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Burnet
Burnet
394

she had two children, who died infants (Ballard, British Ladies, p. 403, note). The bishop placed his children by an earlier marriage in her charge entirely, and gave her thorough control of her separate fortune, one-fifth of this being kept by her for herself, and the other four-fifths being devoted to her charities. She had more than one edition of her book printed at her own expense for distribution, and printed anonymously (Some Account iii); yet she was generally known as an author. Ralph Thoresby writes: ‘I was with several … authors, as the Bishop of Sarum's lady … [who] has writ a “Method for Devotion”’ (Nichols, Illustrations of Literature, i. 804); the manuscript of her work came afterwards into Thoresby's possession (Ballard, British Ladies, p. 402). In 1707 Sir Godfrey Kneller painted Mrs. Burnet's portrait, an engraving from which is the frontispiece to ‘Some Account;’ and in the same year she went to Spa for her health (Some Account, xvi). On her return for the winter of 1708–9 her health was better, and she entered into society in London; but on the breaking up of the frost on 27 Jan. 1708–9 she was seized with pleuritic fever, and died in a week, on 3 Feb., aged 48.

Mrs. Burnet was buried at Spetchley. Immediately after her death her book was published with her name affixed; Goodwyn, archdeacon of Oxford, afterwards archbishop of Cashel (Biog. Brit. i. 1041, note), contributed to the edition ‘Some Account’ of her life. A second edition was called for, still in the same year; and there were further issues in 1713 and 1738. Some of Mrs. Burnet's prayers are given in the volume. They are very lengthy. One, to be used by a child twice a day, runs to 35 lines, and a Prayer for Servants covers 3¼ pages.

[Elizabeth Burnet's Method of Devotion, &c.; Ballard's Memoirs of British Ladies; Wilford's Memoirs of Eminent Persons; Biog. Brit.; Nichols's Illustrations of Literature, i. 804.]

J. H.


BURNET, GILBERT (1643–1715), bishop of Salisbury, was born in Edinburgh on 18 Sept. 1643. His father, Robert Burnet, who was of a good Aberdeen family, being a son of the house of Crathes (Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. 197), was an advocate of high character, who, while in 1637 he freely condemned the conduct of the Scotch bishops, refused to take the covenant, and was in consequence compelled to leave Scotland on three separate occasions. When permitted to return, he lived in retirement on his own estate until the Restoration, when he was made one of the lords of session. Burnet's mother was the sister of Archibald Johnston, lord Warristoun, who framed the covenant, and who afterwards became the leader of the protesters, or extreme section of the covenanting party; she was naturally herself one of the strictest of presbyterians.

Until he was ten years of age, Gilbert, whose talents were remarkably precocious, was educated by his father, from whom he doubtless derived the principles of wide tolerance which distinguished him. By that time he was sufficiently master of Latin to enter the Marischal College of Aberdeen. At fourteen, having thoroughly learned Greek, and having passed through the college course of Aristotelian logic and philosophy, he became master of arts, and immediately applied himself to the study of civil and feudal law. His father, however, was bent upon his becoming a clergyman, and at the age of fifteen he began a course of divinity reading, not in the perfunctory manner common in those days, but as thoroughly and as comprehensively as it could be carried out. Besides working through the chief commentators, he read the most famous controversialists, especially Bellarmine and Chamier. It is an early instance of the broad and secular tastes which he retained through life, that he threw aside the productions of the scholastic divines, and that in his leisure time he made himself master of European history. He is stated at this time to have studied for fourteen hours a day.

In 1661 he passed the trials which qualified him to become a probationer. Thus he entered the church while it was still under presbyterian government, though episcopacy was restored in the following year. In 1661, also, his father died. Burnet was at once offered a living by his cousin-german, Sir Alexander Burnet. This living, however, though situated among his own kindred, he declined, on the ground that at his early age—although by the Scotch law this is no hindrance—he was not qualified for so important a post. This refusal appears to show that his circumstances were easy. His brother Robert, who had followed his father's profession, having also died, Gilbert was urged by his relations to apply himself once more to the law; but this advice was overruled by his father's friend and correspondent Nairn, at that time the most eminent of Scotch divines, by whose suggestion he still further extended his study of divinity. It appears to have been now that he became imbued with the principles of Hooker's ‘Ecclesiastical Polity.’ By Nairn's advice Burnet began the practice of extemporary preaching, unusual with the Scotch clergy. His other advisers—and his admira-