1788 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bp. Richard Hurd

Anonymous, in Catalogue of five hundred Celebrated Authors (1788).



Bishop of Worcester, and clerk of the closet to the King. He was originally settled in his profession in a very retired situation at Thurcaston, in the county of Leicester; and in a dedication to doctor Warburton, prefixed to an edition of Horace's Ars Poetica, and Epistola ad Augustum, he expresses in very warm terms his attachment to an obscure station. He produced soon after a volume of Dialogues, which, in imitation of Cicero, were supposed to pass between real characters; Letters on Chivalry and Romance; and a pamphlet in reply to Hume's Natural History of Religion, "which," says that illustrious author, "is written with all the illiberal petulance, arrogance and scurrility, which distinguish the Warburtonian school." He was also editor of Select Works of Cowley in two volumes duodecimo. Doctor Hurd was soon after chosen preacher of Lincoln's Inn Chapel; and in that situation delivered and published the first series of Sermons by his friend bishop Warburton, for the illustration of the prophecies. About this time he became the object of the particular patronage of earl Mansfield, and was successively appointed preceptor to the prince of Wales, and bishop of Worcester. During this period he published Sermons on various Subjects in two volumes octavo. In 1782 he had the honour of refusing the dignity of archbishop of Canterbury.

The distinguishing feature of the mind of bishop Hurd seems to be intellectual cowardice. From this propensity he suppressed a life of bishop Warburton, his original patron, which is said to contain many free things of living characters, and was intended to be prefixed to an edition of the Works of Warburton just published, but which is reserved to appear after the death of its author. Early in life he exhibited a blameable degree of conformity to this celebrated despot, in an Essay on the Delicacy of Friendship, intended to arraign the conduct of doctor Jortin, who had been guilty of some degree of rebellion against his literary chief. This pamphlet doctor Hurd has since taken much pains to buy up and suppress.