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sighted may never see fewer !". On opposite sides of Aldwincle were situated the dwelling of Mr. Brown, the founder of the sect known as the Brownists, and the demesne of Francis Tresham, one of the activities in the Gunpowder Plot. Ever on the look-out for what he calls “observables" and "remarkables," Fuller learnt from this circumstance the wisdom of being moderate ; he would ever try to hit the golden mean, avoiding the fanaticism of the Anabaptist on the one hand, and the fiery zeal of the Jesuit on the other. Fuller conformed his life to this decision.
He speaks of his father as a "painful [i.e. painsful or painstaking] preacher;" and it appears he was also a learned
He was one who obeyed the apostolic injunction, "Live peaceably with all men,” for he was careful to avoid every occasion of strife. It was under his superintendence that the education of his son was conducted-s0 successfully that at the age of thirteen, becoming a scholar before he was a man, young Thomas was ready for college, and to Cambridge he was accordingly sent. He was admitted into Queen's College, of which his maternal uncle, Bishop Davenant, was president. This worthy doctor took a great interest in the welfare of the boy, and it is probable that his nephew refers largely to him when he “Charactered” the “Good Bishop,” in his “Holy State.” Dr. Davenant was an excellent instructor of youth.
Thomas's intellect seems early to have manifested itself. If we may believe an anecdote which Aubrey has left of him, he was a very precocious and strange lad. “He was a boy of pregnant wit, and when the bishop (Davenant) and his father were discoursing, he would be by and hearken, and now and then put in, and sometimes beyond expectation or his years. He was of a middle stature, strong set, curled hair, a very working head, insomuch that walking and meditating before dinner, he would eat up a penny loaf, not knowing that he did it.”
In 1629, he removed to Sidney Sussex College, and as the fruit of his studies during the past years, he received the degrees of B.A. and M.A. His success must, however, partly be attributed to the teachers who trained his mind, being very fortunate in that respect. Dr. Ward was the
president of this college; and in the place accorded to him | among the “Worthies of Durham,” Fuller says of this di
vine-"He turned with the times, as a rock riseth with the tide" - a fine and expressive simile.
Fuller was appointed, in 1630, to the curacy of St. Benet, Cambridge ; and it was while here that his abilities as a preacher first shone forth, his lectures being well attended. Here he delivered his “Lectures on the Book of Ruth," which, however, were not printed till many years afterwards.
In his twenty-third year, he was presented by his uncle with a prebendal stall in the county of Dorset : in the same year, also, appeared his first publication. His first attempt, like that of all young authors, was poetical ; and in this poem appear many of the peculiarities which afterwards made him so famous. Its characteristic title was “David's Hainous Sinne ; Heartie Repentance; Heavie Punishment;" and was dedicated—(dedications were both necessary and fashionable then)—to the three sons of Lord Montague, a hospitable old English baron of worshipful estate, whose family were personal and highly-valued friends of the author. This work was never re-published, and is therefore very scarce. Mr. Fuller wrote very little poetry after this. Poetry, like music, he used to say, was excellent sauce, “but they have lived and died poor who made them their meat."
Rapidly advancing in church preferment, Fuller, in 1634, collated to the rectory of Broad-Winsor, a neat and picturesque little village, near Bridport, in Dorsetshire. Here he spent some happy moments among a flock that became endeared to him, and he to them. He was an earnest pastor, and bears some resemblance to the character of “The Faithful Minister," whom he has sketched in his “Holy State.” Like “Holy George Herbert,” his whole soul appears to have been in his work, and his “dear and loving charge” highly esteemed him.
In 1635, Fuller revisited Cambridge, and attained the degree of Bachelor of Divinity ; but on returning home, he got rid of another kind of bachelorship in his marriage. His happiness was, however, short-lived, for, after giving birth to a son, his wife died; and though this severe affliction was rendered less acute in the active discharge of his ministry, it must have preyed upon his mind, and may, ultimately, have led him to seek change of scene and forgetfulness in the stormy times which characterised London life before the breaking out of the Civil War.
At Broad-Winsor, in his leisure moments, he had diligently been occupying himself in planning for publication some of those books on which his fame chiefly rests, though
the distractions of the times delayed their publication for
“In the amenity and retirement of this rural life,” says his biographer, "some perfection was given to those pieces which, soon after, blest this age. From this pleasant prospect he drew that excellent piece of “The Holy Land,’ Pisgah-sight,' and other tracts relating thereto; so that what was said bitterly of some tyrants, that they made whole countries vast solitudes and deserts, may be inverted to the eulogy of this doctor, that he, in these recesses, made deserts—the solitudes of Israel—the frequented path and track of all ingenious and studious persons.”
One of the results of his researches appeared in 1639, being a History of the Crusades, entitled "History of the Holy War.” This strange and witty history at once attracted attention, and brought fame to the author. The droll way in which the history is written, and the lively figures which his rich imagination suggested, render this work extremely amusing. Every page of it sparkles with wit, and yet it is a work of considerable research, and shows that the writer had the necessary requirements of an historian.
While residing at Broad-Winsor, Fuller published many sermons, with odd titles, as might be expected. His discourses are characterised by their practical piety, earnestness, out-spokenness, benevolence, and moderation. They are not witty productions, though even here his wit occasionally breaks out, as if it could not be confined. All his works are aptly termed “quaint,” in the modern acceptation of the word; but in Fuller it also had its original wieaning
“scrupulously elegant or exact”—a style of composition which, with him, was not artificial (as was the case with many authors of this quaint age), but natural. his natural bias to conceits, that I doubt not,” says Lamb,
upon such occasions, it would have been going out of his way to have expressed himself out of them.”
In 1640, we find Fuller in London, in the midst of the strife which ushered in the Civil War. He was appointed a member of the celebrated Convocation at which the Obseryances were discussed, and the passing of which was followed by such opposition on the part of the Puritans and Parliamentarians. Fuller is, perhaps, the only historian who has left a minute and impartial account of this assembly. He took no active part in it, and his opinion was, that the measures adopted were far too stringent.
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As soon as the position of affairs grew more serious and determined, Fuller began to use his influence to avoid the appeal to arms. Though by conviction he was a royalist, he was not a partisan, but had respect to the rights of the people. He used his influence, as befitting his profession, in favour of peace, endeavouring to calm the angry feelings which were fomented. The pulpit was then a powerful agency, and Fuller had great influence. On arriving in London, whither his fame as a preacher and author had preceded him, his discourses were attended by crowds, and he became at once “a popular preacher." He does not appear, however, to have been so weak - minded as to have been led away by popular applause: a sermon preached about this time, shows that he was alive to its dangers. Speaking of pastors whose churches are crowded by the thickest audiences, he says--"Let them not pride themselves with the bubble of popular applause, often as carelessly gotten, as undeservedịy lost. Have we not seen those who have preferred the onions and flesh-pots of Egypt before heavenly manna ?-lungs before brains, and the sounding of a voice before soundness of matter ?” He usually preached at the Inns of Court, but his pulpit acquirements procured for hiin the lectureship at the Savoy, and the duties of this post he faithfully discharged for two years. “He had, in his narrow chapel, two audiences, one without the pale, the other within; the windows of that little church, and the sextonry, so crowded as if bees had swarmed to his mellifluous discourse." No wonder that amidst the chaos into which the then prevalent conflicting opinions had plunged the nation, the voice of such a preacher was welcomed--welcomed as one who might prove the messenger of peace, to avert the war which all good men dreaded. Fuller's sermons form a striking contrast to those of his time, which were bigoted, intolerant, and narrow-minded, their tendency being to hasten the war.
“Our English pulpits for these eighteen years," says Fuller, in one of his * Thoughts,” “have had in thein too much cardinal anger, vented by snapping and snarling spirits on both sides. But if you bite and devour one another, saith the apostle (Gal. v. 15), take heed that ye be not devoured one of another.”
At last the war broke out, and the king fled to Oxford with many of the nobility. On a fast-day being ordered by the parliament, Fuller preached at his chapel of the Savoy,
taking as his text, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” In his discourse, he exposed the unchristian character of war. The sword, he aigued, was no discerner between truth and falsehood, it may have two edges, but hath never an eye." He advised peaceable measures, the petitioning of the king and parliament to make mutual concessions, the putting aside of the party names which had sprung up, and a general repentance.
About this time (1642), Fuller published his "Holy State and Profane State," which he had long had in hand. It was once very popular, but is now seldom read. The plan of the book has been adopted by many celebrated writer's it professes to describe the characters of various persons, such as “The Good Husband,” “The Good Schoolmaster," "The Good Prince," &c. The work commences with a delineation of “The Good Wife," giving in the opening sentence one of his characteristic, droll, and ridiculous reasons for so doing :-“St. Paul to the Colossians, chap. iii. verse 18, first adviseth women to submit to their husbands, and then counselleth men to love their wives. And, sure, it was fitting that women should first have their lesson given them, because it is hardest to be learned, and therefore they need have the more time to con it. For the same reason, we begin with the character of the good wife.” These delineations of character, which Fuller, an acute student o human nature, dealt with very subtilly, are each followed by examples, taken from history or the Bible. Among the characters in the “Holy State," are some essays on memory, on building, and other unlooked-for subjects; but this diversion is quite in character with the author's
The second part of the book—“The Profane State”—is a short one, and contains sketches of the harlot, liar, and kindred subjects. The book abounds in keen observations, and shows him to have been as well read in men as books. So multiform are the forms that his sparkling wit here takes, that he is, perhaps, the only author in whose pages may be found all the definitions of the “unaccountable and inexplicable ways” of wit, which Barrow has enumerated in his explanation of the word. But it is a poor commendation of an author to be simply witty; and were Fuller's writings only witty, they would be almost worthless. His wit not only answers to its present meaning, þut its original and better one--that of wisdom, or under