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AT is related that when the Royalist refugees from the defeat
of Hopton at Cheriton Down, in the wars of King and Par
liament, were beseiged in Basing House, Rev. Dr. Thomas Fuller was among them and was so much disturbed in his studies by the noise of Cromwellian cannon, that he headed a sally against the offensive battery. «All that time I could not live to study who did only study to live,” he complains with just indignation when he looks back on the waste of creative energy necessitated by civil war. As a result, however, of the intense emotional disturbance to which he was thus subjected, he became keenly sympathetic in all the necessary and unnecessary disturbances of the universal human intellect. All the fret and worry endured or escaped, all the happiness or enjoyment gained or lost, all the chances and mischances of all sorts and conditions of men, he could enter into out of the fullness of his own experience. He became thus the most attractive of all English moralists, the only one who can have asserted for him a claim to superiority to Earle among modern disciples of Theophrastus. Not to know and love Fuller is to miss one of the greatest delights which English prose literature affords. Whether he preaches or puns, jests or scolds, he is always charming, and there are times when his pages are illuminated now by the swift electric flashes of genius, now by the white light which comes only from the highest intellect at its meridian intensity.
Fuller was born in Northamptonshire, England, in 1608. His father was a country clergyman, and Fuller himself, after graduating from Cambridge, entered the Church as a curate and soon became celebrated as one of the few clergymen of his time who thought it worth while to attempt to save sinners in the end by interesting and charming them in the beginning. He became rector of Broadwinsor in Dorsetshire, and there in 1642 published his “Holy and Profane States,"
-a collection of character studies whose exceedingly great literary merit has been partly concealed by a religious title from a world in which at all times a considerable number of people are governed by the fear that if life is not to some extent what Fuller called "prophane,” it will cease to be amusing. It was his special work in the world, if not to remove this impression, at least to make it inexcusable in any one who can read well enough to read the essays and character sketches of «The Holy and Profane States, and those of a similar character which followed it, - "Good Thoughts in Bad Times, «Good Thoughts in Worse Times,” and “Mixed Contemplations in Better Times,” — works which, although they show the methods of an artist taught by such great masters as Theophrastus and Bacon, are without a parallel in modern literature. In his English Worthies » Fuller shows the same unique characteristics which make these moral essays attractive, and no doubt those who follow him through the whole of the considerable list of his theological writings will be rewarded by enjoyment in kind with that of his essays, if not of the same degree.
Fuller died August 16th, 1661, falling in the pulpit while preaching a marriage sermon, and dying the same day. He had been a stout Royalist, and the part he took in the civil wars made him celebrated as the cavalier parson.” After the Restoration he was chaplain to Charles II., but though he unquestionably belongs to his own generation, his inherent goodness of disposition and the soundness —
holiness, Carlyle would call it - of his intellect give him universality and make what he has written when at his best fit for the food of the best intellects in all succeeding generations. Coleridge says of him that “Wit was the stuff and substance of his intellect," and that his reputation for wit has “defrauded him of his due praise for the practical wisdom of his thoughts,- for the beauty and variety of the truths into which he shaped the stuff.” Perhaps this is Fuller's loss, but it is the world's gain. Certainly no one who is wise enough to profit by his preaching will quarrel with the wit which makes it so delightful to hear him.
W. V. B.
THE TRUE GENTLEMAN
W e will consider him in his birth, breeding, and behavior.
He is extracted from ancient and worshipful parentage.
When a pippin is planted on a pippin stock, the fruit growing thence is called a renate, a most delicious apple, as both by sire and dame well descended. Thus his blood must needs be well purified who is gentilely born on both sides.
If his birth be not, at least his qualities are generous. What if he cannot with the Hevenninghams of Suffolk count five and twenty knights of his family, or tell sixteen knights successively with the Tilneys of Norfolk, or with the Nauntons show where their ancestors had seven hundred pounds a year before or at the Conquest; yet he hath endeavored, by his own deserts, to ennoble