1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. James Hurdis

Samuel Egerton Brydges, "Rev. James Hurdis" Censura Literaria 6 (1808) 212-13.



James Hurdis was born about 1763; he was a native of Sussex, and educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he took the degree of A.M. 1787; and obtained a Fellowship. In 1788 he published a poem in blank verse entitled The Village Curate; and in 1790 Adriano, or the First of June. These poems immediately brought him into notice; and I heard them spoken of in terms of the warmest praise by an eminent Oxford scholar at the time of their first appearance; while others equally condemned them. They are too much an echo of Cowper; but still they possess considerable merit; and by no means deserve the contemptuous terms, in which Miss Seward has spoken of them in her Memoirs of Darwin. In 1790 he published A short Critical Disquisition on the true meaning of a passage in Genesis, i. 21. In 1793, when he was curate of Burwash in Sussex, he addressed to the inhabitants of that parish Reflection on the Commencement of the New Year. In that year he had the honour of being elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford, against the competition of Mr. Kett. I have heard Oxford men say, with what truth I know not, that his scholarship was not equal to the situation. Perhaps the soreness of the contest had not then subsided. In point of natural endowments he was far superior to some, who have filled that office. He published also A volume of Poems, 1791, including the Play of Sir Thomas More, — Cursory Remarks upon the Arrangement of Shakspeare's Plays, occasioned by reading Mr. Malone's Essay on the Chronological order of those celebrated pieces, 1792; and Select Critical Remarks upon the English Version of the ten first chapters of Genesis, 1794. He likewise gave a new edition of Drayton's Heroical Epistles. He was a correspondent of Cowper, several of whose letters to him are in Hayley's Life of that poet. He died at Blackbourn, Co. Lancaster, Dec. 22, 1801, aged 38; leaving a character of uncommon gentleness and purity of mind and conduct.