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South Robert

Né le 4 septembre 1634 à Hackney (Middlesex), mort le 8 juillet 1716.

Il suit ses études à Oxford (Westminster Christchurch), où il est immatriculé en 1651.

Le 10 août 1660, il est élu orateur public de l'université, en 1661, il est aumônier privé de lord Clarendon.

En mars 1663, il est docteur de son université et devient chanoine de Westminster. Quatre années plus tard, il est aumônier du duc d'York.

En 1676, il est nommé aumônier de Lawrence Hyde, comte de Rochester, ambassadeur auprès du roi de Pologne. À son retour de Pologne, il obtient le rectorat du presbytère de Islip (Oxfordshire).

Apprécié pour ses prédications incisives et sarcastiques, mais de tempérament irascible, les polémiques qu'il entraîne — que le roi doit calmer — semblent avoir freiné sa carrière. Il refuse le siège de Rochester, et en 1713, le doyenné de Westminster.

Ses sermons, poèmes, discours, mémoires de sa vie ont été publiés en plusieurs éditions.

Voir : Turner W. (1651-1740).

Memoirs of the life of Dr. Robert South, The last will and testament. Dans « Sermons preached upon several occasions by Robert South, D.D., prebendary od Westminster, and canon of Christ Church, Oxford [5 volumes], University Press, Oxford 1842, (I), p. i-cxxii. [fac-similés numériques, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München : 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5]

Écrits relatifs à la musique

Musica incantans, sive poema exprimens musicae vires, per illam, iuvene in insaniam acto, et musici inde periculum. Authore Roberto South


Gordon Alexander, South Robert. Dans « Dictionary of National Biography », Smith, Elder & Co., London 1885–1900, p. 275-277.

SOUTH, ROBERT, D.D. (1634–1716), divine, son of Robert South, a London merchant, was born at Hackney on 4 Sept. 1634. His mother was of a Kentish family named Berry. In 1647 he was admitted as a king's scholar at Westminster school under Richard Busby [q. v.] It is said that, when reading the Latin prayers at school, he prayed for Charles I by name on the day of his execution. South himself (sermon on Virtuous Education) merely claims to have heard the king then prayed for. He was elected a student of Christ Church, Oxford, matriculating on 11 Dec. 1651. He is said to have been patronised by his namesake, John South (d. 1672), who had been regius professor of Greek, 1622–5. Among his college exercises was a panegyric upon Cromwell in Latin verse on the conclusion of peace with the Dutch (5 April 1654). He commenced B.A. on 24 Feb. 1654–5. On account of his using the common prayer-book, John Owen, D.D. [q. v.], dean of Christ Church and vice-chancellor, unsuccessfully opposed his proceeding M.A. on 12 June 1657. He travelled on the continent, and in 1658 privately received episcopal ordination, perhaps from Thomas Sydserf [q. v.] Richard Baxter [q. v.] says he was suggested to him as his curate at Kidderminster. He was incorporated M.A. at Cambridge in 1659. His assize sermon at St. Mary's on 24 July 1659 was a lively attack upon the independents, and a sample of the ‘graphic humour' for which South became famous. In his university sermon on 29 July 1660 he included the presbyterians in his invective, referring to Henry Wilkinson, D.D. (d. 1675) [q. v.], as ‘Holderforth.' He was chosen public orator to the university on 10 Aug. 1660, an office which he held till 1677. Clarendon made him his chaplain, in consequence of his oration on his installation as chancellor (15 Nov.). On 30 March 1663 he was installed prebendary of Westminster. On 1 Oct. 1663 he was created B.D. and D.D. on letters from Clarendon. The creation was ‘stiffly opposed' in convocation by those who reckoned South a time-server. On a scrutiny, Nathaniel Crew [q. v.], the senior proctor, ‘according to his usual perfidy' (Wood, declared the majority to be for South, who was presented by John Wallis (1616–1703) [q. v.] He was incorporated D.D. at Cambridge in 1664. Clarendon gave him in 1667 the sinecure rectory of Llanrhaiadr-y-Mochnant, Denbighshire, and on Clarendon's fall, at the end of that year, he became chaplain to the Duke of York. His ridicule of the Royal Society, in an oration at the dedication of the Sheldonian Theatre, July 1669, called forth a remonstrance from Wallis, addressed to Robert Boyle [q. v.] South was installed canon of Christ Church on 29 Dec. 1670.

In June 1676 he travelled to Poland as chaplain to the ambassador, Laurence Hyde (afterwards Earl of Rochester) [q. v.] A valuable account of his journey, including a realistic sketch of John Sobieski, is given in the form of a letter (Danzig, 16 Dec. 1677) to Edward Pococke [q. v.] On his return he was presented (1678) by the dean and chapter of Westminster to the rectory of Islip, Oxfordshire. Half the income he gave to a curate; with the rest he restored the chancel (1680), built a new rectory-house, and educated and apprenticed the children of parishioners. He lived at Caversham, near Reading, where he had an estate.

The story goes that, after a humorous passage in a sermon by South before the king, Charles turned with a laugh to Rochester, saying, ‘Odd's fish, Lory, your chaplain must be a bishop; therefore put me in mind of him at the next death.' The incident is usually connected with South's often quoted description of Cromwell's first appearance in parliament, ‘with a threadbare torn coat and a greasy hat (and perhaps neither of them paid for).' But this passage occurs in a sermon preached, after Charles's death, at Westminster Abbey on 22 Feb. 1684–5. South was chaplain in ordinary to Charles II, but had no other preferment from him than the Westminster prebend. In James II's reign Rochester, then lord-lieutenant of Ireland, is said to have offered South an Irish archbishopric (Cashel was vacant, 1685–91). Rochester nominated South (November 1686) as one of two Anglican divines to discuss points of doctrine with two of the church of Rome; but James objected to South, and Simon Patrick (1626–1707) [q. v.] was substituted.

At the Revolution South hesitated for some time to transfer his allegiance, being, according to Kennett, under the influence of William Sherlock, D.D. [q. v.] He at length took the oath, adopting the parliamentary fiction that James's flight constituted an abdication. He is said to have declined a bishopric vacated by a nonjuror. He warmly opposed himself to the scheme for a comprehension of dissenters, but was not a member either of the royal commission (13 Sept. 1689) on the subject, or of the convocation of that year [cf. art. Pearse, Edward].

In 1693 South intervened anonymously in the Socinian controversy, with strong animus against Sherlock, his ‘Animadversions' on Sherlock's ‘Vindication' (1690) being ‘humbly offered to his admirers, and to himself the chief of them.' He made galling references to Sherlock's career, ‘tainted with a conventicle' at the outset; vehemently assailed his earlier writings as heterodox on the doctrine of atonement, and maintained his ‘new notion' of the Trinity to be tritheistic; an opinion reiterated in his ‘Tritheism Charged' (1695). The anonymity of these attacks was quite transparent. It is not so certain that South was the translator of ‘A Short History of Valentinus Gentilis the Tritheist' (1696) from the Latin of Benedict Aretius; the dedication to the hierarchy is in his manner, and there is a reference to Gentilis in ‘Tritheism Charged.' p. 47. South's position is in the main that of Wallis; but he chiefly devotes the brilliant resources of his learning and the amazing powers of his wit to the congenial task of demolishing Sherlock. At the same time, his ‘Tritheism Charged' is worth reading for its philosophic acumen, apart from the immediate controversy. Public judgment on the controversy was not inaptly expressed in William Pittis's ballad, ‘The Battle Royal' [cf. Burnet, Thomas, (1635?–1715)].

In later years South's health was much broken. Swift's correspondence with the Earl of Halifax shows that his death was counted on. He writes (13 Jan. 1709): ‘Pray, my lord, desire Dr. South to die about the fall of the leaf; for he has a prebend of Westminster … and a sinecure in the country … which my friends have often told me would fit me extremely.' Halifax writes (6 Oct.): ‘Dr. South holds out still; but he cannot be immortal.' He roused himself in 1710 to take part on the high church side in the affair of Henry Sacheverell [q. v.] On the death (20 May 1713) of Thomas Sprat [q. v.] the bishopric of Rochester and deanery of Westminster were offered to him. His refusal was graceful: ‘Such a chair would be too uneasy for an old infirm man to sit in.' He died at Westminster on 8 July 1716, and was buried in the Abbey, near the grave of Busby, where he had wished to lie. His tomb bears his recumbent effigy, with an elaborate epitaph. An anonymous portrait of South belonged in 1866 to Henry Longueville Mansel [q. v.] Engravings by Vandergucht and R. White are prefixed to various editions of his ‘Sermons.'

South, a man of strong prejudices and warm attachments, was never a self-seeker, and, when he changed his attitude, followed what appeared to be the dictates of commonsense. His use of humour in the pulpit suggested to Tillotson a want of seriousness in his character. Yet no preacher was more direct in his dealing with the vices of the age, no court preacher more homely in his appeals. His humour has a native breadth and freshness. Like Fuller's pleasant turns, it always illuminates his subject; but, unlike Fuller's conceits, it does not cloy. Baxter says that South was ‘a fluent, extemporate speaker,' yet tells a story of his breaking down, which shows that in early life his sermons were learnt by heart. Kennett tells of his attention to delivery, and how he ‘worked up his body' as he approached his points. Wood's harsh judgment on South is said to have been inspired by a jest with which South received Wood's mention of a bodily ailment from which he suffered.

His sermons, many of them published separately (from 1660), were collected by himself in six volumes (1679–1715); a seventh, with ‘Memoirs' and the account of his Polish travels, was published in 1717, and five more in 1744, all 8vo. Modern editions are: Oxford, 1823, 8vo, 7 vols.; 1842, 8vo, 5 vols.; London, 1843, 8vo, 4 vols.; 1845, 8vo, 2 vols., with ‘Memoir;' 1850, 8vo, 2 vols. Selections from them are numerous, e.g. ‘Maxims, Sayings, Explications, … Descriptions, and Characters, extracted from … South,' 1717, 8vo; ‘The Beauties of South,' 1795, 8vo; and a selection in Wesley's ‘Christian Library.' He also published: 1. ‘Musica Incantans,' Oxford, 1655, 4to; 1667, 4to (Latin verses). 2. ‘Animadversions upon Dr. Sherlock's … Vindication of the … Trinity. … By a Divine of the Church of England,' 1693, 4to. 3. ‘Tritheism Charged upon Dr. Sherlock's new Notion of the Trinity,' 1695, 4to.

[Funeral Oration by John Barber, 1716; Memoirs, 1717; Memoirs, 1721; Memoir, 1845; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714, iv. 1391; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iv. 631 sq.; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), ii. 158, 182, 200, 276, 281, 334; Wood's Life and Times, ed. Clark, passim; Reliquiæ Baxterianæ, 1696, ii. 380, iii. 36; Birch's Life of Tillotson, 1753, pp. 195 sq., 328, 429; Noble's Continuation of Granger, 1806, i. 99; Retrospective Review, 1823, iv. 295; Original Letters (Camden Soc.), 1843, p. 340; Wallace's Antitrinitarian Biography, 1850, i. 261 sq.; Notes and Queries, 9th ser. i. 323.]


South Robert. Dans Encyclopédia Britannica. 1910-1911, 11e édition.

SOUTH, ROBERT (1634-1716), English divine, was born at Hackney, Middlesex, in September 1634. He was educated at Westminster school and at Christ Church, Oxford. Before taking orders in 1658 he was in the habit of preaching as the champion of Calvinism against Socinianism and Arminianism. He also at this time showed a leaning to Presbyterianism, but on the approach of the Restoration his views on church government underwent a change; indeed, he was always regarded as a time-server, though by no means a self-seeker. On the 10th of August 1660 he was chosen public orator of the university, and in 1661 domestic chaplain to Lord Clarendon. In March 1663 he was made prebendary of Westminster, anti shortly afterwards he received from his university the degree, of. D.D. In 1667 he became chaplain to the duke of York. He was a zealous advocate of the doctrine of passive obedience, and strongly opposed the Toleration Act, declaiming in unmeasured terms against the various Nonconformist sects. In 1676 he was appointed chaplain to Lawrence Hyde (afterwards earl of Rochester), ambassador-extraordinary to the king of Poland, and of his visit he sent an interesting account to Edward Pococke

in a letter, dated Dantzic, 16th December, 1677, which was printed along with South's Posthumous Works in 1717. In 1678 he was presented to the rectory of Islip, Oxfordshire. Owing, it is said, to a personal grudge, South in 1603 published with transparent anonymity Animadversions on Dr Sherlock's Book, entitled a Vindication of the Holy and Ever Blessed Trinity, in which the views of William Sherlock (q.v.) were attacked with much sarcastic bitterness. Sherlock, in answer, published a Defence in 1694, to which South replied in Tritheism Charged upon Dr Sherlock's New Notion of the Trinity, and the Charge Made Good. The controversy was carried by the rival parties into the pulpit, and occasioned such keen feeling that the king interposed to stop it. During the greater part of the reign of Anne South remained comparatively quiet, but in 1710 he ranked himself among the partisans of Sacheverell. He declined the see of Rochester and the deanery of Westminster in 1713. He died on the 8th of July 1716, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

South had a vigorous style and his sermons were marked by homely and humorous appeal. His wit generally inclines towards sarcasm, and it was probably the knowledge of his quarrelsome temperament that prevented his promotion to a bishopric. He was noted for the extent of his charities. He published a largo number of single sermons, and they appeared in a collected form in 1692 in six volumes, reaching a second edition in his lifetime in 1715. There have been several later issues; one in two volumes, with a memoir (Bohn, 1845). His Opera posthuma latina, including his will, his Latin poems, and his orations while public orator, with memoirs of his life, appeared in 1717. An edition of his works in 7 vols. was published at Oxford in 1823, another in 5 vols. in 1842. See also W. C. Lake, Classic Preachers of the English Church (1 st series, 1877). The contemporary notice of South by Anthony Wood in his Athenae is strongly hostile, said to be due to a jest made by South at Wood's expense.

Jean-Marc Warszawski
Novembre 1995- 15 mars 2123.

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