1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edward Jerningham

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 82-83 (November 1812, March 1813) 501, 283.



Nov. 17. In Green Street, Grosvenor square, in his 75th year, Edward Jerningham, esq. brother to the late Sir Wm. and hundle to the present Sir Geo. Jerningham, bart. of Costesy, Norfolk. Of this gentleman we hope to receive some memoirs....

The late Edward Jerningham, esq. (see our last Volume, Part ii. p. 501. b.) descended from an ancient family in Norfolk, was the youngest brother of the late Sir William Jerningham, bart. He was educated in the English College at Douay, and from thence removed to Paris, where he improved himself in classical attainments till he had nearly reached his twenty-first year. He was a good Latin scholar, and was tolerably well acquainted with the Greek. The French and Italian languages, but particularly the former, were nearly as familiar to him as that of his native country. In his mind, benevolence and poetry had always a mingled operation. His taste was founded upon the best models of Literature. The first production which raised him into public notice, was a poem in recommendation of the Magdalen Hospital; and Mr. Jonas Hanway, one of its most active patrons, often declared, that its success was very much promoted by this poem. He continued occasionally to afford proofs of his poetical genius, and his works passed through many editions. They are uniformly marked by taste, elegance, and a pensive character, that always excites tender and pleasing emotions. In some of his works, however, as in The Shakspeare Gallery, Enthusiasm, and The Rise and Fall of Scandinavian Poetry, he displays great vigour, and even sublimity. The first of these poems had an elegant and spirited compliment from Mr. Burke, in the following passage: — "I have not for a long time seen anything so well-finished. He has caught new fire by approaching in his perihelium so near to the Sun of our poetical system." — His last work, published a few months ago, and which has reached a second edition, was entitled The Old Bard's Farewell. It is not unworthy of his best days, and breathes an air of benevolence and grateful piety for the lot in life which Providence had assigned him, highly honourable to his heart, as well as to his talents. — In his later writings he endeavoured to represent the Christian doctrine in its most attractive form, divested of the terrors with which it is viewed by the timid believer. "The Essay on the mild Tenour of Christianity" traces historically the efforts to give an Anchorite-cast to the Christian profession, and abounds in interesting anecdotes derived from the page of Ecclesiastical History. The Essay on the Eloquence of the Pulpit in England, (prefixed to Bishop Bossuet's Select Sermons and Orations) was very favourably received by the publick. "The presuming to canvass a subject (says the Author) with which I am not professionally connected, is sanctioned by the authority of the judicious Jortin; who says, 'the subject might be treated to more advantage by those who are not personally concerned in it." — Mr. Jerningham had, during the course of a long life, enjoyed an intimacy with the most eminent literary characters in the higher ranks, particularly the celebrated Earl of Chesterfield, and the present Earl of Carlisle. — His illness had continued for some months, and was at times very severe; but his sufferings were much alleviated by a course of theological study he had imposed on himself, and which he considered most congenial to a closing life. He has bequeathed all his manuscripts to Mr. Clarke, New Bond-street. — Mr. Jerningham's productions are as follow: 1. Poems and Plays, 4 vols, 9th edition, 1806. 2. Select Sermons and Funeral Orations, translated from the French of Bossuet, Bishop of Meaux, third edition, 1801. 3. The Mild Tenour of Christianity, an Essay, (elucidated from Scripture and History; containing a new illustration of the characters of several eminent personages,) second edition, 1807. 4. The Dignity of Human Nature, an Essay, 1805. 5. The Alexandrian School; or, a Narrative of the first Christian Professors in Alexandria, third edition, 1810. 6. The Old Bard's Farewell, a Poem, second edition, with additional passages, 1812.