1846 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Henry John Todd

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine NS 25 (March 1846) 322-24.



Dec. 24. At Settrington, Yorkshire, in his 83d year, the Rev. Henry John Todd, M.A. Rector of that place, Archdeacon of Cleveland, a Prebendary of York cathedral, and a Chaplain in Ordinary to her Majesty.

This literary veteran was a member of Hertford college, Oxford, and proceeded M.A., May 4, 1786. Soon after he was ordained he became a Minor Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, and was presented by the Dean and Chapter to the vicarage of Milton near that city in the year 1792. His first work was Some Account of the Deans of Canterbury, from the new Foundation of the Church by Henry VIII.; to which is added, a Catalogue of the MSS. in the Church Library, published in 8vo, 1793.

His "continual assistance," while at Canterbury, to Mr. Hasted, the historian of Kent, is warmly acknowledged by that author. (8vo edit. 1798, vol. vi. p. 192.

In 1798 he edited Milton's Masque of Comus, from a MS. copy belonging to the Duke of Bridgewater, with copious Notes and Illustrations; and this led to his proceeding with a complete edition of The Poetical Works of John Milton, with Notes of various Commentators, and a Life of Milton, which was published in six volumes 8vo, 1801, a second edition in 1810, a third in 1826, and a fourth in 1843. His payment from the booksellers for the first edition in 1801, was 200.

In 1802 he edited A Catalogue of the Books, both manuscript and printed, in the Library of Christ Church, Canterbury, 8vo; and in 1803 he published, A Sermon preached in the parish church of St. Chad, Shrewsbury, for the Salop Infirmary.

In 1805, having extended his poetical studies from Milton to Spenser, he published The Works of Edmund Spenser, with Notes, and the Life of the Author, in 8 volumes 8vo. This was reviewed by Sir Walter Scott in the Quarterly Review, rather severely, but justly.

In 1807 he wrote the preface to the Bibliotheca Reediana, the sale catalogue of the library of the celebrated Isaac Reed; whom he had frequently met at the hospitable board of Mr. Charles Dilly the bookseller, and who had left him a legacy. From Mr. Dilly also, in the same year, Mr. Todd received a legacy of five hundred pounds.

Mr. Todd had settled in London on being presented by the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury to the rectory of Allhallows, Lombard Street; and had fixed his residence in a court near Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, next door to Mr. Dilly.

In 1808, he printed Public Spirit, illustrated in the Life of the Rev. Dr. Bray. (Dr. Thomas Bray, the founder of Parochial Libraries.)

In 1810, Illustrations of the Lives and Writings of John Gower and Geoffrey Chaucer, collected from authentic documents, with a copious Glossary; and in the same year he edited, with a Preface and Notes, The Accomplishment of Prophecy in the Character and Conduct of Jesus Christ; from the impressive treatise of the Truth of the Christian Religion, by James Abbadie, D.D., formerly Dean of Killaloe.

In 1812, A Catalogue of the Archepiscopal Manuscripts in the Library at Lambeth Palace, with an Account of the Archiepiscopal Registers and other records there preserved. (Privately printed). He had then for some years held the appointment of Keeper of the Manuscripts at Lambeth.

In 1814 he undertook the revision of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, and the edition was published in parts, in quarto, forming two volumes. In a letter to the late Mr. Nichols, dated Aug. 31, 1814, he says, "At length the first part of my edition of Johnson is ready.... Remember, I profess to contribute only a portion towards completing what has avowedly been left imperfect: the truly candid and learned will therefore not be severe upon me." — He re-edited this work in the year 1827.

The edition of Milton's Comus, which we have already mentioned, gave Mr. Todd an introduction to the family of the Duke of Bridgewater, which had subsequently the most important effect upon his fortunes. He acquired the patronage of the Duke of Bridgewater and the Marquess of Stafford; and, subsequently, that of John Earl of Bridgewater, for whom he wrote The History of the College of Bonhommes, at Ashridge, founded by Edmund Earl of Cornwall; accompanied by a Description of the Gothic Mansion erected on its site by the Earl. This is a magnificent privately-printed folio volume, with numerous plates.

In 1818 Mr. Todd published a volume entitled Original Sin, Free Will, Regeneration, Faith, Good Works, and Universal Redemption, as maintained in certain Declarations of our Reformers, which are the groundwork of the Articles of our Established Church upon those subjects, with an important Account of Subscription to the Articles, in 1604, and an historical and critical Introduction to the whole, 8vo.; and in 1819 A Vindication of our authorised Translation and Translators of the Bible, and of the preceding English Versions. This work was occasioned by Mr. Bellamy's translation and Sir J. B. Burgess's defence of it. In the same year Mr. Todd also published Observations on the Metrical Version of the Psalms made by Sternhold, Hopkins, and others.

In 1821 Mr. Todd published Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Rt. Rev. Brian Walton, Bishop of Chester, with Notices of his Coadjutors in editing the London Polyglott Bible, to which is added, his own Vindication of that work.

In 1823 he privately printed An account of Greek MSS., chiefly Biblical, which had been in the possession of the late Professor Carlyle, the greater part of which are now deposited in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth Palace.

In 1825 he edited Archbishop Cranmer's Defence of the Doctrine of the Sacrament, in 8vo, prefixing thereto a vindication of Cranmer, which was also printed in 12mo. 1826.

In 1825 he also published A Letter to his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, concerning the authorship of Icon Basilikon, in which he asserted the claim of Bishop Gauden to have been the author.

In 1827 he published A Reply to Dr. Lingard's Vindication of his History of England, as far as respects Archbishop Cranmer.

In 1828, Of Confession and Absolution, and the Secresy of Confession, as maintained by the United Church of England, and as opposed to the statements of modern Romanists and their Advocates, 8vo.

In 1829, he edited Faith and Justification: two Discourses by Dr. Sharp, formerly Archbishop of York, and the late Owen Manning, B.D. with a Preface, noticing objections made by the present Archdeacon of Ely (Rev. J. H. Browne, M.A.) to a public declaration of these doctrines at the beginning of the Reformation in England, and with an Appendix of Notes, &c. 8vo.

And in the same year, Bishop Gauden the author of Icon Basilike, further shown, in answer to the Remarks of Dr. Wordsworth, &c. 8vo.

In 1831, he re-published his Life of Archbishop Cranmer, enlarged to two volumes octavo.

Mr. Todd re-edited his Milton, for the last time, in 1843; and his Spenser in 1845. He had revised the former, but had done little or nothing to the Spenser.

In the words of a correspondent of ours, "Mr. Todd was a very laborious student, and in some sense, a learned man; but the turn of his mind was not poetical; his pursuits, as may be seen from his publications, were antiquarian and bibliographical, and we have often wondered what could have induced him to put a step into the regions of Parnassus. He should have left Milton and Spenser to Southey and Scott. Had he been writing the life of Milton's father, the scrivener, the biography could not have been more dry and dull. Compare Scott's editions of Dryden and Swift with those by Dr. Todd, and then see, when a poet edits a poet, how the work is done. The rest of Dr. Todd's writings, lying within his proper sphere of knowledge and talent, are very respectable and useful contributions to literature."

He was formerly a frequent correspondent of this Magazine. In a letter dated Settrington, March 21, 1821, he writes, "I hope it may be now and then in my power, as soon as I am quite settled, to crave room of Sylvanus Urban for a page or two in his Miscellany, as in my younger days he often obliged me."

Mr. Todd was presented to the rectory of Settrington (value 1045) by John Earl of Bridgewater in 1820; and his necessary withdrawal from the literary society of London was much regretted by his friends. In 1830 he was collated by the Archbishop of York to the prebend of Husthwaite, in that cathedral church; and in 1832 he was appointed Archdeacon of Cleveland.