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OF WILLIAM HAYLEY, ESQ. A Superior talent for poetry has been the subject A of admiration in every age and nation of the world. Such are its charms—such its influence in softening and harmonizing the passions of mankind. Greece, Rome, and Britain have, in their turns, confessed its power and bowed at its shrine: Indeed, among the ancients, it was pronounced of divine origin, and chiefly devoted to the praises of the gods and heroes, who were equally consigned over to the honours of immortality! The reader, therefore, will be pleased with the sketch of a modern poet, who has, by his performances, conciliated to himself no inconsiderable share of public approbation.
WILLIAM HAYLEY, Esq. was born at Chichester, in the year 1745 ; his father being son of the Dean of Chichester, and his mother the daughter of Colonel Yates, member of parliament for that city. His family, therefore, was respectable on both sides; and he, no doubt, enjoyed the advantages with which his connec. tions must have furnished him. His father dying VOL. VIII,
in his infancy, he was left to the care of a mother, who payed every proper attention to his early years.
It was Mr. HAYLEY's misfortune, however, to enjoy an infirm state of health, and by this circumstance his studies were not unfrequently interrupted. It pro. duced those charms in his improvement which are, sometimes, indifferently filled up, even by succeeding efforts of industry. By the aid of a domestic tutor, the subject of our Memoir overcame this disadvantage, and became fitted for Eton School, whence he went to
Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Here he foon manifested his predilection for the tuneful art, and was the author of various little pieces, which indicated his future celcbrity. An Ode on the Birth of the Prince of Wales, which appeared in a Cambridge collection, is to be ranked among his earlier productions. We have never seen it, and therefore cannot give any pai ticular account of it. But its being admitted into that selection, and having been frequently the subject of conversation in the polite circles of the day, prove that it was not wholly deroid of that merit by which his other pieces have been characterized.
Upon his quitting of Cambridge, MR. HAYLEY did not throw himself into the arms of an inglorious indolence, or squander away his time in the wretched haunts of dissipation. He devoted himself to study with an intenseness which deserves great praise ; for no understanding can be eminently enlightened without asliduous cultivation. Through the want of proper attention the best soil may prove un productive, and covered with weeds and briars, it excites our deepest commiseration. Such was not the mind of our Poet. He stored his mind with those valuable kinds of learning which were best calculated to draw forth the energy of his powers. The Greek and Latin poets were made fami. siar to him by constant and reiterated perufal. The French and Italian productions were also studied with
great care and attention. Nor did he forget his own poets, Cowley, Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, &c. into the spirit and design of whose writings he fully entered. Such a course of study must have powerfully enriched his mind, and enabled him to call in the aid of others on any subject in which his pen might be engaged. Here was the happy union of genius and industry.
Having married in 1769, MR. HAYLEY retired to his seat of Eartham, about seven miles from Chichester. The writer of this article visited the spot in 1794, and was much pleased with it. Though, on a small scale, yet it embraces a pleasing variety of walks, and can boast an extensive sweep of profpe&t. Its elegant pro. prietor has evidently bestowed much attention upon it, and every part of it is marked by an engaging rus. ticity.
In this retirement MR. HAYLEY has devoted him self to the mufes, and the fruits of his application have, at different times, been laid before the public. In 1785 he collected his various pieces together in fix volumes. We shall take a brief survey of them.
Volume the first contains his Poetical Esay on Paint. ing, together with a few Miscellanies. His essay is addressed to that celebrated artist Mr. Romney; and the departments of this delightful art are sketched with beauty and accuracy. The conclufion recommends SHAKESPEARE and MILTON as affording fit fubjects for the pencil, in these energetic lines :*
“ Far nobler guides their better aid supply: