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DR. ISAAC BARROW:
REV. DR. TILLOTSON, DEAN OF CANTERBURY.
THE affection of friends, or interest of the bookfeller, has made it ufual to prefix the life of an author before his works; and fometimes it is a care very neceffary to give him a high and excellent character, the better to protect his writings against that cenforiousness and misconstruction to which all are fubject. What Dr. Barrow has left do as little as any need such an advantage, standing firm on their own worth; nay, his Works may supply the want of a history of his life, if the reader take along with him this general remark, that his Sermons were the counterpart of his actions; therein he has drawn the true picture of himself, so that in them being dead he yet Speaketh, or rather, is spoken of. (Heb. xi. 4. marg.) Yet we the readers do gladly entertain any hopes of feeing his example added to his doctrine, and we think we express some kind of gratitude for your reviewing, digefting, and publishing his Sermons, if we defire from you his Life too.
His Sermons have cost you so much pains, as would have produced many more of your own; if now his Life should afk a farther part of your time, it were still promoting the fame ends, the Doctor's honour, and the public good. What memorials I can recollect, I here present you, that when you have refined this ore, it may be admitted as my offering toward his ftatue. What may be faid would have had a stronger impreffion upon our paffions, when they were moved upon the first news of fo great a lofs; or perhaps it were beft to forbear, till the publication of all his Works, when the reader will be farther prepared to admire him. But I proceed in the order of time, that the other particulars occurring to your memory or fuggefted by other friends may more readily find their proper place, and so give the better luftre to one another: and this I think the fitter to be obferved, because the harmonious, regular, conftant tenor of his life is the moft admirable thing in it. For though a life full of variety, and even of contrariety, were more easy to be writ, and to most more pleasant to be read, it less deserves to be imitated.
Dr. Ifaac Barrow was the son of Mr. Thomas Barrow, (a citizen of London of good reputation yet living, brother to Ifaac Barrow, late Lord Bishop of St. Afaph,) fon of Ifaac Barrow, Efq. of Spiny Abbey in Cambridgeshire, (where he was a Justice of Peace for forty years,) son of Philip Barrough, who has in print a Method of Phyfic, and had a brother, Ifaac Barrow, Doctor of Phyfic, a benefactor to Trinity College, and there tutor to Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, and Lord Treasurer.
He was born in London, October 1630: his mother was Ann, daughter of William Buggin, of North Cray in Kent, Efq; whofe tenderness he did not long enjoy, fhe dying "when he was about four years old.
His first schooling was at the Charter-house for two or three years, when his greatest recreation was in fuch sports
as brought on fighting among the boys: in his aftertime a very great courage remained, whereof many instances might be fet down; yet he had perfectly subdued all inclination to quarrelling, but a negligence of his clothes did always continue with him. For his book, he minded it not; and his father had little hope of fuccefs in the profeffion of a scholar, to which he had defigned him. Nay, there was then fo little appearance of that comfort which his father afterward received from him, that he often folemnly wished, that if it pleased God to take away any of his children, it might be his fon Ifaac: fo vain a thing is man's judgment, and our providence unfit to guide our own affairs.
Removing thence to Felfted in Effex, he quickly made fo great a progress in learning and all things praiseworthy, that his master appointed him a little tutor to the Lord Viscount Fairfax of Emely in Ireland. While he stayed here he was admitted in Peter-houfe, his uncle the Bifhop's College; but when he removed to (and was fit for) the University of Cambridge, Feb. 1645, he was planted in Trinity College. His condition was very low, his father having fuffered much in his estate on account of adhering to the King's cause; and being gone away from London to Oxford, his chief support at first was from the liberality of the famous and reverend Dr. Hammond, to whose memory he paid his thanks in an excellent Epitaph, (among his Poems,) wherein he describes the Doctor and himself too; for the most, and most noble parts of the character do exactly agree to them both. Being now, as it were, without relations, he abused not the opportunity to negligence in his ftudies, or licentioufnefs in his manners, but seasoned his tender years with the principles and the exercise of diligence, learning, and piety, the best preparatives for the fucceeding varieties of life.
The young man continued fuch a royalift, that he would never take the Covenant; yet carrying himself with fair
nefs, candour, and prudence, he gained the good-will of the chief governors of the University. One day Dr. Hill, Master of the College, laying his hand on his head, said, Thou art a good lad; 'tis pity thou art a Cavalier: and when in an Oration on the Gunpowder-Treafon he had fo celebrated the former times, as to reflect much on the present, some Fellows were provoked to move for his expulfion; but the Mafter filenced them with this; Barrow is a better man than any of us. Afterward, when the Engagement was impofed, he fubfcribed it; but upon fecond thoughts, repenting of what he had done, he went back to the commiffioners, and declared his diffatisfaction, and got his name rased out of the lift.
For the juniors, he was always ready to give them his help, and very freely; though for all the exercises he made for them in verfe and profe he never received any recompenfe but one pair of gloves.
While he was yet a young scholar, his judgment was too great to rest satisfied with the fhallow and fuperficial phyfiology then commonly taught and received in the Universities, wherewith ftudents of meaner abilities contentedly took up: but he applied himself to the reading and confidering the writings of the Lord Verulam, Monfieur Descartes, Galileo, and other the great wits of the laft age, who seemed to offer fomething more folid and fubftantial.
When the time came that he could be chofen Fellow of his College, ann. Dom. 1649, he obtained by his merit; nothing else could recommend him who was accounted of the contrary party. After his election, finding the times not favourable to men of his opinion in the affairs of Church and State, to qualify him (as he then thought) to do most good, he defigned the profeffion of phyfic, and for fome years bent his ftudies that way, and particularly made a great progress in the knowledge of anatomy, botanics, and chemistry. But afterward, upon
deliberation with himself, and conference with his uncle, the late Lord Bishop of St. Afaph, thinking that profeffion not well confiftent with the oath he had taken when admitted Fellow, to make divinity the end of his ftudies, he quitted medicine, and applied himself chiefly to what his oath seemed to oblige him.
He was upon all opportunities fo open and communicative, that many of his friends in that College (for out of it he had few acquaintance) can, and I hope fome one will, report frequent inftances of his calm temper in a factious time, his large charity in a mean estate, his facetious talk upon fit occafions, his indefatigable industry in various ftudies, his clear judgment on all arguments, his steady virtue in all difficulties, which they must often have obferved, and can better defcribe.
Of his way of discourse I shall here note one thing, that when his opinion was demanded, he did ufually speak to the importance as well as to the truth of the question: this was an excellent advantage, and to be met with in few men's converfation.
Tractare res multi norunt, æftimare pauci,
While he read Scaliger on Eufebius, he perceived the dependence of chronology on aftronomy, which put him on the study of Ptolemy's Almageft; and finding that book and all astronomy to depend on geometry, he applied himself to Euclid's Elements, not fatisfied till he had laid firm foundations; and fo he made his firft entry into the mathematics, having the learned Mr. John Ray then for his focius ftudiorum, and always for his esteemed friend: he proceeded to the demonftration of the other ancient mathematicians, and published his Euclid in a lefs form and a clearer method than any one had done before him: at the end of his demonftration of Apollonius he has writ, April 14. Intra hæc temporis intervalla peractum hoc opus. To fo much diligence nothing was impoffible and in