The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.
§ 4. The Convocation Controversy: Wake
It needed controversy to stir the placid contentment of the early Hanoverian dignitaries. And, of controversy, vehement enough, they had their share. If Sacheverell did not contribute anything of value to English literature, the same cannot be said of Wake or even, perhaps, of Hoadly. In 1715, William Wake succeeded Tenison as archbishop. His predecessor had possessed a certain skill in anti-Roman controversy, and he had the very rare accomplishment of being able to write a good collect; but Wake was altogether his superior. In history, his translation of the Apostolic Fathers and his very important contributions to the discussion on the powers of convocation give him a place in the short list of English archbishops who have been learned men. Nor was his learning anglican only; he was better known in Germany and France, as well as in the eastern church, than any of his successors till quite modern times. As a controversialist, he was lucid and graceful; but when he hit he could hit hard. The convocation controversy, though it employed the powers of Atterbury, Burnet, Hody, Kennett, and Matthew Hutton of Aynho, hardly belongs to the history of literature. But it gave great opportunity for the display of that kind of antiquarian knowledge in which many of the English clergy of the time excelled. Few of those who joined in it were not, at the same time, writers of eminence in their own fields: Wake was distinguished for his studies of the Apostolic Fathers, Hody as a Hebraist, Kennett, in that admirable book The Parochial Antiquities of Ambrosden, a very model for local historians. And the convocation controversy was soon merged in the discussion as to the orthodoxy of certain ecclesiastics, some prominent, some undistinguished, which began with Hoadly and his views of church authority.