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Spencer
Spencer
380

the age of seventeen, to take private pupils in algebra, Euclid, astronomy, physics, and other mathematical subjects, and continued to teach them throughout life. Spencer was a man of much strength of character, and his originality, which he sometimes carried to an extreme, proved of service to him as a mathematician. Debarred in large measure from independent research by the demands made upon his time by his calling, he perfected a method of teaching elementary geometry by a gradual transition from the concrete to the abstract, thus avoiding the obstacles that the realisation of mathematical conceptions presents to the ordinary student of Euclid. In 1860, in accordance with his methods, he published a series of problems and exercises under the title ‘Inventional Geometry,’ London, 8vo, which he stated were ‘intended to familiarise the pupil with geometrical conceptions, to exercise his inventive faculty, and to prepare him for Euclid and the higher mathematics.’ It was republished in 1892 with a preface by the author's son, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and has been extensively adopted as a textbook. The principles which he laid down had long been in favour in France and Germany, and are now generally recognised in England (cf. Journal of Education, 1893, pp. 349–51). Spencer died in March 1866. By his wife Harriet, daughter of John Holmes, whom he married in 1819, he had one son, Mr. Herbert Spencer.

Besides the work mentioned, Spencer was the author of ‘A System of Lucid Shorthand,’ of which the manuscript was completed in 1843. Mr. Herbert Spencer published it for the first time in 1894. It is remarkable for its extreme simplicity and the ease with which it may be read.

[Information kindly given by Mr. Herbert Spencer; Mozley's Reminiscences, chiefly of Oriel College, i. 147; Mozley's Reminiscences, chiefly of Towns, ii. 144–74. Mr. Herbert Spencer does not consider that Mr. Mozley's impressions of his father are always quite accurate.]

E. I. C.

SPENCER, WILLIAM ROBERT (1769–1834), poet and wit, was younger son of Lord Charles Spencer, second son of the third Duke of Marlborough [see under Spencer, Charles, third Earl of Sunderland] by the Hon. Mary Beauclerk, daughter of Lord Vere. Born in 1769, he was educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford, matriculating on 13 Oct. 1786, but took no degree. From 1797 to 1826 he was a commissioner of stamps. His wit and accomplishments secured him great popularity in London society, and he was a frequent guest of the Duke of York. At his house in Curzon Street Pitt and Fox met, and among his other friends were Sheridan, Sydney Smith, and Horner. Owing to constitutional indolence he sought no prominence in public life, but was content with the reputation of a wit and a writer of society verses. In 1796 he published a translation of Bürger's ‘Leonore;’ in 1802 ‘Urania,’ a burlesque of German ghost literature, successfully performed at Drury Lane; in 1804 ‘The Year of Sorrow,’ in memory of his mother-in-law and other ladies; and in 1811 a volume of poems. He also wrote in 1802 a prologue to Miss Berry's play, ‘Fashionable Friends’ (see Miss Berry, Journal, ii. 195). Byron pronounced his verses, like his conversation, ‘perfectly aristocratic,’ and coupled him with Moore, Campbell, and Rogers as a pleiad of poets. Wilson, in ‘Noctes Ambrosianæ,’ referring to his ‘Bedgellert, or the Grave of a Greyhound,’ which still figures in some school readers, makes Hogg say, ‘That chiel's a poet; those verses hae muckle o' the auld ballart pathos and simplicity’ (Blackwood's Magazine, April 1827). In 1825, owing to pecuniary embarrassments, Spencer withdrew to Paris, where Scott in the following year invited him to breakfast. A prey to poverty and ill-health, he remained in Paris till his death on 24 Oct. 1834. He was buried at Harrow.

On 13 Dec. 1791 he married Susan, widow of Count Spreti, and daughter of Count Francis Jenison-Walworth, chamberlain to the elector palatine [cf. art. Jenison, Francis]. According to legend, her first husband committed suicide in order to enable Spencer to marry her, and this was said to have suggested Madame de Souza's story of ‘Adèle de Sénange;’ but the husband there dies of apoplexy, and the authoress evidently imitated Madame de Lafayette's ‘Princesse de Clèves.’

Spencer had five sons and two daughters. His two sons, Aubrey George [q. v.] and George Trevor [q. v.], are separately noticed.

[A biography was prefixed to a reprint of his Poems, 1835; see also Times, 30 Oct. 1834; Gent. Mag. 1835, i. 98; Annual Register, 1834; Annual Biogr. 1835; Burke's and Foster's Peerages; Haydn's Book of Dignities; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1714–1886; Staunton's Great Schools of England; Pantheon of the Age; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. ii. 226; Raikes's Journal; Madden's Lady Blessington; Lockhart's Scott; and Lord J. Russell's Moore.]

J. G. A.

SPENDER, LILY, usually known as Mrs. John Kent Spender (1835–1895), novelist, born on 22 Feb. 1835, was the daughter of Edward Headland, a well-known physician of Portland Place, London,