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OF THE LATE
REV. VICESIMUS KNOX, D.D.
FORMERLY HEAD MASTER OF TUNBRIDGE SCH001., KENT, &c. &c. &c. ENGRAVED BY JAMES THOMSON, FROM AN ORIGINAL PORTRAIT BY OLIVER.
Nam veluti flores tellus, nec semina profert,
Ni sit continuo victa labore manùs ;
GUILIELMI Lilii, Carmen de Moribus. THE lives of distinguished authors Head Master of Tunbridge School. sufficiently numerous to furnish mate- and greatly esteemed in the exercise of rials for interesting biography. To his clerical functions. It has been obarrive at that perfection, which every served, that there is much injustice in writer must attain, who commands the withholding the names of those from attention of the public, requires a long whom eminent characters have recourse of studies in seclusion from the ceived their education. Dr. Knox's active pursuits of the world; and al- father took the care of his son's classithough victories, obtained over diffi- cal instruction entirely upon himself culties in learning and science, demand until the age of fourteen. Having a derree of intellectual force greater then made a considerable proficiency, than is necessary to obtain fame in the he was entered in a high class at Merfield, yet they are glories of an un- chant-Tailors' School, under the Rey. ostentatioes kind, and make no figure James Townley, who, though not deeply in a Memoir. A few dates are gene- learned, possessed a refined taste for rally all that can be given in the his- the charms of literature, as well as tory of those, who, as divines, mo- much urbanity, which he was very ralists, bistorians, or poets, have in successful in imparting among his structed and delighted mankind, while pupils. At this time that amiable they bare acquired for themselves a man and elegant scholar, Dr. Jortin, deathless renown. A laudable curiosity took great notice of the subject of is nevertheless felt to know as much as this Memoir, frequently inviting him can be communicated of those, who to pass his holidays at the vicarage have contributed to establish sound at Kensington: and, together with principles of morality and religion; Oliver Goldsmith, wbom at this period to diffuse a correct taste in the fine he also often visited, probably conarts; lo extend the sources of in- firmed that strong literary turn in nocent amusement; to augment the his youthful mind, which never forbounds of science; to encourage asook him in after life. love of civil liberty; and to inspire sen- From school he was elected to a timents of universal benevolence ; fellowship at St. John's, Oxford, “ Quique sui memoresalios fecere merendo." where Dr. Dennis was then Presi
DR. VICESIMUS KNOX was the dent; and of him he always spoke only son of the Rev. Vicesimus Knox; with grateful respect. At the unia fellow of St. John's College, Ox- versity he immediately distinguished ford ; afterwards a Master of Mer- bimself; and his exercises, particu.chant-Tailors' School ; and, lastly, larly in Latių prose and verse, were
greatly admired, In consequence of to the Head-Mastership of Tunbridge which, he was appointed one of the School. This step was taken against speakers at the Encenia, when Lord the urgent remonstrances of Dr. DenNorth was installed Chancellor of the' nis and Dr. Wheeler, the learned pubUniversity, and received much ap- lic orator, both of whom feared, withplause. He also amused himself in out foundation as it proved in the rethe intervals from his severer pur- sult, that so laborions an undertaking suits with English composition, and would interfere with the literary career shortly before he finally left Oxford, he bad so successfully commenced. sent the manuscript of the first vo- Mrs. Montague also, and several other lume of “Essays Moral and Literary,” eminent characters of that day, took as a present, without a name, to Mr. considerable pains to persuade bim to Dilly, the publisher. It was shewn to devote himself entirely to the acadethat eminent critic, Dr. Johnson, who mic life at Oxford, where, they respoke of the style and matter in terms presented, the most brilliant prospects of high panegyric, and predicted the were before him. future .fame of the author ; while In 1787, Dr. Knox published a the favourable reception given to it series of miscellaneous papers, unby the public has been almost unexam-, der the title of “ Winter Evenings," pled. The work was subsequently ex- in three volumes, 8vo. They have tended to three volumes, and the name also passed through many editions ; of the author no longer concealed. and in this work ihe author has sucIt has been translated into most of cessfully combined moral instruction the European languages ; and at once with elegant entertainment. ranked the writer with the English About this time he bad the bonour Classics. Our limited space does not of receiving from Philadelphia a diallow of a detailed examination of ploma, conferring a Doctor's degree the different papers, and we there in that university, with an unanimous fore mercly state, that they contaiņ expression of the high sense that a happy mixture of the best style learned body entertained of the ser, of our most celebrated authors, with vices his works, which had all been an harmony, polish, and force, that republished in America, bad renare entirely the writer's own.
dered to the cause of learning and Dr. Knox next published his celevirtue. For the usc of bis own brated treatise on“Liberal Education,” school, which had risen to great res in two volumes, the success of which putation, he edited Horace and was not less than that of his former Jurcnal, upon the expurgata plan ; work; it having long superseded all and superintended that useful series others upon tbis important subject. In of compilations, the Elegant Extracts, pointing out the defects in the edu. Elegant Epistles, Domestic Divinity, cation of youth, he could not pass &c. &c.; the prefaces of which were over the gross relaxation of discipline all
written by himself, in the universities which at that time In 1793 appeared • Personal Nobiprevailed, more especially at Oxford. lity,” in one volume, containing Whatever resentment was felt in the advice to a young Nobleman, in a university at the moment, the sug- series of Letters, on the conduct of gestions of the author have been his studies, and the best means of since attended to ;
a reform has maintaining the dignity of the peer, taken place, and he lived to express age.” The abolition of nobility in great satisfaction at the admirable France had taken place at this pespirit of emulation among the stu- riod, and given a particular interest dents, which the recent statutable re- to the subject of this work, which is gulations have produced. Had his written in a glowing strain of elolife been spared,' he would, probably, quence, and is not less replete with in a new. edition of this work, have ex. wise precepts than constitutional opi: pubged many of those strictures, which nións. It was in this year also þe, happily, coqsidered no longer ap- that he preached his famous sermon. plicable,
at Brighton. He had long been Shortly before the appearance of most conscientiously and deeply im. 4. Liberal Eduoation,” Dr. Knox, hav- pressed with the folly and wickedįng taken his degrees, upon the re- ness of war, and reprobaied it with signation of his father, was elected great carnestycss upon all occasions,
The subject of this sermon was, “ The his politics were known to be at vaUnlaufulness of Offensive War!” which riance with Dr. Knox's, publicly euhe followed up by translating an adage · logized his treatise on the “ Lord's of Erasmus, entitled, “ Bellum dulce Supper" in the Charges delivered to: inexpertis.” This translation was pub- bis Clergy, and recommended it to lished under the title of " Antipole. their particular perusal. mus ;" and a very respectable society Perhaps, scarcely any of Dr. Knox's has since been established under the numerous writings will be read with appellation of Antipolemists ; though so much delight as the last, which the peculiar political state of the appeared a few months only before world that has existed ever since it's his death,—a pamphlet against the formation, has yet presented but few " Degradation of Grammar Schools.” favourable opportunities for their It may be remembered, that a bill Jabours of mercy.
was pending in Parliament for the At the commencement of the re- general Education of the Poor ; volationary war against France, seve- among it's provisions was one, which ral anonymous popular political works would have had the effect of lowering. were attributed to Dr. Knox, but with the education now afforded in the anwbat truth we have not been able to cient grammar-schools, by giving inascertain. He appears, from about struction in writing, reading, and the year 1796, to bave devoted his arithmetic, under the same roof, to an labours principally to the interests of humbler class of scholars, out of the religion and education.
funds already exclusively approHis admirable “ Sermons upon priated by the donors to the learned Fuith, Hope, and Charity,” in one languages. This bill has been since volume, svo. were published about withdrawn. It afforded, however, a this period; and were followed by, subject for a splendid defence of clas“ Christian Philosophy,” in two vo- sical education. Dr. Knox combated Jumes, which was written chiefly as most powerfully the arguments of Milan antidote to Paine's irreligious ton, Locke, Bacon, and others, wbo writings. He next gave to the world, recommend the teaching boys things “ Considerations on the Nature and Effi- in preference to the classics. _There cacy of the Lord's Supper;" the princi- are few compositions in the English pal object of which was to assert the language, that for strength of reasonimportant truth, “ that benefits are ing and brilliancy of style can be annexed to the reception of the compared with this pamphlet. It may Eucharist," in opposition to the opi-. be taken as a standard of his powers nions advanced by Bishops Hoadley as a writer, and a specimen of the and Pearce, Drs. Sykes, Balguy, and energy of his mind. Bell. He also published several sin- Dr. Knox left Tunbridge in 1812, gle sermons. In one, which he preached where he was succeeded in the school at the opening of the Chapel of the by his younger son; and retired to LonPhilanthropic Society, in St. George's don. He was rector of Runwell and Fields, he first called attention to the Ramsden Crays, in Essex, of which livnecessity of encreasing the number of ings he was the patron, and minister of the places of pablic worship on the Shipbourne, in Kent; at which latter establishment. A very eloquent Ser- place he performed the duties of a pamon from his pen, “ upon the Duty rish priest for nearly forty years, with and Advantage of educating the Poor,” great regularity. After his retirement, is also to be fonnd at the end of the while he lived in London, the situation last edition of “ Domestic Divinity.” of bis benefices in Essex not permitting
The reputation that Dr. Knox had residence, lie never withheld his poweracquired in the Belles Lettres was ful aid from the pulpit, whenever it most fully sustained by his works was solicited in favour of the various in theology. They display an ele- charities with which the metropolis vated tone of piety, bis usual po- abounds; and there are few of those lished and powerful style, and most institutions which have not benefitted learnedly enforce doctrines of the by his exertions. As a preacher be soundest divinity.
will long be remembered ; his matter That eminent polemic and cele- was always excellent, and his manner brated divine, Bishop Horsley, with possessed a dignity, propriety, and a liberality tbat did bim houour, as impressiveness; that invariably rivetted the attention of his congrega- may be said to bave been nearly unitioos.
versal; as notwithstanding his almost The politics of Dr. Knox were de- idolatrous regard for the dead lancidedly those of the Whigs. His stea- guages, he was not less conversant diness and consistency were remark- with the writers of France, Italy, and able, and he scorned any concealment Spain, than with those of his own of his opinions, however personally conntry. disadvantageous to himself might be It is unnecessary to attempt a delithe avowal of them. Mr. Fox, and neation of the qualities that adorned other distinguished Leaders of the his private character. The sentiments Whig Party, sought his acquaintance; in all his works which exbibit so much and there is no doubt, if political events amiable feeling, couldonly have flowed bad allorded the opportunity, but that from a heart, which was indeed most he would have filled one of the highest exquisitely susceptible of all the chastations in the church. Preferment, rities of domestic life. His habits were however, was never bis object, nor unobtrusive and retired; and his whole occupied bis thoughts. He was from demeanour in society was inarked by conscientious conviction a firm friend a djflidence inseparable from his naof the establishment; and his strenuous ture. His conversation was frequently support of it excited the hostility of distinguished by a delightful fervour many of the most eminent separatists, of language and sentiment, and by an who expressed, however, the highest agreeable playfulness, when he was respect for his motives; for though not under the influence of mental dehe forcibly exposed the absurdity of pression. From this cause, bowever, many of their terets, especially those he was frequently silent in conipány, of the Methodists, he was ever the during the latter years of his life. advocate of a liberal toleration. En- He keenly felt the loss of a son in tertaining much respect for the private the flower of his age, and of his own character of the late Rishop Dam- wife shortly afterwards ; and, lastly, pier, he felt it his duty to protest of an only daughter in the prime of against an address which that bishop lifo ; who was the wife of Rob. Cleproposed for the adoption of the clergy, ment' Sconce, Esq. of Plymouth, and at a visitation of his diocese, thanking died in 1818. A succession of such the Crown for requiring a pledge from calamities occasioned long seasons of administration, that they never would sorrow, producing a degree of desagain agitate the Catholic question. pondence, that disqualified hiv alike He was aware that differences of opi- for conversation and composition. nion might very conscientiously be en- Dr. Knox enjoyed remarkably fine tertained upon what is called Catholic health; the consequence of an excelemancipation, but also thought, that, Jent constitution, as well as of regular with proper securities, it was contrary habits. He was always an early riser. to sound policy and justico, no less He was enabled to follow bis literary than to the benign spirit of the Gospel, pursuits with upabatedardourtill withto impose civil disabilities upon so in the last three days of his life. The many millions of the Christian sub- strength of bis constitution seemed jects of the united kingdom, merely to promise an extreme old age, when because they remained faithful to the he was seized with an inflammation of religion of their forefathers.
the intestines, while on a visit at his Dr. Knox possessed extraordinary son's house at Tunbridge, which terfacility in composition. He wrote minated his life on the 6h of Septemand spoke Latin with the most clas- ber last, in the 69th year of his age. sical purity. He was singularly feli- So little foreseen was this melancitous in epigrammatic point, and a choly event, that he was under an very eminent Greek scholar, though engagement to the Rev. Dr. Rudge he did not value merely verbal eriti- to preach at Limehouse for the becism. To pass years in investigating nefit of the National Schools early particles, he deemed an abuse of learn- in October; when the clergyman who ing, jusily subjecting it to the charge of osciated on the occasion noticed his pedantry. He was a great student deceasc in the following feeling and of the harmony of language, invariably elegant language :fornling his sentences with a regard “ I have now concluded my obser10 rythmical proportion. His rcading vations on this important sulsject. It *