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James Usher was born at Dublin in January, 1580-1, and from early infancy discovered a strong passion for books. A singular circumstance attended his first effort to attain literary knowledge. He was taught to read English (that is, to pronounce it rightly) by two aunts, who though both blind from their cradle, through the strength of their memories and what is called a good ear for sounds, by mere dint of repetition accomplished their object.

His next advance toward a liberal education was attended with circumstances not less extraordinary. Two gentlemen of Scotland of considerable rank and learning, but whose business and quality were then unknown, visited Dublin in 1588, being sent thither by their Sovereign James VI. to open a correspondence with the Protestant nobility and gentry about that capital, in order to secure his interest in Ireland on the event of Queen Elizabeth's death, These, as a pretext for residence, undertook in the capacity of schoolmasters the instruction of youth. The first, James Fullerton, was afterward knighted, and made Gentleman of the Bed-Chamber to King James; the other was James Hamilton, subsequently created Viscount Glandebois. To their tuition young Usher was committed; and his proficiency was such, that in the space of five years he became their principal pupil in Latin, poetry, and rhetoric.

In 1593 Trinity College, Dublin, being finished, Usher then in his thirteenth year was admitted a member of that seminary; Dr. Loftus (sometime Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge *) being it's

* He was, afterward, promoted to the archiepiscopal see of Dublin.

first Provost, and Hamilton, one of Usher's schoolmasters, Senior Fellow and Tutor. The name of Usher, as it's first scholar, stands to this day in the line of it's register, with a presage annexed (in due time, happily fulfilled) that he might prove an honour and ornament to his college and his nation.

Here he diligently applied himself to the study of the languages and the liberal arts; but his chief delight was in ecclesiastical history and antiquities, in all of which he improved to admiration. In chronology, more particularly, before he had completed his sixteenth year such was his proficiency, that he had drawn up in Latin an exact chronicle of the Bible as far as the Book of Kings, not much differing from the method subsequently adopted in his · Annals. He engaged, likewise, with great ardor in the study of theology; and finding the authority of the Fathers confidently appealed to by the Catholic Stapleton in his Fortress of Faith,' he resolved to devote a portion of every day to the perusal of these writers, till he had gone through the whole of them.

The Earl of Essex arriving in 1598, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and Chancellor of the University of Dublin, a solemn Act was celebrated for his entertainment; in which Usher, then B. A., maintained the part of respondent in philosophy with signal approbation. While he was anxiously seeking, however, to qualify himself for the sacred functions of the ministry, his father recommended to him the study of the common law. Although this new destination in no respect suited his natural temper and complexion, he was preparing to comply; when that parent's death left him with a considerable estate the liberty of pursuing his own inclinations. Yet far

from being transported by such an accession of fortune, he was not in the least shaken in his original purpose. Finding it, indeed, incumbered with sisters' portions and law-suits, which he feared might prove a hindrance to his studies, he frankly surrendered the whole to his younger brother; reserving only to himself so much of it as might enable him to purchase books, and afford him a competent maintenance in the college.

Not long after this event, he was thought the fittest person to enter the lists of disputation with a learned Jesuit (one Henry Fitz-Symonds, then prisoner in the Castle of Dublin), who had defied the champions of Protestantism to discuss with him the subjects chiefly debated between the Romish and Reformed Churches. Usher accepted the challenge. The Jesuit, with the confidence of a Goliah in theology, despised him at first on account of his youth: but, after one or two public exhibitions, he became so sensible of the quickness of his wit and the strength of his arguments, that he judiciously declined farther contest.

In 1600, Mr. Usher took the degree of M. A.; and the same year was chosen Proctor, and Catechist Reader in the College. He was also, about this time, ordained by his paternal uncle, the Archbishop of Armagh, being in his twenty-first year. And being not long afterward appointed to preach constantly before the Great Officers of State, at Christ Church, on Sundays in the afternoon, he made it his business to handle the chief points of controversy between the two Churches; and by the clearness and cogency of his reasonings happily settled many that were wavering, and converted others from the in

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fluence of Papal superstition.* Neither must it be forgotten, that after the English forces in 1603 had driven out the Spaniards, who had come to the as. sistance of the Irish rebels, their officers resolving to leave behind them a lasting memorial of the gallantry of military men and of their regard for religion and Learning, paid into the hands of Dr. Chaloner and Mr. Usher, the sum of 1,8001. (raised by subscription) to procure such books as they should judge most necessary for the college-library, and most useful for the advancement of literature.

În London, whither the two trustees repaired for this purpose, they met Sir Thomas Bodley, who was at that time purchasing books for his newly-erected library at Oxford: and this, their kindred pursuit, laid the foundation of a valuable intimacy between all the parties. Usher was soon afterward'appointed to the chancellorship of St. Patrick, Dublin, with the rectory of Finglass annexed, his first ecclesiastical preferment; and upon this, without seeking any other benefice, he lived for some years with a degree of hospitality proportioned to his income: not anxious for any overplus at the year's end, for indeed he was never a hoarder of money, but for books and learning exercising a kind of laudable covetousness, and never thinking a good volume, manuscript or printed, too dear.

In 1606, he a second time visited England, with

* Upon one of his texts, Ezek. iv. 6, he observed;

46 From this year (1601) I reckon forty years, and then those whom you now embrace shall be yoạr ruin, and you shall bear their iniquity.” The apparent accomplishment of this prediction, at the rebellion of 1641, was by many regarded as no equivocal indication of his more than human sagacity.

the view of adding to his literary treasures; and upon this occasion became acquainted with Sir Robert Cotton, and Camden (then deeply engaged in completing a new edition of his Britannia) who gladly took the opportunity of consulting him upon several articles relative to the ancient state of Ireland and of the city of Dublin. Usher, on his return, transmitted several curious and satisfactory letters, of which the great topographer incorporated a considerable part into his work; acknowledging his obligations to the Chancellor of St. Patrick's, whose variety of learning and soundness of judgement (he observed) infinitely surpassed his years.'

In the year 1607, the twenty-seventh of his age, he took the degree of B.D.; and soon afterward was chosen Divinity Professor in the University of Dublin." About this time there being a great dispute respecting - the Herenach, Termon, and Corban lands, which an

ciently belonged to the Chorepiscopi, or boy-bishops of England and Ireland,t Usher wrote a learned treatise upon the subject, the substance of which was subsequently translated by Sir Henry Spelman ínto Latin, and published in the first part of his 'Glossary.'!

In 1609, he a third time visited England, in order to purchase books, and to converse with learned men; and was now first noticed at court.

As his great

* During the thirteen years, for which he held this office, he read lectures once or twice a week on polemical subjects, chiefly with reference to the Protestant and Papal controversies.

+ There is a curious tract upon the Episcopus Puerorum in Die Innocentium, with reference to an ancient custom in the Church of Sarum, in Gregorii Posthuma.'

I Stiling it's author Literarum insignis Pharus. This trea tise, in manuscript, still exists in the Archbishop's library at Lambeth

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