Richard Hooker (1554?-1600)
From Walton, Lives, pp. 176, 177-80.

The case for questioning the reliability of this anecdote was put by C. J. Sisson in The Judicious Marriage of Mr. Hooker (1940).

Mr. Hooker in his college . . . continued his studies with all quietness for the space of three years; about which time he entered into sacred orders, being then made deacon and priest; and, not long after, was appointed to preach at St. Paul's Cross.

In order to which sermon, to London he came, and immediately to the Shunamite's house (which is a house so called, for that, besides the stipend paid the preacher, there is provision made also for his lodging and diet two days before and one day after his sermon). This house was then kept by John Churchman, sometime a draper of good note in Watling Street, upon whom poverty had at last come like an armed man, and brought him into a necessitous condition; which, though it be a punishment, is not always an argument of God's disfavour, for he was a virtuous man. I shall not yet give the like testimony of his wife, but leave the reader to judge by what follows. But to this house Hooker came so wet, so weary, and weather-beaten, that he was never known to express more passion than against a friend that dissuaded him from footing it to London, and for finding him no easier a horse, supposing the horse trotted when he did not. And at this time also such a faintness and fear possessed him that he would not be persuaded two days' rest and quietness, or any other means could be used to make him able to preach his Sunday sermon; but a warm bed and rest, and drink proper for a cold given him by Mrs. Churchman, and her diligent attendance added unto it, enabled him to perform the office of the day, which was in or about the year 1581....

The kindness of Mrs. Churchman's curing him of his late distemper and cold . . , was so gratefully apprehended by Mr. Hooker that he thought himself bound in conscience to believe all that she said; so that the good man came to be persuaded by her that he was a man of a tender constitution, and that it was best for him to have a wife that might prove a nurse to him; such an one as might both prolong his life and make it more comfortable; and such an one she could and would provide for him if he thought fit to marry. And he, not considering that the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light, but, like a true Nathaniel, fearing no guile because he meant none, did give her such a power as Eleazar was trusted with (you may read it in the book of Genesis) when he was sent to choose a wife for Isaac; for even so he trusted her to choose far him, promising upon a fair summons to return to London and accept of her choice; and he did so in that or about the year following. Now the wife provided for him was her daughter Joan, who brought him neither beauty nor portion; and for her conditions, they were too like that wife's which is by Solomon compared to a dripping house; so that the good man had no reason to rejoice in the wife of his youth, but too just cause to say with the holy prophet, "Woe is me that I am constrained to have my habitation in the tents of Kedar."

This choice of Mr. Hooker's (if it were his choice) may be wondered at; but let us consider that the prophet Ezekiel says,

'There is a wheel within a wheel,' a secret sacred wheel of providence (most visible in marriages) guided by his hand, that allows not the race to the swift, nor bread to the wise, nor good wives to good men....

And by this marriage the good man was drawn from the tranquillity of his college, from that garden of piety, of pleasure, of peace, and a sweet conversation, into the thorny wilderness of a busy world, into those corroding cares that attend a married priest and a country parsonage, which was Drayton Beauchamp in Buckinghamshire, not far from Aylesbury....

And in this condition he continued about a year, in which time his two pupils, Edwin Sandys and George Cranmer, took a journey to see their tutor, where they found him with a book in his hand (it was the Odes of Horace), he being then, like humble and innocent Abel, tending his small allotment of sheep in a common field, which he told his pupils he was forced to do then, for that his servant was gone home to dine, and assist his wife to do some necessary household business. When his servant returned and released him, then his two pupils attended him unto his house, where their best entertainment was his quiet company, which was presently denied them, for Richard was called to rock the cradle; and the rest of their welcome was so like this that they stayed but till next morning, which was time enough to discover and pity their tutor's condition; and they having in that time rejoiced in the remembrance, and then paraphrased on [commented upon] many of the innocent recreations of their younger days, and other like diversions and thereby given him as much present comfort as they were able, they were forced to leave him to the company of his wife Joan, and seek themselves a quieter lodging for next night. But at their parting from him Mr. Cranmer said,

'Good tutor, I am sorry your lot is fallen in no better ground as to your parsonage; and more sorry that your wife proves not a more comfortable companion after you have wearied yourself in your restless studies.'

To whom the good man replied,

'My dear George, if saints have usually a double share in the miseries of this life, I that am none ought not to repine at what my wise Creator hath appointed for me, but labour (as indeed I do daily) to submit mine to His will, and possess my soul in patience and peace.'
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