« PreviousContinue »
“ Yet shelter'd there by calm Contentment's wing,
Pleas'd he could smile, and with sage Hooker's eye See from his mother earth God's blessings spring,
And eat his bread in peace and privacy.”
The name of Hooker has outlived that of the polemics with which he was engaged; and while the immediate subjects which exercised his pen are forgotten, his books of ecclesiastical polity shall continue to be read with admiration, not only for the clearness of their reasoning, and the vigour of their style, but as exhibiting the correctest views of social relation, and the foundations of human laws and government. In them the reader will find the true balance and connexion of individual rights, and social obligation ; what may be claimed, and what may be conceded for the general good.
The mind and character of Hooker greatly resembled that of his immortal work. The one in fact was but a counterpart of the other. In his book we perceive a chaste simplicity, united to the most vigorous strength of reasoning: and though immense stores of reading and acute research,
and observation are poured into it, the whole is $0 judiciously and naturally blended, as not to have the slightest appearance of pedantry or ostentation.
Such also was Hooker; a man capable of the greatest things, yet in his deportment the simplest and most humble man alive. His birth was lowly, but though his parents had a large family they laudably exerted themselves in giving him a good education, and it is related of him, that when he was a school-boy, he was inquisitive to enquire into the grounds and reasons of things, asking • Why this was, and that was not to be remembered ? Why this was granted, and that denied?' Yet this sagacious spirit was mixed, says one of his biographers, with so remarkable a sweetness and serenity of temper, as endeared him to his preceptor, and made him predict that he would become a great man.
Hooker's uncle was chamberlain of Exeter, and being very intimate with bishop Jewell, of Salisbury, he entreated him to become his nephew's patron, which the good prelate consented to, and sent him accordingly to Corpus Christi college, Oxford, where he obtained the place of bible clerk, and followed his studies with unremitted attention.
Hooker's biographer relates a curious anecdote of him and his patron, which, as a picture of the manners of those times, as well as of the characters of the two parties, will be found amusing ; and it may be proper to observe here by the way,
that Goldsmith has made a pleasing use of the story in his · Vicar of Wakefield.'
Mr. Hooker, having had a severe illness at college, on his recovery, took a journey from Oxford to Exeter, to see his good mother, being accompanied by a countryman and companion of his own college, and both on foot; which was then either more in fashion, or want of money, or their humility made it so : but on foot they went, and took Salisbury in their way, purposely to see the good bishop, who made Mr. Hooker and his companion, dine with him at his own table; and at parting his lordship gave him good counsel, and his benediction, but forgot to give him money ; which, on considering, he sent a servant in haste to call Richard back, and said to him, Richard, I sent for you back to lend you a horse which hath carried me many a mile, and I thank God, with much ease."* He then delivered
* The editor cannot resist the pleasure of relating an anecdote, somewhat resembling the above, of that acute divine, and politician, the late Dr. Josiah Tucker, dean of Gloucester. He was the son of a poor farmer in Cardiganshire, who pinched himself to give Josiah an university education, and that he might go to college respectably, he gave him his own and only horse. Upon his return, Josiah found bow much his father stood in need of the animal, and for the future would never go to Oxford any
way than on foot, with his wallet at his back. I have heard the good dean often relate very pleasantly the particulars of his pedestrian excursions from Aberystwith to St. John's college.