Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells Chapter I.
WHAT Christian bosom but warms with a glow of loving veneration at the name of the heavenly-minded author of those sweet lyrics of the Church, the Morning Hymn and the Evening Hymn! They have been for nearly two centuries familiar to the lips of the infants of the flock as to the hoary-headed elders of the congregation, and yet they tire not--they never can tire--for they are in their sublime simplicity suited to the comprehensions and adapted to the wants of all, from the youngest to the most mature, from the highest to the lowest. The hearts of rich and poor, the learned and the ignorant, alike swell for a moment as the successive appeals, so full of the fervour and the poetry of prayer, thrill from the ear to the soul.
Thomas Ken was the descendant of a cadet branch of an ancient and honourable family, Ken, of Ken Place, in Somersetshire, whose wealth had been carried by an heiress into the noble house of Paulet of Hinton. [The daughter of Christopher Ken, of Ken Place, cousin to our apostolic bishop, married John, son of Sir Anthony Paulet, one of the most devoted followers of his unfortunate sovereign Charles I.] He was the youngest son of his father, a highly respectable attorney, of Furnival's Inn, and was born and baptized at Berkham stead, in Hertfordshire, in the month of July, 1637. His mother dying when he was scarcely four years old, the bereaved infant was adopted by his eldest sister, Anne, the wife of the afterwards celebrated Izaak Walton, the author of the 'Complete Angler,' and that lovely series of biographies, Lives of Donne, Wootton, Hooker, Herbert, and Sanderson. Izaak Walton, at that time ennobling the trade of a haberdasher, occupied a small house at the Fleet Street end of Chancery Lane, with his wife, whom he was accustomed to call "My Kenna," and took great delight in her sweet voice. Thomas Ken was also gifted by nature with a beautiful voice, and there can be little doubt that his taste and skill in music were fostered and cultivated by his early domestication with his sister and her husband. From the latter he would also imbibe the refined and devotional cast of thought which gives so great a charm to all his writings, that delight in all things that were lovely, holy, and true, which taught him, while dwelling on the charms of creation, to "' look through nature up to nature's God."
Izaak Walton, perceiving evil days approaching, and having acquired a moderate competence, withdrew, with his beloved Kenna and her motherless little brother, their adopted child, from the uncongenial atmosphere of the metropolis, in 1644, to that peaceful cottage on the banks of the Dove, in Staffordshire, where he was able to pursue his favourite recreation and indulge his literary tastes unmolested, and enjoyed the privilege of affording a safe and unsuspected refuge during the civil wars to Morley, Bishop of Winchester, and other loyal gentlemen.
It was probably through Morley's influence that Thomas Ken received his education at the Wykeham College, at Winchester. He was sent there at thirteen, and acquitted himself so diligently that he was in the following year chosen a scholar on that foundation. While at Winchester a close and tender friendship was formed between Thomas Ken and Francis Turner, that lasted through life, and was only dissolved by the death of Turner. Both were poets, and though Erancis Turner, as the son of the Dean of Canterbury, and grandson of Charles I.'s secretary of state, was born in a higher position than Thomas Ken, the storms of civil war had reduced him to an equality with any poor scholar in the college. It is certain that he and Thomas Ken lived there on terms of brotherly love. Their names remain inscribed on the stone buttress of the southeast cloister, with the date of the last year they were together there--1656. Turner's name was only recently traced out by the present learned master of Wykeham College, Dr. Moberly.
After a most honourable career as a Wykehamite, Ken was superannuated in 1656, according to the rules of the institution, having entered his nineteenth year. He followed his friend, Francis Turner, to Oxford, but as there was no vacancy for him at New College, he was not at first allowed the happiness of joining him, being compelled to enter Hart Hall, afterwards Hertford College, where Magdalen Hall now is. The following year, however, the wish of his heart was gratified; he was admitted as a probationer at New College, and became a fellow-student with his beloved school companion.
The Warden of New College was, at that time, George Marshall, who had been illegally obtruded by the parliamentarian visitors in defiance of the statutes, which prescribed that none other than a Wykehamite and a duly elected fellow should hold the wardenship of New College. George Marshall was neither. His claims consisted in having been chaplain to the godly garrison of the parliament and the dictation of General Cromwell.
The fellows stoutly protested against the illegal intrusion of an unqualified warden, but after a brave resistance, found themselves compelled to succumb to military despotism. Their college had been marked by Cromwell for spoil and suppression, and was only preserved by Colonel Nathaniel Fiennes venturing, at the risk of his own life, to disobey the mandate of his unscrupulous commander for its destruction.
In defiance of puritanical supremacy, a musical society was established at Oxford, in 1657, of which Ken was a member, and occasionally sang his part and performed on the lute, viol, and organ. He remained at New College till after the Restoration, distinguished himself by his learning, probity, and piety, and gained the love and esteem of the society by his endearing qualities. As soon as he was in circumstances to testify his regard for the college, he subscribed one hundred pounds towards the expenses of their new buildings and improved gardens.
It was probably during his residence at New College that his longest poetic work was commenced, although a later date has, by some of his more recent biographers, been assigned to this almost unknown production of Ken, which bears the unmistakable marks of a young inexperienced writer.
'Edmund,' an epic poem, on the martyrdom of the East Anglian king by the pagan Danes, at Hoxne, as it is now called; but Ken has adopted the ancient name of Hegelsdune or Eaglesdune. It is formed on the model of Tasso's Gierusaleme, having nothing local or historical belonging to it. Neither does the author seem, aware of the rich and imaginative traditions, which enshrine the memory of our Anglo-Saxon royal saint, retained with wondrous love and fidelity by the Suffolk peasantry, although his shrine has been broken and his stately abbey made desolate. Many a church is dedicated to St. Edmund, Martyr and King, and decorated with his elegant open coronal intersected with the two Danish arrows. Moreover, showing greater love in those days, many public-houses and hostelries on the road from Eaglesdune to Bury St. Edmunds bear the same for signs. But vain it is to look in Ken's 'Edmund' for the fanciful dramatis personce still remembered at the scene of the royal Christian's martyrdom. The treacherous bridegroom who betrayed him seeing the glitter of his gold spurs under the bridge over the Waveney; the malediction which keeps all East Anglian brides and bridegrooms from crossing Hoxne bridge to this day; how, after the pagan Hubbar nailed him to the oak, and caused him to be shot to death by the cruel Danes with arrows, and cut off his head, a she wolf (peradventure it was the king's own faithful wolf-dog) ran away with King Edmund's head between her paws, and hid it in the deep dell of Eaglesdune, and the darksome den became radiant with phosphoric light; while the raven, some say the head, cried "here, here;" and then when his sorrowing friend went to inter head and body, carrying them on a bier of oak boughs to Bury, the wolf walked as chief mourner, and the more wolfish Danes, converted by so many rather doubtful miracles, followed penitent, with trailing lances. But not one word have we in the 'Edmund' of Ken, from quaint tradition, or picturesque chronicle, or pastoral landscape, the winding Waveney, or the darksome dell of Eaglesdune.
The poem bears the character of a mere collection of boyish exercises, wherein poetic enthusiasm leads the tyro to gain skill in his own language--all that juvenile poems are good for, with very few exceptional cases. Nay, in the only good passage, those familiar with Winchester will recognise resemblance to some well-known ancient verses, current throughout the southern diocese, in this rather grand portrait of the requisites of a perfect priest. We see the Wintonian therein, and will say no more, lest scorn should befal the only good extract we can find in 'Edmund.'
A PERFECT SERVANT OF GOD.
"Give me the priest these graces to possess--
Of an ambassador the just address,
A father's tenderness, a shepherd's care,
A leader's courage, who the cross can bear;
A ruler's awfulness, a watcher's eye,
A pilot's skill the helm in storms to ply;
A fisher's patience and a labourer's toil,
A guide's dexterity to disembroil;
A prophet's inspiration from above,
A teacher's knowledge, and a Saviour's love;
Give me in him a light upon a hill,
Whose rays that whole circumference can fill;
In God's own word and sacred learning versed.
Deep in the study of the heart immersed;
Who in sick souls can the disease descry,
And wisely fit restoratives apply;
To beautiful pastures leads his sheep,
Watchful from hellish wolves his fold to keep."
Immediately after the Restoration Ken took the degree of B.A., and was admitted into holy orders. He received the degree of M.A. early in 1663, and was appointed his chaplain by Lord Maynard, who also presented him with the living of Easton Parva, in the hundred of Dunmow, in Essex. This was Ken's first church preferment. The parish church of Little Easton is just without the park at Easton Lodge, the seat of Lord Maynard, a most exemplary nobleman, who, with that admirable woman, Lady Margaret, his wife, lived on the most intimate terms of friendship with Keu, and seconded all his endeavours for the good of his flock during the two happy years he held the rectory of Little Easton.
Being summoned to a more extended sphere of usefulness by the Bishop of Winchester, he resigned his living in Essex, and repaired to Winchester, where he was invited by the bishop to take up his abode in the palace, in 1665. Ken now enjoyed the happiness of being domesticated with his beloved brother-in-law, Izaak Walton, whom Bishop Morley, in grateful remembrance of the shelter, hospitality, and solace accorded by him and Kenua in their cottage by the Dove, in the days of adversity and persecution, now gratefully requited, by inviting them with their son and daughter, to partake his prosperity when restored to his episcopal palace, by living with him in peace and affluence for the rest of their days.
Kenna did not long survive this auspicious change in their fortunes; she died soon after her removal to the Winchester palace, to the great affliction of her husband and her brother, Thomas Ken, who ever repaid her maternal care of his bereaved infancy and childhood with the dutiful affection of a son. Izaak Walton continued, by the bishop's desire, to reside in the palace, where he wrote the lives of Herbert, Hooker, and Sanderson. In all these the sweet spirit of Ken may be traced.
The unanimous votes of the fellows of Winchester College, meantime, had elected Ken to the first fellowship that was vacated by death after the Restoration, and he became resident in the Wykehamist House. While there, he took upon himself gratuitously the duty of preaching at the neglected church of St. John in the Soke, for which there was neither minister nor endowment. This he called his cure, and God so blessed his labour of love, that he was the means of bringing many Anabaptists and Socinians into the Church of England. These he always baptized himself.
So devoted was Ken to the improvement of his time, that he never made but one sleep, always rising from his bed when he awoke, even if it happened as early as three o'clock in the morning.
Bishop Morley marked his appreciation of Ken's zealous labours in the service of the Church and the poor by making him his domestic chaplain, and bestowing upon him first the living of Brightstone, in the Isle of Wight. At Brightstone his name is still held in loving veneration, and the local tradition of the fair isle asserts that his favourite walk, while composing his devotional poetry, was under the tall yew hedge that bounds the rectory garden, sheltered from bitter winds and open to the cheering beams of the sun.
In this peaceful and congenial scene of Ken's thoughtful life, now advancing to its meridian, that series of hymns so dear to the Christian Church, the Morning, the Evening, and the Midnight Hymns, were written.
The Midnight Hymn having deeper spirituality in it than could be appreciated in those days, was almost forgotten for more than a century after the death of Ken, but has been latterly rescued from oblivion, and published, with the Morning and the Evening Hymns, by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, in a cheap form--a cheap boon to restless invalids during the lonely vigils of nights of bodily or mental suffering.
Ken always commenced his devotional exercises, on leaving his bed, by singing the Morning Hymn to his own accompaniment on the lute, and concluded them at night, the last thing before retiring to his pillow, with the Evening Hymn.
He possessed great musical skill as well as a very rich voice. There is a most interesting portrait of him about this period of his life, in possession of Sir Richard Colt Hoare, which has been engraved for his life by the Rev. W. L. Bowles, showing that he possessed both personal and intellectual beauty.
Two very happy years were spent by Ken at his peaceful rectory at Brightstone, a pleasant little village about four miles from Carisbrook Castle, with a stately church and a fair sea-view, but sheltered from cold winds by overhanging hills.
In the course of those years he was occasionally summoned, as the chaplain of Bishop Morley, to attend in that capacity during his lordship's residence at his palace at Chelsea.
There are several interesting notices in the diary of the pious Lady Warwick, of the impression made on her by Ken's preaching at Chelsea church, where it was her good fortune to hear him, she residing in that parish.
On Sunday, 9th of February, 1668, she makes the following note in her diary: "I went to church to hear Mr. Ken preach. His text was, 'Behold thou art made whole, sin no more, lest a worse thing come on thee.' It was a very good sermon, and God was pleased much to affect my heart with it; and whilst he was preaching on that passage, 'sin no more,' God was pleased to make me, with strong desires and many tears, to beg power against sin for the time to come."
Bishop Morley recalled Ken to Winchester, and preferred him to the dignity of a prebendary of Winchester Cathedral, and he was installed, April 12, 1669. In the following month the bishop gave him the Rectory of East Woodhay.
As it was contrary to Ken's principles to hold two livings, he resigned Brightstone the same day he was collated to Woodhay. He held the living of Woodhay from the 28th of May, 1669, to the 8th of November, 1672, when he resigned that preferment for his friend, George Hooper, and came to reside entirely at Winchester, where he resumed his labours for the neglected parishioners of St. John's Church in the Soke, and attracted great crowds to his unpaid ministry.
He made the tour of Italy, and visited Home in the year of the jubilee, 1675, accompanied by his nephew, young Izaak Walton, and was absent almost a year in examining the classical and historical antiquities of that interesting portion of Christendom.
The simple but refined taste of Ken was naturally offended by the vestiges of pagan idolatry which he everywhere detected in the gorgeous processions and exuberant ceremonials of the Eternal City and the pompous ritual of the Papal Church.
On their return, Ken said "he gave God thanks that he had been permitted to undertake this journey, since what he had seen had confirmed him in his love for the Keformed Church, of the excellency and purity of which he was more than ever convinced." This remark he was accustomed to repeat to the end of his life.
He took his degree of B.D. in 1678, and of D.D. the following year, when he was appointed chaplain and almoner to the Princess of Orange, at the Hague. Ken's friend, Dr. Hooper, had just resigned that office in disgust, on account of the uncivil treatment he had received from the Prince of Orange, whose hostility to the Church of England was at that time open and undisguised, and induced him to do violence to the conscience of the princess, by compelling her to desert her own chapel and the English liturgy, to attend the Dutch schismatic service with him.
While at the Hague, Ken's ministry succeeded in winning a convert to the Church of England, whom he names with much satisfaction to his friend the Archbishop of Canterbury in the following letter:--
"MY VERY GOOD LORD,
"I should not dare to make this invasion on your grace but that my duty enforces me, and the ambition I hare to send news which I know will be extremely welcome to your grace; and the rather because it is of a convert to our Church, and of a convert who is no less a person than Col. Fitzpatrick; who, upon a deliberate inquiry, is so fully satisfied with our Church, that he communicates with us next Lord's day in the Princess's Chapel. 'Tis not to be imagined how much both their Highnesses are pleased with the colonel's happy resolution, and the prince commanded me to give my lord of London a particular account of it, which I have done.
"On Monday his Highness goes for Germany. The pretence is hunting, but the chief thing which he proposes to himself, we understand, is to discourse with the German princes about the present posture of Europe, and to take accurate measures to expose the common enemy.
"I most earnestly beg your grace's benediction. My good lord, your grace's most obedient and most humble servant,
"Hague, September 13th, 1680."
Dr. Ken prevailed on the princess to remain steady to the faith in which she had been baptized and confirmed. This drew upon him the ill-will of the prince, who hated him still more than he had done his predecessor, and took every opportunity of testifying his dislike.
The Princess of Orange, who was much comforted and edified by the ministry of Ken, confided to him her distress at the trouble and disgrace in which her beautiful English maid of honour, Miss Jane Worth, was likely to be involved, in consequence of the perfidious conduct of Count Zulestien, an illegitimate uncle of the Prince of Orange, and one of his especial favourites, who had effected the ruin of the young lady under a solemn promise of marriage, which he now basely refused to fulfil, and was encouraged in his dishonourable conduct by the prince, his master. Ken was deeply concerned at this information, for the young lady was the niece of his beloved friend and patron Lord Maynard, whose sister Anne was her mother, so that Jane was probably well known to him during his chaplaincy to that nobleman and his ministry at Little Easton. Anxious to preserve both the unhappy girl and her family from disgrace and sorrow, Ken immediately sought an interview witli Count Zulestien, to whom he represented the turpitude and cruelty of his behaviour to the unfortunate girl, and described her anguish in such moving terms, that Zulestien was touched with compunction, and declared his willingness to repair his wrong as far as he could by marrying her as soon as an opportunity should occur. A few days afterwards the Prince of Orange went on business to Amsterdam, and the princess, availing herself of his absence, allowed Ken to marry Zulestien to Jane Worth in her chapel.
When the Prince of Orange learned what had taken place during his absence, he was so much displeased that he rated his consort, and used the most unbecoming language to Dr. Ken, telling him he would not suffer him to remain any longer in his present office.
Ken replied, "that it was his desire to resign it, and requested permission of the princess to return to England;" but she implored him not to desert her, and her tears and lamentations gave so serious a turn to the affair, that the prince, not wishing the story to be repeated to his disadvantage in the English Court, condescended to request Dr. Ken to remain and resume his duties in the princess's chapel. Ken reluctantly complied, for he had no respect for the prince, and was impatient of witnessing his ungracious behaviour to the princess.
"Dr. Ken was with me," writes Sidney in his journal, March 21st, 1680; "he is horribly unsatisfied with the Prince of Orange. He thinks he is not kind to his wife, and is determined to speak to him about it, even if he kicks him out of doors."
Sidney, who was a strong political partizan of William, does not say a word in defence of his conduct as a husband, but quotes the testimony of Sir Gabriel Silvius, a Dutch gentleman, the husband of one of Mary's ladies, in addition to that of Dr. Ken, in these words, about a month later in his private journal:--"Sir Gabriel Silvius and Dr. Keu were both here, and both complain of the prince, especially of his usage of his wife. They think she is sensible of it, and that it doth greatly contribute to her illness."
Despairing of doing anything to improve the condition of his royal mistress, and at the same time suffering from the noxious effects of the climate, Dr. Ken returned to England in 1680, broken alike in health and spirits. King Charles, though aware of his disagreement with the Prince of Orange, gave him a gracious reception, and testified his approbation of his conduct at the Hague, by promising to appoint him to be one of his own chaplains as soon as a vacancy should occur.
In the summer of 1682, Ken was summoned to attend the death-bed of his beloved and honoured friend, Lady Maynard, who desired to receive the last offices of the Church for the sick and dying from him who had been for more than twenty years her spiritual confidant and adviser.
He administered the holy communion to her on Whitsunday, and shortly after she entered into her rest. Ken was requested to preach her funeral sermon, which he did on the 30th of June, 1682, rendering a deserved tribute to her virtues, piety, and tender charity to the sick and suffering poor. This sermon was printed, and universally read and admired.
He composed and published his excellent "Manual of Prayers for the Scholars in Winchester College, and other devout Christians," the preceding year.
Early in the summer of 1683, Ken was entreated by Lord Dartmouth to accompany him in his own ship as chaplain-in-chief of the fleet that was going out to demolish the fortifications of Tangier, on which Charles II. had expended a very large sum annually, in the vain hope of rendering it a serviceable port.
"I think it of the highest importance," wrote the noble admiral, "to have the ablest and best man I can possibly obtain to go with me, both for the service of God and the good government of the clergy that are chaplains in the fleet. My most earnest request to you is, that if it be not too great an inconvenience, you would do me the honour and favour to go with me this short voyage. I beg it of you for God's sake, and as I am to answer to Him for the preservation of so many souls as He hath been pleased to put under my care. I have nothing more but to beg your prayers and blessing, with pardon for this confident desire."
Ken was not the man to whom this earnest appeal could be made in vain. He was aware that nothing could be more deplorable than the condition, and too often the moral characters, of naval chaplains as a body; but the idea that it might possibly be in his power to improve their practice by accompanying the expedition, was sufficient to induce him to condescend to the office so earnestly pressed on his acceptance.
Pepys, the Secretary of the Admiralty, who was in the commission, was delighted at Ken's accepting the appointment, and records in his diary very sanguine anticipations "of his happiness in making the voyage in company," as he says, "with a worthy leader, Lord Dartmouth, and conversing with companions who were of first-rate talents in divinity, law, and science, as Dr. Ken, Dr. Trumbull, Dr. Lawrence, and Mr. Sheres. We shall enjoy," adds Pepys, "concerts much above ordinary of voices, flutes, and viols, good-humour, good cheer, some good books, the company of my nearest friend, Mr. Hewer, and a reasonable prospect of returning home in two months."
Such was the pleasant programme of Dr. Ken's summer voyage up the Mediterranean; but, unfortunately, the hopes so agreeably set forth by the journalist of the expedition were not realized. Foul weather set in from the day of their embarkation, August 8th, and on the 22nd they were fain to cast anchor in Plymouth Sound. Dr. Ken enjoyed the relief of going on shore for a few hours, with Pepys and some others of the gentlemen, to see Mount Edgecumbe. They were hospitably received by the lady of that beautiful domain; but, unluckily, her husband, Sir Kichard Edgecumbe, took that opportunity of visiting Lord Dartmouth on board the "Grafton," where they indulged in such a deep carouse, that his lordship was compelled to keep his cabin during the chief part of the voyage, from its effects. Unfortunately, intemperance was the besetting sin of the brave admiral, which alone would render the voyage irksome to one of Ken's calm and holy manners.
On Sunday, September 2nd, Pepys records, "that after Dr. Ken's performance of the usual services, they were at supper in Lord Dartmouth's state cabin, when the discourse turned on spiritual agencies and the appearance of ghosts, in which Ken asserted his belief. This was denied by himself and the others, and the argument being continued from day to day, had not concluded on the 12th of the month, when they reached Tangier."
It happened, however, that Dr. Trumbull and some of the warmest of Ken's opponents being lodged in the citadel, were annoyed with such unaccountable nocturnal disturbances, that Lawrence told Pepys "he was now fully convinced of the existence of spirits, this disturbance having continued for some time, and appearing every three or four nights." It is very tantalizing that either Dr. Lawrence did not tell, or Pepys did not note down, what appearances there were, for noises cannot be said to appear; and Kirke's garrison was so outrageous, that noise, either by night or day, was by no means to be considered supernatural.
The first Sunday spent at Tangier Dr. Ken preached in the church there, "making a most excellent sermon," says Pepys, "full of the skill of the preacher, but nothing of the natural philosopher." Certes, the discussion of natural philosophy, however valuable at proper times and seasons, it was no vocation of Dr. Ken to introduce in the pulpit, for the edification of Kirke and his myrmidons. Indeed, Pepys professes himself in pain for the feelings of those worthies, saying, very naively, in reference to one of Ken's sermons, preached before this respectable audience: "To church, a very fine and seasonable, but unsuccessful argument from Doctor Ken, particularly in reproof of the vices of this town of Tangier. I was in pain for Governor Kirke and his officers about us in church, but I perceived they regarded it not." That is, they, comporting themselves like deaf adders, never listened to the preacher, if he preached ever so wisely, and therefore could not hear and mark the sermon. No adders are so deaf as the inattentive. And Pepys, who listened and applied our apostolic Ken's reproofs--to his neighbours--took so little heed for himself, that he has this remark for the afternoon service that day: "Immediately from dinner to church. A foolish sermon from Mr. Hughes, but had the pleasure of again seeing fine Mrs. Kirke, better dressed than before, but yet less than I have known her."
Certainly, Ken was not favoured with a very hopeful congregation at Tangier!
Notices occur from time to time of Ken's sermons, and from so severe a sermon-critic as Pepys they may be considered very favourable. It was not long before the evil Governor Kirke and the apostolic Ken came to collision. In the first place, Ken opposed the intrusion of a swearing, drinking clergyman, one after Governor Kirke's own heart, and disreputably connected among his familiars, who was to succeed Mr. Hughes in the ministry of the parish church at Tangier. High words afterwards occurred between Governor Kirke and Dr. Ken, who withstood the ferocious soldier to his face concerning the excessive blasphemy and oaths that resounded on all sides. Dr. Ken had preached against it that morning; as usual, Kirke had heard the sermon as though he heard it not, and then Dr. Ken tried individual remonstrance. Pepys says he took part on the side of Dr. Ken. After this we hear little of Ken, excepting that he suffered from the climate, and had to keep his chamber with fever and headache, which seems to have been endemical among the English that autumn at Tangier. Dr. Trumbull lost his self-command, owing to his terrors of some undefined danger from, demons. Dr. Ken was extremely urgent with Lord Dartmouth that this gentleman should be sent home, fearing for his reason.
Ken finished his epic poem of 'Edmund' while at Tangier and on the voyage home. He sailed with the fleet on the 5th of March, 1684, for England, and landed at Portsmouth the first week in April. He hastened at once to Winchester; but his revered brother-in-law, Izaak Walton, had expired in his absence, in his ninety-first year, and had been buried three months in Prior Silkstead's Chapel, in the cathedral. His epitaph is said to have been written by Ken. It is as follows:--
"Alas, he's gone before, Gone to return no more! Our panting breasts aspire After their aged sire; "Whose well-spent life did last Pull ninety years and past. But now he hath begun That which will never be done; Crowned with eternal bliss, We wish our souls with his."
Izaak Walton had bequeathed a memorial ring to Ken, thus inscribed:--" For my brother, Dr. Ken. A friend's farewell. I. W." The date of the venerable donor's death, "Obiit, 15th Dec., 1683," was added to the inscription.
The blood-stone ring, which had been the much-prized legacy of Dr. Donne to Walton, with the effigy of the blessed Saviour on the cross, in the form of an anchor, the emblem of hope, was also delivered to Ken; probably it had been promised to him by his venerable brother-in-law. Almost all Ken's subsequent letters are sealed with it, and also his will. This precious relic was inherited by the son of Izaak Walton, who in like manner sealed his will with this memorial of Dr. Donne, Izaak Walton, and Bishop Ken. We hope it is still in existence.
In the succeeding October, Ken was summoned to Farnham Castle, to perform the melancholy duty of attending the death-bed of his venerated friend and patron, Dr. Morley, Bishop of Winchester, whose departing spirit he soothed with his prayers and filial attentions. Morley scarcely survived his old friend Izaak Walton ten months.
Ken was appointed as one of the royal chaplains by Charles II., who, bad as he was himself, entertained a sincere respect for the truthful simplicity and blameless life of this apostolic man.
One Sunday, when Ken was going to preach at Whitehall, the Merry Monarch quitted the circle of his vicious flatterers, with the remark, "1 must go and hear Ken tell me of my faults."
The same summer, his Majesty proposing to spend some time at Winchester, Ken was placed in an unpleasant dilemma by Nell Gwynn taking possession of his prebendal house for her lodgings, it being very conveniently situated in close proximity to the temporary abode of her royal paramour, whom, she flattered herself, the newly-appointed chaplain would not wish to offend.
Greatly, however, had she mistaken the uncompromising integrity of the man; for when he was advised to allow her to remain, as it would be well-pleasing to the king, Ken indignantly replied, "Not for his three kingdoms," and instantly sent a stern message to warn the bold intruder "that no woman living in open defiance of God's law should abide under the shadow of his roof."
Finding him so much in earnest, Nell Gwynn angrily withdrew, and carried her complaints to the king. Ken was about to justify his exclusion of the royal favourite, but Charles, with his usual blunt frankness, exclaimed, "Odds fish, man! though I am not good myself, I can respect those who are!"
So far from testifying displeasure at the uncompromising spirit with which Dr. Keu had acted, he astonished a circle of time-serving courtiers, who were suggesting successors to the see when the bishopric of Bath and Wells became vacant, by asking, with some vivacity, "Where is the good little man who refused the lodging to poor Nell?" Then, in a graver tone, he impressively observed, "I intend the bishopric of Bath and Wells for Dr. Ken, and it is my own especial appointment."
No one was more surprised at the royal appointment than Ken himself, who thus commemorates his unexpected elevation to the hierarchy in the dedication of his hymns to his friend Dr. Hooper:--
"Amongst the herdsmen, I, a common swain, Lived, pleased with my low dwelling on the plain; Till up, like Amos, on a sudden caught, I to the pastortil ckair was trembling brought."