Sacheverell, Henry

, D. D. a man whose history affords a very striking example of the folly of party spirit, was the son of Joshua Sacheverell of Marlborough, clerk, who died rector of St. Peter’s church in Marlborough, leaving a numerous family in very low circumstances. By a letter to him from his uncle, in 1711, it appears that he had a brother named Thomas, and a sister Susannah. Henry was put to school at Marlborough, at the charge of Mr. Edward Hearst, an apothecary, who, being his godfather, adopted him as his son. Hearst’s widow put him afterwards to^Magdalen-college, Oxford, | where he became demy in 1687, at the age of 15. Here he Sochi distinguished himself by a regular observation of the duties of the house, by his compositions, good manners, and genteel behaviour; qualifications which recommended him to that society, of which he became fellow, and, as public tutor, had the care of the education of most of the young gentlemen of quality and fortune that were admitted of the college. In this station he had the care of the education of a great many persons eminent for their learning and abilities; and was contemporary and chamberfellow with Addison, and one of his chief intimates till the time of his famous trial. Mr. Addison’s “Account of the greatest English' Poets,” dated April 4, 1694, in a farewell-poem to the Muses on his intending to enter into holy orders, was inscribed <c to Mr. Henry Sacheverell,“his then dearest friend and colleague. Much has been said by Sacheverell’s enemies of his ingratitude to his relations, and of his turbulent behaviour at Oxford; but these appear to have been groundless calumnies, circulated only by the spirit of party. In his younger years he wrote some excellent Latin poems, besides several in the second and third volumes of the” Mus as Anglicanae,“ascribed to his pupils; and there is a good one of some length in the second volume, under his own name (transcribed from the Oxford collection, on queen Mary’s death, 1695). He took the degree of M. A. May 16, 1696; B. D. Feb. 4, 1707; D. D. July 1, 1708. His first preferment was Cannock, or Cank, in the county of Stafford. He was appointed preacher of St. Saviour’s, Southwark, in 1705; and while in this station preached his famous sermons (at Derby, Aug. 14, 1709; and at St. Paul’s, Nov. 9, in the same year) and in one of them was supposed to point at lord Godolphin, under the name of Volpone. It has been suggested, that to this circumstance, as much as to the doctrines contained in his sermons, he was indebted for his prosecution, and eventually for his preferment. Being impeached by the House of Commons, his trial began Feb. 27, 1709-10; and continued until the 23d of March: when he was sentenced to a suspension from preaching for three years, and his two sermons ordered to be burnt. This prosecution, however, overthrew the ministry, and laid the foundation of his fortune. To sir Simon Harcourt, who was counsel for him, he presented a silver bason gilt, with an elegant inscription, written probably by his friend Dr. | Alterbury.* Dr. Sacheverell, during his suspension, made a kind of triumphal progress through various parts of the kingdom; during which period he was collated to a living near Shrewsbury; and, in the same month that his suspension ended, had the valuable rectory of St. Andrew’s, Holborn, given him by the queen, April 13, 1713. At that time his reputation was so high, that he was enabled to sell the first sermon preached after his sentence expired (on Palm Sunday) for the sum of 100l.; and upwards of 40,000 copies, it is said, were soon sold. We find by Swift’s Journal to Stella, Jan. 22, 1711-12, that he had also interest enough with the ministry to provide very amply for one of his brothers; yet, as the dean had said before, Aug. 24, 1711,” they hated and affected to despise him.“A considerable estate at Callow in Derbyshire was soon after left to him by his kinsman George Sacheverell, esq. In 1716, he prefixed a dedication to” Fifteen Discourses, occasionally delivered before the university of Oxford, by W. Adams, M. A. late student of Christ-church, and rector of Staunton upon Wye, in Oxfordshire.“After this publication, we hear little of him, except by quarrels with his parishioners. He died June 5, 1724; and, by his will, bequeathed to Bp. Atterbury, then in exile, who was supposed to have penned for him the defence he made before the House of Peers ,

This speech, when originally published, was thus addressed, “To the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled;

May it please your Lordships,

It hath baen my hard fortune to be

misunderstood, at a time when I endeavoured to express myself with the utmost plainness; even the defence I made at your Lordships’ bar, in hopes of clearing the innocence of my heart, hath beeu grievously misrepresented. For which reason I have humbly presumed to offer it in this manner to your Lordships’ perusal. My Lords, these are the very words I spoke to your Lordships. I hope they are so plain and express, as not to be capable of any misconstruction: and may I so find mercy at the hands of God as they are in every respect entirely agreeable to my thoughts and principles! I am, my Lords, your Lordships’ most obedient and most dutiful servant, Henry Sacheverell.”

the sum of 500l. The duchess of
*

“Viro honoratissimo, Universi Juris oraculo, Ecclesiæ & Regni presidio & ornamento, Simoni Harcourt, Equiti Aurato, Magnæ Britanniæ Sigilli Magni Custodi, et Serenissimæ Reginæ è Secretioribus consiliis; ob causam meam, coram Supremo Senatu, in Aula Westmenasteriensi, nervosa cum facundia & subacta legum scientia, benignè & constanter defensam; ob priscam Ecclesisæ doctrinam, inviolandam Legum vim, piam Subditorum fidem, et sacrosancta Legum jura, contra nefarios Perduellium impetus feliciter vindicata; Votivum hoc Munusculum Gralitudinis ergo D. D. D. Henriccs Sacheverell,! S. T. P. Aiiuo Salutis MDCCX.”

| Maryborough describes Sacheverell as” an ignorant impudent incendiary; a man who was the scorn even of those who made use of him as a tool.“And Bp. Burnet says,” He was a bold insolent man, wiih a very small measure of religion, virtue, learning, or good sense; but he resolved to force himself into popularity and preferment, by the most petulant railings at dissenters and low-church men, in several sermons and libels, written without either chasteness of style or liveliness of expression." Whatever his character, it is evident that he owed every thing to an injudicious prosecution, which defeated the purposes of those who instituted it, and for many years continued those prejudices in the public mind, which a wiser administration w r ould have been anxious to dispel. 1
1

Gent. Mag. see Index.—Swift’s Works.—Rapin’s Hist.—Burnet’s Own Times.—Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian, with notes, edit. 1806.—&c. &c.