[Archbishop] William Alexander


Life
1824-1911; b. Derry, 3rd child of Rev. Robert Alexander; ed. at Tunbridge public school, where he was undistinguished and unhappy; also Oxford; religious crisis, influenced by Newman and the Oxford Movement; m. Cecil Frances (née Humphreys), 1850; curate of Upper Fahan and Strabane; recited ode at installation of Lord Derby as Chancellor of Oxford in 1853; prize for sacred poem “The Waters of Babylon”, 1860; supported by Matthew Arnold in close contest for Oxford Chair of Poetry, but was defeated by Sir F. H. Doyle, 1867; elected Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, 1867;
 
elected Archbishop of Armagh and [Protestant] Primate of All-Ireland 1893 [var. 1896]; last bishop to take up a seat in House of Lords; published Death of Jacob (1858); Specimens Poetical and Critical (1867); Lyrics of Life and Light [by WA and others] (1878); St. Augustine’s Holiday and other Poems (1886); The Finding of the Book (1900); theological prose works include The Witness of the Psalms of Christ (1876); Leading Ideas of the Gospels; Redux Crucis Logics of Light and Life (1878), and Primary Convictions (NY 1893); retired to Torquay in 1911, where he died; mentioned as part of Procession in Joyce’s “Cyclops” episode of Ulysses. CAB ODNB JMC TAY FDA OCIL

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Works
  • The Death of Jacob, a Poem ... To Which are Added, a Few Other Poems (Oxford: T. & G. Shrimpton 1858), 63pp. 8o.; Victor Hugo as a Poet [Afternoon Lect. Ser.] (1863, rep. 1964);
  • Specimens Poetical and Critical (London: for the author 1867), vii, 207pp.;
  • The Witness of the Psalms to Christ and Christianity [Bampton Lects.] (London: John Murray 1876; 3 enl. edns. 1877, 1878, 1890);
  • Lyrics of Life and Light, by WA and others (1878); St Augustine’s Holiday (1886);
  • Primary Convictions (London/NY: [q.p.] 1893);
  • The Finding of the Book and Other Poems (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1900), xvi, 325pp., 8o.;
  • The Soldier’s Prayer (London: Skeffington [1900]), 12o.;
  • Our National Church (London: Nisbet 1906), 63pp.;
  • Selected Poems of William Alexander and Cecil Frances Alexander, ed. A. P. Graves (London: SPCK 1930), x, 117pp.;
  • Leading Ideas of the Gospel: Five Sermons Preached before the University of Oxford in 1870-1871 (London: Macmillan & Co. 1871), viii, 192pp., 8o.; Do. (1872, 1898), xxxi, 334pp.;
  • Redux Crucis Logics of Light and Life (1878); Leading Ideas of the Gospels; and Primary Convictions (NY 1893).

See T. D. Morris, Abstract of Archbishop Alexander's ‘The Leading Ideas of the Gospels’ ([q.pub.] 1917), p.34[ff], 8o. [incl. in later edns.].

Also contrib. ‘The apocryphal gospels’ to Lectures Delivered before the Dublin Young Men’s Christian Association [...] during the year 1864 (Dublin: Hodges, Smith and Co. 1865) - as listed under Lord Dufferin, supra.

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Criticism
D. P. Moran, 'More Muddle', The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, gen. ed. Seamus Deane (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol 2, p.971 [infra]. See also extract and note in Justin McCarthy, ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic University of America, 1904).

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Commentary
D. P. Moran wrote in The Leader 1900 that ‘The stately verse of the Protestant Primate of Ireland - what interest has it for us?’ (See Moran’s “More Muddle” [extract], in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, 1991, Vol 2, p.971).

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Notes
Rev. Alexander Leeper, Historical Handbook of St Patrick’s Cathedral (1891) relates that lines by Right Rev. W. Alexander, DD, appear on the pedestal of the Boyd Statue in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, commemorating a Derry-born officer who drowned at Kingstown harbour trying to rescue men of the brig Neptune: ‘Safe from the rocks, whence swept the manly form / The tide’s white rush – the stepping of the storm/Borne with a public pomp by just decree / Heroic sailor ... Here it is meet for grief and love to grave / The Christ-taught bravery that died to save / The life not lost, but found beneath the wave’. The statue is by Farrell.

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