1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Congreve, Richard

5855701911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 6 — Congreve, Richard

CONGREVE, RICHARD (1818–1899), English Positivist, was born at Leamington on the 4th of September 1818, and was educated at Rugby under Dr Arnold, who is said to have expressed a higher opinion of him than of any other pupil. After taking first-class honours at Oxford and gaining a fellowship at Wadham College, he spent some time as a master at Rugby, but returned to Oxford as a tutor. Soon after the revolution of 1848 he visited Paris, where he made the acquaintance of Barthélemy St Hilaire and Auguste Comte. He was so attracted by the Positive philosophy that he resigned his fellowship in 1855, and devoted the remainder of his life to the propagation of the Positive philosophy. He took a leading part in the work carried on in Chapel Street, Lamb’s Conduit Street. In 1878 he declined to admit the authority of Pierre Laffitte, Comte’s official successor, and the result was a split in the ranks of English Positivism, Frederic Harrison, Dr J. H. Bridges and Professor E. Beesly forming a separate society at Newton Hall, Fetter Lane. Congreve translated several of Comte’s works, and in 1874 published a large volume of essays, in which he advocated Comte’s view that it was the duty of Great Britain to renounce her foreign possessions. He was a man of high character, courtly manners and great intellectual capacity. He died at Hampstead on the 5th of July 1899.

Publications.—Roman Empire of the West (1855); annotated edition of Aristotle’s Politics (1855; 2nd ed., 1874); Catechism of the Positive Religion, translated from the French of A. Comte (1858; 3rd ed., 1891); Elizabeth of England (1862); Essays, political, social, and religious (1874; 2nd series, 1892); Historical Lectures (collected in one volume, 1902).