Bosanquet, Samuel Richard (DNB00)

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BOSANQUET, SAMUEL RICHARD (1800–1882), miscellaneous writer, was born 1 April 1800, of the family settled at Forest House, Essex, and Dingestow Court, Monmouthshire. Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated with honours, a first class in mathematics and a second in classics, he took his B.A. degree in 1822, and proceeded M.A. in 1829. Called to the bar at the Inner Temple, he was one of the revising barristers appointed with the passing of the Reform Act of 1832, and he wrote many leading articles for the 'Times,' besides contributing frequently to the 'British Critic.' In 1837 he published an annotated edition of the Tithe Commutation Act, and another in 1839 of the Poor Law Amendment Act, in this case with the object of showing that the prevalent dislike of the measure was due to a misapprehension of its provisions conceived and acted on by the agents of the poor-law commissioners. In 1839, too, appeared his 'New System of Logic and Development of the Principles of Truth and Reasoning applicable to moral subjects and the conduct of human life,' a work of no philosophical value, in which he aimed at substituting for the Aristotelian logic one supplying a basis for a system of christian ethics. To the second edition, 1870, he added two books, 'carrying on' his logic 'to religious use and application.' He had ceased to be an admirer of the new or of any poor law, when he expanded two articles contributed by him to the 'British Critic' into a volume entitled 'The Rights of the Poor and Christian Almsgiving vindicated, or the State and Character of the Poor and the Conduct and Duties of the Rich exhibited and illustrated,' 1841. The work breathed a strong spirit of sympathy with the poor, whose destitution, he maintained, was in a great multitude of cases not their own fault, and he illustrated this view by detailed statements, taken chiefly from the reports of the Mendicity Society, to show the inadequacy of the incomes of numbers of the wage-earning classes for the maintenance of themselves and their families. Following Dr. Chalmers, Bosanquet argued that individual charity, and not the state or a public legal provision, should supply whatever was deficient in the pecuniary circumstances of the poor. In 1843 appeared his 'Principia, a series of essays on the principles manifesting themselves in these last times in Religion, Philosophy, and Politics.' The work assailed modern liberalism and its results, intellectual and social, as interpreted by Bosanquet, who identified his age with those 'last times' of national degeneracy and apostasy which were to precede the second advent. His 'Letter to Lord John Russell on the 'Safety of the Nation,' 1848, was animated by the same spirit of hostility to modern liberalism, and by a desire to substitute a paternal despotism for parliamentary government. Bosanquet was a diligent student of theology. Among his writings are several dissertations on portions of the Bible, and for the better understanding of the Old Testament he is said to have begun to learn Hebrew when he was between sixty and seventy. His numerous writings display earnestness, piety, and benevolence, with considerable animation of style; but he is diffuse, often fanciful, and deficient in reasoning power. There is an ample list of them in the catalogue of the British Museum library. Besides those already referred to may be mentioned the 'Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, its arguments examined and exposed,' or at least denounced, second edition 1845; his 'Eirenicon, Toleration, Intolerance, Christianity, the Church of England and Dissent,' 1867, in which, after discovering good and evil in all communions, he pronounced an outward union of churches to be impracticable, and if practicable to be undesirable; and, as illustrative of his peculiar views on theology and the typological exegesis of scripture, 'The Successive Visions of the Cherubim distinguished and newly interpreted, showing the progressive revelation through them of the Incarnation and of the Gospel of Redemption and Sanctification,' 1871. His latest publication was 'Hindoo Chronology and Antediluvian History,' an attempt to synchronise the two, and to establish a connection between Indian mythology and the earliest personages of the Bible. The volume was a reprint, with elucidations by Bosanquet, of the first part of a 'Key to Hindoo Chronology,' Cambridge, 1820, the authorship of which he ascribed to a certain Alexander Hamilton, slightly known as an orientalist.

In 1843 Bosanquet succeeded to the family estates. He was for thirty-five years chairman of the Monmouthshire quarter sessions. Beneficent to the poor, he promoted useful local institutions and enterprises. He died at his seat, Dingestow Court, 27 Dec. 1882.

[Bosanquet's Writings; obituary notice in Monmouthshire Beacon for 30 Dec. 1882; Burke's Landed Gentry; Catalogue of the Graduates of Oxford.]

F. E.