Ridley, Dr. Gloster

, a learned divine, descended collaterally from the preceding bishop Ridley, was born at sea, in 1702, on-board the Gloucester East Indiaman, to which circumstance he was indebted for his Christian name. He received his education at Winchester-school, and thence was elected to a fellowship at New college, Oxford, where he proceeded B. C. L. April 29, 1729. In those two seminaries he cultivated an early acquaintance with the Muses, and laid the foundation of those elegant and solid acquirements for which he was afterwards so eminently distinguished as a poet, an historian, and a divine. During a vacancy in 1728, he joined with four friends, viz. Mr. Thomas Fletcher (afterwards bishop of Kildare), Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Eyre, Mr. Morrison, and Mr. Jennens, in writing a tragedy, called “The Fruitless Redress,” each | Undertaking an act, on a plan previously concerted. When they delivered in their several proportions, at their meeting in the winter, few readers, it is said, would have known that the whole was not the production of a single hand. This tragedy, which was offered to Mr. Wilks, but never acted, is still in ms. with another called “Jugurtha.” - Dr. Ridley in his youth was much addicted to theatrical performances. Midhurst, in Sussex, was the place where they were exhibited; and the company of gentlemen actors to which he belonged, consisted chiefly of his coadjutors in the tragedy already mentioned. He is said to have performed the characters of Marc Antony, Jaffier, Horatio, and Moneses, with distinguished applause. Young Gibber, being likewise a Wykehamist, called on Dr. Ridley soon after he had been appointed chaplain to the East India Company at Poplar, and would have persuaded him to quit the church for the stage, observing that “it usually paid the larger salaries of the two,” an advice which he had too much sense to follow. For great part of his life, he had no other preferment than the small college living of Weston, in Norfolk, and the donative of Poplar, in Middlesex, where he resided. To these his college added, some years after, the donative of Romfbrd, in Essex. “Between these two places the curricle of his life had,” as he expressed it, “rolled for some time almost perpetually upon post-chaise wheels, and left him not time for even the proper studies of ceconomy, or the necessary ones of his profession.” Yet in this obscure situation he remained in possession of, and content with, domestic happiness; and was honoured with the intimate friendship of some who were not less distinguished for learning than for worth: among these, it maybe sufficient to mention Dr. Lowth, Mr. Christopher Pitt, Mr. Spence, and Dr. Berriman. To the last of these he was curate and executor, and preached his funeral sermon. In 1740 and 1741, he preached “Eight Sermons at Lady Moyer’s lecture,” which were published in 1742, 8vo, and at different times, several occasional sermons. In 1756, he declined an offer of going to Ireland as first chaplain to the duke of Bedford; in return for which he was to have had the choice of promotion, either at Christ-church, Canterbury, Westminster, or Windsor. His modesty inducing him to leave the choice of these to hispatron, the consequence was, that he obtained none of them. In 1761 he published, in 4to, “De Syriacarum novi fcederis versionum indole | atque usu, dissertatio,” occasioned by a Syriac version, which, with two others, were sent to him nearly thirty years before, by one Mr. Samuel Palmer from Amida, in Mesopotamia. His age and growing infirmities, the great expence of printing, and the want of a patron, prevented him from availing himself of these Mss.; yet at intervals he employed himself on a transcript, which being put into the hands of professor White, was published a few years ago, with a literal Latin translation, in 2 vols. 4to, at the expence of the delegates of the Clarendon press. In 1763 he published the “Life of bishop Ridley,” in quarto, by subscription, and cleared by it as much as brought him 800l. in the public funds. In this, which is the most useful of all his works, he proved himself worthy of the name he bore, a thorough master of the popish controversy, and an able advocate for the reformation. In 1765 he published his “Review of Philips’ s Life of Cardinal Pole” (see Philips); and in 17 6S, in reward for his labours in this controversy, and in another which “The Confessional” produced, he was presented by archbishop Seeker to a golden prebend in the cathedral church of Salisbury (an option), but it is probably a mistake that Seeker honoured him with the degree of D. D. that honour having been conferred upon him by the university of Oxford in 1767, by diploma, the highest mark of distinction they can confer. At length, worn out with infirmities, he departed this life in Nov. 1774, leaving a widow and four daughters. An elegant epitaph, written by Dr. Lowth, bishop of London, is inscribed upon his monument. Two poems by Dr. Ridley, one styled “Jovi Eleutherio, or an Offering to Liberty,” the other called “Psyche,” are in the third volume of Dodsley’s Collection. The sequel of the latter poem, entitled, “Melampus,” with “Psyche,” its natural introduction, was printed in 1782, by subscription, for the benefit of his widow. Many others are in the 8th volume of Nichols’s “Collection.” The Mss. Codex Heraclensis, Codex Barsalibaei, &c. (of which a particular account may be seen in his Dissertation “De Syriacarum Novi Fcederis versionum indole atque usu, 1761,”) were bequeathed by Dr. Ridley to the library of New college, Oxford. Of these ancient Mss. a fac-simile specimen was published in his Dissertation above mentioned. A copy of “The Confessional,” with ms notes by Dr. Ridley," was in the library of the- late Dr. Winchester. 1

1 Gent. Mag. vol. XLIV. Nichols’s Poems and Bowyer.