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GEORGE, LORD BISHOP OF NORWICH,
AND PRESIDENT OF MAGDALEN COLLEGE, OXFORD.
EDITED BY THE REV. C. BRADLEY.
and all other Booksellers.
BISHOP HORNE was the second son of the Rev. Samuel Horne, rector of Otham, near Maidstone in Kent, and was born at that place, Nov, 1st":1730. His father, who was well qualified for the undertaking, commenced his education at home, and his judicious instructions seem to have laid the foundation of his son's future eminence. At thirteen he was sent to the grammar-school at Maidstone; and, at a little more than fifteen, wént to reside in Oxford, having been elected to a fellowship in University College. Here he distinguished himself so much by a successful application to his studies, that about the time of his taking his Bachelor's degree, in consequence of a strong recommendation from his own college, he obtained a Kentish fellowship which then happened to fall vacant at Magdalen. In 1753 he was ordained by the Bishop of Oxford, and preached his first sermon for his friend and biographer Mr. Jones, at Finedon in Northamptonshire. The most complete account we have of Bishop Horne is his life by Mr. Jones, prefixed to his works.
Mr. Horne soon gained a high reputation as a preacher, on account both of the excellence of his discourses, and his graceful and impressive elocution; and he was pronounced to be the best preacher in England, by a person himself eminent for the same talent. But his soundness as a divine was somewhat impeached on account of the peculiarity of his sentiments. 'Very early in life he had
imbibed the opinions of the Hutchinsonians, and several of his first publications were written to defend them. Yet whatever were Mr. Horne's speculative opinions, one of his biographers affirms that his controversial pamphlet, entitled An Apology,' &c. has been generally admired for its temper, learning, and good sense. After his Apology,
he took an active part in the controversy respecting a projected reformation in the text of the Hebrew Bible, and strongly objected to the attempt, from a persuasion that the wide principle on which it was to be conducted, might endanger the interests of genuine Christianity. His attention was then directed to the progress of infidelity, at which he felt much concern; and conceiving that the writings of Hume had contributed, in no small degree, to this evil, he endeavoured to undeceive the world with respect to the pretended cheerfulness and tranquillity of the last moments of the sceptical philosopher. For this purpose he addressed a letter to Dr. Adam Smith, and successfully exposed the artificial account given in Dr. Smith's life of Hume. He followed this letter, in 1784, by his letters on Infidelity; and in them more systematically attacked Hume's principles and arguments; adapting them at the same time to arm the minds of youth against the speciousness of scepticism.
In 1764 Mr. Horne took the degree of Doctor in Divinity; and in 1768, from his high character and exemplary conduct, was chosen president of Magdalen College. Honors now flowed in on him. About the same time he was appointed one of the chaplains to the king, and in 1776 was elected Vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, which office he held for the usual period of four years, During this period he felt himself called on to oppose à project of some of the clergy, who were about to petition parliament for relief in the matter of subscription to the Liturgy and the thirty-nine Articles. He believed that the consequences of granting such a request must be innovations dangerous both to the existence and doctrinal purity of the church, and he therefore did all in his power to defeat their intentions.
Dr. Horne's Vice-chancellorship introduced him to the acquaintance of Lord North, and by that minister's influence he was promoted to the deanery of Canterbury, in which situation he acquired the respect and esteem of all, and became very popular by frequently preaching in the cathedral. On being made dean, he would willingly have relinquished his cares at Oxford, to reside altogether in his native county of Kent; but he yielded to the advice of a prudent friend, who advised him to retain his situation at Magdalen College. He resigned it, however, on his appointment to the episcopal dignity, which took place in 1789, when Bishop Bagot being translated to the see of St. Asaph, Dr. Horne succeeded him at Norwich. At this period his health, which had always been delicate, was in a precarious state; and, though he was not more than fifty-nine, he had already begun to suffer much from infirmities. ‘Alas!' said he, observing the large flight of steps which lead into the palace at Norwich, 'I am come to these steps at a time of life, when I can neither go up them, nor down them with safety. After he had taken possession of his see, his friends saw, with extreme sorrow, that he declined very rapidly, and it was evident that he could not long sustain the duties of his new station. His health indeed grew so rapidly worse, that even the charge which he composed for his primary visitation at Norwich he was unable to deliver, and it was printed as “intended to have been delivered.' From two visits to Bath he received sensible benefit, and in the autumn of 1791 he set out on a third, which he had been advised not to delay too long. He did, however, delay it too long, and was attacked with a paralytic stroke on his road to that place. From this stroke he never recovered, though he was able to complete his journey and afterwards revived a little. But the hopes of his family and friends were soon disappointed; he lingered for a few weeks, and closed his earthly career on the 17th of January, 1792, in the sixty-second year of his age, and the third of his elevation to his bishopric. He retained to the last the full possession of his faculties, and, as might be expected from such a man, his death bed displayed exemplary resignation, faith, patience, and cheerfulness. He was buried at Eltham in Kent.