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Ch. 17: Heylin's History of the Presbyterians


[Footnote 1: Written by the Dean in the beginning of the book, on one of the blank leaves. [Note in vol. ix. 1775 edition of Swift's Works.]]

This book, by some errors and neglects in the style, seems not to have received the author's[2] last correction. It is written with some vehemence, very pardonable in one who had been an observer and a sufferer, in England, under that diabolical fanatic sect which then destroyed Church and State. But, by comparing in my memory what I have read in other histories, he neither aggravates nor falsifies any facts. His partiality appears chiefly in setting the actions of the Calvinists in the strongest light, without equally dwelling on those of the other side; which, however, to say the truth, was not his proper business. And yet he might have spent some more words on the inhuman massacre of Paris and other parts of France, which no provocation (and yet the King had the greatest possible) could excuse, or much extenuate. The author, according to the current opinion of the age he lived in, had too high notions of regal power; led by the common mistake of the term Supreme Magistrate, and not rightly distinguishing between the legislature and administration: into which mistake the clergy fell, or continued, in the reign of Charles II., as I have shewn and explained in a treatise, &c. J. SWIFT. March 6, 1727-8.

[Footnote 2: Peter Heylin, D.D. (1600-1662) was born at Burford, Oxfordshire. Educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, and became in succession, chaplain to Charles I., rector of Hemmingford, rector of Islip, and a prebendary of Westminster. He wrote the weekly paper, "Mercurius Auhcus," and lost his estates during the Civil War. He was reinstated at the Restoration into all his preferments. His works are voluminous, consisting of a "Cosmography," "A Help to English History," a "Life of Charles I.," a "History of the Reformation," a "History of Presbyterians," a "Life of Archbishop Laud," and a few theological works. The work on the Presbyterians, here referred to by Swift, was published in 1670. [T.S.]]


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Jonathan Swift