1792 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Hayley

Anonymous, "Biographical List of Living English Poets" Gentleman's Magazine 62 (June 1792) 505.



William Hayley, Esq. of Eartham, in Sussex, son of Thomas Hayley, Esq. of the same place, who was buried in that church, was educated at Winchester School, and Trinity-Hall, Cambridge, of which, I think, he was an undergraduate, when a poem of his was inserted in the Cambridge congratulatory verses on the birth of the Prince of Wales, 1762, a poem which gave no earnest of his future fame. He burst suddenly into notice by his Epistle to Romney the Painter about 1779, and by an Elegy on the death of his friend Thornton, one of the best of his compositions. His Epistles on History and Epic Poetry, and his Triumphs of Temper, followed close after each other; and three prose works, the Essay on Old Maids, Cornelia Sedley, a novel, and the Eulogies of Howard, are attributed to him. I have heard also ascribed to him a most excellent Elegy on the ancient model, printed at Cambridge, some years since, and addressed to Dr. Lowth, the late Bishop of London, on aiming a personal invective at Dr. Price from the pulpit. But it is characterized by much more nervousness and compression than I ever saw in any profest poem of Hayley. He is said to be a man of the most amiable manners, and has employed his elegant and accomplished mind in pursuits congenial to it, by laying out the grounds of his seat at Eartham (where he lives in the most delightful retirement) with exquisite taste.