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"WORTHY old Fuller," "quaint old Thomas Fuller,” are the affectionate names by which this witty English divine is often called. He was the son of a Northamptonshire clergyman, and was born in 1608 at Aldwinckle, a place rendered illustrious in later days by the birth of the poet Dryden. Passing from under the tuition of his father, he entered Queen's College, Cambridge, in his thirteenth year. Ten years later he became a Fellow of Sidney Sussex. To follow the steps by which he rose in the Church, would be out of place here; it is sufficient to say, that when he was little more than thirty years of age he had already won a distinguished reputation in the London pulpits, and had become Lecturer at the Savoy.
The clouds of the Civil War, charged with fire and blood, were fast darkening over Britain, as Fuller laboured in this prominent sphere. Remembering that his Master had said, “ Blessed are the peace-makers," he lost no opportunity of striving to reconcile the parties, that were every day drifting further apart. His sermons all pointed to this great and noble end; his conversation in society was all woven of this golden thread. At last the deluge burst upon the land; and the eloquent clergyman, upon whom the Parliament looked with jealous eyes, was forced to leave his pulpit, and betake himself to Oxford, where the King had fixed his court. Fuller's moderation had obtained for him in London, with the Parliament at least, the name of a keen Royalist; but now in the head
FULLER'S LIFE IN THE CAMP.
quarters of the royal party, all hot for carnage, the same peaceloving temper caused him to be accused of a Puritan taint. His books and manuscripts, dear companions of his quietest hours, were taken from him; and there was no resource left him but to join the royal army in the field. As chaplain to Lord Hopton, he moved with the royal troops from place to place, fulfilling his sacred duties faithfully, but employing his leisure in the collection of materials for a literary work. Wherever the tents were pitched, or the soldiers quartered, he took care to note down all the old legends afloat in the district, and to visit every place within reach, which possessed any interest for the historian or the archæologist. No better preparation could have been made for the composition of The Worthies of England; and when we add to his own personal observations the gleanings of a wide correspondence, we shall form some idea of the industrious care with which Fuller built up a work that has contributed so largely to make his name famous. Camp life seems to have kindled something of warlike ardour in the peaceful chaplain's breast; for we read that, when Basing Hall was assailed by the Roundheads under Waller, after the battle of Cheriton Down, Fuller, who had been left by his patron in command of the garrison, bestirred himself so bravely in its defence, that the besiegers were repulsed with heavy loss. After the downfall of the royal cause he lived for some years at Exeter, constantly engaged in preaching or writing. Good Thoughts in Bad Times, and Good Thoughts in Worse Times are the titles of the two books which he is said to have written in this capital of southwestern England.
After about two years of wandering he found himself once more in London, a worn man in what was in truth a changed place. For some time he preached where he could, until he obtained a,
permanent pulpit in St. Bride's, Fleet Street. Then, having 1648 passed the examination of the “Triers,” he settled down in
1648 at Waltham Abbey in Essex, to the rectory of which
he had been presented by the Earl of Carlisle. During the bloody year which followed, and the eleven years of interregnum, his pen and voice were busy as ever in the cause of truth.
WIT AND WISDOM OF THOMAS FULLER. 183
In spite of Cromwell's interdict he continued to preach, and in 1656 his Church. History of Britain from the Birth of Christ to the Year 1648 was given to the world. The Restoration brought him once more prominently into view. He received again his lectureship at the Savoy, and his prebendal stall at Salisbury; he was chosen chaplain to the King, and created Doctor of Divinity by the authorities of Cambridge. But Fuller's day on earth was near its close. This gleam of sunshine, which followed the grey mist of its afternoon, was brief and passing. Scarcely had he worn these honours for a year, Aug. 16, when he sank into the grave, smitten by a violent fever, 1661 which was then known as “the new disease.” Two hun- A.D. dred of his brother ministers in sad procession followed his coffin to the tomb. Thomas Fuller is chiefly remembered for two works,—his “Church. History of Britain,” published in 1656, and his “Worthies of England,” published the year after his death. The latter is his greatest work. Begun during his wanderings with the royal army, and continued through all the changes of his after life, this quaint, delightful collection of literary odds and ends, deals not alone with the personal history of eminent Englishmen, as the name would seem to imply, but also with botany, topography, architecture, antiquities, and a host of other things connected with the shires in which they were born. The queer but very telling wit of Fuller sparkles in every line. He possessed in an eminent degree that curious felicity of language which condenses a vast store of wisdom into a few brief and pithy words; so that maxims and aphorisms may be culled by the hundred from the pages of his books. We have lately had the “Wit and Wisdom of Sydney Smith,” from a London publisher; a still better book would be the “Wit and Wisdom of Thomas Fuller.” The “Church History” was condemned in the author's own day for its “fun and quibble;” but there was nothing venomous or foul in the fun of Fuller, which has well been called “the sweetest-blooded wit that was ever infused into man or book.” As well might we chide the lark for its joyous song, as this gentle parson for his pleasant jokes
SPECIMEN OF FULLER'S PROSE. and quaint conceits. Besides the works already mentioned, Fuller wrote The History of the Holy War, The Holy and the Profano States, A Pisgah View of Palestine, and very many Essays, Tracts, and Sermons.
(FROM "THE HOLY STATE.") Tell me, ye naturalists, who sounded the first march and retreat to the tide, “Hither shalt thou come, and no further ?” Why doth not the water recover his right over the earth, being higher in nature ? Whence came the salt, and who first boiled it, which made so much brine? When the winds are not only wild in a storm, but even stark mad in an hurricane, who is it that restores thein again to their wits, and brings them asleep in a calm? Who made the mighty whales, which swim in a sea of water, and have a sea of oil swimming in them? Who first taught the water to imitate the creatures on land, so that the sea is the stable of horse-fishes, the stall of kine-fishes, the sty of hog-fishes, the kennel of dog-fishes, and in all things the sea the ape of the land ? Whence grows the ambergris in the sea ? which is not so hard to find where it is as to know what it is. Was not God the first ship-wright ? and have not all vessels on the water descended from the loins (or ribs rather) of Noah's ark? or else, who durst be so bold, with a few crooked boards nailed together, a stick standing upright, and a rag tied to it, to adventure into the ocean? What loadstone first touched the loadstone ? or how first fell it in love with the North, rather affecting that cold climate than the pleasant East, or fruitful South or West? How comes that stone to know more than men, and find the way to the land in a mist? In most of these, men take sanctuary at occulta qualitas (some hidden quality), and complain that the room is dark, when their eyes are blind. Indeed, they are God's wonders; and that seaman the greatest wonder of all for his blockishness, who, seeing them daily, neither takes notice of them, admires at them, nor is thankful for them,
Born 1613 A.D..........Died 1667 A.D. Preaching. Return to London. Difficulties of the post. Rise of Taylor. Crosses to Ireland. Death. The Civil War. Trouble. Taylor's style. The Welsh school. The Restoration. Chief works. Pen-work. Bishop of Down. Illustrative extract.
THERE is no reason why the picturesque and the fanciful should be excluded from the oratory of the pulpit. As Christianity is emphatically the religion of man, and imparts to every element of his nature at once its highest culture and its noblest consecration, so there is no faculty or power within him which does not admit of being devoted to its service. Within its sacred and truly catholic pale, the poet, the philosopher, the logician, the man of sentiment and the man of abstract thought have each his place. Even the greatest of the apostles would be “all things to all men, if by any means he might save some.” It was on this principle that Jeremy Taylor devoted the stores of his rich and brilliant fancy to the service of the Cross—lending all the charms of beauty to set forth the sanctity of truth. He strove to teach as did that gentle Saviour whose minister he was; and therefore the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, the dashing sea, the roaring wind, the weeping sky, and a thousand other strong and lovely things scattered around him in the world, supplied him with lessons, whose dear familiar beauty charmed his hearers, and still charms his readers into rapt attention. This “poet among preachers,” the son of a poor but well-descended surgeon-barber, was born at Cambridge in 1613. Having received his elementary education at the Grammar-school of his native town, he, when not yet fourteen, entered Caius College as a sizar-the humblest class of students. When he had studied at Cambridge for some years, he went to London; and there, by his