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vast and voluminous collection of all those lives that has already swelled to eleven volumes in folio, in a small print, and yet being digested according to the kalender, they have yet but ended the month of April : the life of monsieur Renty is writ in another manner, where there are so many excellent passages, that he is justly to be reckoned amongst the greatest patterns that France has afforded in this age.
But while some have nourished infidelity, and a scorn of all facred things by writing of those good men in such a strain, as makes not oniy what is so related to be disbelieved, but creates a distrust of the authentical writings of our moft holy faith; others have fallen into another extreme in writing lives too jejunely, swelling them up with triffing accounts of the childhood and education, and the domestick or private affairs of those persons of whom they write, in which the world is lit.. tle concerned; by these they become fo Aat, that few care to read them, for certainly those transactions are only fit to be delivered to posterity, that may carry with them fome useful piece of knowlege to after times.
I have now an argument before me, which will afford indeed a short history, but will contain in it as great a character, as perhaps can be given of any in this age; since there are few inftances of more knowlege and greater virtues meeting in one person. I am upon one account (besides many more) unfit to undertake it, because I was not at all known to him, so I can say nothing from my own observation; but upon fceond thoughts I do not know whether this may not qualify me to write more impartially, though perhaps more defectively; for the knowlege of extraordinary perfons does most commonly bias those, who were much wrought on by the tenderness of their friendship for them, to raise their stile a little too high when they write concerning them : I confess I knew him as much as the looking often upon him could amount to. The last year of his being in London, he came always on sundays (when he
could go abroad) to the chappel of the Rolls, where I then preached : In
life I never saw so much gravity tempered with that sweetness, and set off with so much vivacity as appeared in his looks and behaviour, which disposed me to a veneration for him, which I never had for any with whom I was not acquainted : I was seeking an opportunity of being admitted to his conversation; but I understood that between a great want of health, and a multiplicity of business, which his imployment brought upon him, he was master of fo little of his time, that I stood in doubt whether I might prefume to rob him of any of it, and so he left the town before I could resolve on desiring to be known to him,
My ignorance of the law of England made me also unfit to write of a man, a great part of whose charaéter, as to his learning, is to be taken from his skill in the common law, and his performance in that. But I Ahall leave that to those of the fame robe: since, if I engaged much in it, I must needs commit many errors, writing of a subject that is foreign to me.
The occasion of my undertaking this, was given me firft by the earnest desires of some that have great power uver me, who having been much obliged by him, and holding his memory in high estimation, thought I might do it some right by writing his life : I was then engaged in writing ihe history of the reformation, fo I promised that, as soon as that was over, I should make the best use I could of such informations and memorials as should be brought to me.
This I have now performed in the best manner I could, and have brought into method all the parcels of his life, or the branches of his character, which I could either gather from the informations that were brought me, or from those that were familiarly acquainted with him, or from his w.itings: I have not applied any of the false colours with which art, or some forced eloquence might furnish me in writing concerning him, but have endeavoured to set him out in the same fimplicity in which he lived: I have said little of his domestick concerns, fince, tho' in these he was a great example, yet it fignifies nothing to the world to know any particular exercises that might be given to his patience ; and therefore I shall draw a veil over all these, and shall avoid saying any thing of him, but what may afford the reader some profitable instruction: I am under no temptations of faying any thing, but what I am persuaded is exactly true, for where there is so much excellent truth to be told, it were an inexcusable fault to corrupt that, of prejudice the reader against it by the mixture of fall. hoods with it.
In short, he was a great example while he lived, so I wish the setting him thus out to posterity in his owo: true and native colours, may have its due influence on all persons, but more particularly on those of that profession, whom it more immediately concerns, whetherr On the bench or at the bar.
ATTHEW HALE, was born at Alderly in
Glocestershire the first of November, 1609. His
grand-father was Robert Hale, an eminent clothi.. er in Wotton-under-edge, in that county, where he and his ancestors had lived for many descents;
and they had given several parcels of land for the use of the poor, which are enjoyed by them to this day. This Robert acquired an éstate of ten thousand pound which he divided almost equally amongst his five fons; besides the portions he gave his daughters, from whom a numerous posterity has 1prung. His second son was Robert Hale, a Barrister of Lincolns-Inn; he married Joan, the daughter of Mathew Poyntz of Alderly, Esquire, who was descended from that noble family of the. Poyntz's of Acton : of this marriage there was no other issue but this one son, His: grand-father by his mother was his god-father; and gave him his own name at his baptism. His father wası a man of that strictness of conscience, that he gave over the practice of the law, because he could not understand the reason of giving colour in pleadings, which as he thought was to tell a lie, and that, with some other things commonly practised, feemed to him contrary to that exactness of truth and justice which became a Chri.. ftian, so that he withdrew himself from the inns of court to live on his estate in the country. Of this I was informed by an ancient gentleman, that lived in a friendship
year to the
with his fon for fifty years, and he heard judge Joans, that was Mr. Hale’s contemporary, declared this in the king's-bench. But as the care he had to save his soul, made him abandon a profeslion in which he might have raised his family much higher, fo his charity to his poor neighbours, made him not only deal his alms largely among them while he lived, but at his death he left (out of his small estate which was but 100 l. a year) 201. a
poor of Wotton, which his son confirmed to them with some addition, and with this regulation, that it should be distributed
house-keepers, as did not receive the alms of the parish; for to give it to those, was only, as he used to say, to save so much money to the rich, who by law were bound to relieve the poor of the parish.
Thus he was descended rather from a good, than a noble family, and yet what was wanting in the infignificant titles of high birth, and noble blood, was more than made up in the true worth of his ancestors. But he was foon deprived of the happiness of his father's care and in-struction, for as he loft his mother before he was threeyears old, fo his father died before he was five ; fo early was he cast on the providence of God. But that unhappi. ness was in a great measure made up to him : for after fome opposition made by Mr. Thomas Poyntz, his uncle by his mother, he was committed to the care of Anthony Kingfcot, of Kingscot; Efq; who was his next kinsman, after his uncles by his mother,
Great care was taken of his education; and his guardian intended to breed him to be a divine, and being inclined to the way of these then called Puritans, put him to some schools that were taught by those of that party, and in: the seventeentli year of his age; sent him to MagdalenHall in Oxford, where Obadiah Sedgwick was his tutor. He was an extraordinary proficient at school, and for fome time at Oxford: But the stage-players coming thither, he was so much corrupted biy seeing many plays, that he almost wholly forföok his studies. By this he not only loft much time, but found that his head came to be thereby filled with such vain images of things, that they were at belt unprofitable, if not hurtful to him; apd being afterwards sensible of the mischief of this, he re