Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Duport, James

DUPORT, JAMES, D.D. (1606–1679), master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, was son of John Duport, D.D. [q. v.], master of Jesus College in that university, by Rachel, daughter of Richard Cox, bishop of Ely (Cooper, Athenæ Cantab. i. 442). He was born in the master's lodge at Jesus College in 1606, and educated at Westminster School under the care of Dr. John Wilson. In 1622 he was elected one of the Westminster scholars annually sent to Trinity College, Cambridge, where for nine years he was under the tuition of Dr. Robert Hitch, afterwards dean of York. In January 1626–7 he took the degree of B.A., and in October 1627 he was elected a fellow of Trinity. He commenced M.A. in 1630, and took orders shortly afterwards. He became one of the public tutors of his college, and continued to take pupils for above thirty years with unrivalled success and reputation. In 1637 he proceeded to the degree of B.D.

In 1639 he was elected regius professor of Greek in the university. A difficulty immediately arose, however, respecting his admission. The statutes of Trinity College directed that any fellow who became regius professor of divinity, Hebrew, or Greek should resign the emoluments of his fellowship; and Duport declined to accept an office the salary of which was only 40l. if it were necessary that he should quit the position which he held in his college. The point being referred to the master and seniors was, after some demur, decided in his favour, and he was accordingly admitted to the professorship 13 July 1639. This favourable interpretation was probably founded upon the words of the statute, ‘deinceps Socii nomen solum teneat,’ which certainly admitted of the professor's retaining his pupils as well as his rank among the fellows, forfeiting only the statutable stipend and other inconsiderable emoluments. He was collated to the prebend of Langford Ecclesia in the church of Lincoln and to the archdeaconry of Stow in the same diocese, 14 Aug. 1641 (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, ii. 81). For this preferment he was indebted to Bishop Williams, the late lord keeper, who became himself next year archbishop of York. On 13 Nov. 1641 he exchanged his prebend for that of Leighton Buzzard in the same cathedral. In 1643 Cambridge underwent the parliamentary visitation of the Earl of Manchester. Duport was a royalist, but, though ejected from his prebendal stall and resigning his archdeaconry (1641), retained his residence in Cambridge, and delivered his public lectures in the Greek schools during the heat of the civil war. He lectured upon the ‘Characters of Theophrastus’ and some of the orations of Demosthenes. He was elected by the heads of houses the Lady Margaret's preacher at Cambridge in 1646, an appointment which obliged him to deliver annually at least six sermons in the dioceses of London, Ely, and Lincoln. In 1654 the ‘commissioners for reforming the university’ compelled him to resign the Greek professorship on account of his refusal to subscribe to the ‘engagement for maintaining the government without king or house of peers;’ and they caused the professorship to be conferred on Ralph Widdrington, fellow of Christ's College. Trinity College elected Duport a senior fellow almost immediately afterwards. In 1655 he was chosen vice-master, to which office he was re-elected annually during his residence at Trinity. He still continued tutor. Among the young men educated under his care were Isaac Barrow, John Ray, and Francis Willoughby, the naturalists, and two sons of the Earl of Bedford, the youngest of whom, William, was the distinguished and ill-fated Lord Russell.

On 20 May 1660, being the Sunday next but one before the Restoration, he preached a sermon in St. Paul's Cathedral at the special invitation of Sir Thomas Alleyne, lord mayor. Thus he was one of the first divines who publicly hailed the revival of the national church after a proscription of eighteen years. A few years before he had in his capacity of Lady Margaret's preacher delivered a sermon in St. Paul's, wherein he expressed himself in terms of complaint and indignation at the manner in which that cathedral was profaned, observing that ‘it was no very comely or handsome sight to see either church ailes exchanged into shops, or churchyards into markets’ (Kennett, Register and Chronicle, pp. 321–2). This plain speaking was resented by the authorities, who afterwards refused him admission to the pulpit of St. Paul's.

Immediately after the Restoration he was made one of the king's chaplains, and reinstated in the possession of his prebend at Lincoln, but not of the archdeaconry of Stow, as he preferred holding his fellowship and vice-mastership in Trinity College. Widdrington was now dispossessed of the Greek professorship and Duport restored to it, but he resigned the chair the same year in favour of his pupil, Isaac Barrow. On 19 July 1660 he was by royal mandate, with many other learned divines, created D.D. at Cambridge (Kennett, p. 251). He was installed dean of Peterborough 27 July 1664. In 1668, on the death of Dr. John Howorth, master of Magdalene College, Duport was recalled to Cambridge and appointed by James, earl of Suffolk, possessor of Audley End, to fill the vacant headship. In the following year Duport was elected vice-chancellor of the university. He obtained the rectories of Aston Flamville and Burbage, Leicestershire, probably in 1672. Seven years later he was buried, on 17 July 1679, in Peterborough Cathedral. Against a pillar on the north side of the choir behind the pulpit is a handsome white marble tablet with his arms and a Latin inscription, commemorating his learning and virtues (Le Neve, Monumenta Anglicana, 1680–99, No. 251).

At Peterborough he gave a perpetual annuity of 10l. to increase the stipend of the master of the grammar school. He also founded the cathedral library. At Magdalene College he gave 100l. towards erecting a new building, and endowed four scholarships for undergraduates (Gunton, Hist. of Peterborough, pp. 332, 340).

In person Duport was very diminutive, a circumstance to which he himself makes frequent and good-humoured reference in his Latin poems. He was extremely fond of puns and verbal quibbles, and when he was deputed regius professor and styled ‘pater’ he could not forbear saying ‘Sum paterculus, sed non Velleius.’ Bishop Monk says that Duport ‘appears to have been the main instrument by which literature was upheld in this university [Cambridge] during the civil dissensions in the seventeenth century, and though seldom named and little known at present he enjoyed an almost transcendent reputation for a great length of time among his contemporaries, as well as in the generation which immediately succeeded.’

His works are: 1. ‘Oratio Mri Duport Prævaricatoris posterioris Cantab. 1631. Aurum potest produci per Artem Chymicam?’ Birch MS. 4455, pp. 64–74; Baker MS. xviii. No. 7, 231. 2. ‘Θρηνοθρίαμβος, sive liber Job Græco carmine redditus,’ Greek and Latin, Cambridge, 1637, 8vo. This translation obtained for its author the fame of both a scholar and a poet, and continued to be for some years a classical book at the university and other places of education. 3. ‘Σολομὼν Ἔμμετρος, sive tres libri Solomonis, scilicet, Proverbia, Ecclesiastes, Cantica, Græco carmine donati,’ with a Latin translation, Cambridge, 1646, 8vo. 4. ‘Evangelical Politie: or Gospel Conversation. A sermon preached at St. Paul's, London, May the 20th 1660,’ Cambridge, 1660, 4to. 5. ‘Homeri Gnomologia duplici Parallelismo illustrata,’ Cambridge, 1660, 4to; dedicated to his pupils, Edward Cecil, son of the Earl of Salisbury, John Knatchbull, Henry Puckering, and Francis Willoughby. This book, which was published by the advice of Dr. Busby, and is deservedly esteemed by classical scholars, consists of a collection of all the sentences in the ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey’ containing any aphorism, sentiment, or remarkable opinion, illustrated by a twofold series of quotations, first from the scriptures, and next from the whole range of classical authors. 6. ‘Bίβλος τῆς δημοσίας Eὐχῆς καὶ τῶν ἄλλων θεσμῶν καὶ τελετῶν τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, κατὰ τὸ ἔθος τῆς Ἀγγλικανῆς Ἐκκλησίας,’ Cambridge, 1665, 12mo. Reprinted, Lond. 1818, 12mo, and in the Book of Common Prayer in eight languages, 1821. 7. ‘Δαβίδης Ἔμμετρος, sive Metaphrasis Libri Psalmorum, Græcis versibus contexta,’ with a Latin version, Cambridge, 1666, 4to, London, 1674. 8. ‘Three sermons preached in St. Marie's Church in Cambridg upon the three anniversaries of the martyrdom of Charles I, Jan. 30, birth and return of Charles II, May 29, Gunpowder Treason, Novemb. 5,’ London, 1676, 4to. 9. ‘Musæ Subsecivæ, seu Poetica Stromata’ Cambridge, 1676, 8vo; inscribed to James, duke of Monmouth, chancellor of the university. This volume consists of (a) three books of miscellaneous poems under the title of ‘Sylvæ,’ inscribed respectively to Sir John Cotton, bart., Sir Henry Puckering, otherwise Newton, bart., and Sir Norton Knatchbull, bart.; (b) ‘Carmina Gratulatoria ad Regem et Reginam,’ inscribed to Charles II; (c) ‘Epicedia, seu Carmina Funebria,’ addressed to Edward Rainbow, bishop of Carlisle; (d) ‘Carmina Comitialia, seu Epigrammata in Comitiis Academicis composita,’ addressed to Dr. James Fletewood, provost of King's College; (e) ‘Epigrammata Sacra,’ and (f) ‘Epithalamia Sacra,’ both inscribed to Anthony Grey, earl of Kent. A considerable proportion of these pieces had been previously published in academical or other collections. 10. Latin lectures on the ‘Characters of Theophrastus,’ printed at the end of Peter Needham's edition of that work, in Greek and Latin, Cambridge, 1712, 8vo, pp. 177–474. The manuscript of these ‘Prælectiones,’ which is now in the Cambridge University Library (Ff. iv. 33), was lent to Thomas Stanley, the editor of Æschylus, and after his death found its way, along with his other manuscripts, into the possession of Dr. Moore, bishop of Ely. When Peter Needham was about to publish his edition of Theophrastus, these papers were put into his hands by the bishop, who supposed them to be the production of Stanley himself; but on their being shown to Dr. Bentley he pronounced them at once, from internal evidence, to be Duport's. Bishop Monk says that these lectures are ‘calculated to give no unfavourable opinion of the state of Greek learning in the university at that memorable crisis,’ i. e. during the civil war. 11. ‘Annotationes in Demosthenis Orationes περὶ Συμμοριῶν et De Rhodiorum Libertate.’ In William Stephen Dobson's edition of the works of Demosthenes and Æschines, London, 1827, v. 475–540. The editor printed them as the production of Thomas Stanley, but afterwards, having discovered his mistake, he described them on the title-page as ‘Animadversiones Thomæ Stanleii, vel potius Jacobi Duporti.’ The manuscript of the ‘Annotations’ is in the University Library, Cambridge (Gg. iii. 16). 12. ‘Rules to Fellow-Commoners,’ manuscript.

[Addit. MSS. 5846 ff. 121 b, 132 b, 5867 ff. 7, 172, 24492 ff. 2, 3; Ayscough's Cat. of MSS. p. 711; Bailey's Life of Fuller, pp. 769, 770; Baker's Pref. to Bishop Fisher's Funeral Sermon on the Countess of Richmond, p. 79; Boreman's Funeral Sermon on Dr. Comber, 1654; Cat. of MSS. in Univ. Libr. Cambr. ii. 466, v. 272; Cooper's Annals of Cambridge, iii. 579; Derham's Life of John Ray, pp. 3, 4; Fuller's Cambridge (1840), 238; Fuller's Worthies (Nichols), i. 571; Hacket's Memorial of Archbishop Williams, pt. ii. p. 42; Hallam's Literature of Europe (1854), iii. 248; Kennett MSS. lii. f. 147, liii. f. 81; Kennett's Register and Chron. pp. 507, 703, 854; Le Neve's Fasti (Hardy), ii. 81, 540, iii. 607, 660, 695; Le Neve's Monumenta Anglicana, 1650–79 p. 113, 1680–99 p. 115; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 700; Bishop Monk's Memoir of Duport, Cambr. 1825, 8vo, reprinted from the Museum Criticum, ii. 672; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. iv. 81; Nichols's Leicestershire, ii. 1023, iv. pt. ii. pp. 452*, 466, 470; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iii. 92, iv. 259, vi. 228, 258, ix. 657; Roger North's Life of Dr. John North (1826), 322; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. viii. 193; Pope's Life of Ward, p. 133; Walton's Lives (1884), 276; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Welch's Alumni Westmon. (Phillimore), pp. 26, 78, 80, 91, 92, 94, 97, 98, 145.]

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