Middleton, Conyers

, a celebrated English divine, was the son of William Middleton, rector of Hinderwell near Whitby in Yorkshire, and born at York Dec. 27, or, as Mr. Cole says, Aug. 2, 1633. His father, who possessed | an easy fortune, gave him a liberal education; and at seventeen he was admitted a pensioner of Trinity college, Cambridge, and two years after was chosen a scholar upon the foundation. After taking his degree of A. B. in 1702, he took orders, and officiated as curate of Trumpington, near Cambridge. In 1706 he was elected a fellow of his college, and next year commenced master of arts. Two years after he joined with other fellows of his college in a petition to Dr. John More, then bishop of Ely, as their visitor, against Dr. Bentley their master. But he had no sooner done this, than he withdrew himself from Bentiey’s jurisdiction, by marrying Mrs, Drake, daughter of Mr. Morris, of Oak-Morris in Kent, and widow of counsellor Drake of Cambridge, a lady of ample fortune. After his marriage, he took a small rectory in the Isle of Ely, which was in the gift of his wife; but resigned it in little more than a year, on account of its unhealthy situation.

In Oct. 1717, when George the First visited the university of Cambridge, Middleton was created, with several others, a doctor of divinity by mandate; and was the person who gave the first cause of that famous proceeding against Dr. Bentley, which so much occupied the attention of the nation. Although we have given an ample account of this in the life of Bentley, some repetition seems here necessary to explain the part Dr. Middleton was pleased to take in the prosecution of that celebrated scholar. Bentley, whose office it was to perform the ceremony called Creation, made a new and extraordinary demand of four guineas from each of the doctors, on pretence of a fee due to him as divinity-professor, over and above a broad piece, which had by custom been allowed as a present on this occasion. After a warm dispute, many of the doctors, and Middleton among the rest, consented to pay the fee in question, upon condition that the money should be restored if it were not afterwards determined to be his right. But although the decision was against Bentley, he kept the money, and Middleton commenced an action against him for the recovery of his share of it. Bentley behaving with contumacy, and with contempt to the authority of the university, was at. first suspended from his degrees, and then degraded. He then petitioned the king for relief from that sentence: which induced Middleton, by the advice of friends, to publish, in the course of the year 1719, the four following pieces: 1. “A full and | impartial Account of all the late Proceedings in the University of Cambridge, against Dr. Bentley.” 2. “A Second Part of the full and impartial Account, &c.” 3. “Some Remarks upon a Pamphlet, entitled The Case of Dr. Bentley farther stated and vindicated, &c.” The author of the piece here remarked, was the well-known Dr. Sykes, whom Dr. Middleton treats here with great contempt, but afterwards changed his opinion of him, and in his “Vindication of the Free Enquiry into the Miraculous Powers,” published after his death, he appeals to Dr. Sykes’s authority, and calls him “a very learned and judicious writer.” The last tract is entitled, 4. “A true Account of the present State of Trinity-college in Cambridge, under the oppressive Government of their Master Richard Bentley, late D. D.” This, which relates only to the quarrel betwixt him and his college, is employed in exposing his misdemeanors in the administration of college affairs, in order to take off a suspicion which many then had, that the proceedings of the university against Dr. Bentley did not flow so much from any real demerit in the man, as from a certain spirit of resentment and opposition, to the court, the great promoter and manager of whose interest he was thought to be there: for, it must be remembered that, in that part of his life, Dr. Middleton was a strong tory; though like other of his contemporaries in the university, he afterwards became a very zealous whig.

Middleton’s animosity to Bentley did not end here. The latter having in 1720 published “Proposals for a new edition of the Greek Testament, and Latin Version,” Middleton, the following year, published, 5. “Remarks, Paragraph by Paragraph, upon the Proposals, &c.” and at setting out, “only desires his readers to believe, that they were not drawn from him by personal spleen or envy to the author of them, but by a serious conviction, that he had neither talents nor materials proper for the work he had undertaken.” Middleton might believe himself sincere in all this, but no such conclusion can be drawn from the pamphlet, which carries every proof of malignant arrogance. The very motto which he borrowed from one of Burmairs orations, “Doctus criticus & adsuetus urere, secare, inclementer omnis generis librns tractare, apices, syllabas,” &c. implies the utmost personal animosity, and could have been thought “happily chosen,” only at a time when Bentley’s temper was better known than his learning. | Bentley defended his “Proposals” against these “Remarks,” which, however, he dkl not ascribe to Middleton, but to Dr. Colbatch, a learned fellow of his college, and casuistical professor of divinity in the university. It has been said that he very well knew the true author, but was resolved to dissemble it, for the double pleasure it would give him, of abusing Colbatch, and shewing his contempt of Middleton. His treatment of Colbatch, however, being as unjustifiable as that which he had received from Dr. Middleton, provoked the vice-chancellor and heads of the university, at a meeting in Feb. 1721, to pronounce his book a most scandalous and malicious libel, and they resolved to inflict a proper censure upon the author, as soon as he should be discovered: for no names had yet appeared in the controversy. Middleton then published, with his name, an ‘answer to Bentley’s Defence, entitled,

6. “Some farther Remarks, Paragraph by Paragraph, upon Proposals lately published for a new edition of a Greek and Latin Testament, by Richard Bentley,1721. His motto was again chosen in the same contemptuous spirit, “Occupatus ille eruditione secularium literarum, scripturas omi)ino sanctas ignoraverit,” c. Hieron. These two pieces against Bentley were thought to be written with great acuteness and learning; but if, as asserted, they prevented the intended publication, whoever can appreciate Bentley’s talents will agree that acuteness and learning were never worse employed.

Upon the great enlargement of the public library at Cambridge, by the addition of bishop Moore’s books, which had been purchased by the king at 6000l. and presented to the university, the erection of a new office there, that of principal librarian, was first voted, and then conferred upon Dr. Middleton: who, to shew himself worthy of it, published, in 1723, a little piece with this title,

7. “Bibliothecae Cantabrigiensis ordinandae methodus quaedam, quam domino procancellario senatuique acaclemico considerandam & perficiendam, officii & pietatis ergo proponit.” The plan is allowed to be judicious, and the whole performance expressed in elegant Latin. In his dedication, however, to the vice-chancellor, in which he alluded to the contest between the university and Dr. Bentley, he made use of some incautious words against the jurisdiction of the court of King’s-bench, for which he was prosecuted, but dismissed with an easy fine. | Soon after this publication, having had the misfortune to lose his wife, Dr. Midclleton, not then himself in a good state of health, owing to some experiments he had been making to prevent his growing fat, travelled through France into Italy, along with lord Coleraine, an able antiquary, and arrived at Rome early in 1724. Here, though his character and profession were well known, he was treated with particular respect by persons of the first distinction both in church and state. The author of the account of his life in the “Biographia Britannica,” relates, that when Middleton first arrived at Rome, he met with an accident, which provoked him not a little. “Dr. Middleton,” says he, “made use of his character of principal librarian, to get himself introduced to his brother librarian at the Vatican; who received him with great politeness; but, upon his mentioning Cambridge, said he did not knowbefore that there was any university in England of that name, and at the same time took notice, that he was no stranger to that of Oxford, for which he expressed a great esteem. This touched the honour of our new librarian, who took some pains to convince his brother not only of the real existence, but of the real dignity of his university of Cambridge. At last the keeper of the Vatican acknowledged, that, upon recollection, he had indeed heard of a celebrated school in England of that name, which was a kind of nursery, where youth were educated and prepared for their admission at Oxford; and Dr. Middleton left him at present in that sentiment. But this unexpected indignity put him upon his mettle, and made him resolve to support his residence at Rome in such a manner, as should be a credit to his station at Cambridge; and accordingly he agreed to give 400l. per annum for a hotel, with all accommodations, fit for the reception of those of the first rank in Rome: which, joined to his great fondness for antiques, occasioned him to trespass a little upon his fortune.” Part of this story seems not very probable.

He returned through Paris towards the end of 1725, and arrived at Cambridge before Christmas. He had not been long employed in his study, before he incurred the displeasure of the whole medical faculty, by the publication of a tract, entitled, 8. “De medicorum apud veteres Romanos degentiiuu coiulitione dissertatio qua, contra viros celeberrimos Jacobutn Sponimn &, Richardum Meadium, servilem atque ignobilem earn fuisse ostenditur,| Cant. 1726. Mead had just before published an Harveian Oration, in which he had defended the dignity of his profession: so that this seeming attempt of Middleton to degrade it, was considered by the faculty as an open attack upon their order. Much resentment was shewn, and some pamphlets were published: one particularly with the title of “Responsio,” of which the late professor Ward of Gresham-college was the author. Ward was supposed to be chosen by Mead himself for this task: for his book was published under Mead’s inspection, and at his expence. Middleton defended his dissertation in a new publication entitled, 9. “Dissertations, &e. contra anonymos quosdam notarum brevium, responsionis, atque animadversionis auctores, defensio, Pars prima, 1727.” The purpose of this tract seems to have been, not to pursue the controversy, for he enters little into it, but to extricate himself from it with as good a grace as he could: for nothing more was published about it, and the two doctors, Mead and Middleton, without troubling themselves to decide the question, became afterwards very good friends. APars secunda,” however, was actually written, and printed for private circulation, after his death, by Dr. Heberden, in 1761, 4to. In 1729 Middleton published, 10. “A Letter from Rome, shewing an exact Conformity between Popery and Paganism: or, the Religion of the present Romans derived from that of their Heathen Ancestors.” This letter, though written with great politeness, good sense, and learning, yet drew upon the author the displeasure of some even of our own church; because he attacked in it the Popish miracles with that general spirit of incredulity and levity, which seemed, in their opinion, to condemn all miracles. In his second edition he endeavoured to obviate this objection, by an -express declaration in favour of the Jewish and Christian miracles, to which perhaps more credit was given now than afterwards. A fourth edition came out in 1741, 8vo, to which were added, 1. “A prefatory Discourse, containing an Answer to the Writer of a Popish book, entitled, The Catholic Christian instructed, &c. with many new facts and testimonies, in farther confirmation of the general Argument of the Letter:” and, 2. “A Postscript, in which Mr. Warburton’s opinion concerning the Paganism of Rome is particularly considered.” Hitherto certainly the opinion of the world was generally in his favour, and many thought that he had done | great service to Protestantism, by exposing the absurdities and impostures of Popery. He had also several personal qualities, which recommended him; he was an excellent scholar, an elegant writer, a very polite man, and a general favourite with the public, as well as with the community in which he lived; but an affair now happened, which ruined all his hopes, proved fatal to his views of preferment, and disgraced him with his countrymen as long as he lived.

About the beginning of 1730, was published Tindal’s famous book called “Christianity as old as the Creation:” the design of which was to destroy revelation, and to establish natural religion in its stead. Many writers entered into controversy againsMt, and, among the rest, the wellknown Waterland, who published a “Vindication of Scripture,” &c. Middleton, not lik.ng his manner of vindicating Scripture, addressed, 11. “A letter to him, containing some remarks on it, together with the sketch, or plan, of another answer to TindaPs book,1731. Two things, we are told, contributed to make this performance obnoxious to the clergy; first, the popular character of Waterland, who was then at the head of the champions for orthodoxy, yet whom Middleton, instead of reverencing, had ventured to treat with the utmost contempt and severity; secondly, the very free things that himself had asserted, and especially his manner of saying them. His name was not put to the tract, n’or was it known for some time who was the author of it. While Waterland continued to publish more parts of “Scripture vindicated,” &c. Pearce, bishop of Rochester, took up the contest in his behalf; which drew from Middleton, 12. “A Defence of the Letter to Dr. Waterland against the false and frivolous Cavils of the Author of the Reply,1731. Pearce replied to this “Defence,” and treated him, as he had done before, as an infidel, or enemy to Christianity in disguise; who, under the pretext of defence, meant nothing less than subversion. Middleton was now known to be the author of the letter; and he was very near being stripped of his degrees, and of all his connections with the university. But this was deferred, upon a promise that he would make all reasonable satisfaction, and explain himself in such a manner, as, if possible, to remove every objection. This he* attempted to do in, 13. “Some Remarks on Dr. Pearce’s second Reply, &c. wherein the author’s | sentiments, as to all the principal points in dispute, are fully and clearly explained in the manner that had been promised,” 1732: and he at least effected so much by this piece, that he was suffered to be quiet, and to remain in statu quo; though his character as a divine ever after lay under suspicion, and he was reproached by some of the more zealous clergy, by Venn in particular, with downright apostacy. There was also published, in 1733, an anonymous pamphlet, entitled, “Observations addressed to the author of the Letter, to Dr. Waterland” which was written by Dr. Williams, public orator of the university and to which Middleton replied in, 14. “Some remarks,” &c. The purpose of Williams was to prove Middleton an infidel that his letter ought to be burnt, and himself banished and he then presses him to confess and recant in form.“But,” says Middleton, “I have nothing to recant on the occasion nothing to confess, but the same four articles that I have already confessed first, that the Jews borrowed some of their customs from Egypt secondly, that the Egyptians were possessed of arts and learning in Moses’s time; thirdly, that the primitive writers, in vindicating Scripture, found it necessary sometimes to recur to allegory; fourthly, that the Scriptures are not of absolute and universal inspiration. These are the only crimes that I have been guilty of against religion: and by reducing the controversy to these four heads, and declaring my whole meaning to be comprised in diem, I did in reality recant every thing else, that through heat or inadvertency had dropped from me; every thing that could be construed to a sense hurtful to Christianity.

During this controversy, he was appointed, in Dec. 1731, Woodwardian professor; a foundation to which he had in some degree contributed, and was, therefore, appointed by Woodward’s executors to be the first professor. In July 1732, he published his inauguration speech, with this title, 15. “Oratio de novo physiologies explicandos munere, ex celeberrimi Woodwardi testamento instituto: habita Cantabrigias in scholis publicis.” It is easy to suppose, that the reading of lectures upon fossils was not an employment suited either to Middleton’s taste, or to the turn of his studies; and therefore we cannot wonder that he should resign it in 1734, when made principal librarian. Soon after this, he married a second time, Mary, the daughter of the rev. Conyers Place, of Dorchester; and upon her | death, which happened but a few years before his own, a third, who was Anne, the daughter of John Powglf, esq. of Boughroya, Radnorshire, in North Wales. In 1735 he published, 16. “A Dissertation concerning the Origin of Printing in England: shewing, that it was first introduced and practised by our countryman William Caxton, at Westminster, and not, as is commonly believed, by a foreign printer at Oxford” an hypothesis that has been since ably controverted in Bowyer and Nichols’s “Origin of Printing,1776.

In 1711, came out his great work, 17. “The History of the Life of M. Tullius Cicero,” in 2 vols. 4to. This is injdeed a valuable work, both as to matter and manner, written generally, although not unexceptionably, in a correct and elegant style, and abounds in instruction and entertainment. Yet his partiality to Cicero forms a considerable objection to his veracity as a biographer. He has laboured every where to cast a shade over his failings, to give the strongest colouring to his virtues,*

*

Wolfius, in his edition of the four controverted orations of Cicero, KerJin, 1801, says that Middleton’s Life of Cicero has three great faults: first, that the hero is frequently exalted beyond the bounds of truth; secondly, that he is represented more in a political than a literary character; and thirdly, that too little critical attention is paid to the historical facts. See a learned note by Mr. Gough, in Nichols’s Bowyer, vol. V. p. 412

and out of a good character to draw a perfect one; which, though Cicero was undoubtedly a great man, could not be applicable even to him. Perhaps, however, as a history of the times, it is yet more valuable than considered only as a life of Cicero. It was published by subscription, and dedicated to lord Hervey, who was much the author’s friend, and promised him a great number of subscribers. “His subscription,” he tells us, “was like to be of the charitable kind, and Tully to be the portion of two young nieces” (for he had no child living by any of his wives) “who were then in the house with him, left by an unfortunate brother, who had nothing else to leave.” The subscription must have been very great, which not only enabled him to portion these two nieces, but, as his biographers inform us, to purchase a small estate at Hildersham, about six miles from Cambridge, where he had an opportunity of gratifying his taste, by converting a rude farm into an elegant habitation, and where, from that time, he commonly passed the summer season. While engaged on his “Cicero,” he was called to London to receive the mastership of the Charter-house, | having the interest of sir Robert Walpole, and some other great persons; but he found that the duke of Newcastle had been more successful, in procuring it for Mr. Mann. Why the duke opposed Dr. Middleton we know not; as in 1737 we find him strenuously recommending his proposals for the Life of Cicero, and soliciting subscriptions*.

In 1743 he published, 18. “The Epistles of M. T. Cicero to M. Brutus, and of Brutus to Cicero, with the Latin text on the opposite page, and English notes to each epistle: together with a prefatory dissertation, in which the authority of the said epistles is vindicated, and all the objections of the rev. Mr. Tunstall particularly considered and confuted.Tunstall had, in a Latin performance addressed to Dr. Middleton, questioned the authority and genuineness of the said epistles, and attempted to prove them to be the forgery of some sophist: and Middleton. thought it incumbent on him to vindicate their credit, and assert their real antiquity, having made much use of them in his Life of Cicero. “The reasons,” he tells us, “why he chose to give an English answer to a Latin epistle, are, first, the perpetual reference and connection which this piece will necessarily have with his Life of Cicero; and, secondly, as it will be a proper preface to this English edition of the letters themselves.” In 1745, he published, 19. “Germana quaedam antiquitatis eruditae monumenta, quibus Romanorurn veterum ritus varii, tarn sacri quata profani, turn Grgecorum atque ygyptiorum nonnulli, illustrantur; Romae olim maxima ex parte collecta, ac dissertationibus jam singulis instructa,” 4to and in 1747, 2O. “A Treatise on the Roman senate,” in two parts the first of which contains the substance of several letters, formerly written to the late lord Hervey, concerning the manner of creating senators, and filling up the vacancies of that body in old Rome. These letters were long after published by Dr. Knowles, in a 4to volume, 177S.

The same year came out a publication which laid the foundation of another controversy with the clergy, called, 21. “An introductory Discourse to a larger Work, designed hereafter to be published, concerning the miraculous powers which are supposed to have subsisted in the Christian church from the earliest ages, through several successive centuries; tending to shew, that we have no

*

See a letter from his grace on this subject, —Gent. Mag. LXVIIl, 102,

| sufficient reason to believe, upon the authority of the primitive fathers, that any such powers were continued to the church after the days of the apostles. With a Postscript, containing some Remarks on an archidiaconal charge, delivered last summer by the Rev. Dr. Chapman, to the clergy of the archdeaconry of Sudbury.” This undertaking justly alarmed the clergy, and all friends to religion, since it was impossible to succeed, without entirely destroying the reputation of the fathers; and many were also of opinion, that the miracles of the three first centuries could not be rejected as forgeries and impostures, without tainting in some degree the credit of the Scripture miracles. They thought too, that even the canon of Scripture must not be a little affected, if the fathers, on whose credit the authenticity of its books in Some measure depends, were so utterly despised. The “Introductory Discourse” was therefore immediately attacked by two celebrated controversial writers, Dr. Stebbing and Dr. Chapman; the former endeavouring chiefly to shew, that Dr. Middleton’s scheme was inseparably connected with the fall of Christianity; while the latter laboured to support the authority of the fathers. This attack Middleton endeavoured to repel by, 22. “Some remarks on both their performances,1748; and, in December the same year, he published his larger work, with this title, 23. “A free inquiry into the Miraculous powers which are supposed to have subsisted in. the Christian church from the earliest ages, through several successive centuries.” Innumerable answerers now appeared against him; two of whom, namely, Dodwell and Church, distinguished themselves with so much zeal and ability, that they were complimented by the university of Oxford with the degree of doctor in divinity.

Before Middleton thought proper to take notice of any of his antagonists, he surprised the public with, 24. “An Examination of the lord bishop of London’s Discourses concerning the use and intent of Prophecy: with some cursory animadversions on his late Appendix, or additional dissertation, containing a farther enquiry into the Mosaic account of the Fall, 1750.” He tells his reader in the beginning of this “Examination,” that though these discourses of Dr. Sherlock had been “published many years, and since corrected and enlarged by him in several successive editions, yet he had in truth never read them till very lately; or otherwise these animadversions might have made | their appearance probably much earlier.” To this assertion, from a man so devoted to study, it is not easy to give credit; especially when it is remembered also that Midclleton and Sherlock had been formerly in habits of intimacy and friendship; were ofthe same university, and nearly of the same standing and that, however severely and maliciously Middleton treated his antagonist in the present Examination, there certainly was a time when he triumphed in him as “the principal champion and ornament of church and university.” Different principles and different interests separated them afterwards: but it is not easy to conceive that Middleton, who published his Examination in 1750, should never have read these very famous discourses, which were published in 1725*. There is too great reason, therefore, to suppose, that this publication was drawn from him by spleen and personal enmity, which he now entertained against every writer who appeared in defence of the belief and doctrines of the church. What other provocation he might have is unknown. Whether the bishop preferred, had not been sufficiently mindful of the doctor unpreferred, or whether the bishop had been an abettor and encourager of those who opposed the doctor’s principles, cannot be ascertained; some think that both causes concurred in creating an enmity between the doctor and the bishop f. This “Examination” was refuted by Dr. Rutherforth, divinity professor at Cambridge: but Middleton, having gratified his animosity against Sherlock, pursued the argument no further. He was, however, meditating a general answer to all the objections made against the “Free Inquiry;” when being seized with illness, and imagining he might not be able to go through it, he singledout Church and Dodwell, as the two most considerable of his adversaries, and employed himself in preparing a particular answer to them. This, however, he did not live to finish, but died of a slow hectic fever and disorder in his liver, on the 28th of July, 175O, in his sixty-seventh 1 year, at Hildersham. He was buried in the parish of St.

* “Sherlock told me that he pre- bably from the same authority, sented Dr. M. with this book when first f It is said by bishop Newton, that published in 1725, and that he soon when Middleton applied for the Charafterwards thanked him for it, and ex- terhouse. Sir Robert Walpole told him pressed his pleasure in the perusal.” that Sherlock, with the other bishops, ms note by Whiston the bookseller, in was against his being chosen. This to his copy of the first edition of this Die- a man who, as Warburton, his friend, ­tionary. The same fact occurs in the declared, “never could bear contraGent. Mag. 1773, 385, 387, but pro- diction,” was sufficient provocation. | Michael, Cambridge. As he died without issue, he left his widow, who died in 1760, in possession of an estate which was not inconsiderable: yet we are told that a little before his death, he thought it prudent to accept of a small living from sir John Frederick, bart *. A few months after was published, his 25. “Vindication of the Free enquiry into the Miraculous powers, &c. from the objections of Dr. Dodwell and Dr. Church.” The piece is unfinished, as we have observed, but correct, as far as it goes, which is about fourscore pages in quarto.

In 1752, were collected all the above-mentioned works, except “The Life of Cicero,” and printed in four volumes, 4to, under the title of “Miscellaneous Works;” among which were inserted these following pieces, never before published, viz. 26. “A ’Preface to an intended Answer to all the objections made against the Free enquiry.” 27. “Some cursory reflections on the dispute, or dissention, which happened at Antioch, between the Apostles Peter and Paul.” 28. “Reflections on the variations, or inconsistencies, which are found among the four Evangelists, in their different accounts of the same facts.” 29. “An Essay on the gift of Tongues, tending to explain the proper notion and nature of it, as it is described and delivered to us in the sacred Scriptures, and it appears also to have been understood by the learned both of ancient and modern times.” 30. “Some short Remarks on a Story told by the Ancients concerning St. John the Evangelist, and Cerinthus the Heretic; and on the use which is made of it by the Moderns, to enforce the duty of shunning Heretics.” 31. “An Essay on the allegorical and* literal interpretation of the creation and fall of Man.” 32. “De Latinaruiri literarum pronunciatione dissertatio.” 33. “Some Letters of Dr. Middleton to his Friends.A second edition of these “Miscellaneous Works” was afterwards published in

* The living was Hascomb, in Surrey, which I wholly dislike, yet while I amOneof Dr.Middleton’s biographers, and content to acquiesce in the ill, I should the most furious in railing at the cleri- be glad to taste a little of the good, and cat bigots who opposed his sentiments, to have so’me amends for the ugly ashas been so blinded by the doctor’s sent and consent which no man of sense virtues, as to inform us that his sub- can approve.“If Dr. Middleton had scription to the thirty-nine article?, his bigoted opponents, the present when he accepted of this living, was anecdote may surely be quoted as a purely political and gives the follow- proof that he had very impartial deing confirmation of the fact, from a fenders! British Biography, by foir­ms letter of Dr.Middleton’s:” Though ers, vol. IX. p, 337. there are many things in the churcU | 5 vols. 8vo, but for many years there has been little or no demand for any of his works, except the “Life of Cicero.

Dr. Middleton’s reputation as a man of great learning and splendid talents may still be supported by his writings, but in his personal character, little will be found that is amiable, dignified, or independent. His religion was justly suspected, and it is certain that his philosophy did not teach him candour. He had been opposed, without respect, by many of the clergy, and in revenge, he attacked the church, to which he professed to belong, and in which he would have been glad to rise, if he could.

With respect to his talents as a writer, he tells his patron, lord Hervey, in his dedication of “The Life of Cicero,” that “it was Cicero who instructed him to write your lordship,” he goes on, “who rewards me for writing for next to that little reputation with which the public has been pleased to favour me, the benefit of this subscription is the chief fruit that I have ever reaped from my studies.” Of this he often speaks, sometimes in terms of complaint, and sometimes, as in the following passage, in a strain of triumph: “I never was trained,” says he, “to pace in the trammels of the church, nor tempted by the sweets of its preferments, to sacrifice the philosophic freedom of a studious, to the servile restraints of an ambitious life: and from this very circumstance, as often as I reflect upon it, I feel that comfort in my own breast, which no external honours can bestow. I persuade myself, that the life and faculties of man, at the best but short and limited, cannot be employed more rationally or laudably, than in th$ search of knowledge, and especially of that sort which relates to our duty, and conduces to our happiness, &c.” This, however, was the philosophy of a disappointed man. It is true, indeed, that he felt the free spirit he describes, which was manifest in all his writings, yet from many of them it is no less clear that he felt anger and disappointment also, at not being preferred, according t;o his own internal consciousness of merit. So inconsistent are even the most able men. He made his preferment impossible^ and then repined at not obtaining it. Some of his late biographers have endeavoured to prove what a “good Christian” he was; he had the same opinion of himself, but it is not easy to discover what, in his view, entered into the character of a good Christian. That he was an apostate^ as some of his antagonists have asserted, may be doubtful, | r perhaps easily contradicted. From all we have seen of his confidential correspondence, he does not appear to have, ever had much to apostatize from. As far back as 1733, he says, in one of his letters to lord Hervey, “It is my misfortune to have had so early a taste of Pagan sense, as to make me very squeamish in my Christian studies.” In the following year he speaks of one of the most common observances of religion in a manner that cannot be misunderstood: “Sunday is my only day of rest, but not of liberty; for I am bound to a double attendance at church, to wipe off the stain of infidelity. When I have recovered my credit, in which I make daily progress, I may use more freedom.” With such contempt for church and churchmen, it can be no wonder that Dr. Middleton failed both of preferment and respect. 1

1

Biog. Brit. Nichols’s Bowyer. Bowles’s edition of Pope’s Works Warburton’s Letters.- CoU‘s ms Athenæ in Brit. Mus. D’Israeli’s Quarrels, vol. I J I.