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RIGHT HON. AND RIGHT REV. FATHER IN GOD,
GEORGE, LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER,
DEAN OF HIS MAJESTY'S CHAPEL ROYAL,
AND PRELATE OF THE MOST NOBLE ORDER OF THE GARTER.
MY LORD, I HERE present you with a relation of the life of that humble man, to whom, at the mention of his name, princes, and the most learned of this nation, have paid a reverence. It was written by me under your roof: for which, and more weighty reasons, you might, if it were worthy, justly claim a title to it: but indeed, my Lord, though this be a well-meant sacrifice to the memory of that venerable man; yet I have so little confidence in my performance, that I beg your pardon for subscribing your name to it; and desire all that know your Lordship to receive it, not as a dedication, by which
you receive any access of honour, but rather as a more humble and a more public acknowledgment of your long continued, and your now daily, favours to
your most affectionate,
and most humble servant,
Nov, 28, 1664.
FIRST EDITION OF THE LIFE OF HOOKER,
PUBLISHED IN 1665.
TO THE READER.
I THINK it necessary to inform my reader, that Dr. Gauden (the late Bishop of Worcester) hath also lately wrote and published the life of Master Hooker. And though this be not writ by design to oppose what he hath truly written, yet I am put upon a necessity to say, that in it there be many material mistakes, and more omissions. I conceive some of his mistakes did proceed from a belief in Master Thomas Fuller, who had too hastily published what he hath since most ingenuously retracted. And for the bishop's omissions, I suppose his more weighty business, and want of time, made him pass over many things without that due examination, which my better leisure, my diligence, and my accidental advantages, have made known unto me.
And now for myself, I can say, I hope, or rather know, there are no material mistakes in what I here present to you that shall become my reader. Little things that I have received by tradition (to which there may be too much and too little faith given) I will not at this distance of time undertake to justify; for though I have used great diligence, and compared relations and circumstances, and probable results and expressions, yet I shall not impose my belief upon my reader; I shall rather leave him at liberty: but if there shall appear any material omission, I desire every lover of truth and the memory of Master Hooker, that it may be made
HOOKER, VOL. I.
known unto me. And, to incline him to it, I here promise to acknowledge and rectify any such mistake in a second impression, which the printer says he hopes for; and by this means my weak (but faithful) endeavours may become a better monument, and in some degree more worthy the memory of this venerable man.
I confess, that when I consider the great learning and virtue of Master Hooker, and what satisfaction and advantages many eminent scholars and admirers of him have had by his labours, I do not a little wonder, that in sixty years no man did undertake to tell posterity of the excellences of his life and learning, and the accidents of both; and sometimes wonder more at myself, that I have been persuaded to it; and, indeed, I do not easily pronounce my own pardon, nor expect that my reader shall, unless my introduction shall prove my apology, to which I refer him.
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 inquire, 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 wellmeaning and diligence can protect me, (for I consider the age in which I live,) and shall therefore but entreat 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.