1835 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Park

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine (June 1835) 663-64.



Nov. 26. At Church-row, Hampstead, where he had resided for many years, aged 75, Thomas Park, Esq. formerly F.S.A. a poet and well-known editor of early literature.

Mr. Park was brought up to the art of engraving, in which there are some creditable examples of his abilities, in the mezzotinto style, particularly portraits of Dr. John Thomas, Bishop of Rochester, of the Hon. Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Jordan in the character of the Comic Muse, and a Magdalen after Gandolfi. His first publication was a volume of Sonnets and other small Poems, printed in 8vo, 1797 many of which are of considerable merit. In 1803 he edited, with additions, the curious volume entitled Nugae Antiquae, from the papers of Sir John Harington, of Kelston, near Bath, in two vols. 8vo; and in the same year he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

In 1804, he wrote Poetical Illustrations to Cupid turned Volunteer, printed in quarto.

In 1806 he was employed by Mr. J. Scott, the bookseller, to edit Walpole's Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors, which he considerably enlarged, adding specimens of the authors' writings. It is a creditable work; though not so complete as it might have been made, had the editor been allowed more time, or had he made previous collections for the undertaking. The first edition of the Catalogue was printed at Mr. Walpole's press, 1757, 2 vols. small 8vo. for the author's friends; and in the year following another edition was prepared for the public by Dodsley for 8s. These notices were confined to England, and extended to only 10 princes and 80 peers. Mr. Park included Scotland and Ireland; and swelled the work to five large octavos, which were embellished with 150 portraits, and sold for seven guineas. The list was augmented to 17 royal and 200 noble authors in England; while the Scottish included of both ranks nearly 50, and the Irish about the same number. He proposed to add a continuation to a more recent period; but this was not accomplished.

From the year 1808 to 1813, Mr. Park was engaged in superintending the reprint of the Harleian Miscellany, in ten volumes quarto. In 1813 he revised, in three volumes 8vo, the second edition of Ritson's collection of English Songs. He was a coadjutor of Sir Egerton Brydges and the late Mr. Haslewood, in the Censura Literaria, British Bibliographer, and other bibliographical works; and he edited for Messrs. Longman, Heliconia, consisting of Poetry of the Elizabethan Age, in three vols. quarto.

Mr. Park possessed a library of Old English Poetry, of the highest value and curiosity, which he subsequently parted with: but not before he had made himself critically acquainted with its contents. He had once intended to edit and continue Warton's History of English Poetry; and in the last edition of that work, many of Mr. Park's notes are inserted. He contributed several of the poetical articles to the Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, published by his friend Mr. Nichols.

In 1818 Mr. Park published a volume of miscellanies, which he entitled, in allusion to his previous publication already noticed, Nugae Modernae. Morning Thoughts, and Midnight Musings: consisting of Casual Reflections, Egotisms, &c. in Prose and Verse. By Thomas Park, Depositary of an Auxiliary Bible Society, Treasurer of the Sunday and National Schools, Secretary to a Benevolent Institution, Manager of a Bank of Savings, and one of the Guardians of the Poor in The Parish of Hampstead. In the chastely humorous but unassuming introduction to this volume (which will be found quoted in the Gentleman's Magazine for Oct. 1818,) he states, that these several "local appointments" had been "rather silently acquiesced in than sought by himself; they have resulted from the goodwill and kind favour of neighbours and friends; and I do not say I am proud (because pride under any modification is blameful) but I am sensibly gratified, by being thought capable of usefulness in my declining life, among the residents of that village where I have taken up my abode. It is my desire to bear these honours, (for such I consider them) 'meekly,' fulfilling the duties connected with them faithfully; and I indulge a conscientious persuasion, that such duties and such honours are

—More befitting to a head grown grey
And heart much travell'd in affliction's way,
Than UNCIAL characters of F.S.A."

Mr. Park had then, in great measure, retired from his literary employments, and had withdrawn himself from the roll of the Society of Antiquaries, finding an attendance on its meetings inconvenient and having demands, which he, doubtless, considered more imperative, for every portion of his limited income.

Mr. Park's subsequent publications were few and brief, and of a religious character, — an excellent treatise on the advantages of Early Rising, printed in 1821; in 1832 Solacing Verses for serious times and for all times; and some cards of Christian Remembrance, or plain clue to the Gospel of Peace.

Mr. Park had an only son, the late John James Park, Esq. who, when quite a youth, published the Parochial History and Antiquities of Hampstead, in the year 1811, and who was afterwards highly distinguished by his legal knowledge, and for some time held the Chair of Professor of English Law and Jurisprudence at King's College, London. Some memoirs of him will be found in the Gentleman's Magazine, vol. ciii. ii. 81, 551, the latter article being written by his father. We regret to add that this bereavement was not merely an affliction to Mr. Park's parental feelings, but that it was also a serious deprivation to his pecuniary circumstances; for he had advanced his means to the utmost towards assisting his son in his arduous profession, and the return which he had expected from his son's eminent talents, was thus suddenly snatched from him. To this and every other dispensation of the Almighty, Park submitted without a murmur, for he was influenced by a deep sense of Christian piety. He has left four daughters, (one of them married) the survivors of a numerous family.