1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Tickell

John Aikin, in Select Works of the British Poets (1820) 321.



THOMAS TICKELL, a poet of considerable elegance, born at Bridekirk, near Carlisle, in 1686, the son of a clergyman in the county of Cumberland. He was entered of Queen's College, Oxford, in 1701, and having taken the degree of M.A. in 1708, was elected fellow of his college, obtaining from the crown a dispensation from the statute requiring him to he in orders. He then to the metropolis, where he made himself to several persons distinguished in letters.

When the negotiations were carrying on which brought on the peace of Utrecht, he published a poem entitled The Prospect of Peace, which through six editions. Addison, with whom he had ingratiated himself by an elegant poem on his opera of Rosamond, speaks highly of The Prospect of Peace, in a paper of the Spectator, in which he expresses himself as particularly pleased to find that the author had not amused himself with fables out of the Pagan theology. This commendation Tickell amply repaid by his lines on Addison's Cato, which are superior to all others on that subject, with the exception of Pope's Prologue.

Tickell, being attached to the succession of the house of Hanover, presented George I. with a poem entitled The Royal Progress; and more effectually served the cause by two pieces, one called An Imitation of the Prophecy of Nereus; the other, An Epistle from a Lady in England, to a Gentleman at Avignon. Both these are selected for the purpose of the present volume. He was about this time taken to Ireland, by Addison, who went over as secretary to Lord Sunderland. When Pope published the first volume of his translation of the Iliad, Tickell gave a translation of the first book of that poem, which was patronized by Addison, and occasioned a breach between those eminent men. Tickell's composition, however, will hear no poetical comparison with that of Pope, and accordingly he did not proceed with the task. On the death of Addison, he was entrusted with the charge of publishing his works, a distinction which he repaid by prefixing a life of that celebrated man, with an elegy on his death, of which Dr. Johnson says, "That a more sublime or elegant funeral poem is not to be found in the whole compass of English literature." Another piece, which might be justly placed at the heed of sober lyrics, is his Ode to the Earl of Sunderland, on his installation as a knight of the Garter; which keeping within the limits of truth, consigns a favourite name to its real honours.

Tickell is represented as a man of pleasing manners, fond of society, very agreeable in conversation, and upright and honourable in his conduct. He was married, and left a family. His death took place at Bath, in 1740, the 54th year of his age.