Sharp, Granville

, eminent as a Christian, a scholar, and a gentleman, one of the sons of Dr. Thomas Sharp, and grandson to the archbishop, was born in 1734. He was educated for the bar, but did not practise at it. When he quitted the legal profession, he obtained a place in the ordnance office, which he resigned at the commencement of the American war; of the principles of which he did not approve. He now took chambers in the Temple, and devoted himself to a life of study; at the same time, laying himself out for public utility. He first became known to the public in the case of a poor and friendless negro, of the name of Somerset. This person had been brought from the West Indies to England, and falling into bad health, was abandoned by his master, and turned into the streets, either to die, or to gain a miserable support by precarious charity. In this destitute state, almost, it is said, on the point of expiring on the pavement of one of the public streets of London, Mr. Sharp chanced to see him. He instantly had him removed to St. Bartholomew’s hospital, attended personally to his wants, and in a short time had the happiness to see him restored to health. Mr. Sharp now clothed him, and procured him comfortable employment in the service of a lady. Two years had elapsed, and the circumstance almost, and the name of the poor negro, had escaped the memory of his benefactor, when | Mr. Sharp received a letter from a person, signing himself Somerset, confined in the Poultry Compter, stating no cause for his commitment, but intreating his interference to save him from a greater calamity even than the death from which he had before rescued him. Mr. Sharp instantly went to the prison, and found the negro, who in sickness and misery had been discarded by his master, sent to prison as a runaway slave. Mr. Siiarp went immediately to the lord major, William Nash, esq. who caused the parties to be brought before him; when, after a long hearing, the upright magistrate decided that the master had no property in the person of the negro, in this country, and gave the negro his liberty. The master instantly collared him, in the presence of Mr. Sharp and the lord mayor, and insisted on his right to keep him as his property. Mr. Sharp now claimed the protection of the English law, caused the master to be taken into custody, and exhibited articles of peace against him for an assault and battery. After various legal proceedings, supported by him with most undaunted spirit, the twelve judges unanimously concurred in an opinion that the master had acted criminally. Thus did Mr. Sharp emancipate for ever the race of blacks from a state of slavery, while on British ground, and in fact banished slavery from Great Britain. Such an incident could not fail deeply to impress a benevolent mind; and slavery, in every shape and country, became the object of his unceasing hostility. In 17G9, he published a work, entitled “A Representation of the injustice and dangerous tendency of toleratinaSlavery, or of admitting the least claim of private property in the persons of men in England. 7 ‘ Having succeeded in the case of an individual negro, he interested himself in the condition of the many others who were seen wandering about the streets of London, and at his own expence collected a number of them, whom he sent back to Africa, where they termed a colony on the river Sierra Leone. He performed a still more essential service to humanity, by becoming the institutor of the” Society for the abolition of the Slave trade;“which, after contending against a vast mass of opposition, at length succeeded, as far as this country was concerned, and it is hoped will soon be universal. Similar principles led Mr. Sharp to use his endeavours to restrain the practice of marine impressment; and a citizen of London having been carried off by a press-warrant, Mr. Sharp obtained a habeas corpus from the court of | king’s bench, to bring him back from a vessel at the Nore; and by his arguments obliged the court to liberate him. His political principles led him to become the warm advocate of” parliamentary reform,“and he publishedA Declaration of the people’s natural right to a share in the legislature, which is the fundamental principle of the British constitution of state." In this he proposed to restore the ancient tithing$, hundreds, &c. and the whole body of the people were to form a national militia, each thousand to constitute a regiment, the alderman or magistrate to be the colonel; and each hundred to constitute a company, the constable of each fo.r the time being to be their captain. So many of the thousands to be summoned once in every year, by their magistrate, as would have a right to vote in their respective hundreds, before the constable, in the choice of their part of the representative legislature. After stating that the division of this kingdom into tithings and hundreds was instituted by the immortal Alfred, he endeavours to prove that such a division is consistent with the most perfect state of liberty that man is capable of enioying, and yet fully competent to answer all the purposes of mutual defence, to secure the due execution of the laws, and maintain public peace. Mr. Sharp was educated in the principles of the established church, and through life shewed a warm attachment to them. This led him to recommend an episcopal church in America; and he introduced the first bishops from that country to the archbishop of Canterbury for consecration.

Mr. Sharp died July 6, 1813, and like Cato, though advanced to the age of 79, he pursued his studies with all the ardour of youth. He was an able linguist, deeply read in theology, and was well acquainted with the scriptures in the original tongues. He was pious and devout, without gloom, strictly moral and temperate, a great lover of music, and cheerful in conversation. His services to humanity were very distinguished, and few persons in private life have deserved a higher or more honourable commemoration. He possessed a very extensive library, in which the theologian, lawyer, classical scholar, politician, antiquary, and orientalist, might find almost every thing of which they could stand in need; and his collection of bibles was esteemed the best in the kingdom; some of these last he gave to the library of the British and Foreign Bible society, of which he was a zealous promoter. The | rest, and remaining part of his library, were sold by auction by Messrs. Leigh and Sotheby.

Mr. Sharp wrote, besides the works already mentioned 1. “Remarks on several very important Prophecies in five Parts. I. Remarks on the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th Verses in the seventh Chapter of Isaiah; in answer to Dr. Williams’s Critical Dissertation on the same subject; II. A Dissertation on the nature and style of Prophetical Writings, intended to illustrate the foregoing Remarks III. A Dissertation on Isaiah vii. 8 IV. On Gen. xlix. 10; V. Answer to some of the principal Arguments used by Dr. Williams in Defence of his Critical Dissertation,” 1768, 8vo. 2. “A Representation of the injustice and dangerous tendency of tolerating Slavery, &c.” with some other tracts in support of his opinions. 3. “Remarks on the Encroachments on the Riyer Thames, near Durham Yard,1771, 8vo. 4. “Remarks on the Opinions of some of the most celebrated writers on Crown Law, respecting the due distinction between Manslaughter and Murder; being an attempt to shew tiiat the plea of sudden anger cannot remove the imputation and guilt of murder, when a mortal wound is wilfully given with a weapon: that the indulgence allowed by the courts to voluntary manslaughter in rencounters, and in sudden affrays and duels, is indiscriminate, and without foundation in law: and that impunity in such cases of voluntary manslaughter is one of the principal causes of the continuance and present increase of the base and disgraceful practice of duelling. To which are added, some thoughts on the particular case of the gentlemen of the army, when involved in such disagreeable private differences. With a prefatory address to the reader, concerning the depravity and folly of modern men of honour, falsely so called; including a short account of the principles and designs of the work,1773, 8vo. 5. “Remarks on the Uses of the Definitive Article in the Greek of the New Testament; containing many new proofs of the Divinity of Christ, from passages which are wrongly translated in the common English Version. To which is added a plain matter-of-fact argument for the Divinitv of Christ, by the Editor,” Durhiin, ’798, 8vo. The first twenty pages of this important, critical, and theological work, appeared in t797, in the second fasciculus of the “Museum Oxoniense,” published by Dr. Burgess, the present very excellent bishop of St. David’s. A | Supplement to the Remarks was, at the same time, promised in the third fasciculus of the Museum. “But,” says Dr. Burgess, “as many learned friends concurred with the editor in thinking that the Remarks contain a very valuable accession to the evidences of Christ’s divinity, he was unwilling to detain the Supplement, which exemplifies the rules of the Remarks, any longer from the public; and has, therefore, prevailed on Mr. Sharp to permit him to publish it with the Remarks. He earnestly recommends them both to Mr. Wakeneiu’s must deliberate consideration. To Mr. Sharp’s Remarks and Supplement he has subjoined a plain historical proof of the divinity or Cnrist, iounded on Chnst’s own testimony of himself, attested and, interpreted by his living witnesses and enemies, the Jews; on the evidence of his trial and crucifixion; and on the most explicit declarations of the apostles after the resurrection of Christ. What appeared to him on a former occasion (in a sermon on the divinity of Christ, 1792, second edition), to be a substantial and unanswerable argument, he has, in this little exercise on the subject, endeavoured to render an easy and popular proof of our Saviour’s divinity. It was printed separately for the use of the unlearned part of his parishioners; and is subjoined to this treatise for the convenience of other unlearned readers, and such as have not much considered the subject.A second edition of the “Remarks” was published in 1804, with the following letter to Mr. Sharp prefixed: “Dear sir, I have great pleasure in presenting you with a new edition of your valuable tract. That you have very happily and decisively applied your rule of construction to the correction of the common English version of the New Testament, and to the perfect establishment of the great doctrine in question, the divinity of Christ, no impartial reader, I think, can doubt, who is at all acquainted with the original language of the New Testament. I say decisively applied, because I suppose, in all remote and written testimony, the weight of evidence must ultimately depend on the grammatical analogy of the language in which it is recorded. I call the rule yours; for, though it was acknowledged and applied by Bege and others to some of the texts alluded to by you, yet never so prominently, because singly, or so effectually, as in your remarks, In the addition to the former edition, I wished to excite the attention of a learned and declared enemy to the doctrine of our Saviour’s divinity; but he is no more and J | do not know that he even expressed, or has left behind him, any opinion on the subject, or that any other Socinian has undertaken to canvass the principles of your Remarks. The public has, however, lately seen an ample and learned confirmation of your rule, drawn from a very minute, laborious, and candid examination of the Greek and Latin fathers, in ‘Six Letters addressed to Granville Sharp, Esq. respecting his Remarks on the Uses of the Definitive Article in the Greek Text of the New Testament. London, 1802.’ I have taken some pains to improve the plain argument for Christ’s divinity, which I before subjoined to your Remarks. In this edition I have prefixed to it a table of evidences by Dr. Whitby, which I hope the younger part of your readers will find useful to them in pursuing the different branches of this most important subject; and you, J think, will not disapprove, because it is conducive to the principal purpose of your tract.Bishop Burgess afterwards adverted, in a note on his primary charge, to a weak attack on Mr. Granville Sharp, in a publication entiled “Six more Letters, &c. by Gregory Blunt, esq.1803. Of this Dr. Burgess says with great truth, “These letters are very well calculated to mislead the unlearned reader, by abstract questions, gratuitous assertions, and hypothetical examples, but communicate nothing on the score of authority, which bears any comparison with the unanimous consent of the Greek fathers; and nothing at all which has any pretence to grammatical observation.” In the latter part of 1812, Mr. Sharp demonstrated that his faculties retained their full vigour, by an elaborate illustration of the LXVIIIth Psalm, relative to the Hill of Bashan, and the calling together of the Jews. 1

1 Nichols’s Bowyer. —Gent. Mag. vol. LXXXIV. Rces’s Cyclopedia.