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day had attained so masterly a knowledge of the historical parts of the Bible as well as the doctrinal, or could have thrown happier light upon its oriental customs, its difficult geography, or the civil, political, and moral condition of the people to whom it was addressed. We believe it was once his intention to have published notes upon Calmet, a task for which he would have brought all the resources which any single individual could be expected to furnish. Such a work, had it pleased God to restore him to his native land, would have been an agreeable and most useful employment for his declining years; and many materials for it, in addition to those he already possessed, he would have undoubtedly accumulated during his active researches in the East. To verbal criticism he had not (like his episcopal predecessor) devoted so much attention; nor perhaps did the character of his mind qualify him for making, in that branch of learning, the same progress as in its more popular departments. The patient investigation of a peculiar construction, or the emendation of a corrupted text, (necessary as such labours are,) are not those in which the faculties of a poet (and such were certainly his) commonly delight; and of the few poets who have attempted minute criticism most have failed, and none have been eminently successful.
He received his early education at the grammar-school of Whitechurch, whence he was afterwards sent to Dr. Bristowe, a gentleman who took pupils near London. His osequent career at Oxford, where he was entered of Brazen-nose College, in 1800, proved how well his youthful studies had been directed, and how diligently pursued. The University prizes for Latin verse, for the English poem, and for the English prose-essay, were successively awarded him; and 'Palestine' received the higher and rarer compliment of public and universal praise. Such a poem, composed at such an age, has indeed some, but not many, parallels in our language. Its copious diction,-its perfect numbers, its images, so well chosen, diversified so happily, and treated with so much discretion and good taste,-the transitions from one period to another of the history of the Holy Land, so dexterously contrived, —and, above all, the ample knowledge of Scripture, and of writings illustrative of Scripture, displayed in it-all these things might have seemed to bespeak the work of a man who had been long chusing, and begun late,' rather than of a stripling of nineteen. Some few of our University English prize-poems have had an ephemeral reputation beyond the precincts of Cambridge and Oxford; but Palestine' is almost the only one— (we can recollect, at most, but two others of whom any such language could be fairly used)-that has maintained its honours unimpaired, and entitled itself, after the lapse of years, to be con2G 2
sidered the property of the nation. It might have been expected that such a poem would but have been the first of many-that so cordial a welcome would have stamped its author the follower of the muses for life; but having given to the world a small and well-known miscellaneous volume in 1812, (the whole of which did not then appear for the first time,) he withdrew almost entirely from a pursuit to which he was by temper strongly inclined, and devoted himself to the unobtrusive duties of the clerical office.* From the original pieces of that volume, it would be easy to select thoughts of animation and of tenderness; but unless perhaps The Passage of the Red Sea' (which is a noble copy of verses) should be excepted, nothing that, as a whole, comes up to the standard of Palestine. In the translations of Pindar which it contains, it may be doubted whether the deep-mouthed Theban is not made to speak too much after the manner of the great minstrel of Scotland; still they are executed with genuine spirit and elegance, and the rambling movements of an author, who, in his anxiety to escape from an Hiero or an Agesias, is very apt to run riot and lose his way, are connected with no common success. Previous, however, to the production of this volume, and whilst he was yet fellow of All Souls, a society to which (it should have been said) he had been elected from Brazennose, Reginald Heber travelled through those parts of Europe which were then open to an Englishman; and some of his observations upon Russia and the Crimea, which Dr. Clarke was permitted to extract from his MS. journal, and publish as notes to his own work, have ever been reckoned the bijoux of the volume, and, indeed, convey more information in a few words than perhaps would have been communicated by any traveller, except Burckhardt-whose close and pithy sentences not unfrequently resemble these able memoranda.
Having now been put in possession of the valuable living of Hodnet, which had been reserved for him, he married Amelia, daughter of Dr. Shipley, late dean of St. Asaph, and, happy in the prospect of those domestic endearments which no man was
* Still, out of the fulness of his heart, or at the call of his friends, he would at intervals give proof that his hand had not forgot its cunning, however it might have hung up the harp; and a specimen will not displease our readers :
When eyes are beaming
What never tongue might tell, When tears are streaming
From their crystal cell;
When hands are linked that dread to part,
Of them that bid farewell!
When hope is chidden
That fain of bliss would tell,
In the breast to dwell;
Of them that bid farewell!'-MS.
reason with th
more qualified to enjoy, settled himself in his rectory. In no scene of his life, perhaps, did his character appear in greater beauty than whilst he was living here, seeing God's blessings spring out of his mother earth, and eating his own bread in peace and privacy.' His talents might have made him proud, he he was humble-minded as a child—eager to call forth intellectual stores of others, rather than to display - wn-arguing without dogmatism, and convinout triumph-equally willing to se, or take a share in the innocent gaieties of a wincer's fire-side; for it was no part of his creed that all innocent mirth ought to be banished from the purlieus of a good man's dwelling; or that he is called upon to abstract himself from the refinements and civilities of life, as if sitting to Teniers for a picture of the Temptations of St. Anthony. The attentions he received might have made him selfish, but his own inclinations were ever the last he consulted; indeed, of all the features in his character this was, perhaps, the most prominent-that in him, self did not seem to be denied, to be mortified, but to be forgotten. His love of letters might have made him an inactive parishpriest, but he was daily amongst his parishioners, advising them in difficulties, comforting them in distress, kneeling, often to the hazard of his own life,* by their sick-beds; exhorting, encouraging, reproving as he saw need; where there was strife, the peacemaker; where there was want, the cheerful giver. Yet in all this there was no parade, no effort, apparently not the smallest consciousness that his conduct differed from that of other menhis duty seemed to be his delight, his piety an instinct. Many a good deed done by him in secret only came to light when he had been removed far away, and but for that removal would have been for ever hid-many an instance of benevolent interference where it was least suspected, and of delicate attention towards those whose humble rank in life is too often thought to exempt their superiors from all need of mingling courtesy with kindness. That he was sometimes deceived in his favourable estimate of mankind, it would be vain to deny; such a guileless, confiding, unsuspicious singleness of heart as his, cannot always be proof against cunning. But if he had not this worldly knowledge, he wanted it perhaps in common with most men of genius and virtue; the 'wisdom of the serpent' was almost the only wisdom in which he did not abound.
The Bampton Lectures which he published in 1816 established his reputation in the theological world; for, though many dissented from his views on some speculative points, every com
Mr. Heber was, on one occasion, brought to the brink of the grave by a typhus fever caught in this way.
petent judge was compelled to do justice to the depth of learning, the variety of research, and the richness of illustration which those compositions displayed.
At home, in his own parish, his sermons were very originalSolustimes expanding into general views of the scheme and doctrines of revelan, collected from an intimate acquaintance, not with commentators, but the details of holy writ itself, frequently drawing ingenious lessons for nate parts of a parable, a miracle, or a histo, hich a los imaConduct, from the subordiginative mind would have overlooked-often enlivened by mor stories, with which his multifarious reading supplied him; and occasionally by facts which had come, perhaps, under his own observation, and which he thought calculated to give spirit or perspicuity to the truths he was imparting: a practice which, when judiciously restrained, is well adapted to secure the rustic hearer from the fate of Eutychus, without giving offence even to nicer brethren: of which the powerful effect is discoverable (though the figures may be grosser than the times would now admit) in the sermons of Latimer and the Reformers; subsequently, in those of Taylor and South; and still more recently, in the popular harangues of Whitfield and Wesley; and a practice, we will add, which derives countenance and authority from the use of parables in the preaching of our Lord. Of Heber's language in the pulpit we shall presently give our readers an opportunity of judging for themselves. Polished it was, for such it was in his ordinary conversation, yet seldom above the reach of a country congregation, and sometimes (when there was a duty to be driven home) plainspoken to a degree for which few modern men would have had conrage. Frequently it exhibited metaphors, bold, and even startling; and ever possessed a singular charm, in the happy adoption of expressions from the pure and undefiled English of our Bible, with which his mind was thoroughly imbued.
In the midst of these exercises of his calling, public and private, he found time to compose many hymns; which, had he completed the series, as (with the assistance of friends) he hoped to have done, would have been in relation to the Gospels for the several Sundays throughout the year-compositions, which those who have seen them will desire that every one should have the opportunity of seeing; and which those will readily believe to be full of beauties, both poetical and spiritual, who are acquainted with the few hymns which he has actually published.*
*The following is for St. Stephen's Day :
'The Son of God is gone to war a kingly crown to gain,
His blood-red banner streams afar!
Who follows in his train ?
In 1822, Reginald Heber undertook a more serious task, which was to finish a life of Jeremy Taylor, and a critical examination of his writings, for a new edition of the works of that great and good man. Since the publication of his Bampton Lectures, this was the first theological essay of any length in which he had openly engaged. If it be compared (as far as the subject will admit of comparison) with the Sermons on the Personality and Office of the Christian Comforter,' it will be found that it is the work of maturer knowledge, and a more chastised taste; the style retaining the vigour, perhaps somewhat of the floridness, of former years, but without being complicated, ambitious, or constrained; the matter exhibiting much thought, as well as ample reading, and setting forth, without reserve, the author's own views of most of the controverted points of church doctrine and discipline, which his subject naturally led him to pass in review. But the work derives a further interest from the evident sympathy with which his biographer (perhaps unconsciously) contemplates the life and writings of that heavenly-minded man:-Much, indeed, they had in common-a poetical temperament, a hatred of intolerance, great simplicity, an abomination of every sordid and narrowminded feeling, an earnest desire to make religion practical instead of speculative, and faith, vivid in proportion to the vigour of high imagination.
About the time when this Life appeared, Mr. Heber was elected preacher at Lincoln's-inn-a very flattering distinction, whether the character of the electors be considered, or the
"The Martyr first, whose eagle eye could pierce beyond the grave,
the lion's gory mane,
Twelve valiant saints, the truth they knew, and braved the cross and flame;
There is much of that simplicity which should ever distinguish devotional poetry, in some hymns adapted to popular Welsh airs. We shall transcribe the shortest of them
. A VESPER-HYMN.
May thine angel-guards defend us,