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FRANK WESTON BENSON (1862— )

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Originally appearing in Volume V03, Page 746 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FRANK WESTON BENSON (1862— ), American painter, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on the 24th of March 1862. He was a pupil of Boulanger and of Lefebvre in Paris; won many distinctions in American exhibitions, and a silver medal at the Paris Exhibition of 'goo; and became a member of "Jerusalem bishopric, the healing of the Colenso schism in the diocese of Natal, the organization of native ministries and the like, occupied much of his time; and he did all in his power to foster the growth of local churches. But it was the work at home which occupied most of his energies. That he in no way slighted diocesan work had been shown at Truro. He complained now that the bishops were " bishops of their dioceses but not bishops of England," and did all he could to make the Church a greater religious force in English life. He sat on the ecclesiastical courts commission (1881—1883) and the sweating commission (1888—189o). He brought bills into parliament to reform Church patronage and Church discipline, and worked unremittingly for years in their behalf. The latter became law in 1892, and the former was merged in the Benefices Bill, which passed in 1898, after his death. He wrote and spoke vigorously against Welsh disestablishment (1893); and in the following year, under his guidance, the existing agencies for Church defence were consolidated. He was largely instrumental in the inauguration of the House of Laymen in the province of Canterbury (1886) ; he made diligent inquiries as to the internal order of the sisterhoods of which he was visitor; from 1884 onwards he gave regular Bible readings for ladies in Lambeth Palace chapel. But the most important ecclesiastical event of his primacy was the judgment in the case of the bishop of Lincoln (see LINCOLN JUDGMENT), in which the law of the prayer-book is investigated, as it had never been before, from the standpoint of the whole history of the English Church. In 1896 the archbishop went to Ireland to see the working of the sister Church. He was received with enthusiasm, but the work which his tour entailed' over-fatigued him. On Sunday morning the rlth of October, just after his return, whilst on a visit to Mr Gladstone, he died in Hawarden parish church of heart failure. Archbishop Benson left numerous writings, including a valuable essay on The Cathedral (London, 1878), and various charges and volumes of sermons and addresses. But his two chief works, posthumously published, are his Cyprian (London, 1897), a work of great learning, which had occupied him at intervals since early manhood; and The Apocalypse, an Introductory Study (London, 1900), interesting and beautiful, but limited by the fact that the method of study is that of a Greek play, not of a Hebrew apocalypse. The archbishop's knowledge of the past was both wide and minute, but it was that of an antiquary rather than of a historian. " I think," writes his son, " he was more interested in modern movements for their resemblance to ancient than vice versa." His sermons are very noble though written in a style which is over-compressed and often obscure. He wrote some good hymns, including " O Throned, 0 Crowned " and a beautiful version of Urbs Beata. His " grandeur in social function " was unequalled and his interests were very wide. But above all else he was a great ecclesiastic. He paid less attention to secular politics than Archbishop Tait; but if a man is to be judged by the effect of his work, it is Benson and not Tait who should be described as a great statesman. His biography, by his son, reveals him as a man of devout and holy life, impulsive indeed and masterful, but one who learned self-restraint by strenuous endeavour. His eldest son, ARTHUR CHRISTOPHER BENSON (b. 1862), was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge. He became fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and was a master at Eton College from 1885 to 1903. His literary capacity was early shown in the remarkable fiction of his Memoirs of Arthur Hamilton (1886) under the pseudonym of " Christopher Carr," and his Poems (1893) and Lyrics (1895) established his reputation as a writer of verse. Among his works are Fasti Etonenses (1899) ; his father's Life (1899); The Schoolmaster (1902), a commentary on the aims and methods of an assistant schoolmaster in a public school; a study of Archbishop Laud (1887); mono-graphs on D. G. Rossetti (1904), Edward FitzGerald (1905) and Walter Pater (1906), in the " English Men of Letters " series; Lord Vyet and other Poems (1897), Peace and other Poems (1905); The Upton Letters (1905), From a. College Window the " Ten Americans," and of the National Academy of Design, New York. Besides portraits, he painted landscape and still life; and he was one of the decorators of the Congressional library, Washington, D.C.
End of Article: FRANK WESTON BENSON (1862— )
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