1836 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Luke Booker

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine NS 6 (January 1836) 93-94.



Oct. 1. At Bower Ashton, near Bristol, the Reverend Luke Booker, LL.D. M.R.S.L., Vicar of Dudley, one of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the counties of Worcester, Hereford, and Stafford, and, during the Regency, one of the Chaplains in Ordinary to His Royal Highness George Prince Regent.

Dr. Booker was born at Nottingham, on the 20th October, 1762. In early life the whole energy and vigour of his mind were directed to the attainment of classic and literary knowledge; and, devotedly attached to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England, he took holy orders in 1785. Struck with his proficiency in acquirement, the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (Dr. Cornwallis) ordained him without a title; but he shortly afterwards became Lecturer of the Collegiate church of Wolverhampton; from whence he removed to the Curacy of Old Swinford; and subsequently he became, and continued for many years, Minister of St. Edmund's church in Dudley. In 1806 he was instituted to the rectory of Tedstone de la Mere, Herefordshire, on the presentation of his brother-in-law, Richard Blakemore, Esq. On leaving Dudley a valuable piece of plate was given to him by his congregation. He returned to Dudley in 1812, on being presented to the living by William Lord Viscount Dudley and Ward. At Dudley he continued, until within a few weeks of his death, to discharge the duties of his sacred office; and the best and most unequivocal testimony to his worth is to be found in the voluntary respect paid to his memory by those among whom he so long and faithfully ministered.

To us, who during a long continuance of years enjoyed the uninterrupted friendly regard of this benevolent and distinguished man, the event which has deprived ourselves of a highly valued friend, society of a brilliant ornament, the church of a most powerful minister, and the state of a loyal and exemplary subject, has brought with it no ordinary sorrow; and an affectionate regard for his memory and respect for his worth and talents, forbid our allowing such a man to descend to the grave without an humble but sincere tribute to his genius and virtues.

As a minister of our national church, few divines were more distinguished for genuine piety, theological learning, impressive and commanding eloquence, and fervour, energy, and zeal in his holy calling than Dr. Booker. It is a striking fact, and one which proves the high degree of public estimation, in which, as a preacher, he was held, that during his ministry he preached one hundred and seventy-three sermons on public and charitable occasions, and that the collections made on behalf of the objects for which he pleaded amounted to nearly nine thousand pounds.

As an author Dr. Booker acquired deserved celebrity from the ease and energy of his style. His chief productions are, Poems, sacred, &c. 1785, enlarged 1788; the Highlanders, 1787; Sermon at Old Swinford, 1788; Miscellaneous Poems, 1790; Sermon on the memory of Mr. George Bradley, 1791; Malvern, a Poem, 1798; Sermons to promote Christian Knowledge, 1793; Fast Sermon and Address on Riots, 1793; the Hop Garden, a Poem, 1800; Sermon for Blue Coat Charity; Address to the Dudley Association, 1801; Christian Worship for Workhouses; Select Psalms and Hymns for Churches; Poems inscribed to Lord Dudley and Ward, 1802; Duty of innoculating with the Cow-pox, 1802; Christian Intrepidity, 1803; Tobias, a Poem, 1805; Calista, or the Picture of Modern Life, 1806; Address to Parliament on enlarging Churches, 1809; Sermon on the Jubilee, 1809; Temple of Truth, 1810; Address to the Legislature, 1810; Two Assize Sermons, 1816; Euthanasia, the State of Man after Death; Lectures on the Lord's Prayer, 1824; Discourses and Dissertations, 2 vols.; Account of Dudley Castle; Mourner comforted; the Springs of Plynlimmon, a Poem; the Mitre Oak; Mandane, a drama; Illustrations of the Litany; Tributes to the Dead, Epitaphs for Persons of all ages and circumstances, 1830. He was also a fearless and uncompromising antagonist with the emissaries of atheism and infidelity, in the early stage of his career; and at a later period the Roman Catholic and Unitarian opponents of our Protestant faiths had frequent occasions for feeling his power.

It is not our province to intrude upon the privacy of domestic life, nor to comment upon the exemplary discharge of every parental and social duty which marked the conduct of the deceased.

As a neighbour, a companion, and a friend, his hospitality and the dignity and suavity of his manners, and his unwearied conversational powers, endeared him to the rich; while his unbounded, but unostentatious charity, and the meekness and benignity of his deportment, made him an object of veneration to the poor; in a word, "The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips; he walked in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity."