1876 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. James Hervey

Robert Carruthers, in Chambers's Cyclopaedia of English Literature, 3rd ed. (1876; 1879) 4:328.



The REV. JAMES HERVEY (1714-1758) was a popular writer on religious subjects. His Meditations on the Tombs, on a Flower Garden, &c. had an extraordinary sale, and the author is said to have received 700 for the copyright of the first part of his work — which sum he distributed in charity. Hervey was also author of Theron and Aspasio, or a Series of Letters and Dialogues on the most important Subjects; Remarks on Lord Bolingbroke's Letters on History; Eleven Letters to the Rev. John Wesley, in answer to his Remarks on Theron and Aspasio, &c. After his death, collections of his letters and sermons were printed, and these, with his works, are comprised in six volumes octavo. When Johnson, on one occasion, ridiculed Hervey's Meditations, Boswell could not join in this treatment of the admired volume. "I am not an impartial judge," he says, "for Hervey's Meditations engaged my affections in my early years." This apology may be pleaded by meany readers, for the Meditations are written in a flowery, ornate style, which captivates the young and persons of immature taste. The inflated description and overstrained pathos with which the work abounds render it distasteful — almost ludicrous — to critical readers; but Hervey was a good man, whose works have soothed many an invalid and mourner, and quickened the efforts of benevolence and piety. He was rector of Weston-Favell, near Northampton, and was most exemplary in the discharge of his pastoral duties.