1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Boscawen

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 81 (May 1811) 500-01.



May 6. William Boscawen, esq. a commissioner of the Victualling Office, the last and most approved translator of Horace. He died after a very short illness, at his house in Little Chelsea; as much, and as justly lamented, as any person whom death has snatched away for many months. Mr. W. Boscawen was the younger son of General George Boscawen, who was himself the third son of Lord Falmouth: the remaining sons being, 1. Lord F. who died without issue; 2. Admiral Boscawen, from whom the present Lord F. descends, being his Grandson; 4. General John Boscawen; 5. the Rev. Dr. Boscawen. Mr. W. B. was born August 28, 1752, and was sent to Eton School before he was seven years old, where he obtained the particular notice and favour of the celebrated Dr. Barnard. From school he was removed to Oxford, where he became a gentleman commoner of Exeter College. He then studied the Law, as a member of the Middle Temple, and the practice of special pleading under Mr. (afterwards Judge) Butler; was called to the bar, and for a time went the Western Circuit. Nor were his studies in this line unfruitful, as he published an excellent book under the title of "A Treatise of Convictions on Penal Statutes; with approved Precedents of Convictions before Justices of the Peace, in a variety of Cases; particularly under the Came Laws, the Revenue Laws, and the Statutes respecting Manufactures, &c. 1792," 8vo. He was also appointed one of the commissioners of bankrupts, which situation he held till his death. On Dec. 19, 1785, he was appointed by patent to the situation of a commissioner of the Victualling Office, in consequence of which, and his marriage in April 1786, he soon after quitted the bar. He married Charlotte, the second daughter of James Ibbetson, D.D. Archdeacon of St. Alban's, and Rector of Bushey, Herts; of the family of the present Sir Henry Ibbetson, bart. of Denton Hall in Yorkshire. Being an excellent classical scholar, and warmly attached to literary pursuits, Mr. B. published in 1793 the first volume of a new translation of Horace, containing the Odes, Epodes, and Carmen Seculare. This, being much approved, was followed in 1798, by his translation of the Satires, Epistles, and Art of Poetry; thus completing a work which, though Francis's translation has still a strong hold upon the trade, is, in the judgment of all classical men, very greatly superior to it, in many essential points of merit. In 1801 he published a small volume of original poems, in which if he does not take lead among his contemporaries, he at least discovers an elegant taste, a poetical mind, and a correct versification. He was for several years before his death a constant and able assistant to the British Critic. Mr. B's constitution was delicate, and probably not improved by close confinement to the duties of his commissionership. He had consequently for several years been much incommoded by asthmatical affections of the lungs, which gradually exhausted the powers of life, and in the beginning of May, from an accidental accession of cold, took, in a few days, that fatal turn which his friends will always lament. — The mother of Mr. W. B. was Anne, one of the sisters and coheiresses of John Morley Trevor, of Trevalyn in Denbigh and Flint, whose estates are possessed of course by his elder brother George Boscawen, esq. the kind guardian and protector of his five orphan daughters. Three sons had been born, but all, to the inexpressible grief of their parents, died in infancy Mrs. W. Boscawen died about seven years before her husband. — The character of Mr. W. B, could it be truly drawn, would exhibit a consummate picture of every thing that is amiable and estimable in human nature; improved by knowledge and exalted by sincere religion. In every possible relation of life, whatever was kind, whatever was affectionate, whatever was benevolent, might with certainty be expected from him. That excellent institution, The Literary Fund, he considered almost as his child; and his affection to it was testified, not only by contributions, but by annual verses in its praise, and assiduous attendance on its meetings. Within five days of his death he wrote a copy of verses for its anniversary, and even contemplated the design of attending it. Incapable of being an enemy, it was never known that he had one; but his friends were a numerous as his virtues, and consequently not easy to be enumerated. Addicted to no vice, he had no remorse to embitter his departure; and confident in the merits of his Saviour, he felt a hope which brightened his last moments. The severest moralist could not justly censure his life; and among those who read of his death, there will be few who may not envy it.