PERHAPS REGINALD HEBER was the most perfect man of these latter days : perhaps this is the most interesting publication from the modem press. We use a dubious form of speech, for we can only refer to our own knowledge, which is limited. REGINALD HEBER'S life was one of wisdom, truth, and plea-. santness. He began with success, he ended in glory. Yet no feeling of selfishness or vanity ever animated his efforts or dic- tated his motives. There are men whose brows are aching for the mitre—whose lives are industrious and talents brilliant, and whose exterior is of a bland and Christian expression ; but whose ends turn upon self, and with whom the desire to shine is the spring of action. There are other formal and, precise persons, who join to considerable erudition, a rigid respect for punctilio, and who learning all things, without taste, and discriminating nothing, preserve a grave and reverend exterior which frequently insures advancement and imposes upon the world. HEBER was neither of these : he was thoroughly wise, and could afford to be merry. In England, he was the beau ideal of a gentleman and a parish priest combined ; and no one could find farther fault with 'in than that he was too familiar with his humble parishioners. In India, he was venerated, nay almost worshipped : not an allusion - to a fault was ever whispered in that hemisphere, save that he wore a straw hat and white trowsers. This is a costume, for a Bishop, which Archdeacon BARNES, D.D., observes, we could wish altered; more particularly as in the case of his predecessor (Bishop MIDDLETON), we had witnessed great precision in these matters.—No, HEBER could afford to wear a straw hat: his lips were pregnant with wisdom, his good sense was infinite, his discretion was never at fault; pious, charitable, and humane, young and yet venerable, learned and yet agreeable—a pair of white unmentionables did not utterly cloak and veil his great merits. HEBER was too clever to be a pretender, too good-natured and kind-hearted to impose. We find this characteristic dwelt upon after his death, in some verses by Mrs. OPIE ; who, true woman as she is (or was), had been charmed by him in his youth, without finding out that her boy-friend was to be a great man. She sings thus in her not unmeritorious threnodium
"How well I remember the day I first met thee- - 'Twas in scenes long forsaken, in moments long fled: Then little I thought that a world would regret thee, And Europe and Asia both mourn for thee dead !
Ah ! little I thought, in those gay social hours,
That round thy young head e'en the laurel would twine Still less that a crown of the amaranth's flowers,
Enwreath'd with the palm, would, 0! Heber! be thine."
In addition to Mrs. ()PIE'S and other testimonia, which, in obe- dience to the good old fashion, Mrs R. HEBER had added to her life of her lamented husband, is a fine manly eulogy by Sou- THEY, himself one of those men whom after times will respect. Unlike HEBER, who was universal, SOUTHEY is a great man only in some directions—a genius N.N.W. ; but they were mutual ad- mirers; and we mention their friendship and SOUTHEY'S verses for the purpose of remarking a most author-like subject of praise- HEBER, forsooth, read and admired all SOUTHEY'S articles in the Quarterly. " 0 Reginald, one course
Our studies and our thoughts Our aspirations held, Wherein, but mostly in this blessed hope, We had a bond of union, closely knit In spirit, though in this world's wilderness Apart our lots were cast. Seldom we met; but I knew well, That whatsoe'er this never-idle hand Sent forth would find with thee Benign acceptance to its full desert. For thou wert of that audience—fit, though few, For whom I am content To live laborious days, Assured that after years will ratify Their honourable award."
REGINALD HEBER died at the age of forty-two; and it is usual to regret the prematureness of the death of so excellent a being. But this must be in relation to the benefits he might have con- ferred on his fellow mortals. For himself, he died with pain, in the height of his fame, and before age and disappointment had wrinkled his noble and intellectual brow. The .Athenian sage long since taught, that no life is happy till it is ended : who knows what blight of care or calumny might have overtaken even this good man before he reached a tardy grave ? In the near example of his elder brother, a man whom all good men delighted to honour, we may be taught that there is no certainty where a cloud may not light. REGINALD HEBER was a remarkable person from his boyhood, and yet he was not a precocious person: he did every thing well at the proper time, and not before or out of place. And more than this, even in his youth his thoughts were turned to the acquire- ment of important knowledge, and to reflection upon serious in- terests. Let any one read the letters in the early part of these volumes, addressed to Mr. THORNTON, without observing the date, he will not for an instant suspect the writer to have been * The Life of Reginald Heber, D.D., Lord Bishop of Calcutta. By his Widow. 2 vols. 41o. London, IWO. With Selections from his Correspondence, Unpublished Poems, and Private Papers • 'Fogetherwith a Journal of his Tour in Norway, Swedes, Russia, Hungary;and Gerniany, and a History of the Comics. only seventeen. We are accustomed to look lo the University as the test of a young man's abilities ; but the truth is, that college is chiefly the theatre where he displays his earlier acquirement. Success there almost entirely depends upon the atmosphere in which a youth has been brought up—upon the tastes reigning at his father's house or at his tutor's, or on the discipline at the public school, if he is sent to one. The author of Palestine does not appear, any more than many others we have known, to have owed much to his University. If he obtained some information at Oxford, he probably lost a good deal of time. Before he went to college, his correspondence turns upon MACHIAVELLI, whom he admired, and KNOLLES'S History of the Turks. At Brazen- nose, his correspondence falls off in matter ; and the journal of his travels, undertaken after his degree, does not fulfil the promise of his early letters. After his return, in the quiet of Hodnet Rectory, he resumed his ancient studies, stored his mind with a great variety of learning, and turned his attentions to all the questions of life, and at justified ustified all that might have been anticipated of him. It was in the theatre of Oxford, it is true, that he delivered his admirable prize poem of Palestine; but though that was the fruit, the tree was grafted long before. The author of the lines on BONAPARTE.S Invasion of Egypt—a school prize—would have written Palestine in whatever studious retirement fate had cast him. But yet it was the fact, not of the poem's being written, but being written at Oxford, which insured him a brilliant career. In Sir CHARLES EDWARD GREY'S very eloquent ealogy on the late Biahop, at a public meeting at Calcutta, he speaks of his having formed his acquaintance at the time when he had just written Palestine, when he was the honoured of all observers, and when it was a distinction to be acquainted with him. If HEBER had not been a great preacher, he would have been 'a great poet. The phrenologists speak of the organ of veneration : the quality meant by them is as essential to the enthusiast in poetry as to the fervid religionist. No one ever had more natural devotion than HEBER: he was by constitution, humble, pious, and obedient ; and he took his politics as well as his religion from these qualities. It was the instinctive love of order, and an habitual obedience of spirit that made him a Tory, a writer in the Quarterly Review, and in some measure blinded him to a large political view of the interests of his race. However, no- one can be every thing. We do not highly esteem the political sentiments, or rather prejudices, of HEBER; but no per- sons can more humbly respect his great qualities of mind than ourselves, or look upon his noble disinterestedness, his infinite amiability, and profound and heartfelt piety, with a more grateful admiration. And even as regards his politics, they were simply the preludices of education ; for who could, when unshackled by the dogmas of party, look upon his fellow-creatures in India with a more enlightened spirit, or a more liberal love of human happi- ness? He was there a reformer without knowing it. His journal contained several remarkable views respecting India ; and in his correspondence, in these volumes, others will be found. We cannot conclude this notice without expressing our grateful thanks to the authoress, or rather editor of these volumes, for the pleasure and instruction we have derived from their perusal. Her praise is, that she appears to have been worthy of her lot.