Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Casaubon, Meric

CASAUBON, MERIC (1599–1671), classical scholar, was the son of Isaac [q. v.] and Florence Casaubon. He was born in 1599 at Geneva, and received his christian name from his godfather, Meric de Vic. He was educated in his early years at Sedan, which, being on the confines of a protestant district, offered facilities for escape in case of a religous persecution. He was the only one of Isaac Casaubon's sons in whom the father could find any comfort. He remained at Sedan until 1611, when he joined his father, who was by this time settled in England. He was then sent to Eton, on the foundation, and in 1614 proceeded to Christ Church, Oxford. In the April of that year King James had sent a mission to the dean and chapter of Christ Church, requiring them 'to admitt a sonne of Isaak Casaubon into the rome of a scholer of the foundation of that house, that should first become voide.' Isaac had intended to send his son to Leyden, to study under Heinsius, but as Meric was the only son who could avail himself of the king's kindness, he arranged that Meric should spend some time at Christ Church and then travel abroad, In 1614 the father died, and Meric was admitted to a studentship at Christ Church, which he held for thirteen years. He took his B.A. degree in 1618. and his M.A. in 1621, and in the same year published a book in defence of his father against the calumnies of the Roman catholics. This juvenile work pleased the king, and also found approbation among his father’s admirers in France, especially Meric de Vic, through whose instrumentality he was invited to settle in France with offers of promotion. He determined, however, to remain in England. At the early age of twenty-five he was collated, by his father's friend, Bishop Andrewes, to the rectory of Bleadon in Somersetshire; Archbishop Laud gave him, in 1628, a prebend at Canterbury; in 1634, the vicarage of Minster in the Isle of Thanet, and in the same year the vicarage of Monckton, also in the Isle of Thanet. He had, in 1624, published another vindication of his father, which he wrote by the express command of the king, and he formed a design of continuing his father's unfinished 'exercitations' agamst Baronius. In 1636 he was created D.D. at Oxford by order of Charles I, who was then residing at the university. About 1644 he was deprived by the parliament of all his preferments, and, according to Walker (Sufferings of the Clergy), 'was abused, fined, and imprisoned.' But in 1649 he received, through a Mr. Greaves, a lawyer of Gray's Inn, a message from Oliver Cromwell to come to Whitehall 'to confer about matters of moment;' as his wife lay dead in the house he could not come; but the message was twice repeated. Cromwell's business with him was to request him, royalist as he was, 'to write a history of the late war, desiring withal that nothing but matters of fact should be impartially set down,' Meric declined, on the very natural ground 'that he would be forced to make such reflections as would be ungrateful, if not injurious, to his lordship.' Cromwell was not offended. On the contrary, he ordered 'that upon the first demand three or four hundred pounds should be delivered to him by a London bookseller without acknowledging the benefactor;' but Meric did not avail himself of the offer. Mr. Greaves was then commissioned to tell him that, 'if he would do as requested, the lieutenant-general would restore him all his father's books, which were then in the royal library having been purchased by King James, and would give him a patent for 300l. a year, to be paid so long as the youngest son of Dr. Casaubon should live.' Casaubon next received a proposal from Christina, queen of Sweden, through the Swedish ambassador, that he should accept the government of one or the inspection of all the universities, with a good salary, and 300l. a year settled on his eldest son during life.' This offer he also declined. He hud married a second wife in 1651, who brought him a fortune; and upon the Restoration he recovered all his preferments. In 1662 he exchanged Minster for the rectory of Ickham, near Canterbury. He died in 1671, and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral. He left several children, one of whom, John, was a surgeon at Canterbury. He intended to write an account of his own life, chiefly because he had so many providential escapes to recount.

Meric Casaubon was pious, charitable, and courteous; he was also a good scholar, and a most indefatigable writer. The list of his works is as follows: 1. 'Pietas contra maledicos patris nominis et religionis hostes,' 1621. 2. 'Vindicatio patris ad versus Impostores, qui librum ineptum et impium de Idolatria nuper sub Is. Casauboni nomine publicarunt,' 1624. 3. 'Optati Milevitani libri vii. cum notis et emendationibus,' 1631. 4. 'Treatise of Use and Custom,' 1638. 5. 'M. Antonini Imp. de seipso et ad seipsum libri xii.' (edited with notes), 1643. 6. 'Use of Daily Public Prayers, in Three Positions,' 1644. 7. 'Original of Temporal Evils,' 1645. 8. 'Discourse concerning Christ, His Incarnation and Exinanition,' 9. 'De verborum usu,' 1647. 10. A more complete edition of his father's notes on Persius, 1647. 11. 'De quatuor linguis commentatio pars prior,' 1650 (the second part was never published). 12. 'Terentius, with Notes,' (continuation of Famaby's), 1651. 13. 'Annotations on the Psalms and Proverbs.' 14. 'In Hieroclis Commentarium de Providentia et Fato notæ et emendationes,' 1655. 15. 'Treatise concerning Enthusiasm,' 1655. 16. 'Epicteti Encheiridion,' with notes, 1659. 17. 'Translation of Lucius Florus's History of the Romans,' 1659. 18. 'A Veritable and Faithful Relation of what passed between John Dee and certain Spirits,' 1659. 19. 'A Vindication of the Lord's Prayer as a Formal Prayer,' 1660. 20. 'Notæ et Emendationes in Diogenem Lærtium de Vitis &c. Philosophorum,' 1664. 21. 'Of the Necessity of a Reformation in and before Luther's time.' ,22. 'Letter to Peter du Moulin concerning Natural Experimental Philosophy,' 1669. 23. 'Of Credulity and Incredulity against the Sadducism of the Times in denying Spirits, Witches, &c.,' 1668. 24. 'Notæ in Polybium,' 1670. 25. A single sermon, preached before the king, 1660.

But far more than for any or all of his numerous works, the literary world is indebted to Meric Casaubon for having preserved from destruction many of his father's papers. The 'Ephemerides' themselves were all but lost. They fell into the hands of Isaac’s eldest son, John, the Romanist, who so careless about them, that one volume out of the seven actually was lost. When John became a Capuchin they fell into the hands of the widow, Florence Casaubon, and her third son, Paul. These wisely sent them to Meric, the only member of the family who was competent to appreciate them. Meric not only took care of the 'Ephemerides,' but also took great pains to collect all the papers left by his father in the hands of friends. The six volumes of the 'Ephemerides' he deposited in manuscript in the chapter library of Canterbury Cathedral, whence it was disentombed by a prebendary, Dr. Russell, and given to the public through the Clarendon Press in 1850; the rest of the papers he deposited in the Bodleian. It was from these latter papers that Wolf's 'Casauboniana' was drawn up. Meric Casaubon's 'Epistolæ, dedicationes, præfationes, prolegomena,' &c. were incorporated with those of his father in Almeloveen's 'Isaaci Casauboni Vita,' in 1709.

[Pattison's Life of Isaac Casaubon, Almeloveen's Vita; Meric Casaubon's Works; Wood's Athenæ (Bliss), 934-9.]

J. H. O.