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THE intrinsic interest of the essays contained in this volume, together with the high reputation of their author as a historian, a scholar, and a divine, might seem to render it unnecessary to recommend them to the attention of the reader by any prefatory observations. But, in addition to the value they will otherwise possess, it is hoped they will serve as some memorial of a character and a career which ought to be better known, and which deserve to be permanently remembered. The circumstances, indeed, of the author's life which concern other than private friends are few and simple. But they are connected with some of the chief movements of thought during the last half-century; they add a peculiar value to all he wrote, and a knowledge of them will enhance the interest of this volume. He had also a very large number of friends and pupils-among whom the present writer had the privilege of being numberedwho will be grateful for a brief record of his life and work.
John Sherren Brewer was born in the year 1810,
and was descended from an old Kentish family. His father, who had the same Christian names, was born in the communion of the Church of England, but joined that of the Baptists. He was a learned Biblical scholar, and devoted himself during his spare hours to the study of Hebrew. He naturally held a high position among the Dissenters, and for many years conducted with great success a school at Norwich. Out of a very large family, only four sons arrived at man's estate, of whom the eldest is the subject of this memoir. Notwithstanding his father's dissenting predilections he was sent to Oxford, and after a short time joined the Church of England. But the years he had passed in a dissenting communion were probably the origin of one branch of his extensive reading. He possessed a most intimate and most rare knowledge of the writings of the Puritans; and this circumstance adds a special value to the views he subsequently held respecting the history of the Stuart times. At Oxford he took a First Class In Litteris Humanioribus in one of the most distinguished years of a period when the class lists in that school contained a remarkable number of names which have since become eminent. There were only two other members of the same First Class in Easter term, 1832, one the present Lord Blachford, then Mr. Frederick Rogers, the other Sir Francis Doyle. Traditions are still current at Oxford of the unusual range of reading in which Mr. Brewer offered to be examined. He became a singular master of the most characteristic scholarship of that university, and
his whole mind was imbued with its classical and philosophical influences.
His subsequent career at Oxford was, however, but brief. He married very early, and was thus precluded from obtaining a Fellowship. He resided, however, at the university for a while, giving instruction as a private tutor; and an edition of Aristotle's Ethics' which he prepared during this period, though long out of print, still maintains a place among the text-books on that subject, and is valued for some peculiar excellences. But his wife's father lost his fortune soon after their marriage ; death and infirmity befell his children; and amidst domestic troubles and afflictions he removed to London. Here the whole of his subsequent career was passed. It was a laborious and anxious, and often a troubled one; but it brought into full activity his various energies and capacities, and called into play for the purposes of an active professional life all the culture and learning with which he left the university. He ceased to be only a scholar; but the influences of a very refined scholarship added, to the last, an unusual grace and delicacy to all his literary work.
It was by another of the influences of the Oxford life of those days that the commencement of his career in London would seem to have been determined. He had heartily joined the movement of religious thought into which so large a proportion of the younger members of the university were then drawn, and he was admitted to some intimacy with
its leader, the present Cardinal Newman. He con ceived for Dr. Newman a deep admiration and a warm attachment; in spite of their subsequent separation in thought and life, he retained to the last that attachment and admiration; and friendly letters from time to time passed between them with reference to Mr. Brewer's publications. Under the religious convictions thus fostered he resolved to enter the ministry of the Church, and he was ordained deacon on December 17, 1837. The choice of his sphere of work was eminently characteristic of him, and marks, perhaps, his sympathy with one of the noblest aspects of the Oxford movement. On the day of his ordination he became chaplain of the workhouse of the joint parishes of St. Giles's in the Fields and St. George's, Bloomsbury.
It might seem at first a very strange duty for a man of such training and such capacities to undertake. It is probably difficult in the present day to realise the circumstances amidst which he had to work. A new workhouse has now been built in Endell Street, and some of the worst parts of St. Giles's parish have been cleared away by the reconstruction of neighbouring streets. Great changes have been introduced into workhouse management; it was then simpler and less formal than at present; and the chaplain would naturally be brought more closely in contact with the ordinary circumstances of the suffering poor. In this workhouse, and amongst these poor people, Mr. Brewer worked for nearly eight years, until July 1845. About the same time as he