Newton, Thomas

, an eminent English prelate, was born at Lichfield Jan. 1, 1704, N. S. His father, John | Newton, was a considerable brandy and cyder merchant, a man of much industry and integrity; his mother was the daughter of Mr. Rhodes, a clergyman, and died when this, ber only son, was about a year old. He received the first part of his education in the free-school of Lichfield, which, at that time flourished greatly under the direction of Mr. Hunter, and at all times has sent forth several persons of eminence, from bishop Smalridge to Dr. Johnson When he was of an age to be sent out into the world, his father married a second wife, the daughter of the rev. Mr. Trebeck of Worcester, and sister to Dr. Trebeck, the first rector of St. George’s, Hanover-square; and by the advice of Pr. Trebeck, and the encouragement of bishop Smalrulge, young Newton was removed from Lichfield to Westminster school in 1717. Here he was placed at the lower- end of the fourth form, and the year following became a king’s scholar, being admitted into the college by the nomination of bishop Smalridge.

Mr. Newton continued six years at Westminster-school, five of which he passed in college, having stayed one year to be captain. He always thought the mode of education in college, and the taste which prevailed there, as far superior to that of the school, as that of the school was to any country school. At the election in 1723, he went to Cambridge, knowing., as he candidly confesses, that the fellowships of Trinity-college were much more valuable than the studentships of Christ-church. He accordingly applied to Dr. Bentley to be by him elected first to Cambridge, with which Bentley complied, and Mr. Newton constantly resided there eight months at least in every year, till he had taken his bachelor of arts degree, which was in 1756. He took his degree of M. A. in 1730; and, soon after he was chosen fellow of Trinity, he came to settle in Condon. This appears to have been previous to his taking the lasUmentioned degree, as he was ordained deacon Pec. 21, 1729, and priest in the February following, by bishop Gibson.

His first appearance as a preacher was in St. George’s, Hanover-square, where he officiated for a short time as curate, and afterwards as assistant preacher to Dr. Trebeck, whose ill-health disabled him from performing his duty. His first regular employment was that of reader and afternoon preacher at Grosvenor-chapel in SouthAudley-street. By this appointment, be became well | known in the parish, and was soon taken into lord Carpenter’s family to be tutor to his son, afterwards created earl of Tyrconnel. Of this family he speaks with much gratitude, as a situation in which he lived very much at his ease “with not so much as an unkind word, or even a cool look ever intervening;” and, he tells us, that living at no kind of expense, he was tempted to gratify and indulge his taste in the purchase of books, prints, and pictures, and made the beginnings of a collection which was continually receiving considerable additions and improvements. Here he remained, however, for some time, without any promotion; but in 1738, Dr. Pearce, afterwards fcishop of Rochester, but then vicar of St. Martin’s, with svhom he had no acquaintance, sent to him requesting he would preach on a certain day at the chapel in Spring-garden, and immediately after offered to appoint him morning preacher at this chapel. This he gladly accepted, and it became the means of a useful and valuable connection with Dr. Pearce.

About this time he was induced by Mrs. Anne Deanes Devenish, an acquaintance whose friendship proved afterwards of great importance to him, to superintend an edition of Mr. Jlowe’s works, who had been her first husband. This edition was executed at the request of the Prince of Wales, who was very partial to that poet, and who honoured Mrs. Devenish with his friendship; and it was the means of JMr. Newton’s being made known to his royal highness. Nor was this the only obligation he owed to the good services of Mrs. Devenish, as she first introduced him ito the acquaintance of Mr. Pulteney, who, when lord Bath, appointed him his chaplain. Mr. Newton, in his life, gives a curious detail of that famous political revolution which occasionedthe resignation of sir Robert Walpole. This he appears to have written at the time, and it is no small proof of the authenticity of the facts, that Mr. Coxe, in his excellent Life of sir R. Walpole, seems disposed to admit it. It is indeed written with every internal mark of candour and honesty.

In the spring of 1744, Mr. Newton, through the interest of his patron, the earl of Bath, was preferred to the rectory of St. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, “so that,” as he observes, “he was forty years old before he obtained any living.” Upon this preferment, he quitted the chapel in Spring-garden. His fellowship also became vacant, and | at the commencement in 1745 he took his degree of doctor in divinity. The rebellion in Scotland breaking out soon sifter, he was in all his sermons and discourses so strenuous in the cause of his king and country, that he received some threatening letters, which lord Bath advised him to lay before the secretary of state. One or two of his sermons upon this occasion he published by desire, as well as that which was preached on the 18th December, in the same year, before the House of Commons. In the beginning of the following spring, 1746, he was honoured with additional proofs of the friendship and confidence of the earl of Bath, being intrusted by his lordship with the relation of some secret transactions at court, of which an account may be seen in his life. The king requested that lord Bath would avenge his cause on his servants who had deserted him, by writing a full account of the whole transaction, which he appears to have shown to his chaplain. His majesty also desired it might be printed, at a convenient season; but it perished among the other papers which lord Bath burnt after his son’s death. In the spring 1747, Dr. Newton was chosen lecturer of St. George’s, Hanover- square, in the room of Dr. Savage, deceased. In the month of August following he married his first wife, Jane, the eldest daughter of the rev. Dr. Trebeck; with this lady he lived very happily near seven years. As they had no children, they boarded in the parsonage-house with Dr. Trebeck; Dr. Newton had the best apartment for his pictures, and by the good management of Mrs. Trebeck was freed from the care and trouble of house-keeping, to which he seems to have always had an aversion.

In 1749 he published his edition of “Milton’s Paradise Lost,” which was so favourably received by the public as to go through, in his life-time, eight editions. The title of this work was, “Paradise Lost, a Poem, in twelve books. The author, John Milton: a new edition, with notes of various authors. By Thomas Newton, D. D.1749, 2 vols. 4to. The type of the text is remarkably large, and the whole printed with much elegance. It is dedicated to the earl of Bath, who, the editor states, was entitled to this mark of respect, as it was undertaken chiefly at his de sire, and in some measure carried on at his expence,“his lordship having contributed the engravings. The whole dedication is in a style of respect evidently dictated by gratitudes;t cannot be accused of direct flattery, or at | least it is a flattery which we could wish there were oftener cause to imitate. His lordship is complimented” on his open profession of the truth of the Christian revelation; his regard for our established church, and regular attendance upon public worship.“Dr. Newton’s design in this edition was to publish the” Paradise Lost,“as the work of a classic author, cum notis variorum, and his first care was to print the text correctly, according to Milton’s own 'editions, that is, the two printed in his life-time. In his preface, he criticises with freedom, and generally, in our opinion, with justice, Milton’s annotators and editors, Patrick Hume, Dr. Bentley, Dr. Pearce, who, with the earl of Bath, first engaged him in this undertaking, and gave him much assistance; Richardson the painter, Warburton, and some anonymous commentators. He was assisted, of living authors, by Dr. Heylin, Dr. Jortin, Dr. Warburton, a copy of Bentley’s edition with Pope’s ms notes, Mr. Richardson, jun. Mr. Thyer of Manchester, and some others. The notes are of various kinds, critical and explanatory; some to correct the errors of former editions, to discuss the various readings, and to establish the genuine text; some to illustrate the sense and meaning, to point out the beauties and defects of sentiment and character, and to commend or censure the conduct of the poem; some to remark the peculiarities of style and language, to clear the syntax, and to explain the uncommon words, or common words used in an uncommon signification; some to consider and examine the numbers, an-d to display the versification, the variety of the pauses, and the adaptness of the sound to the sense; and some to show his imitations and allusions to other authors, sacred or profane, ancient or modern. The preface is followed by a life of Milton, compiled from the best authorities, and with a defence of Milton’s religious and political principles, as far as in Dr. Newton’s opinion they are capable of being defended. This is followed by Addison’s excellent papers on the” Paradise Lost,“taken from the Spectator, and a jnost copious list of nearly a thousand subscribers. The plates were designed by Hayman, and engraved by Grignion, &c. and have very considerable merit. What perhaps distinguishes this edition from all others, is an elaborate verbal index, which was compiled by the indefatigable Mr. Alexander Cruden, author of the Concorto the Bible, Sometime after, Dr. Newton was | prevailed upon to publish the” Paradise Regained, and Milton’s smaller poems“upon the same plan, which accordingly appeared in one volume 4to, 1752, but this is not accompanied by a verbal index.” These things,“he says,” detained him too long from other more material studies, though he had the good fortune to gain more by them than Milton did by all his works together." He gained 735l. Among other advantages, he estimates very highly, their having procured him the friendship and intimacy of two such men as bishop Warburton and Dr. Jortin.

In June 1754, he lost his father at the age of eightythree, by a gradual, gentle decline; and within a few days Jiis wife, at the age of fifty-eight, by a sudden and violent inflammation of the bowels. These trials together almost overwhelmed him with affliction. But at this time, he says, he was engaged in writing his “Dissertations on the Prophecies;” and “happy it was for him, for in any affliction he never found a better or more effectual remedy than plunging deep into study, and fixing his thoughts as intensely as he possibly could upon other subjects.” The first volume of “Dissertations on the Prophecies, which have remarkably been fulfilled, and are at this time fulfilling in the world,” 8vo, was published in the winter of 1754. This is the most interesting, and by far the most popular of all his works, and that, indeed, by which principally his name will be handed down to posterity. In the publication, he had the advantage of having it perused and corrected by bishop Pearce, Dr. Warburton, and Mr. Jortin; and its success was very great. Six large editions were published in his life-time, and its popularity seems lately to have been revived, although many works have been published since on the same subject, with different views and conclusions. Soon after the appearance of these “Dissertations,” they were translated into the Danish and German languages. The second and third volumes were not published until 1758, and as an encouragement to the work he was in the interim appointed to preach the Boyle’s Lectures, which he adverts to in the commencement of the second volume.

In 1756 he was appointed one of the king’s chaplains, and permitted at the same time by her royal highness the princess of Wales to retain that rank in her service; and he held both stations during the rest of that reign and the beginning of the next. In the spring 1757 he was made | prebendary of Westminster, and at the same time subalmoner, by the interest of Dr. Gilbert, archbishop of York, who held the office of lord almoner, and who likewise conferred on him the precentorship of the church of York, one of the most valuablepieces of preferment belonging to it. His account of his second marriage, and the reasons which Jed to it, we shall give in his own words, principally for the outline he has drawn of a clergyman’s wife, which we liope will suit many of our female readers.

As long as Dr. Trebeck lived, Dr. Newton continued to board in the family, from his old principle of avoiding ^s much as possible the trouble of housekeeping: but upon the death of Dr. Trebeck, which happened in 1759, and upon the breaking up of the family, he was under the ne^ cessity of looking out for a house, and for the present took one ready furnished in Mount-street. This naturally engaged him to think seriously again of matrimony; for he found his time and attention much divided even by the cares of his little family; the study of sacred and classic authors ill agreed with accounts of butchers’ and bakers’ bills, and by daily experience he was convinced more and more that it was not good for man to live alone without an help meet for him. And especially when he had some prospect of a bishopric, fresh difficulties and troubles opened to his view^ there would be two houses at least to i be furnished, there would be a greater number of servants to be taken, there would be a better table and public days to be kept; and he plainly foresaw that he must either fall a prey to servants, or must look out for some clever sensible woman to be his wife, who had some knowledge and experience of the world; who was capable of superintending and directing his affairs; who was a prudent manager and ceconomist, and could lay out his money to the best advantage; who, though she brought no fortune, yet might save one, and be a fortune in herself; who could supply his table handsomely, yet not expensively, and do the honours of it in a becoming manner; who had no more taste and love of pleasure than a reasonable woman should have; who would be happier in staying with her husband at home than in perpetually gadding abroad; who would be careful and tender of his health, and in short be a friend and companion at all hours.

Such qualities, it appears, he found in Elizabeth, daughter of John lord viscount Lisburne, who was at this time | the widow of the rev. Mr. Hand. They were married Sept. 5, 1761, and on the 18th of the same month, he kissed his majesty’s hand on his promotion to the bishopric of Bristol, and the residentiaryship of St. Paul’s. On this he resigned the prebend of Westminster, the precentorship of York, the lectureship of St. George’s, Hanover-square, and the office of sub-almoner, so that he was not upon the whole much a gainer by the exchange. In 1768, however, he was promoted to the deanery of St. Paul’s, and then resigned both the residentiaryship, and his living in the city, which latter he had held twenty-five years, and might still have held it, but, as he says, “he thought it not proper nor becoming his character and station to be so tenacious of pluralities.” His health now also began to decay, and he was frequently interrupted from the duties of his profession by violent fits of illness. For several of the last years of his life, his health would not permit him to attend the House of Lords: he never, indeed, was a constant attendant, unless debates of consequence were expected, and he never attempted to speak. Once, when strongly prompted by a desire to oppose the bill for the relief of the protestant dissenters, he committed his sentiments to the press, and caused a copy to be sent the day before the debate to every lord of parliament. It is in the appendix to his Life, along with a paper on the same subject which he printed in 1778. In 1780 also he published in the same manner, “A Letter to the new Parliament, with hints of some regulations which the Nation hopes and expects from them.” This he considered as the last duty that he should ever be able to pay to his country; nor did he long survive it. His faculties remained perfect to the last, but he suffered much by a complication of disorders and weaknesses, from which he was released on Feb. 14, 1782. He was interred in the vaults of St. Paul’s, immediately under the south aile, and it was the intention of his widow to erect a monument in the church to his memory; but on applying to the trustees of the fabric for their permission, she found that the introduction of monuments into the cathedral was not then agreeable to them. Bow church was then fixed upon, and a fine piece of monumental sculpture, by Banks, was accordingly erected in the chancel, near the south side of the communion table, with a prose inscription, and some lines in poetry by Mrs. Carter.

A complete edition of his works was published in 1782,

| 3 vols. 4to, reprinted in 1787, in 6 vols. 8vo, to which is prefixed “Some account of his life, and anecdotes of several of his friends, written by himself,” a narrative which well deserves to be printed separately, as containing much ecclesiastical and political information, and many striking traits of character. The contents of the volumes are: 1. “Dissertations on the Prophecies,” the only part of his works which has since been reprinted separately “Thirty: dissertations, chiefly on some parts of the Old Testament” “Nine occasional Sermons” “Five Charges” and “Sixty dissertations, chiefly on some parts of the New Testament.” These dissertations, although they can never obtain the popularity of his work on the prophecies, contain many ingenious and acute remarks, but in a few of them his opinions are not strictly in unison with those of the church, as he seems inclined to the doctrine of universal redemption, and in endeavouring to maintain this, perplexes himself, as others have done, on the awful subject of the decrees of God. 1
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Life prefixed to his Works.