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THO "HOMAS 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 accident.
It was his turn, one day, to pronounce a declama. tion; and Dr. Hough, the President, happening to attend, thought the composition too good to be the speaker's. Some time after, the 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 As probably he thought at first, yet did not lose le readship of Addison.
When Namur was taken by King William, Yalden wale 32 ode. There was never any reign more celerazed by the poets than that of William, who had mitte regard for song himself
, but happened to zuper ministers who pleased themselves with the puse vi patronage.
ce this ode mention is made in a humorous poem di itaa time, called “The Oxford Laureat ;" in which, star many elaims had been made and rejected, Yalden
arsented as demanding the laurel, and as being Cid to his trial, instead of receiving a reward. «Hs erime was for being a felon in verse,
And presenting his theft to the king;
But the last was an impudent thing :
They had fin’d him but ten-pence at most.”
He wrote another poem on the death of the Duke In 1710 he became Fellow of the college; and next - entering into Orders, was presented by the
with a living in Warwickshire, consistent with
síp, and chosen lecturer of moral philosophy, CEE accession of Queen Anne he wrote another
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 Hampshire ; 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.
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 impregnated with treason, and the Doctor was enjoined to explain them. Thus pressed, he told them that the words had lain unheeded in his pocketbook 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 thorough-paced doctrine, that doctrine, which, coming in at one ear, paces through the head, and goes out at the other.”
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 the conversation, of a very numerous and splendid set of acquaintance. He died July 16, 1736, in the 66th year
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 there
of his age.
fore 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 Hymnus ad Umbram of Wowerus, in the sixth stanza, which answers in some sort to these lines :
“ Illa suo præest nocturnis numine sacris
Perque vias errare novis dat spectra figuris,
Sub noctem, et questu notos complere penates."
“ Illa suo senium secludit corpore toto
Et prisco imperio rursus dominabitur umbra.”
In the last stanza, having mentioned the sudden eruption of new-created Light, he says, –
“Awhile th’ Almighty wondering viewed.” 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 illsorted, and though his faults seem rather the omissions of idleness than the negligences of enthusiasm.