1821 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Vicesimus Knox

Anonymous, Obituary in New Monthly Magazine NS 3 (October 1821) 536-37.



Died, at Tunbridge, on the 6th ult. the Rev. Dr. Vicesimus Knox, after a short but painful illness. He was born in London in 1752. His father, who was master of Merchant Tailors' school, had been a fellow of St. John's College, Oxford, where he was entered under the name of Vicesimus Knock, B. C. L. Oct. 19, 1753; but what occasioned the change in the spelling of the name, we are not informed. The son received his education under his parent; after which he removed to the same college on an exhibition, obtained a fellowship, and took the degree of M.A. in 1779. By the interest of his father, he obtained the mastership of Tunbridge School, where he married the daughter of an eminent bookseller, and discharged the duties of his situation until 1812; he then resigned in favour of his son, the Rev. T. Knox. Dr. Knox received the degree of D.D., we believe, from an American University. Dr. Knox was, during life, an assertor of religious freedom. A zealous friend of the Establishment (as his various Theological Treatises evince), he considered its perfect security consistent with the most liberal toleration of all denominations of Christians: — an ardent lover of civil liberty, as asserted at the Revolution, and a warm philanthropist, all his works are interspersed either with the soundest constitutional principles, or with lessons of the purest benevolence. His polished style had long ranked him, as an author, among the classics of the country — especially in the department of the Belles Lettres. In the pulpit he possessed a most commanding eloquence; in private life none conciliated more affection and esteem. There was a singleness of heart that displayed itself in all his words and actions; his manners were unassuming, and his habits unobtrusive; but when not under the influence of an occasional depression, there was a fervour in his language that gave a peculiar and delightful animation to his conversation, which was enriched with all the stores of literature. The grand and distinguishing feature of his character was a noble independence of sentiment, that made him scorn the concealment of his opinions (however injurious personally to himself might be their avowal) wherever and whenever he felt, that the interests of learning, liberty, or truth were attacked. His Essays were published forty years since. The present improved state of the English Universities was a source of high satisfaction to him. His earliest efforts were to produce reform in their discipline. After encountering the usual opposition, which attends all who honestly and ably expose abuses, he had the gratification of finding his suggestions adopted, and their success complete. Another of his objects was to inculcate a general feeling of the folly and wickedness of war. It is a subject he frequently recurs to in his miscellaneous pieces. He translated a tract of Erasmus, entitled "Bellum dulce inexpertis," and named it "Antipolemus." A respectable Society has since been formed, who have taken the appellation of Antipolemists. The state of the world has certainly, of late, not been favourable to their merciful views. It is not intended in this hasty article to specify the numerous works of Dr. Knox; they have been too well received to make it necessary; few being more generally known. His last production was a pamphlet, written a few months since, upon the national advantages of "Classical Learning," a subject then likely to have come incidentally before Parliament. This composition may be taken, though produced upon a temporary occasion, as a fair specimen of the powers of the writer; for force of argument and splendour of diction, it has been rarely equalled.