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Neemur and Baroda he travelled, and at length after a tour that had embraced India in its breadth and in its length, he arrived at Bombay.
Here he was joined by his wife and his elder child, the infant having been left at Calcutta. His time was wholly occupied in the organization and inauguration of ecclesiastical work; and in conversation on public affairs with the Lieutenant-Governor Elphinstone, who a few years earlier had been familiar with another missionary worker, the eminent Henry Martyn. One pleasant excursion he snatched time to take with his family, namely, an excursion to the adjacent island of Elephanta with its cavern temples. He embarked after a stay at Bombay for Calcutta. On his voyage he visited Ceylon, where he received in a courteous and liberal spirit the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society and of the Wesleyans. None of those sad divisions that have lately made Ceylon a byword had then arisen. A man of the mental ability, the Christian zeal, and the sympathetic nature of Heber, was certain to rule over the hearts of all, whether sectarians or churchmen, with immense sway. After an absence of fourteen months he reached Calcutta. Two months were occupied by him in the performance of episcopal duties at Calcutta; and then once more his untiring spirit incited him to visit the only portion of India which he had not yet surveyed, namely, the south. Into the Presidency of Madras he travelled, preaching and teaching at Madras, where he was entertained by the Lieutenant-Governor, the pious Sir T. Monro, Pondicherry, and Tanjore, where he gazed with interest on the grave of the missionary Schwartz.
On April 2nd, 1826, he reached Trichinopoly. On the following day, Sunday, he performed Divine Service there. On Monday, he held a service at six o'clock in the morning at the fort; examined the schools, made arrangements for an alteration in the disposition of the mission, and returned to the home of a sick missionary friend named Robinson, who was afterwards Archdeacon of Madras. Having chatted in a kindly hopeful manner at the bedside of the invalid, the bishop went to his dressing-room to take a bath before breakfast. His servant, after some time, thinking that he remained in his room rather a long time, entered the room and found the bishop dead at the bottom of the bath ; the cause of his death was pronounced, as soon as medical aid had arrived, to have been apoplexy. Born in April he had died in April, and into the forty-three years of his
life had crowded the work of several long lives. His hymns had endeared him to all pious souls ; his more elaborate poems had rendered his name familiar to the general public; his Bampton Lectures, his edition of Taylor, and his sermons had won for him a place in theology; his classical and mathematical attainments had ranked him as a scholar ; bis contributions to the “Quarterly Review” had proved his critical discernment of mind, and his elegant facility of expression, his sympathetic kindliness had attracted to him all with whom he came in contact, be it the humble peasant at Hodnet, the acute lawyer at Lincoln's Inn, the Nonconformist missionary, the Hindoo Brahmin, or the Mohammedan prince ; his enthusiastic Christian zeal had enabled him to traverse in less than two years from his appointment to the Bishopric of Calcutta, the vast extent of his Indian diocese, the population of which was nearly two hundred millions. This diocese which theoretically embraced all Asia, Australasia, and Oceanica, has since been divided into twenty-five distinct bishoprics. It was impossible for one man therefore to have traversed it all. What wonder that at the loss of so gifted a genius, in the very prime of his manhood, the sorrow throughout England and India was universal? What wonder that men were almost inclined to repine at the dispensation of God, in thus prematurely, as it would seem, hurrying away from the sphere of his labours so noble a toiler? All, however, could we but discern it, was assuredly for the best. Heber died in the zenith of his fame and popularity, before any dissatisfaction, or discontent, or opposition, or failure had come to darken his bright and happy nature. Had he lived longer he would not have escaped the envenomed tongue of slander, the bitter pangs of disappointment, the angry shafts of misrepresentation. His sweet sensitive nature would have been wounded to the quick by the unfounded suspicions or the contemptuous attacks with which all mean, dull, and petty souls delight to assail those better than themselves. In the glory of his manhood, in the height of his fame, in the full splendour of the general affection of the world, Heber passed to his rest. As we find how in India as elsewhere the Colonial episcopate of which he was so bright an example, has increased from his day; and how his hymns, ever fresh in their expression of Christian zeal and love, have spread wherever the gospel message has reached, can we say that Heber lived in vain, or that he prematurely died ? His words have proved potent incentives to missionary zeal at home and abroad, and have carried consolation and hope to many a sorrowing sinful soul, in “Greenland's icy mountains,” in “India's coral strand,” by “Afric's sunny fountains," in “Ceylon's isle,” in “many a palmy plain," and in “each remotest nation.” Memorials in stone of Heber are to be found at Trichinopoly, where he was buried, at Calcutta, at S. Paul's, London, at All Souls', Oxford, and at Hodnet. Elegies on his death were written by Southey, Cunningham, Mrs. Hemans, and Mrs. Opie. His own sacred songs form however his best memorial. Amongst the friends who honoured his genius are to be found the names of Madame de Stael and of Augustus Hare.
The character of Heber was sensitive, affectionate, warm-hearted, generous, and sympathetic. It enabled him readily to assimilate bimself to the most different types of men, and to the most variable surrounding circumstances. Hence it was that he was loved and venerated by such different types of humanity as the sturdy peasant, the energetic citizen, the mild but subtle Hindoo, and the fiery Mohammedan. Hence it was that he was equally successful as parish priest, University preacher, or missionary bishop.
As for his genius it was the product rather of a vivid but confined imagination and of a highly cultivated intelligence, than of any great breadth of thought or spontaneity of nature. He was an acute and lively observer of the manners of men and the beauties of nature. His style is always elegant and graphic, sometimes lofty and impressive. His similes and allusions are well chosen; his versification is remarkably musical. He cannot, of course, be exalted to sit amongst the poetic gods, where such spirits as Shakespeare, Milton, and Coleridge rest; but amid those lesser poetical luminaries, religious or secular, of whom Pope may be taken as the chief example, Heber must be assigned no mean place. If we were to desire to describe his poetical characteristics in a brief form, we would call him a sacred Prior or a religious Moore. The musical rhythm, the verbal brilliancy, and the somewhat artificial imaginative glitter of his verses, frequently recall to us “The Song to Chloe" of Prior, and the Irish Melodies of Moore. In proof of this statement we would cite Heber's lines entitled “At a Funeral," lines that were suggested originally by the death of his eldest, and at that time, only child at Catton, Staffordshire. With these lines we must conclude our brief note of the gifted poet and Christian missionary-Bishop Heber. It is impossible to read these verses without being reminded of Prior's The god of us versemen, you know, child, the Sun,” and Moore's “She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps."
“Thou art gone to the grave, but we will not deplore thee,
Though sorrow and darkness encompass the tomb,
And the lamp of His love is thy guide through the gloom.
Nor tread the rough path of the world by thy side,
“ Thou art gone to the grave, and its mansion forsaking,
Perchance thy weak spirit in fear lingered long,
“ Thou art gone to the grave, but we will not deplore thee,
Whose God was thy ransom, thy guardian and guide;
OTTILIE OF ALSACE.
It was Christmas Eve, and great, woolly snowflakes were falling fast and noiselessly. The shops were lighted up, and notwithstanding the wintry weather, many purchasers of the good things of the morrow were hurrying along muffled up in their warmest clothing, and the old women who kept the stalls at the street-corners were cowering for shelter under their great umbrellas. In these stalls too preparation was made for late customers, and miserable rushlights flared on the rickety stands. There were few carts astir, for all who could do so had taken their horses home when the snow began to fall, and the men for the most part had gone to sleep till the Church bells should ring out for Midnight Mass, leaving the women to do the shopping for the next day's festivities.
In a remote part of the ancient Alsatian town, just where the town began to mingle with the country, stood an old house that had once seen better days, but now in its age and dilapidation was let out in tenements to the poor. Here in a ground-floor room that opened with a door on the street lived the orphan Ottilie. She had not always been alone, indeed she still wore mourning for the dear mother who but last Christmas had knitted with her own hands as a present for her child the woollen shawl which was now crossed over the girl's cbest. Yes, this was the first Christmas that Ottilie had sat by herself waiting for the summons to Church. She would not lie down on the bed which she had once shared with her mother, lest she should fall asleep and so be deaf to the joyful clangour of the Christmas bells. The fire in the stove had gone out, but she would not light it again, for her stock of fire-wood was low, and she did not quite know when she should have a few sous with which to replenish it. So she sat with her feet doubled under her for warmth, in the great wooden armchair, made up in the mountains of the far-away Black Forest, and in which, as her mother used to tell her, her grandfather had died. Her “ blessed mother," as Ottilie loved to call her, had been quite attached to this chair, which she had brought with her when she came as the bride of the young Alsatian, driven from her old home to her new one. It was her one relic of the distant forest which had given her birth, and beneath whose shade she had played with her brothers and sisters, and tended the graves of her parents. It was no wonder that she loved it. It was associated with her earliest recollections, and for nearly three years it had been the constant seat of her father, after he had been maimed and crippled by the falling of a tree; in it too he had been sitting when his children were called round him to receive his last blessing, when the village pastor had brought him his Viaticum, and finally it was in it that he had closed his eyes in death. And now Ottilie, in her turn, loved it for her mother's sake, and there the lonely child sat curled up, brooding over her troubles, her poor motherless heart aching for the dear companion that had watched by her, as she slept this very night only one short year ago.
Poor child! how sad she was. The only friends she had were the good Sisters at the neighbouring convent, but somehow or another at this
even they seemed to have forgotten her. It was they who furnished her with the coarse embroidery, the payment for which sufficed for her meagre subsistence, and she was a regular attendant at their singing and catechism classes in the winter evenings. She could not fancy how it was they had not given her a ticket for the tea the next day. Sister Pauline had told her a week or more before that she was to come, but she had heard nothing further of it. Ah! of course they had forgotten her, and she was to spend her Christmas