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Heath, Benjamin

HEATH, BENJAMIN (1704-1766), English classical scholar and bibliophile, was born at Exeter on the 20th of April 1704. He was the son of a wealthy merchant, and was thus able to devote himself mainly to travel and book-collecting. He became town cleik of his native city in 1752, and held the office till his death on the 13th of September 1766. In 1763 he had published a pamphlet advocating the repeal of the cider tax in Devonshire, and his endeavours led to success three years later. As a classical scholar he made his reputation by his critical and metrical notes on the Greek tragedians, which procured him an honorary D.C.L. from Oxford (315! of March 1752). He also left MS. notes on Burmann's and Martyn's editions of Virgil, on Euripides, Catullus, Tibullus, and the greater part of Hesiod. In some of these he adopts the whimsical name Dexiades Ericius. His Revisal of Shakespear's Text (1765) was an answer to the " insolent dogmatism " of Bishop Warburton. The Essay towards a Demonstrative Proof of the Divine Existence, Unity and Attributes (1740) was intended to combat the opinions of Voltaire, Rousseau and Hume. Two of his sons (among a family of thirteen) were Benjamin, headmaster of Harrow (1771-1785), and George, headmaster of Eton (1796). His collection of rare classical works formed the nucleus of his son Benjamin's famous library ( Bibliotheca Heathiana).

An account of the Heath family will be found in Sir W. R. Drake's Heathiana (1882).

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

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