1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William King of Oxford

William Tooke, Note to The Candidate; Poetical Works of Charles Churchill (1804) 2:263-65n.



From these deep shades, where vanity, unknown
Doth penance for her pride, and pines alone,
Cursed in herself, by her own thoughts undone,
Where she, no longer, mistress of the schools,
Hears praise loud pealing from the mouths of fools,
Or hears it at a distance, in despair
To join the crowd, and put in for a share,
Twisting each thought a thousand diff'rent ways,
For his new friends new-modelling old praise;
Where frugal sense so very fine is spun,
It serves twelve hours, though not enough for one,
King shall arise, and, bursting from the dead,
Shall hurl his piebald Latin at thy head.

Dr. William King, Principal of St. Mary's Hall, died at an advanced age in 1764. The composition of his celebrated Radcliffe harangue afforded an ample field of controversy to the critics in language, and the tory principles it contained were minutely canvassed by the dabblers in politics. As his Latinity is questioned by our author, in order that the reader may have an opportunity of judging of the propriety of the imputation, we subjoin Dr. King's epitaph written by himself, with a view to be engraved on a silver case, in which he directed his heart should be preserved in some convenient part of the house he had so long governed. A classical epitaph in the same style was also written by him on beau Nash of Bath.

EPITAPHIUM
GULIELMI KING,
A seipso scriptum
Pridie nonas Junii,
Die natali Georgii III.
MDCCLXII.
Fui
GUILIELMUS KING, LL.D.
Ab anno MDCCXIX. ad annum MDCC—
Hujus Aulae Praefectus.
Literis humanioribus a puero deditus,
Eas usq; ad supremum vitae diem colui.
Neque vittis carui, neque virtutibus;
Imprudens et improvidus, comis et benevolus;
Saepe aequo iracundior,
Haud unquam ut essem implacabilis.
A luxuria pariter ac avaritia
(Quam non tam vitium
Quam mentis insanitatem esse duxi)
Prorsus abhorrens.
Cives, hospites, peregrinos
Omnino liberaliter accepi,
Ipse et cibi parcus, et vini parcissimus.
Cum magnis vixi, cum plebeiis, cum omnibus,
Ut homines noscerem, ut meipusum imprimis:
Neque, eheu, novi!
Permultos habui amicos,
At veros, stabiles, gratos,
(Quae fortasse est gentis culpa)
Perpaucissimos.
Plures habui inimicos;
Sed invidos, sed improbos, sed inhumanos;
Quorum nullis tamen injuriis
Perinde commotus fui
Quam deliquiis meis.
Summam, quam adeptus sum, senectutem,
Neque optavi, neque accusavi;
Vitae incommodos nimium contentus.
Mortem neque contempsi neque metui.
Deus optime,
Que hunc orbem et humanas res curas,
Miserere animae meae!