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MEMOIRS OF THE AUTHOR.
DR. THOMAS FULLER, son of the Rev. Thomas Fuller, rector of Aldwinkle St. Peter* in the County of Northampton, was born there in 1608. The chief assistance he had in the rudiments of learning was from his father, under whom he made so extraordinary a progress, that he was sent at twelve years of age to Queen's College in Cambridge ; Dr. Davenant, who was his mother's brother, being then Master of it, and soon after Bishop of Salisbury. He took his degrees in Arts, and would have been Fellow of the College: but, there being no vacancy for his County, he removed to Sidney in the same university. He had not been long there, before he was chosen minister of St. Bennet's in the town of Cambridge. In 1631, he obtained a Fellowship in Sidney-College, and at the same time a Prebend of in the church of Salisbury. This year also he issued his first publication, a work of the poetical kind, now but little known. It was a divine poem, ' entitled, “ David's Hainous Sin, Heartie Repentances, and Heavie Punishment," in a thin octavo.
He was soon after ordained priest, and presented to the rectory of Broad Windsor in Dorsetshire; where he married, and had one son, but lost his wife about 1641. During his retirement at this rectory, he began to complete several works he had planned at Cambridge: but, growing weary of a country parish, and uneasy at the unsettled state of public affairs, he removed to London; and distinguished himself so much in the pulpits there, that he was invited by the Master and Brotherhood of the Savoy to be their Lecturer.
In 1640, he published his “ History of the Holy War;" which was printed at Cambridge in folio.
April 13, 1640, a Parliament was called; and then also a Convocation began at Westminster, in Henry the Seventh's Chapel, of which our author was a member. He continued at the Savoy, to the great satisfaction of his people, and the neighbouring nobility and gentry, labouring all the while in private and in publick to serve the King. To this end, on the anniversary of his inauguration, March 27, 1642, he preached at Westminsterabbey, on this text, 2 Sam. xix. 30. “ Yea, let him take all, so that my Lord the King return in peace;" which sermon being printed, gave great offence to those who were engaged in the opposition, and brought the Preacher into no small danger. He soon found that he must expect to be silenced and ejected, as others had been; yet desisted not till he either was, or thought himself, unsettled. This appears from what he says in the preface to his “ Holy State," which was printed in folio that same year at Cambridge.
In April 1643, he conveyed himself to the King at Oxford, who received him gladly. As his Majesty had heard of his extraordinary abilities in the pulpit, he was now desirous of knowing them personally ; and accordingly Fuller preached before him at St. Mary's church. His fortune upon this occasion was very singular. He had before preached and published a sermon in London, upon “ the new-moulding Church-reformation," which caused him to be censured as too hot a Royalist; and now, from his sermon at Oxford, he was thought to be too lukewarm : which can only be ascribed to his moderation, which he would sincerely have inculcated in each party, as the only means of reconciling both,
* To which he had been presented by William Cecil Earl of Exeter. † He styles himself Prebendarius Prebendarides, in his “ Appeal of injured Innocence," addressed to Dr. Heylin, folio, part iii. p. 47; a book recommended to notice by Mr. Granger for its spirit and pleasantry.
He: * Life of Dr. Fuller, p. 27.
He resolved, however, to recover the opinion of his fidelity to the Royal cause, by openly trying his fortune under the Royal army: and, therefore, being well recommended to Sir Ralph Hopton, in 1643, he was admitted by him in quality of Chaplain. For this employment, he was quite at liberty, being deprived of all other preferment. And now, attending the Army from place to place, he constantly exercised his duty as Chaplain; yet found proper intervals for his beloved studies, which he employed chiefly in making historical collections, and especially in gathering materials for his “ Worthies of England."
How assiduous he was in his researches, and extensive in his correspondence, for that purpose, may appear in his Memorialist. This author informs us, that, “ While he was in progress with the King's army, his business and study then was a kind of errantry; having proposed to himself a more exact collection of the Worthies General of England; in which others had waded before, but he resolved to go through. In what place soever therefore he came, of remark especially, he spent most of his time in views and researches of their Antiquities and Church Monuments; insinuating himself into the acquaintance, which frequently ended in a lasting friendship, of the learned'st and gravest persons residing within the place, thereby to inform himself fully of those things he thought worthy the commendation of his labours. It is an incredible thing to think what a numerous correspondence the Doctor maintained and enjoyed by this means. Nor did the good Doctor ever refuse to light his candle, in investigating truth, from the meanest person's discovery. He would endure contentedly an hour or more impertinence from any aged Churchofficer, or other superannuated people, for the gleaning of two lines to his purpose. And though his spirit was quick and nimble, and all the faculties of his mind ready and answerable to that activity of dispatch, yet, in these inquests, he would stay and attend those circular rambles till they caine to a point; so resolute was he bent to the sifting out of abstruse antiquity. Nor did he ever dismiss such adjutators or helpers, as he pleased to stile them, without giving them money and cheerful thanks besides *.
After the battle at Cheriton-Down, March 29, 1644, lord Hopton drew on his army to Basing-house; and Fuller, being left there by him, animated the garrison to so vigorous a defence of that place, that Sir William Waller was obliged to raise the siege with considerable loss. But the war hastening to an end, and part of the King's army being driven into Cornwall under lord Hopton, Fuller, having leave of that Nobleman, took refuge at Exeter; where he resumed his studies, and preached constantly to the citizens. During his residence here, he was appointed Chaplain to the Princess Henrietta Maria, who was born at Exeter in June 1643 ; and the King soon after gave him a patent for his presentation to the living of Dorchester in Dorsetshire. He continued his attendance on the Princess, till the surrender of Exeter to the Parliament, in April 1646; but did not accept the living, because he determined to remove to London at the expiration of the war. He relates an extraordinary circumstance which happened, during the siege of Exeterop. " When the City of Exeter,” says he, “ was besieged by the Parliamentary Forces, so that only the South side thereof towards the sea was open to it, incredible numbers of Larks were found in that open quarter, for multitude like Quails in the wilderness; though, blessed be God, unlike them in the cause and effect; as not desired with man's destruction, nor sent with God's anger: as appeared by their safe digestion into wholesome nourishment. Hereof I was an eye and mouth-witness. I will save my credit in not conjecturing any number; knowing that herein, though I should stoop beneath the truth, I should mount above belief. They were as fat as plentiful; so that, being sold for two-pence a dozen and under, the poor who could have no cheaper, and the rich no better meat, used to make pottage of them, boiling them down therein. Several causes were assigned hereof, &c.; but the cause of causes was the Divine Providence, thereby providing a feast for many poor people, who otherwise had been pinched for provision.”
+ See the present volume, p. 304,
When he came to London, he met but a cold reception among his former parishioners, and found his Lecturer's place filled by another. However, it was not long before he was chosen Lecturer at St. Clement’s-lane, near Lombard-street; and shortly after removed his Lecture to St. Bride's in Fleet-street.
In 1647, he published, in 4to., “ A Sermon of Assurance, fourteen years agoe preached at Cambridge, since in other places ; now, by the importunity of his friends, exposed to public view.” He dedicated it to Sir Jolin Danvers, who had been a Royalist, was then an Oliverian, and next year one of the King's Judges; and in the dedication he says, that “ it had been the pleasure of the present authority to make him mute; forbidding him till further order the exercise of his public preaching
About 1648, he was presented to the perpetual Curacy of West Waltham*, otherwise called Waltham Abbey, in Essex, by James Hay Earl of Carlisle, whose chaplain he was just before made. He spent that and the following year betwixt London and Waltham, employing some Engravers to adorn his copious Prospect or View of the Holy Land, as from Mount Pisgah; therefore called his “ Pisgah-sight of Palestine and the confines thereof, with the history of the Old and New Testament acted thereon,” which he published in 1650. It is an handsome folio, embellished with a frontispiece and many other copper-plates, and divided into five books.
As for his “ Worthies of England,” on which he had been labouring so long, the death of the King for a time disheartened him from the continuance of that work: “ For what shall I write,” says he,“ of the Worthies of England, when this horrid act will bring such an infamy upon the whole Nation, as will ever cloud and darken all its former, and
suppress its future rising glories ?” He was, therefore, busy, till the year last mentioned, in preparing that book and others; and the next year he rather employed bimself in pubIishing some particular Lives of Religious Reforiners, Martyrs, Confessors, Bishops, Doctors, and other learned Divines, foreign and domestic, than in augmenting his book of English Worthies in general. To this collection, which was executed by several hands, as he tells us in the preface, he gave the title of “ Abel Redivivus," and published it in 4to, 1651.
And now, having lived above twelve years a widower, he married a sister of the viscount Baltinglasse about 1654; and the next year she brought him a son, who, as well as the other before-mentioned, survived his father.
In 1656, he published, in folio, “ The Church History of Britain, from the birth of Jesus Christ to the year 1648:” to which work are subjoined, “ The History of the University of Cambridge since the Conquest,” and “ The History of Waltham Abbey_in Essex, founded by King Harold.” His Church History was animadverted upon by Dr. Heylin in his “ Examen Historicum ;" and this drew from our Author a Reply: after which they had no further controversy, but were very well reconciled.
A short time before the Restoration, Fuller was re-admitted to his Lecture in the Savoy, and on that event restored to his Prebend of Salisbury.
He was chosen Chaplain extraordinary to the King; created Doctor of Divinity at Cambridge by a Mandamus, dated August 2, 1660; and, bad he lived a twelvemonth longer, would probably have been raised to a Bishopric. But, on his return from Salisbury in August 1661, he was attacked by a fever, of which he died the 16th of that inonth. His funeral was attended by at least two hundred of his brethren ; and a sermon was preached by Dr. Hardy, Dean of Rochester, in which a great and noble character was given of him.
In 1662, was published in folio, with an engraving of him f prefixed, his “ History of the Worthies of England.” This Work, which was part of it printed before the Author died, seems not, in the Lives or Characters in some of the Counties, especially of Wales, so finished as it would probably have been, if he had lived to see it completely published.
* Newcourt dates this preferinent in 1640. Repertory, vol. II, p. 631.
† There is a different portrait of him, in a small quarto size, taken at an earlier period of his life, his right band on a Book, prefixed to his “ Abel Redivivus." Vol. I. b
It is intituled, “ The History of the Worthies of England: Endeavoured by Thomas
“ The Graver here hath well thy face design'd:
Whom silent monuments did long enclose.”
" TO HIS SACRED MAJESTY. ,
Your MAJESTIES meanest Subject,
Reader, Thou hast here presented to thy view a' Collection of the Worthies of England, which might have appeared larger, had God spared (my dear Father) the Author life. At his death there remained unprinted, the Bishoprick of Durham, the Counties of Derby, Dorset, Gloucester, Norfolk, Northampton, Northumberland, Nottingham, Oxford, Rutland, with part of Kent, Devonshire, and the Cities of London and Westminster; which now at length (according to the Copy the Author left behind him, without the least Addition) are made publick.
“ It is needless here to acquaint thee with the nature of the Work, it being already fully set down in the first sixteen sheets thereof. Yet thou mayst be pleased to take notice, that (although the Title promiseth thee only the History of the Worthies of England) in the end there is added a short Description of the Principality of Wales. The discounting of Sheets (to expedite the Work at severall Presses) hath occasioned the often mistake of the Folio's. What ever faults else occur in this Impression, it is my request, that thou wouldest score them on my want of Care or Skill in correcting the same, that they may not in the least reflect on the Credit of my dead Father.
This book, though never wholly reprinted, has been partly revived in epitomies of the whole, or dividedly, in a work, geographical, historical, and political
, whereof the second part is abstracted from these lives 5.
* A good copy of this Portrait, engraved by Freeman, is prefixed to the present Edition.
Besides the works already mentioned in the course of this memoir, Dr. Fuller was the author of several others of a smaller nature: as,
1. “ Good Thoughts in bad times.”
2. “ Good Thoughts in worse times.”. These two pieces, printed separately, the former in 1645, the latter in 1647, were published together in 1652.
He afterwards published, in 1660, 3. “ Mixt Contemplations in better times." 4. “ Andronicus: or, The Unfortunate Politician. Lond. 1649," Svo.
5. “ The Triple Reconciler; stating three Controversies, viz. whether Ministers have an exclusive power of barring Communicants from the Sacrament; whether any person unordained may lawfully preach ; and whether the Lord's Prayer ought not to be used by all Christians, 1654," 8vo.
6. “ The Speech of Birds, also of Flowers ; partly moral, partly mystical, 1660,” 8vo. He published also a great many sermons, separately and in volumes.
Dr. Fuller was in his person tall and well-made, but no way inclining to corpulency; his complexion was florid; and his hair of a light colour and curling. He was a kind husband to both his wives, a tender father to both his children, a good friend and neighbour, and a well-behaved civilized person in every respect. He was a most agreeable companion, having a great deal of wit: too much, as it should seem, since he could not forbear mixing it in his most serious compositions.
Of the powers of his memory, such wonders are related as are not quite credible. He could repeat five hundred strange words after twice hearing; and could make use of a sermon verbatim, if he once heard it. He undertook, in passing from Temple-bar to the furthest part of Cheapside, to tell at his return every sign as it stood in order on both sides of the way, repeating them either backwards or forwards : and he did it exactly. His manner of writing is also reported to have been strange. He wrote, it is said, near the margin the first words of every line down to the foot of the paper; then, by beginning, at the head again, would so perfectly fill up every one of these lines, and without spaces, interlineations, or contractions, would so connect the ends and beginnings, that the sense would appear as complete, as if he had written it in a continued series after the ordinary manner.
It was sufficiently known, how steady he was in the Protestant Religion, against the innovations of the Presbyterians and Independents ; but his zeal against these was allayed with greater compassion than it was towards the Papists : and this raised him up many adversaries, who charged him with Puritanism. He used to call the controversies concerning episcopacy, and the new-fangled arguments against the Church of England, “insects of a day?" and carefully avoided polemical disputes, being altogether of Sir Henry Wotton's opinion, “ disputandi pruritus, ecclesiæ scabies.” To conclude, whatever exceptions may be made to him as a writer, he was a man of great goodness, and an ornament to the times in which he lived.
These Memoirs shall be closed by an extract from his Life in the “ Biographia Britannica ;" comprehending an Analysis of “ The Worthies,” and a Vindication of the Author.
“ The subject-matter of the Book is distributed under the several Counties of England and Wales; each division beginning, first, with the Commodities, Products, and other particulars most eminent and remarkable in each County; whether Waters, Minerals, Plants, Animals, Manufactures, Buildings, Battles, Proverbs, &c. ;-then the Worthies born or residing therein, marshalled under their respective ranks or professions;-the whole contents of each County ending with Tables of the Gentry that were therein in the reign of King Henry the Sixth ; and a List of the Sheriffs, for several Kings reigns, down to King James or King Charles the First, with their arms described, and places of abode. Prefixed to the whole, is a copious Introduction, in near twenty sheets, divided into many