1847 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Herbert

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine NS 28 (October 1847) 425-26.



May 28. At his residence in Hereford-street, Park-lane, in his 70th year, the Hon. and Very Rev. William Herbert, D.C.L., Dean of Manchester, and Rector of Spofforth, Yorkshire; uncle to the Earl of Carnarvon.

The Dean of Manchester was born Jan. 12, 1778, the third son of Henry 1st Earl of Carnarvon, by Lady Elizabeth Alicia Maria Wyndham, eldest daughter of Charles Earl of Egremont. He was educated at Eton, and at Merton college, Oxford, where he graduated M.A. 1802, 13; and D.C.L. 1808. He was presented to the Rectory of Spofforth in 1814, by the Earl of Egremont, and appointed Dean of Manchester in 1840.

Mr. Herbert first distinguished himself as a man of elegant taste in literature, by editing the "Musae Etonenses," a selection of Greek and Latin Poetry by Etonians, in 2 vols. 8vo. 1795. In 1801 he published "Ossiani Darthula, Graece reddita. Accedunt Miscellanea," 8vo. In 1804, in two parts, 8vo. "Select Icelandic Poetry, translated from the originals, with notes;" and "Translations from the German, Danish, &c., to which is added, Miscellaneous Poetry;" and in 1806 he published a second part to each of those works.

His next production was "Helga," a Poem, in seven cantos, with notes, 1815. In 1820, he published "Hedin; or, the Spectre of the Tomb; A tale, from the Danish history;" and in 1822 "The Wizard Wanderer of Jutland, a Tragedy; with Julia Montalban, a Tale;" In the same year "The Guahiba, a Tale;" and in 1826 "Iris," a Latin ode.

In 1820 he published a volume of Sermons, and in 1837 a botanical work entitled "Amaryllidaceae; preceded by an attempt to arrange the monocotyledonous orders, and followed by a treatise on cross-bred vegetables, and a supplement." 8vo.

In 1839 was published his "Attila, King of the Huns," the subject of the leading article in our Magazine for April that year.

In 1842 his "Works, excepting those on Botany and Natural History," were collected and published-with additions and corrections in three volumes 8vo. They were then fully reviewed in our Magazine for Feb. 1843; an article to which we beg to refer our readers with respect to the literary merits of their author. At the same time we append the following

remarks received from a friend:—

"Mr. Herbert's abilities were very considerable — his attainments both various and profound. He was an excellent classical scholar, and his compositions in Latin verse — an employment he always seemed to delight in — were distinguished for their correctness and elegance. Both in ancient and modern languages he had paid great attention to the laws and structure of versification. That his knowledge of modern languages was both exact and extensive, may be seen in his review of Mitford's Harmony of Language in the Edinburgh Review. He was not only acquainted with the northern, dialects of the great Gothic parent, but composed in them. Mr. Herbert was also an able naturalist: some excellent notes on Ornithology by him may be found in Bennet's edition of White's Selborne. To some branches of botany he had paid very great attention, and made many improvements: and his introduction to his work on the Amaryllidaceae, is the production of a master hand. He was among the first who paid attention to the improvement of plants and flowers by hybridizing; and to his successful experiments at Spofforth and High-Clere, we are indebted for the finest among the new varieties of Rhododendron, which are so great an ornament to the shrubbery and lawn in the gardens of the present day. His early volumes of poetry are learned and elegant; and his large poem of Attila, though too learned for the public taste, is one that no poet would refuse to praise, and no scholar disdain to own. On the whole, I consider Mr. Herbert to have been one of the most learned and accomplished persons of his age, and his talents and acquirements were both heightened and recommended by the modesty with which they were accompanied, and the judicious manner in which they were employed."

The Dean of Manchester married, May 17, 1806, the Hon. Letitia-Emily-Dorothea Allen, second daughter of Joshua fifth Viscount Allen; and by that lady, who survives him, he had issue two sons and two daughters: 1. Henry-William, born in 1807; 2. Louisa-Catharine-Georgina; 3. Frederick-Charles, R.N.; 4. Cecilia-Augusta-Henrietta.

The Dean of Manchester revised and redated his will on the 25th of January last; it had been executed in the year 1845. He has bequeathed to his wife a life-interest in all his property in England and elsewhere (except Canada); also certain specific and pecuniary bequests, including the carriage and horses, the plate, &c. and that she may select from his books, pictures, and furniture, to the amount of 700; and, after her decease, he leaves the property purchased by him in Therfield to his son Frederick; his other freeholds he leaves to his daughter Louisa, with a pecuniary bequest; the residue of his personal estate, and of the unsettled real estate, to be divided between his said son and daughters Cecilia and Louisa. The estates in Canada, subject to the payment of an annuity to his trustees, he has devised to his son Frederick and his heirs. His estates under marriage settlement in the counties of Bedford and Hertford, over which he had power of appointment, he has apportioned to his said son and daughters, his son Henry having received his portion in the lifetime of his father. He leaves to the Rev. C. Richson, one of his executors, 100. The Hon. Letitia Herbert, the relict, and his brother, the Hon. Algernon Herbert, are the other executors. The personalty in England and within the province of Canterbury was valued at 4000.