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(With a REGINALD HEBER, the second son of the Rev. Reginald Heber, Master of Arts of Brazennose College, Oxford, was born at Malpas, April 21, 1783. The rudiments of his education he received under the parental roof, from whence he was removed at an early age to the grammar school of Whitchurch, in Shropshire, and next, to a private seminary near the metropolis, kept by Dr. Bristowe. At the age of sixteen, he was entered a student of Brazennose College, and the year following gained the chancellor's prize for his "Carmen Seculare," an elegant Latin poem on the commencement of the new century. In 1803 he distinguished himself by his exquisite English poem, entitled, "Palestine," which obtained the gold medal, and was recited with great applause in the theatre. On that occasion the venerable father of the young poet was present, and the effect upon his
MEMOIR OF THE RIGHT REVEREND REGINALD HEBER, LATE LORD
BISHOP OF CALCUTTA.
nerves was such, that he died shortly afterwards.
To relieve his mind under this loss, Mr. Heber accepted an offer to accompany Mr. Thornton in a tour through Germany, Russia, and the Crimea. Of the value of his journal some idea may be formed, from several passages which the late Dr. Clarke was permitted to extract for the illustration of his travels.
While abroad, Mr. Heber was unanimously chosen fellow of All Souls' College; and upon his return, he gained another academical prize for an essay in prose, on "The Sense of Honor." Soon after this, Mr. Heber relinquished his fellowship, on being presented to the family rectory of Hodnet, in Shropshire, and marrying the daughter of Dr. Shipley, dean of St. Asaph.
In 1808 he took the degree of master of arts as a Grand Compounder,
and the next year appeared his poem, entitled, " Europe, or Lines on the present War," a piece which, though not professedly a satire, exhibits in some parts much of the Juvenalian character on the vices and follies of the age. About the same time came out a quarto edition of the "Palestine; with a Fragment on the Passage of the Red Sea ;" written in the highest style of descriptive poetry. Four years afterwards, the author printed a small volume of "Original Poems and Translations," which, for vigor of conception, beauty of imagery, and harmony of versification, may vie with some of the finest productions in our language.
In 1815 Mr. Heber preached the Bampton Lecture before the university of Oxford, on which occasion he took for his subject, "The Personality and Office of the Christian Comforter." The course was well attended, and the preacher gained great credit, by the manner in which he discharged this important duty. Yet, when the discourses, pursuant to the will of the founder of the lecture, appeared from the press, some of the positions advanced therein were called in question by the editor of the British Critic, in such a manner, that the author, though little disposed to controversy, felt himself under the necessity of replying to the anonymous reviewer, in "A letter addressed to the Head of a College." The next publication of Mr. Heber was an admirable sermon, preached by him in the cathedral of Chester, and printed at the desire of Dr. Law, then bishop of that diocese, and now of Bath and Wells. The last literary performance of Mr. Heber was, a Memoir of the Life and Writings of the eloquent and eminently pious prelate, Jeremy Taylor, prefixed to a uniform edition of his works.
In the spring of 1822 the preachership of Lincoln's Inn became vacant, when the whole bench of that honorable society concurred in soliciting Mr. Heber to accept the situation; which had always been an object of
distinction, and never was filled but by men of preeminent talents. The proposal was too flattering to be rejected ; but within a few months after his appointment to this place, another of a higher and very different description was offered him, which put his mind in a painful state of suspense, whether he could prudently accept, or conscientiously refuse it.
At the close of the above year, the melancholy intelligence reached England of the sudden death of that excellent man, Dr. Middleton, the first protestant bishop in British India. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, who were the principal means of procuring, what had long been wanting, the establishment of an episcopate in the East, immediately assembled upon this occasion, and, after paying proper respect to the memory of the deceased prelate, began to look out for a person qualified in every respect to be his successor. They were not long in consultation, but with one heart and one voice the venerable body fixed upon Mr. Heber as the man in whom were combined all the requisites that could be wished, for the arduous situation.
"Here," to use the language of a great writer on a similar occasion, "were to be found diligence, patience,activity, candor, and integrity; here was religion without formality, liberality without ostentation, seriousness without moroseness, and cheerfulness without levity: here was gentleness to others, and self severity: here was useful learning, and a love of those who loved and pursued it here was a contempt and dislike for detracting sycophants and fawning parasites: here was affability to inferiors: here were other bright virtues and endearing accomplishments which need not be recounted; for there is already reason to fear that justice has not been done to the dignity of the subject."
The Society having come to a resolution upon this important concern, immediately communicated it in the handsomest terms to Mr. Heber, who was much affected by the application.
Ambition and emolument were here out of the question; for, as he was already at perfect ease in his circumstances, and happy in his connexions, with fair prospects of higher advancement in the church, if he should ever think of seeking it, the present offer, flattering as it might be, was one which, in a worldly point of view, had more to repel than to court desire. Young men, ardent for fame, or needy characters anxious to secure an independence, might be, and often are, ready enough to encounter the perils of the sea, and the dangers of an unhealthy climate, in order to gain honor and wealth. The motives by which such persons are actuated take from them the merit of making any sacrifice for the sake of knowledge, religion, humanity, or conscience. On the contrary, adventurers like these lose nothing in any case; for whether successful or not, they have their meet reward,-perishable riches and contempt if they prosper; and an unlamented end, if they fall by a calenture or an apoplexy.
Mr. Heber could not be classed with such as these; for however highly he might estimate the episcopal station, it was not the title, but the office, which he contemplated. A mitre in his eyes was not so splendid an object, as to render him indifferent to the obligations which it imposed upon the wearer. The one now held out to him for his acceptance, was of a very peculiar kind, and appeared more like a crown of thorns, and an emblem of martyrdom, than of honorable distinction and enjoyment.
On being apprised of the recommendation of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and the cheerful acquiescence of the East India Company and the Government, he hesitated, took time to deliberate, and then declined the appointment. This was not the effect of timidity, for on his own account, he had no fear; but when he reflected upon the situation of his beloved partner and only child, he very naturally doubted whether the present invitation was such a call
as superseded every other tie, whether of parochial or social relation. The matter then underwent a further consideration; counsel was held upon it; and his scruples being removed, Mr. Heber consented to take upon him the momentous charge.
A single glance at the map of Hindostan must convince any one of the inability of an individual to superintend all the churches scattered over such an extent of territory; and those too, in many parts, separated widely from each other by tracts of country dangerous to travel over.
Dr. Middleton, the first bishop, was a man of strong constitution and powerful energies, yet even he fell under the weight of the burden, declaring with his last breath, that whoever came out to India with the same general commission would experience a similar fate. Notwithstanding this, the British government continued the narrow plan which had been originally adopted, and Mr. Heber, with the melancholy example and gloomy presage before him, received consecration at Lambeth, May 14th, 1823.
Previous to his departure from England in the month of June, the university of Oxford conferred upon him the degree of doctor in divinity, by diploma, which is the highest mark of distinction in the power of that learned body to bestow.
On the 11th of October the bishop arrived at Calcutta, where he set himself diligently to the discharge of his pastoral office.
On the 27th of May, 1824, he entered upon his first visitation, comprising northern India, Bombay, and the island of Ceylon. Having completed this circuit, he returned to Calcutta, and at the beginning of 1826 made preparations for his visitation to Madras.
On the 28th of March, the bishop, attended by his chaplain and several missionaries of the district, paid a visit of ceremony to the rajah of Tanjore, under the customary honors; and the next day his highness returned the compliment, by waiting on the bishop.
The two following days were taken up by Bishop Heber in visiting and inspecting the mission schools and premises. The number of children in these seminaries, English and Tamulian, amounted to two hundred and seventy-five boys and girls. He heard them read in both languages, and expressed himself highly gratified at the progress which had been made by the scholars.
On the 31st, the bishop left Tanjore amidst the blessings of the people, and proceeded to Trichinopoly, where he arrived apparently in good health and spirits, on Saturday, the 1st of April. The next day he preached to a large audience, and the same evening confirmed forty young persons, to whom he also delivered a suitable address. On the following morning, at six o'clock, he went to the Fort Church, where he confirmed eleven native Christians.
When he reached home, he went to visit Mr. Robinson, his chaplain, who was indisposed; after which he repaired to dress, and bathe. Having remained in the bath longer than usual, his servant entered the apartment, and found his master lying senseless in the water. Assistance was immediately procured, but every attempt to restore animation proved unsuccessful.
Upon examination, the vessels of the head were found much distended with blood, whence it was the opinion of the medical gentlemen, that the death of the bishop was occasioned by apoplexy. He had exhibited unusual symptoms of heaviness when called from his repose, and while undressing for the bath; which disposition was probably induced by previous exertion, and rendered fatal by a sudden immersion into cold wa
The corpse was deposited, with every demonstration of respect and sorrow, on the north side of the altar of St. John's church, Trichinopoly.
The awful event was no sooner made known at the different seats of government, than it produced a general gloom, and every one, high and low, felt the loss as a personal concern.
Meetings were held at the several presidencies, to consider of the best mode of paying a tribute of respect to the memory of the lamented prelate. From the excellent speeches which were delivered on these occasions, we shall select that of Sir Charles Grey, the chief justice at Calcutta, as exhibiting an admirable portraiture of the good bishop, in his early days.
"It is, (said the learned judge,) with real agitation and embarrassment, that I find it my duty to mark out the grounds on which this meeting appears to me to have been called for. Assuredly, it is not that there is any difficulty in finding those grounds; or that I have any apprehension that you will not attend to a statement of them with willingness and indulgence. But this is a very public occasion, and my feelings are not entirely of a public nature. Deep as my sense is of the loss which the community has sustained, yet, do what I will, the sensation which I find uppermost in my heart, is my own private sorrow, for one who was my friend in early life.
"It is just four-and-twenty years, this month, since I first became acquainted with him at the university, of which he was, beyond all question or comparison, the most distinguished student of his time. The name of Reginald Heber was in every mouth; his society was courted by young and old; he lived in an atmosphere of favor, admiration, and regard, from which I have never known any one but himself, who would not have derived, and for life, an unsalutary influence. Toward the close of his academical career, he crowned his previous honors by the production of his Palestine;' of which single work, the fancy, the elegance, and the grace, have secured him a place in the list of those who bear the proud title of English poets. This, according to usage, was recited in public; and when that scene of his early triumph comes upon my memory,-that elevated rostrum from which he looked upon friendly and admiring faces-that decorated theatre,-those grave forms of ecclesiasti
cal dignitaries, mingling with a resplen- thor were better adapted; hardly any
dent throng of rank and beauty,those antique mansions of learning, those venerable groves, those refreshing streams, and shaded walks, the vision is broken by another, in which the youthful and presiding genius of the former scene is beheld lying in his distant grave, amongst the sands of Southern India!-Believe me, the contrast is striking, and the recollections are most painful!
"But you are not here to listen to details of private life. If I touch upon one or two other points, it will be for the purpose only of illustrating some features of his character. He passed some time in foreign travel, before he entered on the duties of his profession. The whole continent had not yet been re-opened to Englishmen by the swords of the noble Lord (Combermere) who is near me, and his companions in arms; but in the eastern part of it the bishop found a field, the more interesting, on account of its having been seldom trodden by our countrymen he kept a valuable journal of his observations; and when you consider his youth, the applause he had already received, and how tempting, in the morning of life, are the gratifications of literary success, you will consider it as a mark of the retiring and ingenuous modesty of his character, that he preferred to let the substance of his work appear in the humble form of notes to the volumes of another.
"There is another circumstance which I can add, and which is not so generally known: this journey, and the aspect of those vast regions, stimulating a mind which was stored with classical learning, had suggested to him a plan of collecting, arranging, and illustrating, all of ancient and of modern literature, which could unfold the history, and throw light on the present state of Scythia-that region of mystery and fable-that source, from whence, eleven times in the history of man, the living clouds of war have been breathed over all the nations of the south. I can hardly conceive any work for which the talents of the au
10 ATHENEUM, VOL. 1, 3d series.
which could have given the world more delight, himself more of glory. I know the interest which he took in it.
But he had now entered into the service of the church; and finding that it interfered with his graver duties, he turned from his fascinating pursuit, and condemned to temporary oblivion, a work, which I trust may yet be given to the public.
"I mention this chiefly for the design of showing how steady was the purpose, how serious the views, with which he entered on his calling. I am aware that there were inducements to it, which some minds will be disposed to regard as the only probable ones; but I look upon it, myself, to have been with him a sacrifice of no common sort. His early celebrity had given him incalculable advantages; and every path of literature was open to him; every road to the temple of fame, every honor which his country could afford, was in a clear prospect before him, when he turned to the humble duties of a country church, and buried in his heart those talents which would have ministered so largely to worldly vanity, that they might spring up in a more precious harvest. He passed many years in this situation, in the enjoyment of as much happiness as the condition of humanity is perhaps capable of; happy in the choice of his companion, the love of his friends, the fond admiration of his family,happy in the discharge of his great duties, and the tranquillity of a satisfied conscience.
"It was not, however, from this station that he was called to India. By the voice, I am proud to say it, of a part of that profession to which I have the honor to belong, he had been invited to an office, which few have held for any length of time without further advancement. His friends thought it, at that time, no presumption to hope that ere long he might wear the mitre at home. But it would not have been like himself to chaffer for preferment; he freely and