Langbaine, Gerard (1609-1658) (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

LANGBAINE, GERARD, the elder (1609–1658), provost of Queen's College, Oxford, son of William Langbaine, was born at Barton, Westmoreland, and was educated at the free school at Blencow, Cumberland. He entered Queen's College, Oxford, as 'bateller' 17 April 1625, and was elected 'in munus servientis ad mensam' 17 June 1626. He did not matriculate in the university till 21 Nov. 1628, when he was nineteen years old. He was chosen 'taberdar' of his college 10 June 1630; graduated B.A. 24 July 1630, M.A. 1633, D.D. 1646, and was elected fellow of his college in 1633. He was vicar of Crosthwaite in the diocese of Carlisle, 15 Jan. 1643 (Wood, Colleges and Halls, ed. Gutch, p. 149 n.), but seems to have resided in Oxford. In 1644 he was elected keeper of the archives of the university, and on 11 March 1645-6 was chosen provost of Queen's College. Owing to the city of Oxford being invested at the time by the parliamentary forces, the ordinary form of confirmation to the provostship by the archbishop of York was abandoned, and Langbaine's election was confirmed with special permission of the king by the bishop of Oxford, and Drs. Steward, Fell, and Duche (6 April 1646).

From his youth Langbaine showed scholarly tastes. In 1635 he contributed to the volume of Latin verses commemorating the death of Sir Rowland Cotton of Bellaport, Shropshire. In 1636 he edited, with a Latin translation and Latin notes, Longinus's Greek 'Treatise on the Sublime.' The work, which is admirable in all respects, and has a title page engraved by William Marshall, is called Διονυσίου Λογγίνου Ῥήτορος περὶ ὕψους λόγου βιβλίον: Dionysii Longini Rhetoris Praestantissimi Liber de Grandi Loquentia sive Sublimi dicendi genere, Latine redditus ὑποθίσεσι συνοπτικαίς et ad oram Notationibus aliquot illustratus edendum curavit et notarum insuper auctarium adjunxit G. L. cum indice. Oxonii excud. G. T. Academise Typographus impensis Guil. Webb. Biblio.,' 1636 (cf. Hearne, Coll., ed. Doble, Oxford Hist. Soc., ii. 207). Another edition, described in the title-page as 'postrema,' appeared in 1638. In 1638 Langbaine published 'A Review of the Councell of Trent . . . first writ in French by a learned Roman Catholique [W. Ranchin]. Now translated by G. L.,' Oxford, fol. this was dedicated to Dr. Christopher Potter, at the time provost of Queen's. Langbaine's love of learning gained him the acquaintance of the chief scholars of his time. Ben Jonson gave him a copy of Vossius's 'Greek Historians,' which he annotated and ultimately presented to Ralph Bathurst, president of Trinity College. With Selden he corresponded on learned topics in terms of close intimacy, and several of his letters dated towards the close of his life have been printed by Hearne (cf. Lelend, Collectanea, ed. Hearne, v. 282-93). When Ussher died in 1656 he left his collections for his 'Chronologia Sacra' to Langbaine, as 'the only man on whose learning, as well as friendship, he could rely to cast them into such a form as might render them fit for the press' (Pake, Ussher, p. 13). Langbaine left the work to be completed by his friend Thomas Barlow [q. v.], bishop of Lincoln, who succeeded him as provost.

On the approach of the civil wars Langbaine avowed himself a zealous royalist and supporter of episcopacy. He is credited with the authorship of 'Episcopal Inheritance . . . or a Reply to the Examination of the Answers to nine reasons of the House of Commons against the Votes of Bishops in Parliament,' Oxford, 1641, 4to, and of 'A Review of the Covenant, wherein the originall grounds, means, matters, and ends of it are examined . . . and disproved' [Bristol], 1644, 4to. The latter is a searching examination of the covenanters' arguments. With a view to strengthening the position of his friends, he also reprinted in 1641 Sir John Cheke's 'True Subject to the Rebell, or the Hurt of Sedition, how grievous it is to a Commonwealth . . . whereunto is newly added a Briefe Discourse of those times (i.e. of Edward VI) as they relate to the present, with the Author's Life,' Oxford, 1641, 4to. Moreover, he helped Sanderson and Zouch to draw up 'Reasons of the Present Judgment of the University concerning the Solemn League and Covenant' (1647), and translated the work into Latin (1648).

But Langbaine also took practical steps to enforce his views. In 1642 he acted as a member of the delegacy, nicknamed by the undergraduates 'the council of war,' which provided for the safety of the city and for Sir John Byron's royalist troops while stationed there. In May 1647 he was a member of the committee to determine the attitude of the university to the threatened parliamentary visitation. He advocated resistance, and was the author, according to Gough, of 'The Privileges of the University of Oxford in Point of Visitation, clearly evidenced by Letter to an Honourable Personage: together with the Universities' Answer to the Summons of the Visitors,' 1647, 4to. In November 1647 he carried some of the university's archives to London, and sought permission for counsel to appear on the university's behalf before the London committee of visitors. His efforts produced little result, and on 6 June 1648, shortly after the parliamentary visitors had arrived in Oxford, Langbaine was summoned to appear before them (Burrows, Oxford Visitation, p. 129); but the chief visitor, Philip Herbert, earl of Pembroke, apparently treated him leniently, and he retained his provostship. In January 1648-9 permission was virtually granted to Langbaine to exercise all his ancient privileges as provost of Queen's. Next month he joined a sub-delegacy which sought once again to induce the visitors to withdraw their pretensions to direct the internal affairs of the colleges, but the visitors ignored their plea, and illustrated their power by appointing a tabarder in 1650 and a fellow in 1651 in Langbaine's college. In April 1652 the committee in London finally and formally restored to him full control of his college.

Langbaine took a prominent part in a quarrel between the town and university in 1648. The citizens petitioned for the abolition of their annual oath to the university and for their relief from other disabilities. The official 'Answer of the Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars ... to the Petition, Articles of Grievance, and reasons for the City of Oxon, presented to the Committee for regulating the University, 24 July 1649,' Oxford, 1649, 4to, is assigned to Langbaine. It was reprinted in 1678 and also in James Harrington's 'Defence of the Rights of the University,' Oxford, 1690. In 1651 he published 'The Foundation of the University of Oxford, with a Catalogue of the principal Founders and special Benefactors of all the Colleges, and total number of Students,' and a similar work relating to Cambridge. Both were based on Scot's 'Tables' of Oxford and Cambridge (1622). In 1654 he energetically pressed on convocation the desirability of reviving the study of civil law at Oxford (ib. pp. 328, 405). He had shown his knowledge of the subject by the aid that he rendered Arthur Duck [q. v.] in the preparation of his 'De Usu et Authoritate Juris Civilis Romanorum in Dominiis Principum Christianorum,' London, 1653, 8vo. Langbaine died at Oxford 10 Feb. 1657-8, 'of an extreme cold taken sitting in the university library' (MS. Harl. 5898, f. 291), and was buried in the inner chapel of Queen's College. He had just before settled a small annuity on the free school of Barton, his native place.

Langbaine married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Charles Sunnybank, D.D., canon of Windsor, and widow of Christopher Potter, D.D., his predecessor in the provostship of Queen's College. By her, who died 3 Dec. 1692, aged 78, he had at least three children, of whom one died in September 1657 (cf. MS. Rawl. Misc. 398, f. 152). His elder son, William (1649-1672), proceeded B.A. from Queen's College in 1667, and M.A. from Magdalen College in 1670. He died at Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire, 3 June 1672, and was buried there (wood, Life and Times, Oxf. Hist. Soc., i. 238; Foster, Alumni Oxon. ) The younger son Gerard is noticed separately.

Langbaine left twenty-one volumes of collections of notes in manuscript to the Bodleian Library. Some additional volumes were presented by Wood. A detailed description appears in Edward Bernard's 'Catalogus MSS. Angliæ et Hibernicæ,' Oxf. 1697, fol. (vol. i. pt. i. p. 268). Hearne makes frequent quotation from them in his ' Collections' (cf. vols. i-iii. publ. by Oxf. Hist. Soc.) According to Wood, Langbaine made 'several catalogues of manuscripts in various libraries, nay, and of printed books, too, in order, as we suppose, for a universal catalogue in all kinds of learning.' John Fell, dean of Christ Church, printed from Langbaine's notes 'Platonicorum aliquot qui etiam num supersunt, Authorum Graecorum, imprimis, mox et Latinorum syllabus Alphabeticus,' and appended it to his 'Alcinoi in Platonieam Philosophiam Introductio.' In 1721 John Hudson [q. v.] edited 'Ethices Compendium a viro cl. Langbaenio (ut fertur) adornatum et nunc demum recognitum et emendatum. Accedit Methodus Argumentandi Aristotelica ad ἀκριβείαν mathematicam redacta' (London, 12mo, 1721). Hearne mentions a copy of Hesychius, elaborately annotated in manuscript by Langbaine (Coll. ii. 2-3). Fuller's statement that Langbaine planned a continuation of Brian Twyne's 'Apologia Antiq. Acad. Oxon.' is denied by Wood on the testimony of his friends Barlow and Lamplugh, and he has been credited on slight grounds with the authorship of Dugdale's 'Short History of the Troubles' (ib. p. 6).

An oil portrait of Langbaine in academic cap and falling collar is in the provost's lodgings at Queen's College, Oxford.

[Information most kindly supplied by the Rev. Dr. Magrath, provost of Queen's College, Oxford; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 446 sq.; Wood's Hist. and Antiq. ed. Gutch, vol. ii.; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500-1714; Burrows's Visitation of Oxford University (Camd. Soc.); Hearne's Coll. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.); Hunter's MS. Chorus Vatum, in Brit. Mus. MS. Addit. 24489, f. 537; Fuller's Worthies; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

S. L.