1802 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Owen Cambridge

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 72 (October 1802) 977-78.



At his house at Twickenham, in his 86th year, Richard Owen Cambridge, esq. He was a man of profound and various learning, equally conversant with belles lettres and the abstruse sciences. Abundant proofs of these acquirements may be found in The Scribleriad, a mock heroic Poem, in Six Books, 4to, 1751, one of the best poems that has been seen since the days of Pope. It is indeed a poetical continuation of the Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus, which, in a spirited vein of poetry and satire, very happily ridicules the errors and follies of false taste and false learning. He was also author of An Account of the War in India, between the English and French, on the Coast of Coromandel, from the Year 1750 to 1760, &c. 4to, 1761; some poems in the VIth volume of Dodsley's Collection; and was one of the ablest contributors to the periodical work called The World. He was, in truth, an excellent scholar, an elegant poet, and a judicious critick. All his works are characterised by taste, humour, and delicate irony; and we hope they will be collected, for his own honour and that of British Literature. He lived at Twickenham when Pope first went to reside in that neighbourhood, and was on an intimate footing with that celebrated poet, as well as with the most distinguished characters in this country. Mr. C. possessed great powers of conversation, and abounded in choice anecdotes, which he always conveyed with peculiar neatness and point. He was particularly partial to Cervantes, and considered Don Quixote as one of the highest productions of the human mind. He was also very fond of Goldsmith's character of Garrick in the poem of Retaliation, which he often used to repeat in company. Mr. C. enjoyed an advantage very rarely possessed by the poetical tribe, for he had the "elegant sufficiency" which Thomson represents as a desideratum in human happiness, and was therefore enabled to follow the bent of his genius, and only obey the inspirations of the Muse when she chose to be propitious. One of his last literary amusements was a very pleasant versification of the historian Gibbon's account of his own life, with which Mr. Cambridge used to entertain his friends in company, but would not commit to paper. We trust, however, that some of his friends will be able to recollect it, as it was marked by an uncommon share of ease, spirit, and humour. He was left a respectable family and a numerous train of friends to regret his loss, and to revere his memory. — As an author, Mr. C. was well known to the publick by his several much-approved writings, both in prose and verse; and his various and extensive information, his pure and classical taste, his brilliant yet harmless wit, his uncommon chearfulness and vivacity, were acknowledged, during a long series of years, by all who had the happiness of enjoying his society, which was sought for and highly valued by many of the most distinguished scholars and statesmen of this country. But his talents and his acquirements make the least part of the praise belonging to him. It is chiefly for the upright manliness and independence of his mind, for his mild and benevolent disposition, his warm and unvaried affection to his family and friends, his kindness to his dependents, and for his firm faith and trust in the Christian religion, which were manifested through life by the practice of Christian duty, and produced the most exemplary patience under the various infirmities of a tedious decline, that those who were near witnesses of his amiableness and worth will continue to cherish the memory of this excellent man, and to reflect with pleasure on his many virtues.