1769 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Oldham

James Granger, in Biographical History of England (1769; 1824) 5:251.



John Oldham was the son of a nonconforming minister, who, in the time of the usurpation, was rector of Shipton, in Gloucestershire. He was educated at Edmund Hall, in Oxford, and was some time usher of a school at Croydon, in Surrey. Here he wrote his Satires against the Jesuits, occasioned by the popish plot, in 1678. These satires gained him the appellation of the English Juvenal, as they have much of the indignant spirit and manner of the Roman poet. They are censured for their incorrectness; but this seems to be the effect of that youthful fire to which they owe their excellence. He appears to have been no enemy to the fashionable vices of this reign; and as he was of a very different turn from his father, the character of the old parson, at the end of his works, is supposed to have been designed for him. It is perhaps the most extravagant caricature that ever was drawn, and is incomparably more outre than the Menalcas of Bruyere. He died at the house of his patron, William, earl of Kingston, the 9th of December, 1683, in the 30th year of his age.