Hooke, Nathaniel (d.1763) (DNB00)

HOOKE, NATHANIEL or NATHANAEL (d. 1763), author, eldest son of John Hooke, serjeant-at-law [q. v.], and nephew of Nathaniel Hooke [q. v.], is thought by Kirk to have studied with Pope at Twyford school, near Winchester, and to have there formed a friendship with the poet which subsisted through life (Biog. Collections, MS. No. 42, quoted by Gillow, Dict. of English Catholics). He was admitted to Lincoln's Inn 6 Feb. 1702. Writing to the Earl of Oxford, 17 Oct. 1722, he says that ‘the late epidemical distemper’ (meaning the South Sea infatuation) ‘seized him,’ and that ‘he was in some measure happy to find himself at that instant just worth nothing.’ He seeks employment and also permission to dedicate to his lordship a translation from the French of Sir Andrew Michael Ramsay's ‘Life of Fénelon’ (published in 1723), London, 12mo. The permission was granted, and from 1723 till his death Hooke is said to have enjoyed the confidence and patronage of many distinguished men, including the Earl of Oxford, the Earl of Marchmont, Mr. Speaker Onslow, Fénelon, Pope, Dr. Cheyne, and Dr. King, principal of St. Mary Hall, Oxford. When the Duchess of Marlborough required literary assistance in the preparation of her memoirs, Hooke was recommended to her. He accordingly waited upon the duchess while she was still in bed, oppressed by the infirmities of age. On his arrival she caused herself to be lifted up, and continued speaking for six hours. Without the aid of notes she delivered her narrative in a lively and connected manner. Hooke resided in the house until the completion of the work, which appeared in 1742 under the title of ‘An Account of the Conduct of the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough from her first coming to Court to the year 1710.’ Hooke received from the duchess 5,000l. (Maty, Memoirs of Lord Chesterfield, i. 116). During his residence with her she commissioned him to negotiate with Pope for the suppression, in consideration of the payment of 3,000l., of the character of ‘Atossa’ in his ‘Epistles’ (Pope, Works, ed. Elwin and Courthope, iii. 79, 80, 84, 91, 105). Ruffhead states (Life of Pope) that the duchess took a sudden dislike to Hooke because, finding her without religion, he attempted to convert her to popery. John Whiston, however, asserts that at her death she left 500l. a year to Hooke and Mallet to write the history of the late duke (manuscript note in Ruffhead, Life of Pope).

It was Hooke who brought a catholic ecclesiastic to take Pope's confession on his deathbed. The priest had scarcely departed when Bolingbroke entered, and flew into a great passion on learning what had happened. Pope bequeathed Hooke 5l. to be expended on a ring or other memorial. Hooke was also friendly with Martha Blount, who by will dated 13 Oct. 1762 left a legacy to Miss Elizabeth Hooke. Hooke died at Cookham, Berkshire, on 19 July 1763 (Gent. Mag. xxxiii. 362), and was buried in Hedsor churchyard, where a tablet, with a Latin inscription, to his memory was put up at the expense of his friend, Frederick, lord Boston, in 1801 (Lysons, Buckinghamshire, p. 578).

He left two sons, Thomas Hooke, rector of Birkby and vicar of Leek, Yorkshire (d. 1791); and Luke Joseph Hooke [q. v.] His daughter, Jane Mary Hooke, died on 28 April 1793, and was buried in Hedsor churchyard.

Bishop Warburton describes Hooke as ‘a mystic and quietist, and a warm disciple of Fénelon.’ Dr. Johnson observes that he ‘was a virtuous man, as his history shows.’ Pope suggested that Hooke and Middleton were the only two contemporary prose-writers whose works were worth consulting by an English lexicographer.

Hooke's ‘Roman History, from the Building of Rome to the Ruin of the Commonwealth’ (4 vols., London, 1738–1771, 4to), suggested itself to him while he was preparing for his private use an index to the English translation of Catrou and Rouille's ‘Roman History.’ The first volume was dedicated to Pope, and introduced by ‘Remarks on the History of the Seven Roman Kings, occasioned by Sir Isaac Newton's Objections to the supposed 244 years of the Royal State of Rome.’ The second volume is dedicated to Hugh Hume, earl of Marchmont [q. v.], and to it are annexed the Capitoline marbles, or consular calendars, discovered at Rome during the pontificate of Paul III in 1545. The third volume was printed under Hooke's inspection, but was not published until 1764, after his death. The fourth volume was published in 1771—it is believed by Dr. Gilbert Stuart. The whole work has been frequently reprinted; the latest edition, in 6 vols. 8vo, appeared in 1830. Hooke leaned rather to the democratic than to the aristocratic or senatorial party in his history. The work long held a high place in historical literature. Hooke's works, not already mentioned, are:

  1. ‘Travels of Cyrus, with a Discourse on Mythology,’ London, 1739, 12mo, translated by Hooke in twenty days while at Bath from the French of Sir Andrew Michael Ramsay, and generally mistaken for an original work (Spence).
  2. ‘Observations on—I. The Answer of M. l'Abbé de Vertot to the late Earl Stanhope's Inquiry concerning the Senate of Ancient Rome, dated December 1719. II. A Dissertation upon the Constitution of the Roman Senate, by a Gentleman; published in 1743. III. A Treatise on the Roman Senate, by Dr. C. Middleton; published in 1747. IV. An Essay on the Roman Senate, by Dr. T. Chapman; published in 1750,’ London, 1758, 4to, dedicated to Speaker Onslow. This work was answered by Edward Spelman in an anonymous pamphlet entitled ‘A Short Review on Mr. Hooke's Observations,’ 1758. William Bowyer, the learned printer, published ‘An Apology for some of Mr. Hooke's Observations concerning the Roman Senate,’ London, 1758.
  3. ‘Six Letters to a Lady of Quality … upon the subject of Religious Peace and the Foundations of it,’ first printed in ‘The Contrast; or an Antidote against the pernicious Principles disseminated in the Letters of the late Earl of Chesterfield,’ 2 vols., London, 1791, and issued separately in 1816. The manuscript was given by Hooke to the widow of George Berkeley, bishop of Cloyne, and was by her presented to the Rev. Sir Adam Gordon, bart., the editor of ‘The Contrast.’

Hooke revised Thomas Townsend's translation of Ribadeneyra's ‘History of the Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards,’ London, 1753, 8vo.

Hooke's portrait, painted by Bartholomew Dandridge, is in the National Portrait Gallery.

[Boswell's Johnson; Spence's Anecdotes; Courthope's Life of Pope, pp. 349, 488; Georgian Era, iii. 529; Gillow's Bibl. Dict.; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 1105; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ii. 606; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. vii. 258, 375, 423; Ruffhead's Life of Pope; Watt's Bibl. Brit.]

T. C.