Hales, John (1584-1656) (DNB00)
|←Hales, John (d.1571)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 24
Hales, John (1584-1656)
|Hales, John (d.1679)→|
HALES, JOHN (1584–1656), the 'ever memorable,' was born in St. James's parish, Bath, on 19 April 1584. His father, John Hales, of an old Somersetshire stock, had an estate at Highchurch, near Bath, and was steward to the Horner family. After passing through the Bath grammar school, Hales went to Oxford on 16 April 1597 as a scholar of Corpus Christi College, and graduated B.A. on 9 July 1603 (Oxf. Univ. Reg., Oxf. Hist. Soc., ii. iii. 243). His remarkable learning and philosophic acumen brought him under the notice of Sir Henry Savile, and secured his election as fellow of Merton in 1605. He took orders; shone as a preacher, though he appears never to have had a strong voice; and graduated M. A. on 20 June 1609. At Merton he distinguished himself as lecturer in Greek; he is said by Clarendon to have been largely responsible for Savile's edition of Chrysostom (1610-13). In 1612 he became public lecturer on Greek to the university. Next year he delivered (29 March) a funeral oration on Sir Thomas Bodley [q. v.], which formed his first publication. Soon after (24 May) he was admitted fellow of Eton, of which Savile was provost.
In 1616 Hales went to Holland as chaplain to the ambassador, Sir Dudley Carleton [q. v.], who despatched him in 1618 to Dort, to watch the proceedings of the famous synod in which the 'five points' of Calvinism were formulated. He remained at Dort from 13 Nov. till the following February, when he left, and his duty was undertaken by Walter Balcanquhall, D.D. (1586?-1645) [q. v.] His interesting and characteristic reports to Carleton are included in his 'Golden Remains;' an additional letter (11-22 Dec. 1618) is given in Carleton's 'Letters' (1757), and inserted in its proper place in the 1765 edition of Hales's 'Works.' In the letter prefixed by Anthony Farindon [q. v.] to the 'Golden Remains' (27 Sept. 1657), Farindon states, on what he alleges to be Hales's own authority, that Hales was led at the synod to 'bid John Calvin good-night' when Episcopius, the well-known Arminian, pressed the verse St. John iii. 16 to support his own doctrine. According to Hales's own letter (19 Jan. 1619), Matthias Martinius of Bremen, a halfway divine, employed this text. But if Farindon's account be right, Hales, as Tulloch remarks, 'did not say good-morning to Arminius.' The main effect of the synod on his mind was to free it from all sectarian prejudice. No incident made a stronger impression upon him than the debate on schism, which he reported on 1 Dec. 1618.
Early in 1619 Hales retired to his fellowship at Eton. In Sir Henry Wotton, who succeeded Savile as provost in 1623, he found a kindred spirit. He lived much among his books, visiting London only once a year, although he was possibly there more frequently during the period (1633-43) of Falkland's connection with London [see Cary, Lucius, second Viscount Falkland]. The traces of his connection with Falkland are slight; but his 'company was much desired' in the brilliant circle of men of letters then gathered in London. Suckling, who in a poetical epistle bids him 'come to town,' gives us glimpses also in his 'Session of the Poets' of his grave smile, his retiring manner, his faculty for 'putting or clearing of a doubt,' and his decisive judgment. Both Dryden and Howe tell a story of his being present when Ben Jonson descanted on Shakespeare's lack of learning. Hales sat silent, but at length said that if Shakespeare 'had not read the ancients he had likewise not stolen anything from them,' and undertook to find something on any topic treated by them at least as well treated by Shakespeare. He had formed a remarkably fine collection of books, and his learning was always under his command. Wood calls him 'a walking library.' Clarendon speaks of him as having a better memory for books than any man except Falkland, and equal to him. Heylyn, no very friendly judge, says he was 'as communicative of his knowledge as the celestial bodies of their light and influences.' He is said to have been backward in the utterance of some of his broader views, from a feeling of tenderness for weak consciences; but in his writings there is no reserve. The charge of Socinianism alleged against him is disproved by his brief paper on the doctrine of the Trinity (see, for a statement of difficulties regarding the atonement, his letter of December 1638, in Works, 1765, vol. i.) He had adopted liberal views of toleration, possibly with some assistance from Socinian writers (cf. Suckling's 'Leave Socinus and the Schoolmen'). Hence, on the appearance (in 1628 and 1633) of two anonymous irenical tracts belonging to that school, he was 'in common speech' accredited with their authorship, an error perpetuated by Wood.
The great contribution made by Hales to irenical literature is the tract on 'Schism and Schismaticks,' which appears to have been written about 1636. Hales describes it as 'a letter,' and 'for the use of a private friend,' in all probability Chillingworth, who was then engaged on his 'Religion of Protestants' (1637). It was circulated in manuscript, and a copy fell into the hands of Laud. Hearing that the paper had given offence to the archbishop, Hales vindicated himself in a letter to Laud, which is a model of firmness and good humour. Neither Heylyn nor Clarendon mentions this letter. It appears that Hales had 'once already ' found Laud 'extraordinary liberal' of his patience, and there is no doubt that Laud now sent for Hales, though the accounts of what passed at the interview are not very trustworthy. Des Maizeaux mentions the story that Hales assisted Laud in the second edition (1639) of his 'Conference' with Fisher. Laud certainly made him one of his chaplains, and obtained for him a canonry at Windsor, into which he was installed on 27 June 1639 (royal patent dated 23 May). Clarendon says that Laud had difficulty in persuading him to accept this preferment; he would never take the cure of souls.
His tract on 'Schism' was not printed till 1642, when three editions appeared without his name, and apparently without his sanction. In the same year he was ejected from his stall by the parliamentary committee. Though he was not immediately turned out of his fellowship at Eton (Walker is in error here), it seems that in 1644 'both armies had sequestered the college rents.' Hales hid himself for nine weeks in a private lodging in Eton with 'the college writings and keys,' living on brown bread and beer at a cost of sixpence a week. On his refusal to take the 'engagement' of 16 April 1649 he was formally dispossessed of his fellowship. Penwarden, who was put into his place, offered him half the emolument (501. a year, including the bursarship), but this he declined, refusing also a position in the Sedley family, of Kent, with a salary of 100l. a year. He preferred a retreat to Richings Lodge, near Colnbrook, Buckinghamshire, the residence of Mrs. Salter, sister to Brian Duppa, bishop of Salisbury, accepting a small salary as tutor to her son William, who proved 'blockish,' according to Wood. Hales, in his will, calls his pupil his 'most deservedly beloved friend.' To this house Henry King, bishop of Chichester, also retreated, with some members of his family, and 'made a sort of a college,' Hales acting as chaplain and using the liturgy. On the issue of the order against harbouring malignants, he left Mrs. Salter against her wish, and lodged in Eton, 'next to the Christopher inn,' with Hannah Dickenson, widow of his old servant. The greater part of his books (which had cost 2,500l.) he sold for 700l, to Christopher Bee, a London bookseller. Always a liberal giver, he parted by degrees with all his ready money in charity to deprived clergy and scholars, till Farindon, whovisited him daily for some months before his death, found him with no more than a few shillings in hand. But his will shows that he had property to dispose of.
Hales died at Eton on 19 May 1656. Depression of spirits, caused by 'the black and dismal aspect of the times,' probably injured his health; for though he had entered his seventy-third year his constitution was still robust, and he was free from ailment. To Farindon he gave directions for his funeral, repeated in his will, that he should be buried in the churchyard, 'as near as may be to the body of my little godson, Jack Dickenson the elder.' There was to be no sermon or bell-ringing or calling the people together, nor any 'commessation or compotation,' and the funeral was to be 'at the time of the next evensong after my departure.' His will is dated on the day of his death. A monument was placed to his memory by Peter Curwen, formerly one of his scholars at Eton. No portrait of him is known; but we have Aubrey's graphic description of him as he found him, in his last year, 'reading Thomas à Kempis.' He was then 'a prettie little man, sanguine, of a cheerful countenance, very gentle and courteous,' to which Wood adds 'quick and nimble.' He did not dress in black, but in 'violet-coloured cloth.' Aubrey says he had a moderate liking for 'canarie;' Wood that he fasted every week 'from Thursday dinner to Saturday.' His life was to have been written by Farindon; but Farindon died before the issue of the 'Golden Remains,' to which his sole contribution is a letter to Garthwait the publisher. It is said that Bishop Pearson was asked to take up Farindon's task; but he contented himself by prefixing to the 'Remains' a few pages of discriminating eulogy. Farindon's materials passed to William Fulman [q. v.], who likewise failed to write the memoir. Use has been made of Fulman's papers by Walker :and Chalmers.
Andrew Marvel justly describes Hales as 'one of the clearest heads and best prepared breasts in Christendom.' The richness of his learning impresses us even less than his felicity in using it. His humour enables him to treat disturbing questions with attractive lightness of touch. His strength lies in an invincible core of common sense, always blended with good feeling, and issuing in a wise and thoughtful charity.
Hales can hardly be said to have written anything for publication. Repeatedly urged to write, he was, says Pearson, 'obstinate against it.' His works are: 1. 'Oratio Funebris habita in Collegio Mertonensi . . . quo die . . . Thomse Bodleio funus ducebatur/ &c., Oxford, 1613, 4to. 2. 'A Sermon . . . concerning the Abuses of the obscure places of Holy Scripture,' &c., Oxford, 1617, 4to. 3. The sermon 'Of Dealing with Erring Christians,' preached at St. Paul's Cross, seems also to have been printed, at Farindon's instigation. 4. The sermon 'Of Duels,' preached at the Hague, is said to have been printed, though Farindon implies the contrary. Other pieces, published during his lifetime, but apparently without his authority, were: 5. 'The Way towards the Finding of a Decision of the Chief Controversie now debated concerning Church Government,' &c., 1641, 4to, anon. 6. 'A Tract concerning Schisme and Schismatiques, ... by a learned and judicious divine,' &c., 1642, 4to; two London editions, same year, also one at Oxford, with animadversions. 7. 'Of the Blasphemie against the Holy Ghost,' &c., 1646, 4to, anon. Posthumous were : 8. 'Golden Remains of the Ever Memorable Mr. John Hales,' &c., 1659, 4to; 2nd edit., with additions, 1673, 4to; 3rd edit., 1688, 8vo. 9. 'Sermons preached at Eton', &c., fol. 10. 'Several Tracts,' &c., 1677, 8vo; 2nd edit., 1716, 12mo, with addition of the letter to Laud. The 'Works . . . now first collected,' &c., were edited by Sir David Dalrymple, lord Hailes [q. v.], and printed at Glasgow by Foulis, 1765, 16mo, 3 vols. The collection embraces all that had been previously published with several new letters, and is a beautiful specimen of typography. It should be observed, however, that some few obsolete words are occasionally altered,' and the editor has expunged, on fastidious grounds,' two passages in the sermons.' The Socinian tracts falsely accredited to Hales are the 'Anonymi Dissertatio de Pace,' &c., by Samuel Przypkowski, and the 'Brevis Disquisitio,' &c., by Joachim Stegmann the elder. Curll printed in 1720 'A Discourse of several Dignities and Corruptions of Man's Nature since the Fall,' &c., which he assigned to Hales. It is an abridgment of a treatise by Bishop Reynolds of Norwich.[Des Maizeaux's Historical Account, 1719; Wood's Athenae Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 409 sq.; Wood's Fasti, ii. 299, 334; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, 1714, ii. 87, 93 sq.; Clarendon's Life, 1759, i. 27 sq.; Aubrey's Lives, 1813, p. 364; Suckling's Works, 1696, pp. 8, 32 sq.; Dryden's Essay of Dramatic Poesie, 1693, p. 32; Howe's Life of Shakespeare, prefixed to Works, 1709, i. p. xiv; Marvell's Rehearsal Transpos'd, 1672, p. 175; Heylyn's Life of Laud, 1668; Chalmers's Gen. Biog. Dict. 1814, xvii. 32 sq.; Tulloch's Rational Theology, 1872, vol. i.]