1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Penrose

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 24:307-08.



THOMAS PENROSE, an English poet, was the son of the rev. Mr. Penrose, rector of Newbury in Berkshire, a man of high character and abilities, descended from an ancient Cornish family, who died in 1769. He was born in 1743, and being intended for the church, pursued his studies at Christ-church, Oxford, until the summer of 1762, when his eager turn for the naval and military profession overpowering his attachment to his real interest; he left his college, and embarked in the unfortunate expedition against Nova Colonia, in South America, under the command of captain Macnamara. The issue was fatal; the Clive, the largest vessel, was burnt, and although the Ambuscade escaped (on board of which Mr. Penrose, acting as lieutenant of marines, was wounded), yet the hardships which he afterwards sustained in a prize sloop, in which he was stationed, utterly ruined his constitution.

Returning to England, with ample testimonials of his gallantry and good behaviour, he finished at Hertford-college, Oxford, his course of studies; and having taken orders, accepted the curacy of Newbury, the income of which, by the voluntary subscriptions of the inhabitants, was considerable augmented. After he had continued in that station about nine years, it seemed as if the clouds of disappointment, which had hitherto overshadowed his prospects, and tinctured his poetical essays with gloom, were clearing away; for he was then presented by a friend, who knew his worth, and honoured his abilities, to the rectory of Beckington and Standerwick, in Somersetshire, worth near £500 per annum. This came, however, too late; for the state of Mr. Penrose's health was now such as left little hope, except in the assistance of the waters of Bristol. Thither he went, and there he died in 1779, aged thirty-six. In 1768 he married miss Mary Slocock of Newbury, by whom he had on child, THOMAS, who inherits his father's genius, taste, and personal worth. He was educated at Winchester and New-college, Oxford, of which he is now B.C.L.

Mr. Penrose was respected for his extensive erudition, admired for his eloquence, and equally beloved and esteemed for his social qualities. By the poor, towards whom he was liberal to his utmost ability, he was venerated in the highest degree. In oratory and composition his talents were great. His pencil was as ready as his pen, and on subjects of humour had uncommon merit. In 1781 a collection of his "Poems" as published by his friend and relation James Peter Andrews, esq. who prefixed the above account of Mr. Penrose. They are distinguished by exquisite feeling and taste. His thoughts are pathetic and natural, and he seems possessed of a great portion of the fire and feeling of Collins. Such poems as "The Carousal of Odin," "Madness," and "The Field of Battle," are among the rare productions of modern genius. That these poems are so little known is unaccountable. Mr. Penrose published two occasional sermons of considerable merit.