Holder, William

, a learned English philosopher, was born in Nottinghamshire, educated in Pembroke hall, Cambridge, and, in 1642, became rector of Blechingdon, Oxfordshire. In 1660 he proceeded D. D. was afterwards canon of Ely, fellow of the royal society, canon of St. Paul’s, sub-dean of the royal chapel, and sub-almoner to his majesty. He gained particular celebrky by teaching a young gentleman of distinction, who was born deaf and dumb, to speak, an attempt at that time unprecedented. This gentleman’s name was Alexander Popham, son of colonel Edward Popham, uho was some time an admiral in the service of the long parliament. The cure was performed by him in his house at Blechingdon, in 1659; but Popham, losing what he had been taught by Holder, after he was called home to his friends, was sent to Dr. Wallis, who brought him to his speech again. On this subject Holder published a book entitled “The Elements of Speech; an essay of inquiry into the natural production of letters: with an appendix concerning persons that are deaf and dumb,1669, 8vo. In the appendix he relates how soon, and by what methods, he brought Popham to speak. In this essay he has analysed, dissected, and classed the letters of our alphabet so minutely and clearly, that it is well worthy the attentive perusal of every lover of philology, but particularly, says Dr. Burney, of lyric poets and composers of vocal music; to whom it will point out such harsh and untunable combinations of letters and syllables as from their difficult utterance impede and corrupt the voice in its passage. In 1678 he published, in 4to, “A Supplement to the Philosophical Transactions of July 1670, with some Reflections on Dr. Wailis’s Letter there inserted.” This was written to claim the glory of having taught Popham to speak, which Wallis in the letter there mentioned had claimed to himself: upon which the doctor soon after published, “A Defence of the Royal Society and the Philosophical Transactions, particularly those of July 1670, in answer to the cavils of Dr. William Holder,1678,“4to. Holder was skilled in the theory and practice of music, | and composed some anthems, three or four of which are preserved in Dr. Tud way’s collection in the British museum. In 1694 he publishedA Discourse concerning Time,“in which, among other things, the deficiency of the Julian Calendar was explained, and the method of reforming it demonstrated, which was afterwards adopted in the change of style. It is to be lamented that in treating this subject with so much clearness and ability, so good a musician did not extend his reflections on the artificial parts of time, to its divisions and proportions in musical measures; a subject upon which the abbate Sacchi has written in Italian,” Del Tempo nella Musica;" but which rhythmically, or metrically considered in common with poetry, has not yet been sufficiently discussed in our own language.

The same year was published by Dr. Holder, “A Treatise on the natural grounds of Harmony,” in which the propagation of sound, the ratio of vibrations, their coincidence in forming consonance, sympathetic resonance, or sons harmoniyites, the difference between arithmetical, geometrical, and harmonic proportions, and the author’s opinion concerning the music of the ancients, to whom he denies the use of harmony, or music in parts, are all so ably treated, and clearly explained, that this book may be read with profit and pleasure by most practical musicians, though unacquainted with geometry, mathematics, and harmonics, or the philosophy of sound. This book is said, in the introduction, to have been drawn up chiefly for the sake and service of the gentlemen of the chapel royal, of which he was sub-dean, and in which, as well as other cathedrals to which his power extended, he is said to have been a severe disciplinarian; for, being so excellent a judge and composer himself, it is natural to suppose that he would be the less likely to tolerate neglect and ignorance in the performance of the choral service. Michael Wise, who perhaps had fallen under his lash, used to call him Mr. Snub-dean. Dr. Holder died at Amen Corner, London, Jan. 24, 1696-7, and was buried in St. Paul’s, with his wife, who was only sister to sir Christopher Wren. Dr. Holder had a considerable share in the early education of that afterwards eminent architect. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. II. Wa’d’s Lives of the Gresham Professors. Letters from the Bodleian Library, 3 vols. 8vo, 1813. Reed’s Cyclopædia.