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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

By thirst for general knowledge

style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER I.


At one period of his youth James I had been accustomed to vary his application to his lessons with bodily exercises. At that age he had divided his days between learned studies and the chase of the smaller game in Stirling Park, accompanied in both pursuits by friends and comrades of the same age; and he retained during all his life the habits he had then formed.[381] He spent only a couple of months in the year in London, or at Greenwich: he preferred Theobald's, and still more distant country seats like Royston and Newmarket, where he could give himself up to hunting. Even before sunrise he was in motion, surrounded by a small number of companions practised in the chase and selected for that object, amongst whom he was himself one of the most skilful. He thought that he might vie with Henry IV even in field sports; but he was not hindered by his fondness for these amusements from continuing his studies with unwearied application. He was impelled to these not, strictly speaking, by thirst for general knowledge, although he was not deficient in this, but principally by interest in the theological controversies which engaged the attention of the world. He more than once went through the voluminous works of Bellarmin; and, in order to verify the citations, he had the old editions of the Fathers and of the Decrees of

the Councils sent him from Cambridge. In this task a learned bishop stood at his side to assist him. He endeavoured with many a work of his own to thrust himself forward in the conflict of opinions. He had the vanity of wishing to be regarded as the most learned man in the two kingdoms, but he could only succeed in passing for a storehouse of all sorts of knowledge; for a man who overestimates himself is commonly punished by disregard even of his real merits. These may not meet with recognition until later times. The writings of James I wore the pedantic dress of the age; but in the midst of scholastic argumentation we yet stumble upon apt thoughts and allusions. The images which he frequently employs have not that delicacy of literary feeling which avoids what is ungraceful, but they are original and sometimes striking in their simplicity. Naturally thorough and acute, he labours not without success to prove to his adversaries the untenableness of the grounds on which they proceed, or the logical fallacy of their conclusions. Here and there we catch the elevated tone of a consciousness that rests upon firm conviction. Even in conversation he sought to turn away from particulars as soon as they came under discussion, and to pass to general considerations, a province in which he felt most at home. In his incidental utterances which have been taken down, he displays sound sense and knowledge of mankind. It is especially worth noticing how he considers virtue and religion to be immediately connected with knowledge--the confusions in the world appear to him for the most part to arise from mediocrity of knowledge[382]--and how highly moreover he estimates a sense for truth. He finds the most material difference between virtue and vice in the greater

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