Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 09.djvu/253

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


became Viscount Falkland, and was obliged, much against his will, to go to London on business connected with his father's property, which was so heavily mortgaged that, as Clarendon says (ib. i. 40), he was compelled to sell a finer seat of his own in order to release it. Wood (Athenæ Oxon. ii. 603) throws doubt on the statement given in the ‘Mystery of the Good Old Cause’ (1660), that Lenthall had Burford given to him by the Long parliament, on the ground that he had purchased it from Falkland in 1634 for about 7,000l. This statement tallies with Clarendon's assertion, and as Lenthall was one of Falkland's trustees under his grandfather's deed, he was a likely person to make the purchase. As under that deed Falkland had only a life interest, the Long parliament no doubt continued to Lenthall the proprietorship after Falkland's death, which otherwise would have gone to his eldest son. Falkland spent with his mother the winter after his father's death. She was now a declared catholic, and was naturally anxious to convince her children of the truth of her own creed. If we may trust her recollections of this period embodied in her biography, written probably by one of her younger sons, Falkland was very nearly giving way. He was, it seems, ‘so wholly catholic in opinion then that he would affirm he knew nothing but what the church told him; pretending, for his being none, that though this seemed to him to be thus—and that he always disputed in the defence of it—yet he would not take upon him to resolve anything so determinatedly as to change his profession upon it till he was forty years old’ (Life of Lady Falkland, p. 55). It is hardly likely that this is a complete account of the state of Falkland's mind. He may very well have been sufficiently dissatisfied with popular protestantism to listen with sympathising attention to his mother's arguments, while the light answer about his youth might easily have concealed a feeling of repugnance which he was too courteous to express. Lady Falkland accounted for her son's subsequent defection (ib. p. 56) by his ‘meeting with a book of Socinus.’ This charge of Socinianism here brought against Falkland was also brought against Chillingworth, whom Falkland met at his mother's house, and with whom he contracted a lasting friendship. There is probably a misconception at the root of the denunciations to which this charge has been subjected. The term Socinianism is at present applied to a certain doctrine on the second person of the Trinity. In Falkland's time, as appears from Cheynell's ‘Rise, Growth, and Danger of Socinianism’ (1643), it was rather a habit of applying reason to questions of revelation which led up to that special doctrine as its most startling result. There can be no doubt that in this larger sense both Falkland and Chillingworth had, as Cheynell subsequently asserted of Chillingworth, the Socinian way of regarding religious questions, and Lady Falkland's assertion that they were led in that direction by reading a book of Socinus may very possibly be true. After this Falkland's relations with his mother were for some time strained, especially as she sent over two of her sons to be educated as catholics abroad, and used her motherly influence to procure the conversion of her daughters. There were also some monetary difficulties between them, but the first meeting was enough to put an end to all estrangement between mother and son, especially as Falkland made over to her and to some of her children a part of his father's estate which he had himself redeemed and which had originally been set apart by her husband for her jointure. In later years Lady Falkland was once more in difficulties, but as there had been again some ill-feeling between the mother and son, she did not apply to him for help. When at last Falkland was informed of his mother's condition, he at once hurried to her assistance. He found her on her deathbed, and did all that was in his power to soothe her in her last hours (Life of Lady Falkland, 108, 111).

Falkland's own life had been an enjoyable one. ‘As soon,’ writes Clarendon (Life, i. 41), ‘as he had finished all those transactions, which the death of his father had made it necessary to be done, he retired again to his country life and to his severe course of study, which was very delightful to him as soon as he was engaged in it, but he was wont to say that he never found reluctancy in anything he resolved to do but in his quitting London, and departing from the conversation of those he enjoyed there, which was in some degree preserved and continued by frequent letters, and often visits, which were made by his friends from hence, whilst he continued wedded to the country; and which were so grateful to him, that during their stay with him he looked upon no book, and truly his whole conversation was one continued convivium philosophicum or convivium theologicum, enlivened and refreshed with all the facetiousness of wit and good humour and pleasantness of discourse, which made the gravity of the argument itself (whatever it was) very delectable. His house where he usually resided (Tew or Burford in Oxfordshire), being within ten or twelve miles of the uni-