Peter Hall’s 1834 Memoir of Robert Lowth

Anthony Lowth sent us the following entry: 

In November last year a biography of Robert Lowth was posted on the Codifiers weblog to mark the anniversary of his death. This biography, which was originally published around the time of Lowth’s death in the Gentleman’s Magazine, was full of factual errors.

For those interested in a rather more accurate and detailed account of Robert Lowth’s career there is now on the web a scan of Rev.Peter Hall’s 1834 publication ‘Sermons and Other Remains of Robert Lowth, Lord Bishop of London’. This starts with a 45 page ‘memoir’ of Robert Lowth’s career. Included in this is a biography of Robert’s father William Lowth, said to have been written by the son.

To find this scan, open the Google homepage, click on More, then select  Book Search. Next enter ‘Lowth Sermons’ in the search box, and it will find, amongst other things, Peter Hall’s book.

Anyone reading this account of Lowth’s career who has a particular interest in his grammar is, I’m afraid, likely to be disappointed. There is only one short paragraph that mentions the grammar at all (see page 24). The work for which Robert Lowth is best known, and most often written about, is his series of lectures delivered at Oxford University about Sacred Hebrew Poetry. Having said that, I don’t think there can be much doubt that, 245 years later, it is his grammar that has had the greatest effect on greatest number of people. Sadly this is something he gets few thanks for from current generations.

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  1. Karlijn

    Winchester College, where Robert Lowth went to school from 1722 to 1729, possesses three copies of the first edition of A Short Introduction to English Grammar (1762)(Alston 1965:42). Roger Custance (p.c.), librarian of Winchester College, informed me that these three copies were presented to the school by Lowth’s memorialist, the Reverend Peter Hall (1802-1849). According to Custance, Hall, who was educated at Winchester College as well, collected books by authors who had attended this famous school.

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