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A Short Biographical Sketch of WILLIAM WARBURTON (1698 to 1779)

by John W. Cousin

WARBURTON, WILLIAM (1698-1779). —Theologian, b. at Newark, where his f. was an attorney. Intended for the law, he was for a few years engaged in its practice, but his intense love of, and capacity for, study led him to enter the Church, and in 1728 he was presented to the Rectory of Brand-Broughton, where he remained for many years. His first important work was The Alliance between Church and State (1736), which brought him into notice. But it was entirely eclipsed by his Divine Legation of Moses, of which the first part appeared in 1737, and the second in 1741. The work, though learned and able, is somewhat paradoxical, and it plunged him into controversies with his numerous critics, and led to his publishing a Vindication. It, however, obtained for him the appointment of chaplain to Frederick, Prince of Wales. In 1739 W. gained the friendship of Pope by publishing a defence of The Essay on Man. Through Pope he became acquainted with most of the men of letters of the time, and he was made by the poet his literary executor, and had the legacy of half his library, and the profits of his posthumous works. On the strength of this he brought out an ed. of Pope's works. He also pub. an ed. of Shakespeare with notes, which was somewhat severely criticised, and his Doctrine of Grace, a polemic against Wesley. He became Dean of Bristol in 1757 and Bishop of Gloucester in 1759. W. was a man of powerful intellect, but his temper was overbearing and arrogant.