1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Susanna Duncombe

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 82 (November 1812) 497-98.



At her house in the Precincts at Canterbury, Mrs. Susanna Duncombe, the widow of the late Rev. John D. rector of the united parishes of St. Mary Bredman and St. Andrew in that City, and vicar of Herne in Kent, and a six preacher of the Cathedral. She was the only daughter of Joseph Highmore, esq. of Lincoln's-inn-fields, portrait-painter, from whom she inherited much of his taste for the Fine Arts, and of his genius for letters, softened by a refined judgment and feminine delicacy. Her union with Mr. Duncombe (the translator jointly with his father of the works of Horace, and author of several other works which the publick have justly appreciated, and who may well be said to have been "in bonis literis praeclarissimus") tended to expand her natural talents, and to exemplify her education: which enabled her to justly venerate the eminent circle in which she was born to shine. Young, Harris, Hawkesworth, Richardson, I. H. Browne, Chapone, Carter, and others equally dear to Literature. Mr. D's preferment at and near Canterbury, which he received from three succeeding Archbishops, led them to fix their residence there, where her father soon after joined them, and continued with them until his death. After the decease of Mr. D. about 26 years since (see volume LVI. page 187, 451), she adopted a more retired life, accompanied by her only and surviving daughter; and although her advancing years cast their autumnal tints over her once brilliant mind, yet they sufficiently marked the beauty of the days that had passed, and rendered perhaps more eminent the "light that now shines more and more in the perfect day." She has not left any literary work to perpetuate her fame; but her story of Fidelia and Honoria in the Adventurer, and some small contributions to the Poetical Calendar, and Nichols's Poems, and a few transient effusions of genius that never met the public eye, have assisted to chear her friends with the remembrance of her with respect and delight. — She was interred in the same vault with her husband, in the church of St. Mary Bredman, Canterbury. — One who subscribes to the above just tribute to the respected memory of the venerable Mrs. Duncombe, and who loved her with filial affection, though she was not her daughter, who admired her talents, and revered her virtues, passes over the painful period of aged imbecility and suffering, and dwells with grateful pleasure on the maternal tenderness, parental love, and sincere friendship, which she enjoyed for many years, and esteemed them among the choicest blessings of her life, looking up to her as a monitor and guide; sure of meeting the kindest sympathy and best and most faithful advice, for she was truth itself! and feels consolation in adding this humble testimony to her domestic excellence; who, as a wife was exemplary, as a mother most indulgent, as a mistress generous and kind, as a relative and friend affectionate and valuable! truly benevolent in thought, word, and deed, she fulfilled all the Christian charities, regulating her temper and conduct by the divine precepts of the Gospel! These amiable and respectable qualities endeared her to her family and friends, and gained the deserved esteem and love of all who knew her. "Let us not therefore sorrow as those without hope;" but trust, and believe, that such a character will receive its reward, at the Resurrection of the Just, through the mediation of our blessed Redeemer!