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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

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1815–1881)

ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY (1815–1881) was born at Alderley, Cheshire, on the 13th of December, 1815. He was educated at Rugby under Dr. Arnold, and at Oxford, where he had a brilliant career,—gaining the Newdigate prize for English verse with a poem on “The Gypsies”; the Ireland scholarship; a first class in Classical honours, 1837; the prize for the Latin essay, 1839; and the English and the Theological essays, 1840. He was a Fellow of University College, and a Tutor for twelve years; Select Preacher, 1845–46; Canon of Canterbury, 1851–55; Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Oxford, 1855; Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of London, 1858; Dean of Westminster, 1863; Lord Rector of St. Andrews, 1875. He died on the 18th of July, 1881. He published “Life and Correspondence of Dr. Arnold” (1844); “Memoirs of Richard Stanley, Bishop of Norwich, and Catherine Stanley” (1850); “Historical Memorials of Canterbury” (1854); “Sinai and Palestine” (1856); “Lectures on the History of the Eastern Church” (1861); “Lectures on the History of the Jewish Church” (1863–65); “Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey” (1867); and various other works.

Dean Stanley wrote very little verse, and that little does not display high poetic merit. Prose was clearly his natural form of expression, and in the freedom of prose he was much more poetic than when hampered by the fetters of rhyme. Dr. Overton, writing in Julian’s “Dictionary of Hymnology,” says: “That exquisite taste and felicity of diction which distinguish more or less all his prose writings, seem to desert him when he is writing verse. Like another great writer, Jeremy Taylor, his prose is poetical, but his poetry is prosaic. The divine afflatus is wanting.” The following examples are at once the best and most popular of his poems.