Wren, Matthew

, eldest son of the preceding, was born Aug. 20, 1629, at Peter- house, Cambridge, ut which time his father was master of that college. His first education was in that university, heing admitted of St. Peter’s-college in 1642, whence he removed to Oxford, where he was a student, not in a college or hall, but in a private house, as he could not conform to the principles or practises of the persons who then had the government of the university. At the restoration‘ he was elected burgess of St. Michael in Cornwall, in the parliament which began May8, 1661, and was appointed secretary to the earl of Clarendon, lord high chancellor of England, who visiting the university of Oxford, of which he was chancellor, in Sept. 1661, Mr. Wren was there created master of arts. | He was one of the first members of the Royal Society, when they began their weekly meetings at London, in 166O. After the fall of his patron, the earl of Clarendon, he became secretary to James duke of York, in whose service he continued till his death, June 11, 1672, in the fortythird year of his age. He was interred in the same vault with his father, in the chapel of Pembroke- hall, Cambridge. He wrote, 1. “Considerations on Mr. Harrington’s Commonwealth of Oceana, restrained to the first part of the preliminaries, London, 1657,” in 8vo. To this book is prefixed a long letter of our author to Dr. John Wilkins, warden of Wadham-college in Oxford, who had desired him to give his judgment concerning Mr. Harrington’s “Oceana.” Harrington answered this work in the first book of his “Prerogative of popular government,1658, 4to, in which he reflects on Mr. Wren as one of those virtuosi, who then met at Dr. Wilkins’ a lodgings at Wad ham- college, the seminary of the Royal Society, and describes them as an assembly of men who “had an excellent fcculty of mag^ nifying a louse, and diminishing a commonwealth.” Mr. Wren replied in 2, “Monarchy asserted; or, the State of Monarchical and Popular Government, in vindication of the considerations on Mr. Harrington’s * Oceana,’ London, 1659,” in 8vo. Harrington’s rejoinder was an indecent piece of buffoonery, entitled “Politicaster i or, a Comical Discourse in^answer to Mr. Wren’s book, entitled ‘ Monarchy asserted, &c.’1659, 4to. Sir Edward Hyde, after^ wards earl of Clarendon, in a letter to Dr. John Barwick, dated at Brussels the 25th of July, 1659, and printed in the appendix to the doctor’s “Life,” was very solicitous, that Mr. Wren should undertake a confutation of Hobbes’s “Leviathan:” “I hope,” says he, “it is only modesty in Mr. Wren, that makes hirn pause upon undertaking the work you have recommended to him; for I dare swear, by what I have seen of him, he is very equal to answer every part of it: I mean, every part that requires an answer. Nor is there need of a professed divine to vindicate the Creator from making man a verier beast than any of those of the field, or to vindicate scripture from his licentious interpretation. I dare say, he will find somewhat in Mr. Hobbes himself, I mean, in his former books, that contradicts what he sets forth in this, in that part in which he takes himself to be most exact, his beloved philosophy. And sure there is somewhat due to Aristotle and Tuily, and to our | universities, to free them from his reproaches; and it is high time, if what I hear be true, that some tutors read his Leviathan, instead of the others, to their pupils. Mr. Hobbes is my old friend, yet I cannot absolve him from the mischiefs he hath done to the king, the church, the laws, and the nation; and surely there should be enough to be said to the politics of that man, who, having resolved all religion, wisdom, and honesty, into an implicit obedience to the laws established, writes a book of policy, which, I may be bold to say, must be, by the established laws of any kingdom or province in Europe, condemned for impious and seditious: and therefore it will be very hard if the fundamentals of it be not overthrown. But I must ask both yours and Mr. Wren’s pardon for enlarging so much, and antedating those animadversions he will make upon it.

Besides the above works, Mr. Wren wrote a kind of historical essay “On the origin and progress of the revolutions in England,” printed in vol. I. of Mr. Gutch’s ‘’Collectanea Curiosa," 1731, from a transcript in the hand-writing of archbishop Bancroft. 1

1

Gen. Dict. Parontalia. Birch’s Hist, of the Royal Society. Cole’s ms. Athens in Brit. Mus.