1753 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Yalden

Anonymous, in Cibber-Shiels, Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) 4:342-46.



This Gentleman was born it the city of Exeter, and the youngest of six sons of Mr. John Yalden of Sussex. He received his education at a Grammar school, belonging to Magdalen-College in Oxford. In the year 1690 he was admitted a commoner of Magdalen Hall, under Mr. John Pullen, who was esteemed an excellent tutor, and a very great master of logic, and the following year he was chosen scholar of Magdalen-College. Here he became a fellow-pupil with the celebrated Mr. Addison and Dr. Henry Sacheverel, and early contracted a particular friendship with those two gentlemen. This academical affection Mr. Addison preserved not only abroad in his travels, but also on his advancement to considerable employments at home, and kept the same easy and free correspondence to the very last, as when their fortunes were more on a level. This preservation of affection is rendered more singular, by Mr. Yalden's having espoused a very opposite interest to that of Mr. Addison, for he adhered to the High-Church party, and was suspected of an attachment to an exiled family, for which he afterwards was brought into very great trouble.

In the year 1700 he was admitted actual and perpetual fellow of Magdalen College, and qualified himself the next year, by taking orders, as the founder's statutes require. After his admission he received two public marks of favour from that society: The first was a presentation to a living in Warwickshire, consistent with his fellowship; and the other, his being elected moral philosophy reader, an office for life, endowed with a handsome stipend, and peculiar privileges.

In 1706 he was received into the family of his noble and kind patron the duke of Beaufort; with whom he was in very great favour, having in many instances experienced his bounty and generosity. In the following year he compleated his academical degrees, by commencing doctor in divinity: He presented to the society their founder's picture in full length, which now hangs up in the public-hall; and afterwards he delivered in to the president a voluntary resignation of his fellowship, and moral philosophy-lecture. He was afterwards preferred to be rector of Chalten in Cleanville, two adjoining towns and rectories in Hampshire. He was elected by the president and governors of Bridewell, preacher of that hospital, upon the resignation of Dr. Atterbury, afterwards lord bishop of Rochester.

Having mentioned this prelate, it will be proper here to observe, that upon a suspicion of Dr. Yalden's being concerned with him, in a plot to restore the exiled family; and for which the bishop was afterwards banished, he was seized upon by authority, and committed to prison. When he was examined before the council, concerning his correspondence and intimacy with Mr. Kelley the bishop's secretary; he did not deny his knowledge of, and correspondence with, him, but still persisted in asserting, that no measures contrary to the constitution were ever canvassed between them.

There was found in his pocket book, a copy of verses reflecting on the reigning family, and which might well bear the construction of a libel; but when he was charged with them, he denied that he ever composed such verses, or that the hand-writing was his own, and asserted his innocence in every circumstance relating to the plot. The verses in all probability were put into his pocket hook, by the same person, who with so much dexterity placed a treasonable paper in bishop Atterbury's close stool and then pretending to be the discoverer of it, preferred it against his lordship, as an evidence of his disaffection The particulars of that memorable tryal are recorded in the Life of Atterbury, written by the authors of Biographia Britannica. — The heats raised by Atterbury's tryal subsiding, those who were suspected of being concerned with him, as no evidence appeared strong enough to convict them, were released.

Dr. Yalden was still favoured with the patronage of the generous duke of Beaufort, and his residence in that noble family recommended him to the acquaintance of many of the first quality and character in the kingdom, and as he was of a chearful temper, and of a pleasing and instructive conversation, he retained their friendship and esteem till his death, which happened the 16th of July, 1736, in the 66th year of his age.

His poetical works are chiefly these.

On the Conquest of Namure; A Pindaric Ode, inscribed to his most sacred and Victorious majesty, folio 1695.

The Temple of Fame; a Poem to the memory of the most illustrious Prince, William Duke of Gloucester, folio 1700.

On the late Queen's Accession to the Throne, a Poem.

Aesop at Court, or State Fables.

An essay on the Character on Sir Willoughby Ashton, a Poem. Fol. 1704.

On the Mines of Sir Carbery Price, a Poem; occasioned by the Mine-adventure Company.

On the Death of Mr. John Partridge, Professor in Leather, and Astrologer.

Advice to a Lover.

To Mr. Watson, on his Ephemeris on the Celestial Motions, presented to Queen Anne.

Against Immoderate Grief.

The Force of Jealousy.

An Ode for St. Cecilia's Day, 1693, set to music by Dr. Purcel.

A Hymn to the Morning in Praise of Light.

We shall extract the following stanza from this Hymn, as a specimen of his poetry.

Parent of day! whose beauteous beams of light
Spring from the darksome womb of night,
And midst their native horrors show
Like gems adorning of the negro's brow.
Not Heaven's fair bow can equal thee,
In all its gawdy drapery:
Thou first essay of light, and pledge of day!
Rival of shade! eternal spring! still gay!
From thy bright unexhausted womb
The beauteous race of days and seasons come.
Thy beauty ages cannot wrong,
But 'spite of time, thou'rt ever young.
Thou art alone Heav'n's modest virgin light.
Whose face a veil of blushes hide from human sight.
At thy approach, nature erects her head;
The smiling universe is glad;
The drowsy earth and seas awake
And from thy beams new life and vigour take.
When thy more chearful rays appear,
Ev'n guilt and women cease to fear;
Horror, despair, and all the sons of night
Retire before thy beams, and take their hasty flight.
Thou risest in the fragrant east,
Like the fair Phoenix from her balmy nest;
But yet thy fading glories soon decay,
Thine's but a momentary stay;
Too soon thou'rt ravish'd from our sight,
Borne down the stream of day, and overwhelm'd with night.
Thy beams to thy own ruin haste,
They're fram'd too exquisite to last:
Thine is a glorious, but a short-liv'd state:
Pity so fair a birth should yield so soon to fate;

Besides these pieces, this reverend gentleman has translated the second book of Ovid's Art of Love, with several other occasional poems and translations published in the third and fourth volumes of Tonson's Miscellanies.

The Medicine, a Tale in the second Volume of the Tatlers, and Mr. Partridge's Appeal to the Learned World, or a Further Account of the Manner of his Death, in Prose, are likewise written by him.