Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > Caroline Divines > Robert Sanderson
  James Ussher Gilbert Sheldon  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

VI. Caroline Divines.

§ 9. Robert Sanderson.

Robert Sanderson, who lived to become a bishop at the restoration, and is embalmed in the exquisite prose of Izaak Walton, was another of the Elizabethans who made the church of England notable for its preaching power. The famous saying of Charles I is, perhaps, his chief title to distinction: “I carry my ears to hear other preachers, but I carry my conscience to hear Dr. Sanderson;” and, with it, Walton’s inimitable description of the talk “in a corner under a pent house” till the rain forced them “into a cleanly house,” where they spoke “to my great comfort and advantage.” Both show him a man of wisdom and piety, “his learning methodical and exact, his wisdom useful, his integrity visible.” The sermons are plain sober things, with “no improper rhetoric,” indeed, as Walton notes, nor much of the fire which belongs to the earlier masters of his school: didactic, mildly argumentative, modestly learned, whether ad aulam (preached at court), or ad clerum, or ad populum. The last-named were preached some thirty years before the others, and they show how consistent were his position and method. He wrote clearly and without affectation; but he does not rank high among the prose writers of his time. He was at his best in the revision of The Book of Common Prayer, where the General Thanksgiving (perhaps erroneously) had been ascribed to him, and for which he certainly wrote the admirable preface which begins “It hath been the wisdom of the Church.” It is significant, perhaps, that he wrote as easily and simply in Latin as in English.   12

  James Ussher Gilbert Sheldon  
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