John Lawson

Life
1712-1759, b. Omagh [var. Magherafelt], Co. Tyrone, son of Church of Ireland curate; ed. TCD, BA 1731l MA, 1734; senior fellow and first librarian, 1743; DD 1745; first Erasmus Smith lecturer on oratory and history, 1753; his Lectures Concerning Oratory (Faulkner 1758); selected sermons, 1764; preched at inauguration of Rotunda Hospital. ODNB.

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Commentary
W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (1984), John Lawson, Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Oratory and History from 1750 to 1759, gave a rousing series of lectures on oratory in which he commended the Greek’s as ‘valiant lovers of Liberty’, giving this as the reason why the Arts and Sciences, and especially Oratory, flourished among them. Stanford wonders whether Leland and Lawson, thought themselves upholders of the Anglican ascendancy and King’s men, did not ultimately inflame the young men of the college of a later generation - that of Tone and Emmet - to ‘snatch up arms [and] march against this Philip, this Tyrant, this treacherous invader of our Country’, as Lawson enthusiastically summarised the probable effect of Demosthenes’ phil[l]ipics. [210-211] Bibl, E.N. Claussen, and KR Wallace, Lectures Concerning Oratory by John Lawson (Carbondale/London/ Amsterdam 1972).

John V. Luce, review of E. Neal Claussen and Karl R Wallace, eds., Lectures Concerning Oratory by John Lawson [Landmarks in Rhetoric and Public Address] (S. Illinois UP 1972), pp.liii, 457, in Hermathena, CXVII (Summer 1974), p.105. Luce notes tht Lawson was a needy scholar from Magherafelt [sic], entered TCD Univ., 1727, sizar, schol., fellow; Erasmus Prof. of Oratory and History, 1750 [sic], and Professor of Divinity in 1752; became first professor of oratory in British Isle to produce major book on his subject, Lectures &c., George Faulkner 1758), published two months posthumously; here rep.facsimile, with intro. by Claussen and Wallace; Lawson well-grounded in classics as undergraduate, took duties seriously as divinity instructor; much in demand for charity sermons; special preacher at inauguration of Rotunda Hospital; J[ohn] V. Luce, reviewing, notes that Ireland merged with Great Britain in the preface and comments after Berkeley, ‘we Irish know better!’ (Hermathena, CXVII, Summer 1974, p.105.)

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References
Dictionary of National Biography cites Oratory (1758, eds. 1759 & 1760), to which is appended “Irene, carmen historicum ad vicecomitem Boyle”, poem, rev. edn. with a translation by William Dunkin (Dublin 1760); also a selection from Sermons (1764), being Occasional Sermons writyen by the late Eminent Divine (1765, 2nd edn. 1776); appended to which a Latin oration at the funerla of Richard Baldwin, 4 Oct. 1758. Bibl. Ryan’s Irish Worthies; Cotton’s Fasti Eccl. Hibern., ii, 286; Taylor, Dublin University, &c.

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