1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Hayley

David Rivers, in Literary Memoirs of Living Authors (1798) 1:246-48.



Of Eartham and Chichester, a very distinguished and amiable character in the republic of letters. He was educated at Eton School and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. His first publication was A Poetical Epistle to an eminent Painter (Mr. Romney), which appeared in 1778. The subsequent productions of his Muse, as, The Triumphs of Temper, Essays on History, and Epic Poetry, &c. are well known and were published collectively, together with his plays, in 1785, in six crown octavo volumes. None of his plays had appeared upon the stage previous to their publication, but since that time the Connoisseurs, a comedy, and Lord Russel, a tragedy, have been represented at Mr. Colman's theatre. Since that time he has published A Philosophical, Historical, and Moral Essay on Old Maids, in three volumes, octavo, a very entertaining work, which discovers its author to be an attentive observer of life, and to possess the talents which constitute an elegant moral painter: Dialogues concerning a comparative View of the Lives, Characters, and Writings of Lord Chesterfield and Dr. Johnson, an anonymous publication, which we wish had not been attributed to Mr. Hayley's pen, as it is far from adding a new laurel to his brow: and Occasional Stanzas written at the Request of the Revolution Society and recited on the Anniversary November 4th, 1788, with a Poetical Epistle from Queen Mary to King William, during his Campaign in Ireland, 1690. To a magnificent Edition of Milton's Poetical Works, in folio, by Messrs. Boydell, he added a liberal and well-written Life of the Author. This elegant and interesting piece of biography was afterward republished separately with additions, in one volume, quarto. Mr Hayley has also published an Elegy on the Death of the Hon. Sir William Jones, of considerable merit, though perhaps upon the whole, inferior to Mr. Maurice's Poem on the same subject. It is needless for us to add that Mr. Hayley ranks very highly, not as a living poet only.