A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Fuller, Thomas

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Fuller, Thomas (1608-1661).—Divine and antiquary, s. of a clergyman of the same name, was b. at Aldwinkle, Northamptonshire. Possessed of exceptional intelligence and a wonderful memory, he became a good scholar, and distinguished himself at Camb., where he was sent. Entering the Church, he obtained rapid preferment, including the lectureship at the Savoy, and a chaplaincy to Charles II. He was a voluminous author, his works dealing with theology, morals, history, and antiquities. Among the chief are History of the Holy War, i.e. the Crusades (1643), The Holy State and the Profane State (1642), A Pisgah Sight of Palestine (1650), Church History of Britain, History of Cambridge University (1655), Worthies of England (1662), and Good Thoughts in Bad Times. The outstanding characteristic of F.'s writings is shrewd observation conveyed in a style of quaint humour. Lamb says, "His conceits are oftentimes deeply steeped in human feeling and passion." But in addition there is much wisdom and a remarkable power of casting his observations into a compact, aphoristic form. The Worthies, though far from being a systematic work, is full of interesting biographical and antiquarian matter which, but for the pains of the author, would have been lost. Coleridge says of him, "He was incomparably the most sensible, the least prejudiced great man in an age that boasted a galaxy of great men." F., who was of a singularly amiable character, was a strong Royalist, and suffered the loss of his preferments during the Commonwealth. They were, however, given back to him at the Restoration.

Lives by Russell (1844), J. E. Bailey (1874), and M. Fuller (1886).