Seager, Charles (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 51
Seager, Charles

by Thompson Cooper
1904 Errata appended.

SEAGER, CHARLES (1808–1878), orientalist, born in 1808, was son of John Seager (1776–1849) of Evesbatch, Worcestershire, rector of Welsh Bicknor, Monmouthshire, from 1808 till his death on 27 May 1849. The father contributed emendations and observations on Greek authors to the ‘Classical Journal,’ published a supplement to Johnson's ‘Dictionary’ in 1819, and editions of Viger's ‘Greek Idioms,’ 1828, Hoogeveen's ‘Greek Particles,’ 1829, Bos's ‘Greek Ellipses,’ 1830, Hermann's ‘Doctrine of Metres,’ 1830, and Maittaire's ‘Greek Dialects,’ 1831.

Charles was matriculated as a member of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, on 30 Nov. 1832, and while a member of that society he obtained the Pusey and Ellerton scholarship in 1834. In that year he was elected a scholar of Worcester College, and in 1836 he gained the Kennicott Hebrew scholarship. He graduated B.A. on 25 May 1836, and M.A. on 24 April 1839. For some time he was a pupil of Dr. Pusey, under whom he gave public lectures in Hebrew. He took orders in the established church, and, his residence in Oxford being contemporary with the rise of the tractarian party, he became closely associated with the movement, and assisted materially in the publication of the literature connected with it. He was one of the earliest members of the secession to Rome; in January 1842 Pusey wrote to Newman asking him to correct Seager's romanising tendencies; Newman made the attempt, but Seager was received into the catholic church on 12 Oct. 1843 at St. Mary's College, Oscott (Gondon, Conversion de cent-cinquante ministres anglicans, pp. 86, 100). His conversion caused Pusey much pain and embarrassment (Liddon, Life of Pusey, ii. 141, 229, 230, 377).

When the catholic university college was established, by Monsignor Capel, at Kensington, Seager was appointed to the chair of Hebrew and comparative philology. His knowledge of oriental languages was extensive, but his special forte lay in the Semitic branch, Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac being his chief study. During the latter part of his life, however, he devoted considerable attention to the languages of Assyria and Egypt, and he was a regular attendant at the classes instituted by the Society of Biblical Archæology for instruction in those tongues. Professor Sayce and Mr. P. Le Page Renouf, the lecturers at those classes, were among his most intimate friends. He was a member of the council of the Society of Biblical Archæology, and took a prominent part in the discussion of the various subjects brought before the meetings. Shortly before his death he was readmitted a member of the university of Oxford, from which he had been expelled on his adhesion to the church of Rome. A decree was passed enabling him to replace his name on the books without payment of the usual fees. He died suddenly at the Hôtel de Ville, Florence, while attending the congress of orientalists, on 18 Sept. 1878. His widow died at Ramsgate on 27 March 1893.

His works are: 1. ‘The Smaller Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon of Professor Simonis, translated and improved from his second edition,’ London, 1832, 12mo. 2. ‘Græcorum casuum analysis. De vera casuum verborum, inflectionumque in genere, natura et origine … brevis disputatio,’ London, 1833, 12mo. 3. ‘The Daily Service of the Anglo-Catholic Church, adapted to family or private worship. By a Priest,’ Banbury, 1838, 12mo. 4. ‘Auricular Confession. Six letters in answer to the attacks of [the Rev. W. S. Bricknell] one of the city lecturers, on the Catholic principle of private confession to a priest … By Academicus,’ Oxford 1842, 8vo. 5. ‘Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ Officia Antiqua: Portiforii seu Breviarii Sarisburiensis, annotatione perpetua illustrati, et cum Breviariis Eboracensi, Herefordensi, et Romano comparati, Fasciculus Primus,’ London, 1843, 12mo; 2nd part, London, 1855, 12mo. The first portion of the ‘fasciculus primus’ had been separately published, London, 1842, 12mo. 6. ‘The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, translated from the authorised Latin; with … a preface by the Right Rev. Nicholas Wiseman, D.D., Bishop of Melipotamus,’ London, 1847, 16mo. 7. ‘Faithfulness to Grace. On the Position of Anglicans holding the Real Presence; with considerations on the sin of unlawful obedience,’ London, 1850, 12mo. 8. ‘The Female Jesuit abroad; a true and romantic Narrative of True Life: including some account, with historical reminiscences, of Bonn and the Middle Rhine,’ London, 1853, 8vo. 9. ‘The Cumulate Vote, as a moderative of State oscillations,’ London (3 editions), 1867, 8vo. 10. ‘Plutocracy as a Principle; or, does the possession of property involve, as a moral right, that of political power? A letter in which are impartially presented both sides of the question,’ 2nd edit. London, 1867, 8vo. 11. ‘The Suffrage as a Moral Right: what are its grounds?’ London, 1867, 8vo.

He was also a contributor to the ‘Classical Museum’ and to the ‘Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archæology.’

[Academy, 28 Sept. 1878, p. 315; Athenæum, July 1853 p. 823, 21 Sept. 1878 p. 372 and 28 Sept. p. 403; Bodleian Cat. iv. 846; Browne's Annals of the Tractarian Movement, pp. 73, 87; Letters of J. B. Mozley, pp. 85, 86; Letters of Newman, ed. Anne Mozley; Thomas Mozley's Reminiscences of Oriel; Clergy List, 1841, p. 175; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886 iv. 1269; Gondon's Motifs de Conversion de dix Ministres Anglicans, pp. 191–202; Halkett and Laing's Dict. of Anonymous Literature, pp. 200, 559; Tablet 1878 ii. 368, 377, 400, 408, and 1 April 1893 p. 504; Times, 23 Sept. 1878, p. 9, col. 6.]

T. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.244
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
159 ii 18f.e. Seager, Charles: for Brecknor read Bicknor