Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Toup, Jonathan

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TOUP, JONATHAN (1713–1785)—in later years he latinised his name as Joannes—philologer and classical editor, came from a family resident for several generations in Dorset. His father, Jonathan Toup, exhibitioner of Wadham College, Oxford, 1703–4, afterwards curate and lecturer of St. Ives, Cornwall (bur. at St. Ives on 4 July 1721), married Prudence (1691–1773), daughter of John Busvargus of St. Just in Penwith, Cornwall. After Toup's death Prudence married as her second husband John Keigwin, vicar of Landrake and St. Erney, who died in 1761, and left his widow sole executrix. They had two daughters, Prudence and Anne. Charles Worth, attorney of St. Ives, married, first, Mary, full sister of Toup; secondly, Prudence (b. 1727), his half-sister. The other half-sister, Ann (who died on 28 March 1814, aged 83), married John Blake. It was an imprudent marriage, and after his death in 1763 the widow and her three daughters lived with Toup. All the three daughters married into the family of Nicolas, and the eldest son of the youngest sister, who alone had issue, was John Toup Nicolas [q. v.], to whom came Toup's property.

Toup was born at St. Ives in December 1713, and baptised on 5 Jan. 1713–14. On the mother's second marriage her brother, William Busvargus, last male of that family, adopted the child as his own. Jonathan was educated at St. Ives grammar school, and afterwards by the Rev. John Gurney, who kept a private school at St. Merryn in Cornwall. From 15 March 1732–3 to 13 Nov. 1739 he was battellar of Exeter College, Oxford (Boase, Ex. Coll. Commoners, p. 323), where John Upton was his tutor during his complete course (Gent. Mag. 1790, ii. 792). He graduated B.A. on 14 Oct. 1736, but did not proceed to the degree of M.A. until 1756, when he took it from Pembroke College, Cambridge. He was ordained deacon on 6 March 1736, and three days later was licensed to the curacy of Philleigh in his native county. This he served for little more than two years, and on 29 May 1738 he was licensed as curate of Buryan, also in Cornwall, having proceeded to priest's orders on the previous day. Through the influence or purchase of his uncle Busvargus, he was presented on 28 July 1750 to the rectory of St. Martin's-by-Looe, and held it until his death. This uncle died without issue in June 1751, and Toup's mother came into possession of all his property, which passed at her death to Toup.

In his remote parish Toup pursued severe classical studies without interruption. The first part of his great work, the ‘Emendationes in Suidam,’ came out in 1760, the second in 1764, and the third in 1766. They were followed by an ‘Epistola Critica’ to Bishop Warburton, in which Toup indulged in some sneers at Bishop Lowth, and flattered Warburton for his assimilation of learning, both sacred and profane. This was published in 1767, and a volume of ‘Curæ novissimæ sive appendicula notarum et emendationum in Suidam’ was dated 1775. Copies of these volumes at the British Museum have manuscript notes by Charles Burney and Jeremiah Markland. A second edition of the complete set was published, with F. H. Starcke as editor, at Leipzig, in four volumes (1780–1), and another issue, partly edited by Thomas Burgess, D.D., came from the Clarendon press at Oxford in 1790 (4 vols. 8vo). This edition was due to the rarity of the previous impressions, and to the gift to the university by Toup's niece and heiress of his ‘adversaria,’ containing his criticisms on Suidas. The ‘notæ breves’ (1790 edit. iv. 419–29) were by Thomas Tyrwhitt [q. v.]; others (ib. iv. 433–506) were by Porson, and, though his name is hidden under the initials ‘A.R.P.C.S.S.T.C.S.,’ these notes first gave the world full proof of Porson's powers. The first draft of Porson's preface, expressing ‘the highest respect for Toup's abilities and learning,’ is printed in Beloe's ‘Sexagenarian’ (2nd edit.), ii. 298–9; an English translation is in Watson's ‘Porson,’ pp. 89–91 (cf. also Porson, Tracts, ed. Kidd, pp. 184–9). Toup's labours are embodied in Gaisford's ‘Suidas.’

These volumes obtained an immense reputation at home and abroad. Hurd wrote to Warburton (24 Feb. 1764, and 29 June 1766) in their praise, and lauded Toup's critical power and skill in the niceties of Greek, though he called him ‘a piece of a coxcomb,’ and condemned his ‘superior airs.’ Warburton admitted that learning had been much neglected by the church grandees, but pointed out that he had recommended Toup for higher preferment (Letters from a late Prelate, pp. 257–8, 279–80). Schweighäuser dilated on his wonderful and felicitous sagacity (Emendationes in Suidam, pref. p. 2), and in the notes to Dalzel's ‘Collectanea Græca majora’ his acuteness is the constant subject of remark (ii. 137, 202, 208, 242, 263). Most scholars condemned his immoderate language and his boorish conduct; but a writer, probably the Rev. John Mitford, in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ (1841, i. 349), tries to remove the reproach by quoting Toup's favourable epithets on other scholars.

Warburton, whose patronage was in the first instance unsought by Toup, recommended the scholar to various divines, including Keppel, his diocesan, and Secker, the archbishop of the province. Another prelate urged him to settle in London or Oxford for improved means of study, and also for better chances of preferment. In 1767 Secker desired him to assist in bringing out a new edition of Polybius, but forgot to help him with a better benefice. It is said that Warburton one day asked Keppel very abruptly whether he had taken care of Toup. ‘Toup, who is Toup?’ was the reply. ‘A poor curate in your diocese,’ said Warburton, ‘but the first Greek scholar in Europe,’ and he extorted from Keppel a promise of preferment. A letter from Toup to Warburton (27 June 1767) is in Kilvert's ‘Selection’ (Warburton, Works, xiv. 247–8).

When Thomas Warton brought out in 1770 an edition of ‘Theocritus’ in two quarto volumes, it included (ii. 327–44) an epistle from Toup to him ‘de Syracusiis’ and (ii. 389–410) many notes, which were dedicated to Dr. Heberden. Several letters from Toup to Warton on this work, and one on the subsequent edition of Longinus, are printed in Wooll's ‘Memoir of Joseph Warton’ (pp. 318–320, 364–5, 377–8). A prurient note by Toup on Idyll xiv. 37 gave such offence to some people, among whom was Lowth, that the vice-chancellor of the university prevailed on the editor to cancel the leaf and substitute another in its place. In 1772 Toup published, with a dedication to the Archbishop of Canterbury, a volume of ‘Curæ Posteriores,’ or further notes and emendations on Theocritus. In this work he refers to the cancelled note, and has at least three sneering references to the ‘Hebræculi,’ Lowth and Kennicott, of Oxford (Barker, Parriana, ii. 260–1). Reiske, in a letter to Thomas Warton, disparages Toup as ‘homo truculentus et maledicus,’ who had heaped injuries and atrocities on him without any provocation (Mant, Warton, pp. xlvi–vii). He also complained to Askew of Toup's conduct, and in his ‘Oratores Græci,’ iii. 608 (Æschines against Ctesiphon), retorted with an angry note.

After a preparation of thirty-five years Toup's admirable edition of Longinus, in Greek and Latin, came out in 1778. When Ruhnken heard that it was in contemplation, he hastened to send him his notes, and his assistance was mentioned on the title-page. A second edition was issued in 1778, a third in 1806, and their notes were included in the edition of Benjamin Weiske (Leipzig 1809, and Oxford 1820). Ruhnken afterwards regretted that he had given this assistance, for Toup sometimes appropriated to himself the merit of others, and had not even sent him a presentation copy of the work, but he gloried in Toup's ingenious and facile corrections (Life, by Wyttenbach, pp. 168–9, 172–3, 218–20; Letters of Ruhnken to Wyttenbach, 1834 edit. pp. 5, 7, 8, 19, 45). The edition was reviewed in Wyttenbach's ‘Bibliotheca Critica’ (i. pt. iii. 30–52) with great admiration for the perfervid ingenuity of the conjectures. It was the gift of a copy of Toup's Longinus that first inclined Porson to classical research.

Toup's talents were employed without cessation. Notes by him appeared in Sammet's edition of the ‘Epistolæ’ of Æschines (1771), in the second edition of John Shaw's Apollonius Rhodius (1779), in William Bowyer's edition of Bentley on the Epistles of Phalaris (1777), in the Oxford edition of Cicero ‘de officiis’ (1821), and in the edition by J. C. Orellius of the ‘Anecdota of Procopius Cæsariensis.’ He had long meditated an issue of Polybius, and had made extensive annotations for that purpose.

The admonition of Warburton to the bishop of Exeter bore fruit. When Toup was more than sixty years old he was appointed by Bishop Keppel on 14 May 1774 to a prebendal stall at Exeter, and, on the bishop's nomination, was admitted on 29 July 1776 to the vicarage of St. Merryn, the parish in which he had been partly educated. These preferments he held, with his rectory, to his death, and on 20 July 1776 he was complimented by his appointment as chaplain to his old friend, Bishop Hurd of Lichfield. His protracted labours weakened his intellectual powers, and for some years before his death he was imbecile (Dr. Parr, Works, i. 534). He was unmarried, and after his mother's death he was cared for by his half-sister, Mrs. Blake, and her three daughters, the eldest of whom was Phillis Blake. He died at St. Martin's rectory on 19 Jan. 1785, and was buried under the communion table of the church. A small marble tablet was erected to his memory on the south wall of the church by Miss Phillis Blake, and the inscription on a round brass plate beneath records that the cost was defrayed by the delegates of the University Press, Oxford.

Toup's library was sold, with the Spanish books of Dr. Robertson, on 10 May 1786 and five following days. Many of the books contained manuscript notes by him, and some of them are now at the British Museum. His copy of Küster's ‘Suidas,’ full of his notes, was acquired by the university of Oxford. Toup bequeathed to the Clarendon Press his manuscript notes on Polybius, and Phillis Blake gave the rest of his papers. They are now at the Bodleian Library. She presented to Warton the copy of his edition of Theocritus which belonged to Toup. Sir N. H. Nicolas, in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ 1823, ii. 326–8, promised to print the letters in his possession which had been written to Toup by some of the most learned scholars of the day, and Edward Richard Poole, B.A., F.S.A., issued in 1828 proposals for publishing a volume of similar letters, but both promises were broken. Toup's correspondence from 1747 to 1770 formed lot 1249 in the collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps's manuscripts which were sold by Sotheby & Wilkinson in June 1896. Transcripts of and extracts from letters addressed to him by Dr. Askew and others, and copies of a few letters by Toup himself, are in Addit. MS. 32565 at the British Museum, which formerly belonged to the Rev. John Mitford. His letters to Jean d'Orville are in MS. 17363 at the Bodleian Library (Madan, Western MSS. iv. 128). The unpublished sermon by Toup, which was formerly in Dawson Turner's collection, is now in the Dyce Library at South Kensington Museum, where is also a copy, with manuscript notes by him, of the 1614 edit. of the dissertations of Maximus Tyrius (Dyce, Cat. i. 8, ii. 69). A letter by him is in Harford's ‘Thomas Burgess,’ pp. 29–30.

A harsh and in some respects inaccurate account of Toup was contributed to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ 1786, ii. 652–4, but it allows that he was very charitable to the poor of his parish. He lived apart, without sufficient personal intercourse with other scholars, and this isolation led to excessive self-confidence. He possessed an ‘uncompromising independence of mind and a hatred of servility,’ and censure of others was with him more frequent than praise. His name appears among the seven great classical scholars in England during the eighteenth century that were lauded by Burney, and he is said to have enjoyed a ‘peculiar felicity in discovering allusions and quotations’ (European Mag. vii. 410–11). Latin lines on him by the Rev. Stephen Weston are in Nichols's ‘Literary Anecdotes,’ ix. 496; but an article by that critic in the ‘Archæologia,’ xiv. 244–8, on the Ogmian Hercules of Lucian, deals severely with an emendation suggested by him. Parr spoke of the faulty Latin of Toup and some other great scholars in England (Parr, Works, vii. 385–403; Wordsworth, Scholæ Academicæ, pp. 93–100).

[Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Boase's Ex. Coll. Commoners; Gent. Mag. 1785, i. 79, 185–7 (by Rev. Benjamin Forster), 340–1, 1786 i. 525–6, ii. 652–4, 860–1, 1030–1, 1787 i. 216–17, 1793 ii. 811, 1078–80, 1193, 1823 ii. 37, 326–8 (both by Sir N. H. Nicolas); Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ii. 339–46, 427–8, iii. 37, 58, 251, iv. 289, 489, viii. 248, ix. 648–9; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. viii. 447, 558–62; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. xii. 185, 7th ser. viii. 58; Watson's Warburton, pp. 461, 597–8; C. S. Gilbert's Cornwall, ii. 46, 170–171; D. Gilbert's Cornwall, ii. 265–6, iii. 123; Parochial Hist. of Cornwall, ii. 264–5, 296, iii. 267–70; Bond's Looe, pp. 18–20; Polwhele's Biogr. Sketches, ii. 132–46; Vivian's Visit. of Cornwall, pp. 64, 588, 601; Polwhele's Reminiscences, ii. 183–4; information from Mr. Arthur Burch, F.S.A., Diocesan Registry, Exeter, and from Mr. Madan, Bodleian Library.]

W. P. C.