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“Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be
pure, and whether it be right.”—Prov. xx. 2.
It may, perhaps, be considered by some that the life and character of the unobtrusive person, who is the subject of the following pages, can furnish no very interesting materials for Biography, and that, as during his life-time he rather retired from observation, his memory might have been left to the pious recollection of his own communion and personal friends. But, though it is admitted that there was in Bishop Sandford little that challenges the notice of the world, it is yet believed that, as his excellencies were neither few nor common, a record of them cannot be without advantage. His station involved no political importance, and invested him with little worldly distinction; but it insured him capabilities of more than ordinary usefulness, and gave occasion for the display of primitive
virtues. And while such excellence is rarer, it is also worthier commemoration than the more dazzling eminence of those, who, living in the eye of the world, have attracted more of homage than of esteem, and whose lives have been distinguished rather by incident and success than by moral and religious worth.
Daniel Sandford was the second son of the Rev. Dr Sandford, of Sandford Hall, in the County of Salop, and was born at Delville, near Dublin, the residence of Dean Delany, in 1766. His father, who for some years held preferment in the Irish Church, was an amiable and conscientious man. Though the representative of an ancient family, whose landed property, held since the Norman conquest, was still considerable, he had taken holy orders early in life. He officiated as a protestant clergyman in the midst of Roman Catholics, yet he was much and generally loved by his parishioners; and when, in consequence of being obliged to return to England, he resigned his living, they followed him with tears and lamentations for several miles. It may indeed be questioned how far their attachment was disinterested, but it will be readily admitted that their regrets were sincere; for their Rector, during his incumbency, had accepted no remuneration for his services, and it might be reasonably doubted how far his successor would follow his example.
Whatever may have been Dr Sandford's emoluments from the church, there is, at least, no room for suspecting his attachment to it; for he used to say, that if he had a dozen sons, he should wish to see them all devoted to its service. As it was, of his four 'sons the two elder entered the ministry , although the two younger embraced the more stirring professions of the navy, and the bar.
In the selection of a profession for his second son, Dr Sandford only anticipated the wishes of the boy himself; for, from his infancy, he manifested the strongest predilection for the ministry, and several anecdotes preserve the memory of his early clerical propensities. Many it appears were the lectures he inflicted on his more wayward associates, and many the indications which enabled the gossips in the neighbourhood to prognosticate his future elevation in the church.
His father did not however live long enough to see these predictions realized : he was removed in early life, and the education of his family thus devolved upon his widow, who was still very young. As far as instruction was concerned, few women were ever better qualified to supply the absence of paternal care than Mrs Sandford. Sister-in-law of Mrs Chapone, of literary celebrity, and little inferior to her in talent, she was disposed to cultivate in her children an intellectual taste, and was herself well qualified to shine in the republic of letters.
In other respects she appears to have been a woman' remarkable rather for accomplishment and elegance, than for strength of mind. Sinking under her affliction, and unable to endure the scene of her married life, she almost immediately on her husband's death abandoned Sandford Hall. The old mansion, which had been for generations the pride of the family, was demolished ; much valuable timber cut down, and further injury done to the property, from which it has not yet recovered. She herself removed with her family to Bath. Here she was, at that time, sure to meet the refined and cultivated society suited to her taste ; and here she first formed an intimacy which, more than any other contributed to mould the mind and character of her second son. !
The name of Bowdler is familiar to every one who is conversant with the literature of his country; and it is associated in the minds of all who ever heard it with sentiments of veneration and respect. In her friendship with the ladies of this family, Mrs Sandford enjoyed the pleasure for which her cultivated mind prepared her; and in one of them her son Daniel found a friend who, for nearly sixty years, displayed towards him a maternal affection, and who has seen him enter before her on his rest.
To this lady's sister, the amiable and accomplished Mrs Harriet Bowdler, piety may now be permitted to prefer its tribute.* She was a woman of perfect benevolence, of Christian breeding, of unaffected .goodness. She aided the cause of religion by her pen, and adorned it by the virtues of youth, and by the cheerfulness of her green old age. It was once said, in allusion to the exuberance of her charity, that all her friends were born before the fall ; it might be added that her own character beautifully exemplified the way in which its ruins may be repaired. To have known her was a privilege; to have enjoyed her good opinion an honour that may gild the tomb of departed worth. - Daniel Sandford, when quite an infant, through some awkwardness on the part of his nurse, had suffered a serious injury in his eyes. The celebrated Dr Darwin, who attended his mother, afterwards endeavoured to repair the mischief, but without success. He published, however, in a periodical work, an account of his experiments on this occasion, in which his patient is described as a “sweet and amiable child."
* This exemplary lady died very recently in Bath, only a few weeks after she had thus expressed herself respecting Bishop Sandford to one of his family : “ You cannot doubt my affectionate sympathy, or the warm interest which I must ever take in those who were most dear to the blessed saint whom you have lost. I loved him in his childhood, and in his riper years I have looked up to him with heartfelt respect and veneration ; but the account which you give of his death makes me lose every other feeling in gratitude to God for such a glorious example, and only wish, though I scarcely hope, that my last end might be like his.”