Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/147

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ham [q. v.], bishop of Exeter, some of the dislike and suspicion of the regulars then current even among ecclesiastics. During the short time that he was at Lichfield he twice rejected the incompetent presentees of monastic houses to livings, and made a visitation of the religious foundations within his diocese. Not long after his translation to Lincoln in 1499, we find him suspending the abbot of Oseney, and enforcing a reformation of that house. That he was a man of learning is apparent from his election as chancellor of Oxford, and from the specimen of his Latin composition which has survived. Though a contemporary of Erasmus and Foxe, he does not seem, if we may judge by the statutes of his college, to have been alive to the importance of Greek. On the contrary, his design seems to have been to establish an ecclesiastical and conservative institution adhering to the traditional studies of scholastic philosophy and theology. In this respect his statutes differ amazingly from the far more progressive provisions which Foxe drew up for his college of Corpus. Sutton's mind, it is evident, was cast in the same mould as that of Smyth, and it can readily be believed that he deferred entirely to the guidance of the former chancellor of the university. It can be understood, therefore, that Smyth displayed no liberal tendencies in his theology, and in 1506 he is recorded to have enforced the law against heresy both by imprisonment and burning. But John Foxe [q. v.], the martyrologist, who as a Brasenose man was probably indisposed to be severe upon the founder of his college, records of Smyth ‘that in the time of the great abjuration, divers he sent quietly home without punishment and penance, bidding them go home and live as good Christian men should do.’ Judged by the high standard of clerical duty held by Latimer, Smyth, whatever his wishes may have been, was an ‘unpreaching prelate.’ He must have been too absorbed in business of state, at any rate down to the death of Prince Arthur in 1502, to exercise any effective personal supervision over his immense diocese. Nor can he be acquitted of the prevailing ecclesiastical vice of nepotism. His biographer Churton devotes a chapter to his kinsmen and the ecclesiastical preferments he heaped upon them. Three of his nephews he made archdeacons in his diocese, appointing one of them, William Smyth, archdeacon of Lincoln, to the most valuable prebend, it is said, in England. Another of them, Gilbert Smyth, he made a prebendary in 1498, nearly six years before he took sub-deacon's orders. Matthew Smyth, the last principal of Brasenose Hall, and the first of Brasenose College, in all probability a relation of the bishop, was presented by him to a prebend in Lincoln Cathedral in 1508, though he was not ordained sub-deacon till 1512. One of Bishop Smyth's last acts was to grant a lease, probably on beneficial terms, of the manor of Nettleham in Lincolnshire to Richard Smyth, doubtless a kinsman. Churton complains that in Smyth's time the cathedral of Lincoln was ‘peopled with persons of the name of William Smyth,’ and, from what we know of the bishop's care for his kinsmen, it is not unfair to suspect that most of them were relatives whom he indemnified in this way for the diversion of the bulk of his property to his college.

In the appendix to the fourth report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission (1874, p. 173) it is stated that in a bundle of sixty papers belonging to the dean and chapter of Westminster, chiefly letters addressed to Sir Reginald Bray [q. v.], are some letters from the bishop of Lincoln (Smyth). These letters had previously been seen by J. A. Manning, author of the ‘Lives of the Speakers’ in 1851 (p. 146), but have since disappeared from their place in the muniment-room of the abbey. The bishop's portrait, which hangs in the hall of Brasenose, is unfortunately undated. A replica exists at his hospital at Lichfield. The picture apparently represents him in his closing years. The eyes are fine, and the cast of countenance one of serene intelligence.

[Fuller's Worthies; Wood's Athenæ Oxon.; Churton's Lives of Smyth and Sutton, Oxford, 1800; Campbell's Materials for the Hist. of the Reign of Henry VII; State Papers, Dom. Henry VIII, vols. i. ii.]

I. S. L.

SMITH, WILLIAM (fl. 1596), poet, avowed himself a disciple of Spenser, and in 1596 published a collection of sonnets, entitled ‘Chloris, or the Complaint of the passionate despised Shepheard,’ printed by Edmund Bollifant, 1596, 4to. The volume opens with two sonnets, inscribed ‘To the most excellent and learned shepheard, Collin Cloute’ (i.e. Spenser), and signed ‘W. Smith.’ In a third sonnet addressed to Spenser at the close of the book Smith calls Spenser the patron of his maiden verse. The intervening pages are occupied by forty-eight sonnets, very artificially constructed, and by a poem of greater literary power, in twenty lines, called ‘Corins Dreame of the faire Chloris.’ One of the sonnets, ‘A Notable Description of the World,’ had been previously published in ‘The Phoenix-nest,’ 1595, and there bore the signature ‘W. S. gentleman.’ ‘Corins Dreame’ was transferred to ‘England's Helicon’ (1600 and 1614). Two copies of Smith's