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Mr. Bowdler had been through life an early riser, and continued to be so in his latter years. The first hours of the morning were employed in reading the Scriptures and in private devotion. His family and servants were regularly called together to prayers in the morning and evening, and he attended the service of the church on all days which were appropriated to public worship. He was not latterly disposed to read many books. Some few favorite authors, particularly on religious subjects, engaged much of his attention; of whom Bishop Andrews, Bishop Horne, and the present Bishop of Llandaff, were among those in which he took chief delight; to which may be added some smaller works, such as the writings of the excellent Mr. Nelson, a small volume on " the Faith and Practice of a Church of England man,” by Dr. Stanley, formerly dean of St. Asaph, and the Meditations for the Aged, by the Rev. J. Brewster. But useful employment, for the benefit of others, was best suited to his character and taste. His maxim was that which he had received from his father, “ Do all the good you can.” With this design, in the year 1821 he published a collection of poems, divine and moral, many of which had never before been printed. Poetry had been at all times his delight, and he retained his love for it to the last, and would put to shame younger and better memories in quoting from Shakspeare or from Young. He would repeat hymns, likewise, and
psalms, with a spirit and energy which were very animating; and he was fond of encouraging young persons to store their minds with these against the season of sickness or distress. It was in a great measure, with this view, that having a very small volume of sacred and moral poems, which had been given him when a boy by a schoolfellow, he thought of republishing it with some additions. The work soon grew through the contributions of his friends, and was printed in two small volumes, and (with the omission of some old poems and some in foreign languages) in one thicker volume. It has been remarked, perhaps with some reason, that they open unfortunately by presenting the reader with such well-known pieces as Bishop Kenn's hymns, and some of Dr. Watts’s.
But one object with the editor was to prepare a collection which might be put into the hands of children, and he therefore deemed it necessary to retain these. Whoever will take the trouble to look through the contents, will easily satisfy himself that it is an useful, a pleasing, and interesting collection, in which, perhaps, few pieces of real excellence are not to be found, and much is inserted which is new and valuable.
This work being finished, Mr. Bowdler proposed to make a collection of prayers, which, however, he did not carry into execution. The design, if we may judge from the many similar attempts
which have been made, should seem to be one which it is not easy to accomplish in a satisfactory manner. Perhaps it may be best effected by any one who will make it his business to adhere strictly to the words of Scripture, and of our admirable liturgy. There will be found in them a simplicity and nobleness of expression, which will not easily be attained by any one, let him strive as he will. It is not difficult to extract from the liturgy, from the psalms, and the devotional parts of Holy Writ, some forms of confession of sin, of supplication for pardon, of prayer for the aid of the Spirit, and for various Christian graces, of intercession for others, and of thanksgiving for mercies received, which may be varied according to the situation or the feelings of those who use them. These are probably the best which can be adopted for family devotion; and some of these Mr. Bowdler had intended to introduce into his collection. If recourse be had to any other sources, the compiler will find it advantageous to use the language of the fathers of our church, rather than the laboured attempts of writers of the present day.
Mr. Bowdler's intention was to take Spinckes's Devotions as the groundwork, and alter and add to it as he should see fit. In this collection are many excellent prayers to which he was very partial ; and a passage from one by Archbishop Laud, was frequently in his mouth : “O blessed Lord, enable me to fulfil thy commands, and command what
thou wilt; prepare my soul against thy coming, and come when thou wilt, O thou Saviour of all who hope in thee; do with me what seems best in thine own eyes, only grant me a patient and penitent spirit; make my service acceptable to thee while I live, and my soul ready for thee when I die ; give me grace in this life, and glory in the life to come, through Jesus Christ our Lord and only Saviour.”
“ The time now drew nigh that Israel must die.” This he had long foreseen, and had so carefully set his house in order, that if it had come upon him suddenly, which he had apprehended to be probable, it would not have surprised him unawares. Delayed as it was through the divine mercy, it afforded him occasion to express strongly his gratitude. “ I have been accustomed to pray, said he, “ that my death might not be unseasonable, sudden, or violent.” The first of these petitions has been long since laid aside, and I have added, after the example of Bishop Andrews, “So far as Thou seest fit, free from extreme pain.' Now see how my prayers have been answered. I have lived to the age of 77, so that my death cannot be untimely or unseasonable. I go on from day to day, getting weaker, so there is nothing sudden; and it is not violent, but according to the common course of nature. Of severe pain, too, which is my greatest dread, I have suffered but little, and only occa
sionally. Have I not then reason to say that my prayers in this instance have been answered ?” He went on to say,
appears to me probable that I derive benefit from the prayers which, I have reason to think, many excellent persons put up
for me. And this seems to be not an improbable effect of the prayers of our friends. For it cannot be supposed that they can avail to obtain the pardon of our sins. What then more likely than that the fervent prayer of a righteous man should procure relief from bodily pain, and ease in sickness ?”
On Easter day, which fell on the 30th of March, he was in his place in his parish church both morning and afternoon, and kept that high feast at the altar with a grateful heart. This was the last occasion on which he attended public worship; and his diary exhibits a melancholy proof of increasing infirmity, the only subsequent memoranda which it contains being a few short words written with a faltering hand on three successive Sundays; “ Staid at home — not well.” Soon after Easter a slight paralysis probably affected the abdomen, which was followed by an effusion of water. By the judicio u treatment of his medical attendant, acting under the advice of Dr. Baillie, who out of personal regard for one whom he had long known and valued, broke through his usual habits, and twice visited his patient at Eltham, the dropsical symptoms were removed; and a hope was excited that as the summer approached some portion of strength might