Harris, John

, the first compiler of a “Dictionary of Arts and Sciences” in this country, was born about 1667, and received his education at St. John’s college, in the university of Cambridge, where he took the degree of B. A. in 1687, and that of master in 1691. Having taken orders in the church, he obtained considerable preferments. He was first instituted into the rectory of Barming, which he resigned for St. Mildred, Bread-street, London; he had also the perpetual curacy of Stroud, near Rochester, in Kent, and he was prebendary of Rochester cathedral. He was a fellow, secretary, and vice-president to the royal society. In 1698 he preached the course of Boyle’s lectures, which was published (see Collection of Boyle’s Lectures, Feb. 1739, vol. I. p. 356—425); and in the next year he took the degree of D. D. Dr. Harris also published several single sermons, viz. a sermon on the Fast, 1701, with another on the Fast, 1703, 4to; a sermon entitled < The Modest Christian’s Duty as to indifferent things in the worship of. God,“1705, 4to; another on” The | lawfulness and use of Public Fasting,“1706, 4to;” The evil and mischief of a Fiery Spirit,“a sermon published in 1710, 4to another on the Rebellion in 1715, 8vo; and a sermon on the Accession, 1715, 4-to. He also published a” Collection of Voyages and Travels, with a number of engravings,“afterwards improved and republished by Dr. Campbell a” Treatise on the Theory of the Earth,“in 1697 a” Treatise on Algebra,“in 1702 a” Translation of Pardie’s Geometry into English,“2d edit. 1702. At this time it appears that Dr. Harris” lived and taught mathematics at his house in Amen-Corner.“He published also,” Astronomical Dialogues,“the third edition of which appeared in 1795; but the work for which he was most eminently distinguished, and which entitles him to honourable notice, was his” Lexicon Technicum,“or” An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences,“in 2 vols. fol. published in 1708; from which originated all the other dictionaries of science and cyclopaedias that have since appeared. He was followed, at a considerable interval of time, in this department of literature, by Mr. Ephrairn Chambers, whose Cyclopedia, with all the improvements it has received, has long maintained distinguished reputation. We are concerned to be obliged to add, that though Dr. Harris was a man of unquestionable abilities and attainments, and of great literary application, he was chargeable with culpable imprudence in his conduct, and notwithstanding the preferments he enjoyed, he was generally in distress. He died Sept. 7, 1719, leaving unfinished the 66 History of Kent,” which was published in folio soon after his death, and which, though it had engaged his attention, more or less, for eight years, is extremely inaccurate. Mr. Gough says (British Topography, vol. I. p. 445), “Dr t Harris died an absolute pauper at Norton-court, and was buried in Norton church, at the expence of John Godfrey, esq. who had been his very good friend and benefactor.1

1 Rees’s Cyclopædia.Gent. Mag. LXXXIV.Cole’s ms Athena Mus. Gouge’s Topography, Nichols’s Bowyer,