1788 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Hayley

Anonymous, in Catalogue of five hundred Celebrated Authors (1788).



A gentleman of small fortune at Eartham in the neighbourhood of Chichester in the county of Sussex. He has presented the world with a variety of poetical productions. An Epistle to an Eminent Painter, [Mr. Romney]; an Ode to Howard; an Essay on History; an Essay on Epic Poetry; the Triumphs of Temper, a poem in six books; and a volume of Plays, containing two tragedies and three comedies, the latter of which are in rhyme. Previous to publication they had never been performed; but the comedy of the Connoisseurs, and the tragedy of Lord Russel, have since been played at Mr. Colman's theatre in the Haymarket. He is also the supposed author of Essays upon Old Maids in three volumes duodecimo; and a small Dialogue comparing the characters of lord Chesterfield and Samuel Johnson. As a poet, Mr. Hayley is not wholly destitute of merit, but he is hasty and incorrect. His most material defect is total want of energy and compression, whether we consider the images of his fancy, or the style of his composition. In his prose there is an affectation of singularity, that is not always correspondent with the interests of virtue.