Mulcaster, Richard

, an eminent school -master, was descended from an ancient family in Cumberland. His father, William Mulcaster, resided at Carlisle, where, according to Wood, his son Richard was born. He was educated on the foundation at Eton, whence, in 1548, he gained his election to King’s college, Cambridge. Here he took no degree, but while scholar removed to Oxford; for what reason we know not. In 1555, he was elected student of Christ-Church; and, in the next year, was licensed to proceed in arts, and became eminent for his proficiency in Eastern literature. He began to be a teacher about 1559, and on Sept. 24, 1561, for his extraordinary accomplishments in philology was appointed the first master of Merchant Taylors’ school, then just founded; and he provided the first usher, and divided the boys into forms, &c. In this school he passed nearly twenty-six years; a severe disciplinarian, according to Fuller, but beloved by his pupils when they came to the age of maturity and reflected on the benefit they had derived from his care. Of these, bishop Andrews appears always to have preserved the highest respect for him, had his portrait hung over his study-door, behaved with great liberality to him, and by his will bequeathed a handsome legacy to his son. In April 1594, he was collated to the prebendal-stall of Gatesbury in the cathedral of Sarum; and, in 1596, he resigned the mastership of Merchant Taylors. The company were desirous that he should remain with them; but | Fuller has recorded that he gave for answer, Fidelis semus, perpetuus asinus; and it appears from Mr. Wilson’s History that he had at last reason to think himself slighted .*

*

See Wilson’s Hist, of Merchant Taylor’s School, p. 73, etseqq.

With his profession he certainly was not dissatisfied, nor, able to give it up for when he left the Merchant Taylors, he was chosen, in the same year, 1596, upper master of St. Paul’s School, in which office he remained for twelve years, and then retired to the rich rectory of StamfordRivers, in Essex, to which he had been instituted at the presentation of the queen. His retirement might also have been hastened by the loss of an affectionate wife, as well as by the decaying state of his own health; for, two years after putting up a plate with an inscription to her memory, in the church of Stamford, he died April 15, 1611, and was buried in the same church, but without any memorial.

Of his private character few particulars have been preserved: his temper was warm, but not hasty; and though. Fuller has accused him of using his scholars too harshly, we may make some allowance when we find he was educated under the same master with Ascham, Dr. Nicholas Udall, whose severity he perhaps imbibed. Like Ascham, he was fond of archery, a science once of national concern, and was a member of a society of archers, called Prince Arthur’s Knights, from that prince (brother of Henry VIII.), who was so fond of this amusement that his name became the proverbial appellation of an expert bowman. Mulcaster was an adherent of the reformed religion, a man of piety, and “a priest in his own house, as well as in the temple.” As a scholar he ranks high. His English productions boast an exuberance of expression not often found in the writers of his day; and his Latin works, not inelegant, were celebrated in their times. He enjoyed, likewise, very high reputation as a Greek and Oriental scholar, and on this last account was much esteemed by the celebrated Hugh Broughton.

He appears to have been early addicted to dramatic composition, and occurs among those who assisted in the plays performed before queen Elizabeth in 1572 and 1576. Whether he was a student of the classic drama, or still adhered to the Gothic spectacles, is a desideratum; but it is highly probable that he united both. In 1575, when Elizabeth was on one of her progresses at Kenelworth, | Mulcaster produced some Latin verses which were spoken before her, and have been printed in Gascoyne’s “Princely Pleasures at Kenelworth,” and in Mr. Nichols’s “Pro* gresses of queen Elizabeth.” They are short and easy, but, as was usual with the court productions of the time, completely mythological. In 1580, he prefixed some commendatory verses to Ocland’s “Anglorum proelia,” and others, two years afterwards, to his “Eifwaf%ia” More, perhaps, may be found in the works of his contemporaries: but we must not omit to notice his verses to queen Elizabeth on her skill in music, printed in Tallis and Bird’s tf Discantus Cantiones," &c. 1575, 4to, and inserted by Bailard in his memoirs of queen Elizabeth.

His separate works were his “Positions, wherein those primitive circumstances be examined which are necessarie for the training up of children, either for skill in theire book, or health in their bodie,” Lond. 1581, 1587, 4to. To this a second part was promised, which seems to have been completed in 1582, by the publication of “the first part of the Elementarie, which entreateth chefely of the right writing of the English Tung.” These contain some peculiarities of spelling, and innumerable quaintnesses of writing, joined to many judicious crsticisms on the English language. By the spelling he seems frequently anxious to fix the pronounciation of his words, and in some parts we may be inclined to think he was desirous that his words should be written as they are spoken. In 1601, he published his “Catechismus Paulinus, in usum scholas Paulinae conscriptus, ad formam parvi illius Anglici catechismi qui pueris in comruuni precum Anglicarum libro ediscendus proponitur,” 8vo. This is in long and short verse, sometimes closely, and at others diffusely, translated; and, though now forgotten, was once in high esteem. Among the letters at Penshurst, is one from Mulcaster to sir Philip Sidney, in Latin, dated Nov. 3, 1575, the year sir Philip went upon his travels. In the Harleian Mss No. 6996, is a letter from Edward Heyborn to the lord-keeper, in behalf of Richard Mulcaster, who begged his interest to secure to him the prebend of Gatesbury, which, we have already noticed, he received. And in ms. Smith, in the Bodleian library, No. Ixxvii. p. 397, is one from Mulcaster to Peter Junius, in Latin, dated May 13, 1604. 1

1

Life in —Gent. Mag. vol. LXX; by Henry Ellis, esq. of the British Museum. Wilson’s Hist, of Merchant Taylors’ School; see Index. Knighfs Life of Colet. Warton’s Hist, of Poetry. Fuller’s Worthies. —Ath. Ox. vol. I.

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