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MRS. HESTER MILNER.
457 re-built. The re-erection of it would add to the beauty of the edifice, for the capacious body of : the church seems to want something of a proportionable height towards its completion. The inside contains monuments of antiquity, but their inscriptions are scarcely legible.
A vault in the church contains the Milner family—the last of whom was recently interred here. They resided at Maidstone for a great number of years in high and deserved respectability : a short account of its last member shall be given, from grateful respect to her memory.
On Friday, January 24th, 1817, died at an advanced age, Mrs. HESTER MILNER, of CrossStreet, Islington. She was the youngest daughter of Dr. John Milner, formerly the much respected pastor of the Presbyterian congregation at Peckham, where he for many years conducted a seminary with distinguished reputation. Of his talents and erudition he gave indubitable proof, by the publication of his Latin and Greek Grammars, which are still held in estimation by the learned world. These and a few single Sermons were the whole of his writings. With this gentleman the amiable Dr. John Hawksworth, author of the Adventurer, lived as an assistant-as did also Dr. Oliver Goldsmith, who was much esteemed by both master and pupils for the amenity of his disposition and the benevolence of his heart. Mrs. H. Milner amused her friends with anecdotes of his genius and eccentricity. Among others, she told me that upon her asking him one day what
458 ANECDOTE OF THE MILNER FAMILY. Commentator on the Scriptures he would recommend, Goldsmith, after a pause, replied, “ Common Sense is the best interpreter of the Sacred WRITINGS !” : :
A domestic anecdote relative to the Milner family, who came from Somersetshire, must not be lost. Those conversant with the History of England well know that the unfortunate Duke of Monmouth, having landed at Lyme, in 1685, was soon after proclaimed king at Taunton. His object was to preserve the civil and religious liberties of Britain from destruction, with which they were threatened under the dynasty of the Stuarts. A lady who presided over a respectable female seminary at Taunton waited upon the Duke with twelve of her pupils, presenting him, as the defender of Protestantism, with a handsomely bound Bible, and offering him their congratulations. The new monarch was soon defeated, and perished on the scaffold. His followers were, by means of those barbarians, Kirke and Jefferies, visited with indiscriminate vengeance. The school was dispersed and ruined. The young ladies were so frightened, that one of them through a mere paroxysm of terror lost her life! Mrs. H. Milner told me that her mother's mother was a pupil at the school, but the parents hearing of the indiscreet zeal of the conductress of the seminary, sent for their daughter a few days before, and thus providentially rescued her from the impending calamity.
Dr. Milner left behind him one son and ten
: DR. MILNER.
459 daughters, so that the good old gentleman used facetiously to tell his friends that “ his family was large, having ten daughters, and there was a brother for every one of them !” The son, Dr. Thomas Milner, was a physician at St. Thomas's Hospital, and afterwards a practitioner of eminence at Maidstone for near half a century, where he died, much respected by the inhabitants of that town and its vicinity. In the year 1783, he published a pamphlet, entitled Observations on Electricity, containing a great variety of amusing experiments illustrated by engravings. The piece was dedicated to his intimate friend Dr. Richard Price, and the whole, fraught with an ardent zeal for the promotion of this interesting branch of natural philosophy, is written with płainness and simplicity. As a physician he was reckoned skilful, and his patients in general were so gratified 'with their treatment that he received from several of them substantial proofs of gratitude. Indeed a medical man in whom science and integrity are combined is an inestimable member of the community. The fortune which he had acquired by his profession as well as by marriage, was bequeathed to his sisters, who had lived with him, and between whom there subsisted a high degree of mutual affection.
Upon the decease of the brother, the family continued to reside at Maidstone for a few years, when Mrs. Hester Milner and her only surviving sister removed to Islington. This sister dying, the subject of this memoir was the only one left of this numerous family. At Maidstone she was 460
MRS. HESTER MILNER. member of the Presbyterian congregation under the pastoral care of the Rev. A. Harris; and on her settlement at Islington, she attended the Rev. Nathaniel Jennings, whom she justly respected for his candour and piety. She was aware that these gentlemen were not alike in their religious creed, but she never troubled herself much with speculative points, and was most commendably disposed to receive instruction from good nien of every denomination.
Mrs. Milner possessed an excellent understanding, improved by a more than ordinary degree of reflection. In person, manners, and acquirements, she was altogether of the old school. Her conversation was intelligent and instructive. She touched on interesting topics, and was pleased with information respecting them. With French and Italian she was well acquainted. Of Telemachus and of Jerusalem Delivered she had that relish of the original, that she could not bear any version of them, though it is acknowledged that their translators, Hawksworth and Hoole, executed their tasks with fidelity.
The writer of this article, who had the pleasure of being intimately acquainted with her, had the honour to be consulted respecting what books were best to be purchased for her winter's amusement The Works of Lord Bacon and of Archdeacon Paley, as well as the Correspondence of Samuel Richardson and of Anna Seward, together with Fuller's Worthies of England, were procured for her by particular request. Şir Walter Raleigh's
MRS. HESTER MILNER
461 History of the World was another publication with which, notwithstanding its antiquated style, she was much pleased. The ordinary effusions of the press had no charms for her: she was edified only by works of established reputation. Nor was she (though leading a very secluded life) wholly devoid of curiosity. By special desire I accompanied her to Westminster Abbey, and a visit was meditated to Bunhill Fields. She held in veneration the illustrious dead—whose names were emblazoned by their genius, their patriotism, or their piety.
The deceased had a talent for poetical composition, and exercised it on tender and elegiac subjects. Some lines on a snow-drop, and also on that domestic little bird a robin, who had visited her house for several successive winters, were, on account of their delicacy, much admired. Stanzas likewise on the death of a favourite sister evinced the sensibilities of her heart.
She had many manuscripts both in prose and poetry. Once indeed she furnished me with an article translated from the French for insertion in a periodical publication, and her friends have her translations of some of Petrarch's Sonnets in their possession.
Her opinions on almost every subject were marked by singularity. With difficulty she submitted to any medical prescription but what she thought her brother the physician had sanctioned, nor admitted in theology any sentiment or practice but what she imagined her Father the divine had adopted. Observing one day at my house the