Carpenter, Richard

, a divine and poet of the seventeenth century, was educated at Eton college, and thence elected scholar of King’s college in Cambridge, in 1622. About three years after, he left England, and studied in Flanders, Artois, France, Spain, and Italy; and at length received holy orders at Rome from the hands of the pope’s substitute. Soon after, having taken upon him the order of St. Benedict, he was sent into England to make proselytes; in which employment he continued somewhat above a year, then returned to the protestant religion, and, through the archbishop of Canterbury’s interest, obtained the small vicarage of Poling by the seaside, near Arundel castle, in Sussex. Here he was exposed to the insults of the Romish party, particularly one Francis a S. Clara, living in that neighbourhood under the name of Hunt, who used to expose him to scorn before his parishioners. In the time, however, of the civil war, he quitted his living, retired to Paris, and reconciling himself to the Romish church, he made it his business to rail against the protestants. Afterwards, returning to England, he settled at Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, where he had some relations; and, being once more a protestant, he would often preach there in a very fantastical manner, to the great mirth of his auditors. He was living there in 1670; but before his death he returned a third time to popery, causing his pretended wife to embrace that persuasion; and in that faith he died. He was generally esteemed a man of an absurd character, one that changed his opinions as often as his cloaths, and, for his juggles and tricks in religion, a theological mountebank.

He published the following sermons: 1. “The perfect Law of God, being a sermon and no sermon, preached and yet not preached,1652, 8vo. 2. “Astrology proved harmless, useful, pious; on Gen. i. 14. ‘And let them be | for signs’,” Lond. 1657, 4to; dedicated to Elias Ashmole. At the end of the epistle dedicatory is Richard Carpenter’s picture, with a face looking towards him, out of the mouth of which issues a serpent, and out of the serpent’s mouth fire. Underneath are written these words: “Ricardus Carpenterus porcello cuidam Gerasenorum, scilicet in omnia præcipiti, fluctibusque devoto, eidem porco loquaci pariter et minaci mendacique indicit silentium, et obmutescit.” 3. “Rome in her fruits,” preached the 1st of November 1662, near the Standard in Cheapside; in ansuer to a pamphlet entitled Reasons why the Roman Catholics should not be persecuted,“Lond. 1663, 4to, on Matth. vii. 16. There is extant by the same author, a treatise entitled” Experience, History, and Divinity, in five books,“Lond. 16’I2, 8vo, dedicated to the parliament then, sitting; with his picture before it. This book was republished in 1648, under the title of” The Downfall of Antichrist.“It contains several particulars of his personal history, and exposes many of the practices of the Romish missionaries, but the style, as in all his works, is quaint and extravagant. Granger thinks he must have studied the Spanish romances to produce the following beauty, prefixed to the list of errata:I humbly desire all cleanhearted and right-spirited people, who shall readc this book (which because the prosse was oppressed, seems to have been suppressed, when it was by little and little impressed; but now at least hath pressed through the presse into the publicke) first to restore it by correcting the following errata.“His comedy, called” The pragmatical Jesuit,“came out after the Restoration. The picture before it represents him in.a very genteel lay-habit; whereas that before his” Experience," &c. exhibits him in the dress of a formal clergyman, with a mortified countenance. Mr. Langbainc speaks with some commendation of this play. 1


Biog. Brit.—Biog. Dramatica.—Ath. Ox. vol. I.—Alumni Eton. p. 223.— Granger.—Dodd’s Church History.