Stanley, Thomas

, an accomplished scholar and poet, connected, though in an oblique line, with the illustrious family of Derby, was the descendant of a natural son, Thomas Stanley, of Edward earl of Derby. His father was sir Thomas Stanley of Laytonstone, in Essex, and Cumberlow, in Hertfordshire, knight, by his second wife, Mary, daughter of sir William Hammond, of St. Alban’s-court in the parish of Nonington between Canterbury and Deal. He was born in 1625, and was educated in his father’s house, under the tuition of William Fairfax, son of Edward Fairfax, of Newhall, in the parish of Ottley, in Yorkshire, the celebrated translator of Tasso. From thence he was sent in 1639 as a fellow-commoner to Pembroke-hall, Cambridge, where he distinguished himself by his proficiency in polite learning; having still, as he had in more advanced years, the advantage of Mr. Fairfax’s society, as the director of his studies. In 1641, the | degree of M. A. was conferred on him per gratiam, along with prince Charles, George duke of Buckingham, and others of the nobility.

Having spent some time in foreign travel, he took up his residence, during the usurpation, in the Middle Temple, where he formed a friendship and community of studies with his first cousin, E’iward Sherburne, afterwards sir Edward, the poet and translator, who dedicated his poems to Stanley. These ingenious men arrived at the Temple about the same time, from the unfortunate surrender of Oxford to the parliament forces. Stanley, as Wood says, now “became much deserving of the commonwealth of learning in general, aad particularly for the smooth and genteel spirit in poetry, which appears not only in his genuine poems, but also from those things he hath translated out of the ancient Greek and Latin, as the modern Italian, Spanish, and French poets.

Mr. Stanley died at his lodgings, in Suffolk-street, in the parish of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, April 12, 167S, and was buried in the church there. He married Dorothy daughter and co-heir of sir James Enyon, of Flower, in Northamptonshire, bart. By this lady he had a son of both his own names, who was educated at Pembroke-hall, Cambridge, and, when very young (Aubrey says at fourteen), translated Ælian’s “Various Histories,” which he dedicated to his aunt, the lady Newton, wife of sir Henry Puckering Newton, knt. and bart. to whom his father had dedicated his jÆschylus.

Mr, Stanley’s “Poems” and “Translations” were printed in 1649, 8vo, and reprinted in 1651 with additions; and correct editions of both were lately published in 1814 and 1815, under the fostering hand of sir E. Brydges, bart. who has prefixed a biographical memoir to the “Poems,” to which we are greatly indebted in this sketch, especially for corrections of the preceding erroneous accounts of Mr. Stanley.

But the work to which Mr. Stanley deservedly owed his high reputation as a scholar, was his “History of Philosophy, containing the Lives, Opinions, Actions, and Discourses of the Philosophers of every Sect.” This he dedicated to his uncle John Marsham, esq. the well-known author of the “Canon Chronicus,” who first suggested the design; and in the dedication Mr. Stanley mentions the learned Gassendus as his precedent; “whom,” he adds, | nevertheless I have not followed in his partiality. For h<? though limited to a single person, yet giveth himself liberty of enlargement; and taketh occasion, from this subject, to make the world acquainted with many excellent disquisitions of his own. Our scope, being of a greater latitude, affords less opportunity to favour any particular, while there is due to every one the commendation of their own deserts.” This very elaborate and useful work has gone through four editions in English, the first in parts, 1655 1660, the second in 1687, the last and best in 1743, 4to. It was also translated into Latin, and published at Leipsic in 1711, by Fritch, in quarto, with considerable additions and corrections. The account of the Oriental learning and philosophy, with which it concludes, appeared so valuable to Le Clerc, that he published a Latin translation of it in 1690, 8vo, with a dedication to bishop Burnet, and placed it at the end of the second volume of his “Opera Philosophic*.

When Stanley had finished this work, which was when in his thirtieth year, he undertook to publish “Æschylus,” the most obscure and intricate of all the Greek poets; and after employing much pains in restoring his text and illustrating his meaning, produced an accurate and beautiful edition of that author, under the title of “Æschyli Tragrediae Septem, &c. Versione et Commentario Thorn ae JStanleii,” 1663 and 1664, two dates, but the same edition, folio. Dedicated to sir Henry Puckering Newton, baronet. The merits of this celebrated edition are sufficiently known. Morhoff, Fabricius, and Harles, have all stated its excellencies; and the labours of every preceding commentator, the fragments of the lost dramas, with the entire Greek scholia, are embodied in it. De Bure observes, that when Pauw gave out his proposals for printing an edition of Æschylus, the work of Stanley sunk in value but when Pauw’s edition actually appeared, the learned were disappointed, and Stanley’s edition rose in price and value. Good copies are now very rare. Besides these monuments of his learning, which are published, there were many other proofs of his unwearied application, remaining in manuscript after his death, in the library of More, bishop of Ely, and now in the public library at Cambridge; namely, his large “Commentaries on JEschylus,” in 8 vols. folio; his “Adversaria, or Miscellaneous Remarks,” on several | passages in Sophocles, Euripides, Callimachus, Hesychius, Juvenal, Persius, and other authors of antiquity ' Copious Prelections on Theophrastus’s Characters;“andA Critical Essay on the First-fruits and Tenths of the Spoil,", said in the epistle to the Hebrews to be given by Abraham to Melchisedeck. 1


Biog. Preface by sir E. Brydges.—Biog. Brit.—Life prefixed to his history. —Ath. Ox. vol. I.