1856 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Nathaniel Evans

George and Evert Duyckinck, in Cyclopedia of American Literature (1856; 1875) 245.



NATHANIEL EVANS was born in Philadelphia, June 8, 1742. He was educated at the Academy of that city, and then apprenticed to a merchant. At the expiration of his indentures he entered the college, which had in the meantime been established. At the Commencement in 1765 he received the degree of Master of Arts, although he had not taken that of Bachelor, in consequence of the interruption in his studies. He immediately after left for England, for the purpose of being ordained, and returned in December of the same year, having passed a highly successful examination as one of the missionaries of the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and was stationed in Gloucester county, New Jersey, where he remained, occupied with the duties of his profession, until his death, October 29, 1767.

One of his fellow-passengers on his return voyage from England was Miss Elizabeth Graeme, afterwards Mrs. Ferguson. The acquaintance, formed on shipboard ripened into a friendship which was only interrupted by his death. Several of his poems are addressed to her as Laura; the title of his Ode written at G—me Park, shows that he visited at her family country-seat; and the Rev. Dr. Smith acknowledges her aid in the preparation of the collection of her friend's poems, which he published, with a brief memoir, in 1772. This volume contains, in addition to the pieces already mentioned, and a brief poetical correspondence between Laura and himself, a few fugitive verses on contemporary topics, including anOde to the Memory of General Wolfe, and a similar composition on the Peace, with an Imitation of Horace addressed to Thomas Godfrey, and an Elegy to the memory of the same friend, with paraphrases of a few of the Psalms, and two or three pastorals. One of his poems is addressed to Benjamin Franklin, Esq., LL.D., occasioned by hearing him play on the harmonica.

His verses are smoothly written in the taste of the period, but do not possess high literary merit.