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THE LIFE OF PARNELL
For the life of Pårnell, the wor is obliged to Goldsmith, a biographer worthy of his virtue and his genius. It is much to be restted, that so masterly a writer had not the means of being more compierely informed. Goldsmith not atly did not know him himself,
y but was " obliged to take bis character from such as knew but litel im, or who perhaps could have given very little information if they had known more."
The facts stated in the present account of Parnell, are principally taken from Goldsmith, whose narrative is written with an activity of research, chat leaves little to be fupplied, and an agreeable manner of communication that approaches so near perfection, as to preclude the most diftant hope of imp
e of Parnea ta fans Dr. Johnson, “ which I should very willingly decline, fince it has been lately en by Goldfinith, a man of such variety of powers, and such felicity of perform ce, that he ays seemed to do best, that which he was doing; a man who had the art of nutekwiput tediousness, and general
ut tediousness, and general thout confufon ; whose language was copious kulance, exact without constraine, and easy without weakness. What such an arthor has
would tell again?"
vult was defended from an ancient family, that had for some centuries been fettled at Congleton, in Cheshire. His father, Thomas Parnell, who had been attached to the Common- . wealth party, upon the Reftoration went over to Ireland, where he purchased an estate, which, with his lands in Cheshire, descended to the poet, who was his eldest son, and still remain in the family.
He was born in Dublin, in 1679, and received the first rudiments of his education at the school of Dr. Jones, in that city,
When was only thirteen years old, he was admitted a member of Trinity College, Dublin, which may be considered as a presumption, that he had niade great progress in learning at a very farly age;
for young men, proposed to be entered at that University, are expected to be well acmainted with the Latin, and to have attained some proficiency in the Greek.
“ His progress," Goldsmith," through the College course of Audy was probably marked with but little splendor ; his imagination might have been too warm to relish the cold logic of Burgerdicius, or the dreary subeleties of Smiglesius; but it is certain, that as a classical scholar, few could equal him. His own compositions shew this, and the deference which the moít eminent men of his time paid him upon that hrad, put it beyond a doubt."
He was admitted to the degree of Master of Arts, July 9. 1700, and was the same year ordained a diacou by Dr. King, Bishop of Derry, having obtained a dispensation from the Primate, as being under the canonical age.
About three years afterwards, he was made a priest by Dr. King, then Archbishop of Dublin, and in 1705, Dr. St. George Albe, Bishop of Clogher, conferred on him the Arch:Veaconry of Clogher.
Aboue che same time, be married Miss Anne Minchin, a young lady of great merit and beauty, kijinn whom he wrote the song begioning, Mly days have been fo won:d"rous frue.
1 THE LIFE OF PARNELL. His first excursions to England began about the year 1906, where his company was desired, and his friendship was fought by persons of every rank and party, even before he made any figure in the literary world.
He had been bred a Whig, and for some time adhered to that party; but afterwards attached himself to the Tories. Private affetion and friendship have often a very powerful influence on politieal principles. Men of vigorous understandings, and of upright intentions, frequently approve of measures and systems, dierely because they are embraced or supported by hien whom they love and esteem. He was the intimate friend of Pope, Gay, Arbuthnot, and Swist, and was probably induced
to poin the Tories by the persuasions and arguments of the latter ; who, after he had joined that pa ty
If, was very eager to make converts of other men of genius.
Acertain, v Rever was the cause, that, as the dismision of the Whig Ministry, in the end of Queen Anne's in, he ch ged his party, not without mu censure from those whom he deserted, and was received, by the new Ministry, as a valuable rei Swift introduced him to Harley, whom habad before pighly poffefied it his favour.
favour. When Harley was told, that Parnell waited among
en outer-room, he Hent, by the persuasion of Swift, with his Treaurer's staff in his hand, to him welcome; and admitted him as a favourite companion of his convivial hours Pepe con Jiments Harley on the delicacy of his choice of intimate friends, and mentions Parnell among the number.
For him, thou oft haft bid the world attend
And pleas'd to e from flattery to wit.
tertained. Few societies have been productive of a greater variety of thics and whimsical cd cits. They wrote many things in conjunction; and, according to Goldsmith, Gay usually was amanuensis. Of those joint productions, in which Parnell had a principal fhace, the Origin of the Sciences from ile Monkies in Elbi.piw is particularly mentioned.
The connection becween these wits advanced the fame and interest of then all. They submitted their productions to the review of each other, and readily adopted alterations, dictated by taste and judgment, unmised with envy or any finifter motive.. With those fricnds nell conti. nued intimately connected during his lifc. Every year, as soon as he had collected the rents of his estate, and the revenue of his benefices, he came over to England, and frent some months. He
Hem in an elegant style, when he was in the world, and rather in paired than in proved his eftare.
Pope was particularly fond of Parnell's company, and seems to have beu Sunder several Itera. obligations to him, for his aslistance in the tranflation of Homer.
My busincss," says hic, " depends entirely upon you. Then Jinent I lost you, Eustathius, with cine thousand contractions of the Greek character, arose to view! Spedanus, with all his auxiliaries, in number a thousand pages, (value thret Mhillings) and Dacier's three.volunies, Barnes's two, Val. tcries three, Cuperus, half in Greek, Leo Allacius, three parts in Greek, Scaliger, Macrobius, and (worse than them a!!) Aulus Gellius! All these rufied upon my soul at once, and whelmed me under a fit of the hcadach. Dear Sir, not only as you are a friend and a good natured man, but as you ar
Christian and a divine, come back speedily, and prevent the increase of my sins; for at thc rate I have begun to rave, I hall not only damn all poets and crnimentators who have gone before, but bc dinned myself by all who come after me. In thort, come down forth with, or give ne good reasons for déluying, though bat. for 3 day or two, by the next post. If I find them juft, I will come up to you, trough you know how precious my time is at present; my hours 33 cre never worth lo mucla money before."
starts of pa
!! Gay was obliged to Parnell on another account; for, being always poor, he was not above receive ing from him the copy-money which he got for his writings.
" Your Zoilus," says Fope,“ really transcends the expectation I had conceived of it. I have put it into the press,, beginning with the poem Batrachom. Inform me upon what terms I am to deal with the booksellor, and whether you delign the copy-money for Gay, as you formerly talked. I scarce see any thing to be altered in the whole piece. In the poem you fent, I will take the dia' berty you allow me. The story of Pandora, and the Eclogue upon Health, are the most beautiful things I ever read."
The Life of Homer, prefixed to the translation of the Iliad, was written by Parnell, and corrected by Pape; and he assures us, the correction was not effected without great labourd
" It is all stiff," says he, “and was written still stiffer; as it is, I verily think, it cost me more pains th correcting than the writing would have done." In one of his letters to Parn Life of Homer with much greater ect “ If I were to tell you, ays he,
thin with above all things, it is fo see you ag ; the next is to see your treatise of Zoilus, with the Batras sbomuomachia, and the Arvigilium.V's, bon which porms are master-pieces in their several kinds, and I question pot, the prose is as excellen fort a le Eluy on Homer.”
Fope, in this instance, is almost inexcufa say what he seems to complemn in one place, he very much applauds in another. What he says in be places may, very easily be reconciled to truth; for every thing of Parnell's, that has appeared in prose, is written in a very awkward inelcgant manper; bot who can defend his candour and his fincerity? It would tart, however suppose, that there was no real friendship between these great Th Kolence of ells disposition remains unimpeached, and Popeythough subject to and envy, yeter mified
occasion of being serviceable to him. When he had a miscellany poblish, haap to Parnell for poetical arrange, and the latter 23 implicitly submitted to his
: Parnell are Feet he of those poets who take velight in wsiting. He was one of the contributors to bet muot and Guardian, and probably published more that he owned, and certainly
thed. As he pictea very reasona y to rise to high preferment in the Church, he applied himseis to preaching, and displayed his elocution with great applause in the pulpits of London; but the Quetn's death putting an end to his expectations, he abated in his diligence.
Amidst his expectations, he haul the afligion to lose his wife, by whom he had eiro fons irło
d young, and a daughter, who was living in 1770. Swift, in his “ Journal to Stella,” Aug. 23. 1712, says, “ I am heartily sorry for poor Mirs. Parnell's death ; she seemed to be an excellent good-natured yung woman, and I believe the poor lad is mudi aflisted; they appeared to live perfectly with together.” This event is supposed to have made an indelible impression on his spi
Pope represents him as falling from that time into intensperance of wine. was not to derive every future addition to his prefernients from his personal interest with
watg friends. He w warmly recommended by Swift to Archbishop King, who gave prebend in 1713, and the vicarage of Finglass, in the diocese of Dublin, worth 400l, a
year, Alay 31. 1716. His gratitude is beautiful ekpreffed in an enconia..ic poem on Sait's biri} div. 1713,
“ Such notice from such a man," says Dr. Johnson, “ inclines nie to believe, that she vice of which he has been accused was not gross or notorious."
During the two or three last years of his life, he was more fond of company than ever, and could scarce bear to be alone. The duath of his wife was a loss to him, that he was unable to support
“ From that time," says Goldsmith, "he could never venture to court the muse in folitude, where he was sure to find the image of her who first inspired his attempts. begar, therefore, to throw himself into every company, and to seck from wine, if not relief, at least infen. fibiliis. Those helps, that sorrow first called in for afflittance, harit soon tendered neceíTary, an i he died before his sortiech year, in some measurc, a niartyr in conjugal Gidelity."
His end, whatever was the cause, was now arpreaching. He enjoyed his prefument little nore chan a year. The whole of his poetical oxiftcpce Was pot of more thao ten years continuance. ?
this short space, he attained a share of fanie, equal to whiat most of his contemporaries were a lung lifc io acquiring. He died ac Chester, on his way to Ireland, in July 1717, in the 38th year of his age, and was buried in Trinity Church in that city, without any nionument to mark the place of his in
As he died without male issue, his estate devolved to bis only nephew, Sir John Parnell, Bart. whose father was younger brother to the Archdeacon, and one of the justices of the King's Bench in Ireland.
He left many compositions behind him, of which Pope selected those which he thought best, and published them in one volume 8vo., 1721, with a dedication to the Earl of Oxford. A pofthumous volume was printed at Dublin, in 1758. And both these volumes united, with several additional
gems, collected by Mr. Nichols, were printed in the collection of the “ English Poets," 1979 and $790.
Parnell was man of very great benevolence, and of ven agreeable manners. His conversation is said to have bcen extremely pleasing, but in what its peculit excellence consisted, is now unknowo). His connections were extensive, and his friends numerous and respectable. He was intimately acquainted with Addison, Steele and Congréve, and Pope, Swife and Arbuthnot. Joined by kindred talents, and qualities, he loved, esteemed, and severed his friends; and was by them loved, citeemed, and revered. He was respected by the world as a man of superior endowments. To talents, learning, and virtue were joined an ample estate, and considerable prefernients in the church. Though not a very great ceconomist, he was by no means so profuse, as to have matesiaily reduced his fortune. Goldsmith says, “ he was the most capable man in the world to make the happiness of those he conversed with, and the lealt able to de
wanted that evenness of disposition, which bears disappointment with phlegmond joy with ingerence. He was ever very much elated or depred, and his whole life spent in on yior rapture. But the tur. . hulence of these paslions only affect imself, and never those about hira; he fin the ridicule of his own character, and very effectually raised the mirth of his companions at his vexations as ar his triumphs. Indeed he took care, that his friends should rechi the bek advan. tege; for when he found his firs of spleen and unealiness, whicha fometin
Onks toge. ther, he returned, with all expedition, to the remote parts of Ireland, and then made out a gloomy kind of satisfaction, in giving hideous descriptions of the folitude to which he retired. Scarce a bog in his neighbourhood was left without reproach, and foarce a mountain reared its bead unfung.”
as I have been once witness,” says Pope in one of his letters to him, " of some, I hope all your splenetic hours ; come and be a comforter to me in nine." In answer to one of his dreary descrip tions, he says, “ I can easily image to my thoughts, the folitary hours of your eremetical life in the Dountains, from something parallel to it in my own retirenient at Binfield;" and in another place, * We are both miserable enough situated, God knows; but of the two evils, I think che solitudes of the south are to be preferred to the deserts of the west," In this manner, Pope answered bin in the tone of his own complaints, and these descriptions of his imaginary distresses served to relieverhinfcis, yet they were not so easily endured by the genilemen of the neighbourhood, who did nou are to confess themseives his fellow fufferers. He received nany mortifications on that account among them; for being naturally fond of company, he could not endure to be without even theirs, which, however, among his English friends, tie aisccted to despise His conduct, in this particular, was rather splendid than wise ; he had either loti the art to engage, or did not employ his skill in securing those more permanent, though more humble connections; and sacrificed, for a month or two, in England, a whole year's happiness hy his country fireside
The prose writings of Parnell, are his papers ii: :he Spectator and Guardian, Fillay on Homer, Life of Zoilus, and R:marks of Zoilus. in general they discover vo very grcat degree of force or comprehensiveness of mind; but they teori with imag.in, and flww great learning, good sense, and knowlerge of mankind. The Life of Zoilus was will at the request of his friends, and defigned as a satire agairift Theobald and Dennus, with wisselvii club had been long at variance.
Considered as a poet, Pargell is not distinguished for strength of intellct or fertility of invention,