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OGDEN, SAMUEL (1716–1778), popular preacher, born at Manchester on 28 July 1716, was the only son of Thomas Ogden, a dyer of Manchester, who died in 1766, aged 75, leaving a widow, who lived to be eighty-five. Ogden erected in the collegiate church of Manchester, to the memory of his father, a marble tablet with an inscription in Latin. He was educated at Manchester school, and admitted at King's College, Cambridge, as 'poor scholar' in March 1733, but 'very happily escaped,' in August 1736, to St. John's College, with the prospect of enjoying a Manchester exhibition. He graduated B.A. in January 1737-8, M.A. 1741, B.D. 1748, and D.D. 1753; was elected a fellow of St. John's College on the Ashton foundation on 25 March 1739-40, became senior fellow on 22 Feb. 1758, and remained in that position until 1768. He was incorporated at Oxford on 11 July 1758. In June 1740 he was ordained deacon in the English church by the Bishop of Chester, and was advanced to the priesthood by the Bishop of Lincoln in November 1741. From that date until 1747 he held the curacy of Coley in Halifax, and he was master of the free school at Halifax, communicating to his pupils 'his own exact grammatical mode of institution,' from 1744 until March 1753, when he returned to Cambridge, although he retained the curacy at Eland, in his old parish, down to 1762.

Ogden accepted the sequestration of the round church of the Holy Sepulchre at Cambridge, and preached there for about eighteen years to crowded congregations, consisting mostly of members of the university. He performed his exercise for 'D.D.' against John Green [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Lincoln, in the presence of the Duke of Newcastle, the chancellor of the university, who was much gratified at the contest of intellect, and conferred on him, in 1754, the vicarage of Damerham in Wiltshire, which was tenable with his fellowship. The duke would have bestowed still further preferment upon him, but Ogden did not prove a 'produceable man; for he was singularly uncouth in his manner, and spoke his mind very freely upon all occasions.' In 1764 he was appointed to the Woodwardian professorship of geology at Cambridge, and held it until his death in 1778. He resigned the living of Damerham in 1766 in favour of the Rev. Charles Haynes, who had been promised by the lord chancellor the rectory of Stansfield in Suffolk. From that year until 1778 Ogden held the college living of Lawford in Essex, with the rectory of Stansfield. Gunning gives an amusing specimen of the letters which he used to indite to the owners of valuable preferment whenever any piece of patronage fell vacant; but his efforts to secure promotion were unsuccessful. He was a candidate for the mastership of St. John's College in 1765 and in 1775, but on the latter occasion only polled three votes.

Ogden preached at Cambridge to the last year but one of his life when he was seized with a fit of paralysis. In a second fit he died, on 22 March 1778, and was buried on the south side of the communion table at the church of the Holy Sepulchre. A tablet was placed in the church to his memory. Being in many ways very penurious, he had gradually accumulated a considerable fortune, which passed to his relatives. He had intended that Dr. William Craven, master of St. John's College, should be his residuary legatee, and had deposited the will with him; but four years later, Craven, through Ogden's influence, was appointed to the professorship of Arabic, and returned the will to Ogden with a remark that he had now a sufficiency for his wants. All that Craven would accept was the gift of his Arabic books. Ogden's portrait was painted by F. Vander Myn, and engraved by G. Scott for Harding's 'Biographical Mirror'.

Ogden was 'an excellent classical scholar, a scientific divine, and a proficient in the Oriental languages.' Several descriptions have been given of him in the pulpit. Gilbert Wakefield (Life, i. 95-7) depicts 'a large, black, scowling figure, a ponderous body with a lowering visage, embrowned by the horrors of a sable periwig. His voice was growling and morose, and his sentences desultory, tart, and snappish.' Mainwaring dwells on his 'portly figure, dignified air, broad visage, dark complexion, arched eyebrows and piercing eyes, the solemn, emphatic, commanding utterance' (Remarks on Pursuits of Literature, p. 63). Paley speaks of the strangeness of his tone, 'a most solemn, drawling, whining tone; he seemed to think he was always in the pulpit' (Best, Personal and Literary Memorials p. 202-3). But all these writers bear witness to the effect of his discourses, which were 'interspersed with remarks eminently brilliant and acute, but too epigrammatic.' Ogden, despite his penury, loved good cheer. It was a saying of his that the goose was a silly bird, too much for one, and not enough for two.

Ogden was the favourite preacher of George III; and Ernest, king of Hanover, recommended his sermons to his chaplains as a model for brevity and terseness. Boswell admired their 'subtilty of reasoning,' impressed them upon Johnson's attention, and makes mention of them in the 'Tour of the Hebrides' so often that in Rowlandson's caricatures he is sometimes represented with a volume in his hand or his pocket. Johnson, at last, read aloud the sixth sermon on prayer 'with a distinct expression and pleasing solemnity. He praised … his elegant language and remarkable acuteness, and said he fought infidels with their own weapons.

Ogden's published discourses were:

  1. Two sermons preached before the university of Cambridge, 1758.
  2. Ten sermons on the efficacy of prayer and intercession, 1770; 2nd edit. 1770.
  3. Twenty-three sermons on the Ten Commandments, 1776.
  4. Fourteen sermons on the articles of the Christian faith, 1777. Bishop Hurd was delighted with them, and purposed putting these into the hands of the young princes (Kilvert, Life of Hurd, p. 133).
  5. 'Collected sermons, to which are now first added "Sermons on the Lord's Supper." With an account of the Author's Life, and a Vindication of his Writings against some late Objections,' 1780, 2 vols.; 1786, 2 vols.; 1788, 2 vols.; 1805, 1 vol.

The biographer was Bishop Samuel Hallifax [q. v.]; the objector was John Mainwaring (a 'fellow-collegian and friend' of Ogden), in a volume of 'Sermons, with a Dissertation on that Species of Composition,' 1780. He defended himself against Hallifax's censures in his anonymous 'Remarks on the Pursuits of Literature,' 1798, pp. 14-24, 62-6. Mathias, on the other hand, in a note to the advertisement to the fourth part of the 'Pursuits,' praises Hallifax for this 'kind and disinterested office.' In 1832 the Rev. T. S. Hughes published Ogden's sermons as vol. xxii. of 'Divines of the Church of England,' and prefixed to it a new account of his life.

Ogden contributed to the Cambridge collections of verses. That on the accession of George III contained three sets by him, Latin, English, and Arabic, which produced a caustic epigram from the first Lord Alvanley (Manchester School Reg. Chetham Soc. i. 46; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. ii. 105).

[Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. vi. 875, and Lit. Anecd. i. 566; Baker's St. John's, ed. Mayor, i. 305, 308, 320, ii. 1072, 1079, 1091-2; Watson's Hallifax, pp. 406, 441, 409; Life prefixed to Sermons, 1780; Gunning's Reminiscences, i. 236-40; Wakefield's Life, i. 95-7; Whitaker's Loidis, pp. 387-9; Boswell, ed. Hill, iii. 248, iv. 123, v. 29, 88, 350-1.]

W. P. C.