1860 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Nathaniel Evans

Rufus Wilmot Griswold, in Poets and Poetry of America (1860) 25.



One of [Thomas] Godfrey's most intimate friends was Nathaniel Evans, a native of Philadelphia, admitted to holy orders by the Bishop of London in 1765. He died in October, 1767, in the twenty-sixth year of his age, and his poems, few of which had been printed in his lifetime, were soon afterward by his direction collected and published under the editorial supervision of the Reverend William Smith, and Miss Elizabeth Graeme, subsequently well known as Mrs. Ferguson. Evans was preparing a collection of his poems for the press, and had written part of the preface, in which, after having referred to the unhappy fortunes of many men of genius, he said: "Sometimes, alas! the iron hand of death cuts them suddenly off, as their beauties are just budding into existence, and leaves but the fair promise of future excellences." These were his last words; and Doctor Smith suggests that they were so applicable to his case that he should have feared to publish them as from the mind of the deceased poet, if he had neglected to preserve the autograph to show that they had not been accommodated to that event. The most carefully finished of the pieces by Evans is an Ode on the Prospect of Peace, written in 1761, but several in a lighter vein were more pleasing.... A portrait of Evans by his young friend West, is preserved in Philadelphia. Among the subscribers for this volume of poems, was Dr. Goldsmith, with whom he had probably become acquainted while visiting London for ordination.