Edward Pococke (1604-1691)

Pococke, an orientalist of great learning, became the first Professor of Arabic at Oxford in 1636. His editions and Latin translations of various Arabic works gave him a European reputation.

In 1643 he was presented by his college to the rectory of Childrey, a living of very good value in Berkshire; and the military state of Oxford rendering the demands of his professorship impractical set him more at liberty to attend particularly to the duties of this new relation, which he discharged with the religious care of a worthy parish priest.

Among other instances of his prudent and pious care for the religious improvement of his flock, it is observable that though he was led, both by genius and inclination, to spend his whole life in the most recondite literature, yet his sermons were always composed in a plain style upon practical subjects, carefully avoiding all show and ostentation of learning. But from this very exemplary caution not to amuse [bewilder] his hearers (contrary to the common method then in vogue) with what they could not understand, some of them took occasion to entertain very contemptible thoughts of his learning, and to speak of him accordingly. So that one of his Oxford friends, as he travelled through Childrey, inquiring for his diversion of some of the people, Who was their minister, and how they liked him? received this answer:

`Our parson is one Mr. Pococke, a plain honest man. But Master,' said they, `he is no Latiner.'

From Biographia Britannica (1760), v. 3375.

« NEXT » « 17th Century Anecdotes » « All Anecdotes » « Humour » « Library »