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Items extracted from The Gentleman's Magazine,
volume 80, part 2d,
by Karen Turner.

Storm at Sheffield

1 July 1810

The violent thunder-storm which was felt so severely in the Metropolis, this night, extended to Sheffield and its neighbourhood, where it appears to have done considerable damage. The lightning struck the houses of Mr CURR and Mr THOMSON, in the Ponds, demolishing the windows, looking-glasses, picture frames, and cupboards in its course, and with a tremendous explosion rocking the building to their foundations. Though it passed through the bed-chambers where the families lay, providentially no person was hurt.

Attercliffe Chapel was likewise struck by a flash, which entered at the belfry, tore the roof, shattered several windows, dislocated stones, split the board on which the Commandments are written, and made its way through the North-east window of the gallery, which it burst to pieces, and drove out the frame.

In a field near Broomhall, a very valuable horse belonging to Mr S NEWBOULD was killed during the storm; and a house at Rotherham was much damaged by the lightning.

22 September 1810

A dreadful thunderstorm took place at Sheffield this day which did much mischief in the neighbourhood; and, near Norton Hammer, a respectable farmer was thrown from his horse, and killed on the spot.

1 July 1810

In a large public building in Leeds, the Coloured Cloth Hall, consisting of five streets, averaging 100 yards each, which is now raising, cast-iron is substituted for wood in the main beamings. There are several recently erected manufactories in that neighbourhood, where wood has been discarded entirely, and iron used in its stead. By this means the buildings are rendered fire-proof.

Obituary of Ebenezer Radcliffe Esq, died 17 October 1810 at
Walthamstowe, Essex

If mental powers and endowments confessedly of the first order, have any claim to remembrance, certainly the subject of this memoir will not speedily descend into oblivion. It is but a very slight sketch which can here be offered; but such as it is, it will be interesting, if only for the dates and facts it furnishes, to those who remember the extraordinary charms of his conversation (and who does not remember them that ever knew him?) or have read and appreciated his eloquent writings,. His writings indeed were not many or voluminous; but his was the singular praise of establishing a splendid and durable reputation on publications which, if the work of an ordinary man, would not have survived the occasion that gave them birth.

He was born at Sheffield in January 1732; and was the second son of William and Hannah Radcliffe, of that place. At the age of 12 years he had the misfortune to lose his father, a man respectable for his property and situation in life, but more distinguished for the universal esteem in which he was held for uprightness and moral worth. His mother, whom he always spoke of in terms of very peculiar affection and regard, lived many years after this, and had the satisfaction of seeing her son usefully and honourable settled in the world. He was initiated in classical learning by the Rev. Mr Cliffe of Sheffield; and afterwards became a pupil of the Rev. Mr Lowe of Norton in Derbyshire, with whom he read the Greek and Roman Classicks, made himself master of Euclid, and studied Algebra and the Mathematicks. At an early age be commenced his academical studies at Northampton, under Dr Doddridge, with whom he continued till the Doctor's death in 1751, and from whom he derived advantages as a Student in Sacred Literature which it is the happiness of few to enjoy. He had just gone through the whole of his Tutor's usual course to students in Divinity, when that excellent man was taken away in the midst of his pious labours, to the inexpressible grief of all the friends of Religion and Virtue, both in the Establishment and out of it. How well the subject of this memoir had improved his time and talents at school may be concluded from the fact which he himself relates: that he was entered at Northampton in the second class in consequence of being acquainted with those subjects which usually occupied the first year. After the death of Dr Doddridge, Mr Radcliffe went to Edinburgh, where he continued one session; a period of his life which, on account of the society he met with there, and the opportunities of improving himself in general knowledge, he was accustomed to speak of as peculiarly agreeable and happy. Nothing, however, could divert him from the object which, with his characteristic ardour of mind, he had all along kept in view, the office of a Minister of Religion among Protestant Dissenters; an office which he sustained for 26 years of his life, and with an ability which few Ministers of any Church have been known to equal. A tall, commanding figure, a manly and forcible utterance, a plain, simple, nervous style, peculiarly adapted to sacred subjects, and a luminous, comprehensive view of every topick and argument, such as familiarly presents itself to a mind of first-rate powers, combined to render him an admired Preacher.

His first settlement was at Boston in Lincolnshire, where (to use his own words) "I staid several years endeavouring to discharge the duty of my profession to the best of my abilities, and receiving in return every instance of respect an affectionate people could give". Whilst at Boston Mr Radcliffe published three Sermons; two on occasion of the disastrous circumstances of the war then carried-on on the Continent in aid of the King of Prussia; and the other in celebration of the victory at Minden, on the 1st of August 1759. The Protestant Interest was supposed to be at stake upon the issue of this conflict; and the hopes and fears of the Nation were alternately raised to an exceedingly high pitch. The Discourses bear the same character of high-toned patriotism and fire, both of language and sentiment; a fire which was so characteristic of their Author, that it was never extinct, even in the latest periods of his life.

In 1759 Mr Radcliffe removed from Boston to the neighbourhood of the Metropolis being chosen afternoon preacher to an opulent, and at that time a numerous Congregation of Dissenters at Walthamstowe, in connexion with the celebrated Hugh Farmer, whose talents as a preacher, and whose writings on Christ's Temptation, and on Miracles, had gained him a high and deserved reputation. At this time it was that Mr Radcliffe renewed the intimacy that had commenced whilst they were fellow-students at Northampton with Mr, now Sir, Wadsworth Bush, who is the last, excepting perhaps two, of all Dr Doddridge's pupils. The two friends, though pursuing different professions, yet united in the same views on the most important subjects, lived together for some years in the Temple, and afterwards married into the same family.

The sudden death of the King in 1760, in the fullness of glory, furnished a subject for panegyrick. Mr Radcliffe's Discourse on the occasion was published, and very highly applauded. His own modesty led him to say of it, that it was received with more respect than it merited. On New year's day in the following year he preached and printed, at the request of the Mangers of the Free School in Gravel- lane in the Borough, an excellent Charity Sermon in behalf of that Institution, intitled "The Charitable Man the best Economist, Patriot, and Christian."

In the course of this year (1761) Mr Radcliffe succeeded to the pastoral charge of the Congregation of Jewry-street, which had long been under the care of those illustrious ornaments of the Christian Church, Drs Lardner and Benson. To the former, who has been emphatically styled the Prince of modern Divines, he paid a noble tribute of respect in an Oration which, to say every thing in a word was worthy of the occasion which called it forth. It has been in great part transcribed into the Life of Lardner, prefixed to Dr Kippis's Edition of his Works, and will descend to the latest posterity in connexion with a name which will be an everlasting honour to our Country. Upon the death of Dr Benson, which had happened some years previous to this Mr Radcliffe had paid the last honours at his grave. This Oration appeared, attached to the Sermon and brief Memoir by the Rev Mr Pickard, and is the same style of simple manly eloquence as that for Lardner. In 1762 Mr Radcliffe published a Fast Sermon; and in the following year a Discourse on the Anniversary of the Hanoverian Succession, preached at the Lord's-day Morning Lecture at Little St Helen's both published at the request of those who heard them. In the latter, the Preacher, from our Lord's words, "My kingdom is not of this world," takes occasion to lay down and in his usual clear and forcible manner, the genuine principles of Religious Liberty.

In the year 1769 Mr Radcliffe was united in marriage to Miss Parish, eldest daughter of the late Edward Clarke Parish, esq of Walthamstowe. This lady survives to lament his loss; a loss heightened by the high value which her own excellent understanding enabled her to set on his distinguished talents, and by the affectionate and unremitting attention which he considered it both his duty and his happiness to render under the loss of sight and other distresses with which it pleased Heaven to afflict her. He left one only daughter married to S Iveson, esq of Black Bank, near Leeds.

At a period when the public mind seemed growing decidedly liberal on religious subjects, the Penal Statutes against Dissenting Ministers and Schoolmasters who could not conscientiously subscribe to the Doctrinal Articles of the Church of England had fallen into disuse; and it was hoped that the time was come when Parliament would cordially join in repealing them. The great Dodderidge had himself had a prosecution commenced against him for keeping an Academy; but the late King had interfered on that occasion to put a stop to it; and it was presumed that, as the Country seemed now ashamed of executing these harsh Laws, the Legislature would be glad of an opportunity of doing them away altogether. The Dissenters applied to Parliament in a manly and respectful manner; but, owing to the opposition of the Bench of Bishops, the application at that time failed of success.

It was at this juncture that Mr Radcliffe wrote his celebrated Letters to the Prelates; a production which, if he had never written another line, would have stamped him as one of the most powerful writers of the age. His name did not appear to them, nor did he ever publicly acknowledge them to be his; but his contemporaries never doubted of the fact; and he himself says, "This year (1773) the Letters to the Prelates appeared, which occasioned much enquiry about the Author". It is saying but little of this masterly production to observe that it is convincing and decisive on the subject. There never was an argument more triumphantly pursued. It is a torrent of manly eloquence from beginning to end. Some persons, and those not meanly skilled in the critical art, have conjectured that the Writer of these Letters must have been Junius himself. The language is all nerve. Sometimes grave and solemn, in other parts bitingly sarcastic, but throughout, clear, manly and dignified in the highest degree the Author carries you irresistibly along with him; and it is not too much to assert, that let any one, however opposite his prepossessions sit down to read these Letters, he would rise from the reading of them with an impression of inward respect for the defeated party. "Victrix causa Diis Placuit, sed victa Catoni". The force of truth, thus powerfully maintained at length prevailed, at least to a certain degree; and, to the honour of the Prelates themselves, let it be mentioned, that one of the body was the person to suggest to the Dissenters, that, if they applied again, their petition would not be opposed.

After thus, for a considerable number of years, filling up the office of a minister of Religion, and exerting his great powers, in the pulpit and out of it, in the sacred cause of Religious Liberty, Mr Radcliffe in the year 1777, and in the 46th year of his age, though proper to withdraw from the fatigues of active labour, and to lead the life of a private gentleman; which he did till the time of his death. The reasons which weighed in his mind in taking this step shall be given in his own words: "This year (1777) after giving six months notice, I resigned preaching, which I thought it better to do too soon rather than too late. I had survived those sanguine ideas of usefulness I once entertained. Every Sunday's exertion cost me an indisposition of several days. The duties I performed were as well supplied by others; and no person was left destitute of the means of instruction, or the helps of devotion, by my resignation.

But though, after this time, Mr Radcliffe was not officially engaged, his active mind was never idle; he had always some plan of benevolence or some little anonymous literary labour to occupy him. To the periodical publications of the day he was a frequent contributor, especially to the Gentleman's Magazine, as he had formerly been to a work more of a religious case, called "The Library". The society of his friends (amongst whom his inexhaustible fund of genuine anecdote, his wit, his peculiarly happy mode of expressing striking sentiments, could not fail to make him a most welcome guest) filled up some portion of his leisure. His library, reflexions upon the passing scenes of the world, the pleasing office of ministering to the wants and cheering the solitude of nearest connexion, plans for the welfare and happiness of other relatives, acts of charity of various kinds, for the most part performed in secret, occasional visits to his oldest friends, and the occupation of his garden, were now his principal objects.

"How various his employment who the world
Calls idle, and who justly in return
Esteems that busy world an idler too!" Cowper

At length, having survived beyond the ordinary period of the life of man, he bade the world adieu! With a dignity and tranquillity worthy of himself. His end was preceded by extreme debility. "Yet happy was his lot in this respect (to make use of his own words in the Oration on the Death of Dr Benson) that he did not linger of the bed of sickness under tormenting pains; he was not bereft of those faculties which he had exerted for the benefit of mankind; he did not live to despair of the goodness of the Being to whose service he had been dedicated from his earliest youth; but in peace and composure he resigned his sprit into the hands of Him who gave it."

Data transcribed from:
The Gentleman's Magazine.
volume 80, part 2d
Transcribed by
Karen Turner ©2000