Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Badham, Charles (1813-1884)

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BADHAM, CHARLES, D.D. (1813–1884), classical scholar, born at Ludlow, Shropshire, on 18 July 1813, was the son of Charles Badham, M.D., F.R.S., regius professor of physic in the university of Glasgow, and of Margaret (daughter of Mr. John Campbell), a cousin of Thomas Campbell the poet. He was educated first under the celebrated Pestalozzi, whose favourite pupil he became, and afterwards at Eton; and in 1830 he obtained a scholarship at Wadham College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1837, and M.A. In 1839. After seven years' study in Germany and Italy he was incorporated M.A. at Cambridge as a member of St. Peter's College; was ordained priest in 1848; appointed head master of King Edward VI's Grammar School at Louth in 1851; took the degree of D.D. at Cambridge in 1852; was appointed in 1854 head master of the proprietary school at Edgbaston, near Birmingham; and in 1860 received from the university of Leyden the honorary degree of doctor literarum at the suggestion of Professor Cobet, who could discern the merits which England ignored. In 1863 he was appointed examiner in classics to the university of London.

Early in life Dr. Badham had become the constant companion and voluntary disciple of Frederick Denison Maurice. Indeed he was debarred from promotion in the church of England by the circumstance of his holding opinions which were a very serious hindrance to preferment. Moreover, in considering his comparative want of success in this country, it must be admitted that he lacked the methodical, businesslike habits which the proper management of a large school requires; and although the most warm-hearted and placable of men he suffered from infirmities of temper which could not fail to some extent to impair his influence. Many years before he quitted his native land, such men as Dr. (afterwards Cardinal) Newman, Mr. Robert Lowe (afterwards Lord Sherbrooke), and Grote, had pronounced him to be the greatest of living scholars; and the 'Quarterly Review' said of him that 'he could impart instruction to the ripest scholars of the age, and that he was universally regarded on the continent as the first living scholar in England.'

When Badham resolved to leave the country which had failed to reward his great merits as a scholar and to become a candidate for a professorial chair at the Antipodes, the testimonials he obtained as to his attainments were of a most remarkable character. For instance. Cardinal Newman wrote: 'As to his classical attainments, others will tell you, who have a better claim to speak than I have, that he is the first Greek scholar of the day in this country.' Dr. William Smith, after testifying to his geniality, his winning manners, his extensive knowledge on all subjects, remarked: 'As to his scholarship I say nothing; he is pre-eminently the best verbal critic in England, and, taken altogether, may be pronounced our greatest scholar. It is a great shame and a reproach to us that such a singularly gifted man should be willing to go to the Antipodes.' Hawtrey, master and afterwards provost of Eton, testified: 'I have known him for nearer forty than thirty years, and I can sincerely say that among all I have had to deal with in my Eton experience, I have never known a more remarkable scholar. His publislied editions of portions of Plato and Euripides recall the skill of Porson more than the criticisms of any living scholar;' and Dr. Thompson, regius professor of Greek at Cambridge, afterwards master of Trinity College, wrote: 'I am therefore able, conscientiously, to state that as a scholar Dr. Badham has few equals, and no superior in England: and that there is no person in England or elsewhere to whose judgment I should be more inclined to defer in the higher departments of Greek criticism. That this opinion is shared by the best continental scholars I could produce abundant evidence.'

In 1807 Badham, to the great regret of his numerous friends here, proceeded to Australia on being appointed professor of classics and logic in the university of Sydney, where he passed the remainder of his life. His influence was wide and strong in favour of intellectual culture. One of his earliest enterprises after his arrival in New South Wales was the establishment of a system of teaching by correspondence in order to meet the desire for knowledge of persons living in the outlying parts of the colony. He likewise succeeded in raising 10,000l. in the colony, to be devoted to founding exhibitions at the university, and at the time of his decease he was engaged in perfecting a scheme which, by means of evening classes, would practically bring university education within the reach of even the labouring classes. He died at Sydney on 26 Feb. 1884, and was buried in the church of England cemetery in West Street.

Badham's memory was marvellous. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that he knew all Greek poetry by heart. He constantly taught his pupils with no book before him, and if they misread a single word he would correct them. He had an almost equal mastery over Latin, English, French, and Italian literature, and was well read in German; and through his habit of constantly illustrating one author by another and one literature by another, he taught his pupils to look on letters as a whole.

He published editions with notes of the 'Iphigenia' and 'Helena' of Euripides (1851), of the 'Ion' of Euripides (1851, 1853, and 1861), of Plato's 'Philebus' (1855 and 1878), of Plato's 'Euthydemus' and 'Laches' (1865); also 'Criticism applied to Shakspere,' Lond. 1840, 8vo, being a partial reprint of a series of essays published originally in the 'Surplice' newspaper; 'The Text of Shakspeare' in 'Cambridge Essays, contributed by members of the University,' Lond. 1850, pp. 201-290; and 'Adhortatio ad Juventutem Academicam Sydneiensem,' 1869.

[Private information; Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Feb. 1884, also mail edition 6 March 1884; Times, 10 and 14 April, 1884; Crockford's Clerical Directory (1882); Saturday Review. 26 April 1884, p. 641; Athenæum, 19 April 1884, p. 506; Illustrated Sydney News, 15 March 1884, p. 2; Heaton's Australian Dict, of Dates and Men of the Time (1879), 7; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.]

T. C.