The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

VII. Historical and Political Writers

§ 4. Burnet in London

When, in May, 1679, Burnet brought out the first portion of his second historical work, which may be said to have established his importance in both English politics and in English historical literature, he had been a resident in London for about five years. His position there long had in it an element of uncertainty. Charles II, who, in 1673, had received him kindly as a visitor from Scotland, and had shown himself pleased with what he had read in manuscript of The Memoires of the Hamiltons, he found considerably cooled towards him at a second audience in the following year. Lauderdale, to whom, in the same year, Burnet had dedicated, in fulsome terms, his Vindication of the Authority, Constitution, and Laws of the Church of Scotland (a series of dialogues composed from the point of view of a moderate episcopalian, staunch, however, to the principle of non-resistance), was now his enemy; and, in April, 1675, Burnet actually appeared before a committee of the House of Commons in support of charges brought against the duke. For the rest, though, in a sense, cast upon the world, Burnet never more signally displayed his buoyancy of spirit. His acquaintance, the veteran Lord Holles, now a leader of the opposition, induced Sir Harbottle Grimston, formerly speaker of the convention parliament, and now master of the rolls, a bitter foe of Rome, to appoint him preacher at the Rolls chapel, to which post was soon added the Thursday lectureship at St. Clement Danes; and his efforts in the pulpit—perhaps of all spheres of his activity the most congenial to him—were seconded by those of his pen. In London, he came into constant contact with Tillotson, Stillingfleet, Tenison and other representatives of the latitudinarianism under the influence of which, well read as he was in patristic literature, he had already fallen during an early visit to Cambridge (1663).