1789 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Oldham

Anonymous, in Bell's Classical Arrangement of Fugitive Poets (1789-97) 18:163-64.



JOHN OLDHAM (son of a Nonconforming minister, who, at the time of the Usurpation, was rector of Shipton in Gloucestershire) born Aug. 9, 1653, was a bachelor of Edmund Hall, Oxford, in 1674, and soon after an usher to the free school at Croydon. In this situation, some of his poetry having been handed about, he was honored with a visit by the Earls of Rochester and Dorset, Sir Charles Sedley, and other persons of distinction. In 1678 he was tutor to the son of Judge Thurland, and in 1681 to a son of Sir William Hickes. By the advice of Sir William, and the assistance of Dr. Lowther, he applied, for about a year, to the study of physic; but, poetry being predominant, he hastened to London, and became a perfect votary to the bottle, yet without sinking into the debauchery of his contemporary wits. 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. He was patronized by the Earl of Kingston, who would have made him his chaplain if he would have qualified himself. He lived with the Earl, however, till his death, which was occasioned by the small-pox, Dec. 9, 1683. He was particularly esteemed by Mr. Dryden, who has done him great justice in Verses to his Memory, (English Poets, vol. xiv, p. 161.) His works have been frequently printed in one volume, 8vo; in 1722 in two volumes 12mo. with the Author's Life; and lately, under the inspiration of Captain Thompson, in three volumes, 12mo.