, that illustrious benefactor to literature, from whom the public library
, that illustrious benefactor to literature, from whom the public library at Oxford takes its name, was the son of Mr. John Bodley, of Exeter, and of his wife Joan, daughter and heiress of Robert Home, esq. of Ottery St. Mary, near Exeter. By his father’s side he descended from the ancient family of the Bodleys, or Bodleighs, of Dunscomb, near Crediton, in Devonshire. He was born at Exeter, March 2, 1544, and was about twelve years of age when his father was obliged to leave England on account of his religion, and settle at Geneva, where he lived during the reign of queen Mary. The English church at Geneva consisted, as he himself informs us, of some hundred persons; and here, the university having been newly erected, he frequented the public lectures of Chevalerius on the Hebrew tongue, of Beroaldus on the Greek, and of Calvin and Beza on divinity, and had also domestic teachers in the house of Philibertus Saracenus, a physician of that city, with whom he boarded, and where Robert Constantine, author of the Greek Lexicon, read Homer to him. Under such masters, we cannot doubt his proficiency, although we have no more particular detail of his early studies upon record. Whatever else he learned, he appears to have imbibed an uncommon love of books, to have studied their history, and to have prepared himself, although unconscious of the result, for that knowledge which, it is evident from his correspondence, he was perpetually increasing, and which at length, when the political prospects which once flattered his ambition were closed, enabled, as well as incited him, to re-found the public library at Oxford.