1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Samuel Wesley the Younger

John Nichols, in Literary Anecdotes of the XVIII Century (1812-15) 5:216-17, 219-20.



SAMUEL WESLEY, the eldest son, was first a scholar, and afterwards nearly 20 years usher of Westminster School; whence, in 1711, he was elected as a king's scholar to Christ Church, Oxford. He was author of two excellent Poems, called The Battle of the Sexes, and The Prisons Opened; and of another, called The Parish Priest, a poem upon a Clergyman lately deceased, a very dutiful and striking Eulogy on his wife's father; which are all printed among his poems, and several humorous tales, in 4to, 1736, and after his death in 12mo, 1743. He was a member of the Philosophical Society at Spalding; and gave to their Museum an amulet that had touched the heads of the three Kings of Cologne, whose names were in black letters within. He died Nov. 6, 1739, aged 49, being at that time head-master of Tiverton School; but never presented to any ecclesiastical benefice. He was buried in the church-yard at Tiverton; and his epitaph may be seen at the end of his life, prefixed to his Poems, 1743. [Note by Samuel Badcock: "Samuel was a man of wit and learning: a High Churchman and a noted Jacobite. Sir Robert Walpole was the principal object of his political satires; many of which remain unpublished, on account of their treasonable tendency; for, in the rage of Jacobitism, he was not scrupulous in the selection of characters, but poured out the very dregs of it on Royalty itself. He, however, published enough to render himself obnoxious to the Ministry; so that little was left him but that penitence which, arising from mortification, only vents itself in abuse. Time, however, had so far gotten the better of his fury against Sir Robert, as to change the satirist into the suppliant. I have seen a copy of verses addressed to the great Minister in behalf of a poor and aged parent. But I have seen something much better. I have in my possession a letter of this poor and aged parent addressed to his son Samuel, in which he gratefully acknowledges his filial duty in terms so affecting, that I am at a loss which to admire most, the gratitude of the parent, or the affection and generosity of the child. It was written when the good old man was nearly fourscore, and so weakened by a palsy as to be incapable of directing a pen, unless with his left hand"].