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Its central idea is lar, as apprehended by reason, which in its essential nature is one with the self-conscious infinite reason at the heart of things. May we,' he indignantly asks, 'cause our faith without Reason to appear reasonable in the eyes of men?' And of this uncreated Law which sustains the fabric of the universe, and weds obligation to ecstasy, he says in language touched by a consecrating radiance:
•Wherefore, that here we may briefly end: of law there can be no less acknowledged, than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world: all things in heaven and carth do her homage, the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power; both angels and men and creatures of what condition soever, though each in different sort and manner, yet all with uniform consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace and their joy.'
Style.—Methodical, correct, ample, massive, and grand; idiomatic without vulgarity, and learned without pedantry. The Latin order of arrangement was with Hooker, as with all the translators of the period, a favorite construction. For example: ‘Brought already we are even to that estate”; “able we are not to deny, but that we have deserved the hatred of the heathen.' Often it is used with powerful effect, giving to the capital images the emphatic positions; as, 'Dangerous it were for the feeble brain of man to wade far into the doings of the Most High. Some of his periods are cumbrous and intricate, but in general they roll melodiously on, with the serene might of the soul that inspires and moves them, rich in imagery and noble in diction.
Rank.-By universal consent, one of the great in English letters. A learned divine without fanaticism. A persuasive logician, from the chain of whose reasoning it is hard to detach a link, without a fracture. A philosopher whose breadth and power of mind are shown not only in the conception and application of one majestic principle, but in the exhibition of many principles harmoniously related. None before him had his
grasp and largeness; few after him have been so comprehensive. As he was one of the loftiest of thinkers, so he was one of the most practical. The idea that shone in the heaven of contemplation, radiated in a thousand directions on the earth. Worthy to be regarded not only as one of the fathers of the English Church, but as one of the chief founders of English prose. It was said by a contemporary Romanist that he had never read an English
book whose writer deserved the name of author till he read the first four books of “a poor obscure English priest' on Laws and Church Polity; a judgment which points at least to the fact that the 'obscure priest' is the original of what deserves to be called English literature, in its theological and philosophical domain.
Character.- Grave, mild, modest, and devout; in youth ardently studious, and in manhood conspicuous equally for learning and for eloquence. As a schoolboy he was remarkable for his continual questioning, but his inquisitive intellect was accompanied with docility of disposition, and the happy teacher spared no efforts to advance the little wonder. His body was feeble, his soul capacious. He suffered much, yet was without fretful or morbid quality, resolved, like Socrates, to make a noble use of racking pains and sordid annoyances. It was in this enlightened and tolerant spirit that he bore the perpetual cross of union with a female of vulgar manners, of unprepossessing face, of snappish and tyrannizing temper. A London hostess, on the occasion of his appointment to preach a sermon at Paul's Cross, had opportunely cured him of a cold. He was easily persuaded that his constitutional delicacy required a perpetual nurse.
Her benevolence not stopping here, she offered to provide such a one; and he, in an excess of gratitude, promised to marry her choice. On his next arrival, the artful woman presented her daughter, and the guileless Hooker, the thinker and scholar, the man of innocent wisdom, who would have a nurse-wife, got a shrew. She preferred the more natural office of vixen. When visited, about a year afterwards, by two of his former pupils, he was found tending a flock of sheep, with a copy of Horace in his hand. In the house, they received no entertainment but his conversation, which Mrs. Hooker interrupted by calling him sharply to come and rock the cradle; for she would have it understood that her husband was her servant, and that his friends were unwelcome guests. Cranmer, in taking leave, said:
Good tutor, I am sorry that your lot is fallen in no better ground as to your parsonage; and more sorry that your wife proves not a more comfortable companion after you : have wearied yourself in your restless studies.' To which Hooker made the characteristic answer:
• My dear George, if saints have usually a double share in the miseries of this life, I, that am none, onght not to repine at what my wise Creator hath appointed for me, but labor -- as indeed I do daily -- to submit inine to His will, and possess my soul in patience and peace,
His intelligence was essentially moral; and, by the alchemy of his rare spirit, all knowledge and experience were transmuted into celestialized reason.
Influence.— To Hooker belongs the merit of first fully developing the English language as a vehicle of refined and philosophic thought. His work is monumental. It is still referred to as a great authority upon the whole range of moral and political principles. The beauty of his daily life was an agency to create new beauty everywhere. We can believe that it left its impress even upon his wife. A man of noble piety is in a community like a flower that fills the whole house with its fragrance; and the children born there a hundred
years later better born than elsewhere, because that man spread the sweetness of his character there, and uplifted the vulgar when they knew it not.
Above all, Hooker introduced into polemics a new spirit and method - philosophical rather than theological. Against the dogmatism of creed he set the authority of reason, to which he gave so large a place that never, even to this day, has it made a similar advance. It is not difficult to see the immense importance of this change,-a change of which, indeed, he is the representative and reactionary rather than the initial and efficient
As long as an opinion was defended by the dogmatic method, whoever assailed it incurred the imputation of heresy, and it was easy to justify his persecution; but when it was chiefly defended by human reason, which leads the ablest minds to the most opposite conclusions, the element of uncertainty entered, and punishment was felt to be wrong when it was seen that the persecuted might be right.
A great but ill-regulated mind.-Hume. Biography.--Born in Devonshire, in 1552, the younger son of a family richer in ancient lineage than in patrimony; entered Oxford, but quit it shortly for active life, with no resource but
his enterprise and his sword; at seventeen a valorous leader in the Protestant cause of France, subsequently in the Netherlands, then in Ireland; from the art of war, turned to the art of navigation, which had led Columbus to discovery and Pizarro to conquest; planned an expedition to North America; planted colonies in the wilds to which the royal maiden had eagerly given the name of Virginia, but failed, the colonists returning with tobacco and potatoes instead of diamonds and gold; rose to a favorite of the Queen, was knighted, was her chief adviser in the Spanish invasion of the Armada, was active in its destruction and serviceable in Parliament; a courtier commanding the Queen's guard, riding abroad with her in his suit of solid silver, or attending the Court in dress gorgeous with jewels, from the huge diamond which buttoned his feather to his shoes powdered with pearls; intrigued with a maid of honor, and lost the favor which had been the pride of his ambition; married the maid, and was imprisoned with his wife in the Tower; counterfeited the most romantic despair at the Queen's displeasure, and obtained his freedom, but was banished the presence; thought to dazzle her imagination, and went in quest of the El Dorado, fabled to be in the interior of South America, where the sands glistened, the rocks shone, and the houses were roofed, with the precious metal; returned, and wrote:
of the little remaining fortune I had, I have wasted in effect all herein. I have undergone many constructions, been accompanied with many sorrows, with labor, hunger, heat, sickness, and peril. From myself I have deserved no thanks; for I am returned a beggar, and withered.' Restored to the favor of his mistress-sovereign by the brilliancy of his maritime enterprise, he was discountenanced by James I, whose mind had been poisoned by a malignant rival; was tried on a charge of treason, condemned, but reprieved, and instead of being executed was committed to the Tower, where he was confined for twelve years, during six of which his wife was permitted to bear him company; tempted the cupidity of the king by the vision of a gold-mine and a new empire in Guiana; offered to equip a fleet for the adventure, and was released but not pardoned; burned a Spanish town, got nothing of value, was forced to return a baffled dreamer, under the imputations of falsehood and treachery; and to satisfy the implacable Spaniards, was
executed, in 1618, on the old sentence, which had been suspended over his head like the pointed sword.
Writings. His prison-hours were made memorable by the composition in his cell of the History of the World. He begins with the Creator and the creation; discusses fate, fore-knowledge, and free-will, the site of Paradise, the travels of Cain; the several floods, whose dates are pretty certain; Noah's Ark, which is proved, with prodigious labor, not to have rested on Ararat; descends, through sacred story, to the annals of Assyria, Persia, Greece, and Rome; closing with the fall of the Macedonian Empire, B.c. 170; and infusing into his voluminous scroll of four thousand years the foolish and the wise sayings of Pagan and Christian philosophers and poets, dissertations on the origin of law and government, digressions on slavery, on idolatry, on art, all the fables that were believed by the learned and the unlearned alike, all that his own eyes had observed in the old and the new worlds, and whatever the peculiar studies of each individual in his cultured circle could afford. Whoever can have patience to wade through the first half of the book, will find, when he reaches the second, that his pains are not unrewarded. In its versatile pages are eloquent and stirring passages, embodying the grave and grand idea of death as the issue throughout - oblivion, dust, and endless darkness. Thus:
We have left Rome flourishing in the middle of the field, having rooted up or cut down all that kept it from the eyes and adiniration of the world. But, after some continuance, it shall begin to lose the beauty it had; the storms of ambition shall beat her great boughs and branches one against another; her leaves shall fall off, her limbs wither, and a rabble of barbarous nations enter the field and cut her down.' Again:
If we seek a reason of the succession and continuance of this boundless ambition in mortal men, we may add to that which hath been already said, that the kings and princes of the world have always laid before them the actions but not the ends of those great ones which preceded them. They are always transported with the glory of the one, but they never mind the misery of the other, till they find the experience in themselves, They neglect the advice of God, while they enjoy life or hope it; but they follow the counsel of death upon his first approach. It is he that puts into man all the wisdom of the world, without speaking a word, which God, with all the words of His law, promises, or threats, doth not infuse. Death, which hateth and destroyeth man, is believed; God, which hath made bim and loves him, is always deferred. . . . It is Death alone that can suddenly make man to know himself. He tells the proud and insolent that they are but abjects, and humbles them at the instant, makes them cry, complain, and repent, yea, even to hate their forepast happiness. He takes the account of the rich, and proves him a beggar, a naked beggar, which hath interest in nothing but the gravel that fills his mouth. He holds a glass before the eyes of the most beautiful, and makes them see therein their deformity and rottenness, and they acknowledge it.'