Page:A Compendium of Irish Biography.djvu/562

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divided between the reformed and the Catholic faith, and the religious controversies of the day had thus for him an intense and personal interest. His uncle, Richard Stanyhurst, a Jesuit, endeavoured to attract him towards Catholicism; but as he advanced in years, Ussher became more and more confirmed in the Protestant tenets in which he had been brought up. At an early age he commenced reading the whole of the Fathers, a prodigious labour, which he did not bring to an end for eighteen years. He took the degree of B.A. about July 1597, and, greatly against his will, was preparing to abandon theology and commence the study of the law, when the death of his father left him at liberty to follow his own bent. He made over the family property to his sisters, taking but a small sum for the purchase of books and his support in the cheapest way in college. About this period he gained considerable credit by engaging in a public controversy with FitzSimon [See FitzSimon, Henry, p. 204], a learned Jesuit confined in Dublin Castle. In 1600 he took the degree of M.A., and was elected to a fellowship, and, although not ordained until December 1601, he was occasionally selected to preach in Christ Church before the Irish Court. As with all earnest men of the time, toleration was hateful to him, and he exerted his influence to have the laws against the Catholics put rigidly in force. Upon one occasion he preached a sermon on the text: "And thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year." This was afterwards regarded as prophetic of the war of 1641; but his biographer shows that the sermon must have been preached towards the end of 1602, or in the course of 1603, instead of 1601, as generally represented. The English army, after the capture of Kinsale, and before leaving Ireland, testified its respect for learning by subscribing £1,800 for the purchase of a library for Trinity College. Ussher was one of the two sent to London to purchase books with the money. Soon after his return he was appointed Chancellor of St. Patrick's and incumbent of Finglas. Henceforward he visited England every few years for the purpose of consulting books and manuscripts at the great libraries, becoming intimate with Camden, Sir Robert Cotton, and other eminent men of kindred tastes. These visits were generally of three months' duration—one month each being passed in Oxford, Cambridge, and London. In 1607 he was appointed Professor of Divinity to Dublin University; and two years afterwards he received an invitation to preach before the Court in London. The provostship of Trinity College was pressed upon him, but he declined, fearing lest its duties might interfere with his studies. In 1612 he took the degree of D.D., and next year published his first work, dedicated to James I.—Gravissimæ Quæstiones de Christianorum Ecclesiarum Continua Successione et Statu, which drew forth an answer from his uncle Stanyhurst, then in exile on the Continent. In the beginning of 1614 he married his cousin Phœbe, daughter of Dr. Lucas Challoner, Vice-Chancellor of the University, who had been enjoined by her father's will, bequeathing her a considerable property, not to marry any other than Dr. Ussher, "if he should propose himself." At the Irish Convocation of 1615 Dr. Ussher probably drew up the 104 Articles then accepted, which differed considerably from the English 39 Articles. Dr. Elrington says: "The most important ground of objection to the Irish Articles is the introduction of the Lambeth Articles, which had been so recently rejected by the Church of England." In 1614, and again in 1617, Ussher was chosen Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dublin, and during a visit to London of nearly two years' duration, 1619-21, he recommended himself to James I., and was appointed to the bishopric of Meath. On 13th February 1620 he preached before the House of Commons at Westminster; and says: "I dined at court, and betwixt four and five I kissed the King's hand, and had conference with him touching my sermon. He said 'I had charge of an unruly flock to look to next Sunday.'" Next year he was consecrated Bishop of Meath in St. Peter's, Drogheda. His writings give a deplorable description of the state of the diocese. The revenues had dwindled, there were few local residences for the clergy, while out of about 207 churches, 142 are set down as "ruinous," 16 with ruined choirs, 19 with ruined chancels, 26 in "reasonable repair," and but 4 in "good repair." He continued to pay frequent visits to London, where he was a special favourite with James, who addressed a letter to the Deputy and Council directing them to grant Ussher leave of absence for an indefinite period, and one of the King's last acts was to appoint him (in March 1624-'5) Archbishop of Armagh. Charles I., also, in consequence of "many painful and acceptable services to his dear father deceased, and upon his special directions, … bestowed upon the said Primate out of his princely bounty £400." Ussher returned to Ireland in August 1626, after a long absence. In the interval a controversy came off between