페이지 이미지
[ocr errors]

production of an ardent patriot. They consist of short paragraphs, containing personal

, scriptural, and historical incidents, &c., followed by a suitable moral or reflectio much after the manner of Quarles' Euchiridion, or Æs os Fables. Though many of the similes used by him are extremely fanciful, they are often beautiful, and contain solid and suggestive teachings. He justifies the ways of God towards his country, and urges his readers to trust in Omnipotence, who alone could restore the country to order. To reflecting minds, these little books of practical divinity, published during the war, must have come like oil on troubled waters. Truly,“meditations are like the minstrel the prophet called for (2 Kings iii. 15) to pacify his mind discomposed with passion;" while “controversial writings (sounding somewhat of drums and trumpets) do but make the wound the wider.”

The next year, the “powers that be” prohibited Fuller from preaching “ till further orders;" wherefore,” says Fuller, “ I am fain to employ my fingers in writing, to make the best signs I can !” We nevertheless find him preaching soon afterwards at Chelsea Church, under the protection of Sir John Danvers. And on the execution of Charles I., he manifested his loyalty to that unfortunate monarch, by a very hazardous but honest act—the preaching and publication of a sermon, entitled “ The Just Man's Funeral.”

The attempt made to silence his voice, did not cause his church preferment to cease, for the Earl of Carlisle obtained for him the perpetual curacy of Waltham Abbey; and this was one of the means by which many eminent churchmen in those days were kept in England. Before, however, he could obtain his curacy, he had to undergo the customary ordeal before the Court of Triers, who dispossessed such as they deemed unfit for preaching-generally those who had been political offenders. There is a droll anecdote told about him, in reference to this examination. It appears he was extremely apprehensive of the result (as well he might be), and in this emergency he sought assistance of John Howe, the celebrated divine, and one of Cromwell's_chaplains. Fuller said to him, “You may observe, sir, that I am somewhat a corpulent man, and I am to go through a very strait passage. I beg you would be so good as to give me a shove, and help me through." Howe, whose catholicity of spirit allowed him to overlook his party in the man, gave him

the necessary advice, and he got off more frightened than hurt.

Among other things, the Triers had asked him to give them some proof of his well-known powers of memory; upon which, Fuller promised that if they would restore a certain poor sequestered minister, he would never forget that kindness as long as he lived! Fuller was charged with pretending to the art of memory, but he said it was a fancy or trick–no art. The secret of his extraordinary power lay in order and method. He says—“ Marshal thy notions into a handsome method. One will carry twice more weight trussed and packed up in bundles, than when it lies untoward flapping about the shoulders. Things orderly fardled

up and hanging under both heads are most portable.” His writings have been charged with displaying a want of method ; but this is not the case, for discursive though some of them be, they are well arranged. There is method in his madness. His numerous digressions are always so pleasant that it is easy to put up with them, and indeed the reader would not ať first think they are digressions. He may be likened to a man travelling along a road, stopping to admire or examine objects on each side of him, often leaving the path, but returning to it again; and thus he goes merrily along, and ultimately arrives at the end of his journey.

Waltham, where Fuller was now quietly residing, is a place of some literary celebrity : it was here that Fox's famous Book of Martyrs, and Bishop Hall's works, were written. Fuller here spent some peaceful years, being “wedded to the embraces of a private life, the fittest wife and meetest helper that can be provided for a student in troublesome times.” He completed some of his books here. His “Pisgah-sight of Palestine and the Confines thereof, with the History of the Old and New Testaments acted thereon," appeared in 1650. In others' hands this might have been a geography as dull as a school-book, but Fuller's rich, lively, and exuberant imagination has scattered throughout it a lavish display of every kind of wit and facetiousness, joined to much learning and instruction, rendering even details amusing. He was a diligent student of the Bible, and was well acquainted with, and fond of commenting on, the most obscure passages in it.

He next appeared as a contributor to a series of religious biographies, which came out in 1651; and in the following years, besides publishing many sermons, he wrote a work on Baptism, a Register of the proceedings in Parliament of the fourth and fifth years of the reign of Charles I., and other works. In 1654 he married the daughter of Viscount Baltinglass.

One of the results of his literary toil, extending over many years, was published in 1655, in “ The Church History of Britain, from the birth of Jesus Christ till the year 1648; endeavoured by Thomas Fuller.” It contains twelve books (including the “History of the University of Cambridge”), and is cut up into subdivisions and sections in a most original manner. There are upwards of fifty dedications—quaint but often beautiful compositions, but far too fulsome and complimentary for these times. It was compiled from scarce sources, and is a work of some historical value, not only on this account, but also because of its honourable impartiality and freedom froin party spirit, then too common with all classes of writers. Here, as in kindred works, the gravity of the subject does not deaden his cheerful humour: all the way along the reader comes across his fantastic conceits and puns, and quips, and cranks, and quirks, and odd digressions, and quaint allusions. This mode of writing on such a subject is of course objectionable, but in Fuller's History the reader never meets with anything improper or undevout. In his “Holy State," he has spoken very solemnly on this matter :-"Jest not with the two-edged sword of God's word. Will nothing please thee to wash thy hands in but the font? or to drink ħealths in but the church chalice? And know the whole art is learnt at the first admission, and profane jests will come without calling.”

On the first appearance of this work it was severely censured; Dr. Peter Heylin, an ill-tempered high-church divine, and a writer of some celebrity, being its chief opponent. He went to the trouble of writing a large book against it, which Fuller replied to as fully in his manly, witty, and learned “ Appeal of Injured Innocence.” It is a comment on the Church History. Many of the animadversions on his work—some of them certainly uncalled for -grieved Fuller, who had been so long and" painful” in compiling it, and he very earnestly pleaded for the exercise: of their charity, especially in condemning the witticisms and levities therein. “Some men,” he said, “were of very

[ocr errors]

cheerful dispositions, and God forbid that all such should be condemned for lightness. O! let not any envious eye disinherit men of that which is their portion in this life comfortably to enjoy the blessings thereof."" And in another place he says-—“Harmless inirth is the best cordial against the consumption of the spirit: wherefore it is not unlawful, if it trespasseth not in quantity, quality, or season.” Which limits, however, Fuller did not always confine himself to. In the disc sion which took place, Fuller's candour and conciliatory spirit reconciled his opponent to him.

Fuller now prepared for publication his yet greater work—“The Worthies of England”—of which I have already spoken. He did not live to print the whole of it, but it was completed by his son, in the year after his death. Nicholson, a spiteful old bishop, charged it with being huddled up in a hurry, and of consisting of nothing but old women's tales ; but posterity has passed a different verdict to this upon it.

In 1658 his patron, Lord Berkeley, made him his chaplain, and presented him to the rectory of Cranford, in Middlesex; and after this time, with the course of events, his prospects became brighter. Shortly before the Restoration, he was called upon to resume his old places as Lecturer at the Savoy, and Prebend of Salisbury, and on the king's return he was made one of his chaplains, and by royal mandate created D.D. He again preached at the court, and the wit-loving king is said to have resolved upon his translation to a bishopric; but it was to no earthly dignity that Fuller was destined.

His living at Broad-Winsor became rightfully his own again ; but he was so pleased with the preaching of the then incumbent, that he voluntarily promised not to be the cause of his removal. He wrote a joyful poetical panegyric on his Majesty's return; and in 1660 put forth his “ Mixt Contemplations in Better Times,” dedicated to Lady Monck, and bearing the appropriate motto—“Let your moderation be known unto all men; the Lord is at hand.”

He appears to have contracted a malignant fever known as the “new disease”—after a journey from Salisbury to London. On his arrival, he had promised to preach a marriage sermon for a friend at his chapel of the Savoy ; but while at dinner on the 12th August, he was seized with illness, which, however, he would not allow to interfere with the approaching service. “He had got up often in the pulpit sick,” he said, “and always came down well again; and he hoped he should do as well now, through God's strengthening grace.” During the delivery of the sermon, it was manifest to his congregation that he was seriously ill, and he had to confess as much to them ; adding—“But I am resolved, by the grace of God, to preach this sermon, though it be my last !” He managed to get through it, and it was his last : he may be said, therefore, to have died at his post. He was conveyed home, and his mind became affected, but on the following day his senses were restored, and he employed his remaining hours on earth with a Christian preparation for death. “Nothing but heaven and the perfections thereof, the consummation of grace in glory, must fill up the room of his capacious soul, now ready to take its flight from this world. On the morning of Thursday, the 16th August, his sufferings were at an end, and he entered into rest."

At his own desire, Fuller was buried in his parish church at Cranford, Lord Berkeley bearing the expense. As illustrating the respect in which he was held, about two hundred clergymen attended his funeral. A monument was erected to his memory in the chancel of the church, and it contains a conceit which Fuller himself might have written. The Latin inscription reads :—“Here lies Thomas Fuller-who, while he planned to consecrate to immortality the lives of illustrious Englishmen, by a posthumous work, himself attained immortality." This is in reference to his “ Worthies,” which also remains as a monument to his industry and genius.

In appearance, Fuller is described as being tall, portly, and handsome, possessing curly hair and a ruddy face, with a pleasant yet serious countenance, betokening an amiable mind. On his upper lip, which could not be curled into a sneer, he wore a slight moustache, after the old English fashion. His manners were simple and unstudied, and he was uniformly courteous. His cheerful conversation was always attractive, and “much sought after; for besides the pleasantness of it, he was for information a perfect walking library." His vivacity of spirits, and sprightliness of conversation, gained for him, in every period of his life, a

« 이전계속 »