Rev. Richard Hole

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 73 (June 1803) 599-600.

28. At Exmouth, after a painful illness, the Rev. Richard Hole, rector of Faringdon and Inwardleigh, co. Devon; who united to the most amiable simplicity of manners, extensive learning and elegant taste, the strictest integrity, and the most chearful, unaffected piety. His heart and his talents were equally unexceptionable; and the deep regret of his numerous friends bears amplest testimony of their excellence. Mr. H. was the author of many valuable works. When the admiration of the poetry of Ossian was general, and no hesitation respecting its early aera was entertained, he published a poetical translation of Fingal, laboured with no common care, its lines scarcely less flowing and elegant than those of Pope. The suspicions of Mr. Macpherson's conduct, in at least the compilation, prevented, perhaps, that version from being so generally read and warmly admired as it deserves; but the Ode to Imagination, subjoined, claimed the most general and eager applause, as highly animated and poetical. Some years afterward he published a translation of Homer's Hymn to Ceres, of which there is a rival, but a much inferior, version by Mr. Lucas. This poem, if not Homer's, is certainly of very high antiquity, and is translated by Mr. Hole with his usual spirit and elegance (see our vol. LI. p. 352, LII. 234, 270). At no great distance the epic romance of Arthur followed (LIX. 754); of which the wildness approaches nearer the school of Ariosto than of Homer, though no one was a more ardent admirer of the corrector and more chastened beauties of the ancient Epicks than Mr. Hole. The poem itself displays a warm imagination, and the lines are less monotonous, the measure more varied in its pauses, than those of his former poetical works. The notes, though short, are valuable, and display a correct knowledge of the Northern mythology. When Mr. Polwhele projected his publication of the Devonshire and Cornwall Poets, Mr. Hole could not be overlooked in his numerous applications; and some of the most highly finished poems in that collection are from his pen. We cannot enumerate each; but would particularly notice the Odes to Terror and to Melancholy, as little, if at all, inferior to those of Gray, Mason, or Akenside. They seem, however, to have been the production of an earlier period. When the literary Society at Exeter was formed, Mr. Hole was one of its first members; and his later exertions were chiefly communicated to that institution. To this society he addressed the Remarks on the Arabian Nights Entertainments, in which the Origin of Sinbad's Voyages, and other Oriental Fictions, is particularly considered, published separately, 1797, 12mo (LXVII. 1047, in which he endeavours to shew that the marvelous events in these voyages were believed in the East, and not so extravagantly inconsistent, with what the observations of later travellers have supplied, as has been generally supposed. In the published volumes of Essays (see our vol. LXVI. p. 1020), though no names are affixed, an humorous poem on the origin of clubs, and the ironical vindications of the characters of Shylock and Iago, are attributed to his pen. The irony of the vindications is so well preserved, that many attacks have been made on these articles, on the supposition of their being serious, as Swift's advice to the Irish peasantry, to eat their children, was, at first, from the grave manner in which it was proposed, mistaken in the same way. Some other communications to that Society have been spoken of with applause; but we know not whether they are intended for publication in another volume of Essays, or in a separate form, together with some other works which, we are informed, he has left. While we deplore the loss of talents so varied, so pleasing, and extensive, we must still more regret, that, in him, his family have lost a most excellent husband and parent, Religion a most exemplary votary, and the world an example of a most amiable man. To the rectory of Faringdon he was presented in 1792, on the resignation of Mr. Massey, by the bishop of Exeter, and took a dispensation to hold the vicarage of Bukerell, in the deanry of Plymtree, with it, and afterward to the rectory of Inwardleigh, in the patronage of the Rev. Mr. Moore. He was a native of Exeter, and admitted of Exeter college, where he proceeded B.C.L. 1771.