1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Maurice

Stephen Jones, in Biographia Dramatica; or, A Companion to the Playhouse (1812) 1:500-01.



THOMAS MAURICE, A.M. is the son of a gentleman who presided many years as a master of the grammar-school at Hertford, where he acquired a handsome fortune. It was late in life that he married the mother of our author, who, with another son, on the death of their father, was left to the care of his surviving parent. An imprudent marriage of his mother was fatal to the fortune of our author. After a long struggle in the Court of Chancery, he was found to have lost the property which should have provided for him the means of independence, and was left to the exertions of his own talents to make his way in the world. After having been under the care of various tutors with little improvement, his case was made known to Dr. Samuel Parr, who benevolently received him under his protection, directed his studies; and supported him, though with but slender appearances of receiving an adequate remuneration. To the liberality of Dr. Parr, on this occasion, too much praise cannot be given. From Dr. Parr's academy he was removed to Oxford, and entered of University College, under the tuition of Sir William Scott. Here he cultivated his poetical talents, and formed connexions highly honourable to himself, though they do not appear to have been instrumental in advancing his fortune. He soon after entered into holy orders, and became curate, first at Woodford, and afterwards at Epping; and in 1779 published his poems, in quarto, by subscription. In 1786 he married the daughter of Thomas Pearce, Esq. a captain in the East India Company's service; a lady whose loss, in February 1790, he pathetically deplored in an epitaph, which deserves notice beyond what is produced in general in that species of composition.

Soon after his marriage he entertained the design of giving the public The History and Antiquities of India: a work of vast extent, great research, and involved in much obscurity. The difficulties in his way, from various causes, were such as would have deterred a less determined man; but, sensible of the value of his intended work, and conscious of his abilities to execute it, he permitted no obstacles to impede his performance. In 1790 he addressed the Court of Directors of the East India Company on the subject, but, we believe, received little encouragement to proceed. Without patronage, at a considerable expense, and with great uncertainty of any adequate reward, he persevered in his purpose; and, in 1793, produced the first volume of his work. From that time he continued his labours, and, almost, in the words of Dr. Johnson to Lord Chesterfield, brought his work to "the verge of publication, without one act of assistance, one word of encouragement, or one smile of favour." It is comprised in 7 vols. 8vo.

Mr. Maurice has never had any ecclesiastical preferment; but it appears, by one of his publications, that he was some time chaplain to a regiment. Lately he has been better noticed; he has been appointed assistant librarian to the British Museum; and, if we are not misinformed, has been honoured with the pension formerly enjoyed by Mr. Cowper.

Mr. Maurice's miscellaneous productions, both in verse and prose, are numerous; but our present attention must be restricted to his dramatic writings, which are three in number, viz. 1. Oedipus Tyrannus, of Sophocles. Translated, 1779. Printed in a quarto volume of poems, published in that year. 2. Panthea. Trag. 8vo. 1789. 3. The Fall of the Mogul. T. 8vo. 1806.