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THE LIFE OF MR. RICHARD HOOKER,
THE AUTHOR OF THOSE LEARNED BOOKS OF THE
LAWS OF ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.
I HAVE been persuaded, by a friend whom I reverence, and ought to obey to write the Life of RICHARD HOOKER, the happy Author of Five-if not more of the eight learned books of "The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity." And though I have undertaken it, yet it hath been with some unwillingness: because I foresee that it must prove to me, and especially at this time of my age, a work of much labour to enquire, consider, research, and determine what is needful to be known concerning him. For I knew him not in his life, and must therefore not only look back to his death,-now sixty-four years past -but almost fifty years beyond that, even to his childhood and youth; and gather thence such observations and prognostics, as may at least adorn, if not prove necessary for the completing of what I have undertaken.
This trouble I foresee, and foresee also that it is impossible to escape censures; against which I will not hope my well-meaning and diligence can protect me, for I consider the age in which I live-and shall therefore but intreat of my Reader a suspension of his censures, till I have made known unto him some reasons, which I myself would now gladly believe do make me in some measure fit for this undertaking: and if these reasons shall not acquit me from all censures, they may at least abate of their severity, and this is all I can probably hope for. My reasons follow.
About forty year past-for I am now past the seventy of my age-I began a happy affinity with William Cranmer,-now with God,-grand-nephew unto the great Archbishop of that name; a family of noted prudence and resolution; with him and two of his sisters I had an entire and free friendship: one of them was the wife of Dr. Spencer,* a bosom friend and sometime com-pupil with Mr. Hooker in Corpus Christi College in Oxford, and after President of the same. I name them here, for that I shall have occasion to mention them in the following discourse, as also George Cranmer, their brother, of whose useful abilities my Reader have a more authentic testimony than my pen can purchase for him, by that of our learned Camden and others.
This William Cranmer and his two fore-named sisters had some affinity, and a most familiar friendship, with Mr. Hooker, and had had some part of
* A native of Suffolk, one of the Clerks of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and Greek Reader. He entered into Orders, became a noted Preacher, Chaplain to James I., and a great admirer of Richard Hooker and the famous Dr. John Reynolds, the latter of whom he succeeded as Master of his College. About four years after Hooker's death, he pub lished the Five Books of Ecclesiastical Polity, with a Preface; and dying on April 3rd, 1614, was buried at Oxford.
their education with him in his house, when he was parson of Bishop's-Bourne near Canterbury; in which City their good father then lived. They had, I say, a part of their education with him as myself, since that time, a happy cohabitation with them; and having some years before read part of Mr. Hooker's works with great liking and satisfaction, my affection to them made me a diligent inquisitor into many things that concerned him; as namely, of his persons, his nature, the management of his time, his wife, his family, and the fortune of him and his. Which enquiry hath given me much advantage in the knowledge of what is now under my consideration, and intended for the satisfaction of my Reader.
I had also a friendship with the Rev. Dr. Usher,* the late learned Archbishop of Armagh; and with Dr. Morton, the late learned and charitable Bishop of Durham; as also the learned John Hales, of Eton College; and with them also-who loved the very name of Mr. Hooker-1 have had many discourses concerning him; and from them, and many others that have now put off mortality, I might have had more informations, if I could then have admitted a thought of any fitness, for what by persuasion I have now undertaken. But though that full harvest be irrecoverably lost, yet my memory hath preserved some gleanings, and my diligence made such additions to them, as I hope will prove useful to the completing of what I intend: in the discovery of which I shall be faithful, and with this assurance put a period to my Introduction.
*The illustrious Primate of Ireland, born in Dublin, Jan. 4th, 1580. He was the first Student of Trinity College, in 1593, and in 1620, he was made Bishop of Meath, whence he was translated to Armagh, in 1625. In the Irish Rebellion he lost every thing but his library, which he conveyed to England, where he died in retirement, March 21st. 1655-56