1797 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. George Travis

Anonymous, Obituary in Monthly Magazine 3 (March 1797) 240.



At Hampstead, the Rev. G. Travis, archdeacon and prebendary of Chester, rector of Handley, and vicar of Eastham, both in Cheshire. This gentleman, the son of Mr. T. of Royton, in Lancashire, received the rudiments of his education at Manchester school, under Mr. Purnell, and was admitted a sizar in St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1761, under Mr. Abbot. He took the degree of batchelor, in 1765, and that of master in 1768. He was justly celebrated for his various knowledge, and particularly for his familiar acquaintance with the tythe laws; to which, if he had uniformly directed his researches, he might have passed through life with credit, or at least without literary censure. Unhappily, however, for his reputation, he undertook a task, for which he was by no means qualified, viz. to vindicate the much disputed passage in 1 John v. 7, and met with able antagonists, who exposed his want of critical acumen in every part of the controversy. Dr. Travis had not been familiarly accustomed either to Greek manuscripts, or to works of sacred criticism. He was, consequently, on entering into this province of theological polemics, a Tiro, compared with his antagonists. Griesbach, Porson, Marsh, and Pappellbaum, convicted him, at every turn, of palpable misinformation, if not misrepresentation. He was, however, of a temper not to be daunted; assertion was heaped upon assertion, and the stronger the proof appeared of his "imperitia," the stronger his pertinacity. His labours, however, have proved not a little useful to the world, having excited a closer attention of learned men to the MSS. of Stephens, to the Valensian Readings, and the MS. at Berlin, &c. relative to the authenticity of the present text of the Greek Testament, than had been hitherto paid to those subjects. To his attempts to defend a disputed reading, we may probably be indebted for the restoration of the text to its original purity. Though a pluralist, and a man of respectable talents, Mr. Travis had little of the stiffness of a churchman about him, being remarkably affable, facetious, and pleasant to all. The universality of his genius was evinced by the various translations in which he was concerned, and in all of which he excelled — presiding one day with propriety and ability at the head of a canal committee, the next superintending a sale of a lot of oxen, and the third, collecting, in his library, arguments in support of the doctrine of the Trinity. In his manners, the gentleman and the scholar were gracefully and happily blended. He was beloved by a very numerous circle of acquaintance.