1815 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. James Granger

John Nichols, in Literary Anecdotes of the XVIII Century (1812-15) 9:111-12n.



In a miscellaneous volume reviewed in Gent. Mag. vol LXXVI. p. 145, are four Letters from him [Mr. Coates] to Mr. Granger, fraught with communications which indicate the cheerful and communicative disposition of the writer, who, in the last of them, strongly urges him to apply for preferment in the Church. With a moderate share of such preferment, however, Mr. Granger was, as he is truly styled in Lord Holland's Letter to him, "a very happy man." Had your Reviewer of the volume referred to, or had the Editor of it, been fully acquainted with his real character, his "anxiety" to obtain such preferment, and his "servility" to Horace Walpole, would not have been misrepresented by either. His friends, knowing his real worth, were "anxious" that it should be rewarded, and were constantly pointing out to him such preferments as he might hold with the Vicarage of Shiplake; but no anxiety ever appeared in him to obtain them. Preferment was not his object, but information relative to his work: which Walpole was eminently qualified to impart, and which he most liberally imparted. Surely the harsh term of "servility" is totally inapplicable to the humbleness, simplicity, and openness, of the guileless Granger. Some striking lineaments of his character appeared in Gent. Mag. vol. XLVI. p. 313, which ought not to have escaped the notice of the Editor of his Letters." — Those "striking lineaments," which had also been communicated by Dr. Loveday, shall here be given. "In your Magazine for May, I was greatly pleased with the due tribute of esteem paid, in p. 207, to the memory of the late Mr. Granger, who published a second edition of his instructive work last year, in four octavo volumes, which seems to have escaped your notice. It may not be amiss to add to the imperfect account already given of his death, that on the Sunday after Easter (when the Sacrament in the Church of Shiplake as well as on Easter Sunday itself) he was seized with an apoplectic fit while at the communion-table there, after having gone through the service of the desk and pulpit as usual; and, notwithstanding every medical assistance, died early the next morning, April 16. The time, the place, and manner, of his death's stroke, which you justly stile enviable, gave occasion to the following truly elegant reflection of a friend, well deserving to be recorded:

More happy end what saint e'er knew!
To whom like mercy shewn!
His Saviour's death in rapturous view,
And unperceiv'd his own.

As I was lately reading Mr. William Thompson's fine poem, intituled Sickness, printed in 1745, 4to. the following lines, which are in the first book, struck me as remarkably applicable to Mr. Granger, who was an acquaintance of the Author, by whom they are applied to Sir William Clayton, Bart.; but for his name I have presumed to substitute that of Mr. Granger, and to alter the first words in the last line but one; which, as they stand in Thompson, are more adapted to a British Senator than to a person in private life:

—Murderous Apoplexy! proud
With the late spoils of GRANGER'S honour'd life:
GRANGER, the good, the courteous, the humane;
Tenacious of his purpose; and his word
Firm as the fabled throne of Grecian Jove.
Be just, O Memory! again recall
Those looks illumin'd by his honest heart.
That open freedom, and that cheerful ease,
The bounteous emanations of his soul:
His thirst of knowledge; Christian charity;
And mild benevolence for human kind.

Were it necessary to add any other description of Mr. Granger, Pope's well-known Epitaph upon Gay would fully characterize him. He was, in short, what it was his highest ambition to be, "an honest man, and a good parish priest."