Delany, Patkick

, a clergymnn of Ireland, of considerable celebrity in his day, was born in that kingdom about 1686. His fatiior lived as a servant in the family of sir John fennel, an [rish judge, and afterwards rented a small farm, in which situation he is supposed to have continued to his decease; for, when our author came to be in prosperous circumstances, he was advised by Dr. Swift not to take his parents out of the line of life they were fixed in, but to render them comfortable in it. At what place, and under whom, young Delany received his grammatical education, we are not able to ascertain; but at a proper age he became a sizer in Trinity college, Dublin; went through his academical course; took the customary degree*; and was cnosen, first a junior, and afterwards a senior fellow of the college. During this time he formed an intimacy with Dr. Swift; and it appears from several circumstances, that he was one of the dean of St. Patrick’s chief favourites. It is not unreasonable to conjecture, that, besides his considerable merit, it might be some general recommendation to him, that he readily entered into the dean’s playful disposition. He joined with Swift and Dr. Sheridan in writing or answering riddles, and in composing other slight copies of verses, the only design of which was to pass away the hours in a pleasant manner; and several of Mr. Delany’s exertions on these occasions may be seen in Swift’s works. These temporary amusements did not, however, interfere with our author’s more serious concerns. He applied vigorously to his studies, distinguished himself as a popular preacher, and was so celebrated as a tutor, that by the benefit of his pupils, and ijis senior fellowship, with all its perquisites, he received | every year between nine hundred and a thousand pounds. In 1724 an affair happened in the college of Dublin, with regard to which Dr. Delany is represented as having been guilty of an improper interference. Two under-graduates having behaved very insolently to the provost, and afterwards refusing to make a submission for their fault, wefe both of them expelled. On this occasion Dr. Delany took the part of the young men, and (as it is said) went so far as to abuse the provost to his face, in a sermon at the college-chapel. Whatever may have been his motives, the result of the matter was, that the doctor was obliged to give satisfaction to the provost, by an acknowledgement of the otfence. Our author’s conduct in this affair, which had been displeasing to the lord primate Boulter, might probably contribute to invigorate the opposition which the archbishop made to him on a particular occasion. In 1725 he was presented by the chapter of Christ-church, to the parish of St. John’s, in the city of Dublin, but without a royal dispensation he could not keep his fellowship with his new living. Archbishop Boulter, therefore, applied to the duke of Newcastle, to prevent the dispensation from being granted. In 1727 Dr. Delany was presented by the university of Dublin to a small northern living, of somewhat better than one hundred pounds a year; and about the same time, lord Carteret promoted him to the chancellorship of Christ-church, which was of equal value. Afterwards, 1730, his excellency gave him a prebend in St. Patrick’s cathedral, the produce of which did not exceed either of the other preferments. In 1729 Dr. Delany began a periodical paper, called “The Tribune,” which was continued through about twenty numbers. Soon after, our author engaged in a more serious and important work, of a theological nature, the intention of publishing which brought him to London in 1731; it had for title, “Revelation examined with candour,” the first volume whereof was published in 1732. This year appears to have been of importance to our author in a domestic as well as in a literary view; for on the 17th of July he married in England, Mrs. Margaret Tenison, a widow lady of Ireland, with a large fortune. On his return to Dublin, he manifested his regard to the university in which he was educated, and of which he had long been a distinguished member, by giving twenty pounds a year to be distributed among the students. In 1734 appeared the second volume | of “Revelation examined with candour,” and so favourable a reception did the whole work meet with, that a third edition was called for in 1735. In 1738 Dr. Delany published a 30th of January sermon, which he had preached at Dublin before the lord-lieutenant, William duke of Devonshire. It was afterwards inserted in the doctor’s volume upon social duties. In the same year appeared one of the most curious of Dr. Delany’s productions, which was a pamphlet entitled, “Reflections upon Polygamy, and the encouragement given to that practice in the scriptures of the Old Testament.” This subject, however, has since been more ably handled by the late ingenious Mr. Badcock, in the two fine articles of the Monthly Review relative to Marian’s “Thelyphthora.” Dr. Deiany was led by his subject to consider in a particular manner the case of David; and it is probable, that he was hence induced to engage in examining whatever farther related to that great Jewish monarch. The result of his inquiries he published in “An historical account of the life and rei^n of David king of Israel.” The first volume of this work appeared in 1740, the second in 1712, and the third in the ame year. It would be denying Dr. Delany his just praise, were we not to say, that it is an ingenious and & learned performance. It is written witli spirit; there are some curious and valuable criticisms in it, and many of the remarks in answer to Bayle are well founded; but it has not been thought, on the whole, a very judicious production. It is not necessary to the honour of the sacred writings, or to the cause of revelation, to defend, or to palliate the conduct of David, in whatsoever respects he acted wrong. It is peculiar to the Scriptures, in the biographical parts, to exhibit warnings as well as examples.

Dr. Delany, on the 9tti of June 1743, married a second time. The lady with whom he formed this connexion was Mrs. Pendarves, the relict of Alexander Pen Janes, esq a very ingenious and excellent woman; of whom some account will be given in the next article. The doctor had lost his first wife December 6, 1741. March 13, 1744, our author preached a sermon before the society for promoting protestant working schools in Ireland. In May 1744, he was raised to the highest preferment which he ever attained, the deanry of Down, in the room of Dr. Thomas Fletcher, appointed to be bishop of Dro no re. In the same year, previously to this promotion, our author | published a volume of sermons upon social duties, fifteen in number, to which in a second edition, 1747, were added five more, on the opposite vices. This is the most useful of Dr. Delany’s performances; the objects to which rt relates being of very important and general concern. Dr. Delany’s next publication was not till 174-8, and that was only a sixpenny pamphlet. It was entitled “An Essay towards evidencing the divine original of Tythes,” and had at first been drawn up, and probably preached as a sermon. The text, rather a singular one, was the tenth commandment, which forbids us to covet any thing that is our neighbour’s; and it required some ingenuity to deduce the divine original of tithes from that particular prohibition. After an interval of six years, Dr. Delany again appeared in the world as an author, in answer to the earl of Orrery’s “Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Swift.” Many of Su ill’s zealous admirers were not a little displeased with the representations which the noble lord had given of him in various respects. Of this number was Dr. Delany, who determined therefore to do justice to the memory of his old friend; for which few were better qualified, having been in the habits of intimacy with the dean of St. Patrick’s, from his first coming over to Ireland, and long before lord Orrery could have known any thing concerning him. On the whole, it was thought that this production of the doctor’s enabled the public to form a far more clear estimation of the real character of the dean of St. Patrick’s, than any account of him which had hitherto been given to the world; yet perhaps the fairest estimate must be made by a comparison of both. However zealous Dr. Delany might be for the honour of his friend, he did not satisfy Deane Swift, esq. who, in his Essay upon the life, writings, and character of his relation, treated our author with extreme ill manners and gross abuse; to which he thought proper to give an answer, in a letter to Mr. Swift, published in 1755. In this letter the doctor justified himself; and he did it with so much temper and ingenuity, so much candour, and yet with so much spirit, that the polite gentleman, and the worthy divine, were apparent in every page of his little pamphlet. The year 1754 also produced another volume of sermons; the larger part of them are practical, and these are entitled to great commendation, particularly two discourses on the folly, iniquity, ad absurdity of duelling. | During this part of Dr. Delany’s life, he was involved in a law-suit of great consequence, and which, from its commencement to its final termination, lasted more than nine years. It related to the personal estate of his first lady; and although a shade was cast on his character by the decision of the Irish court of chancery, his conduct was completely vindicated by that decree being reversed in the house of lords in England. But he was not so deeply engaged in the prosecution of his law-suit as entirely to forget his disposition to be often appearing in. the world as an author. In 1757 he began a periodical paper called “The Humanist,” whicli was carried on through 15 numbers, and then dropped. In 1761 Dr. Delany published a tract, entitled “An humble apology for Christian Orthodoxy,” and several sermons. It was in 1763, after an interval of nearly thirty years from the publication of his former volumes, that he gave to the world the third and last volume of his “Revelation examined with candour.” In the preface the doctor has indulged himself in some peevish remarks upon Reviewers of works of literature; but from complaints of this kind few writers have ever derived any material advantage. With regard to the volume itself, it has been thought to exhibit more numerous instances of the prevalence of imagination, over judgment than had occurred in the former part of the undertaking. In 1766 Dr. Delany published a sermon against transubstantiation; which was succeeded in the same year by his last publication, which was a volume containing 18 discourses. Dr. Delany departed this life at Bath, in May 1763, in the 83d year of his age. Though in general he was an inhabitant of Ireland, it appears from several circumstances, and especially from his writings, almost all of which were published in London, that he frequently came over to England, and occasionally resided there for a considerable time. Of his literary character an estimate may be formed from what has been already said. With regard to two of his principal works, the “Revelation examined with candour,” and the “Life of David,” they contain so many fanciful ^ul doubtful positions, that all the ability and learning i.,i., played in them will scarcely suffice to hand them down, with any eminent degree of reputation, to future ages. It is on his sermons, and particularly on those which relate to social duties, that will principally depend the perpetuity of his fame. With | respect to his personal character, he appears to have been a gentleman of unquestionable piety and goodness, and of an uncommon warmth of heart. This warmth of heart was, however, accompanied with some inequality, impetuosity, and irritability of temper. Few excelled him in charity, generosity, and hospitality. His income, which for the last twenty years of his life was 3006J. per annum, sunk under the exercise of these virtues, and he left little behind him besides books, plate, and furniture. Of a literary diligence, protracted to above fourscore years, Dr. Delany has afforded a striking example; though it may possibly be thought, that if, wben his body and mind grew enfeebled, he had remembered the solve senescentem equum, it would hate been of no disadvantage to his reputation.

We shall conclude this article with an anecdote that has been related, to shew the characteristic absence of our author’s mind. In the reign of king George II. being desirous of the honour of preaching before his majesty, he obtained, from the lord chamberlain, or the dean of the chapel, the favour of being appointed to that office on the fifth Sunday of some month, being an extra-day, not supplied, e x qfficio, by the chaplains. As he was not informed of the etiquette, he entered the royal chapel after the prayers began, and, not knowing whither to go, crowded into the desk by the reader. The vesturer soon after was at a loss for the preacher, till, seeing a clergyman kneeling by the reader, he concluded him to be the man. Accordingly, he went to him, and pulled him by the sleeve. But Dr. Delany, chagrined at being interrupted in his devotions, resisted and kicked the intruder, who in vain begged him to come out, and said, “There was no text.” The doctor replied, that he had a text; nor could he comprehend the meaning, till the reader acquainted him, that he must go into the vestry, and write down the text (as usual) for the closets. When he came into the vestry, his hand shook so much that he could not write. Mrs. Delany, therefore, was sent for; but no paper was at hand. At last, on the cover of a letter, the text was transcribed by Mrs. Delany, and so carried up to the king and royal family. 1


Biog. Brit. Swift’s Works, passim; see Index. Some letters of his occur in Richardson’s Correspondence, vol. IV. and in —Gent. Mag. vol. LXXIV.