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A PREFATORY EPISTLE
WILLIAM STEVENS, Esq.*
MY DEAR FRIEND:
terms: “My lord, I question whether you The works of the late Bishop Horne are in know your vice-chancellor so well as you many hands, and will be in many more. No ought. When you are next at Oxford, go reader of any judgment can proceed far into and dine with him; and, when you have them, without discovering that the author done this once, I need not ask you to do it was a person of eminence for his learning, again ; you will find him the pleasantest man eloquence, and piety; with as much wit, and you ever met with.” And so his lordship force of expression, as were consistent with a seemed to think (who was himself as pleasant temper so much corrected and sweetened by a man as most in the kingdom) from the atdevotion.
tention he paid to him ever after. I have To all those who are pleased and edified by heard it observed of him by another gentlehis writings, some account of his life and con- man, who never was suspected of a want of versation will be interesting. They will na- judgment, that, if some friend had followed turally wish to hear what passed between him about with a pen and ink, to note down such a man and the world in which he lived. his sayings and observations, they might have You and I, who knew him so well and loved furnished out a collection like that which Mr. him so much, may be suspected of partiality Boswell has given to the public; but freto his memory: but we have unexceptionable quently of a superior quality ; because the testimony to the greatness and importance of subjects which fell in his way were occasionhis character. While we were under the ally of a higher nature, out which more imfirst impressions of our grief for the loss of provement would arise to those that heard him, a person of high distinction, who was him: and it is now much to be lamented, intimate with him for many years, declared that so many of them have run to waste.t to you and to me, that he verily believed him An allusion to the life of Dr. Johnson, to have been the best man he ever knew. Soon reminds me how much it was wished, and by after the late Earl of Guildford was made Dr. Horne in particular, who well knew and Chancellor of the University of Oxford, an- highly valued him, that Johnson would have other great man, who was allowed to be an directed the force of his understanding against excellent judge of the weight and wit of con- that modern paper-building of philosophical versation, recommended Dr. Horne, who was infidelity, which is founded in pride and then vice-chancellor, to him in the following ignorance, and supported by sensuality and
ridicule. A great personage was of opinion, * Treasurer of Queen Anne's Bounty, a man of that Johnson, so employed, would have borne singular excellence of character, and of sound learn them down with the weight of his language: ing, particularly in divinity, to the study of which and he is reported to have expressed the he had very early addicted hfmself. He wrote some tracts on his favorite subject, one of which, “A sentiment with singular felicity to a certain Treatise on the Nature and Constitution of the person, when the mischievous writings of Christian Church,” has been re-published by the Voltaire were brought into question : “I Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. He was wish Johnson would mount his dray-horse, cousin to Dr. Horne, and the closest friendship subsisted between them from their earliest years. He was no less intimate with Mr. Jones, the writer of † A collection of his thoughts on various subjects this prefatory epistle, and wrote the life prefixed to is preserved in a manuscript, written with his own Mr. Jones's works. Mr. Stevens died Feb. 7, 1807. hand.
and ride over some_of those fellows." | passages of legs dignity than will entitle them Against those fellows Dr. Horne employed to publication; yet, upon the whole, I am much of his time, and some of the most use satisfied that a very useful selection might be ful of his talents : not mounted upon a dray- made out of them; and I will not despair horse to overbear them, but upon a light of making it myself at some future opportucourser to hunt them fairly down; with such nity.* easy arguments, and pleasant reflections, as From an early acquaintance with Greek render them completely absurd and ridi- and Latin authors, and the gift of a lively culous : an account of which will come be- imagination, he addicted himself to poetry; fore us in the proper place. His “Consider- and some of his productions have been deations on the Life and Death of St. John the servedly admired. But his studies were so Baptist,” and his Sermon preached in St. soon turned from the treasures of classical Sepulchre's church, at London, for the bene- wit to the sources of Christian wisdom, that fit of a charity school for girls, on the “Fe- all his poetry is either upon sacred subjects, male Character," seem to me, above all the or upon a common subject applied to some rest of his compositions, to mark the peculiar sacred use ; so that a pious reader will be temper of his mind, and the direction of his sure to gain something by every poetical thoughts. When I read his book on “ John effort of his mind. And let me not omit the Baptist,” I am persuaded, there was no another remarkable trait of his character. other man of his time whose fancy as a wri- You can be a witness with me, and so could ter was bright enough, and whose skill as an many others who were used to his company, interpreter was deep enough, and whose that few souls were ever more susceptible heart as a moralist was pure enough, to have than his of the charms of music, especially made him the author of that little work. the sacred music of the church : at the hearHis “ Female Character” displays so much ing of which, his countenance was illumijudgment in discriminating, such gentle bene- nated, as if he had been favored with impres volence of heart, and so much of the ele sions beyond those of other men; as if gance of a polished understanding, in de- heavenly vision had been superadded to scribing and doing justice to the sex, that earthly devotion. He therefore accounted it every sensible and virtuous woman, who a peculiar happiness of his life, that, from shall read and consider that singular dis- the age of twenty years, he was constantly course, will bless his memory to the end of gratified with the service of a choir; at the world.
Magdalen College, at Canterbury, and at While we speak of those writings which Norwich. His lot was cast by Providence are known to the public, you and I cannot amidst the sweets of cloistered retirement, and forget his readiness and excellence in writing the daily use of divine harmony; for the enletters; in which employment he always joyment of both which he was framed by took delight from his earliest youth; and nature, and formed by a religious education. never failed to entertain or instruct his corres- Upon the whole, I never knew a person in pondents. His mind had so much to commu- whom those beautiful lines of Milton,t of nicate, and his words were so natural and which he was a great admirer, were more lively, that I rank some of his letters among exactly verified : the most valuable productions of the kind. I have therefore reason to rejoice that, amidst
But let my due feet never fail all my interruptions and removals, I have
To walk the studious cloister's pale;
And love the high embower'd roof preserved more than a hundred of them; in With antique pillars massy proof ; reviewing of which I find many observations And storied windows richly dight, on the subjects of religion, learning, politics,
Casting a dim religious light.
There let the pealing organ blow, manners, &c., which are equally instructive
To the full voic'd choir below; and entertaining; and would certainly be so In service high and anthems clear, esteemed if they were communicated to the As may, with sweetness through mine ear, world; at least, to the better part of it: for Dissolve me into ecstacies, there were very few occurrences or transac
And bring all heav'n before my eyes. tions of any importance, either in the church,
* In the Gentleman's Magazine for August, 1793, or the state, or the literary world, that p. 688, I threw out a letter of bishop Horne, as a escaped his observation ; and in several of specimen both of the style and of the usual subjects them he took an active part. But in familiar of his epistolatory writings. It was the first that letters, not intended for the public eye, (as and I may leave every reader to judge whether that
came to hand on opening a large parcel of them: none of his ever were,) and suggested by the letter be not curious and important. Compared incidents of the time, some of them trivial with the present times, it seems prophetical. and domestic, there will be of course many f In the “ Il Penseroso."
You who are so perfectly acquainted with and strong, was the answer of a wise and the discourse delivered at Canterbury, 1784, temperate man. He also, in his turn, not when the new organ was opened in the great foreseeing so much benefit to the Scriptures, church, may guess how refined his raptures as some others did, from Dr. Kennicott's plan were; by what he has there said, it may be for collating Hebrew manuscripts, and corknown what he felt. And I can assure you recting the Hebrew text, wrote against that farther, he was so earnest in this subject, that undertaking; expressing his objections and he took the pains to extract, in his own suspicions, and giving his name to the world, hand-writing, all the matter that is most without any fear or reserve. But so it came observable and useful in the five quarto vol- to pass, from the moderation and farther exumes of Sir John Hawkins upon music. I perience of both the parties, that, though their find among his papers this curious abridge- acquaintance began in hostility, they at length ment, which is made with critical taste and contracted a friendship for each other which discernment.
brought on an interchange of every kind office But his greatest affection being to the between them, and lasted to the end of their science of divinity, he would there of conse- lives, and is now subsisting between their quence make the greatest improvements; and families. To all men of learning, who mean there the world will find themselves most well to the cause of truth and piety while obliged to him. No considerable progress, they are warmly opposing one another, may no improvement in any science, can be ex- their example be a lasting admonition! But pected, unless it be beloved for its own sake. let not this observation be carried farther than How this can happen in divinity, all men it will go : may not be able to see : but it is possible for the eye of the understanding to be as truly
Serpentes avibus geminentur, tigribus agni. delighted with a sight of the divine wisdom in the great economy of redemption and reve In his intercourse with his own family, lation, as for the eye of the astronomer to while the treasures of his mind afforded them take pleasure in observing the lights of hea- some daily opportunities of improvement, the ven, or the naturalist in exploring and col- sweetness of his humor was to them a perenlecting, perhaps at the hazard of his life, the nial fountain of entertainment. He had the treasures of the natural creation. What I rare and happy talent of disarming all the here say will be best understood by those who little vexatious incidents of life of their power know what affection, what animation, is found to molest, by giving them some unexpected in the first writers of the Christian church; turn. And occurrences of a more serious nawith what delight they dwell upon the won- ture, even some of a frightful aspect, were ders of the Christian plan, and comment upon treated by him with the like ease and pleathe peculiar wisdom of the word of God. To santry; of which I could give some remarkthe best writers of the best ages he put himself able instances. to school very early, and profited by them so Surely the life of such a man as this ought much, that I hope no injustice will be done not to be forgotten! You and I, who saw to their memory, if I think he has in some and heard so much of it, shall, I trust, never respects improved upon his teachers. recollect it without being the better for it :
A man with such talents, and such a tem- and, if we can succeed in showing it so truly per, must have been generally beloved and to the world, that they also may be the better admired; which he was almost universally : for it, we shall do them an acceptable service. the exceptions being so few, as would barely I have heard it said, and I was a little dissuffice to exempt him from that woe of the couraged by it, that Dr. Horne was a person Gospel, which is pronounced against the whose life was not productive of events confavorites of the world. But his undisguised siderable enough to furnish matter for a hisattachment to the doctrines of the Church of tory. But they who judge thus, have taken England, which are still, and, we hope, ever but a superficial view of human life, and do will be, of the old fashion, would necessarily not rightly measure the importance of the expose him to the unmannerly censures of different events which happen to different some, and the frigid commendations of others, sorts of men. Dr. Horne, I must allow, was which are sometimes of worse effect than no circumnavigator; he neither sailed with open scandal. But he never appeared to be Drake, Anson, nor Cooke; but he was a man hurt by anything of this sort that happened whose mind surveyed the intellectual world, to him. An anonymous pamphlet, which the and brought home from thence many excelpublic gave to the late Dr. Kennicott, attack- lent observations for the benefit of his native ed him very severely; and soon received an country. He was no military commander ; answer from him, which, though very close | he took no cities; he conquered no countries;