Зображення сторінки

he observes, that “we do not always know our own motives.” Shall we then presume to attribute the frigid mention of the truly learned and ingenious Mr. Spence, in the preface to Pope, to a prejudice conceived against him on account of his preference of blank verse to rhyme in his • Essay on Mr. Pope's Odyssey;’ a work, which for sound criticism, and candid disquisition, is almost without a parallel The judicious Dr. Warton's sentiments with respect to it may be seen in his admirable “Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope :” and bishop Lowth, whose learning and genius are indisputable, expresses himself in the following manner in a note on his twelfth praelection on Hebrew poetry: “Haec autem vide accurate et scienter explicata à viro doctissimo Josepho Spence in Opere erudito juxta atque eleganti cui litulus Polymetis.”” SPENCER (John), a learned divine, was a native of Bocton under Blean, in Kent, where he was baptised, Oct. 31, 1630. While an infant he lost his father, who, leaving him in very narrow circumstances, the care and expence of his education was undertaken by an uncle. By him he was sent to the free school at Canterbury, where he made great proficiency, and became a king's scholar. At the age of fourteen he was recommended by Mr. Thomas Jackson, then the only prebendary of that church, to a Parker scholarship in Corpus college, Cambridge, of which he was admitted, March 25, 1645. Under Mr. Richard Kennet, an excellent tutor, an ancestor of the bishop of Peterborough, he applied with great assiduity to his studies, and having taken his degrees in arts, that of A. B. in 1648, and of A. M. in 1652, he was chosen fellow of his college in 1655. About this time his uncle, who had hitherto supported his education, died, and having kept an exact account of what he had expended, left the same uncancelled, and his executors and sons immediately sued Mr. Spencer for the debt, which he was totally unable to pay. In this perplexity he found friends in the college, among whom was Dr. Tenison, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, who raised a loan among them sufficient to extricate him from the rigour of his unworthy relations. He now also became a tutor, and entering into holy orders was appointed one of the university preachers, and served the cures, first of St. Gyles's, and then of St. Benedict,

* Nichols's Poems—and Bowyer-Bowles's edition of Pope's works.

[ocr errors]

in Cambridge. In 1659 he proceeded B. D. As he was not disturbed in his fellowship, it has been supposed that he acquiesced in the measures taken during the usurpation, without approving them. He was soon, however, released from this painful restraint by the restoration, on which event he preached a sermon before the university, June 28, 1660, which was printed the same year, under the title of “The Righteous Ruler.” He published about three years after, a preservative against the prophecies in which the fanatics of that day dealt very largely. This he entitled “A discourse concerning Prodigies, wherein the vanity of presages by them is reprehended, and their true and proper ends asserted and vindicated.” A second edition of this seasonable and learned work, corrected and enlarged, was published at London, 1665, 8vo; when was added to it, “A discourse concerning vulgar Prophecies; wherein the vanity of receiving them, as the certain indications of any future event, is discovered ; and some characters of distinction between true and pretended prophets are laid down.” In this last-mentioned year he proceeded D. D. and in 1667 was presented by his college to the rectory of Landbeach, in Cambridgeshire, and Aug. 3, was elected master of the college. In this office he shewed himself not only a lover of learning, but a great encourager of it in others, as the many salutary regulations made in his time concerning the discipline and exercises of the

. college amply testify; and the society had such an opinion

of his judgment and integrity, that he was generally made the arbiter of their differences. While he was vice-chancellor, the duke of Monmouth was chosen chancellor of the university, and upon his instalment Dr. Spencer addressed his grace in a speech, published by Hearne in his appendix to the “Vindiciae Tho. Caii.” Mr. Masters mentions it as somewhat singular, that Dr. Spencer, while holding the high office of head of a house, was suspended by Dr. Borde, surrogate to the official, for not appearing at the archdeacon's visitation, but what the issue was he has not discovered. Dr. Spencer had contracted an early and intimate acquaintance with Mr. Thomas Hill, who was admitted of Corpus about the same time with himself, which, notwithstanding their differing in their opinions, Hill being a non-conformist, continued to the end of the life of the latter. This appears by a cor

respondence, referred to by Calamy, in which the doctor expresses a high regard and affection for him, and made him some kind and generous offers whenever he should have a son fit to send to the university. His charity, indeed, to non-conformist ministers, if good and pious men, seems to have been so extensive, that he, with the learned Dr. Henry More, made one of them, Mr. Robert Wilson, their almoner in this branch of it. And so great a respect had he for his tutor, Mr. Kennet, who was a sufferer in this cause, that he not only frequently visited him as long as he lived, but was kind to his poor widow for his sake. About a month after being elected master of Corpus, he was preferred by the king to the archdeaconry of Sudbury, in 1672 to a prebend of Ely, and in 1677 to the deanery of that church. In 1669 he published a Latin dissertation concerning Urim and Thummim, reprinted in 1670. In 1683 he resigned the rectory of Landbeach in favour of his kinsman, William Spencer, A. M. fellow of the college; and 1685 published at Cambridge, in 2 vols. folio, his celebrated work, “De legibus Hebræorum ritualibus et earum rationibus libri tres.” His professed view in explaining the reasons of the Mosaic ritual, was to vindicate the ways of God to men, and clear the Deity, as he tells in his preface, from arbitrary and fantastic humour; with which some, not discerning these reasons, had been ready to charge him, and thence had fallen into unbelief. But this attempt very much displeased all those, who think the divinity of any doctrine or institution weakened, in proportion as it is proved to be rational ; and one great objection to it, even among some who are not irrationalists, is, the learned author's having advanced, that many rites and ceremonies of the Jewish nation are deduced from the practices of their heathen and idolatrous neighbours. This position gave no small offence, as greatly derogatory from the divine institution of those rites; and many writers attacked it both at home and abroad, particularly Herman Witsius in his “AEgyptiaca,” sir John Marsham, Calmet, and Shuckford. His position has been, since their time, shortly and ably refuted in a treatise by Dr. Woodward, entitled “A Discourse on the worship of the ancient Egyptians,” communicated to the Society of Antiquaries by Dr. Lort in 1775, and more recently (1799) by the late Rev. William Jones, in his “Considerations on the religious worship of the Heathens.” Mr. Jones says, that Dr. Spencer, “preposterously deduced the rites of the Hebrews from

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

the rites of the Heathens; and so produced a work of learned appearance, and composed in elegant Latin, but disgraceful to Christian divinity, dishonourable to the church of England, and affording a very bad example to vain scholars who should succeed him.” Others, however, saw no ill consequences from admitting it; and the work upon the whole has been highly valued, for extensive erudition and research. The author afterwards greatly enlarged it, particularly with the addition of a fourth book; and his papers, being committed at his death to archbishop Tenison, were bequeathed by that prelate to the university of Cambridge, together with the sum of 50l. to forward the printing of them. At length Mr. Leonard Chappelow, fellow of St. John's-college, and professor of Arabic, being deputed by the university, and offered the reward, undertook a new edition of this work, with the author's additions and improvements; and published it at Cambridge, in 1727, in 2 vols. folio. It was also previously reprinted at the Hague in 1686, 4to ; and at Leipsic in 1705. Dr. Spencer died May 27, 1695, in the sixty-third year of his age, and was interred in the chapel of Corpus-college. To this college such was his liberality, that Mr. Masters says “he far exceeded all former benefactors.” In 1687, he purchased an estate at Elmington, an hamlet belonging to Oundle in Northamptonshire, which cost him 3600l. and settled it by a deed of gift on the college, for the augmentation of the mastership, fellowships, scholarships, &c.; and, in his will, bequeathed various sums to the ociety, to the church and deanery of Ely, and to the poor of the parishes in which he had officiated. He married Hannah, the daughter of Isaac Pullen of Hertford, by whom he had a son and daughter, but neither survived him.” SPENER (Philip JAMEs), a celebrated Lutheran divine of Frankfort on the Maine, but born in Alsatia, Jan. 11, 1635, was one of those who first endeavoured to free divinity from scholastic subtleties, and captious questions, and to introduce a more plain and popular method of teaching theology. He succeeded, in a great measure, though not universally; and, about 1680, became the founder of a new sect, styled Pietists. It originated in certain private societies formed by him at Frankfort, with a design to rouse the lukewarm from their indifference, and excite a spirit of

Biog. Brit, Master's History of C. C. C. C.

vigour and resolution in those who before had silently lamented the progress of impiety. The effect of these pious meetings was greatly increased by a book published by this able and well-meaning man, entitled “Pious Desires,” in which he exhibited a striking view of the disorders of the church, and proposed the suitable remedies. His work was approved; but the remedies he proposed fell into unskilful hands, and were administered without sagacity and prudence.

The religious meetings, or Colleges of Piety, as they were called, tended, in several instances, to inflame the people with a blind and intemperate zeal, and produced tumults, and various complaints; till at length, in many places, sewere laws were passed against the Pietists. Spener settled for a time at Dresden, and afterwards at Berlin, where he held important offices of ecclesiastical trust under the elector of Brandenburg, and where he died in 1705, aged seventy. He was a man of eloquence and piety; and certainly far from intending to produce dissentions and schisms. His pious works were published in the German language; but he wrote some in Latin on genealogy and heraldry; such as “Opus heraldicum :” “Theatrum nobilitatis:” “Sylloge historico-genealogica,” &c. His son, James Charles Spener, wrote a “Historia Germanica universalis et pragmatica,” 2 vols. 8vo, and “Notitia Germania, antiquac,” 1717, 4to, both works of authority. He died in 1730. "

SPENSER (EDMUND), a justly celebrated English poet, descended from the ancient and honourable family of Spenser, was born in London, in East Smithfield by the Tower, probably about 1553. In what school he received the first part of his education, has not been ascertained. He was admitted, as a sizer, of Pembroke-hall in Cambridge, May 20, 1569, proceeded to the degree of bachelor of arts, January 16, 1572-3, and to that of master of arts June 26, 1576. Of his proficiency during this time, a favourable epinion may be drawn from the many classical allusions in his works, while their moral tendency, which, if not uniform, was more general than that of the writings of his contemporaries, incline us to hope, that his conduct was irreproachable.

* Moreri.-Dict. Hist.—Mosheim.

« НазадПродовжити »