1815 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Charles Jenner

John Nichols, in Literary Anecdotes of the XVIII Century (1812-15) 9:563-64.



The Rev. Charles Jenner was of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, B.A. 1757; M.A. 1760. He distinguished himself at the University by obtaining two of the Seatonian prizes, The Gift of Tongues, 1767 and The Destruction of Nineveh, 1769; and by a Collection of Poems in 1766, 4to. He succeeded Dr. Hutchinson in the Vicarage of Claybrook, co. Leicester; and, having obtained a Dispensation to hold this Vicarage with Craneford St. John, co. Northampton, was instituted in 1769. He was the author of two Novels, Letters from Altamont in the Capital to his Friends in the Country, 1764 8vo, and The Placid Man, 1773; and of Letters from Lothario to Penelope, 2 vols. 12mo, including Lucinda, a Dramatic Entertainment; a Sentimental Comedy, called The Man of Family, 1771, 8vo; Town Eclogues, 1772, 4to; Louisa, a Tale; to which is added, an Elegy to the Memory of Lord Lyttelton, 1774, 4to; and many other poetical pieces, some of which have great merit, and shew that he possessed elegant literary accomplishments, refined taste, and exquisite sensibility of heart. In one of the Town Eclogues, intituled The Court Chaplain, the Author thus introduces himself:

Grown sick of liberty and country air,
The morning saunter in the one-horse chair,
The social pipe, the solitary Muse,
The bowling meeting, and the weekly news,
The rustic Vicar quits his lone retreat,
To try what joys the London Clergy greet.
He mounts his mare, whilst Thomas at his back
Conveys twelve shirts and his best suit of black;
A half-year's tithe, to pay his way in town;
His six best sermons, and his last new gown.
To some kind neighbour he gives up the care
Of buying two young heifers at the Fair,
To tend his stock, to keep his garden nice,
And sell his barley at the market price,
With all the pride of hagling for two groats,
And shewing a clean sample for his oats.
Joys more refin'd he means in town to seek,
And hires snug lodgings at a pound a week.

The situation and employments of a Court Chaplain are well contrasted with those of the rustic Vicar:

Behold him now enur'd to courtly ground,
A constant dangler in the same dull round.
Deep read in Ecton; at his fingers' ends
Preferments, values, old incumbents, friends;
With who stands first on every Courtier's list,
Who's serv'd, and who with promises dismiss'd;
With expectation sees each morn appear
Though disappointment closes every year;
And, still with crosses ev'ry hour perplext,
Rests well assur'd his turn must be the next.
If chance a country neighbour strays to town,
He singles out the antique wig and gown;
Turns Ciceroni to his wond'ring friend,
And points out all the Court, from end to end;
Tells who is in, and who is out of place,
And feasts upon a simper from his Grace;
Explains the mystery of the wands and keys,
And ev'ry colour'd ribband that he sees;
More vain, alas! of this most useless knowledge,
Than all the learning that he brought from College.
Then having plac'd him in the foremost row,
To see the King pass by, and make his bow,
Announcing, as they pass, each lord and groom,
He next conducts him to the Chaplain's Room;
There vainly shews him how Court Chaplains dine,
And toasts a Maid of Honour in French wine.

Mr. Jenner was also the Author of a Copy of Verses intituled April, written at the request of a Lady for the Bath-Easton prize, which they obtained; and these, I believe, were the last productions of his Muse. He had a fine taste for musick; and his society was much courted by the Amateurs of that art. He possessed a considerable share of wit, and (what rarely happens) without the smallest tincture of ill-nature or malignity. His dispositions were humane and benevolent; his manners were soft and gentle, affable and condescending; his pulpit compositions were animated and persuasive; in short, his talents and accomplishments as a Clergyman, a Scholar, and a Gentleman, rendered him the object of universal respect and esteem; and he died, most sincerely lamented by his parishioners and the whole neighbourhood, May 11, 1774, aged 38.

A monument was erected to his memory in Claybrook Chancel, by Lady Craven, whose Muse thus weeps o'er his urn in beautiful and pathetic strains:

Here in the Earth's cold bosom lies entomb'd
A man, whose sense, by every virtue grac'd,
Made each harmonious Muse obey his lyre:
Nor shall th' erasing hand of powerful Time
Obliterate his name, dear to each tuneful breast,
And dearer still to soft Humanity,
For oft the sympathetic tear would start
Unbidden from his eye; another's woe
He read, and felt it as his own.

Reader!
It is not Flattery or Pride that rais'd
To his remains this modest stone; nor yet
Did partial Fondness trace these humble lines;
But weeping Friendship, taught by Truth alone,
To give, if possible, in future days,
A faint idea to the race to come,
That here reposeth all the mortal part
Of one, who only lived to make his friends,
And all the world, regret he e'er should die.
E. C. 1775.