Claims a place amongst the worthies of this period, not so much for any transcendent talent in himself, as that he was the last of a great race, all of whom spoke nearly the same language, and had a set of moral feelings and notions in common. A new language, and quite a new turn of tragic and comic interest, came in with the Restoration.
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SPECIMENS FROM THE WRITINGS OF FULLER,
THE CHURCH HISTORIAN.
The writings of Fuller are usually designated by the title of quaint, and with sufficient reason; for such was his natural bias to conceits, that I doubt not upon most occasions it would have been going out of his way to have expressed himself out of them. But his wit is not always a lumen siccum, a dry faculty of surprising; on the contrary, his conceits are oftentimes deeply steeped in human feeling and passion. Above all, his way of telling a story, for its eager liveliness, and the perpetual running commentary of the narrator happily blended with the narration, is perhaps unequalled.
As his works are now scarcely perused but by antiquaries, I thought it might not be unacceptable to my readers to present them with some specimens of his manner, in single thoughts and phrases; and in some few passages of greater length, chiefly of a narrative description. I shall arrange them as I casually find them in my book of extracts, without being solicitous to specify the particular work from which they are taken.
Pyramids.—“The Pyramids themselves, doting with age, have forgotten the names of their founders.”
Virtue in a Short Person.—“His soul had but a short diocese to visit, and therefore might the better attend the effectual informing thereof.”
Intellect in a very Tall One.—“Ofttimes such who are built four stories high, are observed to have little in their cockloft.”
Naturals.—“Their heads sometimes so little, that there is no room for wit; sometimes so long, that there is no wit for so much room.”
Negroes.—“The image of God cut in ebony.”
School-Divinity.—“At the first it will be as welcome to thee as a prison, and their very solutions will seem knots unto thee.”
Mr. Perkins the Divine.—“He had a capacious head, with angles winding and roomy enough to lodge all controversial intricacies.”
The same.—“He would pronounce the word Damn with such an emphasis as left a doleful echo in his auditors’ ears a good while after.”
Judges in Capital Cases.—“O let him take heed how he strikes that hath a dead hand.”
Memory.—“Philosophers place it in the rear of the head, and it seems the mine of memory lies there, because there men naturally dig for it, scratching it when they are at a loss.”