1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bp. Richard Hurd

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 78 (June 1808) 562-63.



28. At Hartlebury castle, aged 88, the Right Rev. Richard Hurd, D.D. Bishop of Worcester. He was a native of Congreve, in the parish of Penkridge, in Staffordshire; and was educated under the care of the Rev. William Budworth, M.A. master of the Grammar-school in Brewood; of whom he makes grateful mention in the Dedication of his Horace to Sir Edward Littelton, in 1749. He was entered of Emanuel college, Cambridge; where he proceeded B.A. 1738; M.A. 1742; B.D. 1744; D.D. 1768; and continued many years a fellow of that college. The first performance which is known to have been written by him, was a copy of verses on the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, printed in the University Collection. In 1749 he published his Commentary on Horace's Epistolae ad Pisones et Augustum; and in 1751 was the reputed author of two pamphlets relating to the "Right of Appeal" from the Vice-chancellor to the Senate. In 1753 he became minister of St. Andrew the Little, in Cambridge; where he continued to reside till 1756; when, as senior fellow of Emanuel college, he accepted the rectory of Thurcaston in Leicestershire. In 1759 he published his excellent Dialogues; and in 1762 the Letters on Chivalry and Romance. In 1766 he succeeded Bishop Warburton as preacher at Lincoln's Inn; for which office, however, he would not solicit. He declined the offer of the mastership of the Temple. In 1772 he published his Lectures on Prophecy; and, the same year, the Select Works of Cowley. By his merit, and the recommendation of the Earl of Mansfield, he became, in 1774, Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry. The King, putting his hand one day upon his Dialogues, said, "These made Hurd a Bishop; and I never saw him till he came to kiss hands." As the noble Earl was generally known to have recommended the late Archbishop of York as preceptor to the Prince of Wales, so it is evident that when lord Holdernesse and he resigned, Dr. Hurd was recommended from the same quarter. The good opinion of Bp. Warburton contributed not a little to that of Lord Mansfield. In 1781 Dr. Hurd was translated from Lichfield to Worcester; and declined the primacy offered him in 1783. In 1788 he published an edition of the Work of Bishop Warburton, in seven volumes, 4to; which he completed, in 1794, by a Life of that learned Prelate. His Horace, his Dialogues, and Sermons, with the Life of Bp. Warburton, are the principal works which he printed; for as to the Delicacy of Friendship, it was dragged into notice without his consent, and contrary to his wishes. — On the character of this truly venerable Prelate it would be superfluous to enlarge. Where Calumny has not even ventured to insinuate a fault, and where Respect and Reverence are the constant attendants, it will be unnecessary to expatiate on good qualities. As a writer, his taste, learning, and genius, are universally confessed. His Sermons are read with not less advantage than they were delivered. With his friends and connexions he ever obtained the best eulogium, their constant and warm attachment; and with the world in general a kind of veneration, which, in times like the present, could neither be acquired nor preserved but by the exercise of great virtues. A more ample memoir may be found in the History of Leicestershire, vol. III. p. 1071. The remains of this venerable Prelate were interred, on the 17th of June, in Hartlebury church-yard, in a private manner, attended chiefly by his tenants and household attendants, according to his own modest and unostentatious desire. The following Epitaph, proposed for him in 1780, is copied from a former volume of this Mag. (LIX. 442):

Passenger,
the urn you have visited
contains the heart of
—Bishop of —;
a Prelate distinguished by every virtue,
and immortalized by every qualification,
that could adorn the Christian,
the Gentleman, and the Scholar.
The Royal Pupils, whose confidence he
gained by the elegance of his manners,
and the sincerity of his counsels,
knew and admired the worth and
integrity of their Preceptor.
They cherished the man who had taught them
the important lesson how to be beloved,
while the arrow of Death forebore to
vindicate its errand; and erected this
tribute to his memory, when robbed
of the felicity of contemplating
his living perfections.