Hooker, Richard

, an eminent English divine, and author of an excellent work, entitled “The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, in eight books,” was born at Heavytree near Exeter, about the end of March 1554. His parents, not being rich, intended him for a trade; but his schoolmaster at Exeter prevailed with them to continue him at school, assuring them, that his natural endowments and learning were both so remarkable, that he must of necessity be taken notice of, and that God would provide him some patron who would free them from any future care or charge about him. Accordingly his uncle John Hooker, the subject of the preceding article, who was then chamberlain of the town, began to notice him; and being known to Jewell, made a visit to that prelate at Salisbury soon after, and “besought him for charity’s sake to look favourably upon a poor nephew of his, whom nature had fitted for a scholar; bill the estate of his parents was so narrow, that they were unable to give him the advantage of | learning; and that the bishop therefore would become his patron, and prevent him from being a tradesman, for he was a boy of remarkable hopes.” The bishop examining into his merits, found him to be what the uncle had represented him, and took him immediately under his protection. He got him admitted, in 1567, one of the clerks of Corpus-Christi college in Oxford, and settled a pension on him; which, with the contributions of his uncle, afforded him a very comfortable subsistence. In 1571, Hooker had the misfortune to lose his patron, together with his pension. Providence, however, raised him up two other patrons, in Dr. Cole, then president of the college, and Dr. Edwyn Sandys, bishop of London, and afterwards archbishop of York. To the latter of these Jewell had recommended him so effectually before his death, that though of Cambridge himself, he immediately resolved to send his son Edwyn to Oxford, to be pupil to Hooker, who yet was not much older; for, said he, “I will have a tutor for my son, that shall teach him learning by instruction, and virtue by example.” Hooker had also another considerable pupil, namely, George Cranmer, grand nephew to Cranmer the archbishop and martyr; with whom, as well as with Sandys, he cultivated a strict and lasting friendship. In 1573, he was chosen scholar of Corpus, and in 1577, having taken his master’s degree, was elected fellow of his college; and about two years after, being well skilled in the Oriental languages, was appointed deputy-professor of Hebrew, in the room of Kingsmill, who was disordered in his senses. In 1581, he entered into orders; and soon after, being appointed to preach at St. Paul’s-cross in London, was so unhappy as to be drawn into a most unfortunate marriage; of which, as it is one of the most memorable circumstances of his life, we shall give the particulars as they are related by Walton. There was then belonging to the church of St. Paul’s, a house called the Shunamites house, set apart for the reception and entertainment of the preachers at St. Paul’s cross, two days before, and one day after the sermon. That house was then kept by Mr. John Churchman, formerly a substantial draper in Watluig-sti’eet, but now reduced to poverty. Walton says, that Churchman was a person of virtue, but that he cannot say quite so much of his wife. To this house Hooker came from Oxford so wet and weary, that he was afraid he should not be able to perform his | duty the Sunday following: Mrs. Churchman, however, nursed him so well, mat he presently recovered from the ill effects of his journey. For this he was very thankful; so much indeed that, as Walton expresses it, be thought himself bound in conscience to believe all she said; so the good man came to be persuaded by her, “that he had a very tender constitution; and that it was best for him to have a wife, that might prove a nurse to him; such a one as might both prolong his life, and make it more comfortable; and such a one she could and would provide for him, if he thought fit to marry.” Hooker, not considering “that the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light,” and fearing no guile, because he meant none, gave her a power to choose a wife for him; promising, upon a fair summons, to return to London, and accept of her choice, which he did in that or the year following. Now, says Walton, the wife provided for him was her daughter Joan, who brought him neither beauty nor portion; and for her conditions, they were too like that wife’s which Solomon compares to a dripping-house; that is, says Wood, she was “a clownish silly woman, and withal a mere Xantippe.

Hooker, having now lost his fellowship by this marriage, remained without preferment, and supported himself as well as he could, till the latter end of 1584, when he was presented by John Cheny, esq. to the rectory of DraytonBeauchamp, in Buckinghamshire, where he led an uncomfortable life with his wife Joan for about a year. In this situation he received a visit from his friends and pupils Sandys and Cranmer, who found him with a Horace in his hand, tending a small allotment of sheep in a common field; which he told them he was forced to do, because his servant was gone home to dine, and assist his wife in the household business. When the servant returned and released him, his pupils attended him to his house, where their best entertainment was his quiet company, which was presently denied them, for Richard was called to rock the cradle, and the rest of their welcome being equally repulsive, they stayed but till the next morning, which was long enough to discover and pity their tutor’s condition. At their return to London, Sandys acquainted his father with Hooker’s deplorable state, who entered so heartily into his concerns, that he procured him to be made master of the Temple in 1585. This, though a valuable piece of | preferment, was not so suitable to Hooker’s temper, as the retirement of a living in the country, where he might be free from noise; nor did he accept it without reluctance. At the time when Hooker was chosen master of the Temple, one Walter Truvers was afternoon-lecturer there; a man of learning and good manners, it is said, but ordained by the presbytery of Antwerp, and warmly attached to the Geneva church discipline and doctrines. Travers had some hopes of establishing these principles in the Temple, and for that purpose endeavoured to be master of it; but not succeeding, gave Hooker all the opposition he couid in his sermons, many of which were about me doctrine, discipline, and ceremonies of the church; insomuch that they constantly withstood each other to the face; for, as somebody said pleasantly, “The forenoon sermon spake Canterbury, and the afternoon Geneva.” The opposition became so visible, and the consequences so dangerous, especially in that place, that archbishop Whitgift caused Travers to be silenced by the high commission court. Upon that, Travers presented his supplication to the privycouncil, which being without effect, he made it public. This obliged Hooker to publish an answer, which wa.s inscribed to the archbishop, and procured him as much reverence and respect from some, as it did neglect and hatred from others. In order therefore to undeceive and win these, he entered upon his famous work “Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity ;*

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The following Memoir relative to our author’s “Ecclesiastical Polity,” was drawn up by sir John Hawkins, and inserted in a work into which the admirers of Hooker were not very likely to look for information, the “Antiquarian Repertory.” Neither Walton, says sir John, nor bishop Gauden, nor any oilier that give an account of Hooker and his writings, make mention of the particular books or tracts which gave occasion to his writing; the Ecclesiastical Polity. Whituift had written an answer to the “Admonition to the Parliament,” and thereby engaged in a controversy with Thomas Caitwright, the supposed author of it. Hooker, in his excellent work, undcrtook the defence of our ecclesiastical establishment, agair.st which Cartwright appears to have been the most powerful of all its opponents. Ac cordingly, we find throughout his work references to T. C. lib. p.; but giving only these initials, and citing no book by its proper title, we are at a loss now to know with whom he was contending. It is necessary therefore to state the controversy, the order whereof is this: “Admonition to the Parliament, viz. the. first and second,” in a small duodecimo volume, without date or place; “An Answer to an Admonition to Parliament, by John Whitgift, D. of Divinitie,” 4to. Printed by Uynneman, 1712. 1. “A Keplie to the Answer, by T. C.” 4to. No date or place. Of this there are two editions, differing in the order of numbering the pages. “A second answer of Whitgift,” as must be presumed from the title of the next article, and is probably no other than a book mentioned in Ames’s Typ. Antiq. 3'29, by the

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title of a “Defence of the Answer to the Admonition,1574, fol. Printed by Bynneman. 2. “A second replie of Cartwright against Whitgift’s second Answer,1575, 4to. No place. 3. “The rest of the second Replie of Cartwright against Whitgift’s second Answer,1577, 4to. No place. Upon a reference to these several publications of Cartwright, and a careful examination of sundry passages cited from him by Hooker, it most evidently appears, that by “T. C. Lib. I.” is meant No. 1, as above described; by T. C. Lib. 2,“is meant No. 2; and by T. C. Lib. 3,“No. 3. But here it is to be observed, that the references to Lib. 1, agree but with one edition of it, namely, that which has the ” Table of the principal Poyntes“at the beginning and not at the end, as the other has. The difference between them is that in the former the numbers of the pages commence with the ”Address to the Churoh of England,“in the latter with the book itself; so that to give one instance of difference, this passage, ” When the question is of the authority of a man &c.“Eccl. Pol. Edit. 1682, p. 117, is to be found in p. 25 of one edition, and in p. 13 of the other. In Ames, p. 329, is this article, which seems to be a collateral branch of the controversy, A Defence of the Ecclesiastical Regiment of England defaced by T. C. in his Replie against D. Whitgift, D. D.“1574, 12mo. It docs not here appear that this defence is of Whitgift’s writing, yet it has the name of his printer, Bynneman. Fuller, in his Church History, Book IX. 102, gives an account of Cartwright, and of his dispute with Whitgift, which is very erroneous; for he makes it to end at Whitgift’s Defence of his Answer; nay, he goes further, and assigns reasons for Cartwright’s silence. The truth is, he was not silent till long after, but continued the dispute in the Tracts No. 2 and 3, above noted. The relation of the controversy by Neal, in his ” History of the Puritans," vol. I. 285, et seq. is very fair and accurate. Antiquarian Repertory, vol. III. p. 159.

and laid the foundation | and plan of ir, while he was at the Temple. But he found the Temple no fit place to finish what he had there designed; and therefore intreated the archbishop to remove him to some quieter situation in the following letter:

My lord, When I lost the freedom of my cell, which was my college, yet I found some degree of it in my quiet country parsonage. But I am weary of the noise and oppositions of this place; and indeed God and nature did not intend me for contentions, but for study and quietness. And, my lord, my particular contests here with Mr. Travers have proved the more unpleasant to me, because I believe him to be a good man; and that belief hath occasioned me to examine mine own conscience concerning his opinions. And to satisfy that, I have consulted the Holy Scripture, and other laws, both human and divine, whether the conscience of him, and others of his judgment, ought to be so far complied with by us as to alter our frame of church government, our manner of God’s worship, our praising and praying to him, and our established ceremonies, as often as their tender consciences shall require us. And in this examination I have not only satisfied myself, but have begun a treatise, in which I intend the | satisfaction of others, to a demonstration of the reasonableness of our laws of ecclesiastical polity. But, my lord, I shall never be able to finish what I have begun, unless I be removed into some quiet parsonage, where I may see God’s blessings spring out of my mother earth, and eat my Owh bread in peace and privacy; a place where I may without disturbance meditate my approaching mortality, and that great account which all flesh must give at the last day to the God of all spirits.

Upon this application, he was presented in 1591 to the rectory of Boscomb, in Wiltshire and July the same year, to the prebend of Nether- Haven, in the church of Sarum, of which he was also made sub-dean. At Boscomb he finished four books, which were entered into the register-book at Stationers’-hall, in March 1592, but not printed till 1594. In 1595 he quitted Boscomb, and was presented by queen Elizabeth to the rectory of Bishop’sBourne, in Kent, where he spent the remainder of his life. In this place he composed the fifth book of his “Ecclesiastical Polity,” which was dedicated to the archbishop, and published by itself in 1597. He finished there the th, 7th, and 8th books of that learned work; but whether we have them genuine, and as left by himself, has been a matter of much dispute. Dr. Zouch, however, seems to have advanced almost unanswerable arguments against their being directly from the pen of Hooker. Some time after, he caught cold in a passage by water between London and Gravesend, which drew upon him an illness that put an end to his life when he was only in his fortyseventh year. He died Nov. 2, 1600. His illness was severe and lingering; he continued, notwithstanding, his studies to the last. He strove particularly to finish his “Ecclesiastical Polity,” and said often to a friend who visited him daily, that “he did not beg a long life of God for any other reason, but to live to finish the three remaiuing books of Polity; and then, Lord, let thy servant depart in peace,” which was his usual expression. A few days before his death, his house was robbed; of which having notice, he asked, “are my books and written papers safe?” And being answered that they were, “then,” said he, “it matters not, for no other loss can trouble me.

But whatever value Hooker himself might put upon his books of “Ecclesiastical JPolity,” he could not in that | respect exceed the estimate which has been formed by the general judgment of mankind, with the exception only of the enemies of our church establishment. This work has ever been admired for soundness of reasoning, and prodigious extent of learning; and the author has universally acquired from it the honourable titles of “the judicious,” and “the learned.” When James I. ascended the throne of England, he is said to have asked Whitgift for his friend Mr. Hooker, from whose books of “Ecclesiastical Polity” he had so much profited; and being informed by the archbishop that he died a year before the queen, he expressed the greatest disappointment, and the deepest concern. Charles I. it is well known, earnestly recommended the reading of Hooker’s books to his son; and they have ever since been held in the highest veneration and esteem by all. An anecdote is preserved by the writer of his life, which, if true, shews that his fame was by no means confined to his own country, but reached even the ears of the pope himself. Cardinal ALen and Dr. Stapleton, though both in Italy when his books were published, were yet so affected with the fame of them, that they contrived to have them sent for; and after reading them, are said to have told the pope, then Clement VIII. that “though his holiness had not yet met with an English book, as he was pleased to say, whose writer deserved the name of an author, yet there now appeared a wonder to them, and so they did not doubt it would appear to his holiness, if it was in Latin; which was, that ‘a pure obscure English priest had written four such books of law and church polity, in so majestic a style, and with such clear demonstrations of reason,’ that in all their readings they had not met with any thing that exceeded him.” This begetting in the pope a desire tq know the contents, Stapleton read to him the first book in Latin upon which the pope said, “there is no learning that this man hath not searched into nothing too hard for his understanding. This man indeed deserves the name of an author. His books will get reverence by age; for there is in them such seeds of eternity, that if the rest be like this, they shall continue till the last fire shall devour all learning;” all which, whether the pope said it or no, we take to be strictly true.

Dr. Gauden published Hooker’s “Works,1662, fol. with a life, in which there are some inaccuracies. A second edition, with Hooker’s Life by Walton, appeared in | 1666, fol. reprinted in 1676, 1682, and 1723, which last some call “the best edition.A more commodious one for use was printed at Qxford, 1793, 3 vols. 8vo. It is needless to add how much Walton’s Life of Hooker has been improved in Zouch’s edition of those valuable memorials. Hooker’s other works, published separately, were, 1. “Answer to the Supplication that Mr. Travers made to the Council,” Oxon. 1612, 4to. 2. “A learned discourse of Justification, Works, and how the foundation of Faith is overthrown, on Habak. i. 4.” ibid. 1612, 4to. 3. “A learned Sermon on the nature of Pride, on Habak, ii. 4.” ibid. 1612, 4to. 4. “A Remedy against Sorrow and Fear, delivered in a funeral sermon on John xiv. 27.” ibid. 1612, 4to. 5. “A learned and comfortable Sermon of the certainty and perpetuity of Faith in the elect; especially of the prophet Habakkuk’s faith,” ibid. 1612, 4to. 6. “Two Sermons upon part of Jude’s Epistles,” ibid. 1613, 4to. These Sermons were originally published by Mr. Henry Jackson, with “Wickliff’s Wicket,” and afterwards reprinted without that tract, and met with a very welcome reception from the public. 7. “A Discovery of the causes of these Contentions touching Church-government, out of the fragments of Richard Hooker,” published in 1641, along with a work entitled “A Summarie View of the government both of the Old and New Testament; whereby the episcopal government of Christ’s church is vindicated,” out of the rude draughts of Launcelot Andrews, late bishop of Winchester. 8. “Three treatises inserted in a work edited by bishop Sanderson, and entitled” Clavi Trabales,“on the king’s power in matters of religion, in the advancement of bishops, &c. Dr. Zouch mentions as a publication of great merit, fA faithful abridgment of the Works of Hooker, with an account of his life: by a Divine of the Church of England," London, 1705. 1

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Life by Walton. Biog. Brit. Prince’s Worthies of Devon. Neal’s Puritans, &c. &c.