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This eminent prelate and accomplished scholar was born at Malpas, in Cheshire, on the twenty-first of April, 1783, and in his seventeenth year was sent to Brazen Nose College, Oxford. While here he obtained the Chancellor’s prize for a Latin poem, and greatly distinguished himself by a poem in English entitled Palestine. Unlike the mass of undergraduate prize poems, Palestine attained at once a high reputation which promises to be permanent. On receiving his bachelor's degree, Mr. HEBER travelled in Germany, Russia, and the Crimea, and wrote notes and observations, from which many curious passages are given in the well-known
journals of Dr. Edward DANIEL CLARKE.
On his return, he published Europe, a Poem, and was elected to a fellowship in All Soul's College. He was soon after presented with a living in Shropshire, and for several years devoted himself with great assiduity to his profession. He however found time, while
discharging his parochial duties, to make
some admirable translations from Pindar, and to write many of his beautiful hymns and other brief poems, a volume of which was published in 1812. Three years afterward, he was appointed to deliver the Bampton Lectures, and fulfilled the duty in so able a manner as to add greatly to his literary reputation. In 1822 he was elected to the important office of preacher of Lincoln's Inn ; in the
same year appeared his edition of the works
of JEREMy TAylor, with notes and an elaborate memoir; and in 1823 he embarked for the East Indies, having accepted the appointment to the bishopric of the see of Calcutta, made vacant by the death of Dr. Middleton. He held his first visitation in the Cathedral of the capital of Hindostan, on Ascension day, 1824, and from that time devoted himself with great earnestness and untiring industry to missionary labours. He left Calcutta to visit the different presidencies of his extensive diocese, and while at Tirutchinopoli, on the second of April, 1826, was seized with an
apoplectic fit, which on the following day ter* 1st,
minated his life, in the forty-third year of his age. He was a man of the most elevated character, whose history was itself a poem of stateliest and purest tone, and most perfect harmony. In the church he was like MELANcthoN, the healer of bruised hearts, the reconciler of all differences, the most enthusiastic yet the most placid of all the teachers of religion. In society he was a universal favourite, from his varied knowledge, his remarkable colloquial powers, and his unvarying kindness. India never lost more in a single individual than when Heber died. The lyrical writings of HEBER possess
great and peculiar merits. He is the only Englishman who has in any degree approached the tone of PINDAR, his translations from whom may be regarded as nearly faultless ; and his hymns are among the sweetest which English literature contains, breathing a fervent devotion in the most poetical language and most melodious verse. I doubt whether there is a religious lyric so universally known in the British empire or in our own country, as the beautiful missionary piece beginning “From Greenland's icy mountains.” The fragments of Morte d'Arthur, the Mask of Gwendolen, and the World before the Flood, are not equal to his Palestine, Europe, or minor poems; but they contain elegant and powerful passages. The only thing unworthy of his reputation which I have seen is Blue Beard, a seriocomic oriental romance, which I believe was first published after his death.
The widow of Bishop HEBER, a daughter of Dean Shipley, of St. Asaph, and a woman whose gentleness, taste, and learning made her a fit associate for a man of genius, has published his Life, and his Narrative of a Journey through the Upper Provinces of India from Calcutta to Bombay, each in two volumes quarto. A complete edition of his Poetical Works has been issued by Lea and Blanchard of Philadelphia, and his Memoirs, Travels, Sermons, and other prose writings, have also been reprinted in this country.
The father and grandfather of the late ALLAN CUNNINGHAM were farmers, in Blackwood, a place of much natural beauty, near Dumfries, in Scotland, where the poet was born on the seventh of December, 1784. When eleven years of age, he was taken from the parish school and apprenticed to his elder brother, a stone mason, with whom he remained until he became a skilful workman. The practical knowledge thus acquired was of much value to him when in later years he wrote his “Lives of British Architects,” a work as distinguished for judicious criticism as for accuracy of statement and the attractive simplicity of its style.
The first publications of CUNNINGHAM were several lyrical pieces in CRoxiek’s “Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song,” a volume of which they constituted the most pleasing contents. They attracted the attention of Dr. Percy, who declared them to be too good for antiques; they were praised by Scott;" and their popularity, surprising as much as it gratified the author, led to an acknowledgment of their paternity.
In 1810 CUNNINGHAM finally abandoned the trowel for the pen, and went to London. An early and judicious marriage secured to him a quiet and happy home. From the suffering experienced by so many men of genius, the excitements and the ruin of Hook, MAGINN, and others among his contemporaries, he was thus saved. His moral worth was equal to his intellectual accomplishments, and he won the success which in nearly all instances attends upon talents united with industry and integrity. Among his earliest publications were “Mark Macrabin, or the Covenanters,” a prose story of considerable power printed in “Blackwood,” and a series of tales and traditions in the London Magazine. These, and
* Sin WALTER Scott says, in his introductory epistle to “The Fortunes of Nigel,” “With a popular impress, people would read and admire the beauties of Allan—as it is, they may perhaps only note his defects—or, what is worse, not note him at all. But never mind them, honest Atlan; you are a credit to Caledonia for all that. There are some lyrical effusions of his, too, which you would do well to read, Captain. “It’s hame, and it’s hame,’ is equal to BURNs.”
his “Paul Jones” and “Sir Michael Scott,” we have never seen, but we believe them to be inferior to his more recent novels. At the end of four years from the commencement of his life in the metropolis, CUNNINGHAM entered the studio of Sir FRANcis Chantry, where he remained until the death of that eminent sculptor, who is supposed to have been much indebted to him for the marks of imagination and fancy which appear in his works. He still found time for literary pursuits, and in a short period wrote several prose fictions, and “Sir Marmaduke Maxwell,” a dramatic poem, the scenery and characters of which belong to his native district. In 1825 he published his “Scottish Song,” in which are preserved the finest lyrics of his native country, with copious traditional and critical notes; in 1831, “Lives of Eminent Painters and Sculptors,” which has been reprinted in Harpers' Family Library, and the “Lives of British Architects,” to which we have before alluded. In 1832 he wrote “The Maid of Elvar,” the last and the best of his larger poems. It is a rural epic, smoothly versified, and containing many pleasing pictures of scenery and life. Among his more recent works were “Lord Roldan,” a novel, “The Life and Land of Burns,” and “Memoirs of Sir David Wilkie,” the last of which he finished but two days before his own death, which occurred on the twenty-ninth of October, 1843. Cunningham commenced many years ago, “The Lives of the Poets from Chaucer to Coleridge,” a work which he was well qualified to write, but it was never finished. In the “Life and Land of Burns,” is a fine portrait of “Honest Allan,” as Scott was wont to call him, exhibiting in vigorous proportions, penetrating eyes, and countenance expressive of power and gentleness, the most striking qualities of the man. He is presented in the tartan, symboling that love of Scotland which he ever cherished, and which is also shown in the selection of the subjects of
his works, in their style, and in their spirit.