« PreviousContinue »
your Lordship is only the first part of what is intend
ed. If God gives life, the second shall follow, and
beg its passage into the world under the same patronage. The only additional favour I am now capable of receiving, is your Lordship’s kind acceptance of this expression of my gratitude; which I humbly pray from your hands; and I am,
Your most obedient, and
Most obliged humble Servant,
DR. HUMPHREY PRIDEAUX was born at Padstow, in the county of Cornwall, on the 3d of May, A. D. 1648, being the third son of Edmund Prideaux, Esq. by Bridgett his wife, who was the daughter of John Moyle of Bake, Esq. in the same county. He was by both his parents descended from ancient and honourable families, well known in that county. The doctor being a younger brother, and designed by his parents for the church, as soon as he was of fit age he was sent abroad to school, first to Liskard, in Cornwall, then to Bodmin, in the same county, and from thence removed to Westminster, under the famous Dr. Busby, where he was soon chosen king's scholar; and after having been in that college three years, was from thence elected to Christ-church, Oxford, and admitted into a student's place in the year 1668, by Dr. John Fell, dean of that college; and in Trinity Term, A. D. 1672, he commenced bachelor of arts.
As soon as he had taken that degree, he was employed by Dr. Fell, who had at that time the management of the public printing-press in that university, in an edition of Lucius Florus, and directed to add notes thereto, which he did accordingly. These notes contain only references to other authors, shewing where other ancient historians have treated more at large of matters, which Florus has only related in epitome.
After this, there was put into his hands, out of the Bodleian library, a manuscript copy of Johannes Antiochenus Malela, a Greek historian, in order to have it fitted for the press by his care: but he, on perusing it, thought it a very fabulous and trifling book, not worth the printing; and upon his giving this judgment of it, the design was quite laid aside. This book, however, has been since published, by the learned Dr. Hody, professor of Greek in the same university.
About this time, the doctor had the misfortune to lose his brother Nicholas, for whom he had conceived a particular affection, on account of his promising parts, and the great progress he had made in literature. He died of the small-pox, in the eighteenth year of his age, at Corpus Christi college, Oxon. where he had been a scholar three years; and lies buried in the cloister near the chapel, with a mural monument erected to his memory, which is still to be seen there.
It was about this time that the lord Henry Howard, then earl of Norwich, and afterwards duke of Norfolk, made a present to the university of Oxford, of those marbles, which are called the Arundel marbles, being the collection of his grandfather Thomas, earl of Arundell: and these being set up in the court before the theatre, as there were several very curious and valuable inscriptions upon them, it was thought proper, that they should be published with a comment to explain them; and Mr. Humphrey Prideaux, at that time the only bachelor of arts, was appointed to this work. Accordingly he undertook it, and two years afterwards, in May, 1676, published his book, entitled Marmora Oxoniensia, in one volume in folio, printed at the university press, and dedicated to the said earl of Norwich. In this work he has given us all the aforesaid inscriptions at large, with a comment after each, tending to illustrate and explain them, and has added by way of appendix, an account of some marbles collected by Mr. Selden, and Sertorius Ursatus' Commentarius de notis Romanorum. This book being published when he was but twenty-six years
age, a year after he had taken his master of arts degree, gained him great reputation in the university, and was well received in the world, especially among foreigners in Germany, France, and Italy; and the demand for it among the learned was such, that it grew very scarce within a few years after it had been printed, and was not to be had, but at an advanced price. The learned Huetius in his Demonstratio Evangelica, prop. 4. cap. 2. § 14, says of it, “Plurima hujusmodi suppeditat Liber Inscriptionum Gruteri: at nihil in hoc genere marmora Oxoniensia æquiparate queat, quibus Insigniores Priscorum Græcorum Epochæ, Fodus Smyrnæorum et Magnentium, aliaque egregia vetustatis Monumenta inscripta sunt.” This book has suffered much in passing through the press, and is full of typographical errors; which was owing to the negligence of the public corrector of the university press, who took no sort of care in correcting it, but suffered it to come out with all the faults, as it came from thence. The author for these and other reasons (particularly as he was called upon for a sheet every week, whether he was ready or no) never had any opinion or esteem for this work, and speaks of it himself in his preface in the following manner: “Ac sic tandem post exactum Anni spatium iisdem semper gradibus, quibus typographus progressus faciens, operi meo citiùs timeo quam felicius finem imposui, illudque jam trado, candide Lector, in manus tuas: si in eo invenias me aliquid rectius dicere, utere in commodum tuum ; si in nonnullis errasse, ne incuses; spectes ætatem meam ; spectes difficillimas scribendi conditiones: reputa quam pauci sunt qui, in his circumstantiis positipossunt melius: iis igitur condona quicquid in hoc opere culpandum est: a maturioribus studiis si Deus vitam dederit et valetudinem ferendis Laboribus idoneam, spera meliora.”
Mr. Prideaux having been ordered at the first publication of this book to present one to the lord chancellor Finch, this introduced him into his lordship’s patronage, who soon after sent to him, at Christ-church, Mr. Charles Finch, one of his lordship's sons to be his pupil. He was afterwards elected fellow of All Souls College, and there commenced doctor of laws; but died soon after, before he could make any appearance in the world.
In the beginning of the year 1679, the rectory of St. Clemens in Oxford, which is in the gift of the great seal, falling void, Mr. Prideaux was by the lord chancellor Finch presented to it, and instituted and inducted accordingly. This living he served constantly for
The same year Mr. Prideaux published two tracts out of Maimonides in Hebrew, to which he added a Latin translation and annotations. The book bears the title of De jure Pauperis et Peregrini apud Judæos. This he did in consequence of his having been appointed Dr. Busby's Hebrew lecturer in the college of Christ-church; and his principal view in printing this book was to introduce young students in the Hebrew language into the knowledge of the Rabinical dialect, and to teach them to read it without points.
In the latter end of the year 1680, the parliament meeting at Oxford, he attended on the lord chancellor Finch there as his chaplain; but this was of short continuance; for the parliament was dissolved within ten days after its first meeting. The 12th of May following his patron the lord Finch was created earl of Nottingham on the decease of Charles Howard, the last earl of Nottingham of that family, by whose death the title was now become extinct.
About midsummer following, A. D. 1681, Dr. Herbert Astley, dean of Norwich, dying, Dr. John Sharp, formerly chaplain to the said lord chancellor, prebendary of Norwich, and rector of St. Giles in the Fields, was promoted to that deanry; upon which his prebend in that church, which was in the gift of the great seal, falling void, the lord chancellor wrote a very kind letter to Mr. Prideaux at Oxford, to let him know, that he gave it him; and accordingly on the 15th of August after, he was installed into it, and kept his first residence at that church, in the months of December and January following. The other prebendaries of the same church, at Mr. Prideaux' first admission into it were, Mr. Joseph Loveland, Dr. Hezekiah Burton, Dr. William Hawkins, Dr. William Smyth, and Mr. Nathaniel Hodges: but Dr. Burton dying soon after, Mr. Richard Kidder, afterwards dean of Peterborough, and bishop of Bath and Wells succeeded him. With him Mr, Prideaux contracted a very particular friendship, which continued to the time of Dr. Kidder's death, who was unfortunately killed by the fall of the roof of his bed-chamber, in the great storm, A, D. 1703.
On the 15th of November 1682, Mr. Prideaux was admitted to the degree of bachelor in divinity, and soon after had the misfortune to lose his patron, the lord chancellor Nottingham, who died on the 18th of November following, and was succeeded by sir Francis North, lord chief justice of the Court of Common Pleas.