1802 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bp. Lewis Bagot

Anonymous, Gentleman's Magazine 72 (June, November 1802) 591, 1003-05.



At his house in Oxford-street, the Right Rev. Lewis Bagot, D.D. lord bishop of St. Asaph. He had been for ten years past in a decline, but was confined to his bed only the day before his death. An illness of such long continuance had wasted him to a mere skeleton. Though but little known in the world, from the weak state of his health, which did not admit of his mixing much in it, he was a man of great learning, an accomplished scholar, and of the most gentle and amiable manners. He was translated from the see of Norwich to that in which he died. The Warburton lectures, preached in Lincoln's inn chapel, are the only works, we believe, that he consigned to the press. In that duty he followed Bp. Hurd, and, it may perhaps be said, "cum passibus aequis."...

Mr. Urban,

In recording the decease of the late truly venerable Bishop of St. Asaph (p. 591. b.) you say, "The Warburton Lectures, preached in Lincoln's Inn chapel, are the only work, we believe, that he consigned to the press." The following list, for which I am indebted to the kindness of a friend, will shew, that "Multum et verae gloriae, quamvis non uno libro, merrit."

In the "Pietas et Gratulatio Univ. Oxon, 1761," on the accession of his present Majesty, is a copy of English blank verses, subscribed "Lewis Bagot, B.A. student of Christ church, son of Sir Walter Bagot, bart." In the "Epithalamia Oxon," the same year, on the King's marriage, there is an English ode; and in the "Gratulatio Univ. Oxon. 1762," on the birth of the Prince of Wales, blank verse again; both under the same signature as the former. In 1772, when the matter of subscription to the XXXIX Articles was warmly agitated, he published "A Defence of the Subscription to the XXXIX Articles, as it is required in the University of Oxford," 20 pages octavo, anonymous; in answer to "Reflections," also anonymous on the other side. In 1779, the Radcliffe Infirmary sermon was preached by "Lewis Bagot, LL.D. Dean of Christ Church," and published in quarto: the text Matt. ix. 4, 5. His Warburton Lectures came out the next year. In 1781 he addressed a letter, in 20 octavo pages, to the Rev. Dr. Bell, prebendary of Westminster, on the subject of his dissertation on "the authority, nature, and design of the Lord's Supper;" which Dissertation having been published wile the Warburton Lectures were in the press, the most material parts of the specious argument were immediately obviated by the learned Dean, in an excellent note, p. 210-213, of that work. On the same occasion also he reprinted, with a short preface, Dr. Isaac Barrow's admirable Discourse on "The Doctrines of the Sacraments;" which, with the preface, is now one of the Tracts published by the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. In 1788 was published a sermon preached before the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, January 30, by Lewis Lord Bishop of Bristol, on Psalm lxxvi. 10; and, the same year, a sermon before the governors of the Norfolk and Norwich hospital, on Matthew xxv. 30, by the same, then Bishop of Norwich. Lastly, the Sermon before the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, in 1788, on Matt. xxi. 15, and that before the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, in 1790, on Dan. xiii. 3, were by the same right reverend author.

These are his published works; two others, printed but I believe not published, remain to be mentioned. In 1776 was printed, at Reading, an octavo pamphlet of 19 pages, intituled "A serious Caution against the dangerous Errors of the Anabaptists. Earnestly addressed to the Inhabitants of the Parishes in Reading, by their lawful Minister." This was originally draw up by Dr. Bagot for the use of his own parish (Jevington, or East Bourn, in Sussex, of both which he was rector); and he permitted the Reading clergy to reprint it for the use of their parishioners; anonymous. In your Magazine for 1784, p. 929, is a short account of "A Charge delivered to the Clergy at the primary Visitation of Lewis Lord Bishop of Norwich;" which was distributed through the diocese, but not published: and in the year following, "Fidus X" has a long letter, p. 366-68, containing remarks on the said charge, which he had "perused with the highest pleasure;" and though he differs, as he thinks others possibly may, "from this truly learned and venerable prelate in one or two points," he concludes with saying, "all who read his manners and his life will, I am confident, agree, that he is learned without pedantry, pious without ostentation, a faithful Christian, and, in every department of life, an amiable man."

I cannot give with minute accuracy the dates of his preferments. He was educated at Westminster school, and chosen thence student of Christ Church; M.A. May 23, 1764, and D.C.L. Feb. 29, 1772. In 1771 he was made Canon of Christ church, in the room of his Grace the present Archbishop of Canterbury; and the same year, Oct. 7, he married Miss M. Hay, niece to the Earl of Kinnoul. He was installed Dean of Christ Church, Jan. 25, 1777, on the translation of Dr. Markham to the see of York, and about that time, it is believed, he resigned his livings in Sussex in favour of his nephew, the Rev. Ralph Sneyd. In 1782 he was promoted to Norwich the year following; and thence to St. Asaph, in 1790; where he re-built the palace on a plan which is uncommon, as it was necessary, he observed, to consult the nature of the situation; where, among the mountains and in the vicinity of the sea, storms are often violent. The palace, therefore, is low; and being on the ascent of a hill, the vestibule, dining room, and drawing room, which occupy the whole front of the building, are on a level with the first floor in the other apartments; two of which, on the ground floor, are a neat domestic chapel and library. His arms in front, impaling those of the see, have, I think, the date 1794.

Similitude of character is sometimes the result of original impressions, and sometimes the effect of studious imitation. It was perhaps owing to both these causes that Bishop Bagot, in the mildness of his manners and placid benevolence, was reckoned strongly to resemble his most esteemed friend, the late Dr. Towson, rector of Malpus and archdeacon of Richmond. When the latter was rector of Blithfield, the other, then a mere boy, would often steal down to the parsonage, and read there with his friend for hours together, with avidity and attention worthy of riper years. The friendship between them, which commenced thus early, terminated only in the grave, which closes all mortal relations. In the great and good every thing is interesting. The deceased Prelate (one proof of a correct and elegant mind) wrote a most beautiful hand, which seems to be a family excellence; as the late Lord Bishop's, and like his brother's, the present rector of Blithfield, and all of them reminding one of the strokes of His hand, now motionless in death, who was once their venerable pastor, and always their intimate and dear friend.

As a patron, the late Bishop of St. Asaph is commended for his bestowing the ample patronage of his see with great disinterestedness and impartiality, not upon aliens, whether relatives or others, but among the learned and meritorious clergy of the diocese, acquainted with the language and manners of the district. His remains were interred at St. Asaph, with those of Mrs. Bagot, whom he survived not quite three years. There is a portrait of him in his episcopal robes at Christ Church, a striking likeness; but the fine expressive eye, which beamed in the living countenance, was not within the reach of the painter's art. R. C.