Of this very ingenious, but unfortunate, man, who, as I now learn from Mr. Southey's Specimens, died as long ago as 1796, very little is known to the public. I have always understood he was younger brother to the present Sir Charles Bampfylde, Bart. If so, he was born 27 Aug. 1754. He was educated at Cambridge, where I became acquainted with his Sonnets, two years after their publication. They appeared with the following title:
Sixteen Sonnets: Printed for J. Millidge; and sold by D. Prince, of Oxford; Messrs. Merrill and Co. Cambridge; and D. Browne, at Garrick's Head, in Catherine Street, in the Strand. 1778. Sm. 4to.
The following is the dedication:
"To Miss Palmer, these Sonnets, which have been honoured with her approbation, are dedicated by her very sincere and devoted humble servant, John Bampfylde."
Soon after the publication of these Sonnets, from what unfortunate cause I am ignorant, he began to exhibit symptoms of mental derangement; and is said to have passed the last years of his life in confinement.
These Sonnets, little known, which always appeared to me to possess great and original merit, have now received the sanction of Mr. Southey's praise, with which I am much gratified. But as I am anxious to extend his fame by additional channels, I shall, while a friend is preparing a new edition of the whole, in conjunction with the neglected relics of two or three other deserving young men of genius, insert two specimens here.
As when, to one who long hath watch'd, the Morn
Advancing, slow fore-warns th' approach of day,
(What time the young and flowery-kirtled May
Decks the green hedge and dewy grass unshorn
With cowslips pale, and many a whitening thorn;
And now the Sun comes forth with level ray,)
Gilding the high-wood top and mountain grey;
And as he climbs, the Meadows 'gins adorn:
The Rivers glisten to the dancing beam,
Th' awaken'd Birds begin their amorous strain,
And Hill and Vale with joy and fragrance teem;
Such is the sight of thee; thy wish'd return
To eyes, like mine, that long have wak'd to mourn,
That long have watch'd for light, and wept in vain.
TO MR JACKSON OF EXETER.
Tho' Winter's storms embrown the dusky vale,
And dark and wistful wains the low'ring year;
Tho' bleak the Moor, forlorn the Cots appear,
And thro' the hawthorn sighs the sullen gale;
Yet do thy Strains most rare, thy Lays ne'er fail,
'Midst the drear Scene my drooping heart to cheer;
Warm the chill blood, and draw the rapturous tear.
Whether thou lov'st in mournful mood to wail
Lycid, "bright Genius of the sounding shore,"
Or else with slow and solemn hymns to move
My thoughts to Piety and Virtue's lore;
But chiefest when, (if Delia grace the measure)
Thy Lyre, o'erwhelming all my soul in pleasure,
Rolls the soft song of joy and endless love.
Mr. Jackson intended to have published an edition of Bampfylde's poems, with some account of the author, with whom he had a person acquaintance; but he died without accomplishing his design.