Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Aldrich, Henry

ALDRICH, HENRY (1647–1710), divine and scholar, was born at Westminster in 1647, and educated at Westminster School under Busby; he became student of Christ Church in 1662, B.A. 1666, and M.A. 1669. In February 1681–2 he became canon of Christ Church, and in the following March B.D. and D.D. In 1687 and 1688 he wrote two tracts against Obadiah Walker in defence of Anglican principles; and upon the flight of Massey, the Roman catholic dean of Christ Church under James II, the vacant deanery was bestowed upon Aldrich. He was installed 17 June 1689, and held the office with much distinction for the rest of his life. In the same year he was placed upon the abortive ecclesiastical commission, intended to consider the liturgy, with a view to the scruples of nonconformists. The high-church members, Sprat, Aldrich, and Jane, ceased, after a short time, to attend the meetings. He was active and popular in his college. He made a practice of entrusting one of the scholars with an edition of some classical work, which was issued as a new year's gift to every young man in the college. In 1693 he requested Charles Boyle to edit the ‘Epistles of Phalaris,’ which had been brought into notice by a passage in one of Temple's essays. The publication led to the controversy with Bentley, carried on by the Christ Church wits, though it does not appear what, if any, part was taken by Aldrich. He showed his interest in the studies of the place by issuing, in 1691, a small treatise on logic, called the ‘Artis Logicæ Compendium,’ originally composed for the use of a son of Lord Carlisle. The book makes no pretension to originality, but it remained the popular text-book until the present day. The fourth issue of Dean Mansel's edition appeared in 1862; a considerable part is omitted as obsolete, but full illustrations from other writers upon logic swell it to a considerable size. It does not appear to have been since republished. Aldrich also wrote a treatise on geometry, which was never printed, and added some notes to Gregory's Greek Testament (Oxford, 1703). He was also entrusted, together with Sprat, with the publication of Clarendon's ‘Memoirs,’ and was accused by Oldmixon—after his death—of interpolating and altering them. The accusation was resented by Atterbury, and appears to have been entirely groundless. He was better known as an accomplished and hospitable don. He displayed his skill in architecture by designing the Peckwater quadrangle, and, it is said, the chapel of Trinity College, Oxford, and the church of All Saints, in the High Street. He was eminently skilled in music, and adapted English words to the airs of many Italian composers. He collected a large musical library, which he left to his college. Many of his compositions are in the Ely, Tudway, and Christ Church MSS. He composed or adapted from the Italian about thirty anthems. His well-known catch, ‘Hark, the bonny Christchurch bells,’ first appeared in the ‘Pleasant Musical Companion’ (1726). In the same publication appeared his smoking catch, ‘to be sung by four men smoking their pipes, not more difficult to sing than diverting to hear.’ His passion for smoking is illustrated by a story of a student who betted that he would find him smoking at ten a.m., and who lost the bet because Aldrich was not smoking but filling his pipe. His love of conviviality is also proved by his Latin translation of the old English song,

A soldier and a sailor,
A tinker and a tailor, &c.;

and he is the author of a well-known epigram on the reasons for drinking:—

Si bene quid memini, sunt causæ quinque bibendi:
Hospitis adventus, præsens sitis atque futura,
Aut vini bonitas, aut quælibet altera causa.

This ‘polite, though not profound scholar, and jovial, hospitable gentleman,’ as Macaulay calls him, died unmarried 14 Dec. 1710, and was buried, as he desired, without any memorial, in the cathedral by ‘his thrifty nephew.’

[Wood's Athenæ; Biog. Brit.; Macaulay's Hist. iii. 470; Monk's Life of Bentley (1830), p. 49; Hawkins's History of Music (1853), 426, 450, 595, 765; Chamberlayne's Present State of Great Britain (1735), 277; Willis's Survey, iii. 443; Grove's Dictionary of Music; S.D.U.K. Dictionary; Rawlinson MS. fol. 16, 16.]

L. S.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.5
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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251 i 17 f.e. Aldrich, Henry: after college insert He was vice-chancellor of Oxford in 1692