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was in times of contest and turbulence steady to his party, and obtained that esteem which is always conferred upon firmness and consistency. With those advantages, having learned the art of versifying, he declared himself a poet; and his claim to the laurel was allowed.
But by a critic of a later generation, who takes up his book without any favourable prejudices, the praise already received will be thought sufficient; for his works do not show him to have had much comprehension from nature or illumination from learning. He seems to have had no ambition above the imitation of Waller, of whom he has copied the faults and very little more. He is for ever amusing himself with puerilities of mythology: his King is Jupiter; who, if the Queen brings no children, has a barren Juno. The Queen is compounded of Juno, Venus, and Minerva. His poem on the Dutchess of Grafton's law-suit, after having rattled awhile with Juno and Pallas, Mars and Alcides, Cassiope, Niobe, and the Propetides, Hercules, Minos, and Rhadamanthus, at last concludes its folly with profaneness.
His verses to Mira, which are most frequently mentioned, have little in them of either art or nature, of the sentiments of a lover, or the language of a poet: there may be found, now and then, a happier effort; but they are commonly feeble and unaffecting, or forced and extravagant. His little pieces are seldom either sprightly or
THOMAS YALDEN, the sixth son of Mr. John Yalden, of Sussex, was born in the city of Exeter, in 1671. Having been educated in the grammar school belonging to Magdalen College, in Oxford, he was in 1690, at the age of nineteen, admitted commoner of Magdalen Hall, under the tuition of Josiah Pullen, a man whose name is still remembered in the University. He became next year one of the scholars of Magdalen College, where he was distinguished by a lucky
elegant, either keen or witty. They are trifles written by idleness and published by vanity. But his prologues and epilogues have a just claim to praise.
The "Progress of Beauty" seems one of his most elaborate pieces, and is not deficient in splendour and gayety; but the merit of original thought is wanting. Its highest praise is the spirit with which he celebrates King James's consort when she was a queen no longer.
The "Essay on unnatural Flights in Poetry" is not inelegant nor injudicious, and has something of vigour beyond most of his other performances: his precepts are just, and his cautions proper; they are indeed not new, but in a didactic poem novelty is to be expected only in the ornaments and illustrations. His poetical precepts are accompanied with agreeable and instructive notes.
The Mask of "Peleus and Thetis" has here and there a pretty line; but it is not always melodious, and the conclusion is wretched.
In his "British Enchanters" he has bidden defiance to all chronology, by confounding the inconsistent manners of different ages; but the dialogue has often the air of Dryden's rhyming plays: and his songs are lively, though not very correct. This is, I think, far the best of his works; for, if it has many faults, it has likewise passages which are at least pretty, though they do not rise to any high degree of excellence.
thought at first, yet did not forfeit the friendship of Addison.
When Namur was taken by King William, Yalden made an ode. There never was any reign more celebrated by the poets than that of William, who had very little regard for song himself, but happened to employ ministers who pleased themselves with the praise of patronage.
Of this ode mention is made in a humorous poem of that time, called "The Oxford Lau
It was his turn, one day, to pronounce a de-reat:" in which, after many claims had been clamation: and Dr. Hough, the president, hap- made and rejected, Yalden is represented as depening to attend, thought the composition too manding the laurel, and as being called to his good to be the speaker's. Some time after, the trial, instead of receiving a reward: Doctor finding him a little irregularly busy in the library, set him an exercise for punishment, and, that he might not be deceived by any artifice, locked the door. Yalden, as it happened, had been lately reading on the subject given, and produced with little difficulty a composition which so pleased the president, that he told him his former suspicions, and promised to favour him.
Among his contemporaries in the College were Addison and Sacheverell, men who were in those times friends, and who both adopted Yalden to their intimacy. Yalden continued, throughout his life, to think as probably he
His crime was for being a felon in verse,
And presenting his theft to the King;
They had fined him but ten-pence at most.
The poet whom he was charged with robbing was Congreve.
He wrote another poem, on the death of the Duke of Gloucester.
In 1700 he became fellow of the College; and next year, entering into orders, was presented
by the society with a living in Warwickshire,* | papers, and no evidence arising against him, he consistent with his fellowship, and chosen lec- was set at liberty. turer of moral philosophy, a very honourable office.
On the accession of Queen Anne he wrote another poem; and is said, by the author of the "Biographia," to have declared himself of the party who had the honourable distinction of High-churchmen.
In 1706 he was received into the family of the Duke of Beaufort. Next year he became doctor in divinity, and soon after resigned his fellowship and lecture, and, as a token of his gratitude, gave the College a picture of their founder.
He was made rector of Chalton and Cleanville, two adjoining towns and benefices in Hertfordshire; and had the prebends, or sinecures, of Deans, Hains, and Pendles, in Devonshire. He had before been chosen, in 1698, preacher of Bridewell Hospital, upon the resignation of Dr. Atterbury.§
From this time he seems to have led a quiet and inoffensive life, till the clamour was raised about Atterbury's plot. Every loyal eye was on the watch for abettors or partakers of the horrid conspiracy; and Dr. Yalden, having some acquaintance with the bishop, and being familiarly conversant with Kelly, his secretary, fell under suspicion, and was taken into custody.
The vicarage of Willoughby, which he resigned in
Upon his examination he was charged with a dangerous correspondence with Kelly. The correspondence he acknowledged; but maintained that it had no treasonable tendency. His papers were seized; but nothing was found that could fix a crime upon him, except two words in his pocket-book, thorough-paced doctrine. This expression the imagination of his examiners had And again, at the conclusion: impregnated with treason, and the Doctor was enjoined to explain them. Thus pressed, he told them that the words had lain unheeded in his pocket-book from the time of Queen Anne, and that he was ashamed to give an account of them; but the truth was, that he had gratified his curiosity one day, by hearing Daniel Burgess in the pulpit, and those words were a memorial hint of a remarkable sentence by which he warned his congregation to "beware of thoroughpaced doctrine, that doctrine which, coming in at one ear, passes through the head, and goes out at the other."
Nothing worse than this appearing in his
This preferment was given him by the Duke of
Dr. Atterbury retained the office of preacher at Bridewell till his promotion to the bishopric of Rochester. Dr. Yalden succeeded him as preacher, in June, 1713.-N.
It will not be supposed that a man of this character attained high dignities in the church; but he still retained the friendship and frequented the conversation of a very numerous and splendid set of acquaintance. He died July 16, 1736, in the 66th year of his age.
Of his poems, many are of that irregular kind which, when he formed his poetical character, was supposed to be Pindaric. Having fixed his attention on Cowley as a model, he has attempted in some sort to rival him, and has written a "Hymn to Darkness," evidently as a counterpart to Cowley's "Hymn to Light."
This Hymn seems to be his best performance, and is, for the most part, imagined with great vigour and expressed with great propriety. I will not transcribe it. The seven first stanzas are good; but the third, fourth, and seventh, are the best; the eighth seems to involve a contradiction; the tenth is exquisitely beautiful; the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth, are partly mythological and partly religious, and therefore not suitable to each other: he might better have made the whole merely philosophi cal.
There are two stanzas in this poem where Yalden may be suspected, though hardly convicted, of having consulted the "Hymnus ad Umbram" of Wowerus, in the sixth stanza, which answers in some sort to these lines:
Illa suo præest nocturnis numine sacris-
Illa suo senium secludit corpore toto
His "Hymn to Light" is not equal to the other. He seems to think that there is an cast absolute and positive where the morning rises.
In the last stanza, having mentioned the sudden irruption of new-created light, he says,
Awhile the Almighty wondering stood.
He ought to have remembered that infinite knowledge can never wonder. All wonder is the effect of novelty upon ignorance.
Of his other poems it is sufficient to say, that they deserve perusal, though they are not always exactly polished, though the rhymes are sometimes very ill sorted, and though his faults seem rather the omissions of idleness than the negligences of enthusiasm.
THOMAS TICKELL, the son of the Reverend Richard Tickell, was born in 1686, at Bridekirk, in Cumberland; and in April, 1701, became a member of Queen's College, in Oxford; in 1708 he was made master of arts; and, two years afterwards, was chosen fellow; for which, as he did not comply with the statutes by taking orders, he obtained a dispensation from the crown. He held his fellowship till 1726, and then vacated it, by marrying, in that year, at Dublin.
Tickell was not one of those scholars who wear away their lives in closets; he entered early into the world, and was long busy in public affairs, in which he was initiated under the patronage of Addison, whose notice he is said to have gained by his verses in praise of "Rosamond."
To those verses it would not have been just to deny regard, for they contain some of the most elegant encomiastic strains; and, among the innumerable poems of the same kind, it will be hard to find one with which they need to fear a comparison. It may deserve observation, that, when Pope wrote long afterwards in praise of Addison, he has copied, at least has resembled, Tickell:
Nor longer that relentless doom bemoan,
Let joy salute fair Rosamonda's shade,
"There had been a coldness (said Mr. Pope)
Since love, which made them wretched, made them between Mr. Addison and me for some time;
and we had not been in company together for a good while, any where but at Button's Coffeehouse, where I used to see him almost every day. On his meeting me there one day in particular, he took me aside, and said he should be glad to dine with me, at such a tavern, if I stayed till those people were gone, (Budgell and Philips.) We went accordingly; and after dinner Mr. Addison said, 'That he had wanted for some time to talk with me; that his friend Tickell had formerly, whilst at Oxford, trans
He produced another piece of the same kind at the appearance of "Cato," with equal skill, but not equal happiness. When the ministers of Queen Anne were ne-lated the first book of the "Iliad;" that he degotiating with France, Tickell published "The signed to print it, and had desired him to look Prospect of Peace," a poem, of which the ten- it over; that he must therefore beg that I would dency was to reclaim the nation from the pride not desire him to look over my first book, beof conquest to the pleasures of tranquillity. cause, if he did, it would have the air of doubleHow far Tickell, whom Swift afterwards men-dealing. I assured him that I did not at all tioned as Whiggissimus, had then connected him- take it ill of Mr. Tickell that he was going to self with any party, I know not; this poem cer-publish his translation; that he certainly had as tainly did not flatter the practices or promote much right to translate any author as myself; the opinions of the men by whom he was after- and that publishing both was entering on a fair wards befriended. stage. I then added, that I would not desire him to look over my first book of the 'Iliad,' because he had looked over Mr. Tickell's; but could wish to have the benefit of his observations on the second, which I had then finished, and which Mr. Tickell had not touched upon. Accordingly I sent him the second book the next morning; and Mr. Addison a few days after returned it, with very high commendations. Soon after it was generally known that Mr. Tickell was publishing the first book of the
Then future ages with delight shall see
that time with so much favour, that six editions were sold.
At the arrival of King George he sung "The Royal Progress;" which being inserted in the "Spectator" is well known; and of which it is just to say, that it is neither high nor low.
The poetical incident of most importance in Tickell's life was his publication of the first book of the "Iliad," as translated by himself, an apparent opposition to Pope's "Homer," of which the first part made its entrance into the world at the same time.
Mr. Addison, however he hated the men then in power, suffered his friendship to prevail over his public spirit, and gave in the "Spectator" such praises of Tickell's poem, that when, after having long wished to peruse it, I laid hold on it at last, I thought it unequal to the honours which it had received, and found it a piece to be approved rather than admired. But the hope excited by a work of genius being general and indefinite, is rarely gratified. It was read at
Addison declared that the rival versions were both good, but that Tickell's was the best that ever was made; and with Addison, the wits, his adherents and followers, were certain to concur. Pope does not appear to have been much dismayed; "for," says he, "I have the town, that is the mob, on my side." But he remarks, that "it is common for the smaller party to make up in diligence what they want in numbers; he appeals to the people as his proper judges; and, if they are not inclined to condemn him, he is in little care about the highflyers at Button's."
Pope did not long think Addison an impartial judge; for he considered him as the writer of Tickell's version. The reasons for his suspicion I will literally transcribe from Mr. Spence's Collection.
'Iliad,' I met Dr. Young in the street; and, upon our falling into that subject, the Doctor expressed a great deal of surprise at Tickell's having had such a translation so long by him. He said, that it was inconceivable to him, and that there must be some mistake in the matter; that each used to communicate to the other whatever verses they wrote, even to the least things; that Tickell could not have been busied in so long a work there without his knowing something of the matter; and that he had never heard a single word of it till on this occasion. The surprise of Dr. Young, together with what Steele has said against Tickell, in relation to this affair, make it highly probable that there was some underhand dealing in that business; and indeed Tickell himself, who is a very fair worthy man, has since in a manner as good as owned it to me. When it was introduced into a conversation between Mr. Tickell and Mr. Pope, by a third person, Tickell did not deny it; which, considering his honour and zeal for his departed friend, was the same as owning it."
Upon these suspicions, with which Dr. Warburton hints that other circumstances concurred, Pope always in his "Art of Sinking" quotes this book as the work of Addison.
To compare the two translations would be tedious; the palm is now given universally to Pope; but I think the first lines of Tickell's were rather to be preferred; and Pope seems to have since borrowed something from them in the correction of his own.
When the Hanover succession was disputed, Tickell gave what assistance his pen would supply. His "Letter to Avignon" stands high among party poems; it expresses contempt without coarseness, and superiority without insolence. It had the success which it deserved, being five times printed.
He was now intimately united to Mr. Addi son, who, when he went into Ireland as secretary to the Lord Sunderland, took him thither and employed him in public business; and when (1717) afterwards he rose to be secretary of state, made him under-secretary. Their friendship seems to have continued without abatement; for when Addison died, he left him the charge of publishing his works, with a solemn recommendation to the patronage of Craggs.
To these works he prefixed an Elegy on the Author, which could owe none of its beauties to the assistance which might be suspected to have strengthened or embellished his earlier compositions; but neither he nor Addison ever produced nobler lines than are contained in the third and fourth paragraphs; nor is a more sublime or more elegant funeral poem to be found in the whole compass of English literature.
He was afterwards (about 1725) made secretary to the Lords Justices of Ireland, a place of great honour; in which he continued till 1740, when he died on the 23d of April, at Bath.
OF Mr. HAMMOND, though he be well remembered as a man esteemed and caressed by the elegant and the great, I was at first able to obtain no other memorials than such as are supplied by a book called "Cibber's Lives of the Poets;" of which I take this opportunity to testify, that it was not written, nor, I believe, ever seen, by either of the Cibbers: but was the work of Robert Shiels, a native of Scotland, a man of very acute understanding, though with little scholastic education, who, not long after the publication of his work, died in London of a consumption. His life was virtuous, and his end was pious. Theophilus Cibber, then a prisoner for debt, imparted, as I was told, his name for ten guineas. The manuscript of Shiels is now in my possession.
I have since found that Mr. Shiels, though he was no negligent inquirer, had been misled by false accounts; for he relates that James Hammond, the Author of the Elegies, was the
Of the poems yet unmentioned the longest is "Kensington Gardens," of which the versification is smooth and elegant, but the fiction unskilfully compounded of Grecian deities, and Gothic fairies. Neither species of those exploded beings could have done much; and when they are brought together they only make each other contemptible. To Tickell, however, cannot be refused a high place among the minor poets; nor should it be forgotten that he was one of the contributors to the "Spectator." With respect to his personal character, he is said to have been a man of gay conversation, at least a temperate lover of wine and company, and in his domestic relations without cen
He was equerry to the Prince of Wales, and | fiction, there is no passion; he that describes seems to have come very early into public no- himself as a shepherd and his Neæra or Delia tice, and to have been distinguished by those as a shepherdess, and talks of goats and lambs, whose friendships prejudiced mankind at that feels no passion. He that courts his mistress time in favour of the man on whom they were with Roman imagery deserves to lose her: for bestowed; for he was the companion of Cob- she may with good reason suspect his sincerity. ham, Lyttelton, and Chesterfield. He is said Hammond has few sentiments drawn from nato have divided his life between pleasure and ture, and few images from modern life. He books; in his retirement forgetting the town, produces nothing but frigid pedantry. It would and in his gayety losing the student. Of his be hard to find in all his productions three literary hours all the effects are here exhibited, stanzas that deserve to be remembered. of which the Elegies were written very early, and the prologue not long before his death.
Like other lovers, he threatens the lady with dying; and what then shall follow ?
In 1741, he was chosen into parliament for Truro, in Cornwall, probably one of those who were elected by the Prince's influence; and died next year, in June, at Stowe, the famous seat of Lord Cobham. His mistress long outlived him, and in 1779 died unmarried. The character which her lover bequeathed her was, indeed, not likely to attract courtship.
The Elegies were published after his death; and while the writer's name was remembered with fondness, they were read with a resolution to admire them.
Wilt thou in tears thy lover's corse attend?
Then, slowly sinking, by degrees expire?
The recommendatory preface of the editor, who was then believed, and is now affirmed, by Dr. Maty, to be the Earl of Chesterfield, raised strong prejudices in their favour.
Surely no blame can fall upon a nymph who rejected a swain of so little meaning.
His verses are not rugged, but they have no sweetness; they never glide in a stream of But of the prefacer, whoever he was, it may melody. Why Hammond or other writers have be reasonably suspected that he never read the thought the quatrain of ten syllables elegiac, it poems; for he professes to value them for a very is difficult to tell. The character of the Elegy high species of excellence, and recommends them is gentleness and tenuity; but this stanza has as the genuine effusions of the mind, which ex-been pronounced by Dryden, whose knowledge press a real passion in the language of nature. of English metre was not inconsiderable, to be But the truth is, these Elegies have neither the most magnificent of all measures which our passion, nature, nor manners. Where there is language affords.
To sooth the hov'ring soul be thine the care,
And cull my ashes with thy trembling hand.
And all the pride of Asia's fragrant year;
OF Mr. SOMERVILLE's life I am not able to say any thing that can satisfy curiosity.
[myself on this occasion.-Sublatum quærimus. I can now excuse all his foibles; impute them to He was a gentleman whose estate was in age, and to distress of circumstances; the last of Warwickshire: his house, where he was born in these considerations wrings my very soul to 1692, is called Edston, a seat inherited from a think on. For a man of high spirit, conscious of long line of ancestors; for he was said to be of having (at least in one production) generally the first family in his county. He tells of him- pleased the world, to be plagued and threatened self that he was born near the Avon's banks. by wretches that are low in every sense; to be He was bred at Winchester-school, and was forced to drink himself into pains of the body, elected fellow of New College. It does not ap-in order to get rid of the pains of the mind, is a pear that in the places of his education he ex-misery." hibited any uncommon proofs of genius or literature. His powers were first displayed in the country, where he was distinguished as a poet, a gentleman, and a skilful and useful justice of the peace.
Of the close of his life, those whom his poems have delighted will read with pain the following account, copied from the letters of his friend Shenstone, by whom he was too much resembled. "Our old friend Somerville is dead! I did not imagine I could have been so sorry as I find
He died July 19, 1742, and was buried at Wotton, near Henley on Arden.
His distresses need not be much pitied; his estate is said to have been fifteen hundred a year, which by his death devolved to Lord Somerville of Scotland. His mother, indeed, who lived till ninety, had a jointure of six hundred.
It is with regret that I find myself not better enabled to exhibit memorials of a writer who at least must be allowed to have set a good example to men of his own class, by devoting part of his time to elegant knowledge; and who has shown, by the subjects which his poetry has