The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Heber, Reginald
HEBER. I. Reginald, an English bishop, born in Malpas, Cheshire, April 21, 1783, died in Trichinopoly, India, April 3, 1826. At the age of seven he had translated Phaedrus into English verse. In 1800 he entered Brasenose college, Oxford, and his Carmen Seculare obtained the first prize for Latin verse. In 1803 he wrote his prize poem “Palestine,” which is still considered the best of the kind produced at Oxford. He graduated in 1804, and in 1805 gained the bachelor's prize for an essay on the “Sense of Honor.” In 1807 he took orders, and was presented by his brother Richard to a living at Hodnet in Shropshire, on which he settled in 1809, immediately after his marriage with the daughter of Dr. Shipley, dean of St. Asaph. He devoted himself to the relief of the sick and the poor, and gave his leisure to literature, frequently contributing to the “Quarterly Review,” and composing hymns. His “Poems and Translations” (London, 1812) contains many original hymns written to particular tunes; some of these are at once the most popular and the most artistic in the language. Heber commenced a dictionary of the Bible, which he was compelled by other duties to relinquish, and in 1819-'22 edited the works of Jeremy Taylor, with a copious life of the author, and a critical examination of his writings. In 1822 he was appointed preacher at Lincoln's Inn, and in 1823 was consecrated bishop of Calcutta, a see which at that time embraced all British India, Ceylon, Mauritius, and Australia. He started for Calcutta in June, 1823, and 12 months later entered upon the visitation of his vast diocese. From that time until his death he was occupied with the duties of his office, making long journeys to Bombay, Madras, and Ceylon, and showing great energy and capacity. He died of apoplexy. His “Narrative of a Journey through the Upper Provinces of India, from Calcutta to Bombay” (2 vols. 4to, London, 1828), was posthumous. In 1827 his hymns were first published entire in a volume entitled “Hymns written and adapted to the Service of the Church,” of which many subsequent editions have appeared. The latest edition of his complete poems, including his “Palestine,” is that of 1855 (8vo, London). The Bampton lectures entitled “The Personality and Office of the Christian Comforter” (8vo, Oxford, 1813) were his only sermons published during his life. Several volumes of his sermons delivered in England and India were published posthumously, and in 1830 appeared the “Life and Unpublished Works of Reginald Heber, by his Widow” (2 vols. 4to, London). II. Richard, a bibliomaniac, half brother of the preceding, born in Westminster in 1773, died in October, 1833. He was educated at Brasenose college, Oxford. At 19 he edited the works of Silius Italicus (2 vols. 12mo, 1792), and a year later prepared for the press an edition of Claudiani Carmina (2 vols., 1793). A taste for book collecting was developed in him in childhood, and in the latter part of his life it became a ruling passion. Succeeding on the death of his father in 1804 to large estates in Yorkshire and Shropshire, which he considerably augmented, he forthwith devoted himself to the purchase of rare books. After ransacking England he travelled extensively on the continent, purchasing everywhere, and leaving large depots of books in Paris, Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, and elsewhere in the Netherlands and Germany. His residence in Pimlico, London, was filled with books from top to bottom, and he had another house in York street laden with literary treasures, and a large library in Oxford. At his death his collection in England was estimated by Dr. Dibdin at 105,000 volumes, exclusive of many thousands on the continent, the whole having cost upward of £180,000. Allibone in his “Dictionary of Authors” computes the volumes in England at 113,195, and those in France and Holland at 33,632, making a total of 146,827, to which must be added a large collection of pamphlets. This immense library was disposed of by auction after the owner's death, the sale lasting 216 days and realizing more than £60,000. Heber was elected to parliament for the university of Oxford in 1821, and served till 1826.