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THE LIFE OF PARNELL
For the life of Pernell, 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,
obliged to take his character from such as knew but little sim, or who perhaps could have given very little information if they had known more."
The facts stated in the present account of Parnell, arè principally taken from Goldsmith, whore narrative is written with an activity of research, that leaves little to be supplied, and an agreeable manner of communication that approaches so near perfection, as to preclude the most distant hope
laps 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 performace, that he ays seemed to do best, that which he was doing; a man who had the art of his nutekwiput tediousness, and general
Sut tediousness, and general thout confufon ; whose language was copious kullance, exact without constraine, and easy without weakness. What such an arthor has
would tell again ?"
ser was defended from an ancient family, that had for some centuries been settled at Congleton, in Cheshire. His father, Thomas Parnell, who had been attached to the Common . wealth party, upon the Restoration 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 made great progress in learning at a very drly 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 che dreary subtleties of Smiglesius; but it is certain, that as a classical scholar, few could equal him. His own compositions thew this, and the deference which the moít eminent men of his time paid him upon that hvad, put it beyond a doubt.” He was admitted to the degree of Master of Arts, July 2. 1700, and was the same
Fear ordained a deacon by Dr. King, Bishop of Derry, having obrained a dispensation from the Primate, as being under the canonical age. .
About three years afterwards, he was made a priest by Dr. King, then Archbishamhof Dublin, and in 1705, Dr. St. George Aihe, Bishop of Clogher, conferred on him the Archucaconry of Clog
About the fame time, be married Miss Anne Minchin, a young lady of great merit and beauty, ujion whom he wrote the song begioniog, Mly days have been fo wond"rous frie.
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 affe Aion 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, merely because they are embraced or supported by hien whom they love and efteem.
He was the intimate friend of Pope, Gay, Arbuthnot, and Swist, and was probably induced to Join the Tories 4y the persuasions and arguments of the latter ; who, after he had joined that party
f, was very eager to make converts of other men of genius.
Acertain, vi sever was the cause, that, as the dismislion of the Whig Ministry, in the end of Queen anne gn, he clged his party, not without my censure from those whom he deferted, and was received, by the new Ministry, as a valuable rei Swift introduced him to Harley, whom hqbad before highly possessed is his favour.
favour. When Harley was told, that Parnell waited among
e crew an outer-room, he went, by the persuasion of Swift, with his Treasurer's staff in his hand, to him welcome; and admitted him as a favourite companion of his con vial hours Pope con liments Harley on the delicacy of his choice of intimate friends, and mentions Parnell among the number.
For him, thou oft hart 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 Zeits. They wrote many things in conjuncion; and, according to Goldsmith, Gay usually was amanuensis. Of those joint productions, in which Parnell had a principal share, the Origin of the Sciences from ihe Monkies in Elbiupiu is particularly mentioned.
The connection between these wits advanced the fame and interest of then all. They submitted their productions to the revicw of cach other, and readily adopted alterations, dictated by taste and judgment, unmixed with envy or any finifter motivc.. With those friends 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 beneficcs, he came over to England, and spent some months. He
Hem in an elegant style, when he was in the world, and rather inpaired than in proved his eftare.
Pope was particularly fond of Parnell's company, and seems to have ben Sunder several literar obligations to him, for his allistance in the translation of Homer.
“ My business,” says hic, “ depends entirely upon you. The nument I lost you, Eustathius, with žine thousand contractions of the Greek character, arose en view! Spedanus, with all his auxiliaries, in number a thwuland pages, (value three ftillings) and Dacier's three.volunies, Barnes's two, Valteries three, Cuperuz, half in Greek, Leo Allacius, three parts in Greek, Scaliger, Macrobius, and (worse than them a!!) Aulus Gellius! All these rushed upon my soul at once, and whelmed me under a fit of the headach. 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 the rate I have begun to rave, I fall 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 forthwith, or give me good reasons for delaying, though but.for a day or two, by the next post. If I find them juft, I will come up to you, though you know how precious my time is at present; my hours 33 cre never worth lo mucla money before."
starts of pa
THE LIFE OF PARNELL, ? 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," fays 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 bookseller, and whether you design the copy-money for Gay, as you formerly talked, I scarce fee any thing to be alfered in the whole piece. In the poem you sent, i' will take the fico 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 Miad, was written by Parnell, and corrected by Pope; and he assures us, the correction was not effected without great labourd “ It is all stiff," Tays he, “ and was written still stiffer; as it is, I verily think, it cost me more pains in correcting than the writing would have done." In one of his letters to Parng Life of Homer with much greater ect. “ If I were to tell you,' ays he,
thin 1 with above all things, it is fo see you again; the next is to see your treatise of Zoilus, with the Batrao sbomuomachia, and the larvigilium. Vis, boy which rooms are master-pieces in their several kinds, and I question pot, the prose is as excellens ført as de Eljuy on Homer.”
Fope, in this instance, is almost inexcusa as what he seems to contiemn 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 jvritten in a very awkward inelegant manger; but who can defend his caqdour and his sincerity? It would barely however fuppose, that there was no real friendship between these great TH olence of all's difpofition remains uninpeached, and Pope, though subject to
and envy, ye vrster mified occasion of being serviceable to him. When he had a miscellany pooblith, blish, heap
to Parnell for poetical ande, and the latter as implicitly submitted to his
urteen ne of those poets who take belight in wžiting. He was one of the contributors to autor and Guardian, and probably published more thahe owned, and certainly
shed. As he pedea very reasona y to rise to high preferment in the Church, he applied himself to preaching, and displayed his elocution with great applause in the polpits of London; but the Quetn's death putting xa end to his expectations, he abated in his diligence.
Amidst his expectations, he hail the affliction to lose his wife, by whom he had civo sons who
d young, and a daughter, who was living in 1770. Swift, in his “ Journal to Stella," Aug. 24. 1712, says, “ I am heartily forsy for poor Mrs. Parnell's death ; she seemed to be an excellent good-natured ung woman, and I believe the poor lad is much üflisted; they appeared to live perfectly work together." This event is supposed to have made an indelible impression on his ipis
Pope represents him as falling from that time inco iriteniperance of wine. was not to derive every future addition to his prefernients from his personal interest with
wate 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 4001. a
year, Nlay 31. 1716. His gratitude is beautiful expreffed in an encomia. ic poem on Swift's birth div. 1713,
" Such notice from such a man," says Dr. Johnson, so inclines nie co believe, that the vice of which he has been accured 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 fcarce bear to be alone. The death of his wife was a loss to him, that he was unable to support or recover. “ 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 attenpts. begar, therefore, to throw himself into every company, and to seck from wine, if not relief, at eart infensibiliij. Those helps, that sorrow first called in for aslištance, habit foon fendered necessary, an i he died before his forticth year, in some measure, a martyr in conjugal Guelity":
His end, whatever was the cu:use, was now arproaching. He enjoyed his preferment little mors chan a year. The whole of his poetical existence was ost of more than ten years continuance. 1?
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,