Foster, John

, an excellent classic scholar, was born in 1731, at Windsor, the propinquity of which to Eton was, fortunately for him, the motive for sending him to that college for education, where, at a very early age, he manifested great abilities, and, in an uncommon manner, baffled all the hardships which other boys in their progress usually encounter. He, however, had two considerable advantages the first, being received as a pupil by the late rev. Septimius Plumptree, then one of the assistants and the second, that he was -noticed by the reverend and very learned Dr. John Burton, vice-provost of Eton; by the abilities of the former in the Greek language, and of the latter in the Hebrew, Mr. Foster profited exceedingly. It | was a matter highly pleasing to them, that they did not throw their seed on a barren soil whatever instruction he received, he cultivated incessantly and it is but justice to add, that he in a great measure excelled his contemporaries. His learning and his sobriety recommended him to many friends while he continued at Eton, which was till 1748, when he was elected to King’s college in Cambridge; a college to which, as Mr. Pote observes in his advertisement to his " Registrum Regale,' 7 Eton annually sendeth forth her ripe fruit. Mr. Foster here improved himself under the provost Dr. Wm. George, an excellent Greek, and general scholar. At the expiration of three years he there (as usual) became a fellow, and shortly afterwards was sent for to Eton by the late Dr. Edward Barnard, to be one of his assistants. Great honour was sure to attend Mr. Foster from this summons, for no man distinguished better, or could form a stronger judgment of his abilities and capacity, than Dr. Barnard: and such was his attention to the school, that he made it his primary consideration, that it should be supplied with assistants the most capable and the most deserving. At the resignation of this great master, which happened Oct. 25, 1765, when he was chosen provost on the death of Dr. Sleech, he exerted his whole interest for Dr. Foster to succeed him in the mastership, and by his weight in the college he carried his point. But it did not prove fortunate for his successor, or for the seminary; the temper, the manner, the persuasion, the politeness, the knowledge of the world, which Dr. Barnard so eminently displayed, did not appear in his successor. His learning justly entitled him to the situation; but learning is not the sole ingredient to constitute the master of such a school; more, much more, is required and Dr. Foster appeared to the greater disadvantage, from immediately succeeding so great a man. Nor could he long support himself in his situation his passions undermined his health and, notwithstanding his abilities as a scholar, his government was defective, his authority insufficient, and he judged it best to resign, that he might not destroy a fabric which he found himself unequal to support. Dr. Foster, however, did not retire unrewarded; his majesty, on the death of Dr. Sumner in 1772, bestowed on him a canonry of Windsor. But this he did not long enjoy; his ill health carried him to the German Spa, where he died in September the year following, and where his remains | were interred; but afterwards were removed to Windsor, and deposited near those of his father, who had been mayor of that corporation.

The following epitaph, composed by himself, is to be seen on a neat tomb erected m the church-yard of that place: the conception and expression of it, in themselves conveying a high notion of his talents.

"Hie jaceu

Johannes Foster, S. T. P.

Vindesoriae natus anno Domini 1731

Obii anno 1773.

Literas, quarum rudimcnta Etonae hauseram,

Cantabrigiæ in Coll. Kcgali excolui,

Etonæ postea docui.

Qui fuerim, ex hoc marmore cognosces,

Qualis vcro, cognosces alien bi

Eo scilicet supremo tempore,

Quo egomet, qunlis et tu fneris, cognoscam.

Abi viator, et foe se’dulu

Ut ibidem bonus ip?e tune appareas."

Dr. Foster published “An Essay on the different nature of Accent and Quantity, with their use and application in the pronunciation of the English, Latin, and Greek Languages; containing, an account and explanation of the ancient tones, and a defence of the present system of Greek accentual marks, against the objections of Isaac Vossius, Henninius, Sarpedonius, Dr. Gaily, and others.” In this learned Essay, which sufficiently exalted his character as a scholar, not only Bentleian acuteness and variety of learning are conspicuous, but justness of composition, elegance united with spirit, and ingenuous and exemplary candour. It was printed for Pote in 1762. Several exercises of the doctor’s are extant in ms. which also do him peculiar honour. 1


Nichols’s Bowyer. —Gent. Mag, lodex.Harwood’s Alumni Etonensw,