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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Critical and Biographical Essay by Alfred H. Miles

Alexander B. Grosart (1835–1899)

ALEXANDER BALLOCH GROSART, D.D., LL.D., was born on the 18th of June, 1835, at Stirling, N.B., and was educated at the Falkirk Parish School, Edinburgh University, and the Theological Hall of the United Presbyterian Church. After completing his college course, he became minister of the First United Presbyterian Church, Kinross (October 29th, 1856), where he found time amid pastoral duties for much literary work. He edited the works and biographies of Dr. Richard Sebbes, Thomas Brookes, and others for “Nichol’s Puritan Divines and Puritan Commentaries,” and wrote several religious works of exegetical teaching and appeal. Later he became minister of Prince’s Park United Presbyterian Church, Liverpool, and in 1868 that of St. George’s United Presbyterian Church, Blackburn, Lancashire. He was made LL.D. by Edinburgh University, and D.D. by the University of St. Andrews.

Dr. Grosart’s work in literature is unique. His “Lord Bacon not the Altruism of Christian Paradoxes” (1865); his discovery that “Britain’s Ida” was written by Phineas Fletcher and not by Edmund Spenser; and his identification of “The Phœnix” and “The Turtle Dove” in Sir Robert Chester’s “Love Martyr, or Rosalind’s Complaint” as representing Queen Elizabeth and the Earl of Essex, were triumphs of research and criticism; while his reprints of early English literature have supplied some of the richest and rarest additions to the modern library. His works include “The Fuller Worthies Library,” 39 vols.; “The Chertsey Worthies Library,” 14 vols.; “The Huth Library,” 39 vols.; “Spenser’s Works,” 10 vols.; “Works of Samuel Daniel,” 5 vols.; “Works of George Daniel,” 4 vols.; “The Townley MSS.,” 2 vols.; “Sir John Eliot MSS.,” 6 vols.; “Lismore Papers,” 10 vols.; “Prose Works of Wordsworth,” 3 vols.; besides occasional issues of unique and rare books, 38 vols. He died in March, 1899.

Among the MSS. published for the first time by Dr. Grosart are a number of poems by George Herbert, to whose verse that of his own muse may he said to approximate. His original verse, published in instalments at different times, was republished in a collected form under the title “Songs of Day and Night” in 1891. This volume, with its curious inversions and quaint experiments in rhythm, is a rich storehouse of Christian experience and spiritual refreshment. Dr. Grosart has founded his style upon that of the old bards among whom he has laboured so much, and drawn his inspiration from the prophets and psalmists whom he has studied to such great advantage.