Marsh, Narcissus

, an exemplary Irish prelate, was descended from a Saxon family, formerly seated in Kent, whence his great-grandfather removed; and was born at Hannington, in Wiltshire, Dec. 20, 1638. He received the first rudiments of learning in his native place; and being there well fitted for the university, was admitted of Magdalen-hall, in Oxford, in 1654. He became B. A. in 1657, master in 16 60, bachelor of divinity in 1667, and doctor in 1671. In the mean time he was made fellow of Exetercollege, in 1658; afterwards chaplain to Dr. Seth Ward, bishop of Exeter, and then to chancellor Hyde, earl of Clarendon. In 1673, he was appointed principal of Alban-hall, Oxford, by the duke of Ormond, chancellor of that university; and executed the duties of his office with such zeal and judgment, that, according to Wood, “he made it flourish more than it had done many years before, or hath since his departure.” In 1678 he was removed by the interest of Dr. John Fell, together with that of the duke of Ormond, then lord-lieutenant of Ireland, to the dignity of provost of Dublin-college. He was promoted to the bishopric of Leighlin and Ferns in 1683, translated to the archbishopric of Cashell in 1690, thence to Dublin in 1699, and then to Armagh in 1703. After having lived with honour and reputation to himself, and benefit to mankind in general, he died Nov. 2, 1713, aged seventy-five, and was buried in a vault in St. Patrick’s church-yard.

Dr. Marsh appears to have employed the greater part of his life and income in acts of benevolence and utility. While he presided over the see of Dublin, he built a noble library, and filled it with a choice collection of books; having for that purpose bought the library of Dr. | Stillingfleet, late bishop of Worcester, to which he added his own collection; and to make it the more useful to the public, he settled a handsome provision on a librarian and sublibrarian, to attend it at certain hours. This prelate also endowed an alms-house at Drogheda, for the reception of twelve poor clergymen’s widows, to each of whom he assigned a lodging, and 20l. per annum. He likewise repaired, at his own expence, many decayed churches within his diocese, and hought-in several impropriations, which he restored to the church. Nor did he confine his good actions to Ireland only; for he gave a great number of manuscripts in the oriental languages, chiefly purchased out of Golius’s collection, to the Bodleian library. He was a very learned and accomplished man. Besides sacred and profane literature, he had applied himself to mathematics and natural philosophy: he was deep in the knowledge of languages, especially the oriental; he was also skilled in music, the theory as well as the practice; and he frequently, in the earlier part of his life, had concerts of vocal and instrumental music for his own amusement, both at Exeter-college and Alban-hall. Dean Swift must have been under the influence of the most virulent spleen, when he wrote of such a man as Dr. Marsh, the gross caricature published in his works. As an antidote, we would recommend a letter from this excellent prelate, published in “Letters written by eminent persons,” &c. 1813, 3 vols. 8vo.

The few things he published were, 1. “Manuductio ad Logicam,” written by Philip tie Tricu: to which he added the Greek text of Aristotle, and some tables and schemes. With it he printed Gassendus’s small tract “De demonstratione,” and illustrated with notes, Oxon. 1678. 2. “Institutiones logicoe, in usum juventutis academicae, Dublin, 1681.” 3. “An introductory essay to the doctrine of sounds, containing some proposals for the improvement of acoustics.” Presented to the royal society in Dublin, March 12, 1683, and published in the Philosophical Transactions of the royal society of London. 4. " A Charge to his clergy of the diocese of Dublin, 1694, 41O. 1

1 Biog. Brit. Ware’s Ireland, by Harris.