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Ρ P: A R N E L L.
Talk which I should very willingly de
cline, since it has been lately written by Goldsmith, a man of such variety of such felicity of performance, that he always seemed to do best that which he was doing; a man who had the art of being minute without tediousness, and general without confusion; whose language was copious without exuberance, exact without constraint, and easy without weakness.
What such an author has told, who would tell again? I have made an abstract from his larger narrative; and have this gratification from my attempt, that it gives me an opportunity of paying due tribute to the memory of Goldsmith.
Το γαρ γέρας εςι θανόντων,
THOMAS PARNELL was the fon of a cominonwealthsman of the same name, who at the Restoration left Congleton in Cheshire, where the family had been established for several centuries, and, settling in Ireland, purchased an estate, which, with his lands in Cheshire, descended to the poet, who was born at Dublin in 1679 ; and, after the usual education at a grammar school, was at the age
of thirteen admitted into the College, where, in 1700, he became master of arts; and was the same yeaç ordained a deacon, though under the cánonical age, by a dispensation from the bishop of Derry.
years afterwards he was made
. a priest; and in 1705. Dr. Athe, the bishop of Clogher, conferred upon him the archdeaconry of Clogher. About the same time he married Mrs. Anne Minchin, an amiable
lady, lady, by whom he had two son's who died young, and a daughter who long survived him.
At the ejection of the Whigs, in the end of queen
Anne's reign, Parnell was persuaded to change his party, not without much censure from those whom he forfook, and was received by the new ministry as a valuable reinforcement. When the earl of Oxu ford was told that Dr. Parnell waited among the croud in the outer room, he went, by the persuasion of Swift, with his treasurer's staff in his hand, to enquire for him, and to bid him welcome ; and, as may be inferred from Pope's dedication, admitted him as a favourite companion to his convivial hours, but, as it seems often to have happened in those times to the favourites of the great, without attention to his fortune, which however was in no great need of improvement.
Parnell, who did not want ambition or vanity, was desirous to make himself conspicuous, and to thew how worthy he was of
, high preferment. As he thought himself qualified to become a popular preacher, he displayed his elocution with great success in the pulpits of London ; but the queen's death putting an end to his expectations, abated his diligence: and Pope represents him as falling from that time into intem
of wine. That in his latter life he was too much a lover of the bottle, is not denied; but I have heard it imputed to a cause more likely to obtain forgiveness from mankind, the untimely death of a darling fon; or, as others tell, the loss of his wife, who died (1712) in the midst of his ex
perance of wine.
He was now to derive every future addition to his preferments from his personal interest with his private friends, and he was not long unregarded. He was warmly recommended by Swift to archbishop King, who gave him a prebend in 1713; and in May 1716 prefented him to the vicarage of Finglas in the diocese of Dublin, worth four hundred pounds a year. Such notice from such a man, inclines me to believe that the vice of which he has been accused was not gross, or not notorious.
But his prosperity did not last long. His end, whatever was its cause, was now ap
proaching. He enjoyed his preferment little more than a year ; for in July 1717, in his thirty-eighth year,
he died at Chester, on his way to Ireland.
He seems to have been one of those
poets who take delight in writing. He contributed to the papers of that time, and pro
, bably published more than he owned. He left many compositions behind him, of which Pope selected those which he thought best, and dedicated them to the earl of Oxford. Of these. Goldsmith has given an opinion, and his criticism it is seldom safe to contradict. He bestows just praise upon the Rise of Woman, the Fairy Tale, and the Pervigilium Veneris ; but has very properly remarked, that in the Battle of Mice and Frogs the Greek names have not in English their original effect.
He tells us, that the Bookworm is borrowed from Beza; but he should have added, with modern applications: and when he discovers that Gay Bacchus is translated from Augurellus, he ought to have remarked, that the latter part is purely Parnell's. Another VOL. II.