Rev. Joseph Spence

Viator, "Rev. Joseph Spence" Gentleman's Magazine 89 (November 1819) 412.

Sept. 18


In answer to the inquiries of Historicus, volume LXXXVIII. i. p. 98, the literary life of Spence, as given in the Biog. Dict. appears to be correct. He long lived in habits of intimacy with Edward Rudge, esq. of Wheatfield, Oxfordshire, M.P. for Evesham, Worcestershire, whom he attended as travelling tutor on a continental tour, about the year 1725. He collected for him abroad with judgment and discrimination, a considerable library, consisting chiefly of the best and most esteemed French authors; and after their return, he spent much of his time with that gentleman, both at Wheatfield and at his town residence in Grosvenor-square. After the decease of Mr. Rudge, in 1763, the mansion and estate at Wheatfield being obliged to be sold, his widow resided during the summer months at Weybridge in Surrey; Mr. Spence was here a constant inmate, and spent much of his time with her, as an old friend of the family. It was his constant practice to walk in the garden before breakfast; and one morning (Aug. 20, 1768), being later than usual in appearing at the breakfast table, Mrs. Rudge sent the servant into the garden to him, who found him lying on his face in the piece of water in the garden, near the margin, where it was very shallow, his hat was on the bank, and his dog sitting by it. His constitution was a very delicate one, and his health at this time much impaired; it was concluded that he fell in by accident, in reaching after something in the water, and was unable to extricate himself.

The portrait of Mr. Spence, which is engraved and published in the folio edition of his Polymetis, was painted by Isaac Whood for Mr. Rudge in the year 1739, which, together with the library collected by him, is now in the possession of his heir Edward Rudge, esq. of Wimpole Street.