Philobiblon: A dose of theological controversy for a widow

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A dose of theological controversy for a widow

Miss Frances Williams Wynn is today reproducing two letters to a bereaved young widow in India by Bishop Reginald Heber, who seems to have been best known has a writer of hymns.

Heber seems to be a rather better theological controversist than consoler, however, since he spends most of his time in arcane points, particularly on the state of the soul after death and on the power of prayers for it (on which he is certainly unsound in CofE terms).

But perhaps the most fun is to be had from speculating about the cause of the young husband's death - "the fatal accident ... an instantaneous death without pain, and while engaged in innocent amusement". Hunting maybe? The bishop would probably have considered that innocent amusement, even if we do not.


Blogger clanger said...

Bishop Reginald Heber (1783-1826) was the half-brother of the great book collector Richard Heber (1773 or 1774-1833). Their father was also called Reginald (d.1804).

Richard owned well in excess of 150,000 books including (purchased in 1832, the year before his death) a first folio. He owned so many books that it took his executors 3 months just to find the original copy of his will amongst them. Mr. H, Clanger salutes you.

Interested readers might wish to consult 'The Heber Letters' (1950) for family correspondence, but bibliomaniacs can curl up with "Bibliotheca Heberiana" by Arnold Hunt, in the rather wonderful 'Antiquaries, Book Collectors and the Language of Learning', ed. by Robin Myers and Michael Harris. Winchester: St. Paul's Bibliographies; Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 1996. One of the 'Publishing Pathways' series. This is currently just £12 in the BL's sale.

2/26/2006 08:26:00 pm  

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