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A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Law, William

< A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature

Law, William (1686-1761). -- Divine, s. of a grocer at Kingscliffe, Northamptonshire, was ed. at Camb., and in 1727 became tutor to the f. of Edward Gibbon, the historian. About 1728 he pub. his best known book, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, a work which has had a profound influence upon the religious life of England, largely owing to the impression which it produced upon such minds as those of Dr. Johnson, the Wesleys, and others. In 1737 he became a student of the works of Jacob Boehmen, the German mystic, and devoted himself largely to the exposition of his views.page 232 The theological position of L. was a complicated one, combining High Churchism, mysticism, and Puritanism: his writings are characterised by vigorous thought, keen logic, and a lucid and brilliant style, relieved by flashes of bright, and often sarcastic, humour. His work attacking Mandeville's Fable of the Bees (1723) is perhaps that in which these qualities are best displayed in combination. He retired in 1740 to Kingscliffe, where he had founded a school for 14 girls.