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familiarly and truly said, that “ the more they do, the more they can do.” Of this description was Mr. Lysons. Without declining the society of a populous neighbourhood, where he was much courted, he suffered nothing to interrupt his habit of strict temperance, early rising, and strong bodily exercise. By these means his literary pursuits were rendered compatible with the duties of his parish, in which he took an affectionate and vital interest, actively promoting all the benevolent plans for the relief of the poor during the years of scarcity, and devoting himself indefatigably to the establishment and instruction of the parochial schools. Before five in the morning he was usually in his study, arranging the materials for his publication, or preparing for those professional duties to which their due precedence was allotted in the order of the day. The greater part of the time which he could fairly call his own, for the purposes of leisure, was spent in walks of ten or twenty miles in search of objects of local investigation; varied sometimes by the employment of standing for two hours nearly knee-deep in a wet crypt to decipher ancient inscriptions. At the close of the evening he would drop in for an hour or two among his friends, untired in spirits, and eager alike to communicate, or extract from others, any point of useful or agreeable information.
His literary and professional merit soon afforded him an unsought introduction to persons well calculated to appreciate both, and whose intimacy was in itself a flattering distinction to a young man. Among these were the late Earl Spencer, Dr. Porteus (at that time Bishop of London), Mrs. Hannah More, and Sir Joseph Banks, besides other leading characters in the world of science and letters. In 1790, Mr. Lysons was admitted Fellow of the Antiquarian Society; in 1797, of the Royal Society; and in 1798, of the Linnean Society: of which latter body his botanical knowledge rendered him an efficient member. His contributions to periodical works were at this time frequent.
In the year 1800 Mr. Lysons, on account of his father's declining health, resigned the cure of Putney, and undertook that of Rodmarton and Cherenton. The affectionate esteem of his neighbours for their minister was evinced by the present of a handsome silver cup and cover, with a suitable inscription; and many subsequent testimonies of a pleasing nature proved that the feeling of all ranks was unabated by time and distance.
In 1804 the death of his respected father put Mr. Lysons in possession of the living of Rodmarton, as well as the family property of Hempstead, inherited from an elder uncle. The increase of means and leisure soon suggested to his mind the commencement of a project which, in concert with his brother Samuel, he had entertained since the publication of “ The Environs of London," and for which, during four years, they had made the necessary collections. This work, which it is almost needless to describe as “ The Magna Britannia,” comprised in its design the topographical history of the several counties of England in alphabetical order. In the arrangement of the different departments of this voluminous: undertaking, the great mass of necessary correspondence fell on the elder brother; and the whole of the general, parochial, and family history was also furnished by him. No sheet, however, was printed without being subjected to the joint revision of the brothers. The first part of the Britannia, comprising Bedfordshire, was published in 1806.
To the antiquary and genealogist, the quantity of interesting information brought together in this work would argue the impossibility of its being completed in its full extent by any thing less than a society of men of letters. The mere labour and difficulty of the undertaking did not, however, deter the brothers; both in the prime of their mental and bodily strength, indefatigable in spirit, and relying on their own powers of severe application. The experience, however, which they gained in their progress through the first few counties forced upon them a reluctant doubt as to the final completion of their project.
In the year 1819 Mr. Lysons sustained a severe blow in the death of his brother Samuel. The work had now reached, in-alphabetical order, the county of Devon, every parish of
which the two brothers had personally visited in order to complete their materials; and the article on the Roman roads was already in the hands of the compositor. Considering himself pledged to the completion of this volume, Mr. Lysons persevered so far in a task rendered irksome to him by distressing recollections, but abandoned all idea of carrying his project farther. In his brother, warmly attached to him from childhood, and associated in all his plans and feelings, he had lost a coadjutor and friend not to be replaced ; and the infirmities of middle age, aggravated perhaps by mental and bodily exertion, had begun to tell on a frame and spirits originally robust. The future prosecution of the work was therefore abandoned for less fatiguing but more important duties: each county, however, of the Britannia may be considered as a separate topographical history in itself, and is in fact sold as a separate work.
In 1812 Mr. Lysons published a history of the origin and progress of the meeting of the three choirs of Gloucester, Worcester, and Hereford, and of the charity connected with it. Being himself one of the stewards in 1811, on which occasion he preached the sermon for the benefit of the fund, the thought suggested itself that such a work might benefit the charity by its sale, and diffuse the knowledge of its objects. To impart to his publication more than a merely local interest, he prefixed to it a history of the parochial clergy from the earliest times, containing much valuable information; and which was, at the desire of his friends, reprinted and sold as a separate work.
Having always admired the piety and excellence of Jeremy Taylor's style, but considering it ill adapted to general perusal, Mr. Lysons undertook, in 1818, a selection of sermons from the works of that divine, containing those passages peculiarly marked by beauty of thought and expression, and omitting whatever seemed unsuitable to the present day. To the volume in question were prefixed three sermons of his own, preached on different public occasions.
Mr. Lysons was twice married. The surviving children
of his first marriage with Sarah, daughter of Colonel Thomas Carteret Hardy, are Samuel, the present incumbent of Rodmarton, and Charlotte, the lady of Sir James Carnegie, Bart. By his second wife, Josepha Catherine, daughter of John Gilbert Cooper, Esq. of Thurgarton Priory, Nottinghamshire, his present relict, he left a son and a daughter. In 1824 Mr. Lysons was induced to undertake a continental tour for the sake of the health of his younger children. On this occasion he might fairly have justified the expression of the ancient philosopher, “ quotidie se aliquid addiscentem senem fieri.” His journal, in four manuscript quarto volumes, now in the hands of his family, but at no time intended for publication, comprises a fund of interesting matter, enriched by his extensive acquaintance with French and Italian literature. Having perused with much pleasure, in the course of his different enquiries, a work in Italian by the exBishop of Tarentum, entitled, “ An Historico-political Discourse on the Origin, Progress, and Decline of the Power of the Clergy over temporal Signories, with a Sketch of the History of the Two Sicilies,” he translated it with a view to publication, an idea which he abandoned on his return to England.
On resuming his parochial duties, his attention was exclusively occupied with the design of preparing a commentary on the Scriptures, on a scale adapted to an application of the writings of the fathers, and other sources of sound instruction with which his past studies had rendered him familiar. The failure of his eyesight, however, forced him soon to relinquish a project on which he had long dwelt with satisfaction, as the solace of declining life; or at least to limit it to a preparation of lectures from the gospel of St. Matthew, for the instruction of his own flock.
Mr. Lysons died on the 3d of January, 1834. How deeply and deservedly he was regretted as a father, a husband, and a neighbour, it is not the province of this memoir to describe. How justly he was valued for his openness of heart, and kindly urbanity of temper, will be testified by the many to whom he was casually known as a man of the world and
of letters. Placed, from an early time of life, on an intimate and independent footing in the society of men conspicuous for rank and talent, he retained, in a peculiar degree, the simple habits, the unassuming manners, and the practical piety of a faithful minister of the church. To fulfil this vocation conscientiously was the main purpose of a life otherwise distinguished by honourable and useful labours, and combining in a true sense the characteristics which the great poet of antiquity has assigned to the memory of the just.
“ Quique sacerdotes casti, dum vita manebat,
Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes,
From a Correspondent.