Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 51.djvu/228

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dition as a faithful account of the Israelitish state, he was behind the best criticism of his time. A question of more general interest than rabbinical law was approached in his edition of a fragment of the history of Eutychius ('Eutychii Ægyptii, patriarchæ orthodoxorum Alexandrini, Ecclesiæ suæ origines,' 1642). The purpose of this work was to adduce fresh evidence in favour of the view of the original relations between the episcopate and the presbytery advocated by Salmasius and impugned by Petavius. It was attacked with bitterness by Roman catholic writers, and answered in a bulky work by the Maronite Abraham Ecchellensis seven years after Selden's death. The charge of inaccurate scholarship brought against Selden's translation of the Arabic seems unjust, and indeed Selden's acquaintance with the Arabic language, though not profound, was equal to that of any of the European scholars who preceded Edward Pococke [q. v.] It was urged with greater justice that the authority of so late a writer as Eutychius (876–940) was insufficient for Selden's purpose. Nevertheless Selden proceeded to prepare an edition of the whole of Eutychius's chronicle, and left instructions in his will that it should be completed by Pococke.

Selden doubtless derived part of his ample means from his employment as steward of the Earl of Kent and from the liberality of the countess. At their country seat at Wrest in Bedfordshire he invariably spent his vacations. After the earl died, in 1639, Selden continued to manage the estate of the dowager countess. By a deed of 6 July 1648 she gave to Selden (in the event of her dying without issue, which happened) an interest for his life and twenty-one years after in her estates in the counties of Leicester and Warwick, and by her will in 1649 she gave to him all her personal estate, including leaseholds. At some date not ascertained he took up his residence in her town mansion, a large house with a garden, called the Carmelite or White Friars, situate a short distance east of the Temple. Aubrey repeats a story, which is probably false, that Selden married the countess, but never acknowledged the fact till after her death, which took place in 1651. Her mansion he speaks of, not without pride, as 'Museum meum Carmeliticum' (De Synedr. lib. iii. c. 14, s. 9). It contained his Greek marbles, his Chinese map and compass, his curiosities in crystal, marble, and pearl, his cabinets and cases, all indicated by letters, and, above all, his incomparable library. Selden lived in considerable style (he leaves legacies to four men described as his servants); he was never without learned company, and, though personally temperate, he kept a liberal table.

On 10 Nov. 1654 Whitelocke advised with Selden as to alterations in his will which increasing weakness prevented. He died at Carmelite House on 30 Nov. 1654. Of his deathbed several narratives have been preserved, though none of them seem to be first-hand accounts. One given by Aubrey represents him as refusing to see a clergyman through the persuasion of Hobbes; another, found in the Rawlinson MSS. at the Bodleian, as refusing to receive Hobbes, confessing his sins, and receiving absolution from Archbishop Ussher, and as expressing the wish that he had rather executed the office of a justice of the peace than spent his time in what the world calls learning (Macray, Annals of the Bodleian Library, 2nd edit. p. 110 n.). According to 'Historical Applications and Occasional Meditations, by a Person of Honour' (1670), he was attended by his friends Archbishop Ussher and Dr. Langbaine, and told them that 'at that time he could not recollect any passage out of infinite books and manuscripts he was master of wherein he could rest his soul, save out of the holy scriptures, wherein the most remarkable passage that lay upon his spirit was Titus ii. 11–14.' Selden was buried in the Temple Church 'magnificently' (says Wood), in the presence of all the judges and of other persons of distinction.

He appears to have died possessed of considerable property both real and personal, a small part only of which he bequeathed to relatives. By a codicil to his will he left some of his books to the university of Oxford (for so it seems to have been construed, notwithstanding an apparent defect), and others to the College of Physicians; the residue of his library he bequeathed to his executors, of whom Sir Matthew Hale was one, but with a gentle protest against its being sold. These books were offered by the executors to the Inner Temple on terms which were refused, and were subsequently given by them to the Bodleian at Oxford. According to Ayliffe (State of the University of Oxford, 1714, i. 462), eight chests, containing the registers of abbeys and other manuscripts relating to the history of England, were, after Selden's death, destroyed by fire in the Temple. Nevertheless, about eight thousand volumes, including many manuscripts and a few unique books, and many of much value, reached the Bodleian Library. Selden also bequeathed to the university of Oxford his Greek marble inscriptions about his house in Whitefriars, and his heads and statues of Greek workmanship. In Prideaux's 'Mar-