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Blount, Charles

BLOUNT, CHARLES (1654-1693), English author, was born at Upper Holloway on the 27th of April 1654. His father, Sir Henry Blount (1602-1682), was the author of a Voyage to the Levant, describing his own travels. He gave his son a careful education, and is said to have helped him in his Anima Mundi; or An Historical Narration of the Opinions of the Antients concerning Man's Soul after his Life, according to unenlightened Nature (1679), which gave great offence by the sceptical views expressed in it. It was suppressed by order of the bishop of London, and even burnt by some over-zealous official, but a re-issue was permitted. Blount was an admirer of Hobbes, and published his "Last Sayings" (1679), a pamphlet consisting of extracts from The Leviathan. Great is Diana of the Ephesians, or the Original of Idolatry, together with the Political Institution of the Gentiles' Sacrifices (1680) attracted severe criticism on the ground that in deprecating the evils of priestcraft Blount was attacking Christianity itself. His best-known book, The Two First Books of Philostratus concerning the Life of Apollonius Tyaneus... (1680), is said to have been prohibited in 1693, chiefly on account of the notes, which are stated by Bayle (note, s.v. Apollonius) to have been taken mainly from a MS. of Lord Herbert of Cherbury. Blount contributed materially to the removal of the restrictions on the freedom of the press, with two pamphlets (1693) by "Philopatris," mainly derived from Milton's Areopagitica. He also laid a successful trap for the censor, Edmund Bohun. Under the name of "Junius Brutus" he wrote a pamphlet entitled "King William and Queen Mary Conquerors." The title-page set forth the theory of the justice of title by conquest, which Blount knew to be agreeable to Bohun. It was duly licensed, but was ordered by the House of Commons to be burnt by the common hangman, as being diametrically opposed to the attitude of William's government on the subject. These proceedings showed the futility of the censorship, and hastened its overthrow.

Blount had fallen in love with his deceased wife's sister, and, in despair of overcoming her scruples as to the legality of such a marriage, shot himself in the head. He survived for some time, refusing help except from his sister-in-law. Alexander Pope asserted (Epilogue to the Satires, Note, i. 124) that he wounded himself in the arm, pretending to kill himself, and that the result was fatal contrary to his expectations. He died in August 1693.

Shortly before his death a collection of his pamphlets and private papers was printed with a preface by Charles Gildon, under the title of the Oracles of Reason. His Miscellaneous Works (1695) is a fuller edition by the same editor.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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