« PreviousContinue »
DR. JOHN JORTIN.*.
JOHN JORTIN was born in London, Octaber 23, 1698. His father Renatus Jortin, a native of Bretagne who had studied at Saumur, came over to England about the year 1687, soon after the Protestants had been obliged to quit France in consequence of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes; and was made a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber in 1691, became subsequently Secretary in succession to Lord Orford, Sir George Rooke, and Sir Cloudesly Shovel, and was cast away with the last in 1707. His mother was Martha Rogers, of an ancient family in Buckinghamshire, which had produced some clergymen distinguished by their abilities and learning. He was trained at the Charter House School, where he made considerable proficiency in Greek and Latin literature: his French he learned at home, and he understood and spake it with great precision.
In 1715, he was admitted of Jesus College, Cambridge; and, about two years afterward was recom
* AUTHORITIES. Heathcote's Life of Jortin, prefixed to his * Sermons,' and first published in the Biographical Dictionary;' Jortin's Tracts, and Nichols' Literary Anecdotes of the Eigh
mended by his tutor, Dr. Styan Thirlby, who always retained a friendship for him, to make extracts from Eustathius for the use of Pope's Homer. In an account of this transaction, written by Jortin himself, occur the following passages: “I cannot recollect what Mr. Pope allowed for each book of Homer; I have a notion, that it was three or four guineas.”— “ I was in some hopes in those days (for I was young) that Mr. Pope would make inquiry about his coadjutor, and take some civil notice of him. But he did not; and I had no notion of obtruding myself upon
him.--I never saw his face.” * He became B. A. in January 1719, and M. A. in 1722. Soon after taking his first degree, he was chosen Fellow of Jesus College. In the same year he presided as Moderator in the Sophs' schools, and distinguished himself also by the publication of some elegant Latin poems, entitled, · Lusus Poetici,' which with eminent purity and correctness combine great delicacy of sentiment and warmth of imagination. In the beginning of 1727, he was presented by his College to the living of Swavesey, near Cambridge: but'marrying a daughter of Mr. Chibnall of Newport Pagnell in 1728, he resigned his preferment, and settled in London as reader and preacher in a chapel in New Street, near Russell Street, Bloomsbury. Here he spent the ensuing thirty two years of his life; for though the Earl of Winchelsea gave him the rectory of Eastwell in Kent, he soon quitted it, and returned to the metropolis; where with his emoluments as a preacher in several chapels, and a decent competency of his
* See the Life of Pope. + One of these was in Oxenden Street, to which he was ap
own, he supported his family in a respectable manner: dividing his leisure-hours between his books and his learned friends, with whom he always kept up an intimate connexion.
In 1730, he published • Four Sermons on the Truth of the Christian Religion;' the substance of which was subsequently incorporated into his work entitled, Discourses concerning the Truth of the Christian Religion;' printed in 1746. In this valuable volume are found much good sense and erudition.
In , 1731, appeared · Miscellaneous Observations upon Authors Ancient and Modern,' in two. volumes octavo: a collection of critical remarks, of which though not the sole, he was the principal author; Pearce, Masson, Taylor, Wasse, Theobald, Robinson, Upton, Thirlby, and others having favoured him with their contributions.* In 1751, the trulyliberal Archbishop Herringit at a meeting of the
pointed, in 1747, by his friend Dr. Pearce, at that time Rector of St. Martin's in the Fields. About the same period, also, ke was engaged as an occasional assistant by Warburton, then preacher at Lincoln's Inn; which circumstance produced a temporary intercourse between these two learned, but in
many respects very dissimilar, divines.
* This work was so highly approved, that it was translated into Latin at Amsterdam, and continued by D’Orville and Burman,
+ For his affecting mention of this Prelate, see a note in the Life of Wolsey, I. 42. “ Archbishop Herring and I,” he informs us in his private memoranda, “ were of Jesus College in Cambridge: but he left it about the time when I was admitted, and went to another. Afterward, when he was preacher at Lincoln's Inn, I knew him better, and visited him. He was at that time, and long before, very intimate with Mr. Say, his friend and mine, who lived in Ely House; and Mr. Say, to my knowledge, omitted no opportunity to recommend me to him. When he was
clergy, publicly and unsolicited gave him the living of St. Dunstan's in the East. This Prelate, with whom he had been long acquainted, entertained an affectionate regard for him; had, in many previous instances, endeavoured to serve him; and afterward conferfed upon him the degree of D.D. In the same year, came
Archbishop of York, he expected that a good living would lapse into his hands; and he told Mr. Say, that he designed it for me. He was disappointed in his expectation : so was not I; for I had no inclination to go and dwell in the North of England. When Mr. Say died, he asked me, of his own accord, · Whether I should like to succeed him in the Queen's Library?" I told him, that nothing could be more acceptable to me;' and he immediately used all his interest to procure it for me: but he could not obtain it. A person, who is not worth the naming, was preferred to me, by the solicitation of it matters not who.
• The Archbishop, afterward, assured me of his assistance toward procuring either the preachership or the mastership of the Charter House, where I had gone to school. This project, also, failed; not by his fault, but by the opposition of- -it matters not who.
• In conjunction with Bishop, Sherlock he, likewise, procured for me the preaching of Boyle's Lectures. He, also, offered me a living in the country, and (which I esteemed a singular favour) he gave me leave to decline it, without taking it amiss in the least; and said, that · he would endeavour to serve me in a way that should be more acceptable.' He did so, and gave me a living in the city. Afterward, he gave me a doctor's degree. I thought it too late in life, as I told him, to go and take it in Cambridge under a Professor, who in point of academical standing might have taken his first degree under me, when I was Moderator.' I was willing to owe this favour to him, which I would not have asked or accepted from any other Archbishop.
• That some persons, beside Mr. Say, did recommend me to him, I know, and was obliged to them for it. But I must add, that on this occasion they did only chiudorra or gurity, spur the free courser ; and that he would have done what he did, without their interposition.'
out his first volume of · Remarks upon Ecclesiastical History,* being the substance of the Boylean Lectures, which he had in 1749 been appointed to preach. The preface to this work combines, with much learning and ingenuity, the greatest liberty and liberality. It is said to have given great offence to some of his professional brethren, and certainly presented a foretaste of the spirit, by which the production itself was to be characterised.
In 1755, he published his ‘Six Dissertations upon different Subjects,' in octavo;t of which the last (on
* These Remarks' were continued, in four succeeding volumes, to the year (1517) in which Luther began the work of Reformation; two published by himself in 1752 and 1754, and two after his death, in 1773. No work upon the subject affords more entertainment, or more matter for reflexion, to a liberal mind. It is replete with curious erudition, and sagacious remarks; and bears throughout, like his Life of Erasmus,' the stamp of moderation, and a decided antipathy to every species of bigotry and persecution. It is enlivened by many strokes of humour given with a shrewd simplicity peculiar to the writer, and often in the form of allusive classical quotations, in which he was singularly happy.
+ Of the merit of this publication a learned foreigner, in the * Journal Britannique' vol. xvii. (published at the Hague 1755) thus expresses himself :
• Ces Dissertations ont pour auteur un homme, qui se distingue également par ses connoissances et par ses vertus. Littérateur du premier ordre, il n'estime l'étude des mots que ce qu'elle vaut, et qu'autant qu'elle conduit à la science des choses. Versé dans la lecture des anciens auteurs, et dans les recherches de l'antiquité, il ne se fait point une gloire de décrier son siécle, et de donner une injuste préférence à ceux qui l'ont précédé. Consacré par état a l'instruction des hommes, il leur présente une religion simple, et destinée à les rendre contens de la vie, et préparés à la mort. Plus jaloux à trouver le vrai que d'inventer du Neuf, il ne s'attache à aucun systêmę; n'affecte point la singularité; promet rarement des démonstrations, et manque plus rarement encore à ses promesses.