Milman, Henry Hart, Dd
Milman, Henry Hart, D.D.
one of the leaders of the Broad Church party in the Anglican communion of our day, an ecclesiastic of distinction also, both as a historian and a poet, was the youngest son of Sir Francis Milman, physician to George III, and was born in London February 10, 1791. He was educated at Eton, and afterwards at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he took the degrees of B.A. and M.A., and of which he was elected a fellow. He wrote several poems, and secured much distinction by his efforts. In 1817 he took holy orders, and was appointed vicar of St. Mary's, Reading. In 1820 Mr. Milman published The Fall of Jerusalem, a dramatic poem, founded on Josephus's narrative of the siege of the sacred city. This, in some respects his most beautiful poetical production, established his reputation. In 1821 he was elected professor of poetry in the University of Oxford. He now published three other dramatic poems: The Martyr of Antioch, Belshazzar, and Anne Boleyn. In 1827 he published his sermons, delivered as the Bampton Lecture, and entitled The Character and Conduct of the Apostles considered as the Evidence of Christianity (8vo), and in 1829, without his name, The History of the Jews (Lond. and N.Y. 3 volumes, 18mo). This work was written in so liberal a spirit that orthodox ecclesiastics could hardly fail to be offended. Its weak point was a want of adequate learning, especially in the department of Biblical criticism. Anew edition, greatly improved, and more critical, yet still far from being very accurate, or built on solid foundations, prefaced by an interesting introduction, was published in 1863 (Lond. and N.Y. 3 volumes, 12mo). In this new form the work has had a large circulation both among Jews and Gentiles. It is to this day the only worthy record of the "chosen people of God" in the English tongue. In 1840 he came again before the public as a historian; this time with a History of Christianity from the Birth of Christ to the Abolition of Paganism in the Roman Empire (Lond. 3 volumes, 8vo; N.Y., Harpers, 1 volume, 8vo). In this work he professes to view Christianity as a historian, in its moral, social, and political influences, referring to its doctrines no further than is necessary for explaining the general effect of the system. It is a far better effort than his previous work, and marks the advance of an accomplished and liberal-minded student. His scholarly attainments received the acknowledgment of the Church by various appointments. In 1849, after having been honored successively with the rectory of St. Margaret's, Westminster, and the canonship of Westminster, he was promoted to the deanery of St. Paul's. This position he held until his death, September 24, 1868.
The works already mentioned will secure for dean Milman an honorable place in the literary history of England, but they are by no means his ablest productions. His greatest work, and one of the most valuable productions in the English language, is his History of Latin Christianity, including that of the Popes to the Pontificate 'of Nicholas V (Lond. and N.Y. 1854, 8 volumes, 8vo); a continuation of the author's History of Christianity, and yet in itself a complete work. To give it that completeness, dean Milman has gone over the history of Christianity in Rome during the first four centuries. It brings the history down to the close of the pontificate of Nicholas V, that is, to 1455. It is a work of great learning, liberality, and chastened eloquence; it displays a broad grasp of human nature in its religious workings; something of the philosopher, and still-more of the poet, is seen in the strong and vivid spirit of sympathy with which he deals. with men of the most different opinions. The work has secured for its author a position in the first rank of English historians. "No such work," says the Qu. Rev. of London, "has appeared in English ecclesiastical literature-none which combines such breadth of view with such depth of research, such high literary and artistic eminence with such patient and elaborate investigation." Perhaps we should add the estimate of one of our own historical writers, than whom no greater or more competent critic could be heard; we refer to William H. Prescott (Philip II, 2:500, n. 69), who says of it: "One of the most remarkable works of the present age, in- which the author reviews, with curious erudition and in a profoundly philosophical spirit, the various changes that have taken place in the Roman hierarchy; and, while he fully exposes the manifold errors and corruptions of the system, he shows throughout that enlightened charity which is the most precious of Christian graces, as, unhappily, the rarest." Dean Milman also earned the gratitude of the Christian world by an edition of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which presented the great historian with more ample illustration than he had before received, and set at rest many exceptions taken by Gibbon against Christianity. The notes were further elucidated and verified by Dr. W. Smith, and Gibbon's works are now sought for only in this amended form. Other works of Milman are a Life of Keats, and Hebrew Prophecy, a sermon, published in 1865. He also edited an illustrated review of Horace, with a Life of the poet; translations from the Agamemnon of Eschylus, Bacchanals of Euripides, etc. He was a frequent contributor to the [London] Quarterly Review. A collected edition of his "Poetical Works," including Fazio, a tragedy, which has frequently been on the stage, was published in 1840, and, besides the works above mentioned and his smaller poems, contains the Noala and Damayanti, translated from the Sanscrit. Since his death Annals of St. Paul's Cathedral (1868), and Savonarola, Erasmus, and other Essays (1870), have been published.
Dean Milman was also an important contributor to English hymnology. Some of his productions are familiar to every English-speaking Christian; in the Anglican Church he is a particular favorite, and as the author of "When our heads are bowed with woe," "Bound upon the accursed tree," "Ride on, ride on in majesty," and the more subjective composition, "Brother, thou art gone before us" (from the Martyr of Antioch), has established a household name, and has secured popular love. As he occupied for years the pulpit of one of the largest and most influential of English churches, we append the following portrayal of dean Milman from the Saturday Rev. (October 1868): "He was no speaker; he had not the very least of platform tricks; with a superb scorn, he disdained the arts which win fame at public meetings; and in a certain sense he was not a good preacher. He was too refined, too much habituated to limitations, too sensitive, and too careful, to be able to fling out those broad statements which must be hazarded by the popular preacher. But in a certain sort of preaching he was first-rate. His eulogium on the duke of Wellington — we doubt whether it is published — struck us, as we were fortunate enough to hear it, as equal to the best of the French models of pulpit eloquence." See Vapereau, Dict. des Contemnporains, s.v.; Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.; English Cyclop. s.v.; Men of the Times, s.v. 1, Hagenbach, Hist. Doctrines, 2:423 sq.; Schaff, Christ in Song, pages 206- 209; Lecky, Hist. of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne (Preface) (1869) ; Edinb. Rev. January 1858; January 1864; and January 1869; Lond. Qu. Rev. April 1816; July 1818; May 1820, and April 1869;
Blackwood's Mag. March and July 1822; December 1868; North Brit. Rev. Nov. 1854; March, 1869: Fraser's Mag. October 1854; Christian Remenbrancer, 1854, October page 266; Kitto, Journ. of Sac. Lit. 1854, October; Westminst. Rev. 1870, October page 219; Princeton Rev. 1842, page 238; Pen Pictures of popular English Preachers (Lond. 1852), pages 175-178.