Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Trench, Richard Chenevix
TRENCH, RICHARD CHENEVIX (1807–1886), archbishop of Dublin, born on 5 Sept. 1807 at Dublin, was the third son of Richard Trench, barrister-at-law (brother of Frederic Trench, first lord Ashtown) and of Melesina Trench [q. v.] Francis Chenevix Trench [q. v.] was his elder brother. From his mother, who died in May 1827, he derived his literary predilection, and he described her influence upon him in ‘Remains of Mrs. Richard Trench,’ which he edited in 1862. His childhood was spent at Elm Lodge, Bursledon, near Southampton, which became his father's property in 1810. In the beginning of 1816 he was sent to Twyford school, and in 1819 to Harrow. From Harrow in October 1825 he proceeded to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he edited and printed a small periodical entitled ‘The Translator,’ and gave his spare time to the study of Spanish literature. He joined the Apostles' Club at Cambridge, came under the influence of Maurice, and was intimate with John Sterling, John Mitchell Kemble, William Bodham Donne, Alfred Tennyson, and Arthur Hallam. His Spanish studies led to the writing of a tragedy, ‘Bernardo del Carpio,’ which in 1828 Macready was on the point of producing on the stage. The manuscript was destroyed in after years by the author. Trench graduated B.A. in 1829, M.A. in 1833, and B.D. in 1850. On leaving Cambridge in 1829 he passed through a time of mental trial and despondency, which found relief in poetic effort. He travelled in Spain and on the continent, and, after a short visit to England in 1830, returned to Spain with the ill-fated expedition of General Torrijos and the Spanish exiles. His love for Sterling and appreciation of the courage of Torrijos, and his enthusiasm for Spanish literature, rather than any political convictions, were the causes of this escapade. Trench was quickly disillusioned, and returned to England in 1831. In October 1832 he was ordained deacon at Norwich, and in the beginning of 1833 settled at Hadleigh, Suffolk, as curate to Hugh James Rose [q. v.] Trench identified himself with the high-church party, but his personal friendship with Sterling and Maurice gave him wide sympathies. Rose left Hadleigh before a year was out, and Trench removed to Colchester, where he acted as curate for some months, till his health broke down, and he spent the winter of 1834 in Italy. He was ordained priest on his return in July 1835, and in September appointed to the perpetual curacy of Curdridge, Hampshire, which he held for six years. At Curdridge he began the systematic patristic and theological reading of which the ‘Notes on the Parables’ in 1840 were the first fruit; and he became the intimate friend of Samuel Wilberforce, whose active patronage prevented Trench's shyness from keeping him in obscurity. In 1841 he left Curdridge and accepted the curacy of Alverstoke, of which Wilberforce was rector. In January 1843 he was special preacher at Cambridge, and in 1845 and 1846 Hulsean lecturer. The delivery of five lectures at Winchester on ‘Language as an Instrument of Knowledge,’ expanded later into the ‘Study of Words,’ marks his discovery of a field of scholarship that he made peculiarly his own. Towards the end of 1844 Lord Ashburton offered him the rectory of Itchenstoke, which he accepted. In October 1845 Wilberforce, bishop-designate of Oxford, secured Trench as his examining chaplain, and in February following he was appointed professor of divinity at King's College. The title of his professorship was changed in 1854 to that of professor of the exegesis of the New Testament. He held the post till 1858, exercising much influence upon the students. In October 1856 he was appointed to the deanery of Westminster. He instituted the evening services in the nave, and thus began the work, which his successor, Stanley, brilliantly carried forward, of bringing the abbey into touch with the people of London. The death of two sons in India at the commencement of their career cast a gloom over his private life. In November 1863 Trench was designated archbishop of Dublin, and consecrated on 1 Jan. 1864. In 1868 Gladstone began the work of disestablishing the Irish church. The archbishop tersely summed up his own policy as ‘first to fight for everything which we possess, as believing it rightly ours, recognising of course the right of parliament to redistribute within the church its revenues according to the changed necessities of the present time. If this battle is lost, then, totally rejecting the process of gradual starvation to which Disraeli would submit us, to go in for instant death at the hands of Gladstone.’ Holding these views, Trench declined Gladstone's overtures, and maintained throughout by his charges to his clergy and by his speeches in the House of Lords an opposition that was always dignified and statesmanlike. On the passing of the bill a fresh succession of difficulties awaited the archbishop in the settlement of the disestablished church. In the general convention of the church of Ireland summoned in February 1870 to draw up a constitution, Trench's influence secured a full recognition of the bishops as one of the three orders of the church. A strong party in the convention desired to make the bishops subordinate to the other two orders of clergy and laity. When the first general synod met in April 1871 a struggle began on prayer-book revision, which continued till 1877. In the offices for baptism and holy communion alterations of such a kind were proposed by the low-church party that the archbishop could not have retained his see had they been adopted. Although the high churchmen were in a minority, Trench was able to hinder any serious alterations, and kept the Irish church united until the agitation and uncertainties caused by the act of disestablishment were at an end.
In November 1875, while crossing the Irish Channel, Trench fell down a gangway and fractured both knees. A tedious illness followed, and his health never fully recovered its vigour. His advanced age incapacitated him for the duties of his office, and led in 1884 to his resignation. He died at 23 Eaton Square on 28 March 1886, and was buried in the nave of Westminster Abbey. A portrait by Sir Thomas Jones, R.H.A., hangs in the palace, Dublin. A portrait in oils and another in crayons, both by Richmond, are in private hands. A crayon portrait by Samuel Laurence belonged in 1887 to Mr. H. N. Pym (Cat. Victorian Exhib. No. 403). In May 1832 he married his cousin, Frances Mary, second daughter of his uncle, Francis Trench, and sister of the second Lord Ashtown. By her he had six sons and five daughters.
Although Trench's tenure of the Dublin archbishopric was historically of importance, it is as a poet, a scholar, and a divine that he will be chiefly remembered. As a poet he displays special mastery of the sonnet, and many of his lyrics reach a high point of excellence. As a divine his exegetical works on the parables and miracles have specially distinguished him. These scholarly books were widely popular, and their influence in raising the standard of scholarship and thoughtfulness among the clergy, and in all classes of religious people, has been unequalled in this century. He was a member of the committee for the revision of the New Testament, and the new version of the Bible owed much to his advocacy and criticism. Thirdly, as a philologist he won a place analogous to his position as a biblical critic. He popularised a rational and scientific study of language; and the Oxford English dictionary, at present proceeding under Dr. Murray's editorship, was originally suggested and its characteristics indicated by Trench in 1857.
Omitting occasional sermons and lectures and his numerous charges, his chief works may be classified as follows:
Poetry.—1. ‘The Story of Justin Martyr and other Poems,’ 1835, 12mo. 2. ‘Sabbation; Honor Neale, and other Poems’ [with notes], 1838, 12mo. 3. ‘Poems,’ privately printed, 1841, 12mo. 4. ‘Poems from Eastern Sources: the Steadfast Prince, and other Poems,’ 1842, 8vo. 5. ‘Genoveva: a Poem,’ 1842, 8vo. 6. ‘Poems from Eastern Sources: Genoveva and other Poems;’ 2nd edit., 1851, 8vo. 7. ‘Alma, and other Poems,’ 1855, 8vo. 8. ‘Poems collected and arranged anew,’ 1865, 16mo; 9th edit., 1888, 8vo. 9. ‘Poems,’ new edition, 2 vols., 1885, 8vo.
Divinity.—1. ‘Notes on the Parables of our Lord,’ 1841, 8vo; 6th edit. 1855; 15th edit. (with translations of the notes from the writings of the fathers), 1886, 8vo. 2. ‘Five Sermons preached before the University of Cambridge in January 1843,’ 1843, 8vo. 3. ‘Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount, drawn from the Writings of St. Augustine, with Observations,’ 1844, 8vo; 2nd edit., revised and improved (with introductory essay on St. Augustine's merits as an interpreter of holy scripture), 1851, 8vo; 4th edit. 1888, 8vo. 4. ‘The Fitness of Holy Scripture for unfolding the Spiritual Life of Men: being the Hulsean Lectures for 1845,’ 1845, 8vo; republished in the Hulsean lectures for 1845 and 1846; 5th edit. 1880, 8vo. 5. ‘Christ the Desire of all Nations, or the Unconscious Prophecies of Heathendom,’ 1846, 8vo. 6. ‘Notes on the Miracles of our Lord,’ 1846, 8vo; 5th edit. 1846; 13th edit. (with translations of the notes drawn from the writings of the fathers), 1886, 8vo. 7. ‘The Star of the Wise Men: being a Commentary on the Second Chapter of St. Matthew,’ 1850, 16mo. 8. ‘Synonyms of the New Testament,’ 1854, 8vo; 7th edit. 1871, on the Authorised Version of the New Testament, in connection with some recent proposals for its revision, 1858, 8vo; 10th edit. 1888, 8vo. 9. ‘Five Sermons preached before the University of Cambridge in November 1856,’ 1857, 8vo. 10. ‘Sermons preached in Westminster Abbey,’ 1860, 8vo. 11. ‘Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, Revelations i. ii. and iii.,’ 1861, 8vo; 4th edit. 1888. 12. ‘The Subjection of the Creature to Vanity: three Sermons preached before the University of Cambridge in Lent, 1863; to which are added two Sermons preached at Cambridge on special occasions,’ 1863, 8vo. 13. ‘Studies in the Gospels,’ 1867, 8vo; 5th edit. 1888. 14. ‘Shipwrecks of Faith: three Sermons,’ 1867, 8vo. 15. ‘Sermons preached for the most part in Ireland,’ 1873, 8vo. 16. ‘Brief Thoughts and Meditations on some Passages in Holy Scripture,’ 1884, 8vo. 17. ‘Sermons, New and Old,’ 1886, 8vo. 18. ‘Westminster and other Sermons,’ 1888, 8vo.
Philology.—1. ‘The Study of Words: five Lectures,’ 1851, 8vo; 9th edit., revised and enlarged, 1859, 8vo; 19th edit., revised and enlarged, 1886, 8vo. 2. ‘On the Lessons in Proverbs: five Lectures,’ 1853, 8vo; 3rd edit., revised and enlarged, 1854, 8vo; 7th edit., 1888. 3. ‘English, Past and Present: five Lectures,’ 1855, 8vo; 14th edit., revised and in part rewritten by the Rev. A. L. Mayhew, 1889, 8vo. 4. ‘On some Deficiencies in our English Dictionaries,’ 1857, 8vo; 2nd edit., to which is added a letter to the author from H. Coleridge on the progress and prospects of the Philological Society's new English dictionary, 1860, 8vo. 5. ‘A Select Glossary of English Words, used formerly in senses different from their present,’ 1859, 8vo; fifth edit., 1879; 7th edit., revised by the Rev. A. L. Mayhew, 1890, 8vo.
History and Literature.—1. ‘Sacred Latin Poetry, chiefly Lyrical, selected and arranged for use, with Notes and Introduction,’ 1849, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1864, 8vo. 2. ‘Life's a Dream: the Great Theatre of the World. From the Spanish of Calderon. With an Essay on his Life and Genius,’ 1856, 8vo; rearranged and republished 1880, 8vo. 3. ‘The Remains of the late Mrs. Richard Trench, being Selections from her Journals, Letters, and other Papers. Edited by her son, R. C. T., Dean of Westminster,' 1862, 8vo. 4. 'Gustavus Adolphus. Social Aspects of the Thirty Years' War: two Lectures,' 1865, 16mo; 2nd edit., revised and enlarged, 1872, 8vo. 5. 'A Household Book of English Poetry: selected and arranged, with Notes,' 1868, 8vo; 4th edit. 1888. 6. 'Plutarch: his Life, his Lives, and his Morals: four Lectures/ 1873, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1888. 7. 'Lectures on Mediaeval Church History/ 1877, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1879, 8vo.
Trench's eldest surviving son, Frederick Chenevix Trench (1837-1894), major-general, born on 10 Oct. 1837, obtained the commission of cornet in the 20th hussars on 20 Jan. 1857. He obtained his lieutenancy on 30 April 1858, served at the siege and capture of Delhi, took part with Hodson's horse in the engagements of Gungeree, Pattialee, and Mynpoorie, and was present at the siege and capture of Lucknow, receiving a medal and two clasps. He received his commission of captain on 7 Dec. 1867, obtained his majority on 7 Jan. 1879, attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel on 25 Feb. 1880, and that of colonel on 25 Feb. 1884. From 1881 to 1886 he served as military attaché at St. Petersburg. In 1887 he retired with the honorary rank of major-general and was made C.M.G. He committed suicide at Braemar on 8 Aug. 1894. On 17 July 1873 he married Mary Frederic Blanche, only daughter of Charles Mulville, captain in the 3rd dragoon guards. By her he had five sons and a daughter. Trench was the author of several military works of some value: 1. 'The Russo-Indian Question,' London, 1869, 8vo. 2. 'The Army Enlistment Bill of 1870 analysed,' London, 1870, 8vo. 3. 'Cavalry in Modern War,' London, 1884, 8vo (for Brackenbury's ' Military Handbooks'). 4. 'The Dark Side of Short Service,' London, 1887, 8vo (Burke, Peerage, s.v. 'Ashtown;' Army Lists}.[Trench's Letters and Memorials of Archbishop Trench; Silvester's Archbishop Trench. Poet and Divine; L. F. S. Maberly's Introduction and Spread of Ritualism in the Church of Ireland under Archbishop Trench (1881); Life of Bishop "Wilberforce, passim; obituaries in Academy (xxix. 236), Times 29 March 1886, Guardian 31 March 1886; Miles's Poets and Poetry of the Century (F. Tennyson to A. H. Clough); Myers's Essays, Modern series.]