1780 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Diaper

John Nichols, in Select Collection of Poems with Notes Biographical and Historical (1780-82) 5:209-10.



Of the life of this ingenious poet, but few particulars are known. He was bred at Baliol College, Oxford; and by publishing the Eclogues here re-printed obtained the patronage of Swift, who thus describes the author and his poem: "Here is a young fellow has writ some sea-eclogues, poems of mermen, resembling pastorals of shepherds; and they are very pretty, and the thought is new. Mermen are he-mermaids Tritons, natives of the sea. His name is Diaper. I must do something for him, and get him out of the way. I hate to have any new wits rise; yet when they do rise, I would encourage them; but they tread on our heels, and thrust us off the stage." Journal to Stella, March 12, 1711-12. "The author of the Sea-Eclogues sent books to the Society yesterday, and we gave him guineas apiece; and may do further for him." ib. March 21. On the 23d of December, Mr. Diaper presented to Lord Bolingbroke a new philosophical poem, The Dryades, or the Nymph's Prophecy, (re-printed in Poetical Calendar, vol. IX. p. 17.) "which," says Swift, "is a very good one; and I am to give him a sum of money from my Lord: and I have contrived to make a Parson of him, for he is half one already, being in Deacon's orders, and serves a small cure in the country; but has a sword at his tail here in town. It is a poor little short wretch, but will do best in a gown, and we will make Lord Keeper give him a living." Two months after this, Swift kindly visited him "in a nasty garret, very sick; and give him twenty guineas from Lord Bolingbroke." Unfortunately for the poor poet, his friends lost their power before they had an opportunity of providing for him; and he died a country curate, in 1717, in the 29th year of his age. Besides the Nereides and Dryades, he published an imitation of an Ode of Horace, which is printed in the Supplement to Swift; assisted Mr. Rowe in the translation of Quillet's Callipaedia, of which the first half of Book IV. is by Mr. Diaper; and left behind him in MS. a translation of the first three books of Oppian's Halieutics, which were printed by subscription, in 8vo. 1722, with the remainder of the work executed by Mr. Jones, who was likewise of Baliol College.