1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Maurice

David Rivers, in Literary Memoirs of Living Authors (1798) 2:34-36.



Historiographer we believe to the East India Company, and a very learned, ingenious, and diligent Scholar. He was educated at University College, Oxford, afterward became Chaplain to the 97th Regiment, and lived for some years at Woodford, in Essex. He published, in 1779, a quarto volume of Poems and Miscellaneous Pieces, with a free Translation of the Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles. Most of these poems had appeared in print before, separately; Netherby, the oldest of them, was published in 1776. They possess much merit, but did not obtain their author that credit which his latter writings have acquired him. About a year, previously to this volume, Mr. Maurice had printed a Fast Sermon, which we believe is his only publication in the class of divinity. In 1782, he wrote Ierne Rediviva, an ode, inscribed to the Volunteers of Ireland; and, two years afterward, Winchester Abbey, an elegiac poem, both of which pieces increased his reputation as a poet. In 1789, Mr. Maurice published Panthea, a tragedy, from a story in Xenophon, which did not add greatly to his fame; and relinquishing here the line of authorship, which he had hitherto traced, he has since acquired the greatest eminence in another track. This is a circumstance which cannot but appear surprising; for what reader, with all his approbation of Mr. Maurice's abilities as an historian, can help yielding the palm to his poetical talents? In the year 1790, he published a Letter addressed to the Directors of the East India Company, containing proposals for printing a History of the Revolutions of the Empire of Hindostan, from the earliest Ages; and has, since that time, published Indian Antiquities, in six volumes, octavo (the first two of which appeared in 1793) and the first volume (in quarto) of the History of Hindostan, published in 1795. The former of these works is introductory to and illustrative of the latter. Although it was sanctioned by the approbation of the East India Company and Sir William Jones, it obtained only a dozen subscribers in the course of twelve months! At present, however, the merit of the author of these works is well known to the public, and has obtained him a most distinguished reputation. His erudition, diligence, and ingenuity are very remarkable. His greatest fault is, an imagination too florid and poetical for his undertaking, and not sufficiently reducible to method and the power of condensing. In 1795, Mr. Maurice published, in quarto, a beautiful elegiac Poem, sacred to the Memory and Virtues of Sir William Jones, of which it is no mean praise to say, that it is superior to Mr. Hayley's Poem on the same occasion.