1815 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry James Pye

John Nichols, in Literary Anecdotes of the XVIII Century (1812-15) 9:742.



Henry-James Pye, esq. descended from a very antient and respectable family, was born in London in 1745, and educated at home under a private tutor until he had attained the age of seventeen, when he entered a gentleman commoner of Magdalen College, Oxford, under the care of Dr. Richard Scroup, where he continued four years, and had the honorary degree of of M.A. conferred on him July 3, 1766. In 1772, at the installation of Lord North, he was also created LL.D. — From his earliest days Mr. Pye was devoted to reading. When he was about ten years old, his father put Pope's Homer into his hand; the rapture which he received from this exquisite paraphrase of the Grecian Bard was never to be forgotten, and it completely fixed him a Rhymer for life, as he has pleasantly expressed it. To this early love of reading Mr. Pye was indebted for the various learning he possessed. Within ten days after he came of age, his father died (March 2, 1766) at Faringdon; and Mr. Pye married in the same year, the sister of Lieutenant-col. Hooke, and lived chiefly in the country, making only occasional visits for a few weeks to London, dividing his time between his studies, the duties of a magistrate, and the diversions of the field, to which he was remarkably attached. He was for some time in the Berkshire militia. In 1784 he was chosen Member of Parliament for Berkshire; but the numberless experiences attending such a situation, and the contest to obtain it, reduced him to the harsh, yet necessary, measure, of selling his paternal estate. In 1790 Mr. Pye was appointed to succeed his ingenious and worthy friend Mr. T. Warton, as Poet-laureat; and in 1792 he was nominated one of the magistrates for Westminster, under the Police Act; in both of which situations he conducted himself with honour and ability. His first literary production, probably, was an Ode on the Birth of the Prince of Wales, published in the Oxford Collection; after which a considerable number of publications successively appeared from his pen. He died at Barnet, Aug. 11, 1813, in his 69th year.