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Soame Jenyns

For the British art historian (1904–1976), see Soame Jenyns (art historian).

Soame Jenyns (1 January 1704 – 18 December 1787) was an English writer and Member of Parliament. He was an early advocate of the ethical consideration of animals.

Soame Jenyns
Portrait from 1776
Born(1704-01-01)1 January 1704
London, England
Died18 December 1787(1787-12-18) (aged 83)
London, England
OccupationWriter, politician
Spouse(s)
Mary Soame
(m. 1726; died 1753)​

Elizabeth Gray
(m. 1754)​
Parent(s)

Contents

He was the eldest son of Sir Roger Jenyns and his second wife Elizabeth Soame, the daughter of Sir Peter Soame. He was born in London, and was educated at St John's College, Cambridge. In 1742 he was chosen M.P. for Cambridgeshire, in which his property (Bottisham Hall, which he inherited from his father in 1740) was situated, and he afterwards sat for the borough of Dunwich and the town of Cambridge. From 1755 to 1780 he was one of the commissioners of the Board of Trade. He was elected as a Bailiff to the board of the Bedford Level Corporation for 1748–69 and 1771–87.

For the measure of literary repute which he enjoyed during his life Jenyns was indebted as much to his wealth and social standing as to his accomplishments and talents, though both were considerable. His poetical works, the Art of Dancing (1727) and Miscellanies (1770), contain many passages graceful and lively though occasionally verging on licence.

The first of his prose works was his Free Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil (1756). This essay was severely criticized on its appearance, especially by Samuel Johnson in the Literary Magazine. Johnson condemned the book as a slight and shallow attempt to solve one of the most difficult of moral problems. Jenyns, a gentle and amiable man in the main, was extremely irritated by his review. He put forth a second edition of his work, prefaced by a vindication, and tried to take vengeance on Johnson after his death by a sarcastic epitaph:

Here lies poor Johnson. Reader, have a care,
Tread lightly, lest you rouse a sleeping bear;
Religious, moral, generous, and humane
He was—but self-sufficient, rude, and vain;
Ill-bred and over-bearing in dispute,
A scholar and a Christian—yet a brute.

In 1776 Jenyns published his View of the Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion. Though at one period of his life he had affected a kind of deistic scepticism, he had now returned to orthodoxy, and there seems no reason to doubt his sincerity, questioned at the time, in defending Christianity on the ground of its total agreement with the principles of human reason. The work was deservedly praised for its literary merits.

Jenyns published Disquisitions on Several Subjects in 1782. In "Disquisition II", Jenyns argued, using the great chain of being, that animals should be viewed in the same way that humans would want to be viewed by God. He also asserted that: "We are unable to give life, and therefore ought not wantonly to take it away from the meanest insect, without sufficient reason; they all receive it from the same benevolent hand as ourselves, and have therefore an equal right to enjoy it."

Arms of Soame Jenyns, St Andrew's Church, West Dereham, Norfolk. Jenyns (Argent, on a fess gules three bezants) impaling Soame (Gules, a chevron between three mallets or), for his first wife Mary Soame

He married twice, but left no progeny:

  • Firstly to Mary Soame, only daughter of Col. Edmund Soame (d.1706) of Dereham, Norfolk, a Member of Parliament for Thetford in Norfolk from 1701 to 1705, who fought for King William III. His life-size alabaster statue survives in West Dereham Church.
  • Secondly he married Elizabeth Grey, daughter of Henry Grey of Hackney, Middlesex.

Jenyns died in London of a fever, on 18 December 1787 and was buried at the church of the Holy Trinity, Bottisham. As he died without progeny, his heir was his cousin George Leonard Jenyns.

A collected edition of the works of Jenyns appeared in 1790, with a biography by Charles Nalson Cole. There are several references to him in James Boswell's Johnson.

Carl L. Becker describes Jenyns' take on the American Revolution in The Eve of the Revolution (1918) as follows:

Mr. Soame Jenyns, a writer of verse and member of the Board of Trade, who in a leisure hour had recently turned his versatile mind to the consideration of colonial rights with the happiest results. In twenty-three very small pages he had disposed of the "Objections to the Taxation of Our American Colonies" in a manner highly satisfactory to himself and doubtless also to the average reading Briton, who understood constitutional questions best when they were "briefly considered," and when they were humorously expounded in pamphlets that could be had for sixpence. ...The heart of the question was the proposition that there should be no taxation without representation; upon which principle it was necessary to observe only that many individuals in England, such as copyholders and leaseholders, and many communities, such as Manchester and Birmingham, were taxed in Parliament without being represented there. "...are they only Englishmen when they solicit protection, but not Englishmen when taxes are required to enable this country to protect them?" As for "liberty," the word had so many meanings, "having within a few years been used as a synonymous term for Blasphemy, Bawdy, Treason, Libels, Strong Beer, and Cyder," that Mr. Jenyns could not presume to say what it meant.

Jenyns has been cited as an example of an Anglican utilitarian.

  1. "Jenyns, Soame (JNNS722S)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. Wells, Samuel. History of the Drainage of the Great Level of the Fens Called ..., Volume 1. p. 497.
  3. Jenyns, Soame; Cole, Charles Nalson (1793). The Works of Soame Jenyns ...: To which are Prefixed Short Sketches of the ... Author's Family, and Also of His Life. T. Cadell. p. 25. Retrieved7 March 2019.
  4. The Encyclopædia Britannica, or, Dictionary of arts, sciences, and general literature. Adam & Charles Black. 1856. p. 726. Retrieved7 March 2019.
  5. "Modernity's Uninvited Guest". 23 December 2015.
  6. Perkins, David (2003). Romanticism and Animal Rights. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 177. ISBN 978-1-139-44091-2.
  7. Jenyns, Soame (1793). Cole, Charles Nalson (ed.). The Works of Soam Jenyns. 3 (2nd ed.). London: T. Cadell. p. 190.
  8. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, Volume 1 [1]
  9. see images
  10. Rompkey, Ronald (23 September 2004)."Jenyns, Soame (1704–1787), author and politician". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/14766. Retrieved27 July 2020.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  11. Carl Lotus Becker, The Eve of the Revolution (1918) pp. 109–113
  12. Heydt, Colin (30 January 2014), Eggleston, Ben; Miller, Dale E. (eds.), "Utilitarianism before Bentham", The Cambridge Companion to Utilitarianism (1 ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 16–37, doi:10.1017/cco9781139096737.002, ISBN 978-1-139-09673-7

Attribution

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Soame Jenyns

Soame Jenyns
Soame Jenyns Language Watch Edit For the British art historian 1904 1976 see Soame Jenyns art historian Soame Jenyns 1 January 1704 18 December 1787 was an English writer and Member of Parliament He was an early advocate of the ethical consideration of animals Soame JenynsPortrait from 1776Born 1704 01 01 1 January 1704 London EnglandDied18 December 1787 1787 12 18 aged 83 London EnglandOccupationWriter politicianSpouse s Mary Soame m 1726 died 1753 wbr Elizabeth Gray m 1754 wbr Parent s Roger Jenyns father Contents 1 Life and work 2 Marriages 3 Death and succession 4 Works 5 Commentary on Jenyns 6 References 7 External linksLife and work EditHe was the eldest son of Sir Roger Jenyns and his second wife Elizabeth Soame the daughter of Sir Peter Soame He was born in London and was educated at St John s College Cambridge 1 In 1742 he was chosen M P for Cambridgeshire in which his property Bottisham Hall which he inherited from his father in 1740 was situated and he afterwards sat for the borough of Dunwich and the town of Cambridge From 1755 to 1780 he was one of the commissioners of the Board of Trade He was elected as a Bailiff to the board of the Bedford Level Corporation for 1748 69 and 1771 87 2 For the measure of literary repute which he enjoyed during his life Jenyns was indebted as much to his wealth and social standing as to his accomplishments and talents though both were considerable His poetical works the Art of Dancing 1727 3 4 and Miscellanies 1770 contain many passages graceful and lively though occasionally verging on licence The first of his prose works was his Free Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil 1756 This essay was severely criticized on its appearance especially by Samuel Johnson in the Literary Magazine Johnson condemned the book as a slight and shallow attempt to solve one of the most difficult of moral problems Jenyns a gentle and amiable man in the main was extremely irritated by his review He put forth a second edition of his work prefaced by a vindication and tried to take vengeance on Johnson after his death by a sarcastic epitaph 5 Here lies poor Johnson Reader have a care Tread lightly lest you rouse a sleeping bear Religious moral generous and humane He was but self sufficient rude and vain Ill bred and over bearing in dispute A scholar and a Christian yet a brute In 1776 Jenyns published his View of the Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion Though at one period of his life he had affected a kind of deistic scepticism he had now returned to orthodoxy and there seems no reason to doubt his sincerity questioned at the time in defending Christianity on the ground of its total agreement with the principles of human reason The work was deservedly praised for its literary merits Jenyns published Disquisitions on Several Subjects in 1782 In Disquisition II Jenyns argued using the great chain of being that animals should be viewed in the same way that humans would want to be viewed by God 6 He also asserted that We are unable to give life and therefore ought not wantonly to take it away from the meanest insect without sufficient reason they all receive it from the same benevolent hand as ourselves and have therefore an equal right to enjoy it 7 Marriages Edit Arms of Soame Jenyns St Andrew s Church West Dereham Norfolk Jenyns Argent on a fess gules three bezants impaling Soame Gules a chevron between three mallets or for his first wife Mary Soame He married twice but left no progeny 8 Firstly to Mary Soame only daughter of Col Edmund Soame d 1706 of Dereham Norfolk a Member of Parliament for Thetford in Norfolk from 1701 to 1705 who fought for King William III His life size alabaster statue 9 survives in West Dereham Church Secondly he married Elizabeth Grey daughter of Henry Grey of Hackney Middlesex Death and succession EditJenyns died in London of a fever on 18 December 1787 and was buried at the church of the Holy Trinity Bottisham 10 As he died without progeny his heir was his cousin George Leonard Jenyns Works EditA collected edition of the works of Jenyns appeared in 1790 with a biography by Charles Nalson Cole There are several references to him in James Boswell s Johnson Commentary on Jenyns EditCarl L Becker describes Jenyns take on the American Revolution in The Eve of the Revolution 1918 as follows 11 Mr Soame Jenyns a writer of verse and member of the Board of Trade who in a leisure hour had recently turned his versatile mind to the consideration of colonial rights with the happiest results In twenty three very small pages he had disposed of the Objections to the Taxation of Our American Colonies in a manner highly satisfactory to himself and doubtless also to the average reading Briton who understood constitutional questions best when they were briefly considered and when they were humorously expounded in pamphlets that could be had for sixpence The heart of the question was the proposition that there should be no taxation without representation upon which principle it was necessary to observe only that many individuals in England such as copyholders and leaseholders and many communities such as Manchester and Birmingham were taxed in Parliament without being represented there are they only Englishmen when they solicit protection but not Englishmen when taxes are required to enable this country to protect them As for liberty the word had so many meanings having within a few years been used as a synonymous term for Blasphemy Bawdy Treason Libels Strong Beer and Cyder that Mr Jenyns could not presume to say what it meant Jenyns has been cited as an example of an Anglican utilitarian 12 References Edit Jenyns Soame JNNS722S A Cambridge Alumni Database University of Cambridge Wells Samuel History of the Drainage of the Great Level of the Fens Called Volume 1 p 497 Jenyns Soame Cole Charles Nalson 1793 The Works of Soame Jenyns To which are Prefixed Short Sketches of the Author s Family and Also of His Life T Cadell p 25 Retrieved 7 March 2019 The Encyclopaedia Britannica or Dictionary of arts sciences and general literature Adam amp Charles Black 1856 p 726 Retrieved 7 March 2019 Modernity s Uninvited Guest 23 December 2015 Perkins David 2003 Romanticism and Animal Rights Cambridge Cambridge University Press p 177 ISBN 978 1 139 44091 2 Jenyns Soame 1793 Cole Charles Nalson ed The Works of Soam Jenyns 3 2nd ed London T Cadell p 190 Burke s Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Volume 1 1 see images 1637067 1637070 Rompkey Ronald 23 September 2004 Jenyns Soame 1704 1787 author and politician Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online ed Oxford University Press doi 10 1093 ref odnb 14766 Retrieved 27 July 2020 Subscription or UK public library membership required Carl Lotus Becker The Eve of the Revolution 1918 pp 109 113 Heydt Colin 30 January 2014 Eggleston Ben Miller Dale E eds Utilitarianism before Bentham The Cambridge Companion to Utilitarianism 1 ed Cambridge University Press pp 16 37 doi 10 1017 cco9781139096737 002 ISBN 978 1 139 09673 7 Attribution This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain Chisholm Hugh ed 1911 Jenyns Soame Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th ed Cambridge University Press External links EditWikiquote has quotations related to Soame JenynsSoame Jenyns at the Eighteenth Century Poetry Archive ECPA Works by or about Soame Jenyns in libraries WorldCat catalog Parliament of Great BritainPreceded by Samuel Shepheard Henry Bromley Member for Cambridgeshire 1741 1754 With Samuel Shepheard 1741 1747 Viscount Royston 1747 1754 Succeeded by Viscount Royston Marquess of GranbyPreceded by Miles Barne Sir Jacob Downing Bt Member for Dunwich 1754 1758 With Sir Jacob Downing Bt Succeeded by Sir Jacob Downing Bt Alexander ForresterPreceded by Viscount Dupplin Hon Charles Cadogan Member for Cambridge 1758 1780 With Hon Charles Cadogan 1758 1776 Benjamin Keene 1776 1780 Succeeded by Benjamin Keene James Whorwood Adeane Retrieved from https en 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