Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hampton, James

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HAMPTON, JAMES (1721–1778), translator of 'Polybius,' baptised on 2 Nov. 1721, was the son of James Hampton of Bishop's Waltham, Hampshire. He entered Winchester College in 1733, whence he was elected a scholar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, matriculating on 20 July 1739 (Kirby, Winchester Scholars, p. 238; Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1715-1886, ii. 597). There is a doubtful story that when Lord Peterborough and Pope visited Winchester College and gave prizes to the scholars for the best copies of verses on a subject proposed by Pope ('The Campaign of Valentia'), Hampton was one of the winners, and obtained a set of Pine's 'Horace' (Works of Pope, ed. Warton, viii. 221-2). At Oxford Hampton was distinguished alike for his scholarship and brutality. On one occasion he deliberately provoked a quarrel by kicking over a tea-table in the rooms of his old school-fellow, William Collins [q. v.] the poet (Gent. Mag. 1781, 11-12). He graduated B.A. in 1743, and M.A. in 1747, and took orders. As early as 1741 he evinced his liking for the history of Polybius by publishing 'A Fragment of the 6th Book, containing a Dissertation on Government, translated, with notes, by a Gentleman,' 4to, London. This was followed by a translation of the first five books and part of the fragments (2 vols. 4to, London, 1756-61), which between that date and 1823 went through at least seven editions. The version is vigorous, and on the whole faithful. Lord-chancellor Henley was so pleased with it that he presented Hampton, in 1762, to the wealthy rectory of Monkton-Moor, Yorkshire (Gent. Mag. 1762, 601), whereupon Hampton dedicated to Henley the second edition of his work. In 1775 he obtained the sinecure rectory of Folkton, Yorkshire, which he held with his other benefice (ib. 1775, 103). Hampton died at Knightsbridge, Middlesex, apparently unmarried, in June 1778 (Probate Act Book, P. C. C., 1778; Gent. Mag. 1802, pt. i. pp. 6, 130). He left his property to William Graves of the Inner Temple (will registered in P. C. C. 284, Hay). Hampton's other works were: 1. 'An Essay on Ancient and Modern History,' 4to, Oxford, 1746, which contains a remarkably acute character of Burnet as an historian (Warton, Essay on Pope, ii. 293). 2. 'A Plain and Easy Account of the Fall of Man. In which the distinct agency of an evil spirit is asserted, and the objection, taken from the silence of Moses upon that point, fully answered,' 8vo, London, 1750. 3. Two Extracts from the sixth Book of the general history of Polybius, . . . translated from the Greek. To which are prefixed some reflections tending to illustrate the doctrine of the author concerning the natural destruction of mixed governments, with an application of it to the state of Britain,' 4to, London, 1764.

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