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MR. RICHARD HOOKER.
It is not to be doubted, but that Richard Hooker was born at Heavy-tree, near, or within the precincts, or in the city of Exeter, a city which may justly, boast, that it was the birth-place of him and Sir Thomas Bodley; as indeed the county may, in which it stands, that it hath furnished this nation with Bishop Jewel, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, and many others, memorable for their valour and learning. He was born about the year of our Redemption, 1553, and of parents that were not so remarkable for their extraction or riches, as for their virtue and industry, and God's blessing upon both; by which they were enabled to educate their children in some degree of learning, of which our Richard Hooker may appear to be one fair testimony, and that nature is not so partial as always to give the great blessings of wisdom and learning, and with them the greater blessings of virtue and government, to those only that are of a more high and honourable birth.
His complexion (if we may guess by him at the age of forty) was sanguine, with a mixture of choler; and yet his motion was slow even in his youth, and so was his speech, never expressing an earnestness in either of them, but an humble gravity
suitable to the aged. And it is observed, (so far as inquiry is able to look back at this distance of time,) that at his being a school-boy, he was an early questionist, quietly inquisitive, “Why this was, and that was not, to be remembered ?" 65 Why this was granted, and that denied ?” This being mixed with a remarkable modesty, and a sweet serene quietness of nature, and with them a quick apprehension of many perplexed parts of learning, imposed then upon him as a scholar, made his master and others to believe him to have an inward blessed divine light, and therefore to consider him to be a little wonder. For in that, children were less pregnant, less confident, and more malleable, than in this wiser, but not better, age.
This meekness and conjuncture of knowledge, with modesty in his conversation, being observed by his schoolmaster, caused him to persuade his parents (who intended him for an apprentice) to continue him at school, till he could find out some means, by persuading his rich uncle, or some other charitable person, to ease them of a part of their care and charge; assuring them, that their son was so enriched with the blessings of nature and grace, that God seemed to single him out as a special instrument of his glory. And the good man told them also, that he would double his diligence in instructing him, and would neither expect nor receive any other reward, than the content of so hopeful and happy an employment.
This was not unwelcome news, and especially to his mother, to whom he was a dutiful and dear child; and all parties were so pleased with his proposal, that it was resolved so should it be. And in the mean time his parents and master laid a foundation for his future happiness, by instilling into his soul the seeds of piety, those conscientious principles of loving and fearing God, of an early belief, that
he knows the very secrets of our souls ; that he punisheth our vices, and rewards our innocence ; that we should be free from hypocrisy, and appear to man what we are to God, because first or last the crafty man is catched in his own snare. These seeds of piety were so seasonably planted, and so continually watered with the daily dew of God's blessed Spirit, that his infant virtues grew into such holy habits, and did make him grow daily into more and more favour both with God and man! which, with the great learning that he did after attain to, hath made Richard Hooker honoured in this, and will continue him to be so to succeeding generations.
This good schoolmaster, whose name I am not able to recover, (and am sorry, for that I would have given him a better memorial in this humble monument, dedicated to the memory of his scholar), was very solicitous with John Hooker, then Chamberlain of Exeter, and uncle to our Richard, to take his nephew into his care, and to maintain him for one year in the University, and in the mean time to use his endeavours to procure an admission for him into some College, though it were but in a mean degree; still urging and assuring him, that his charge would not continue long; for the lad's learning and manners were both so remarkable, that they must of necessity be taken notice of; and that doubtless God would provide him some second patron, that would free him and his parents from their future care and charge.
These reasons with the affectionate rhetoric of his good master, and God's blessing upon both, procured from his uncle a faithful promise, that he would take him into his care and charge before the expiration of the year following, which was performed by him, and with the assistance of the learned Mr. John Jewel; of whom this may be