large portion of the Bible. To this book of books, as he always called it, the young student devoted his earliest attention; and he was able to say of himself, "that from a child he had known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make a man wise unto salvation." Some of his biographers are anxious to point out the precise moment of time when his conversion took place, and have fixed upon his tenth year, when he heard a sermon preached on the passage in the Epistle to the Romans, "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." This is a mere attempt to support the doctrines of Calvin by a remarkable example. From all that has been handed down it may safely be concluded, that James Ussher was one of those happy individuals, who, educated in a deep sense of religion, and brought up in the fear of the Lord, had duly cherished the grace vouchsafed to him in baptism, and had been, day by day, assisted from on high to imitate, in all humility, his divine Master, and "grow in wisdom and stature, and favour with God and man."

A strange combination of circumstances supplied Dublin at this time with two schoolmasters of very superior attainments. James VI. of Scotland, doubtful of succeeding quietly to the throne of England on the death of Elizabeth, sent over to Dublin in the year 1587 two clever emissa

b Dr. M'Crie, in his Life of Knox, seems to doubt that they were sent over by James; but such a proceeding was perfectly consonant with the crooked policy of that extraordinary individual. Dr. Parr states it as an undoubted fact, and he surely must have heard from Archbishop Ussher the history of his tutor. And if any thing be wanted to confirm the evidence of Dr. Parr, it may be found in the honours conferred upon the two individuals, and the large grants of land made to them in Ireland by James. Birch, in his Life of Prince Henry, states, that they were first brought into notice by conveying the letters of some of the English lords "who worshipped the rising sun," to King James, in Scotland, and bringing back his answers, "that way being chosen as more safe than the direct northern road," in order to escape the vigilance of Elizabeth.

ries, James Fullerton and James Hamilton", to keep up a correspondence with the Protestant nobility and gentry in the neighbourhood of Dublin: and they, to conceal more effectually the object of their mission, opened a schoole in which Fullerton acted as the master, and Hamilton as the usher. Although the office of a schoolmaster was assumed merely for the purpose of concealment, yet both these individuals seem to have been eminently qualified to discharge its duties. It is most probable that Fullerton was an early pupil' of the learned Andrew Melville, who had brought from the Continent to the University of Glasgow a knowledge of the learned languages rarely possessed at that period, and who devoted himself to the instruction of those committed to his care. Dr. M'Crie has suggested the possibility that both Hamilton and Fullerton were class-fellows of Melville at St. Andrew's, because there appear in the list of admissions for his year, 1558, the names of James Fullerton and James Hamilton: but this seems absolutely impossible, for, as none of his class-fellows could be younger than Melville, who was admitted at twelve years of age, Hamilton must have been ninety-seven years of age at the time of his death in 1643; and yet only two years before he received a commission from the Lords Justices and Council,

Afterwards one of the first Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin. He was knighted by King James, soon after his accession, and appointed one of the gentlemen of the bed-chamber.

Afterwards one of the first Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin. In 1622 he was created, by James, Viscount of Claneboye.

* The school was opened in 1587, and it is remarkable that, in that same year it was ordered by the State, that no grammar but Lilly's should be taught in Ireland. The reason assigned for this extraordinary legislative enactment was, that the variety of grammars previously used in schools impeded the progress of the youth moving from one school to another. See Ware's Annals, ad. ann. 1587.

That he was one of his most intimate friends is certain. Melville, in a letter to Sir James Sempill, of Beltrees, calls him his "intire and speciall friend;" and Fullerton was the person who communicated to Melville, when in banishment, the afflicting intelligence of his nephew's death. Fullerton died in 1630, and appears to have kept up his literary pursuits, after he had exchanged the life of a scholar for that of a courtier. Hume, in his Grammatica Nova, calls him, "virum doctum et in omni disciplina satis exercitatum," and speaks of discussing with him grammatical difficulties.

to raise the Scots in the north of Ireland and put them under arms, in order to resist the violent progress of the rebellion. It seems, then, nearly certain that the James Fullerton who came to Ireland was not the class-fellow, but the pupils of Andrew Melville, laureated at Glasgow in 1581. Hamilton may also have been under the same tutor at St. Andrew's, for in 1585 James Hamilton was made Master of Arts, and at that time Melville had been for some years Principal of New College.

To the school opened under such extraordinary circumstances James Ussher was sent when eight years of age, and he continued there for five years, exciting the admiration of his instructors by his diligence and quickness. The pupil was not insensible to the value of the instruction he received from his masters, for Dr. Parr states, that "whenever he recounted the providences of God towards himself, he would usually say, that he took this for one remarkable instance of it, that he had the opportunity and advantage of his education from those men, who came thither by chance, and yet proved so happily useful to himself and others."

"He be

Dr. M'Crie, in his Life of Melville, gives the following account of the course which Melville taught at Glasgow, completing it in six years. The class were well grounded in Latin before he commenced. gan by initiating them into the principles of the Greek grammar. He then introduced them to the study of Logic and Rhetoric, using as his text-books the Dialectics of his Parisian master, Ramus, and the Rhetoric of Talæus. While they were engaged in these studies, he read with them the best classical authors, as Virgil and Horace among the Latins-and Homer, Hesiod, Theocritus, Pindar, and Isocrates among the Greeks; pointing out, as he went along, their beauties, and illustrating by them the principles of Logic and Rhetoric. Proceeding to Mathematics and Geography he taught the elements of Euclid with the arithmetic and geometry of Ramus, and the geography of Dionysius. And agreeably to this plan of uniting elegant literature with philosophy, he made the students use the Phenomena of Aratus, and the Cosmographia of Honter. Moral philosophy formed the next branch of study, and on this he read Cicero's Offices, Paradoxes, and Tusculan Questions, the Ethics and Politics of Aristotle, and certain dialogues of Plato. In Natural Philosophy he made use of Fernelius, and commented on parts of the writings of Aristotle and Plato. To these he added a view of Universal History, with Chronology, and the progress of the art of Writing. Entering upon the duties of his own immediate profession, he taught the Hebrew language, first, more cursorily, by going over the elementary work of Martinius, and afterwards by a more accurate examination of its principles, accompanied

Yet the course of instruction was not extensive, as it did not comprehend either Greek or Hebrew, for Ussher appears to have commenced learning both those languages after his admission into the University of Dublin.

On the 9th of January, 1593-4, Trinity College, Dublin, was first opened for the admission of students. The foundation of this College was closely connected with the family of James Ussher. His grandfather, Stanihurst", had made the first motion in Parliament for the establishment of an University in Dublin, and his uncle, Henry Ussher, Archdeacon of Dublin, and subsequently Archbishop of Armagh, had been sent over twice to London, to negociate the matter, and had at length, in 1591, brought back with him the Queen's letter for its erection.

At the time

with a praxis upon the Psalter and books of Solomon. He then initiated the students into Chaldee and Syriac, reading those parts of the books of Daniel and Ezra that are written in Chaldee, and the Epistle to the Galatians in the Syriac version. He also went through all the common heads of Divinity, according to the order of Calvin's Institutions, and gave lectures on the different books of Scripture."-M'Crie's Life of Melville, vol. i. pp. 67-9.

Stanihurst appears to have been one of those persons who accommodated their religion to the times. He had been Speaker of the House of Commons under Mary, and he felt no scruples at continuing so under Elizabeth. From the letters of Campian, the Jesuit, to him, it seems evident that, as far as he had any religion, he continued a Roman Catholic to his death. The mother of Ussher, who professed to be a Protestant during the lifetime of her husband and for some years after his death, openly avowed herself a Roman Catholic when her son was absent in England, and resisted all his efforts to convert her from her errors. Her brother Richard was well known as a zealous controversialist in favour of Popery, and, after the death of his wife, took orders in the Roman Catholic Church.

Dr. Bernard, and he is followed by Dr. Smith, in his Life of Ussher, states that the Archdeacon of Dublin was sent over to defeat the plan which Sir John Perrot hail formed, of converting to his own use the revenues of St. Patrick's Cathedral. This is a most unfounded calumny against that unfortunate Deputy. The fact is, Sir John Perrot, like his successor in after times, Lord Strafford, fell a victim to his efforts for the recovery of the property of the Church: he was not able to struggle successfully with those who had scandalously seized her revenues. The plan of appropriating the revenues of St. Patrick's Cathedral to an University had been proposed in the government of Sir Henry Sydney, and Sir John Perrot received instructions on coming to Ireland to inquire, "how St. Patrick's in Dublin, and the revenue belonging to the same.

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