Hunter, Henry

, a popular preacher and writer, was born at Culross, in Perthshire, in 1741. He had the best education that the circumstances of his parents would permit, and at the age of thirteen was sent to the university of Edinburgh, where, by his talents and proficiency, he attracted the notice of the professors, and when he left Edinburgh he accepted the office of tutor to lord Dundonald’s sons at Culross abbey. In 1764 he was licensed to preach, having passed the several trials with great applause: and very quickly became much followed on account of his popular talents. He was ordained in 1766, and was appointed minister of South Leith. On a visit to London in 1769, he preached in most of the Scotch meeting-houses with great acceptance, and soon after his return he received an invitation to become pastor of the Scotch church in Swallow-street, which he declined; but in 1771 he removed to London, and undertook the pastoral office in the Scotch church at London-wall. He appeared first as an author in 1783, by the commencement of his “Sacred Biography,” which was at length extended to seven volumes octavo. While this work was in the course of publication, he engaged in the translation of Lavater’s “Essays on Physiognomy,” and in order to render his work as complete as possible, he took a journey into Swisserland, for the purpose of procuring information from Lavater himself. He attained, in some measure, his object, though the author did not receive him with the cordiality which he expected, suspecting that the English version must injure the sale of the French translation. The first number of this work was published in 1789, and it was finished in a style worthy the improved state of the arts. From this period Dr. Hunter spent much of his time in translating different works from the French language. In 1790 he was elected secretary to the corresponding board of the “Society for propagating Christian Knowledge in the Highlands and | Islands of Scotland.” He was likewise chaplain to the “Scotch Corporation;” and both these institutions Were much benefited by his zealous exertions in their behalf. In 1795, he published two volumes of Sermons; and in 1798 he gave the world eight “Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity,” being the completion of a plan begun by Mr. Fell. The whole contains a popular and useful elucidation of the proofs in favour of the Christian religion, arising from its internal evidence, its beneficial influence, and the superior value of the information which it conveys with respect to futurity. During the latter years of his life, Dr. Hunter’s constitution suffered the severest shocks from the loss of three children, which, with other causes, contributed to render him unable to withstand the attacks of disease. He died at the Hot-Wells, Bristol, on the 27th of October, 1802, in the 62d year of his age. Dr. Hunter was a man of learning: his writings are eloquent, and shew how well he had studied human nature. In the pulpit his manner was unaffected, solemn, and impressive. He indulged his liberal and friendly heart in the exercise of hospitality, charity, and the pleasures of social intercourse, but the latter frequently beyond the limits which a regard to prudence and economy should have prescribed. He was the translator of “Letters of Euler to a German Princess, on different subjects in Physics and Philosophy” “The Studies of Nature by St. Pierre” “Saurin’s Sermons;” “Sonnini’s Travels.” Miscellaneous pieces and sermons of his own have been published since his death, to which are prefixed memoirs: from these the foregoing particulars have been taken. Dr. Hunter, about 1796 or 7, began “A History of London and its Environs,” which came out in parts, but did little credit to him, as he evidently had no talents or research for a work of this description. 1

1

Gent. Mag. vol. LXXII. Rees’s Cyclopædia.