Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bruckner, John

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BRUCKNER, JOHN (1726–1801), Lutheran divine, was born on 31 Dec. 1726 at Kadzand, a small island of Zeeland, near the Belgian frontier. He was educated for the ministry, chiefly at the university of Franeker, where be studied Greek under Valckenaer; and held a charge at Leyden. In 1752 a business journey to Holland was made by Mr. Columbine, elder of the Norwich church of Walloons, or French speaking Flemings, founded earl in the reign of Elizabeth, and holdin thc church of St. Mary the Less on lease gem the corporation from March 1637. Columbine was directed to seek a fit successor to Valloton, late pastor of the Walloon church. On his introduction, Bruckner, who could preach in Latin, Dutch, French, and English, settled in Norwich in 1753. In addition to his duties at St. Mary the Less, he succeeded Dr. van Sam, about 1766, as pastor of the Dutch church, to whose use the choir of St. John the Baptist (the nave being used as the civic hall under the name of St. Andrew’s Hall) had been permanently secured from 1661. This charge was scarcely more than nominal, and that of the French church gradually became little else. In both cases there were small endowments. Bruckner held the joint charge till his death, and was thc lust regular minister of either church. He made a good income by teaching French. Mrs. Opie was among his pupils. He was a good musician an organist, and a clever draughtsman, as is attested by his portrait of his favourite dog; for he kept a horse and pointer, being fond of outdoor sports. The Norwich literary circle owed much to his culture and learning. He died by his own hand, while suffering from mental depression, on Saturday, 12 May 1804. He was buried at Guist, near Eoulsham, Norfolk. He had married in 1782 Miss Cooper of Guist, a former pupil, who predeceased him. Opie painted his portrait, which was exhibited) at the Royal Academy in 1800. In Mrs. Opie’s ‘Life’ a curious story is told about the expression of the eves in the portrait rcminding a visitor of the countenanceof a person who had committed suicide. One of Mrs. Opie’s ‘Lays’ is about this portrait. Bruckner wrote: 1. ‘Théorie du Système Animal,' Leyden, 1767 (anon.; in chaps. vii. and x. there is an anticipation of Malthusian views). 2. ‘A Philosophical Survey of the Animal Creation; an Essay wherein the general devastation and carnage that reign among diderent classes of animals are considered in a new point of view, and the vast increase of life and enjoyment derived to the whole from this necessity is clearly demonstrated,' Lond. 1768 (anon.; a translation of the foregoing). 3. ‘Criticisms on the Diversions of Purley. By John Cassander,’ 1790, 8vo (the name Cassander was suggested by his birthplace, and, according to Parr, recommended itself to him as a ‘peacemaker between the grammatical disputants;’ George Cassander (1515-1566) being a catholic divine who laboured for union between catholics and protestants. Horne Tooke replied in his edition of 1798). 4. ‘Thoughts on Public Worship,' 1792, 8vo (in reply to Gilbert Wakefield's ‘Enquiry into the Expediency and Propriety of Public or Social Worship,’ 1791. n his preface Bruckner promises a continuation). He began a didactic poem in French verse, intended to popularise the views of his ‘Théorie.' Four pathetic lines on his own wrinkled and ‘luguhre’ countenance are given in Mrs. Opic’s ‘Life.’

[Norfolk Tour, 1829, ii. 1074 (based on article by W. Taylor in the Monthly Mag.); Van der Aa's Biographisch Woordenboek der Nederlanden (errs respecting the date of death); Brightwell's Life of Amelia Opie, 1854, P. 29 seq.; Biblioth. Parriana, 1827, p. 268.]

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