Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 36.djvu/218

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Marsh
Marsh
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vertisement of the tract to the Cambridge papers. He publicly protested, amidst the applause of a crowded court, against 'the cruelty' of attempting to compel him to bear testimony against one who had been 'a confidential friend from childhood,' and Dr. Thomas Kipling [q. v.], the chief promoter of the suit, was forced reluctantly to dispense with his evidence. Marsh made an ineffectual attempt to bring about a compromise. Feeling among the leading members of the university was so strong against all sympathisers with Frend that Marsh returned to Leipzig, where he prosecuted his theological and critical studies (Gunning, Reminiscences, i. 292-3; Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iv. 447-53).

In 1792 appeared two essays by Marsh on 'The Usefulness and Necessity of Theological Learning to those designed for Holy Orders,' and another vindicating the authenticity of the Pentateuch. In 1793 he issued the first volume of the translation of J. D. Michaelis's 'Introduction to the New Testament,' with notes and dissertations from his own pen. The work first introduced English scholars to the problems connected with the four gospels and with their relations to each other. Three more volumes followed consecutively, the last being published in 1801. The third volume contained the famous dissertation on 'the origin and composition' of the three first gospels (published separately in 1802), and Marsh's own 'hypothesis,' and its 'illustration,' which, though highly esteemed by continental scholars for its wide and accurate scholarship, critical insight, and clearness of perception, aroused a storm of adverse criticism from theologians of the conservative school at home. One of the chief opponents was Dr. John Randolph [q. v.], bishop of Oxford, who in his 'Remarks,' published anonymously in 1802, condemned Marsh's critical researches as 'derogating from the character of the sacred books, and injurious to Christianity as fostering a spirit of scepticism.' Marsh replied, both in ' Letters to the Anonymous Author of Remarks on Michaelis and his Commentator,' and more fully in 'An Illustration of the Hypothesis proposed in the Dissertation on the Origin and Composition of our three first Canonical Gospels' (1803), descending to what Randolph, who is generally very temperate in his language, designated in a 'Supplement to his Remarks,' 'a coarse strain of low abuse.' Though Marsh affected to despise his antagonist as one not worthy of 'wasting time and health' on, he returned to the fray in a 'Defence of the Illustration' (1804), which he styled 'a clincher.' Other attacks upon Marsh's theory were by Veysie and William Dealtry [q. v.]

Meanwhile Marsh had in 1797 effectually supported English national credit at the critical juncture when the Bank of England had suspended cash payments, by publishing a translation of an essay of Patje, president of the board of finance at Hanover, written to remove the apprehensions of those who had money invested in the English funds. In 1799 he did a greater service by issuing his octavo 'History of the Politics of Great Britain and France, from the time of the conference of Pilnitz to the declaration of war against Great Britain.' A 'Postscript' followed in the same year, and a vindication of his views 'from a late attack of William Belsham' in 1801. The work was written originally in German, and subsequently in English, and proved by authentic documents that the French rulers had been the aggressors in the war between the two countries. Written in pure vernacular German it was widely read on the continent. A copy falling into the hands of Pitt, he sought an introduction to the author, and offered him a pension. The offer was at first declined, but afterwards accepted as a temporary recompense until suitable provision should be made for him in the church. Marsh resigned the pension after he obtained a bishopric (Critical Review, April 1810, p. 36). The influence of Marsh's work on the continent in favour of England led Bonaparte to proscribe him, and in order to escape arrest at Leipzig, Marsh lay concealed there for several months in the house of a merchant named Lecarriere (London Mag. April 1825, p. 503).

Despite Marsh's boldness as a critical theologian he was elected in 1807 to the Lady Margaret professorship at Cambridge, in succession to John Mainwaring, and retained the appointment till his death. After his election he married the daughter of his Leipzig protector, Marianne Emilie Charlotte Lecarriere. The wedding took place by special license at Harwich, 1 July, immediately on the lady's landing. Marsh had already by his writings introduced into theological study at Cambridge a more scientific and liberal form of biblical criticism. He now delivered his professorial lectures in English, and not, as was previously the case, in Latin. His first course was delivered in 1809 in the university church, instead of the divinity schools, so as to accommodate the crowded audience. Townsmen, as well as the university men, we are told, 'listened to them with rapture.' The opening course, on 'The History of Sacred Criticism,' was published by request the same year. These were followed