Forster, Nathaniel

, an English divine and scholar of eminence in the last ceatury, was born Feb. 3, 1717, at | Stadscombe, in the parish of Plimstock, Devonshire, of which his father, Robert Forster, was then minister. His mother, Elizabeth, was daughter of the rev. John Tindal, vicar of Cornwood, in the same county, and sister of the rev. Nicolas Tindal, translator of Rapin’s History. His father, soon after the birth of this his eldest child, being chosen lecturer to St. Andrew’s church at Plymouth, went thitherto reside, and continued in the same place and office till his death. His son, the subject of this article, having received the rudiments of a grammatical education at home, in which he made an early progress, was put under the tuition of the rev. John Bedford, master of the grammar-school at Plymouth; and of this numerous seminary he had gained the first place before he was thirteen years old. In 1731-2 he was removed to Eton, and at the same time entered at Pembroke college, Oxford, in order to entitle him to an exhibition. After passing about sixteen months at Eton, while Dr. George was head-master, he went to college, and became a pupil of Dr. Radcliffe. On June 13, 1733, he was admitted scholar of Corpus Christi, where Dr. Burton was tutor. In 1729 he became fellow; and afterwards took the care of pupils himself as assistant to Mr. Paget, but was disappointed in his wishes of succeeding that gentleman as the college tutor, Mr. Patten being appointed by the president to that office. He was admitted to the degree of B. A. Oct. 13, 1735; to that f M. A. Feb. 10, 1738, and to that ‘of B. D. April 9, 1746, as soon as his standing allowed, in order to preserve hie seniority in college. His degree of D. D. was deferred till 1750, the time of his leaving the university. In 1739 he received deacon’s orders from Dr. Wynne, bishop of Bath and Wells, and priest’s orders from Dr. Hoadly, bishop of Winchester.

His first preferment in the church was the small rectory of Hethe in Oxfordshire, which was given him July 6, 1749, by the lord chancellor Hardwicke, on the recommendation of one of his earliest friends, Dr. Seeker, bishop of Oxford, and afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. By him he was also introduced to the notice of Dr. Butler, then bishop of Bristol, to whom, in 1750, he became domestic chaplain, when that prelate was translated to the see of Durham. In this situation he continued till the death of his new patron, which took place before he had &n opportunity of conferring upon Dr, Forster any mark of | Ins affection and esteem. The bishop, however, who died in his arms at Bath, bequeathed him a legacy of 200l. and appointed him executor of his will. He now returned to college, determining to obliterate the remembrance of his disappointments by a renewed application to his studies. But he was very soon called forth again, and appointed, in July 1752, one of the chaplains to Dr. Herring, archbishop of Canterbury. In Feb. 1754 he was promoted by the lord chancellor Hardwicke to the prebendal stall in the church of Bristol; and in the autumn of the same year the archbishop gave him the valuable vicarage of Rochdale, in Lancashire. He was admitted fellow of the royal society in May 1765. In May 1756 he was sworn one of the chaplains to his late majesty, George II. and through the interest of lord Roystou, was appointed by sir Thomas Clarke to succeed Dr. Terrick, in the summer of 1757, as preacher at the Rolls chapel. In August 1757, he married Susan, relict of John Balls, esq. of the city of Norwich, a lady of great merit, and possessed of a considerable fortune. Upon his marriage he hired a house in Craig’s court, Westminster, where, after a short illness, he died on Oct. 20, foJlowing, in the forty-first year of his age, leaving no issue. His widow afterwards married Philip Bedingfield, esq. of Ditchingham, in Norfolk. His body was interred in St. Martin’s church, Westminster, and a monument was erected to his memory by his widow, in the cathedral church of Bristol, with an elegant Latin inscription, written by his friend Dr. Hayter, then bishop of Norwich.

To the number of his friends, who were at all known in the learned world, besides those already mentioned, may be added the rev. Zachary Mudge, author of a translation of the Psalms, and a volume of sermons Dr. Burton, Dr. Bentham, Dr. Benson, bishop of Gloucester and his great successor, Dr. Warburton, with the last of whom he occasionally held a literary correspondence. In private life, Dr. Forster was a man of much discernment, mildness, and benevolence. He always shewed his contempt of what was absurd, and his abhorrence of what he thought wicked, in a manner the most likely to produce a good effect on those whom he wished to convince or reform; at the same time with the most perfect command of his temper. By an uniform application to study, he acquired and deserved the character of very considerable erudition, and | great critical acumen; possessing a knowledge of the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew languages, not exceeded by any man of his time.

Dr. Forster published, 1. “Reflections on the natural antiquity of government, arts, and sciences, in Egypt,Oxford, 1743. 2. “Platonis dialogi quinque, Recensuit, notisque iilustravit, N. Forster, A. M. &c.” ibid. 1745. This is a very correct text of the Amatores, Euthyphro, Apologia Socratis, Criton, and Phaedo; and this edition of 1745 is preferred to those of 1752, and 1765, afterwards published. 3. “Appendix Liviana, continens, 1. ‘ Selectas codicum Mss. et editionum antiquaruru lectiones, prsecipuas variorum emendationes, et supplementa lacunarum in iis T. Livii qui supersunt libris; 2. J. Freinshewiii supplementorum lib. decem in locum decadis secundac Livianae deperdittp,’” ibid. 1746. This was a joint publication of Dr, Forster and another fellow of Corpus college, and was published without a name. 4. “Popery destructive of the evidence of Christianity.; a sermon before the university of Oxford, Nov. 5, 1746,” ibid. 1746. 5. “A Dissertation upon the account supposed to have been give*i of Jesus Christ by Josephus: being an attempt to show that this celebrated passage, some slight corruptions only excepted, may reasonably be esteemed genuine,” ibid. 1749. The criticism contained in this dissertation is allowed to be ingenious, even by Mr. Bryant, who, in deciding the controversy, defended the passage as it stands. Bishop Warburton’s opinion of it was still more favourable, as appears by his testimony to the author’s “abilities, candour, and address,” in his Julian, p. 93; and by part of a letter of his to Dr. Forster, in which, after having noticed some judicious observations of Dr. Forster, made on his Julian in manuscript, Warburton says, “I have often wished for a hand capable of collecting all the fragments remaining of Porphyry, Celsus, Hierocles, and Julian, and giving them to us with a just, critical, and theological comment, as a ‘ Defy to Infidelity.’ It is certain we want something more than what their ancient answerers have given us. This would be a very noble work. I know of none that has all the talents fit for it but yourself. What an opening will this give to all the treasures of sacred and profane antiquity and what an opportunity would this be of establishing a great character The author of the dissertation on the passage of Josephus (which I think the | best piece of criticism of this age) would shine here. Think of it: you cannot do a more useful thing to religion or your own character. Controversies of the times are things that presently vanish. This will be always of the same importance.” (Dated Oct. 15, 1749.) 6. “Biblia Hebraica, sine punctis,” Oxon. 1750, 2 vols. 4to. 7. “Remarks on the rev. Dr. Stebbing’s Dissertation on the power of states to deny civil protection to the Marriages of Minors, &c.” Lond. 1755. 1


Biog. Brit. vol. VI. Part. I. unpublished.