Ward, John

, a learned and useful writer, was born in London about 1679. His father was a dissenting minister of the same name, born at Tysoe, in Warwickshire, who married Constancy Rayner, a woman of extraordinary piety and excellence of temper, by whom he had fourteen children. She died in April 1697, when her funeral sermon was preached and printed by the Rev. Walter Crosse; and Mr. Ward survived her twenty years, dying Dec. 28, 1717, in the eighty-second year of his age. Of his numerous family he left only two, a daughter, and the subject of this article.

His son John appears to have early contracted a love for learning, and longed for a situation in which he could make | it his chief object. He was for some years a clerk in the navy office, and prosecuted iiis studies at his leisure hour* with great eagerness, and had the assistance of a Dr. John Ker, who appears to have been originally a physician, as he took his degree of M. D. at Leyden, but kept an academy at Highgate, and afterwards in St. John’s-square, Clerkenwell. Mr. Ward continued in the navy-office until 1710, when he resigned his situation, and opened a school in Tenter-alley, Moorfields, which he kept for many years, being more desirous, as he said, to converse even with boys upon subjects of literature, than to transact the ordinary affairs of life with men. In 1712, he became one of the earliest members of a society of gentlemen, who agreed to meet once a week, or as often as their affairs would permit, to prepare and read discourses, each in his turn, upon the civil law, and the law of nature and nations. In the prosecution of this laudable design, they went through the “Corpus Juris civilis,” Grotius “De Jure belli et pacis,” Puffendorff “De officio hominis et civis,” and ended with Cicero “De Officiis.” Some of the society were divines, and some lawyers; and as their affairs from time to time obliged any of them to leave the society, they were succeeded by others. But in order to preserve a perfect harmony and agreement among themselves, it was always a standing rule not to admit any new member, till he was first proposed by one of their number, and approved of by all the rest. This society, with some occasional interruptions, was kept up till Michaelmas-term 1742. Several of the members were afterwards persons of distinction both in church and state, and Mr. Ward continued highly esteemed among them while the society subsisted.

In 1712, he published a small piece in Latin, octavo, entitled “De ordine, sive de venusta et eleganti turn vocabulorum, turn membrorirm sentential collocatione,” &c. When Ainsworth was employed to compile an account of the antiquities collected by Mr. John Kemp, which he published under the title of “Monumenta Vetustatis Kempiana,” Mr. Ward furnished him with the descriptions and explanations of several of the statues and lares, and with the essay “De vasis et lucernis, de amuletis, de ann’uHs et fibulis,” and the learned commentary “De asse et par, tibus ejus,” which had been printed in 1719. About this time Mr. Ward was so eminent for his knowledge of polite | literature, as well as antiquities, that on Sept. 1, 1720, he was chosen professor of rhetoric in Gresham college, and, on Oct. 28 following, made his inaugural oration there, “De usu et dignitate artis dicendi.” Gresham-college was then in existence, and the appointment to a professorship a matter of some consequence; but after the venerable building was pulled down, and the lecturers removed to a paltry room in the Royal Exchange, the public ceased to take any interest in them.

In 1723, he published a Latin translation of the eighth edition of Dr. Mead’s celebrated “Discourse of the Plague,

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that author not approving of the translation of the first edition by Maittaire, which was never printed. In the same year Mr. Ward was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, of which he became a vice-president in 1752, and continued in that office until his death. In 1724, he subjoined to an edition of Vossius’s “Elementa Rhetorica,” printed at London, a treatise “De Ratione interpungendi,” containing a system of clear and easy rules with regard to pointing, superior to what had before appeared on that subject/ In 1726, when Dr. Middleton published his dissertation “De Medicorum apud veteres Romanos degenlium conditione,” Ward answered it, at the suggestion of Mead, and a short controversy took place (See Middle­Ton), which has been already noticed. When Buckley was about to print his splendid edition of Thuanus, Mr, Ward translated his three letters to Dr. Mead into Latin. In 1732, at the request of the booksellers who were proprietors of Lily’s grammar, he gave a very correct edition of it, and in the preface a curious history of that work. The same year he contributed to Horsley’s “Britannia Romana” an “Essay on Peutinger’s table, so far as it relates to Britain.” He had also communicated many remarks to Horsley; and Ward’s copy, now in the British Museum, contains many ms corrections and additions.

In Feb. 1735-6, Mr. Ward was chosen a member of the society of antiquaries, and in 1747, being proposed by Roger Gale, esq. one of the vice-presidents, was elected director on the resignation of Dr. Birch, who, from an inflammation in his eyes, had been prevented for some months from performing the business of it; and in 1755 he was appointed one pf the vice-presidents, which office he held until his death. In 1736 he assisted Ainsworth in the publication of his Dictionary, and performed the same | service to the subsequent editors, as long as he lived. In this same year he became a member of the Society for the encouragement of Learning, by printing valuable books at their own expence. During its existence, which, for various reasons, was not long, Mr. Ward had the care of the edition of Maximus Tyrius, to which he contributed the prefatory dedication and in the preface to the edition of “Ælian de animalibus,” the editor Abraham Gronovius is full of acknowledgments to Mr. Ward for his assistance in that work. In Dec. 1740, his “Lives of the Professors of Gresham College” were published at London, in folio, a work which Dr. Birch justly pronounces a considerable addition to the literary history of our country *. Of this also there is a copy in the British museum, with considerable ms additions by the author.

In 1741 he translated into Latin the life of Dr. Arthur Johnston, for auditor Benson’s edition of that poet’s Latin version of the Psalms; and in 1750 he addressed a Latin letter to Dr. Wishart, principal of the university of Edinburgh, which was the year following added to the principal^ edition of Volusenus, or Wilson, “De animi tranquillitate.” This probably led to the degree of doctor of laws, which the university of Edinburgh conferred upon Mr. Ward the same year. On the establishment of the British museum in 1753, Dr. Ward was elected one of the trustees, in which office he was singularly useful by his assiduous attendance, advice, and assistance in the formation of that establishment, and the construction of rules for rendering it a public benefit, which it is, however, now in a much higher degree than in Dr. Ward’s time.

In July 1754 he published a new edition of Camden’s “Greek Grammar” for Westminster school. The last work published by himself was his “Four Essays upon the English Longuage,” which appeared in June 1758.

He died in the eightieth year of his age, at his apartments at Gresham college, Oct. 31, 1758, and was interred in the dissenters’ burying ground in Bunhill-fields. He had prepared for the press his “System of Oratory, delivered in a course of lectures publicly read at Gresham college,” which was accordingly published in 1758, 2 vols.

* In the view of the college pre- tagonist, Dr Woodward, in the gatefixed to this work, Ward paid a sin- way, at the moment Woodward is gular compliment to his friend Dr. kneeling and laying his sword at the Mead, by introducing him. and his an- feet of Dr. Mead.
| 8vo. Another posthumous work was published in 1761, entitled “Dissertations upon several passages of the Sacred Scriptures,” 8vo. On these Dr. Lardner published “Remarks,” which he introduces with a high compliment to the learning and piety of the deceased author. A second volume was published in 1774. The papers written by him, and communicated to the Royal Society, are numerous and valuable. They occur from No. 412 to vol. XLIX. He also contributed some to the Society of Antiquaries. He communicated to Mr. Vertne an account of a mosaic pavement found in Littlecote Park, to accompany the engraving, and was the author of the dedication, preface, and notes to Pine’s Horace. By the multitude and value of his works he attained great reputation, and, as we have seen, reached the highest literary honours.

As to his private character, Dr. Birch says that his piety was sincere and unaffected, and his profession as a Christian was that of a protestant dissenter, with a moderation and candour which recommended him to the esteem of those members of the established church who had the pleasure of his acquaintance or friendship. His modesty was equal to his learning, and his readiness to contribute to any work of literature was as distinguished as his abilities to do it. Dr. Lardner and Dr. Benson may be mentioned as acknowledging his assistance in their theological pursuits. 1

1 Life, written by J>. Birch, and published by Mr. Maty, 1766, 8ro. Nichols’s Bowyer.