« PreviousContinue »
Nothing worse than this appearing in his papers, and no evidence arising against him, he was set at liberty.
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 le 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, were supposed to be Pindarick. 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 counter-part to Cowley's Hymn to Light
This hymn seems to be his best performance, and is for the most pati, 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 parts ly mytholgoical, and partly religious, and therefore not suitable to each other; he might better have made the whole merely philosophical.
There are two stanzas in this poem where Yalden may be suspected, though hardly convicted, of having consulted the Hyninus ad Umbram of Wowerús, in the sixth stanza, which answers in some sort to these lines :
Hla suo præest nocturnis numine sacris.
Sub noctem, et questu notos complere penates.
Tlla suo senium secludit corpore toto
Et prisco imperio rursus dominabitur UMBRA, His Hymn to Light is not equal to the other. He seems to think that there is an East absolute and positive where the Morning rises.
In the last stanza, having tentioned the sudden eruption of new-created Light, he says,
A while th' 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 veTy ill sorted, and though his faults seem rather the omissions of idleness than the negligences of enthusiasm. Vol. I. 3 E
THOMAS TICKELL, the son of the reverend Richard Tickell
was born in 1636 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 ycar, at Dublin.
Tickell was not one of those scholars who wear away their lives in closets ; he entered carly 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 innu. merable 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.
Let joy salute fair Rosamonda's shadt,
Then future ages with delight shall see
He produced another piece of the same kind at the appearance of Cato; with cqual' skill but, not equal happiness.
When the ministers of queen Anne were negotiating with France, Tickell published The Prospect of Peace, a poem, of which the tendency was to reclaim the nation from the pride of conquest to the pleasures of tranquillity. How far Tickell, whom Swift afterwards mentioned as Whiggissimus, had then connected himself with any party, I know not; this poem certainly did not flatter the practices, or promote the opinions, of the men by whom he was afterwards befriended.
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 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,
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 so make up in diligence what they want in numbers ; he appeals to the peo
ple as his proper, judges ; and if they are not inclined to condemn him, “ he is in little care about the high-flyers 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,
“ There had been a coldness (said Mr. Pope) 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 coffee house 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 ta
vern, if I staid till those people were gone (Budgell and Philips). He " went accordingly'; and after dinner Mr. Addison said, 'That he had “ wanted for some time to talk with me; that his friend Tickell had for
3 E 2
“ merly, whilst at Oxford, translated the first book of the Iliad, that he “ designed to print it, and had desired him to look it over ; that he must “ therefore beg that I would not desire him to look over my first book, be
cause, if he did, it would have the air of double dealing. I assured “ him that I did not at all take it ill of Mr. Tickell that he was going to "publish his translation ; that he certainly bad as much right to translate
any author as myself; and that publishing both was entering on a fair “ stage. I then added, that I would not desire him to look over my first “ book of the Ilias, because be had looked over Mr. Tickell's; but could « wish to have the benefit of his observations on my second, which I had " then finished, and which Mr. Tickell had not touched upon. Accord« ingly 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 Iliad, I met Dö. Young in the street; and, upon our falling into that ". subject, the Doctor expressed a great deal of surprize at Tickell's hav, “ ing had such a translation so long by him. He said, that it was incon"..ceiveable to him, and that there must be some mistake in the matter ; tbar « 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 bis knowing something of the matter; and that he had never “ heard a single word on it till on this occasion. This 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 deal“ ing in that business; and indeed Tickell himself, who is a very fair wor" thy man, has since, in a manner, as good as owned it to me. When it es was introduced into a conversation between Mr. Tickell and Mr. Pope by
a third person, Tickeil did not deny it; which, considering his honour « and zcal for his departed friend, was the same as owning it."
Upon these suspicions, witb 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 io 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 partypoems; 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. Addison, 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 þe 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 twenty-third of April at Bath.
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 Gothick 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 forgouen 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 temperațe lover of wine and company, and in his domestick relations withouț censure.