Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 63.djvu/34

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

In 1874 he opposed the public worship regulation bill, because he thought that the church had not had a fair opportunity of discussing it in its own proper assembly (convocation), and he had much to do with saving the bishops' veto in ritual prosecutions. In 1880 he stood almost alone among the bishops in his opposition to the burials bill, which opened churchyards for nonchurch services. In 1873 he revived, after an abeyance of more than a hundred years, the triennial visitation of the cathedral body; and in 1874 he reissued the ‘Laudum’ and ‘Novum Registrum’ of Bishop Alnwick as statutes by which they should be guided. He contended that each residentiary canon had his own particular work, and insisted upon constant residence as a sine qua non for the capitular body. One result was the establishment of the ‘Scholæ Cancellarii’ for the training of young men for the ministry under the direction of the chancellor, Edward White Benson (afterwards archbishop), whom he brought from Wellington College, and drew into the circle of cathedral and diocesan life, thus creating an intimacy which was valuable to both. On this institution the bishop expended personally at least 6,000l., besides an annual subscription of 100l. to the bursary fund. His generosity to the diocese (as, indeed, elsewhere) was unbounded: one of his last gifts was that of his costly commentary on the whole Bible to every licensed curate.

Wordsworth's anti-Roman attitude was very marked, especially in his earlier life, and was exhibited in his books on the ‘Apocalypse’ and the striking ‘Letters to M. Gondon’ (1847) and ‘Sequel’ (1848). He made special inquiries into church life in France and Italy, and left interesting memorials of his tours in a ‘Diary in France’ (1845), ‘Notes at Paris’ (1854), and ‘A Journal of a Tour in Italy’ (1863). He was naturally one of the strongest supporters of the Anglo-Continental Society, the secretary of which (Canon F. Meyrick) was one of his examining chaplains. The revolt of the old catholics in Germany, which followed the Vatican council of 1870, drew him into close relations with Döllinger and his friends. He attended the congress at Cologne in 1872, writing a remarkably learned Latin letter to its members on his journey in favour of the abolition of clerical celibacy. He was also deeply interested in the Greek church, to which he looked with hopefulness as not irrevocably committed to new developments of doctrine. Being an accomplished modern Greek scholar, he was able to hold intercourse with its members with greater facility than most Englishmen. He translated into Greek (as well as Latin) the Lambeth encyclicals of 1867 and 1878; and he received with great delight at Riseholme Alexander Lycurgus, archbishop of Syra and Tenos, who visited England in 1870. Wordsworth lived just long enough to see the accomplishment of a scheme which he had long had at heart: the subdivision of the diocese of Lincoln, and the establishment of the new see of Southwell, embracing Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Though a Cambridge man, he had frequent contact with Oxford. As bishop of Lincoln he was ex-officio visitor of Brasenose and Lincoln colleges; in 1881 he successfully maintained his right to appoint a clerical fellow of Lincoln, a right which was about to be swept away by the new college statutes. In 1884 his health gave way, and on 28 Oct. of that year his wife died, a blow from which he never recovered. On 9 Feb. 1885 he resigned his see, and on 21 March passed away at the house of his son-in-law, P. A. Steedman, at Harewood. His funeral took place in Lincoln Cathedral on 25 March, whence his body was conveyed to Riseholme, and laid by the side of his wife. He left a family of two sons and five daughters. His eldest son, John, became bishop of Salisbury (October 1885), and his second son, Christopher, is known as a writer on university life and liturgical subjects. His eldest daughter, Elizabeth, became in 1879 the first principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, an institution which he warmly supported.

There are several portraits of Bishop Wordsworth: one in oils, painted by Robson (1823), belonging to his brother's family; one in crayon, drawn by G. Richmond (1853), with Canon Wordsworth; one in oils, by Edwin Long, R.A. (1878), at Old Palace, Lincoln; one in oils, by E. R. Taylor, and a drawing in coloured crayons by Rev. J. Mansell, both taken when he was bishop of Lincoln, with Canon Trebeck. A bust by Miller belongs to Miss Wordsworth. The best portrait, perhaps, is a photograph by Elliott & Fry (1884), reproduced in his ‘Life.’ A good portrait of Mrs. Wordsworth by Eddis is at the Palace, Salisbury.

Wordsworth was an indefatigable writer, but much more than a mere scholar. His memory was remarkable, and his learning always ready for use. He was clear-headed and businesslike, yet he had a vein of mystic enthusiasm. In manner he was quick but courteous and dignified; his language was studiously refined, but rather full in its expression, after the manner of some of our older divines. He was trans-