Busby, Richard

, the most eminent schoolmaster in his time, was the second son of Richard Busby, of the city of Westminster, gent, but born at Lutton in Lincolnshire, September 22, 1606. He received his education in Westminster-school, as a king’s scholar; and in 1624 was elected student of Christ Church. He took the degree of bachelor of arts Oct. 21, 1628; and that of master June 18, 1631; at which time he was esteemed a great master of the Greek and Latin tongues, and a complete orator. | Towards the expence of taking his degrees, a sum was honourably voted him by the vestry of St. Margaret, Westminster (in all 11l. 13s. 4d.) which he afterwards as honourably repaid, adding to it an annual sum towards the maintenance of the parish school. On the 1st of July 1639, he was admitted to the prebend and rectory of Cudworth, with the chapel of Knowle annexed, in the church of Wells; of which he lost the profits during the civil wars; but found means to keep his student’s place, and other preferment. He was appointed master of Westminster-school, December 13, 1640; in which laborious station he continued above fifty-five years, and bred up the greatest number of learned scholars that ever adorned any age or nation *. But he met with great uneasiness from the second master, Edward Bagshaw, who endeavoured to supplant him; but was himself removed out of his place for his insolence, in May 1658 (See Edward Bagshaw). After the restoration, Mr. Busby’s merit being noticed> his majesty conferred on him a prebend of Westminster, into which he was installed July 5, 1660; and the llth of August following, he was made treasurer and canon-residentiary of Wells. On October 19, 1660, he took the degree of D. D. At the coronation of king Charles II. April 1661, he carried the Ampulla. In the convocation, which met June 24, the same year, he was proctor for the chapter of Bath and Wells; and one of those who approved and subscribed the Common Prayer-Book. He gave two hundred and fifty pounds towards repairing and beautifying Christ Church college and cathedral; and intended, but never completed the foundation of two lectures in the same college, one for the Oriental languages, and another for the mathematics; but he left a stipend for a catechetical lecture, 10 be read in one of the parish churches in Oxford, by a member of Christ Church .

Many reflections, equally ungenerous and unjust, have been cast upon the universities, in both which Dr. Busby intended to have founded a catechetical lecture, for refusing to accept of his donation, by which refusal the church is said to have suffered, a circumstance of which the author of the Confessional was glad to avail himself, and who has been quoted as an autho­ rity in the second edition of the Biog. Britannica by editors of congenial sentiments. It appears, however, from the account of this affair given in Anthony Wood’s Life, that the institution was rejected solely on account of the terms and conditions annexed to it, which rendered it, at least, less agreeable to the universities, if not impossible to be accepted by them, consistently with their statutes. A. Wood’s Life, p. 314 318.


It was his boast that, at one time, sixteen out of the whole bench of bishops had been educated by him.

| contributed also to the repair of Lichfield church. As for his many other benefactions, they are not upon record, because they were done in a private manner. This great man, after a loBg, healthy, and laborious life, died April 6, 1695, aged eighty-nine, and was buried in Westminsterabbey, where there is a curious monument erected to him. He composed several books for the use of his school, as, 1. “A short institution of Grammar,” Cambr. 1647, 8vo. 2. “Juvenalis et Persii Satira?,” Lond. 1656, purged of all indecent passages. 3. “An English Introduction to the Latin Tongue,” Lond. 1659, &c. 8vo. 4. “Pvlartiaiis Epigrammata selecta,” Lond. 1661, 12mo. 5. “Grsecae Grammaticae Rudimenta,” Lond. 1663, 8vo. 6. “Nomenclatura Brevis Reformata, adjecto cum Syllabo Verborum et Adjectivorum,” At the end is printed “Duplex Centenarius Proverbiorum Anglo-Latino-Graecorum,” Lond. 1667, &c. 8vo. 7. “Ανθολογία δευτέρα: sive Græcorum Epigrammatum Florilegium novum,” Lond. 1673, &c. 8vo. 8. “Rudimentum Anglo-Latinum, Grammatica literalis et numeralis,” Lond. 1688, 8vo. 9. “Rudimentum Grammaticæ Græco-Latinæ Metricum,” Lond. 1689, 8vo.

As to his character, we are told by those who had the best opportunities of knowing him, that he was acquainted with all parts of learning, especially Philology; and of his skill in grammar, his works are sufficient proof. Notwithstanding his being the greatest master of it, he was the freest man in the world from that pedantic humour and carriage which hath made some of that profession ridiculous to the more sensible part of the world. No one ever trained up a greater number of eminent men, both in church and state, than himself; which was a plain demonstration of his uncommon skill and diligence in his profession. He extremely liked, and even applauded, and rewarded, wit in any of his scholars, though it reflected upon himself; of which many instances, are still remembered. We are farther told, that there was an agreeable mixture of seventy and sweetness in his manners; so that if his carriage was grave, it was at the same time full of good-nature, as his conversation was always modest and learned; but in his school he was extremely severe, and his character in this respect, probably exaggerated by tradition, is become almost proverbial. Several letters, however, from his scholars have been lately discovered, by which it appears that he was much beloved by them. His piety was unfeigned | and without affectation, and his steadfast zeal to the church^ and loyalty to the crown, were eminent, and not without trials in the worst of times. But his greatest virtue was chanty; in the discharge of which none ever took more care that his right hand should not know what his left did. As to his constitution of body, he was healthy to such a degree, that his old age proved altogether free from those diseases and infirmities which most commonly attend other persons: and as this was the consequence and reward of his chastity, sobriety, and temperance, so he spent this bodily strength altogether upon his indefatigable labours, in the education of youth in Westminster-school; which he never remitted till he was released of it by death, ‘to which he submitted with the utmost constancy and patience. Mr. Seward informs us that he is said not to have allowed notes to any classical author that was read at Westminster. According to the late Dr. Johnson, Busby used to declare that his rod was his sieve, and that whoever J c’ould not pass through that was no boy for him. He early discovered the genius of Dr. South, lurking, perhaps, under idleness and obstinacy. “I see,” said he, “great talents in that sulky boy, and I shall endeavour to bring them out,” which he is said to have effected by means of very great severity. When the rev. Philip Henry, who was one of his scholars, requested leave to attend the nonconformist morning lecture at Westminster abbey, Busby granted his, or rather his mother’s request, but did not suffer him to abate any part of his school-tasks. Henry says he never punished him but once, and that for telling a lie, and appointed him also to make a penitential copy of Latin verses, which When he brought, he gave him sixpence, and received him 'into favour. Henry farther informs us of the great pains Dr. Busby took with his scholars when they were to partake of the sacrament. When afterwards Henry was ejected for non-conformity, his old master said, “Prithee, child, who made” thee a non-conformist?“to which Henry answered,” Truly, sir, you made me one, for you taught me those things that hindered me from conforming.“Many of Busby’s witticisms are in circulation. His biographers give us the following: Once, in a large company, he sat at table between Mrs. South and Mrs. Sherlock, when the conversation turned upon wives. Dr. Busby said that he believed wives, in general, were good;” though, to be sure, there might be a | bad one here, and a bad one there." The late Mr. Duncombe informed the editors of the Biographia Brit, that the face on Dr. Busby’s monument is said to have been copied from a cast taken after his death, as he would never sit for his picture; if so, whence came the portraits of him in Christ Church, Oxford? 1


Biog. Brit.—Ath. Ox. vol. II.—Nichols’s Life and Correspondence of Atterbury.—Life of Philip Henry, edit. 1712—Seward’s Anecdotes.—Malone’s Dryden, vol. I. 13, and II. 13.—Inquiries into the family of, Gent. Mag. :XV. p. 15.