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Church of England Magazine.
MEMOIR OF THE VERY REV. ISAAC MILNER, D. D.
LATE DEAN OF CARLISLE ; PRESIDENT OF QUEEN'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE ;
AND LUCASIAN PROFESSOR OF MATHEMATICS IN THAT UNIVERSITY.
This eminent indvidual was born Miles Atkinson to call and examine in the neighbourhood of Leeds, his brother, and, if he found his Jan. 11, 1751. The misfortunes attainments considerable, or his and early death of his father seemed genius at all promising, to send to preclude all idea of the young
him down to Hull. In conformity Milners ever rising above the to this request, Mr. Atkinson humble condition of cloth manu- waited on Isaac, who was then facturers. The diligence, industry, about nineteen years of age, and and good conduct of these youths, found him at his loom with as has been before noticed, pro- Tacitus by his side. After undercured for them friends. Joseph was going an examination for some sent to school, and Isaac secured time, in the course of wbich he for himself at night the lessons displayed great accuracy of idea, which his brother had learned much general knowledge, and an during the day. When, however, astonishing command of language, Joseph went to College, Isaac lost he was thought perfectly qualified the opportunity of learning from to be sent to Hull; and accordhis brother, and as it was necessary ingly in a few days after, he bade
of subsistence adieu for ever to the humble occushould be obtained, he was bound pation of weaving: apprentice to a weaver. Yet It was about this time that the while labouring with diligence in change took place in Mr. Joseph his new situation, he carefully im- Milner's religious views, which we proved every moment of time, and have attempted to describe in his inade such further progress in bis life. With such an example beliterary pursuits, that when his fore him, it was natural that his brother Joseph was appointed brother Isaac should be deeply Master of the Grammar School at impressed; though he does not apHull, Isaac was found competent pear to have entirely embraced his to act as bis assistant:
brother's sentiments till a The heart of Joseph, says Dean what later period. He was' now, Milner, yearned over his brother however, diligently employed in Isaac ; but before he ventured to classical and mathematical purremove him from Leeds, he was suits. Mr. Milner's predecessor in anxious to proceed on sure grounds. the Grammar school was Mr. John He therefore wrote to the Rev. Clarke, who published a number
of paraphrastic translations of he had fixed his eye upon the first school authors, which were usually honours of the place, and possessed printed in parallel columns, to the perseverance and ability sufficient no small injury of the boys by to ensure their attainment. In the whom they were used. Mr. Milner year 1774, therefore, he became immediately banished these trans- senior wrangler with the honourable lations, and compelled his pupils distinction of incomparabilis, and to adopt the more laborious, but gained also the first mathematical surer way of learning their lessons prize. with the aid of a grammar and In the following year he was dictionary.
elected Fellow of Queen's, and His prospects were now turned employed in various offices in the toward the church, and after College and the University. In having assisted his brother for 1779 he was presented by his colsome time in the capacity of usher, lege to the Rectory of St. Boin 1770 he removed to Queen's tolph's in Cambridge, which was College, Cambridge, where he was then usually held by a Fellow, entered as a sizar.
and which he retained until bis Few persons ever went better appointment to a Lucasian Profesprepared to the University, or with sorship in 1798; though owing to talents more likely
to make a con- the infirm state of his health during spicuous figure. Besides his na- the greater part of the time, he tural assiduity and abilities, he had seldom officiated. He was nomithe advantage of being educated nated as Proctor in 1782, and Moby a person who had gone through derator in the years 1780, 1783, the University before him, and and 1785. In 1783, he was elected that person also a brother: who Jacksonian professor of Natural must have been therefore, a more and Experimental Philosophy, sedulous instructor than
other. prior to which he had published a While a tutor at Hull, Isaac Syllabus, and given lectures on Milner had made himself a com- Chemistry While engaged in petent classic. His knowledge of these studies he appears to have mathematics must have been also laid the foundation of some of those very considerable,-since, on the serious complaints with which he occurrence of any difficulty in was subsequently afflicted by inalgebra, it was usual with his bro- cautiously inhaling some noxious ther Joseph to send to him for an gas, which produced a very injuexplanation; which though the rious effect on his lungs. Mr. elder brother might have been able Milner ranked very high among the to make out himself, the readiness chemists of his day, and the of Isaac always saved him that French are said to have availed trouble. He thus acquired consi. themselves of his discoveries conderable knowledge before he went cerning the composition of nitre to to the University: and another improve their gunpowder. great cause of his success was the In the early part of 1788, Procircumstance of bis spending the fessor Milner accompanied his long vacation at his brother's school friends Mr. Pitt and Mr. Wilberin his original employments; while force to the Continent, and soon he not only retained what he after his return was chosen Prehąd learnt, but was yearly ena- sident of the college, to which as bled to add considerably to his a student he had done so much Cambridge acquirements. All the credit. Before his election, this time of his being an under-gra- venerable asylum of Erasmus had duate was spent in indefatigable greatly decreased in reputation; study. Confident in his abilities, but began from that time to assume something of its ancient conse- maintain. One of the party, the Rev. quence, by the rapid increase and W. Frend, then Fellow of Jesus respectability of its students. It College, proceeded so far as, in a was always the wish of the worthy sermon before the University, pubpresident, that Queen's should not licly to oppose the faith once delibe behind any college in the means vered to the saints, and to publish of instruction : with this end in some pamphlets of a very obview, he introduced men of the noxious character. The Vice-Chanbest abilities from other colle- cellor was therefore called upon ges among the fellows of Queen's, to exert the powers entrusted to who found in him a steady friend him for the suppression of this auand patron. The interior manage- dacious proceeding. This led to a ment of the college was also much solemn trial in the Senate House, improved by the correction of many and after every artifice had been abuses which had been sanctioned resorted to by Mr. Frend and his by long prescription. Ad deterius supporters, he was at length bais the tendency of every institution, nished the University. The prounless this salutary interference of ceedings were protracted by the authority sometimes occurs. Few, defendant during three months ; however, have fortitude enough like but the decree of banishment from the late Dean Milner, to brave the the University, pronounced by the obloquy which innovation, how: Vice-Chancellor, was confirmed by ever laudable, is apt to produce. the Court of Delegates ; the Rev. At the time when he was under- W. Frend was compelled to leave graduate, it was the custom for Cambridge, and eventually relinsizars to wait on the fellows, to quishing his clerical habit and title, dine after they had done, to ring he settled in London, and became the chapel bell, and to be subject projectorof,and actuary to the Rock to other degrading circumstances. Assurance Company. Dr. Milner These servile distinctions, Mr. Mil- was of course violently assailed ner also abolished, recollecting how with obloquy for the manly and injurious they were to his former decided part which he acted; but feelings.
his conduct on this occasion deSoon after Professor Milner's served and obtained the undivided appointment to the Presidency of approbation of the friends of Queen's College he proceeded Dr. religion ; though it excited very of Divinity and was elected Vice- considerable enmity, and exposed Chancellor in 1792. While dis- him in after-life to many assaults charging the duties of this office he from the advocates of those princiwas very unexpectedly called to an ples which he had so effectually undertaking of considerable diffi- contributed to repress. A full narraculty, and of an invidious charac- rative of the proceedings has never ter. There had been for some years yet appeared from any impartial a party of Socinians in the Univer- hand." The only printed accounts sity endeavouring to propagate their were prepared and published by the pernicious and destructive doc- defendant and his friends, and they trines. Though professing them- evince that same want of principle, selves clergymen of the Church of and that same spirit of misEngland, and, as such, subscribing representation which might naher articles, and enjoying in conse- turally be expected from one who quence of such subscription, certain was desirous of retaining the emoluemoluments, they did not hesitate to ments resulting from an office, while adopt the dishonest part of endea- he abjured the principles which he vouring to subvert that faith which had solemnly professed on entering they were solemnly pledged to into that office.
It was a most providential cir- was yet in that state of health as cumstance that the office of Vice- to be almost necessarily confined Chancellor was at this period sus- during the greater part of the wintained by Dr. Milner. Few of the ter within the walls of his lodge. other heads of colleges in that A report drawn up by four or day possessed either the know- five eminent medical men, and laid ledge or the firmness equal to the before the heads of colleges on bis arduous situation. It was just at first election to the office of Vicethe time when the French revo- Chancellor, induced the Heads to lution was
at its height, when divide amongst themselves almost Jacobinical principles had spread all that part of the Vice-Chancelvery widely in this country, when lor's duty which required him to some very decided and unscrupu- leave bis chamber ; and especially lous advocates for these principles to dispense with his attendance at were resident in Cambridge, and the University church. Yet notwhen in consequence of the insidi- withstanding this his feeble state ous policy and unwearied efforts of of health, he was enabled without Socinians and republicans, a for- interruption to persevere in all the midable body of the junior mem- arduous and embarrassing exertions bers of the University were pre- which this lengthened trial repared to go all lengths with Mr. quired. Frend. But Dr. Milner came And now, at the distance of alwell armed to the field. His most half a century, we may well attention had early been called to look back and contemplate the the subject; while yet an under- inestimable services resulting from graduate, and at a time when most his exertions, and the exertions of of the leading members of his col- those who animated and assisted lege were supposed to be far from him in this arduous service, Of orthodox in the faith, he was the the twenty-seven who met at only student in the college who at Queen's Lodge, and drew up the the great hazard of every prospect resolutions which led to these proof advantage he had at that time ceedings, only two or three now in the world, refused to join in a
remain : but if he or they bad petition against subscription to the shrunk from the invidious and arArticles of our Church.*
duous task, it is impossible to forefusal was founded on principle, and see the evils which would have his conviction of the truth and im
But from that moment, portance of these principles in- Socinians, infidels, and republicans creased to his dying day. He was found that they could no longer therefore fully prepared for the proceed with impunity. Men of conflict; was unmoved by ridicule corrupt principles very rarely or sarcasm ; patiently endured the possess any portion of the martyr's reproach with which he was assail. spirit ; and as might consequently ed, and referred, many years, after be anticipated, they in the present with lively feelings of gratitude to instance gradually relinquished the Almighty God to the part which field. The advocates of pure and he was on this occasion enabled to undefiled religion were animated to sustain.
increased exertion; and though some circumstances Cambridge and its neighbourhood connected with this case which was at one time very much under should not be lost sight of. Dr. Socinian influence, few professors Milner, though of Herculean frame, of that baneful system are now to and not very far advanced in life, be found either in the town or the
University. * See Strictures on Marsh, 361.
Dr. Milner was in the year 1798
elected Lucasian Professor of Ma- cellor gave rise to some difficulties. thematics,--an office which he Dr. Browne was so ill-advised as retained to his death. During his to proceed in one of the courts at residence in Cambridge, where he Westminster against a gentleman chiefly remained from October to who had mentioned in the SenateJuly; he was necessarily very House his reasons for voting against much confined to his lodge; but him. The Vice-Chancellor was came out on all great and important therefore called upon to interfere, occasions, and applied his mind and claimed the privilege of the with considerable diligence to the University to decide in all such concerns of his college, and of the cases between its own members. university, as well as to his private The claim was of course allowed ; studies. A great part of his time but on a day being fixed by the was employed in the continuation Vice-Chancellor to receive Dr. of the History of the Church com- Browne's accusation, he declined menced by his brother; of which appearing, though he subsequently the Dean had published two vo- published a pamphlet in his own lumes, and had collected materials vindication. On this pamphlet for two or three more, when his Dean Milner printed some very labours were interrupted by death. concise remarks, to which Dr. The volumes published by the Browne, made no reply. Dean are highly interesting. The In the latter part of 1811 an character of Luther especially is auxiliary Bible Society was formed displayed in a new and instructive in Cambridge under very peculiar light; while the Dean's observa- circumstances. Two HUNDRED tions continually display a master YOUNG MEN among the students mind, and compel us to regret the were most anxious to unite in aid loss of those parts for which he is of this valuable Institution; and in stated to have left materials, how- order to carry their design into ever ably that loss may have been effect solicited the advice and supplied by the valuable continua- assistance of their seniors. Their tion of the late Rev. John Scott. zealous efforts were ably supported
In 1809 Dean Milner was again by the late Professor Farish, Mr. elected Vice-Chancellor, a year ear- Simeon, Dr. Jowett, &c. and a lier than bis regular turn. This was in public meeting was in consequence consequence of some circumstances convened at the Town Hall, Dec. which induced the University to 12, 1811. The announcement of pass by Dr. Browne, the then this meeting immediately excited Master of Christ's College, who in opposition. Dr. Herbert Marsh, ordinary circumstances would have Margaret Professor of Divinity, been appointed. Dr. Browne was and subsequently Bishop of Peterindeed elected Vice-Chancellor two bro', published an address to the years after in consequence of the Members of the Senate of the strenuous exertions of his personal University of Cambridge, occafriends; but the correctness of the sioned by the proposal to introduce unfavourable views which a large an auxiliary Bible Society; in part of the University entertained which he drew an ingenious but concerning him, was very unex- very fallacious parallel between pectedly confirmed by his being the British and Foreign Bible expelled from the office of Master Society, and the Society for Proon an appeal to the visitor of his moting Christian Knowledge. This college.
address produced little effect; but The circumstances under which called forth some severe though Dr. Milner was thus a second time deserved animadversions from the elected to the office of Vice-Chan- different speakers at the Town